24th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Leader of the Government tell me the total cost of the Petrov royal commission of 1954? Was any useful national information obtained from the commission? Did Petrov receive £5,000 and a chicken run from the Commonwealth Government? If not, what did he receive? Is it a fact that the Petrov commission was appointed just prior to the 1954 federal election? Is it a fact that Petrov is still in receipt of an annual payment from the Commonwealth Government? If so, how much is he receiving?
– I ask Senator Sandford to put the majority of his questions on notice, because obviously I cannot keep the required information in mind. It is surprising to me that Senator Sandford should ask whether that inquiry revealed any information of a useful national character. There was a complete delineation of activities in Australia on the part of the Soviet, which was revealing to us. If my recollection is correct, the appointment of the commission was supported by the Australian Labour Party as well as by the Government.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the attention of the Government been directed to a report which appeared in the Adelaide “Advertiser” of 22nd October that an American company and an Australian company had formed a subsidiary in partnership to produce and market a revolutionary mixture known as instant milk? It is claimed that this mixture is the same colour as milk and can be used for the same purposes. The suggested price is equal to the price of bottled milk, and the crystals dissolve much faster than does powdered milk. As the Australian Government has appropriated in the past, and continues to appropriate, large sums of money to be expended on research and sales promotion, for the benefit of the dairy industry, will the Minister inform the Senate whether the new product will have a detrimental effect on the dairy industry? Is any action proposed in this connexion?
– The Government and the dairy industry are very concerned about the future prospects of the industry, having regard to the implications of Great Britain’s entry into the European Common Market. I ask the honorable senator to place his question on the notice-paper for the consideration of the Minister for Primary Industry. This matter is of great importance to the dairy industry, which should be fully informed on the attitude of the Government to a proposal of this sort.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is it not a fact that the Adelaide office of the Adelaide Steamship Company Limited pays a cheque for £200 each month to the South Australian Liberal Party? If so, is such payment charged to costs, which reduce profits? If such payment were made from profits, what additional tax would the company be paying? If this payment were distributed to shareholders who could make the donation, what additional tax would be paid by those shareholders?
– This is an extraordinary question, to say the least. The honorable senator has asked for information to be publicly divulged in this Parliament regarding a private transaction of a company owned by shareholders throughout Australia. I suggest to the honorable senator that if he really wants this information, he should apply to the office of the Adelaide Steamship Company. He would certainly receive the type of answer which the forms of this House prevent me from giving him now.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate in a position to add to the information concerning the critical situation arising from the Cuba blockade that we received from President Kennedy’s broadcast statement? Is the Government in possession of information concerning the movement towards Cuba of ships bearing armaments which are likely to encounter the blockade?
– As the honorable senator would be aware, a constant flow of information on this matter is coming in to the responsible Ministers of the Government. I do not think I should say more, in reply to his question, than a few words along the lines of the reply that the Prime Minister gave to a question asked in another place. He said, in effect, that he would make a further statement to the Parliament if information came into his possession which he thought should properly be placed before the Parliament. As honorable senators are aware, this matter is in a state of flux. I suppose that is as good an expression as any to describe it. Information is coming in all the time, but I think we must be guided by the Prime Minister’s statement.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Whilst I recognize that the attention of the world is focused on Cuba, I ask whether any representative of the Australian Government has been in touch with a responsible Indian authority to ascertain whether action could be taken to put an end to the serious problem facing India, a fellow member of the British Commonwealth. I believe that if the armed conflict in which India is engaged is not stopped it could lead to a very serious world conflict. As this week is the seventeenth anniversary of the foundation of the United Nations, and as delegates of 46 nations, all members of the United Nations, are at present meeting in Melbourne, could not this most important matter be discussed with them? In that way, everything possible could be done to let China know that those nations demand world peace.
– I am not sure what the honorable senator had in mind when he referred to a meeting in Melbourne. Did he mean the conference on power?
– Then the answer is, “ No “. The question of the diplomatic and military relations between powers could not be discussed by the delegates to that conference, because none of them would have been authorized to discuss matters of that kind. In reply to the first part of the question, I can only say that we have a diplomatic post in India and a high commissioner accredited to the government of that country. I do not know whether there are other channels in use at the moment, but certainly through the diplomatic channels there is always a proper and a quick means of communication between the Indian Government and Department of External Affairs and the Australian Department of External Affairs.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Health been directed to a statement by the president of the Combined Pensioners Association in Victoria that the new hospital benefits scheme gave nothing to pensioners and gave something only to State governments? Would the Minister care to comment on the accuracy or, rather, the inaccuracy - of that statement?
– I must confess that I have not seen a report of the statement to which the honorable senator has referred, and I therefore must rely on what she has said concerning it. I should be greatly surprised if any representative of the pensioners were to declare that there was nothing in this scheme for pensioners and that there was something only for State governments. The scheme is all for pensioners and, if I may use the term advisedly, gives nothing directly to State governments. We proposed to the State Ministers for Health that we should provide 36s. a day without insurance requirement in order to provide free hospital treatment for pensioners. That being so, I am at a loss to know why any one should suggest that the proposal represents nothing for pensioners. I repeat that that gesture represents the first attempt in the history of the Commonwealth by any government to make hospital treatment free for pensioners, and it completes our policy in as much as we have provided a complete free medical service for pensioners. We have already provided a free pharmaceutical benefit scheme for pensioners, and this last gesture which we have made ensures free hospital treatment for pensioners. I am sure, from my knowledge of the reception that this matter has had from pensioners, that they are indeed grateful to know that, as from 1st January, 1963, the day will have passed when they could be required to take out some insurance, cheap though it might be, and when they could be worried during their illness or old age about whether they were going to receive adequate hospital treatment.
– That is, those who have medical entitlement cards.
– That is, of course, those v ho have medical entitlement cards. 1 thank the honorable senator for that reminder. It also relieves them of the somewhat humiliating experience of being dependent upon charity in some instances when, even though they are insured, they are required to serve a two months probationary waiting period before the insurance becomes operative. So I say again that I would be amazed if any one representing the pensioners had such a garbled impression of what our proposal represents to them. In actual fact, for the first time in the history of our country, we say, “ Here is a proposal that will provide for those pensioners who have medical entitlement cards free hospital treatment without any qualifications whatsoever”.
– I ask the Minister for Health whether it is not a fact that pensioners already receive free treatment in hospitals, especially in the hospitals of New South Wales. Could it not be that the pensioner who has complained could say that under the Government’s proposed scheme pensioners will not be getting any more than they get already? I refer to the present right of pensioners to free admittance to public wards in the hospitals of New South Wales.
– lt is not true to say that pensioners throughout Australia now get free hospital treatment and, as a Commonwealth government we, when giving attention to the needs of the people, consider all States as being on the same level. The policy which we have adopted demands that we make our contributions directly to those individuals who are in need of assistance so far as hospital treatment is concerned, and not to the State governments. In the past, we have made a contribution of 12s. a day to all pensioners in hospitals.
If I might digress a little, I remind the honorable senator that it is true that the State Ministers for Health have been pressing for an increase in that contribution, believing that this method would serve their needs better. We, on the other hand, say that we have a most comprehensive and efficient insurance scheme covering the needs of every section of the community who can afford to pay 9d., ls. 6d., 3s., 5s. or 6s. a week - whichever they may desire - to cover their own particular needs in the way of hospital treatment.
Having said that, I want to make the point that we, as a Commonwealth government, believe that we can best serve the hospital needs of the States by encouraging as many people as possible to join an insurance scheme. Surely, from the point of view of the State Ministers of Health, it is far better to receive, through an insurance scheme, £2 16s. a day, or £3 a day, as the case may be, than to receive the 8s. a day that they have been receiving hitherto, or even to receive 16s., which would be twice the old contribution. Our policy is to make the payments direct to the patients. We believe that by doing just that we shall be better catering for the hospital needs of the people than we would be by increasing what is loosely known as the basic rate of 8s. a day.
– Is the Minister for Civil Aviation aware that as from last week there are six Electra services between Western Australia and the eastern States each week? Also, is he aware that these six flights take place on four nights and that on two nights the aircraft take off within minutes of each other? As there are flights scheduled for six nights of the week, would it not be more rational for the Electra flights to be scheduled for one flight each night?
– Senator Tangney shows a persistent interest in air services to and from Western Australia. I am aware that recently the number of Electra flights on the western run has been increased. That is in accordance with the practice that has been adopted by the airline operators over the last couple of years in connexion with the arrival of the summer season, or the warmer season, when traffic increases.
The actual method of deployment of the aircraft necessarily has to be worked out in accordance with the traffic offering. The plan that has been introduced recently for the western service meets the traffic needs in the best way that they can be met by the operators. 1 welcome this question. Very frequently the criticism is made that the operators do not do their best in the provision of aircraft on the long legs from Melbourne to Perth or from Melbourne to Adelaide to Perth. Here is an instance in which the service has been increased recently. As yet it has not been used nearly to the extent that would justify the increase. Last Monday week, I think it was, when I travelled on the first of the Electra services from Perth to Melbourne, there were thirteen passengers on the aircraft. Senator Tangney will remember that when we travelled together to Perth on Friday last there were thirteen passengers on the aircraft.
– Can the Minister for Customs and Excise let me know what liaison the section of his department that is responsible for censorship has with the Australian Broadcasting Control Board in relation to its action in respect of imported television films of violence?
– As far as I am aware, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board has laid down a series of standards for television films and the Commonwealth Film Censorship Board examines films, having regard to those standards, as the agent for the Broadcasting Control Board.
– I believe that the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral now has an answer to a question that I asked him on 9th October. The question is as follows: -
I direct the attention of the Minister representing the Postmaster-General to an article that appeared in the Adelaide “ Advertiser “ of Friday, 5lh October, headed “ Delay in S.A. Country T.V.” and reading -
The Spencer Gulf North area is not likely to have a local commercial television service for several years.
In view of the fact that the people residing in the Spencer Gulf North area are not likely to have a local commercial television service for several years, will the Minister give the establishment of a national television service in this area a top priority so that the residents of the area will have television in a reasonable period?
– The PostmasterGeneral has now furnished me with the following reply: -
I appreciate the desire of the people in the Spencer Gulf North area that the benefits of television should be available to the district with the least possible delay. The Government’s plans for the extension of television include the establishment of thirty-three national stations in country areas, including the Spencer Gulf North area. This extensive programme of development imposes a task of some magnitude on the departments concerned with the erection of these stations and it is essential that the establishment of the stations should proceed on an orderly basis. The people in all the areas concerned are equally anxious to enjoy the national television programmes as soon as possible, and it would not be practicable to single out any one area for special attention as this would tend to delay the implementation of the programme as a whole.
You may be assured, however, that the work is being undertaken as expeditiously as possible and that no avoidable delay will occur in proceeding with the station in the Spencer Gulf North area.
– My question to the Minister assisting the Minister for External Affairs is supplementary to a question that I asked him yesterday. It refers to a matter dealt with by Senator Fitzgerald’s question, namely, the information that this Parliament should receive concerning the clash between China and India. Having regard to the fact that diplomatic channels exist, as the Minister assures us they do, between India and Australia, will the Minister or the principal Minister for External Affairs, before Parliament rises for the short recess next week - that is to say, to-day or to-morrow - make a statement informing this Parliament of the nature of the forces arrayed by China against the Indian border? Will the Minister give us some information upon which we may make an assessment of the degree of gravity that we should attach to the situation - whether the dispute will be confined to a border clash or whether it has the potential of becoming a major dispute between the two principal countries of Asia, the security of one of which I would think all Australians would want to support?
– I will bring Senator Wright’s request to the notice of the Minister for External Affairs and ask him whether he will make a statement on this matter before the Parliament rises at the end of this week.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is he aware that, according to a newspaper report, a series of meetings was held recently in Osaka, Japan, with the object of rationalizing Japanese wool-buying methods in world markets? Is he aware that Mr. Tanabe, president of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce, is reported to have stated in Sydney that details of the meetings had not yet been received in Sydney but that Japan often had several buyers operating on behalf of one mill bidding against each other? Mr. Tanabe is reported to have said, “ That is what we wish to end “. Is the Minister aware that last week it was reported that the meetings to which I have referred aimed at grouping Japanese buyers into one buying group? Is the Minister in a position to comment on those statements by Mr. Tanabe? Has the Minister received any indication that Japan will engage in any form of rationalized wool buying in Australia? If we are to be faced with organized buying, does the Minister think we should do something about organized selling?
– I have seen the report to which Senator Cooke refers, and I was so disturbed by it that I made it my business to ascertain whether there was any truth in it. My understanding of the position is that when this report was brought to the attenion of the Minister for Primary Industry he immediately sought verification or otherwise of it. I am informed that there is no justification for the report. In other words, there is no truth in it. The Government would take a very serious view of a situation such as is referred to in the report. It is true that the Government might have some difficulty in combating steps to rationalize buying methods, but the wool industry is of such tremendous worth to our economy that any effort made by outside interests to depress the wool market naturally would excite the interest of the Government.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Health been directed to the fact that more cases of cholera have been found in that part of New Guinea which is to be taken over by Indonesia? Whilst realizing that this matter has been raised before, I ask the Minister whether he can assure the country that all the measures at the disposal of the Australian health authorities are being taken to prevent infection spreading through New Guinea and into Australia.
– As I intimated to the1 Senate the other day this is not a matter that affects only the Department of Health. The honorable senator will appreciate that the Department of Territories and the Minister for Territories also are taking a very lively interest in this matter. Only yesterday, for my own part, I signed a proclamation to the effect that West New Guinea was a quarantine area as far as cholera is concerned. That, of course, means that people coming into this country from that area must present to our quarantine officers a current vaccination certificate. I can assure the honorable senator also that the New Guinea authorities are taking a very lively interest in this matter and are taking all the precautions that they can. If the honorable senator would like further information about those precautions he should direct a question to the Minister for Territories, who would, I am sure, furnish him with information.
– Does this apply to smallpox as well?
– I discussed this matter with the Minister for Territories on Senator Ormonde’s behalf, and I have some documents on my table which I will make available to the honorable senator.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Has he any information to give to the Senate about the border incident that occurred earlier this week in Timor between Indonesian and Portuguese nationals? Is- Australia represented in Timor?
– In reply to the last part of the question, I say that I am not sure whether Australia has a consul in Timor.
– I think we have.
– I rather doubt it, but 1 shall find out. As to the first part of the question, I have no further information on that matter to give to the Senate.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Has the Government any information about a case of trafficking in arms which concerned arms consigned from Finland to America, via Sydney, in which a special court imposed a penalty of £500 on a man by the name of Vickers? He was charged with having received in Australia what the court was informed were incendiary aircraft bullets, which were consigned under the description of scrap brass and re-consigned on the “ Oriana “ to America under a false description. This led to the prosecution and the penalty to which I refer. Further, I ask the Minister whether this matter has any Commonwealth implications. How was it possible for this consignment to enter Australia without being impounded or confiscated? To what destination were the goods consigned in America? Are there any means, under security regulations or otherwise, to guarantee that Australia is not used for trafficking in arms by this method of consigning goods to Australia and reconsigning them to another country, whether it be a country friendly to Australia or otherwise?
– I believe that a question similar to this was asked in another place, and that information was given in writing on this particular subject. I understand that a trans-shipment was involved, and that the goods did not in fact enter Australia. They were merely entered into bond and subsequently exported ex-bond on another vessel which was proceeding to America. I understand, too, that the goods were described as brass in each of these transactions. However, that is an offthecuff reply to the question. I ask the honorable senator to place his question on the notice-paper. I shall then obtain further details for him.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs whether any message of goodwill or sympathy has been despatched to the Prime Minister of India, as the head of a Commonwealth country which is the victim of the latest Communist Chinese aggression.
– I have no information in respect of any message having been sent by the Government to India on this matter. I shall get for the honorable senator a full report on the matter, including all the facets that have been brought to my attention.
– Is the Leader of the Government aware that the United States of America proposes to establish a lowfrequency communications base at North West Cape in Western Australia? Is it a fact that the area to be occupied by the Americans is 28 square miles? Was the Western Australian Government or the Federal Government responsible for granting the United States access to this area? Will Australians have access to the area, or will the United States have sovereign rights in respect of it?
– This is a very big project for the defence of Australia. I shall be surprised if the Prime Minister has not made a statement on it. I do not keep the information in my mind, but I am surprised that Senator Cant, as a Western Australian senator, should ask a question about the matter in somewhat critical terms. This is one of the great developments that are occurring in Western Australia. Perhaps Senator Cant is not in touch with events in that State. For his edification, if he will put the question on the notice-paper, I shall get him a reply.
– I direct to the Minister for Civil Aviation a question with reference to works at present being carried out at Launceston airport. Is it within the knowledge of the Minister that recently an exit road has been constructed there? If so, what was its approximate cost? Is it expected that a new, modern terminal will be constructed a mile or so away from this area? In the circumstances, what is the justification for the expenditure upon this new exit road? Will the Minister make inquiries to ascertain whether the road has necessitated the partial demolition of a corner structure to provide proper visibility? Will the Minister consider laying on the table of the Senate the file of papers in connexion with this matter so that honorable senators may form their own judgments as to the responsibility of the officers who authorized this work?
– I am not familiar with the particular work referred to. I recently made a statement which indicated that extensive work was to be undertaken at Launceston airport.
– This work is ancillary to the old airport. It is not the new work.
– I am not familiar with it, but it occurs to me as possible that, having regard to the fact that there are to be extensive alterations to the runways and the taxiway system, the work to which the honorable senator refers may be in some way connected with that. 1 shall have a look at the schedule of work that is going on there now and let the honorable senator have details as soon as I can.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Has this Federal Government or any Other federal government since federation ever given financial assistance to any inventor?
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question: -
It is impossible, without lengthy research to say whether any Commonwealth government since federation has ever given financial assistance to any inventor. The present Government regards the development and exploitation of inventions as a function of private enterprise and does not provide finance to inventors for this purpose.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon -notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The Minister for Immigration has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has furnished the following answers: -
Blank forms I.B. 10 have been made available for perusual by staff members so that they will have a knowledge of the various items reported on and the factors generally which promote greater efficiency. The new form has proved to be most helpful and, as the information furnished is of a supplementary nature only, it is felt that no good purpose would be served by its withdrawal
– On 28th August, Senator Brown in a question without notice asked whether the Government would consider giving technical assistance to Mr. Henry Dohan to develop his process for making nylon stockings snag proof and ladder proof. He also referred ‘to the promotion of the sale of this process overseas.
Commonwealth authorities do not have the facilities available to provide general technical assistance to inventors. In a few special cases where Australian inventions have had a close bearing on projects being carried out by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, that organization has undertaken some development work on the inventions. However, if authorities such as the C.S.I.R.O. were to undertake this type of work on a more general basis, their own work and research programmes would be substantially restricted.
As far as the promotion of the sale of Mr. Dohan’s process overseas is concerned, I understand that Mr. Dohan has been in contact with the Department of Trade for several months, and that during this time the department has received a number of overseas inquiries concerning the invention through the Trade Commissioner Service. I assure the honorable senator that the Department of Trade is always willing, where possible, to assist Australian suppliers in obtaining entry to overseas markets.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 23rd October (vide page 1072).
Proposed expenditure, £107,226,000.
– I wish to speak on the administration of the Repatriation Department generally and particularly of the obnoxious onus-of-proof provisions of the act. I know that this matter is discussed every year, but it is becoming increasingly burdensome, particularly for the older ex-servicemen who are veterans of the First World War. In the evening of their lives, they are often kept waiting for many months for a decision by a tribunal. Even then, the decision is often adverse to them.
I have in mind one case which could be multiplied many times. For obvious reasons, I will not mention the name of the person concerned. For many years, this man has been claiming recognition by the Repatriation Department of disabilities which he claims to have suffered from “ a stomachful of mustard gas “ that he received during the First World War. He has appealed consistently over the years, and the letters I have from him - I have not time to go through them all during this debate - show the desperation and despair to which he has been reduced.
There are many similar cases. The Repatriation Department deals with hundreds of thousands of cases, and I do not deny that it has done a wonderful job for ex-service personnel. I do not hold anything against the officers of the Repatriation Department. They have always been most co-operative when I have referred cases to them; but you run up against a dead end when you come to the final appeal - the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunals. The Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) has said that these are independent, and that statement has been made by previous Ministers. I know that the tribunals are independent, and I cast no reflection on the members of the tribunals; but of necessity they consider their objective is to defeat any claim that comes before them. That is a positive fact in practice.
In theory, the system is all right. In theory, and according to the Minister and the Government, the onus of proof rests on the Repatriation Department; but when you have dealings with some of the persons who go before the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunals, you find that in actual practice the onus of proof rests fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the appellant. The man I have in mind is like the ordinary run of diggers, and is not afraid to speak his mind although not in an objectionable way. I understand that he has been very vociferous when he has appeared before various appeal tribunals. Because of that I think perhaps he has quite naturally surrounded himself with a certain antagonism. I telephoned the Repatriation Department about his case once and as soon as I mentioned his name, the officer said, “ Come down and have a look at his file “. I did not want to have a look at his file because
I realized from the file he had presented to me what the departmental file would be like.
I want to emphasize that those men who served Australia in the First World War went through a living hell. They are now in the evening of their lives, and if this ungrateful country cannot supply them with medical and hospital treatment for their disabilities, we are not true to our responsibilities. Honorable senators opposite know as well as I do that at every memorial service we attend-
– Order! The honorable senator is getting a little wide of the estimates we are discussing.
– My remarks come under the heading of administration. I am dealing with the onus of proof.
– It is a very wide section.
– Of course, it is. The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN. -
Order! I should like the honorable senator to know that the Chair is ruling, not Senator Ormonde.
– The position I want to emphasize is that in actual fact the onus of proof is placed upon ex-servicemen. I shall refer to a letter that I received from the person I have mentioned. He states that the Minister for Repatriation ignored two letters from him; he did not receive a reply. He also states that the department has been fighting him since 1923 and that he cannot get recognition of the fact that the effects of mustard gas from which he suffers are attributable to his service during World War I.
The department bases its argument on the fact that he was not evacuated, but that argument cannot be relied on entirely. I know that quite a number of ex-servicemen refused to be evacuated because they had a sense of loyalty to their mates.
– That is right.
– They were young, enthusiastic and adventurous. They wanted to stick to their mates, and unless they were cot cases they insisted on remaining with their units. Therefore, the fact that they were not evacuated cannot be considered as absolutely positive proof that they were not adversely affected by their war service. The man of whom I am speaking is 78 years of age. He lost his wife fairly recently. He has been forced to sell his home, and that has deprived him of the service pension he was receiving. He is in receipt of a 40 per cent, war pension, which gives him about £2 a week.
In his letter to me, he states that when he went before an assessment tribunal he was told, “ If you mention mustard gas again I will order you out of the room “. The tribunal obviously considered that because he was not evacuated because of the effects of mustard gas, his appeals could not be substantial.
– Surely there must be some clinical evidence of the effects of mustard gas.
– I am putting the case as I wish to put it - with the Temporary Chairman’s permission. I had enough from Senator Cormack when I wanted to present a petition from ex-servicemen. He refused leave and it was necessary for unanimous approval to be given.
Order! The honorable senator should ignore interjections and proceed with the debate.
– The other point I wish to make is that there are in the community to-day people who have not the foggiest idea of what the troops who served in World War I. went through. Servicemen in that war went through living hell. They were confined to muddy, dirty, stinking trenches for days and weeks at a time. If honorable senators want proof of that statement, I suggest they read page 918 of volume 3 of the official history of Australia in World War I., where some idea is given of the conditions to; which the troops were subjected. The official history states -
On his journey into the trenches, each infantryman now carried his greatcoat, waterproof sheet, one blanket, 220 rounds of ammunition, and, when fighting was in prospect, two bombs, two sandbags, and two days’ reserve rations, besides (the remnant of that day’s “ issue “. Thus burdened, the troops dragged their way along the sledge-tracks beside the communications trenches, the latter - except in the actual front-system - being now never used. But the sledge-tracks also were by this time deep thick mud, which, especially when drying, tugged like glue at the boot-soles, so that the mere journey to the line left men and even pack-animals utterly exhausted. In. the dark those who stepped away from the road fell again and again into shell holes;
What better evidence could possibly be produced regarding the privations those men suffered, or to support their claims concerning physical complaints that came upon them in later years. All that these men want is proper medical and hospital treatment, with the appropriate pension rate for their degree of disability. They want the illnesses from which they are suffering to be recognized by the Repatriation Department as war-caused.
As I mentioned earlier, when we pay homage to those who did not return from the war we say that we are paying homage to men who did not come back to receive the grateful thanks of their country. I do not say that in any derogatory way. Many of the men who served their country in the war years were young and adventurous. When the war ended, their only wish was to to get right away from military control. Because they were of that disposition and spirit they are being penalized at the present time. Honorable senators who were in the services will remember that there were various names, such as “ lead-swinger “ and “ whinger “, for men who persistently pestered the medical officers and complained of illnesses. Yet, those men to-day are receiving full repatriation benefits, while the men of adventurous spirit are being penalized. The repatriation hospitals throughout Australia are never overcrowded. There is always room to spare in them. Yet, these men, in the evening of their lives, when they need a little care and attention and the best medical treatment we can possibly give them, virtually are turned away to die.
In every State of Australia, ordinary hospital accommodation is in short supply. I know that the Government has done a little towards providing treatment for these men, but I suggest that the work should be extended to include, if possible, all the ex-servicemen of both World War I. and World War II. who need such treatment. If that were done, the strain on the ordinary hospitals in the various States would be relieved. I point out that interest on money invested in war loans is held to be sacrosanct and is a first charge on revenue. Yet, the human casualties from war are allowed virtually to rot away without the medical treatment that we could give them. We have the facilities to give them such treatment and I suggest that the Government should make the treatment far more widely available than it has done so far.
The position regarding interest on war loans, compared with that of the human beings who served their country, makes one think of the lines, “ Alas, that gold should be so dear, And flesh and blood so cheap “. I know that the question of onus of proof is discussed here at every opportunity, and that Government supporters invariably say that the onus rests entirely upon the department, but in actual fact, when an appellant appears before the entitlement appeal tribunal - the final tribunal - he finds the onus of proof on hi.-,self.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- I should like to ask a question. If my memory serves me correctly, it was only six or seven months ago that we passed legislation to allow ex-servicemen to enter repatriation hospitals, whether their injuries were war-caused-
– They had to be warcaused.
– You have had your say. Now shut up!
– You would like to be heard in silence, would you?
Order! Senator Kendall must be heard in silence.
– I was merely saying that I was under the impression that it was not necessary for an illness or injury to be war-caused. I should like to know whether that is so. Again, whilst not referring to the case mentioned by Senator Sandford, I should like to repeat what I have said many times in the Senate in connexion with the onus of proof. It is that the onus of proof provision is not being administered in the way that was intended originally. I know what the original intention of the Chifley Government, which introduced this provision, was, but, during my time here, we have had an interpretation first by Senator Spicer when he was Attorney-General, and another more recently by the present Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick). I am not at all sure that these interpretations were correct. Section 47 of the act lays it down quite clearly that the onus of proof shall not be on the ex-serviceman.
– That is right.
– But it is not being administered in that way. Therefore, in one sense, I agree with Senator Sandford. Again I ask the Minister to correct me if I am wrong in believing that ex-servicemen are now entitled to enter repatriation hospitals whether their injuries are war-caused or not.
– I should like to congratulate the Repatriation Department upon its treatment of all those ex-servicemen for whom it does accept responsibility. I think that those ex-servicemen who are receiving benefits from the department are very well served indeed, but my complaint is that many who are entitled to benefits are not getting them from the department. I agree with Senator Kendall and Senator Sandford that the onus-of-proof provision presents difficulties to ex-servicemen, especially those who have returned from World War I. I have had brought to my attention dozens of cases in which applicants for pensions have been told that they must call as witnesses before the tribunal persons who were with them in World War I. This has caused great difficulty to many applicants, especially those who are suffering from the effects of mustard gas attacks during World War I. Many such cases have come to my notice, and this requirement to produce a witness who was with the applicant at the time is a most difficult hurdle.
The other night I mentioned to the Senate the case of a military medal winner who was shot in the chest three times during World War I. Eventually he died of chest trouble, and his widow was told that the chest wounds were not a contributory cause of his death. I do not know how often one has to be shot through the lungs before the injuries will be recognized as a contributory cause of death. As a matter of fact, I was making representations on behalf of this ex-serviceman for two years before he was eventually admitted to a repatriation hospital for investigational treatment. Unfortunately, he died within a few days after entering hospital, and his widow was not accepted as a war widow. Once a man dies, of course, it is almost impossible to do anything further for his widow, because with the ex-serviceman’s death dies all hope of obtaining confirmatory evidence to support a claim for a pension. I should like to see a more generous interpretation placed upon the onusofproof provision, one more in keeping with the intention of those who introduced it originally. Especially would I like to see it administered more generously in connexion with the diggers who have returned from World War I. and who, in many cases, after having been away from Australia for four years and longer, were anxious to cut all red tape and get out of the Army as quickly as possible, and who, therefore, did not have the same stringent medical examination as was imperative after World War II. Because of this, it must be admitted that many of the difficulties now being encountered by these ex-servicemen from World War I. are of their own making, but that is quite understandable in view of the differences between service in World War I. and World War II. Moreover, these old diggers are now getting on a bit, and I do feel that a little more consideration should be shown to them.
It is true, as Senator Kendall has said, that soldiers now suffering from illness are accorded treatment in repatriation hospitals, but some difficulty does arise in connexion with chronically ill ex-servicemen. Only yesterday I received a letter from a man who had been in Hollywood Repatriation Hospital, and who was later transferred to one of the private C class hospitals. I have not been able to check all the details yet. but this ex-serviceman tells me that the facilities provided at the C class hospital are very much below standard. For instance, he says that for 40 patients there are only two toilets, that most of the inmates are elderly people and that the services provided in the hospital are very much sub-standard. Furthermore, he has been called upon to pay £17 10s. a fortnight towards the cost of his maintenance in the hospital.
That brings me to item 03 of Division No. 675, where £1,366,100 is being appropriated for the maintenance of patients in non-departmental institutions. I know that a good deal of this expense is incurred in connexion with soldiers who receive treatment in hospitals in districts in which there are no repatriation hospitals, but the amount appropriated seems to me to be a very large sum, and I should like to know from the Minister whether it includes payments made to hospitals for patients who are not chronically ill. I note that the appropriation this year is only slightly higher than that provided last year. In fact, it would seem that a static amount, of approximately £1,300,000 is put aside each year for this purpose, and I should like to know exactly what this item covers.
I come now to item 07, which relates to the Soldiers’ Children Education Scheme. This is an excellent scheme. Relatives of mine have benefited under it. It is a very worth-while project, and it is administered by the department in an excellent manner. We are very happy in Western Australia - certainly I am - with the officers of the Repatriation Department. They do all they can to help in all cases that I bring to their notice, but they are bound by the regulations. They can only translate those regulations into action according to the instructions issued to them by the department, but I congratulate them on the work they are doing.
I am very anxious about the elderly people who are being sent to C class hospitals. Some of the war widows who have become chronically ill, and who have been in repatriation hospitals for some time, are being transferred to these C class hospitals, and I should like to know what percentage of the cost of their treatment there is borne by the department, and whether the relatives of the patients are required to contribute anything. It has been represented to me by a number of people that the relatives of patients are required to pay some proportion of the cost of treatment. We did have in Western Australia the Edward Millen Home for the chronically ill, and it did excellent work for quite a long time. I should like to know what has happened to this institution. It did excellent work for returned servicemen from World War I. who were chronically ill, and I should like to know what happens now to cases of the kind that used to be treated there.
– I want to speak only very briefly on the Repatriation Department. It has become almost an annual exercise for Senator Sandford to rise in his place and, in his over-enthusiasm, say things that I believe he does not really mean. Then I have to stand up and reply to him. If I understood the honorable senator correctly - I hope 1 mis-heard him and that he will correct me if 1 did - he suggested, if not stated, that the purpose in life of the members of the entitlement appeal tribunals is to attempt to defeat the appeals. I think the “ Hansard “ report will reveal that Senator Sandford made that statement. That is a very unkind and very improper statement for him to make. With all due respect I say to the honorable senator that he should not stand up in his place and say things which he docs not mean and which hurt and reflect on the credit of responsible people. I know Senator Sandford sufficiently well to believe that he did not really mean what he said. I think he will admit, on reflection, that he did not mean to say it; but it is on record, and he has said it.
As one who takes many cases to the Repatriation Commission I have always found in its officers an enthusiasm to try to do the absolute maximum for exservicemen. We have to realize that very difficult judgments have to be made. We must realize also that all the members of appeal tribunals are ex-servicemen who have experienced and have an intimate knowledge of the matters that Senator Sandford mentioned. There are on the tribunals men who fought in the 1914-18 war. They know all about the matters about which Senator Sandford spoke and they know the difficulties that ex-servicemen went through. I am sure that in the judgments that they have to make they have regard to the factors that the honorable senator mentioned. The Repatriation Department is doing a magnificent job for the ex-service men and women of Australia. We have to accept the fact that as ex-servicemen get older it becomes very difficult to draw the line. I am convinced that the benefit of the doubt is given to ex-servicemen because I have seen it given so many times in cases that I have had the honour to wheel up to the department on behalf of constituents.
I wish to refer now to Division No. 675, item 02 - Pharmaceutical services. This year there is a very large increase of about £800,000, from £4,105,000 to £4,936,000, in the appropriation under this item. This pattern is occurring not only in the Repatriation Department but in every phase of medicine. It is a very serious matter. Governments and people associated with hospital administration must have a very good look at it. The advent of new drugs is causing tremendous concern to medical and pharmaceutical services throughout Australia. I say this in passing because it is not strictly relevant to the estimates that we are discussing. In certain hospitals pharmaceutical services are costing more than food and other services simply because of the astronomical number of varieties of new drugs that are coming in. That is reflected in repatriation services and it needs examination.
I have before me the annual report of the Repatriation Commission for 1961-62. It is a very fine document. It gives a great many statistics. At page 33 it deals with the cause of death of ex-servicemen and ex-prisoners-of-war of the Japanese. The point that concerns me is that the document shows that suicide and self-inflicted injuries were responsible for the death of 65 ex-servicemen in the year under review. That is very sad. It gives an insight into the mental strains and disorders that men who came out of that phase of the war carried with them into peace-time. They are reflected in these statistics. All sorts of other classifications of death are shown in the report.
That brings me to the point on which I wish to conclude. I believe that there is a case for a further medical review of exservicemen of the 1939-45 war who were unfortunate enough to be prisoners-of-war for about three and a half years. The form that the review should take - whether a cross-section should be examined, a pilot review should be undertaken or every exprisonerofwar should be examined - is a matter of judgment. If such a review were undertaken, we might be able to prevent some of the unfortunate tragedies that are occurring.
In conclusion, 1 hope that next year, when the estimates of the Repatriation Department are under consideration, Senator Sandford and I will not engage in the same exercise that we have engaged in on this and past occasions. I believe that his heart is in the right place and that he did himself less than justice in his remarks about the appeal tribunals.
Senator MCCLELLAND (New South Wales) 14.23]. - After hearing the remarks of Senators Sandford, Tangney and Anderson and considering the evidence that is available to me at the moment, I must come down on the side of my colleagues, Senators Sandford and Tangney, on the question of the onus of proof. I have before me the 46th annual report of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia for the year 1961. This report will be presented by the national president of the league to the 47th national congress of the R.S.L. at Brisbane on the 29ih of this month.
A table on page 18 of that report sets out the activities of the entitlement appeal tribunals during the period from 1st January, 1961, to 31st December, 1961. A perusal of the figures shown there reveals that in respect of returned servicemen from the 1914-18 war the total number of applications received in the period of twelve months was 2,536; only 373 applications were allowed and 2,059 were disallowed. The figures for returned servicemen from the 1939-45 war show that 5,584 applications were received in the period of twelve months; only 870 were allowed and 3,782 were disallowed. All told there was a total of 8,120 applications, of which 1,243 were allowed and 5,841 were rejected. In other words, it would appear that about one-eighth of the claims that go to the tribunal are accepted and about seven-eighths are rejected. That seems to support the contention that the repatriation authorities are interpreting section 47 of the act in a manner that was not intended by the Parliament. I intend later in my speech to refer to some remarks passed on that aspect by the Returned Servicemen’s League.
Sub-section (2.) of section 47 of the Repatriation Act reads -
It shall not be necessary for the claimant, applicant or appellant to furnish proof to support his claim, application or appeal but the Commission, Board, Appeal Tribunal or Assessment Appeal Tribunal determining or deciding the claim, application or appeal shall be entitled to draw, and shall draw, from all the circumstances of the case, from the evidence furnished and from medical opinions, all reasonable inferences in favour of the claimant, applicant or appellant, and in all cases whatsoever the onus of proof shall lie on the person or authority who contends that the claim, application or appeal should not be granted or allowed to the full extent claimed.
I believe that the Government should amend section 47 to provide that the proof required shall be proof beyond all reasonable doubt. At the present time, cases seem to be judged on a balance of probabilities. In my opinion, the legislation should provide clearly that the person or authority seeking to have a claim, application or appeal rejected, or not allowed in full must prove his case beyond all reasonable doubt.
In its 1961 annual report the national executive of the R.S.L. states -
In general it is recognized and fully accepted that repatriation authorities apply this important section of the Act with sympathy and understanding.
That is a very fair statement by the league. The report continues -
However, from evidence received from State Branches it is apparent that interpretation of Section 47 is not as complete as Parliament intended when it introduced this section in 1943, nor as allembracing as the League would require.
In an impartial review of a number of repatriation cases it becomes evident that repatriation medical authorities are often ultra-conservative and even severe in their examination of illnesses amongst ex-servicemen. Far too much emphasis is placed on the normal medical history of a particular complaint and not enough on the extreme conditions under which the applicant has had to serve.
Quite frequently an application for a chronic complaint is rejected because it could be normal for a person of the applicant’s age. It is questionable whether this constitutes sufficient evidence on which the repatriation authority concerned can properly discharge its Onus of Proof.
Having these things in mind the 46th National Congress authorized the National Executive to recommend an appropriate amendment to Section 47 to the Commonwealth Government.
Section 47 states amongst other things that where a doubt exists the applicant must receive the benefit of the doubt. It does not state what constitutes a doubt and it is in this regard that an amendment may best be considered.
If a repatriation authority states that a certain complaint did not have its origin in war service this contention is surely only fully acceptable if the same authority states where the complaint had its origin.
In its report the league gives a fair indication of what has been taking place in the appeal tribunals under section 47. The league’s suggestion that section 47 should be amended is just and reasonable. If the Government has not already considered amending the section, I hope that it will do so in the very near future. Having in mind the figures cited by the league in its report, I do not think it can be denied that the onus of proof provision is not being applied as was intended originally by the Parliament.
I now wish to refer to Division No. 673 - Repatriation Hospitals and Other Institutions, and also to that portion of the annual report of the R.S.L. which sets out comments made by the former Minister for Repatriation, the Honorable F. M. Osborne. Speaking to the national congress of the league, Mr. Osborne said -
The emphasis now is on treatment, to ensure that the ill or disabled ex-serviceman receives all that is available to him in the new techniques and treatments of medical science. We are developing new hospitals - auxiliary hospitals for those patients who need nursing and medical treatment but do not require the exacting standards of a general hospital. In an atmosphere more akin to a sanitorium or a convalescent home, among their fellows, they can be trained to accommodate themselves to their disabilities, and often to return to a more normal life at home.
I would like the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) to say what the Government has done in that regard. The report of Mr. Osborne’s remarks continue -
We are paying special attention to the treatment of mental illness. Our Chief Psychiatrist has just returned from Canada and the United States where he has made a study of the treatment of the mentally ill in Veterans’ hospitals. His recommendations are being looked into now and before long they will bear fruit in our clinics and psychiatric wards.
Will the Minister inform honorable senators of the recommendations that were made by the department’s chief psychiatrist? Which of those recommendations have been implemented by the Government?
I refer now to Division No. 671, subdivision 2, item 06 - “ Payment for services of Registrars, Police and officers of Postmaster-General’s Department, £13,000”. I note that last year the appropriation under this item was £97,600, of which £97,188 was spent. I am wondering why the appropriation sought this year is so much less than the amount appropriated last year.
I have dealt with most of the matters that I intended to raise, and I now wish to say a few words about the recognition of cancer as a war-caused disability. In its annual report for 1961 the national executive of the R.S.L. states -
The League has been pressing for a number of years now for the automatic acceptance of cancer as a war-caused or contributed illness. While this has not been included in the pensions plan for 1962 it has been made the subject of a special approach to the Minister. Arguments arising from debate at the 46th National Congress generally followed the line that has been taken in previous years. The League’s request on cancer is based essentially on three main points:
The fact that the cause and origin of cancer cannot be properly determined and consequently if the terms of Section 47 are to be fully implemented, cancer cases should be accepted as war-caused.
The very long period between the true origin of cancer and its first appearance as definite symptoms. Medical authorities place this as up to 30 years and even longer.
The lack of uniformity in decisions at present existing between various repatriation authorities. It is felt that the only way to achieve uniform benefits for victims of this malady is to have automatic acceptance.
I believe that the Government should take cognizance of such remarks, and should give consideration to having cancer accepted automatically as a war-caused disability in the case of those who gave their services to this country at the time their services were most needed. They offered to shed their blood in the defence of Australia and saw many of their fellows make the supreme sacrifice to ensure that this country remained free and democratic. I believe that we as a nation owe much to our exservicemen who suffered so much. I trust that the Government will see that section 47, sub-section (2.) of the Repatriation Act is implemented and carried out as was originally intended when it was enacted by this Parliament.
– I desire to ask the Minister several short questions concerning the activities of the Repatriation Department in South Australia. I should like to compliment the department on its general approach to repatriation matters in that State. I can confidently say that the utmost courtesy is extended by the Commissioner and his officers at head-quarters in Pultney-street, and by those engaged on the medical side at Dawes-road. Some time ago 1 was privileged to go to Dawes-road with some of my colleagues and inspect the psychiatric side of the work there. Although the buildings and equipment appear to me to be below standard, the work going on, as far as 1 could determine, was of a high standard. I am pleased to note in the report of the department for the year 1961-62 that a new psychiatric ward is to be built at the Springbank general hospital. The report states -
A feature of the departmental works programme was the commencement of work on a new psychiatric ward at the Repatriation General Hospital, Springbank, South Australia. The ward, which will cost approximately £130,000, provides the most modern facilities for treatment and will prove a valuable contribution to the department’s psychiatric service.
Can the Minister let me know when that psychiatric ward is likely to be opened and whether patients not being treated at Springbank at present will be transferred to Springbank from other institutions, particularly institutions controlled by the State Government? Will the Minister inform me how many patients the new ward is expected to accommodate?
– I wish to refer to the matter raised by Senator Laught, but I approach it from another angle. I agree with Senator Laught that the staff of the Repatriation Department are courteous and co-operative to the extent that the very restrictive provisions of the Repatriation Act permit them to be. I was particularly interested in Senator Laught’s reference to the hospital at Springbank. He mentioned that in his opinion the accommodation was not really good.
– I referred to the psychiatric section.
– I am talking about the general standard of accommodation at Dawes-road. Whilst we welcome the news that this new psychiatric ward will be constructed I think we ought to be more vocal about the general standard of accommodation at the Dawes-road hospital in Springbank in South Australia.
No doubt many honorable senators opposite have seen the accommodation that is provided, but to me it is on a par with some of the barrack-like buildings which are called migrant hostels throughout Australia and which are no credit to the locality in which they are located, and certainly no credit to this Parliament. I hope, Mr. Chairman, that the standard of accommodation at Dawes-road, Springbank, will receive urgent consideration from this Government. As one who from time to time visits patients there I say that there is room for great and immediate improvement. I recognize that reconstruction is a major task, but many of the weatherboard wards are sub-standard and could be improved considerably, particularly by the provision of more sun rooms. Only in isolated sections of the hospital can inmates enjoy the sun during the colder weather in winter. I believe that more provision should be made for sun rooms in the existing accommodation at Dawes-road. I hope that a genuine attempt will be made to improve the accommodation at the hospital during the next twelve months.
– I wish to refer to the administrative item under Division No. 671. The report of the commission discloses that the average day’s stay per patient in repatriation general hospitals decreased from fifteen days in 1960-61 to 13.7 days in 1961-62. Can the Minister explain the reason for that decrease?
Under Division No. 674 I should like to mention a case in Adelaide about which I have made representations. I do not want any intrusion into this matter at this stage, but I mention the details for the information of the Minister, ft is the case of an ex-serviceman who, before being assessed as having a nervous condition due to a war disability, had been taken to the mental hospital in South Australia. Because of his attendance at the mental hospital the Public Trustee in South Australia, under State statute, was required to administer his affairs. Finally, after becoming well and having been assessed as a war disability case, this man was charged £12 12s. by the State for the administration of his affairs.
I have found out since that in the case of a single man the Repatriation Department looks after his affairs and no charge is made. This case merits sympathetic and favorable consideration. If this sort of thing can happen with a single man, it is proper for the department either to handle the affairs of a married person or to meet the charges made by the State authority, the Public Trustee.
– I want to deal first with the remarks made by Senator Sandford. Whilst he conceded that the personnel of the department were always, in his experience, most co-operative, he criticized members of appeals tribunals.
– The methods, not the members. I criticized Government policy.
– It is not
Government policy at all. The honorable senator had a pretty fair go and was not interrupted. Now he should sit and listen, like a good mannered fellow.
– I do not want you to go wrong.
– As a matter of fact, it rubs the honorable senator when 1 refer to this matter. What he said was that appeals tribunals set out to defeat applicants. I reject that entirely and emphatically. I say quite temperately that Senator Sandford, as an ex-serviceman himself, will not find any support for the proposition that he puts that appeals tribunals set out to defeat the claims made by applicants. Indeed, I think that any one exercising an objective judgment would emphatically support the view that at all levels of our repatriation mechanisms the greatest measure . of helpfulness and cooperation is extended to applicants.
The honorable senator had a good deal to say, as did other honorable senators, about the onus of proof. I think it should be said that misunderstandings about section 47, relating to the onus of proof, come from persons who do not understand that the doubt to which the section refers is a doubt in the mind solely of the determining authority himself. Having heard all the evidence and having available all the records, if the determining authority at the conclusion of the hearing has anything in the nature of a doubt in his own mind, he must exercise that doubt in favour of the applicant. This matter has been referred to in two interpretations given by succeeding Attorneys-General. My friend, Senator Kendall, referred to the fact that both Mr. Justice Spicer when AttorneyGeneral, and more recently Sir Garfield Barwick, had been at pains to indicate how this provision is to be interpreted. It is as well that it should go on the record.
Shortly, the interpretation given by the Attorney states that claims and appeals are to be decided according to natural justice and the merits of the case, and that the determining authorities are not to be bound by technicalities, legal forms, or the laws of evidence. The claimant or appellant is to be given the benefit of any doubt, and all reasonable inferences are to be drawn in his favour to the exclusion of all other inferences. Finally, the claimant or appellant does not have to prove his case. The determining authority must allow the case unless the Commonwealth proves to it that the claim should ‘not be allowed. Where there is any doubt in the mind of the determining authority, the claim has to be allowed. I want to say something about the determining authority. Repatriation boards, the commission, entitlement appeal tribunals, and the chairmen of the assessment appeal tribunals are all ex-servicemen ho have had overseas service. On each board, the commission, and each entitlement tribunal, one member is a person selected from lists of names submitted by ex-service organizations. The chairmen of entitlement and assessment tribunals are qualified lawyers. - 1-*.-,
I have inquired of my colleague, the Minister, whether there is any possibility of these determining authorities, or any one of them, not having been made aware of the interpretation that is to be placed on section 47. My colleague assures me that every determining authority throughout the Commonwealth has been made aware of and completely understands the intention of the clause and how it is to be applied. That having been done, I do not think that much more can be done.
I appreciate very much the situation in which Senator Sandford finds himself when he gets a case such as the one to which he referred to-day, which evokes the natural sympathy of any one to whom it is presented. 1 think it would be right to say that all ex-service senators at least have at some time or other encountered this type of case. But it should not be concluded that these men, unfortunate as their cases may be, are the victims of some misinterpretation of the onus of proof clause. Senator Kendall spoke in rebuttal of what Senator Sandford said as to eligibility for hospital treatment and general medical treatment.
– 1 admitted that it had been extended.
– It has. I want to make the point, because we are on the air. I do not want Senator Sandford’s remarks to be taken by any one who heard them as indicating that war pensioners are not eligible, because they are eligible. The way that Senator Sandford spoke, although he subsequently said he did not mean it, could do nothing but create the impression that all war pensioners are not eligible for hospital treatment. They are. A war service pensioner who receives a pension of 2s. becomes eligible for full medical and hospital treatment.
Senator Tangney referred to Division No. 675, item 03, and asked about nondepartmental institutions. They include such places as mental hospitals administered by the States on a basis of reimbursement by the department. They include also Red Cross convalescent homes, country and metropolitan hospitals, State and privatelyowned, and private nursing homes. Service pensioners who are chronically ill cannot be retained indefinitely in hospital as they do not generally receive actual remedial treatment. They are normally admitted to various rest homes of the type to which 1 have referred, and to convalescent homes. The question of treatment in C class hospitals is currently under consideration by the Repatriation Department.
– Does the Repatriation Department pay the fees in C class hospitals?
– I understand that when persons are eligible and are transferred from a repatriation hospital, if the eligibility continues so also does the obligation of the department, and it pays in full the necessary expenses incurred.
– Does that apply to war widows too?
– Yes, it has application to war widows as well. I have a note about the Edward Millen Home. I think it is to be continued as it is being currently conducted. Some time ago, there was a suggestion that it was to be disposed of, but my understanding is that no decision has been reached. If I am not correct on that matter I will inform the honorable senator.
Senator Anderson referred to pharmaceutical expenses, and directed attention to the large increase expected this year. This is because of an increase in the number of prescriptions, arising from an increase in the previous range of eligibility and to the extension of eligibility to war service pensioners. For example, in 1958-59, there were 2,200,000 scripts involved, but in 1961-62 the number of scripts had increased to 3,900,000. The average cost of each script, has increased as shown in the following table: -
I think senator Anderson will appreciate that the much wider eligibility, the increase in the number of pensioners and the higher costs account for the significant increase in the vote. Senator McClelland referred to claims for the automatic acceptance of cancer. Because of the importance of this matter, I shall take the liberty of reading a statement that has been prepared by the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz). It is as follows: -
Arguments have been advanced in the past for the automatic acceptance of cancer as a disease caused or contributed to by war service. They have been examined by my predecessors and their advisers and have also been debated in Parliament.
The term ‘“cancer “ is commonly used to include all kinds of malignant tumours. It covers a very wide variety of diseases occurring in many parts of the body; for example, the International Classification of Diseases lists some 250 kinds of malignant neoplasms. It can therefore be very misleading to generalize by the use of such an embracing term.
Whilst the precise cause of cancers is still unknown, a lot is known about the factors which do or do not contribute to the causation of particular cancers and a lot is also known about their development. There is no evidence which suggests any general connexion between service conditions and cancer. Indeed, the British Ministry of Pensions Medical Officers’ Manual states -
While the precise cause of cancer is still unknown there is adequate material both of a scientific and statistical nature available to enable the Ministry to exclude all ordinary conditions of service as being a causative factor and the entitlement to pension is not normally conceded.
It must also be remembered that conditions of war service varied very widely as to duration, area, general conditions, whether or not there was any real degree of hardship, or significant departure from living conditions of the community generally, and so on.
I am informed it is possible that in some cancers there may be a long period between the precancerous beginning that may lead to malignant changes and the first symptoms appearing; this could in some cases include a period of war service.
However, the real question in such cases, from the point of view of the acceptance under the act of the malignant condition, is whether the condition has any relation to war service in accordance with the legislation; that is, whether it caused an incapacity or first manifested itself during war service, or is attributable to or arose out of war service, or was aggravated by such service.
This does not exclude the possibility of some connexion between specific disabilities due to war service and a cancer; in fact many are accepted as related to war service for this reason.. However, each case must be considered on its own facts.
The following extract from Sir Garfield Barwick’s advice as to the meaning and effect of section 47 of the act is relevant to cancer: -
The resolution of the claim in cases where the serviceman is found to have some pathological condition, of which medical science is unable to tell the origin, will follow exactly the same lines as in any other case. Equally, with other cases, the tribunal may be able to reach its conclusion without resort to any question of onus, reasonable inference or, for that matter, doubt. It may be convinced by medical opinion of one side or the other as in other cases. If the decision is for the claimant then it suffices that the tribunal be convinced that the opinion which it accepts is more probably than not the right opinion. If the decision is for the Commission, of course, the tribunal should be convinced that the opinion which they accept is correct beyond any reasonable doubt.
Whether or not a determining authority has a doubt within the meaning of section 47 must depend upon the facts of each case, and in my opinion it is wrong to drawany general conclusions from particular determinations. Further, there will always be borderline cases where the existence of a doubt is itself very much a matter of opinion. It is partly for this reason that the legislation has given the ex-serviceman two successive rights of appeal from a decision of a Repatriation Board, and why an ex-servicemen’s nominee has been included on each authority.
– Orderl The Minister’s time has expired.
– by leave - I point out to the Senate that the text I am about to read is in the exact terms of a statement made in the House of Representatives earlier to-day by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley). Consequently, when I use the personal pronoun “ I “, it refers to the Minister for Defence, and not to me.
The defence programme which I announced in 1959 was satisfactorily completed on 30th June last. In this statement on the defence estimates for 1962-63 I shall inform the Senate of the Government’s decisions regarding the new three years’ programme commencing this financial year.
Our defence preparations are achieved through a series of programmes of three years’ duration. These are designed to give progressive effect to the objectives of defence policy approved by the Government. The three-year period of the present programme should not, therefore, be viewed in isolation but as part of a continuing and progressive pattern of development related to a forward look at situations that might confront us in future years.
The last programme was prepared to meet an assessment of continuing instability in the areas of strategic concern to us. This called for the progressive development of highly trained forces of all three services, equipped with modern, conventional weapons and as self-contained as possible. These would be readily available to work either together or with allied forces in situations that might pose a threat to our security, wherever it might develop. Australia’s geographic circumstances, with the great areas and distances in our region of strategic interest require that the highest emphasis must be placed on forces which are mobile and able to move quickly to any threatened area. The current review has fully vindicated the wisdom of this policy. It will be continued and expanded in the new programme.
During the three years of the last programme defence expenditure totalled £193,500,000 in 1959-60, £198,000,000 in 1960-61, and £203,000,000 last financial year - an increase, it will be seen, of some £10,000,000 in the three-year period. The funds voted by Parliament in each of these years were fully spent on approved objectives.
The new three-year programme will require substantial increases in the annual level of our defence expenditure. An amount of £210,000,000 was included in the Estimates for this financial year, the first year of the new programme. As stated in the Budget speech on 7th August, this was a tentative figure pending completion of inquiries into actual outgoings under the programme in the current financial year. It is now estimated that actual expenditure this year will be of the order of £212,700,000. The additional moneys required will be sought in duc course in Additional Estimates.
As the programme develops, the proposals which have been approved for increased strengths of the services, purchases of new equipment and other new projects will require increasing financial provision. It is at present estimated that the cost in 1963-64, the second year of the programme, will rise to some £218,000,000, and in 1964-65 to about £220,000,000. These costs for the second a. -1 third years of the programme are planning figures, and the actual amounts required will be sought in the Estimates at the beginning of each financial year. It can be seen that on the basis of present planning there will have been an increase of nearly £30,000,000 during the last programme and the one now commencing.
It is worth reminding honorable senators of the procedures followed in the formulation of the defence programme. And to emphasize them, as the point is so often overlooked or forgotten. A comprehensive review must be made of all the complex considerations involved in modern defence, embracing not only strategic and military but scientific and technological, external affairs, financial and economic factors. Cabinet has the benefit of up-to-date expert advice from its professional advisers in all these fields. In addition, the arrangements we have for the exchange of views and information at all levels with our allies and for joint planning with them, give us access to a much wider range of data on which to base our preparations, and ensure that they fit most effectively into the allied pattern.
The processes followed are simply stated but worth repeating. As mentioned, they often tend to be forgotten. First, there is a strategic appreciation. This takes into account -
Future trends in the international situation including the likelihood of war.
The assessment of possible threats to our own security.
This is based on the great range of information which is available to us from our own and allied intelligence sources. The assessment not only covers the situation for to-day and the period of the programme, but is projected forward as far as one can reasonably foresee. I pause here to make a point. There are many men who, in the past, have rendered distinguished service to the nation in the armed forces, and who now hold their own views on what is required for the defence of the country. I often receive letters and resolutions from individuals and organizations interested in these matters. Their suggestions are always considered and I welcome their interest. It should be remembered, however, that they do not have the advantage of the intelligence information which is available to the Government through its military advisers. Now to the next element in policy formulation, namely -
The plans developed in conjunction with our allies. For obvious reasons, these are matters which cannot be discussed publicly but they are at the very core of our defence planning and programming.
It is in the light of these factors that the programme is formulated. It is this that determines the defence policy objectives, the priorities of defence effort, the roles and organization of the forces, their equipment and support backing.
Turning to the strategic basis of policy, there clearly remains a continuing risk of limited war in areas of tension throughout the world. Current events in Cuba and the north-east of India give added cause for grave concern. There are many areas in South-East Asia which are of primary strategic importance to Australia, where there have been increasing Communist pressures.
This strategic situation requires that Australia’s Navy, Army and Air Force must be as efficient as we can make them. It is equally evident that in the conditions of the modern world, no country can ensure its security in isolation. The pressures of aggressive international communism, which constitute the main threat in the world to-day, can only be countered by the enhanced strength which comes from collective security. For this reason, Australia pursues a policy of active association with allies in mutual security arrangements such as Anzus, Seato, and British Commonwealth arrangements for defence co-operation.
In this way, we make a worthwhile contribution to the security and stability of our more exposed friends. In turn, we attract the support of allies should we be threatened. The Government attaches the highest value to these treaty arrangements with our great allies, and to the obligations of mutual assistance in the event of attack. These were re-affirmed at the Anzus Council meeting in Canberra last May attended by the United States Secretary of State, Mr. Dean Rusk.
The current review of the strategic basis of defence policy has indicated, in short, that the requirement is for continued development of the Armed Forces on the pattern established in the last programme. On the basis of forward-looking assessments, this gave first priority to flexible, mobile, and readily available forces. As I have stated, the present programme provides for the progressive expansion of our defence effort on these lines, to increase further the level of Australian military capability and preparedness.
I come now to the three services and shall deal first with the Navy. Honorable senators will recall that approval was given in the last programme for the initiation of a number of important new projects designed to further the continuing process of modernization of the Royal Australian Navy.
Progress with these projects is well advanced, as will be seen from the following: -
The two guided missile destroyers of the Charles F. Adams class, which are being built in the United States, will be delivered during 1965. These powerful, modern, all-purpose warships will considerably enhance the strength of the Royal Australian Navy.
Delivery has commenced of 27 Westland Wessex Mark 31 helicopters, which will be used to equip “ H.M.A.S. Melbourne “ in its new role of antisubmarine helicopter carrier in 1963. A fleet requirements unit of fixed wing aircraft will be retained.
The six “ Ton “ class minesweepers purchased from the United Kingdom have been commissioned and are on their way to Australia. I should mention that these units are the most modern of their type available. They are equipped to deal with magnetic, acoustic and the normal moored mines. Two of the vessels will be specially fitted to operate as mine-hunters.
The former aircraft carrier H.M.A.S. “ Sydney “ has been converted to its new role of fast transport and is in commission. This has improved immeasurably the strategic mobility of the Australian forces.
The further two Type 12 anti-submarine frigates, “Stuart” and “Derwent”, which are being built in Australia, are due for completion in the latter part of next year. These will be equipped with the Seacat short-range air defence missile, which will later be fitted to other units. Two ships of this type (“ Parramatta “ and “ Yarra “) are in commission. These Type 12’s are fast anti-submarine frigates, and incorporate the most advanced equipment for detecting and destroying submarines.
The new specialized survey ship, which is being built in Australia, will be completed during 1963.
The fast fleet replenishment tanker, H.M.A.S. “ Supply “, has been commissioned and is on her way to Australia. This unit will add considerably to the mobility of the Royal Australian Navy.
At the end of the programme period, the operational fleet of the Royal Australian Navy will comprise the following major units: -
An anti-submarine helicopter aircraft carrier; three “Daring” class destroyers; four new Type 12 antisubmarine frigates; and two Battle class destroyers.
In addition, there will be the fast transport, H.M.A.S. “Sydney”, the fleet tanker, the flotilla of minesweepers and a substantial number of support units, including ships for training, oceanographic and hydrographic survey, coast watching and various miscellaneous duties. There are also destroyers, frigates and other ships held in reserve. These, of course, can be brought into service to meet any need for expansion in an emergency.
By arrangements made with the United Kingdom, three modern Royal Navy T class submarines will be based on the Australian station for some years, and this satisfactorily meets present requirements for the anti-submarine training of the Royal Australian Navy and the maritime reconnaissance squadrons of the R.A.A.F. The major refits of these submarines are undertaken in Australia, thereby providing work and experience for Australian dockyards. Their presence on this station also provides the opportunity for R.A.N, personnel to gain experience in submarines.
The Navy requires additional personnel to man fully all operational ships and to provide essential shore backing. Provision has therefore been made in the present programme to increase the strength of the permanent naval forces from the present total of approximately 11.100 to 12,500. Provision has also been made for the modernization of units at present in service, as necessary.
The ships and men of the Royal Australian Navy are kept at the highest state of readiness by constant exercises in all aspects of naval warfare. Two destroyers or frigates serve with British and New Zealand ships in the British Commonwealth Strategic Reserve, and the aircraft carrier joins this force for a period each year. Our naval forces participate regularly in largescale multi-national maritime exercises with other Seato and Commonwealth navies. These provide most valuable experience for our own units and are of the utmost importance in ensuring that the forces of the various allied nations learn to work and operate together.
The operational fleet of the Royal Australian Navy, backed by its reserves and essential shore establishments, is a modern and effective naval force at ready availability. With its special emphasis on antisubmarine capability, it is well constituted to discharge its strategic role - the defence of sea communications and co-operation with allies and sister services in general operations of war.
Expenditure on the Navy last financial year totalled £47,700,000, whilst £48,890,000 is being provided in this year’s Estimates, and this will rise to £49,400,000 under the programme approved since the presentation of the Budget.
For the last three year programme beginning in 1959, the Government approved a major re-organization of the Army. This involved an increase in the strength of the permanent operational forces, reductions in administrative, maintenance and training units, and a fully volunteer Citizen Military Force available for service anywhere. There was also increased and substantial provision for the purchase of modern equipment. I would like to emphasize that this was a very considerable task of re-organization, and it is to the credit of the Army that it has been successfully carried through in the last three years. The Army is now established on a basis which is closely adapted to the tasks it might have to carry out in cold or limited war situations, and is in a position where it . can be further strengthened to perform its allotted role.
The Army has the following main operational units: -
A battalion group of the permanent Army in Malaya in the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve.
Two battle groups of the permanent Army in Australia.
Three C.M.F. battle groups which, with the two permanent battle groups, make up the first Australian division; and a further five C.M.F. battle groups to make up a second Australian division.
I shall deal first with the permanent forces. The total strength of 21,000 which was approved in the last programme has been achieved and, in fact, exceeded in recent months. The battalion group in Malaya is at its full peace-time strength and has just completed a tour of duty in security operations against the Communist terrorists in the northern border areas of Malaya. The two regular battle groups in Australia are stationed at Enoggera, in Queensland, and at Holsworthy, in New South Wales. They are at their planned strength and regularly carry out large-scale exercises. For example, over a three-week period beginning this week, more than 8,000 troops will carry out the most extensive Army exercise yet held in Australia. During this period, the two battle groups and logistic support forces will engage in mobile operations resembling as closely as possible those which might be necessary in an overseas theatre. All members of the Regular Army field force receive continual training in tropical warfare. Over one-third of these personnel have had experience in these conditions in Malaya, through service in the Australian component of the strategic reserve.
The Government attaches particular importance to having the permanent field force, including its combat and logistic support units, at a high state of operational readiness. Experience gained since the introduction of the pentropic organization, together with the conduct of realistic exercises, and close study of the operational concepts which could govern the employment of our forces, have indicated the lines along which the Regular Army could be strengthened to give it maximum effectiveness. The Government has accordingly decided that during the next three years the Australian Regular Army shall be progressively expanded from the figure of 21,000 approved for the last programme to reach a new strength of 24,500 by June, 1965. This is an increase of 3,500 men, or some 17 per cent. In addition to providing first reinforcements, the increased strength will be distributed throughout various combat, logistic support and training and administrative units. The effect of this Army expansion will be to bring the regular field force to a higher state of training and combat readiness and give it a greater logistic capability to sustain itself in a theatre of war. This will certainly be the most effective force ever established in Australia in peace-time.
During the last three-year programme the Government emphasized its desire to have strong and efficient Citizen Military Forces, over and above the permanent forces, for rapid follow-up of the regular field force and as a basis for expansion in war. It accordingly approved volunteer citizen forces of 30,000. This strength has been slightly exceeded - a very satisfactory result which belies some gloomy forecasts made three years ago. The transition from a national service scheme to fully volunteer citizen forces has required a period of settling down, but there is no doubt that the citizen forces are developing into effective forces for the performance of their allotted role. The scheme for integrated training of C.M.F. units with Regular Army forces, wherever practicable, and with new weapons, has greatly added to the interest and realism of C.M.F. training. Citizen units will participate in the major Army exercise beginning this week. An increase of some 2,500 is required in the Citizen Military Force, to achieve a proper balance between the strengths of the several supporting arms and services. The Government has therefore decided to increase the total strength to 32,500 during the programme period. For the reason I have indicated, the increases will be distributed between existing units rather than allocated to the raising of new units.
In the last programme the strength of the school cadets was increased from 33,000 to 38,000. There is a growing enthusiasm within the School Cadet Corps, and the Government has decided on a further increase of 2,000 to a new figure of 40,000 during the new programme. The increase will be devoted mainly to the formation of cadet units at new schools, or at schools which to date have not raised units and now desire to do so.
One of the main purposes of the last programme was to free funds for the purchase of increased quantities of capital equipment for the Army, and some £30,000,000 was made available over the three years. Priority was given to the equpiment modernization programme and reserves of war material for the regular field force, but with some modern types of equipment, such as the FN rifle, to go to the Citizen Military Forces. Re-equipment is a continuous cycle, with old equipment being phased out an new equipment becoming available as a result of research and development both overseas and in Australia. The Government is again providing an amount of £30,000,000 for new equipment purchases over :he next three years. Items to be procured include landing craft, weapons, ammunition, radio and radar equipment, tracked and load-carrying vehicles, clothing, and general, technical and engineering stores.
There will be continued emphasis on air portability and lightweight weapons and equipment to ease the logistic load, which has. already led to the introduction of items such as the 105mm. pack howitzer, and air portable vehicles. The new range of lightweight personal equipment, which was designed and developed in Australia to meet the special requirements of the soldier in tropical areas, has received the most favorable comment both here and overseas.
Some of the equipment to be purchased from the general provision of £30,000,000 will be for the Citizen Military Forces. Over and above this, and having regard to the Government’s view on the need for strong and efficient citizen forces, an additional allocation of £2,700,000 has been made in the new programme specifically for the purchase of equipment for the priority C.M.F. battle groups. Action is already in hand to provide adequate scales of the new range of personal combat equipment for the C.M.F. Other modern weapons and equipment will be bought with the aim of gradually standardizing basic items with those held by regular units.
Apart from the provision of £32,700,000 for equipment, which I have already mentioned, the Government has allocated an additional £1,000,000 for the expansion of the Army light aircraft squadron in order to improve further the mobility of the Army in operations. Other major aircraft purchases to improve the mobility of the Army will be referred to when I deal with the Air Force programme.
The various measures for the Army which I have outlined in the new programme will provide combat forces capable of making a prompt, effective and sustained contribution to whatever operations they may be called upon to undertake. An amount of £67,300,000 was included in Army estimates for 1962-63 and the actual cost is now expected to be £68,500,000. It is provisionally estimated that the Army will require £71,300,000 in 1963-64, and £75,300,000 in 1964-65.
Turning now to the Air Force, I shall give honorable senators a brief review of progress in major projects approved in the last programme, and of the measures proposed for expansion in the present programme. It will be recalled that the Dassault Mirage III jet fighter aircraft was selected to replace the Sabres, after the most exhaustive examination of all available types, as the most suitable aircraft to meet the needs of the Royal Australian Air Force. Approval was given for an initial order of 30 Mirage fighters. These are being procured under an arrangement with the principal French manufacturers by which much of the airframe and engine will be manufactured in Australia by the Government aircraft factory and Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Proprietary Limited. Deliveries of these aircraft are expected to commence next year. Approval has been given in the new .programme for the placing of an order for an additional 30 Mirage aircraft. These will permit the re-equipping of a second Sabre squadron, and provide a reserve against possible loss or damage. This further order will also facilitiate continuity of local production and deliveries.
The twelve P2V7 maritime reconnaissance aircraft, approved in the last programme to replace the obsolete Lincolns of No. 10 Squadron, were delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force earlier this year. The aircraft are based at Townsville in north Queensland, and have already shown their . effectiveness in the antisubmarine exercises in which they have taken part. Although based at Townsville, it must be remembered that these aircraft, like those of the other maritime reconnaissance squadron based in New South Wales, can be flown anywhere on our coasts in a few hours if a submarine threat should develop.
The delivery and installation at Williamtown of the Bristol Mark I. Bloodhound surface-to-air missile system is nearing completion and will be operative early next year. A special squadron has been formed to operate the system, which is largely automatic and will have a capability to intercept aircraft at a considerabe range in all weather conditions, by day and night.
The re-arming of the Sabres with the Sidewinder air-to-air missile has proceeded, and it is now the primary air-to-air armament in our Sabre aircraft. This has added greatly to the operational capability of the Sabre squadrons, whose pilots have regular practice in the use of the missile and have developed great confidence in it.
The Bell HUIB Iroquois helicopters ordered in the last programme, to meet an Air Force requirement for search and rescue and Army requirements for liaison and casualty evacuation, are being delivered. No. 9 (SAR) Squadron has been formed to operate these aircraft.
The requirements for tactical air transport support for the Australian armed forces have been the subject of close examination in the new programme. An effective strategic airlift capability is provided by the squadron of Hercules C.130 transport aircraft, which could be augmented in emergency by civil aircraft, but these could not meet the requirement for tactical air transport within the theatre of operations, such as Army logistic support, Army tactical mobility within the combat zone and the Air Force requirement for support and search and rescue. These needs are accentuated by the difficult terrain and meteorological conditions and the inadequacy of communications in areas in which our forces may be called upon to operate.
In order to develop further the mobility of the forces for operations in such conditions, approval has been given for the following new projects in the Air Force programme -
The purchase of eight additional Bell HUIB Iroquois helicopters, which are eminently suitable for use as utility helicopters to assist the Army in its field tasks. These will be delivered during the latter part of 1963.
The purchase of eight heavy-lift helicopters, primarily for Army support, with a capability for transport of Army equipment and troops in the operational area. The Air Force is evaluating the various types available to select the most suitable for this role.
The ordering, at a later stage in the programme period, of twelve fixed wing transport aircraft with a short take-off and landing capability, of a type still to be selected, to meet Army and Air Force support requirements.
An active programme of airfield works and development has been proceeding. The new 11,000-ft. runway at Darwin, and its associated taxiways and hardstanding area, will be completed in the next few months. Major airfield re-construction and extensions have been undertaken at Amberley in Queensland, Williamtown in New South Wales, and East Sale in Victoria. Provision has been made in the new programme for the construction of certain new buildings and works at the Townsville base, and for commencement of any additional airfield in the Darwin area previously authorized. Work on this has been delayed pending completion of detailed surveys to determine the most suitable site.
The Order of Battle of the Royal Australian Air Force comprises the following operational units: -
Three bomber squadrons - one in the Strategic Reserve in Malaya and two at Amberley in Queensland.
Four fighter squadrons - two in tha Strategic Reserve in Malaya and two at Williamtown in New South Wales - and a contingent of fighter aircraft at Ubon in Thailand.
Two maritime reconnaissance squadrons - one at Townsville, Queensland, and one at Richmond, New South Wales.
Three transport squadrons.
One surface-to-air missile squadron.
One search and rescue squadron of helicopters.
Three control and reporting units.
Provision has been made in the new programme for an increase in the strength of the Air Force by 200 to 16,440. Expenditure on the Air Force last financial year was £65,200,000. The amount of £66,300,000 has been tentative provided in this year’s estimates, but this figure will rise to £67,200,000 under the programme proposals, with a planned expansion to over £70,000,000 in each of the second and third years of the programme.
The programme provides for the progressive development of the defence production and research and development organizations which so effectively back the needs of the services. Time does not allow a detailed treatment of these aspects of our defence effort, but I commend to the attention of honorable senators the excellent brochure circulated by the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall). This presents a picture of the wide range of activities which is being undertaken so successfully in these fields.
The new programme will provide for the continued expansion of production capacity to meet current service needs, and the progressive modernization of Government munitions factories to ensure that they can cope with any emergency. Attention is also paid to the maintenance of capacity for defence production in private industry.
In the field of defence research and development, Australia, in partnership with Britain, continues to play an important role in the testing of guided missiles at the Weapons Research Establishment at Salisbury and Woomera. A task which has been recently added to this establishment is Australia’s participation in the European Launcher Development Organization, which plans to launch satellites from Woomera during the next couple of years. Other important defence research projects are being undertaken, including the development, with every evidence of success, of a powerful anti-submarine guided missile system, for which the United States is providing substantial financial assistance.
Australia is associated with the United States in many space and defence projects, large and small, on the Australian mainland. An example of these is the satellite tracking system at Muchea in Western Australia, and at Woomera, which played such an important part in Project Mercury. An amount of £22,800,000 is provided in the estimates of the Department of Supply for this financial year. This provision will rise to £23,000,000 under the programme proposals.
The major item in the programme for the Defence Department is the provision for the electronic data processing proving and training centre. The building to house this organization at Russell Hill, Canberra, has now been completed and the first computers have been installed. This centre will train personnel and develop EDP systems for each of the services in turn, commencing with the Air Force in 1964.
There are a couple of other activities which, though little publicized, are worth mentioning, as they are leading to most satisfactory economies and improvements in efficiency. I refer to the work which is proceeding in the co-ordination of inspection activities of the services, and the standardization of items of equipment used by the Armed Forces. Both activities are carried on in close liaison with private industry which, from its own point of view, has been equally pleased with the results achieved.
There is one matter to which I should like to refer briefly before I close, because it is so often the subject of discussion. That is the defence of the northern areas of Australia. The defence preparations necessary to ensure the security of these areas are made against the background of the overall plan for the defence of Australia and its territories. As I have indicated earlier in this speech, this is related to the threat and to the system of collective security and allied strategy upon which our defence policy is formulated. The defence of this area in present strategic circumstances is provided by the nucleus forces stationed there, the maintenance of strategic bases, and the mobility of our forces, which could be moved quickly to reinforce the area in the event of emergency and, indeed, to any other area where a threat might develop.
Improved mobility was a major objective of the last programme, as it is of the current programme. It has been progressively achieved by the series of projects which I have mentioned. Regular mobility exercises conducted by all three services amply demonstrate and effectively increase this capability.
Many millions of pounds have been spent on the development of defence preparations in the north, from the re-activation of Learmonth airfield in the north-west, round to the re-equipment with the latest antisubmarine aircraft of the maritime reconnaissance squadron at Townsville, in the north-east.
In conclusion, the new programme proposals will involve a substantial increase in the level of defence expenditure. This will rise from £193,000,000 in the first year of the last programme, £203,000,000 last financial year, to over £212,000,000 this year, with a planned increase to the order of £220,000,000 in 1964-65- the final year of the present programme.
The Government realizes that the greatest wisdom and judgment must be brought to bear on defence expenditure in these days. Many extravagant views are canvassed. From many points come demands for larger expenditure. From other quarters there are demands for reduction in defence spending. The Government believes that significant expansion of defence spending is essential in the present state of international affairs, which demands a policy of unceasing and effective defence preparedness.
I emphasize again that the programme has been formulated on the basis of strategic requirements and up-to-date intelligence assessments of the threat. The projects are designed to further the progressive development and build-up of the forces. They are realistic and capable of achievement.
Nevertheless, the programme is not static, and flexibility will be maintained in planning and programming. The Government will keep the situation under constant review, and will not hesitate to make any adjustments that might be desirable in the light of developments. 1 lay on the table the following paper -
Defence - New Three Year Programme - Statement by the Minister for Defence, 24th October, 1962.
– I move -
That the paper be printed.
I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.54 to 8 p.m.
In committee: Consideration resumed (vide page 1097).
Proposed expenditure, £107,226,000.
– At the outset, I wish to associate myself with the remarks of honorable senators in relation to the service extended to honorable senators by officers of the Repatriation Department, especially the staff in Victoria, who at all times give every assistance possible to members of Parliament who are obliged to put cases before them.
I desire to refer to the hospital treatment of ex-service men and women of World War I. Some time ago I directed a question on the matter to the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, who said that I was tear-jerking. Probably on that occasion he was a little touchy; 1 do not think that he meant that. He knows that I am one of those who have always advocated the best for those who served their country at war. I see now that the matter I raised on that occasion is on the agenda for discussion at the annual meeting of the Returned Servicemen’s League. I believe the league will press the Government to give free hospital treatment to men and women of World War I. Senator Sandford mentioned this matter this afternoon, but I think the Minister misunderstood him when he replied that the Government had liberalized the treatment of ex-servicemen of World War I. We all agree that that is so. But Senator Sandford was advocating, as I do, and as returned servicemen’s associations do, that free treatment be given to all members of the first A.I.F. and not only to those who are in receipt of a pension, however small. There are not very many of these men left to-day. The facilities for this treatment are available. This extension of services could be made without much expense to the Government.
I have a little difference with the Minister in regard to the onus of proof. In 1943, the Labour Government introduced an amendment to the Repatriation Act to provide that the onus of proof would rest on the department and not, as hitherto, on the ex-servicemen. World War I. was probably a little different from World War II. When the men returned to Australia they did not trouble much about whether they were to get a pension. Their first thought was to get back into civilian clothes and into jobs. They did not realize that in later years the conditions they had suffered would come against them. The youngest of those men to-day would be 62 years or 63 years old. The conditions that they endured are now affecting them. I frequently encounter ex-servicemen who have been refused medical treatment by the Repatriation Department and have been advised by their doctors to apply for a pension. In some instances the doctors giving this advice are employed by the Repatriation Department, yet upon application for a pension or medical treatment the claim of the ex-serviceman is disallowed. 1 understand that there are three tribunals. 1 do not know whether they are distinguished by numbers. I should like the Minister to tell us how many applications have been refused by each tribunal. I understand that the percentage of refusals is higher with some tribunals than with others. The Minister said that all members of the tribunals are ex-servicemen. Irrespective of that, I believe that most people in responsible positions would lean a little towards ex-servicemen. I frequently find that ex-servicemen, after being told by the doctor in their own locality to apply for a repatriation pension, are refused, although the doctor concerned is retained in some way or other by the department.
I have before me’ at present a case in respect of which, I venture to say, the medical man concerned would vouch that the ex-serviceman’s complaint is 80 per cent, attributable to war service. Such opinions are frequently rejected by tribunals. It is almost impossible for an ex-serviceman of World War I. to produce evidence that he was in such and such a place at such and such a time, although this circumstance resulted in his having suffered for many years an ailment which normally he would not suffer. Anybody who spent one winter or two in France, or spent any time in the desert, during World War I. realizes what may come of exposure to the conditions that prevailed then. As a young fellow, in the winter of 1916 I was in France without cover and up to my knees in mud for a period of six weeks, during which time it snowed and rained. We lived in those conditions without shelter. Men as young as I was, and probably those who were a little older, did not immediately feel the effects of those conditions, which only lately have been reflected in their health. I am not being political when I say that the Government would only be doing justice to those men who did not look for pensions, but only wanted a job. They went through the winters in France, and the heat of the desert in the Middle .East, and when they returned to Australia, they went back to their jobs. We say that because of the conditions they suffered during their war service, they should have the right now to free hospital treatment.
In one case that came before me, four specialists were of the opinion that the ill health of an ex-serviceman was due to war service. I do not make it a practice to visit people privately when they complain. I like them to come to my office. But in this case, some years ago in the heat of February, a woman asked me to call at her house during the weekend. When I arrived she asked me if I would like a cool drink. I said, “ No, I am here to see your husband “. When I walked into the room, I thought her husband was asleep and I told her not to wake him. She said, “ You cannot wake him “. I cannot remember the medical terms, but that man was paralysed down one side, his heart was weak and he was deaf. Four specialists had said that his condition was due to war service, and yet a tribunal refused to accept their opinion.
The Minister made a statement in which he said that the men on the tribunals were all returned soldiers. Whether they are returned soldiers or civilians, why should we accept their decision above the opinions of experienced, practical medical men? I believe the medical reports should be accepted by the tribunals. Unfortunately, the man to whom I have referred has since died. I have another case of a soldier who is bedridden. He has gone before three tribunals, and we are waiting for the last decision. I am not blaming the tribunals, but I blame the method.
In 1943, when the Government amended the legislation, we believed that the onus of proof would be on the Repatriation Department. To-night I heard the Minister say that natural justice must be done. Who is going to say what is natural justice? If I were a member of a tribunal, I would not like to reject the claim of an exserviceman if it had been endorsed by experienced medical men. I hope that the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation will pass on to his colleague the information that there are not many soldiers from the First World War seeking pensions, and when I say that I am not taking any credit away from the servicemen of the Second World War. The Minister should try to impress on his colleagues that ex-servicemen should have free hospital treatment and medical treatment, and that their claims for pensions should be considered favourably. I could bring men of my own battalion before the Minister and get their history from them. They include timber-workers and men who worked in the country. They did not bother about getting repatriation benefits when they came home.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– 1 have not a great deal to add to what 1 said earlier, but I wish to correct some statements that were made by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge), Senator Anderson and Senator Kendall. Senator Anderson could not have been listening intently when I spoke. He said 1 had criticized the officers of the Repatriation Department and the members of the War Pensions Appeal Tribunals. The fact is that I said explicitly that I had had great co-operation from officers of the Repatriation Department. They have been very helpful whenever I have sought advice from them. I also said that I did not want to cast any reflection on the personnel of the appeal tribunals. But I did say, and I repeat, that the very nature of their task over the years has indicated that they have to reject as many cases as they can. The appellant has to prove his case. The onus of proof definitely rests on the appellant.
I have here a reply from the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) to an application by an ex-serviceman. It is a stereotyped reply and is sent to all those whose appeals are rejected. If anybody can convince me after reading this letter that the onus of proof is on the department I am prepared to listen to him. It states -
Under the provisions of the Repatriation Act the Appeal Tribunal which is entirely independent of my department is the fina) determining authority. Your claim cannot be re-opened . . .
This is the point which clearly puts the onus of proof on the appellant - unless you submit further materia] evidence which has not been considered before and which has a substantial bearing on your claim.
If that is not putting the onus of proof on the applicant, what is? Apart from that, as Senator Hendrickson has pointed out, it is impossible for a serviceman from the First World War to obtain fresh evidence to re-open a case that will be acceptable to the appeal tribunals. I am not blaming the members of those tribunals; I am blaming the Government. I was misquoted by the Minister and by Senator Kendall, because it was made to appear that I had said that no ex-servicemen, except those with repatriation entitlements, were entitled to hospital treatment. I distinctly said that I admitted and appreciated that the Government had widened the scope of hospital and medical treatment for personnel from the First World War, but the provisions still do not cover all personnel from the First World War. They do so only in respect of war pensions and service pensions. The implication was that I had ignored the provisions altogether, whereas I had admitted that provision had been made for those exservicemen.
I know these matters are a hardy annual. Senator Anderson has said that these matters are raised every year. That is so, and we will keep on until we obtain justice for these men who served the nation and went through hell on earth. Only those who were there have any conception of the conditions. Here is an inhuman, callous, stereotyped reply from the appeal tribunal which gives no reason for the rejection of an appeal. The name is merely filled in. lt states - “ Decision of the Appeal Tribunal - Appeal Disallowed “. Is it not reasonable that these people whose appeals have been disallowed should expect to be given the reason for the disallowance? I again emphasize the point that has been made earlier. How in the name of goodness can anybody sitting on an appeal tribunal, no matter how sincere and honest he is - and I give the members of the tribunals all credit for their sincerity and honesty - say that there is no doubt whatever that the disabilities suffered by a person who served in the First World War were not either war-aggravated or war-caused? I say again that this country can and must afford to give our ex-servicemen, particularly those of the First World War who are now in their declining years the hospital and medical treatment that they require.
– Without test?
– Most decidedly without test. Honorable senators opposite are always obsessed by financial considerations. I mentioned earlier to-day that interest on investments in war loans is a first charge on revenue. Yet, the human wreckage of war is allowed to drift untended.
– That is not true.
– It is true. I have referred previously to the case of a person who served in my unit. He was in desperate circumstances for years before he died. 1 put the case before the Minister over many months. Ultimately, the man died before the investigations had been completed. Immediately he returned to Australia after the end of the war he got out of the Army as quickly as he could. He was that kind of man. But things caught up with him in later years. After he had died and a full investigation had been made as a result of the pressure I applied to the then Minister for Repatriation, whose name I cannot remember at the moment - the justice of his claim was admitted by the department and his widow was given a war widow’s pension.
There, we have the case of a man who suffered for years simply because he wanted to get out of the Army and into civilian life immediately after the war ended. At that time, he did not go near the Repatriation Department. The same is true of myself. I have never had one penny from the department. Fortunately, I have not needed anything, but if I were in need and did not hammer at the doors of the department over a period of years I would not be entitled to a repatriation pension, or medical and hospital treatment either. Honorable senators opposite may say what they like about the onus of proof. In practice, the onus of proof rests fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the applicant The figures given by Senator McClelland earlier to-day showed that only one-eighth of the appeals heard over a period of twelve months had been granted. It stands to reason, Mr. Minister, that that is a disproportionate figure. If the onus of proof operated as it is supposed to operate, a greater proportion than one-eighth might be expected to succeed. As we on this side have advocated on previous occasions, there should be provision for appeals from tribunals to the High Court or the Supreme Court of a State. Such appeals are always possible in civil actions. I suggest that this is something for the Government to consider in the future.
I have mentioned these matters to dispel the atmosphere created by Senator Anderson, Senator Kendall and the Minister. They suggested that I had said things which I did not in fact say. I took fine care to explain myself at the beginning of my remarks. I repeat that I have every confidence in the personnel of the Repatriation Department. I cast no reflection whatever on tha members of the appeal tribunals, but I repeat and will continue to repeat until the position is rectified, that in practice the onus of proof rests squarely on the shoulders of the applicant.
– I think that all members of the Parliament have had brought to their notice claims for repatriation benefits which have been rejected by the tribunals. Senator Sandford read us a letter.
– It is not a letter at all; it is a stereotyped notice.
– I listened to the honorable senator’s raucous voice for quite a while without interjecting. I suggest that he now listen to me. The letter stated that the appeal had been rejected and could not be re-opened unless fresh evidence were presented. What would be the good of reopening the case unless there were fresh evidence? The tribunal would have to give the same decision, if the evidence were the same as that on which it had already adjudicated. There is nothing inhuman about that. It is perfectly sensible. I think that anybody but Senator Sandford would recognize the true value of the reply given by the tribunal.
The honorable senator stated that fresh evidence could not be secured. Let me refer to a very interesting case with which I dealt. It concerned an old digger from the First World War who served twice on Gallipoli. He was a very honorable man. Because his memory was failing a little he had refused to sign any statement for which he could not vouch. He came to me and said that his claim had been rejected. He said, “ I cannot find any more evidence in honesty, and I have signed a statement that I can find no more evidence. But I was on Gallipoli and was wounded there. I was treated in a hospital in Cairo”. In passing, he said to me, “ I remember the names of the sister who nursed me and the doctor who attended me, but all my records and the records of my battalion have gone. I can establish nothing as far as my own records are concerned “.
I discussed the case with an officer of the department in Tasmania and he said, “ Would you give me the name of the sister, the name of the doctor and the name of the hospital? “ I gave him those and shortly afterwards he wrote stating, “Now you have fresh evidence on behalf of this man, because we have been able to find the records of the hospital. This sister did nurse in that hospital at about that time, and the doctor also served in the hospital about the same time”. The department accepted that as fresh evidence, and the man received his pension.
– How long ago was that?
– About two years ago. It is all very well for honorable senators opposite to get up and say they do not question the integrity of the members of the tribunals; they do question their integrity.
– No, we do not.
– The members of the tribunals are perfectly honest and are people of high integrity who judge the cases on the evidence that is placed before them, but because they do not give the decisions honorable senators opposite want them to give, they say, “We do not question their integrity, but their decisions are not. the right ones”. In every word they speak, honorable senators opposite are questioning the integrity of the members of the tribunals. I mentioned that case because I felt that it was an answer to the claim by Senator Sandford that it is impossible to get further evidence. At times, it is possible to obtain further evidence. We all know that during the First World War the records of the Australians often were not well kept and even disappeared, and I agree that sometimes hardship is caused because of that. But if further evidence is obtainable, and that further evidence substantiates the facts put forward by the applicant, the officers of the department will be the first to recognize it and to do all they can to grant pensions and hospital benefits to returned diggers. It is not right for the honorable senator to say what he has been saying to-night, for in effect he has challenged the integrity of the returned soldiers who sit upon these tribunals.
For many years now similar statements have been made to me, irrespective of who was in government. It has been suggested to me, both when Labour was in office and since this Government has been in office, that the onus of proof is not on the department. That is not correct. In some cases, sufficient proof has not been put before the tribunal in time. By that I mean that some of these old diggers have passed on, and hardship has resulted in one or two of those very sad cases. But it is not fair to challenge the integrity of the members of the tribunal.
– We are not doing that.
– You are. You have done it by every word that you have uttered. The members of the tribunal have arrived at an honest decision on the evidence before them
– We expect you to say that. You have never told the truth in your life.
– I do not ask Senator Sandford to withdraw that remark because I would not take the slightest notice of one word that he has said. In fact, to ask him to withdraw anything that he has said would be paying him a compliment, and I would not ask him to withdraw anything. I despise the honorable senator for what he has said, but I would not dream of asking him to withdraw it. These little types like him who will say things like that are not worth asking for a withdrawal. I prefer that the remark should go on record.
– I rise to order. The last few remarks made by the Minister are offensive to me as a colleague of Senator Sandford. If Senator Sandford does not want a withdrawal, I ask the Minister to withdraw the insinuations which 1 believe are unparliamentary, and which are certainly offensive to me.
The TEMPORARY CHARMAN.-
The honorable senator did not raise any point of order about the matter himself. Therefore, there is no substance in the point raised by Senator Kennelly.
– I am not sure whether Senator Kennelly was asking me or Senator Sandford to withdraw.
– That is all right.
– If he was not asking Senator Sandford to withdraw, that is all right. I thought I would like to mention to the Senate the case that I have because it is relevant to the points raised, and does establish that the members of the tribunal and the officers of the department are really sympathetic towards applicants such as those referred to and, whenever they can get the slightest evidence on which to base their decisions, they will assist applicants to get pensions or hospital benefits, as the case may be. I repeat that I felt that I should mention that genuine experience in rebuttal of the statements made by Senator Sandford.
– I wish to have a few words to say on the question of onus of proof. It is quite wrong for Government supporters to say that any reference to the unsatisfactory operation of the onus-of-proof provision of the act is a reflection on either the officers of the tribunal or the Repatriation Department. If it is right to argue in that way, then it is equally right to argue that an appeal from a lower court to a higher court represents a challenge to the integrity of the lower court. Honorable senators on the Government side have so twisted the argument with relation to the onus of proof that the real issue has been clouded. The experiences of honorable senators on both sides of the chamber clearly establish that the onus-of-proof provision is not operating to the satisfaction of the applicants for pensions or the officers of the department.
When replying to matters raised by the Opposition in connexion with the onus of proof, the Minister referred the Senate to the opinion not of the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) or the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) but of the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick), who stated that the question of where the onus of proof rests is one of law. We all know of cases in which applicants have appealed repeatedly to the tribunal supported by evidence from most responsible and respected general medical practitioners and specialists, and have repeatedly had their claims rejected by the department. If the appellant cannot submit further evidence to the department to establish that he has been wrongly and unjustly dealt with, or that the tribunal is casting the onus of proof upon him instead of upon the department, as is clearly required by the act, I suggest the applicant should have the right to appeal to a judicial authority on this question of law. Such an appeal would not represent any reflection on the highly qualified officers of the tribunal or the highly respected members of the medical profession; it would be merely an attempt to have a legal question settled in accordance with the interpretation given by the Attorney-General. I appeal to the Minister and the Government to make provision for the establishment of such a judicial authority to which an applicant can have recourse, and before which he may be represented by a member of the legal profession. Such an authority could sift the evidence before it and arrive at a decision as to whether the tribunals and the department have administered the provision in accordance with the interpretation given by the Attorney-General. I submit that where there is a difference of opinion between highly respected members of the medical profession as to whether a returned soldier’s injuries are war-caused, the applicant should have the right to appeal to a judicial authority for a ruling on whether the department has discharged the onus resting upon it to prove that his injuries were not warcaused. I submit also that he should have the right to be represented before such a judicial authority by a member of the legal profession. I have had brought to my attention - and I have no doubt the Minister and Government supporters generally have had similar experiences - in which the applicant was not mentally, physically or in any other way fully equipped to present his case as demanded by the department, and I submit that in such cases the applicant should have the right to be represented by a member of the legal profession before some higher judicial authority. I do not say that in these cases the officers of the department or the members of the tribunal are not sympathetic; nor do I say that they do not want to help the applicants. I am merely saying that in these cases the applicant does need legal representation in disputes relating to the onus of proof, and I venture the opinion that if my suggestion were adopted instead of only 1,000 out of 8,000 applicants being successful, as at present, the position would be vastly improved. I appeal to the Government on behalf of these men who have established their cases, sometimes at great expense. The only way that they can get an advocate is to approach their local parliamentary representative, a senator or some other person. When approached, we do our best to arrange for a person to fight their cases for them because they are physically and mentally unable to fight their own cases. I ask the Minister to give serious consideration to this matter. It is a legal question, so the applicant must have proper legal representation to fight the case on whether the onus of proof that the disability is not the result of war service has been satisfied.
If he had such representation, it would meet the situation adequately. I should like to know the Minister’s opinion and the Government’s attitude on this matter.
– I was astounded by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) entering this debate in the way that he did and trying to convey to the committee that we were doubting the honesty of purpose of the men who constitute the tribunals. I thought I made it quite clear in my remarks that I did not see how those men could form a better opinion than that formed by four Melbourne heart specialists. They were the circumstances in one case. The Minister for Customs and Excise stood up to speak, as he generally does, without knowing anything about what he intended to say. Sometimes he says things that are not in the interests of the Government of which he is a member. If ever a Minister or any other member of the Parliament made out a case for this side of the chamber and for the unfortunate soldiers, it was the Minister for Customs and Excise. Senator Sandford quoted the stereotyped reply that a man received from the Repatriation Department, stating that he could not apply unless he could produce fresh evidence.
– It stated that he could not have a review of the decision.
– That is correct. Senator Henty said that this old soldier came to him and said, “ I cannot remember anything “, and then, in a fleeting moment before he left Senator Henty, he remembered the nurse who attended him in hospital.
– And the doctor and the hospital.
– And the doctor, the officer and all the rest of the men in his battalion, if the Minister wishes it. This old soldier remembered them accidentally and the appeal tribunal acknowledged his claim. Had that man not had that fleeting moment of recollection, this Government would have treated him in the same way as the Victorian Government will treat a certain person in Melbourne or intended to treat him last Monday. On Senator Henty’s own admission, the Government would have deprived him of the right for which he fought and the right that the government of the day promised him.
– You are going too far.
– I am not. I am repeating Senator Henty’s own words. His words were that this man had lost his memory. He had been afflicted at Gallipoli. The evacuation of Gallipoli was on about 18th December, 1915. That is how long ago this man was afflicted. He had been suffering for all those years, or for many years.
– No, he had not.
– Or for five minutes. He had been suffering for so long that when he applied for a pension his application was refused by the tribunal. He went to see the Minister for Customs and Excise, he had a quick burst of memory, he remembered the nurse, the doctor and the officer, and because he did he was granted a pension. What about the poor unfortunate soldier who cannot remember his nurse, his doctor or his officer? Do you not think, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that the Government should say to such a man, “ We will accept the medical evidence that is produced for you “?
– Surely the Repatriation Commission is entitled to test the bona fides of a man who is applying for a pension. If it is not, we might as well abolish tests altogether.
– The effect of the interjection by Senator Cormack did nor operate in the case that Senator Henty quoted and it will not operate in the cases of many ex-servicemen from the First World War because they cannot produce evidence. I have the case of a man in Coburg. I will produce it in this Parliament when we resume. His wife is trying to collect new evidence to prove his case.
– Bring it before this chamber.
– I will. But when we cure one case we do not establish the principle. I have great faith in our medical profession. I say quite frankly that when a soldier is backed up by medical evidence no tribunal, whether its members be returned soldiers or civilians, has the right to reject his case. I thank the Minister for Customs and Excise for bringing to the notice of the committee this evening the case that he mentioned. It proves conclusively the point that Senator Sandford, I and other honorable senators on this side of the chamber are trying to make. Many returned soldiers from the First World War are suffering to-day because they cannot prove the bona fides of the claims that they make. They cannot remember their nurses, their doctors or their officers.
The Minister read a statement that was prepared by the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) about the Government accepting cancer as a war-caused disability. I listened to the Minister reading the statement. It was very controversial. There were some controversial points in it, as there were in the other statement that he read. I do not think the Minister should put evidence before the committee and expect us to accept it without having the right to scrutinize what is in it. I do not know that the Minister has ever made that statement in the Parliament. I believe that justice would be done to the soldiers who went away and fought for this country and who are now suffering from cancer if the Government were charitable enough to give them a full pension. I want to remind the committee that the drums of war are beating again.
– That is right.
– Yes. We may have to look to the youth of this country to defend it again. Probably the Parliament will make the same promises that have been made in years gone by. Do not let us make those promises unless we are prepared to fulfil them. It would cost the Government very little to give free hospital treatment to returned soldiers from the First World War. Hospital beds are available. Wards in the repatriation general hospital in Melbourne are vacant. All that we have to do is supply the nurses. I hope we can get the one to whom Senator Henty referred. Doctors are available and they would attend to the returned soldiers. I appeal to the Government to give them that opportunity.
I do not know whether the tribunals set up by the Government are limited to a certain vote of money in making pensions available. I do not know what the appropriation for the Repatriation Department is and whether it allows the tribunals any latitude. Are they able to make pensions available willy nilly or are they governed by a certain monetary limit. I do not know by what means they decide whether or not a returned soldier is entitled to a pension. I have no reason to criticize the tribunals. I believe that they do the best they can. I appeal to them, through this Parliament, to remember that the act says that the onus is on the Government to prove that the exserviceman’s injury is not war-caused and that in all cases the benefit of the doubt must be given to the ex-serviceman. If they do that they will not lose much and they will gain a lot of prestige for Australia, for which these ex-servicemen went away and fought in the first and second world wars. I appeal to the Government to give this matter favourable consideration. If there is any medical evidence at all pointing towards an ex-serviceman’s disability being war-caused, I urge the Government to direct the tribunals to give a decision in favour of the ex-serviceman.
Senator Sir WALTER COOPER (Queensland) [8.51]. - Every year, when the estimates for the Repatriation Department are before us, members of the Opposition speak about onus of proof and other matters. From what Senator Hendrickson said I am certain that he does not know much about the repatriation tribunals. Twelve years ago there was only one entitlement appeal tribunal, and there were only two assessment appeal tribunals. The assessment tribunals deal with the rate of an ex-serviceman’s pension. The entitlement tribunals deal with his entitlement; in other words, they decide whether an ex-serviceman’s disability is war-caused. New Zealand and Australia are the only countries that are still accepting disabilities as having been caused during the 1914-18 war. It will be 44 years next month since the cessation of hostilities in the First World War. Anybody who fought in that war would now be well over 60 years of age.
Suppose that up until now a World War I veteran has not suffered any disabilities, but he now submits a claim seeking to have a disability accepted as being caused by the First World War. First he submits his claim that his illness is due to war service. That claim goes before the Repatriation Board. The board consists of three members. Those members go through the ex-serviceman’s file, and consider the medical evidence that he has submitted. They decide whether his disability is due to war service or not. If the board decides that his disability is not due to war service, the ex-serviceman is told that he may appeal to the Repatriation Commission. A form qf appeal is posted to him and he is advised to appeal. His appeal is dealt with by the commission in Melbourne, which again goes through his file. The commission goes thoroughly into the ex-serviceman’s case to see whether there is any evidence linking his disability with his war service. If the commission finds that his disability is not war-caused, the ex-serviceman may appeal to “ an entitlement appeal tribunal.
Senator Hendrickson suggests that the Government should direct the tribunals to find in favour of the ex-servicemen. The tribunals are statutory bodies. They have nothing to do with the Repatriation Commission. I assure Senator Hendrickson and other honorable senators that no tribunal has ever given any thought to the cost involved in upholding an appeal and granting an ex-serviceman a repatriation pension. The tribunals have never been asked to pay any attention to the cost of pensions. If the tribunals think that an ex-serviceman’s disabilities are due to war service, they grant him a pension. But if they do not think that those disabilities are due to war service they cannot grant a pension. The tribunals have before them a precis of the ex-serviceman’s file, a copy of which is sent also to the ex-serviceman.
– In every case?
– In every case.
– I know this is so. In every case a precis of the ex-serviceman’s file is forwarded on. In 99 per cent, of cases the ex-serviceman has an advocate appearing for him. The ex-serviceman signs an agreement for his file to be shown to his advocate. The precis of the ex-serviceman’s file includes the reason for the commission’s rejection of his application for a pension. The tribunals have access to the ex-serviceman’s file and to any medical or other evidence. They have available to them the best medical evidence, and they go into the matter very thoroughly.
– They do not take any notice of the medical evidence.
– Not only do they pay regard, to the medical evidence submitted by the appellant, but they also are able to call their own medical evidence. The tribunals are able to seek the opinions of specialists. If a specialist says that an ex-serviceman’s disabilities are due to war service, that is borne in mind by the tribunal. After all, you may as well do away with tribunals if you are prepared to grant a pension merely because an exserviceman claims that he was in France during 1914-18, that he was in the trenches and in an area that was gassed, and their is no supporting evidence on his medical history file. No other country in the world gives as much to ex-servicemen as does Australia. Honorable members opposite claim that only a small percentage of appeals are successful, but I am surprised that so many succeed.
As I have said, an ex-serviceman seeking a repatriation pension first goes to the Repatriation Board. Naturally, the board will grant that man a pension if in its opinion he is entitled to one, because the board does not want to be in the position of sending on a large number of claims to the Repatriation Commission only to have them granted there. The board will accept claims wherever it feels that it can do so. If an ex-serviceman’s claim is rejected by the commission, he than appeals to the entitlement appeal tribunal, and something like 17 per cent, of cases that go before the entitlement appeal tribunals are successful. The assessment appeal tribunals and the entitlement appeal tribunals are statutory bodies, and have nothing to do with the Repatriation Department except insofar as payment of salaries of the staff is concerned. Also, the Minister arranges their itinerary. For instance, one tribunal might have to go to Brisbane because of an accumulation of claims there, and another tribunal may be ordered to go to another centre. In every other way they are entirely free. When I was the Minister I did not even attend the sittings of these tribunals. I was asked on one occasion to do so to see how the work was carried out, but I refused. I adopted the attitude that if people saw me there they might say that I was instructing the tribunal either to accept or reject the claim. I repeat that these tribunals are statutory bodies which work entirely on their own.
Senator Cooke suggested that an applicant should have an appeal to the High Court.
– To a judicial authority.
– He suggested there should be a right of appeal to a legal authority and that an applicant should be able to obtain the services of a legal man to conduct his case. Who would pay the expenses of the legal man? Would the department pay?
– Of course it would in order to get justice.
– One of the things that the Returned Servicemen’s League - which was responsible for bringing in these tribunals in 1949 - insisted upon was that legal men should not appear for either the applicant or the department. That is why advocates were brought in. They are not legal men.
– They might not be trained men.
– They are trained men.
– Not necessarily.
– The bulk of them are trained men and women. In New South Wales the Legal Service Bureau provide an advocate. You cannot say that this man would not be trained.
– They would be legal men.
– They are not legal men, but they come from the Legal Service Bureau. In every State the men who appear have been trained. The Returned Servicemen’s League will supply advocates in every State and the department will do the same. My private secretary was an advocate in Queensland before he became my secretary. He won more cases than any association in Queensland. He is now a member of No. 4 Tribunal.
– We will have to go to the tribunal on which the Minister’s secretary is a member.
– I am just trying to point out that if a special legal man were to appear it would be damaging to the individual concerned.
As was stated in the letter that was read, an applicant can bring in fresh evidence. This has been done and a number of cases have been accepted. I admit that it is difficult for a 1914-18 man to obtain fresh evidence as it is more than 44 years since that war. However, the department gives him the chance to do so. He can apply for repatriation benefits and obtain them if he can prove that his injury was war-caused. Honorable senators opposite should look at both sides. They are approached only on the occasions where cases have been rejected. There are now four appeal tribunals and six assessment tribunals whilst some years ago there were only two assessment tribunals and no appeal tribunals.
Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- It was not my intention to enter into this debate and I do not propose to keep the committee for any length of time. From my limited experience in these matters, the department can do away with the onus of proof clause as far as I am concerned. If any one comes to me about these matters I suggest to him that he go to one of my colleagues who knows much more about repatriation affairs than I do. I wish to refer to a case that really astounded me. A tremendous number of men came back from the First World War, and probably from the second, with the one thought of getting out of the Army. The case I wish to mention was that of a man who had shrapnel in his leg. Some years after the war gangrene set in and, unfortunately, he had to have his leg amputated. There was nothing wrong with his leg other than the fact that he had shrapnel in it. I rang the department about this man and it was good enough to send one of its officers down to the hospital. The shrapnel was there to see and the amputated leg with gangrene but the department decided that the injury was not due to war service. No wonder I suggest that you can give the onus of proof clause away. If you want a clearer case than the one I have mentioned I do not know where you will find it.
One of the officials of the hospital in which this man was a patient was an excolonel. I had a word with him about the case. He said he knew of cases where men who had fought in gas areas and ended up with lung cancer had been granted pensions. However, the department rejected the case of the man to whom I am referring. As far as I am concerned the onus of proof does not mean anything. Here was a man with shrapnel in his leg - nothing else wrong with it - gangrene set in and he had to have his leg amputated; and yet the department said that the injury was not due to war service. This onus of proof clause might look nice in the act, but all I can say as a result of that experience is that it means nothing at all. I do not know what proof the department wants. It is true that this man did not go near the department after he came back from the war. He did not approach the department until he found himself in this position.
Senator Sir Walter Cooper said that we hear only of those cases that have been rejected. That may be true. A man who can get fixed up by himself does not ask help from any one else. Personally I have had extremely little experience in these matters and as far as I am concerned I will have less experience in the future, in view of the experience I have just mentioned. I knew this man intimately from 1919 until he died. It is useless to tell me that the onus of proof is on the department. Tt amounts to nothing. I doubt whether a clearer case could have been put I hope there are not many others who have had such a clear case and been refused. Se%al> tor Sir Walter Cooper told us that other countries had ceased to look after men who fought in World War I. I do not agree that therefore this country is doing more than it should be doing. If it can be satisfactorily proved that war injuries have come against a man, after many years in a normal avocation, it is the duty of the country to look after him. The case that I cited was an open and shut case, but it met with a complete refusal. Unfortunately, the party has since passed away. The incident certainly shook my faith in regard to the onus of proof.
– It is always very difficult to reply to specific cases such as the one just cited by Senator Kennelly. It must be borne in mind that the file and relevant material might put a completely different complexion on this case. I am advised, for example, that shrapnel in a leg can cause gangrene, but it is extremely unlikely to do so after more than two or three years. On the other hand, many things other than warcaused injuries may cause gangrene. I merely say that when particular cases are put in the Senate, it is extremely difficult to deal with them without the benefit of reference to specific matters pertaining to them.
The Senate is indebted to our colleague, Senator Sir Walter Cooper, for his contribution to the debate. He was Minister for Repatriation for twelve years. Much of the machinery of the Repatriation Department was evolved and developed by him. I was particularly interested to hear him recall the thinking that surrounded the establishment of the tribunals. Senator Cooke came along to-night with a proposition that in fact invites the Government to set up a formal, legal appeal. Soldiers of World War I., particularly, will remember that when the appeal system was introduced it was the desire of the Returned Servicemen’s League and of returned soldiers generally to escape from form and legalism. The machinery that we have in Australia was evolved so that a claim for a pension would not become bogged down in legalisms or the forms of a court. In my own State branch of the Returned Servicemen’s League I have never heard it suggested that this system, whatever might be its shortcomings or alleged shortcomings, should be departed from. I think that ex-servicemen generally would regard with horror the prospect of going back to a form of appeal which was in fact to a legal court set up with all the trappings of a court.
Several questions were asked earlier of which 1 would like to be quit. Senator Tangney referred to the Edward Millen home. It is used, as she knows, as an auxiliary hospital for geriatric cases, patients not requiring full medical treatment as provided in a general hospital, and it is the intention to maintain it in that form.
– Is it under the aegis of the Repatriation Department?
– Yes, it is still a Repatriation Department institution. Senator McClelland inquired about the types of hospital existing for ex-servicemen. In order to save time, I refer him to the departmental report at page 11, under the heading, “Rehabilitation Services”, and at page 10 under the heading “ Psychiatric Treatment “. I think that he will find there all the information he seeks. He inquired also about the reduction in commission payable to post offices. This follows introduction of the system under which payments are made by cheque. No so much work is being done, presumably, by post offices. That is why the amount provided is less this year. Senator Toohey and Senator Laught were interested in the repatriation hospital at Dawes-road, Springbank, South Australia. I cannot state precisely the opening date of the new ward, but it will be in the near future. The capacity of the new ward is 39 beds, and its cost £130,000. Senator Toohey asked what was to be done about the condition of wards at Springbank. I am informed that a senior departmental officer is currently conducting a survey, in conjunction with senior professional officers of the Department of Works, to assess the needs for modernizing institutions in all States and to bring them up to the highest standard.
I want to say some more about this vexed question of onus of proof, particularly Senator Sandford’s approach to it. He seemed to take exception to the fact that Senator Anderson, Senator Kendall and I said that he had criticized the appeals tribunals. I took his words down as he spoke, what he said was that the appeals tribunals set out to defeat applicants. If that is not a criticism of the tribunals, I should like to be informed of what could be assessed as a criticism. At the risk of being repetitive, I tell the honorable senator that the interpretation which is to be given to this clause has been made known to all of the appeal tribunals throughout the Commonwealth, and all are aware of it. I repeat it, because it is worth repeating. The opinions of the two Attorneys were that claims and appeals are to be decided according to natural justice and the merits of the case. The determining authorities are not to be bound by technicalities, legal forms, or laws of evidence. The claimant or appellant is to be given the benefit of any doubt, and all reasonable inferences are to be drawn in his favour, to the exclusion of all other inferences. The claimant or appellant does not have to prove his case, but the determining authority must allow the claim unless the Commonwealth proves to it that the claim should not be allowed. The onus of proof is clearly upon the Commonwealth in this case. Where there is any doubt in the mind of the determining authority, the claim has to be allowed.
As I said this afternoon, the doubt referred to is a doubt in the mind of the determining authority after it has considered all the evidence and all the material that has been laid before it. If, after hearing the case in full, there is a doubt in the mind of the determining authority, then the case must be decided in favour of the applicant.
Senator Sandford put forward a most unusual argument. He submitted that the fact that an applicant whose claim had been rejected was advised to produce new evidence, was proof that the onus was on the applicant himself. Let us examine that proposition. An applicant goes before the appeal tribunal, but unfortunately he fails to sustain his case. The tribunal then informs him that it cannot admit the claim. The applicant goes away, but he thinks that he has reason to approach the tribunal again. He is told: “ Yes, we do not dismiss you or deny you an approach to a tribunal. Bring fresh medical evidence and we will most certainly have a look at it.” What could be fairer than that? In other words, the door is never closed to the applicant.
– Certainly the onus of proof is not thrown on the applicant.
– No, the applicant is given the right to go to the appeal tribunal again. Senator Hendrickson also spoke at some length about the onus of proof. As I have replied to Senator Sandford on that matter, I shall refer only to that section of Senator Hendrickson’s speech which had to do with the care of ex-servicemen of the First World War. Any digger of the First World War would be at least 60 years of age now. If such an exserviceman is in receipt of a pension or part of a service pension, then he is eligible for full medical and hospital treatment. The only persons from the First World War who are not eligible for hospital treatment, even when the complaint was not war caused, are those who cannot qualify under the means test. In practical terms, all exservicemen of the First World War who are not earning sufficient or receiving sufficient income to place them outside the limits of eligibility are entitled to, and are getting, hospital and medical treatment.
. -I had hoped to speak in this debate before the Minister for Civil Aviation replied, because I wanted to save time in presenting something fresh and constructive. There is no doubt from the attention the committee has given to this matter that we shall have complaints while the present machinery operates in connexion with claims for pension. The fact is that an ex-serviceman feels that he has been treated unfairly when his application is rejected. He can always cite a case of some other ex-serviceman who made an application, perhaps soon after the end of a war, and received a pension, and he feels he has a grievance. This state of affairs will continue until the Government reviews the present machinery.
I suggest that each body, whether it is the commission or the tribunals, should have attached to it a person to advocate the case of the applicant. At present, a person who believes he is suffering from a war disability, applies first to the board. Very often, all he has to support his application is a certificate from his doctor or advice from an ex-servicemen’s organization. For example, the applicant claims that he took part in several landings or was a member of an air crew, and he has some disability. When his claim is rejected, he wonders What to do. At that stage, there is nobody to advise him. I suggest that advocates should be appointed to appear formally for applicants.
At present, an applicant is told to apply to a legal service bureau, to an exservicemen’s organization or to a member of Parliament for assistance, but I think there should be an advocate as part of the formal machinery to assist men who appear before tribunals. This would be valuable to the applicant, particularly when he is appearing some years after the termination of his war service and requires certificates or other evidence to support his case. Obviously, the formal matters are important. The applicant needs some statement from his doctor, and it is essential that it should be presented in the best form.
This system has been adopted successfully in some States in matters other than repatriation. It applies, for example, in South Australia to such bodies as the Long Service Reference Board, which is attended by representatives of employers and employees, with an independent chairman. The employees’ representative appears as an advocate. He helps to marshall the evidence for the applicants and sees that justice is done. This practice also applies to seniority boards. The union concerned has the right to nominate an adviser to assist applicants. It seems to me that until such time as we have machinery of that kind there will be dissatisfaction in regard to pension cases.
The point I am making should not be lightly dismissed. There are ex-servicemen who decided that the best thing they could do as soon as the war was over was to return speedily to civilian employment. That was a natural reaction. But many wise ex-servicemen immediately applied for pensions. I think the climate at that time was more conducive to their claims receiving satisfactory consideration than it is now. Only last week, a man came to me and said, “I suffered shell-shock in 1915”. He had tried to prepare a history of his battalion and to find people who could substantiate his statements, but those who could do so had died and it was impossible for him to get the evidence he needed. If there were attached to the tribunal a person who could marshal the evidence in such cases, the ex-servicemen concerned might be able to substantiate their claims.
As an ex-serviceman, I can say .that the method of preparing an application is important. An ex-serviceman who wishes to obtain medical benefits or a repatriation pension would be well advised to apply very shortly after his discharge from the services. I suggest to the Government that it should ask the commission to consider whether it would be possible to provide an official advocate, who would be a member of the tribunal when assessments were being made. Unless such assistance is provided for ex-servicemen, there will be continual complaints and dissatisfaction.
I was making representations on behalf of ex-servicemen long before I became a senator. I always felt that I was doing the person concerned an injustice if I could not help him to prove that his disabilities were war-caused, particularly if he had been a member of a particular unit, such as the Seventh Division or the Ninth Division, or of an aircrew. I suggest that when such a man suffering from a nervous condition, caused by his war service, applies for a pension, the job of the commission is to say to the medical experts, “ What is wrong with this man? Is he suffering from mental trouble? What is his personal background, and what is his family background? “ Until the system is altered, there will be criticism in this place on every occasion that the Estimates are being discussed. I do not agree that there should be access to the High Court or to the judiciary, because I .think that that would be a failure. 1 think we should have special officers appointed to assist ex-servicemen who wish to apply for repatriation benefits. It is not good enough to tell ex-servicemen to approach the Returned Servicemen’s League, their member .of Parliament, or somebody else, to support their claims. In many cases, the applications are perfectly genuine. The ex-servicemen concerned are not so much trying to obtain pensions as to establish, as the Minister has said, a base for medical services later in their lives.
– I believe that the Government’s approach to repatriation has been very good, but I should not be worthy of my place in the Senate if I did not express criticism of the Government arising from problems encountered in my political life. I appreciate the statement that the Minister for Civil Aviation ((Senator Paltridge) has made, but I think (there are two problems that the
Government should consider. When a serviceman is ready for discharge from the services he hates red tape. He wants to get out. He says he is fit, and he is discharged. Medically, he is classed as Al. The years go by and he becomes ill. He -is advised to apply for a pension. If his first claim is rejected he may approach the appeal tribunal. He has the generous right to a further appeal if he can produce fresh evidence. In many cases, the doctors whom ex-servicemen of the First World War consulted privately are no longer in practice. They cannot -produce evidence from those doctors, but they can ask doctors who arc practising to-day to say whether or not the disabilities began as a result of war service.
There -is another type of ex-serviceman with whom I ‘think the Government should be concerned. There were Australians -who joined the Royal Australian Navy in the Second World War and were posted not only to Australian merchant ships but also to British merchant ships as anti-aircraft gunners and crew members. During their service they were reported ill or injured, but because they were attached to the merchant navy, medical records were not kept as they were for the three armed services. In the years that have elapsed since the waT ended, some of those men have begun to suffer as a result of their war service. I would not normally take up the time of the Senate by referring to individual cases, but it seems to me that if one individual example can be brought to me in Hobart, there must be hundreds of others throughout Australia. The person in Hobart to whom I refer was definitely injured in the blackout in London and was taken to a Royal Navy hospital, where he was treated. When he was discharged from hospital he said he was all right because he felt all right, but now he has become a very sick man. The medical and pharmaceutical treatment that he needs is very costly. When we applied for information regarding his original injury we were told that all the records had been destroyed. That is quite understandable, because the war has been over for a number of years; but this man is deserving of repatriation treatment. Medical attention is going to cost him a good deal of money, and that expense will greatly upset his family’s economic life, but because he was detailed to serve with -the British Merchant Navy during his period of -enlistment, and because proper records were not kept, he is debarred from the benefit of repatriation treatment. I cannot suggest the answer to the .problem, but I do say that the Government should give every possible consideration to the introduction of a system under which a person who .has a moral right to assistance shall get it. At the present time, because the records have been destroyed, and he cannot produce medical evidence, he is denied any help. I know all about the onus of proof, but there are odd cases in which people who are entitled to repatriation benefits are not enjoying them, and 1 believe the Government should do all it can to see that they get them.
– I .should like to ask the Minister what is the .procedure .in the department, or with the tribunals, in those cases in which the medical officer attending an applicant for a pension has one opinion and ‘the department’s medical officer has another. I have in mind the case -of a man whose private doctor held the opinion that he was very unfit medically. This man enlisted in World War I. at the age of sixteen. During the war, he was badly gassed, but ‘he had -no entitlement at all for medical attention. For some years he had been applying to the department for assistance, and finally the department told him that in the opinion of its medical officer he was naturally delicate, but otherwise there was nothing wrong with him. The applicant received that advice on the Thursday, and on the Saturday he died. I rang the department and said that its medical -officer was .quite right, that there was nothing wrong with the man, that he was only dead. Later, the widow received a letter from the department informing her that she could .apply to the tribunal for a pension. In this case, due to a fortunate coincidence, the widow was able to get justice. At the funeral of her husband, a chap came up to her and said: “ I thought poor old so-and-so died years ago. I was with him in France, and I did not think he would ever recover. He was green after the gas attack.” That chance meeting ;at the graveside of the husband enabled the widow .to submit the evidence necessary to discharge the onus of proof. She was granted a widow’s pension. But she said that justice had come too late as her husband was dead. She felt that had he been granted assistance earlier he might have been able to be treated in a private hospital, he might not have had to work so hard and possibly his life would have been prolonged. That was a case in which there was a conflict of evidence between the departmental medical officer and the private practitioner.
Here I should like to pay tribute to the members of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia in Western Australia, who have always been most willing to help, and who have put cases before the tribunal most ably for me. One officer, whom I shall not name for fear he is swamped with requests for help, has been most helpful. I have submitted some most difficult cases to him and never yet has he been unable to place the matter before the tribunal in a most capable manner.
On many occasions, at their request, I have attended hearings of the tribunal when widows have been seeking pensions, and I have been amazed at the manner in which the applications have been presented by members of the R.S.L. I have been deeply impressed, too, by the sympathy shown by the members of the tribunal. Although some criticism has been levelled at them, I think credit should be given where it is due, and I have found the members of the tribunal almost falling over backwards in their efforts to give a favorable verdict, especially to widows. They do try to help the widows to obtain a pension, because they realize that a pension can be of great help to her in supporting and educating her children.
At the same time, I do feel that in those cases in which the applicant is unsuccessful more consideration could be given, not by members of the tribunal, but by officers of the department, to the grounds upon which a pension may be granted, especially to World War I. ex-servicemen who find it extremely difficult to obtain new evidence. In one other case represented to me, I was able, after many years, to get a pension fo- an ex-serviceman only because of a chance meeting with a man on the plane while flying from Sydney to Perth. This man told me that he was going back to Perth for the first time in 40 years to look up some of his old war-time friends. He asked me whether I knew certain exservicemen, and one of the men he mentioned was the applicant for whom I had been making representations. This man was able to make a statutory declaration in Perth, and to give evidence before the tribunal which resulted in the granting of the application. But that was purely a fortunate coincidence. If the evidence this man was able to offer had not been available, the ex-serviceman for whom I had been making representations had Buckley’s chance of getting a pension.
I should like to say that we in Western Australia are very fortunate in having in the R.S.L. members who can act so capably as our advocates before the tribunal, and who do go out of their way to help. I should like to say also that the officers of the department over there have been very good. I feel that when they do find it necessary to give a negative answer they do so with reluctance, because they are anxious at all times to help not only ex-servicemen in general, but also the widows of those unfortunate ex-servicemen whose applications for a pension during their life-time were unsuccessful.
– It is very refreshing to hear Senator Tangney speak in terms of commendation of the work of the tribunals, and more particularly of their approach to the cases that come before them. To-day, we have heard what can only be described as adverse criticism, to put it mildly, of the work of those tribunals, and I think that Senator Tangney’s comments clearly put in proper perspective just what these tribunals do, just how, to use her own words, they almost fall over backwards in their attempts to help the applicants who come before them.
– Those in Western Australia do.
– I think that what obtains in Western Australia would obtain elsewhere. Indeed, as I speak, 1 recall that there are some good Western
Australians on the tribunals in the eastern States now. They probably learned in the same school.
asked what happens when there is a conflict of evidence before the tribunal. In such cases, it is the duty of the tribunal to assess the weight of the evidence given by each side and to make a- decision. Here I go back to what I have been saying all the afternoon and emphasize that the important point is that if, after hearing the evidence, there is a doubt in the mind of the tribunal, the applicant must get the benefit of the doubt.
– Even where there is a conflict of medical evidence?
– Yes. If there is a conflict of medical evidence, the tribunal assesses the evidence given by both sides. It hears evidence from one doctor who puts up one point of view. It then hears evidence from another who puts up a different point of view. It examines the applicant. It examines his file, it goes over his military career and then, after weighing the whole of the evidence, it makes a decision. In making that decision, if there is a doubt the applicant gets the benefit of it.
Senator Marriott, in referring to the resubmission of a case to a tribunal, fell into the error of believing that the new evidence that has to be presented is new medical evidence. I want to put him right on that point at once. It is not necessarily new medical evidence; it is evidence of location or where a man was on a certain date. As the honorable senator was speaking, I was recalling a case, which is familiar to me, of a soldier who was, on a certain date, at a place at which he should not have been. He was involved in an accident, together with some other people. When his case came before the tribunal on appeal, despite the fact that he was absent without leave he qualified for his pension and got it. It is evidence of location or of where a unit was or a number of units were that is pertinent.
– I will send you one of the letters demanding new medical evidence.
– All right. In a specific case the medical evidence that was given might have come under some doubt; I do not know. As I said earlier this evening, it is difficult for us to talk about specific cases when we have not the files in front of us. The general approach is that it is a question of new evidence and not only or exclusively new medical evidence.
I want to comment on the proposal that Senator Bishop made. I believe that a judgment in this matter can be made only against the background of what actually happens when an applicant’s claim is rejected. The department takes it upon itself to advise the applicant whose application has been rejected of the circumstances surrounding the rejection and to advise him how he can best proceed.
– No, it does not. The department just tells him that his application has been rejected. That is all it tells him.
– No; Senator Bishop is quite wrong. I have a great deal of personal experience of this procedure. If a rejected applicant goes back to the department, he will find that the social workers within the department and the staff of the department generally will give him every assistance and will throw the resources of the department open to him so that he can re-present his claim.
– That is not what you said. You said that the department would advise him how to proceed. All that the department tells him is that his application has been rejected and that he can make an appeal.
– And id sends him the form, too.
– Yes, the department sends him the form.
– It does not build up his case for him.
– Yes, it does. That is what I am telling you. The resources of the department are available to an applicant whose application has been rejected. If the honorable senator will listen, I will tell him something that obviously he does not know. The department has been at great pains to advise rejected applicants how best to go about re-submitting their claims. The department has issued pamphlets and booklets, put up posters in country towns; and circulated Returned Servicemen’s League branches throughout the
States. Obviously the honorable senator does not know that an ex-serviceman canask the department to appoint an adviser for him. Frequently the adviser is some one who is nominated by the R.S.L.; but if the ex-serviceman prefers some one else an officer of the department will take his case before the tribunal and plead it.
– Of course I know that.
– In the light of those circumstances, I suggest that rejected applicants are well looked after in respect of the re-presentation of their cases.
– I do not think the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Palridge) understood what I put to him. I did not expect my suggestion to be answered here to-night because I believe that Senator Paltridge is in the same position as any other Minister. His job is mainly to apologize for actions of the department. In the main, it does a very good job. I am not saying that it does not do the work satisfactorily. I put a suggestion to the Minister for consideration by the Repatriation Commission. 1 expected him to say, “ Senator Bishop’s suggestion is worthy of consideration and the commission will have a look at it “. I did not suggest that in the first instance an applicant should have to make his own application; that he should then receive a roneod sheet advising him that his application for a disability pension has been rejected and advising him of his rights; and that then- he should have to approach the Returned Servicemen’s League, a senator or a member, of the House of Representatives for assistance. I say that, as part of the repatriation machinery, there should be an advocate to- whom the ex-servicemen can apply in the first instance. If his application is rejected, he should have recourse to a member of the commission or the tribunal who will advocate his case.
– You want this incorporated in the act, do you?
– Absolutely. I gave two instances in which this sort of procedure exists to-day. That aspect was not answered. I said that in South Australia and in other States there are seniority board’s, one member of which is a representative of the employees who not only votes on the application but also’ advocates the case of the appellant. There are long service leave appeal boards in all the Australian States. On each of those boards, there is an employees’ representative who votes on and advocates the appellant’s case. I said that, until similar machinery is included in the repatriation system, each year in the discussion on the Estimates the government of the day will receive complaints about the cases that are rejected and come under the notice of members of the Parliament. As long as the present position’ obtains, ex-servicemen will be appealing toLiberal and Labour members of the Parliament about what they consider to be injustices.
That was the proposal I made. It is a constructive and practicable proposal that should be put into operation. It is uselessfor the Minister to tell me that I do not know what I am talking about. I know, personally and as- a result of applicationsthat have come to my notice, that the present procedure has failed. Only this week a case came to my notice in which an ex-serviceman was unable to prove what happened at Gallipoli. The other members of his unit are all dead and the doctors of the unit are dead. All that this chap has torely upon is his memory and the advocate that he can employ. This is the point I made to Senator Sir Walter Cooper. In these technical applications the result depends on. the quality of the advocacy. Senator Toohey might be better than I am in advocating a case. The person who hasthe best advocate makes out the most successful case. What I want is an answer to the proposal that I have made. If the Minister is satisfied that my proposal is not practicable1 - I do not think he should be after hearing my’ submissions1 - I would expect him to say, “ This matter should be submitted to the Repatriation Commission and to ex-servicemen’s organizations in order to see whether they think this is a constructive proposal “. From’ my experience I know that this is the only machinery’ that will eliminate the grievances of ex-servicemen’.
I also make this important point: The ex-serviceman who left the service hurriedly as soon as he returned from overseas, in 1946 as I did, because he wanted to get. back to his old job, and who did not apply for a -pension until ten years later; did not get the same treatment from the commission as did the man who applied in 1946 or 1947. Government supporters may talk for as long as they like, but they will never convince me otherwise. I know that in society there are varying climates of opinion. In a satisfactory climate a man’s application will be received in a better spirit. I suggest (hat the Repatriation Commission give consideration to the proposition that I have submitted to-night. I hope that the Minister, rather than dismiss my proposition out of hand, will ask the commission to seek opinions from exservicemen’s organizations on whether my proposition, if accepted, would lead to the cessation of the grizzles that returned soldiers’ leagues frequently present to members of Parliament.
– I listened with great interest to the former Minister for Repatriation, Senator Sir Walter Cooper. He said that the appeal tribunals never refused a pension to an appellant whose case was supported by recommendations from a medical specialist. Is that correct?
– You said that.
– No. I said that the tribunals would seek the opinion of a specialist and then they would decide for themselves whether they accepted that opinion. I could not say what a specialist would say.
– Nobody can. The specialist himself does not know what his evidence will be until he has seen the patient. Senator Sir Walter Cooper said also that the tribunals had the benefit of the opinions of other doctors. He said that the ex-serviceman’s file was made available to the tribunal.
– A precis of the file.
– Yes, but there is not always a medical history of the soldier. As I tried to point out. a man who was in France during the 1916 winter - one of the worst winters on record - had no medical history, and therefore no medical person, whether he be favorably or unfavorably disposed to that man, could reach a decision.
– The tribunal would take that into consideration.
– But does this committee believe that the tribunal should not be guided by a medical specialist? Does it not think that medical specialists are qualified to express opinions? Referring again to the man whose case I have already mentioned, I point out that three specialists said that in their professional opinions his injuries were war-caused. Nevertheless, that man’s application for a pension was rejected. The unfortunate man is now dead.
I must have misunderstood Senator Sir Walter Cooper, because I thought that he said that any recommendations made by a specialist were accepted by the tribunal.
– I could not make a statement like that. The tribunal must decide for itself.
– I am sorry to learn that I was wrong. If I were a member of a tribunal and a medical specialist expressed an opinion on the cause of a man’s ill health, I would accept that evidence. I am sorry to hear that the tribunals do not accept it.
The Minister did not answer one of the queries that I raised. I understand that there are four tribunals. I asked the Minister for details of the percentages of rejections by each of the four tribunals. I believe there is a great discrepancy in the number of rejections by those tribunals.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Proposed expenditure - Repatriation Department, Capital Works and Services, £502,000 - noted.
Proposed expenditure, £11,792,000.
– I wish to raise one or two matters concerning the Department of Immigration. This year, the department proposes to spend about £90,000 more than it spent last year on migration publicity. We know that the Government is going all out to obtain its quota of migrants this year. We know also that it is having difficulty in filling its quota. The increased expenditure on publicity indicates that the Government is endeavouring to maintain the flow of migrants to this country. The Labour
Party supports a programme of immigration. After all, the immigration scheme was originated by Labour for two purposes. The first purpose was the absorption of Europeans displaced by the war. The second purpose was the development of Australia. To-day, displaced people in Europe, if there are any, are not anxious to migrate to Australia and the Government has undertaken a campaign to attract Europeans to this country. The Labour Party could not oppose the bringing to this country of migrants if they were intended to assist in Australia’s development, but unfortunately Australia, under this Government, has no developmental proposals in which migrants could be used.
If we look at the situation in the capital cities, we see that most of the 75,000 persons registered for employment to-day are migrants. In the absence of developmental projects, which we would expect to be situated in country areas, the migrants are crowding into the cities seeking employment. Although it is hard enough to-day for Australians of average ability and mentality to find employment, the greatest burden of unemployment is being borne by the migrants that we have brought to this country. Under Labour, migrants had to agree to work for a period of two years where the Government told them to work. In those days, work was available to them.
The Government is seeking to attract migrants who are skilled tradesmen, but it would appear that we are not seeking tradesmen of a sufficiently high standard. In certain industries in Australia there is an acute shortage of skilled tradesmen, but the migrants that are being brought out here to fill those vacancies do not have the skill needed. I was associated with the building industry. Migrants who had been engaged in that industry in their own country were unable to fulfil the requirements of the industry in Australia. First, they had difficulty in understanding the language; and secondly, they were not used to our measurements. They were used to taking measurements in metres and centimetres and not in feet and inches. This made it difficult for them to read plans and make measurements.
My own particular trade was that of plasterer. The methods of application in Australia are entirely different from those used in Europe, and the material used here is different from that used in European countries. In Australia we use a material which sets within three minutes, which means that a man has to be very competent with a trowel in order to finish a job properly. European tradesmen are not used to such materials. In fact, they adopt the process of throwing mortar on to walls out of a can rather than applying it off a board. They find it extremely difficult to do things they were not used to doing in their own country. The result is that many of them are used only in those sections of the trade in which they do acquire some proficiency.
Because of this, when a recession occurs, they are the first to be dismissed, and they are generally the first to seek work with undesirable contractors. It is impossible for many of them to remain in constant employment. When the department is seeking skilled tradesmen from overseas it should make sure that these men have acquired sufficient skill to enable them to fit into similar trades in Australia. It is much better for some migrants to go into a fresh occupation altogether rather than attempt to work in a trade for which they are not suited in Australia. As I have said, many of them obtain employment with undesirable employers or employers with a bad reputation. As an industrial officer who has fought cases for migrants, one of the most serious and tragic things that I have discovered is the exploitation of migrants by their fellow nationals. Some migrants establish themselves as employers and employ their own countrymen, and in many cases underpay their employees. I have found that this is particularly so amongst Italian employers.
The estimates for the department disclose an increase of £90,000 in the vote for bringing Italian migrants into Australia. That would suggest that the department will be seeking a larger number of Italian migrants during the coming year. I repeat that Italians are one of the sections of migrants who are most exploited. These people are being brought from the south of Italy and are in the main farm workers without very much education, and they become the victims of exploitation in Australia. We criticize some Italians for being unable to grasp the English language, but in many cases they have been uneducated in their own country and have extreme difficulty in speaking Italian.
Unless there is a better selection oi migrants, the expense incurred in bringing migrants from the south of Italy is not justified. Italian migrants are hard workers and would become useful citizens of Australia if we had unskilled work available for them; but without a developmental plan we have no such work available for unskilled men. They have to rely on their ability to perform hard work or else find an employer who is willing to continue them in their occupation. The result of all this is that we find repeatedly that pressure is put upon Italian workers. Their Italian employer will threaten to report them to the Department of Immigration and have them sent back to Italy if they do not accept his terms. They accept his terms because they do not want to go back to Italy. It is difficult for trade unions to approach these men and inform them of the provisions of the act.
Another feature of Italian migrants is that they get together in Italian clubs which are mostly patronized by employers. These employers threaten their countrymen, suggesting that they will send reports to their relatives in Italy who will have to find the money that was necessary to bring the migrants to Australia.
– Have you any definite facts or are these just your impressions?
– The definite fact is that it is a common practice in the terazzo industry in South Australia for threats to be used. More than 300 Italian employees were members of the society of which 1 was secretary. If necessary, I could supply their names. These men belong to a bowls club in South Australia. I could cite numerous cases of Italian employers who have made threats to these men who were not sufficiently educated in English to realize what the true position was. They did not have enough confidence in Australian trade union organizations to obtain information about them. The federal Government should provide legal aid to migrants so that they can be advised on these matters. ;
I know that certain councils look after migrant groups, but it is doubtful whether such councils are as concerned about the poorer migrants as they are about the successful migrants.
– Are you referring to good neighbour councils?
– I do not think the good neighbour councils have sufficient contact with the migrants themselves to gain their confidence for the purpose of advising them in respect of their employers with whom they are in daily contact. There should be some organization having closer contact with wage-earning migrants which could obtain their confidence. The Government should assist by giving advice to migrants. Australia has no other plan than the bringing of migrants to dwell in overcrowded cities, without employment opportunities. Until such time as we have a national plan of works that will absorb the migrants we bring to Australia we should seriously consider terminating the migration programme. The other question that I want to raise-
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I hope that at a later stage Senator Cavanagh will have an opportunity to amplify the remarks that he has made, and that the Government will at least take cognizance of what he has said so far. I wish to address my remarks to several items. At the outset I refer to Division No. 381 - Administrative.
– What item?
– I wish to deal with general administration. As I said in my maiden speech in this chamber, Australia being a land of some 3,000,000 square miles with a population of only about 11,000,000, its most precious commodity is people. If we as Australians cannot produce them ourselves, the best way in which we can acquire people is by importing them. Unfortunately, whilst the Government has set an annual target of about 125,000 migrants, that target does not seem to have been achieved. Last financial year only about 80,000 came to our shores, although the Government was trying to attract more. I direct the Minister’s attention to the following statement in the “ Australian Financial Review “ of August, this year -
The United Nations’ economic survey of Europe makes the Australian Government’s sanguine insistence that immigration will continue unchanged seem somewhat doubtful. A United Nations’ survey of Europe reveals that over the two fiscal years I960’ and 1961 the industrialized nations of Europe achieved an average rate of gross national product of 5i per cent, per annum.
Last week’s Australian national income white paper reveals that Australia’s gross national product achieved virtually no rate of growth at all during the fiscal years 1960-61 and 1961-62. The sad fact of the matter is that over these two years Australia’s performance does not stand comparison with that of the countries from which we hope to attract 125,000 migrants a year.
I make these initial comments for the purpose of directing the committee’s attention to Division No. 383 - Immigration Services. The estimates show that the Government intends to expend this year the following amounts in excess of what was expended last year: German migration £152,000, Dutch migration £173,000, Italian migration £90,000, Austrian migration £61,000, Spanish migration £21,000 and Belgian migration £54,000. Germany, Holland, Italy, and Belgium are members of the European Economic Community. With the standard of living rising in those countries, this Government may be forced at some later stage to turn its attention to other avenues in order to fill its migration programme. In contradistinction to the proposed increase in expenditure in respect of migration from those countries, the amount to be expended on Greek migration is to be reduced by about £46,000. I do not know why expenditure on migration from the countries first mentioned is- being stepped up whilst expenditure on Greek migration is being reduced by so much. Perhaps the Minister might be able to give a satisfactory answer.
Despite the proposed1 increase in expenditure on migration from the countries I have mentioned, we note that there is virtually no increase in the staffs of migration offices in those countries. For instance, in Germany, although we propose to increase expenditure on German migration by about £152,000; the staff of the office this year is to be exactly the same as the staff last year. In Holland, the staff is to be reduced by one. In Italy, the staff is to be increased by only two, although we are budgeting for an increased expenditure of about £90,000 on migration from that country. I suggest that these migration offices might be understaffed, in view of the fact that we desire to increase the number of migrants from those countries. It appears that in migration offices in countries from which we hope to attract most migrants, there is no provision for typists, or secretarial and office assistants. The Minister might be able to explain why, if such assistance is available, the fact is not shown in the Estimates.
Division No. 396 relates to Migration Offices - Other Overseas Posts. Last year there were three officers under this heading. It is proposed to increase the number to eight. I should like to know where these other overseas posts are located and what type of work the eight officers envisaged will perform. I notice also that the Government has not seen fit to establish a migration office, unless it is under the heading “ Other Overseas Posts “, in South Africa. Not long ago- I think in about April of this year - I read an article which stated that having regard to the economic and political situation in South Africa, that country could well be a source of recruitment of suitable migrants. I should- like the Minister to explain to the Senate the department’s attitude on the establishment of a migration office or the appointment of a migration officer in South Africa in order to attract migrants from that country.
I wish to refer also to page 18 of the Budget Papers that were presented to the Parliament on 7th August last. A footnote in relation to the Department of Immigration states -
There will be- a decrease in expenditure of some £83,000 on- non-recurring shipping expenses.
I am not sure what the term “nonrecurring shipping expenses “ means. Perhaps the Minister would satisfy my curiosity..
I turn now to Division No. 383 and the provision for education of non-British migrants in the English language. I notice that there has been an increase in the expenditure on bringing immigrants to Australia, and the majority of these are not British, but the proposed vote for the education of non-British migrants in the English language is £78,596 less. than, actual expenditure on this item last year. I cannot see any valid reason for this, decrease since we should be doing everything to promote the assimilation of immigrants.
I direct attention now to a question that has been on the notice-paper for some time. Senator Cavanagh asked how many immigrants had been refused naturalization on the ground that they were not considered suitable for Australian citizenship because of their political or trade union associations or activities. The- Minister gave a reply to that question, and to the two questions that followed on the notice-paper, but Senator Cavanagh was not satisfied with the answer. In my opinion, it was a mundane reply. Senator Cavanagh put his question on the notice-paper again, and it has been there for some considerable time. Senator Cavanagh is entitled to an early answer, and other honorable senators who are interested in this matter would also like to have the information. If the Minister has the information now, I hope he will make it available to us.
According to a quarterly statistical, bulletin published by the Department of Immigration, some 705,000 immigrants came to Australia between 1956 and March, 1962, but figures published in the same booklet show that in the same period only about 261,000 immigrants have been naturalized. I know that an immigrant has to reside in Australia for some years before he becomes entitled to apply for naturalization, but these statistics are a fair indication of the proportion of immigrants who live in Australia for a considerable time and do not seek naturalization. It seems that only about one-third of the immigrants are naturalized. I suggest that the Government consider initiating a strong publicity campaign among immigrants who have been in Australia for some time, with the object of stepping up the rate of naturalization.
Finally, I refer with some hesitancy to a statement that was made on 26th June in another place by the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner). About that time, the Government announced that it was planning to build a permanent migrant hostel costing £1,000,000 at Bradfield Park, in Sydney, to house newly arrived immigrants. The honorable member for Brad field went on record as saying that the Government could be sure if it forced a hostel on the area that migrants coming there would be met not only with indifference but with hostility from local residents. Naturally enough, this statement was taken up by leading citizens in the North Shore area of Sydney and a Mr. Mitchell, one of the North Shore progress association, leaders, made some caustic comments.. I hope Mr. Turner’s remarks have not gone abroad.
Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I suggest to honorable senators that if they have a number of questions, as Senator McClelland had, it would be helpful if they would ask them in three brief speeches. It would then be easier to give them the information they require immediately. Senator Cavanagh referred to unemployment among immigrants. I am informed that unemployment among immigrants is not shown in separate figures. The statistics do not discriminate between immigrants and Australians. The honorable senator’s statements on- this matter cannot be based on facts, but only on his opinion, as there are no relevant figures available.
Senator Cavanagh said that some employers had threatened immigrants in certain areas, and he asked questions on that matter. I can only say that no evidence of such occurrences have been brought before the Department of Immigration, although we have trade union representatives on the Commonwealth Immigration Planning Council and the Commonwealth Immigration1 Advisory Council. The honorable senator’s statements were noted with interest, and no doubt if he has evidence to support his statements he will place it’ before the councils.. This is a matter of some importance, and if the practice complained of is being followed, the councils, should have evidence of it.
Senator Cavanagh said that some immigrants were not skilled when they arrived in Australia. We have technical advisers overseas who accept the migrants as skilled to the standard of local trade committees in Australia. These technical advisers are appointed in consultation with the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Perhaps some of the semi-skilled men claim that they are skilled when they arrive in Australia. Such a claim would be natural when they reach a new country, but their shortcomings are revealed when they start work. Senator McClelland referred to the number of migrants coming to Australia. It is not without interest to note the present position of United Kingdom applications. In the first quarter of 1962-63, 25,884 migrants applied for assisted passages from the United Kingdom to Australia. In the same period last year, there were 9,148, and there were 13,506 in the same period of 1960-61. There has been a tremendous increase in applications from the United Kingdom.
– They have had economic difficulties over there, have they not?
– I am merely giving the facts. I do not know the reasons for the increase. If I were in charge of the Department of Immigration I probably would be able to debate the matter with the honorable senator. I suggest that it is tremendously heartening to Australia to see such an increase. Information received from London to-day shows that applications covering 7,990 persons were received in the first three weeks of October. It seems likely that applications for the full month will cover more than 11,000 migrants from the United Kingdom. Therefore, I advise the honorable senator not to be too disappointed about the number of migrants coming to Australia, because it seems that the figures for this year will be exceptionally good.
An honorable senator asked why we proposed to spend less on Greek migration this year than last year. This year, the target is 1,500. Last year, actual arrivals from Greece numbered 2,761. That figure included a number of relatives who were brought out. Because the target for this year is 1,500 migrants, the expenditure has been reduced. That trend runs throughout and can be seen in relation to Maltese, German, Dutch, Italian and Austrian migration. Where expenditure has increased the target also has increased. Where expenditure has gone down, the target has gone down. Senator McClelland asked about new posts which had been created to account for the increase in the number of officers overseas. There are new posts in Paris and Madrid, and also one in Cairo which will deal with Armenians and Greeks. At all of those posts migrants of a good type are now applying.
– Do those posts come under the heading of “ Other overseas posts “?
– The information I have supplied was given to me as relating to other overseas posts. The honorable senator also referred to a sum included in the Budget on account of non-recurring shipping expenses. The item relates to the settlement of a shipping damages claim in that year, and we hope it will not recur.
Australia has a gentleman’s agreement with South Africa in regard to migration. Both countries are seeking migrants throughout the world. Each has agreed not to seek migrants in the other’s territory. Nevertheless, if there are South Africans who wish to come to Australia, we give them all the information and help that we can provide. Both Australia and South Africa are members of the InterGovernmental Committee for European Migration.
Senator McClelland referred to an article published in the “Financial Review”. I remind him of an opinion of that publication which was referred to in the Senate only yesterday, to the effect that the “ Financial Review” has become so politically biased that the London press is advising investors not to take account of its opinions. I think there is some substance in that view. Because the publication’s prognostications have been proved to be unfounded, it is becoming almost psychopathic. In fact, I read in a Sydney newspaper only the other day that the “ Financial Review “ had become almost infuriated on that score. I say to the honorable senator that he should not be prepared to place too much reliance on the article he mentioned.
Senator McClelland also referred to the number of migrants seeking naturalization. As at 31st December, 1961, the estimated number of persons who were eligible for naturalization but who had not applied to be naturalized was 240,000. That total included approximately 48,000 children under sixteen years of age who, as a general rule, could not have applied in their own right but would have been dependent on application by their parents. Approximately 53 per cent, of all eligible aliens, at 31st December, 1961, had become Australian citizens. The process of application for naturalization is the easiest which can be devised, having regard to the requirements of the legislation. An applicant is asked only to complete a simple form of application. From that point onwards, all of the information needed to establish eligibility and fitness for citizenship is obtainable from one friendly interview with specially trained officers to which the applicant is invited.
Initiative in seeking citizenship is not left entirely to the migrant. Each unnaturalized person who has been in Australia for four and a half years receives a warmly-couched letter from the Minister inviting him to seek naturalization when he has been here for five years. Publicity encouraging the acceptance of citizenship is constantly being issued by the department. Officers recently appointed by the department shortly will undertake field research into the many aspects of naturalization, including circumstances which might tend to deter migrants from applying. The point raised by the honorable senator in this respect is a very good one. We want these people to become naturalized Australian citizens as soon as possible. I shall obtain information for him concerning English language lessons for non-British migrants.
– My brother senators have spoken about migrants coming into this country. I am wondering whether the Minister can give me some information about those going out. In 1959-60, more than 100,000 people came to Australia, and 12,760 left Australia. In 1960-61, 108,000 migrants came here and 11,430 persons left. In 1961-62, 85,808 people came to Australia as migrants and 16,400 persons left. I know that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) has attempted to gloss over these figures, but they are factual. I should like the Minister to tell me why those people left Australia. I have a couple of suggestions as to why they left, but I should like the Minister to keep the matter in mind.
The secretary of one of the migrant associations said in Sydney about a week ago that there were migrants in this country who had spent up to twenty years of their lives here and had never lived in a home. Before they came to Australia they were in hostels of a kind in Europe - I dare say some of them were slave camps - and they have not been able to move out of the Australian hostels since they arrived here. The Government argues that this is the State governments’ responsibility. I say that even though the State governments may have some responsibility, the Commonwealth Government is responsible for bringing these immigrants here and it should do something for them.
– For what period do they remain in hostels in Australia?
– The people to whom I am referring have been in hostels ever since they arrived here, and some of them have been here for ten years. They have never lived in a home in Australia. This Government’s officers must be able to tell us why these immigrants are returning to their home countries.
Of course, we all know that in 1961-62 we had the credit squeeze, when jobs were not easy to get and wages were at a lower level than they had been for quite a few years. It is possible that some of these migrants, hearing of the improvement in conditions in Europe as a result of the organization of the European Common Market, and of the improvement in standards generally, wished to return. I should like to know from the Minister the reasons why so many migrants return to their home country.
I should like to know, too, whether the British Government is co-operating with the Australian Government in carrying out its immigration policy. For example, is the British Government happy about this Government’s campaign to attract British tradesmen to Australia? We are short of skilled tradesmen, and I think it is good that this Government should be trying to attract British tradesmen to Australia, but I am afraid that if any of them do come here and are required to live in hostels they will not stay here, for it must be remembered that they were not living in hostels in their home country.
Here I remind the Government of the arrangement it has with the Italian Government under which the Italian Government contributes towards the cost of building homes in Australia for Italian migrants. I do not know how expensive the scheme is, but it did occur to me that the British Government might be prepared to enter into a similar arrangement to do something for the British migrants who come here. Under the present system the names of new arrivals are placed at the bottom of the housing list, which means that these immigrants are required to wait for very long periods for homes. This Government is seeking to attract skilled tradesmen here because they are urgently needed. Therefore, it is essential that we be able to keep them here, and I do not think that British migrants will be prepared to go into hostels.
– Ask me a question at question-time to-morrow, and I will give you some facts about the small number who are ‘going back because of lack of homes. Probably the Minister has that information already.
– I have no wish to delay the Senate, but I would like those three questions answered seriously, because I get lots of inquiries about the points I have raised. I have a good deal to do with migrant organizations, and I know that the immigrants are not happy. No doubt there are some for whom we shall never be able to do anything, but most of these people have been in hostels for so long now that this Government ought to do something for them.
– I point out in .reply to Senator Ormonde that the average stay in hostels for non-British migrants is ten months, and for British migrants it is fifteen months. Senator Ormonde also referred to departures, but he included in his figures the number of departures of Australian citizens. According to the figures published in “ Australian Immigration “, the quarterly statistical bulletin issued by the Department of Immigration from which the honorable senator quoted, the departures were 6,303 in 1959-60, 5,931 in 1960-61, and 9,241 in 1961-62. No record of departures was kept for the years prior to that period.
The department advises me that almost twothirds of those who have departed would like to come back to Australia.
Senator Ormonde referred to British tradesmen. I cannot answer his question until we see how many do come, and What positions are available for them. We can deal with that matter when they arrive.
I am now able to give the following answer to the question raised by Senator McClelland with relation to adult migrant education: -
As in former years, .the expenditure of funds on adult migrant education will depend, to a large degree upon the levels of class and correspondence course enrolments.
During the 1961-62 financial year, enrolments for classes and the number of classes in operation reached record proportions. The level of enrolment for the correspondence course was also above normal. Consequently, expenditure for that year was the highest on record.
This peak demand for language instruction was not expected to .continue indefinitely and the 1962-63 Estimates were based on an enrolment pattern at a level more commensurate with average demands. The downward trend was already evident before the 1961-62 year was completed.
In August, 1962, the second month of the 1962-63 year, there were 17,169 students enrolled in 1,124 classes in contrast to 20,228 students and 1,242 classes early in 1961-62.
Similarly, the number of students undertaking the correspondence course has also decreased from 11,015 in 1961-62 to 9,074 in August, 1962.
In both cases, the August, 1962 figures, based on our experience of former years, are closer to the average demand.
The amount of £425,000, which has been submitted as the estimate of expenditure for 1962-63, allows for a return to more normal class and correspondence enrolments and is sub-divided as follows: -
– I wish to refer to Division No. 383, sub-division 1, item 15, relating to the provision of £678;000 for reception, training and accommodation centres - maintenance of migrants. I refer also to item 03 of sub-division 2, which relates to the contribution by the Government to the maintenance of migrant families, for which £1,502,000 is being provided. What ‘is covered by this contribution to the maintenance of migrant families? Does it cover payments made to migrant families who are still in government hostels, and is it made in addition to the employment benefit paid to migrants while -awaiting employment?
-(Senator Drake Brockman). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Temporary Chairman do now leave the chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative. (The Chairman having reported accordingly)
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Mr. President, I wish to delay the adjournment of the Senate for a few moments in order to refer to a matter that has been before the Australian public for the last few weeks. I refer to what are termed the Japanese waifs, or children in Japan whose fathers were Australian members of the occupation forces in that country. I raise this matter because it has been given a good deal of publicity, but as far as I am aware the Government up to this point of time has not made a pronouncement on it. Because I have views on this subject and it is now current, I want to repeat some statements that I made in this place on 9th March, 1960. I refer to a
Speech that I made during the debate on the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s :Speech. As reported at page 38, volume S.17 of “ Hansard “, I said in part -
There are to-day in Japan a certain number of children of Australian fathers and Japanese mothers. I do not necessarily accept press reports as being completely accurate, but I think they are -.at least sufficiently accurate for Parliament to pay attention to them. They suggest that in Kure there might be no less than 100 children of Australian servicemen living in squalor, starving, destitute and suffering cruelty.
I went on to advocate that the Government should appoint -a commission or committee and that it should attempt to find out the facts of the matter. 1 said thai after the committee had done that, the Parliament would be in a position to make a judgment on what should be done.
In the recent discussion in the press and the public .controversy on this issue .there has been a conflict of views on the number of children involved. I refer to a letter that was written to the press by the Reverend Harvey Perkins, the general secretary of the Australian Council of Churches in Sydney. I commend this letter to all honorable senators. They may read it in the Library. I am referring to a photostat copy of it. The letter makes the point that the Australian Council of Churches has done quite a lot of work in investigating this problem. The council seems to have established that in Kure there are at least about 52 children who, it is reasonable to presume, are the children of Australian servicemen and Japanese mothers.
I do not intend to canvass the issue now. My views on it are fairly well-known from what I have said in this chamber and to members of my party. I believe that we and the Government have an obligation to get to the truth of this matter and to find out how many children are involved. However sad and distasteful this business may be, I believe that we have an obligation to ensure that if these children are not brought to Australia - I do not necessarily advocate that - at least some authority should be provided with the wherewithal to see that they are educated and that they have an opportunity in life. It is very difficult for them to have that opportunity. I am quite convinced that the prospect for a Eurasian child in Japan is not very bright at all.
– What about our own waifs?
– I am not going to be diverted from this matter by Senator Hendrickson or anybody else. As a Parliament, we have an obligation to find out the facts. When we know the facts we will be better able to make a real judgment.
The Australian Council of Churches - a body that we all respect and know to be devoted in whatever it undertakes - says that in Japan there are children in need of help. Will any senator stand in this place and say that a child who needs help should not receive it if we can possibly give it?
– I agree with Senator Anderson that we need to know the facts. The Minister for Immigra tion (Mr. Downer) and his department have been gathering all the facts pertaining to this matter. They have not yet been fully assembled. As soon as they are, the Minister will make a decision on the matter. I shall bring the representations that Senator Anderson has made to-night to the notice of the Minister for Immigration at the close of this sitting.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.8 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 October 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1962/19621024_senate_24_s22/>.