25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Yesterday, Mr. President, I directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate a question concerning a press summary of a report by Mr. W. J. Cuthill, S.M., to the Victorian Parliament, and 1 think there was a small degree of confusion in regard to it. With your concurrence I would like now to direct a question to Senator Gorton in these terms: Has he noted a press summary of a report made by Mr. W. J. Cuthill, S.M. to the Victorian Parliament concerning alleged deception in the packaging of goods? The report was highly critical of the methods used by some companies. As the public interest is clearly involved, will the Government make available to honorable senators copies of the report and permit a debate on this most important matter?
– Yes, I did notice a press summary of the report made to the Victorian Government by Mr. W. J. Cuthill, S.M. on the subject of packaging. I also noticed a comment on it by the Attorney-General of Victoria, to the effect that the report was so voluminous and contained so many things that no press summary could really do it justice or present properly all the matters that were in it. With reference to the second part of the honorable senator’s question, I point out that the committee under Mr. Cuthill was appointed to inquire into this whole matter as the result of a conference between the National Standards Commission and the various State authorities concerned with weights and measures, patterns of instruments for use in trade, packaging, and things of that kind. The aim of the conference was to consider the possibility of achieving some uniformity throughout Australia in these matters. The question of packaging, about which the honorable senator is concerned, was referred to the Victorian Government, which appointed Mr. Cuthill to make an investigation on behalf of all the parties at that meeting. I would not be at all averse to this report being provided to honorable senators and, indeed, there would be no difficulty in their getting it, since apparently it has been tabled in the Victorian Parliament. But I would like the Senate to take into consideration my position in relation to all the State Ministers concerned, who might consider that they have something to say on this report which was prepared for the conference as a whole. I will ascertain the position and will let the honorable senator know.
– I wish to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy. Will he ask the Minister for the Navy to arrange for the recently commissioned H.M.A.S. “ Derwent “ to visit Hobart, on the River Derwent, as soon as is practicable? Will he also request that as much notice of the ship’s visit as is possible be given, to enable the people of Tasmania to arrange a fitting and warm welcome for this latest modern addition to the Royal Australian Navy’s fleet, as Tasmanians are rightly proud of the fact that this ship has been commissioned as H.M.A.S. “ Derwent “?
– I understand that the movements of H.M.A.S. “ Derwent “ for the next few months have been decided by the Minister for the Navy, but I feel sure that he would give consideration to a request that the vessel visit Hobart, the capital city of Tasmania through which the river Derwent flows. It will give me pleasure to make the request and I will ask the Minister to give the people of Tasmania plenty of notice of the pending visit if it can be arranged. As soon as I have any definite information from the Minister, I will inform Senator Marriott by letter.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I preface the question by reminding the Minister that coal mines in New South Wales continue to close down because of the industry’s inability to compete with oil. Has the Government or the coal industry a plan to protect the coal mines from the inroads of oil which is imported into Australia?
Wilh this, as with many other matters, it is easier to ask the question than to give the answer. The colliery proprietors have asked the Minister for Trade and Industry by letter whether there could be an inquiry by the Australian Tariff Board to evolve some system to protect the industry. I am not aware of the exact answer given by the Minister, but I understand he has written to the proprietors stating that he would like to confer with me on this matter before expressing an opinion. J myself have been quite heavily engaged in making representations to oil refinery companies over a couple of years in an endeavour to get an increase in the proportion of motor spirit and lighter oil products and a reduction in the proportion of fuel oil produced. I have had some success following those representations.
Wc have to remember that it is a primary economic need to obtain fuel as cheaply as is practicable. We must remember also that there is competition not only between black coal and fuel oil but also between brown coal and fuel oil. Another healthy competitor - natural gas - is also entering the field. This problem is not easy to solve but if it is any comfort to the honorable senator I am assembling the facts with a view to presenting them to the Government to see if it is possible to evolve a formula for the protection of the big coal deposits not only in New South Wales but also in Queensland and Victoria and to assist producers. We must also protect the natural gas that is becoming available. At the same time, we do not want to do anything that would be detrimental io one of the overriding needs of the community which is to get fuel and power at as cheap a rate as is practicable.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a statement in to-day’s “ West Australian “ newspaper wherein the Postmaster-General is reported to have said that television stations for Kalgoorlie and Geraldton will cost in excess of £1,000,000 and that the estimated running costs will be between £50,000 and £60,000 a year? Will the Minister ask his colleague to consider my request that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board be asked to carry out a survey in these two areas with a view to providing package stations which are suitable where there is a concentrated population? Is it a fact that there arc suitable package stations available at a cost of between £20,000 and £S0,000? Is it also a fact that there is no problem with access roads and power supply in these two areas?
– T have not seen the news item to which the honorable senator refers, but I have not the slightest doubt that the statement reported to have been made by the Postmaster-General and referred to by the honorable senator sets out the facts quite plainly. I have not the slightest doubt that the Postmaster-General is assiduously following the policy of his predecessor in endeavouring to extend television as rapidly as possible to the rural areas, particularly in Western Australia where there is something of a unique problem. I shall again bring to the notice of the Postmaster-General the honorable senator’s continued representations on this matter. Having said that 1 would add that one of the deciding factors, as I understand the situation, in the Postmaster-General’s mind is that he has laid down a .standard of service that is nothing short of the best that can be provided for the people. When the final decision is made on the type of service that will be made available for the rural areas, it must also encompass the quality of the service that is to be rendered. In other words, the Postmaster-General has a longrange policy which prompts him to provide a service that is equitable and comparable with all the other services in Australia. As I understand the position, he does not want to be a party to providing a service that will nol give entire satisfaction to the people concerned.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Has the attention of ihe Postmaster-General been drawn to the fact that migrants in Australia are gravely concerned over a newspaper, “ Call of the Homeland “, of obvious Communist origin, being posted to them without their consent or approval, originally from Communist East Germany but lately from addresses in the Soviet Union? Is he aware that this newspaper on occasions contains scurrilous and libellous attacks on named individual migrants in Australia who are caused much concern and embarrassment and who have no redress against the Communist smears? Will the Minister examine this newspaper, copies of which I can supply to him, and direct that deliveries of it bc banned, except where migrants indicate that they desire to receive it?
– I am certain that every Australian abhors the thought that people who have come to this land and set up new homes should be hounded and harassed by the type of literature that the honorable senator has described. It is very difficult to prevent the entry into the country of literature which might well be posted under a plain wrapper. If the honorable senator will let me have copies of the newspaper. to which he refers, I shall discuss the matter with my colleague, the Postmaster-General, and I am sure that he will do all he can to see that this practice ceases.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it a fact that the Commonwealth Government is spending £500,000 annually in renting private offices in Canberra, and approximately £400,000 in rents paid to various private interests to accommodate Commonwealth administrative personnel in South Australia? Has the Department of the Interior completed the survey of office accommodation requirements in the State capitals which was being undertaken in October, 1963? Has the Government made any policy decisions on accommodation for Commonwealth departments, to which reference was made in the answer given to me on 15th October, 1963, when I asked that consideration be given to the construction of a Commonwealth central building in Adelaide? I again ask the Minister: Will the Government consider the construction of its own premises in Adelaide and other capital cities where economics justify such action?
This is a constantly recurring problem, with government activities growing as they are and the need for government accommodation increasing. There has been a series of surveys - I do not remember the survey of October 1963 - and a very large building programme has been undertaken. New office centres are being constructed in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. I am not sure of the position in Adelaide but I have a recollection that some proposal is under consideration. Buildings are being constructed in the capital cities throughout the Commonwealth as needs necessitate. While Australia continues to grow there will always be this problem.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is the Minister aware that the State Rural Water Advisory Committee of Western Australia and the Rural Water Council, which act in an advisory capacity to the Western Australia State Minister for Water Supply, tendered advice to that Minister that there is an urgent need for finance to carry out the extension of water supplies to rural areas outside the Comprehensive Water Supply Scheme, and that the Rural Water Advisory Committee has written to Federal members asking that they should stress to the Federal Treasurer the urgency of the need for the extension of the Comprehensive Water Supply Scheme in Western Australia? Has the Treasurer received a request from the Western Australian Government for monetary assistance to be granted by the Commonwealth Government for this work to be proceeded with? What is the Commonwealth Government’s attitude towards providing financial assistance to Western Australia for the purpose of extending the Comprehensive Water Supply Scheme in the areas of Western Australia that the water advisory authorities deem necessary?
– I am aware of the circumstances to which the honorable member referred and of the representations which have been made to the Western Australian Government by the various organizations in connexion with that government making approaches to the Commonwealth Government for the purpose of obtaining Finance for the continuation of what is known in Western Australia as the Comprehensive Water Supply Scherse The fact of the matter is that some time ago the Western Australian Government did formally submit a request to the Commonwealth Government for this financial assistance. In considering the reasons advanced by the State Government, the Commonwealth Government decided that there should be more information available as to the economics of the proposal and, to that end, referred to the Bureau of Agricultural Economics the submission made by the Western Australian Government. The report from the Bureau of Agricultural Economics has not yet been submitted but, when it is received, consideration will be given to it by the Commonwealth Government. After that, an answer will be furnished to the State Government.
– My question is directed to the Minister assisting the Prime Minister in relation to education and research. Is the Minister aware that an agricultural disease commonly referred to as dieback is threatening to destroy thousands of cocoa trees in New Britain? Has any request been made to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization to make available scientific assistance with the view to ascertaining the cause of this disease? If not, having regard to the importance of cocoa to the economic development of New Britain, will the Minister be prepared to discuss this matter with his colleague, the Minister for Territories, to see whether anything can be done by the C.S.I.R.O. to assist in the early eradication of this disease?
– There has not been, to my knowledge, any direct approach to the C.S.I. R.O. by the Department of Territories, under whose administration this would fall, asking for any investigation of this particular disease. If there is an approach then the organization would obviously be prepared to discuss it, though what it could do about it would be dependent upon all the other requests made of it. There can bc no question that the
C.S.I.R.O. would be ready to discuss wilh any department that approached it anything that it was requested to do.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration seen reports in the week-end press in Perth stating that spoon feeding of some assisted British migrants in Perth is costing Australia up to £1,000 a month and that some of these migrants have been sponging on the State and Federal Governments for up to two years? Is he aware of the statement by the manager of the Graylands Hostel that 25 per cent, of the migrants at that hostel refuse to help themselves? Will the Minister investigate the matters raised in the article and inform the Senate of the truth or otherwise of the allegations? If they are true, what steps will he take to correct the position?
– I will certainly direct the attention of the Minister for Immigration to the article to which the honorable senator refers. As I do not read the Western Australian press as regularly as the honorable senator does, 1 have not noticed the article; nor has it been brought to my attention. However, it does not accord with the experience we have had of British migrants to suggest that 25 per cent, of them are behaving in this way. I feel confident that the allegation is groundless. However, I shall bring the matter to the attention of the Minister at the first opportunity.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it a fact that in Australia we are rapidly arriving at a situation of over-full employment? Is it a fact that many of our secondary and rural industries are unable to obtain sufficient labour? Can the Minister advise me what action has been taken to obtain the necessary labour from overseas?
– I think we have either arrived at or are arriving at a stage in Australia at which there is insufficient skilled labour offering to fill all the skilled jobs that are available. This, of course, causes some concern. By way of question and answer during the last few days we have dealt with some of the things that the Department of Labour and National Service is trying to do to meet this short fall of skilled labour, one being to have discussions with employers and employees as to a method of adult training in order to provide skills to people. In addition the department is seeking, in conjunction with the Department of Immigration, to have as high a proportion of skilled workers as possible included in our migrant intake. Of course, one must realize that each skilled migrant who comes here is likely to bring two or three dependants with him. The department is taking action in the field of apprenticeship training, is trying to get adults trained, and is seeking to increase the proportion of skilled migrants coming here. These are avenues that the department is exploring to try to overcome this short fall of skilled labour.
– Can the Minister for Customs and Excise say whether any books are prohibited imports on grounds other than those of indecency or obscenity or on medical grounds? For instance, are any books prohibited on the ground of blasphemy or sedition?
– The regulations fall into two parts.
– I am not concerned about the regulations. What happens in fact?
– All I can suggest is that the honorable senator should read the regulations. The department does not operate outside the regulations.
– My question to the Minister for National Development relates to a question that was asked in the Senate yesterday concerning a large subsidy payment by the Department of National Development for an oil drilling venture. The Government has announced that it intends to spend £5,000,000 in this financial year to subsidize oil drilling and seismographic work. Will this expenditure be, in fact, reached or exceeded?
– The present indications are that the total expenditure on oil search this year will reach £23,000,000 or £24,000,000 which is considerably more than the expenditure in any previous year. The present indications are - I say this with a little hesitation because there are variations - that the tempo of oil search is increasing. More companies are coming into the field. That is well evidenced by the fact that reports of company activities are now regular newspaper feature’s. A few years ago it was an odd thing to see a report of an oil search operation but now newspapers run a regular daily page reporting the progress of drilling in the various wells. 1 have no doubt that the total appropriation will be spent this year.
(Question No. 11.)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has provided the following answers: -
(Question No. 103.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy upon notice -
– The Minister for the Navy has supplied the following answers to the honorable senators questions: -
(Question No. 125.)
asked the Minister assisting the Prime Minister in relation to education and research, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions have been prepared in tubulated form as follows: -
(Question No. 127.)
asked the Minister for
Health, upon notice -
– The reply is as follows: -
– by leave - The statement I am about to read to the Senate concerns Australia’s participation in the United Nations police force in Cyprus. It is being made in the House of Representatives by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) and the personal pronoun “I”, when used, refers to him. The statement is as follows: -
I wish to inform the House that I have to-day notified the Secretary-General of the United Nations that Australia will accede to his request for the provision of a contingent of 40 police to form part of the United Nations police force in Cyprus. This response by the Australian Government to the request of the United Nations has been made possible by the active co-operation of the State Governments. Following negotiations conducted with them by the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden), all States have agreed to assist in selecting from police officers who have volunteered a total force of 40. Ten will come from New South Wales, ten from Victoria, five each from
Queensland, South Australia and the Commonwealth Police Force, three from Western Australia and two from Tasmania. Arrangements are now reaching an advanced stage and the force should be able to commence duties in Cyprus within three weeks. This contingent of Australian volunteers will be used for police duties for which military units under the United Nations command in Cyprus have not the appropriate training.
The duties of the United Nations police force will include liaison between the United Nations command in Cyprus and the Cyprus police and local authorities. The United Nations police will undertake joint patrols with Cyprus police and establish joint checking posts and police posts to control and protect civilians. They will assist in the investigation of incidents and special investigations as necessary. They will be under the authority of the Commander of the United Nations force in Cyprus, Lieutenant-General Gyani. The total requirements of this United Nations police force in Cyprus are estimated at 200 police. An Austrian police unit has already arrived in Cyprus and other United Nations members are likely to send detachments in the near future.
The House will recall that, in response to an earlier appeal from the SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations, the Australin Government, on 13th March, announced a contribution of £50,000 towards the cost of the United Nations peace-keeping force in Cyprus. This was to assist in meeting the general expenses of the United Nations peace-keeping operations in Cyprus. The Australian Government, in deciding to contribute, did so in the belief that it had an obligation to assist in the maintenance of international peace and security when called upon to do so. The further decision to contribute to the United Nation police unit in Cyprus was also made as a token of our recognition of Australia’s obligations under the United Nations Charter.
Debate resumed from 5th May (vide page 942), on motion by Senator Wade -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– Last evening I addressed myself to this question.I have not very much more to say on it other than possibly to summarize the views I expressed then. We of course, support the bill.I will ouline the terms of the measure and then tell the Senate my difficulties in affording it really enthusiastic support. This is a bill for an act to make provision for the grant of financial assistance to the States in relation to mental health institutions. Clause 4 - the definitions clause - states -
In this Act, “ mental health institution “ means an institution carried on exclusively or principally for the care and treatment of mentally ill or mentally defective persons, being an institution conducted by, or in receipt of a grant for maintenance from, a State.
The bill emphasizes the word “ institution “. Clause 8 reads as follows: -
For the purposes of this Act, an amount shall not be taken to have been expended for or in connexion with the buildings or equipment of a mental health institution unless -
I would like Senator Wedgwood to listen particularly to this, becauseI know she has some views on it -
the amount has been expended for or in connexion with -
The case I stated last night was that my reading of the legislation leaves me with the impression that the Government is tied to the idea of institutions. Many people skilled in this field are opposed to the term “ institution “ and last night Senator Dittmer put up a very good case as to why the Government should re-examine the term “ institution “. Medical and other expert opinion everywhere is now against institutional organizations for dealing with the mentally ill. Voluminous material has been written on this subject andI am surprised that the Commonwealth Government has not been more flexible in its approach to this question. AlthoughI am not certain of this,I do not think the Commonwealth Government has even consulted the States on this matter. In 1955, when the Government allocated a sum of about £10,000,000 for mental institutions, those institutions were in a state of disrepair. Maintenance on them had not been attended to for years. We had been through a war and, of course, the first demand in the immediate post war period was for homes for the people. Nothing much was done about rebuilding the institutions which we then knew as asylums - places such as those at Gladesville and Ryde, the two main centres of mental care in Sydney. Nothing was done there. ft is quite natural, therefore, that the Commonwealth Government decided in 1 955 that it bad to do something to assist the States to care for the mentally afflicted. As we know, £10,000,000 was allocated for that purpose. As I and other honorable senators explained last night, more than half of the States did not use the full sum allocated to them. That fact has been criticized in another place and Senator Anderson criticized it here, although not very strongly, because he realized the difficulties that faced the States. In my view one of the real reasons why the money was not used by some of the States was that it was not allocated for the purposes for which they wanted to use it. They were not thinking in terms of rebuilding or extending the old asylums as was contemplated in the 1955 act and as appears to be envisaged in this bill. They had other ideas about this problem. No doubt the Commonwealth Government has its own ideas, too, but, as I said earlier, this is a money bill providing for capital works and perhaps I am getting close to being out of order in discussing some of the matters with which I am dealing. I am no lawyer, but to me the measure covers buildings and nothing else. It does not relate to other skilled activities that governments and psychiatrists want to engage in in an endeavour to do something for the mentally ill.
I again call attention to this concentration on the idea of “ institutions “. I do not say that everybody who goes into a mental institution is doomed and cannot be cured, but a great many inmates are incurable. They are the people who are certified and only an institution holding certified people can benefit under this legislation. The number of certified people in the community is by no means the total number of those who are mentally ill. Why can the Government not help these uncertified people, who comprise nearly three quarters of the mentally sick in the community? I cannot see that anything is being done for them. It is possible that the Government has some other views on this matter and that this legislation is only the first step to help the States. Perhaps later on, something will bc done about sheltered workshops. I do not want to be supercritical of the Government in regard to this matter. It may intend to do something to help to finance the education of mentally retarded children. Already it helps to finance university education and it had to get around the Constitution to do that. Perhaps it proposes now to go to the other end of the scale and to help to educate the mentally retarded children in the community. I have here the third interim report of the New South Wales Health Advisory Council which deals with intellectually handicapped persons. It says -
The estimate for the mildly handicapped group is conservative as the calculations are based on the age group eight to fifteen years because of the difficulty in discovering mild intellectual handicap under the age of eight years in the school population.
The report shows that in New South Wales children who could be cared for at home and who are mildly handicapped number 10,500, while those who can be cared for at home and are moderately handicapped number 2,600. Yet special facilities are provided for only 1,440 in the first grant and 976 in the second grant. The children who cannot be cared for at home and who are in the group headed “ mildly handicapped with severe disturbance, &c”, number 700 and the number in this group for whom special facilities are provided is 254. The report then deals with children who cannot be cared for at home and who are moderately handicapped, with severe behaviour disturbance, &c. They number 500 but special facilities are provided for only 243. Those classified as “ severely handicapped “ in this group number 450 and 320, respectively. There seems to be the same relationship between the numbers of the children in each of these groups and the numbers for whom special facilities arc provided. Some of the less handicapped can be cared for by new methods. The really condemned children are those who are severely handicapped They number 450, as against 10,500 who are mildly handicapped. The position is much the same with regard to adults. I think the Government is providing money to help a minority. Certainly they are those who are gravely ill.
I am not saying they do not need hc’.p I do not know whether the Government was consulted at that stage but, if it had known and understood and sympathized with the problems facing the State in the expansion of these services, as the various advisory councils and medical councils advise, it would have found that the State Government’s expenditure was very much heavier in that field than in the field of established asylums and mental institutions.
In New South Wales diagnostic clinics have been organized. A feature of these is what is termed “ case-finding “. I do not think that idea has been adopted yet by the Commonwealth Department of Health. I dare say the department knows what is going on in all the States in connexion with these matters but there is no provision in the bill for that sort of treatment. As a matter of fact, the diagnostic clinics would be associated with public hospitals and nobody would want public hospitals to be called mental institutions. Yet unless they are mental institutions, they will not be eligible for a grant in the terms of this bill.
I have used the word “ asylum “. Although it has been written out of the language now and is not mentioned in this bill 1 think the Commonwealth Government is still thinking in terms of asylums when it refers to institutions in the bill and specifically provides that assistance will not be given to any but institutions. An effect of this bill is that three-quarters of the mentally ill persons in the population, who do not require treatment in asylums or mental institutions, gain nothing from the bill. Those who control these diagnostic clinics in New South Wales believe in getting a child when it is young. They believe in treating people in their homes if it can be arranged. This approach has the approval of the New South Wales Department of
Health, university authorities, the Australian Medical Association and all others who arc interested in this problem, lt is a wise approach. These diagnostic clinics are being set up in association with established public hospitals where patients can attend voluntarily. lt is interesting lo sec how education in mental hygiene - if we can call it that - is developing. Education in these matters has become much more widespread than it was. ] think that nearly half the patients who go to mental institutions do so voluntarily. That is a wonderful thing. A few years ago, everybody would be ashamed to admit that they had a relative who was mentally afflicted. Nowadays mental patients go to a hospital and sit alongside somebody with an injured leg or some physical illness and their mental condition is regarded as just another illness. That is the attitude that the New South Wales Government is trying to develop. This bill does not assist in that respect. That is my protest. Of course, the Government and the Minister for Health might tell us later in the debate that they have not forgotten these things at all. They might say that 1 am wrong and that they have these points 1 am speaking about well and truly covered. 1 hope that is so.
The advisory council on mental health had this to say about diagnostic clinics -
There are now available certain satisfactory ami inexpensive chemical procedures for the diagnosis of some of the inborn errors of metabolism, and Council stresses in the strongest possible terms that routine testing for these biochemical abnormalities should be undertaken at birth in obstetric hospitals, or al the first visit to a well baby clinic.
The council is leaving nothing to chance. In this case 1 am talking about New South Wales but it may be that similar action is being taken in all States. In fact, New South Wales might be behind the other States in these matters; 1 am not trying to claim credit for New South Wales alone. But even at the baby clinic level in New South Wales, those in control will be looking for mental diseases. They will examine a baby even on its first visit to a clinic. There is no mention of these things in the bill.
The recommendations of the council also read -
Efforts must be made lo impress all of these -
The report was referring to general practitioners, baby health sisters, school counsellors, kindergarten and primary schoolteachers and others - with the importance of early diagnosis and to provide, where necessary, training in the recognition of those symptoms and signs which suggest sub-normality.
This is important not only for the children; what about the expenditure on the training of teachers who will undertake this new branch of medicine? One of my colleagues reminds me that there is no provision in the bill for maintenance. 1 cannot understand why these things are not covered by the measure.
The report of the Health Advisory Council also refers to supporting services including correspondence training. Australia is a big country and people needing treatment are spread throughout the hinterland. Again, the New South Wales Government has not overlooked this aspect of the problem’. It is developing a scheme for training by correspondence to enable people to deal with the mentally ill youth in farflung areas.
The council has also recommended -
Glenfield Park is near Sydney. The recommendations continue -
That covers a particularly wide field of work but I do not know whether it has even been considered at the Commonwealth level. My view is this: Apart from the humanitarian side of the case we are putting forward, there is another aspect. If the medical profession and the psychiatrists have discovered ways and means of detecting mental disease early in the life of a child, surely it would be better in the national interest to spend money in that connexion than to spend it on pulling down the walls at Callan Park or rebuilding the laundries of the asylums at Parramatta, Gladesville and other places. Those things have to be done, of course, but I believe that the main concentration of effort in regard to this great problem should be on preventive measures and they certainly have not any support in this bill. I can find nothing in the bill which says that that ought to be done.
The federal Government is moving into quite a lot of the activities of the States. There are grants for this and grants for that but I notice that the Commonwealth has a habit of leaving the thorny problems to the States. There are quite a few matters on which the States and the Commonwealth should alter their priorities. Treatment for mental health is one matter on which I thought there should have been agreement between the States. It is a matter that should be looked at nationally. The ridiculous situation arises where a mentally ill child on one side of the Murray River may get one form of treatment and a mentally ill child on the other side might get another. There ought to be a national approach to this matter of mental health.
I am trying to be fair to the Government on this matter because we should not try to score politically on a bill like this. I do not intend to do so and neither does anybody else on this side. It could be that it is the Government’s intention to spend this money on the established mental institutions or asylums to relieve the States of expenditure in relation to these institutions so that they may concentrate on other activities and spend more money on them. If that is so, the Minister should say so. The intention is not clearly defined. It would be better to have it expressed in the bill.
The subsidy payment of £1 for £2 means that this great Commonwealth Government which is bursting at the seams with revenue will give £1 and the States will have to find £2. This is unsatisfactory not only to the New South Wales Government; the Victorian Government also has complained about the provision. Mr. Bolte has been very outspoken in his criticisms of the Commonwealth Government regarding its lack of interest in the general field of mental health. Victoria has much the same sort of programme in regard to the problem of the mentally ill as has New South Wales. I do not know what the situation is in the other States. I think it is about time that we had a really good national look at this question. I hope that the Commonwealth Government knows exactly what are the plans of the various States in this matter because the Commonwealth Government should know them. The Constitution should not stand in the way of something being done on a national level.
The Commonwealth Government should look again at the problem of the huge cost of maintaining the mentally ill. I shall probably be accused of being repetitious, but I think it is about time that the Government had another look at the situation I am about to describe. When a person is certified he immediately loses his pension. I do not know what the legal implications are, but I think that if a person is certified, placed in a mental institution and denied his pension, he should not be taxed on any private income he may have. If he owns property and he dies, his assets are dealt with in exactly the same way as are the assets of a sane person. Why should he forfeit his pension when he goes into an institution? I do not think he should forfeit it. The money that the Commonwealth saves by withholding pension payments from people in mental institutions, amounting to just under £2,000,000, should be set aside to help the States maintain these institutions. I think that is a fair suggestion to make to the Minister.
I do not know the argument that is used in denying the pension to a person who is certified. Only to-day I received a telephone call from a man in Sydney who spends six days a week in a mental institution. If that man is not capable of collecting a pension and putting it to proper use, neither am I. I sometimes wonder why he is in an institution, but he is there and he considers it a great injustice that he does not receive the age pension. I think that he should receive it. The deprivation of pension rights is something that has developed out of the dark ages and nobody has been prepared to do anything about it. I am not accusing only this Government of doing nothing about it. All governments. including Labour governments, have committed the same error. I would like to bc able to tell people that I know in mental institutions that they are to have their pensions restored to them. Some years ago I raised in the Senate the question of pensions and I said that if people in the institutions were not to receive pensions, at least people who were transferred out of the institutions into institutions for persons not so mentally ill should receive pensions.
Tn New South Wales the government has built new psychiatric hospitals in various parts of the State. It has transferred to those hospitals people who, in other circumstances, would have been committed to the old dismal gaol-like institutions. There was nowhere else to. put them in those days. They went straight to the mental institutions. There is one of these new institutions near Cessnock. It accommodates approximately 1,000 patients. They have a free rein. They are not people who have been certified in the same sense as the people in the Callan Park, Gladesville and Parramatta institutions, where the patients have to be controlled and looked after. I say that three-quarters of the people in the older institutions should not be there at all. If we lived in a really modern and humane society, they would not be there. A process of education is necessary and the New South Wales Government is pushing on with this matter.
When I asked why people in the institutions who were not seriously mentally ill should not receive pensions, ] received a letter from the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton), which led me to believe that the Government was going to change its policy in regard to the mentally ill. I told a newspaper reporter about the reply which I had received from the Minister, and he rather enlarged on it and read into it something which the Minister did’ not exactly say. The Minister was quick to repudiate the newspaper report. He said that the Government was not extending pension rights to the people living in homes which might be described as once removed from mental institutions.
– Half-way houses.
– That is right. The patients in that type of institution may go for a walk to town and get about like normal citizens. If they are allowed to do that, why should not they have the pension in their pockets on pension day like other pensioners? They have almost a free rein. They are not under control.
– Surely you realize that those people are under the jurisdiction of the State government, which has a Master in Lunacy who controls all their financial affairs. You should direct your criticisms to the State government.
– I realize that, but the Commonwealth Government should look at this problem more thoroughly. It seems to be dodging the issue. I do not know why governments persist in dodging it. They should try to do something really worthwhile for the mentally ill. I put it to the Minister that these people who are transferred from Gladesville, Parramatta or Callan Park to nice sunny cottages around Cessnock and other country areas can live really normal lives. 1 know that, technically, they would still be certified. If they did not behave properly they would go back to institutions. But why should these people be denied a pension? The Minister says this is the State’s responsibility.
– No, I did not specifically say that. I say that these people arc subject to State laws which demand that their estates pass into the hands of the Master in Lunacy as soon as they are certified.
- Sir Garfield Barwick, when he first came to Canberra, decided to do something about the marriage laws because they were archaic and because all sorts of things were happening in regard to maintenance and other matters under those laws. He quickly called the States into conference on those matters, and did something about them. He brought in new laws.
– There is a constitutional power inherent in the Commonwealth Parliament to deal with matrimony, but there is no power for the Commonwealth Government to deal with lunacy.
– I realize that there is no power vested in the Commonwealth Government in relation to this matter but you did not say that about housing.
The Opposition accepts the bill. We will vote for it, but we do not believe it is wide enough. I think the bill should have done more for the people who will not be institutionalized. It does nothing for these people. It deals only with those who are in institutions. It is our argument that the bill’s advantages ought to be extended to the 75 per cent, of the mentally ill people in Australia who are not in institutions.
.- I congratulate the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) and the Commonwealth Government on the introduction of this bill under which the Commonwealth will grant £1 for every £2 expended by a State. This money is to be spent on providing and equipping mental health institutions for a period of three years from 1st July, 1964. It is very interesting indeed to note that no limit will be placed on the aggregate amount payable by the Commonwealth.
Victoria has planned already for the next three years and is in a position to derive immediate benefit from this bill, more especially because by the middle of 1960 Victoria had spent its allocation of the Commonwealth grant of 1955. Victoria’s share of that grant, as has been stated, was £2,740,000. The money was received at the rate of about £500,000 per annum, and this, added to the State’s own contribution for capital works, ensured some progress in overtaking the lag in providing the most necessary accommodation. Of course, the Victorian Government applied most urgently for a renewal of the grant and the appeal was supported by Senator Wedgwood and others of my Victorian colleagues in both Houses of this Parliament. So, we are thankful indeed that Commonwealth assistance will be renewed on the basis contained in the bill.
If I speak with pride of the work being carried out in Victoria, it is also in a spirit of thankfulness for the work done by the chairman of the Mental Health Authority, Dr. Cunningham Dax, and also by Dr. Stoller, who has been referred to so often in this debate. I speak with pride of that work because it is so close to the hearts of many Victorians who are associated in the caring for mentally retarded children and adults. I should like to refer to a book written at the request of the World Federation for Mental Health by Dr. Cunningham Dax. It traces the progress and development of the Mental Hygiene Service in
Victoria from 1952 to 1961. lt describes the dreadful conditions obtaining in the institutions in the early days and outlines the gradual awakening of the social conscience and the growing support given by large and small bodies in the community. At the end of the book Dr. Dax lists those voluntary organizations which are doing such wonderful work in Victoria. He also lists the various clinics, hostels, social clubs and so on that are now in existence in the metropolitan area and in the country areas throughout Victoria. The voluntary organizations have assisted most remarkably in bringing about the change of attitude towards mental illness. It is now regarded as an illness and not a disgrace. Again, these voluntary organizations, together with the departmental representatives, have brought people to understand that the treatment that is now given in cases of mental illness is humane, efficient and most worthwhile indeed.
I was recently in the museum in the research section at Royal Park, lt was with feelings of thankfulness that I recalled how wonderfully efficient the treatment is now in comparison with the treatment in those old days when leather strait-jackets were used and manacles were attached to the ankles of the patients. There was in the museum a horrifying large box in which people were detained or placed for solitary confinement. The families of afflicted people now realize that help can be given. The acceptance of this concept, our increased population and the excellent medical care which has resulted in fewer deaths, have all led to an increased demand for beds.
As I said earlier, the Minister for Health in Victoria, Mr. Mack, has stated that already the State has planned a most helpful programme to be carried out in the next three years for increased care of Victorian mentally retarded children. There is an estimated expenditure of £1,270,000 for 672 beds and the removal of some obsolete buildings. Also, £1,600,000 will be expended on site works, equipment, staff accommodation, essential services and furnishings. There will be a new colony provided at Cranbourne in the Gippsland area for adults and children. A new ward will be provided at Ararat - again in a country area. The old
Royal Children’s Hospital which has been renamed St. Nicholas’s Hospital will have a further 150 beds for babies and toddlers and next year 150 beds will be provided for small children. At lanefield, there will be an expansion of 192 beds. I am glad to say that a double ward will be erected at the Kew Cottages - referred to in a recent debate by Senator Wedgwood - which will contain 48 beds for girls. There will also be two dependent wards with 33 beds for boys and 33 beds for girls. Those who have been associated for so long with the Kew Cottages are extremely thankful that the conditions existing there have so tremendously improved over the last ten years. At Stawell, the Pleasant Creek Centre, as it is called, will be given two dependent wards with 33 beds for boys and 33 beds for girls. On 20th April, Dr. Dax stated that the Commonwealth grant plus the State Government expenditure would give a golden opportunity to overtake the lag in mental health building works which, of course, had grown and developed since 1960. In the recent debate on the motion calling for a national survey of mentally retarded children an honorable senator opposite stated -
Unfortunately there is little in the report of Dr. Stoller pertaining particularly to the mentally ill child.
The survey that was conducted by ~>r. Alan Stoller, assisted by Mr. Arscott, was prepared at the request of the Commonwealth Government. The report was referred to frequently in the debate on the need for a national survey, and has been mentioned often in the debate on this bill. I should like to refute the statement I have just quoted, because it seems to me, in again reading the report, that from the opening chapters it was clear that the two men who conducted the survey assessed the Children’s Welfare Department homes and the delinquent units. They took note of the number of emotionally disturbed and mentally deficient children. They looked at the work of the children’s courts and examined the Education Department’s role of education in the principles of mental health and their possibilities of discovering the backward and disturbed children.
The report shows that this survey was conducted in every State. It also shows that so far as the Education Departments were concerned opportunity A classes provided for children of an I.Q. of 60 to SO, and opportunity F classes for children of an I.Q. of 30 to 55. At the time of the survey this latter educational work was largely experimental. Since then much progress has been made in Victoria. For instance, as the report shows, at Kew Cottages at that time there was a school run by five Education Department teachers for children of eight to sixteen years. The children were taught to the 4th grade. A boys’ club and a girls’ club had been formed and group games organized. With the assistance of the grant under the 1955 act many improvements have been made in buildings, equipment and general facilities at the Kew Cottages. By ‘means of the grant under this bill I am sure that much more will be done. The report, as it relates to each State, devotes attention to the provisions for the care of mentally retarded children.
Page 73 of the report deals with the mental deficiency programme already in operation in Victoria. This section of the report pictures the contrast between the appalling conditions at Kew Cottages - illustrated in the book written by Dr. Dax to which I have referred, and now thankfully improved - and the well run and well planned centres at Travancore and Janefield. Pages 78 and 79 deal with the subsidized community programmes, and mention is made of Moorakyne Hostel which at the date of the survey accommodated 50 mentally defective working girls. It is interesting to note that through the establishment in Victoria of industrial training centres for the intellectually handicapped, 1,000 patients over the age of sixteen years are now being assisted in a new approach to life. At the present time there are 1,500 mentally retarded children in 30 subsidized day training centres. These day training centres are linked with the more recently established and excellently conducted sheltered workshops at Oakleigh, Box Hill, Northcote, Ivanhoe and Ballarat. There is, of course, an urgent need for an expansion of the total service embracing diagnostic centre, day training centre, sheltered workshops and hostel. I sincerely hope that in due course the Commonwealth Government will give some support to the development of this total service not only in Victoria but also in all States of the Commonwealth. As I have said, we in Victoria are most fortunate that by reason of Dr. Cunningham Dax’s enthusiastic leadership and the devoted work of all members of the Mental Hygiene Authority such tremendous progress has been made in all areas of this most necessary field of service.
I should like now to refer to another criticism made by members of the Opposition in the previous debate on mentally retarded children and in this current debate concerning the need for progressive research. Together with this progressive programme that I have briefly outlined, there has been carried out a continuous programme of research by the Mental Health Research Department of the Mental Hygiene Authority. This research department is under the leadership of Dr. Alan Stoller.
– Docs Dr. Dax consider that the research programme is sufficient?
– A continuous research programme is being conducted in Victoria and I should like Senator Dittmer to listen to details of some of the surveys and programmes of research that have been carried out. I should like to list a few of the many. A statistical survey has been made of the rates of admission to mental health institutions since 1882. There is a prevalent study of ages and types of retarded persons in mental hospitals at the date of the last census. Regular analyses are made of retarded persons admitted to hospital each year. It is estimated that in Victoria slightly under one bed per 1,000 of the population is required. This is a figure that is slightly lower than that given in the report of Dr. Stoller. There has been research into the effect of rubella, and these findings have received worldwide recognition. A survey has been made regarding an inherited disability, that of enzyme deficiency which results in damage to the brain. It has been found that early detection enables prevention of deterioration. Senator Ormonde referred to the need for the development of detection of mental illness, or the tendency to mental illness, at baby health centres. I am sure that he and other senators will be interested to know that all babies attending Victorian baby health centres, as a result of this survey of the enzyme deficiency are now tested for this deficiency and, therefore, this preventive treatment is able to be undertaken at the earliest possible stage.
Another survey covered children born blind or deaf and blind leading to mental retardation. In 1961, 400 babies in the women’s hospital were examined for general malformation, including the incidence of retardation. A survey is being made of the 700 children at Kew Cottages to obtain evidence as to the causations of mental ill health. Further, there has been a twentyyear survey from 1942 to 1962, of mongoloid children who comprise 10 per cent, of general defectives - that is, those with an I.Q. of about 50 to 55. This study, too, has received worldwide recognition by the countries that are active in studying the various problems of mental illness and by the World Health Organization. I have given details of this research programme because it is clear that there is sufficient data to assist in the carrying out of present programmes and in the formulation of further programmes of assistance, education and prevention. What is being done in Victoria can be done in other States.
Reference has been made by honorable senators on the other side to the fact that there is no provision for maintenance in the present bill. I hope that I have illustrated, very briefly, that in Victoria we have been able to adjust our programme so that rebuilding work is continuing. New building is being carried out, by means of these capital grants, thereby releasing moneys from State governments to purchase equipment and provide the various facilities that are necessary.
Tn conclusion I should like to quote from the Medical Journal of Australia dated 5th August, 1961. In an article in that journal Dr. Stoller said -
The practice of mental deficiency involves adults as well as children and psychopathology as well as emotional maturity; it is concerned not only with the psychological reactions of parents but with the full range of interfamilial relationships; and lastly its interests extend beyond the individual defective to embrace his entire relationship to society.
We must be thankful that society and the representatives of society elected to the Commonwealth and State Parliaments are recognizing their full responsibility towards these members of our community. I am glad indeed that the members of the Opposition, although they have been critical, have indicated that they support this bill. Again T congratulate the Commonwealth Government on bringing it forward.
– I approach this bill very much in the role of Oliver Twist. It is not that I have his lean and hungry look. I approach the bill from the point of view that the Opposition is grateful for the small mercies it is receiving, but it would like a lot more. I congratulate Senator Breen on her very fine exposition of the position in Victoria. 1 feel very envious of her State for what is being done and what has been done over the years to give assistance to the mentally afflicted, particularly to the children. The problem in Western Australia is, of course, very difficult because of the size of our State and the difficulty confronting the State Government in meeting all its commitments in every field. These difficulties are added to considerably because of the small population and the large area of the State. However, such factors do not in any way excuse those responsible for not doing the work that has still to be done for the mentally ill in Western Australia and throughout Australia. 1 am pleased to note that under this bill, which deals with the problems of the mentally ill, grants will provide some relief to State organizations which incur capital expenditure, but that is not enough. The Stoller Report has been mentioned freely in this debate and was mentioned in a similar debate which took place some weeks ago. Dr. Stoller has said -
Merely giving a capital contribution to the States is not of itself sufficient.
He and his colleague recommended that the Commonwealth Government should follow the example of Canada and spend money on a contributory basis - which is being done under this bill - for mental hospital construction. So far the Government and the Opposition would be in accord; but the doctor goes on to suggest that the money should be spent on - . . mental hospital construction and improvement, services in general hospitals, establishment of clinics, training, research and rehabilitation.
That is the point I should like to make. The Opposition thinks that this bill is too narrow. Western Australia and some other States have not spent all the money which was allocated to them originally under the 1955 bill. The reason for that is, of course, that the States could not possibly spend the money because of the conditions that were attached to the spending of it. They had so much else to do that in order to spend that money wisely much more money was needed for maintenance and training. The States simply did not have the additional money. Of course I would like to have attempted to prod the State authorities into doing more than they did; but that is the excuse they had for not spending this money.
I fear that the same thing could easily happen under this bill which does not allow anything for maintenance but only for the construction of buildings. The Opposition thinks that that represents a rather narrow view of the problem of mental health. I know it may be said that the Chifley Government gave only a parsimonious allowance to the inmates of mental hospitals. I admit that, viewed on a daily basis, the amount does not seem very much; but taken over 365 days of the year, and in view of the number of patients involved, it was a considerable sum, particularly in those days. Then again the granting of the allowance was, as it were, the thin end of the wedge. It was the beginning of the acceptance of Commonwealth responsibility in this problem of mental health.
I have been interested in this problem for very many years. I know the opprobrium that is cast upon families a member of which is mentally deficient. I know that living in a suburb where there is a mental hospital used to be a standing joke. When you went to get a train ticket for my home town of Claremont you were asked whether you wanted a single or a return ticket. That was a standing joke because it was assumed that anybody going to Claremont was going to the asylum. That was the attitude of the community generally. It was one of derision and scorn for the mentally afflicted patient. I am pleased to say that, after a great deal of agitation and better education of the public in relation to this problem as it really exists, that attitude has undergone a great change over the years. People have now come to recognize that mental trouble is an illness and not a crime. It is recognized as a misfortune which could happen to anyone. Mental illness does not strike only at the poor nor at any particular section of the community. It can strike anywhere and we should all have tolerance and understanding of the human issues involved in the care of the mentally ill.
A fortnight ago we had a debate on the care of mentally retarded children and I think that everybody in the Senate who made a contribution to that debate did so with the full knowledge that the proposal involved was not a partypoliticalpropaganda proposal. This whole subject is definitely a national problem and one to which we in the Senate, irrespective of party political opinions, should give our most earnest consideration. I think that approach was evident throughout the whole of the debate I have mentioned, and I do not see why this bill should not be dealt with in the same way. As I have said, the granting of money for the construction of buildings is good as far as it goes, but the Opposition’s quarrel with the Government is that the bill does not go far enough. It believes that the definition in clause 4 is much too narrow.
– And too paltry.
– Yes. It is very narrow and, perhaps, paltry because it does not deal with the underlying problem. If you put up a building somewhere you get a grant, but if you put up a clinic attached to a hospital or a university, where doctors psychiatrists and mental nurses can be trained in mental health as well as in general health, that does not come within the ambit of this measure at all.
– I think the Minister for Health will give an assurance when he rises that that will be provided for in the definition as embraced in the 19SS act.
– I hope that that is so but, as the bill stands, it does not appear to be so.
– I am sure he will give that assurance when he replies.
– In any discussion of mental health we must take cognizance of the training of personnel to deal with mentally ill persons. I know that in the past this has been the Cinderella branch of the health services. Mental health occupies only a very minor part of the training of the general practitioner. In my own State the training of a mental nurse covers a period of three years, I think, but upon its completion the nurses have no general qualification. They cannot do general nursing and they are not regarded as trained nurses as are persons who train in a general hospital. I should like to sec the status of these nursing personnel raised, so that in order to become mental hospital nurses persons would have to undergo general training in addition, although perhaps not a full course of it. By the time their training is over, their status should be the same as that of nurses who have trained in general hospitals. In this way a realization that mental affliction was an illness would be more firmly driven home, and the results of the treatment of mentally ill persons would be a great deal better. 1 was amazed to note from the statistics supplied in Dr. Stoller’s report that such a large number of deaths occur amongst mental hospital patients.
The subject of pensions for mental patients, which was dealt with by Senator Ormonde, is most interesting. Not long ago I happened to be at a home, which is also an institution of the old type, for elderly men. I found that quite a number of young and middle-aged men had been transferred there from a mental hospital because there was nowhere else for them to go. They had partly recovered, but they had no one at home to look after them. Immediately on admission to the home for the aged, they became entitled to age and other pension benefits, although they were probably no better than they had been a week earlier. The authorities were clamouring for them to be returned whence they came, because it was thought that their presence was not good for the morale of the other inmates. If they were transferred back, they would lose their pensions. This dilly-dallying with pensions seems to be all wrong. If these people are to be regarded as being ill they should receive the same entitlement to pensions as do persons who are in institutions for the aged.
Another point on which we differ from the Government is that under the bill the institutions which will benefit are those which already receive State assistance. I know of many organizations in my own State which have raised money by various means in order to obtain properties and buildings for the care of the mentally retarded or the mentally ill. They have raised funds by their own efforts and they have done a magnificent job. Let me refer also to the aspect of the lotteries commissions. lt amazes me how some Government supporters, who would turn up their hands in horror to heaven at the thought of running a sweep on the Melbourne Cup, do not mind the fact that many of our hospitals for the mentally ill and for others are financed by lotteries in various States. This is particularly true of Western Australia, lt is rather a terrifying thought that we have to depend upon this type of finance to give to people what is their basic right, that is, adequate medical assistance when they need it most. Therefore, I should like to see the bill extended to provide assistance to other institutions which are catering for the mentally ill, even though these do not receive State grants as such. Various religious organizations are doing magnificent work in this respect. Organizations for the care of spastic and other physically and mentally handicapped children, which are doing good work, receive grants now and again for some special projects, but cannot be said to be financed from government funds.
– Do you disapprove of hospitals, mental or otherwise, being financed from lotteries?
– Not a bit, and I do not object to lotteries, either. My point is that we have persons in government who object to lotteries and who would be very adverse to our holding a Melbourne Cup sweep in Parliament House. Here we have a lottery on a large scale. We are running a lottery with these people’s lives and we are depending on lotteries to finance our hospitals. I say quite frankly that but for. the existence of lotteries in Western Australia many of our hospitals would have had to close down in the past 25 years. They, and many philanthropic institutions also, have been financed by the Lotteries Commission. I do not object to lotteries at all, but I am not so naive as to think that one person in twenty who buys a lottery ticket thinks, “Three pence of this money is to go to help the poor and the ill “. At the same time, contributions by lotteries commissions are very welcome and very necessary, and many persons who would not dream of giving a shilling to a hospital fund, whether it was for the mentally ill or for the physically ill, make contributions in an indirect way through lotteries commissions. My point is that it is a lottery to have to depend upon these chance affairs to keep our hospitals and other institutions going.
I should like to make a point also in relation to facilities for research into the causes of mental illness. Activities in this direction need encouragement, financial and otherwise. Not a great deal is being done in this field at our universities. As I have said before, I should like to see the establishment of a foundation to deal with research into mental health. We want to control the problem before it becomes more acute. I was amazed to find that women in the community were much more prone to mental illness than men. I should not have been surprised, 1 suppose. Women worry a lot more. They cannot put on their hats, meet the boys down the street, and forget things for a bit. If they are mothers, they have many problems to face, and quite often these become too much for them. These are social and medical problems affecting the nation. Many people in Australia can be regarded as mentally ill. This should not be so in a land of plenty, which has never known war on its own soil, which has never had to face many of the problems of countries of the old world. Surely to goodness there must be some explanation for the fact that this problem is so acute here. Surely there is some way in which we can work to prevent mental illness, and I suggest that we must start with the children.
At a mental hospital not very long ago I was assured that the expectation of life of a mentally handicapped child was much greater than that of an ordinary child going to school, because the former had no road hazards to face. Road deaths account for quite a number of deaths amongst teenage and other children. In addition, children in mental institutions have meals at set hours three times a day and they are under constant medical and nursing surveillance. The result is that nearly all of these children will grow up to become mentally retarded adults. Therefore, it is important that we should extend this bill to include provision for buildings for mentally retarded children, and not only for those who are certifiably insane. The cost of providing a bed in a mental hospital is about £3,000. Maintenance and staffing costs amount to about £600 a year. Not only the initial cost of the building is of importance. It is of no use having a building which is not staffed properly or which is not of benefit to the community, lt is of no use having big barrack-like buildings. I should like to see much smaller hospitals. The tendency to have great barracks has been proved not to be in the best interests of the sick, particularly the mentally sick. As a result of the decentralization of facilities for the care of the mentally jil, we in Western Australia have found that to be so.
That which is being done to care for the mentally ill is being done in bits and pieces. We should have a national programme for mental health and should be able to apply desirable standards not only to one State but throughout Australia. I am very proud of the fact that much of the experience which was behind Dr. Stoller’s report was gained in Western Australia. I regret that he had to leave that State to gain more experience in much better institutions elsewhere in Australia. Dr. Stoller’s report, which was written nearly ten years ago, was accepted at the time as being of great importance and 1 should hate to detract from it in any way. Many of the recommendations contained in the report have not yet been implemented. Dr. Stoller himself stated that mere monetary assistance was not enough to enable us to overcome the problem of mental health. He said it was not sufficient just to have buildings.
The scope, of the Commonwealth’s grant to the States should be extended to include the provision at the university level of centres for psychiatric training so that such training would be attractive to prospective doctors. The number of doctors who are capable of dealing with the problem of mental health is very low when compared with the number who enter other sections of the medical profession. J do not know why that is so. It should be just as rewarding to try to help those who are unable to help themselves because of weakness of mind as it is to be of assistance in any other field. Certainly the process of recovery is longer and slower in many cases.
– Such work may not bc as rewarding financially.
– We come back to the question of pounds, shillings and pence. It may not be as rewarding financially, but surely there is a way in which the Government could help to supplement the income of the doctors who take up this very necessary work. 1 believe that those who undertake this work arc dedicated men. We cannot pay adequately for dedication. We cannot pay adequately for a sense of vocation to humanity, which has been displayed by many men who have turned from the much more lucrative side of their profession.
I am not approaching this subject on a party political basis. We of the Opposition are glad that the Government has realized that it has some responsibility in the field of mental health. Our difference with the Government lies in the fact that we do not think that it has gone far enough in this legislation. We think that the bill is too narrow. The fact that only £10,000,000 was made available some years ago and that as yet not all the money has been taken up by States in which the need for expenditure on mental health is great shows that there is a weakness somewhere. The States want to use the money. They are crying out for money to help the mentally ill. Yet in my own State of Western Australia not more than 50 per cent, of the grant has been used. That shows that there must be other factors at work with which the Government has not yet come to grips. The provision in this measure of more money for more buildings will lead to a solution of only part of the problem.
The problem of mental illness has received a lot of publicity in recent times. The public is becoming increasingly aware of it. Over the last twenty years a very great change has occurred in the thinking of right-minded citizens. Such people realize that mental illness just happens, that it is the fault of nobody in particular; but they also realize that more must be done than just to talk about the problem. It is only at times like this that we in the Parliament are able to express our opinions. I remind honorable senators that there are many people in the community who, in an honorary capacity, are making a magnificent effort to help the mentally a mie ted, whether they be children or adults. Those people have no thought of reward; they do not worry about what it costs them in time, effort or money. But we have no facilities for the adequate training of social workers in this field. In Perth when the appointment of social workers to our mental hospital has been considered, it has been difficult to get people with adequate training. Not all the Universities provide a course in social welfare work. I know that for many years people in Western Australia had to go to Melbourne for such training. I am not certain whether that is still necessary. Even so, only a minor part of the training needed is provided, because the problems associated with the mentally ill differ markedly from those which pertain to other people in the community. Therefore, I believe that a grant should be made to the States to assist in the training of social workers to help the mentally ill.
Outdoor activity, farm schools and sheltered workshops have been provided for the welfare of children and adults. It is amazing to note just how quickly some children respond to the kindness which can be shown much more readily in a small institution than in a big one. The service that is given to the mentally afflicted should be much more personal than is possible in the huge prison-like buildings that have been built in the past.
Whilst the Opposition supports the bill, it would like to see the clauses to which 1 have referred widened to enable the expenditure of funds, not only on the provision of buildings, but also upon the improvement of services already provided. The States should be allowed to bring their mental health programmes to a higher standard. There is plenty of scope for us to compare what we are doing here with what is being done elsewhere in the world. This problem is not confined to one continent or to any particular part of that continent. 1 should like to see the Commonwealth spend some of this money on the establishment of a foundation to investigate the causes and, if possible, the means of preventing mental illness. By doing that, the Government would be doing something worthwhile instead of erecting in stone, memorials to our stupidity.
– 1 agree with Senator Tangney when she says that the problem of mental health is not confined to Australia but is world-wide. However, to-day we are considering a bill which is designed to extend assistance to the States for the next three years. The purpose of this measure is to repeal the 1955 act, which provided for assistance to the States for their capital programmes on a £1 for £2 basis. As has been stated by other honorable senators, only Victoria and Tasmania have taken up the full amount of the Government’s assistance. Senator Tangney and other Opposition senators have claimed that some States have found it impossible to match the Government’s grant. But the States receive their separate funds by way of State grants and it is for them to establish their own priorities in relation to the expenditure of those funds. Therefore, if the States lay down advanced programmes for mental health they should be able to match the assistance that is offered to them by the Commonwealth.
– If they have the will to do it, they will find the money.
– As Senator Hannaford says, if they have the will to do it they will find the money. The assistance provided by the Commonwealth on this occasion goes even further than that provided in 1955. We are now offering to provide £1 for every £2, with no upper limit at all whereas the 1955 act limited Commonwealth assistance to £10,000,000. So for the next three years State programmes in this field will be exactly what the State Premiers and Ministers for Health are prepared to provide. I want to make that particularly clear because, like Senator Breen, I feel that Victoria’s record is a very good one. The Victorian Government has been very sympathetic in dealing with the problem of mental health and the Mental Hygiene Authority which works apart from the Hospitals and Charities Commission has also had the services of men who have devoted their time and their ability to this work with a sense of true dedication. For those reasons Victoria is the most advanced State in the Commonwealth in relation to mental health. My colleague, Senator Scott, nods his head, although I do not know whether he approves or is just learning something.
I commend the Government for the change in the title of this bill. The original act of 1 955 was known as the “ State Grants (Mental Institutions) Act”, whereas this measure is entitled the “ State Grants (Mental Health Institutions) Bill”. This is only a small matter but it gives an indication of a change, even at governmental level, in the attitude of people towards the whole of the mental health problem.
– The Government is entitled to its crumb of praise.
– Senator Dittmer often likes to make a speech while I am speaking. I think Senator Ormonde is labouring under a misapprehension. He said the bill does nothing for people other than those who are institutionalized. If I took down correctly what he said, it was that only institutions for certified persons would gain any benefit from this legislation.
– I did nol say that.
– I am referring to what Senator Ormonde said. If I understand the bill correctly the definition of “ mental health institution “ is such that the grants will assist mental hospitals, admission centres, day hospitals an J mental health clinics. I do not think Senator Ormonde was right when he said that only those establishments which have always been known as “ mental institutions “ will benefit, and I hope the Minister will confirm my opinion later on. I think it will be agreed that the benefit conferred by this legislation is not nearly as limited as Senator Ormonde evidently feels it is.
One very heartening development - this has been mentioned by other speakers - is that to-day we are recognizing that mental health is a part of general health. Already great achievements have been made in preventive medicine both in the public health and general health fields. Senator Breen outlined what has been done in regard to research in Victoria; but throughout Australia there has been a lack of knowledge of both the causes and the treatment of mental illness. It is true that we are catching up. It is refreshing to know that people are turning their minds more and more to the causes of mental ill health; to the effects of the stresses and strains of modern living, and also to the special circumstances of many immigrants who have brought with them problems that Australian-born citizens have not had to contend. I believe there is need for research in every State into these causes of ill health.
It is true, that, as other honorable senators have said, there is a great difference between the present-day treatment of the mentally ill and that of the past. Senator Anderson referred to the old asylums, where patients were kept behind locked doors, and to the feelings of the families of mentally afflicted persons. Gradually all that prejudice has been eliminated. We find that these hospitals, which at one time were almost dungeons, are now painted in modern colours and newly furnished. They have been transformed to provide reasonably good living quarters for the patients. One of the real problems is to provide sufficient facilities for the early diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. The mental health programme in Victoria has been directed more and more to the provision of early treatment centres and to the prevention of mental breakdown.
I pause here to mention again the remarkable recovery rate of patients in hospitals when treatment is given early enough. I have previously quoted in the Senate figures which highlight this fact, but have never before quoted a figure more demonstrative of the benefit which flows from early treatment than the fact that in Victoria last year our discharges were the equivalent of 93 per cent, of our admissions. That does not mean that 93 per cent, of the inmates of these hospitals were discharged, but when the discharge rate is the equivalent of 93 per cent, of the admissions, I think it is clear that many forms of mental disorder respond very quickly to correct treatment. We cannot give correct treatment until we have the buildings in which patients can be treated. I, therefore, agree with Senator Tangney that it is necessary to have the doctors and nurses and everything else that goes with the treatment of the mentally ill, but the first requirement is the place in which people can be treated. I applaud the Government for having made available, for another three years, a grant which will assist materially in the provision of more accommodation, particularly in overcrowded buildings.
Senator Breen referred to Dr. Eric Cunningham Dax. It is interesting to note that in the Melbourne “ Sun “ of 10th April under the headline, “ Big Boost in Federal Mental Grant “, Dr. Dax was reported to have commented on the assistance that this money would be to Victoria and he itemized the ways in which it would help the State to care for people suffering from mental illnesses. He said the money would help to reduce the waiting list in centres caring for retarded children.
As we all know, that is a very worthy objective. I had the privilege of speaking on that matter in this House a fortnight ago. I quoted some figures then which I will not repeat to-day, beyond saying that I have been told authoritatively that in Victoria alone there are 16,000 menially retarded children. It is true that some of them are being cared for in our cottages; others are attending training centres; and a great number arc living in their own homes under the care and protection of their families. However, it is to the institutions that we must look for the care of those children who cannot be kept at home. Those who know that the cottages at Kew have a waiting list of over 550 cases are delighted that this assistance is to be given because, as Dr. Dax said, it will help to meet the needs of these children and reduce the wailing list. Dr. Dax also said that this grant would provide more beds for the aged. He said there was a waiting list and considerable overcrowding and the grant would help to relieve the situation.
I was most interested in what Senator Tangney said about aged people and those who are not so aged. One very worthwhile experiment in Victoria has been conducted at Kew where a great number of the patients are elderly people. Senility and mental derangement are often caused through social conditions because of the inability of elderly people to cone with the burdens and cares of modern life. This happens particularly if they are on their own.
A geriatric service has been set up in Kew and many aged people who would at one time have been regarded as senile or deranged for the rest of their lives are now blossoming out again because they have had proper care and attention and opportunities to devote their minds and their activities lo worth-while occupations, I have been informed that 30 per cent, of patients that would have been considered incurably depressed or deranged at one time are now able to go about in the ordinary way and make a recovery, consistent, of course, with the age of the persons concerned. That is a very great contribution to the solution of a serious social problem.
Dr. Dax also said that this grant would be a signal to go ahead with early treatment centres at Bendigo, Sunshine, Geelong and Benalla. This work in Victoria has been decentralized - if I might use that term - more than it has been in other States. A number of centres have been established. Therefore, one of the criticisms that came from’ the Opposition side is without justification because we in Victoria are endeavouring to establish centres to enable diagnosis and early treatment and to provide the type of hospital care that is necessary.
I want to say that this assistance will be of immeasurable help to Victoria. I am confident, following the immediate response of the Victorian Minister for Health, Mr. Mack, that Victoria will avail itself of the opportunity lo extend its programme for the treatment of the mentally ill to the very limit of its capacity.
Senator Breen referred to the announcement by Mr. Mack that Victoria expected to provide another 672 beds for mentally retarded children within the next three years and that the State Government was going to make a major attack on what it considered was a tragic problem. We in Victoria feel that this grant will be of great assistance to us in all fields of mental health and in all aspects of its prevention and cure. I would be lacking in my duty if I did not also pay tribute to the men in Victoria who have done so much not only to provide care themselves for the mentally ill but also to inspire the hundreds of voluntary workers who team with them to provide the assistance mentioned by Senator Tangney. Without their help, assistance to the mentally ill would fall short of the objective. I do not think 1 could find a finer tribute to Dr. Eric Cunningham Dax, Dr. Alan Stoller, Dr.
Bower and Dr. Brady than that paid to them not long ago by a newspaper man who said that they were men who had brought light to darkness that had existed since the days of bedlam’. Therefore, I support the bill.
.- I join with other honorable senators in supporting the bill. I rise briefly to congratulate the Minster for Health (Senator Wade) on one clause of the measure. This bill could involve the expenditure of £10,000,000 or more. As Senator Wedgwood has said, this measure, unlike the act of 1955, is not limited to a period of three years. I am delighted that the bill, under which Commonwealth money is to be handed out to the States, provides that the grants must be spent on the specific purpose for which they are given. All honorable senators from Victoria who have spoken have said that they were delighted to note that the Government of Victoria had spent all the money that was available to it for mental institutions under the 1955 act.
T am delighted, too. But I recall that last year the Parliament granted £20,000,000 of Commonwealth money for the relief of unemployment throughout Australia. I know what Victoria did with its share of that money. It put the whole of its share, amounting to £4,000,000, into the State budget. There is no doubt that Victoria did not put £2 for £1 of Commonwealth money into expenditure on mental institutions in accordance with the term’s of the grant made under the 1955 act. It could have expended on mental institutions portion of the money it received for the relief of unemployment. Therefore I wonder whether we in Victoria are entitled to take as much credit as we do for what has been done. I am a little perplexed when I read of what Western Australia has done. It has spent barely 50 per cent, of its money. Seeing that it is a claimant State, it should not be difficult for it to get money. I should not think that the Commonwealth Grants Commission would penalize Western Australia for spending money on mental health when it is getting a subsidy of £1 for every £2 that it spends.
I am delighted to see that this bill provides that the money must be spent for the specific purposes laid down in the bill. It is a very marked improvement on the circumstances relating to the unemployment grant.
In my own State, and to an extent in other States also, all the grant was not used. I think honorable senators will recall that Queensland had the highest percentage of unemployment on account of seasonal work. Therefore, the aim of the Queensland Government was to spend as much as possible of its share of the £20,000,000 to put the unemployed back to work. I sincerely hope that in future the specific purposes for which funds are intended will be laid down in the bills that come before the Senate.
I recognize that money has to be given to the States and that the Commonwealth is the main taxing authority, but I think it was wrong that, as far as my own State was concerned, not one farthing was spent on the relief of unemployment. All the money went to balance the Budget. It is competent for the State Government to put money into the building of mental hospitals and to say, “ We will balance the Budget by other methods “.
Clause 4, the definitions clause of the bill, provides -
In this Act, “ mental health institution “ means an institution carried on exclusively or principally for the care and treatment of mentally ill or mentally defective persons, being an institution conducted by, or in receipt of a grant for maintenance from, a Stale.
I take it that that means that the money can be spent on reception houses. When a person is mentally ill he first goes to a reception house which, in my State, I think it is at Royal Park. Then it is a matter for the medical practitioners there to examine him to see whether he should go into a mental hospital. I take it that does not necessarily mean that he is certified. He may receive treatment, such as shock treatment. In a short space of time the unfortunate person may be able to leave the hospital and re-join his people. Of course, the worst cases go into mental asylums, as they were commonly known in the old days. According to my understanding of the bill, a State may attract the subsidy by spending money on three types of institution.
Clause 8 provides that, in order to attract the subsidy a State Government has to spend the money for or in connexion with -
During the Minister’s second-reading speech he said -
It will be recalled that earlier Commonwealth assistance in this field, introduced by the Chifley Government in 1948, took the form of a five-year agreement with each State to subsidize day-to-day running cost. Payments ranged from 8d. to Is. 2d. per patient per day and in the aggregate the Commonwealth paid about £2,420,000 to the States under this arrangement.
I have no quarrel with the actual figures, but I think that when figures are quoted for 1948, 1950 or 1951, they should be related to the present-day value of money. Since 1948 prices have risen from, between 250 per cent, and 300 per cent. There were 7,000,000 people in Australia in 1948 but now there are 11,000,000. If one compares the value of money in 1948 with ils value to-day, and the population in 1948 with that of to-day, one can logically say that no more money was expended under the 1955 act than was spent in the earlier years mentioned by the Minister. This is one of the main reasons for my rising to speak in this debate. It pains me to see the Minister, when introducing this bill, which has no political content whatever, comparing expenditure in 1943, 1944 or 1948 with the expenditure proposed under this measure. I ask the Minister to request his officers to bring the figures up to date when next a bill of this type is introduced and a comparison is made between past and present expenditure. Comparisons such as he has made create a very false impression in the minds of the people. 1 do not think it was the intention of the Minister to say that one might infer from a casual glance at his remarks, but he has not presented the problem in its proper perspective. lt is true, as Senator Wedgwood said, that Victoria has to a large extent decentralized its mental hospitals. In the old days, there was a hospital at Ararat, one at Beechworth, and one at Ballarat. Since then, hospitals have been established at Traralgon, Warnambool and Plenty, which is just outside the city of Melbourne. It is not my purpose to decry one iota of what has been done. It is my hope that sooner or later the Commonwealth Government will give more assistance in health matters than it has in the past. I am not decrying the effort that has been made. I remember as a lad seeing some of the buildings in the metropolitan area. There were some football grounds around the old “ Yarra-bend “ as it was called. It was an old and decaying building then. Most of that institution has been moved to an area near Mont Park which is approximately eight miles out of Melbourne. The only establishment which remains in the city is the children’s cottages at Kew. The least said about that the better, although those cottages have been improved in recent years.
I hope the Government will give consideration to granting more assistance than it does at the present time. The Commonwealth took over the financing of the antituberculosis programme. There is a great unanimity in this House and in another place that the Commonwealth Government should be the taxing authority for the revenue required by the Commonwealth and the States to provide the ordinary services of the country. That being so, and with our revenues greatly increasing, our population growing and our industry progressing as it is, the Commonwealth Government should do more for the mentally ill than just provide £1 for every £2 spent by the States. I am not decrying the efforts of the Minister. I think that they are very good. However, I think the Government has to take the longrange view and provide more finance for health generally as well as for other purposes. The Commonwealth Government is the only government in this country which has real money. It accepts responsibilities in relation to roads and education. But in relation to mental health it is taking only a hesitant step. 1 think the Government must realize that it must provide for all these problems on a much larger scale. 1 hope that when this bill has served its purpose, and the next bill of this type is introduced, the Government will go a little further than it has to date.
I should like to mention one aspect of mental illness which worries me. I do so with some sad feeling. The number of people who have come to this country since migration began and who have unfortunately become afflicted by mental illness is much greater than one would have imagined, considering that these people have to go through the normal health examinations before they are allowed to immigrate. I am not unmindful of the tremendous privations that some of these people have suffered. From the figures I obtained from the various State health departments some little while ago and some indirect knowledge which has come to me from a woman whose husband unfortunately suffered a tremendous breakdown after World War I, I know that the number of newcomers to this country who are in our mental institutions is much greater, proportionately, than the number of Australians in those institutions. I do not want it to be thought for one moment that I om implying that they should not receive treatment equal to that which is being received by Australians. However, it amazes me that so many of these people are able to come to this country in spite of the examinations. Of course, I do not suggest that a member of a family who is mentally afflicted should not be allowed to come to this country with the rest of the family. We have to be humane in these things. But it seems to me that we could save ourselves a great deal of trouble if migrants were given a closer examination before leaving for Australia. Whilst I admit that really this matter has nothing to do with the bill now before the Senate, I have mentioned it because it is a problem that adds to the cost of building institutions which the States have a responsibility to maintain.
I do not think any honorable senator could complain about the bill. It is a bill with which the Minister ought to be very happy. I am not one of those who have any great desire to be other than proud of my own State, but I think that when we are dealing with Australia as a nation, as we should in this Parliament, we ought to ask, “ Well, why is it that some States have not spent all their money?” When all is said and done, if a State spends £1,000,000 on a building it will receive one-third of that sum from the Commonwealth. 1 do not think that any State government, irrespective of its political colour would forego the use of money when it can get at least £1 for every £2 it spends. I recognize the tremendous work that has been done in Victoria by Dr. Cunningham Dax and his assistants. It has brought some hope to those people who have relatives mentally afflicted. It has brought a ray of hope when for years it seemed as though the words “Abandon hope all ye who enter here “, could have been printed in big letters above the gates of mental institutions. 1 am grateful to those people who form committees - whether for retarded children or for those who have been certified to be mentally defective - to provide afflicted persons with opportunities to make their life a little better. Senator Wedgwood said that Mr. Mack, the Victorian Minister for Health, had stated that there will be so many extra beds for mentally retarded children in Victoria. I take it that expenditure on the provision of these beds will also be covered by the bill. As the bill refers to “ mentally defective persons “, no doubt children would be classified as “ persons “ within that definition. I thank the Minister for introducing this bill and I hope that next time he introduces legislation dealing with mental illness or general physical health the Government will consider the position of the States. The Commonwealth Government is the only Government with adequate financial resources, and it must accept more responsibility in this sphere than it has done in the past. People worry more about getting ill than about anything else, regardless of their station in life. I hope that when it deals with similar legislation in future the Government will give heed to the matters I have mentioned.
Sitting suspended from S.4S to 8 p.m.
– In continuing the debate on the States Grants (Mental Health Institutions) Bill 1964 I say at the outset that this bill repeals the States Grants (Mental Institutions) Act 1955. Notwithstanding that fact the 1955 act is still in operation and its provisions will apply until the present bill comes into operation. In considering the 1955 act I am amazed that Western Australia, with the possibility of claiming £720,000, has received assistance to the extent of only £370,778 leaving £349,222 unexpended. I should like the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) to give some reasons, if he can, why Western Australia has found it impossible to use the money offered by the Commonwealth. There are several reasons, of course, that could be submitted. One is that the State did not give a high enough priority to such a very important matter. Another is that the Commonwealth Government holds the purse strings and Western Australia, as a claimant State, despite the moderate generosity of the Commonwealth, is so held in penury that it could not enjoy the advantages of the 1955 act in order to make progress in the treatment of mental health.
Whatever the reason, mental health is a Slate responsibility. The Western Australian State Government may have communicated to the Commonwealth the reason why it has not spent much more than half of the amount available to it, whilst on the other hand a non-claimant State such as Victoria has spent all the money allotted to it.
– Tasmania, which is a claimant State, has spent all of the money allotted to it.
– That is so. lt is for the State Government to give an explanation to the Commonwealth, but 1 am disappointed that the money which was available has not been spent.
The bill is to be commended although it makes only a very small contribution to an immense and serious problem. Under it claims can bc made for the building of institutions and the provision of appliances and equipment. Although the definition of an institution in the legislation is not very clear, a fairly liberal interpretation of an institution has been given by the Minister for Health. We do not have very satisfactory statistics in Australia covering this most serious problem. Statistics have been collected1 by States and various voluntary institutions concerned with mental health but I am informed that those statistics are incomplete and that they have not been properly co-ordinated. In many cases people who accept the responsibility for caring for the mentally ill and mentally retarded children have not enough information. No proper co-ordinated attempt has been made in Australia to keep statistics.
I propose, therefore, to submit to the Senate information that was collected when this matter was examined in the United States of America. That country accepted the tremendous challenge and realized the urgent necessity to obtain information so that it could pay real attention to the problem of the mentally ill and afflicted, and to mentally retarded children. 1 quote from President Kennedy’s report to the United States Congress. He said -
Mental retardation stems from many causes. It can result from mongolism, birth injury or infection, or any of a host of conditions that cause a faulty or arrested development of intelligence to such an extent that the individual’s ability to learn and to adapt to the demands of society is impaired. Once the damage is done, life-time incapacity is likely. With early detection, suitable care and training, however, a significant improvement in social ability and in personal adjustment and achievement can be achieved.
The care and treatment of mental retardation, and research into the causes and cure, have - as in the case of mental illness - been too long neglected. Mental retardation ranks as a major national health, social and economic problem. It strikes our most precious asset - our children.
I am reliably informed by persons who have made a study of this matter that these statistics - when the population of Australia is equated with that of America - can be related to the position in Australia. The President continued -
It disables 10 times as many people as diabetes, 20 times as many as tuberculosis, 25 times as many as muscular dystrophy, and 600 times as many as infantile paralysis.
These statistics were submitted to the American Congress by the late President Kennedy. I repeat that, taking into consideration Australia’s population, the position is comparable. He continued -
About 400,000 children are so retarded (hey require constant care or supervision; more than 200,000 of these are in residential institutions. There are between 5,000,000 and 6,000,000 mentally retarded children and adults - an estimated 3 per cent, of the population.
I think that would be a reasonable estimate for Australia. The President continued -
Yet, despite these grim statistics, and despite an admirable effort by private voluntary associations, until a decade ago not a single State health department offered any special community services for the mentally retarded or their families.
In America there has been an awakening of the national conscience in relation to this problem. The position in America closely resembles that in Australia, but more attention has been given to the problem in America. President Kennedy’s national health programme envisages gaining a wider knowledge of the subject and paying more attention to it. He went on -
Menial retardation strikes children without regard for class, creed, or economic level. Each year secs an estimated 126,000 new cases. But it hits more often - and harder - at the underprivileged and the poor; and most often of all - and most severely - in city tenements and rural slums where there are heavy concentrations of families with poor education and low income.
An allied matter is the treatment of mental retardation in the backward and slowlearning child. There is a need for adequate family allowances and proper family conditions. The need for improved social services is allied to the problem and will have an effect upon it. President Kennedy continued -
There are very significant variations in the impact of the incidence of mental retardation. Draft rejections for mental deficiency during World War II were fourteen times as heavy in States with low incomes as in others. In some slum areas, 10 to 30 per cent, of the school-age children are mentally retarded, while in the very same cities more prosperous neighbourhoods have only 1 or 2 per cent, retarded.
This shows that this serious problem extends into other fields, and this bill makes only a very small contribution towards dealing with it. Prevention is one other phase with which the United States Congress dealt. I shall not read the reference in full; I shall cite only this very relevant section -
New programs for comprehensive maternity and infant care and for the improvement of our educational services are also needed. Particular attention should bc directed toward the development of such services for slum and distressed areas. Among expectant mothers who do not receive prenatal care, more than 20 per cent, of all births are premature - two or three times the rate of prematurity among those who do receive adequate care. Premature infants have two or three times as many physical defects and 50 per cent, more illnesses than full-term infants. The smallest premature babies are ten times more likely to be mentally retarded.
This bill provides no relief in relation to that problem. The subject of mental health is so confused between State and Commonwealth authorities that measures to deal with it are not properly co-ordinated and the matter is not being dealt with properly. If I have time, I shall make clear that the Commonwealth is not accepting its full responsibility. The speech continued -
An estimated 35 per cent, of the mothers in cities over 100,000 population are medically indigent. In 138 large cities of the country an estimated 455,000 women each year lack resources to pay for adequate health care during pregnancy and following birth. Between 20 and 60 per cent, of the mothers receiving care in public hospitals in some large cities receive inadequate or no prenatal care - and mental retardation is more prevalent in these areas.
The neglect of consideration of maternity allowances, family living allowances and child endowment in this country is contributing to the source of the trouble. These matters should be noted.
The United States Congress agreed that this was a federal problem. It is a national problem which should not be shelved by being passed on to the States, with the Commonwealth saying that it is a State responsibility and the States saying that they are not receiving enough assistance from the Commonwealth. While this goes on, what happens to the community? The late President Kennedy stated that the programme must be co-ordinated. A considerable grant of money was awarded on a selective basis to State agencies which presented acceptable proposals for a broad interdisciplinary planning activity. He continued -
The purpose of these grants is to provide for every State an opportunity to begin to develop a comprehensive, integrated program to meet all the needs of the retarded. Additional support for planning health-related facilities and services will be available from the expanding planning grant program for the Public Health Service which I will recommend in my forthcoming message on health.
To assist the States and local communities to construct the facilities which these surveys justify and plan, I recommend that the Congress authorize matching grants for the construction of public and other non-profit facilities, including centres foi the comprehensive treatment, training and care of the mentally retarded. Every community should be encouraged to include provision for meeting the health requirements of retarded individuals in planning its broader health services and facilities.
So in America there was no need to demand that Congress, the federal authority, should co-ordinate the programme and take proper positive action to deal with the national problem. It went ahead and made grants to the States to engage in activities on which we are now so poorly informed. These grants were not only for the provision of buildings but also for treatment and care and associated matters in which our approach is so uncoordinated. This bill relates to the provision of institutional buildings and equipment. To staff those buildings and utilize the equipment effectively, trained personnel are needed. Therefore, this is an integral aspect of the problem which must be considered. If the States cannot make a coordinated approach to the Commonwealth Government, it is the duty of the Commonwealth Government, which holds the purse strings, to co-ordinate the activities of both Commonwealth and States. The report continues -
Among the various types of facilities for which grants would be authorized, the legislation 1 am proposing will permit grants of Federal funds for the construction of facilities for (1) in-patient clinical units as an integral part of university-associated hospitals in which specialists on mental retardation would serve; (2) out-patient diagnostic, evaluation and treatment clinics associated with such hospitals, including facilities for special training; and (3) satellite clinics in outlying cities and counties for provision of services lo the retarded through existing State and local community programs, including those financed by the Children’s Bureau, in which universities will participate. Grants of 5,000,000 dollars a year will bc provided for these purposes within the total authorizations for facilities in 1965 and this will be increased to 10,000,000 dollars in subsequent years.
Such clinical and teaching facilities will provide superior care for the retarded and will also augment teaching and training facilities for specialists in mental retardation, including physicians, nurses, psychologists, social workers, and speech and other therapists. Funds for operation of such facilities would come from Stale, local and private sources. Other existing or proposed programs of the Children’s Bureau, of the Public Health Service, of the Office of Education, and of the Department of Labour, can provide additional resources for demonstration purposes and for training personnel.
That shows how wide is the attitude taken by the United States Government, as stated by the late President Kennedy, in relation to this subject. It underlines how narrow is the approach that this Government is making as a national government towards meeting this national challenge. The report continues -
Our single greatest challenge in this area is still the discovery of the causes and treatment of mental retardation. To do this we must expand our resources for the pursuit and application of scientific knowledge related to this problem. This will require the training of medical, behavioral, and other professional specialists to staff a growing effort. The new National Institute of Child Health and Human Development which was authorized by the 87th Congress is already embarked on the task. . . . Similarly, in order to foster the further development of new techniques for the improvement of child health, f am also recommending new research authority to the Children’s Bureau for research in maternal and child health and crippled children’s services.
But, once again, the shortage of professional manpower seriously compromises both research and services efforts. The insufficient numbers of medical and nursing training centres now available too often lack a clinical focus on the problems of mental retardation comparable to the psychiatric teaching services relating to care of the mentally ill.
The few brief extracts I have quoted from the message to the United States Congress by that marvellous Christian man, President Kennedy, illustrate the smallness of our approach to the problem of mental health when compared to the broad and effective national approach that is needed.
Wc have been told that Western Australia has spent only one-half of the money that has been made available to it for this purpose. If that State were able to erect additional buildings, would it be able to staff them and to provide all the necessary facilities? I do not think it would bc possible to do so, unless the Federal Government moved further into the field and took the same interest in this problem as has been taken by the Congress of the United States of America. Medical men in Western Australia have recommended getting away from the provision of custodial institutions to which people arc committed until they reach a certain standard of health or until a doctor or somebody else succeeds in getting them out. Doctors are trying to get people out of the custodial institutions and are trying to get them to take their place in the community as useful citizens. Such people may not be able to compete with people of normal mental health, but it is possible for them to associate with the public and at the same time obtain daily clinical treatment.
The bill does not provide for that approach to the problem. Many doctors, with great application to duty, are making a sacrifice to help these people, but the task is far too great for them. There are many people in the community who are in need of psychiatric treatment, but payment for treatment by psychiatrists who are practising privately is quite beyond their resources. Such treatment would be beyond the resources of even a moderately rich person. Clinics are doing a good job, but they cannot cope with the situation.
In the community there are people who are abnormal mentally and who are subject to mental disturbances which might lead them to commit criminal acts. Such persons are generally to be found in the middle class or the lower class in the community. Their condition is probably known to members of their families who are too frightened to declare the fact because the families depend on them for an income. If they are declared to be mentally unbalanced, their earning capacity ceases. The primary expense of consulting efficient medical men is such that these families are deterred from taking any action. This is a serious and not uncommon problem.
The bill is a commendable measure in that it represents a slight awakening of conscience on the part of the national Government. However, it is quite inadequate to meet the challenge of a more concentrated move against the terrible problem of mental ill health. The availability of criminal statistics is bound up in the problem. It is possible to obtain some statistics from the police, from the State Departments of Health and from people who do admirable work amongst the mentally ill in an honorary capacity, but it is impossible to obtain co-ordinated national statistics dealing with this aspect of the problem. Even with a concentrated federal effort, there will still be people who will not enter mental health institutions, because a stigma seems to attach to people suffering in this way.
– That is a thing of bygone days.
– I hope it is. I should like to be able to agree with the Minister. I do think we are gradually accepting the fact that no stigma attaches to mental ill health. Quite recently we have been told of families in which children were left without attention because parents did not wish to reveal that their children were retarded or were suffering from mental illness. Perhaps the community is adopting a new attitude to the problem. Let us pray to God that it is. If we tackle this problem nationally and ensure that families who are faced with the great responsibility of caring for a mentally ill child or adult may send that person to an institution where he will be properly accommodated and cared for, and so lift the burden from the family, we will be doing something that is worth while. At least we will not be fiddling while Rome burns.
I repeat that this is a commendable measure. But let me again ask the Government why Western Australia should be able to spend only half of the money that has been made available to that State. What will be the position under the legislation now before us if there is not a re-assessment of priorities on the part of the Western Australian Government? I think the solution lies in the need for the Federal Government to assess the priorities with the State Government. This bill should not be like a carrot held before a donkey. Surely it has been designed to achieve something. If the problem of mental health, which has caused great sorrow in the community, is handled properly by the Federal Government in conjunction with the States, the result economically will be pleasing because the nation will be relieved of the need to care for a number of persons who, although they may not be able to enter into open competition with persons who are mentally healthy, will be able to do something for themselves. President Kennedy said in his statement to the United States Congress that 35 per cent, of the mentally ill people who normally would have been a charge on the community had been lifted to the point where they had some aim in life and were no longer a direct and total charge on the community.
The Opposition supports the bill. However, I plead with the Senate and with the appropriate authorities in Australia to ensure that a more co-ordinated approach is made to the problem. With the concurrence of honorable senators, I incorporate in “ Hansard “ the following statement made by the late President Kennedy as contained in Document No. 85, 88th
Congress, First Session, and which is dated 5th February, 1963-
To the Congress of the United States:
II is my intention to send shortly to the Congress a message pertaining to this Nation’s most urgent needs in the area of health improvement. But two health problems - because they are of such critical size and tragic impact, and because their susceptibility to public action is so much greater than the attention they have received - are deserving of a wholly new national approach and a separate message lo the Congress. These twin problems are mental illness and mental retardation. (After considering these twin problems, the President continued to discuss “A national Program for Mental Health “. Thereafter he had the following to say about mental retardation.)
Mental retardation stems from many causes. It can result from mongolism, birth injury or infection, or any of a host of conditions that cause a faulty or arrested development of intelligence to such an extent that the individual’s ability to learn and to adapt to the demands of society is impaired. Once the damage is done, lifetime incapacity is likely. With early detection, suitable care and training, however, a significant improvement in social ability and in personal adjustment and achievement can be achieved.
The care and treatment of mental retardation, and research into the causes and cure, have - as in the case of mental illness - been too long neglected. Mental retardation ranks as a major national health, social and economic problem. It’ strikes our most precious asset - our children, lt disables 10 times as many people as diabetes, 20 times as many as tuberculosis, 25 times as many as muscular dystrophy, and 600 times as many as infantile paralysis. About 400,000 children arc so retarded they require constant care or supervision; more than 200,000 of these are in residential institutions. There are between 5 and 6 million mentally retarded children and adults - an estimated 3 per cent of the population. Yet, despite these grim statistics, and despite an admirable effort by private voluntary associations, until a decade ago not a single Slate health department offered any special community services for the mentally retarded or their families.
States and local communities spend $300 million a year for residential treatment of the mentally retarded, and another $250 million for special education, welfare, rehabilitation, and other benefits and services. The Federal Government will this year obligate $37 million for research, training and special services for the retarded and about three times as much for their income maintenance. But these efforts are fragmented and inadequate.
Mental retardation strikes children without regard for class, creed, or economic level. Each year sees en estimated 126,000 new cases. But it hits more often - and harder - at the under privileged and the poor and most often of all - and most severely - in city tenements and rural slums where there are heavy concentrations of families with poor education and low income.
There are very significant variations in me impact of the incidence of mental retardation. Draft rejections for mental deficiency during World War II were 14 times as heavy in States with low incomes as in others. In some slum areas 10 to 30 per cent of the school-age children are mentally retarded, while in the very same cities more prosperous neighbourhoods have only 1 or 2 per cent retarded.
There is every reason to believe that we stand on the threshold of major advances in this field. Medical knowledge can now identify precise causes of retardation in 15 to 25 per cent of the cases. This itself is a major advance. Those identified are usually cases in which there are severe organic injuries or gross brain damage from disease. Severe cases of mental retardation of this type are naturally more evenly spread throughout the population than mild retardation; but even here poor families suffer disproportionately. In most of the mild cases, although specific physical and neurological defects are usually not diagnosable with present biomedical techniques, research is rapidly adding to our knowledge of specific causes: German measles during the first three months of pregnancy, Rh blood factor incompatibility in newborn infants, lead poisoning of infants, faulty body chemistry in such diseases as phenylketonuria and galactosemia, and many others.
Many of the specific causes of mental retardation are still abscure Socioeconomic and medical evidence gathered by a panel which I appointed in 1961, however, shows a major causative role for adverse social, economic, and cultural factors. Families who are deprived of the basic necessities of life, opportunity, and motivation have a high proportion of the Nation’s retarded children. Unfavourable health factors clearly play a major role. Lack of pre-natal and post-natal health care, in particular, leads to the birth of brain-damaged children or to an inadequate physical and neurological development’. Areas of high infant mortality are often the same areas with a high incidence of mental retardation. Studies have shown that women lacking pre-natal care have a much higher likelihood of having mentally retarded children. Deprivation of a child’s opportunities for learning slows development in slum and distressed areas. Genetic, hereditary, and other biomedical factors also play a major part in the causes of mental retardation.
The American people, acting through their Government where necessary, have an obligation to prevent mental retardation, whenever possible, and to ameliorate it when it is present. I am, therefore, recommending action on a comprehensive program to attack this affliction. The only feasible program with a hope for success must not only aim at the specific causes and the control of mental retardation but seek solutions to the broader problems of our society with which mental retardation is so intimately related.
The panel which I appointed reported that, with present knowledge, at least half and hopefully more than half, of all mental retardation cases can bc prevented through this kind of “ broad spectrum” attack - aimed at both the specific causes which medical science has identified, and at the broader adverse social, economic, and cultural conditions with which incidence of mental retardation is so heavily correlated. At the same time research must go ahead in all these categories, calling upon the best efforts of many types of scientists, from the geneticist to the sociologist.
The factthat mental retardation ordinarily exists from birth or early childhood, the highly specialized medical, psychological, and educational evaluations which are required, and the complex and unique social, educational and vocational lifetime needs of the retarded individual, all require that’ there be developed a comprehensive approach to this specific problem.
Prevention should be given the highest priority in this effort. Our general health, education, welfare, and urban renewal programs will make a major contribution in overcoming adverse social and economic conditions. More adequate medical care, nutrition, housing and educational opportunities can reduce mental retardation to the low incidence which has been achieved in some other nations. The recommendations for strengthening American education which 1 have made to the Congress in my message on education will contribute toward this objective as will the proposals contained in my forthcoming health message.
New programs for comprehensive maternity and infant care and for the improvement of our educational services are also needed. Particular attention should be directed toward the development of such services for slum and distressed areas. Among expectant mothers who do not receive prenatal care, more than 20 per cent of all births are premature - two or three times the rate of prematurity among those who do receive adequate care. Premature infants have two or three times as many physical defects and SO per cent more illnesses thanfull-term infants.The smallest premature babies are 10 times more likely to be mentally retarded.
Maternal and Infant Care
All of these statistics point to the direct relationship between lack of pre-natal care and mental retardation. Poverty and medical indigency are at the root of most of this problem. An estimated 35 per cent ofthe mothers in cities over 100,000 population are medically indigent. In 138 large cities of the country an estimated 455,000 women each year lack resources to pay for adequate health care during pregnancy and following birth. Between 20 and 60 per cent of the mothers receiving care in public hospitals in some large cities receive inadequate or no pre-natal care - and mental retardation is more prevalent in these areas.
Our existing State and Federal child health programs, though playing a useful and necessary role, do not provide the needed comprehensive care for this high-risk group. To enable the States and localities to move ahead more rapidly in combating mental retardation and other childhood disabilities through the new therapeutic measures being developed by medical science,I am recommending:
Cultural and educational deprivation resulting in mental retardation can also be prevented. Studies have demonstrated that large numbers of children in urban and rural slums, including preschool children, lack the stimulus necessary for proper development in their intelligence. Even when there is no organic impairment, prolonged neglect and a lack of stimulus and opportunity for learning can result in the failure of young minds to develop. Other studies have shown that, if proper opportunities for learning are provided early enough, many of these deprived children can and will learn and achieve as much as children from more favoured neighbourhoods. This self-perpetuating intellectual blight should not be allowed tocontinue.
In my recent message on education, I recommended that at least 10 per cent of the proposed aid for elementary and secondary education be committed by the States to special project grants designed to stimulate and make possible the improvement of educational opportunities particularly in slum and distressed areas, both urban and rural. I again urge special consideration by the Congress for this proposal. It will not only help improve educational quality and provide equal opportunity, in areas which need assistance; it will also serve humanity by helping prevent mental retardation among the children in such culturally deprived areas.
As in the case of mental illnesses, there is also a desperate need for community facilities and services for the mentally retarded. We must move from the outmoded use of distant custodial institutions to the concept of community-centred agencies that will provide a co-ordinated range of timely diagnostic, health, educational, training, rehabilitation, employment, welfare, and legal protection services. For those retarded children or adults who cannot be maintained at home by their own families, a new pattern of institutional services is needed.
The key to the development of this comprehensive new approach toward services for the mentally retarded is twofold. First, there must be public understanding and community planning to meet all problems. Second, there must be made available a continuum of services covering the entire range of needs. States and communities need to appraise their needs and resources, review current programs, and undertake preliminary actions leading to comprehensive State and community approaches to these objectives. To stimulate public awareness and the development of comprehensive plans, I recommend legislation to establish a program of special project grants to the States for financing State reviews of needs and programs in the field of mental retardation.
A total of $2 million is recommended for this purpose. Grants will be awarded on a selective basis to State agencies presenting acceptable proposals for this broad interdisciplinary planning activity. The purpose of these grants is to provide for every State an opportunity to begin to develop a comprehensive, integrated program to meet all the needs of the retarded. Additional support for planning health-related facilities and services will be available from the expanding planning grant program for the Public Health Service which I will recommend in my forthcoming message on health.
To assist the States and local communities to construct the facilities which these surveys justify and plan, I recommend that the Congress authorize, matching grunts for the construction of public and other non-profit facilities, including centres for the comprehensive treatment, training and care of the menially retarded. Every community should be encouraged to include provision for meeting the health requirements of retarded individuals in planning its broader health services and facilities.
Because care of the mentally retarded has traditionally been isolated from centres of medical and nursing education, it is particularly important to develop facilities which will increase the role of highly qualified universities in the improvement and provision of services and the training of specialized personnel. Among the various types of facilities for which grants would be authorized, the legislation I am proposing will permit grants of Federal funds for the construction of facilities for (I) in-patient clinical units as an integral part of university-associated hospitals in which specialists on mental retardation would serve; (2) out-patient diagnostic, evaluation, and treatment clinics associated with such hospitals, including facilities for special training; and (3) satellite clinics in outlying cities and counties for provision of services to the retarded through existing State and local community programs, including those financed by the Children’s Bureau, in which universities will participate. Grants of $5 million a year will be provided for these purposes within the total authorizations for facilities in 1965 and this will be increased to $10 million in subsequent years.
Such clinical and teaching facilities will provide superior care for the retarded and will also augment teaching and training facilities for specialists in mental retardation, including physicians, nurses, psychologists, social workers, and speech and other therapists. Funds for operation of such facilities would come from State, local, and private sources. Other existing or proposed programs of the Children’s Bureau, of the Public Health Service, of the Office of Education, and of the Department of Labor can provide additional resources for demonstration purposes and for training personnel.
A full-scale attack on mental retardation also requires an expansion of special education, training, and rehabilitation services. Largely due to the lack of qualified teachers, college instructors, directors, and supervisors, only about one-fourth of the 1,250,000 retarded children of school age now have access to special education. During the past four years, with Federal support, there has been some improvement in the training of leadership personnel. However, teachers of handicapped children, including the mentally retarded, are still woefully insufficient in number and training. As I pointed out in the message on education, legislation is needed to increase the output of college instructors and classroom teachers for handicapped children.
I am asking the Office of Education to place a new emphasis on research in the learning process, expedite the application of research findings to teaching methods for the mentally retarded, support studies on improvement of curriculums develop teaching aids, and stimulate the training of special teachers.
Vocational training, youth employment, and vocational rehabilitation programs can all help release the untapped potentialities of mentally retarded individuals. This requires expansion and improvement of our vocational education programs, as already recommended; and in a subsequent message, I will present proposals for needed youth employment programs.
Currently rehabilitation services can only be provided to disabled individuals for whom, at the outset, a vocational potential can be definitely established. This requirement frequently excludes the mentally retarded from the vocational rehabilitation program. I recommend legislation to permit rehabilitation services to be provided to a mentally retarded person for up to eighteen months, to determine whether he has sufficient potential to be rehabilitated vocationally. I also recommend legislation establishing a new program to help public and private non-profit organizations to construct, equip, and staff rehabilitation facilities and workshops, making particular provision for the mentally retarded.
State institutions for the mentally retarded are badly under-financed, under-staffed, and overcrowded. The standard of care is in most instances so grossly deficient as to shock the conscience of all who see them.
I recommend the appropriation under existing law of project grants to State institutions for the mentally retarded, with an initial appropriation of $5 million to be increased in subsequent years to a level of at least $10 million. Such grants would be awarded, upon presentation of a plan meeting criteria established by the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, to State institutions undertaking to up-grade the quality of residential services through demonstration, research and pilot projects designed to improve the quality of care in such institutions and to provide impetus to in-service training and the education of professions! personnel.
Our single greatest challenge in this area is still the discovery of the causes and treatment of mental retardation. To do this we must expand our resources for the pursuit and application of scientific knowledge related to this problem. This will require the training of medical, behavioral, and other professional specialists to staff a growing effort. The new National Institute of Child Health and Human Development which was authorized by the 87th Congress is already embarked on this task.
To provide an additional focus for research into the complex mysteries of mental retardation, I recommend legislation to authorise the establishment of centres for research in human development, including the training of scientific personnel. Funds for three such centres are included in the 1964 budget; ultimately ten centres for clinical, laboratory, behavioral, and social science research should be established. The importance of these problems justifies the talents of our best minds. No single discipline or science holds the answer. These centres must, therefore, be established on an inter-disciplinary basis.
Similarly, in order to foster the further development of new techniques for the improvement of child health, 1 am also recommending new research authority to the Children’s Bureau for research in maternal and child health and crippled children’s services.
But, once again, the shortage of professional manpower seriously compromises both research and service efforts. The insufficient numbers of medical and nursing training centres now available too often lack a clinical focus on the problems of mental retardation comparable to the psychiatric teaching services relating to care of the mentally ill.
– in reply. - 1 am indeed grateful for the support given to this very important measure on both sides of the Senate. The speeches delivered have been interesting, informative and generally constructive. I have not the slightest doubt that the criticism which has been offered has been well intentioned. Senator Cooke in particular was very wide of the mark in some of his criticism. I feel constrained to provide him with some information on the matters (hat he has raised. That applies to all honorable senators opposite who have indulged in criticism of the bill. If I can do the subject justice I think I might bring a measure of joy to the hearts of those honorable senators, because obviously they were not as fully informed - I say this with great respect - on this subject as they might have been.
The first point I want to make is in reply to a general criticism from the Opposition to the effect that the bill is too narrow and that it does not do all the things it should - all the things which I am sure we, as individuals, would support, because this is a pressing subject full of human problems. I remind the Senate that this legislation was introduced at the direct request of the States. A request for renewal of the 1955 legislation was made at this very table at a Premiers’ Conference. The view of the Premiers was that we should re-enact the legislation and set aside a further sum of money to be expended. It is true that at that time only two States had expended their quotas. They were Victoria and Tasmania, but the Premiers of those two States had support of the Premiers of all the other States who knew full well that sooner or later they, too, would feel the need for more funds. Their request was for a renewal of the legislation which arose from what is known as the Stoller report. So I put it to the Senate that the criticism that the bill is too narrow, too confined, and does not meet the needs of the States, is not valid.
– That was not our approach to the bill.
– I have something in my locker for you directly, so wait for me. I want to deal later with one or two matters which you brought up, so please do not disturb me at this stage. That brings me to the next point, which was raised particularly by Senator Cooke, who, on many occasions during his speech, reiterated that Western Australia had not expended its quota of the money made available. That is true, and the same applies to some of the other States. Senator Cooke asked me why Western Australia’s quota had not been expended. That is entirely Western Australia’s business. The States are sovereign States and far be it from me to suggest to them what they should do with moneys made available here for specific purposes.
– Was Western Australia short of money or was its Government failing in its duty by not giving this matter higher priority?
– If you ask that of Western Australia you can ask it of New South Wales and all the other States. Nothing I say in this respect is to be regarded as criticism of State Governments, because they are sovereign governments and, as far as I am concerned, they can govern as they think fit. They are responsible to their electors, just as we are, and they have to stand on their records. So what I say is not criticism; but the simple fact is that some States did spend their allocation. The Opposition says that the bill is too narrow and too confined to be of real service to the States. Yet I believe that every honorable senator who spoke in this debate paid a tribute to what has been done in some States, Victoria in particular. Great tributes were paid to Dr. Cunningham Dax and to the progress he has made in the field of mental health, but, of course, Victoria expended every penny of the funds available to it. In one breath Opposition senators say that the legislation is too narrow and loo confined to meet the needs of the States, but in the next breath they say that Victoria has done a magnificent job: So effectively has it expended all its money that it has made a real landmark in this great field.
I believe it is true to say in passing that the last ten years have seen tremendous strides made in the endeavour to combat mental illness. For generations a person who was mentally ill was a social outcast, almost a national outcast, and of no value to the community or to society. Then, as some honorable senators have said, the day arrived when there was a completely different approach to this problem. My own State, Victoria, is a shining example of what has been done and what can be done with the aid of this so-called confined and limited legislation, so I suggest there is no validity in the Opposition’s argument. Senator Dittmer, in rather picturesque language, was quite eloquent in his criticism. If I might borrow a phrase that rather appealed to me this morning, might I say that on occasions he painted his picture with a somewhat heavy brush.
– I did that only when I was praising you.
– That is the reference of which I am speaking. Senator Dittmer sought information about institutions.
Rightly or wrongly 1 gathered from his interpretation of the word “ institution “ that he had not brought himself quite up to date on our definition of the word.
– If you look at the 1 955 act you will see what your definition of “ an institution “ is.
– I have no intention of misquoting what the honorable senator said or of doing him any injustice. Indeed if time will permit me to develop my theme I will bring some joy to his heart, because I know he is very sincere in his approach to this problem. I repeat that I do not think he has brought himself right up to date on what the Commonwealth means in this legislation. In other words, his interpretation of the bill does not do the legislation justice and does not encompass the field that we intend it to cover. I will, therefore, refer to some notes which I have, so that I will be specific in what I say and can be held to it if necessary. A “ mental health institution “ means an establishment which is carried on principally for the treatment of mental illness and includes a mental hospital, an admission centre, a day hospital such as the new hospital at Broughton Hall in Sydney, a mental health clinic or a sheltered workshop. That is our interpretation of what is to be regarded as a mental institution for the purpose of capital expenditure. Surely that is the widest possible field that could be covered in meeting the needs of the mentally ill.
Honorable senators opposite have claimed that a psychiatric ward will not qualify for a capital grant. That is true, and yet it is not true. Let me explain why. A psychiatric ward has to be established in certain circumstances to become eligible for a capital grant. A psychiatric ward which formed a part of a general hospital would not qualify for a grant under this bill, and this is the reason why: Under the National Health Act patients in a psychiatric ward within a general hospital qualify for full hospital benefits under the National Health Act, and it is the Government’s policy that there should be one Commonwealth contribution only. Whether that contribution is to be towards capital cost or maintenance can be determined by the authority responsible for the administration of the institution. That is why in some States psychiatric wards are established as adjuncts to public hospitals. Patients in these wards qualify for full hospital benefits and are entitled to pensions. I may have something to say about that directly. The psychiatric ward established separately from a general hospital - perhaps in nearby premises - qualifies for capital assistance but not for hospital benefits. It has been said that a person has to be certified in order to be admitted to some of these institutions. That is true, but it is not necessary for the institutions to house certified patients in order to be eligible for capital grants. In other words, day centres and receiving centres where people go voluntarily for treatment automatically qualify for subsidies under this legislation. I say, again, that the interpretation we place on this legislation is as wide as we can possibly make it.
There has been a good deal said about the need for educating mentally retarded children. I cannot agree with that more. 1 cannot think of a more harrowing experience for a layman to go into some of these wards and see these little people whose bodies are perfect, whose appearances are most attractive, and yet have a mental deficiency that is tremendously handicapping their way of life. The people who labour in these fields are worthy of our highest commendation. Some of these people who are dedicated to this work spend hour after hour and day after day with little children trying to get them to say just an odd word here and an odd word there. This, of course, is a work that should bc supported by every person in the community. Any one who criticizes what is being done to-day criticizes their own State government. I do not go along with that criticism because I believe that the States are doing a magnificent job in this field.
– In some cases, yes.
– They have always accepted responsibility for education, and this is in the education field. Never once have I heard a State Premier ask the Commonwealth Government for a specific grant for education. This is a field in which the Slates themselves accept responsibility, and would rightly say to the Commonwealth Government, “ You keep out of this field. We have the know-how and the equipment to discharge our responsibilities adequately for the people we represent.” I believe that in this field of education of mentally retarded children the State governments are doing a magnificent job. And, regardless of party, the contribution that this Government is making to education could not be a better one. I remind the Senate that in all three or four fields that have evoked criticism from honorable senators opposite, this Government is doing a mighty good job.
As far as capital expenditure is concerned, we again say to the various States, “ Here is a piece of legislation which for the next three years will place no limitations whatever on the amount of the contribution we make to you for mental health requirements under this bill on a £1 for £2 basis “. The previous legislation set a ceiling in terms of money. You may ask, “ Why on this occasion do you not have a money ceiling? Why do you have a time ceiling?” Honorable senators opposite have criticized their own States for not taking up their allotted quotas. We would like to see something more being done for these people. We say to the States, “ For the next three years we suggest to you that you give this requirement in your Budget the highest possible priority and we will place no financial limitations upon our contribution, having regard to the requirements of the act.” Surely that is a positive approach that this Government is making for the needs of the mentally ill. Our record in the capital expenditure field is a very good one.
I turn now to hospital benefits. One honorable senator said, “ I cannot understand why, when a person goes into a mental institution, he does not receive hospital benefits or a pension “. Let me again remind the Senate that in many mental institutions to-day patients qualify under the National Health Act for full medical benefits, and they receive them. Our interpretation of this act is as generous as we can possibly make it. Then again we have the old criticism raised, “ Why, when a person is certified, is he not permitted to draw his pension? “ Senator Anderson gave the perfect answer if any one wanted to know the reason, but this might well be something which you could call a political hobby-horse and say, “ Let us give him a spur along “. Senator Anderson pointed out to the Senate that as soon as a patient is certified his estate passes into the hands of the Master in Lunacy. Who in a realistic frame of mind would stand up in their place and urge that the taxpayers’ money should be diverted into an estate to be handled by the Master in Lunacy? That is not of any real value to a mental patient. It is not going to serve his purposes, lt is not going to give him any amenities of life while he is an inmate of the hospital. That is practically the only field in which the Commonwealth Government is not making a substantial contribution; and it is because the Master in Lunacy takes complete control over the patient’s financial affairs. Therefore, we suggest to the people who criticize us that whilst State laws provide that the patient’s estate shall be handled by the Master in Lunacy no justification can be logically put forward for the claim that the Commonwealth Government should make a contribution by way of a pension for a person while he is in that state of mind.
– Does he stop eating?
– Of course, he does not. Senator O’Byrne does not want to face facts. He does not want to admit that the State governments hang on to their laws relating to the estate of the patient, and that if the State governments want this situation relieved it is up to them to make the first move. I suggest that no useful purpose can be served, as far as patients in these fields are concerned, while you try to pin on the Government a responsibility that you cannot substantiate and that the people will not support. It is entirely a matter for the State governments to handle. Whilst they choose to have it on its present basis, then there is no justification for argument that the Commonwealth Government should make a contribution.
Nobody has said in this Senate during my hearing anything about the magnificent contribution that the Commonwealth Government makes towards pharmaceutical benefits for mental patients. The Commonwealth reimburses the States for the costs of pharmaceutical benefits supplied to patients in mental hospitals. Not one person has said that the Government is to be commended for that contribution. It has been said, “ You make a capital contribution and nothing else “. I have proved already that we are making a capital contribution, a hospital contribution, a pension contribution in certain circumstances, and a pharmaceutical benefits contribution. The basis of reimbursement was agreed upon between the Commonwealth and the States - it was complete agreement. It is similar to the reimbursement which applies to public hospitals, namely, a proportion of the total drug costs plus a percentage mark-up to cover the costs of dispensing. The basis of payment for mental hospitals includes an additional special allowance for tranquilizer drugs because of the greater extent to which these drugs are used in mental hospitals.
The march of science in this field - and I am sure that Senator Dittmer, being a medical man, will agree with me - has made a magnificent contribution to the progress that has been achieved in the healing of the mentally ill to-day by providing drugs that were not previously known to the medical world. It is also doing a splendid job in caring for people who are neurotic. People who just cannot cope with life are being kept in useful employment and being enabled to live useful lives because of the great contribution that science has made in this field.
– It is medical scientists along with other scientists.
– Obviously it is medical scientists.
Two States, namely New South Wales and Victoria, have not finalized their claims for payment for 1962-63. I quote the following figures because they are interesting and because they indicate that the Commonwealth Government is making a real contribution in this field: The four other States have received payments of £152,853 or 83 per cent, of the total drug costs of mental hospitals in that year. It is estimated that a further £382;000 will be payable for New South Wales and Victoria when their claims are received. This is an impressive figure - over £500,000 for drugs! To show that we have a soul, I shall add a final paragraph of which I am particularly proud because it indicates that special arrangements have been made to ensure that patients who have been discharged from mental hospitals and who need to continue treatment with tranquilizing drugs may receive these drugs as pharmaceutical benefits. Any one with any knowledge of these drugs knows that they are very costly; but who quarrels with the cost of them if they provide relief that cannot otherwise be obtained?
Whilst our critics are entitled to pick out segments of what we are doing in the field of mental health and criticize us, I remind them that this legislation has been prepared at the special request of the States. I remind them, too, that in relation to capital expenditure, hospitalization, pensions and pharmaceutical benefits, we have a record of which we are particularly proud. I need add only this: I am certain that the last word has not been spoken on this subject. 1 believe that as time goes on we in the Commonwealth Parliament will bc able to make added contributions in the field of mental health. We have been searching for ways - and I am not telling secrets out of school - whereby we can, Under our present policies of helping individuals, do something that will enable the States to render better service. It may be in the scientific field. 1 am not going to forecast in what fields we will eventually bc able to make a contribution. But I would like honorable senators on both sides of the chamber to know that the Government realizes that the problem of mental health strikes right at the heart of every individual, regardless of his political leanings. I want honorable senators to know that we who are charged with the responsibility for the time being of administering the Department of Health are determined to persevere with the inquiries and research we are making so that we may at some time in the future make even a greater contribution in this field.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Senator DITTMER (Queensland [8.54].- I congratulate the Minister, as I did last night, for his extraordinary courtesy. I may add that the criticism that has been levelled in this debate has not been levelled at him personally but at the Cabinet of which he happens to be a member. The Opposition contends that clause 4 should be considered in conjunction with clause 8. Knowing the Minister’s approach and the characteristics so constantly associated with his make-up, I believe he will accept this simple suggestion. However, in case he is under directions from his Government not to accept this proposal, I shall develop some arguments to support it. Clause 4 says -
In this Act, “mental health institutions” means an institution carried on exclusively or principally for the care and treatment of mentally ill or mentally defective persons, being an institution conducted by, or in receipt of a grant for maintenance from, a State.
I did hear the Minister define, not so very long ago, what constituted a mental institution. I spoke last night - not at great length as honorable senators will admit - about this definition, with the object of giving the Government a way out to assist people who could be embraced within the ambit of this legislation.
This measure will replace the States Grant (Mental Institutions) Act 1955 in which, irrespective of what the Minister may have sought to convey to this august chamber, the definition of “ mental institution “ contained an escape provision. I appreciate that if the decision rested with the Minister personally he would have taken advantage of this escape provision; but knowing the callousness of the Government, I realized that it would not permit this The States Grant (Mental Institutions) Act 1955 stated -
In this Act “ mental institution “ means -
a hospital for the insane;
a mental hospital;
a reception house;
a receiving house; or
any other similar institution, that is conducted by a State or is in receipt of a grant for maintenance from a State.
I emphasize the escape provision, “ any other similar institution “. I invite the Minister to say in definite, not airy-fairy terms, because this is important to the nation, to those afflicted and to their relatives, what is meant by “ any other similar institution “. I think that that phrase leaves the door of assistance wide open. It could apply to any psychiatric institution.
The Minister knows what an institution is, I defined it for him last night in basic English. It is an establishment or organization. When there is an escape provision such as paragraph (e) to which I have referred, it means that the door is wide open to the States. I hope they will take advantage of it. I know that if this matter is left in the hands of the Minister, he will see that the States are granted everything that they seek on behalf of the mentally ill.
Proceeding further in the definition of “ mental institution “ in the old act we find the words “ conducted by a State “. That is quite simple. Every one knows, in the light of the specific terms, what an institution is, but here is my query. The Minister will appreciate that this is a simple request. I seek to make the legislation more efficient and to provide him with an opportunity to expand the aid authorized by this bill. The debate will be simplified if this clause is considered in conjunction with clause 8. 1 am puzzled by the words, “or in receipt of a grant for maintenance from, a State “. Last night the Minister did not answer the queries which I courteously posed to him. 1 paid him a well-merited tribute. No senator on this side and, I am certain, no senator on the Government side has other than the greatest regard and respect for him, not only for his courtesy but also for the efficiency of his administration within the limits of the control imposed on him. He did not answer all of my queries, possibly through an oversight. I want to know what constitutes a grant by a State to a mental institution. If the Minister agrees to my suggestion to defer consideration of clause 4 and to consider it in conjunction with clause 8 we can discuss this matter further.
Will he define what is meant by “ mental health institution “ in this dragnet clause? Will he also define what is meant by the words, “ in receipt of a grant for maintenance from, a State “? What constitutes a grant? Is it a gift in cash or kind? Does a grant represent anything from a threepenny piece to £3,000,000? The Minister did not answer the questions I raised last night. 1 know that he had to answer many queries and I am sure that had he thought of it he would have answered my questions. I know that when he rises he will clarify the picture and remove the clouds from the minds of members of the Opposition. One thinks of the many voluntary organizations that receive financial assistance by way of gifts of food. Many organizations are established by the States but at present those organizations are not acceptable, under the terms of the previous net, for financial assistance. The Minister has a responsibility to reply to my questions.
Tt is extraordinary that since I have been a member of this chamber legislation of a humane type involving social responsibility and economic assistance is introduced towards the end of a session when the
Government hopes that the elected representatives of the Opposition will let such legislation be rushed through.
– You can be certain that it won’t be the end of next week so far as the Opposition is concerned.
– We are considering important legislation, and I pay a tribute to the Minister for it, but I seek a clear definition of what is meant by certain words.
– Read the act itself.
– I read the 1955 act and the definition in it of a mental institution. If the honorable senator was not here or was not sufficiently interested lo listen when I quoted it, I will tell him privately to-morrow or he can read the act for himself.
– This bill repeals the old act.
– Let me finish the story. The Minister has the responsibility of clarifying the position. How wide, or how restricted, is the definition of “ mental institution “? The Minister also has the responsibility of defining what is meant by the words, “ in receipt of a grant “. I formally move -
That the clause be postponed.
– The first point I want to make is designed to clear a misapprehension in Senator Dittmer’s mind. He suggested once or twice that if 1 were in control of this legislation it might be more leniently administered than otherwise. I assure him that I am merely the spokesman for the Government; and the Government is the spokesman for those members who sit behind me. It is as simple as that. I am not flattering anybody when I say that during the last two or three years the members who sit behind me have urged day in and day out that something be done for mentally handicapped people. The honorable senator has seized his opportunity as a member of the Opposition to do likewise, but I assure him that I am merely the Government’s spokesman representing the people who sit on this side of the chamber. Their interpretation is the one that I am obliged lo write into the legislation which I will administer.
The honorable senator asked “ What is a mental health institution? “ And he quoted from the old act. I refer him to clause 4 of this bill which commences with the words, “ In this Act “. That indicates that this provision is different from what was contained in the original legislation. The clause actually contains the words “ In this Act, ‘ mental health institution ‘ means “. I shall go further and set out in detail our interpretation of “ mental health institution “. It is an establishment which is carried on principally for the treatment of mental illnesses and includes a mental hospital, admission centre, day hospital, mental health clinic or a sheltered workshop.
I remind the honorable senator who posed these questions that this legislation has emanated from the Ministry of Health. Our whole responsibility is to administer to the needs of mentally handicapped people. For that reason our energies must be confined to facilities, equipment and capital expenditure that provide for the care of these people. Do not run away with the idea that educational facilities or recreational facilities, can be provided under this bill. That may well be something that some other department at some future time may interest itself in, but as far as I am concerned our responsibility is to provide for the health of these people, and that, therefore, is the whole purpose of this legislation.
– To house them. That is your basic approach. You will provide walls and equipment for them.
– We go a long way further than that. There is no need for me to elaborate again. The honorable senator then posed the question: What is a State grant to an institution? Is it 3d. or is it £3,000,000?
Suppose that a State Government were to say: “We have £3,000,000 to spend this year on our mental health institutions. Can you find us £1,500,000 “? The answer would be, “ Yes “.
– Take the broad principle I enunciated.
– To suggest that the amount might be 3d. is to reduce the debate to a farcical level. What the Government says in this legislation is that in the next three years we are prepared to match without financial limitation any contributions that a State Government may wish to make towards building and equipping mental institutions covered by the legislation, lt is as simple as that. Again I repeat that we are determined to administer this legislation as generously as possible remembering, of course, that we have our limitations under the Constitution and that the States have their responsibilities. If an assurance is wanted I can say without equivocation that we will do our utmost to administer the legislation in the best interests of the people that it is designed to help. For that reason I can see no useful purpose in agreeing to the postponement of the debate on clause 4.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 (Financial assistance for period from 1st July, 1964, to 30th June, 1967.)
– According to the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) and other honorable senators opposite, the sky is the limit to the amount available to the States under this particular clause. I realize that theoretically no limit is imposed. The bill provides that money shall be made available on the basis of £1 contributed by the Commonwealth to £2 contributed by the State Governments for expenditure on capital structures and equipment from 1st July, 1964 to 30th June, 1967. Do not let us delude the people. Let them have a clear picture of what the Government really intends. The Government may erect a facade. It may paint a rosy picture and try to create the impression that it is prepared to provide unlimited funds in this field of medical endeavour. From’ a practical point of view the Minister has a greater knowledge than I of the capital structures required for the care of those affected by mental disease. He and his advisers know the requirements, and the wording of this clause and the time limitation incorporated in it probably were based on that knowledge. The Minister has administered other departments as a member of the Government and he knows that capital structures cannot be erected as easily as he would have us believe.
As honorable senators know, thought has to be given to the need for a particular type of structure. It takes time to consider what equipment is required, whether the land is suitable and where to locate the structure. Then questions arise as to the preparation of plans and their submission to the various authorities - not only the State authorities concerned but also the voluntary organizations that might be assisted by way of a grant from the State. The proposal has then to be submitted to the Commonwealth Government. All these preparations take time. It is not a matter of days. Somelimes it is not even a matter of weeks. It could be a matter of months. After all the necessary approvals have been obtained tenders have to be called and considered. When a decision has been made the successful tenderer has to be notified. Then questions concerning the time required for completion of the building have to be gone into.
Let us consider some of the structures that have been completed by the Commonwealth. We find that it takes about six months to complete a building costing £150.000 or so. Even when the Government has had a site, when it has known what it wanted and has prepared the plans accordingly and let the tenders, it has taken anything from fifteen to eighteen months to erect the building.
– How long does it generally take to prepare the plans?
– If you want to check what I am saying you may go to the government files or talk to some of your parliamentary associates on the Government side. They will bear out that what I am saying is, as usual, truthful, and completely consistent with the facts. The time lag depends on who is doing the job, how urgently it is regarded, who is the architect and who is driving the architect. But I am speaking of common practice and procedure associated with governmental control.
– You sound like a socialist.
– I am not ashamed of being a socialist. The Government parties are going further and further along the road of socialism. They retain a measure of success because they are borrowing policies from this side of the chamber.
Let me proceed with my argument. Having determined the site, the purpose for which it is to be used and the type of building to be erected thereon at an estimated cost of £400,000, do honorable senators know how long it would take to complete the building? This is a concrete example I do not believe in making statements unless I can give examples. The procedure is as follows: A site has to be selected. Then the organization must have an idea of the building it requires for the purpose it wishes to serve. Honorable senators know just how long the preparation of plans takes. On a conservative basis the preparation of plans, the calling of tenders, the receiving of tenders and the notification of the successful tenderer would take more than twelve months. Honorable senators know also that it would take two years to complete a building. If the times are checked it will be found that that has happened under the so-called efficient administration of the Government led by Sir Robert Menzies. How can the Minister talk in terms of the sky being the limit of the amount the Government will make available under clause 5 of the bill? What sort of structures of a capital nature can be put up costing less Shan £300,000, £400,000 or £500,000? How can a State government plan for the future when it is not given any indication of the Commonwealth’s intention? If, by misfortune, the present Government is returned at the next election what will be the position? Why cannot the Government give some indication that it proposes to continue paying this gran*, under similar, better or worse terms? Why does not the Government give some indication of its ultimate intention?
– Perhaps it docs not know.
– I would not be so rude as to suggest that. I think that at least the Government has tried to think about this matter.
– Tell him not to interrupt.
– I will not help you again. . . u_…….. -
– I do not want any help either from my side or the Government side. I shall deal with the matter in my own inimitable way.
– Order! The honorable senator would help me if he would get on and deal with the clause being discussed.
– I am dealing with the clause and discussing the matter of time. I have shown that it takes at least three years to erect a building. The Minister has said that the sky is the limit and that the Government is prepared to make available any amount of money. I am within my rights in dealing with this matter in my own way and I will do so. 1 am discussing the clause from the point of view of time and the practical aspect of this particular problem. No one is going to stop me from doing that. I have a right to do so and, just quietly, I will see that I get my rights. I hate to be upset. I was going along quietly dealing with the position from a practical point of view. I have mentioned the necessity for the determination of a site, the preparation of plans, the calling of tenders, the letting of tenders and then the time required for the completion of the building.
I know that the Government which is in control of the treasury bench pays tribute to the sovereign rights of the States, but how would the Minister for Health like to be in the position of a Minister for Health in one of the State Governments? He would not know what the future held. A State Minister is not able to plan major projects. He may be able to plan minor projects but he cannot plan major ones. I do not deny that there is a measure of merit in this bill. Very early in my speech last night I paid an extraordinary tribute to the Minister for the little value that was in the bill. Do not let us be under any misapprehension.
The Minister knows the value of the help given by the Government to the States. I believe that in no small measure the Minister for Health in Victoria, Mr. Mack, and the Victorian anti-Labour Premier, Mr. Bolte, are responsible for this bill being brought in. I pay tribute to the Victorian Government for the extraordinarily good job it has done, no doubt under the guidance of Dr. Cunningham Dax, in the field of curative and preventive measures for mental diseases.
When the Minister refers to clause 5 he should be realistic and not make false claims about how much money is to be made available. The Government knows now how much will appear in the Estimates in the coming year and it knows that that amount will not increase substantially during the next three years. The States cannot plan in any big way. Why does not the Minister exhibit that foresight which is usually characteristic of him and inform the Senate what the future holds after 30th June, 1 967? If he were to do that clause 5 would be of some value. That is the contribution I wish to make to the debate on this clause. I have dealt with the clause in relation to the time required for the construction of buildings and the necessity for a practical approach to problems associated with those unfortunate people who suffer from mental diseases.
– I rise for no other purpose than to set Senator Dittmer’s mind at rest. He has dealt with the time factor in this legislation. The first point I should like to make is that there are only two States that have had their construction programmes held up because of lack of Commonwealth support.
– Victoria and Tasmania.
– That is so. I think it is reasonable ,to assume that the other States have a progressive plan for the extension of their services and that plans for new buildings can be picked off the drawing boards at any stage. I pass to my second point. I do not think I am telling tales out of school when I say that Victoria and Tasmania are so advanced in their planning that as soon as the announcement was made by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in his policy speech I was asked by those two States when they could submit their plans for my approval.
– They have been squealing since 1961.
– I rose to set your mind at ease and I hope that the information I have given has done that. The two States the honorable senator is concerned about - Victoria and Tasmania - have their plans at the stage where they are ready to proceed. Only this afternoon two honorable senators on this side of the chamber indicated that Victoria was now ready to make a huge increase in expenditure on mental health. I assure the honorable senator that on this count he has nothing to fear.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 6 and 7 agreed to.
Clause 8 (Expenditure for purposes of this Act).
. -Irise to ask for information. I refer to paragraph (a), sub-paragraph (iii) of clause 8 which refers to the alteration of a building used, or to be used, for the purposes of a mental health institution. I should like to know whether the bill envisages any help being given to some organizations which at present are working in substandard buildings. These organizations have purchased buildings to give assistance to mentally afflicted children and their accommodation needs extension. In many cases the organizations are not receiving State grants as they try to be independent. They receive money by public subscription, and in some cases, by the sale of the handiwork that the children are taught to make.
The organizations have incurred a terrific amount of expense in buying these buildings and in altering and equipping them. I wonder whether any encouragement could be given to these organizations by way of grants under this legislation. Have the children under their care to be declared insane - I do not know what else you can call it - before any grant can be made to help these voluntary bodies?
– The institutions or organizations to which the honorable senator refers must receive a State grant in order to be eligible for a Commonwealth grant. She suggested that they were battling on, trying to be independent. I am sure that with her persuasive capabilities she could convince these organizations that their endeavour is so valuable to the people whom they serve that there is no room for an independent spirit to be manifested. Let her please not misunderstand me. I believe that these organizations should be encouraged to make application for all the assistance that they can get. Surely it could never be argued that they were losing their independent spirit if they asked for Commonwealth grants. We say that the qualification must be that they first receive State grants.
– Has any consideration been given to matching with a Commonwealth grant the amounts received by voluntary bodies from the State, from public subscriptions, or from their own efforts?
– The answer is “ No “. The requirement is that the State government must make a grant. We shall then under the original 1955 legislation provide £1 for £2. Perhaps the thinking of the honorable senator is getting into the field of social services legislation and grants under the Aged Persons Homes Act. Throughout the Commonwealth, organizations which are rendering a service to the mentally ill are in the main subsidized by State governments and are in many instances the direct responsibility of Slate governments. For that reason, we have drafted our legislation to meet the needs of the greatest number in this field.
– When the Government was determining its all-embracing approach as regards assistance in the erection of capital structures, was consideration given to the maintenance of buildings that were already erected and buildings that were to be erected? Was consideration given to assistance for patients other than in the form of pharmaceutical benefits? I concede that what the Minister said about that was correct. He referred to payment of pensions to a master in lunacy. In all simplicity and perhaps in a measure of ignorance I ask whether, when a master in lunacy is entrusted with the property of a person of private means, he is charged with the responsibility to provide amenities and facilities for the patient who may be confined to a mental institution. I should be grateful for an answer, because various Government supporters have said that pensions are not paid in these instances as they would have to be paid to a master in lunacy. That would, apparently, be lunatic on the part of the Government.
– I am sorry to keep on about these voluntary organizations, but I am interested in them because of the wonderful work that they do. Suppose that one of them raised £20,000 for a special project which would not be in any way the subject of a Commonwealth grant, and made that money a gift to the State to expend on a building for the purpose. Would it then be able to get a grant from the Commonwealth? This would seem to be a tortuous way of doing it, but I cannot see why such organizations could not get around the requirement in that way. I could put the idea into their heads.
– Senator Tangney raises a hypothetical case to which I cannot give an intelligent answer. I said earlier that our interpretation of this legislation would be generous, but of course we would have to remain within the ambit of the act itself. I think that it is up to State governments to come to us with proposals which will meet the requirements of the legislation. We shall not be found wanting.
asked a question about capital structures to which I give a short answer. This legislation is the product of a request from the State Premiers. This is what they have asked for, and I believe that we are justified in saying that they are in the best position to know what they require.
– Did they not ask for any more than this?
– They want an extension of the original 1955 agreement.
– They did not ask for any more?
– Speaking from memory and subject to correction, I say “ No “. As I understand it, this is what they asked for. He also asked for information concerning masters in lunacy. I am sorry that I cannot help him. These are State officers. The authority and power vested in them may well differ from State to State.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 9 and 10 agreed to.
– I should like to thank the Minister for his courtesy and for the advice that he has given. I trust that later when other legislation along these lines is in view he will consider some of the points that we have raised. They have been raised not in any niggling spirit but because we are united in trying to help the mentally ill. I thank the Minister for the help that will be provided by this bill, even though we do not think that it is quite enough.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wade) read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
I wish to place before the Senate proposals for new legislation to replace the present Commonwealth Aid Roads Act which expires on 30th June, 1964, and to provide for grants to the States for roads in the five years from 1st July, 1964. In preparing this legislation we have had the benefit of many viewpoints expressed in representations from organizations and individuals. We also discussed Commonwealth aid for roads and the terms of this legislation with the State Premiers in Canberra in March. Before outlining the main provisions of the bill, however, I should like to say something in general terms about the problem of roads finance and the role of the Commonwealth in the provision of such finance.
In recent years, associated with the rapid growth and rising prosperity of Australia, there has been a spectacular increase in the ownership of motor vehicles. Over the last ten years the number of vehicles on Australian roads has risen from 1,800,000 to 3,200,000, an increase from approximately two motor vehicles for every ten persons in 1953 to nearly three for every tcn persons in 1963. Although still somewhat lower than in the United States of America and Canada, this is nevertheless one of the highest levels of motor vehicle ownership in the world.
Increasing motor vehicle ownership has, of course, led to increasing use of roads and to the need for far higher expenditures on roads. Thus, in 1950-51 total expenditure on roads, as defined by the Commonwealth Statistician, amounted to £41,000,000. Now it is running at about £160,000,000 per annum. More significant still, in that earlier year expenditure on roads was 1.1 per cent, of gross national product; it is now over 2 per cent. Much of this great rise in expenditure has been financed by the Commonwealth.
Roads, of course, are only one branch of Australian economic development. Governments must also provide rail, port and air facilities, housing, education, health, water and sewerage services, and power supplies, to mention only some of the more important. In considering what resources can be made available for roads it is necessary to keep in view these other competing demands as well as the still larger and more varied needs of the private sector of the economy for resources to encompass the growth of industry. Without doubt, however, the roads problem is one of the largest confronting Australian governments to-day and the Commonwealth is fully alive to its implications, both for the efficient running of the economy and for community life. Much has been said and written lately about the need for larger roads expenditures and a number of assessments have been put forward. The Government has considered all these and has obtained much light from them. Necessarily, however, we have had to make our own assessment of what resources should be allocated to roads, in the context of fastdeveloping needs in other sectors.
From the financial viewpoint, roads have become one of the major items in the Commonwealth Budget. In the current year Commonwealth aid roads grants will be £58,000,000 and, in addition, we are currently spending about £10,000,000 on roads in the Territories and on special roads projects in the States. Primarily, of course, the Commonwealth role remains a financing role, the main responsibility for construction and upkeep of roads resting with the State Governments and their local and municipal authorities. But, in order that the Commonwealth Government may be adequately informed on the developing roads situation, it is proposed to establish a Commonwealth Bureau of Roads and a bill for that purpose will be brought down later in this session.
Briefly, then, the main provisions of this bill are as follows: - First, the legislation will cover a period of five years from 1st July, 1964. Secondly, subject to matching contributions by State Governments in respect of that portion of the grant known as the additional grant, the Commonwealth will make available to the States over the five-year period a total sum of £375,000,000 for the construction, re-construction and maintenance of roads. Thirdly, within this total of £375,000,000, a basic grant of £330,000,000 will be payable to the States by the Commonwealth distributed over the five years as follows: -
Fourthly, in addition to these basic grants of £330,000,000, further sums totalling £45,000,000 will be payable to the States on the basis of £1 for every £1 allocated by the State Governments from their own resources for expenditure on roads over and above certain base amounts. These arc the amounts required to be allocated by States for roads expenditure in order to qualify under the present legislation for the additional grant in 1963-64. The amount of such additional grants by the Commonwealth will be subject to annual limits as follows: -
The annual limit applying to each State will be proportionate to its share of the total grant as determined by the distribution formula. Fifthly, the State Governments will be required to ensure, as under the present legislation, that not less than 40 per cent, of funds made available by the Commonwealth will be spent on roads in rural areas, other than highways, main roads and trunk roads. State Governments will be free to allocate the remaining 60 per cent, for roads expenditures as they think appropriate. Sixthly, the amounts made available by the Commonwealth will be distributed, as under the present legislation, between States in the proportion of 5 per cent, of the total for Tasmania, and the balance between the other five States on the basis of one-third according to population, one-third according to area, and one-third according to motor vehicles registered.
Seventhly, the provision in the present legislation permitting the States to spend up to £ 1 ,000,000 of the amount made available by the Commonwealth each year on works other than road works connected with transport by road or water will be renewed. Lastly, the provision in the existing legislation permitting the States to make payments for or in connexion with research relating to the construction, maintenance or repair of roads will be extended to include research relating to planning and design of roads.
I shall now say something on each of these main provisions. The first is the term’ of the legislation. The present act has had a term of five years. In earlier days, CommonwealthState agreements on roads were set up for ten years; but that proved too long. Conditions changed and the agreements had to be altered. A three-year term was then tried, but the States found it too short for planning purposes. A five-year period seems about right and it is proposed that the new legislation run from 1st July, 1964, to 30th June, 1969.
After weighing many considerations, to some of which I have already referred, we reached the view that a fair and adequate contribution by the Commonwealth towards roads expenditure in the States over the next five years would be made by providing for an aggregate sum of £375,000,000 to be payable to the States. This represents an increase of 50 per cent, on the amount of £250,000,000 being provided in the current five years. If requirements as to matching contributions are fully met, the annual amount provided by the Commonwealth to the States under the new legislation will rise from £65,000,000 in 1964-65 to £85,000,000 in 1968-69, the annual increase being £5,000,000. 1 may point out that, besides the proposed State grants of £375,000,000 it is currently estimated1 that the Commonwealth will spend at least £45,000,000 in the next five years on roads in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory and on roads in the States, including projects such as the beef roads in Queensland and Western Australia and the Gordon River road in Tasmania. In consequence, the total contribution by the Commonwealth to roads expenditure over the next five years will certainly not be less than £420,000,000. As a matter of interest, total expenditure on roads by all authorities in Australia over the five years of the legislation will probably have been about £750,000,000. What total sum will be provided by State Governments and their municipal and local authorities for roads in the five-year period ahead cannot be estimated at all precisely. It can however be said that if in total these authorities also increase their expenditures on roads by 50 per cent., as we are proposing to do, total roads expenditure over the next five years will be well above £1,100,000,000.
As I have said, within the total grant of £375,000,000, an amount of £330,000,000 will be paid to the States regardless of their expenditures on roads from their own resources. This portion of the grant is referred to in the bill as the basic grant. Besides the basic grant, a further amount of £45,000,000- described as the additional grant - is payable to the States, subject to their making matching contributions on a £ for £ basis over and above base amounts. The matching provision is designed to give the States an incentive to allocate more money for roads expenditure each year from their own resources. With large and increasing contributions being made by the Commonwealth for roads, it is only right and proper that the States should do likewise so far as their resources make possible. Revenues from various State taxes on motor vehicles and motorists have grown considerably and, with the growth in the number and use of motor vehicles, their resources will, without doubt, continue to grow. As I have mentioned already, the base amounts against which the matching contributions of the States will be measured will be the amounts it was necessary for the States to allocate to roads in the year 1963-64 in order to qualify under the present legislation for the full amount of additional grant payable in that year. The States will also be required to spend any amounts that they set apart from their own resources during a year no later than six months after the conclusion of the year.
Under the two previous Commonwealth Aid Roads Acts, those of 1954 and 1959, the States were required to spend each year not less than 40 per cent, of their Commonwealth aid roads grants on roads, other than highways, trunk roads and main roads, in rural areas. This was to encourage and assist improvement of secondary roads in rural areas and thereby assist the primary industries and those who work in them. The Government considers that these reasons still hold good and that the provision should be continued in the new legislation. That view was generally supported by the State Premiers. I may point out that since the States themselves have very considerable resources of their own which can be used for roads expenditure at their discretion on any class of roads, this reservation of Commonwealth moneys for rural roads applies to only a small fraction of the total finance available for roads. The amount required to be allocated for expenditure on rural roads constitutes only about 15 per cent, of total roads expenditure, taking Australia as a whole. As regards the State of Victoria, it is, I believe, only about 9 per cent, of total allocations for roads in that State.
However, a change will be made in the accounting arrangements. Under the present act the States must actually spend on rural roads 40 per cent, of the total amount they receive within a year. This has created difficulties for some States where, for various reasons, expenditure has not actually been incurred during the year, and it is now proposed that our requirements will be met if the prescribed proportion is either spent or set apart for expenditure in the year in question and actually spent within six months after the end of the year. This requirement will also be stipulated for the remainder of the grant.
It will be recalled that when the current legislation was framed, there was an alteration in the formula which had governed the distribution of Commonwealth road grants for many years previously. A new factor, the numbers of vehicles in the respective
States, was introduced and instead of the total grant being split as to three-fifths according to population and two-fifths according to area, with 5 per cent, of the total reserved for Tasmania, it was provided that the grant should be distributed among the States one-third according to population, one-third according to area and one-third according to numbers of vehicles, with 5 per cent, of the total again being allocated to Tasmania. That change was justified chiefly on the ground that the road systems of the more densely -settled States were coming under heavier pressures through the concentration of industry and the consequent growth in commercial and industrial transport. At the same time it was still recognized that those States which have large areas to develop and a lower density of population, have a relatively greater need for aid in the development of their road systems. Hence, while the formula was altered to improve in some degree the relative positions of New South Wales and Victoria, the area factor was retained.
At the Premiers’ Conference in March, each of the Premiers put his State’s point of view on this issue. The Commonwealth Government took the view that this is primarily an issue between States. However it became evident that the States could not agree on any change in the formula, and the Commonwealth could not see any compelling reason, particularly under these circumstances, why a change should be made. The existing basis of distribution is therefore to be continued and provision to that effect is made in this bill.
As at present, the distribution of the grant for any financial year will be based on the population figures shown in the latest available census and on the figures of motor vehicles registered as at 31st December in the preceding financial year. Ordinarily this will allow the distribution to be calculated before the commencement of each financial year and will avoid the need for adjustments during the year to take account of revisions to statistics of population or motor vehicles. However, to avoid having to make adjustments to the grant for a particular year after it has been paid, it has been decided to introduce a new clause which will have the effect of finally determining the distribution of the grant for a year shortly after 31st December in that year. On the distribution formula proposed and on the present figures of population and motor vehicles, New South Wales will receive approximately 28 per cent, of the total Commonwealth grant; Victoria 19.7 per cent.; Queensland 18.2 per cent.; South Australia 11.5 per cent.: Western Australian 17.7 per cent, and Tasmania 5 per cent.
A section in the existing act allows the States, in aggregate, to spend up to £1,000,000 per year on works other than roads connected with transport by road or water. Most of the Premiers requested that the provision be retained, so the Government decided to include it in the new legislation, with some minor modifications to make clear the precise intention of the clause. Under another permissive clause in the existing act the States may spend Commonwealth aid roads moneys on research into problems of road construction. A good deal of importance has been attached to this purpose since, according to some authorities, far too little research of that character is undertaken in Australia. “Following representations made by the Premiers it was decided that the provision in the existing legislation permitting the States to make payments for or in connexion with research relating to the construction, maintenance or repair of roads should be extended to include research relating to planning and design of roads.
One matter to which I wish to refer specifically is that of finance for road works in metropolitan areas. Strong representations were made to the Government by the lord mayors of capital cities, municipal councils and other parties, in favour of a specific allocation of funds for this purpose and we considered the matter very carefully. However, there are considerable practical difficulties in the proposition and we also found, at the Premiers’ Conference, that the Premiers were all opposed to any provision of this type and they made it clear that their governments were well aware of the importance of these roads and the special problems associated with them but said that they did not desire any express provision for those roads in the new legislation. Like the present legislation, the new legislation will, of course, provide that any portion of the road grants, other than the 40 per cent, reserved for rural roads,, may be passed on by the States lo their municipal and local authorities for expenditure on roads and this leaves the -States entirely free to assist metropolitan councils to the extent they consider desirable.
I commend the bill to honorable senators. We believe that, through its provisions, the Commonwealth is measuring up in ample. degree to its share of responsibility for the upkeep and improvement of the nation’s roads. Under it the State Governments will be assured of having, each year for the next five years, large and increasing grants for roads expenditure, adding up to a formidable total for <the /period. To emphasize the magnitude of our Commonwealth roads commitments let me cite two points. First, in 1968-69, the last year of this legislation, the Commonwealth will almost certainly be providing, all told, for roads expenditure, about £100,000,000 per year. That will be more than ten times the amount the then Commonwealth Government provided in 1949-50, the year in which we took office. Secondly, under the current act and the bill now before the House, the Commonwealth will have made available over ten years roads grants to the States totalling £625,000,000. That will be more than twice as much as was provided for such grants over the previous 30 years since Commonwealth aid to the States .for roads began in .1923-24. More than ever before the state of our roads system is a matter of interest and concern for people at large, wherever they live or whatever their occupation. But it is also a matter of great economic significance. Increasingly it is true that efficient transportation of people and goods is vital for overall economic efficiency and good roads are a first requisite of efficient land transportation. It has been in full awareness and appreciation of this fact that the Government has framed these proposals.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cohen) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 23rd April (vide page 867), on motion by Senator Wade -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– There being no objection, that course will be followed.
– In February, 1962, a little over two years ago, we had the report of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry before us. That body recommended that the various authorities concerned with the promotion of wool, research and other activities should be combined under one authority. In December, 1962, we had before us the Wool Industry Bill which repealed all prior legislation and replaced the old Australian Wool Bureau with the Australian Wool Board. The scheme of the act provided for a board of eleven members elected on the nomination of the Australian Wool Industry Conference, except for the chairman who was elected on the nomination of the board. The Australian Wool Industry Conference was a new non-statutory body that was set up to comprise representatives of the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. It was the main advisory board in relation to this great industry and functioned with 25 members under the chairmanship of Sir John Crawford.
The functions of the board were set out in section 24 of the act and, apart from the duty to attend to wool promotion, there was written into that particular section a new obligation for the board to investigate all possible methods of marketing wool and to bring back reports on that matter. Under section 25 of the act the board was instructed to set up the Wool Marketing Committee. Its members were appointed by the board and its function was to as speedily as possible examine all possible approaches to the marketing of wool and to bring back to the Wool Industry Conference recommendations as to the best method to pursue in the marketing of wool. Grouped under the board under that legislation were the Australian Wool Testing Authority, which is appointed by the board itself, and also the Wool Research Trust Fund, the moneys from which had to be expended on the recommendation of the board. It had two ancillary bodies, the Wool Production Research Advisory Committee and the Wool Textile Research Advisory Committee. The obligation of those bodies was to advise the board on the matters within their competence. Finally, there was vested in the new board control of the Commonwealth Wool Stores.
At that time there were two levies imposed on wool growers. One levy was at the rate of 10s. per bale, on a flat rate contribution basis regardless of the value of wool, to be devoted to ‘wool promotion, and the proceeds were paid to the board. There was no government subsidy to that particular levy on the growers. There was a further levy of 2s. per bale, again on a flat rate basis, which was supplemented by a subsidy from the Government of 4s. per bale. As I have already indicated, the proceeds of that particular levy were devoted to wool research.
When we debated this matter in 1962 the Senate canvassed very fully the important place that the wool industry held in the Australian economy. There was no difference of opinion between the two sides in the Senate. We all agreed that the fate of the Commonwealth and its peoples was heavily involved in the welfare of the industry itself. For that reason the industry has always attracted a great deal of Government support and interest. Our heavy dependence on wool is one of the factors that unfortunately causes concern in the Australian economy because for all the wealth that it produces, it is a commodity that is subject to seasonal fluctuations as to quantity. Also it is largely at the mercy of prices determined not by people in Australia, but by overseas buyers who take, as the Minister indicated, some 95 per cent, of our clip year after year. It is certainly important to everybody that the wool industry thrive and, where necessary, is protected. One of the factors that makes the Australian economy a dependent economy is the very great fluctuations in price that occur from time to time and the rise and fall in yield. We have noticed that even in the last month the price of wool has fallen by 10 per cent. This, of course, is a most serious matter, not only to the woolgrowers but also to the whole of the people of Australia.
The bill does not disturb the broad lines of the legislation that was passed by this Parliament in December, 1962. It makes changes mainly in three things. It makes a change in the levies; it provides for Government subsidies where they did not exist before in relation to wool promotion and it deals with the borrowing powers of the Australian Wool Board. Those, I suggest, are the three main purposes of the bill. The acts that impose the existing levies are to be repealed. The levies are, as I have mentioned, 10s. per bale for wool promotion, which has yielded annually about £2,500,000 and which attracts no government subsidy, and 2s. per bale levy for wool research, which has been yielding about £500,000 per annum and attracting a subsidy of approximately £1,000,000 per annum. These are being replaced by a tax on an entirely different basis - a tax which is not to exceed 2 per cent, of the sale price of the wool. This levy is to be determined by regulation on the recommendation of the Wool Industry Conference. The charge of 2 per cent, is estimated, according to the figures before us, to yield some £6,750,000 per annum. If that could be equated to a flat rate per bale on the 5,000,000 bale wool clip, it would work out at 27s. per bale. So, this bill takes a momentous step forward in increasing the levy upon the woolgrowers from 10s. per bale to, in effect, the equivalent of a flat rate of 27s., overall.
– That is for promotion?
– No, that 27s. is for everything. I say to the honorable senator that that is for all purposes the contribution from the levies upon the actual wool-growers. I shall develop the theme a little more fully as I go. As I have indicated, this is an increase of 17s. per bale. One must acknowledge that this is an exceedingly substantial increase, and one that certainly must have a real impact upon the fortunes and the finances of the woolgrowers.
The next outstanding feature is that the Government proposes to pay two amounts over to the Australian Wool Board. In the first place, all the levies that are collected from the wool-growers will be paid over - that is, £6,750,000, less a sum of or equivalent to 2s. per bale. The 2s. per bale that is exempted from payment to the Wool Board will go into the Wool Research Trust Fund, and there will toe supplemented by a subsidy of 4s. per bale from the Government. Incidentally, that payment of the levies is expressed to be made year after year for an indefinite period. The Government will pay a subsidy for a limited period of three years. The Government’s contribution will be equal to the total amount of the levies less a flat rate reduction of 10s. per bale. In other words, the growers themselves will pay what was the original levy of 10s., yielding £2,500,000 per annum; next they will pay £4,250,000, and then, presently, the Government will pay another £4,250,000. From the second payment of subsidy, there will be a deduction of 2s. per bale for research. So, the sum of 12s. per bale will be deducted from the amount paid over by way of subsidy. In actual fact, with the levy and the subsidy the total amount raised will be £11,000,000, whereas, formerly, on the basis of a flat rate levy of 10s. per bale, £2,500,000 was collected. So, overall, the industry is to benefit to the extent of an additional £8,500,000 which will be paid in practically equal contributions by the industry itself and by the Government.
– Does that include the 4s. per bale that the Government pays?
– No. That is quite separate. It is the next point I was about to make. It includes only the 2s. that the growers are to pay. That is deducted and is paid into the Wool Research Trust Fund. The contribution from the Government, as I understand it, will be a separate matter entirely.
I have indicated already to the Senate that the new levy will be at a percentage of the sale price of wool. One must face the fact that if the levy were a flat rate per bale instead of a percentage based on sale, the equivalent would be, with subsidy, a payment of about 44s. per bale. The Government, of course, would be contributing the equivalent of 17s. for that.
There are two interesting features of these proposals. The first one that I have already mentioned is that there is now a levy on the sale value, and not a flat rate tax of 10s. The Minister very properly points out that this is a far more equitable procedure. I agree with him. I think it establishes the good principle that the wool-growers should pay according to the returns that they obtain for their wool rather than a flat rate based upon the mere existence of bales, all treated as being of equal value for the purpose of the levy. But what strikes me as extraordinary - I invite the Minister to comment upon this - is that the principle of a flat rate levy having been discarded on the ground of inequity it is rather extraordinary that the Government should retain the same inequitable principle by refusing to match the first 10s. per bale of the levy paid by the wool-growers. The whole principle of a fixed 10s. per bale is still maintained when the Government comes to calculate how it will pay subsidy. It seems to me extraordinary that the Government should claim - and properly claim - credit for getting rid of the flat-rate levy and then, when in calculating its own subsidy, persevere with the principle it has discarded. I invite the Minister to comment upon that. Now I come to the history of the subsidy for wool promotion. I have indicated that the new percentage tax would, if equated to bales at a flat rate, be the equivalent of 27s. I point out that when we were discussing the wool industry in this chamber in 1962 the Opposition moved to provide for a subsidy. At that time the levy was 10s. only and I had the honour on behalf of the Opposition to move, on 6th December, 1962, an addition to the motion that the Wool Industry Bill be read a second time as follows: - but the Senate having in mind the great impact of the wool industry on the Australian economy is of opinion that woolgrowers should not be called on to provide the whole of the funds required for thepurposes of the bill and that a matching contribution of not less than 10s.. per bale should be made by the Commonwealth
We made that a highlight of the debate on that occasion. We moved other amendments in committee, but the addition of those words was the highlight. We recognized the vast importance to the Australian economy and to every person in the country of the wool industry prospering. The whole country had as much interest in wool promotion as had the woolgrowers themselves. That debate took place not more than eighteen months ago. Yet what happened? Every Government member in the Senate, with the exception of Senator Wright who voted with the Opposition, opposed the proposal completely. I think I am correct in saying that Senator Wade, who was in charge of the bill on behalf of the Government, rejected with scorn the idea that the wool industry would sink by taking a subsidy.
– That is not quite fair.
– They were not his exact words, but so that I cannot be accused of unfairness I shall quote what the senator said. He said -
The plain hard facts are that never once in the history of the wool industry has it asked any government for one shilling for promotion - never once. Of course, this is a golden opportunity for the Opposition to say, in effect: “You do not know what is good for your industry. By way of this amendment we will make available to you an extra 10s. a bale. It is true you have not asked for it. It is true you have not said how you can use it, but we will see that the taxpayers of this country provide for you an extra £2,500,000 a year even though you have not asked for it and even though you have not declared how you want to use it. I repeat that the Government has. always recognized that these people are independent people, who, with a sturdy independence, have been determined right down through the years to manage their own affairs and that no government interference shall sway them in their determination to frame and carry out their own policies. No mention at all has been made of the fact that the Government does make a contribution of £2 for every £1 contributed by the industry for research: I emphasise that the Government has always declared that research is the field in which it can make its most valuable contribution. I say again that the industry has never asked for a contribution towards the cost of wool promotion, and, if I know the industry it will hesitate before it ever does ask because it values its independence so greatly.
I would say, in relation to the Minister’s interjection, that my brief summation of his comments was not far from the mark.
He treated, with scorn -
– No, with some eloquence.
– Yes, some eloquence. I was delighted to have the privilege of reading aloud the Minister’s comments. I admired the firmness with which the Minister asserted the view that the industry was so independent it would have nothing to do with the subsidy. Not long after that the International Wool Secretariat conceived a five-year plan for a much larger programme of wool promotion. It came up with a proposal that if a flat rate basis were adopted it would involve the growers in a contribution of 44s. a bale lt is a matter of history that when that proposition was put to the Australian woolgrowers there was a great deal of hostility exhibited, some rather violently on occasions. There certainly was great resistance to the proposal.
Last October, on the eve of an election and with the knowledge of what the Labour Party had put forward in 1962 and had repeated during the election - that it was prepared to give to this industry a subsidy of 10s. a bale - the Government came to the rescue of this industry, which was determined never to sacrifice its independence, and undertook to provide about £4,250,000, the equivalent on a flat rate ‘basis of 17s. a bale on 5,000,000 bales. That was a very substantial contribution. This was one more instance, repeated time and again in recent times, of the Australian Labour Party putting forward dynamic progressive policies, finding them resisted with vigour by the Government, and ultimately, following continued pressure and by virtue of the arguments presented, finding the Government adopting them. We take a lot of pride in that. We can exhibit several trophies of this kind along the wall - a national policy of some kind in housing, education, northern development, and in the provision of equalized petrol prices in Australia. Each of those topics has been the subject of pressure from the Opposition in recent times. That fact indicates that the real fighting force and the real dynamic force in the Federal Parliament is the Australian Labour Party. This now is one more scalp that we can claim. The Government has changed its mind rapidly, and I am delighted to say quite handsomely, if not generously. Our proposal would have been to have matched the contributions by the wool-growers £1 for £1. Everybody in this nation has an absolutely equal interest with every wool-grower in the promotion of wool and its successful marketing.
The third feature of the bill is a relatively minor matter. Whereas the 1962 legislation authorized the Australian Wool Board to borrow for purposes of the wool testing authority, that power is now being extended to all purposes of the board. This is understandably necessary, because the levy will come in slowly. It will begin to operate as from 1st July, and it will take time before the Commissioner of Taxation collects it and the Government pays it over to the Australian Wool Board. In the meantime there are commitments by the board to the International Wool Secretariat for this great new promotion programme which is on the point of being launched. lt is essential that the board should be able to borrow against the levies that are to come to it and to be supplemented by subsidies from the Government. The Opposition has no objection to that particular proposal but we come to the point where we must ask the question, which is aimed at the very base of these changes: “ Why the need for the increased funds, the higher levy and the heavier supplement by way of subsidy?”
I made inquiries into the activities of the International Wool Secretariat and I encountered barriers. I was unable to get access to the constitution of the secretariat. I think all honorable senators know that it is a body made up of representatives from the wool authorities of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The secretariat has a constitution, of course, but the secretariat has never published it. To an extent, one can understand why it would not do so. The secretariat is promoting wool against fibres and is faced with all kinds of difficulties. It is operating in a world of rather fierce competition. I suppose it would be of no advantage to the secretariat to disclose to the world at large how it is constituted, why it is constituted and how it operates. One can understand why it does not do these things, but I think the time is coming when it will not be possible to maintain that type of approach any longer for the very reason that was foreshadowed by the Minister back in 1 962.
At this stage the taxpayers of Australia are providing £4,250,000 of their money and the major part of it is being paid over, along with the levy, to the secretariat. Every taxpayer in Australia has a vital interest in knowing what happens to that money. There will be pressure to obtain more and more information concerning the constitution and the activities of the secretariat
I have learned, mainly from the report of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry, that until 1961 Australia, New Zealand and South Africa had equal voting rights on the International Wool Secretariat. That arrangement has now been changed. Australia now has seven members on the secretariat, New Zealand three and South Africa three.
Australia has always made the major contribution of funds to the secretariat. The present contributions to the budget are 64 per cent, from Australia, 24 per cent, from New Zealand and 12 per cent, from South Africa. As I understand it, these percentages were based upon the average contributions for the last few years - I do not know how many years. One sees from those figures that Australia - rather properly, having regard to the fact that it contributes far more than 50 per cent, of the total funds required - now has a majority on the secretariat.
The organization has an executive committee of seven, and here again Australia has a majority. I was unable to obtain information on the secretariat’s budget or to ascertain how much money it collects and how much it expends. Of course the secretariat has resources apart from the contributions of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. I was interested to receive to-day a copy of the “IWS Wool News” by courtesy of the department. The copy is dated 1st May. It contains an article in which reference is made to the fact that Mr. Vines, the managing director of the International Wool Secretariat, had held a meeting in London on 1st May at which he announced some details of the new wool promotion scheme. The article concludes with this paragraph -
The textile industry had shown remarkable interest in joining the I.W.S. in its promotional projects, he said. Textile industries have made money available to promotional programmes controlled by the I.W.S. and their contributions have more than doubled in recent years - “They are now running into several million pounds”, Mr. Vines concluded.
Of course nobody in this Parliament has any knowledge whatsoever of the moneys that are available to the secretariat. This is the first time that I have been aware that it had funds from this particular source. One cannot help but be interested in learning how much money the secretariat handles, what are the sources of its funds and how those funds have been expended.
I am sufficiently realistic to understand that the secretariat could not be expected to set out its whole programme for the world to see, as we in the Parliament do at the beginning of the year. The secretariat is engaged in a fiercely competitive field and it certainly would not want its competitors to know just how much it had allocated to one particular medium of advertising. It would not want the world to know, or its competitors to know, just where it proposed to launch intensive campaigns to establish wool testing and wool promotion depots, as it has done and is doing throughout the world. But now that the taxpayers of Australia have a great interest in this matter I see no reason why, at the end of a period, we should not at least be given general figures indicating, perhaps, how much money is spent on radio campaigns, how much is devoted to television, how much is spent on newspaper advertising, how much is spent on meetings, and generally the type of expenditure made ‘by the secretariat. When the government subsidy leaves this Parliament and goes to the Wool Board one can envisage it travelling in toto over to the International Wool Secretariat. The moment funds leave this country they are completely beyond the control of the Australian Auditor-General. We cannot look to the Auditor-General for any information at all as to what happens to the funds. As I understand it the secretariat has its own firm of auditors. It is the noted London firm of Layton, Bennett, Billingham and Company. I have no doubt that the secretariat’s accounts and affairs are scrutinized just as meticulously as our own Attorney-General would scrutinize them. Nevertheless, this is our money. It is money provided by the taxpayers as well as by the levy on wool-growers, and it goes right beyond our ken. While it is without doubt that the Australian Wool Board, the Australian Wool Industry Conference, unquestionably the Department of Primary Industry and the responsible people in the Government have knowledge concerning the way in which the money is spent, the Parliament certainly has none. It seems to me that since this Parliament is a contributor, the International Wool Secretariat must begin to unbutton and give us a little more information than it has done in the past. I do not think that I am asking for anything unreasonable when I press that point.
The reason for the vast increase in the levy and in the funds that are being made available for wool promotion is, of course, the five-year plan that has been made by the secretariat. As the “ IWS Wool News “ from London indicates, when Mr. Vines addressed some 200 members of diplomatic and government trade staffs, wool brokers, bankers and commercial trade representatives, he said that the secretariat was then on the threshold of the biggest operation in its 27 years of history. Quite obviously it will have about four times the funds it has hitherto had. It is proposing to spend £16,250,000 a year over a five-year period. In Australia, the Australian Wool Board has undertaken to contribute 64 per cent, of that amount. This will cost Australia in levies and subsidies about £10,400,000 every year.
– I do not think that would be the total.
– According to the Minister’s second-reading speech it will cost us that. As I indicated, we will collect about £11,000,000. Of that amount £600,000 will be retained for promotion in Australia and the Minister’s second-reading speech indicates that it is expected that £10,400,000 will go direct, through the Australian Wool Board, to the International Wool Secretariat.
This is certainly a fascinating industry and I am amazed, with even a superficial glance at the structure of the International Wool Secretariat, to see how comprehensive it is and its activities in so many countries. It has regional directors appointed everywhere doing tremendously virile work - pioneering and enterprising work - at the moment in promoting the use of wool. I direct attention again to the fact that the Government is not providing the full amount of subsidy matching that of the wool-grower.
In the 1962 measure an obligation was cast upon the Australian Wool Board to report regularly to this Parliament and to produce a budget of its receipts and expenditure from time to time. We had a complete record of what was going on. There is nothing in this legislation - despite the large amount of £4,250,000 that this Government is making available - to require the International Wool Secretariat to give any report, either direct to the Government, or through the Australian Wool Board, to the Parliament. The Minister did indicate that the Australian Wool Board would give a comprehensive report to the Government on the operation of the International Wool Secretariat, but that is only a statement in a second-reading speech. Nowhere is there imposed any obligation upon the board, and certainly an obligation is not imposed on the International Wool Secretariat, to make information available which, I think, should properly be given to the Parliament henceforth and not merely to the Government. When I press for that information I am not concerned to have the promotional functions of the board sabotaged in any way by a premature disclosure of its activities.
I come now to another matter that has interested me very much. That is the new approach to wool marketing by this Government. Hitherto the Government has adopted the attitude, expressed many times, that it was impossible to get unity amongst the wool-growers as to the best method of selling their wool. One organization favoured one method and the next another, and wool-growers generally were divided on the proposition. But I see emerging now, not only from the Australian Wool Board but also from the International Wool Secretariat, a very strong new conception. They realize now - and the Government belatedly is realizing - that there is not much use in focusing attention upon promotion alone as promotion is inseparably tied up with wool selling and the price that can be obtained.
I direct attention to a report from the Australian Wool Board to the Australian Wool Industry Conference dated 20th June, 1963. It is annexed to the first annual report of the Australian Wool Board for 1963. The report states -
The Board recognizes that the present system of marketing wool can be improved and will certainly examine a reserve price plan or any other alternative with an open mind.
It says further -
The Board regrets that it is not able to make a recommendation on marketing at the same time as it asks the industry to give consideration to making substantially more money available for promotion but, unfortunately, there has not been any authority reponsible for marketing . . .
Let me repeat those words - . . there has not been any authority responsible for marketing, whereas the Australian Wool Bureau and the International Wool Secretariat have been responsible for promotion, with the result that the investigation into promotion had been carried out before the Board was appointed.
Then the International Wool Secretariat itself at a meeting held in Melbourne in October and November, 1962, in one of its recommendations connected with the fiveyear plan, had the following to say in paragraph (2)-
To recommend to the Boards Bureau and/or to the woolgrowers of the three countries:
That is Australia, South Africa and New Zealand -
The board itself really repeated that in two final paragraphs when it said -
– Would you agree with that?
– So do I.
– The point I wish to make is the dilatoriness of the Government in taking action on the marketing side of this industry. The Opposition has been pressing the Government for years and years to address its mind and energies to that great problem.
– Tell us about 1952.
– I know about 1952. You tell us about it if you are going to speak.
– I am going to speak in a minute.
– I realize that and I will be very happy to give the honorable senator the same patient hearing that he has given to me. For years the Opposition has been pressing the Government to prepare and submit to the wool-growers a plan for organized marketing that would have the approval of the majority - at least 60 per cent. - of them. The Constitutional Review Committee back in 1958 unanimously recommended that a referendum be held to enable organized marketing bodies to be set up in Australia. The committee had in mind wool particularly and its significance in the Australian economy. Every one on the committee agreed to that proposal. No organized marketing can be soundly based constitutionally unless we have constitutional change. Neither the States nor the Commonwealth can, surely and with certainty, establish an organized marketing scheme that may not be open to attack. The first duty to this great industry is to provide legal machinery to enable organized marketing to be established on a sure constitutional basis. In that respect the Government has been shockingly lacking. It has not even addressed its mind to one of the 22 ‘recommendations that the Constitutional Review Committee made, sixteen of which including the one relating to organized marketing, were unanimous. The Government established the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry to inquire into marketing amongst other things. Its report rendered a great service in reviewing all possible approaches to marketing methods but the committee decided that it could not select one for adoption. However it urged that provision be made for marketing. Following that, the Government in the 1962 legislation gave to the Australian Wool Board power not to engage in marketing but to investigate it. A committee was appointed as was obligatory under the 1962 legislation, to go into the question of marketing. We still have no report from that body. I understand that a report is likely to be made in about June or July to the industry.
What my party and I are concerned about are the wasted years in relation to what is a most fundamental matter to this great industry, namely, marketing of its raw product to the greatest advantage. The Government has not given true leadership in this matter. It admits that there is a divided industry that cannot make up its mind. That is the very point at which the Government should step in, because every man, woman and child, whether in the industry or not, has an interest in it. Its fortunes, good or ill, reflect throughout the whole community. We on this side of the chamber feel that there has been a great waste of time. In the meantime, we have seen fluctuations such as the substantial fall that occurred in the past month. From inquiries that have taken place it is known - the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry conceded - that combinations and pies of different types operate amongst overseas wool buyers. They combine not for the good of the Australian wool-grower but for their own good. We consider that the Government is deserving of reproach and censure in not having addressed itself more urgently to the vital matter of marketing.
I know that the Government is concerned about the industry. Its legislation of 1962 and the present legislation indicate that clearly The greatest service that the Government could now render would be to comply with the request of the secretariat and adopt the opinion of the board that it is urgent to get an organized base of marketing established. That is the great problem in which we think the Government has lacked vigour, enterprise and leadership.
The only other point upon which I wish to comment is the position of the Australian Primary Producers Union, which is strongly representative of wool-growers. It presses, and we of the Opposition press, for its inclusion in the Australian Wool Industry Conference, the body that provides most of the advice. We were told in 1962 by the Minister that it really ought to be included. As reported at page 1788 of the “Hansard” record of 6th December, 1962, the Minister stated -
However, the Government notes with approval that the constitution of the Wool Industry Conference makes provision for the inclusion of other organizations under the terms set down, and considers it would be appropriate - and indeed the Government urges to that effect - if an agreement were reached between all organizations to enable a complete industry voice to be expressed through the conference. It might also be said that a nonstatutory body whose membership can be modified by mutual agreement among organizations offers full scope for the development of unity in the wool-growing industry.
That was in December, 1962. As far as I understand the position, neither the A.P.P.U. nor any other body has been admitted to the sanctum sanctorum of the Australian Wool Industry Conference. I should like to know whether the urgings of the Government have been continuing since December, 1962. I should like the Minister to tell the Senate why an outstanding body such as the A.P.P.U. is still not represented on the conference. I am prepared to support the Minister’s proposition that unity is highly desirable. He may have information for the Senate which will give us some hope that that unity is about to be approached.
Mr. President, I have now completed the comments that I wish to make upon the measure at the second-reading stage. To give point to the criticism that I have voiced, I now move) -
Leave out all words after “ That “, insert “ The Senate declines to give the bill a second reading as, in the absence of arrangements for a poll of wool-growers in relation to an orderly marketing plan, the proposals increase the contribution by the wool-grower for promotion purposes greatly above a rate equivalent to 10s. per bale and fail to the extent of IDs. per bale to match the wool-growers’ contribution with a Government contribution “.
– The word “that” appears a number of times in the bill. Which particular “ that “ do you mean? It is customary to mention the line and the page.
– If the honorable senator will refer to the original motion, he will see that it is -
That the bill be now read a second time.
My amendment refers to the first word in that motion. We propose that all subsequent words be left out and that the other words in my amendment be inserted.
– Why not follow the old custom and mention the particular line on the page?
– The Australian Labour Party is a progressive party. It does not like following old customs. Its mind is forward and future looking and outward thrusting. That is the answer to the honorable senator’s question.
– I rise to support the bill and in the few moments that I have available to-night I advise the Senate that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), in moving his amendment, seeks to kill a bill which the Government has brought down at the request of the Australian woolgrowers. The Leader of the Opposition, on behalf of the Australian Labour Party, has proposed an amendment which, if carried, will mean that the bill will not go forward. In that event, the wool-growers’ request for some system of promotion in Australia and throughout the world to enable them to obtain a greater price for their commodity will be refused. That is what the amendment means. We should have to start all over again.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I should like to detain the Senate for a few minutes to discuss the migration of Poles to Australia. Great difficulties are experienced by Polish migrants and their nominators. Except in the case of approximately 1 per cent, of these migrants who are permitted to pay their fares in Polish currency, the fares of nominated Poles are paid for in Australian currency by the nominators, with the result that when the migrants arrive with their families they already have a burden of debt around their necks. Naturally, they are not allowed to bring money out of Poland.
I do not think this matter falls within the administration of the Department of Immigration. Rather do I think it comes under the administration of the Department of External Affairs or the Department of the Treasury. The difficulties experienced by the nominator are very pronounced. The nominator not only pays the migrant’s fare in Australian currency, hoping of course to be paid back at some time in the future, but also has to give a guarantee to the Polish Embassy in Warsaw, through the British representative in that city that, if the migrant does not wish to remain in Australia he will pay the fare of the migrant and his family back to Poland. This arrangement is preventing a great number of people from bringing out their relatives from Poland. One gentleman desired to bring out his cousin, his wife and two children. The result is that he will be held responsible for the payment of a sum of approximately £1,400.
I should like the Government, through the Department of External Affairs, to come to some agreement with the Polish Government whereby migrants may pay their fares out of their own funds in Poland which otherwise they would have to leave behind. Migrants are allowed to bring out only a few pounds for personal expenses. All their other assets are left behind, with no chance of their getting them out of that country. An agreement such as I have suggested would assist the migration of Poles to this country. I ask the Government to take note of these facts and to see what can be done to help such migrants and their nominators.
– The matter raised by Senator Cole discloses that obviously the country concerned does not want to allow its people to migrate to Australia and so puts great difficulties in the way of intending migrants. I shall certainly bring the matter to the attention of the Government and see whether anything can be done to overcome the problem.
– I raise for the consideration of the Senate a matter in relation to the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act. I approached the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) about it in the early part of last year. I again raised it on 17th October. 1963. during the debate on the Estimates. On that same night the present Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) indicated that he would look very closely at what had been said about all the cases of alleged maladministration of the act and would trace as far as possible the basis of, and the reasons for, the charges that had been levelled against particular officers. I did not level a charge against a particular officer, but I did cite this matter as an instance of maladministration. Notwithstanding what was done by me and what was said by the Minister, the matter is still unresolved.
Let me outline the history of this matter. On 6th November, 1958, a Mrs. Mary Hinton was injured during the course of her employment in the canteen which was “operated by the Royal Australian Air Force -canteen service at the base at Richmond near Sydney, in New South Wales. The canteen service ceased to exist on 30th June, 1939. After much correspondence between the organization and Mrs. Hinton’s legal representatives, the Australian Services Canteens Organization, which had come into existence, wrote to Messrs. J. J. Carroll. Cecil 0’Dea and Company, the solicitors acting for Mrs. Hinton, and said that the organization was the successor to the canteen service and under Commonwealth statutory rules had accepted responsibility for all outstanding matters affecting the Royal Australian Air Force canteen service, including workers’ compensation claims under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act. The letter requested Mrs. Hinton to fill in the claim forms which were enclosed with the letter. That was done.
On 23rd November, 1961, after numerous delays on the part of the Commonwealth, one J. Heffernan, a delegate who was appointed by the Commonwealth pursuant to the act, determined the claim in Mrs. Hinton’s favour. I have the original notice of determination which was sent to her. It is sufficient to say that the determination by the delegate was that she had sustained personal injury by accident arising from or in the course of her employment by the Commonwealth on 6th November, 1958, namely, an injured back, and that liability was admitted under section 9 of the act. Following this determination, private solicitors ‘acting for the Union Insurance Society of Canton Limited ‘lodged an appeal against the determination. This was a private insurer, acting for the canteens organization. Notwithstanding the fact that Mrs. Hinton lived near Richmond in New South Wales, that the accident occurred in Richmond and that the determination was made in the New South Wales branch of the Commonwealth department concerned the appeal was lodged in the County Court in Melbourne. This, of course, placed an extraordinary and impossible burden on a private citizen resident in New South Wales.
Owing to the way in which these matters are conducted the person concerned does not know exactly what case will be put up on appeal and, in any event, in this case Mrs. Hinton would have been forced to take medical evidence - she would have had to get the evidence of the doctors who were aware of the history of the case and had dealt with her at various times - down to Melbourne. This is a ridiculous and impossible situation for any one to be placed in; nevertheless, for a considerable time, despite representations by Mrs. Hinton’s solicitors, the canteens organization and those acting for it would not budge.
Ultimately I referred this matter to the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), and on 6th June, 1963, he wrote me a letter which, with the concurrence of honorable senators, will be incorporated in “ Hansard “.
I refer to your inquiry as to the possibility of the appeal - M. M. HINTON v. the Australian Services Canteens Organization - being heard in Sydney in ‘lieu of Melbourne where it tas been lodged with the County Court.
It appears to me that this question is one which can only be negotiated between the legal representatives of the respective parties, with the application being made, for any requisite leave or consent, to the Courts concerned - the County Court, Melbourne and the District Court, Sydney - which, it is envisaged, would also determine the venue if the parties are unable to reach agreement.
I note that Mrs. Hinton’s solicitors, in writing to their Melbourne agents on 20th ‘September, T962, requested the latter to take up with the Organization’s solicitors the question ot the proceedings being transferred to Sydney. It is not apparent whether this was done but if no action was taken at that time perhaps it is not too late even now to pursue the matter along those lines. I would suggest that this is the appropriate course to follow
You will appreciate of course that the Commissioner for Employees’ Compensation decided Mrs. Hinton’s claim in her favour and that the appeal has arisen because her employer, the Australian Services Canteens Organization, had insured itself against compensation liabilities of this nature with the Union Insurance Society of Canton Ltd.. Melbourne. Also that the appeal is, in effect, by the Insurance Company using the name of the Australian Services Canteens ‘Organization .’by subrogation and acting through the Company’s private solicitors.
HAROLD HOLT, Treasurer.
Apart from -suggesting the course 1 have indicated - ian attempt to transfer the proceedings .to Sydney - :the Treasurer, in effect, said that the question was one which could be negotiated only between the respective parities or their ‘legal representatives. This was brought to the notice of those acting on behalf of the canteens organization, and they finally agreed to bring the appeal in the appropriate New South Wales District Court. Through her legal advisers Mrs. Hinton agreed to a fresh appeal being brought, out of time, against the determination, in the New South Wales District Court. Notwithstanding this undertaking to bring the proceedings in the New South Wales District Court and to abandon the proceedings in the County Court in Melbourne, those steps have not been taken. Many many months have passed and there have been no abandonment of the appeal in Melbourne and no institution of any appeal on behalf of the Commonwealth or the canteens organization in any district court in Sydney. To date, Mrs. Hinton has received no compensation whatsoever from the Commonwealth or from anybody else, notwithstanding that there is a determination, by a delegate appointed by the Commonwealth, which states that the Commonwealth is liable to pay Mrs. Hinton compensation.
Honorable senators may well consider that, in this matter, Mrs. Hinton has a grievance against the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth appointed the delegate; the delegate has found in Mrs. Hinton’s favour, and it is no concern of Mrs. Hinton or of any other private citizen what the arrangement might be between the Commonwealth or its canteens organization and some private insurer. That is their affair. But the situation is that, despite the fact that the Commonwealth has been declared by the arbitrator of its own choosing to be liable to pay compensation to Mrs. Hinton, it has not been paid. The Commonwealth is permitting - knowingly permitting - its name to be used by a private insurer in such a way as to do a grave injustice to a private citizen. It is not right that the Commonwealth can just say, “ Well, let this be sorted out between the lawyers for the insurance company and Mrs. Hinton’s lawyers “. This is the Commonwealth, and it is the Commonwealth’s reputation that is concerned. It is no use the Commonwealth saying, “ Well, the insurance company will ,be the .one to meet the claim “. lt is the ‘Commonwealth of Australia that has had the claim made against rt. It invited the claim to be made against it. It appointed a delegate to determine ‘.the claim, and he has determined it in Mrs. Hinton’s favour. 1.he Commonwealth has admitted liability, and the claim should be paid. Mrs. Hinton is going out of her way, through her advisers to say: “ Bring any appeal. You have agreed to bring it in the District Court. I will let you bring the appeal no matter if you are out of time by years. But bring it, and I will not object to it.” The appeal should be brought, but the Commonwealth is not doing that, nor is the canteens organization.
How can the Commonwealth of Australia - or its canteens organization - allow itself and its name to be used in this way? It is a disgrace. It is a public scandal that the Commonwealth should permit this to go on. It cannot be said that this is one of those little matters which just goes on; that it is a problem which has occurred in the course of some litigation and that if the Commonwealth knew of this kind of thing it would do something about it. The Commonwealth does know of it. How much more can a private citizen do to achieve justice in a matter such as this than get a senator to go to the Treasurer of the Commonwealth and bring the matter under his notice and, after that, to raise the matter during the debate in this chamber on the Treasury estimates and have the Minister representing the Treasurer in the Senate say that he will look into all of these cases, which I understood - and I think any one after reading the debate would understand - to include this particular case? I can say only that I think that if those who are responsible for the good name of the Commonwealth, and who have the responsibility of discharging functions under the law, would act in the proper discharge of those functions, this matter would be readily cleared up. The Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act is a constant source of injustice, not only because of its provisions but also because of poor administration, which ought not to be left in the hands of those who are at present conducting these matters on behalf of the Commonwealth.
– Senator Murphy was good enough to tell me that he proposed to raise this matter to-night but, truth to tell, I have not had an opportunity of conferring with the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). All I can do at this stage, not being aware of the details of the case, is to inform the honorable senator that I will bring the matter to the notice of the Treasurer at the first opportunity.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.19 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 May 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1964/19640506_senate_25_s25/>.