25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
Joint Address to Her Majesty the Queen.
– I move -
That the following Joint Address be presented to Her Majesty the Queen: -
To the Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty:
We, the Members of the Senate and the Members of the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, pray that Your Majesty will give directions that a Mace be presented, by and on behalf of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, to the House of Assembly of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea to mark the inauguration of that legislature.
With Your Majesty’s consent, this gift will be presented to signify the role played by British parliamentary traditions in the development of the parliamentary system, and in the belief that the people of the Territory will gain inspiration from those traditions.
Honorable senators will recall that the Legislative Council for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea was abolished and the House of Assembly created by the Papua and New Guinea Act 1963. The new House of Assembly will have 64 members, of whom 44 are to be elected from open electorates and ten are to be elected from special electorates restricted to nonindigenous persons of the Territory. The remaining ten members of the House will be official members appointed by the Governor-General on the nomination of the Administrator. Voting for election of the members has just concluded and the first meeting of the first session of th’e new House will commence at Port Moresby on 8th June next.
As the House of Assembly was created by the Commonwealth Parliament, it is appropriate that a gift should be made by this Parliament to the House of Assembly on the occasion of this inaugural meeting. Following a suggestion made by my colleague, the Minister for Defence (Mr.
Hasluck), when he was Minister for Territories, Mr. President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives decided that the gift would be in the form of a mace, which will be presented to the House of Assembly by the leader of a delegation from this Parliament.
The mace is being manufactured in Australia in sterling silver heavily plated with gold. The head of the mace bears a royal crown. Engraved on the mace will be the Royal Cypher and the Australian coat of arms. It will be embellished with devices representing the personality and achievements of the peoples of the Territory - agriculture, industry and communications - and the Territory’s link with Australia. Some of the materials incorporated in the mace will be of Papua and New Guinea origin. i
It was suggested that if the mace were brought into use with royal approbation or presented by royal direction, it would have great significance. With this in mind, this joint address from both Houses of the Parliament is commended for the consideration of honorable senators.
– Mr. President, I have very much pleasure in seconding the motion that has been proposed to the Senate. All my colleagues of the Australian Labour Party join me very cordially in supporting the purpose and intent underlying the motion. We know that the mace was originally a symbol of power carried by the warrior bishops when they went to war. It was an indication that they were not prepared to shed blood. Later on it became the symbol of the Speaker’s authority in the House of Commons. When placed upon the table it indicates that the House of Commons, or the House of Representatives in the Australian scene, is duly constituted. But it carries also the import to which Senator Gorton referred. It is a symbol of British parliamentary traditions generally. Whatever defects we find in those traditions, undoubtedly they are the best that the world has hitherto evolved. They have centuries of experience, development and slow, gradual growth behind them. Those traditions are deeply founded in the accumulated wisdom of the people who have governed down the centuries.
We warmly supported the creation of the new House of Assembly when the Papua and New Guinea Bill was before the Parliament last year. We wish the new authority well. We recognize that the creation of that House of Assembly does mot give to die people of Papua and New Guinea self-government, but it does give them self-representation. It is a major step towards ultimate self-determination. They will undergo a thorough process of induction into the traditions of parliamentary democracy. We of the Opposition are delighted that the Government has seen fit to make a gift that will be really a gift from all the people of Australia, not merely from this Parliament, and will be indicative of the gratitude we feel to the people of Papua and New Guinea for the part they played in helping Australia in the recent war. The gift will indicate our deep sympathy for them and our concern for then- welfare and speedy development so that they may proceed as soon as may be along the path to full nationhood. Ultimately they will have a mace presented by us which will have recorded on it, I hope, Australian as well as Papuan and New Guinean symbols, and which will be truly representative of the complete authority of the House of Assembly, or whatever parliamentary institution obtains in that area of New Guinea. Accordingly, we very warmly support the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– My question is directed to the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry. Can he give any information as to the provisions of the bill at present before the American Congress designed to restrict beef imports into the United States of America? Is the bill directed only at Australian meat exports to the United States of America? What effect would the bill, :f carried, have on the United States-Australia meat marketing arrangements recently concluded and reported to this Senate?
– Senator Mansfield has proposed an amendment to bill No. 1839 which has already passed the United States House of Representatives and deals with imports of wild animals and birds for exhibition. The amendment would have the effect of limiting imports of beef, veal and mutton to the average annual amount imported in the five years ending 1st December, 1963. To Australia this means that the quota of 242,000 tons which exists at present under the agreement would be reduced to 160,000 tons of beef, veal and mutton. The provision will not apply only to Australia, but to all countries. The matter is being examined at present by the United States Senate finance committee which will report its findings back to the Senate. I can obtain copies of the amendment for any honorable senators who wish to have them. I shall obtain one for the Leader of the Opposition. The United States Administration is opposing the bill before the finance committee and we expect that, if the bill gets past the committee, the Administration will oppose it in Congress. I point out to honorable senators that in the final analysis in this case the President has the right of veto.
asked me what effect the new arrangement would have on the present meat agreement. The present agreement provides for the export of 242,000 tons, which is the average of exports for 1962 and 1963. There is also provision for a growth factor. The quantity exported will rise to 251,000 tons in 1965 and 260,000 tons in 1966, the increase being based on the growth of the American market. The present meat agreement, which is a government-to-government agreement, is of indefinite duration, but it can be terminated at the end of any year upon the giving of 180 days’ notice by either Government. The growth provision provides for a review every three years. If the American market grows to a greater extent than expected or if it suffers a decline, the position can be reviewed. As I said, this is a government-to-government agreement, and naturally we would expect the United States Government to uphold it.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Treasurer been directed to the report in yesterday’s Sydney press of a statement alleged to have been made by the chairman of the Decimal Currency Board that poker machines would be included in the list of machines for the conversion of which the Commonwealth Government would provide assistance? I want to make it clear that I do not support such a proposal; in fact, I oppose it.
– I am sorry to say that I did not read in detail the statement made by the Decimal Currency Board about the terms and conditions upon which assistance will be available. Therefore, I do not know whether poker machines will be included.
– I address to the Minister for Health the following questions relating to Item 4 of the medical benefits schedule, which covers consultation by a specialist when a patient has not been referred by a general practitioner: - Is it a fact that the Minister has refused requests for an increase in the government contribution in relation to Item 4 and that the contribution still remains at 6s.? Is it a fact that the Minister informed the Hospitals Contribution Fund of N.S.W. that it was not allowed to make fund contributions for Item 4 to any greater extent than those paid for Item 1? If the answer to the previous question is in the affirmative, will the Minister explain why other medical benefits societies are allowed to pay higher contributions from their own funds in respect of Item 4.
– I have refused to increase the Commonwealth contribution in respect of Item 4 because I believe that such action would have the undesirable effect of encouraging the patient to by-pass the family doctor and to go direct to the specialist. However, legislation that will be introduced in the Parliament in the very near future to implement the policy announced by the Prime Minister in his policy speech wild make provision for general increases of most Commonwealth benefits. The second question can be answered in these terms: The Hospitals Contribution Fund of N.S.W. has before me at the present time proposals concerning its medical benefits fund. Those proposals are currently being considered. The third point 1 make is that the Hospitals Contribution Fund of N.S.W. is currently providing a benefit of 15s. for Item 4, that being the same as the benefit provided by other major funds in New South Wales.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Prime
Minister. Would the Minister direct the attention of the Prime Minister to the fact that Australia and its Territories are often deprived of the most suitable persons to fill positions in the Public Service because of the appalling red tape and consequent delays, sometimes amounting to several months, in examining applicants and making the final selection? Does the Minister realize just what agony of mind is experienced by those awaiting decisions and if they do wait, how many other opportunities of employment may be missed by the unsuccessful applicants? As it is a wellrecognized fact that frustrating delays and lack of consideration of the individual are just some of the objectionable features of bureaucracy which is all-powerful under socialism, will this private enterprise Government demonstrate once again that the individual is our main concern and see to it that when various departments call for applications for job vacancies, the selection is speeded up and finalized as it is in any private enterprise?
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER__ The honorable senator’s experience apparently has been somewhat different from mine. The Department of National Development, which is under my administration, has to recruit overseas quite considerably. So, also, does the Snowy Mountains HydroElectric Authority. However, I shall put the honorable senator’s point of view before the Prime Minister.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. There have been reports over recent months that a number of companies want to build oil tankers in Australia. Have any orders for the building of oil tankers been received? If orders have been received, have they been confined to one or two shipyards? Has the Government any forward programme to keep our shipyards engaged for the next few years?
– I was a party to the negotiations up to the stage where the Cabinet decision was taken. From that stage onwards, this matter rests with my colleague the Minister for Shipping and Transport, and I cannot speak with authority as to what has actually transpired1 since the decision was taken. The purport of the decision, however, was to evolve ways and means by which petroleum products would1 be carried’ around the Australian coast under Australian articles and conditions to the benefit of the shipbuilding industry. A formula was laid down under which second-hand vessels could be imported, and put on Australian articles provided they were subsequently replaced by vessels built in Australia. The idea was that they would phase out a programme so that there would be a continuity of orders which would fit in with the capacity of the Australian shipbuilding industry. As I have said, I do not know what has actually happened but I have no reason to doubt that applications have been made for the importation of second-hand ships and that these applications have been accompanied by ‘firm proposals for the building of new ships.
– I preface a question to the Minister for National Development by saying I have noted that the Minister, speaking at the Australian petroleum exploration conference recently, said’ -
Holders of large oil leases throughout Australia should consider allowing other companies to drill on their tenements.
Does this mean that perhaps, in some instances, oil exploration companies have acquired more leasehold area than they can reasonably explore for oil? Were these acquisitions of land obtained from State governments? Could the Commonwealth influence the tempo of oil exploration on these large holdings by some special provisions in relation to the payment of an oil search subsidy? Is it true that the Commonwealth Government in supporting the search for oil provided £6,000,000 last year by way of subsidies?
– In order to answer the honorable senator’s question I find it necessary to go back a little into the history of oil exploration in this country. It is not more than a few years since the search for oil in Australia was very limited. State governments wished to encourage the search and gave large tenements to companies to induce them to undertake oil exploration. In the circumstances which then existed, that was good business. Not many people were interested. In no circumstances can there be repudiation of those arrangements which were entered into between governments and oil exploration companies. The arrangements must be adhered to, and there can be no question of their repudiation.
As the search for oil has proved to be increasingly successful, conditions have changed, and companies with large tenements are entering into farm-out arrangements, as they are called. They are arranging with other people to come in and carry out work on their areas. That is a good development and one that we want to see encouraged.
The purport of my statement was that we need to encourage the extension, of these farm-out arrangements, it being, of course, the responsibility of each State government to come to decisions as individual tenements expire. Last year the Government expended £5,000,000 on oil search subsidies, and an additional £1,000,000 on its basic survey programme.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation whether there is still a long time lag between the hearing of repatriation appeals and their finalization. As the time lag becomes increasingly serious each year from the point of view of the appellant, will the Minister consider appointing a sufficient number of additional tribunals to obviate such a lag?
– I do not concede the accuracy of the implication that there is an ever-increasing time lag-
– I did not say that there is an ever-increasing time lag. I said that it is becoming increasingly serious each year from the point of view of the appellant
– I can only say that I shall convey Senator Sandford’s submission to the Minister for Repatriation and ask him to advise the honorable senator directly of his reaction to it.
– I have seen the report referred to by the honorable senator, but I must confess that I speak with very scant knowledge of the matter. The drug mentioned by him has not yet been imported into Australia. I understand that it has not been subjected to clinical investigation by any Australian drug house. If the time comes when it is imported, the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee will be asked for its expert opinion of it.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Health. Is it a fact, as reported in the press, that officials of the Commonwealth Department of Health are compiling what is called a “ death list “ of detergents, floor polishes and other household items, which is expected to include more than 30,000 poisons and their antidotes? Is it true, as reported, that the poison death rate amongst Australian children is more than five times as high as the rate in Britain and the United States? If such a list is being compiled, will the Minister include the insecticides and weedicides currently being sold in Australia? Finally, will the findings be given wider publicity than is indicated by the press report, which suggests that the information will be given only to hospitals?
– I must confess that I am not sufficiently well-informed on the matter raised by the honorable senator to give an intelligent reply to him off the cuff. I would suggest that as this matter is of some public interest he place the question on the notice-paper, when I shall endeavour to get the information that he seeks.
– Has the Minister for National Development seen a very strong and lengthy statement in this morning’s press by the Queensland Minister for Mines, the Honorable Ernest Evans, in relation to the negotiations for the sale of Moonie oil? If the Minister has seen that statement, has he any comment to make?
– Yes. To my ill content, I have seen the statement. 1 thought the matter was of such importance that I prepared some notes in reply. The basic point to remember, as I have said previously, is that although the Shell company has its own supplies of crude oil it has been willing throughout to buy its fair share of Moonie crude oil. It has put its attitude in simple terms. It has said frequently: “ Moonie oil is Australian crude oil. We know that it should be refined in Australia. We ourselves are spending large sums on the search for oil in Australia. We hope to be successful. When we are successful, we shall expect any oil that we find to be refined in Australia, just as the Government and the Union Oil Development Corporation expect Moonie oil to be refined in Australia. What we object to is being put under pressure to pay more than a fair price for the oil.”
What I have been aiming to do is to get the parties into agreement upon what is a fair price. May I remind the Senate of the course of events7 The Union company started by asking 3 dollars 5 cents a barrel. Shell’s opening bid was 2 dollars 65 cents a barrel. Union came down to 2 dollars 85 cents a barrel. Shell increased its offer to 2 dollars 81 cents a barrel. In the last few days Union has come back, asking 2 dollars 83 cents a barrel. That offer from Union is now under consideration by Shell. There is a difference between the parties of 2 cents a barrel - approximately 2d. a barrel. I myself feel that this small difference will be resolved by negotiation, and so does the Union company. I have seen a letter from this company expressing the same view.
But that is not the point at the moment. More importantly, Union has now said that it does not want any price fixed in the contract to rise and fall in sympathy with world parity prices. Up to this stage, all the negotiations have been on the basis that the contract would contain an escalation clause under which the price in the contract would rise or fall in sympathy with world parity prices. The practical point is that whether world prices rise or fall in the next twelve months, which is the term of this contract, is any one’s guess. There is at least a strong volume of opinion which anticipates that world prices will rise. If world prices were to rise, then a fixed price for the next twelve months under the contract would make Union’s proposal more favorable to the purchaser. Again, if world parity prices were to fall, then the vendor would gain and the purchaser would lose. But no one can foretell whether prices are going to move up or down.
So far as I am concerned, 1 have made some further suggestions to both vendor and purchaser and I shall know the result’ during the next day or so. I am living in hopes that if every one will only keep calm, both vendor and purchaser will come to terms at a price which, from the national point of view, will be a fair one for the sale of such an important natural resource. The most important thing is that a fair price be paid for our first crude oil production, and I am living in hopes that the people concerned will come to terms, both of them being satisfied with the arrangements. smallpox:
– I ask the Minister for Health whether there is a long-standing recommendation of the National Health and Medical Research Council that all adults in Australia be vaccinated against smallpox. Does the council represent the authoritative opinion of the medical profession and the health departments of- the Commonwealth and the States? Approximately what percentage of Australian adults have a presently effective vaccination against smallpox? What has the Minister done to have the recommendation carried out in the Australian Capital Territory and in other spheres which are the direct responsibility of the Commonwealth?
– I understand there is a long-standing recommendation of the National Health and Medical Research Council that as many people in Australia as possible should be vaccinated against smallpox. For my part, and, speaking for my department, I say we have done all that we possibly can to encourage that policy.
1 think a classic example of the success that has been achieved can be seen in Queensland, where a very substantial proportion of the population has been vaccinated against smallpox.
The honorable senator asks specifically what we have done in Canberra to implement the recommendation. We have not adopted any compulsory measures here, but we have encouraged, and do encourage with some vigour, all those people who come in contact with overseas travellers to have that immunity.
– I ask the
Leader of the Government in the Senate whether it is a fact that in February, 1963, a committee of industrial leaders, under the chairmanship of Dr. James Vernon, of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited, was appointed by the Government to consider the economic state of the nation and to give its views on policies that should be followed. Is this committee still in existence? If so, are its reports confidential to the Government? If the committee’s reports are not of a confidential nature, would the Government give consideration to releasing the committee’s findings to enable ah outside assessment to be made of these recommendations? I have in mind any recommendation which may have been made in connexion with the statutory reserve accounts applying to banking.
– The honorable senator has, to some extent, a misconception of the position. The committee to which he has referred has not yet made any reports. Apparently he thought that the Government was receiving reports, but that is not so. The committee was established by the Government to act in an advisory capacity and to make a complete review of Australian conditions. I know from the amount of information that my department has supplied to the committee that it has been sitting consistently, but it has not yet produced a report. I have asked from time to time when we can expect to receive a report, because it will be of very great interest when it becomes available. I think it may yet be a few months before the committee completes its. work. I do not think I should try to forecast the Government’s decision “on the report when it is submitted.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. In view of the arrest in Czechoslovakia of an Australian citizen who was recently employed in Vienna, can the Minister inform me what consular or ambassadorial representation we have in Czechoslovakia and Austria? In the Minister aware of the excellent service given to Australia by the officers of the Australian migration mission in Vienna, who, despite their lack of diplomatic status, and in addition to the ordinary duties of their office, have carried out many duties generally performed by a consulate or embassy? Has any change been made in this position since October last? If not, will the Minister give consideration to providing direct Australian representation in those European countries which are not so served at present?
– To the best of my knowledge Australian representation in Austria is as it has been for some years; that is to say, the ambassador accredited to Bonn in West Germany - at the moment Mr. Blakeney - is also accredited to Vienna and is in charge of operations in Austria. He does have officers in Vienna, but I am not sure whether they are those mentioned by the honorable senator. Whoever they are, they are responsible to and directed by our ambassador to West Germany, who travels between the two countries. There is no Australian ambassadorial representation for Austria only, although Austria is represented in Australia by a Minister, Dr. W. de Comtes, who resides in Canberra. I do not know of any Australian representation in Czechoslovakia, but I will endeavour to find out what the position is and to give the honorable senator an answer.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Does the Minister for Defence intend to have his department examine the one-man rocket machine which is to be demonstrated at the Sydney Easter show, with a view to finding out whether it would be suitable for the Australian defence forces? What is the cost of this machine? Did the Australian Government charge the American company concerned £600 duty on the rocket fuel needed for demonstration flights?
– I am not familiar with the matter to which the honorable senator has referred. I remind him that, as no doubt he well knows, there is a big research programme in this direction already in progress at Woomera. If the honorable senator will put the question on the notice-paper I will be able to tell him more later.
– Can the
Minister for National Development inform the Senate what steps, if any, have been taken within his department to establish a division of northern development, as undertaken by the Government in its last policy speech?
– I thought I made a powerful oration to the Senate during the ‘ Address-in-Reply debate and explained all that has been done and is proposed to be done in this matter.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Arising out of the recent exchanges between Pakistan and Communist China, was any treaty concluded with reference to defence and supply arrangements? If so, will the Minister indicate to the Senate the significance of that treaty to the South-East Asia Treaty Organization.
– I will ask the Minister for External Affairs to reply to the question asked by the honorable senator, but I should like to say now that my own understanding - I may be corrected later - is that any arrangements between Pakistan and Communist China were confined to agreement -on the border between those two countries, so that the line no longer was in dispute or could be brought into dispute. I know of no other arrangements between the two countries. The border agreement would not appear to have any bearing on our Seato arrangements. I shall ask the Minister to confirm what I have just stated.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Has the PostmasterGeneral’s attention been drawn to court proceedings at Whyalla in South Australia on 12th March last, when 309 people were prosecuted for not having current radio and television licences and were ordered to pay fines and court costs in excess of £4,000? The magistrate was reported in the Adelaide “Advertiser” of 13th March as having suggested that heavier penalties would have to be imposed in future and as having referred to the belief held by some people that when reception is poor no licence-fees should be charged. Will the PostmasterGeneral investigate the circumstances surrounding this unusually, large number of prosecutions and examine the allegations of bad reception in this area which, in the opinion of some listeners, would justify reduced licence fees?
– Answering the latter portion of the question first, let me “ say that I will bring the honorable senator’s submissions to the notice of my colleague, the Postmaster-General. However, I wish to make it very clear that I believe that the Postmaster-General’s Department adopts a most admirable policy in licence enforcement. The department makes no secret of the fact that it intends to send its officers into certain areas to check licences. In making it known that officers will visit those areas I think the department is extending a measure of latitude and is worthy of great praise for that. There is no suggestion that the department adopts a policy of trying to catch people or to embarrass them because of a lapse of memory. I think it must be conceded that the department adopts an admirable attitude to the collection of licence-fees.
– I do not disagree with that.
– I should not think that you would. I assume that the point the honorable senator is endeavouring to make is that there is bad reception in this area and that some consideration should be given to a reduction of licence-fees. The quality of reception would be a matter of degree. I believe that adoption of the honorable senators’ suggestion would lead to endless trouble in the issuing of licences, and I am sure that it could not be considered. However, interference with reception is another matter. I shall ask the Postmaster-General to look into that allegation.
– I preface my question to the Leader of the Government by saying that I hope it does not prejudice the Union-Kern organization or Shell Refining (Australia) Proprietary Limited, or, indeed, Senator Sir William Spooner in his negotiations with these companies. If it does will he please say so? My question arises out of the answer he gave earlier this morning and relates to the price per barrel of oil. Could the Minister indicate how the prices proposed by Shell Refining (Australia) Proprietary Limited and the Union-Kern organization, which closely approximate each other, compare with the price of oil which is equivalent to Moonie oil and which is available in other parts of the world? In other words what is the posted price of crude oil equivalent to Moonie oil and how is it related to the price being negotiated?
Estimates of the quality of oil, the posted price, discounts that are allowed and freight rates have;, some element of personal information in them, known only to those who make the estimates. In the present circumstances, of course, these factors are the subject of pretty hard bargaining between large companies who know the facts of life in the buying and selling of oil. I give this answer to Senator Cormack: My information is that the price that is now the subject of negotiation is, at least, somewhat greater than that which would be paid for imported oil of a similar quality.
– Has the Minister for Customs and Excise noted in the press the concern of orange-growers in New South Wales at the steps being taken by Israeli producers to step up the export of citrus products to Australia? Have local orangegrowers, either in New South Wales or elsewhere in Australia where oranges are produced, including South Australia, taken up with the Department of Customs and Excise the question of increasing tariffs on citrus products? If so, what approaches have been made, and with what result?
– I have not noticed the article to which the honorable senator refers, but I have noticed, with a great deal of interest, a large increase of imports of orange products to Australia from outside countries. If the orange growing industry of Australia believes that it is suffering as a result of these imports, then the right thing for it to do is to approach the Department of Trade and Industry, direct attention to the conditions prevailing, and place a case before the department for a Tariff Board hearing. The tariff can be increased in no other way except by a public hearing and a recommendation by the Tariff Board.
– My question to the Minister representing the Attorney-General relates further to the report of the committee appointed to revise the Bankruptcy Act, to which I referred earlier this week. Will the Minister ascertain from the Attorney-General whether a suggestion would be acceptable to him that the report be submitted for consideration to an allparty committee representing both houses of this Parliament, the committee to be constituted either formally as a Parliamentary committee or constituted informally on some responsible basis? May I say that my idea is that some consultative process by a committee of that nature would be an advantage for the consideration of that consolidating measure before it is finally passed through the Parliament?
– When the honorable senator asked a question on this subject fairly recently I had a discussion with the Attorney-General on the matter. He confirmed that the report of the committee had been discussed with the law councils in the various States and that the departments of Attorneys-General had been working on it. Indeed, the Attorney-General had hoped to have legislation ready for this sessional period but he finds now that the matter is so complicated and difficult and the bill required so large as to make that unlikely. All I can do now, if the honorable senator wishes me to do so, is to ask the Attorney-General on his behalf whether the suggestion of the honorable senator meets with the Attorney-General’s approval. I will do that if the honorable senator wants me to do so rather than do it himself.
(Question No. 16.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
(Question No. 18.)
Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
(Question No. 23.)
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows: -
(Question No. 27.)
Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The Attorney. General has supplied these answers -
Motion (by Senator Sir William Spooner) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Tuesday, 7th April, at 3 p.m.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir William Spooner) read a first time.
[11.58]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill provides for a grant of up to £2,750,000 to the State of New South Wales over a period of six years as financial assistance towards the carrying out of flood mitigation works on certain New South Wales rivers. Honorable senators will recall that in October last the Government announced its intention to provide this assistance. The Government’s decision in this matter arose out of a request presented by the New South Wales Government that the Commonwealth join the State in providing financial assistance to a number of local government authorities which are carrying out flood mitigation works on the Macleay, Clarence, Richmond, Tweed, Shoalhaven and Hunter rivers. These rivers are subject to chronic flooding, which causes great hardship and considerable, economic losses. It was represented to us that there was a strong case on national grounds for the Commonwealth to provide financial assistance to enable construction of the works to be expedited.
The New South Wales Government has been subsidizing for some years expenditure incurred by the relevant local authorities from their own resources on construction of flood mitigation works on the abovementioned rivers. Under these arrangements the State provides £2 for each £1 provided by the local authority in the cases of the Macleay River, Clarence River and Richmond River county councils and the Tweed and Shoalhaven shire councils. Because of the magnitude of the works that are required on the Hunter River, the State subsidizes the Hunter Valley Conservation Trust expenditure at the rate of £3 for £1.
Following the widespread and relatively severe floodings of the rivers in May of last year, the local authorities concerned jointly prepared a detailed case for the provision of additional financial assistance which would enable work on flood mitigation to be speeded up. This statement was considered by the New South Wales Government, which submitted it to the Commonwealth Government with a request that the
Commonwealth match the subsidies provided by the State on a £1 for £1 basis. We found, on examining the statement, that the local authorities are undertaking a comprehensive programme of flood mitigation works. The individual programmes of the local authorities have been worked out by them in association with State technical officers, and the State Government is satisfied that they are sound and practicable. They are aimed, of course, at mitigating the incidence and effects of flooding. It would not be a practicable proposition to construct works which would entirely prevent the occurrence of floodings.
The programme of works planned by the local authorities would normally take many years to complete. Despite the fact that the financing of flood mitigation works is normally entirely the responsibility of the States and State local government authorities, we came to the conclusion that the provision of special Commonwealth assistance was justified because of the great national benefits, particularly in terms of increased production, that would result from speedy implementation of the flood mitigation programmes of the local authorities to which I have referred.
Clearly, there is no other settled area in Australia where frequent flooding at present creates such havoc and causes so much suffering and loss as in the northern rivers area and the Hunter River valley of New South Wales.
We decided, therefore, to offer the State a grant of £2,750,000 to be paid over a period of six years, commencing with the current financial year, on the basis of matching the State’s subsidy of £3 for £1 in the case of the Hunter River and £2 for £1 in the case of the other rivers I referred to earlier. Accordingly, the provision of Commonwealth assistance will enable the authorities’ programmes to be greatly accelerated, and it is expected that with this assistance the great bulk of the works will be completed within the six years’ period. Honorable senators will notice that the bill makes no provision for Commonwealth approval of the individual works to which Commonwealth assistance will be applied. We regard the selection of the individual works as a matter for the State and the local government authorities concerned. However, the bill does provide for the Commonwealth to be kept suitably informed about the works and to be furnished with regular reports of expenditure and progress on the works.
A fundamental feature of the arrangements is that the level of assistance to be provided to the local government authorities, which, of course, are representative of the land-owners and other people most intimately affected by floodings, will depend on the amounts that the authorities themselves will provide from their own resources towards the cost of flood mitigation works. The level of assistance is £6 for £1 in the case of the Hunter Valley Conservation Trust and £4 for £1 in other cases, and the cost of assistance so provided will be shared equally between the State and the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth grants will be payable to the State in respect of expenditure incurred on flood mitigation works, excluding expenditure on maintenance of works, during the period up to 30th June, 1969, and will be subject to a limit of £2,750,000 on total Commonwealth payments. As the flood mitigation works to be assisted are already under way, Commonwealth payments to the State will commence as soon as this legislation is enacted, and it is estimated that payments to be made to the State in 1963- 64 will amount to £200,000.
It is the Government’s belief that the measure now before the Senate will appreciably hasten the completion of works which will contribute to the achievement of important national objectives. I therefore commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Ormonde) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 18th March (vide page 389), on motion by Senator Sir William Spooner.
That the bill be now read a second time.
– Before I proceed to comment on the bill, I should like to say. what a pleasant contrast the second-reading speech of the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) in the Senate was compared with the smirking self-satisfaction expressed by the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) in introducing the bill in another place.
– I do not know how to take that statement.
– One expects a bill to be submitted in a manner far different from that reflected by the Minister’s speech when he submitted the bill in another place. The Minister for Social Services himself has said that child endowment touches the home more closely than does any other social service benefit. Yet child endowment has remained untouched for fourteen years and one fails to understand what self-satisfaction the Minister for Social Services can derive from any efforts he has made in that connexion.
The history of child endowment is interesting. In 1921, an attempt was made to introduce child endowment into New South Wales under the name of motherhood endowment. The measure was introduced by the State Labour Government of the day but it was defeated in the Legislative Council. It is true that the proposal was not the same as child endowment as we know it to-day. The proposal was to begin to pay the benefit for the third child at the rate of 6s. a week for each eligible child under fourteen years. There was a means test of £6 13s. a week - an income which seems extremely small in terms of to-day’s inflated currency, but the basic wage at that time was £4 2s.
In 1927, the New South Wales Government succeeded in getting a bill called the Motherhood Endowment Bill through both Houses of the State Parliament. It provided for a payment of 5s. a week for each child but there was a means test of £364 a year or £7 a week. The basic wage at that time was £4 10s. 6d. Child endowment was not brought into the realm of Commonwealth politics until 1941 when the United Australia Party Government of the day introduced a bill. This provided for a payment of 5s. a week for each child after the first child in a family under the age of 16 years.
The history of this legislation is rather interesting. Those of us who were more intimately associated with arbitration court cases in those days than we are to-day remember that a basic wage hearing was held in 1941. A substantial part of the trade unions’ claims was that the basic wag did not meet the needs of the average family. The unions claimed that the basic wage should be sufficient to provide for the needs of a family unit of a husband, wife and three children. This issue was the subject of very wide public argument and discussion. Mr. Justice Beeby, who was the Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration in those days, expressed sympathy with the view that while the existing basic wage at that time might be sufficient for a small family, it provided only a very meagre existence for larger families. It was commonly understood and stated at the time that if nothing were done by the Commonwealth Government to provide in some way for larger families, help would have to be provided for them through a higher basic wage.
After the basic wage hearing had been completed but before the judgment was delivered, the Government announced its intention to introduce child endowment. I think it is fair to conclude that the Government of the day attempted to influence the Arbitration Court and by granting child endowment as it did subsequently, it headed off what every one at that time thought would be a large increase in the basic wage.
– That might be a very unworthy way of putting it. If the Government passes a law, it is not fair to say that it is influencing the court.
Senator KENNELLY__ I can understand my friend saying that but if the honorable senator traces the history of this legislation and of basic wage cases in the courts, he will see how remarkable it is that the three important bills relating to child endowment happened to be under discussion when basic wage cases were before the court. I do not want to be unworthy. I am only speaking of the remarkable coincidence.
– I hate to interrupt again but if the honorable senator is suggesting that that applies in the current instance, I point out that this proposal for an adjustment of the basic wage was made long before the present legislation was introduced.
– I will tell the honorable senator why I think this proposal to increase child endowment was made. It was a remarkable coincidence.
– Was it done for the purpose of influencing the rctors?
– Of course it was.
– Do you say that was improper?
– You are saying that. I shall answer the question as I proceed. When judgment in the 1940 basic wage case was handed down, Judge Beeby said of the Government’s proposal -
If and when this is done future fixations of the basic wage will be greatly simplified.
I believe it can fairly be said that the action of the government of the day must have had some effect. Let me trace the matter through. When Mr. Harold Holt, who is now the Federal Treasurer, was introducing endowment proposals he said in relation to endowment for the first child -
The Government has given a great deal of consideration to the provision of an endowment in respect of a first child. … it has decided that payment for the first child is not warranted. The presence of one child in the household docs not put it at any serious disadvantage compared wilh the living standards of its neighbours. Inclusion of first children in the benefit would raise the cost of the endowment by over 80 per cent.
Let us consider that statement alongside the decision of the Government to grant endowment for the first child. Mr. Harold Holt complimented himself on the decision, despite the statement he had made concerning endowment for the first child on the occasion to which I have just referred.
I think it is logical to say that the promise in 1949 to provide endowment for the first child was made for two reasons. At this point, I want to take up Senator Wright’s interjection. I do not think he will deny that the promise was made to win votes.
– You would never do that, would you?
– I am not saying that I would or would not do it. I am merely stating that that is what you people did. It can be said that the promise influenced the basic wage hearing that was then proceeding, and later in my remarks I shall refer to statements made by Mr. Justice Kelly who at that time was chief
Judge of the court. If it was intended, by promising endowment of 5s. a week for the first child, both to win votes and influence the court, to my mind the Government parties were successful. They won the election and there was a marked influence on the court. Chief Judge Kelly said -
At the basis of the problem of settling the disputes before Court concerning the basic wage for adult male and female workers are, as has been made manifest during these proceedings, questions relative to the amount and just and proper distribution of the national income and to the capacity of the economy to support such a distribution.
Since these matters have been raised for consideration in another field, since, in other words, they lie at the basis of an issue raised at the coming elections for the Federal Parliament by the references made to the possible supplementation of the basic wage by changes in the amount and incidence of child endowment, the Court (which must not be taken to express any criticism of these references) has decided that it is its duty to proceed no further with the present case while the issue remains the subject of election controversy.
Does Senator Wright still say that my earlier comment was unfair?
– We all remember that statement of the Chief Judge.
– You remember it now, and I remembered it, too, when I was tracing the history of this matter. I had recollections of it because it is true that we, as a party, opposed the payment of endowment for the first child because we believed, as Chief Judge Kelly stated, that it would have a very detrimental effect on the wage structure.
– There is no hope for you -
– If you and I ever agreed politically it is very doubtful whether there would be any hope for me.
– Do you believe those comments you have just made concerning the effect on the wage structure of endowment for the first child?
– What I have said is true. I was then the federal secretary of the Australian Labour Party and played some part in the matter. After consultation with the leaders of the trade union movement we felt - and I believe that our opinion was later proved to be correct - that the granting of 5s. a week would prevent for a number of years a large increase in the base rate. We thought that that would not help the people. As I proceed further with my remarks I think I will be able to satisfy most reasonable people, including my friend Senator Wright, that that contention is not as outrageous as it may appear.
– Hope springs eternal.
– Hope springs eternal, even in relation to Senator Wright. If we have not hope, we have not much left to us. I think we can be honest between ourselves.
At the time Chief Judge Kelly referred to the statement by the leader of the antiLabour party I do not know whether that party described- itself as the Liberal Party or the United Australian Party, but I rather think it was the Liberal Party.
– Surely you are- in no doubt about that.
– I think you had adopted the name Liberal Party. We wanted to touch some of your friends - the banks - pretty severely, and of course there was no doubt that there would be a closing up of the ranks. Chief Judge Kelly, for the reasons I have already mentioned, went on to say - ?
The case will therefore be adjourned to a date to be fixed.
Surely my friend Senator Wright will now admit without equivocation that there was some influence on the court. It is reasonable to assume that the proposal to grant endowment for the first child was aimed at preventing a large increase in the base rate. The judgment was not announced until 1 2th October, 1950, when the court granted a £1 a week increase, plus a 5s. prosperity loading, and asked that a new index be established.
– With what results?
– The honorable senator may be a better historian than I am. I doubt whether there was a new index. A remarkable feature is that there have been no changes in child endowment rates in the past fourteen years, although the value of the payments has fallen by 50 per cent. As I have said on several occasions when we have submitted amendments to social services legislation, if the Government believes in the principle of child endowment it should maintain the value of the payments. If it is not prepared to do this, it should scrap the scheme. The Government has maintained the payments at the same level for fourteen years although the Labour Party has, during this period, no fewer than thirteen times sought increases by way of amendment of the legislation or by raising the matter in other ways. The Government is proposing this change as a result of an election. It got a fright in 1961. The result of the general election last year was as great a shock to the majority of Government supporters as it was to the Labour Party, the difference being that it was a pleasant shock to the Government and a disappointing shock to us. Irrespective of what may be said later, that is the truth. I know of some people supporting the Government who, in the last three or four days of the election campaign, went to certain places and pleaded: “ Give us a go. Give us a go.” However, I will not carry that subject any farther now. The ball fell the Government’s way.
– Quite fairly.
– It was fair up to a point. I do not want to go into details of the campaign. I fought a lot, both inside and outside the party. Inside the party, I have been a little lucky. In any election one tries to win. During my lifetime I have had some extremely close calls in ballots but I have always said, “The vote will be greater next time “. 1 remember saying that many years ago in Victoria.
– It could have seen said recently, too.
– Yes. One ought to pay for foolishness. The old saying is, “ You have never won until the numbers go up “. In 1962, if I remember correctly. the Government budgeted for a deficit of £118,000,000, but it finished the year with a surplus of £18,000,000. If the Government wanted to increase child endowment, why did it not do so then? From what one hears in the corridors, one gathers that before the election the Government was not too sure about promising some improvement, but when Labour’s policy was announced the Government said, “ Well, here goes “. It had fourteen years in which to make some improvement but it did not do so. It waited. In this last election it did not say, “ We rely on our record “. I remember that being said in 1949. If I had had my way then, we would not have relied upon our record, but I did not have my way. A government may do that once, but it runs a very great risk if it does it a second time.
– If you add the excitement of decimal currency, it sometimes works.
– There may have been reasons why that subject was not mentioned, but that does not come under the bill we are discussing. We do not oppose the measure. We ask why the Government does not go further. Why does it not increase the rate for second and subsequent children to the level, at which it should be? Every one must agree that this is only a very small gesture. The Government frightened the people by saying that Labour could not meet the cost of fulfilling its promises without collecting tax in big lumps, and persuaded them to accept this small improvement.
Let us look at what it actually means. What is the position of a family to-day? At present, the rate for a first child under sixteen years of age is 5s. Under the bill, it will remain at 5s. A family with two children under sixteen receives 15s. a week; under the bill it will still receive 15s. a week. A family with three children under sixteen receives £1 5s.; under the bill it will receive £1 10s. a week. A family , with four children under sixteen receives £1 15s.; under the bill it will receive £2 5s. a week. I admit that there will be some improvement in cases where the first or second child is a full-time student over the age of sixteen. Let us have a look at the situation. First, the Government increased the taxation allowance in respect of a scholar to £150. Then it raised to £400 the deduction allowable in respect of insurance. Now it is to grant child endowment in respect of a student up to the age of 21. All of these provisions smack of helping the Government’s friends a bit more than it is prepared to admit, but I shall deal with that as I go on.
One must be honest and admit that the bill will effect an improvement, but it will be relatively slight. It is only a relatively slight benefit, as the figures show. When child endowment was introduced by the United Australia Party Government in July, 1941, the rate paid was 5s. a week for each child in excess of one under the age of sixteen years. This payment was approximately 5.8 per cent, of the then basic wage of £4 16s. When the rate was increased to 7s. 6d. by the Curtin Labour Government in June, 1945, it represented 7.8 per cent, of the then basic wage. When the rate was increased further to 10s. by the Chifley Labour Government in 1948, it represented 8.4 per cent, of the then basic wage of £5 19s. a week.
In June, 1950, the endowment scheme was extended by the Menzies Government to include the first or only child under the age of sixteen years and the rate paid for that child was 5s. a week. At that time, the basic wage was £6 18s. a week, so that the 5s. for the first child represented 3.7 per cent, of the then basic wage and the 10s. for each additional child under the age of sixteen, 7.4 per cent. And it is on that point that we are in disagreement with the Government’s social services policy. We say that if the value of child endowment is to be restored to its 1948 level, the rate paid for the first child should now be lis. instead of 5s., that paid for the second child should be 19s. instead of 10s. and that paid for third and subsequent children should be 22s. instead of the present 10s. or the proposed 15s. One wonders why something was not done by the Government before this time. I know it will be argued that it was a question of money, but, when all is said and done, the increased rates of endowment will not cost much money, as I propose to show later.
The bill contains two other provisions. One seeks to extend the child endowment entitlement to full-time students under the age of 21 years. The Parliamentary Library was good enough to furnish me with figures for the year 1962. They show that the number of pupils attending schools was 2,249,751 and the number attending fulltime courses at the universities was 34,698, making a grand total of 2,284,449.. There were also 247,559 students enrolled at technical colleges, but I have been unable to ascertain how many of that number were part-time students and how many were fulltime students. According to the Minister’s second-reading speech, it is proposed to pay 15s. a week to 114,000 full-time students.
If we subtract 114,000 from the total of 2,284,449 we find that 2,170,449 students will derive very little, if any, benefit from the bill. For instance, if a student happens to be a third child he will receive the payment, but I doubt whether any payment will be made for the second child. I hope the Minister will be able to explain that to me.
– I ask for notice of the question.
– I am not saying that they will not receive some slight benefit, but I do emphasize that this bill really looks after those people who, to a large extent, are more able to look after themselves. Certainly there are students who have been unfortunate enough not to be able to enter universities by way of Commonwealth scholarships and, therefore, are unable to receive tertiary education because their parents cannot afford the expense. There are also some students whose parents cannot afford to allow them to enter universities even though they may have won scholarships. After all, the 15s. which is to be paid under this measure, will do little if anything more than pay fares in the capital cities.
– And then only for a very short distance.
– That is so. This nation needs scholars. Indeed, top men are essential to the nation, but this proposal, like the others I have mentioned, does very little to help in that direction. As for the allowance of amounts up to £150 a year as a tax deduction in respect of expenditure incurred on the education of children, I merely say that only a small section of the people will benefit. For instance, the parents of children attending primary schools or State schools as we call them in Victoria, will have difficulty in convincing the tax gatherer that they spend £150 a year on the education of their kiddies. The concession proposed here might give a slight benefit to parents whose children are attending big public schools and boarding schools. ‘ As soon as I heard of that proposal, I was reminded of the £400 deduction which is allowed for taxation purposes in respect of the payment of life assurance and superannuation contributions. It enabled members of Parliament to contribute to a superannuation scheme, but I should like to know how many others can afford what we have to pay for the small, indeed pitiful, pension to which we will be entitled. Therefore, the proposals now under consideration seem to be gilding the lily a little.
One remarkable feature about the bill is the proposal to make payment of the increased endowment retrospective. It seems that the Government has had a second thought about backdating a social service. I hope that if social service payments are to be increased when the next Budget is brought down, the Government docs not jump the other way. It has jumped in the right direction on this occasion in providing for endowment to be made retrospective and I hope that it will continue that policy. But I must be honest and say that I cannot claim that any other government has made retrospective any payment of increased benefits. All I can say about the Government’s proposals with respect to assistance in the educational field is ‘that it must have been a tremendous afterthought. The decision- to provide financial assistance for . schools and the additional scholarships must have been reached at about five minutes to eight o’clock on the night the Prime Minister made his policy speech. He began to deliver his speech at eight o’clock, and members of the Government parties knew nothing about the plan until they heard it that evening. The assistance is not to be given until next year, and I am wondering why it is not to be made retrospective, as the child endowment has been.
The Opposition is not opposing the bill, but its introduction does give us the opportunity to suggest what the Government ought to do. Although the bill represents the implementation of a promise made by the Government, I do not think it will mean much benefit to the people generally. Nor do I think it was the main reason for the Government’s election victory, but I shall not discuss at this stage what I think was the main reason. At the moment, I wish to point out the true state of the economy. A few days ago the Treasurer said that the economy was booming. He described it as a dream economy, and said that it had never been so favorably placed. I do not think any one will disagree with that statement. I think that this nation is most fortunate in being in that position at the present time, and I hope that, irrespective of what government is in office, it will remain in that position. But if honorable senators opposite believe in the principle of child endowment, and if the present state of the economy is as outlined by the Treasurer, why do they not review benefits which have remained unaltered for fourteen years?
Sitting suspended from 12.46 to 2.15 p.m.
– The purposes of this bill are to amend the principal act in three specific ways. Its first purpose is to increase from 10s. to 15s. a week endowment paid in respect of third and subsequent children under the age of sixteen years. Its second purpose is to bring in a new .provision whereby 15s. a week will be provided for student children aged between 16 and 21 years. The third purpose is to increase from 10s. to 15s. a week the endowment paid for children attending approved institutions.
Senator Kennelly said that child endowment was introduced by a Labour government in New South Wales back in the 1920’s. That endowment was paid by a State. The first child endowment paid by the Commonwealth was in 1941, when 5s. a week was provided for second and subsequent children. The act was amended in 1947 to increase the endowment to 7s. 6d. a week, and again in 1948 or 1949 to increase it to 10s. a week. In 1949 the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Menzies, said in his policy speech that if he were returned to power 5s. a week child endowment would be paid for a first child. He won the election, and a bill was brought into the Senate in March, 1950, to give effect to the promises that had been made in the policy speech. It is interesting to note, as I think Senator Kennelly mentioned, that the Labour Party opposed that measure because it said it believed that endowment of the first child would affect the decision of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, which was then considering a wage claim. A reference to the “ Hansard “, record of that time shows that the Labour Party moved an amendment which, if carried, would have had the effect pf increasing the proposed payment from 5s. to 10s. a week.
– I would like to have the reference. I am not doubting you, but what you are saying is quite foreign to my memory.
– I refer the honorable senator to page 1012 of “Hansard” for 22nd March, 1950. Senator McKenna said -
At an appropriate time the Opposition will move that the amount of the endowment in respect of the first child be increased from 5s. to 10s. I invite the Government to approach that proposal with courage. I urge it not to be timid. I invite the Government to consider the excellent passage in the Minister’s second-reading speech to which I have just referred. The sincerity and courage of the Government will be judged upon the attitude that it adopts to the Opposition’s amendments. We shall watch it with great interest.
It is interesting to note those words. At that time the Labour Party had a majority of seven or eight in the Senate, and the amendment was carried. The bill was returned to the other place, where the amendment was fully discussed and rejected. When the bill came to the Senate again, the Labour Opposition undertook to pass it on the understanding that if the Arbitration Court took the 5s. child endowment payment into consideration in fixing the basic wage, consideration would, be given to increasing the endowment to 10s. The bill was then passed.
This Government has a very proud record in the field of social services. In the last fourteen years, it has looked after age and invalid pensions, widows’ pensions and sickness and unemployment benefits. We are justifiably proud of our record. It cannot be approached and has not been approached by any other government in Australia’s history. However, we say that we have not finished in this field. We will be here for many years, and from year to year we will bring in other social service benefits to aid those in the community who need them.
The present time was, of course, a prudent time for us to turn to child endowment. Because we introduced this proposal when we did, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly) seemed to think that we were out to get the maximum vote.
– As a rule, at elections wc all are.
– He suggested, too, that it was not a bad idea so far as he was concerned. When I look at the record I really wonder whether the Government could have competed with the proposals that were put forward by the Leader of the Opposition in another place. He suggested that if the electors voted for the Australian Labour Party it would increase child endowment by 5s. for the third and subsequent children and pay an additional 5s. for children who were students aged from 16 to 21 years. It was not good enough for the Labour Party to leave it at that. Just to make sure - you have to make sure of these things when you start on them - the Labour Party said that it would increase the amount to be paid for the first child to lis. instead of paying the 5s. that is being paid at present. The Leader of the Opposition said, in effect, “ Put us on to the treasury bench and every mother will receive lis. for her first child “. For the second child it was proposed to give 19s., not 10s., and for the third and subsequent children, not 15s: as proposed by the Government, but 22s. The Labour Party said also that it would extend the payment of endowment to children up to the age of eighteen who were pursuing full-time study at a university.
The additional cost of paying the higher rate of endowment in respect of all first children, as at 31st December, 1963, would have been £24,000,000. To pay endowment in respect of the second child at the rate suggested by the Labour Party would have cost £23,600,000, and for the third and subsequent children the cost would have been £28,300,000. The cost of paying 1 Is. endowment for the estimated number of student children as at 31st December, 1963, would have been £3,000,000, making a total extra cost of £78,900,000. Although no mention was made of the matter in the policy speech of the Leader of the Opposition, if the intention had been to raise endowment for children in institutions from 10s. to lis. per week, an additional £1,000,000 would have been involved.
– Whose estimates are those?
– I thought so.
– The honorable senator can contradict them if he can. How do those estimates compare with the present proposition outlined by the Government? To honour the promises of the Government will cost the nation £18,000,000.
It is interesting, of course, to know the number of people who will be affected. 1 have no doubt that if the Labour Party had been returned to office it would have fulfilled its promise. I am not questioning its integrity. It attempted to catch the maximum number of votes. On the other hand it was only in passing that the Government promised this extra. It believed that it was essential for parents of children who are finding it increasingly difficult to have them educated to be given this extra assistance. When I use the phrase “ increasingly difficult “ I do not want it to be thought that I am suggesting the country is in a bad way. It has never been more prosperous. Senator Kennelly agrees with me on that. However, it is obvious to all parents of Australia that one of the great needs for our children is higher education. What the Government proposes is one way of helping parents to keep their children at school a little longer. They will be able to receive 15s. a week for a full-time student. This is a considerable help as it amounts to about £36 or £38 a year. The assistance to be given under this bill has to be considered in’ conjunction with other concessions that the Government has granted. Senator Kennelly mentioned the tax deduction of £150 a year for educational expenses. He suggested that it benefits only the rich people who have children going to secondary schools.
– I referred to boarding schools in the main.
– Yes- to boarding schools. If these children were not attending boarding schools they would be attending schools which required government finance to keep them operating. That, of course, would be a charge on everybody. If a person takes his child away from a State school and sends it to a boarding school he relieves the State of a responsibility. I believe that the allowance is an incentive to parents to send their children to boarding schools if they can possibly afford to do so.
– That is an interesting observation.
– I am not suggesting that that can always be done, but I am suggesting that the allowance is an incentive. The Government also allows an income tax deduction of £91 a year for a first child and £65 a year for each additional child. That also is a considerable help. Also, by way of helping Australian children, the Government pays 15s. for each child of a person receiving a widow’s pension, an invalid pension, or unemployment or sickness benefits under the social service legislation.
The endowment to be paid for student children will encourage people to send their children to school a little longer. They will get this additional 15s. a week for students aged between . 16 and 21 years. There are certain exceptions. The child must be at school full time, and the endowment will not be paid to cadets, nurses or apprentices. Nobody would expect Public Service cadets, engineers, surveyors, biochemists and veterinary officers who are attending school and are receiving £15 or £20 a week to receive the extra endowment. People who are attending technical schools and endeavouring to become teachers and who are receiving £7 or £8 a week from a State government do not require the endowment. It is interesting to note that the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) obtained an assurance from the State Governments that, if the could persuade the Commonwealth Government to agree to an increase from 10s. to 15s. a week in respect of children in approved institutions, those Governments would not reduce the amount of money they were spending on child welfare. The State Governments said they were wholeheartedly behind the scheme and that they had no intention, as I have said, of reducing their expenditure on child welfare.
I have covered most of the points of the scheme. We as a government are proud of our association with this step forward. We believe that the Government’s proposals will be of great benefit to student children, and to parents who have three children under the age of sixteen years and who will be receiving 15s. a week for the third child. Child endowment is paid direct to the parent or guardian; in most cases the mother receives it. I believe that that is the correct way to pay child endowment. It is of considerable help to mothers to know that the money will be available to them at certain times. I repeat that the Government’s proposals are a step in the right direction. I look forward to the day when we can have more of such benefits. I support the bill.
– The Opposition supports the bill because it provides for a measure of social justice, even though that measure be minute. In these matters let us be as generous as is justified and as dispassionate as is necessary. The Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner), who is in charge of the bill in the Senate, and Senator Scott of Western” Australia are estimable persons. However, when they rise in this place and espouse the cause of the people whom we are trying to help, they project their own self-esteem and bubble with self-satisfaction. Do not let us be under any misapprehension about the history of social services in Australia. We concede that pensions for the aged were introduced by an anti-Labour government. But let us add that that government provided that benefit under pressure from a powerful Labour minority. Where did the proposals for the payment of invalid pensions; maternity allowances, widows’ allowances, funeral benefits, and unemployment and sickness benefits originate? They, did not emanate from the anti-Labour forces but were introduced while the Australian Labour Party was in control- of the treasury bench.
– But under pressure from a powerful anti-Labour minority.
– That is not so. Let me deal with the subject of pressure. Nobody could deal with it -more effectively than did my distinguished colleague, Senator Kennelly. Three changes of the social service legislation to provide for child endowment have been made while anti-Labour forces have been, in control of the treasury bench. Two of them were made under pressure of industrial blackmail, if I may so term it, and one under electoral pressure. Senator Kennelly, even if he did not prove conclusively that there was a time relationship, did show that it was not unjustified to assume that there was a causal relationship.
The honorable senator dealt with the circumstances which obtained when those changes were made, and I do not need to repeat them. They are recorded in “ Hansard “.
Child endowment was first introduced by an anti-Labour government in 1941 because of a threat to the basic wage structure. That was the only reason. It is not necessary for me to remind honorable senators about the circumstances surrounding the payment of endowment for the first child. The bill now before us is the fulfilment of a promise that was made last November after the Leader of the Australian Labour Party had enunciated Labour’s policy. That policy seemed to be acceptable to the people. Suddenly this Government, which as recently as August last when it introduced the Budget said it could not afford another penny to increase child endowment, came forward with a promise to pay the very benefits that we are now considering. We agree that there is a measure of social justice in the Government’s proposals, but it is very small.
As honorable senators know, child endowment did not .originate in this country. France introduced child endowment in 1 862 - more than a century agor- for the dependent children of members of the marine services. Subsequently the benefit was extended to members of other government services and private industry. Because of the drift of labour to France, Belgium subsequently introduced child endowment. Then Germany introduced the benefit. In 1919, Mr. Holman, the then Leader of the New South Wales Government, introduced child endowment legislation which was passed by the lower House. However, the crusty conservative elements of the time; the counterparts of the representatives of conservatism in the 1960’s, rejected the legislation in the upper House. In 1920 a government led by Mr. Hughes introduced child, endowment for the children of public servants who received less than a certain income. The wage structure was altered to permit that move. Child endowment was introduced in New Zealand in 1926. Then, as honorable senators know, a New South Wales Labour government led by Mr. Lang introduced child endowment legislation which was passed by both Houses of the State Parliament. Irrespective of what we- may think about Mr. Lang, nobody can say that he lacked sympathy for the mothers, children and widows of his State. It is to the credit of that government that with only one limitation - a means test - child endowment was given general application.
Let us examine the attitude of the representatives of conservatism in this country to the granting of this benefit. In 1928 the Bruce-Page Government established a commission to inquire into the justification and practicability of the payment of child endowment. The attitude of the conservative elements in the community has not changed since then, except that because of electoral portents the conservatives of the present day do adopt a more practical approach to these problems. Supporters of the Government think they can walk over the people.
If honorable senators on the Government side were completely frank and honest they would agree .that their thinking on child endowment is basically no different from that of their predecessors who said that it would decrease parental responsibility and that the number of husbands deserting their wives and children would increase. They said child endowment would lead to a lack of incentive to work and that it would increase vice.
Irrespective of any other views on the family, it has been accepted that the family is the basic unit of society. When a mother has a child she renders a service to the State because in the process of time the child, whether male or female, becomes an asset to the community. So the Government has a real responsibility in this connexion. But what has been the attitude of this Government and those that have preceded it since December, 1949? It has financially murdered the mothers of Australia and cheated their children of hundreds of millions of pounds. The Government was elected originally on the promise that the value of social service benefits would not be vitiated. But what do we find? Senator Kennelly gave the comparative values of child endowment payments in relation to the basic wage as they rose from 5s. to 7s. 6d. and to 10s. for the second and subsequent children in 1948. He also referred to the 5s. granted in 1954 for the first child. In terms of money values, we find that the 5s. given to mothers in 1954 would have to be increased to lis. now to maintain purchasing power. The 10s. of 1948 would need to be increased to 23s. 6d. Yet Government supporters have the temerity to speak proudly about their social services programme.
Repeatedly, honorable senators opposite compare the achievements of the Government in the ten years subsequent to 1949 with the war and immediate post-war periods. They should at least be honest when they make such comparisons. They should take comparisons further and compare national revenue in the relevant periods. They should compare the obligations that this Government has had to face in relation to those that faced the Labour governments of the war and immediate post, war period. Then they would find that this Government’s image does not shine so brightly.
– We will be comparing the next ten years with our past ten years also.
– If the Minister for Customs and Excise and the Government he supports use misrepresentation and propaganda similar to that which they adopted in the last general election, we on the Opposition side will probably remain in opposition and that will be a tragedy for Australia and the women and children. But surely the Minister would not want me to deal with those matters in detail. Senator Kennelly was nice enough to pass over the propaganda used against the Australian Labour Party in the last election and I do not want to become irritated at this time.
– The honorable senator is going to pass over it too, is he?
– I am dealing with facts dispassionately. Do not stir my emotions. The honorable senator knows I can be emotional on occasions. I wanted to do full justice to the Government for the little things it has done which are good. From a budget of £200,000,000, the Government could have given more adequate social service benefits to the mothers and children. . Supporters of the Government here and elsewhere talk in terms of other services. Let us accept these as a feature of governmental administration. Is child endowment a section of domestic finance? We on the Opposition side say it is. lt has been accepted as justifiable. The nation can justify looking after its children. It is of no use to say that children are a joy and pride to their parents alone. If Government supporters think that, they should leave the children alone when they are eighteen years old and the nation is at war. Do not put them into uniform to protect the material assets of those who will not accept a measure of financial responsibility for the children.
Far be it from me to attempt to destroy the bonds uniting the units in a home. The Government has to accept the responsibility of providing reasonable amenities and facilities, a decent home environment and educational facilities so that children can develop to the maximum the talents with which they are endowed. This Government has never faced that responsibility fully. It has been cheese-paring.
– The honorable senator said that before.
– I did not say it previously to-day. I have said it before because the term is so applicable to many features of this Government’s administration. It has a cheese-paring nature. It has a cheese-paring approach to the real problems of Australia. ‘ It is niggardly and parsimonious when the rights of the people are concerned. You cannot change the attitude of conservatism.
– Does the honorable senator consider the provision of £411,000,000 from the National Welfare Fund is cheese-paring?
– Yes. It is cheeseparing in relation to the rights of the people. What is Australia’s gross national product? It is about £7,885,000,000. But what is the Government prepared to pay out? This is not charity as many conservatives think. Child endowment is a justifiable expenditure to which the people are entitled. In its turn, it will bring economic reward to the nation. We have a humanitarian responsibility in this century; but let us look at this matter in terms of pounds, shillings and pence. Surely Government supporters do not want to revert to the last century and think only in utilitarian terms of the purposes a human body and mind can serve.
asked me whether I regarded £411,000,000 as cheese-paring.
I heard a previous speaker refer to approximately £80,000,000 that would have been involved in extra expenditure suggested by the Australian Labour Party in its policy. The Senate should not forget that when money leaves the Government, there is a string attached to a large percentage of it. The money will not disappear when it goes to the mothers. It will be spent in various ways and some items that are purchased will attract customs or excise duty. The value of the products bought will help to put somebody into a higher income tax bracket and not a small percentage of it will return to the Treasury. But in the process, the money would represent something really worth while for the mothers and children of Australia. At least it will have restored in some measure the purchasing power that was taken from the 10s. provided for the second and subsequent children in 1948 and the 5s. provided in 1954.
You cannot measure these benefits against material things; you have to assess them against human values. Yet immediately there is a reference to the payment of money, antagonism inevitably springs up in the minds of Government supporters.
They will not face the issues. If they were reasonable they would realize that this proposed increase of child endowment was forced upon them by fear of electoral defeat. As Senator Kennelly said, we all like to win, but I think that sometimes political victory can be purchased at too great a price for the citizens of a nation. Perhaps that is what happened last year.
I am trying to discuss this matter dispassionately. I try to adopt a charitable approach to other people’s weaknesses, particularly the Government’s weaknesses. Whenever I see the possibility of a proposal being beneficial I concede that it would be a good thing to adopt it, but in this instance it seems to me that the proposed increase of child endowment was forced upon the Government parties because of their fear of the wrath of the electors. .They were so close to defeat on 9th December, 1961, and there was such a favorable reaction to Mr. Calwells policy speech in 1963, that they had to do something. They could not simply say again, “ Trust us “, because the people had reached the stage where they did not trust them.
This bill involves expenditure of £18,000,000 per annum, of which a comparatively small proportion will be spent in the remaining part of the current financial year. The Government has maintained repeatedly that it is neither governmental practice nor practical administration to make retrospective payment of monetary benefits. I concede the justification for making the payment of the benefits covered by the bill retrospective to 14th January of this year, but how can the Government justify doing so on this occasion when, throughout the years, it stated repeatedly that it was not practicable to do so? The pre-election promises made by the Government parties are being honoured in some measure, but every endeavour has been made to exclude from benefit as many people as possible. Credit is due to the Government for extending child endowment to students engaged in full-time education. Senator Scott referred to cadets who receive £15 or £16 a week, in addition to fees. It may not be justifiable to include such people in the benefits conferred by the bill, but I remind the honorable senator that there are many apprentices who receive only £5 or £6 a week. Probably he did not know of this matter, because he is so transparently honest that if he had known of it no doubt he would have mentioned it. While there may be trainee teachers who receive £8 or £10 a week, there are many who receive between £5 and £7 a week. They are in no better position than are students who receive full scholarship allowances, plus fees and money earned during the three months’ vacation and the two three-weekly vacations.
– The Director-General of Social Services is given discretionary powers in matters such as those.
– No. He is given discretionary powers only in relation to fulltime students and those who are employed. He cannot deal with apprentices.
– I think he can.
– The DirectorGeneral has discretionary power in relation to students receiving full-time education at technical colleges.
I appreciate that the Government wishes to expedite the passage of the bill so that the benefits for which it provides may be made available as soon as possible, but let us be under no misapprehension about the extension of benefits by anti-Labour governments. The inauguration of child endowment on a Commonwealth basis and the payment of endowment for the first child represented nothing more than a response to industrial blackmail. The introduction of endowment for the first child, as with the present extension of child endowment, was in response to the fear in the minds of the Government parties that they would not remain in control of the treasury bench if they did not do so. I have never known a political party, particularly a conservative party, that would not pay any price to retain political control of governmental functions.
.- Due to some unaccountable circumstance, I find myself always following Senator Dittmer when the debate is concerned with social services. As I hurt his feelings very much on a previous occasion when I attempted to follow him back to the depression days, I do not think I shall try to follow him to-day in his wanderings back to 1862. I think that is a little too far to go. In my opinion, the Opposition is remarkably tender on the subject of child endowment. As the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) has stated, the purpose of the bill is to put into legislative form the proposals contained in the policy speech delivered by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). Therefore, it is fair to assume that the majority of the people have heard of these proposals and have approved of them.
Naturally, parents wish to receive aa much assistance as it is possible for them to be given, but I think that it stands to the credit of Australian parents that time after time they have been able to look at the social welfare programme of the Government in perspective and to see that the extravagant promises of the Australian Labour Party were incapable of fulfilment without destroying the economy. So, on this occasion as on previous occasions, they preferred to trust the Menzies Government and were not gulled by the promise of an additional £80,000,000. I feel that so long as people are able, to see the social welfare scheme in perspective, so long will they be able to judge what the Government is doing and what those who are threatening it are capable of doing.
I always enjoy listening to Senator Kennelly. He is one of the old Victorian school of Labour men who never pull their punches in debate and never lose an opportunity to drive home a point. , To-day, however, I thought that the honorable senator was not nearly as effective as he usually is. He made several attempts to support the argument that the decision to endow the first child was made with the intention of influencing a basic wage inquiry. That has been proved to be quite wrong. I should like to add to what Senator Scott said. Senator Kennelly was not in the Senate in those days. He was busily engaged in politics in Victoria, so he was probably unaware of the circumstances of the successful attempt to endow the first child.’ I should like to go over them, if I may.
On 22nd March, 1950, the then Minister for Social Services, who is now Senator Sir William Spooner, introduced into this chamber a bill to endow the first child. As it was a simple bill, one would have expected that it would meet with very little opposition at all. But what did we find? The bil) was debated for three months. It went backwards and forwards, in the way that Senator Scott described. First, the Labour Party raised the argument that the basic wage structure would be destroyed. Later, to our amazement - and evidently to the amazement of Senator Kennelly to-day - Labour proposed an amendment to increase the rate by 5s., in other words to make the endowment 10s. I well recall the late Senator Ward, who sat across the chamber. I think that his interjections may be found on almost every page of the “ Hansard “ record of the debates. All the time he called across the chamber, “ Why don’t you make it ten bob? “
– And that we were a lot of fascists.
– That was his other interjection, lt was not until the dying hours of the first sessional period of the Parliament, after three long weary months, with the Senate at times sitting till very late hours, that the Government, through its insistence that it would not agree to the Labour amendment, was assured of the passage of the bill. As Senator Scott said, the Opposition had the numbers. If it felt that the alleged destruction of the basic wage was a principle on which Labour should fight, it should have stood firm. The Government had been in office for only three months and its election was just as bitter a disappointment to the Labour Party as was Labour’s failure last November. Surely Labour could have stood to its principles and refused in all circumstances to pass the bill. Alternatively, if Labour senators really believed that 10s. should have been awarded in respect of the first child, it was open to them to defeat the Government on that issue and go to the people on it, but they did not. So when I hear some one mention timid people, I suggest that the timid people were not on this side of the chamber. They were over on the other side, with the numbers.
– There was an outside executive that dictated to them.
– Probably the executive told them what to do.
– It was the same with the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. Do you remember that?
– Yes. It is only right, when we are considering this matter, to look at Labour’s attitude in those days. We will then be able to judge whether honorable senators opposite -are really sincere in the amendments that they will put forward on this occasion. After all, Senator Kennelly’s proposals are the ones that were contained in Mr. Calwell’s policy speech. Despite what Senator Dittmer said when I answered him, we did not attempt to outbid the Labour Party. If the parents of Australian children believed what we said then, they believe it to-day. I do not think that one person in Australia will dispute the fact that child endowment is part of the Australian way of life. We believe in it. We believe in a redistribution of income from people who have not the need to support a family to those who are rearing children. It is as simple as that. I do not propose to follow Senator Dittmer’s arguments, because there was neither logic nor value in them.
– That is your opinion, though it is not a correct one.
– The honorable senator will allow me to have my opinion. I do not believe that any good purpose would be served by going very fully over the proposals. That was done in the
Minister’s speech, but I should like to cite a few figures because I think they are important. They demonstrate the extent to which child endowment is now applied. When the proposal to endow the first child was before the Parliament, it was estimated that 640,000 families would benefit. At the end of June, 1963, 1,535,388 families were receiving endowment. That” is a tremendous increase in numbers. I have not been able to establish the number of children who benefited at the time of endowment of the first child, but at 30th June, 1963, there were 3,432,166 children under the age of sixteen years for whom endowment was being paid. As Senator Scott said, the measure we are now considering will benefit 900,000 children in 520,000 families and 25,500 children in institutions. From those figures we can gain some idea of the tremendous advantages to child endowment and the numbers df families and children who are receiving the benefit.
I should like to commend the Government on first approaching the State Premiers in relation to the increase of 5s. in respect of children in institutions. It has been the policy of the Commonwealth Government to pay child endowment in respect of these children at the higher rate, that is, 10s., and not to treat them as single children of families. We know how on some occasions increases in Commonwealth social service benefits have resulted in lower payments by the States, and we are therefore gratified to learn that the approach to State Premiers resulted in their agreeing that the whole of the increase would be received by the institutions without any loss of benefit to the children. As my colleagues have said, the record of the Menzies Government in the field of social services is a superb one. Time after time, we have examined the position of one sector of the community which was requiring assistance more than others and have attempted to relieve the pressure wherever we have found it to be resting most heavily. In giving this additional benefit through child endowment to the mothers of Australia in particular, and for assistance to the education of children, the Menzies Government, I believe, has taken a very worth- while step forward. I hope that in any piece of legislation we will always be conscious of the fact (hat the home is the cornerstone of the nation and that unless governments, whatever their political persuasion may be, realize that and legislate accordingly, there can be very little hope for the future of this country. In Australia we are fortunate in having men and women who are dedicated to all that is best in family life. For that reason I commend the Menzies Government on this measure and its past record. I support the bill.
– I agree wholeheartedly with Senator Wedgwood’s concluding remark that the home is the cornerstone of the nation. It is precisely for that reason, and because of the approach this Government has made to social services in its fifteen years of office, that I speak to this bill, which is more or less a machinery measure introduced to fulfil an election promise. I suggest that any bill which is designed to increase the benefits payable, as it were, to the cornerstone of the nation and which results only from a political promise made in the heat of an election campaign has the worst possible genesis. Although we may wish to argue the matter, the facts are well known and are set out in the records of this Parliament.
There is no doubt at all that the bill before us has its origin in the heat of an election campaign. The measure was forced on the Government because it was worried about its electoral prospects and by the attitude consistently adopted by members of the Australian Labour Party since 1951. For about twelve years our political opponents have flung at us the gibe that at election time we have offered trinkets and chased round to try to get votes. Although we have been accused of this practice, the fact is that we have consistently argued that if child endowment is worthy of being a part of the social services programme of Australia then its purchasing power should be kept at the same level as that of any other income in the community.
– What about your record from 1941 to 1949?
– Our record shows that we doubled child endowment between 1941 and 1949, and we did so in a noninflationary period. That is the only time when the real value of child endowment
has been increased. During this Govern? ment’s term of office, the value of child endowment has been gradually slipping backwards.
– In what year did you increase it?
– Goodness gracious me-
– I am only asking you a simple question. Surely you can give me the answer if you know it.
– You are asking mc for dates and I do not always remember them precisely. The first increase was in 1945 and the next, I think, in 1947. Let me say, in answer to your question, that during the term of the Curtin and Chifley Labour Governments, child endowment was increased, first, from 5s. to 7s. 6d. a week, and then from 7s. 6d. to 10s. a week. I am not sure about the dates. You asked about our record. We doubled child endowment, and we are the only party ever to do that. We have consistently suggested that the rates be increased, but such a proposal has never been included in this Government’s legislative programme. The present Government released terrific inflation in 1950, and has begun to bring it under control only within’ the last two or three years. The Government has increased age pensions and other social service benefits. Whether or not it has given any real increase is outside the scope of this debate but I do not believe any effective benefit was given. The Government has recognized that inflation has existed and that the value of money has decreased, and it has done something about the matter. The Government has seen the arbitration tribunals protect the wages of workers; it has seen rents increased; it has seen profits increased; it has seen prices increased; but it has not admitted the logical argument that an increase in child endowment should be part of its legislative programme all through the years. The Government has merely waited to use child endowment to promote its electoral prospects.
I do not say the Government has acted in fear and trembling of the Opposition, as the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) seemed to imply by his rather clever interjection earlier to-day. When listening to the debate on this measure in another place, I witnessed a disgraceful exhibition of the arrogance of people who suddenly gained great numerical strength. Reading the “ Hansard “ . report of yesterday’s proceedings in another place, I noted that it is recorded that when Mr. Whitlam, the Deputy Leader of the Australian Labour Party, sought to catch the eye of the Chair in order to explain that he had been grossly misrepresented the Government Whip applied the gag. I did not think such a thing could happen in this Parliament - -
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator McKellar). - Order! I do not think that the honorable senator is in order in criticizing proceedings in another place.
– With very great respect, Sir, I submit that the point has been made several times that we have claimed that this measure has been introduced because of the Government’s fear of the Opposition. I am merely pointing out that the Government has no fear of the Opposition.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - As long as the honorable senator does not criticize proceedings in another place he will be in order.
– I am not criticizing those proceedings. Mr. Speaker had no alternative but to do what he did. I shall conclude my remarks on that point quickly - I do not wish to be sidetracked - by merely saying that the suggestion that the Government is completely frightened of the Opposition is not true. In another place, where one would expect the normal courtesies to be extended to any body who felt that he was misrepresented, I was greatly shocked to see the forms of the House used against the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
The Government’s policy with relation to child endowment and the Opposition’s policy with relation to it are quite clear to any one who studies the matter. We have consistently argued that the purchasing power of child endowment ought to be kept up to the proper level. When it is argued that this will cost so much money we have always admitted that to be so, just as an increase in age pensions costs so much money. Everything the Government does costs so much money; but if the proposal is worth while then surely the Government does not intend to let the families, the cornerstone of the nation, as Senator Wedgwood has described them, lag behind other sections of the community.
To any one who examines the matter impartially, it is clear that, basically, the Government does not believe in child endowment. It was forced into granting child endowment in the first place by the utterances of Judge Beeby of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. Let us remember the depression period from which Australia was just emerging, and the time when money values were ticklish. An increase of 5s. a week in the basic wage would have caused people to throw up their hands in horror. This was a period in which the whole world was clamoring for the introduction of child endowment. The Commonwealth Public Service already had a voluntary system of child endowment, the public servants taxing themselves to meet the cost of the scheme. Ever since the early 1920’s governments in New South Wales had been trying to introduce a system of child endowment for that State, and one of them succeeded towards the end of the 1920’s. So the situation was that child endowment was paid in the State which had the largest number of people, and probably the biggest employer of labour in Australia, namely the Commonwealth Public Service, also had a child endowment scheme. It took a good deal of prodding by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court to force the Commonwealth Government of the day to introduce child endowment.
Towards the end of 1949, the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party made an election issue of the extension of the child endowment scheme. Honorable senators opposite had every opportunity to endow the first child in 1941, but Mr. Holt argued very clearly - and fairly convincingly, let me say - against the proposition. He pointed to the extra money that would be required to endow the first child and said he felt that that money could be better spent on the larger families. So honorable senators opposite should never start throwing their hats into the air on the question of endowing the first child. That could have been done when they were in office in 1941, when the first Commonwealth child endowment legislation was introduced. Let me repeat, for Senator Manner’s benefit, that subsequent Labour governments doubled the endowment payments during their term of office.
– You carried on the same plan for eight years.
– Of course, we carried on the plan for that time, but we increased the endowment payments. We did not endow the first child, because such a provision was not in the original legislation. We were not enamoured of that proposition, although we agreed with your proposals in 1941. What we did - it is something that the parties opposite have never done - was” to try to keep the purchasing power of the endowment payments somewhere near to what was intended at the time they were first given.
I am saying this to Senator Mattner to support my charge that basically honorable senators opposite do not believe in child endowment. They throw up their hands in horror when we speak of the cost of it, but they never throw up their hands in horror over the cost of other schemes. The Government at one time obviously had no intention of. bringing in the proposals we are discussing now, because no reference was made to them when the Government formulated its budget only a few weeks before the general election. Surely the purpose of a budget is to lay down fiscal policy for the next twelve months. Once prepared, a budget is never departed from, except in very dire circumstances, such as those- that we remember in the 1960’s.
What we on this side of the chamber say is that basically honorable senators opposite do not believe in child endowment. We believe in it, and we believe that the payments should be kept at a reasonable level. The Government parties, when they were in office before, adopted the attitude that no more money should be spent on child endowment. Presumably if they had remained in office instead of disintegrating in 1941, no increases would have been made in the following year. Had there been a continuation of the United Australia Party Government, as it was in those days - it is now a Liberal Party and Country Party coalition - < there would have been no child endowment increases, except possibly at election times. Very obviously, child endowment is a necessity in any community. If honorable senators look back on the history of child endowment, they will see that Pitt the Younger mentioned it in 1795, although I do not say that that was the first utterance on the subject.
Let us look to see where we are going and let us say a word for those downtrodden people, the civil servants. Let us see where we are going on the administrative side of this problem. We have one child endowed with 5s., the next endowed with 10s. and the next with 1 5s. From where do we get these figures? Obviously, as I have said, under the pressure of an election the Government picked figures that it thought would be acceptable. The proposed payments are not related to inflation; they are not even related to the stage at which parents begin to feel the impact of expenditure on their children. In the debate on the last Budget I made some tentative suggestions to the effect that it was probably time to reconsider the social service structure of Australia and to have a complete review of how moneys are being spent and over what categories any increased payments should be distributed. 1 said at that time that there should be an inquiry, and that if it was not a public inquiry at least the findings should be made public. Such an inquiry would enable the Government to find out any weak spots in our social services.
I suggest that nobody in Australia to-day knows where the weak spots are. Senator Sir William Spooner said that we do not need to concern ourselves about that, because the Department of Social Services is making such an inquiry all the time. Would anybody be so gullible as to believe that the Department of Social Services could watch the operation of child endowment for fourteen years and honestly say to a government that at no time during that period should there be an increase in the rates of endowment? Obviously no civil servant would suggest such a ridiculous thing. The decision to make no increases during that time was a political decision. Child endowment, affecting the cornerstone of the nation, has been isolated from the remainder of the social services policy.
As Senator Dittmer mentioned, child endowment is good business for a government, because the amount that is paid for a child until he reaches sixteen years of age is an assessable amount. The Government knows the maximum amount that it will have to pay, and it knows that the day the child turns sixteen its obligation will end, except with student children. The Government is able to assess how much will be spent, and it knows that of that sum about 99 per cent, will go back into the economic channels of the community. In other words, most of the money will flow back into the coffers of the Commonwealth Government. In paying child endowment the Government is helping a section of the community that needs the extra money and will reticulate it through the economic channels. In addition, the payments are assessable. Child endowment does not commit the Government to unknown expenditure, such as when it distributes funds through other channels. This is good business. It is not a dangerous undertaking that the Government should worry about.
I do not intend to speak for very long as I think the ground has been very well covered. I say again that there is no denying the facts of the history of child endowment in Australia. One fact is that, while in government, the Australian Labour Party doubled child endowment. Payments during our period of office not only kept up with inflation but went beyond it. I agree that a government similar to the present Government introduced child endowment and that it altered the rates on two occasions, but I say that on each occasion that was done under pressure. If honorable senators read the records, they will see that child endowment was hedged around with all sorts of conditions. There was the iniquitous pay-roll tax, introduced so that if the Arbitration Court did what it had threatened to do the employers would have to pay for it. To mollify certain sections of the community - we must remember that not long after that the Government of that day disintegrated, so it did not have a very firm control of the treasury bench - our friends opposite went further and took away some taxation concessions so as to pay for another section of the endowment.
Even those two means were insufficient to raise the £13,000,000 required in those days, so the Government had to take something more from taxation.
There is one thought that I want to leave with honorable senators on this subject. It was probably completely unnecessary to say many of the things I have said. If anybody looks at the facts in an unbiased way, he will admit that they are clear. They stand so that any one who runs may read them. It is perfectly clear that child endowment should never be used as bait at election times but should be elevated to a higher plane. The utterance of Pitt the Younger in 1795 refutes the suggestion that this is a new problem that we have to deal wilh. Pitt said-
Let us make relief in cases where there are a number of children a matter of right and an honour, instead of a ground for opprobrium and contempt.
Mr. President, I suggest to the Government that child endowment, which has prompted statements so noble as that, ought to take its place in the proper, sane atmosphere of the fiscal and budgetary programmes of the Australian Government, and should not be resurrected to be used at election times as a lure and a bait.
– The Government is indeed grateful for the support that has been accorded to this measure, which will enable it to implement election promises that will bring great benefits to the people of Australia. Indeed, one would expect that a measure that provides an additional £18,000,000 by way of child endowment would merit support and a speedy passage. lt is true that members of the Opposition - quite properly, of course - have seized the occasion to offer criticism of the measure, and to indicate to the people what they would have done had they been in office. I do not think I am drawing the long bow when I say, without fear of contradiction, that my colleagues on this side of the chamber have, with historical fact, logic and vigour, won every round in this debate. For that reason I am indebted to them for their contribution.
I was fascinated by the speech of Senator Dittmer. He waxed eloquent, and with some vigour repeated what might well have been a policy speech of his for some considerable time. I have no quarrel with that. With equal vigour he berated the Government for implementing its policy speech of November, 1963, by means of legislation. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) announced in his policy speech that these benefits would be increased to the extent that the Government is legislating now. Senator Dittmer, in his wisdom, berated the Government for putting into effect a policy which the people of Australia have endorsed. In other words he criticized, with all the vigour at his command, the wish of the people.
Let me suggest to him that the people were well informed on this matter. I think that every Australian well remembers the promises - might I say some lavish promises - that were offered to them by the Opposition during the general election campaign. Obviously they studied, with great wisdom, the conservative proposals made by the Government, and on 30th November they made their decision. They said, in effect, “ We prefer the policy enunciated by the Menzies Government”. The present legislation is the result of the Government’s policy speech. I suggest, Sir, that when the Opposition denounces with great vigour the implementation of our policy it loses sight of the fact that the legislation before this chamber on this occasion is unquestionably the choice of the people. There is no need for us, therefore, to apologize in any shape or form for what we are doing.
I was amazed at a statement made by Senator Willesee. He suggested that the legislation was the result of a promise prompted in the heat of an election. But the most astounding statement of all was one that sounded something like this: He said, “ You do not believe in child endowment “.
– Except as a votewinner.
– That interjection reflects the sort of thinking that I believe the Opposition is due to be prodded on, as far as the facts are concerned. Quite apart from the implications of the interjection, and the statement that the Government does not believe in child endowment, 1 remind honorable senators opposite that the history of this Government irrefutably denies that allegation. I would suggest to those who use this extravagant language that irresponsible statements of that sort make many of their allegations suspect. The people of this country have lived a long time and they make their judgment on the utterances of men who are mature and sound and of those who are responsible. I suggest that in this field the utterances of Government supporters have been judged to be sound and wise. I remind members of the Opposition that the record of this Government speaks for itself. To suggest that Government supporters do not believe in child endowment is a fallacy that not one person in 100 in Australia would accept, and I suggest that the rest of the allegations of honorable senators opposite made on that basis might well be regarded as suspect.
NeedI remind honorable senators that the Menzies Government was the first government to endow the first child in 1950? Honorable senators opposite know these things, so why do they make their allegations? The Government brought under the scheme 1,500,000 children not previously endowed, and gave assistance to all families with children. The present bill gives assistance to larger families with three or more children. The Government has thus increased, by 5s. a week, payments to some 2,500,000 children. Honorable senators opposite suggest that we do not believe in child endowment. Since 1950 the Government has raised the payment for all children of invalid and widow pensioners, and those in receipt of unemployment and sickness benefits, by 15s. a week, whereas the Opposition granted benefits only for the first child.
The Government’s programme in this field has been implemented in three stages. It increased endowment for all families when it increased endowment for the first child as well as succeeding children. It made increases available for all children of pensioners and beneficiaries. On this occasion it has increased endowment for larger families by granting an increase of 15s. for the third and subsequent children. In reply to the allegations that Opposition senators have made, I suggest that they might think this proposition through to its logical conclusion.
It has been suggested that this was only election bait. What rubbish! The Government has realized that there has been an ever-increasing burden upon the family man to provide education for his family. Education is a complex subject as honorable senators opposite well know. The Government in effect said, “ Here is a way in which we can present to the people a most worthwhile measure of assistance in a field which is so complex and so diverse that it is difficult to apply the assistance where it can do the most good.” I suggest to honorable senators that that is an ideal proposition and a policy that can stand any scrutiny. The Government makes no apologies at all for increasing child endowment for the third child to 15s. when that child is receiving the benefit of a full-time education.
This Government can rest with great pride upon its record having in mind that the last Labour administration, in 1949 made available some £81,000,000 from the National Welfare Fund whereas to-day the expenditure from that fund is £411,000,000. I believe that it has been quite unnecessary for me to make these few observations because the people of Australia realize that the Government has, from time to time, pursued a policy of doing the greatest good for the greatest number where it can confer the greatest benefit. I say finally that in spite of the criticism that has been offered, the Government appreciates the speedy passage that has been given to the measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read asecond time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Commencement).
– I note that under this clause there is to be some degree of retrospectivity in the payment of the benefit. As I read the clause, the payments will be back-dated to 14th January. The question of retrospectivity is a hardy annual. On many occasions the Opposition has asked that social service payments should be backdated, but its request has been resolutely refused by the Government. I am wondering why the change of heart on this occasion.
– Senator Willesee has made a very valid point. It is one that I expected would be made. For that reason I hope that I am in a position to make a considered reply. The proposed increases in endowment were announced by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), on 12th November, 1963. It was thought to be desirable that, in the case of student children, parents should know that the endowment would be paid as from the beginning of the school year. That is the crux of the whole situation. I said earlier that this additional benefit was tied up very, closely with the educational problems that confront parents.
The first point I make in respect of retrospectivity is that the additional benefit was to be applied to assist parents. Therefore it was decided to. pay the added benefit as from 14th January, 1964. It is proposed to make the first payment for all children on 7th April, 1964. That payment will represent twelve weeks’ arrears. The department will then have had five months in which to make the necessary arrangements. Retrospectivity for pension increases would involve more complicated procedures. It is desirable that such increases be made available as soon as possible. Retrospectivity would lead to delay. The means test and repatriation benefits complicate . pension increases, but such a situation does not arise in relation to child endowment. The issue is clear-cut when dealing with endowment. The Government has consistently followed the precedent set by the Australian Labour Party in not making pension payments retrospective. In the present circumstances, however, there was justification for departing from that precedent.
– I am indebted to the Minister for Health for reiterating that the proposed increase in child endowment arose from the need to satisfy educational requirements. However, I point out to him that in relation to a family of three children the Government has made the remarkable gesture of granting them ls. 8d. a week towards their education. I hope the Government will bear this fact in mind and will give closer study to the cost of educating children in Australia. Perhaps when the next Budget is introduced further provision will be made to increase child endowment.
Clause agreed to. t
Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 (Endowment to cease in certain circumstances).
– This clause sets out the circumstances in which endowment shall cease to be paid. The death of the child is an obvious circumstance. I note that endowment will cease if a child marries. The definitions define a student as being a person between 16 and 21 years of age who is receiving full-time education at a school, college or university and is not in employment or engaged in work on his own account.
The clause we are considering, as I pointed out earlier, provides that if a child marries at the age of eighteen, nineteen or twenty years, the endowment shall cease. I am wondering whether the Government had good reason for including that provision. That is an age which one might expect a lot of young people to marry. It is an age at which young people might be approaching the end of a degree course, might have a fairly assured future, and might decide to marry. Although it does not happen so often in this country, in many countries couples on campuses marry and continue with their studies before settling down in their own homes. Why has the Government decided that when such people undertake added responsibility, the allowance should be no longer payable? If the Government’s attitude had the effect of stopping young peoples’ education towards the end of a degree course, that would do a great disservice.
– Proposed new section 103 (1.) (b) provides that endowment shall cease to be payable in respect of a child who, being a child in the custody, care and control of a person other than an institution, becomes an inmate of an institution. It is regrettable that the legislation does not contain a definition of the word “ inmate “. Section 133 of the Social Services Act provides that a person who becomes an inmate of a gaol or asylum shall not be entitled to social services.
In South Australia a child may be confined to a mental asylum for certain week days, be taken home by his parent or guardian on Friday and be returned to the institution on Monday. So for half of the week that child is being maintained by his parent or other relatives. But the parent or relative does not receive any social service benefit. When legislation does not define the meaning of a word, we must try to ascertain its meaning from a dictionary or from common usage. The dictionary meaning of the word “ inmate “ contains nothing to suggest that it covers a person who is in an institution only part-time. As I indicated a moment ago, I am nov visualizing the possibility of a child entering an institution for part of the week but for the remainder of the week being at home under the care of the parent. I have been interested particularly in a child who was maintained by a widowed mother over week-ends. When I questioned the interpretation that was placed on the word “ inmate “, the department referred the matter to the Crown law authorities. We received the astonishing reply that a person was regarded as being an inmate until he was completely discharged. That might be a logical legal interpretation, but in the context of this legislation it could not possibly be the proper interpretation. To adopt that interpretation here would destroy the very purpose of the legislation.
A child who has been committed to an institution might be allowed to go home for two or three months. To apply the interpretation that was given by the crown law authorities in their correspondence to me would mean that the person who was maintaining the child would be denied the benefit of this legislation until such time as the child was finally discharged. I do not know how wide the definition of “ institution “ is. I direct this question to the Minister: If a child who has been an inmate of an institution is being supported by his parents until he is finally discharged, should the parents not receive the benefit for which provision is made in the bill?
– Senator Willesee has asked for information about the provision, that child endowment shall cease upon the marriage of the child. His is not an easy question to answer. I suggest that this is a matter to which the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) has given a great deal of thought. In the generally accepted sense of the word “ marriage “, I think it is conceded that when one marries, one is mature and accepts adult responsibilities and that in general terms, marriage takes even a minor in years out of the category of being a child and dependent on one’s parents. But the Government, generous as ever in its approach to these problems, has come to the conclusion that if, following marriage, eligibility for endowment can be established by the person concerned, then endowment may be restored.
– It is discretionary?
– It is a discretionary power. The Government does not say categorically that when a person marries, he is an adult and accepts adult responsibilities. .
– Is marriage regarded as a form of employment? I think the discretion related to employment.
– This is 1964. I do not know whether the Leader of the Opposition was facetious in asking that question. Those who think that when we are married we take our wives into employment, sometimes find the reverse situation. We find we are in employment instead of our wives. So I cannot see any relevance in the suggestion that this may be related to employment.
asked for some clarification of the word “ inmate “ in the bill. The word “ inmate “ must be taken in its ordinary meaning. To be an inmate of an institution is different to being in the custody, care and control of an endowee. This is the point I want to make. If the child is. an inmate of an institution, endowment is payable to the institution. If he is not an inmate, it is payable to the mother. I think that is the information the honorable senator sought and I hope I have made myself clear.
.- I find it difficult to follow the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) on this point of eligibility. He said there is discretionary power to be used but we have before us a bill for an act of Parliament, and the only way to vary it is by means of the regulations supporting the legislation. Surely the Minister does not suggest that this bill which is to be passed with the consent of the Parliament does not mean what it says. Surely the Minister does not suggest that he will tell some public servant to do as he thinks fit about some of these provisions. It is true that there is discretionary power in the act, but the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) pointed out - not facetiously but penetratingly - that such power relates to employment. The Minister has said that this discretionary power will be sought from a mythical person if certain persons can establish ‘eligibility. Eligibility for what?
– For endowment.
– The eligibility for endowment surely depends on the fact that a person is between sixteen and 21 years and is a full-time student. That provision will be in the act when the bill has received the Royal Assent. The Minister has said, in effect, that a definite prohibition is being placed in the bill but that this will not apply if eligibility can be established. Eligibility depends only on a person coming within the terms of the legislation. He does that automatically. A person has to be single to be eligible.
On the one hand, the position is established. Then, under the bill, the person destroys it by becoming married. Now the Minister has stated that that section of the bill does not apply at all. With great respect, I suggest that the Minister should not allow this bill to go through with his remarks recorded in “ Hansard “ if this is the way the provision is to be operated. The Minister has said that a definite disqualification is being placed in the legislation. Then he added that the disqualification can be removed if a person establishes eligibility, but he cannot establish eligibility if he is married. Apparently it is proposed to subordinate the act to some public servant.
– I am not going to retract one word from what I said and I do not contemplate that there will be any violent reaction against what I have said or its meaning because I have taken the care to have what I have said written down. I have not tried to convey a meaning which the word I used did not contain. I have this from my advisors. I want to emphasize that there is no discretionary power, but it would be open to the Director-General of Social Services, in determining the eligibility of a married person, to determine that within the terms of the act, the person was eligible.
I have nothing more to add to or subtract from that. That is the intent of the legislation. That is the way it will work. Instead of suggesting that this is a clause that could be criticized or amended, I think the real essence of the clause is this: The Government has established a principle that marriage shall be a cause for the cessation of endowment. I would go further and say that if the person concerned can establish eligibility within the terms of the act, the matter will be reconsidered.
– May I say on this point that the proposed new section 103 provides -
Subject to section one hundred and four of this Act, an endowment payable to an endowee in respect of a child ceases to be payable if -
That is the end of child endowment in such a case. One can understand that there is an element of adulthood about a person who is married. He takes on - and is deemed to be capable of taking on - life’s full responsibilities. There is an argument for that proposition. The proposition I want to take up with the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) is his statement that even if a student child married and endowment then ceased, the Director-General of Social Services would have a discretion, nevertheless, to pay endowment.
Senator Willesee’s point was that the only discretion inserted in the act by- this bill is contained in the proposed new sub-section (1b.) and (lc.) of section 94 of the principal act. That is merely a discretion to determine whether some type of employment in which the child may engage is or is not of sufficient quantity or return to disqualify him from the benefit. I ask the Minister whether he wants to adhere to his statement that there is a discretion.
– No - there is no discretion.
– In other words, if the child marries that is the end of the matter?
– I put it straight to the Minister: Is there discretion vested in the Director-General of Social Services to restore the payment of endowment in respect of a child who is married?
– Would the Minister point out where it is? Is it in the bill or elsewhere in the act?
– I hope I can explain this rather intricate point in the detail the Leader of the Opposition requires because I know many people will be interested in the interpretation of this legislation and I feel the responsibility of putting it into language that is unchallengably somewhat heavy. I repeat that there is no provision in this legislation for the director-general to use his discretion in this matter. The bill provides that upon marriage, child endowment shall cease. But there is nothing in the principal act to say that a married person may not receive child endowment. It is for that reason that the directorgeneral may receive and approve an application from a married person.
– The Minister has stated that there is no provision in the principal act to the effect that child endowment shall not be paid in respect of a married child. I point out that section 103 (1.) of the principal act provides -
Subject to section one hundred and four of this Act, an endowment in respect of a child shall not be payable in respect of any period after -
That provision seems to me to contradict the Minister’s statement and to place a complete embargo on the payment of endowment in respect of a married youth.
– I wish to take the matter even farther than Senator Willesee has taken it. Clause 5 provides -
Sections one hundred and three, one hundred and three a and one hundred and three a of the Principal Act are repealed and the following sections inserted in their stead . . .
The Minister has said that the DirectorGeneral of Social Services could exercise discretionary power because there is nothing in the principal act to prevent the payment of child endowment in the circumstances that have been mentioned. Will not the insertion in the principal act of the proposed new sections immediately exclude payment in respect of the people we are discussing? Surely the Minister does not expect us to take him seriously when he says that there is no prohibition in the principal act, having regard to the fact that the repeal of the sections I have mentioned and the insertion of other sections will introduce a prohibition.
.-The crux of this debate is to be found in one word. There is nothing in the act which provides that child endowment may not be re-granted. It is true that the act provides that in certain circumstances endowment shall cease automatically, but there is no provision to the effect that it may not be re-granted if eligibility is established. My legal advisers have looked at this matter very closely, and that is their interpretation. It is also the interpretation that is intended. There is really nothing more that I can add. It is an open-and-shut case.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 (Endowee to notify the occurrence of certain events).
– Proposed new section 104a. provides that, amongst other things, an endowee shall, within fourteen days, notify a director of the death or marriage of a child in his custody, care and control. For failure to do so, a penalty of £20 is provided. I suggest to the Minister that it may not always be within the knowledge of a mother or guardian that a child has married. It seems to me that the penalty for failure to notify the marriage of a child should not be as great as that for failure to notify the death of a child, because the mother might not know that the child was married, although she would almost certainly know if a child had died. The people concerned might not be aware of the legal position and they certainly would not become aware of it by listening to the discussion that has taken place on this subject here to-day.
– Most people can read and understand.
– I thought so, too, until I listened to the Minister’s comments a few minutes ago. I suggest that the penalty for failure to notify the marriage of a child is rather severe, having regard to the kind of people with whom we are dealing. A person might fail innocently to notify the department.
.- The notification of the various matters referred to in section 104 of the principal act is required largely to prevent over-payment and, to some extent, to clear up doubt as to whether overpayment, if made, is recoverable. The Government is of the opinion that this provision should be included in the legislation. 1 think that we would be open to criticism if we did not include it. It is one thing to have such a provision and another thing to implement a policy.
I emphasize that the Minister or the director-general or his delegate would never give the necessary consent to a prosecution under the section unless there was a wilful and flagrant failure to notify, giving rise to an over-payment which the endowee refused to repay. I know that those words are open to challenge and that they could be said to represent a lofty ideal, but in the implementation ‘ of the provision that idea] will be upheld. I remind those who are cynical about the comments I have already made that there is such a thing in this country as public opinion. To my way of thinking, public opinion will always see that the man in the street, particularly the little man receives a fair deal. It is our responsibility as a government to see that that is so.
– I thank the Minister sincerely for that assurance. We now have embodied in “ Hansard “, which is a public document, a definite statement on this matter, and I think that will help to remove doubts concerning the interpretation of the provision. I suggest that in future it may be possible to include such assurances in second-reading speeches instead of leaving them to the whim of the Minister concerned.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 7 agreed to.
Title agreed to. -
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wade) read a third time.
Senate adjourned at 4.14 p.m., till Tuesday, 7th April, at 3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 19 March 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1964/19640319_senate_25_s25/>.