24th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIlin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Minister for National Development read a report that was published in the press yesterday in which certain scientists at the University of Sydney reported on the uses of coal? If so, did the Minister note that these scientists have said that it it practicable and economic to make plastics, chemicals and liquid fuels from coal? Will the Minister comment on this report?
– I read the newspaper report with much interest, but I have no more information on the specific matters than was published. However, unless some new process is involved - and I doubt it - this is not a new field in the use of coal. A couple of years ago or a little longer, similar proposals emanated from the University of New South Wales, and the Joint Coal Board then arranged for a series of experiments to be carried out in the United States of America. I am not quite certain whether those experiments have been concluded yet. My recollection is that they were concluded recently but that the results have not yet been evaluated.
Senator Arnold will remember that a Commonwealth committee made a report on research into the uses of coal and that that committee said in respect of these proposals that the Joint Coal Board had done well to have the experiments carried out at that time in the United States. The result of the experiments was not then available, but the committee made a statement to the effect that it did not think the market for these products in Australia would be large enough to justify the construction of a pilot plant. Therefore, it believed, as I have said, that the Joint Coal Board had done well to have the experiments conducted in the United States, and that when the results were known, perhaps a new evaluation could be made of the project. I should think that the project reported in the press yesterday would be similar to the proposals investigated by the Joint Coal Board.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. As the national television station near Launceston is nearing completion, will the Postmaster.-General consider the building of a booster television station on Tasmania’s west coast to help relieve the isolation felt by people who live under rugged conditions in that part of Tasmania?
– I can only say that I am sure the Postmaster-General has in hand plans for extending television to the area to which the honorable senator has referred. I think it is true to say that, by the time the present phase of the extension of television services has been completed, some 91 per cent, or 93 per cent, of the population of Australia will be served by television stations. I shall bring this specific matter to the attention of the PostmasterGeneral and ask him to let the honorable senator know the plans for the area he mentioned.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral. Am I well advised to rely on a newspaper report that the new law courts building in the Australian Capital Territory is to be officially opened this afternoon? Is it proposed that the building will provide accommodation for magisterial courts as well as for the Supreme Court? Is it designed to accommodate the High Court of Australia? Has the Government plans for the provision of accommodation for the High Court in the Australian Capital Territory? Has the vote of £300,000 for the law courts building in the Australian Capital Territory ever been before the Public Works Committee? Has it been the subject of consideration by either House of this Parliament, except as one of the rolled-up items in an appropriation bill?
– I understand that this afternoon in Canberra the Prime Minister will open a building which will house the Supreme Court for the Australian Capital Territory. There will be provision in the building for magisterial courts and a Territory court. Whether the High Court will make use of this building from time to time on a temporary basis, I do not know, but I do know that this is not the High Court building which ultimately may be erected in Canberra. It is intended purely for the Supreme Court and the Territory court. Whether or not the money voted by Parliament for this purpose has been the subject of scrutiny by the Public Works Committee, I am not in a position to say, nor can I tell the honorable senator when it was voted, but I shall make inquiries. I should imagine that the money was expended by the National Capital Development Commission from the funds which are voted to it in a lump sum. However, I shall ascertain the facts in that respect and let the honorable senator know them.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. What are the reasons for the extraordinary and, I believe, inhuman decision of the Government to debar diabetics from holding permanent positions in the Public Service? Does the Minister know that Australia is one of the only two countries in the world which debar diabetics from permanent government employment?
– I understand that the subject-matter of the question posed by Senator Ormonde comes within the jurisdiction of the Prime Minister’s Department. If my assumption is correct, I undertake to see that an answer is supplied to the honorable senator’s question.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for National Development. Has he read the case prepared by the National Parks Association of New South Wales in respect of certain works that it is said will be undertaken in what is known as the primitive area of Mount Kosciusko and against which the association is protesting? I should like to know whether his department or the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority has any opinion in respect of the statement on page 4 of the document setting out the case which states -
It has been established that the Snowy scheme will have ceased to operate due to siltation within about 70 years.
– I have noted that the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority regards that statement as being completely without justification. The authority does not for one minute subscribe to the view that the life of the Snowy Mountains scheme is limited to 70 years. The opinion of the authority is that there is just no justification for the view that puts a limited life on the working of the scheme.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. (1.) What is the position with regard to ordinances or regulations covering the industrial health, hygiene and safety of Commonwealth Railways employees and officials at Port Augusta? (2.) Are such industrial regulations consolidated in a document similar to the appropriate State acts i.nd regulations? (3.) Is the standard of such provisions consistent with State legislation and regulations? (4) Will the Government consider, in co-operation with the Department of Labour and National Service, regular reviews of such industrial safeguards to ensure uniformity with modern Australian and International Labour Organization standards?
– I have no knowledge of the position in respect of the railway regulations referred to by the honorable senator. I may say, however, th..t from my recollection of the position as it existed when I held the portfolio of Shipping and Transport, no cases were ever brought to my notice which indicated that these regulations might in any way have been deficient. That is now some years ago and I am not aware of what has transpired in the meantime. If the honorable senator will put his question on the notice-paper I will get a detailed answer from the Minister for him.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Because of the indifferent television service on King Island, which has a population of between 2,000 and 3,000 people, will the Australian Broadcasting Commission consider adhering to its original plan to install a relay station at Burnie? Would not such a relay station improve the service on King Island because of its greater proximity to that area? Will the Minister see that this proposition is investigated?
– That question is of real interest to the people on King Island and I suggest that the honorable senator could serve their interests best by placing the question on the notice-paper and getting the Postmaster-General’s detailed reply to it.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Navy. Is it a fact that the Royal Australian Navy has grounded its Gannet anti-submarine aircraft as a safety precaution? How many aircraft are so affected? How long have these aircraft been in operation? What sort of investigations are being carried out as to their mechanical efficiency? When is it expected that the aircraft will be available for operational duty again?
– It is perfectly true, as I stated in an announcement published this morning, that the Royal Australian Navy has grounded for the purpose of safety the Gannet aircraft at present embarked on H.M.A.S. “ Melbourne “, which is now taking part in exercises in the South China Sea. There are on board “ Melbourne “ at the moment about ten Gannet aircraft. They were grounded because on one occasion fairly recently a Gannet aircraft ditched after take-off, and subsequently, within the last day or so, another aircraft developed a defect while at some distance from the carrier. This aircraft was able to return to and land on the carrier. It was therefore possible to remove the engine from the aircraft and fly it to Sydney for close examination to see exactly what had gone wrong with it.
The sort of investigation that is being made is an engineering investigation which seeks to discover from the state of the engine what went wrong with it while it was in flight. I cannot say how long the investigation will take, but as soon as finality has been reached in discovering what went wrong and in rectifying the fault, the aircraft will be flying again.
– I ask the Minister for Health whether he has seen a report of a statement by Dr. R. E. Davies, Shire Medical Officer at Tongala, Victoria, that chemical substances sold for household, garden or farm use should be labelled with information which would be useful to doctors if the substances were swallowed. If so, as some of these substances are said to be very toxic and others mildly toxic, is his department taking any action in regard to the suggestion made by Dr. Davies?
– My attention was drawn to the statement made by Dr. Davies, and because I believed that it was of great interest to honorable senators generally, I asked my department for a note upon it. I am now in a position to say that the problem of labelling household substances which may be poisonous but which are not poisons within the meaning of the uniform poisons schedules, is at present receiving the attention of a committee of experts which has been set up by the Public Health Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council.
This committee has been appointed to make recommendations relating to legislation dealing with the labelling of hazardous substances with the view that such legislation should be uniformly adopted throughout Australia. The code labelling scheme which has been suggested by Dr. R. E. Davies will be passed to the committee for its consideration.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Air. It relates to the recent press announcement concerning replacements for the Canberra medium jet bomber in the Royal Australian Air Force. I ask the Minister whether it is correct that the Government has abandoned its plans for the immediate replacement of the Canberra bomber with a heavy bomber of some considerable merit. If the Government has abandoned those plans, could the Minister enlighten the Senate as to what views the Government has with regard to the ultimate replacement of the Canberra aircraft?
– I suggest that if the honorable member thinks over his question he will agree that it relates to a matter of high policy in our defence forces. Accordingly, I think it appropriate to regard the question as one to which an answer should not be given during question time.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation seen reports that so far compensation has been paid for only one of the passengers who were killed in the unfortunate Viscount crash in Botany Bay in November, 1961, although another six claims have been completed? Is there any way in which the Government can intervene to speed up the legal formalities to enable claims for compensation in such cases to be met more quickly?
– I assume that the question arises from the fact that a number of claims have been made consequent upon the aircraft accident in Botany Bay some eighteen months ago.
– This matter is one which lies essentially between the insurers and the representatives of the insured. Some time ago I saw a public statement to the effect that all the claims which had been submitted were being processed by the insurers. More recently - I think only yesterday morning - I saw a further statement that the widow of a gentleman who unfortunately met his death in the crash was taking some action against either the airline company concerned or the insurers. In that particular instance the matter would appear to be sub judice. I do not know the details, but even if I were in possession of them I do not think it would be proper for me to comment at this stage. In regard to the other claims, my understanding is that the matter has been processed in the normal course and that there has been no undue delay.
– I address to the Minister for the Navy a question which relates to the question asked earlier by Senator McClelland about the grounding of Gannet aircraft aboard H.M.A.S. “ Melbourne “. If it is not a matter of high policy, I ask the Minister whether it is proposed to replace the Gannets, which are anti-submarine aircraft, at an early date with helicopters. Has a programme of replacement been worked out? Again if it is not a matter of high policy, will he state what the programme is?
– I think the honorable senator will realize that he really is suggesting that a statement on defence policy should be made in the form of an answer to a question without notice. Such a course is ruled out by the rules of the Senate. There is only one part of the question to which an answer can be given; it is the only part to which it is appropriate to reply at question time. If I may re-phrase the question, the honorable senator asked whether “ Melbourne “ will carry anti-submarine helicopters. The answer is, “ Yes “. In fact, they have already been delivered to Australia and are being formed into a training squadron.
– I address the following questions to the genial Minister for Health: - Is it not true that from time to time claims are made, often by cruel charlatans, about cures for cancer? When claims to cure or alleviate cancer are made, should not they be thoroughly investigated and reports upon them made to the people? Has the Minister received any report yet of the claims which have been made by Richard John Wilson, who has experimented on cancerous cattle, using potions made from leaves? I asked a question about this matter in October last. Has the Minister noticed the claims of a qualified medical practitioner, Dr. J. J. Ryan, which were published in the Brisbane “ Truth “ lately under the caption “ City Doctor’s Amazing Booklet: Claim Made for the Cure of Cancer “? If not, will the Minister procure Dr. Ryan’s booklet and later make a report thereon to the Senate? Is the Minister aware that Dr. Alexander Horn has published supporting material to demonstrate that Dr. Ryan’s treatment of cancer by cadmium salts is effective? Is the Minister aware that Dr. Ryan’s booklet entitled “ Cancer Breakthrough “ is now on its way to more than 150 cancer research centres?
– I do know that from time to time false claims regarding a cure for cancer are made by what the honorable senator describes as charlatans, and I know of no more cruel hoax that could be perpetrated upon people who are suffering from this dread disease. Therefore, when these claims are made they should be treated with some caution. I agree, too, that they should be investigated, because who knows from what lowly beginnings a break-through may come? Since the last time the honorable senator raised this matter in the Senate - he said it was in October last year - I asked the DirectorGeneral of Health to forward to the secretary of the State Cancer Council of New South Wales all of the information made available by Senator Brown. That council, like all other State cancer councils, is vitally interested in fostering research and diagnosing the causes of cancer. I believe that in the fullness of time the council will evaluate the material that was made available to it per medium of Senator Brown.
I did see the report of the claims made by Dr. Ryan and I asked my learned officers of the Department of Health to give me their opinions. They have informed me that they have no knowledge that cadmium is of value in the treatment of cancer. The best advice that I can give to the honorable senator, or to anybody else interested in making a contribution to the elimination of this disease from our midst, is that the various States have dedicated bodies of persons in their cancer councils and that any submissions that may be considered as being of some value to the research that is going on will get from the State councils all the consideration that they should receive.
– Has the attention of the Minister for the Navy been directed to the report that the Royal Navy has decided to scrap 64 naval vessels, including two aircraft carriers and a number of frigates, destroyers and submarines? Will the Minister have inquiries made to ascertain whether any of these vessels, which would probably be available for a song, would be suitable for re-fitting and inclusion in Australia’s expanding Navy?
– My attention has not actually been directed to the report and, therefore, I do not know the types or age of the ships that are referred to in it. If this report be true, I should imagine that these would be ships that had reached the end of their service life and were being, or had been, replaced by a subsequent building programme. I know, for instance, that the Royal Navy does intend to scrap the T class submarines, some of which have been, and still are, on loan to the Royal Australian Navy. Those submarines, being too old and too out-dated, would be of no use to us. I should imagine that the same position would exist in respect of any other naval vessels which the Royal Navy found to be not up to its requirements at this stage.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Is it a fact that it is several weeks now since the Postmaster-General received the report of the royal commissioner, Mr. Justice Taylor, who was appointed to investigate allegations against certain postal employees of improper conduct and failure to co-operate with the Victorian Police, in connexion with starting-price betting activities in Victoria? If it is a fact, when was the report of the royal commission received, and why has it not yet been presented to the Senate or released for the information of the public? In view of the wide publicity given to the appointment of the royal commission and to its proceedings, will the Minister say how much longer the Government intends to sit on this report?
– If the honorable senator, by stating that the Government is sitting on the report, implies that the Government has the report and is not prepared to do something about it, I can assure him that the Government is not sitting on the report. It is true that the Government has a report. It is also true that it is studying the report, lt is equally true that when the Government’s deliberations have been concluded the report will be presented to both Houses of Parliament without delay.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation. Has the Minister for Repatriation received representations from the Partially Blinded Soldiers Association of Australia that pensions should be paid for the loss of an eye equal to those paid for the loss of a leg? Will the Government consider granting a pension for the loss of an eye equivalent to the pension paid for the loss of a leg consistent with the provisions of the various workers’ compensation acts and in accordance with medical opinion on the gravity of the loss of an eye?
– I am not aware of what representations have been made to the Minister for Repatriation by the body to which the honorable senator has referred. Obviously, the Minister for Repatriation himself is the only man who can answer that question and, just as obviously, the question is one for the notice-paper.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation seen a press report that the first change resulting from the AnsettA.N.A.MacRobertson Miller Airlines Limited deal will be the introduction of the “ 800 “ series Viscounts on domestic routes? Does this type of aircraft require sealed runways on which to land and take off? Has the Minister previously received requests to seal runways in the north-west? Has he acceded to these requests? Will he now agree to seal at least some of these runways? If so, will his decision have anything to do with the Ansett-A.N.A. move into Western Australia?
– The only reference that I nave seen to the probable use of Viscounts on the north-west run - Darwin to Perth - was a statement made by Ansett himself to the effect that the purchase of the controlling interest in MacRobertson Miller Airlines Limited opened’ up a possibility of this operation being undertaken. I think it is true that an operation, Darwin to Perth, could be undertaken now, using a restricted number of air ports. For example, Darwin, Broome -
– Is Broome sealed?
– Yes. As the honorable senator well knows, it has one of the longest runways on the coast. It is an old Air Force runway. The honorable senator should know that. You come down the coast to Port Hedland’, then to Meekatharra and into Perth, so the operation could be done now without any re-sealing at all, I should imagine. But the statement that I saw did not envisage - nor was it intended to envisage - the immediate or early introduction of Viscounts. Assuming that we are talking about the same statement, it referred to the possibility of that happening as a development in the future. The first variation that will be introduced after the change in ownership of the controlling interest is in respect of the enlargement of the Friendship element in the fleet.
– I ask the
Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral a question with reference to the acquisition by the Commonwealth Government of portion of an estate in Melbourne known as Rippon Lea. Has the Australian Broadcasting Commission conferred) or is it conferring with the owners of the estate and with those authorities who are opposed to the acquisition? If so, has any progress been made, or is progress likely to be made, towards an amicable settlement of the disagreement?
– I regret that I have not up-to-date information on the question asked by the honorable senator, but I do know that negotiations are taking place between the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the owners of Rippon Lea and those who are vitally interested in its preservation. I believe it is true to say that both the commission and the owners hope for an amicable settlement of the matters in dispute. When the matter has been resolved one way or the other, I shall advise the honorable senator of the decisions that have been taken.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the attention of the
Minister been directed to a report by Mr. J. H. Fraser, a research officer of the Graziers Association of New South Wales, stating that there is a strong case for the reconstitution of the Australian Meat Board, since the board has been appointed for seventeen years? Does the Minister agree that the export requirements of the Australian meat industry have altered considerably? Can he verify the statement that to-day 350,000 tons of carcass beef equivalent is exported compared with 100,000 tons of lamb or mutton? Because of these changed export figures does he believe that the representation of various sections of the industry on the Australian Meat Board is in a state of imbalance? Is the Government considering this matter and if it is, will it take note of the situation and endeavour to give representation on the board to the Australian consumers so that the meat available to the Australian public will be of the same high quality and will be classified on similar categories and standards as Australian export meat?
– I hope I am correct in assuming that the honorable senator’s question suggests that the representation of various sections of the industry on the Australian Meat Board is in a state of imbalance because of changing conditions in the trade. To support the implication, the honorable senator quoted Mr. J. H. Fraser, of the Graziers Association of New South Wales. I have not seen the statement credited to Mr. Fraser, and without having read it I cannot comment adequately on the question posed by the honorable senator. I should like to know, in the first instance, whether Mr. Fraser spoke for himself or whether he expressed the point of view of his association. It may be that Mr. Fraser has his own ideas. I have no knowledge of any considered opinions of the Graziers Association on this matter. I remind the honorable senator that other parties are represented on the Australian Meat Board and until such time as they express an opinion on the constitution of the board, I think it is fair to assume that the board must be regarded as a most efficient organization. Its history of achievement over the past few years has indicated that it has rendered a great service to Australia.
– I preface a question to the Minister for National Development by saying that for more than seventeen years, I have been associated with the Cradle Mountain Reserve Board, and the Scenery Preservation Board in Tasmania, and on many occasions we have met the Hydro-electric Commission, the Forestry Commission and the State Public Works Department when there has been a conflict of interests about the protection of scenery in the national parks of Tasmania. As honorable senators from Tasmania know, we have deplored the fact that the Cataract Gorge in Launceston has lost most of its character and beauty because of the stronger economic claims of the Hydro-electric Commission. The Kosciusko State Park Trust has declared that its primitive area is the only extensive alpine area on the mainland, and no area in Australia more truly merits reservation. The trust has also stated that the well-defined moraines, cirques, polished pavements, glacial varves, and a series of glacial lakes, are unique on the Australian mainland. The trust has also stated of the primitive area -
It contains the last development of alpine flora on the mainland, including two plant communities not represented elsewhere, and several species not found elsewhere in the continent.
It is watered by permanent alpine streams, some containing the original fauna and flora as yet unaltered by the introduction of trout or by stream diversion.
The scenery in the area is unequalled.
I ask the Minister: What loss of water potential would be involved to the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority’s irrigation plan, and what would be the loss in electricity generation potential if this area were preserved as a primitive area? Would the Minister approach the Kosciusko State Park Trust or the New South Wales Government with a view to having a member of the Snowy Mountains authority appointed to the trust?
There might be merit in Senator O’Byrne’s suggestion. The Kosciusko State Park Trust is constituted by the New South Wales Government. It is not an elected body, and there is no way in which the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority could appoint a representative to the trust. It would be necessary for the New South
Wales Government to alter the present constitution of the trust and appoint somebody from the Snowy Mountains authority to it. I think there is a great deal of merit in that idea because it is the works of the Snowy Mountains authority and all that go with them, including 300 miles of road, that have really made Kosciusko Park the scenic area it now is. Visitors to the area number thousands compared with tens before the Snowy Mountains scheme was commenced.
As I have said before, the Snowy Mountains authority has two things clearly in mind. First, it will do its utmost to ensure that the wishes of those who are interested in retaining this primitive area are recognized and that the works necessary will be carried out with the greatest possible care. Secondly, the authority is convinced - and it is easy for others to see - that the statements about damage that would be done to the area are grossly exaggerated. We can see in the Snowy Mountains area where pipelines have been constructed how the vegetation has recovered in a few years. That is quite solid evidence of exaggeration of the claims of damage that would be done to the area.
I cannot answer in detail all the rest of the honorable senator’s question except to mention the glacial varves and David moraine. I point out that these are outside the primitive area. The David moraine, about which a great deal is talked, is not within the primitive area and is not claimed to be within the primitive area itself. This is a vexed question.
The honorable senator made some remarks about the economics of the matter. What has been proposed would have a serious effect on the economics of the Snowy Mountains scheme. The estimates are that for the next six or seven years, the cost of power from the Murray I. station, which is the biggest power station on the scheme, generating 750,000 kilowatts capacity, would be increased by 9 per cent, without the addition of the Geehi aqueducts.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is the Minister aware that individual members of the Waterside Workers Federation have been fined amounts aggregating £20,000 in the past twelve months? Would the Minister agree that this heavy fining of individual members for the collective decisions of the union is not only extremely provocative but a complete violation of British justice? Would the Minister declare a twelve months truce on lines on the waterfront as an exercise in industrial relations?
– I do not understand why Senator Ormonde should say that when people have been penalized under the provisions of an act of Parliament they have been denied British justice. The people concerned have been either offending against the law or defying it. Apparently, the honorable senator is now saying that he does not agree with the law. That is one thing, lt is another thing that the law is there. If we do not observe the rule of law we shall have a chaotic state of affairs, and we shall not continue to exist as a nation.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Air. Seeing that he has an army of research officers around him, he may be able to obtain the information 1 seek; we on this side have no information on the subject. Can the Minister state the figures relating to capital expenditure on buildings and facilities at the aerodromes serving the cities of Australia for the last five years? Can he also state the amount of capital expenditure on aerodromes and facilities in country areas during the same period? I know that the Minister would not expect me to have such information at my finger-tips, and I do not expect him to have it, either, but perhaps he will be good enough to get his research officers to obtain it and make it available to the Senate. Will the Minister also state the number of country aerodromes, if any, which he has unloaded on to the already overburdened country councils throughout Australia during the last ten years?
– Before I refer this matter to my officers, as has been suggested by the honorable senator, I think we should at least be clear regarding the Minister whom he wants to answer the question. He knows so much about the subject that he addressed his question to the Minister for Air. If he will place the question on the notice-paper I shall obtain an answer for him. With regard to his comments on the local-ownership policy, all I can say to him is that he completely disregards the success of that policy and the part that is being played by the various municipal authorities.
– Will the Minister for National Development name the secondary industries in New South Wales which have been developed by his department during the last twelve months, and the nature of that development?
– I should not have thought that it was the function of the Department of National Development to develop secondary industries. Ours is a government which believes in free enterprise. The Government creates a favorable atmosphere in which industry may thrive and develop. I have no doubt that I could produce for the honorable senator a good number of statistics to show the new factories and industries which have been commenced in New South Wales, but I do not think that is the purpose of his question. I believe he is under a misapprehension regarding the function of the Government in this respect.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has now supplied the following answer: - 1 to 3. The question of allowing fares to and from work as deductions for income tax purposes, along with many other proposals for changes in the income tax laws, will receive consideration when the 1963-64 Budget is being prepared.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– My colleague, the PostmasterGeneral, has now supplied the following answer: -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answer: -
United States Navy for the loan to the Australian Post Office of a temporary radio system which would be replaced as soon as practicable bythe installation by the Australian Post Office of a permanent public radio System at the cost of the United Slates Navy.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The Minister for External Affairs has supplied me with the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The AttorneyGeneral has provided the following answer: - 1 to 7. The questions asked all relate to matters that come within the administration of my colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport, who has now made a full public statement which, I think, covers all the points raised in these questions. I do not think I can usefully add anything to that statement except perhaps to add a reference to sections 294 to 329 of the Navigation Act 1912-1961, which are relevant to the points raised.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The Minister for External Affairs has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answer to question 1 is, “ Yes “. The full statement referred to was as follows: -
Trans-Australia Airlines has not been instructed to undertake an equipment exchange. It has for some months been in continuous conference with Ansett-A.N.A. about a number of matters affecting both airlines. Equipment and the use of equipment has naturally been discussed. It is certainly wrong to say that an agreement between the airlines was signed yesterday. No such agreement has been reached or signed. If and when developments occur in this matter and in any others they will be reported to me and a statement will be made.
In answer to question 2, I give the full statement as follows: -
During the last week Mr. Allan Fraser, Mr. Arthur Calwell, Senator Kennelly and other Labour members have sought to make a political issue of discussions in progress between Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett-A.N.A. The Government’s constant endeavour has been to introduce into the two airline system, which has repeatedly received the endorsement of the Australian people, an element of stability which will not only see that the system succeeds, but will also underwrite the employment of the thousands of good Australians who are employed by both airlines.
Those interested in this matter should not be misled into a maze of political scheming, the purpose of which is not related to airlines at all but which is triggered off by positions of influence within the Parliamentary Labour Party which might become available in the next few days, ft is easy, but rather cheap, to get headline publicity. The Government, however, is concerned only with the commercial stability of the airline industry.
In recent years the domestic airlines have experienced considerable financial difficulty in coping with sharply rising operating costs and with the heavy capital outlay involved in aircraft purchases.
This led to the 1957 crisis and the sale of Australian National Airways to Ansett Transport Industries.
Since then the private airline, Ansett-A.N.A., and the Government-owned T.A.A. have achieved substantial economies through an agreed system of rationalization of air services.
It has however become apparent to both airlines that effective rationalization can only be obtained if each is operating a reasonably comparable airline fleet.
Both airlines have, therefore, been examining for some lime how this could be achieved without the need for additional capital outlay which neither airline can at present afford.
The present Government took over responsibility for T.A.A. in 1949, three years after the airline first came into existence, and has re-equipped it with a fleet of fifteen Viscounts, two Electras and twelve Friendships at a cost of about £15,000,000. This record is hardly compatible with the repeated political claim of the Opposition that the Government has tried to “kill” T.A.A. By comparison the private airline has a small turbo-prop fleet of two Electras, six Viscounts and six Friendships.
Recognizing the disparity between Ansett-A.N.A. and T.A.A. in turbo-prop aircraft, the Government in late 1959 gave Ansett-A.N.A. approval for the purchase of a third Electra aircraft. By its own initiative the private airline managed to obtain delivery of this aircraft in February of this year. Notwithstanding its very decided advantage in Viscount aircraft- fifteen to Ansett-A.N.A?s six - T.A.A. has now asked the Government for approval to buy a third Electra aircraft. To do this it would have to dispose of some of its Viscount aircraft and wait for some time for delivery of a new Electra.
Ansett-A.N.A., on the other hand, would then still have a substantially smaller turbo-prop fleet and could dispose of its remaining four Douglas DC6B’s and acquire further turbo-prop aircraft of its own choice, probably Electras. T.A.A., probably desiring to maintain parity in Electra aircraft, would then, in turn, want to dispose of further Viscount aircraft to buy Electras to match those of Ansett-A.N.A.
It is apparent that this would lead to an equipment “ rat race “ involving millions of pounds in further capital outlay without any particular compensating advantage to either airline. Both airlines believe, therefore, that a better and cheaper result would be obtained by some redisposition of the existing fleet, which from the viewpoint of both quality and quantity is capable of meeting the reasonable needs of Australian air travellers for some years to come. They propose a cross-charter on agreed terms of some Viscount and Douglas DC6B aircraft.
While this goes a substantial way towards the airline objective of fleet parity it does not meet T.A.A.’s particular problem of getting a third Electra to match the Ansett-A.N.A. delivery of a third Electra in February. The Government has therefore been asked to facilitate the charter of an Electra aircraft to T.A.A. from Qantas in February and also to approve, the purchase of a new aircraft at the expiration of the charter period.
The Government, through its guaranteed loans to airlines and its support of the airport and airways system, has a large financial interest in Australian civil aviation. It agrees with the airlines that fleet parity is essential to effective rationali- zationandthereforetofinancialstability,andthat itshouldbeachievedifpossiblewithoutfurther capitaloutlayandsubstantialexpenditureofover- seasfunds.
The cross charter arrangements proposed are a normal feature of airline operations and the Government would give favorable consideration to them, as well as the request made in respect of the Qantas Electra.
It is quite incorrect however to say that the airlines have reached agreement upon these arrangements. It is also wrong to say that either airline is under any instruction from the Government to exchange aircraft and in particular that T.A.A. has been forced to buy DC6B’s.
While the Government would favorably consider a mutually agreed charter arrangement, and indeed help to facilitate it by arranging for the T.A.A. charter of the Qantas Electra, it would not impose any such arrangements on the airlines concerned.
The recurrent financial difficulties of the Australian airline industry are both serious and real. Neither the private airline, which has a responsibility to 14,000 shareholders, nor the Government airline, which has a responsibility to the Australian taxpayer, would wish to aggravate the present position by wasteful capital expenditure on unnecessary new pieces of aircraft equipment.
It is greatly to the credit of both airlines that in these circumstances they have initiated through the proposed charter scheme an arrangement which will not only help to safeguard their present financial position, but which also gives them an opportunity to accumulate adequate reserves for the next round of re-equipment with pure jet aircraft.
The Government has constantly re-affirmed its policy of maintaining two major airlines - one private and the other Government-owned - in vigorous competition on Australian air routes. It should be appreciated, however, that unnecessary expenditure on new aircraft involves, in the case of the Government airline, the provision of capital at cost by the Australian taxpayer, and in the case of both airlines a continued drain on overseas funds.
Some degree of self-help is required by the airlines in achieving a sound financial basis for the two airline system, and the Government believes that the cross charter arrangements are clearly a step in this direction.
It would have been preferable to await the outcome of the airline negotiations before making a statement on the matter.
These negotiations are. necessarily complex and can be best resolved without Government intervention of any sort. A further statement will be made if and when airline agreementon aircraft charter is reached.
It will be seen that the statement emphasizes the fact that the proposals under consideration were being considered by the airlines on their merits and that no Government pressure was being exercised on either airline.
The answer to question 3 is as follows: -
There was no change of mind on the part of the Minister about making a statement at the relevant time. The reason I did not personally make the statement was that I was overseas on ministerial business when agreement was concluded, as I informed the Senate during the adjournment debate last Wednesday, and the Acting Minister, Mr. Townley, made a statement on 26th February concerning the agreement. The full text of his statement is as under -
Australia’s major domestic airlines, TransAustralia Airlines and Ansett-A.N.A., have reached agreement on a cross-charter arrangement involving Viscount and DC-6B aircraft, under which Ansett-A.N.A. will charter three Viscount 700 Series airliners from T.A.A. and T.A.A. will charter two DC6B aircraft from Ansett-A.N.A.
The agreement will ensure stability in the airline industry, and should enable both airlines to accumulate capital reserves necessary for future re-equipment.
However, this agreement alone would leave the private airline, Ansett-A.N.A., with a decided advantage in front-line Lockheed Electra aircraft and the Government has, therefore, approved the purchase of a third Electra by T.A.A. As this aircraft could not be delivered for some months, the Government has also made immediate arrangements for T.A.A. to charter an Electra aircraft from the Australian international airline, Qantas. T.A.A. will, therefore, be able to introduce a third Electra to service at about the same time as the third Electra recently delivered to Ansett-A.N.A.
Charter arrangements are not novel among airlines and are, in fact, a normal commercial airline practice. T.A.A. has often been party to charter arrangements, and at present has turbo-prop airliners on charter to both MacRobertson Miller Airlines and East-West Airlines. In the past, T.A.A. chartered a DC4 to Ansett-A.N.A., and itself chartered a DC6B airliner from the Dutch Airline K.L.M. Qantas, and indeed all major airlines, enter into charter arrangements.
The major factor in the decision of both airlines to negotiate cross-charter was the realization that it was to their mutual advantage to achieve greater equality with a minimum capital expenditure. The exchange of aircraft achieves just this result.
The front-line competitive fleets of the two airlines will be -
The aircraft fleets of both airlines will meet all reasonable needs of Australia’s air travellers for some time to come.
There have been many premature and widespread misconceptions of the discussions between the airlines which led to the crosscharter arrangements. Some of these misconceptions have been sincere, but the majority have been deliberately fermented from political motives. All have caused unnecessary concern to employees of T.A.A. and’ Ansett-A.N.A.
It is, therefore, important that 1 should restate this Government’s policy on domestic civil aviation. It has been consistently maintained over the last ten years. The policy of this Government is that two major airlines, one being the Government-owned airline T.A.A., should be maintained in fair, vigorous and economic competition on the major air routes. This competitive system best serves the community and is in the interests of the many thousands of skilled employees of both airlines who have done so much to advance Australian air transport
The Government does not want to see an air transport monopoly in this country, whether it is a Government or a private monopoly.
It has supported and encouraged the T.A.A. management, and has equipped the airline wilh a total of 30 turbo-prop airliners, the biggest turbine powered fleet ever assembled in this country.
It has given practical encouragement to the energetic management of Ansett-A.N.A. and has at all times been eager to see that airline become the powerful and highly competitive airline it is today. The result has been that this country can enjoy the benefit of a competitive airline system in which the airlines involved are as efficient as any in the world.
The Government is anxious that air transport in this country should develop on a sound economic basis, and is confident that the arrangements will help achieve this objective.
– For the information of honorable senators, I lay on the table the second interim report of the select committee appointed to inquire into and report on the political development of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Honorable senators will recall that, on 23rd October, 1962, I tabled the first interim report of the committee, together with a resolution of the Legislative Council relating to the report.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose, of this bill is to obtain parliamentary authority for additional expenditure in 1962-63 on certain items of capital works and services. Additional appropriations of £7,395,000 are sought. However, after allowing for savings in other appropriations, it is expected that the total expenditure will not exceed the Budget estimate of £167,877,000 by more than about £3,500,000.
An amount of £1,500,000 is. included in the bill for the construction pf the standardgauge railway between Albury and Melbourne. This will cover the final payment for the work involved. In accordance with the Railway Standardization (New South Wales and Victoria) Agreement Act, those States are required to repay the Commonwealth three-tenths of the total expenditure by the Commonwealth on the project over a period of 50 years.
The amount of £2,500,000 for payment to the War Service Homes Trust Account increases the total appropriation for the year to £37,500,000. The maximum advance was increased from £2,750 to £3,500 in May, 1962. There has been an increase in the number of applicants seeking assistance for the construction of homes and for additional essential accommodation in existing homes.
An amount of £1,070,000 is included for the Postmaster-General’s Department - £750,000 for telephone exchange services and trunk line services and £320,000 to meet higher rates of pay for engineers. An amount of £200,000 is also provided for the acquisition of additional television transmitting equipment.
Additional appropriations totalling £1,430,700 are sought to cover requirements in the Northern Territory, £456,200; Australian Capital Territory, £694,000; and Papua and New Guinea, £280,500. The major additional items provided in the
Northern Territory are for additional buildings, works, fittings and furniture and the construction of beef cattle roads. In the Australian Capital Territory, the major item is £685,000 for additional advances to the Australian Capital Territory Housing Commissioner for loans forprivate houses. However, it is anticipated that there will be an offsetting saving of £500,000 in respect of amounts provided for advances to cooperative building societies. The amount of £280,000 for Papua and New Guinea is to provide an additional advance to the administration to provide loans to exservicemen in agricultural enterprises.
I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) proposed -
That the bill be now read a first time.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be no w read a second time. The purpose of this bill is to appropriate £70,282,000 to carry on the necessary normal capital works and services of govern- ment for the first five months of the financial year 1963-64. This will enable Commonwealth works to be continued until the 1963-64 Budget has been considered by the Parliament.
The bill will provide funds for Commonwealth works in progress at 30th June, 1963. In addition, it is the practice to programme the capital works and services in the major
Commonwealth departments, including the Department of Works, the PostmasterGeneral’s Department and the Department of Civil Aviation. The appropriation will provide funds to ensure the orderly continuation of those programmes of works and to continue day-to-day purchases of plant and equipment.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) proposed -
That the bill be now read a first time. Debate (on motion by SenatorMcKenna) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) proposed.
That the resumption of the debate be an order of the day for a later hour of the day.
– I oppose the motion. The measure we are now considering is the last of a series of four bills, debate on three of which very properly has been adjourned to the next day of sitting. Let me review the total amount that is involved in the four bills. The Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1962-63, which we are now considering, is designed to appropriate a sum of £47,503,000, the Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill (No. 2) 1962-63 a sum of £7,395,000, the Supply Bill 1963-64 a sum of £301,764,000, and the Supply (Works and Services) Bill 1963-64 a sum of £70,282,000. As I have said, debate on three of the measures has been adjourned to the next day of sitting, leaving one to be debated later to-day.
The measure which we are asked to debate later to-day is designed to make an additional appropriation of £47,503,000 for the current year to cover nearly every government department. Having become aware of the contents of this bill for the first time to-day, we of the Senate are asked to debate it at a later hour of the day. The Opposition says that that is quite unreasonable. We were informed yesterday that some such action was contemplated by the Government. It was my belief that a motion similar to the one now before the Chair was to be proposed in relation to the measures that will provide supply for 1963- 64. Rather fortunately, that development has not occurred. 1 invite the Senate to look at the background against which it is proposed that debate on this bill shall be postponed to a later hour of the day. The Senate adjourned on 7th December last for a little more than four months. It returned to work on 9th April last and met on only two days - the 9th and 10th April.
– It met for one and a half days, surely. On one day the Senate adjourned at some time during the afternoon.
– What is the honorable senator contesting?
– I regarded our work as being spread over one and a half days, not two days.
– I shall give the exact hours in a moment.
– Thank you. That will be much better.
– We met on the 9th and 10th April. If I am not mistaken, the sitting on the 10th spilled over into the small hours of 11th April. So in strict terms of dates, we sat on the 9th and 10th and a very small portion of 11th April. But over the whole of those occasions - one knight say we sat on three days - the Senate worked for 11 hours 53 minutes. Then, having no further business before it, the Senate adjourned for almost three weeks from 11th April to 30th April. In five months fr m 7th January to 6th May the Senate worked for 26 hours one minute, an average of five hours a month. If I add yesterday’s sitting, in a period of five months and one day honorable senators worked for 29 hours 39 minutes, an average of nearly six hours a month. We have on the notice-paper three bills, all of which have a very small compass. One has a couple of amendments which are relatively technical and which may take a little time to discuss. In relation to another measure we will have only one speaker, the Opposition will not be opposing it. Also on the notice-paper are three matters in relation to the tariff which are ancillary and are bracketed together and which will be disposed of, after the passing of the first measure, without further comment. That is the only legislation which is now before the Senate, apart from the matters which have been introduced this afternoon.
The motion now before us has been proposed because the Government believes that it will be out of business before this day ends. We are invited now to be ready to proceed to consider an additional appropriation for the current year to the tune of approximately £47,500,000. The Opposition is not prepared to do that. It is all very well for a Minister to say, “ Well, it is only £47,500,000 “. The point is that the appropriation will be distributed over every government department and over the business activities of the Government and the various Territories. Each of the appropriations must be looked at in detail. It is essential to refer back to the original appropriation to ascertain the reason for the additional appropriation. I indicate in homely terms that any Senator who addresses himself properly to his task must do a lot of homework on a bill of this nature. We of the Opposition are just not prepared to go on at short notice. I indicate, too, that this is one of the rare opportunities that come to members of the Opposition to address themselves to the Chair for a longer term than is usual and - this is exceedingly important - to matters which are relevant and irrelevant.
That is the stage we have reached in this matter. Although we knew that sooner or later - judging by the behaviour in another place we did now know whether it would” be sooner or later - the supply bills and the appropriation bills would come before the Senate, we do not carry our speeches around in our pockets. Although we have major matters to talk about during the debate at the first-reading stage of. such bills, we anticipate that ordinary precedent and tradition will be observed and that ordinary courtesy will be extended to the Opposition by having the measure held over to the next day, unless another course is adopted following prior arrangement with the Opposition. When this procedure was mooted last evening, I objected instantly and indicated that it would be opposed. Now we find that through lack of business - the blame lies with the Government and not with the Opposition - we are asked to proceed with the debate on this measure.
I doubt whether during my experience the Parliament has adjourned for as long as it did during the last recess, which extended over a period of four months. It is quite clear that Ministers did no real work on their legislation during the recess. I presume they were basking in the glory reflected by Her Majesty the Queen throughout those months. The legislative programme that has been set down for this sessional period, as far as is now known - 1 think we now see the whole picture - is easily the lightest that 1 have seen for such a session. I remind the Senate that that is the position after a recess of more than four months, during which Ministers had the most excellent opportunity to catch up on their arrears of work and to come to the Parliament with a full programme of legislation in relation to matters of real consequence. The Parliament has considered bills of importance, but there have been no outstanding measures. So far there has been almost nothing of a controversial nature, although that state of affairs is likely to be cured in the near future. When one considers just what the Government might have been doing, one realizes how lazy it has been during the last recess.
The Government has had before it a report on the vastly important subject of constitutional change. How long has it had that report? It has had it since 1958. Every time the Government has been asked about the report since then, it has stated that it has been considering it. I do not know whether the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) would say the Government is sitting on it or is hatching it, or what else it is doing with the report. We have not had a decision on even one of 22 recommendations that were submitted by a joint parliamentary committee. The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) and the Government have been talking for three years about restrictive trade practices, but even after a four months recess they cannot get a bill into this Parliament. These are major matters of urgency and of great national importance.
There was a long delay in attending to a committee’s report on the Copyright Act, about which Senator Murphy talked yesterday. I think it was mainly on account of the delay that a Government senator voted with us in protest yesterday in relation to an amendment of that bill. There is also a vastly important revision of the Bankruptcy Act. These are matters that gravely affect the nation and the people of the nation. There is a lazy recess, then all of a sudden the Government wants the Opposition this afternoon to pick up a bill relating to the expenditure of £47,000,000, and be ready to debate it within a few hours. That is completely unreasonable. It is clear to us of the Opposition that the Government, to save face in relation to its laziness during the past few months, wants to rush its business to a conclusion. All I can say to the Leader of the Government and to Government senators is that we are not prepared to co-operate in any such procedure.
The four bills before us have come in this afternoon. Not one of them is wanted before 30th June, two months away. There are two supplementary bills for the current year, one relating to ordinary annual services, and the other relating to works and services. They will be in plenty of time as long as they go through by 30th June. The supply bills will not even begin to operate till 1st July. The bills on ordinary annual services and on works and services propose to give supply to the Government from 1st July for the next five months. I invite some Government senator to tell the Opposition what is the reason for the haste. What reason is there for this unusual and very odd move in relation to a bill like this? What reason is there for the haste, other than that the Government is out of business and does not want to be shown up on the air to-day as being so out of business.?
We insist upon exercising our right to talk upon the motion for the first reading of the two appropriation bills, the Supply Bill and the Appropriation Bill (No. 2). These are two priceless opportunities for the Opposition. We want an opportunity to gear our forces, to seek our ammunition, and to proceed with the bills after due notice. I recognize that we shall have two opportunities. We propose to avail ourselves of both. These are two of the greatest and rarest opportunities that we as an Opposition enjoy in this place. To invite the Opposition to go ahead with this legislation later to-day, after its introduction this afternoon, is improper from the viewpoint of parliamentary procedure. It is completely unfair to Opposition senators and it is very bad from the viewpoint of democracy.
Accordingly, as an amendment to the motion proposed by the Minister, I move -
Leave out “ a later hour of the clay “, insert “ the next day of sitting “.
– The Government, of course, does not accept the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). It is as well that we should examine just what is the form and effect of the motion which has been submitted to the Senate. It is: “ That the first reading “ - I emphasize “ the first reading “ - “ of this bill be made an order of the day for a later hour of the day “. Now, Sir, that doss not mean, as has been intimated by the Leader of the Opposition, that the Opposition must necessarily to-day proceed with an examination of expenditure amounting to £47,500,000, ranging over the whole gamut of the Government departments. As he himself has acknowledged this is one of the few occasions which are made available to this chamber to debate matters, relevant and irrelevant, on the motion for the first reading of a bill. The motion submitted to the chamber merely seeks to postpone till a later hour this day that first-reading debate.
Now, Sir, it cannot be said validly that this bill comes to this chamber as a matter of surprise. Every one knows - the newest member of the Parliament knows - that at this time of the year it is proper to expect the introduction of these supply and appropriation bills. The first-reading debate, which extends, I repeat, to matters relevant and irrelevant, gives to every member of this chamber an opportunity to speak of the 101 things that occur to him throughout the year which he does not always have an opportunity to debate on other occasions. This is an opportunity which should be seized upon, and I am surprised that it is not seized upon, by all senators to debate the many things relevant to the cash vote that come to their notice throughout the year. T do not think for one moment that any one can reasonably claim that that sort of thing requires preparation, because the senator concerned has the matter in his mind and has, perhaps, had it in his mind for a long, long time past.
For those reasons, and because the motion for the resumption of the debate at a later hour of the day is in no way unreasonable, we reject the amendment moved by the Opposition.
– I want to enter my protest at the method that the Government is attempting to use to put its business through this chamber. This is, as Senator McKenna said, one of the prized occasions that we have to debate matters both relevant and not relevant to the issue that is before the Chair. I cannot agree with Senator Paltridge’s statement that these are not matters that senators require to prepare and that senators have them in their minds. After all, in every State senators have a pretty big territory to cover. They get 1,000,001 things into their minds and they have to make up their minds, when these few occasions come forward, about which are the most important matters to stress on an opportunity like this, and whether other legislation will be coming forward upon which they will be able to debate the matters fully. It is not possible for senators to carry round in their satchels all the particulars that they may require at any one time. They must try to anticipate what the Government might do, and try to have on hand the particulars that they will be required to use. I realize that springing this debate on us in this way does not necessarily debar us of the right to debate matters, both relevant and not relevant. They will come forward as usual. But I suggest to the honorable senator who wishes to introduce this legislation that if, at 9 o’clock to-night, he wants the debate continued, and there is no one ready and willing to speak at that time to the bill, the first reading will be carried and there will be no further opportunity to speak on it. It is not fair to place honorable senators in that position.
I want to protest, too, at the way in which it is proposed to do this business when the Government has seen fit to lock honorable senators out of this chamber for a period of almost five months. It could not be classed as anything but a lock-out. Honorable senators will realize the amount of business that builds up in that time for a senator to put before this chamber. Under these circumstances, a senator has to use his own judgment as to what matters he will bring forward in relation to this bill. As Senator Paltridge has said, even the newest member of the Senate is aware that these bills come before the Senate at this time each year. 1 remind the honorable senator, who has introduced them on several occasions, that they usually come before the Senate on the last couple of days on which the Senate sits before rising for the winter recess. If my information is correct, that period is still three weeks away. I remember on one occasion having a matter which was not relevant to a bill to bring before the chamber. I sat here from 18th February until 2nd June before I could make my speech on it. We rose on 2nd June and we had dealt with all the bills that were relevant to supply and extra expenditure. I join with Senator McKenna in saying that even if the present session of the Senate lasts until 29th or 30th June in order to pass this legislation, the measure would be passed in time to serve the purpose for which the Government requires it. I cannot believe that there is as much urgency to deal with this matter as Senator Paltridge suggests.
Th-* proceedings of the Senate are being broadcast to-day. The Government does not want to reveal to the people of Australia, over the air, that, after a lock-out of almost five months, it is unable to present enough business for senators to deal with. I have no doubt that if the proceedings were not being broadcast the Senate would adjourn to-day at 5 o’clock; but because we are on the air the Government has to make some show to the general public throughout Australia that it is in the serious business of government. The Government professes to believe in the bicameral system of government. It believes that this second chamber, the Senate, should be cherished as part of our so-called democratic system. But the Government treats this chamber with contempt by adjourning it for almost five months and then seeking to introduce bills of this nature without giving senators the opportunity properly and thoroughly to examine them. The Government can only be accused of mishandling the affairs of Australia when it is unable to carry on the business of the Parliament properly.
It is not much use the Government’s saying that senators should be ready to debate this sort of matter at a moment’s notice. That may be so with respect to matters that are not relevant to the bill. But concerning matters that are relevant to the bill honorable senators are entitled to examine the bill itself thoroughly. Who would have time to examine this bill between now and 8 o’clock or 9 o’clock to-night or whatever time the Minister concerned has in mind to continue the debate? Who would be able to examine the bill properly in that time and speak on matters which are relevant to it, not on matters that are not relevant?
– The bill has 64 pages.
– Yes. It deals with every government department. An honorable senator who wanted to deal with the actions of the Government in respect of the expenditure of £47,000,000 would be expected to analyse this bill and be ready to speak on it at 8 o’clock, 9 o’clock or 10 o’clock to-night. I think it is grossly unfair to expect honorable senators to do that. Senators on this side of the chamber have not a crystal ball into which they can gaze in order to know what the Government is going to do. We are not fortune tellers, as many Ministers appear to be at question time. We have to wait until we receive a copy of the legislation that comes before us and have had an opportunity to examine it before we can say what its merits or demerits are. It is necessary to do this before we can say whether or not we should like to propose amendments to the legislation. I think it is important that we should have the opportunity to discuss these things among ourselves and make up our minds whether we will propose amendments to improve the legislation.
We have to look, not merely at one bill, but at four bills which provide for the expenditure of approximately £427,000,000. These bills cover almost half the financial year - a period of five months up to the end of November. It is not appropriate to speak about the other three bills now because they are not before the Chair at the moment, but they also represent a part of the Government’s plan to carry on the services of government for a period of five months. It takes between six and eight weeks to dispose of the Estimates when the Budget has been introduced. Yet we propose, in the present arrangement, to deal with expenditure for almost half a financial year in, perhaps, a day or a day and a half. I think that senators are entitled to the fullest consideration in this matter, particularly the new senators who came into this chamber on 1st July.
The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) has said that every one, even the new senators, knows that this type of legislation is normally introduced at this time of the year, but it is well known - and it is known by the senator himself - that one does not learn the procedures and practices of this chamber in a year or less. There has been quite an influx of new senators. In fact; 20 per cent, of the Senate membership was changed at the general election of 1961. Therefore, 20 per cent, of senators are new senators and are entitled to consideration. They are entitled to be given an opportunity to find out as they go along how things should be done. Then they will know at this time next year exactly what procedure the Government will adopt in respect of supply if it is prepared to be consistent and adopt the same procedure each year, so that senators will know what is going on. I support the amendment moved by Senator McKenna.
– 1 rise confused. I could not agree more with what Senator McKenna has said. The action proposed by the Government does not seem to follow the procedure of the past. What Senator McKenna said is true. I have said in the past that this chamber is completely redundant to the parliamentary system. The present situation provides a further illustration of the correctness of that statement. We sit so rarely and then for such a few hours tha* we might just as well not be here at all. I am prepared to accept the jibe of Government supporters, that I may be absent at times; but how many supporters of the Government are in the Senate for this debate? I would rather be engaged in my medical practice or attending a hospital board meeting as I did yesterday which made me late for the sitting of the Senate. I would rather be doing such useful work than be in the party room or the bar in this place. Look at the number of senators who are present. I do not know how many are here but I can say to honorable senators who are interjecting that at least I am here; I am not in the bar. When I am absent from the chamber, I am usually engaged in some business and doing useful work. We worked for two days early in April and adjourned for three weeks. Last night the Senate adjourned early. When I got here the Senate had adjourned - nearly two hours before the appointed time.
– We did not know you were coming.
– I am not interested in what you knew. The Senate did adjourn when it had work to do. This Senate has sat, I think, for about three and a half days in five months. Last year I was away from my practice 29 days in six months. That is all the time that the Senate sat. We are paid £3,500 a year to be here. But who are interested in this debate? Where are they?
I want to talk about the confusion that has arisen over this situation. Perhaps I misunderstand the position. I am waiting to hear the second-reading speech of a Minister on this bill. Normally, there is a second-reading speech and I understand the Opposition spokesman secures the adjournment of the debate. In this case, the procedure apparently is different so I must support the Leader of the Opposition. I want to hear the Minister’s speech before I talk on this subject.
– The honorable senator is mixed up.
– Then let me have the position straight. Normally, there is a second-reading speech by a Minister and the Opposition spokesman secures the adjournment.
– But not on this occasion.
– That is the normal course. On this occasion we do not hear a speech by a Minister?
– This is a motion for the first reading of the bill.
– We can talk then on the motion for the first reading instead of the second reading?
– You can talk twice.
– On the motion for the first reading of this bill you can talk about anything.
– Then does it really matter whether the Minister makes a speech or not? The only trouble is we do not know what he will be talking about.
– The honorable senator will hear that in the second-reading stage, but this arrangement will give him an opportunity to debate the motion for the first reading.
– Then we can keep going.
Senator WILLESEE (Western Australia) [4.481. - I think that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) completely missed the point when he said that because matters both relevant and irrelevant to the bill may be raised on the motion for the first reading, honorable senators should know what they are going to speak about a month before. His statement deals with exactly half the case. It is true that matters which are not relevant to the bill have been raised by electors throughout the year and that up to the present we have not had an opportunity to discuss them in this chamber. But I notice that once the Senate moves away from protocol and standard practice, we get into bother. The Government is moving aw,ay from standard practice to-day and denying to the Opposition an opportunity to make requests.
This is a money bill and we cannot make straightout amendments to it, but the Senate may make a request to the Government to do something about any one of the items contained in the bill or any amounts of money that are mentioned. Indeed, the Senate can insist on a request, as has been proved in the relationships between the House of Representatives and the Senate over a long period. How shall we have an opportunity to make requests when, as an Opposition party, we have first to discuss among ourselves any request we will make? It would be wrong for an individual senator to rise and make a request as urgent as that. 3y moving away from standard practice the
Government is denying the Opposition the right to give proper consideration to any requests it may make. The discussion of minor matters, which we could probably raise on the motion for the adjournment, would not be as important as a request to the House of Representatives to amend the bill itself. By moving away from standard practice, the Government is denying the Opposition, as an organized party, an opportunity to deal with these matters.
[4.51]. - The Opposition is trying to dramatize an ordinary every-day occurrence. Let me start with the statement by Senator Willesee that the Government is denying the Opposition some opportunity. There will be no denial of any opportunity at all. This is a first-reading debate which is looked forward to in some years but is not arranged in other years. This debate gives any honorable senator the right to talk on any subject he may choose. For a political party to make a claim that, after being told about the debate the day before, it could not rustle up enough speakers to talk on any topic they might select as one of interest to them and which they have a responsibility to bring before the Parliament, is surely one of the saddest confessions of ineptitude one could imagine.
This is not a case of a dramatic situation. It is a simple case of arranging the business of the Senate. It does not relate to what happened to the Senate last month or the month before or what will happen next month. It is not related to how many days the Senate sits or when the Senate will rise. What it relates to is the business of the Senate this day.
We have on the business-paper now three bills and a series of motions. The debate on each one of them - I speak from memory - is to be resumed by an Opposition senator. A member of the Opposition has secured the adjournment of almost every item on this list. The Opposition knows that if it wants to discuss these matters of consequence it has only to make a request through its Whip to the Government and a debate would be facilitated on these particular topics. The Opposition has taken responsibility in respect of these debates and it is not living’ up to its responsibilities. The Opposition has said that it wants to debate matters on the business-paper, but it has not come forward to resume any debate in relation to them.
At present,I think we have three bills on the business-paper. We are not sure how long the debate on these bills will take. In the case of one of them, there are some legal questions in dispute and I understand that an Opposition Senator is to move some amendments. It may be that these three bills will absorb the whole of the sitting time of the Senate to-day. We will be attending to these bills and we have taken the precaution of putting them on the business-paper for debate to-night if the need arises. If the Opposition does not wish to debate them and if honorable senators opposite cannot collect their scattered thoughts and make speeches, the Government is willing to take the responsibility and will provide the speakers. We have on the Government side honorable senators who have done their homework, who take their responsibilities seriously, who have things that they want to say in the Senate and’ who come here prepared and able to say them when the occasion arises. I say with respect, Mr. President, that that should be so of the Opposition, too. Senator Cant is not in the chamber at the moment, but I say for his benefit, and also for that of the Leader of the Opposition who also, I think, mentioned the matter, that it is wrong to suggest that there is any intention on the part of the Government to take this bill through all stages to-night. The Government’s intention is to take it to the firstreading stage. The Government knows that on its own side of the Senate there are three or four speakers with comments to make, and that the debate on the first-reading would alone take up the whole of the proceedings to-night.
As I have said, there are honorable senators on the Government side of the chamber who want to speak. If the members of the Opposition are too lazy to do their homework and too lazy to come here prepared to work, why should the business of the Parliament be held up? That is the position in a nutshell. Senator Turnbull spoke about the salaries and remuneration of members of parliament, and of the failure of the Senate to meet. Again, he has wrong information. For the last couple of years, the Senate has met more frequently than has any State House of Parliament. We have attended here on more sitting days than have the members of any State House.
– I refute that. We had 29 sitting days-
– I am giving the honorable senator the facts. If we take calendar years, we find that the number of days on which the Senate sat exceeds the number of days on which any State House of Parliament sat. We have seen to-day a spurious attempt to work up a show of indignation. The Opposition was told informally last night that, if need be, we would do this.
– For the reasons I have just given you.
– No, those were not the reasons.
– This procedure is a part of the work of the Senate. You should come to the Senate ready, willing and able to do your work. Otherwise, you should step out of the Senate and make room for someone who is prepared to do his job. Those being the circumstances, I move -
That the question be now put.
Question put. The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator McKenna’s amendment) be left out.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question put -
That the resumption of the debate be an order of the day for a later hour this day.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 30th April (vide page 131), on motion by Senator Gorton -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– One of the main reasons for the foundation of this Commonwealth and the existence of this Federal Parliament was the need for a parliament which could make uniform and proper arrangements for the service and execution outside the boundaries of the States of the civil and criminal process and the judgments of the courts of the States. This was a recurring theme in the deliberations of the conventions which led to the Commonwealth.
The Federal Council of Australasia was given, under the act of 1885, legislative powers over these matters. The history of the legislation prior to the inauguration of this Commonwealth has been traced by Quick and Garran in their famous “ The Annotated Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia “. They point out the ineffectiveness of the legislation and the need for a federal law regulating the service of process and the execution of judgment. There was a great need for effective laws for this purpose in 1901, and there is still a great need.
The authority of government in the States is whittled down if the enforcement of their laws can be defeated by persons leaving the State, either before service of a summons or after a fine has been imposed. Private citizens are also vitally concerned if the satisfaction of their just claims can be defeated because the other party who wronged them, either civilly or criminally, goes to another State either before service of a writ, summons or complaint, or after a judgment has been obtained.
Those questions, therefore, concern governments and citizens, large cases and small cases. Deserted wives and children are especially concerned. Often the husband evades his responsibilities and goes interstate. The wife and children are forced to apply for social service benefits and the burden ultimately falls on the rest of the community. Earlier debates in the Senate last year have revealed that there are vast amounts of arrears in maintenance cases. This is something which, now, just as it did at the beginning of the Commonwealth, concerns every government and every citizen in the community. Under the Constitution of the Commonwealth, this Parliament is enabled to make provision not only for interstate recognition but interstate execution of judgments.
As to recognition, section 118 of the Constitution requires that full faith and credit shall be given throughout the Commonwealth to the laws, the public acts and records and the judicial proceedings of every State. Section 51, placitum (xxv) vests in the Parliament legislative power with respect to the recognition throughout the Commonwealth of the laws, the public acts and records and the judicial proceedings of the States. As to execution, placitum (xxiv) of section 51 enables the Parliament to make laws with respect to the service and execution throughout the Commonwealth of the civil and criminal process and the judgments of the courts of the States. The present Service and Execution of Process Act 1901-1958 makes provision for service of process and execution of warrants, writs of attachment and the enforcement of judgments. The act is vague and defective in some respects with respect to service of process. This bill seeks to extend the provision dealing with service of process. It will make clear that the process which may be served under section 15 of the act includes proceedings for the maintenance of wives and children.
– Which section is that?
– That is section 15. That section is now to be extended to include proceedings for the maintenance of wives and children. This is to be done by the provision contained in clause 3 of the bill. If honorable senators examine the bill they will find that in clause 3 relating to definitions, it is provided -
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears -
Then there are a number of definitions and then the clause continues - suit ‘ means any suit, action or original proceeding between parties or in rem, but does not include - (b) a suit, action or proceeding under a law of a State or part of the Commonwealth that makes provision with respect to the maintenance of wives, children or other persons or with respect to affiliation;
The effect of that is that such proceedings with respect to maintenance and affiliation will come within the scope of section 1 5, not section 4 of the act. The reasons for this amendment are that apparently some State courts had construed the legislation to mean that some proceedings would come within the ambit of section 4 along with other writs, and so on. It was thought that this was not the intention of the act and that such matters should be dealt with under section 15. This was implied in the Minister’s second-reading speech when he said -
The amendment to the definition of “ suit “ excludes proceedings for the maintenance of wives and children from section 4 and makes it quite clear that section15 applies to such a process. The necessity for the amendment is due to the fact that it has been held in some States that a maintenance summons is a process for the service of which section 4 of the act applies and not section IS.
Does that answer Senator Wright’s question?
– The reason for this amendment is important. It is that there has been obscurity in the act. The service and execution of process is extremely difficult; it is full of constitutional and administrative difficulties, and it is extremely important that the bill should clearly set out what it intends to achieve by way of amendment of the act. I may say at this stage that it seems to me that the act will not be clear in some most important respects and their importance can be gauged from the fact that it is necessary to amend the act in the way proposed by the bill.
The bill seeks to extend the category of process which may be served to include not only those made on oath but those supported by oath. The word “ oath “ in such a provision is extended by the Acts Interpretation Act 1901-1957 to include affirmation, declaration or promise. There are other provisions whereby officers of courts are to be allowed to grant leave to serve subpoenas in another State if they are so authorized by State law.
It is proposed to add a new sub-section (1a.) to section 16a of the principal Act which deals with orders to set in motion the machinery for the production in courts Of the States for the purpose of giving evidence of persons imprisoned in another State. It may be sufficient to say that the provision which is made there for costs is a sensible one. It enables a court to require a party who is seeking the taking of a prisoner interstate to give security in a proper case for the cost of bringing that person to the court.
A? to execution, the bill attempts to provide workable machinery to deal with a very vexed problem. The enforcement outside the boundaries of a State of criminal judgments of that State has a long history. It involves the competing authority of the State; it also involves many other difficult problems. For example, in the case of a small fine, the expenses of recovery have often greatly exceeded the amount of the fine. Hitherto, the approaches have been broadly three. The first has been not to attempt to collect a small fine where the offender is outside the State in which the fine was imposed; the second to ask the offender to pay the fine and, if he did not do so, and if the fine was small, abandon the recovery. The third - and this applied in cases where the fine was heavy - has been to seek the extradition of the offender - the removal of the offender back to the State where the offence was committted - and there to deal with him by committing him to gaol or by effecting some other means of execution. Broadly, this bill provides that a warrant may be issued for non-compliance with the order to pay the fine. The warrant may be addressed to a member of the police force in the State where the offender is believed to be, or to a member of the Commonwealth Police Force. If the offender is found and fails to pay the fine forthwith, he may be arrested and taken before a nearby court and, upon satisfactory proof that he is the person on whom the fine was imposed, and that the fine has not been paid, the court may enforce the fine by committing him to gaol in the State where he is resident.
– That is, he may be committed in terms of the original sentence.
– Yes. He may be committed with the limitation that whatever may be the length of imprisonment involved in the original sentence he may not be imprisoned for more than six months in the other State where he is found. These provisions apply not only in respect of States but also in respect of Territories. There are various ancillary provisions and certain qualifications and limitations, the most important of which is the one I have just mentioned in reply to Senator Vincent - that the person may not be committed to gaol for a period in excess of six months.
A great advance has been made in providing for enforcement directly in the State where the offender is found without the necessity of extraditing the offender, that is, taking him back to the State which imposes the fine. The Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) ha; dealt in detail with the qualifications and limitations, and many of them need no further elaboration. The provisions are an innovation; they are in the nature of an experiment. They are in accordance with the request of the States for a more effective system under which a defaulter may be imprisoned in whatever State he is found. Because the provisions are an experiment, I suggest that after a reasonable period - say, twelve months - a report should be made to the Senate on the working of the act.
The Opposition believes that certain matters should be raised not by way of objection to the scheme of the bill but by way of improvement. Proposed amendments have been circulated to honorable senators. One of the amendments relates to proposed section 26f in proposed new Part IVa. In his second-reading peech the Minister explained the provision in this way -
If the court is satisfied that the person before it is the person on whom the fine was imposed and is also satisfied that the fine is still unpaid, the court may commit the offender to jail.
The provisions of the bill do not strictly follow this form. The amendment proposed by the Opposition will seek to restore to the measure the intention that was stated by the Minister in his speech.
Another proposed amendment relates to proposed section 26g, which provides for an appeal against an order of committal by way of review of the order. The Opposition is in favour of such an appeal. Indeed, the proposal for an appeal emanated from the parliamentary Labour Party. However, we consider that the appeal should not be restricted to the person against whom an order for committal is made. There are certain other matters which are not the subject of proposed Opposition amendments, but, I believe, these ought to be considered by the Minister. Proposed section 26f (2.) provides that the court may presume that the person before the court is the person on whom the fine was imposed if the person before the court does not adduce evidence that he is not the person on whom the fine was imposed. The wording of the provision is such that it is a matter of discretion whether such presumption should be made. In our view, it should not be a matter of discretion. The essential inquiry for the court is whether the person before the Court is the person on whom the fine was imposed. In a matter which so much concerns the liberty of the subject, the rights of those who may be entitled to the benefit of the order sought to be enforced, and the authority of the States, why should the whole matter hinge on whether the magistrate makes the presumption? A presumption which is so vital should not be one of discretion. It does not seem right that neither the person apprehended nor the person seeking to enforce the fine should know where, in effect, the onus will fall in such a basic matter. The parties will come to court not knowing whether, if the person apprehended does not adduce evidence, the magistrate will presume or will not presume that he is the person on whom the fine was imposed. I should like to hear why this presumption is to be made a matter of discretion.
– Are you suggesting that “ may “ should be “ shall “?
– Yes. That would be preferable, if we are to have some such provision. I am not here to debate whether there should be such a provision, but it is my firm view that presumption in relation to a vital issue should not be a matter of discretion. One should know what is to happen one way or the other. This is not to be an exercise of discretion in relation to some collateral matter - some little thing that may arise in the course of the case - in relation to which it is usual to vest a discretion in a judicial officer, such as whether some question should or should not be disallowed because it might be offensive, or something of that nature. This is the essential issue in the matter; here is a presumption that the person before the court is the person on whom the fine was imposed. Why should the very matter about which the magistrate is to be satisfied depend on discretion?
– But it is only in cases where the person before the court adduces no evidence.
– Of course, it is only in that case; but once you have that case why should it be a matter of discretion whether the presumption is made? We are dealing only with such a case, but the law ought to be clear on such a vital matter.
– The whole purpose of the provision is to facilitate the identity of the person named in the warrant with the person on whom the fine was imposed, is it not?
– And with the party in court.
– Yes. that is right. It is an essential matter. If one turns back to proposed section 26f(1.1, one notes that this very matter is the essential inquiry. There is a second inquiry as to whether the fine has been paid or partly paid, but the most important inquiry is as to whether the person before the court is the person on whom the fine was imposed. Honorable senators may think that it is a most undesirable provision that a presumption should be a matter of discretion when that presumption deals with the essential issue.
– Do you agree that this discretion could be used only in favour of the man before the court?
– If that is your point I shall answer it, because I believe that to be so.
– The presumption is intended to be used against that person. It is something which is intended to assist the person who is seeking to enforce the fine against the person before the court.
– As I understand you, you favour the view that, when it is exercised, it should be exercised against the person in court?
– In order to facilitate interstate the efficacy of the process?
– Yes .
– It may be used in favour of the person before the court.
– We suggest that this should not be a matter of discretion, because in any legal proceeding a presumption as to the vital issue should not be made a matter of discretion, one way or the other.
– Are you arguing against a discretion, or are you not really arguing against a presumption?
– I am accepting the position that it is desired, in the scheme of this bill, to have the presumption. It is our view that this ought to be not a matter of discretion for an individual magistrate. It might work against a person seeking to enforce a fine. In the normal case, it may be expected that magistrates will act on this presumption. It may be that in some isolated spot a magistrate will decline to act on the presumption and no circumstances are set out to guide him. This goes straight to the vital issue in the case. I ask why this is made a matter of discretion.
– What about a case where a person is not before the court? I suppose he would be brought there on warrant and always would be personally present.
– That is the scheme of the new proposal.
– How can you avoid a discretion where you are only taking the intention of this proposed section no further than a presumption, which can be rebutted, of course?
– In our view, the proper approach is that the law of evidence in such a vital matter should be clear. The parties should know where they stand. If the person does not give evidence, we think it should not be a matter of discretion that a presumption should be made. It can still be rebutted, but the presumption should not be made a matter of discretion. Why should one magistrate be able to say, “I shall make such a presumption “, when another will say, “ I shall not “. Why should there be this difference as to the satisfaction on the issue? One magistrate may say, “ In view of what has been put before me, I am not satisfied on the facts “. But the presumption itself should not be a matter of discretion, this being on a vital issue and not on a collateral matter. However, we do not seek to amend the provision. I ask the Minister to consider the provision and perhaps discuss the reasons why this is made a matter of discretion.
Then I should like honorable senators to turn to proposed sub-section (6.) which provides, in paragraph (a), that in proceedings under this section a warrant of apprehension is evidence of the facts stated in the warrant. The effect of this is that, once a warrant is tendered, the person seeking to enforce the judgment may take the position that it is unnecessary for him to tender any further evidence. The reason for this is seen if one looks at Form 1 in the Fourth Schedule to the bill. The warrant sets out the conviction and the fine and that a certain amount still remains unpaid in respect of the fine. It is, as a rule, undesirable that statements in a warrant or charge should themselves constitute evidence of an offence.
– From where are you reading that?
– Form 1.
– You were making the statement that it was undesirable?
– Yes, it is undesirable that matters stated in a warrant or in a charge should in themselves constitute evidence of any offence, that they should be able to be tendered and used against a person to establish his guilt.
– Surely it is prima facie evidence in a State now of the committal of an offence.
– No. Senator Vincent suggests that it is prima facie evidence now in a State, but it is not. It is tantamount to this: That when one charges a person, the charge or statements in the warrant are in themselves evidence of guilt.
– In this case, would not the statements in the warrant be confined to a statement from the magistrate who had originally convicted a person that he had in fact been convicted and a fine had been imposed on him.
– That is right.
– Or by an officer of the court. Yes, we realize the force of that. We realize that these are special provisions and that the processes here are secondary processes and not the primary judicial process. However, it is important to avoid the notion that statements in a warrant can, in themselves, be evidence of guilt, and we suggest that the Minister give consideration to providing that proof be by way of some affidavit or statutory declaration from an official of the court which imposed the fine, or some other person aware of the circumstances. That is the reason why we suggest that the Government consider this provision. We see the reason behind the provision, but we also see that it is bad to establish the principle that one has provisions in acts which state that the matters stated in a warrant in a charge can be evidence. It is like the averment provision. We say that what should be put before a court in a contested matter is some statement coming from an official of the court.
What would normally happen when a matter such as this goes before a magistrate in a second State in 99 per cent, of the cases is that there would be no dispute at all. But in a case where there is a dispute, the citizen says, “ I was not concerned in this matter “, or, “ I have paid the fine “. Then you have a situation in which you must consider his rights. Should it be dealt with on the basis that the warrant on which he was apprehended, which states these matters, is in itself sufficient evidence to establish the matters against him?
– It is evidence, but he may rebut it if he can.
– Why should he not?
– If a man is apprehended intra-state for an offence of this kind in some other part of the same State, does the State law require affidavits and things of that kind?
– No, but under the State law the State would either proceed with the matter against the person whom it claimed was the person concerned, or it would not. If the person was claiming that he was not the person concerned, or that he had paid the fine, the officials of the State would proceed at their peril against him.
– The certificate of the clerk or the justice within his own State would be conclusive evidence res judicata. The official record of the court would bind everybody.
– Yes, but on matters as to the payment of the fine, it would be open to the person to dispute this, if he were proceeded against under a warrant. There is no such proceeding as this in respect of intra-state matters. It is a question of officials of a State proceeding at their peril against a man who says, “ I am not the one concerned “, or, “ I have paid the fine “.
– That applies to interstate execution too, surely?
– With the additional safeguard that the interstate magistrate is interposed.
– I turn now to proposed new section 26m, which deals with the effect of imprisonment. The effect of the section is that upon the termination of the imprisonment a person is discharged from any liability to pay any amount remaining unpaid and from any liability to be imprisoned, whether under the law of a State or Territory, under Part IV. of the act or under any other law of the Commonwealth.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
- Mr. President, because of the difficulties and expense attending the other enforcement provisions of the act, Part IVa is likely to become the effective means of enforcement of fines, and the other provisions for extradition will tend to fall into disuse. This Parliament is not providing a procedure for the enforcement of all criminal processes. In the first place, the courts which are defined in this portion of the act can exercise jurisdiction only in relation to a summary trial. Even in regard to this, the enforcement provided by the Commonwealth is in respect of offences involving imprisonment for six months or less. In cases involving imprisonment for more than six months the enforcement is partial only. No doubt it is felt that, in the case of sentences of more than six months’ imprisonment, if a State desires to enforce the full penalty it is open to the State itself to choose whether to bring back the offender and imprison him or to let him be committed to gaol in the State where he is apprehended.
The limitation of six months raises the query whether the spirit of section 118 of the Constitution is being observed. This provides that full faith and credit shall be given throughout the Commonwealth to, among other things, the judicial proceedings in every State. Proposed section 26m discharges, in certain cases, part of the liability of the offender under the judicial proceedings of the State. That is, where the sentence has more than six months duration. I believe that the answer is that the provisions of Part IVa are, so far as the State is concerned, not compulsory but voluntary.
If the State chooses, it may avail itself of the means of enforcement provided by the Commonwealth with all the limitations and qualifications expressed in the bill. In doing so it would, by its own voluntary act, limit the effect of its own judicial proceedings.
A further matter is this: The bill proposes an amendment to section 3 and redefines “ suit “ so as to exclude a maintenance or affiliation proceeding. The Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton), in his speech, indicated that the purpose was to overcome the effect of certain decisions of the courts of the States and to make clear that service of maintenance proceedings would come within section 15, and not section 4. However, the word “ suit “ is also used in section 20, which occurs in Part IV. Part IV. deals with the enforcement of civil judgments and provides that judgments may be registered in the Australian Register of Judgments. The record in the Australian register shall have the same force and effect in all respects as a judgment of the court in which it is registered. Is it intended that the provisions of section 20 shall not apply to maintenance and affiliation matters?
Another important matter arises in this connexion. Hitherto, the States have used the reciprocal provisions of State acts known as Interstate Destitute Persons Relief Acts for the enforcement outside each State of maintenance orders made by the courts of the States. I think there should be more clarify on how far, if at all, it is intended that the machinery of this act should replace that of the existing Interstate Destitute Persons Relief Acts. I am certain that not all of the administrative and constitutional difficulties have been solved in this bill. Questions arise as to the authority of this Parliament to provide for the enforcement in the States of judgments of the courts of the Territories. I am also satisfied that the scheme evolved is not perfect nor even the best scheme that can be evolved. I am not satisfied, especially, that the enforcement of maintenance proceedings is satisfactorily dealt with. However, every one knows that this is extremely difficult legislation to draw up, and I congratulate the Minister on its introduction. This is a notoriously difficult subject and the bill represents a most commendable effort to solve some very real problems involving a host of constitutional and administrative problems.
.- The Senate is indebted to Senator Murphy for the careful exposition he has given of the history of the Service of Execution and Process Act and the constitutional difficulties involved in it. We are indebted to him for the careful and thoughtful way in which he has posed problems and attempted to answer them. I shall not be able to go along the whole way with Senator Murphy in regard to some of his suggestions, and I shall refer to the particular points of cleavage at a later time.
The Service and Execution of Process Act is one of those peculiar acts which are essential in a federation. When the six States agreed to become a federation - to become a nation instead of six separate colonies - it was essential that the judicial decisions and court processes of the various States should be susceptible of being served and executed interstate so that we would not have the ridiculous situation which exists in television and in fiction where people are continually shooting off south of the border to avoid legal responsibility, civil or criminal.
The original act was framed with great care. Even in regard to minor civil matters as well as major civil matters the legislation insisted that the person serving a process should go to great lengths in the affidavit of service in order to identify the person who was served with the process as being the person actually named in the writ or summons. In fact, a service of process which omitted those identifying clauses, although they were completely unnecessary under most State legislation, was bad so far as service under the Service and Execution of Process Act was concerned.
I suppose that the main objective of the bill before the Senate is the facilitation of the collection of fines. I think that that is rather unfortunate. With the coming of the motor vehicle there has been a vast increase in the amount of interstate travel by Australians. It is a little ironic, perhaps, that the normal law-abiding citizen who attempts to meet his obligations and who has no intention of deliberately committing criminal acts may, because he is a motorist, find himself classified, in some instances, as being in a pseudo-criminal class. Obviously, the most common incident i.. connexion with which this legislation would be of use would be the collection of fines imposed by a State on a visiting motorist for a traffic offence.
– He comes into the criminal class only if his conduct is criminal.
– We will get to that later because it was my personal view that certain traffic regulations are so absurdly drawn in certain States - I make no particular reference to any - that with the greatest care in the world, it is impossible for one to drive five miles without committing an offence. In the past, when a fine has been inflicted upon a visiting motorist, the cost of collecting the fine in the State from which he came has been so great that, in most instances, it has not been worth while.
There was a press reference about three or four months ago to a rather extraordinary state of affairs in which police officers visited Melbourne from Sydney and visited Sydney from Melbourne to collect very substantial sums of fines totalling £15,000 in one case and £20,000 in the other. That was an indication that the cost of collecting individual fines was scarcely worth the trouble, and the authorities concerned had to wait until there was a fair banking up of these moneys before they went to the trouble of deputing an officer to collect them.
All honorable senators will agree that it would be fantastic if one Australian could avoid his obligations simply by crossing the border, and that in those circumstances, in order to bring him into justice, the rather cumbrous procedure which is available under the original act would have to be invoked. I know of people who have boasted that they simply ignored penalties imposed by interstate courts when they were visiting other places. They knew that because of the’ difficulties of service and enforcing the prosecution, they really had nothing of which to be afraid.
While the collection of fines and penalties is being facilitated in this manner, I commend the Government because it has also been extremely fair to the defendant or the person charged, and gives him a chance to argue at least on the execution. Of course, he cannot argue on the original hearing which has now become a judgment. Now the argument takes place in the court nearest to the residence. In the old days, there was some form, rather akin to what would have been extradition if we had been foreign countries, before this type of argument could take place.
I want to make some short reference to one particular provision to which Senator Murphy took exception. I refer to proposed section 26f(2.) which states -
For the purposes of this section the Court may presume that the person before the Court is the person on whom the fine was imposed if the person before the Court does not adduce evidence that he is not the person on whom the fine was imposed.
I was unable to understand whether Senator Murphy objected to the use of the discretion by the court in order to determine whether the person before the court was in fact the person charged, or whether he believed that the court was bound to accept the position that the person before the court was in fact the person being charged.
– The objection was to the discretion.
– I had difficulty in understanding that argument, because I took it that the honorable senator’s concern was for the liberty of the subject.
– I was rather more concerned to know why discretion had been given. That might be a better form of expression than “ objection “.
– Looking at the prospect from the point of view of the person before the court, I feel that he is not in any way prejudiced by the fact that the court is given this statutory power to exercise discretion. That is being exercised by a judicial officer, and I think it is fair to assume that the decision will be made in a judicial manner, on the evidence available. Of course, if the person charged is not the person before the court - perhaps I am putting it the wrong way around - the presumption is one that is very easy to rebut. If any injustice were done, it would be a simple matter for the person charged to adduce evidence that he was not the person upon whom the fine was imposed. In those circumstances, I do not feel there is any real prospect of an injustice being done to an individual, or that any one is likely to suffer as a result of a mistake in that connexion.
I notice that the legislation, so far as its enforcement is concerned, is restricted to persons who are eighteen years of age and above, and I assume, for the purposes of this discussion, that the normal methods of proving age will be followed in arguments under this legislation. Perhaps the Minister could confirm this.
– Why should that be a provision of this legislation?
– Since the legislation is precluded from affecting persons below the age of eighteen years, I do not think it is necessary to provide that rule, but I am asking the Minister for that assurance.
– The provision is made in proposed section 26n of the bill.
– I do not regard that matter as one of great consequence, but it is something to which the Minister might direct his mind later. I >urn now to proposed section 26e dealing with a warrant of apprehension. This states - (1.) A warrant of apprehension is sufficient authority to any constable to whom it is addressed to execute the warrant in accordance with this section. (2.) Where a constable who is authorized to execute a warrant of apprehension in a State or Territory finds in that State or Territory the person for whose apprehension the warrant is issued, he shall give the person an opportunity of forthwith paying to the constable the whole of the unpaid amount in respect of the fine as specified in the warrant. (3.) If the person so pays the whole amount forthwith, the constable shall not apprehend the person . . .
The point to which I wish to direct attention is the use of the word “ forthwith “ which must mean that the fine has to be paid on demand. It might well be that a defendant who was able to pay a fine and intended to do so could not pay it on demand. The Minister might see fit to insert a provision - I do not feel sufficiently strongly about it to draft an amendment - whereby a defendant would be given, say, seven days, or some similar short period, within which to raise the amount of money specified in the fine.
I commend the Government for its approach to a difficult constitutional matter. I also commend the Government’s decision to limit these amendments to a period of imprisonment not exceeding six months.
– I feel that if a matter is of such gravity that it warrants a term of imprisonment for a longer period than that, the ordinary cumbersome, complex processes of the law should be invoked.
– After a court of justice has convicted him?
– You heard what I said, and I stand by it. In all those circumstances, Mr. Deputy President, I think that the Government is to be commended for bringing forward this legislation, and I support it as it has been placed before the Senate.
– in reply - Once again, we have before the Senate a bill on the principles of which there is general agreement on both sides of the chamber, though two amendments have been foreshadowed. Since those amendments will be brought forward at the committee stage, I think they can best be answered then. Comments were made by Senator Murphy in his address on this bill which indicated, not opposition to particular proposals in the bill, or an intention to seek to overthrow them or to amend them, but an uneasiness about them and a desire for more information and for explanations of the form in which they have been presented. I do not share the uneasiness which he has on these matters. I shall endeavour to show why I do not share it and, as far as I can, to answer the points he has put before the Senate.
The first point which comes within this category relates to sub-section (2.) of proposed section 26f, which provides that after a person has been arrested because of a warrant issued from a court and is brought before the court, the court may presume that that person is the person on whom the fine was imposed. The court has a discretion to do that, provided that the person does not go into the dock and adduce evidence that he is not the person. I gathered as the debate progressed that Senator Murphy merely wanted to know why there was that discretion, because the discretion may be exercised only in favour of the person accused and may not be exercised against him. I suggest that the reason could well be that if there were no discretion there would be a mandatory direction to the magistrate in one way or another. It could mean, to take an instance, that the court should not presume a person to be the person on whom a fine was inflicted if he gave no evidence. A person brought before the court could refuse to give evidence in those circumstances, and the court would be compelled to assume that he was not the person on whom the fine had been inflicted.
– It has either to be finite, or there has to be a discretion. The court is told either that, if a man produces no evidence it must assume he is the man on whom the fine was imposed, or it must not assume he is the man. Should it be told that if he gives no evidence it must assume he is not the person on whom the fine was imposed, people are put to the expense of appearing and proving that he is the man.
It would be more likely for the court to be told that if the man gave no evidence it might presume him to be the person accused. There could well be cases in which the person in the dock at the time was in fact not the person ou whom the fine had been inflicted, but simply a person who refused to go into the dock and give evidence for one reason or another, or to produce anybody else to give evidence. It might even be within the knowledge of the magistrate that he was not the person actually named. If this mandatory instruction were given the magistrate would have to assume that he was the man, provided he came into court and gave no evidence. Since the provision would give to a magistrate a discretion which could be exercised only in favour of an individual, and to help him rather than to hurt him, I find it difficult to see how justice could be damaged by it, but I can imagine instances in which justice could be advanced by it.
– But surely, if a magistrate knew that the person concerned was not the man in the dock, he would be entitled to take judicial notice of that fact.
– Certainly not.
– Let me read to the Senate the proposed sub-section as it would be if the discretion were mandatory. It would be as follows: -
For the purposes of this section, the Court shall presume that the person before the Court is the person on whom the fine was imposed if the person before the Court does not adduce evidence that he is not the person on whom the fine was imposed.
I bow to superior knowledge, but that appears to me to be quite definitely mandatory.
The next point raised by Senator Murphy in this area of general unease related to proposed section 26f (6) (a), which reads - a warrant of apprehension is evidence of the facts stated in the warrant;
Senator Murphy had some worries about whether that provision involved a wrong principle and whether a warrant of that kind should not be backed by an affidavit. However, the bill provides that the warrant of which we are speaking is a warrant as prescribed in form 1 of the fourth schedule to the bill; that is, a warrant of apprehension issued by an officer of a court which is merely a factual, historical statement that on a certain day a certain man was convicted of a certain offence, and was fined a certain amount, and that that fine had not been paid. Having been issued by an officer of the court who had full knowledge of the matter, surely it would be sufficient evidence, not that the man in the dock had done the things alleged in the warrant, but that on a certain date, at a certain time, a certain man was convicted of a certain offence and fined for it. Such a warrant would be no evidence that the man in the dock was the person who did the actions, but it would be evidence that judicial processes had been followed and that the fine which resulted from those processes had not been paid. I do not see that that could be a danger in any way.
As I understand the position, it is quite sufficient evidence, intra-state, that an offence was committed by a person and that that person was convicted. I cannot see why it should not also be sufficient evidence interstate. Nor do I quite see how an affidavit in support of that would be of great significance because, presumably, that, too, would be issued by the officer of the court who had imposed the conviction in the first place.
– But would there not be further investigation, if a person sought to be apprehended were to dispute, say, payment? That would then require some further investigation. Somebody at the office of the court would look into the matter, check through the accounts, and would have to make out an affidavit that, in fact, so much was owing. There have been mistakes and embezzlements in the courts of certain States. This point may not arise in a matter which concerns the liberty of the subject, but in cases involving payment perhaps something should be stated in the warrant to put the matter beyond dispute.
– Such as an affidavit?
– If I understand the honorable senator correctly, he says that a warrant issued by some one at the office of the court may be incorrect because of the fact that there has been some embezzlement, or something cf that kind.
– That is the very kind of thing which can happen when there is a dispute. In 99 per cent, of cases there will be no dispute at all, but in a case where a man says that he has paid more than the amount stated in the warrant, surely there should be some provision for something more than the mere statement in the warrant when warrants will be flying about like confetti.
– I put it to the honorable senator that in the case that he has advanced a man would be in the dock as a result of a warrant issued by an officer of the court, that warrant stating that a certain person had committed an offence, had been convicted and fined, and that the fine had’ not been paid. If that is an incorrect statement in the warrant, or there has been some corruption, mistake or embezzlement as a result of which it is incorrectly stated that the fine has not been paid, then there is a chance for the person before the court to prove that in fact he has paid the fine. That would give him complete judicial protection in that respect.
The other proposed section mentioned by Senator Murphy was 26m. In the course of his remarks the honorable senator explained why the term of imprisonment is limited to six months. His explanation was that this is a voluntary action on the part of the States, and should they wish to inflict a penalty greater than six months there are still open to them existing processes for doing so, and they can take advantage of them.
Senator Hannan raised the point about whether a person had to prove his age. I am told that there is not in the bill an actual requirement for proof, but that there is protection in that the constable shall not issue a warrant against or apprehend a person whom he has reason to believe may be under the age of eighteen years, and that a court shall not, under this Part, order the committal to gaol of a person where the court is satisfied that the person is under the age of eighteen years.
– What is the reason for a provision such as that?
– Why should it be limited to persons over the age of eighteen? Is that the honorable senators question?
– I am informed that the laws of the States vary a little in this regard, that in some States the action would bc limited to persons over eighteen, and in other States it would be limited to persons over seventeen. The Commonwealth has chosen eighteen, the age adopted by some of the States.
– Could you tell me what the purpose is in amending the definition of “ suit “ in relation to proposed section 20?
– I suggest that we might deal with that matter in committee.
I think I have answered most of the points raised during this debate. The specific amendments which have been foreshadowed can be better discussed in committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 10 - by leave - taken together.
.- I direct the attention of the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton), who is in charge of the bill, to the definition of “ suit “ in proposed section 3 insofar as in paragraph (b) there is excluded from the meaning of “ suit “ any proceeding under a law of a State that makes provision with respect to the maintenances of wives, children or other persons or with respect to affiliation. I have heard the explanation of that provision is that we are excluding it from the definition of a suit which is related to a writ of summons, but it will nevertheless be remaining capable of interstate proceedings under proposed section 15. Senator Murphy has raised the question as to whether or not, by reason of the use of the word in section 20, an order in a maintenance proceeding or affiliation proceeding is enforceable under the terms of Part IV. of the act. It may be that there is something in the term “ Court of Record “ in section 20 which would exclude it, but I do not know.
I am interested in this matter, Mr. Temporary Chairman, because as I have reminded this Senate on a previous occasion, the Budget of this country is charged with no less than £2,900,000 a year in paying civilian widows’ pensions to wives of men who have deserted them and who are not paying maintenance. It is criminal neglect on the part of us in this Parliament not to put the interstate execution of process into such order that immediately an order is made in the maintenance court of one State it is enforceable in any court of another State to which the defendant flees.
– If you can find him.
– If you can find him, but there is such a lack of comity among police forces, which engender all sorts of excuses, there is such an artificial idea of the secrecy of the electoral rolls, and there is such an attitude with regard to official departmental records, such as those relating to immigration and child endowment, that you get a situation of complete noncooperation in a subject where the purpose of every responsible citizen should be to enforce the maintenance order and see that proper payment is made to the relative in whose favour a court in the State of origin has made an order for maintenance of a child or woman. It is because of that substantial matter that I want some explanation from the Minister as to why we take the step of excluding a maintenance proceeding from a writ of summons that may be enforced under Part , I. of the act.
If we can have an absolute assurance that the maintenance complaint can be served in any State under section IS, that is good so far as the service of summonses is concerned. But then we come to section 20. It is suggested that the order that is made by the maintenance court may be capable of execution in another State under section 20. I doubt that and, so far as is known to me, the practice is to the contrary. The subject is of very great importance, and I raise it for elucidation in the hope that this committee will see to it that it is not passed by without attention.
– The question of just what is the effect of the proposed amendment of the definition of the word “ suit “, to which Senator Wright referred, was mentioned by me earlier. The definition of “ suit “ has been amended to exclude actions with respect to the maintenance of wives, children or other persons, and actions with respect to affiliation. In his reply, the Minister dealt only with the effect of this provision on the service of process. Apparently no attention has been given to the effect of Part IV. which relates to the enforcement of judgments.
The point raised by Senator Wright with relation to the court of record only introduces further obscurity into the matter because, if we look at one of the leading text-books on this question - Litherland’s “ Maintenance of Deserted Wives and Children “ - it appears that certain of the courts in which proceedings for such maintenance matters would be taken are regarded as courts of record and others are not; so that it means that some may be brought under this provision, and some not.
– But why should we preserve a distinction such as a court of record where you are giving interstate recognition to courts?
– I agree completely. Obviously what needs to be done in a provision such as this is to take down the State barriers and say that when a court in a State makes an order of any kind then it can be enforced anywhere in the Commonwealth. It would then be a simple proceeding and you would be able to enforce the provision, whether by imprisonment, or fine or garnishee, if it is a matter suit able for that kind of action, and in every way the Commonwealth would be enabling the judgment of a court in Sydney to be enforced in Melbourne in the same way as it would be enforced in Albury. That is what every one wants, but I agree with Senator Wright that that is not what is being achieved. That is why I have said I am certain this bill is not perfect and does not do all that should be done, although it represents a step forward.
The proposed amendment of the definition of “ suit “ has caused some difficulty. I have had an opportunity to discuss it with other persons learned in the law and whatever may be the view of those who are advising the Minister, I can assure the Minister that there are a number of persons well versed in the law who can only say that the position with relation to maintenance under this proposed amendment is completely obscure. I agree with what has been put by Senator Wright, and I would ask that some attention be paid to clarifying the position. It should not be left as it is on the assurance of those advising the Minister that it is quite clear. It is not quite clear. Apparently this amendment had to be made in order to overcome some earlier obscurity. The courts of the States took a view different from that taken by those who framed the legislation, and I fear that there will be a great deal of trouble over this provision unless it is clarified.
– As I understand the position, it is as stated by Senator Wright and Senator Murphy. The definition of “ suit “ was included in the first part of this bill for the purpose of restoring the position with relation to the serving of writs and summonses to where it was before a judgment of the Victorian court said that section 4 of the parent act, not section 15, was the section which governed the matter. All that the amended definition does is make uniform and restore to its antecedent position the procedure governing the service of a writ or a summons. But the execution of such a summons will not be affected under this bill. That will still be done under the reciprocal State laws which are apparently in force at the present time.
– Are they the destitute persons acts of the various States?
– This bill does not affect those acts in any way. It does not in any way replace the destitute persons acts of the States. I understand that the execution of writs and summonses is carried out under the present reciprocal State laws. The State Attorneys-General have been in conference in an attempt to evolve a uniform law dealing with the execution of these warrants, but, as far as this bill is concerned, the position is as I understood it to be stated by Senator Wright and Senator Murphy. The bill merely deals with the serving of the writ. It brings that position into uniformity and restores it to what it used to be previously. It does not make any more simple the execution of the writ.
– I do not propose to take part in this argument except to say that I appreciate the remarks of the Minister. I think we all are aware of the fact that the law is not being altered with respect to a difficulty that has been encountered all over Australia by deserted wives. Senator Wright mentioned the case of a deserted wife who had an order made in her favour and whose husband had vanished. He mentioned the economics of the position as a reason why the various States of the Commonwealth should mutually agree to combine and work under an act similar to this to enable the police to find all these vanished husbands. I should like to sound a note of warning. The position simply would not stop at wives seeking the services of the police to find the vanished husbands who are around this country in thousands. Whether it is desirable to use the police force to find a deserting husband who has a maintenance order taken out against him is a matter of considerable difficulty. It is not just a question of postulating the economic problem and saying, “There are so many millions of pounds owing by husbands who have deserted their wives and the police should find them because of the amount of money involved “. I suggest that is not the answer to the problem at all. The real question is whether our police force should be charged with the responsibility of trying to find or discover deserting husbands. I can think of a lot of other more important jobs they might do at the same level to implement what might be called . social justice, instead of being required to round up the thousands of deserting husbands in this country.
There are a lot of absconding debtors around the country whom the police might find, too. If a deserted wife goes to a member of the police and says, “ My husband has deserted me; I have an order for maintenance against him and he owes me £700 “, they will say, “ We are terribly sorry, but it is not our job to find him “. If you are a creditor who has obtained judgment for a civil debt and you go to the police and say, “ This judgment debtor has vanished and he is believed to be somewhere in Queensland “, they will say, “ We are terribly sorry, but it is not our job to find him “. There are thousands of such people around this country. The question arises as to whether it is the responsibility of the police forces to find them. 1 am not certain that they have that responsibility. Perhaps the responsibility for finding deserting husbands rests with the Department of Social Services. You could add to that responsibility indefinitely at the social service level. I doubt whether the responsibility should be added to those which already rest upon the police forces. I do not <think a case has been made out to-night to warrant the governments of the respective sovereign States and the Commonwealth getting together and determining this matter of policy. I suggest that a very important question of policy has been raised to-night. The fact that a lot of money is owed to a lot of wives is not a reason why the police should be brought into the picture.
– I rise to suggest that Senator Vincent has not understood the bill. This measure does not contain any provision which requires the police to search for, and locate, deserting husbands.
– I said that.
– You protested against what you claimed was the obligation which was purported to be put upon them to find deserting husbands.
– Not in this bill.
– Well, we are at one in that respect. There certainly is no such provision in the bill. We are merely considering the question of enforcing an order made by a court in one State against a person who has been located and to whom a warrant is directed in another State.
– I was anticipating Senator Wright’s argument in that respect; that is all.
– So I think we can forget about the doubt Senator Vincent has raised and concentrate upon the argument that this bill is quite obscure in determining whether there is adequate, or any, provision for enforcing in one State a maintenance order that is made in another. Even what the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) himself said demonstrates that there is obscurity in relation to this matter.
We could leave the matter there. But ought we to do that? The committee should conclude that something ought to be done about it. I do not pretend that in relation to a matter like this it is easy to sit down and dash off an amendment that will dispose of the doubt. The Minister would be well advised to accept a proposal that clause 3 should be postponed and that discussion of the bill should not proceed to a conclusion immediately. Let the legal officers have a look at it with such reference to the Opposition or lawyers on the Government side that they may care to make. I think that between us we might be able to produce something that will be of great civic advantage.
– You are now referring to the definition of “ suit “?
– Yes. To test the feeling of the committee, I move -
That clause 3 of the bill be postponed.
I do that to give the Minister an opportunity to consider the matter more maturely with his advisers - to allow it to be looked at calmly and adequately.
.- I sought the call before Senator Vincent made his contribution to the debate. Earlier it was unnecessary for me to regret that he made such a contribution, but now I do regret it. I also regret Senator McKenna’s contribution to the debate. I was very grateful to the Minister for the Navy for assuring Senator Murphy and myself that although the definition of “ suit “ excluded these proceedings from Part I. it was clear that under section 15 of the act this particular proceeding was capable of service interstate. I was indebted to the Minister for clarifying the matter to that extent.
But then we have the deficiency in the bill that if an order is made for the maintenance of a wife or child that order is not capable of being put into execution in another State by virtue of Part IV. The Minister explained that it has been the view that reliance can be placed upon State legislation which is 40 or 50 years old and which provides for reciprocity for the enforcement of maintenance orders made in the various States. However, practice has revealed that the utmost difficulty is experienced in using those procedures. I would have been very unhappy to leave the bill in that state if it were not for the fact that the Minister told us that this matter had been considered by the joint committee of State Attorneys-General.
The proposal advanced by Senator McKenna does not appeal to me because anybody with a knowledge of mutual enforcement proceedings knows that you could not make Part IV. of this legislation conformable to all the State legislation. As I understand it, honorable senators wish this matter to be given fairly urgent consideration. I believe that if through the Minister, who represents the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick). the State Attorneys-General were informed that we wanted an effective, cheap and immediate method of interstate enforcement of maintenance orders our purpose would be best served in that way.
– I support the motion which has been proposed by Senator McKenna. He has suggested that this matter should be considered further, and I agree with him. The Minister has said that this legislation really does not exclude the operation of the Interstate Destitute Persons Relief Acts, that in fact the enforcement of maintenance orders will be done under those acts. That state of affairs is quite unsatisfactory. If that is not the position, I should like the Minister to correct me immediately. I note that he has not corrected me.
– I did not hear you.
– I understood the Minister to say that the enforcement of all maintenance matters interstate was left completely to the operation of the Interstate Destitute Persons Relief Acts. Is that correct?
– I am told that that is correct.
– That is why I raised the effect of the definition of “ suit “. The course proposed by Senator McKenna should be adopted. It is quite unsatisfactory that the enforcement of maintenance orders interstate should be effected under the Interstate Destitute Persons Relief Acts. To any one who has had experience of those acts - I have had, and I understand Senator Wright to have had - this is a shocking way in which to leave the law. Those acts exist only because this Parliament has hitherto failed to exercise its responsibility. This Commonwealth was instituted in order that - amongst other reasons - the Federal Parliament might legislate with respect to these very things, and it has failed to do so. Here it is, 1963, and we have still failed to do so.
We are leaving the position in such a way that the States have to manage in some manner by themselves, having reciprocal provisions, with each State passing an act called the Interstate Destitute Persons Relief Act, to operate only if another State passes a similar act. So we have a series of these acts, depending upon actions between the States to accept the reciprocal provisions. A most cumbersome method of enforcement is available under these acts, which are most trying and most inadequate to any person who is concerned with them. It is time that this Parliament exercised the responsibility which it was expected to exercise under the Constitution and introduced federal legislation which could, in one act, deal in a simple and comprehensive way with all of these problems. There would then be no further need for this nonsense of reciprocal provisions in the States. I commend to the committee the proposal which has been made by Senator McKenna.
– As a non-legal person, I hesitate to come into this argument. I enter the dis cussion because I feel that the statements made to-night indicate that some people have not had quite the same amount of experience as I have had in dealing with the problems of deserted wives. I have for many years tried to get the Parliament to do something with regard to the enforcement of maintenance orders between States. Even when th. Matrimonial Causes Bill was before the Senate some years ago, I brought this matter up and was told that it could not be dealt with under that legislation, and action would have to be taken under a separate act.
To-night Senator Vincent drew a comparison between ordinary civil debts and the debts of defaulting husbands. I do not think that these can be put on the same plane. On one side is a civil debt, say, of £700. On the other side, apart from the monetary problem involved, is the very much greater human problem. That is why the Government, in its wisdom, when widows’ pensions were introduced, provided also for pensions for deserted wives. Over the years, many millions of pounds have been spent by the; Government in payments to deserted! wives, while defaulting husbands have got away with it all along the line. It has been very difficult to enforce interstate maintenance orders. Even if the husband can be caught up with, sometimes he makes only a couple of payments and the whole process starts over again. The persons who suffer are the deserted wives and their families. In many instances, the deserted wives do not go on with the cases because they have not the money to do so.
I have heard reference to the Interstate Destitute Persons Relief Act. My experience is that this has not been available in cases where matrimonial causes are involved. We do not want to inflict unnecessary suffering upon deserted wives who, realizing that their husbands cannot be made to pay under the present set-up, with seven different State or territorial laws, prefer to get pensions as deserted wives. I should like to see evolved some method by which a wife would not lose her pension because the husband made a desultory payment. The pension payments should continue and the husband should be made to repay to the Commonwealth the amount paid in pension. In that way the deserted wife would not suffer and from time to time have to take court action against her husband. He would become a debtor of the Commonwealth.
– There is a provision to that end in both New Zealand and England.
– I should like to see such a provision in Australia. I feel strongly upon this matter. Over the past twenty years I have been in contact with not hundreds but thousands of women who have suffered because of lack of reciprocity between the States in this matter because of the subsequent difficulty of enforcing orders. I fail to see how any body of responsible citizens, such as honorable senators, can compare ordinary civil debts with the sins against humanity committed by defaulting husbands who refuse to support their wives and children.
– Senator McKenna’s proposition, as I understand it, is that consideration of clause 3 should be postponed. If I have interpreted him correctly, the reason that he advances is that he desires further amendments to the original act, which are not proposed to be made by the bill. As I have indicated, in the act there is no provision for the enforcement or execution under Commonwealth law of maintenance orders or summonses of that kind. This is the situation as it exists at the present time. The bill does not alter that position, though it does make provision for simplifying the process of serving a summons. If this bill is passed, that provision will be Commonwealth law. Senator McKenna, as I understand it, is asking the committee to postpone the bill for the purpose of bringing a further amendment to the original act which will make provision in Commonwealth law not only for the serving of a summons but also for the execution of a judgment. Is that the correct interpretation?
– I have indicated to the committee that the position that Senator McKenna wishes to reach by this means is sought to be reached by the AttorneysGeneral of all of the States, getting together as they are now getting together, and drafting a law for the purpose of achieving uniformity in this matter. They are seeking to reach that uniformity not by an amendment of an original Commonwealth Act but by a common agreement amongst all the States. 1 am informed that they seek to go beyond Australia and to include in that legislation by agreement legislation in New Zealand, so that there will be a common law in relation to this matter throughout the area. The conferences of State AttorneysGeneral to attain this end are well advanced. A draftsman from Victoria, who is working on the draft, has been in Canberra to-day. Of course, the officers of the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department are constantly in touch with State officers, as the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) is in touch with State Attorneys-General in relation to the preparation of this common draft law. If that is achieved, it will meet the end which Senator McKenna seeks to meet by amendment of the original Commonwealth act. It will go beyond that, if New Zealand also comes into an agreement of this kind. 1 cannot go into any more detail than I now propose to go into. I have been informed that various questions on the varying of maintenance award’s which might be beyond th power of the Commonwealth to legislate for could be covered by the sort of agreed State legislation which would, if that were true, more flexibly and better meet the ends which Senator McKenna has in mind. For these purposes I think it would be wrong to accept the amendment which Senator McKenna har moved. It would be better to amend the act in the terms of the bill before us and leave it to the States, which are fully cognizant of the variations in the law at the moment, to attend to this matter. In consultation with the Commonwealth they are seeking to attain the end required and, 1 am advised, they could attain it better than the Commonwealth. This answers the question raised by Senator Wright as to whether the Commonwealth had expressed an opinion to the States on this matter.
– I am obliged to the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) for what he has put to us. He has made clear, except for one point, what is contemplated. Will he explain whether what he has in mind is that there will be a series of State acts which will agree on a uniform law to be passed by each S!ak and to become operative by virtue of State power? If that is the case, I am not happy about that. The point is that that may be varied from year to year, from time to time, and from State to State. It is unquestionable that the Commonwealth has power over the service and execution of process. That was one of the reasons for federation - the difficulties of enforcing process and of serving process under the various State laws. 1 think, speaking from memory, that the Service and Execution of Process Act was one of the very first acts passed by the federal Parliament. If I could be assured that the Commonwealth proposes to pass a law after consultation with the States - which is what I thought was intended - preferably seeking to get their concurrence and agreement - much better done with than without - my requirements would be met. But if we were to revert to the position which is causing so much dissatisfaction, which is not a stable position and which can vary from State to State and from time to time, 1 would not be happy about that.
I will be disappointed if the assurance from the Government is not to the effect that it is aiming at producing a federal law to cover the matter. I should need convincing that the Commonwealth has not adequate power to do that. I realize that, in moving as I did, I merely delayed the clause to a later hour of the day when the committee had disposed of other clauses and would return to this one. I moved my motion in order to give the Minister time to think about it, perhaps more maturely than before, and to obtain the advice of his officers. I realize the difficulty in having action of this kind thrown at him across the table and in having limited opportunity to confer with his officers. I did not seek to embarrass him. My purpose was to give him more time to deal with the matter. I am most unhappy at the suggestion that there should be a repetition of a multiplicity of State laws to dispose of a matter in which the Commonwealth has power and should exercise its responsibilities.
.- I rise to express my unhappiness in view of what the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) said to the effect that there should be a number of State laws. Each of the
States wishes to retain for its own executing magistrate the discretion which he exercises, for example, in Sydney with regard to the wife who has not the money or time to travel to Sydney to give evidence. That has been the whole stumbling block against orders being enforced effectively under State legislation. I was advocating earlier that, after consultation with the State Attorneys-General, consonant with the Senate’s thinking to-night an appropriate provision should be inserted in this measure. But the idea of six State acts does not appeal to me. Nor does it appeal to me when I am told that the Government has in contemplation the extension of this reciprocity to New Zealand. Why, Tasmania has had this since 1921! It is no novel feature whatsoever. But anything that we do in exercizing the federal power under this statute will not prevent the State Attorneys-General from doing whatever they wish by way of supplementary legislation. What we should do is to see to it that we have the power. This is the remedy that should be provided. We should provide it in this bill, if it is the appropriate bill. Alternatively, perhaps the Minister could give us an indication that the matter will come forward at the instance of the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) in a month or two. I would be satisfied with that.
In default of the amendment of the bill before the Senate I would like to see the matter postponed so that we can see that the Attorney-General gives attention to it over the next two or three months, perhaps in consultation with some of us. We could then work out a provision that would be effective and which would give cheap enforcement of all the orders made in State courts in favour of deserted wives and children.
– The question which Senator McKenna asked as to the intentions of the Commonwealth Government in this field is to be answered in this way: It is the intention of the Commonwealth Government, in conjunction with the States, to rely on a series of separate uniform State acts in this whole field covering more than the major things we have been discussing and the things over which the
Commonwealth has power. The major things and the things over which the Commonwealth has power, I am informed, are such things as the serving of a summons and the execution of judgment in a maintenance case. But the whole field involves actual maintenance laws. It involves the whole body of law governing what refers to maintenance which, I am informed, is a subject on which the Commonwealth does not have legal power.
The draft of the act which it is hoped all States will adopt, thereby bringing uniformity to Australia, will cover not only the serving of a summons and the execution of it but a uniform code of law relating to maintenance itself. I think that is all I can say on the matter. That was why I indicated previously that I believed that the objective to be attained could better be attained by a series of such acts bringing in a uniform law which would cover not only the two points we are talking about but all to do with maintenance.
– Again, I am happy to hear what the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) has said, up to a point. I can appreciate that the States will have matters to determine between themselves that are entirely matters for State jurisdiction. But in the matter that we are talking about this evening on this clause, the enforcement interstate of maintenance orders, there is clear Commonwealth jurisdiction. I would be very happy if the Minister could tell us that, once the States had reached agreement in the matter of enforcement interstate, the Commonwealth would be prepared to legislate in terms of the agreed draft. I suggest that that should be the objective of the Commonwealth. I am not suggesting in anything I have said to-night that the Commonwealth should attempt to go into spheres that are peculiarly within the province of the States. But if the six States agree to interstate enforcement, why should there not be Commonwealth law? The Minister does not impress me when he states that the Government is prepared to rely upon six different State laws. The experience of how slight variations and then major variations creep in in that direction has been altogether too unfor tunate. In the circumstances, I would insist in pressing the motion I have submitted.
Question put -
That clause 3 be postponed.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator Anderson.)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clauses 1 and 2 and 4 to 10 agreed to.
Senator MURPHY (New South Wales [9.25].- I move-
In proposed section 26p, sub-section (i), leave out “ is not satisfied that the liability of the person to pay the fine has”, insert “that the liability of the person to pay the fine has not “.
The amendment I have proposed is in accordance with the intention expressed by the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) in his second-reading speech on the bill. The intention was, that if the court was satisfied that the person before it was the person on whom the fine was imposed, and was also satisfied that the fine was still unpaid, the court might commit the offender to gaol. The bill departs from this intention. Honorable senators will be aware that proposed section 26f deals with the situation where the person named in a warrant has been apprehended and brought before the court and the question arises whether this person is the person upon whom the fine was imposed, and also whether the fine was unpaid or partly unpaid. The intention was that the court should be satisfied on both matters - first, that it had the right person before it and, second, that the fine was unpaid or partly unpaid. The proposed section departs from that intention because it reads in part - . . if the Court is satisfied that the person before the Court is the person on whom the fine was imposed and is not satisfied that the liability of the person to pay the fine has been fully discharged, the Court shall subject to certain conditions that are then set down, commit him to gaol. In other words, the court shall act if it is not satisfied to the contrary. In its consideration of this amendment, I refer the committee to sub-section (6) of proposed section 26f. This sub-section provides -
. in proceedings under this seclion -
a warrant of apprehension is evidence of the facts stated in the warrant; …
The form of the warrant appears in the Fourth Schedule as Form 1. The form sets out that a certain amount remains unpaid. A person seeking to enforce a fine under proposed section 26f will always be able to put evidence before the magistrate that the fine is unpaid, simply by tendering the warrant. So, there will be some evidence in every case if the person seeks simply to tender the warrant.
If, after hearing all the evidence that is placed before him, the magistrate is still in doubt as to whether the fine is unpaid, we contend that he ought not to be required to find against the person apprehended. That is what our amendment really amounts to. There will always be evidence simply by tendering the warrant, so it cannot be said that a person who is seeking to enforce a fine can be left with no evidence at all. If there is still doubt after the person apprehended has had his say, it is our contention that it is only reasonable, when one considers that the liberty of the subject is at stake, for that doubt to be resolved in favour of the person who has been apprehended. This is especially so when it is remembered that in the vast majority of cases there will be no dispute.
It must always be remembered that the Crown, or the official seeking to enforce a fine, has much greater resources than has a citizen. The Crown or the official has the extraordinary assistance provided by proposed sub-section (6). Above all, it must be remembered that the liberty of the subject is involved-. This is not like a civil matter where the onus of proving payment clearly may fall on the party who asserts payment. This is in the nature of enforcement of a criminal process, and the onus of proof should not be reversed and placed on the person apprehended. For those reasons, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I commend the amendment to the committee.
.- Having listened to Senator Murphy’s submission, I believe that the fallacy of it was displayed in the last sentence he spoke. I contend that the whole of his submission is discordant with the principle of law that if a debt is sued for and the defendant alir-es that there has been payment, judgment goes against the defendant unless he p-oves p:yp”*ni. Tor the purpose of interstate enforcement of judgments, what distinction can be drawn between the case where a court of enforcement has before it the certificate of the court of judgment that, according to its records, the fine is unpaid, and the allegation by the defendant in another State that he has paid the fine?
– I think the answer is that the liberty of the subject is involved’ in one case and not in the other.
– I am coming to that. I first want to make it emphatically plain that the general principle is that he who alleges payment of a liability has the onus of proving it. Years ago the High Court had to correct a very formidable judgment of the Full Court of Victoria - a judgement which is notorious throughout the courts. An erroneous decision remained on the record until the High Court overturned it.
The fact that we are disciples of the idea of the liberty of the subject does not mean that we ought to erode the law of all the principles which combine in the British heart, or supplant the principle that the defendant shall be given the benefit of any reasonable doubt which had accrued’ to him before the fine was imposed in the original court. Let us assume that a fine has been imposed on a person and that he has gone to another State. Let us say that all the evidence is contained in the records in Hobart and that he is now living in Rockhampton. The onus should be on him to prove that he has paid the fine, because in this case the payee is not a private citizen, as is the plaintiff in a civil debt case. The payee is an officer of a court. I believe that we would get into ludicrous hypotheses if, because of an idea that we were fortifying the liberty of the subject, we sought to put the onus on the clerk of petty sessions in Hobart to prove in Rockhampton that the fine had not been paid. That would be quite contrary to the underlying principle governing the onus of proof in such a matter. For those reasons, I am certainly not persuaded that there is any merit in the amendment.
.- I rise to support briefly the amendment moved by Senator Murphy and to suggest that the fallacy which Senator Wright finds in Senator Murphy’s argument really resides in Senator Wright’s argument. He has been trying to assimilate this particular process to the civil law, to suits between citizens, in respect of which, of course, it is obvious that the onus of proving payment rests upon him who asserts payment. In fact, this process is of a criminal character. It is the enforcement in another State of the result of a criminal process. In my view, it is perfectly proper to assert, as did Senator Murphy, that the onus of proof should rest ultimately on the prosecution, which is, after all, trying to enforce payment and to send a person to prison for non-payment of a fine. That is the essence of the matter.
This process is of a criminal character and not of a civil character. Indeed, our point about the onus of proof was made in the second-reading speech of the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton). He stated -
If the court is satisfied that the person before it is the person on whom the fine was imposed and is also satisfied that the. fine is still unpaid, the court may commit the offender to gaol.
Of course, that is not what the bill states, as Senator Murphy has pointed out. It seems to me that the Minister, in fairness, ought to withdraw that statement in the secondreading speech, because it is contradicted by the language of the bill. If he does not do that he has the alternative, which I suggest he should adopt, of accepting Senator Murphy’s amendment.
– I agree entirely with the remarks made by Senator Wright. I do not understand why Senator Cohen should attack those remarks on the ground that Senator Wright was trying to equate the position to that of a civil offence.
– That is what he was doing.
– I do not think that is true. We are discussing here the enforcement of a fine. Our objective is to make it as easy to collect in one State a fine imposed in another State as it would be to collect it in the State in which it was imposed. Let us assume that a process of this kind takes place in the State of Victoria, after a person has been convicted of an offence and fined. The fine not having been paid, action is taken to collect it. As I understand the position, that person, perhaps having been fined in Bendigo, can be apprehended in Ballarat and brought before a magistrate there for the purpose of collecting the fine. In such a case the onus of proof rests on that man to show that he has paid the fine. This is an exact analogy. This is true also for what is proposed in this bill for the interstate position. Therefore it is incorrect to say that the sole basis of the Government’s position in this rests in trying to equate a civil action with a criminal action - not that this is a criminal action. If it is true that the collection of a fine intra-state places on a person the onus of proving that he has paid the fine, surely if we are trying to make a collection of these fines simple for the States it is proper to apply the same rules. It seems reasonably just that the person within whose knowledge it lies and who is able to show more easily than any one else whether he has paid the fine should be required to prove that he has, rather than that some person from another State should be required, for the purpose of collecting the fine, to travel interstate to prove that it has not been paid. I do not understand the accusation hurled that this is an attempt to equate a civil process with a criminal one.
– The Minister has not answered at all the arguments that have been put in favour of this amendment. He has not said why it is that he opposes the insertion in the bill of words which will express the intention that was stated in his secondreading speech. He has said that the interstate situation is comparable with that intrastate. I would be indebted to him for a reference to some State act dealing with intra-state processes where this provision exists. There is no necessity at all for some one to come from Hobart to Ballarat or Rockhampton. In every case, as this bill stands, there will be evidence before the court in the warrant, which will be there, available to be relied upon by the person seeking to enforce the fine. There are other provisions which might be made, some of which might be available in the Evidence Acts of the States as to certificates of courts, but it is enough that in this bill evidence is available in the shape of the warrant, so it must be examined in that context.
Then we have the situation that the State has tremendous resources at its disposal. If there is a contest, the State ought to be prepared to establish that the fine is unpaid.
It is entitled to rely upon all the presumptions about regularity of its proceedings, its course of business in collection of fines, the records of its office and so on. But if, at the end of all that and after the person apprehended has given evidence, the magistrate still feels in doubt, why should that doubt have to be resolved against the person apprehended when the liberty of the subject is at stake? Surely in Australia the position ought to be this: A person is apprehended in some State and it is said, “ You are the person who was involved in a court case several years ago “ - it may have been ten years ago - “ and you were fined; we say the fine is not paid.” This person says, “ I paid the fine”. He is asked, “Where are your receipts?” He replies, “I lost them long ago “. That would be the situation of any person. He may not have received receipts, or he may be in other difficulty. He is prepared to swear that he has paid the fine, so he exposes himself to a charge of perjury if he is lying. If after this the magistrate feels that he is in doubt, why should that doubt be resolved against that person? The Crown can always seek an adjournment and obtain further evidence. Why should the person be committed to gaol in a case where the magistrate is not satisfied that the fine is not paid? The situation ought to be that the Crown, with all the assistance that it has, should establish to the magistrate’s satisfaction that the fine is unpaid.
– He may not even have had notice of the fine.
– Do you suggest that if a man has paid his fine the court would not have any record of it or would not know about it?
– Senator, you mistake the situation entirely. I am suggesting that in a properly conducted court there would be a record of it and that it is open to the person seeking to enforce the fine to establish, on the basis of that record, that the fine is unpaid. He should be able to do that to the satisfaction of the magistrate, and if he leaves the matter in doubt, that doubt should be resolved in favour of the citizen apprehended. It is not right that in Australia, when there is a question of doubt on a matter which involves the liberty of the subject, a magistrate should be required to find against the person apprehended. Consequently, I press the amendment.
– I want briefly to re-state what Senator Murphy said I had not previously stated, and then to follow a little further the line of argument that he has advanced to us. I hope to show how fallacious that argument is. I should like to say, quite clearly, that the two major reasons why the proposal advanced by Senator Murphy is opposed are these: The object of the bill is to simplify the interstate collection of fines. As to the intra-state collection of fines, there is an onus of proof on the person who it is suggested has not paid a fine to show that he has paid it. Indeed, in Victoria, a person who has been convicted and fined and has not paid the fine can be apprehended in any other part of Victoria without the matter going before a magistrate. That person would go straight into gaol unless he could prove that he had, in fact, paid the fine.
– Under what act is that, senator?
– I would have to give you the references later, but that is the position. I would be interested to know if you care to say that that is not the position.
– I would like to know under what act that is.
– This bill will enable the provision interstate to line up with the provision intra-state. Of course, Senator Murphy did not read the whole of the proposed sub-section, which reads -
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Murphy’s amendment) be left out.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator K. M. Anderson.)
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
In proposed section 26g, sub-section (1.), leave out “ A person against whom an order of committal is made under the last preceding section “ insert “ Where any person is aggrieved by any order or by the exercise of any power under the last preceding section, such person “.
The effect of the amendment would be to allow the right of appeal not only to the person apprehended but also the party seeking to enforce a fine under the provisions of Part IVa. of the legislation. Honorable senators will appreciate that these provisions relating to appeal apply in the case where a person has been apprehended under the provisions of this part and brought before a court which has made a determination in the matter. The determination having been served against the person apprehended, and the court having applied certain sanctions against him under the part - which may be committal to gaol, or the exercise of suspension of execution or of other powers - the right of appeal is ensured by these provisions. The right of appeal in favour of the person apprehended was inserted in the bill in another place on the initiative of the Opposition, but we think it should not be confined to the person apprehended. We think that there should also be a right of appeal in favour of the party seeking to enforce the fine. It is important to remember that this is not a judicial proceeding in the primary sense. We are concerned here with persons who have already been fined in the course of judicial process of a State or Territory and we are dealing only with the enforcement of the fine. The bill should provide not only that the citizen has every opportunity to establish that he is not the person on whom the fine was imposed, or that he had paid the fine; it should also give every opportunity to the authorities of the State to demonstrate that the person against whom the warrant is issued is actually the person on whom the fine was imposed and that he has not paid the fine. It is Important to observe, too, that the word “ fine “ is defined to include other moneys that might be ordered to be paid ancillary to the fine. Therefore it would cover such matters as compensation for restitution of stolen moneys, or the value of a stolen vehicle, or compensation for malicious damage done to a vehicle.
– Can you give us the words that were amended in the other place?
– Originally, the bill as presented in the other place made no provision for appeal and the one contained in the bill under consideration here was inserted by the other place.
– The whole of proposed new section 26g was inserted by way of amendment suggested by the Opposition?
– The whole of the proposed new section was inserted but the form in which it appears in the bill under consideration here is not the form in which the proposal was submitted by the Opposition. The proposal that emanated from the Opposition in the other place was in line with the amendment which I am now suggesting, except for certain other amendments to the rest of the appellant powers, and so on. We do not quarrel with the changes that have been made by the other place, but we persist in the view that the right of appeal should be granted not only in favour of the person apprehended, but also in favour of the person or party or officer seeking to enforce the fine. There are practical reasons for giving the right of appeal to the person seeking to enforce a judgment in that often these matters will come before magistrates in isolated places or be heard by magistrates in circumstances where a quick decision should be made and where the liberty of the subject is involved. A person may be apprehended at some place and may want to move on. There could be all sorts of reasons why a quick decision would have to be made.
– Is the amendment which you now propose here the same as the amendment that was proposed by your party in another place?
– ‘Not quite.
– I understood you to say it was the same in substance but that in drafting it the remedy by way of review has been given only to the defendant and not to the prosecutor too.
– I am talking about the amendment which was moved by the Labour Party in another place:
– There have been certain drafting alterations which were acceptable elsewhere; but, as I have said, apart from those it is the same in substance. In most cases, when a person is apprehended there will be no dispute. However, in some cases there will be a dispute and either the person apprehended or the person seeking to enforce the fine will be right. In either case it seems to us to be right and proper that the official who is seeking to enforce the fine should have a right of appeal as well as the person who is apprehended. A magistrate will more readily accept the statement of a citizen that he is not the person concerned if he knows that there is a right of appeal. He may more readily accept the statement of the person who is apprehended that he has paid the fine and that there has been some mistake if he knows that the Crown has a further opportunity to investigate the matter and to appeal if it so desires. So this provision not only would operate in favour of the person who is seeking to enforce the fine but would really assist in a practical way the person apprehended in that the magistrate would be much more likely to accept statements made by him if he knew that the Crown still had another remedy.
To give a right of appeal to those who are seeking to enforce a fine means that there will be less chance of the judgments qf the States and the Territories being evaded. In the ordinary course of administration the Crown cannot be expected to have available all the proof it might desire to put in a really contested case. In a proper course of administration one would think that, if the person who was arrested was prepared to adduce evidence that he was not the person on whom the fine was imposed or that he had paid it, a magistrate would be disposed to accept that evidence but only if he knew that the Crown had a right of appeal.
I am speaking about these matters in a practical way. If one is practical, one must realize that if a case has been conducted before a magistrate in an isolated place this is a most important consideration. In whatever way one looks at them, these matters of convenience and practicality will appeal to magistrates. We submit that, to make hearings more expeditious and summary and to have a second line of attack and defence - in short, for every possible reason - there should be a right of appeal in favour of the person who is seeking to enforce an order. That is why the amendment contains , the words “ where any person is aggrieved “. That, of course, is a wellknown phrase. It would include the person who was seeking to enforce the fine. He may be the clerk of the court, in some cases a collector of public moneys, or an ordinary citizen. Whoever he is, we submit that every consideration of fairness suggests that there ought to be an appeal in favour of that person as well as in favour of the person who is apprehended.
.- I rise to suggest that the case submitted in favour of Senator Murphy’s amendment is unanswerable. If the result of a hearing before a magistrate is that the person apprehended is committed to prison, that decision may be an injustice to that person. The bill gives him a right of appeal from that decision. On the other hand, the decision of a magistrate may be an injustice to the person who is seeking the order of committal, but the bill does not give that person a right of relief. Even-handed justice and a fair-minded approach to the matter such as is adopted in the amendment proposed by Senator Murphy is obviously called for. We press the Minister to accept the amendment, which is in the interests of justice on all sides.
– The State governments, on whose behalf this legislation has been drafted for the purpose of removing from them a burden that they have borne hitherto, have all sought this legislation in its present terms. If the object of the bill is to enable a State, without going through the present cumbersome process, to collect a fine in another State as easily as it can within its own borders, the wishes of that State should be considered when drafting the legislation.
Senator Murphy said that somebody might be aggrieved because an order was not enforced and that therefore he should have a right of appeal. Proposed section 26a deals with the imposition of a fine in the following terms-
– That includes amounts of compensation, costs and so forth.
– I ask the honorable senator to wait for a minute. A fine is defined in the following terms: - “ Fine “ means a pecuniary penalty imposed by a Court for an offence against a law of the
Commonwealth (other than a revenue law) or of a Stale or Territory, together with any amount (including an amount of costs, compensation or revenue charges) the payment of which by the person on whom the fine was imposed was ordered by the Court . . .
It will be noted that the definition deals with the collection of a fine imposed by a court, and it includes other sums which a court may require to be paid. Under the terms of the bill, those moneys can be collected in a State other than the one in which the court directed they should be paid only upon the issuance of an order from the clerk of the court. It is the clerk of the court who takes the steps which lead to the arrest of a person in another State and a requirement that he pay the fine.
The Opposition suggests that the clerk of the court should be given a right of appeal against the decision of a magistrate in another State. As I have indicated, the States themselves do not think that that provision is required. I do not know why the Opposition in this place feels so strongly about the matter. As I understand the situation, Mr. Whitlam, on behalf of the Opposition in another place, circulated a proposed amendment which was designed to give a right of appeal to both the person accused and the Crown. That amendment was not accepted, but one which sought to give a right of appeal to the person committed was accepted. In accepting the amendment without division, Mr. Whitlam said -
The alterations which the Minister’s amendment makes in the proposed amendment are, I readily concede, improvements on my amendment.
So it seems tha: the views of the AttorneyGeneral, of some members of the Opposition and of the States are on a’i fours.
.- I am obliged to the Minister for his reference to debates in another place, because they are informative; but, of course, in a house of review - I say this without any disrespect at all - we have an opportunity and a duty to review the legislation upon our own judgment. When I come to a situation such as this, where the original bill gave no right of appeal to the superior court against a committal order made interstate, and I find that by an amendment in another place a provision for an appeal on behalf of the defendant is accepted, I am still, so far as the debate has gone, left without perception of any reason whatever why the Government that I support opposes the inclusion of a provision for right of the prosecution to appeal for review of an order refusing to commit.
I think that as the night draws on we are introducing some confusion by referring to the fact that this is a bill which is moulded by agreement or compromise of the States. It is a matter upon which, I hope, we have originality and initiative enough to realize that we have a primary duty. I believe that in exercise of the power of enforcement of process interstate, it is difficult to support by reason a refusal to give the prosecution a right of appeal. May I add that in my own State for some twenty years, in relation to convictions involving fines, there has been an automatic right, merely upon the filing of notice by either party, the Crown or defendant, in the Supreme Court, to have a re-adjudication of the case in the Supreme Court, that is, a review of the matter ab initio, not by way of appeal but as a complete rehearsing. That is achieved just by filing a notice for review. One would think that there would be an avalanche of such appeals. There are altogether too many but, as a percentage of convictions, they are remarkably few.
The point of referring to the situation is that it was never suggested by any one that the right to review an order imposing a fine or refusing to impose a fine should be available only to the defendant. It has always been available to the Crown as well as to the defendant. I hasten to add that the Crown takes a very proper view of its functions with regard to such appeals, because it does not regard itself as entitled under the provision, just because it has lost on an issue of fact, to go to the superior court by way of review, unless some principle is involved.
It seems to me that if this amendment is meritorious, as I should think anybody who favoured legislation for effective interstate enforcement of fines would consider it to be, resistance to giving right of appeal to the prosecution as well as to the defendant must be fortified by reason.
– I can only do my best to fortify by reason the proposition put forward in the bill and the reasons, as I see them, why the proposed amendment should be rejected. As I said before, the action we are considering is an action taken for the collection of a fine, and perhaps other amounts of money. It is an action which can be initiated only on a warrant issuing from the court imposing that fine or penalty. It is an action which can only result, and to the knowledge of the court issuing the warrant can only result, in a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment. It is therefore most unlikely that the Crown, in an action involving any considerable amount of money, would make use of this procedure, knowing as it does that the maximum penalty that could be imposed under it would be six months imprisonment.
The provision would be used for the collection of smaller amounts of money which would be uneconomical to collect by existing methods. A person who is brought into court so that an order for the payment of a smaller sum of money can be enforced against him is, under the provisions of this bill, excused from paying costs. There is a provision that the court shall not require costs to be paid, because it is believed that in most cases this would act very badly against the interests of the defendant. Under the bill he may, if he is committed, appeal. In that case he would pay costs. It would seem to be unfair if, in an attempt to collect a sum of money, failure to pay which carried a penalty of six months imprisonment, the police or the court in another State used all of their resources in order to appeal against the decision of the magistrate. I do not know whether it is considered that some very large sum of money might be involved, relating to other people who had been damaged by the original act.
– Frequently these days, on conviction for illegally using a motor car, a defendant is ordered to pay £100 or £150 as compensation for damage, in addition to a fine.
– Yes. I was proposing to say that I did not know whether it was envisaged that a large sum of money, in addition to a fine, could be at risk in a case of this sort. Senator Wright has pointed out that an amount of £100 or £150 could be involved in the court order. I suggest that in relation to amounts of that magnitude this procedure would not be adopted, because there is no appeal for the person who is sent to gaol for six months for not paying a fine.
– In his own State?
-In any State.
– There is, under the section.
– I beg your pardon. There is an appeal for a person who is sent to gaol. But let us assume that a person, having stolen a motor car in New South Wales, and having been convicted in that State, is ordered to pay a fine and £150. He then goes to Victoria. In Victoria he is arrested and sent to gaol for six months. That is the finish of it. There is no chance, by way of appeal, for the aggrieved party to get back the £150 which was owing to him. That is why I indicate that this sort of procedure, issuing from a court, would not be used in cases involving large sums of money, but would be used for the collection of the smaller fines which now are collected by some one who travels between the various States. To make provision for the Crown, in this sort of case, to use all its resources again to seek to try a man who, for that sort of offence, has been before a magistrate and has been acquitted, would place a penalty on him or place him under a risk which I think would not be considered by most people to be fair.
.- The Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) in giving reasons why the proposed amendment should not be accepted, first of all stated that this legislation really emanated from the States. The answer to that is that it is this Parliament which is vested with the responsibility of making proper provision in these matters. Secondly, this particular clause did not emanate from the States. It was suggested when the legislation came here. We are not dealing with something which was even considered by the States.
The next point that I wish to raise is that the Commonwealth itself has dealt, in the past, with the enforcement of the collection of fines imposed by its own courts in its own Territories, so it has an interest in this matter irrespective of the interests of the States. With respect, I suggest that if this legislation is passed in a form which it should not have we will bear the responsibility for it. It will be no use saying that other people were considering the matter. We are considering the matter now and we should determine the form of this legislation.
The next point concerns fines. It is clear that the word “ fine “ is defined in section 26a so as to include ancillary amounts such as compensation and costs. There are many cases in which orders are made for the payment of small fines and, sometimes, for the payment of large amounts by way of compensation. In assault cases very substantial amounts may be ordered by way of compensation, even amounting to hundreds of pounds. I speak from memory, but I think that in New South Wales a magistrate can make an order for £500 for compensation in addition to imposing a fine. I speak subject to correction.
– How would giving the right of appeal to the Crown help in the collection of that money?
– Because it would be available not only to the Crown but to the person aggrieved.
– How would it help the person aggrieved to collect the money?
– Suppose that an order made by a magistrate is that “ X “ be fined £5 and that he pay compensation to Mr. Smith, whom he assaulted, in the sum of £200 for broken teeth and other injuries. The process and the various other matters proceed. There is a clear case. He might pay £5 but not the £200. The defendant might pay neither sum and might go interstate. Why should not the party seeking to enforce the collection of this fine and the ancillary order - the clerk of the court - be able to continue with it?
– Your proposition is that the appeal should be against the fact that the magistrate did not send “X” to gaol and if the appeal succeeds and he goes to gaol no money is collected.
– Is not this the position? When the matter comes before the magistrate the magistrate may find against the person apprehended and, if so, that person has his right of appeal. He may find in favour of the person apprehended. That person may tell some lie. Surely the party seeking to enforce the fine and the person who, perhaps, has been deprived of compensation should have some further right of redress. He should be able, if he feels certain he is right and is prepared to take the risk of paying the costs, to take this matter to a higher court and say: “ I am right. This was the person on whom the fine was imposed and he has not paid it or the compensation ordered.” Why should he not be entitled to do that?
It may happen that a person who has been apprehended may be held by a magistrate to be the person on whom a fine was imposed and who has not paid the fine; but the person may, through some advocate, say: “ I am sure I cannot pay this amount. Would you permit me to pay off the order for compensation at the rate of 5s. a week? “ It would take only seven years to do it. Why should not the person who is in another State be able to appeal to a higher court and say: “This is all nonsense. He has not a wife and children. He is a rogue. He has gone interstate and left me to pay for my own injuries with no compensation.” Surely every consideration of reason suggests that if the person seeking to enforce a fine is prepared to undertake the risk of taking the matter to a higher court when he has been defeated below he should be able to do so.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Murphy’s amendment) be left out.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator K. M. Anderson.)
Majority.. . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 12 agreed to.
Postponed clause 3.
– Clause 3 contains definitions and I moved the postponement of it in order to give the Government an opportunity to consider the enforcement of maintenance orders. The committee has expressed its views quite clearly by supporting the motion for the postponement. I moved the postponement in the hope that the Government would address its mind to the position that was put by the Opposition quite strongly.
I do not wish to postpone the clause any longer even on the issue of the definition of “suit”. The clause does confer some benefits in relation to the service of process although defective still in the matter of enforcement of process for maintenance. There are other definitions that are necessary for the understanding and coherence of the bill. In those circumstances the Opposition will not press any further its objection to the clause.
.- The statement by the Leader of the Opposition certainly does not express my view. I voted for the postponement of the clause in order to provide a real opportunity for the examination of the clause over the week-end. I thought that after the provision had been considered, we could return to this place next Tuesday knowing more fully the reasons for which the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) supported the exclusion of maintenance proceedings from the provisions of this clause. I rise to express my great regret” that the Leader of the Opposition, who apparently speaks for the whole of the Opposition, is failing to take advantage of the opportunity which the committee has provided for the consideration of this matter.
This is merely a legal matter and I had hoped that arising out of consultation, the means of effecting the payment of maintenance interstate for wives and children could have been put into the bill. I felt that no one would have had any hard feelings on this matter. The opportunity should be taken to postpone further consideration of the bill until next week to provide the opportunity for consultation between the Attorney-General and those who assist him in these matters so that we could be satisfied positively that there were real objections to the inclusion in the bill of a provision which is so urgently required.
Senator McKENNA (Tasmania - Leader of the Opposition) [10.381. - I appreciate the force of what Senator Wright has said. My mind had not adverted quite fully to the original argument I had posed. In the circumstances, I move -
That progress be reported.
– The reason for my voting for the postponement of the clause-
– Order! There can be no debate on the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 1st May (vide page 200), on motion by Senator Sir William Spooner -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This is a short measure which is designed to give the Australian National University power to make astronomical and meteorological observations in any part of Australia. The Australian National University Act 1946-1960 is an act to establish and incorporate a university in the Australian Capital Territory. The words “ in the Australian Capital Territory “ are the significant ones in the title of the act, because the Australian National University cannot be expected to confine all its activities to the Australian Capital Territory, particularly in the realm with which this bill seeks to deal. Since 1956, the Mount Stromlo Observatory has become a very important part of our National University. Some of the astronomical work that is done by the observatory could possibly extend beyond the confines of the Australian Capital Territory. This could also involve the university in the reclamation and purchase of land in the various States which, in turn, possibly could lead to litigation. If the university did not have legal authority for its activities outside the Australian Capital Territory, much confusion might result. This bill has therefore been introduced with the simple aim of extending the ambit of the Australian National University beyond the confines of the Australian Capital Territory.
Although the head-quarters of the Department of Astronomy of the Australian National University remains at Mount Stromlo in the Australian Capital Territory, it has been found necessary, because of climatic, atmospheric and other conditions, to develop a field station away from Mount Stromlo. That is being done at Siding Spring Mountain, near Coonabarabran, in New South Wales, where work is already in progress. It is expected that the field station will be in full operation by July of this year. I am taking this opportunity, even though it is late at night, to develop a few thoughts with regard to the work of the Australian National University, through the Department of Astronomy, and to try to show the great influence which that work has on various aspects of Australian life.
We in Australia owe a great deal to astronomy. Our earliest connexion with astronomy goes back to the days of Captain Cook. It was after the successful completion of a mission which he had undertaken and which was concerned with astronomical matters such as the transit of Venus, that he made his historic voyage to the east coast of Australia from which later stemmed the foundation of this Commonwealth. There was an able astronomer with the first fleet under Captain Phillip, and he got to work straight away on astronomical work for Australia. He set up an observatory which was later transferred to Parramatta. The first real observatory in the modern sense was established in Sydney in 1848. Within fourteen years of the coming of Governor Brisbane to Australia, four observatories had been set up in the various States. During the last thirty of forty years we have seen the development of the excellent observatory at Mount Stromlo, which has been particularly fortunate in the calibre of the men who have been its directors over the years. Only recently, I was privileged to be present at Mount Stromlo on the occasion of the laying of a foundation stone for a new building. At that time, a number of worldfamous astronomers were in Australia for the purpose of attending a special conference. They included the Astronomer Royal, Sir Richard Woolley who, for sixteen years, was director of the Mount Stromlo Observatory.
The building of which the foundation stone was laid on that occasion was the Duffield memorial building, named after a former director of the Mount Stromlo Observatory. All of us know of the work that is being done by Professor Bok, the present director. Not only is he a magnificent scholar in the field of astronomy, but also he is able to transmit to others his great enthusiasm for the work that is in progress at Mount Stromlo and elsewhere in Australia. We are fortunate to have had a succession of very fine astronomers in charge of this important work within our National University. As a member of the council of the university, I wish to pay a tribute to Professor Bok for his great interest in the work at Mount Stromlo, and for making it an integral part of the community.
Three different tasks confronted the observatory and the Department of Astronomy. One, of course, was to establish a field station for the Mount Stromlo Observatory. That has been accomplished by the installation of a 40-in. telescope at Coonabarabran. The field station there has become an important part of the observatory. The second task was to build up other field stations so that they might undertake the work of an observatory on a much larger scale than is at present envisaged, and eventually to develop a British Commonwealth observatory in Australia. This will result from co-operation between the United Kingdom Government and the Government of Australia, and perhaps also the governments of other Commonwealth countries. The ultimate aim is to establish a very large international observatory somewhere in Australia.
Various sites were selected for this work. Approximately ten sites were investigated and three have now been selected as the most suitable. One is at Siding Spring Mountain, near Coonabarabran, which I have mentioned; another is at Mount Singleton, in my own State of Western Australia; and the third is at Mount Woodroffe, in the north-east corner of South Australia. At the risk of appearing parochial, I suggest that the site in Western Australia, where there is a Mediterranean climate, where the skies are clear and where there is an absence of smog and industrialization, would be a fine one for an international observatory. However, I shall be happy wherever it is established, so long as it is established somewhere in Australia. Of the twelve large observatories in the world which have reflectors of more than 120 inches, ten are in the northern hemisphere. Some of the European countries - the list looks almost like a catalogue of the European Common Market countries - have set up an organization known as E.S.O., for the purpose of establishing an observatory in the southern hemisphere. Its members are West Germany, France, Belgium, Sweden and Holland. That already has a site chosen in either South Africa or in Chile. The United States of America also intends to build a major reflector observatory in Chile. Australia seems to us to be the logical place for the British Commonwealth of Nations to establish this large observatory, because from the Australian latitudes we can observe onethird of the sky which is inaccessible to northern observations. With the numbers of young men in this country who are brilliant scientists and have an interest in astronomy we can ensure that there will be a sufficient supply of astronomers to carry out this very important and difficult work.
Astronomical work being carried out in Australia at present is divided between various institutions. First of all we have that which is carried out by the Australian National University, which controls Mount Stromlo Observatory, and which also is establishing a field station at Siding Spring Mountain near Coonabarabran. The research activities carried out at Mount Stromlo, which would be of interest to honorable senators who have taken the opportunity to visit that centre, include structure and astrophysics of the Milky Way, Magellanic clouds and galaxies, stellar astrophysics, positional astronomy and time service. That may sound quite a mouthful, but it is very important work, particularly now that we are trying to conquer space. The research which is being carried out in this field of astronomy is of great importance in this nuclear space age.
Mount Stromlo is the principal centre for training students who are taking their doctorates of philosophy in optical and radio astronomy. The other work in the general field of mathematics and physics is carried on in the university’s school of general studies for those students not proceeding to the more difficult and higher degrees.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization also plays a very important part in the astronomical work being carried out in Australia. That organization has a radio physics laboratory in Sydney with a giant radio telescope at Parkes and some of the best radio telescopic equipment in Australia. There are also research activities being carried on to a very large extent. The organization operates also as part of its standards laboratory a solar division in Sydney which also has a field station.
The University of Sydney to-day is busy with the work of building up its Mills Cross observatory near Hoskinstown. This will become one of the largest centres for radio research of the Milky Way and in the universe of galaxies. This is important work which rates second only to that being carried on by the Australian National University. Also at the University of Sydney is a centre for those training in radio astronomy for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. This university, as I mentioned earlier, is the oldest of Australia’s universities and has been operated by the Government of New South Wales since 1858. It, too, is doing an excellent job.
In Western Australia we have an observatory which, over the years, has done very fine work. Some of the work undertaken there was published under the aegis of the Naval Department in Washington because of its importance in the work of astronauts during the past eighteen months. Unfortunately, the buildings at present occupied by the State observatory have been taken over for government offices. At the moment there is a committee working to find a suitable site for the new observatory. If we can manage to get a Commonwealth observatory also in Western Australia and build one in the ranges for more localized work, it would be a very happy combination of circumstances.
It will be three or four years at least before the present investigations and choice of a site are completed for the British Commonwealth observatory. According to estimates it will cost between £6,000,000 and £7,000,000 for its establishment, and the running costs will average about £174,000 a year. That sum will be paid by the countries that join in the scheme. Because we feel that this is of great importance, not only to Australia but to the whole of the British Commonwealth, we are hoping that that project will be brought to a successful fruition.
In dealing with other matters relating to our national university and to scientific problems, I do not think I can do them justice because I am no scientist, but I do feel it is unfortunate that we often leave these things to be discussed at the end of a long day after other debates. In my view, there is just as much need in Australia for a department of scientific development as there is for the Department of National Development. Such a department could even become part of the Department of National Development, which depends also on a scientific foundation. This is a scientific age, and most of the main countries of the world have some kind of government-sponsored department of science engaged on developmental work for which a minister is separately responsible. We have a Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, but he has also a couple of very big departments to administer. His work in connexion with the C.S.I.R.O. is only an adjunct to his other duties.
As the development of Australia and our relations with other countries depend so much on our scientific advancement I should like to see the time come when we shall have a ministry of science, which will be a definite ministerial responsibility because we cannot advance as a nation along the path of science unless that advance is properly directed, just as the Department of National Development and various other activities within our economy are directed.
I regret that this debate has begun so late in the evening that I must rush through what I want to say. I have put aside some of the matters that I had intended to discuss. We of the Labour Party are in agreement with the bill and we hope that the university will continue with the excellent work that it has been doing and send out still more scientists to deal with the various astronomical and other problems that concern us as a nation.
– The Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) in introducing this bill in the Senate said -
This is a short measure with a simple purpose. It gives to the. Australian National University power to make astronomical and meteorological observations in any part of the Commonwealth.
For the past seventeen years Australian scientists have contributed to the world’s knowledge in astronomy. Much emphasis is being placed on this speculative and interesting study, but it is a wise decision to include meteorological observations as well in this bill. Man is exploring the nature of space in relation to our earth with an intensity and earnestness surpassing all previous studies. In Australia we have groups of scientists whom I shall call the university group, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization group and the group of the Australian Academy of Science.
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.
– Through you, Mr. President, I seek the aid of the Leader of the Government (Senator Sir William Spooner) in bringing before the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) a matter in which I think many other honorable senators will be interested. I have with me a file of correspondence relating to it. In a few moments I shall hand the file to the Leader of the Government with a request that he present it to the Prime Minister.
The matter relates to a Commonwealth public servant who was employed by the Postal Department as a lineman. He first joined the Commonwealth Public Service in 1925. He resigned from the service to join the Australian Imperial Forces during the Second World War. He had to resign from the Commonwealth Public Service to join the armed forces because he was about to be directed to other employment by the man-power authorities. Immediately after he returned from war service and was discharged he returned to his employment with the Postal Department. Later, he again resigned from the Commonwealth service and joined the Korea force. Immediately after his discharge from the Korea force he again returned to service in the Postal Department. He claims, and I agree entirely with him, that the whole of his service rights should be preserved. The Public Service Board is faced with a difficulty. In a memorandum addressed to me, the board stated -
Section 48 of the Public Service Act provides that where a person becomes an officer (permanent) of the Commonwealth Service and his service in the Commonwealth Service is continuous with service in a permanent capacity in the military forces, his service with the military forces shall be reckoned for purposes of the Public Service Act as service in the Commonwealth Service.
That means that military service will be accepted as part of continuous public service provided the person concerned does not go elsewhere to work when he is discharged from the armed forces.
In this case the Public Service Board’s difficulty lies in the fact that I have been informed on behalf of the Prime Minister that this man’s service was not continuous.
The point I want to emphasize, because other honorable senators might be interested, is that this man was discharged from the Korea force on 15th July, 1957. He reported for duty with the Postal Department on 16th July, the very next day. The engineer-in-charge suggested that he start at the end of the pay period, which was two days later, as was the common practice. He did so and some nine months later he was made a permanent officer. Mr. Freeth, the Minister for the Interior, writing on behalf of the Prime Minister, held that this man’s service could not be regarded as continuous service for the purpose of the Public Service Act. In my view, if a man is discharged from the Army at 5 o’clock on one day and reports for duty with the department at 9 o’clock the next morning his service must be regarded as continuous. After all, there was no way in which the man could be made a permanent officer at the end of one day’s service. The department must first submit matters of this kind to the Public Service Inspector who then forwards the details to Canberra for consideration by the Public Service Board. In such circumstances there is no great need for haste because the man is in employment and is accumulating sick leave and other leave entitlements. In this instance, nine months elapsed before the person concerned was made a permanent officer.
When this case was referred to me, the man’s claim had already been rejected by the Public Service Board. I wrote to the chairman of the Public Service Board but was informed that he was away from Canberra and would not return for a few days. I then received a reply, not from the chairman of the board but from the secretary of the board. I appreciate the latter’s motive in speeding the matter up. I then endeavoured to have the case looked into by a senior officer because this man’s rights were being impaired. By this time I doubted whether he had been treated justly. Being unable to reach the chairman of the Public Service Board I wrote to the Prime Minister. My letter was acknowledged by Mr. Linford, private secretary to the Prime Minister. After a delay of about two months, I again wrote to the Prime Minister asking whether he could possibly give me an answer. Very promptly I received this short note from Mr. Freeth on behalf of the Prime Minister -
I refer to your letter of 31st January . . . This case has been carefully examined but I regret that as the legislation now stands it is not possible to accede to your request on behalf of . . .
I ask Senator Sir William Spooner to assist me in this matter because I have made two attempts to bring it before the political head of the relevant department. First I attempted to reach the chairman of the Public Service Board, and on the second occasion I attempted to get the matter before the Prime Minister, who administers the Public Service Board; but I failed on both occasions. I am not satisfied. I believe that when an honorable senator believes that an individual’s rights are being impaired a senior officer should be given the opportunity to examine the case in order to ascertain whether in fact justice has been done.
If the interpretation placed upon the Public Service Act by Mr. Freeth is correct then I say the act is absurd, because, as I stated a few moments ago, it is impossible to make a mana permanent officer in one day. What more could this man have done? I point out to you, Mr. President, that for the whole of his working life since 1925, this man has been employed either in the lines section of the Postal Department or in the armed forces. He has not been engaged in other employment even for one day. As I have said, he was discharged from the Korea force on one day and re ported to the Postal Department for duly the next morning. What more could he have done to make his service continuous? In all the circumstances, I submit, first, that he has fulfilled the requirements of the Public Service Act; and secondly, that if the view taken by the Prime Minister’s Department with relation to permanent service is upheld it would be quite impossible to fulfil the provisions of that act as they stand. Therefore, through you, Sir, I ask Senator Sir William Spooner if, on my behalf, he will submit this file of correspondence to the political head of the department that determines matters of this kind. The correspondence is self-explanatory. I ask the Leader of the Government to hand it to the Prime Minister and to try to get from the right honorable gentleman a decision as the political head of the department that controls the Public Service Board.
[11.8]. - I know that Senator Willesee would not expect me to know the circumstances of the case or the provision of the Public Service Act that covers it. I suppose it is one that is not invoked very often. All I can say to the honorable senator is that if he will give me the correspondence I will take the matter up and see what results can be achieved.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.8 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 May 1963, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1963/19630508_senate_24_s23/>.