24th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 11 a.m.,. and read prayers.
– I ask the Acting Treasurer whether the financial writers for the various newspapers are well informed when they say that the Government is about to announce a call-up of bank funds into the special account.
– Whether or not these financial writers are well informed is a matter for the judgment of people who read their articles from time to time. I read them sometimes, and I am amazed at how far away from the facts these men get. Of course, on other occasions they seem to get reasonably close to the truth. I honestly believe that a good deal of their comment is speculation - no doubt intelligent speculation. Certainly they are not informed on the Government’s policy on such a matter which, traditionally, is completely confidential.
” EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA”.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport noted that, according to a press report published this morning, the new carpassenger steamer, “ Empress of Australia “, will come into service later than the planned date in July next? Will he cause inquiries to be made about the revised date for this ship to come into service?
– Yes, I noted the reference in the press to the later commissioning of the vessel. I have already taken action to get from my colleague the reasons for the delay and when it is now expected that the vessel will be commissioned. I shall let the honorable senator have that information as soon as I get it.
– I address this question to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for External Affairs: Are reports correct that at the United Nations the -. Minister for External Affairs had to with draw critical remarks about the attitude of the Philippines to the formation of Malaysia, and had to apologize to the representative of the Philippines within six hours of having made his speech? If so, did the error of the Minister arise from his own lack of knowledge, or was he wrongly advised by the departmental officers? If, as I suspect, it was the Minister’s own mistake, will the Minister representing the Acting Minister foi External Affairs use his best endeavours to ensure that spokesmen for Australia in United Nations debates shall be properly briefed as to the facts before risking Australia’s reputation because of the inflated ego of some Government spokesman?
– I think the occasion to which the honorable senator is referring was one on which Sir Garfield Barwick indicated in the United Nations that he was sorry to see that Indonesia and the Philippines regarded the formation of Malaysia with such hostility. The representative of the Philippines at the United Nations said he wished to make it clear that his country did not regard Malaysia with hostility, but with some shade of reluctance because the countries had some points of difference, and that the Philippines did not wish to be regarded as having the hostility towards Malaysia that it had been said by Sir Garfield Barwick to have. Sir Garfield Barwick did not have to withdraw any remark, but in view of the statement by the representative of the Philippines he did withdraw, courteously, and I believe gladly, the suggestion that the Philippines regarded Malaysia with hostility. I think the whole incident was quite useful in that it clarified, in the United Nations, the Philippines’ attitude.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for External Affairs. Has the attention of the Minister been directed to a statement emanating from the Embassy of Japan in Canberra, dated 10th September, in a pamphlet, “ Japan Reports “, in which, under the heading, “ Japan to Resume Antarctic Observation in 1965 “, is the information that Japan will build a 5,000-ton ice-breaker with a 12,000 horsepower engine and with the ability to crack ice of a maximum thickness of191/2 feet? The new ship will have elevator-type hangars for three helicopters, and also a hangar for a small plane. In addition, it will have enough room to carry 4,000 tons of observation equipment, including a large snow tractor and communications equipment. Has the Department of External Affairs or, for that matter, any other department, made any advance towards the provision of an Australian ship for work in Antarctica?
– The Government has not made a decision on whether the Department of External Affairs or any department should operate an Australian ship for Antarctic work, nor indeed is such a proposition before the Government. From time to time the Department of External Affairs has considered, at departmental level, the advisability and practicability of acquiring such a ship for Australian work in the region, rather than chartering ships as it does at present. Such an acquistion would present considerable advantages of a kind that I know the honorable senator has in his mind; but it would also present considerable disadvantages, not the least of which would be the cost of running the ship, quite apart from its capital cost. This would be considerably greater than the present cost of chartering a vessel. These factors have been given attention on a departmental level, but they are not at the moment the subject of consideration by the Government.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. Is it a fact that married members of the permanent defence forces are asked to pay up to 1 5 per cent of their pay for their quarters, or an.economic rental, whichever is. the lower? Is it a fact that where garages are provided these members of the forces are asked to pay 12s. a week oyer and above this rental? Is not a garage an integral part of the modern home? Should such a charge be levied over and above the 15 per cent of their pay which is taken as rental? Is it not a fact, also, that 50 per cent of the wages of some servicemen is taken up by rent for the home, rent for the garage and contributions to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund, and that this fact is causing members of the forces to reconsider making the Army a full-time career?
– I understand that there is statutory provision for the rentals of homes for members of the defence forces to be assessed at 15 per cent. of their pay. I am not aware of the nature of the garage charge to which the honorable senator has referred. If he will place the question on the notice-paper I shall ask the Minister for the Army to supply full details.
– Discussions on the sub ject of meat exports were held in London last month by Australian and United Kingdom officials. The United Kingdom Government has been seeking greater stability in the British market through the introduction of a system of import controls and allied measures. I need hardly remind the honorable senator that the Australian meat industry enjoys the right of unrestricted access to the United Kingdom market until 1967 and will, of course, not surrender that right until there is an apparent improvement in the proposals that may be put forward. When such proposals have been clarified the Australian Meat Board will study them and make recommendation in the light of them.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for External Affairs. I refer to the matter that has been raised by Senator Ridley concerning the withdrawal and apology by Sir Garfield Barwick at the United Nations last week. Is it a fact that there has been no other instance in the General Assembly of the United.Nations of a Foreign Minister withdrawing and apologizing for any part of a major statement of foreign policy? Is this not the worst humiliation Australia has experienced in the United Nations since Prime Minister Menzies was given a dressing-down by Mr. Nehru?
– In the first place, I think it is extraordinary to suggest that the Prime Minister, because Mr. Nehru disagreed with him, was humiliated. In fact, what the Prime Minister did when he went to the United Nations was to make a speech which included a proposition that has subsequently been generally accepted and which, at the time, was accepted by the major powers in the United Nations. Going back again to the question of Sir Garfield Barwick and the United Nations, I do not know whether in the history of the United Nations there has been any previous instance of a speaker stating something which he subsequently corrected, but I should be most surprised if in fact there had not been many instances in which that had occurred. But whether there were or not, I re-emphasize that the value of this matter is that the Philippines delegation to the United Nations made quite clear, both to the United Nations and to Malaysia itself, its stand in relation to Malaysia. As a result of that clarification, what was formerly believed to be a great’ degree of opposition to Malaysia was indicated to be of not such a degree. That was of great value in clarifying matters, and it was also of great value to Australia.
It appears to me to be extremely ungracious to rise in this place and attempt in some way to attack the Minister for External Affairs because he has brought about this result and because he has had the proper courtesy and graciousness to express his gladness at the correction by the Philippines delegation and to withdraw with pleasure his former opinion of the attitude of the Philippines to Malaysia.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it a fact that earlier this year representations were made to the Minister for Primary Industry to re-constitute the Australian Meat Board? Can the Minister say whether these representations were made as a result of a careful study by the board of the market situation in North America?
Can the Minister inform me of the outcome of these representations and of what action the Government has taken to meet the wishes of these people?
– As I understand the position, no representations have been submitted to the Minister for Primary Industry for the re-constitution of the Australian Meat Board. It is true that earlier this year the board undertook a comprehensive survey of the American meat market in an endeavour to determine whether improved marketing methods were needed to preserve that market. That survey has been completed and the report is now in the hands of the producer organizations which are studying it. I understand that those organizations will meet in the near future to reach some firm conclusions on proposals that may be implemented to improve our standing in the American market.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Health. I ask hint whether he has read the following statement contained in a speech made by President Kennedy copies of which have been forwarded to all honorable senators and members by the foreign service of the United States of America: - a world centre for health communications under the World Health Organization could warn of epidemics and the adverse effects of certain drugs as well as transmit the results of new experiments and new discoveries.
Is the Department of Health engaged in any publicity about the evil effects of certain drugs and the new knowledge that is coming to us as a result of experimentation? What is the extent of such publicity?
– I have not seen the speech referred to by the honorable senator. I do not want to detract from anything that President Kennedy has said, but my understanding is that the functions of the World Health Organization to a very great extent now cover the points that the President made, with the possible exception of a world health centre to warn of epidemics. Need I remind the Senate that the World Health Organization to-day has a standing sufficiently high to enable it to co-ordinate the activities of 113 or 114 nations in respect of the spread of epidemics and the warnings that are necessary to protect the interests of the countries concerned? I am of the opinion that at this point of time the position is catered for adequately under the existing system. The honorable senator asked what my department is doing to publicize the ill-effects that may result from drugs. The Department of Health recently set-up a drug evaluation committee which has as its chairman a very distinguished New South Wales doctor. Since his appointment to that responsible position, the chairman has been overseas to confer with various interests in other countries. The momentum that will gather from this type of co-ordination of our efforts will, I am sure, be of real value in publicizing the dangers that may exist in respect of some drugs.
– :My question is directed to the Minister for Health. In view of the increasing number of aircraft carrying large complements of passengers travelling rapidly between Australia and countries of Asia, and in view of the fact that in these Asian countries smallpox epidemics occur periodically, has the Government made any arrangements for the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories to hold smallpox vaccine reserves to meet any emergency in Australia? Has the Government considered a nation-wide campaign to encourage vaccination against smallpox in order to give all citizens the same immunity as is given to people who travel to or through Asian countries by vaccination prior to departure?
– The answer to the first question is, “ Yes “. The department does hold in the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories adequate stocks of serum to vaccinate against smallpox. The honorable senator asked further whether the department has engaged in a publicity campaign to emphasize the wisdom of receiving such vaccination. The specific answer is, “ No “. However, the department does encourage the States to undertake such publicity, for the very good reason that this is their responsibility. The Queensland Department of Health and Home Affairs has shown a very lively interest in this matter and has’ a vaccination record that I think the departments in other States might well emulate.
Whilst the Commonwealth docs hot lead the field in publicity - because that is not in its bailiwick - 1 can assure the honorable senator that it gives every encouragement to those who are responsible for this publicity;
– Can the Minister representing the Acting Attorney-Genera) tell me whether or not legislation is in course of preparation to give effect to any of the recommendations of the committee that investigated the Bankruptcy Act over a number of years and recently published its report? If there is to be any delay in intraducing a comprehensive measure, will the Minister consider introducing special legislation dealing with the amount of debt for which a man may be made bankrupt? . The present amount of £50 was fixed more than 40 years ago. The Government might well take the view that a person should not be declared bankrupt because he may be embarrassed in regard to the payment of such a small sum as £50, and that the minimum amount should be raised.
– I understand that a review of the Bankruptcy Act is being considered by the Attorney-General. Never.thelesss, I shall bring to the Minister’s attention the suggestion for special legislation which has been made by the honorable senator in case the Attorney-General thinks that there will be delay in bringing down a comprehensive bill.
– My question is directed to the Acting Treasurer. Has he seen a reported statement attributed to the Treasurer, now in the United States, that the recent United States tax measures have dislocated Australian borrowing in America? Is it considered that the United States measures referred to will have a serious adverse effect on Australia’s future overseas borrowing programme if the measures are to be of a permanent nature? If Australia has difficulty in the near future in raising loans in the United States because of the interest equalization tax imposed in respect of American money lent overseas, what plans, if any, has the Australian Government made to secure loans from other countries? “ Senator PALTRIDGE.- It “is difficult to “ assess at this juncture the long-term effect of the interest equalization tax recently imposed by the United States of America on overseas borrowers. One can only speculate about these things, and one must accept the view that the initial effect would be to make it more difficult to raise loans in America. Whether this effect will live for any great length of time is another matter. Factors which will influence this will necessarily include the condition of other overseas markets and economic conditions in this country particularly. It would be regarded by the Government as something of a pity if a long delay were imposed in raising loans on the New York market, for the simple reason that the success of an overseas borrowing programme in any market depends, in part at least, on an ability to maintain contact with that market by a series of operations over a long period. I hope that the honorable senator will not mind when I say that 1 am rather intrigued that this question should come from the Opposition benches, as honorable senators opposite have consistently opposed overseas loans. I can tell him that the Australian Government will continue to do what it has done in the past in respect of overseas loans and will exploit every opportunity to raise loans on reasonable terms from countries with which it is desirable to enter into negotiations of this sort.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation: Is there any liaison between the Repatriation Department and the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board to ensure that there is no injustice to recipients of pensions? It has been brought to my notice that recently an ex-member of the regular armed forces, who had been invalided out as a result of war injuries and declared by the Repatriation Department to be totally and permanently incapacitated, was subsequently reclassified by the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board as “C”, that is, as having less than 30 per cent, disability, and his pension was cancelled. Will the Minister take steps to remedy this glaring injustice?
– I think the best ; thing I can do is to ‘ask the honorable”* senator to put that question on notice. I cannot answer him offhand as to the form of liaison between the Repatriation Department and the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board. I would necessarily have to make inquiries of my colleague, the Minister for Repatriation, about that. In respect of the other section of the question, I suggest that the honorable senator submit the particular case he has mentioned to the Minister for investigation.
– Has the Minister representing the Postmaster-General seen reports that the Japanese have developed a small television station which intercepts telewaves .from regular television networks and transmits them by wire with the help of amplifiers to television sets in the area? If so, has he considered the possibility of using such a method to enable people in outback Queensland and other remote areas to have television?
– I have not seen the report to which the honorable senator has referred, but I shall bring the matters raised by him to the attention of my colleague, the Postmaster-General, and ask him for a reply and his comments.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Acting AttorneyGeneral a question in view of a passage which appears in the annual report of the Director-General of Social Services to the effect that during the year ended 30th June, 1963, 12,537 widows’ pensions were granted, and that, of those in class A, 30 per cent. were granted to deserted wives. Since representations were made more than a year ago on this subject and since the debate touching on it during consideration of the Service and Execution of Process Bill in May of this year, has consideration been given to amending the Social Services Act in order to provide means of recovering the amount paid in pensions to deserted wives from defaulting husbands on the lines obtaining in New Zealand and Great Britain? Can the Minister inform me also whether negotiations with State Attorneys-General have advanced to a stage at which we might expect effectiveness in the- enforcement ^interstate of maintenance orders?
– That question, I think, is eminently suited for the noticepaper, and I ask the honorable senator to put it on notice so that the very detailed information required can be given to him on the various matters raised, including the precise point which has been reached in the various negotiations with the State Attorneys-General. I merely point out that a great number of wives are deserted by husbands who do not leave the State in which both wife and husband were living. Consequently, difficulties are connected with collecting maintenance from them which do not arise in places such as New Zealand and Great Britian where there are no State barriers to contend with.
– Has the Acting Treasurer noted a statement made by the Treasurer during his current visit to the United States of America to the effect that United States exports to Australia have increased considerably in recent years? Has the Treasurer told American bankers and businessmen that Australian borrowing in the United States of America has been dislocated by the’ new United States tax measures? Is it true that a United States trade mission is due to arrive in Australia soon with a view to expanding United States exports to Australia? Can the Minister say whetherall this indicates that the United States trade expansion legislation is producing results from the point of view of the United States of America, and whether these incidents are to the advantage or disadvantage of Australia?
– The question covers a number of subjects including statements reported to have been made by the Treasurer in the United States. I have not seen at least one of the statements to which the honorable senator has referred. I should like to have a look at them before I attempt to answer the question. At the same time, I shall look at the other matters which the honorable senator has raised.
– Is the Minister for the Navyaware of a report in yesterday’s Adelaide”News” to theeffectthatan
Australian Navy survey ship discovered possible high-grade lime deposits on the seabed of St. Vincent Gulf, South Australia, and that now a South Australian company is leasing 2,300 square miles of the seabed to prospect possible underwater lime deposits? Can he elaborate on the extent of the Navy’s activities in South Australia in exploring the seabed?
– The short answer is that I cannot satisfactorily elaborate on the exploration of the seabed in St. Vincent Gulf, but I shall certainly apprise myself of more details so that I may inform the honorable senator. I am not the least bit surprised that an Australian naval survey ship should have discovered a lime deposit or indeed other things of this nature, because the Navy has been co-operating with the Department of National Development in relation to such matters as ascertaining whether oil is likely to exist under the seabed and carrying out geological surveys. Certain of the activities of the Royal Australian Navy are very closely connected with the development of this country. They include not only the surveying of sea routes but also’ the finding of ports in Western Australia and theNorthern Territory to enable iron ore and similar commodities to be shippedfrom this country.
SenatorO’BYRNE. - My question is ad dressed tothe Leader of the Government in the Senate. In a recent.” Four Corners “ programme telecast by the Australian Broadcasting. Commission, as a consequence of the arrest in Yugoslavia of terrorists alleged to have been trained in Australia, a number of Yugoslav patriots were interviewed about the establishment of an organization known as Ustashi. In view of the fanaticism of a number of these people who were interviewed - they showed a strong tendency towards reaction andunAustralian activities - is the Government preparedto appoint a committee to examine the activities of the various Croatian liberation movements?
– Is the Minister for Civil Aviation aware that hovercraft are being manufactured in Western Australia? Is it a fact that they were on display at the Perth Royal Show? Were orders being taken for the sale of these craft to farmers for crop-spraying purposes? Is it necessary to license hovercraft? If so, are they licensed as vehicles or as aircraft? If they are licensed as aircraft, what is the annual fee?
– Like the honorable senator, I was not aware that these hovercraft were being manufactured in Western Australia until I saw a reference to the fact that one had been displayed at the recent Royal Show. When hovercraft come into operation in Australia they will require a licence and will be licensed by the Department of Civil Aviation in the same way as aircraft are licensed. Comprehensive regulations covering their operation have not yet been drawn up. As I have frequently stated in this chamber, my department is keeping in close touch with developments, despite the fact that the manufacture of this craft in Western Australia was not known to either me or my department.
– Do they hover over land or sea? Reference has been made to their use for crop spraying.
– This particular vehicle hovers over land rather than over the sea. The idea is that it will operate as do crop-spraying aircraft.
– Those in charge of the display were actually taking orders for the sale of craft.
– I do not want to make any comment on that aspect qf the matter. The attention of my department having been drawn to the manufacture of this vehicle iri Western Australia, inquiries are now being made of the people who displayed it to see what is to happen in relation to the whole matter.
– Can the Minister for Civil Aviation say what progress has been made towards the establishment of the long-awaited Qantas hotel in Sydney? When is it expected that the hotel will be operating?
– Considerable progress has been made with this project. No doubt the honorable senator saw in Sydney some months ago a model which had been prepared by the architects. Since then considerable progress has been made in the drawing of detailed plans and the preparation of specifications. I cannot tell the honorable senator precisely what stage has been reached nor when the hotel will be opened. I shall be talking with the chairman of the Qantas organization about a number of matters within the next few days. If I can obtain more up-to-date information, I shall be happy to let the honorable senator have it. The recently released report of Qantas Empire Airways Limited referred to some of the financial arrangements that have been made and which are to be made for the construction of this hotel. As I said, if I can obtain any further information I will let Senator Murphy have it as soon as I can.
- Mr. President, with your permission I should like to seek further elaboration of the matter raised by Senator . O’Byrne which relates, I think, to a series of letters that most honorable senators have received. As Senator O’Byrne said, it concerns the Croatian Liberation Movement which is operating in Australia. Therefore, with your permission I shall direct my question to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for External Affairs, although perhaps some of its content could more appropriately be addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. This is my question: Will the Minister briefly explain to the Senate the problems that are involved in this Croatian Liberation Movement and other Yugoslav movements that are operating in Australia?
– As I thought all honorable senators would know, the problems of the Balkan nations are of great antiquity and considerable complexity. As I understand the position, Yugoslavia is considered by some of the groups which constitute the nation to be an artificially created state and Croatians regard Croatia as being a country which should not have been incorporated in Yugoslavia. On the other hand, some people who come from Yugoslavia wish to retain Croatia under the hegemony of that nation. Indeed, this is the basis of the complaints between the Yugoslav sections in Australia, and I doubt very much whether it is one in which the Australian Government ought to interfere.
I think that the Croatians, or anybody else in Australia having views of this sort, have a perfect right to expound those views by legal means and to band together to try to propagate their views by legal means. If we go back through the history of Australia, we see many occasions on which groups of people with racial feelings have put them forward, quite properly, provided they did not transgress Australian laws - and they did not do so - and provided they did not in any way denigrate their own nationality - which they did not do. I think the Irish question is one case in point that comes to mind, and there are others. It would have been a bad thing if action on that had been sought to be repressed by the government of the day.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate seen extracts from the report of the Commonwealth Statistician reported in the Brisbane “Courier Mail” .of 7th October, 1963, which show that the University of Queensland receives less assistance proportionately from the Commonwealth than does the main university of any other State? If this is so, will the Government take steps to increase education grants to Queensland immediately?
– I do not know whether or not Queensland receives less assistance proportionately, but I do know that the finance provided to the universities is the result of a report made to the Government by the Australian Universities Commission. That report is tabled in the Parliament and is compiled after a careful investigation of the requirements of the various universities. I have just finished reading the latest report, which has not yet been tabled in the Parliament and accordingly has not yet become a public document. It is a most comprehensive review of the requirements of the various universities throughout Australia. I should think that if Queensland is receiving a smaller proportion, whatever that proportion may be, it is adequate, reasonable and sufficient in the view of the Australian Universities Commission, which in my judgment has dealt, and is dealing, very handsomely and generously with the universities.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for External Affairs supplementary to those asked by Senator O’Byrne and Senator Cormack. Is the Minister aware that there is a great deal of apprehension and disquiet among Yugoslav migrants themselves about the fascist activities of those among the Croatian migrants who are members of the terrorist Ustashi movement and pledge loyalty to that movement on a world-wide basis? Has the Minister made himself familiar with the background and history of the terrorist Ustashi, which was during the war the equivalent of the Nazi S.S. in Yugoslavia? Will the Minister undertake to give proper consideration to Senator O’Byrne’s request by ordering a complete inquiry into this matter? Will the Minister also undertake to examine in a proper and orderly way, material concerning this matter that is placed before him?
– I am aware of a great deal of dissension among the people who make up the Yugoslav community in Australia and who come from various parts of Yugoslavia. I am aware that there have been instances of attacks by one section on another, and vice versa. This is a matter for great regret because as I said before, the ideas of people should be propagated by legal means and not by force. I thought I had made that . perfectly clear. As to the Utashi, I am aware of the allegations that are made, and I point out to Senator Cohen that in this case he has made allegations solely concerning persons from Croatia in Australia. If he can give instances of illegal
Activities by people, and if those examples have a little bit more behind them than mere allegations - because allegations of that sort should not be made in a place like the Senate without proof - quite clearly the Government would examine them as it would examine any other illegal activities.
– I also direct a question to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for External Affairs. Is the Senate to understand from the statements that have been made by two Ministers in the chamber this morning that the Government is prepared to tolerate the advocacy in Australia of the overthrow of a government with which Australia maintains friendly relations and to which it accords international recognition?
– There is no question of the Government’s approving any group in Australia seeking the illegal overthrow of any government whatsoever. What I have said in this place is that if a group of people believe that a section of the country from which they originally came should receive independence, that group is entitled to express its views. That is quite different from approving organizing for the overthrow of any government.
– I, too, direct a question to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for External Affairs. Does the Government support the views on the independence of Croatia held by persons who live in Australia? Does the Government support the training in Australia of terrorists to enable them to forcibly carry out their beliefs? Does the Government support the Australian Army’s being associated with such activities?
– It should be perfectly clear to the meanest intelligence from the answers I have previously given that the Government does not support the training of terrorists in Australia, because that would be an illegal activity whether it were carried out by anti-Communist or Communist organizations. However, there is no indication that the Army is in any way associated with this group. I think the honorable senator is seeking to make some capital out of the fact that some Croatian picnickers on one occasion indicated that they would like to join the Citizen Mili tary Forces and have some C.M.F. personnel who were in the vicinity visit the Croatian camp. What this Government supports - and let me emphasize this - is the right of people, who believe that the area from which they came should have independence, to express those views and to take any legal means of propagating them.
– Has the Minister representing the Acting Minister for External Affairs any statement to make concerning recent reports that a number of Croatian migrants in Australia -I think nine of them - had been arrested in Yugoslavia and charged with certain crimes there?
– Yes. I would say that the reason for the arrests was an indication of illegal activity and therefore not one that could be supported in any way by this Government. But this has been a most extraordinary series of questions. Am I to understand that those who have asked them take the view that people have no right to express opinions in a legal way in Australia?
(Question No. 94.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following replies: -
(Question No. 199.)
asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for External Affairs, upon notice-
What items are included on the Government’s list of strategic materials which cannot be exported to mainland China?
– The Acting Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply: -
Permission is not granted for the export and sale to mainland China of goods which could have a military character or which come broadly within the category of strategic materials. What are strategic materials cannot.be stated firmly and permanently and for that reason there is in operation a system under which items can be referred to the Department of External Affairs to ascertain whether in the existing circumstances it is appropriate, within.. the Government’s policy, to grant, approval to export.-
(Question No. 123.)
asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
What is the composition and size of Australia’s diplomatic representation, including High Commissioners and staffs and consular officers and staffs, in Indonesia; the Philippines; Malaya, prior to 16th September, 1963; Singapore, prior to 16th September, 1963; Sarawak, prior to 16th September, 1963; North Borneo, prior to 16th September, 1963; Brunei; Malaysia, India; Pakistan; Burma; Japan; Formosa; South Viet Nam; South Korea; Laos; and Cambodia?
– The Acting Minister for External Affairs has provided me with the following details concerning Australia’s diplomatic representation in Asia: -
Indonesia. - Ambassador and Minister, counsellor, four second secretaries, one third secretary, three services attaches, one commercial counsellor, one first secretary (commercial), one press attache, three other attaches and supporting clerical and stenographic staff.
Philippines. - Ambassador and one first secretary, one second secretary, one services attach, one commercial counsellor, one other attach and supporting clerical and stenographic staff.
Malaya (prior to 16th September). - High Commissioner and one counsellor, two second secretaries, one press attach, one other attach, one services adviser, one commercial counsellor, one first secretary (commercial) and supporting clerical and stenographic staff.
Singapore (prior to 16th September).- Acting Commissioner and one first secretary, two second secretaries, one third secretary, one defence adviser, one commercial counsellor, two first secretaries (commercial), one press attach*, two other attaches and supporting clerical and stenographic staff.
The area of responsibility of the Singapore office extended also to Brunei, North Borneo and Sarawak.
Malaysia.- After 16th September, 1963, the Australian High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur became High Commissioner to Malaysia. He also became responsible .for Australian affairs in Brunei, which is not a part of Malaysia. His staff in Kuala Lumpur remained unchanged. The former Acting Commissioner in Singapore became Deputy High Commissioner to Malaysia in Singapore. His staff also remained unchanged.
India. - High Commissioner and one counsellor, one first secretary, three second secretaries, one services adviser, one commercial counsellor, one first secretary (commercial), one press attach*, two other attaches, and supporting clerical and stenographic staff.
Pakistan. - High Commissioner and one counsellor, one second secretary, one third secretary, one services adviser, one commercial counsellor, one first secretary (commercial), one press attach*, two other attaches, and supporting clerical and stenographic staff.
Burma. - Ambassador and one second secretary, one third secretary, one services attache, one other attache, and supporting clerical and stenographic staff.
Japan. - Ambassador and one counsellor, two first secretaries, one second secretary, one third secretary, one services attache, one commercial counsellor, two first secretaries (commercial), one first secretary (customs), one attache (customs), one vice-consul and supporting clerical and stenographic staff.
Formosa. - Nil.
Republic of Viet Nam. - Ambassador and one first secretary, one third secretary, two services attaches, one other attache, and supporting clerical and stenographic staff.
Republic of Korea. - Charge d’Affairs, one attache, and supporting clerical and stenographic staff.
Laos. - Ambassador and one first secretary, one second secretary, one services attache, one other attache, and supporting clerical and stenographic staff.
Cambodia.- Ambassador and one second secretary, one services attache, one other attache, and supporting clerical and stenographic staff.
Motion (by Senator Partridge) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act relating to charges in respect of Commonwealth Air Navigation Facilities and Services.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing Orders suspended.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Thsiisa. bill for an act to amend the Air Navigation (Charges) Act 1952- 1962 for the purpose of securing an increase in the revenue from thevarious operators and owners of aircraft who make use of the aerodromes and other facilities for air navigationprovided, maintained and operated by the Commonwealth.
In pursuance of its policy- of ultimate full recovery of that part of the cost of providing such facilities that is properly attributable to the airtransport industry, the Government again carefully explored the extent to which air navigation charges could be increased, givingdue regard to the general costlevel of the industry and the prospects for a continued growth inair transport activity. It was concluded that the whole industry could reasonably’ absorb an increase of 10 per cent. in the existing scale of charges and this bill provides for such an increaseto take effect from 1st January, 1964.
Honorable senators will appreciate that the present rate of recovery still falls very short of recouping the total attributable cost of providing facilities, although a steady increase is now being manifested. Not only are charges higher but they are being applied to a bigger base because of the growth in the intensity of use of facilities by all sections of the industry. The annual review of the scale of charges naturally takes account of this particular aspect, so asto ensure that the growth of aviation activity is not retarded, since it is obviously in the interest of the community that there be a continued growth in the useof facilities.
I can illustrate the upward trend of revenues by pointing out that in the. 1952-53 year, air navigation charges yielded £ 199,200. In the 1959-60 year the total revenue had risen to £716,188 and the recoveries in 1962-63 totalled £1,483,000. In 1963-64, with the increase provided for in this bill, revenue from air navigation charges is estimated at £1,700,000. This represents a ninefold increasein the course of the last ten-year period.
This bill does not change the. method of assessing charges but simply increases by 10 per cent the unit charges which are based on maximum certified all-up-weight of aircraft. The new scale of charges will be applied to all domestic and international airlines, and charter aerial work and private operators . As is usual, the bulk of the increased payments will fall on the two major domestic airline operators, In the case of theoperators of lightaircraft the increase will be relatively light, yielding an estimated additional £6,500 in a full year. I commend the bill to. honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Kennedy) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Sir William Spooner) agreedto-
That Governmentbusinesstake precedence of general business after 8 p.m. this sitting.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to amendments made to this bill by the Senate and requesting the concurrence of the Senate in a consequential amendment.
In committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ amendment):
Clause 7. (1.) Where-
an international conference is, or is to be, held in Australia or in a Territory of the Commonwealth; or
a mission is, or is to be, sent by a country other than Australia to Australia or to a Territory of the Commonwealth, and it appears to the Minister that the provisions of this Act other than this section do not, or may not apply in relation to that conference or mission but it is desirable that diplomatic privileges and immunities should be applicable in relation to that conference or mission, the regulations may declare the conference or mission, as the case may be, to be a conference or mission to which this section applies.
House of Representatives’ amendment -
In sub-clause (1.), omit “Minister”, insert “ Governor-General “.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
The previous amendments made by the Senate have been agreed to by the House of Representatives and this amendment is purely consequential on them. Clause 7 formerly provided that in the case of certain international conferences to which the Minister thought immunities ought to extend he could, by notice published in the “ Gazette “, extend those immunities. The Senate amended that clause so that instead of saying, “ the Minister may, by notice published in the’ Gazette ‘, declare “, it now states, “ the regulations may declare “. As a consequence of that amendment it is necessary to delete the word “Minister” in sub-clause (1.) of clause 7 and substitute the words “ Governor-General “.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolutionreported; report adopted. wine Overseas marketing BILL 1963.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wade) read a first time.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The sole purpose of this small machinery bill is to amend the legislation constituting the Australian Wine Board to take account of a change in the name of the central winemakers organizations whose State components are responsible for providing the proprietary winemakers representation on the board.
The Wine Board is established under the provisions of the Wine Overseas Marketing Act 1929-1961 to organize the export trade in Australian wine and brandy and to promote sales of these products both at home and overseas.
The board includes in its membership five representatives of proprietary and privately-owned winemaking interests - South Australia two, Victoria and Western Australia one each and New South Wales and Queensland one combined - who are appointed to office on the nomination of the relevant State associations affiliated with the Federal Viticultural Council of Australia. This system of appointment has been provided for since 1936. The membership also comprises two representatives of cooperative winemaking interests, appointed on the nomination of co-operative winemakers’ associations, three representatives of grapegrowers, appointed on the nomination of the Federal Grapegrowers’ Council, and one representative of the Commonwealth.
Some time ago the State wine and brandy producing associations affiliated with the Federal Viticultural Council of Australia changed their respective names to bring them more into line and thus to avoid confusion which was being created within the industry. At the same time, the parent body - the Federal Viticultural Council - altered its designation to the Federal Wine and Brandy Producers’ Council of Australia Incorporated. The alteration has been approved by the Registrar of Companies in Sou h Australia, lt therefore has become legally necessary to amend section 5 of the act to substitute the new name of the council for the old.
The Federal Wine and Brandy Producers’ Council of Australia Incorporated - formerly the Federal Viticultural Council of Australia - is the central organization of winemaking interests, both proprietary and co-operative, and the State associations affiliated with it continue substantially to represent the wine making- industry. The members comprising the State Associations provide over 85 per cent, of wine and brandy production in Australia. The proprietary companies represented .in the State Associations account for 80 per cent, of the wine and brandy produced by all proprietary, companies. I am pleased to say that the central body and its State sections are working in close harmony with the main grapegrower organizations in the overall interests of both sections of the industry. I commend the bill (o honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Bishop) adjourned.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 8th October (vide page 966).
Proposed expenditure, £5,242,000.
– There are two matters I want to raise under Division No. 291 - Administrative. The first relates to the annual report of the Director-General of Health. I direct the attention of the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) and of the committee to the fact that the act does not require, in specific terms, the presentation of this report to the Parliament; it is silent on the point. In a number of other acts - I instance the Repatriation Act, a copy of which I have in my hand - there are specific provisions that the commission or department concerned shall furnish to the Minister annual reports for presentation to the Parliament. I do not complain of what the Minister for Health has done in making the report available to the Parliament immediately it is produced, but I .point put that the act does not require that to be done. In my opinion it should. . If my proposal is acceptable it will require an amendment- of the act to incorporate some such provision as is contained in section 122 of the Repatriation Act and in many other acts.
My second point is of more substance. It concerns entitlement for enrolment under the pensioner medical service. I find among pensioners a good deal of dissatisfaction at the limited category of eligibility under the scheme. I often encounter the case of. a person who is eligible for a full pension - who is regarded as earning only his pension and a separate income which is not sufficient to cause any reduction of pension - but who is nevertheless ineligible for enrolment in the pensioner medical service. He could be a person earning the permissible £3 10s. a week above his pension or perhaps letting one room in his home, the income from which is not regarded as income at all for the purposes of entitlement to a pension but is sufficient to disqualify him from entitlement to enrolment under the . medical pensioner service.
– How does that come about?
– Because income derived from property is not regarded as income for the purposes of assessing the pension, I have not the act with me, but that is the purport of the provision. Income does not include income from property. When entitlement under the pensioner medical service is being considered, however, income from all sources is regarded as income. I repeat, a pensioner may have income which does not debar him from a full pension but which makes him ineligible for entitlement under the pensioner medical service.
– The matter should be considered, because it would seem that it ought to be brought into line.
– That is what I am putting to the Minister. The two entitlements ought to be brought into line, and there should be an extension of entitlement respecting the pensioner medical service.
This is not the first time that a submission such as this has been put forward. Has any estimate been made of the extra costs involved? I should like the Minister to tell the committee the extra cost of extending the service, either limiting such extension to those who are eligible for a full pension or broadening the entitlement even further. I should like to know the main difficulties involved in extending the scheme. Are they financial difficulties or is it that the medical profession is reluctant to agree to the extension of the service beyond pensioners who have an extra income of £2 or less a week? I make a general request to the Minister to consider the extension of the service, especially to include those in the category I have mentioned who are eligible for a full pension but arc not eligible for enrolment under the pensioner medical service.
– Under Division No. 293 - Health Services - I should like to ask the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) whether sufficient funds have been made available to the Commonwealth Bureau of Dental Standards. Provision for the bureau does not appear specifically in the estimates, but being an instrumentality of the Department of Health, and coming under the responsibility of the Minister for Health, there would of necessity be expenditure in the form of salaries and allowances. The estimated expenditure on salaries and allowances in the department is £-946,500. I should like to know whether that amount incorporates payments to the officers associated with the Commonwealth Bureau of Dental Standards.
Among the activities of the bureau are the investigation of projects, including investigation into the effectiveness of the introduction of fluoride into dentifrices. I think that the Department of Health is lacking in initiative in not assisting the various municipalities throughout the Commonwealth which are responsible for making decisions on the very controversial, but very important, subject of the introduction of fluoride into water supplies. Research and investigation should be going on to give a lead in this matter. Many bodies abroad are- associated with investigations into fluoridation of water supplies, but evidently the activities, in this connexion, of the Commonwealth Bureau of Dental Standards are specifically associated with the effectiveness of fluoride in dentifrices. As Senator Turnbull has often said, manufacturers who introduce fluoride into dentifrices are attacking tooth decay from the outside and perhaps are often dishonest in their advertisements about the efficacy of fluoride applied in this way. There remains the question of the effect of fluoride working from inside the tooth, which is where the caries develops. The caries shows on the outside only when it breaks through the enamel.
Such bodies as the World Health Organization, the New Zealand royal commission, the Netherlands Dental Association, the Royal Medical Board of Sweden, and a host of other very reputable and highly esteemed organizations have no compunction whatever in supporting the use of fluoride, but no specific lead has been given by the Commonwealth Department of Health to try to overcome the confusion that exists among municipalities which are responsible, in the final analysis, for the introduction of fluoride into fluoridedeficient water supplies. Recently I saw a large advertisement in Tasmania - one which the Department of Health might have interested itself in - by some antifluoride organization saying: “ Don’t allow fluoride to go into your water. The Communists are doing it to kill the children.” Such an ‘advertisement makes a farce of a most important matter. A large number of people are attending meetings of antifluoride associations, and much money is being spent by these associations.
– Tell the story of the pig and calf dealers’ campaign against fluoridation.
– I think that story is well worth recording for history to read. History will appreciate the campaign that Senator Dittmer . and his colleagues in Queensland have waged against prejudice. The Department of Health should examine the situation at Beaconsfield, Tasmania. Ten years’ experience of fluoridation there has convinced Dr. Brothers of the Tasmanian Department of Health, a very highly esteemed citizen of our State, of its advantages. Although the results are superficial and no proper surveys have been made, the benefits appear to be dramatic. In 1953 in the age group five to eight years, 70 per cent, had decayed, missing or filled teeth. In the age group nine to twelve years, which covers the period when permanent teeth are established, 18.3 per cent. were affected, and in the age group twelve to fifteen years, only 6 per cent. were affected, although the doctor states that this was a statistically insignificant sample. In 1963, the number in the first age group had been reduced to 25 per cent. and in the other two age groups no decayed, missing or filled teeth were found. To me, that appears to be a spectacular improvement. On one side of the river the old superstitions prevail, there is no fluoridation, and when children reach early maturity they are toothless wonders. On the other side of the river, with fluoridation, the children have healthy teeth.
The Department of Health, with its great prestige, authority, and facilities for research and the production of incontrovertible arguments, could do much in this field to assist municipalities. There are centres which can provide statistics, and it appears that side effectsof fluoridation - the big bogy - are negligible, if not nonexistent. One would expect that after ten years’ experience in the Beaconsficld municipality, there would have been some case of mysterious, undiagnozed illness, which could be attributed to the side effects of fluoridated water. There has been no such case, which indicates that the propaganda disseminated by antifluoridation organizations is baseless. A list of organizations throughout the world which support fluoridationwas presented to a seminar in Launceston, held on 16th and 1 7th August last However, no lead is given by our leading authority in matters Of health, the Commonwealth. Department of Health.
I should like the Minister to state the views of the department. Is it aware of the need to substantiate thecase put forward, by various municipalities which appreciate the importance of fluoridation? Cannot the department see its way clear to advise the Australian people on this problem? Information coming forward from all over the world appears to show conclusively thatfluoridation is the best method of overcoming dental caries, a worldwide scourge which deprives people of a natural gift of creation, a healthy set of teeth, which means a better sense of taste, better mastication, and better general health. This is a most important problem and I should like to hear the Minister’s views on , it.
.- I should like to refer very briefly to three matters. On Tuesday last, when we were debating health administration, I stated that there had been no changes in the basic amounts of hospital benefits and medical benefits since 1953. The Minister took me to task on that and proceeded to point out that additional hospital benefit had been increased from 4s. to 12s. in the interim, that a special account had been established, involving the Government in an expenditure of £2,500,000 to £3,000,000 per annum, and that the pensioner benefit had been increased to 36s. as from the beginning of this year. In making that comment and taking me to task with the allegation that my statement was not factual, I submit that the Minister completely misunderstood or misinterpreted what I said with regard to basic amounts. The Minister dealt with the statement as though I had claimed that there had been no improvements in those two categories:
I chose my words with care when I referred to the basic amounts. I was not claiming in any way that there had been no improvements. Looking at part I of the First Schedule to justify my statement, I point- out that in relation to professional attendances-these are the basic amounts - the benefit for a professional attendance by a medical practitioner who isnot a specialist was6s. in 1953; it is still that amount to-day. For first attendance by a specialist, When the patient is referredby another medical practitioner, the amount Was £1; that is still the positiontoday. Foreach subsequent attendance by the specialist, the. amount is 10s., and when the patient is not referred by another medical, practitioner, the payment in respect of each attendance is 6s. Those are the basic amounts of medical benefits to which I was referring. In relation to hospital benefits, I was referring to the basic amount of 8s., which has remained unchanged since 1953. I do not deny that there have been the improvements that the Minister mentioned in relation to hospital benefits but I make the point that the statement that I made, was factual. I have now documented it in such a way that the Minister can verify it or refute it.
When the Minister was speaking on the occasion to which I have referred he indicated that the contributor was making a smaller contribution for medical benefits in 1963 than he had made in 1953 when the late Sir Earle Page brought the scheme into being.
– That is as a percentage.
– I have stated the Minister’s remarks as he was reported. I was also going to say that, at a later stage, the Minister said -
In actual payments he is paying a smaller percentage to-day than he was in 1953.
The first statement to which I referred was made exactly as I have put it. I should like the Minister to clarify this position for me. Leaving that subject, I take it that the Minister would not make the same claim in respect of hospital benefits. In ten years, the contributions that I have paid to a fund have risen from about £10 to about £20 per annum. They have doubled. The two things should be looked at together. I should be grateful if the Minister would amplify his statements and make it clear to me what he meant by them.
I now want to refer to an institution in New South Wales which is known as the Governor Phillip Special Hospital at Penrith. At the request of the- honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Armitage), in whose electorate this institution is situated, I visited it on Tuesday of last week and spent about two hours there with him talking to the staff and looking at the facilities. It is certainly an excellent hospital. It is a public hospital of the State of New South Wales. It is operated by a board, under the Government. So far as the Commonwealth is concerned, it is registered only as a nursing home. Repeated applications to have it registered as an approved public hospital have been rejected. I note that the Minister’s representative in another place, on Tuesday of this week, was asked by an honorable member what was happening about the application for registration as a public hospital. I note that the Minister’s represen tative indicated that there would be another inspection and that the application would be looked at again.
I shall take a moment to recount some of the features of the institution. It is government sponsored and operated by the State of New South Wales. It is, in effect, an adjunct to the Nepean Hospital which is only half a mile away. It has a staff of eleven honoraries. The patients go to and from the main hospital and the medical staff at the Nepean Hospital are immediately available for any needs. Patients are taken from the Governor Phillip Special Hospital to the Nepean Hospital where they are operated on or treated and then brought back to the Governor Phillip Hospital which, in effect, is an adjunct to the main Nepean Hospital, I suggest. There is no question about the excellence of the arrangements and of the treatments that are available, which include physiotherapy and rehabilitation. I should like the Minister to tell me when the inspection of this institution is to be made. His representative said that it would be made as a matter of urgency. Will the Minister, when considering the report arising from that inspection, keep in mind that there are two hospitals in New South Wales doing work exactly similar to that being done by this particular hospital? They are the Home of Peace Hospital called “Neringah “ at Wahroonga and the Lottie Stewart Hospital at Dundas which I think is a Home of Peace hospital. As those two institutions have been approved by the Commonwealth as public hospitals, I think the Minister will be in real difficulty in trying to differentiate between them and the Governor Phillip Hospital.
When he is considering this matter I should like him to appreciate that I have a very quick interest in it. I invite him to remember, in particular, that this is a State institution. Its approval will not establish any precedent. It is the only one of its kind. I ask him to look at the matter in the light of the case that has been put to him, in the light of the case that will be put to him, and in the light of what I have said. I ask him to consider whether he will be in a position to justify the approval as public hospitals of the other two institutions I have mentioned if he refuses the renewed application for approval as a public hospital of the Governor Phillip Special Hospital.
– I know that the Government’s attitude regarding financial assistance for State hospitals has been settled over many years. However, I think that it should reexamine its attitude to this subject generally because of the developments that have taken place in recent years. The New South Wales Government and, I dare say, all State governments, have very heavy hospital expenditure from which the nation stands to gain a great deal. Great economic advantage is to be derived from it. For example, nowadays, a patient is in hospital for an average period of about ten days whereas ten years ago it used to be fifteen or sixteen days. The fact that the turn-over is quicker must be a financial benefit to the Commonwealth Government. But it is of no financial benefit to the New South Wales Government, for example, because the beds in its hospitals are always full. Because of modern techniques used in hospitals, workers can now go back on to the production line in about a third of the time that they used to take a few years ago. All this has not happened without expenditure. The States which control the hospitals have to finance them. As I have said, great economic advantages are derived from the quicker turn-over of patients and the quicker return of workers to industry when they are injured. This means lower charges on industry in the form of workers* compensation, for example. I often wonder whether the Commonwealth Government has ever considered the great advantage that it now receives from new developments in hospitals.
When the Government is having a new look at financial aid for hospitals I think it should take into consideration the incidence of immigration. The. Government brings immigrants into the country. It is well that it does that, but it falls on the State governments to look after their health and provide hospitals for them. I should think that that would be another reason why the Government should have a new look at its financial attitude towards the States. The State governments have been developing what might be called “ fringe hospitals” for psychiatric cases. People who have spent years in asylums in New South Wales are now being moved into community homes, yet patients do not qualify for federal pensions and assistance. The Commonwealth Government should give the New South Wales Government more assistance in that regard.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
Debate resumed from 26th September (vide page 853), on motion by Senator Wade-
That the bill be now read a second time.
– Naturally, the Australian Labour Party does not oppose the proposals contained in the bill. The purpose of this measure is to provide moneys for the land settlement of ex-servicemen in Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania. This legislation does not apply to Victoria, because a different arrangement was applied to that State following World War II. I and possibly most other honorable senators are disappointed when we realize that eighteen years after the cessation of hostilities we are still experiencing trouble with the settlement of ex-servicemen and that further moneys have to be provided to give the settlers a reasonable chance to make a success of the land that has been made available to them.
We had some appreciation of the troubles we would be confronted with at the termination of the Second World War because of our experience after the First World War. As I have mentioned in this House on many occasions, when John Curtin became the Prime Minister of Australia his first job was to plan for the winning of the war. His second task was to plan for the rehabilitation of exservicemen and the reconstruction of Australia when peace came. He told Cabinet that these were the matters that he had to deal with first as Prime Minister. The scheme that was adopted by the Curtin Government and later the Chifley Government for the settlement of ex-servicemen in Victoria,
Queensland and New South Wales was different from that which obtained after the First World War. Those of us who had returned from the First World War realized what a muddle an anti-Labour government had made of the rehabilitation of servicemen after that conflict and we believed that something better should be done for those who returned from the Second World War.
I believe that until 1949 the land settlement of ex-servicemen progressed very favorably. We in Victoria had no troubles in settling these men. We decided to make land available to ex-servicemen at a price which would enable them to make a success of their undertaking. But now in 1963, eighteen years after the cessation of hostilities, we are providing for the expenditure of an additional £4,225,000 for the benefit of ex-servicemen who are in almost the same plight as were men who returned from the First World War. How ridiculous it is that the same situation should have arisen after the last war as occurred after the First World War! It has happened because of the advent of an anti-Labour government.
After the First World War land was made available for sale by auction in the western districts of Victoria. Senator Cormack may remember these facts. People wondered why the land was being sold; it included the best part of some of the estates in that area. That land brought a very high price for that time. Of course, it was nothing like the price of land today under the administration of this Government, which promised the people of Australia that it would restore stability to the economy. But then the whole area was bought by an anti-Labour government and was subdivided. Consequently, 95 per cent, of the ex-servicemen who had been settled were forced to leave the land. That happened not only in the western districts of Victoria but also in central Victoria and in the Mallee.
– It happened in New South Wales.
– It happened everywhere. The disposal of this land was controlled by a federal anti-Labour government through the Repatriation Department. Ex-servicemen were sent to the Mallee and were given land which was valued at £10 an acre. They received an area of one square mile, or 640 acres. I know of farmers who were good workers, who had gone to the Mallee in 1907 and 1908, and who in season and out of season had an average return of £4 or £5 from their properties.
– What is the relevance of all this?
– I am just trying to show you what this Government has done to ruin the scheme. I have received complaints from ex-servicemen settled in the various States during this Government’s term of office. I repeat that the same situation has arisen after the Second World War as occurred after the First World War. We are using the people’s money, and we must warn them. I hope, Mr. President, that we shall never have another scheme for the land settlement of ex-servicemen in our history, or at least in our lifetime. Such a scheme is not worthwhile unless it is administered by people who believe that men who fight for their country are entitled to reasonable compensation. That can be ensured only through the administration of those who represent the majority of our community - the Australian Labour Party. John Curtin said, “ We must plan for peace the same as we are planning for the war “.
– This is all propaganda, unless you relate your remarks to the bill.
– Senator Wright regards anything he disagrees with in this place as being poppycock. I want him to understand that, although he may be an eminent lawyer and, because of his legal ability, he may be a wealthy man-
– That will be the day.
– He must concede that I am an ex-serviceman and that I have the destiny of the exservicemen at heart. I shall put their case in this House as often as I have the opportunity, and I hope that Senator Wright will not be allowed by you, Mr. President, to interrupt while I am trying to put that case. It is for you, Sir, to say whether I am within or outside the ambit of my privilege in this place. If Senator Wright would not mumble, I would be able to progress with what I am saying. I want to prove to honorable senators that in 1945 the late John Curtin in conjunction with the State Labour Government in Victoria planned to settle servicemen in Victoria.
– What has that to do with the bill?
– We are forced to pay £4,225,000 which will be taken from the taxpayers. My wealthy friend from Tasmania, Senator Marriott, is not worried about money but it worries those who have to pay taxes weekly, and they are the people I represent. Exservicemen settled on the land after the Second World War by the John Cain Government in Victoria and the Curtin Government were successful and owe not one penny to the Commonwealth. But we are trying to raise more money now to cover up the bungling maladministration of war service land settlement by this Government.
We have had many complaints from men who have been settled on the land in Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania - the three States covered by this legislation. What is the cause of the trouble? The answer is that the land is too dear. I have said repeatedly in the Senate that land is worth only its productive value in normal times. Inflated values are the cause of the present trouble. In his second-reading speech the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) said -
The necessity for raising this money this year arises from a change that has been made in accounting procedures.
What does he mean by that? Is the Government manipulating some accounting scheme so that it can justify the expenditure of £4,225,000? I think that is wrong. The trouble with the scheme in these three States is that land from which servicemen are supposed to get a living is over-valued. This money is to be expended to make up the financial deficiencies of those who have had to pay inflated prices for their land. A Labour government fixed prices at 1942 levels. But the prices of land in Tasmania, Western Australia and South Australia are inflated. Every honorable senator knows that land for wheat-growing has gone up to more than £100 an acre. How can ex-servicemen be expected to make their farms prosper? The Government is merely perpetuating another evil. Because of our loyalty to these ex-servicemen who were settled on this land we of the Opposition are forced to support the bill. It will be carried, and I hope we will never again have to overcome another tangle in soldier settlement such as that caused by antiLabour governments after the two world wars.
.- Senator Hendrickson got off on the wrong foot when he attributed most of the blame for troubles afflicting soldier settlement to this Commonwealth Government. This bill is designed to grant another £4,225,000 to the agent States - Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania. Under the system of dual control of this scheme development has been in the hands of the State governments. Many difficulties have confronted soldier settlement in Tasmania, particularly on King Island which for years has been a running sore in the scheme. These troubles stem from the developmental work that was done in the first place under the auspices of the Tasmanian Government.
When he introduced the bill the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) gave the amounts that had been expended in the three agent States and the number of farms that had been settled through the scheme in each State. He said that in Western Australia 1,260 farms had been provided at a cost to 30th June, 1963, of £23,000,000. In South Australia, 1,024 farms had been provided at a cost of nearly £16,000,000. In Tasmania, 523 farms had been allotted and 56 were currently undergoing development. Nearly £18,000,000 had been expended in Tasmania.
– For 579 farms?
– That is the Commonwealth Government’s fault. It allowed inflation to go on.
– We are talking about the agent States, and the development that was necessary before the ex-servicemen could be settled was in the hands of the State governments. Using the Minister’s figures as a basis we find that the cost in Tasmania was approximately £30,000 for each farm. In South
Australia it was just half that figure - £15,000 a farm. In Western Australia the cost was £19,000 a farm, or not quite twothirds of the cost in Tasmania. I can see that there may be differences in the work necessary for the development of the land in each of these States; but, from my observations, having regard to what happened with soldier settlement in Tasmania, I would not doubt for a moment that this is a criterion of the capacity of the people who were charged with ‘the responsibility for development of the land.
On King Island after the Second World War ended, and under the dual control system, the State authorities started on the scrub country and ploughed it. This was a ti-tree area. They did not wait a couple of years during which time the land should have been cultivated until the scrub was effectively killed. On much of it the shrubs could not be worked out because the ti-tree roots were so dominant that no implement could penetrate. So the State authorities simply sowed the grass on top. I have seen grass paddocks on that island where the contour of the furrows was visible in the grass because the shrub roots had never been worked out.
Almost immediately, the scrub came up again. For a number of years many soldier settlers on King Island did not have a paddock from which they could cut clover hay. because the surface of the ground was so rough that they could not use any implement on it. I cannot conceive of anything more calculated to break a man’s heart than to put him on a prepared area of land and have ti-tree scrub and other rubbish grow more thickly there than it did originally.
The department, realizing the position in which the settlers on King Island were placed, had to set to work and re-develop large areas on each farm. I do not think I am exaggerating when I say that in some cases 50 or 60 acres were ploughed again in an attempt to work out the ti-tree scrub. A very good job indeed was done on the second time over, but of course while this re-development was taking place a good part of the farm being re-developed was out of commission. Although the position was partly met, the work that had to be done meant that a substantial portion of the farm was not producing and providing the wherewithal for the soldier settler to meet his commitments.
I believe that that, in the main, has been the trouble with soldier settlement on King Island. The trouble has stemmed from the high cost of the development and from the very indifferent job that was done in development in the first instance. There is some significance in the fact that different methods have been adopted on Flinders Island. I suppose that the authorities learnt a lesson from the awful hash they had made on King Island. A very much better job has been done on Flinders Island and the mistakes made on King Island have been avoided. The settlers on Flinders Island have been given larger areas, with the result that there does not seem to be nearly as much dissatisfaction as there is on King Island.
– What is the trouble in South Australia?
– There is dual control there. Whatever the conditions may be in South Australia, the government of that State has provided farms for about half the cost of those provided by the Tasmanian government.
– Then why has all the expenditure in South Australia been necessary? There has been ‘more expenditure there than in Tasmania.
– I am speaking of the initial cost of the farms. The position in this respect has been well summed up by Mr. Bob Cooper who is the president of the King Island Settlers Association. He is a good settler and is one of those who have made a success of farming there. In writing of this situation, he said -
For example, on a King Island War Service Land Settlement farm of 400 acres this cost valuation figure may exceed municipal valuation (or approximate market value) by as much as £10,000.
Honorable senators will note Mr. Cooper’s statement that the valuation may exceed the capital value placed on a farm by the government valuer or the valuation which may be deemed to be the reasonable market value, by as much as £10,000. I found that to be true when I visited King Island. I approached soldier settlers and asked them about the valuation which had been imposed on them by the department, and I inquired what their commitments were. I have compared those valuations with municipal valuations and I should say that Mr. Cooper has not exaggerated at all in stating that in many instances the valuation which these people are expected to stand up to is at least £10,000 above what would be deemed to be a reasonable market value. Because of that fact, King Island settlers have been in the greatest difficulty from the commencement of the scheme.
It is true that this position has been met to some extent by the department. It is true, also, that at present a committee established by the Commonwealth Department of Primary Industry is inquiring into the economic aspects of war service land settlement on King Island. The chairman of the committee is Mr. R. M. Sargent, of Hobart, who is a chartered accountant. The other members are Mr. Payne, a representative of the settlers; an economist of the State Treasury; and Mr. A. G. Bennett, of the Division of Agricultural Economics. I do not know how far the committee has gone with its inquiry, or whether the Minister can indicate how long it will be before its report is presented to the Parliament.
On King Island, settlers are allocated 400 acres for sheep farming. The department contends, but the settlers do not agree, that it should be possible to run 1,050 ewes on such a farm. The Division of Agricultural Economics has estimated - and it has included in its estimation a percentage of farms on King Island - that the return from sheep farming is 1.29 per cent, on capital invested and management costs. It has been reliably estimated that the settlers on King Island are expected to meet commitments amounting to 6 per cent, of the capital invested and management costs. Of course, in most cases the capital has been invested by the Government. It is certainly in the interests of both the State Government and the Commonwealth Government that these settlers should continue to operate their farms, but if they are to do so it seems to me that there must be a substantial writing-down of the commitments they are expected to meet. lt seems to me to be reasonable that there should be an assessment of the value of the property as it stands and that the property should be leased to the settlers, probably with a right of purchase at that price. When it is remembered that the estimate of 1.29 per cent, included a number of King Island sheep farmers, when it is considered that it costs £1 ls. 6d. to get a lamb on to the Melbourne market and that it costs a commensurate amount to bring the requirements for production to King Island, the position of soldier settlers in that area will be appreciated. In my opinion the soldier settlers in that area are in a much worse position economically than are settlers elsewhere. I call to mind that the estimated cost of transporting a beast to market is more than £5.
The King Island soldier settlers organization is keenly interested in these problems and has raised several queries, which I hope the Minister will be able to answer. The first item that the organization refers to is a reduction of rentals. Correspondence from the organization states -
It is our opinion that in all cases there should be a reduction of rentals and other commitments during, and for at least eighteen months after redevelopment. At present many settlers are expected to pay full commitments immediately after concessions and at the same time having fifty or more acres under the plough. Reduction of stock numbers during this period naturally causes greatly reduced income thereby reducing still further the possibility of settlers paying their way.
That is one of the disabilities about which I have spoken, and it is one that flows from the indifferent development at the inception of the scheme. The letter from the organization continues -
The Minister states that some settlers have not paid since receiving concessions. How many? Has an investigation been made by the authorities as to the reason why no payments are forthcoming? In some cases income of farm is insufficient to meet operational expenses, living costs and have sufficient funds available to make payments of commitments. What figure would the Minister suggest to be a reasonable standard of living. Invariably receipt of concessions put settlers into the category of again being the target for demands of payment even though his farm is in a reduced state for some time to come. Credits are due to settlers for regrowth control and when these are forthcoming this should go a long way towards squaring accounts for arrears. Despite the greatly improved agricultural techniques which have been employed in the redevelopment programme, there are still areas on which the technical problems of pasture reestablishment have not been solved.
The organization then refers to rentals and states -
Rentals not fixed since 1939-60. If rents are fixed on productivity as maintained by the authorities the productivity has been grossly exaggerated. It has been proved over a period that estimated potential has been far in excess of the actual.
In regard to expenditure of £100,000 on new plant, settlers are concerned that the scheme will be further burdened with unnecessary expenditure specially in view of the amount of machinery now on the Island.
Would the Minister please define the area mentioned and give an assurance that this is on King Island?
The letter concludes by stating that the organization trusts that I will be able to put this view for King Island settlers. I know that at the moment a committee is investigating the economics of soldier settlement in Tasmania. I hope that the report that the committee brings forward will be of a practical nature and will give recognition to the settler who is prepared to try. That is another grievance.
I found on both King Island and Flinders Island the widespread opinion that there is a propensity on the part of the board to assist the settler who will not help himself. I have heard many times that the outlook of the board is that so-and-so is doing all right - probably because of his own efforts and because he is a trier - so we need not bother about faim; so-and-so is not doing so well - probably in most cases because he is not a trier and is a square peg in a round hole - so we will have to do something to help him. That is socialism at its worst, but I believe that that is the attitude of the board to those two settlements ever since their inception.
We should arrive at some basis which will enable a settler to have reasonable hope of making his property pay and meeting his commitments, if he tries. After twelve or thirteen years on a property a settler should not still be in a state of flux and un certainty. Some of these men are getting old. Some are as old as I am. It is about time that some realistic attitude was adopted by the powers-that-be to ensure that commitments are brought into conformity with prevailing conditions. This would enable settlers to have the certain knowledge that if they did their best they would be able to meet their commitments and progress. It is useless to expect men to continue indefinitely in a situation in which they do not know what amounts they are expected to meet. Many to whom I have spoken have complained that that is the position. Until we arrive at a system under which the settlers’ commitments are based upon the market value of their properties, instead of using the fantastic and complicated procedure that has been adopted since the inception of the scheme, we will always have trouble with war service land settlement.
It is futile to lay the blame for what has happened in that respect on this one Government. The purpose of this bill is to vote increased amounts to the three agent States. In the development of Tasmania, from which I verily believe a lot of the trouble has flowed, the State Government, under whose auspices this money has been expended in establishing these men on farms, must take much of the blame for the situation that now exists. I have referred to King Island. What will happen at Montagu Swamp where the cost of development has been a scandal? The cost of the land must now be approaching £500 an acre. This is an absolute scandal which should condemn the system of dual control for all time. That is still to come, no doubt, but it is certain that for the settlers of Montagu Swamp to have any chance of survival there must be a substantial writing-down of values. Unless this is done they will be placed in a very much worse position than the settlers on King Island.
I cannot find language to express the disgust that I feel for the fiasco of the development of the Montagu Swamp area. Those responsible for the development entered into it in a spirit of complete financial irresponsibility. They should be branded as irresponsible and it should be made certain that never again will they be in a position to expend public money. I have heard it remarked by people in the vicinity - practical men of long experience in land development - that the strange thing about this project was that the men who were responsible for it seemed to resent any advice being given by people who did know something about land development. The people in charge of the project did not want advice; they knew they had a financial pool into which they could dip and they acted as though the pool was inexhaustible and it did not matter much what they spent Unless the seriousness of the position is realized and something is done to correct it the settlers who went on to the swamp will suffer.
.- This very important measure seeks to amend the War Service Land Settlement Act and to provide moneys to the three agent States for the purpose of land development and land settlement. An amount of £1,546,000 is to be allocated to Western Australia; £1,229,000 to South Australia and £1,450,000 to Tasmania, making a total of £4,225,000. In view of the fact that Senator Lillico spent most of his speech dealing with the situation on King Island I should like to have a few words to say on that project. The honorable senator made a very sound observation when he said that each settler should have been placed in a position where he had some reasonable hope of meeting his commitments. Soldier settlers in Tasmania, and in King Island in particular, have no reasonable chance of meeting their commitments in the present situation. Senator Lillico spoke of the state of flux and uncertainty and of the very frustrating and degrading psychological condition the majority of King Island settlers are in. It was mentioned that some of them have been on the island for thirteen years. Having had farming experience before the war to make them eligible for land settlement, the majority of settlers would be now in their forties or fifties. These men have no assurance that they will ever be able to support their wives and families on the standard of living they would expect to achieve in any other job. Nor have they any certainty that they can even maintain their present standard of living. That is a rather serious situation.
Let us consider Tasmania’s position as an agent State in the scheme. The war service land settlement board that was set up in Tasmania was an extragovernmental authority. There had been very little liaison between the Commonwealth and State Government instrumentalities up to the time of the change-over when the responsibility was placed on the State Government. Over the years there has been constant criticism of the administration by war service settlers, but very few changes have been made. Senator Lillico has met individual officers of the department. Personally they are well-meaning people, but the same cannot be said of them collectively. As has been illustrated, the results achieved by them present a rather sorry spectacle. The trouble all goes back, perhaps, to a mistake in the first conception of war service land settlement in Tasmania.
Two very big experiments were carried on. One was the settling of servicemen en bloc on farms which could produce sufficient to give them a reasonable standard of living for themselves and their families and allow them to carry on their jobs as husbandmen and tillers of the soil in the traditions of farming that go back to the beginning of history. The second great experiment was that of farming a type of land that was primitive. Montagu Swamp has been mentioned by Senator Lillico. It was so primitive that during the excavations for drainage the excavators came across the fossils of prehistoric animals that had been extinct from the earth’s surface for nearly 1,000,000 years. The remains of these animals were found just below the surface of the swamp - in land which had been under water for centuries. In the centre of this swamp the ti-tree and other types of trees had evolved and developed over a long period and gone back into the soil. This was a problem that should have been faced by experienced men. The swamp should have been drained, the trees removed and the soil made suitable for men to earn a living on.
The two experiments to which I have referred should have been kept separate. If it was the wish of the Federal Government or the State Government for some authority to move in and make the land grow two blades of grass where none grew before, that was one project. If it was the responsibility of the State Government to settle ex-servicemen on the land, that was another project.
– You know that the project was recommended by the State Government?
– I am not apologizing for those who recommended the proposition. I am pointing out the facts of the case. By interjection Senator Wright asked earlier where the bulldozers bogged down. The honorable senator knows that the bulldozers were bogged down in country that had been swampland for countless centuries. They were brought in, when the land was not nearly dry enough, to bulldoze the ti-tree. As the wheels passed over the fallen timber, it was driven below the surface. So, instead of having uprooted trees to handle, they had to handle quite big ti-trees firmly embedded in bluey-grey, gooey sludge, which on drying was as hard as concrete. It became a mining proposition to dig out the trees after they had been embedded in the silt and mud of the swamp.
– Do you agree that machines should never have been taken onto the swamp?
– I think that machines should have been taken onto it, because - discarding the matter of costs, which are frightening - in the long run these will be the richest farms in the southern hemisphere as a result of the accumulation over countless centuries of humus and other life-giving substances in the soil. Senator Lillico will agree that he, as a young man, would have given his right arm to own one of the few farms that have been established. The growth of clovers and other sown grasses is a sight for sore eyes, showing that when a farmer goes onto one of these properties he is sitting on a gold mine. However, if he is saddled with the cost he is on the brink of bankruptcy. That is the problem. The cost of development is completely out of proportion to the ability of settlers to pay. At Montagu Swamp - Togari, as it is called - 27 dairy farms have been established as a cost of £2,469,247. Nineteen have yet to be completed and allotted. Imagine a man with 50 or 60 dairy cows having to pay l/27th of that amount! That shows the economics of the proposition.
– How many cows would it run to the acre?
– When fully developed, it will run a cow to the acre.
– I do not know of any land in Australia that will run a cow to the acre.
– Then the honorable senator does not know Montagu Swamp. Lucerne and clovers search down to a virtually unlimited water table at a reasonable distance below the surface.
– The land is not all above that table.
– It is. The area is draining quite well. I do not think the honorable senator has been on the place and seen the drainage.
– I was not there when you were there, or T should have solved the problem.
– I guarantee that if I had been in charge of the project from the beginning we would not have been criticizing it as we are to-day. I endorse Senator Lillico’s comment that some of these people could not run a bun feast, let alone handle land development. But it is not my business to criticize them. Next week I shall have to ask them for favours for some of the settlers.
– ‘Take along a copy of “ Hansard “.
– They will see it. That is the unfortunate position. I have taken deputations to them. I took to them, in my handkerchief, some concrete which had been used for water conservation tanks, and I ground it to dust in my hand. When cattle put their feet into troughs, pieces would fly out. The work was done try a sub-contractor, but one cannot find out who is responsible.
I turn now to King Island, which is in the western part of Bass Strait. It is a . windswept island which over the centuries: has been the scene of many shipwrecks. The people are wonderful pioneers. The climatic conditions warrant their inclusion:’ in taxation zone B. They have learned to love the place and to battle the elements. War service land settlement there is difficult, but not quite as difficult as at Montagu Swamp. The land is ti-tree country, lacking m trace elements. There are quite big areas of lightish soil. Potentially, the land lends itself to dairying and fat lamb raising. To my mind, the clearing was a slapdash job. I saw ploughing proceeding. Huge furrows stood two feet high. The breakingup was very rough. After that process, the scientists moved in to experiment with pasture improvement and soil enrichment by the addition of trace elements. In some places, they were successful; in others, they were not. This was going on while the clearing and breaking-up of die land was proceeding. There was a lot of ti-tree regrowth, which meant that the settler had lo work by hand or with whatever equipment he had available until the Government and the War Service Land Settlement Board realized that a new approach, and redevelopment plan, were needed. In the meantime, rush had established itself, and it is thriving. Conditions seem to favour the re-growth of rush. The prospect for the settler is not very bright.
The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) has visited the island, discussed the matter, appointed committees to give -reports, and promised revaluation, but always on Kathleen Mavourneen terms - at some time in the future. Meanwhile this -progressive feeling of frustration is growing in the minds of settlers. I, too, received a letter from the secretary of the King Island Settlers Association. It could easily be a duplicate of the original that Senator Lillico received. The settlers were forced to direct our attention to the difference between fact and fantasy. I refer to the fantasy of the Minister in replying to questions on the King Island land settlement scheme and to She facts.
The main argument is that while this redevelopment is going on a man may have 50 or 70 acres of his land ploughed up and under fallow. But the rental goes on just the same although the area available -for production has been reduced. These people also claim that, in the first place, <the valuer must have had a very limited knowledge of land values and of the -capacity of the country to produce, because the estimates have been haywire. Apparently, the valuers did not know carrying capacities. They expected this land to carry a certain number of stock, but it is not carrying that number. These settlers claim that they should have a reduction in rental for at least eighteen months after re-development. This is a reasonable request because the responsibility has been taken for re-development. They say, in effect, “We handed over this area for redevelopment but do not expect us to make the remainder of the land, which is not coming up to expectations, pay the rent for the full area “. At present, many settlers are expected to pay full commitments immediately after concessions are received. It is like the chicken and the egg. The Commonwealth and the States give concessions to help the settlers but as soon as they get some money the board says: “ Now we can get it from you. We will get the money while you have it.” So the settlers do not get any further ahead. In effect, the concessions that are given to help them are taken from them to meet back payments. So they are in a vicious circle.
The secretary of the King Island settlers has said that they are expected to pay full commitments immediately after receiving concessions although they may have 50 or more acres under the plough. He has said that each reduction of stock numbers during this period naturally greatly reduces income, thereby reducing still further the capacity of the settler to pay his way. The Minister himself has taken up the attitude of which I complain. He said that the settlers have not paid anything since receiving concessions. Some honorable; senators have spoken to these settlers on King Island at different times. They have written to us and have had deputations to us. Each one of them is genuinely trying to do the best that he can. I think that in the circumstances they are doing a fairly good job. I shall give the Senate some information from a document entitled, “Tasmanian Sheep Industry Survey”, which was published late last year by the Division of Agricultural Economics. It covers all types of sheep properties in Tasmania including long-established properties and a percentage of war service land settlement properties. The survey shows that the return to capital and management on a ‘merino wool-growing property has fallen from 5.91 per cent, to 3.36 per cent, over the last three years. The return on a property used to grow cross-bred wool has fallen from 3.02 per cent, to .5 per cent. In the case of cross-bred fat lamb properties, the return to capital and management has fallen from 2.1 per cent, to 1.29 per cent. Tasmania is noted for its reliable rainfall; it has great potential for fat lamb raising and wool-growing. Yet the figures I have cited are official.
The men who are battling on King Island have never seen the colour of their equity. They have not seen a title deed. They have seen only the bills coming in, and the ti-tree and the rushes growing. That is the picture in relation to a lot of these people who are very unhappy about the situation. Their position must be approached by acknowledging that the selection of this type of land for war service land settlement was a mistake in the first place. These men were worthy of better properties. Senator Lillico will bear me out when I say that the settlers on the Lawrenny estate are happy, industrious and wealthy citizens.
– All that you have said was pointed out to the State Government before it initiated the scheme.
– I might mention to other senators who, perhaps, are not looking for a scapegoat, that the Lawrenny estate came to the Commonwealth Government through a great act of benevolence on the part of a wonderful family - the Brock family - which made its property available for war service land settlement. That family had the great misfortune to lose a son in the war and felt that it could do something for the nation by making land available to those who were fortunate enough to come back from the war.
– It was made available at a valuation?
– That is so. But it was a wonderful gesture; and it has proved a boon to the fortunate men who settled there. I visited the area last week, and it was a sight to behold. It is beautiful, undulating country. The pastures were reaching full spring growth. The cows on the dairy farms were in full milk. Sheep were grazing on the countryside. Some of the land is irrigated. Old English trees stand on the banks of the river which waters the area. The ex-servicemen on the property are happy. They were interested only in knowing whether we were going to the Hamilton show. Their lives are stable. Their children as they go off to school reflect the stability of their parents.
That is the sort of picture we should have in mind in connexion with war service land settlement schemes. Yet the settlers on King Island, particularly those on the Waterhouse estate, where there is marginal land, have been placed there on an experimental basis to a certain extent. I do not think it was good enough to give this group of men the donkey work to do in order to prove an experiment which has been costly and is not yet successful. However, the Minister knows the story. Perhaps, with his knowledge of the land, he could persuade the Treasury to write down the debts of these men to enable them to make a living from their land. Such assistance would take a load from their shoulders. The Commonwealth and the State should combine to bring this land to its full productivity. Then the settlers should be given the freehold title to their holdings and thus be enabled to make an average living from them. Such action would brighten the outlook of these settlers who have been struggling for periods up to thirteen years.
The Senate does well to apply itself to this great problem. It is rather dispiriting to visit these men, the overwhelming majority of whom are fair dinkum farmers. They are triers, they are battlers, and they will do everything that is humanly possible to make a success of their farms. But in every man there must be the thought that he has a chance of winning through. Many of these men feel that they are too old to leave the land. They have learned to love it and they do not want to leave it. Even if they did leave, at their age they could not find other suitable work.
It is very pleasing indeed to note that a sum of £4,225,000 is to be made available to Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania. Of that sum, £1,450,000 will be made available to Tasmania. Of course. it will only scratch the surface of the problem. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) and other members of the Government know that the provision of this sum really will not overcome the basic problem. I hope that we shall not continue to hear criticism year after year. Let us tidy up this sorry mess. Let us see a little bit of statesmanship. Let us see a little bit of humaneness and the practical application of the ideas which inspired those who instituted the war service land settlement scheme. In the “ Age “ of 22nd May last, this statement appeared -
The Graziers Association l.as sought an inquiry, asserting that the scheme has reached a point where the bankruptcy of a number of settlers is likely unless prompt action is taken.
– Does that refer to King Island?
– No, to Victoria.
– Victoria is a principal State.
– I am only emphasizing what everybody in this chamber has said - there must not be a recurrence of what happened after the First World War.
– How many bankruptcies did you say were likely?
– This article does not state the numbers. It reads -
Sufficient facts have been disclosed to justify the demands being made for an independent expert inquiry into recent phases of the development in this State of the soldier settlement scheme. The Graziers Association has sought an inquiry, asserting that the scheme has reached a point where the bankruptcy of a number of settlers is likely unless prompt action is taken. . . .
The Graziers Association and the settlers say that ex-servicemen placed on settlement blocks since about 1954 or 19SS are now in financial difficulties.
I quote that only to emphasize that we must avert a recurrence of what happened after the First World War. The ball is in our court. I think not only of financial bankruptcy but of the bankruptcy of outlook and spirit of so many of these men who are 50 years of age or more, and who cannot see light ahead. I hope something will be done in the very near future to try to alleviate the situation.
– Although the bill provides for a change in accounting procedures and makes it necessary to provide financeby way of loans to meet expenditure rather than to use the repayments of advancesmade to settlers as was done in the past, many honorable senators have taken advantage of the opportunity to point out some of the problems that crop up. from time to time in war service land settlement. Having listened very carefully to the debate, I am very glad to note that there is nogreat difference of opinion between Opposition speakers and Government speakers. Having listened to Senator O’Byrne, though, one tends to get the idea that a great deal is wrong with the scheme. I believe that isfar from the truth.
In Western Australia many exservicemen who have been settled on farms for some years are perhaps the most prosperous members of their community and are the leading lights in their areas. I realize that problems do arise in war service land settlement, particularly in the project areas. Senator Lillico and Senator O’Byrne have referred to the problems that have been experienced in Tasmania. However, I must say that I think the present war service land settlement scheme has been the most successful land settlement scheme that has been undertaken in the history of this country. We learned from the problems that arose after the 1914-18 war. We profited from the experience of those years; we realized that the farms must not be over-capitalized. Looking at the experience of those in Western Australia, I believe that nothing but good has come from the war service land settlement scheme. I believe that it has been of great value in closer settlement.
We have seen millions of acres of virgin country opened up over the past ten years. To-day in those areas there are prosperous farms. Surely they must be of tremendous value to that State and to the Commonwealth as a whole. I pay a tribute to the men who have been responsible; they have endeavoured to do a good job. Mistakes have been made. But let us cast our minds back to the early ‘fifties and ask ourselves how many of us knew about the problems with which we were then confronted. Many of them were new to us, particularly in Western Australia. I have in mind the problem of clearing large areas of forest country and of doing so quickly. There are project farms in the southern portion of Western Australia which have been carved out of land which is considered by experienced farmers - men whose fathers were farmers before they were - to be twogeneration country. Yet under the war service land settlement scheme we are carving farms out of this forest country and trying to establish them within a few years. That is a gigantic task. Surely mistakes must be made in undertaking such a task. I again pay a tribute to the men who have undertaken this work.
I know full well that the Minister realizes that problems confront many of these project areas. He said so in his secondreading speech. But I know that, having had them brought to his attention, he will endeavour to overcome them as quickly as possible. In Western Australia after the Second World War there were about 4,000 applications for war service land settlement farms. As the years have gone by many of the men who applied for farms have dropped out. To-day about 1,260 such farms have been occupied in Western Australia and just over 1,000 of the settlers are Western Australians. This means about 3,000 ex-servicemen who applied originally for farms have dropped out because of the lag in meeting applications or have either gone into farming on their own account or have taken up other occupations.
– Perhaps they died while they were waiting.
– I do not know about that. I and my brothers waited for war service land settlement farms. We had been on the land all our lives, and coming back after years of war service we wanted to get out on our own - which we did with help from sources other than the Commonwealth Government. I believe many of these men have done the same. Others have had jobs offered to them in other fields and have taken them. In Western Australia it was rather difficult to get developed country for war service land settlement, so the War Service Land Settlement Board decided to take up virgin country to establish men on the land. There were seven of these project areas in Western Australia. I want to refer first to the Rocky
Gully and Perillup areas. The Rocky Gully project was commenced under lease conditions in 1952. It was one of the first project areas to be established in Western Australia. Yet to-day, only 47 per cent, of the original settlers have transferred their accounts from the War Service Land Settlement Department in Western Australia to the Rural and Industries Bank. In the Many Peaks area, which is entirely different country and further to the east than Rocky Gully, about 95 per cent, of the settlers have gone over to the bank.
In the Perillup area, commenced under lease conditions in 1956, the position is even worse than at Rocky Gully; only 19 per cent, of the settlers have transferred to the Rural and Industries Bank. In the North Many Peaks area, established in 1956, 90 per cent, of the settlers have gone over to the bank.
The conditions that apply when an account is transferred to the bank are these: It is essential that the account be in a balanced state and that the productivity of the farm concerned be sufficient to enable the payment of annual commitments and provide a reasonable living for the settler. Here are two areas in Western Australia, established in 1952 and 1956, where settlers cannot meet these conditions, yet these settlers represent 11 per cent, of the total number established in Western Australia on grazing properties. Again, 43 per cent, of this 11 per cent, have not reached a standard where they can transfer their accounts to the bank. About eighteen settlers in this area are under review by the War Service Land Settlement Board in Western Australia Which is considering whether they will be allowed to carry on. What is” the problem? Surely something must be wrong.
I have visited this area many times. About 18 months ago I was there with the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann). There is nothing wrong with :he farmers in the area, or with the farmers themselves. But they are in an area of very high rainfall and heavy timber, so the farmers have to run cross-bred sheep. Therefore, the farmers are unable to breed their own stock and must buy replacements at intervals. This is a problem, but it is not the greatest problem. The big difficulty is that the men are tied down to 600 acres of sheep pasture, and in this type of country that is not enough. It would be a far better economic proposition to allow the men 700 acres or even 800 acres. Settlers in the Many Peaks area, South Stirlings, Jerramungup and North Many Peaks are allowed to have up to 2,000 acres of pasture, and 80 to 90 per cent, of the men in those areas are working on their own through the bank.
Although this is a problem facing the War Service Land Settlement Board in Western Australia it cannot do anything unless it has some help from the Commonwealth Government. I hope that when representations are made to the Government for help so that these men can have greater areas of pasture, the Minister will examine the matter sympathetically and grant the request.
I wish to refer now to another area north of Perth - the Eneabba project area. This is an area of coastal plain country. Its problem is totally different and relates to communications. The area is 30 miles from an established town and it stretches for something like 60 miles north and south. Yet there is no telephonic communication whatsoever there. The settlers have applied for telephones but they cannot meet the cost. When they interview the War Service Land Settlement Board in Perth they find they are not allowed to get money for the installation of telephones. The Commonwealth Government is the final arbiter in these matters, and I hope it will examine these cases, and if a settler’s account is in good order I hope he will be allowed to make provision for the cost of the telephone in the year of installation. This would not be a hardship when the settler’s account is in good order. I hope the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) will examine the two matters I have raised. I have pleasure in supporting the bill.
.- I do not wish to detain the Senate, but I want to reply to some of the wilder statements of my friend Senator Hendrickson. I think that some of the comments he made should not be allowed to pass without challenge. This bill deals with the agent States, but Senator Hendrickson made most of his strictures in relation to Victoria, which is a principal State. Although he was chided by various honorable senators and asked to confine his attention to the bill, he refrained from doing so. Therefore, Sir, I hope you will allow me to rebut the arguments he advanced.
Senator Hendrickson, like so many members of the Australian Labour Party, seems to be living in the 1’870’s and to be re-living the ballad of Kelly’s run and so many other nostalgic ballads of the early days of selections in Australia. He tries to relate the problems of those days to the problems of war service land settlement in the immediate postwar years. He spoke of the profits that were made by land-owners in Victoria in selling land to the Government. Then, according to him, unfortunate soldier settlers were saddled with enormous and excessive land costs. The truth, of course, is that land value, or the purchase price which a government pays for land, is not a substantial factor in the ability of a settler to pay his way. I am aware of this from my experience of two war service land settlement schemes - that of the 1914-18 war and that of the 1939-45 war. After World War I. the Crown purchased land in the west Wimmera area of western Victoria very cheaply. It was the added costs of land development Which raised the capital cost structure of those properties. That is equally true, of course, of land settlement in the principal States of New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria in the last postwar period. Not only was land purchased cheaply, but it was purchased at an artificially low value because of various acts passed by State parliaments.
In Victoria, the price of land was fixed at 1942 values which were established by impounding the balance sheets of the properties to be acquired, ascertaining the net profits over the previous 25 years, capitalizing at 5 per cent, and apportioning the resultant amount to arrive at a figure of so much per year. While Senator Hendrickson was speaking I jotted down notes concerning a property of which I have actual knowledge. It belonged to my wife’s family. It was compulsorily acquired in 1949 at £6 7s. 6d. an acre, lt consisted of 9,700 acres and carried 10,000 sheep and 500 cattle. The cost to the Crown was £6 7s. 6d. an acre which, I may say, was £1 an acre less than the price for which it was purchased in 1870. The additional cost of that land, or the actual cost of improving it, was in the vicinity of £16 or £17 an acre. Therefore, the rapacious prices obtained by land owners, to use Senator Hendrickson^ words, have not caused the inflated prices, again using his words, that have been paid for war service land settlement farms.
When Senator Hendrickson had finished speaking I went to the telephone and rang the chairman of the Soldier Settlement Commission in Victoria in order to ascertain the position that existed in Victoria at the last accounting, so that I would have the most recent figures available. I was glad I did so because I subsequently listened to Senator O’Byrne dealing with the subject of war service land settlement in Victoria by quoting from the Melbourne “ Age “ newspaper. The “ Age “ was quoting from an allegation made by the graziers’ association. So, I can deal with the statements made by Senator Hendrickson and Senator O’Byrne under the one heading. To illustrate the position in Victoria, I point out that 3,000 singleunit farms were purchased by individuals and financed by the Soldier Settlement Commission on a long-term basis.
In addition, 3,200 farmers were settled on sub-divided properties which included 250 dried fruit farms and 60 canned fruit farms. The balance were wheat farms and mixed stock and dairy farms. At the last accounting, the arrears in rentals and payments to the State, of Victoria from those 6,200 settlers amounted to an aggregate sum of £12,000, or about £2 for each farmer. No one, even in the most reckless way, could claim that a land settlement scheme had failed when the arrears amounted to £12,000. I have no doubt, however, that it will be claimed that while the payments have been made the standard of living of the farmers has been falling. That may be so, although I do not agree that it is so, but it must always be remembered that life on the land is one in which profits or losses, even with guaranteed prices, are related to the capacity of the land to produce, whether the farmer concerned is a good or a bad farmer or willing or unwilling to work. The return has to be averaged over a long period. A family with which I am connected by marriage and which has been settled in western Victoria for more than 100 years found, when it cast up its accounts, that the return on investment over all that time was 2 per cent, and had never been anything different. That is also roughly the return over a long period in the wheat-growing areas of Australia.
The most recent investigation carried out by the Division of Agricultural Economics has verified that result and has indicated that, in substance, over a long period the return on investment in stock farming in Australia is of that order. Sob stories of one kind and another will not convince me that it is possible to deal with the problems of land settlement in any other way than on a long-term basis. The problem of management also is involved in the matter. I have no doubt that that was what Senator O’Byrne meant when he said that a great number of soldier settlers in Victoria were on the verge of bankruptcy. In Victoria, the Soldier Settlement Commission took over the management of 70 or 80 farms and placed settlers on a budget. At the time when the commission took over the farms the average equity of the settlers in the farms was £4,000. The commission instructed the settlers how to operate their farms. In six years it had improved the situation of the farmers to such an extent that the equity ranged from £8,000 to £15,000, proving that the success of the farms had nothing to do with the nature of the land or the seasons. It had to do with the individuals who had been settled on the land.
I turn to the question of the agent State of Tasmania which has been engrossing the attention of the Senate for a long time this afternoon. I think that the Tasmanian Government has fallen into the error that many private entrepreneurs have fallen into. It has adopted the theory that it is possible to go into virgin country with big machines, break it up and turn it into bright farms, with happy farmers and their wives dancing in the full moonlight in the luxuriant meadows. I have had something to do with breaking up virgin country. You cannot take this timbered country and turn it into pasture for less than £40 an acre. I defy any one to do so. It is doubtful whether it would pay any State, acting as agent for the Commonwealth Government, to go in and take on this job because it is uneconomical.
– Would that apply to Western Australia too?
– I think so.
– What about the brigalow country?
– I am not so sure that the brigalow scheme will be as sound as we all hope it will be. I think there is considerable trouble ahead. It is all very well to sit down and work out these plans, to suggest that the trees can be knocked down with bulldozers and so on, but it does not always work out that way.
– It costs a lot of money.
– I agree that it does cost a lot of money. The suggestion has been advanced in respect of Tasmania that something should be done about the King Island settlers. There is validity in this suggestion, and the remedy would appear to be in following the example of “Victoria. This remedy is harsh, but it is one solution. The proposal is to aggregate properties so that the settlers have a chance of establishing a reasonable equity. Senator Wade knows very well that we had to face this problem in the Mallee district of Victoria where the original mistake was to put the men and their families on areas that were too small. They could not stand the tide of prices and seasons. After listening to Senators Lillico and O’Byrne this afternoon I think the quickest thing to do to solve the King Island problem would be to discover what equity the settlers have, buy them out, and then let some other people have a go to see what they can make of it.
I do not see that the economy of the nation has to pour money into what seem to be uneconomic propositions. Every one who has had anything to do with the land knows that you can continue to pour money into a property; the time comes when you have to get out. The evidence adduced in the Senate this afternoon seems to indicate - to me, at least - that a case exists for a pretty stringent examination of this scheme to see whether it should be allowed to continue. With those cheerless remarks, I now sit down.
– in reply - I was tremendously interested in the contribution made in the first instance by Senator Hendrickson, but - and I say this in a kindly way - it was a contribution with more force than logic. I believe that his remarks will rate the greatest horse laugh of the century among people who know what has been done in the land settlement of ex-servicemen. He made the most sweeping statements. He referred to “This ruinous land settlement scheme “. By that statement he indicated that nowhere in Australia had war service land settlement made a worth-while contribution to the ex-servicemen themselves or to the economy of Australia. He spoke as a Victorian because he comes from that State. I have yet to meet a Victorian who is not intensely proud of the record of the Soldier Settlement Commission in Victoria.
The honorable senator must know that this commission, which was set up after the Second World War, was established by a Labour government. I give that government credit for its choice of the members of the commission. Mr. Les Simpson, who served so faithfully for so many years, was an ornament to the commission, and many thousands of returned men will always be grateful for his sympathetic approach to their problems. Yet Senator Hendrickson, in an endeavour to gain some political kudos for his own party and to denounce this Government, had to delve away back into the early 1920’s to support his argument. It is true, as Senator Cormack said, that in Victoria after the First World War - I think it is fair to say that the same state of affairs existed in other States - holdings that were not living areas were made available to returned men.
– And a lot of the men were not farmers.
– I do not accept that. It is a slur, although I know it is not intended as such. Odd settlers may not have been farmers, but I think it is rather an overstatement to say in this context that many of them were not farmers. It does not matter how good a farmer you are or how well versed you are in modern scientific techniques, if you do not have a living area, if you do not have a run of good seasons, and if you cannot get adequate prices for your products you just cannot succeed. The lesson that was learned in soldier settlement after the 1914-18 war was a hard lesson, but it was one that was heeded when we embarked on the scheme after the Second World War. In the latter scheme, living areas in sure rainfall zones were required before land was acquired for soldier settlement. I speak generally because that was the policy emphasized so plainly by the Soldier Settlement Commission of Victoria.
I say again to Senator Hendrickson that his attempt to discredit this Government has not succeeded. I suggest that if any one reads his comments the honorable senator might well be accused of not being fully informed on the subject to which be was addressing himself. He sought this opportunity to repeat the statement that I have heard him make in this chamber on several occasions. He talked about the price of wheat land being £100 an acre. It is true that he did not say that the commission acquired land at £100 an acre, but the inference was that inflation under this Government had pushed wheat land prices to £100 an acre.
My first point in reply to that suggestion is that the Soldier Settlement Commission of Victoria paid nothing like that price for wheat land. I speak without a full knowledge of this subject, but I venture to say that very little, if any, of the wheat land in Victoria was purchased at a price in excess of £20 an acre. To say that inflation ran riot in this country to the extent that farmers were paying £100 an acre for wheat land is to ignore the facts. I know that the honorable senator can cite one isolated case where some one in the north-eastern part of Victoria paid £100 an acre for land and grew some wheat on it, but that does not make it wheat land. My understanding is that wheat land is land that is suited predominantly for wheatgrowing. When you think of wheat land you think of the Wimmera which has perhaps some of the best wheat-growing land in the world. It is land that will grow only wheat profitably. It is true that science is developing that land to some extent with the aid of medicks, but it is> fundamentally wheat-growing country. Even with to-day’s good returns for wheat, that land is selling at a figure that I suggest would average no more than £40 an acre.
I know that cases can be cited where men have paid perhaps £60 for that kind of land, but that does not set the true value at £60 an acre. If my neighbour wants to buy some of my property which adjoins his it does not matter how much he pays for it. He may have selected his own property in the first instance and, for the sake of convenience,, he requires the adjoining block. In that case he is prepared to pay a price that isnot an economic one and a price that no> one else would pay. So I suggest to Senator Hendrickson that in his endeavour to gain some credit for himself and his party in this debate he has exposed himself to the charge - at least in the eyes of the rural community and of the soldier settlement fraternity - that either he is not aswell informed as he might be or he seeks, this occasion only to make some politicalcapital of an isolated case. I think that Senator Lillico gave him a complete answer to the allegations he made. Without heat and without any desire to gain apolitical advantage Senator Lillico said that as far as soldier settlement in Tasmania, was concerned the Tasmanian Government, must accept a fair amount of responsibility. To support his contention he compared the initial cost of each settlement in the variousagent States, Tasmania, South Australia and. Western Australia. The figures he quoted, showed that the costs in Tasmania were greatly in excess of those in the other two States where there was also dual controL The honorable senator left no doubt in my mind that the Tasmanian Government must accept some responsibility in this matterHaving said that, Senator Lillico went on to be constructive in his approach to this problem and asked specific questions about matters agitating the minds of soldier settlers on King Island.
I have the advantage of the advice of officers of the department who have been able to supply me, in general terms, with some information about the matters that Senator Lillico raised. The honorable senator sought information about a possible reduction in rentals. That requirement must be faced, because a settler has no alternative but to accept the prices that are offered for his products. Nothing in his control can lift his income to meet his costs. If he has to pay a rent that is uneconomic he has no future whatsoever. If we are to maintain these people as an asset to the community and to the nation they must have at least some hope in their hearts that they can continue their venture. To have an incentive to remain on the land and to produce they must have an economy that is sound. The Commonwealth Government realizes that, and to meet the situation that exists it has set up a special committee of investigation comprised of representatives of the Commonwealth and the State to make a detailed inspection of each farm and, with full knowledge of the further developmental work to be undertaken and its effects on the carrying capacity, to recommend whether the full lease ren’al should or should not be charged.
– Is that as far as King Island is concerned?
– Yes. They have a special problem there, which I think is conceded, but I emphasize that this committee has been set up to investigate the problem and to recommend whether the full lease rental should or should not be charged. Surely that shows a realization that the situation should be faced and that some solution should be found for the problem.
The honorable senator sought information also about the number of settlers who were behind in their payments. The Tasmanian Government has been requested to make a full investigation of the financial affairs of settlers whose accounts are again falling into arrears after the settlers have been granted concessions. Each case will be treated on its merits. Senator Lillico posed a further question in this context, asking the number of settlers who are behind in their payments. With great respect to the honorable senator, I do not think it proper that that figure should be quoted. This is a small settlement, and it is only a matter of working out who are the sluggards. I do not think we should aline ourselves with such an embarrassing action.
A complaint was made that the rentals were fixed in 1959, and that fluctuating prices might well reveal that rentals should be fixed on a different basis to-day. The rentals were fixed on a productivity basis, assuming average management. I think it is fair to say that in most cases the management is average, but I repeat what I said in reply to an interjection by Senator Ormonde, namely that in every walk of life, even in the parliaments of the land, there are those who do not always measure up to the average. If the expectations should prove over-optimistic in this regard the rentals will be reviewed and appropriate action taken. That is a reply issued on behalf of the Minister. It is explicit and positive and indicates that action will be taken if these land values are in excess of what they should be.
In the letter from which Senator Lillico quoted some criticism was levelled regarding the fairly substantial sum of money that is being allocated to replace new plant. Many of the machines employed in this scheme to-day are nine and ten years old. Any one who knows anything about earthmoving equipment will know that when machines reach that age it becomes uneconomical to use them on the job. Having put your hand to the plough in this field you do not release it until the job is finished. I think the Government is to be commended upon its action in making a further sum of money available to try to complete the scheme.
Referring still to King Island, the area mentioned as not being within the terms of the committees’ inquiry refers to additional land still to be developed for additions to some holdings on the Reekara estate on King Island. That area is being investigated so that additional land can be considered in developing some holdings that have proved to be less than a living area.
As far as the Montagu Swamp is concerned, I have never had the opportunity to look at that land scheme. I should very much like to do so. Having heard Senator Lillico and Senator O’Byrne I think that one would need to have a very special knowledge of land development before one would be in a position to make a considered or intelligent judgment on this scheme. Apparently this development has revealed tremendous problems that have not occurred in other land development schemes. I suppose the authorities are faced with a situation in which they ask themselves the question: Having spent such a huge sum of money to get so far, do we pull up our stakes and leave the land in its natural or semi-natural state, or do we spend further money and develop it to the condition to which it should be developed? Senator O’Byrne has suggested that, when developed, this land will cany something better than a cow to the acre. I am not suggesting that his judgment is not correct.
– How much did he say?
– A little better than a cow to the acre. If it has that carrying capacity it is indeed a choice area. Time alone will tell whether the scheme will be of any real economic value to Tasmania and the nation as a whole or whether it will be merely a costly experiment For my part, I should like to leave the matter just there.
I should like to refer to a couple of points raised by Senator Drake-Brockman. He said that the problems of settlers in the Rocky Gully and Perillup areas were of such magnitude as to cause great concern. I am advised that those problems are currently being investigated by Commonwealth and State officers, and the Minister for Primary Industry will decide, in the light of their findings, what is to be done. I give the honorable senator that information because I believe that these people who are facing problems are entitled to know that the Government has a real interest in their problems. The honorable senator also made a plea for finance for telephone installations at Eneabba. This is not a purpose for which the Minister for Primary Industry could use funds appropriated by the Parliament for war service land settlement. There are other avenues that can be explored to assist these people with telephone installations. I suggest that the honorable senator take the matter up with the appropriate Minister.
May I say that I am grateful, by and large, for the way in which the Senate has received this measure. Obviously, there is no opposition to it. There has been some very worth-while and constructive criticism that we appreciate; I am sure that it will be of advantage to the Minister. I hope that the measure receives a speedy passage through its remaining stages.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
In committee: Consideration resumed (vide page 1037).
Department of Health
Proposed expenditure, £5,242,000.
– Earlier I was appealing to the Minister to broaden his views on financial assistance to the States. I had shown how the New South Wales Government and the New South Wales Department of Health had developed hospitals and made them technically efficient, with the result that there were great savings to the Commonwealth Government and also to industry. I want to develop that point a little further. I ask the Minister to consider re-examination of the Commonwealth’s attitude to financial aid to the States for hospital and health administration. I understand that Senator Turnbull, of Tasmania, suggested an inquiry into ‘health matters. If the type of inquiry that he had in mind were extended to financial arrangements and control, I think it would serve a very good purpose. Many people and interests who get benefits from improved hospital and medical treatment are not paying their share. The Commonwealth should be able to find a way of making those who gain financially pay their share of the costs of repairing the health of people and of rehabilitating workers. For example, what does the liquor industry contribute towards hospital finance in Australia? I do not think that it contributes anything, yet over-indulgence in liquor is an important part if not the whole cause of most of our public health expenditure.
– How can you say that?
– I am just suggesting it. Many road accidents are closely related to the consumption of liquor. Having in mind the part that liquor plays in high hospital cost in Australia, the Government should find some form of taxation that will make liquor interests contribute to the rehabilitation of persons injured as a result of over-consumption of liquor. Only the other day a member of the Resch family died in Sydney, leaving a personal fortune of £6,500,000. Most brewery proprietors, when they pass on, leave great fortunes. There should be a re-examination of the whole subject of hospital finance to ensure that some of the people who, without paying, get benefits from improved hospital development, pay their share of the cost. Why should patients, State governments, medical benefit funds, or hospital contribution funds have to meet all of the cost, when industry is benefiting from advances in medical and hospital technology?
– Can you suggest a method of extracting a contribution from industry?
– No. I have not an answer to that problem. 1 think it ought to be examined. What contribution, for example, does the coal industry pay towards the quicker turn-round of hospital patients who have been injured in the industry? I do not think ft pays a penny towards hospital costs. I am not quite certain of the exact figures, but I know that the cost of workers’ compensation in. the coal industry has been reduced tremendously in recent years because of new developments in hospitalization and because of new methods that have been developed for treating such diseases as silicosis and miners’ lung troubles. I do not think that the industry makes a contribution towards that work. 1 suppose that some people would say: “The industry pays taxation. Why is not some of that allocated to hospitals? “ Things do not happen in that way. I do not think that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited makes any special payment to hospitals before declaring profits although it is in the major hospitals that its employees who fall sick or are injured are rehabilitated.
To-day a worker who has a rupture, or appendicitis or some minor complaint is able to return to the workshop after four or five days or a week in hospital whereas, a few years ago, he would not have been able to return to work until six weeks later. To-day, the turn-round of patients in hospitals is terrific. I do not think that the major industries are making any con tribution in this respect. I accept what the Minister has said. He asked me how I would encourage industry to make contributions towards the rehabilitation of workers. Probably the Government could engage in some investigation in that field.
– Workers’ compensation provides full hospital fees for all these cases.
– That is a cost which has to be met by business.
– Industry pays the full cost.
– Yes. But it has been reduced tremendously in recent years.
– Industry pays general taxation, as well.
– Yes. Nevertheless, the effect of absence from industry has been reduced tremendously in recent years. I do not think that commensurate adjustments have been made to the contributions of industry to the hospitals.
– What is done with the excise tax received from the breweries?
– I heard a reference to that matter earlier in this debate. I do not think that that is the way in which the world has developed scientifically or sanely. The argument that Senator Wright has raised suggests that everybody contributes to the national income and that it is the Government’s job to allocate the money - that it is a question of priorities. If all the great reforms that we know of had had to depend on that principle many of them would never have occurred. It is necessary for people to blaze new trails and develop new ideas, even in finance.
– You need some one to recognize the new idea.
– Is that so? The liquor industry is an example of what I am talking about. The liquor industry contributes nothing to offset the great damage that it does in the community.
– It pays a lot in excise duty.
– It would pay that, anyway. An attempt should be made to collect some special tax from the liquor industry as a means by which it could make its contribution towards the rehabilitation of people who are injured on the roads and who suffer diseases that arise as a result of over-consumption of liquor. The Government should initiate action for the reexamination of financial relations with the States in regard to these matters. When one compares the way in which hospitals are organized to-day with the way in which they were organized twenty years ago, one realizes the great burden that has been placed on State governments to produce the benefits of modern medicines and modern hospitalization. The Commonwealth Government should pay a greater part of that cost.
– My remarks will be related mainly to Division No. 291. Before the debate was last interrupted I had posed certain questions to the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) regarding the legitimate rights of pensioners who are excluded from the pensioner medical benefits scheme. This morning Senator Cohen put the position very well. I think he dealt with it so succinctly that the Minister must now reply to him in specific terms. But the question that I posed more particularly concerned the section of the pensioner community which is excluded from the pensioner medical benefits scheme. When was the last approach made to the medical profession with respect to the position of these people? I know that a certain section of the community receives pensioner medical benefits which were introduced in 1955. When does the Minister propose to approach the Australian Medical Association with regard to the rights of these people? That was the essence of my question.
I listened with interest to Senator Ormonde, the distinguished senator from New South Wales, who has just resumed his seat. He made an original approach to the subject on which he spoke. There is no reason in the world why he should not be entitled to the headlines in to-morrow’s newspapers. No doubt, the story will be told that he wishes to impose further taxation on the breweries and the drinkers. I agree with him.
– Are you after headlines, too?
– No. I do not need headlines. Senator Ormonde was justified in citing that industry as an example of the responsibility that should be imposed on industry generally. Sometimes one wonders how much industry can itself pay in view of the tremendous burdens that it imposes on customers. I know that the Minister will adopt the approach that industry cannot afford to carry any further burden. In accordance with the philosophy of the Government, to which we have heard frequent references recently, the Minister will state that if any additional burden is placed on industry it will be passed on to the customers.
There is a measure of disagreement between the distinguished senator from New South Wales to whom I have referred and myself. Not that I think there is any justification for the existence of certain industries. There is no real justification for the existence of the tobacco industry. I say that, although I do not completely agree that the relationship which is claimed to exist between smoking and lung cancer does in fact exist. Many other factors are involved. The sooner we get down to proper basic research in this matter the better. The Government should be prepared to face up to its responsibilities and not shirk them merely by saying that universities and hospitals are engaged in such research. The Government should not say that it is responsible only for the National Health and Medical Research Council.
Now I shall deal with occupational health. Only ,a few lines of the report of the Director-General of Health are devoted to this subject. It has been stated that a means of handling cyanide on the waterfront has been found. Many other matters have been dealt with, too. They are the words of the Director-General. I said in my introductory remarks that I thought the present Director-General of Health had done an excellent job in providing us with information. I mean that. I say it sincerely and truthfully, as I always do.
– When it fits in.
– AH right, Sir Echo.
– We are grateful for having had this information placed in our hands. We have not the report of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission, though. We know why. The Minister for Health has gone to great pains to explain that the Auditor-General and his staff have not completed their task. When I speak of the Director-General of Health, I do not attack him personally. I realize the difficulties under which one works when associated with a government such as that which controls the treasury bench at the present time. I realize the difficulties that the present Minister for Health, who is always courteous, considerate and efficient, must face. When one lives within the confines of the philosophy that binds him, one must be subject to a certain measure of limitation. The Minister knows that, and I think he would be honest enough to admit it, not publicly but privately. When one thinks in terms of occupational health-
– What does all this gibberish mean?
– I do not want any help from the left. The honorable senator had better go up to Arnhem Land, not that the people up there should be denied their rights. His level of civilization is such that he would be on a lower plane than they are. The honorable senator called for that. It is not often that I am insulting, and there is no reason why I should not be when he interjects.
– That was a particularly poor effort.
– You are entitled to stay within the limitations of your ability.
Order! I ask Senator Dittmer to address his remarks to the proposed expenditure now before us.
– 1 shall, but why do you not protect me, Mr. Temporary Chairman? When I am in need of protection I look to the Chair.
Order! The honorable senator was dealing with an academic subject before he digressed.
– I am dealing with occupational health. That subject is dealt with in the report of the Director-General of Health. I was benign in my approach to the problem, as is customary. Then I was distracted by the ignorance of a certain person. In regard to occupational health, this Government has done nothing to give the States a lead. I know the limitations that are imposed on the Minister. He will say: “ This matter is the responsibility of the States. We shall not interfere with their sovereign rights.” If the States have fallen down on the job, does the Minister not think that the Government has the responsibility to give a lead, more particularly when it controls the nation’s purse strings and when there are no limits to its taxing authority?
Only comparatively recently the hazards associated with noise in industry have been recognized. What lead has the Commonwealth given in regard to air pollution? There is no doubt about the causal relationship between air pollution and smoking on the one hand and the incidence of lung cancer on the other. It is interesting to note that possibly the ‘best mass radiographic survey of chests in the world was one that was conducted in New South Wales. It was found that the incidence of lung cancer was much higher in the metropolitan area than in the rural areas. I know it will be said that we must have a complete survey of habits and other associated circumstances. It is interesting to note also that analysis of the metropolitan results in New South Wales disclosed that the incidence of lung cancer was very much greater in the inner metropolitan area than in the suburban areas. They are facts, and they are there for anybody to analyse. I am not here to defend the tobacco industry, but it must be acknowledged that it is a major primary industry in Australia. The smoking habit is characteristic of many people in Australia. I do not think there is any real justification for people smoking, just as I have never thought there was any justification for people drinking alcoholic beverages. But such things do occur; they have occurred throughout the history of the world. The Minister for Health and the Government have a responsibility to ascertain the relationship between these things. It is of no use to speak in terms of a time relationship; a causal relationship must be established. I am still dealing with occupational hazards.
– You are only guessing.
Order! The honorable senator must not interject.
– It was not interjecting. I was rudely interrupted. I shall pursue my own thoughts. Another speaker will follow me and I shall then rise again.
– Do not chase every bunny down its hole.
– 1 do not mind you people being bunnies. Many people on the honorable senator’s side of politics, not particularly in this chamber but in another place, are frightened of the possibility of an early election. The old man-
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN__
Order! I ask the honorable senator to get back to the matter under consideration.
– I was not referring to the Prime Minister.
Order! The honorable senator will direct his remarks to the division of expenditure that is now being considered.
– I was about to say that the old man of wisdom might not be so wise on this occasion. Nor do we know what will happen. So the Government ought to be careful about assessing public reaction. I now want to direct the Minister’s attention to a feature of industry in relation to which the Commonwealth Government has a real responsibility. Modern factories are planned with attention being given to colour, lighting and the location of machinery in order to minimize industrial hazards. Such planning returns dividends not only in the financial sense but from the viewpoint of protecting people who are engaged in industry. Has the Government ever thought of suggesting to the Commonwealth Development Bank that perhaps many foundries and factories which have been in existence for many years and which within their limitations have done an excellent job have not sufficient money to modernize their plant? They are still serving the community and playing their part in the development of the nation. They could still repay a loan, but they cannot face up to the extraordinary expenditure that would be involved in modernization.
This is vitally important, not only to industrial productivity but also to those engaged in industries, factories and foundries. There is no reason why they could not amortize indebtedness in the ordinary way.
Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I take this opportunity to raise again a matter to which I directed the attention of the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) last Tuesday when the estimates were under discussion. I was speaking to Division No. 293, subdivision 2, item 06, relating to the purchase and analysis of drugs. I referred to an article which appeared in the Sydney “ Daily Mirror “ last week in which it was reported that a doctor had said that bungled manufacturing had resulted in worthless drugs being sold in Sydney. In his reply the Minister said that as this was merely a press article and the anonymity of the doctor had been preserved, perhaps not much credence could be placed on the article. At the same time, the Minister gave me an assurance that he would refer the matter to the Department of Health because of the serious nature of the allegation.
The fact is that the article was not syndicated, but appeared in the “Daily Mirror” under the by-line, “By our Medical Writer “. The doctor’s name was not given but the article stated specifically that the doctor came from the suburb of Bexley. There are probably only four or six doctors practising in that suburb, and I raise the matter again because of the specific references which give an air of authenticity to the article. I know the Minister has agreed that this is a serious matter, and 1 ask him to have it investigated. I suggest that some of the proposed vote for the purchase and analysis of drugs should be devoted to an analysis of the quality of the phenobarbitone drugs which were referred to specifically in the article I have cited.
Senator Ormonde and Senator Dittmer have referred to research and the expenditure proposed under Division No. 291. The Government proposes to appropriate £318,500 in this financial year for the purposes of medical research; but throughout Australia drug companies and those associated with the manufacture of health products must be spending countless thousands of pounds on research. There is no co-ordination of the activities whatsoever. What Senator Ormonde and Senator Dittmer were saying in effect was that there should be some co-ordination of these research activities throughout Australia and a pooling of resources and of findings. They suggested that there should be a general pooling of ideas among scientists engaged in research.
There are 114 drug manufacturers in Australia, and one can imagine how much money they are spending in their efforts to produce a product that will outdo those of their competitors. Thousands of pounds of good money are going down the drain merely for the purposes of competition. If there were a pooling of ideas and resources and some co-ordination of research conducted not only by Government instrumentalities but also by private organizations, the community would benefit. In the United States of America the Ford Foundation and in Britain the Nuffield Foundation have spent countless millions of dollars and pounds on research activities. If a similar organization could be established in Australia the people generally would benefit.
– The honorable senator is not suggesting, is he, that the foundations in the United States of America are restricting competition there?
– No, but I am suggesting that co-ordination of private and governmental research in Australia would have an important effect on our research activities and on the purchase price of these products over the counter. Senator Ormonde referred to the breweries, and I have raised the question of the drug companies. But there is also the question of the cosmetic organizations which, I understand, are making fairly substantial profits. On 11th December, 1962, Dr. K. A. McGarrity honorary director of the Gynaecological Cancer Registry of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, addressed the Constitutional Association of Australia after he had returned from a conference of the World Health Organizations Expert Committee on Cancer Control in Geneva.
He was reported to have appealed to Commonwealth and State Departments of Health to join with private organizations in an international scheme for the detection, prevention and treatment of cancer.
This is the sort of thing I have in mind. Perhaps the Minister for Health will suggest to the Department of Health that it look at this aspect of cancer research, and that women between 35 and 40 be required to have a compulsory check against cancer once a year. Such a campaign has been most successful in New South Wales and other States in combating tuberculosis. If we are to tackle this problem effectively, we must attack cancer at an early stage. Once again, I want to remind the Minister of the serious nature of the allegations made in the “Daily Mirror” about the quality of drugs sold in Sydney, and I ask faim to ensure that proper steps are taken to protect the public.
– I relate my comments to Division No. 291 - Administrative. I wish to refer particularly to the Commonwealth Bureau of Dental Standards, to which an admirable reference is made in the annual report of the Director-General of Health. However, I have had some difficulty in tying up that reference with the provision that is made for dental health in the estimates. Dental health is a matter which this Government is entitled to consider. Earlier in the day I heard Senator O’Byrne refer to the matter, but I have not yet heard the Minister reply to his comments. Of course, he may have done so in my absence from the chamber.
I think it is true to say that the dental health standards of the Australian people are poor. I have heard it stated by people who claim to be authorities that, although there are about 11,000,000 people in Australia, only about 8,000,000 tooth-brushes are sold each year. Even if we assume that everybody makes his tooth-brush last a year, this means that a mighty lot of people do not use tooth-brushes. Let us put aside for a moment the thought that the dental profession may have a proprietary interest in this question. I do not suggest that it has, but whenever a survey of dental health standards has been made, either in the forces or in groups of people who have come together, it has been clearly established that the state of dental health in Australia is very bad indeed.
– How many Australians have false teeth?
– I do not know, but 1 trust that people with false teeth use a brush of some kind for their dentures. I take it Senator Ridley is not suggesting that everybody who should have a tooth-brush has one?
– No. I am wondering what the statistics show.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator McKellar).Order!
– I reiterate that, as a nation, we do not have good teeth.
– What do you think of fluoridation of water?
– I shall come to that subject in a moment. In my private capacity I am concerned, amongst other things, with hospital administration. I happen to be the chairman of directors of one of the larger metropolitan hospitals. I have been told by the medical superintendent of the hospital in which I am interested that the standard of dental health of expectant mothers who visit the hospital’s ante-natal clinic is a matter of serious concern to the hospital authorities. Naturally, the teeth of expectant mothers are inspected. Apparently, the percentage with bad teeth is so great that an effort is now being made to establish close to the hospital a clinic at which they may receive dental treatment.
I agree with the comments that have been made on the question of the fluoridation of water. This brings me to the point that a decision must be taken at the very highest level. Guidance must be given in the matter. It must be removed from the field of controversy. The Commonwealth, because of its leadership in health matters and its responsibility in that respect, should see to it that decisions are taken at the highest possible level and that recommendations are made on the efficacy or otherwise of putting fluoride in water for human consumption.
I turn to Division No. 293 - Health Services. Item 07 of sub-division 2 relates to pamphlets for publicity purposes, for which it is sought to appropriate £30,000 this year. Last year, the appropriation was £8,000. I think that a fairly full explanation of this item should be given.
– With respect, I have already given it once.
– Then, I may touch on an angle which will warrant further explanation. It is easy, of course, to produce pamphlets, as we know from our political campaigning, but it is another thing to ensure that they are put to effective use. I should like to be informed, not so much about the efficacy of the documents on health matters that we produce, as on the basis of distribution and the use to which they are put. We know that in the general sense of publicity the Broadcasting and Television Act, in section 100, part VI., provides that a licensee shall not broadcast or televise an advertisement relating to medicine unless the text of the proposed advertisement has been approved by the Director-General of Health. I think all honorable senators will agree that that is an admirable provision.
Senator McClelland referred to press publicity of certain medications such as aids to beauty for use by the fair sex. While the Director-General of Health and the Department of Health may exercise a degree of control in accordance with the Broadcasting and Television Act, I wonder to what extent, if any, that control operates in relation to ordinary publicity and advertising in the daily newspapers in the various States of Australia. I have seen categorical statements made in regard to certain substances. Probably, if we were to pick up the evening newspapers to-night we would find advertisements which stated in fairly strong terms that certain drugs, pills or bandages could do wonders for people who were sick or in distress of some kind. The Commonwealth has imposed certain restrictions on advertising over the radio and television, which suggests that it recognizes the need for supervision. If that is so, and if it lacks the necessary constitutional power, it should go to the States and say: “ Look, there is a need for supervision in this field. Will you co-operate with us in exercising such supervision? “ I am convinced that there is a need for supervision.
The use of drugs, their cost, and the fact that a variety of drugs which all serve the same purpose may have different names and cost different amounts, is one of the major matters associated with health administration. It must be attended to, as the Minister knows very well. I rose to make the point that the Commonwealth, from its position of leadership, should invite the States to come together for the purpose of exercising supervision over the advertising of medicines. I regret to say that in some instances advertisements published in the daily press of the Commonwealth make extravagant claims in seeking to appeal to people who are sick. Very often, because they are sick they are more prone to react to such advertisements. That is one of the reasons why I think something should be done in this field.
– I listened with interest to Senator Anderson because, as every honorable senator knows, he has had a long experience of hospital administration. The honorable senator suggested, and I think I saw the Minister make a note of it, that the Commonwealth should give leadership in the tackling of health problems. It is all very well to come forward, as Ministers so often do, and say that a matter is a State responsibility.
– To which division are you referring, Senator?
– Divisions Nos. 291 and 293. In particular I wish now to refer to hospitals and to ask what is being done to give assistance to patients who enter hospitals or to improve hospital administration. I do not intend to refer to the financial burdens incurred by people in States other than Queensland. We know mat injustices exist. I ask the Minister whether he realizes the financial injustice that is inflicted on the people of Queensland because of the perpetuation of a pernicious system under which the Commonwealth contributes only 8s. per patient per day in public hospitals. There has been no suggestion of any attempt to alleviate that burden in Queensland. Will the Minister tell us for how long this burden will have to be carried by the people of Queensland and by an associate government, if I may so term it?
All honorable senators will recall the time when for six weeks the administration in control of the treasury bench at Canberra withheld payments in an endeavour, by financial duress, to force the Labour administration in Queensland to abolish free hospitalization. But the government of Queensland was adamant. I believe that in the process of time there must be a recognition of the responsibility of a central administration for hospitalization. Neither I nor any member of my party have at any time or in any place attempted to conceal the fact that once we are returned to power, as inevitably we will be - the sooner the election the closer is that day - we will revert to free hospitalization.
There is no reason in the world why there should be a differentiation between medical and hospital services and education services. They should all be free. I suggest to the Minister that the preservation of health, the improvement of physique and the development of the mental capacity of people is all-important, not only with regard to their basic human rights but also for the preservation of this country. Until the Minister decides to face the responsibility to maintain the health of the community, he accepts no real responsibility.
I remind the Minister, although it is probably not necessary to do so as he has a humanitarian approach to the problem, that it is the philosophy of his government that deters him in his approach to the problem. When we think of the treatment of people suffering from mental diseases we cannot forget how callously disregardful the Government is of their basic human rights. I believe that the plight of these people should be given more attention. I give all credit to a preceding government for appointing Dr. Stoller to make an investigation, and I give all credit to Dr. Dax of Victoria for the tremendous improvements that have been brought about under his control. But when we think of the overall problem, we find that there is no specific medical reason why there should be a differentiation between diseases of the mind and diseases of other organs of the body. Yet constantly we find a total disregard of the rights of the mentally afflicted, to such an extent that in some cases State governments have seen fit to move a proportion of patients from hospitals for the mentally ill to general hospitals.
– In Darwin they put them in the gaol, and I believe the same applies in Alice Springs.
– But you would not expect otherwise under a government such as we now have in Australia. With all the fervour that I can command, whilst conscious of the limited knowledge that I possess on this subject, I sincerely submit that the Minister has a particular responsibility in this regard. He can make a name for himself; he can have written in indellible characters-
– Order! The honorable senator must get back to the subject before the committee.
– I am dealing with hospitals.
– You are not linking your remarks with the proposed expenditure. Please get back to it.
– I am referring to Division No. 291 and asking what the DirectorGeneral of Health is doing about the care of people suffering from mental diseases. May I pose my question that way?
– Yes, you may.
– Well, I pose it that way.
– Get on with it.
– That rude interruption will not divert me from the path I am following. I say that there is no reason in the world why there should be a differentiation between physical and mental diseases. What is the attitude of the Director-General of Health on this subject? What are his activities, and what are his assistants doing? What are the directors in the various States doing? I should like to have some specific details. I know of nothing that they are doing and I await eagerly and anxiously for the Minister to tell me what is being done in the field of mental diseases and how it is proposed to alleviate the burden imposed on the mentally ill and their dependants.
Some years ago, following the report of Dr. Stoller, the Government agreed to provide £10,000,000 for capital expenditure on mental hospitals provided that the States furnished another £20,000,000. However, the attitude of the Government to the problem of treatment is such that if a pensioner enters a mental hospital he loses his pension. When the pensioner leaves hospital he is given a certain amount of money for a particular period that he was in hospital, but that period is not very long:. I should like the Minister to say how long this period is; if he says that he is unableto state the correct time, I will furnish it but I know that the Minister knows what it is as well as I do. However, there is noprovision for the payment of hospitalbenefits in respect of patients undergoing treatment in mental hospitals. Even the basic and miserable 8s. a day is not paid. Can the Minister justify the differential, approach made to particular diseases? Why should some one entering a hospital with appendicitis receive a hospital benefit, even if he is not a member of a hospital benefit fund, when the 8s. a day is not given to a person entering a hospital for the treatment of a mental disease? There can be no justification, by any stretch of imagination, for a differential approach. The Minister knows that as well as I do. I still cannot understand why the Government does not deal with this problem. I know it will be said that Labour governments did not deal with it, but Government supporters have constantly claimed that this Government has improved the lot of the people. This is a field in which the Minister could be an initiator by introducing something new.
World trends to-day are not to separate hospitals for mental diseases from general, hospitals. Even though the buildings may. be separate the hospitals are run as one institution. They use the same ancillaryservices whether: they be laundries, the theatres or other services. We all knowthat there are peculiar and special conditions associated with certain patients suffering from mental diseases, but the Government has been completely callous in itsdisregard of the rights of these people. Diseases of this type are increasing in their incidence; that is the world trend. I am’ not going to say what the cause is - whether it is the improved standard of living, the stress of modern times or just an occupational hazard. I just would not’ know, but that is the position. The government of the day, whether it be Labour or anti-Labour, has the responsibility to face this problem, but the present Government is not accepting this responsibility. During the years I have been in the Federal Parliament I have not noticed’ any change of heart in the Government. It has been callous in its disregard of these people. If it can farm out its responsibility to the States it does so.
Senator Anderson, a man with long experience in hospital administration, has said that it is the responsibility of any government in control of the treasury bench at Canberra to give a lead. The only lead that the present Government has given is to say to the States, in effect: “This is your job. We will give you £10,000,000 to save us from greater financial responsibility.” Through you, Mr. Chairman, I ask the Minister for Health what his staff is doing about these particular issues. Before he answers, I can say frankly that they are doing nothing. I say that, not because they are incompetent or irresponsible, but because they know that there is no sense of responsiveness in the hearts and minds of Government supporters and more particularly in the hearts and minds of the Cabinet.
Perhaps the Minister will say that a previous Labour government did not contribute to the cost of providing hospital facilities for mental patients, but what has the present Government done that was not done by the Government led by Ben Chifley? At least the Chifley Government did do something, paltry though its contribution may have been. I disagreed with the amount of the contribution at the time although I was not in politics. The Chifley Government contributed lOd. a day per patient to the maintenance of mental patients in hospital, but the Menzies Government which succeeded it took that lOd. away, and has made no real contribution to the needs of these people.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
Debate resumed from 8tb October (vide page 927), on motion by Senator Sir William Spooner-
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- On behalf of the Opposi- tion, which has given much thought to this bill, I move -
Leave out all words after “That”, insert: - “whilst not in any way opposing the passage of the bill, the Senate expresses the view that the Government should give effect to the recommendation of the Conference of State Housing Ministers in Melbourne on the 19th March, 1963, that a committee of enquiry be established consisting of representatives of the Commonwealth Government and the State governments to enquire into the anticipated increased housing requirements arising during the next five years”.
On 13th September, 1945, the Chifley Labour Government introduced the original Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement Bill, the purpose of which was to authorize the execution by or on behalf of the Commonwealth of an agreement between the Commonwealth and the States in relation to housing and other purposes. To acquire all the information possible as to the nation’s requirements on housing the Curtin Labour Government, on 19th April, 1943, appointed a Commonwealth housing commission. After making an exhaustive survey the commission in its report said -
We consider it essential that in Australia the government should accept the responsibility for ensuring adequate housing of the people, especially the low-income group. This will involve supplementing on a large scale building undertakings by private enterprise.
The commission also expressed the opinion that the Commonwealth Government should supplement the housing activities of State governments. It was suggested in 1945 that in order to cope with the housing shortage 750,000 homes should be built in the next ten years - an average of 75,000 homes a year. That tenyear period ended in 1955-56. There were no financial restrictions in the first agreement. It is true that there were problems in 1946 in obtaining the necessary skilled labour and materials for building. The money lent under the scheme was lent at an interest rate of 3 per cent.
In 1956 the second agreement came into being, with limitations that had been applied by the Australian Loan Council as the result of alterations made after the defeat of the Labour Government in 1949. The interest rate was fixed at 31 per cent., and later at 4 per cent. In 1961 a further agreement was made with the same limitations previously decided upon. This bill is to authorize the borrowing of £49,850 for financial assistance to the States, first for the purposes of State housing authorities and, secondly, for the purpose of building societies. The amount will be apportioned amongst the States as follows: -
It will be allocated at an interest rate of 31 per cent, per annum. Of the total amount, £32,915,000 will be allotted to State housing authorities. The States will be required to set aside an amount estimated at £1,280,400 for the housing of members of the defence forces. It is estimated that £16,935,000 will be allotted from the total amount to building societies. For the first time under the regime of the Menzies Government, the Treasurer proposes a reduction in interest rates. It will be remembered that interest rates on loans for housing made by savings banks and life assurance societies were increased in 1952, 1956, and 1960-61. In 1956 and 1961 there were increases in the interest rates charged by housing commissions on allocations under the Loan (Housing) Act, that is, under the housing agreements of those years. Consequential upon the reduction in interest rates on Commonwealth bonds this financial year, for the first time there is to be a decrease in interest rates on some housing loans. But even with that decrease in interest rates under the housing agreement and decreased savings bank interest charges, the rate is still as high as it was at the time of the credit squeeze in 1956 and higher than it was at the time of the credit squeeze in I960, so there is still room for a further decrease in interest rates.
The Government is also making inroads upon the high principles which motivated Labour’s original housing agreement in 1945. The principles associated with the first agreement are set out in clear terms in the housing report which was produced under the Chifley Government in 1944. One of the first principles enunciated was that the housing scheme was designed to facilitate low rents. Low income families, including the aged, were to have real security under Labour’s housing scheme. There was provision for reduction of economic rentals. So much was this so that under the Chifley Government some people, particularly aged persons, paid rents as low as 8s. a week. This Government with some ruthlessness set out to destroy that concept, which was designed to enable a tenant to pay a rent lower than that which would ordinarily be required to cover the economic life of a home.
In New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia, 5,724 families were receiving rent rebates at the end of June last year. These rebates related to homes constructed under the 1945 agreement, but surely the number of families receiving the rebate indicated the need for a continuance of the system. There was a need for rent rebates in 1945 and the States, even to-day, see fit to continue rebates to families in needy circumstances. The need .to.-day is as real as it was in 1945. At the Melbourne meeting in March of this year, State Housing Ministers came unanimously to the conclusion that they should repeat their request for the reintroduction of the rental rebate scheme, but it seems that the request has not met with success.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Senator, arc you reading your speech?
– No, I am using copious notes.
– See that they are not too copious.
– The following table shows the numbers of housing commission applications lodged and outstanding during 1959-60 and 1962-63:-
This shows that not much leeway is being made in reducing the lag. It sounds well to say that an amount of £49,850,000 is being made available for housing, but when we calculate how many homes can be built and relate this number to the lag in applications, the amount does not seem so great.
New South Wales is to receive £16,500,000, of which it must give 30 per cent, to co-operative societies. The balance of 70 per cent, will be for the Housing Commission to build homes, 5 per cent, of which will be allocated to service personnel nominated by the Commonwealth Government, so in effect 65 per cent, of the total State allocation will go . to the Housing Commission. Allowing £3,500 as the cost of a homes - a most conservative amount - New South Wales will be able to build 4,714 homes with this allocation. Homes built for defence pensonnel and homes b’uilt by co-operative building societies will total 1,650, so the Housing Commission, which has a lag of 37,800 applications, will receive sufficient money to build only 3,064 homes in reduction of this lag. Last year the Housing Commission received more than 16,700 applications, as I mentioned earlier. Next year, if the Housing Commission received 16,000 more applications, the total lag will increase by 13,000 in New South Wales. Where that trend will end cannot be foreseen. That is why, in our amendment, we propose the setting up of a committee to survey the needs of the community.
Under this bill, Victoria will receive £13,250,000 and will be able to build another 3,785 homes. The Victorian Housing Commission will be able to build 2,650 homes. Queensland will receive £4,300,000, and will be able to build 1,228 homes.
– Order! Senator Fitzgerald, if you have much more of that material I shall have to ask you to stop reading it. I want you to know that I do not misunderstand the position. Although you are reading your own material, under the Standing Orders, an honorable senator may not read his speech.
– I am leading for the Opposition in proposing this amendment. I do not know why I should be called to order in this instance.
– The reason is simple; it is one of the worst breaches, in my experience, of the standing order to which I have referred.
– With respect, Mr. President, honorable senators on both sides of the chamber repeatedly read their speeches. As I am leading for the Opposition on this occasion, it is important from the point of view of my party that the information which I seek to give should be given precisely and accurately.
– That does not alter the position in respect of the Standing Orders. The honorable senator may proceed with his speech.
– South Australia will receive the sum of £9,400,000 which will provide for the construction of 2,685 homes. The South Australian Housing Trust will receive sufficient money to finance the erection of 1,880 homes. In Western Australia and Tasmania a similar situation will arise. The total number of homes that will be built throughout Australia will be inadequate to meet the needs of the community. Does not the position become ridiculous when the Government, after having been in office for fourteen years, is planning for a diminution in the number of applications although thousands of people are living in substandard housing and are in urgent need of better accommodation? It is expected that this year there will be 80,000 marriages, and that 135,000 more immigrants will come to this country. Those immigrants, on an average of four persons to a family, will require more than 30,000 homes. That will mean that a total of 110,000 additional homes will be required this year.
This is a problem to which the Government must give urgent consideration. To-day, people are sharing accommodation. They are in a very desperate plight as has been shown by statistics, including those resulting from the census which was taken about two years ago. On that occasion information was compiled on housing and the requirements of the people. In the twelve months ended 30th June, 1963, just under 90,000 dwellings were erected. The number of approvals was also about 90,000. Everybody who looks at this sorry housing mess will realize that, in order to meet our requirements, over 100,000 homes need to be built. I suggest that we should regard the requirement as being 110,000 homes. Dr. A. R. Hall, of the Australian National University, who will no doubt be quoted throughout this debate, has shown himself to be a reliable authority in this field. As the Government will not undertake to have a housing survey conducted one has to rely upon such an authority. Basing his figures on an immigration target of 80,000, Dr. Hall has estimated that by 1970 we will need 131,000 additional homes annually. But we are looking forward to bringing in 135,000 immigrants, not 80,000. So it is reasonable to suggest that Dr. Hall’s figure of 131,000 should be about 140,000. Our present need is well over 100,000 homes a year and we are building fewer than 90,000. That does not take into account the present lag of 74,000 houses.
It is important to note that for over twenty years there has been no coordination of investigations of housing requirements. There has been no Australia-wide survey of the housing shortage. There has been no real response to the requests of the State housing Ministers who, since March, have been asking that a committee be appointed to survey the housing needs of Australia. Two of the State housing Ministers are members of Labour governments, and the remainder, as well as the Commonwealth Minister responsible for housing, are supporters of the present Commonwealth Government. The State housing Ministers were unanimous in asking for this survey. They have been supported by many authorities. Mr. Warren McDonald, the Chairman of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, has pleaded for an immediate housing survey. He said -
The results of such a study would be of great benefit to hundreds of people directly and indirectly concerned with the building industry. They would have accurate statistics and estimates upon which to work and to plan for the future.
I mentioned earlier that the 1961 census revealed that 170,000 families were living in huts or sheds or were sharing accommodation, and that a further 100,000 were living in sub-standard accommodation. These are the facts which prompted the State housing Ministers, when they assembled in March, to request the Commonwealth Government to institute a survey. Perhaps I might be pardoned if I read the text of the resolution which they passed. I repeat that only two of them were members of Labour governments. Concerning the measurement of the housing shortage, they passed the following resolution: -
The conference recommends to the Commonwealth Government that a committee of inquiry should be established consisting of representatives of the Commonwealth Government and the State Governments to inquire into the anticipated increased housing requirement during the next five years, and if the Commonwealth agrees to the formation of such a committee, that the committee consist of five members, three from the Commonwealth and two from the States, and that the State representations consist of a nominee of the Minister of Housing, New South Wales, and a nominee of the Minister of Housing, Victoria The State Ministers have agreed that the fullest possible information will be forwarded on request.
On the subject of housing of the aged, the Ministers came to a unanimous decision. Incidentally, these decisions were made voluntarily and not as a result of an edict such as the Commonwealth issues to the States at meetings of the Australian Loan Council. Concerning the housing of the aged, the Ministers made the following decision: -
Catering for the housing needs of the Commonwealth pensioners is one of increasing concern to the States. This conference, therefore, strongly urges the Commonwealth to re-examine proposals recently submitted for the provision of a capital fund for the erection of pensioner units.
Concerning a Commonwealth grant for slum clearance the Ministers resolved -
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting, I had traced the history of the Commonwealth and State housing agreements. I dealt with, amongst other things, the interest rate, the proposed increase in the migrant intake in the current financial year, the disclosures of the 1961 census and the shortage of houses. I now propose to deal with the waiting time for the allocation of houses. It is officially estimated that in New South Wales the waiting period is from four to five years but I know from personal experience that the period is much longer than that. The official waiting period in the Australian Capital Territory is 35 months. I noted within the last week or so that the president of the Trades and Labour Council had complained of the waiting period and had referred to it as being from five to seven years. I think that, generally speaking, that is more likely to be the position.
Of all States, New South Wales, which is the largest and oldest State in the Commonwealth, has the greatest housing problem. It has the greatest number of people awaiting homes and the greatest number of sub-standard homes. I have no doubt that attacks will be launched upon the New South Wales Labour Government, because honorable senators opposite subscribe to the belief that attack is the best form of defence. No doubt they will speak of unanimous decisions having been made at meetings of the Australian Loan Council. To speak of unanimous decisions is to speak falsely. The fact is that the State Ministers are informed by the Commonwealth of the amount that is to be made available and are told that they must make a decision about the disbursement of that money. To talk about unanimous decisions is to talk so much bunk.
When this Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement legislation was first introduced, it was damned with faint praise. I looked up the record of the debate in 1945, and I noted that the present Prime Minister, while giving support to the Housing Agreement Bill 1945, pointed out the difficulties that would arise. He spoke about the State being the landlord and the influence that would be brought to bear upon members of the Parliament. The present Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said on 2nd October, 1945 -
I do ‘not feci anything like the same enthusiasm for this measure as has been exhibited by some honorable members opposite.
The Minister who introduced the measure said, in his reply -
The speeches on the bill show that it has the support of members on both sides of the House.
Mr. Archie Cameron, who subsequently was appointed as Speaker of the Parliament, said by way of interjection -
They do not show anything of the sort.
Contradictory statements have been made even by present Ministers of the Crown. The Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) is reported in the February, 1963, issue of the “ Australian Liberal “ as having said that more homes were being made available in Australia each year than the growth of Australia required. Has there ever been another such stupid statement made by an intelligent man? No doubt he and some of his colleagues will point out that there are flats and homes unoccupied which he or his friends could secure. Such accommodation is available - at from £12 to £25 a week. Only wealthy friends of honorable senators opposite could afford to pay those rents.
No doubt honorable senators opposite will condemn New South Wales for its rent control and will blame that factor for the lack of private home building. But no rent restriction has been imposed on new buildings for the last ten years, and none is contemplated now. Any rent can be charged on new buildings or on leases under section 5a of the Landlord and Tenant Act. Homes in respect of which the rent chargeable was pegged at £2 a week are now let to new tenants for £12 a week. The New South Wales Government is worried about this situation and is contemplating the introduction of legislation to deal with this racketeering. A report in the “Sydney Morning Herald “ about the State Government’s proposals had this to say -
The purpose of the legislation will be to:
Increase and more clearly define penalties on landlords who seek to gain vacant possession of controlled premises by harassing tenants.
Impose a ceiling on charges for leases of uncontrolled premises which may be registered under section 5a of the Landlord and Tenant
As I said, this is a problem about which the New South Wales Government is very much concerned, lt ought to receive the sympathetic consideration of this Government. Unfortunately, honorable senators opposite will continue with their attacks and say, as was said in the other place, that the provision of houses is being affected because of the failure of the New South Wales Government to secure proper allocation of funds from Commonwealth activities. If time permitted, I could repeat at great length statements which have been made by the Premier of New South Wales in rebuttal of such charges. Attention has been drawn to the treatment that New South Wales has received, as against that accorded to the other States. In April last the Premier of New South Wales drew attention to this matter. Mr. Heffron said this -
I am aware that Victoria is given better treatment than New South Wales and I have never failed to object to this state of affairs. It should be remembered that for some years federal politics in the Liberal and Country Parly spheres have been dominated by Victoria and that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) come from that State. The position is not helped by the attitude of the New South Wales representatives in the Federal Cabinet who seem to be cowed by their colleagues and never raise their voices to protect their own State from financial injustice.
In 1962 a circular letter showing the many advantages given Victoria over New South Wales was sent to all New South Wales parliamentary representatives from a Mr. Hume and later I raised the matter of Government contracts, pointing out how the changes in priority favoured Victoria against New South Wales. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir William Spooner) said he had a vague recollection of receiving this circular but it was of no significance and he was not very much concerned about it. However, it is of great concern. The representatives of New South Wales and the people of Australia are concerned about the management of housing affairs generally and the way the Government is exercising its influence concerning the treatment of New South Wales.
The Australian Labour Party states clearly where it stands on housing. It is worried about the well-being of Australians, not only in New South Wales but also in the rest of the country. I agree that this £49,000,000 will be of great help, but let us consider what percentage of the national income is being spent on housing in Australia compared with the expenditure in other countries. It is important to realize that Australia is a developing country with a population that is increasing very quickly. Accordingly, we should be spending a far greater percentage of our national income on housing than is spent by more static countries. But what do we find? Expenditure on the construction of dwellings in Australia is 5.91 per cent, of the. national income compared with 6.53 per cent, in Canada, 6.23 per cent, in Greece, 7.46 per cent, in Italy and 6.07 per cent, in the United States of America. It is probable that our population is increasing at a greater rate than the population of the other countries with which I have made a comparison, yet we find that our expenditure on housing as a percentage of the national income is the lowest. Surely this is an indictment of the policies of the Government.
Let me sound this note of warning: To ensure that democracy will survive in this changing world, the people - that is, the millions, who make up the working class - must be given a better deal. In Australia, we too must carry out that policy and give our people a better deal. Let me say here and now that the Australian Labour Party wants every Australian family to own its home, for we know that if we give the people a stake in their own land they will defend that right and ownership to the death. Communism or fascism would not then be a menace, and neither would racketeering landlords or estate agents. An investigation into the newly-found wealth, and how it has been achieved, of some people, especially by estate agents over the past ten to fifteen years, might be of advantage to the Parliament. Some of our landlords and estate agents might be branded, not as leading citizens, but as people who have achieved their wealth by devious ways.
The next Labour government will give the people the opportunity they want to own their own homes. Recently at a conference of the Australian Labour Party we reached certain determinations. We analysed and discussed housing plans, and it was agreed then and there that the
American housing plan should be made part and parcel of the programme we will submit to the people at the next election, irrespective of when it is held.
– What is the form of the programme?
– I will tell the honorable senator before I conclude what form it will take. Recently the Sydney “ Sun “ published an article on this proposal under the heading, “ Homes for the People “, in which this announcement that the Australian Labour Party was considering an American housing plan was endorsed by the president of the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales, Mr. A. D. Clifford. Speaking of the Australian Labour Party plan for a federal housing authority, Mr. Clifford referred to the enormous benefits that must flow from any scheme which facilitated home purchase, and he said that any positive plan to provide more money for home purchase would undoubtedly attract support at the next election.
It is important that first priority should be given to the housing of the people. I know that it can be argued that this Government has done something about housing, and that a certain amount of money has been provided by it. But we believe that a great deal more could be done, and it will be done in the terms of Labour Party policy. In an article in the Sydney “ Sun “ of 2nd August, 1963, Ron Ford, a feature writer who has done great work in this field, pointed out the great advantages that would accrue to those who are in an unfortunate position if the Australian Labour Party plan were put into operation. Mr. L. J. Hooker, in an article in the Sydney “ Sun “ urged a crash plan to give the people homes of their own. He said that cheap money ought to be made available to the people of Australia for this purpose.
In conclusion, I want to say that the Australian Labour Party regards housing as No. 1 priority and it assures the Australian people that we will do everything possible to solve the problem. This is the pledge ofthe Australian Labour Party -
A Labour Government will adopt the following programme: -
Make larger housing grants to the States to ensure:
the availability of houses for rental by people with the greatest families and financial needs;
home purchase by people whose families and financial needs most entitle them to reduced deposits;
the replacement of sub-standard houses to resuscitate the inner areas of State capitals.
Ensure a steady flow of funds for housing at reduced or even preferential interest rates.
Require the savings banks to invest a certain proportion of their deposits in housing loans, to individuals and building societies.
Ensure, through . agreement or legislation, that life assurance companies invest in both Commonwealth bonds and building societies on their former scale.
Increase grants to the War Service Homes Division to remove the various devices by which ex-servicemen have been denied justice in recent years.
Help bereaved or injured people to pay rent or instalments where the breadwinner is no longer able to do so.
A Labour Government will reverse the high interest rate policy followed by the Menzies Government. In consultation with the Reserve Bank it will initiate moves to secure a reduction of interest rates, including the increases in overdraft rates made by the Menzies Government.
That is the programme that will be advanced by the Labour Party.
– I support the bill and oppose the amendment which has been moved on behalf of the Opposition. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Debate resumed from 8th October (vide page 931), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– We of the Opposition do not oppose this bill which relates to crimes on aircraft, although in respect of one matter we propose to put forward an amendment. The bill deals with a special section of the criminal law of the Commonwealth. It proposes to create new offences for the purpose of protecting aircraft and passengers and crew of aircraft. It seeks to do this in respect of flights between Australia and other countries and also flights which are purely intra-s!ate. It proposes to create new offences in respect of nights between parts of Australia where the flights are not of a purely intra-state nature. These offences of the second character are not necessarily concerned with the protection of aircraft or of passengers and crew of aircraft.
The necessity for the creation of offences of the first kind to which I have referred is self-evident. In modern times there has been a sufficient number of instances of persons endeavouring to destroy aircraft, to hijack them, or to prejudice the lives of passengers and crew of aircraft, to call for legislation by the Parliament of this Commonwealth with a view to deterring persons from committing such acts. The Commonwealth is using its powers, which extend only to interstate flights and to flights beyond the country, except in regard to aircraft, such as defence aircraft, which are owned by the Commonwealth itself, as set out in the bil). This is necessary because of the restriction upon the legislative power of the Commonwealth. It is not able to. deal with these matters insofar as intra-state flights are concerned. In respect of flights beyond the Commonwealth, the Parliament is able to deal with them by virtue of the Statute of Westminster which enables the Parliament to legislate extra-territorially.
In regard to flights between States or between a State and a territory of Australia, where an offence might be committed on an aircraft when it was about to pass from a State into another Stale or into a territory, or vice versa, and there is doubt as to where the aircraft was at the time the offence was committed, a problem arises in determining the law that is applicable to deal with the offender. It is clear that, apart from legislation such as this, a person who is in an aircraft flying from New South Wales to Queensland could only be dealt with in Queensland for an offence which may have been committed against the laws of Queensland; that is, while he was actually above the territory of Queensland. If there was doubt as to where the alleged offence was actually committed, all kinds of legal difficulties could arise. Unless it could be established that he was actually above the territory of Queensland he could not be dealt with in Queensland, and it might be that because of the same doubt he could not be dealt with for an alleged offence against the laws of New South Wales because it was not known exactly where the aircraft was at the time. This legislation attempts to deal with those problems.
In relation to the protection of aircraft and of passengers and crew of- aircraft, certain specific crimes .are created,- such-fcs taking control of an aircraft without lawful excuse, destruction of. an aircraft, destruction of an aircraft with intent to kill, and so on. The prescription of those crimes appears to be necessary. There is no real comment which should be made about them other than the comments that were made by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) in his second-reading speech. In regard to the second category of matters, because we are dealing with a series of Commonwealth offences it has been necessary either to provide for a special series of offences and to set out all the various matters which may constitute a crime on board an aircraft, or to deal wilh the matter in some shorter fashion, and that is what the legislation proposes to do. It selects the law of the Australian Capital Territory and says, in effect: If a person on board an aircraft passing between one State and another commits an offence which would be an offence if committed in a public place in the Australian Capital Territory, he will be guilty of an offence against the law of the Commonwealth.
– Where shall we find the law of the Australian Capital Territory on that subject?
– The provision is made in clause 7 of the bill, which refers to the law of the Commonwealth in the Australian Capital Territory, the Crimes Act 1900 of New South Wales, and the Police Offences Ordinance of the Territory.
– Is it applied from the State of New South Wales by the Australian Capital Territory ordinance, or is there a fully-fledged ordinance in the Territory?
– As I understand it, the matter is dealt with under the. Scat of Government Act in the first place.
– I understood that the Territory had adopted the code then in operation and had since amended it by ordinance.
– That is my understanding also. It means that, in effect, the substantive law of the Australian Capital Territory is made applicable to an aircraft in flight. One might almost say that an aircraft in flight between two States or between a State and a Territory is subject to the same public law as if it were actually in the Australian Capital Territory.
Of course, Mr. President, this position may create all kinds of anomalies. Articles have been written and adverse criticism has been made concerning the state of the law of the Australian Capital Territory. Last year Mr. Justice Joske said that it was in need of revision, and more stringent criticisms have been made by other legal writers. But I think it is not fair to criticize this legislation for the defects that may exist in the law of the Australian Capital Territory. Our efforts might be better directed towards revision of the outmoded law of the Australian Capital Territory rather than in criticism of a provision which selects what seems on the surface to bc an appropriate body of law and makes it applicable to flights on board an aircraft.
Certain problems arise. One of these is that there may be doubt as to whether an aircraft engaged in an interstate flight is actually over one State or another. If an aircraft engaged in an interstate flight from New South Wales to the Australian Capital Territory is actually over New South Wales then provision is made in this bill for proceedings under Commonwealth law not to go on. The procedural provisions of the bill attend to that and the actual prosecution will be conducted under the law of the appropriate State. That is a commendable provision.
Other matters in this bill raise questions of very great moment. One of those is the provision in clause 8 -
The question whether an offence against this Parliament is to be, or may be, prosecuted or dealt with on indictment or summarily shall be determined in accordance with the law that would be applicable in relation to a prosecution under the laws in force in the Australian Capital Territory . . .
It has been pointed out many times that the founders of the Constitution of the Commonwealth intended in section 80 to provide that trials for offences against the laws of the Commonwealth should be by jury.
– Serious offences.
– Trials for serious offences, at all events. I thank you, Senator Wright. But by a decision of the High Court of Australia the intention of that provision has really been destroyed and the Commonwealth is able to provide that offences - even serious offences - may be dealt with by summary proceedings and not on indictment. So we see carried into this bill another example of a departure from the spirit of the Constitution. It is the view of many persons that what was intended by those who drafted the Constitution ought to be put into effect by this Parliament and that serious offences against the laws’ of the Commonwealth should not be determined otherwise than by trial by jury.
– Can you tell us what clause 8 means, or anything about the law that is there invoked? Can you say why the draftsman should be so obscure?
– I think the answer to that is that the draftsman was intending to make the provisions of this bill parallel at every point to the law of the Australian Capital Territory. This clause provides for offences to be dealt with on indictment or summarily in accordance with the law that would be applicable to a prosecution in the Australian Capital Territory, if the act or omission alleged to constitute the offence had occurred in the Australian Capital Territory. So the draftsman is simply taking over, for good, bad or indifferent, exactly the same provisions as would apply in the Australian Capital Territory.
– What are they? I. for one, have not had time to look at them.
– Is it really necessary to be concerned with that. if. once you accept the principle that a person who, on an aircraft, does some act which would be punishable in the Australian Capital Territory, would be liable to prosecution and to be dealt with in the same way as if he had committed that act in the Australian Capital Territory? Why should he not be dealt with either by way of indictment or summarily in the same way as if he had committed the act in the Australian Capital Terrtiory?
– You may think the substantive expression of the offence is all right but that the means - indictment or summary trial - in the Australian Capital Territory is inappropriate.
Sena:or MURPHY. - It seems to me, with great respect, that there is no real basis for criticism, because if you were to make the position of a person different for an offence committed on an aircraft it would raise an anomaly. Why should a person be dealt with any differently for committing on board an aircraft the same offence as he or some one else might have committed in the Australian Capital Territory, if the act constitutes an offence in either place? The effect of the clause is to assimilate the aircraft to the Australian Capital Territory, in which case it seems reasonable that the procedural rights and privileges should be exactly the same. Of course, there may be a whole multitude of things involved. As I understand it, and as I think 1 indicated earlier, there may be all sorts of anomalies.
A person on board an aircraft will be brought within the confines of this legislation for doing things, perhaps, which might not occur to honorable senators. I do not know, but it may be that the passing of a valueless cheque on board an aircraft will come within the provisions of clause 7. In that clause is a curious expression which conditions the offence to the taking place in, or taking place in a public place in, the Australian Capital Territory. That is made a condition of the application of the laws of the Australian Capital Territory. But it may be that all sorts of things which have nothing to do with, say, the protection of an aircraft or may not occur to one at first sight as being comprehended by this bill, could actually come within its provisions. Indeed, that would seem to follow from the provision of separate parts. It distinguishes between the protection of aircraft and those on board, and the general application of the criminal laws of the Australian Capital Territory to those on board the aircraft.
Then there is the matter of the death penalty, which is provided in the bill for some of the more serious offences. For instance, clause 13 states -
A person who destroys an aircraft to which this Part applies with intent to cause the death of a person or with reckless indifference to the safety of the life of a person is guilty of an indictable offence punishable by death.
One great question arises, that is, whether in these days the Commonwealth should be creating offences which are punishable by death. The tendency all over the world is either to abolish the death penalty altogether or to restrict its application. We on this side of the chamber consider that there should not be any extension of the death penalty. One can regard only with horror the offences which are dealt with in this bill, but nevertheless the experience of humanity is that severity of penalties does not really deter offenders. History discloses that when penalties were extremely severe crimes were more frequently committed and were more ferocious than in the days when penalties were mitigated. It would seem that there is a reaction by citizens to what is done by the State.
If a State itself regards the infliction of extremely severe penalties - the death penalty or drawing and quartering, torture and such things - with equanimity, then there is more of a tendency on the part of the citizens also to look upon such deeds with equanimity. Certainly there seems to be no safe ground for assuming that the infliction of the death penalty will bring about a reduction in crimes of the nature contemplated or will act as a deterrent to those who may be inclined, consciously or through insanity, to commit them.
– What is the law of New South Wales in relation to scuttling a ship with intent to kill, or blocking a train with intent to kill?
– Under the law of New South Wales, as I understand it, that would be punishable by penal servitude for life.
This provision should not be looked at in isolation. One does not get the full import of the death penalty provision unless one considers other Commonwealth legislation. The legislation which bears on this, as I understand it - the Minister may correct me if I am wrong - is the Crimes Act 1914- 1960. Section 5 of that act provides -
Any person who aids, abets, counsels, or procures, or by act or omission is in any way directly or indirectly knowingly concerned in, or party to, the commission of any offence against any law of the Commonwealth or of a Territory, whether passed before or after the commencement of this Act, shall be deemed to have committed that offence and shall be punishable accordingly.
This provision therefore extends, very much further than might appear from the few relevant clauses in the bill, the provision for the death penalty. It extends it even to persons who are in any way indirectly a party to the commission of such an offence. That, of course, gives it an extremely wide ambit - much wider than would at first appear to be the case. The Opposition intends to move for the consideration of the Senate an amendment which will have the effect of deleting the death penalty in respect of these clauses.
There are certain other matters in the bill on which I think we should have some more enlightenment. One is a matter which was mentioned in the other place. There is provision in clause 25 whereby a person in command of an aircraft may arrest a person whom he finds committing, or whom he reasonably suspects of having committed an offence under the appropriate part of the bill. He may bring him before a justice of the peace or other proper authority to be dealt with in accordance with the law. Yet there is a provision in clause 21 that -
the commitment of a person for trial on indictment for an offence against this Act; or
the summary prosecution of an offence against this Act, shall not be instituted except with the consent in writing of the Attorney-General or a person authorized by the Attorney-General, by writing under his hand, to give such consents.
Under the general law a person who is arrested is entitled to be informed at once of the cause of his arrest - that is, the charge againsthim. The arrest there is for the purpose of bringinghim as speedily as possible before some judicial authority to be dealt with according to the law. He is to be brought before such a person and to be charged. Once he has been brought before such an authority and charged he, of course, has certainly been proceeded against - the proceedings have been instituted. In fact, one might say that the proceedings have been instituted once he is arrested for the purpose of being brought before the authority to be charged. What is the position here? Apparently, a person can be arrested by an officer of the aircraft. He is entitled to be told exactly with what he is charged. Under the general law he ought to be brought immediately before a judicial authority, and yet it appears from clause 21 that the proceedings - either indictable or summary - shall not be instituted-
– If I might interrupt the honorable senator, I gather that the Government intends to introduce an amendment which, if carried, will allow a person so arrested to be charged, but the proceedings on indictment, or whatever it might be, must wait for consents.
– I have not seen that. What I am submitting is something which occurred to me at a much earlier stage. I have not had an opportunity to read any proposed amendment that has just been circulated. To me there did appear to be a gap in the bill. If an amendment such as that is carried it will bring about a desirable result. Otherwise you could have a breakdown in the general law by persons being held in custody under circumstances which would, under the common law, constitute a breach of their rights and be a form of unlawful imprisonment.
There is another matter to which I should like to direct attention. At first glance it might appear to be trivial. Clause 26 (1.) gives power to a person in charge of an aircraft to search, or cause to be searched, the aircraft and persons on board the aircraft if he reasonably suspects that an offence has been committed, or may be committed, on board or in relation to the aircraft. Sub-clause (2.) provides -
A female shall not be searched under the last preceding sub-section except by a female.
This is a provision of a standard type in criminal codes but, of course, this is not an ordinary criminal code. This is a special enactment dealing with crimes which might be committed on board aircraft, and it is ludicrous to think that on board an aircraft where there might not be an air hostess a female shall not be searched at all. That is what it means. The sub-clause is mandatory. It states -
A female shall not be searched under the last preceding sub-section except by a female.
One can imagine a situation where some female - equally as well as some male - may have some weapon concealed on her person. It is extending chivalry much too far actually to prohibit, in the most absolute terms, the person in command of the aircraft or other persons from searching the female.
– Not necessarily other persons. There could be another female passenger.
– If there were another female passenger. Suppose a female, aboard an aircraft, threatened the crew or passengers with a gun, or announced that she had some explosive on her person. It seems quite ludicrous that the males on board could not search the female. Either this provision ought to be omitted or there ought to be some watering down of it. One recalls that in any event the persons authorized could not, of course, in searching, commit any act of indecency and under the general law would not be entitled to misuse the occasion. I do not think that any harm would be done if the sub-clause were deleted altogether, because the general law provides sufficient protection against any abuse of the clause.
This bill is in general line with the Tokyo convention which was entered into during the preceding September, and I think August, and a copy of which has been circulated. I think that the bill in general is to be commended by the Senate. I have no doubt ,hat there will be anomalies and that there will have to be amendments to the legislation as a result of experience. One can think of some anomalies. For instance, I have no doubt that there are offences under the laws of the Australian Capital Territory which do not exist under the laws of other States. It may well be that under the laws of Queensland and New South Wales a person is perfectly entitled to do something either on land, or in an aircraft above the territory of those States, which is an offence according to the law of the Australian Capital Territory.
This bill will apply the laws of the Australian Capital Territory to a flight between New South Wales and Queensland. A person engaged in such a flight may do something on board the aircraft which constitutes an offence against the law of the Australian Capital Territory but not against the law of either of the States. There may be such unintended results. It would require a great deal of research, perhaps, and a great deal of skilful drafting to eliminate some of the anomalies that may occur, but I think we may be assured that experience will reveal the anomalies.
One thing that will certainly have to be done was perhaps indicated in what was suggested by Senator Wright and was certainly suggested by those who have complained about the backward state of the laws of this Territory. Those laws will have to be brought up to date, because the disabilities which those in the Territory are suffering as a result of the primitive state of their general law will be suffered by us, because in travelling from our respective States to here we shall have applied to us, whilst on board aircraft, the very same laws, as will other persons travelling between other States and between States and Territories. This is another most important reason why the laws of the Australian Capital Territory ought to be brought up to date. If that is done, there will be a consequential effect on this enactment.
Subject to the matter which I have indicated, we of the Opposition do not oppose the bill.
– in reply- The Opposition having indicated no objection in principle to this bill, so far as its general purposes are concerned it receives the endorsement of this chamber. The specific provisions in this bill will no doubt be the subject of specific discussion in the committee stage. There seems little point in anticipating those discussions now.
Besides saying how pleasing it is that the principles of the bill receive general endorsement, all that I wish to say is that the badness - if that is the correct word - of the laws of the Australian Capital Territory, as claimed by Senator Murphy, is obviously a matter of opinion. There may be - no doubt there is - a body of opinion which says that they are bad and out of date, but there may be another body of opinion which says that they are not. There would undoubtedly be a great deal of difference of opinion about how bad and out of date they are, and about how far they ought to be amended. For my part, I do not share the abhorrence that Senator Murphy has for particular provisions of those laws. These things, at least, are under the ultimate control of this Parliament, which may extend or restrict the laws. It is appropriate, as Senator Murphy indicated, that laws under the control of this Parliament should be the laws to apply to acts made by this Parliament.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 7 agreed to.
Clause 8 (Which offences are indictable).
.- I find it a matter of puzzlement to know why the clause has been penned in this way. lt reads as follows: -
The question whether an- offence against this Part is to be, or may be, prosecuted or dealt with on indictment or summarily shall be determined in accordance with the law that would bc applicable in relation to a prosecution under the laws in force in the Australian Capital Territory if the act or omission alleged to constitute the offence had occurred in the Australian Capital Territory.
Why is it not made clear for every member of the Parliament and the public which offences under the bill are indictable and which are subject to summary punishment? I should like to know what reason the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) can advance for expressing Commonwealth legislation in this cryptic way which is completely obscure to me. I should like the Minister to tell me what the present law is in the Australian Capital Territory which distinguishes offences punishable summarily from indictable offences.
– I am informed that there is no general law which could be cited in reply to the honorable senator’s question and that the offences do not follow a particular pattern. It would be necessary to examine particular sections in order to decide whether offences committed against this part should be proceeded’ against on indictment or summarily. This clause is expressed in general terms in order to apply to an offence against this part the same provisions as would be applied had that offence been committed in the Australian Capital Territory. If, having been committed in the Australian Capital Territory, the offence would have been proccedable against by indictment, then, under this clause, it would be proceedable against by indictment. If it were an offence which, having been committed in the Australian Capital Territory, would have been proceeded against summarily, then having been committed under this clause, it would be proceeded against summarily.
I think that the short answer to the honorable senator’s question is that this clause seeks to apply the Australian Capital Territory law to offences committed in aircraft. However, the laws follow so diverse a pattern in the Australian Capital Territory that the clause merely states, in effect, that the same pattern will be applied to offences under the clause.
.- The Minister’s reply conveys no more to my mind than what is printed in the clause, and it is no more satisfying. May I ask the Minister to consider a specific offence under this bill? Let us consider an offence under clause 11, sub-clause (1.), which reads as follows: -
A person shall not, without lawful excuse, take or exercise control, whether direct or through another person, of an aircraft to which this part applies.
Penalty: Imprisonment for seven years.
In the application of clause 8 to that offence, what law of the Australian Capital Territory would distinguish whether the offence would be punishable summarily or by indictment?
– I am told that an offence against clause 11, sub-clause (1.), would be indictable because it would be punishable by imprisonment for seven years.
– Do you mean to say that if an offence under a law of the Australian Capital Territory is punishable by imprisonment for more than a particular term it is indictable?
– I am told that the answer is, “ No “. But I am told also that clause 8 applies to offences against Part II. of the bill. I do not think that this is a specific answer to the specific question that the honorable senator has asked but I think it is relevant to the discussion. The example which the honorable senator has cited is taken from Part III. of the bill.
– I think that the principle to which Senator Wright has directed attention is very important indeed. It is that, as far as possible, a penal enactment should not contain a reference either to a substantive law or to procedural law set out elsewhere, because the result is very confusing to the subject and very confusing, even, to the lawyers who might be advising him. The practice has been condemned over many years. I think there is a reference to it in a famous work by Allen on law and orders. There, reference is made to the difficulties which occur in the interpretation of enactments and sometimes in sifting through other enactments to find out what one’s rights are. However, I think it is excusable here because all that is being done is to apply a whole body of substantive law and also a body of procedural law to offences on an aircraft.
The position is much the same as if the Parliament had decided that the laws of the Australian Capital Territory should apply to some newly acquired territory - not only the laws which make offences and deal with civil matters but also the procedural laws. We would just say that the law of the Australian Capital Territory shall apply in the new territory, that offences which are punishable summarily or on indictment in the Australian Capital Territory shall be punishable in the same way in the new territory. So, on this occasion, I would think that the provision is excusable although the matter to which Senator Wright has directed attention ought to be borne in mind, because there are many pieces of Commonwealth legislation in which the provisions are made completely obscure in this way. They are like a Chinese puzzle. One has to rustle from one piece of legislation to another to find out the real position.
SenatorWRIGHT (Tasmania) [9.9].- The Minister having pointed out that clause 8 applies only to an offence against Part II., I do not wish to detain the committee any longer. I derive advantage from what Senator Murphy has just said to the effect that the part is an omnibus application of general law to acts committed on an aircraft, as if they were committed in the Australian Capital Territory. That satisfies my mind as to this clause.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 9 to 12 agreed to.
A person who destroys an aircraft to which this Part applies with intent to cause the death of a person or with reckless indifference to the safety of the life of a person is guilty of an indictable offence punishable by death.
.- I move-
Leave out “ death “, second occurring; insert “ imprisonment for life “.
The effect of this amendment would be to remove the death penalty in respect of the offence in question. There is no doubt that the offence is most serious. As I indicated earlier, one can view it only with horror. There is no suggestion on the part of the Opposition that the offences in respect of which the death penalty is imposed do not call for an extremely severe penalty. There is no suggestion that they are other than terrible crimes. However, the question arises whether in the development of a modern society we should impose the death penalty. The Opposition believes that we ought not to do so - certainly that we should not extend the application of the death penalty. When one looks at the provisions of the Crimes Act which extend the effect of the death penalty provision to the offence of being party even indirectly to the commission of such a crime, it is seen that the ambit is extremely wide. We believe that the death penalty ought to be abolished.
There has been a great deal of discussion on this matter in recent years. I suppose that discussion has extended back over a few centuries, or perhaps even longer than that. Humanity has considered the value of the death penalty, or even more severe punishment, as a deterrent to crime. The modern view, which is shared by the great majority of those who are experts in the study of punishment, is that the death penalty does not deter offenders to a greater degree than does punishment by imprisonment for life. The Senate is now presented with an opportunity to indicate that, even in respect of a terrible crime such as is set out in this legislation, we ought to set aside our passions and consider what will be the best for society. We believe that we ought to mitigate these penalties and not indulge in the old mosaic law of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. The fact that some person in society is prepared to destroy an aircraft with intent to cause the death of another or with reckless indifference to the safety of the life of such person is not a reason why society should adopt the mosaic law. When society in general adopts the approach that human life is sacred and that the life even of those who have committed terrible crimes should not be taken away, we will have an atmosphere in which everybody in society learns to regard human life as being sacred.
AH the influences of education and environment operate to deter persons from committing crimes. We have the most beneficial atmosphere for deterring the commission of a crime when a person knows, not that he shall be punished by death if he commits the crime, but that the crime is regarded with extreme horror by the society in which he lives. Fundamentally, that is the philosophy of those who are opposed to the death penalty. Studies indicate that no benefit is gained by imposing the death penalty or any other form of savagery or torture. This subject has been considered by the agencies of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission. I suppose discussions on this subject have occurred in Australia so often in recent times that everybody is familiar with the arguments for and against the death penalty.
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission has made these general comments on the subject -
The arguments most frequently advanced in favour of capital punishment are: Capital punishment is a uniquely effective deterrent and thus better protects the community; man’s inate sense of justice sees this punishment as bearing a just relationship to certain heinous types of crime; there is no satisfactory alternative to capital punishment; public opinion strongly favours its retention. Those favouring abolition reject the truth or force of the above contentions and further argue that: it is morally wrong for the State, in the Law, deliberately to tate life; miscarriages of justice occur and, if this sanction is applied, cannot be rectified; capital punishment is potentially subject to misuse; capital punishment runs counter to the modern penological claim of rehabilitating the individual offender. In turn the retentionists repudiate these major abolitionist arguments.
The Committee noted that abolitionist policy represents the major trend among experts and other practitioners in this field, and that even those who do n6t support abolitionist policy tend to take an increasingly restrictive view of (he use of capital punishment.
We know of the events that occurred in Victoria last year, and the public outcry there was against the imposition of the death penalty even where the offender was guilty of a most atrocious crime.
We believe that the view we take is that, of the overwhelming majority of the Australian people, that sentiment in this country is increasingly in favour of the abolition of the death penalty, and that this ought not to be an occasion for extending the application of that penalty.
. Mr. Temporary Chairman, I do not propose to discuss the rights or wrongs of the death penalty. In Queensland no provision is made for the death penalty and I am wondering what the position would be when a crime was committed in or over Queensland.” Would the Commonwealth law be superimposed on the State law?
.- I desire to be heard in support of Senator Murphy’s amendment. I want to associate myself first with what he has said about the enormity of the crimes that are dealt with in the bill. There is in fact no difference between the Government and the Opposition in the seriousness with which we both regard the crimes covered by this bill. Where we join issue with the Government is in respect of the provisions of the bill which impose the death penalty on conviction of the crimes set out in the bill.
I am keenly aware that on this subject we enter into one of the classical controversies of our time. The question is whether and when society is justified in taking the life of a person because that person has taken the life of yet another. The more we examine the arguments for the death penalty the less we are convinced that it is a proper approach to the subject of punishment for crime. When a new offence is created - and this is a new offence under Commonwealth law - and when the death penalty is imposed as the price of guilt under the law, it is necessary to look at the whole concept that underlies the proposal to introduce the death penalty here.
We must examine carefully the various arguments that are put in favour of imposing the death penalty rather than just accept it as a matter of course. There is a regrettable tendency to swim along with the tide - to look at a new offence and say, “ This is a dreadful crime and it should bc punishable by the supreme penalty” - to go along with that without examining afresh whether or not there is real justification for it. As I have said, there is no difference between the Government and the Opposition concerning the seriousness of the offence concerned. We think it should be punished with severity, but we join issue with the Government on the nature of the penalties to be imposed under the bill.
– Does this penalty exist in the British legislation for an offence in the terms of this clause?
– I cannot answer that question; I do not know. But the only possible basis upon which the death penalty can be justified in the second half of the twentieth century is if there is an overwhelming case that it represents a deterrent to the commission of further offences. I would not be happy even if that were established beyond doubt. But certainly other justifications for the existence of the death penalty and for carrying it out have long since been discredited by sociologists and criminologists and by those practical reformers who have had some experience in studying the effects of punishment on the commission of crime by others. It is sometimes said that we should stick to the barbaric notion of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. If that doctrine were carried to its logical conclusion this would soon be a blind and toothless world. That kind of “ thinking with the blood “ doctrine is part of the long-forgotten past.
Then there is the other argument that the death penalty discourages further crime. I do not propose to examine at length the statistics on this. It is a much debated question, but the better view is that there is no proper and. acceptable evidence that the imposition of the death penalty has any more marked effect upon the future commission of murder and serious crime than has the imposition of a penalty of life imprisonment. This matter was fully examined by a royal commission in the United Kingdom in 1949 which reported in these terms -
All we can say is that the deterrent value of punishment in general is probably liable to be exaggerated, and the effect of capital punishment specially so because of its drastic and sensational character.
A very distinguished witness, Professor Thorsten Sellin, of the University of Pennsylvania, gave evidence before that royal commission. I take the liberty of quoting a passage from his evidence because it seems to me to put the matter in a proper perspective and in summary form. Here are his answers to four crucial questions put to him by the Royal Commission -
We cannot conclude from statistics that capital punishment has no deterrent effect?
No, there is no such conclusion.
But can we not conclude that if it has a deterrent effect it must be rather small?
I can make no such conclusion, because I can find no answer one way or another in these data. It is impossible to draw any inference, from the material that is in my possession, that there is any relationship between a large number of executions, small number of executions, no executions, and what happens to the murder rates.
I think you have already agreed that capital punishment cannot, on the basis of your figures, be exercizing an overwhelmingly deterrent effect?
That -is correct.
But you would not like to go further than that? No.
In other words, it cannot be positively demonstrated that capital punishment has any conceivable effect upon the commission of future crimes, but the contrary cannot be demonstrated either. The point I make in support of the amendment moved by Senator Murphy is that we are left in a state of intellectual doubt about this question: If there is a real fundamental issue to be decided as to whether there is or is not a deterrent effect, why come down on the side of the death penalty? I could go a lot further. There are some who will assert positively that there is no possible deterrent effect, but we do not have to go that far. Surely, to a body such as this Senate, it is sufficient to say, when you introduce a new crime: Do not put the death penalty in, just as a matter of course. Look for a convincing justification for the insertion of the death penalty before you vote for it.
I know there are members on the Government side to-night who do not feel happy about the imposition of the death penalty in new Commonwealth legislation. Wc only have to look back to the history of the last couple of hundred years to appreciate that we have gone a long way since the turn of the 19th century when the criminal law of Great Britain - commonly known at that time as the “ Bloody Code “ - was unique in the world, inasmuch as between 220 and 230 offences were punishable by death. They included the stealing of turnips, associating with gipsies, damaging a fish pond, writing threatening letters, impersonating outpensioners at Greenwich Hospital, being found armed or disguised in a forest, park or rabbit warren, cutting down a tree, poaching, forging, picking pockets, shop-lifting and so on.
A learned authority has said that the exact number of capital offences was not known even to the best legal authorities, because each statute was so broadly framed that the scope of the death penalty was often three or four times as extensive as the number of capital provisions would seem to indicate. That was the position only a century and a half ago.
In my own State of Victoria, as recently as 1949 there were ten offences punishable by death. In 1949 the Victorian Government, following an investigation by the parliamentary Statute Law Committee, removed eight of those offences from the list. One of them was rape. An examination of the statistics relating to that offence during the five years preceding 1949 and the five years after 1949 showed that there was no appreciable difference in the number of cases of rape reported in respect of which persons were convicted.
– To which two offences does the death penalty still apply in Victoria?
– Murder is one and treason is the other. Treason, for practical purposes, is of course no longer a State offence. It remains on the State statute book, but essentially it is an offence which can be committed only against the Commonwealth.
I make this point, Mr. Chairman, because it is often argued that the death penalty acts as a deterrent. We of the Opposition do not believe that that is so. Further, we do not believe that, even if that were a proper point to be taken into account, it should decide the matter. The Australian Labour Party and those who subscribe to its principles are inflexibly opposed to capital punishment in any form, for any offence, whether here or in any other country. But of course we are limited to our own Parliament and our own statutes. The Commonwealth should give a lead in this matter. It should not merely follow in the footsteps of some obsolete State provisions relating to capital pnishment, especially at a time when we are considering new legislation and new offences. I repeat, because I want it clear beyond any possibility of misunderstanding, that we of the Opposition believe that the crimes which are the subject of this bill should be punishable by very severe penalities; but we do not believe that in 1963 it is proper for the National Parliament to create new offences and to make them punishable by death. The penalty death is a barbaric thing. It degrades human society.
There is another point which I had intended to mention in connexion with the argument that the imposition of the death penalty acts as a deterrent. In fact, as has been well said by eminent authorities, the abolition of capital punishment will not bring more murders; it will bring more convictions for murder. The plain fact is that wherever the death penalty has been abolished, juries have been prepared to convict, because where the death penalty exists and survives, juries have already been prone to give the prisoner, by stretching a point, the benefit of what is sometimes called a resonable doubt and either to acquit him or to convict him of manslaughter. On the other hand, in States such as New South Wales and Queensland, to which Senator Kendall referred, and which have abolished the death penalty, the statistics show that there has been an increase in the proportion of convictions for murder compared with convictions for manslaughter or acquittals. I have not the time or the inclination to deal fully with the statistics at the moment. What we want is the certainty of conviction for serious offences and not the shadow of the gallows. I support the amendment.
– I rise to support the amendment moved by Senator Murphy. As has been stated, we of the Australian Labour Party are violently opposed to the death penalty for any crime. I could not state our opposition to the death penalty more forcibly than it has been stated already, so I shall do no more than record my opposition to it. I am surprised that clause 13, which prescribes the death penalty for certain offences, has not been fully analysed. I may be on the wrong track and I should like the clause to be analysed by the legal luminaries in the Senate so that I may see whether I am miscalculating or not. Senator Cohen put up a strong case against the principle of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. He indicated that there is no justification for hanging some one who has caused a death, and for taking another life.
Clause 13 specifies certain offences for which the death penalty is provided. There t is no alternative penalty. According to my interpretation, the commission of the offence,’’ does not necessarily have to result in loss of life. The offence consists of destroying an.; . aircraft with intent to cause loss of life;*’ Clause 1 2 provides that a person -shall not wilfully destroy an aircraft. The penalty provided for doing so is imprisonment for fourteen years. Clause 13 provides that a person who destroys an aircraft with intent to cause the death of a person or with reckless indifference to the safety of the life of a person’ is guilty of an indictable offence punishable by death, lt is necessary for the person concerned both to destroy the aircraft and to intend to cause the death of a person.
I should like to know the meaning of the words “reckless indifference”. I take it that the clause refers to the acts of a person who does not care about endangering those on board the aircraft. Although his actions may be criminal in nature, he may not even have considered them. For instance, let us take the case of a drunken man on an aircraft who, in a drunken stupor, bumped against the controls - Senator O’Byrne could describe the operation of an aircraft better than I can - and sent it into a spin. Suppose the aircraft was destroyed, but that there was” no criminal intent at all on his part. If the aircraft was destroyed but no one died in the accident, would he be hanged in accordance with the penalty provided under this bill? I should like an expression of opinion on the matter by those who are qualified to interpret the law. Is that a proper interpretation of the provision?
– It does not require the death of a person.
– No, that is what I thought.
– It requires the intent to cause death.
– Yes, but the words “ with reckless indifference “ are used. Suppose that some one who has no intention to cause the death of other people acts with reckless unconcern. Suppose that his action does not result in any one on the aircraft being killed, although the aircraft is destroyed. He might not have given a thought to his responsibility to preserve the safety of the aircraft. He may have acted with reckless indifference in engaging in a fight with the pilot, possibly as a result of provocation. Because he acted with reckless indifference to the safety of the aircraft in striking the pilot and knocking him out, would he be subject to the death penalty?
I have raised the matter to ascertain what those who are trained in the interpretation of the law have to say. It seems to me that it is a grievous state of affairs to provide the death penalty for the action of a person who might not have set out to destroy life and limb on an aircraft. In considering this provision we all imagine some one taking a bomb aboard an aircraft for the purpose of destroying it, and in the process of so doing, destroying himself.. But the bill does not say that. If this bill becomes law’ and a person is brought before a court and charged with an offence against this proposed section, the judge will instruct the jury to ask themselves whether the plane had been destroyed and whether the man had acted with reckless indifference to the safety of those on the aircraft. Reckless indifference will perhaps become a matter for legal interpretation. If a jury finds that there is reckless indifference the judge can award only one penalty, although the jury could bring in a recommendation of mercy. This clause states that a man is to be hanged if, in committing the offence, he acted with reckless indifference.
– I agree with the remarks that have been made by my colleagues, Senators Murphy, Cohen and Cavanagh. I think the issue boils down, as the Minister correctly said in his second-reading speech, to being not so much a matter of politics as a matter of conscience. Indeed, I remind honorable senators who may be inclined to vote for this measure and who do not believe in the death penalty that by supporting this proposal they will be in fact supporting the death penalty. We of the Opposition have it as a plank of our policy that we do not believe in this type of punishment. I am proud to be associated with a party that adopts this humane outlook. Indeed, I am proud to come from the State of New South Wales where no one has been hanged since the Labour Government came into office in 1941.
It was not until about four or five years ago that the death penalty was completely removed from the statute book of New South Wales, but since 1941 no person convicted of a crime has been hanged for the offence. It is rather ironical when one casts one’s mind back and recalls that one of the last hangings in New South Wales, if it was not in fact the last hanging, was for the crime of murder committed on a train travelling between Dubbo and Sydney. A conciliation commissioner was accosted and murdered by a young man named Hickey. Hickey was accused, charged and subsequently convicted. I did not know him.
– What was the method of killing?
– Quite frankly, I am not familiar with all the circumstances of the case, but I think it was a crime committed for the purpose of robbery. If my memory serves me correctly the killing was by way of personal assault. Although I did . not know the young man Hickey - I was a comparatively young boy in those days - the Hickey family was associated with my family. Mr. and Mrs. Hickey were two of the finest types of Australians that any person could ever wish to meet.
I know that Mrs. Hickey, in particular, lived the death of her son night after’ night, month after month and year after year. Not only Hickey paid the penalty for the horrible crime of murder that he had committed; his mother and father also paid a penalty.
I can also recall a man named McDermott being indicted for the crime of murder in New South Wales. I believe his trial was at the Supreme Court in Bathurst at about the end of the Second World War. As a result of plea after plea for a re-trial a royal commission was appointed to inquire into the circumstances of his conviction. A long and substantial hearing took place before His Honour,. Mr. Justice Kinsella, of the New South Wales Supreme Court, who recorded in his finding that the jury should not have been satisfied beyond reasonable doubt and that McDermott should not have been convicted. As a result of this report McDermott was freed and I understand that he now lives respectably as a decent citizen. What a shocking indictment it would have been had an anti-Labour government been in office at that time and had the original penalty imposed on McDermott been carried out. The Minister says that this is a matter of conscience. I say that my conscience, and the consciences of all members of the Opposition, will be clear if we vote for the amendment moved by Senator Murphy.
– But for the course the debate has taken I would have waited to hear what the Minister had to say upon this subject. With great respect to what Senators Murphy and Cohen said, I think they have put their case too high for the purposes of this proposed section. I believe my statement in that respect is supported by what Senator Cavanagh said. I do not think that this is a case of considering the continued application of the death penalty for murder. It is not. My understanding - I should like to be corrected if I am wrong - is that if a man went into an aircraft that had just been loaded with passengers and put a bomb in there, intending to kill, it would not need this provision to convict him of murder. Under the law of the Australian Capital Territory he would be liable to the death penalty. So that is not the case that we are considering, I submit. However, I raise that because I want my mind to have the benefit of the best discussion that the committee can yield upon this.
The clause that the committee is considering states -
A person who destroys an aircraft to which this part applies with intent to cause the death of a person or with reckless indifference to the safety of the life of a person is guilty of an indictable offence punishable by death.
The first thing about that is that the offence is destroying an aircraft while having the appropriate state of mind. An “ aircraft “ may mean a Commonwealth aircraft or a defence aircraft, so the value does not necessarily enter into it.
– Need his state of mind be such that he is recklessly indifferent?
– Please! I do not state all that I have to say in one sentence. The value of the aircraft is not necessarily part of the crime. The aircraft involved may be an old one-winger valued at £150. The next thing to be considered is the expression “ with intent to cause death “.
– If I may stop you there 1 do not think it has to be a Commonwealth aircraft.
– No; I took that as one instance to indicate that the aircraft could be of little value. The next thing to be considered is that the person whose death is intended need not be a passenger on the aircraft. He may be sleeping in a hangar. The fire is started in the aircraft, but he is in the building and is intended to be burnt by it.
We then come to the second part of the clause which refers to a person who destroys an aircraft with reckless indifference to the safety of the life of a person. He does not need to have a deliberate intent either to cause death or to cause personal injury or to wound. The offence is complete if a person destroys an aircraft with reckless indifference to the safety of a second person. Again, that second person need not be within the aircraft at all.
Senator Cavanagh has given us an example. If, in a responsible discussion in this committee, I disagree with any opinion, that is not to be taken as disrespect or indicating offence. 1 do so for the purpose of promoting the discussion. I want to say too that in discussing illustrations one can easily be misled. One can very facilely express an opinion upon a situation of fact that is put forward just by way of example. But most people in my profession, before giving an opinion of this sort, have the matter in mind in the court, at night and in the morning, and then give a deliberate opinion. Having said that, it would seem to me that in a case such as has been postulated by Senator Cavanagh, of a man who in drink falls against the controls of an aircraft, it would be not very likely that the jury would say that he was displaying a reckless indifference to the safety of life.
– But it is a possibility.
– It would al! depend upon his actions before and after. Coupled with other circumstances, I would not deny that it is a possibility, but it seems to me that the illustration neglects the difference between negligence as a simple act of inadvertence and what the clause refers to as “ reckless indifference “. Those words in the criminal law have been, of course, emphasized for this purpose on many occasions, but they are emphasized not in relation to the criterion of murder but in relation to the criterion of manslaughter. Culpable negligence was defined in a motor car accident case in the House of Lords, in the early 1950’s, as driving in a condition of mind that displays a reckless indifference to the safety of life.
– When you get angry with a person?
– No. That is more indicative of a deliberate purpose; if you are driving and get angry and you see a pedestrian on the road and deliberately run him down, you murder him. When you are driving with a girl, with your arm around her and smoking a cigarette after having had six beers in the local and you have been seen over the last two blocks to have been weaving across the street, you are probably displaying an attitude of reckless indifference to the safety of life.
These discussions are not for the purpose of dealing with the case of murder, they are for the purpose of ascertaining whether an act of killing on the road is of such culpable negligence as to come within the ambit of manslaughter, the punishment for which in the State of Tasmania varies, according to the practice of the judges, from possibly twelve months, at least, to seven years for a serious offence, and may be more. The punishment is within the actual discretion of the judge, and can be up to 21 years.
Having analyzed the clause in the way I have, I want to ask the Minister, first, whether this clause has any parent section in British legislation. Secondly, what reasoning is behind the prescription of the death penalty for the particular offence as I have analyzed it? I want to bring to the Minister’s mind, thirdly, an inquiry as to what is the uniform attitude of the six States in their criminal law towards such offences as endangering life on a railway or endangering life on a ship. I have not, in the time I have given to this matter, turned up the shipping law, but the criminal code of Tasmania states -
Any person who, with intent to injure or endanger the safety of any person on a railway, places anything upon or across any railway, or does any act likely to interfere with, injure or endanger any engine, carriage or other vehicle on any railway . . . is guilty of a crime. The crime is that of intentionally endangering persons on a railway, and a crime of that sort would be punished according to its gravity, but certainly, unless the act charged was murder, and the person was convicted of murder, the death penalty would not be involved. Even attempt to murder would not carry the death penalty, and attempt to endanger the safety of a person on a railway would certainly not carry the death penalty. So I have indicated some degree of disquiet upon which I would be most obliged to hear the Minister’s comment.
– Various points have been raised to which, apart from the philosophical one, I will seek to give such answers as I can. Senator Kendall raised the question of what would happen if the crime covered by this bill were committed in an aircraft which, at the time the crime was committed, was clearly in Queensland air space. The reason he asked his question was that in Queensland there is no provision for the death penalty. The answer with which I have been provided is that if the crime were committed on an interstate flight when the aircraft was in known and admitted geographical situation, and if there were a State law covering the crime which was committed - as, of course, there would be in a case of this sort - then both the Commonwealth law and the State law could be applied in the punishment of that crime.
– That would mean you would hang him twice, if it happened over South Australia.
– The State law could not be applied if the Commonwealth law were applied, and the Commonwealth law could not be applied if the State law were applied, but it would be possible for one or the other to be applied. The question of which would be applied would be decided b’y whether the Commonwealth decided to prosecute or to leave the State to prosecute. It is anticipated - and expected - that where a crime is committed in a known geographical situation, and where there is a State law which deals with that crime, it would be left to the State to proceed against the person charged and to apply the penalty applicable to the crime. This, I gather, is the reason for clause 27, which reads -
This Act is not intended to exclude or limit the operation of any other law of the Commonwealth or, except as provided by the next succeeding section, the operation of any law of a State or Territory.
If it were not known where the crime was committed, the Commonwealth law would apply.
The major argument has revolved around the philosophical conception as to whether or not in any circumstances the death penalty should be exacted by a modern civilized society. I do not think that there is any advantage in arguing that, because there is not much chance of altering the opinions held one way or the other. It is purely a philosophical decision to which an individual comes. Certainly Senator Cohen made it fairly clear, at least to me, that the people whom he cited as authorities felt that they could not say whether or not the imposition of capital punishment had a deterrent effect. One can only state ones’ own view. I am not in the least appalled at the prospect of capital punishment being imposed upon anindividual who, not in any fit of passion but with planning, causes the death of up to 50 or 60 other human beings. It does not distress me to think of that. It may well distress , other- people, but that is a matter for individual consciences.
The points raised by Senator Wright, which went to what the clause actually provided, were, as far as I could ascertain and as far as I know, correctly based. The offence must be, first, the destruction of an aircraft, but that is not, of course, the sole element. It is merely one of the essential elements of the crime. An aircraft must be destroyed, and it must be destroyed with the intention of committing murder, or of causing the death of a person. It could well be destroyed and cause the death of one person, or 40 or 60 persons, but it is not necessary that that should happen. It must be destroyed with the intention of causing the death of a person. It may be destroyed, as Senator Cavanagh and Senator Wright suggested, wilh reckless indifference to the safety or the life of a person. I am not a legal man, nor is Senator Cavanagh a legal man, but I am informed that the expression “ reckless indifference to the safety or life qf a person “ is a phrase known to the law, which means that something is done not by accident but by a person who knows that what he is doing is endangering life, who just does not care, who is reckless, and who goes on and does it in any event.
I do not believe that there is great advantage in prolonging the philosophical side of the discussion. People make up their own minds as to whether it is or is not reasonable to impose capital punishment upon any one in this modern world.
– The point raised by Senator Kendall is a most important one, and the Minister’s explanation emphasizes the importance of it. If a crime which invokes a death penalty under this legislation is committed over, say, Queensland or New South Wales, it will be a matter of administration whether the person is prosecuted by the Commonwealth and so subjected to the death penalty, or is prosecuted in either of the States and not subjected to the death penalty. That is not a very satisfactory state of affairs. Why should the imposition of the death penalty depend, in the ultimate, on some administrative decision?
It is wrong that a matter of such grave importance as this should depend on a determination by the Minister of the Commonwealth as to whether he will prosecute or will leave it to one of the States to prosecute. As one can see, sometimes a great deal of passion is introduced into these matters. In the State of Victoria recently, apparently, some persons felt vehemently that the death penalty should be imposed. One can understand that a person may be in a situation where he has to make a decision when he, along with others in the community, has some strong feeling about the imposition of the death penalty. It is wrong that this legislation should leave the matter to the determination of the Minister. That is a defect in the legislation. Of course, it would be cured, so far as the death penalty is concerned, if the proposed amendments to this and other clauses affected were accepted. The right of the citizen to this life should not depend on an administrative decision.
The matter of reckless indifference was raised. I do not know what the law may be in other States. For the information of the committee, the Crimes Act of New South Wales defines murder in this way -
Murder shall be taken to have been committed where the act of the accused or thing by him omitted to be done causing the death charged was done or omitted with reckless indifference to human life or with intent to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm . . .
One element is the death of a person. Another element is reckless indifference or intent. The definition of manslaughter is -
Every other punishable homicide shall be taken to be manslaughter.
– You say that in New South Wales killing with reckless indifference to the safety of human life is murder?
– Yes. I shall read the definition again. It is in section 18 (1) (a). I refer to Hamilton and Addison’s “ Criminal Law and Procedure “, Sixth Edition, at page 31, which states -
Murder shall be taken to have been committted where the act of the accused, or thing by him omitted to be done, causing the death charged, was done or omitted wilh reckless indifference to human life, or with intent to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm upon some person, or done in an attempt to commit, or during or immediately after the commission by the accused, or some accomplice with him, of an act obviously dangerous to life, or of a crime punishable by death or penal servitude for life.
Every other punishable homicide shall be taken to be manslaughter. No act or omission which was not malicious, or for which the accused had lawful cause or excuse, shall be within this section. No punishment or forfeiture shall be incurred by any person who kills another by misfortune only, or in his own defence.
So one sees that, even in relation to murder, the net is cast wide but, as everyone knows, in the practical application, something very serious is called for.
The point which Senator Cavanagh made as to the destruction of an aircraft being enough, is no doubt correct, lt is true that the net in this field is cast much wider than that. The destruction of the aircraft is not even called for. If a person aids, abets, counsels or procures the destruction of an aircraft or is in any way directly or indirectly knowingly concerned in or a party to the destruction, that is enough. I take that from section 5 of the Crimes Act 1914-60. That is a comprehensive enactment which extends the effect of this clause. Under section 7 of the Crimes Act 1914-1960, an attempt to commit an offence against any law of the Commonwealth or a territory, whether passed before or after the commencement of the Crimes Act shall mean that the person is guilty of an offence and that he shall be punishable as if the attempted offence had been committed. So, if the offence of destroying an aircraft in these circumstances is punishable with death, the attempt is punishable with death. I understand that the provisions of the Crime Act 1914-1960 are applicable in this case. That is the basis upon which I proceed and I understand that the Minister does not take a contrary view. That means that the attempt to commit such an offence or being a party even indirectly to the commission of such an offence would involve the offender in the death penalty. This extends the position as stated by Senator Cavanagh to a very serious extent.
We approach this matter not so much on the basis of the application of the punishment to a particular crime because we are concerned also with the provision in clause 15. The basic objection is to the imposition of a death penalty at all for any crime however serious. That is the most important and fundamental objection that we raise. As I indicated earlier the scope of the Crimes Act is such that even to be a party to an offence is an offence. There may be no destruction but there may be an attempt at destruction of an aircraft with reckless indifference to the safety of the life of a person and any person who was even indirectly a party to the commission of that offence would be subject to the death penalty. So it is clear that the application of this bril is very wide indeed. It may give honorable senators cause to reflect that even in the case of less serious matters than an attempt at the destruction of an aircraft, or an attempt to cause the death of a person with reckless indifference to the safety of life of such person the death penalty is being imposed. It is being imposed in relation to a great number of acts which are not really the central act at all. I ask those honorable senators who may be opposed to this to reflect upon it and search their consciences as to whether the death penalty should be imposed in respect of all these matters.
There is one minor matter that I should like to mention. I think that the offences will probably be confined to those which are actually committed while the aircraft is in flight within the statutory meaning. There is a particular definition because the offences created are those in relation to aircraft engaged in flight. It may be that the examples given of an aircraft in a hangar would not be applicable under this bill. Under clause 3 sub-clause (2.) of the bill the flight of an aircraft shall be taken to commence at the time of the closing of the last external door of the aircraft to be closed before the aircraft first moves for the purpose of taking off. The whole bill seems to be concerned with offences committed while the aircraft is in flight.
.- I think that Senator Cavanagh has directed attention to a very important matter in this bill. With great respect to Senator Wright I say that I have not been persuaded by what he said in commenting upon Senator Cavanagh’s argument. Senator Murphy made the position clear by referring to a section of the New South Wales Crimes
Act and it seems to me that the position is somewhat as follows. At common law, the fact of reckless indifference to the safety of the life of a person is only debatably a case of murder, lt is on the borderline between murder and manslaughter. In New South Wales the legislature has enacted a statutory definition of “ murder “ so as to make “ reckless indifference to the safety of the life of a person “ amount to murder. But in Victoria, for instance, the law simply provides that whoever commits murder shall suffer death and the definition remains to be spelt out in the common law. In New South Wales, the situation has apparently been tackled by extending the definition of murder to include not only deliberate acts but also acts of reckless indifference. Senator Cavanagh pointed out that it is not necessary to have harmed a single hair of a person’s head to be guilty of an offence under this clause. It is only necessary that there should have been the destruction of an aircraft,’ with the particular intent, as Senator Wright pointed out. The intent may consist either in the deliberate intent to cause the death of a particular person or in reckless indifference. That is a matter of substantial importance. It is plain that in this legislation no actual harm to any individual is necessary in order that a guilty person should suffer the death penalty. Under the New South Wales Crimes Act, the penalty is not death but life imprisonment. The legislation now before us provides for a penalty not of life imprisonment but of death, and not necessarily upon the death of any person but merely upon the destruction of an aircraft with reckless indifference to the safety of the life of a person.
– Would that apply if you destroyed the aircraft with intent to kill a person and killed him?
– Order! There is too much audible conversation.
– Order while Senator Wright makes a speech!
– In the case posed by Senator Wright I suppose a person would be liable Co be charged with murder.
– Quite so.
– This, of course, is a statutory offence. It may contain the ingredients of murder or attempted murder, but it is essentially a statutory offence. With respect to Senator Wright, that is no answer to the critical question that is posed by Senator Murphy’s amendment.
– I was not suggesting that it was.
– Well, I understood you to be in a state of-
– I thought that you people who did not want to introduce politics into the discussion would discuss this matter objectively.
– There is no question of politics in this. Nobody has dealt with it in a political way. We are discussing the meaning of this particular provision. I was indebted to Senator Wright for his comments, and I am not to be taken as entering into any political jousting with him about it.
– I suggest that Senator Hendrickson might address his mind to it, too. I asked whether the offence would apply if a person destroyed an aircraft with intent to kill another person and killed him.
– I thought you were addressing the question to me. I was saying that there would be no need to raise this provision, because-
– I do not think the court would’ listen to it if the evidence showed that the person had been killed. It would not listen to a charge of this sort.
– With great respect, this reinforces the position that is put by Senator Murphy’s amendment - that it is not necessary to’ harm a single hair of the person involved for the guilty person to suffer the penalty of death. That, in the view we put, is stretching the thing far beyond what is necessary to meet the occasion. You need a stiff penalty to -deal with people who commit this offence, which involves the destruction of aircraft with particular intent; but you do not need the death penalty. Especially do you not need it in cases where the act complained of does not result in any harm, be it death or bodily injury, to the person aimed at.
As we see it, Mr. Temporary Chairman, the onus is on those who support the legislation to satisfy themselves that the penalty exacted by this legislation is necessary. It is not a matter of being in some equipoise of mind and of coming down, in that state of doubt, on the side of the death penalty. The Minister for the Navy has said very frankly that it is a matter of outlook, that it is difficult to change people’s attitudes. He has said for himself that he does not feel appalled by the imposition of this penalty in cases where it results not from a fit of passion but from a planned act. Apparently he would still be of the same mind if what happened as a result of- the planning was the destruction not of human life but of an aircraft. But, of course, it may not be the result of a deliberate act. The legislation applies not only to deliberate acts but also to acts of reckless indifference. In New South Wales that may amount to murder, by statutory definition. In Victoria it is very much a matter of debate. I believe that in nine cases out of ten in Victoria where a jury is charged by a judge’ on the law relating to murder and manslaughter, the jury would decide that a person guilty of such an act with a mind of reckless indifference would bc guilty not of murder but of manslaughter. I realize that that is a debatable area of the law, but, without the reinforcement of a statutory definition such as exists in New South Wales, the most likely result would be a verdict of guilty, not of murder but of manslaughter. That only adds to the case that is raised by Senator Murphy’s amendment.
– I want to reply very briefly to one or two points. Senator Murphy- read the statutory definition of murder that obtains in New South Wales. The statutory definition of murder in the Australian Capital Territory is precisely the same as that which was read out by Senator Murphy. If the Commonwealth law is applied, the definition read out by Senator Murphy .would be the one that would apply. If Victorian law is applied for any reason, the penalties provided under the Victorian law would apply.
It has been stated that murder need not be involved. Indeed, further than that, it has been stated that murder would not be involved. Under this clause the penalty would be inflicted on a person who deliberately destroyed an aircraft and by that act murdered 20, 40 or 60 persons.
– But it need not.
– Would the honorable senator mind waiting? I shall repeat what I said. Under this clause the penalty would be applied to any person who deliberately destroyed an aircraft and who by that act destroyed the life of one person, or the lives of 20 or 40 persons. It would also be applicable to a person who deliberately destroyed an aircraft with the intention of destroying the life of one person or the lives of 20 or 40 people, but who did not manage to carry out that intention. Tn other words, the penalty is applicable to murder or attempted murder.
I should like to advert to the point that was made by Senator Wright by way of interjection. The honorable senator was correct. This provision would apply to the destruction of an aircraft even if that aircraft was on the ground, provided it was intended to be engaged on an interstate flight.
Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia) r 10.281. - What the Minister for the Navy has said points up two cases which would justify, in the minds of those who believe in an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, the imposition of the death penalty. Those who believe in the death penalty would say that a person who destroyed an aircraft and in doing so caused the death of one person, or of 20. or 50 persons, should be subject to that penalty. They would also say that the death penalty was justified if a person destroyed an aircraft with the intention of killing one person, or 40 or 50 persons. But this clause goes further than that. It includes the person who has no intention of destroying life, but acted in a way that indicated he was recklessly indifferent to the fate of those who might be in the aircraft.
– - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Temporary Chairman do now leave the chair and report to the Senate.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator Anderson.)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I feel embarrassed by the vote, since it indicates that most of my colleagues want to go home. However, I think they will agree that the issue is too vital to be out-weighed by the desire to get to bed. The Australian Labour Party does not support the death penalty, but it is easy to understand why those who do support the death penalty as a punishment for murder would vote for this provision in the bill. The Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) has given examples of what would happen if a person killed another person in the circumstances envisaged in the bill, or had the intention to kill a person or a number of persons. But the proposal is that the penalty should apply without even the intention to kill.
Senator Wright gave an illustration of an aircraft being criminally burnt in a hangar while a person happened to be asleep in the hangar and died in the fire. If the intention were to kill the person in the hangar, the person responsible would be guilty of an offence under this clause. But would it be reckless indifference if the person destroying the aircraft did not take the necessary precautions to ascertain whether some one was asleep in the hangar?
– It would be if he knew the person was asleep under the wing.
– If he did not know some one was asleep in the hangar it would not be reckless indifference, but if he went in with the intention of destroying an aircraft at a time when it would be reasonable to assume that men would be working in the hangar, surely then the question of reckless indifference must arise. To my mind, that would be a case of reckless indifference. I form that opinion from numerous cases that have been heard in the South Australian courts. South Australia is one of the few States where the death penalty still applies; it is known as the “ hanging State “. To my knowledge, a verdict of murder is not found in South Australian courts in cases of death resulting from culpable negligent driving or any other culpable negligent act. I think that must be, as said by Senator Cohen, the result of the common law defence. Often the verdict is “ guilty of manslaughter “. But in a manslaughter case there is a body. Somebody has been killed and the manslaughter verdict is the alternative to a murder verdict. Punishment under the clause before the committee does not require the destruction of any life at all.
Surely in 1963 we, as responsible members of Parliament, will not introduce the death penalty to be imposed upon a person who does not even destroy an aircraft with any intention to destroy life but who displays reckless indifference as to whether any person may be affected by his act. I cannot agree that the provision applies only to an aircraft in flight.
– The’ Minister has stated expressly that it applies to an aircraft on the ground as well as to an aircraft in flight.
– Provided it is intended to be used for a prescribed flight.
– The destruction of the aircraft could occur on the ground or in flight. Senator Murphy put it that the legislation proposes to apply the penalty to a person who does not destroy an aircraft and who has no intention of doing so or of taking life, but who aids and abets some one else. Surely we are not so uncivilized, whatever .our beliefs on the subject of capital punishment, to vote for a provision such as that. I ask the Minister how he can justify such antiquated thinking. How can he justify the imposition of the death penalty when the person concerned has only acted with a reckless indifference to the lives of others?
.- I confess that it comes as a new idea to me that the death penalty should be applied in the case of attempted murder. That is not so in my State and has not been so since 1920, when we codified the law. The death penalty was preserved and is still provided for under the law-.’ It was applied by the Labour Government in 1946 or 1947 and carried out, in a case of murder. But it does not apply to people convicted of attempted murder, or to accessories before the fact or to people who procure or counsel an attempt at murder. Under our code, people who procure or counsel or take part in an actual murder are liable to the same extent as is the man who actually carries out the murder. That is the first point I make to the Minister. It comes to me as a new view that the death penalty should apply in the case of attempted murder) when that has been discarded in my State since 1920.
I think we have pointed out during this debate that the matter we are discussing goes beyond attempted murder. It is concerned with a case in which an aircraft is destroyed with intent to cause death. That, I think, would be a case of attempted murder. The bill also is concerned with the case in which an aircraft is destroyed with reckless indifference for the safety and the lives of other persons. Although that is an ingredient of the crime of murder in New South Wales and, if I understand correctly, it has been imported into the law of the Australian Capital Territory on that basis, it strikes me as something that cannot be justified in the definition of murder as we- administer the criminal law. So, there are those two anomalies in approaching the idea of the. death penalty being applicable to attempted murder and to the case in which an aircraft is destroyed with reckless indifference to the safety of the life of a person.
We would have been helped greatly, Mr. Chairman, if we had been told that other people whose parliaments we often follow in this respect had provided us with precedents. I would have searched for such precedents, knowing that I would have to vote on the bill, had I had the opportunity, but I have been doing other things. I should like to know whether there is comparable legislation in the United Kingdom relating to aircraft. I should also derive great advantage from knowing whether or not, during the long history of the application of criminal law to railway trains and ships, such crimes are punishable by death in any country whose legislation we hearken to. Suppose that a hole is put in the side of a ship so that it may sink once it goes to sea, and let us assume that the ship scuttles by the wharf and that nobody is drowned. If the ship went to sea and 60 people were drowned, it seems to me that the position would be the same as if a time-bomb were placed in an aircraft. So, too, with a fastmoving train, such as a train travelling from Glasgow to London at 80 miles an hour. If a person placed an obstruction on the railway line which caused the train merely to overturn and did not cause the death of people on board, what would be the position under the law in England as it has been administered over the last 50 years? I wish to be informed, if the Minister will help me, on those three points I have made.
– I have been attempting to ascertain the state of the law in the United Kingdom relating to these matters, but the officers could only inform me that the United Kingdom is still working on a code for the punishment of this specific crime. To the best of their recollection, so far a specific penalty for crimes in aircraft, and so on, has been introduced only in the United States of America. I was also endeavouring to find out the situation in regard to the law which would be applied to this offence if it were committed on a railway train or a ship at sea, as mentioned by Senator Wright. I cannot give the honorable senator the precise and definite answer that he wants. The officers are of the opinion, and they have handed me papers to indicate that it is correct, that the crime of setting fire to a ship at sea with an attempt to destroy life is punishable by the same penalty as is imposed here, and that such a crime probably would attract the same penalty in the United Kingdom. However, I cannot state the matter as definitely as I should like. All I can do is to say that the penalty applies in the United States.
The Australian Capital Territory law in other fields at the present moment is clear. It provides that people who do certain things, such as setting fire to a vessel, a chattel or furniture, or who destroy or damage any building, or place something on a railway line or remove or displace a sleeper from a railway line, with intent to commit murder, are liable to suffer death. That provision is taken from the New South Wales law. All I can say, in reply to Senator Cavanagh, is that this is a matter on which people must make up their own minds. I take it he understands - he has not worried me lately on the subject - that if some one destroys an aircraft and destroys life in the process, it is possible for people such as myself not to be appalled at the idea of inflicting capital punishment on such a person. I take it that the honorable senator can understand that it is possible for a person to believe that if some one destroys an aircraft with the intention of committing a murder, in other words, attempts to commit murder, then that is a crime which is punishable as it is punishable now in other parts of the law of the Australian Capital Territory. It is not confined to this section of the law of the Australian Capital Territory. It must be a matter of argument as to whether the destruction of an aircraft or, indeed, of anything else, with a reckless indifference to the safety of a life is something which should be so punishable. Take the case that the honorable senator suggested: Somebody finds an aircraft in a hangar and destroys it knowing that there is some one sleeping under the wing; that would indicate a complete and reckless indifference to the safety of human life.
Questions as to whether there was a complete and reckless indifference to human life would in any case be decided by a jury. If an aircraft were destroyed and the jury was not satisfied that it had been destroyed with a reckless indifference to human life and therefore should not attract this penalty, it would find the culprit guilty of the offence in clause 12, which relates to wilfully destroying an aircraft. That offence merits a penalty of imprisonment for fourteen years. That is clearly what would happen in practice, unless the jury felt that there was complete callousness and a reckless indifference to human life.
Question put -
That the word proposed to be left out (Senator Murphy’s amendment) be left out.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator G. C. McKellar.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 14 to 17 agreed to.
Clause 18. (l)…… (2.) This section does not apply - (a)……
– I move -
In sub-clause (2.), paragraph (c), after “ Commonwealth aircraft “ insert “ (not being an aircraft that is being used for commercial transport operations) “.
The genesis of this amendment is the point which was raised in the other place when this bill was being discussed and when the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) expressed some doubt about the clause as it stood. The insertion in the clause of the words “ not being an aircraft that is being used for commercial transport operations “ makes it quite clear that in this context aircraft operated by Trans-Australia Airlines in its normal operations are in the same position as privately owned aircraft, that is, in regard to the carrying or placing of dangerous goods on board the aircraft by an officer of the Commonwealth in the course of his duties. As the clause now stands the reference is to Commonwealth aircraft, which by definition includes aircraft operated by T.A.A. as an authority of the Commonwealth. Without this amendment it could be taken that aircraft belonging to T.A.A. were in this respect different from other aircraft engaged in commercial operations. Clause 18(2.)(c) is now, in effect, confined to aircraft operated by the Department of Civil Aviation, the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority or other departments and authorities of the Commonwealth which directly own and operate their aircraft.
has indicated, it arises from a comment made by the DeputyLeader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) in another place.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 19 and 20 agreed to.
Proceedings for -
– I move -
At end of the clause add the following sub-clauses: - “ (2.) Notwithstanding that a consent has not been given in relation to the offence in accordance with the last preceding sub-section -
a person may be charged with an offence against this Act;
a person may be arrested for such an offence, and a warrant ‘for such an arrest may be issued and executed; and
a person so charged may be remanded in custody or on bail; but no further step in proceedings of a kind referred to in that sub-section shall be taken in relation to the offence until such a consent has been obtained. “ (3.) Nothing in the last preceding sub-section shall prevent the discharging of the accused if proceedings are not continued within a reasonable time.”.
This amendment is directed towards rectifying the position to which Senator Murphy directed attention at an earlier stage.
– The amendment is acceptable to the Opposition. It is a matter of great importance that the rights of a person under the general law shouldbe preserved. Without an amendment such as this a situation could be created where inevitably there would be some breaking down of the rights of an arrested person. There are famous cases which establish the right of a citizen to be informed of the cause of his arrest, immediately upon his arrest. No person is legally subject’ to. arrest without being informed what he is being arrested for and the purpose of his arrest is to bring him as soon as practicable before a judicial authority in order that the cause on which he was arrested may be tried as soon as practicable.
Under the ordinary law, if a person is arrested by anyone - a police officer or other person - he is entitled to know immediately with what he is charged, assuming that he is sober and sane and not causing some commotion whereby it would obviously be impossible to communicate to him the cause of his arrest. Otherwise any arrest is illegal and the person is entitled, under the general law which prevails in Anglo-Saxon communities, to break free. This is a most important matter affecting the rights of the subject.
Further, a person is entitled to be taken as soon as is practicable before a judicial authority. There is no such thing in our community as arresting a person for questioning, or arresting a person in order to keep him in custody until somebody determines whether or not proceedings should be instituted. He is arrested in order to be taken before an authority for proceedings to be conducted. Unless this amendment is carried there will be a gap in the law. A person could be arrested by some one in command of an aircraft and then taken before some judicial authority. However, there is another provision in the bill that provides that proceedings could not be instituted except with the consent of the Attorney-General. A person could be arrested and the person in command of the aircraft could say to him, in accordance with the general law, “ You are arrested on a charge of destroying an aircraft or endangering the life of a person “ - or whatever the charge may be - “ and the purpose of the arrest is to take you before some judicial authority in order that this charge may be determined as soon as may be.” The production of that person to a judicial authority could not, in fact, be carried out readily because no one would know whether any proceedings would or would not be instituted until the Attorney-General, or some other person authorized by the Attorney-General, had given or withheld his consent.
This amendment is an attempt to preserve the rights of citizens in order to enable a person who is to be charged with an offence, to be arrested, or a warrant to be issued and executed, and for him to be remanded in custody or on bail. But no further proceedings could be taken until consent had been obtained for the continuance of the proceedings. The committee will observe that even at that stage the rights of the citizen would be in jeopardy if he could be kept in custody until the Attorney-General had made up his mind whether or hot proceedings should be instituted or continued. The matter seems to be satisfactorily dealt with in proposed new sub-clause (3.) which provides -
Nothing in the last preceding sub-section shall prevent the discharging of the accused if proceedings are not continued within a reasonable time.
The amendment has been circulated only this evening, and the Opposition has not had time to study it with great care, but it does seem to deal with the matter which appeared to us to be of first importance. I raised this important question because of its effect on the liberty of the individual.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Remainder of bill - by leave - taken as a whole.
– During the second-reading stage I referred to sub-clause (2.) of clause 26 which provides -
A female shall not be searched under the Inst preceding sub-section except by a female.
That seems to be a little ludicrous in the circumstances which are envisaged in this legislation. I thought that the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) indicated tacitly that he was considering this matter. Perhaps he might say whether this sub-clause could be dropped. That, I think, would be the appropriate course to follow. I cannot see that any harm would be done if the sub-clause were dropped. There could be no question of abuse arising from the dropping of this provision. The general law would see to that. On the other hand, some provision could be inserted to provide that this search could be carried out, in the case of necessity, by other than a female.
I wish also to refer to clause 29 which deals with the imposition of the death penalty. I do this simply to indicate that this clause is parallel with an earlier provision dealing with the offences punishable by death. The Opposition has tested the feeling of the Senate. It considers that in respect of all these matters there should be no death penalty, but, having stated our views on the earlier clauses, we think it is sufficient to do that and not to endeavour to seek the vote of the Senate on each of the clauses that deal with the death penalty.
Remainder of bill agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Gorton) read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Sir William Spooner) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I shall take only a few moments, Mr. President, to direct certain remarks to you. I have’ been disturbed at a breach of good manners which I feel occurred in another place last night. I consider that the dignity of the Parliament will be impugned if such breaches of good manners are allowed to continue. Good manners, according to my definition, are the means by which people who have learned to conduct themselves avoid friction. It is important therefore, I humbly suggest to you, that we should endeavour to maintain a high degree of manners. I was disturbed to discover in the Melbourne “ Herald “ to-night, on page 1 2, a report of remarks which, it is alleged, were made in another place last night. These included references to the Senate, which apparently passed without comment from the presiding officer. May’s “ Parliamentary Practice “, fifteenth edition, at page 436, under the heading, “ Words against Parliament, or either House “, states -
It is obviously unbecoming to permit offensive expressions against the character and conduct of Parliament to be used’ without rebuke; forthey are not only a contempt of that high court, but are calculated to degrade the legislature in the estimation of the people. If directed against the other House, and passed over without censure, they would appear to implicate one House in discourtesy to the other….. It is most important that the use of such words should be immediately reproved in order to avoid complaints and dissensions between the two Houses.
I am not allowed, under Standing Orders, to refer to debates that took place in another place, and I have used the device of directing your attention to the comments published in the Melbourne “ Herald “, which include remarks which 1 think bring the Senate into derogation. I know that you will jealously protect the Senate against allegations and comments of that nature.
– I shall look into this matter and ensure that the dignity and rights of the Senate are preserved against attack.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.15 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 October 1963, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1963/19631010_senate_24_s24/>.