25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Minister for Defence, by saying that recently the Minister informed the Senate that the radar station at Darwin is now operating around the clock. Is he aware that the radar station at Brookvale near Sydney, which covers the area from Sydney to Brisbane, is still operated only during Public Service hours, namely, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.?
– I am not aware of the actual hours during which the control and reporting unit at Brookvale is in operation. However, I can assure the honorable senator that the hours during which it is in operation are those which are judged to be best by those who know best how it should be used.
– -ian the Minister for Civil Aviation say what shares or other financial interest the Shell oil company, the huge international oil cartel, has in Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. or in Ansett-A.N.A. or any of the other subsidiaries of which Mr. Reg. Ansett is a director?
– I have no knowledge of any of the shareholders of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd., whether they be oil companies or honorable senators of the Opposition.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport noted a statement in the annual report of the President of the Southern Division of the Tasmanian Chamber of Manufactures that roll on roll off shipping services to Southern Tasmania had increased transport costs and had inflicted a penalty on that area of the State? Is this statement in accord with the facts?
- Senator Lillico indicated to me his interest in this matter and gave me an opportunity to confer with my colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport, who has supplied the following information -
I have not seen the annual report of the Southern Division of the Tasmanian Chamber of Manufactures, but my Hobart office has advised that the reference in it to roll on roll off shipping services and the effect on transport costs is as follows - . . The advent of roll on roll off shipping service, far from being a means to reduce transport costs has proved just the opposite and this service is having a marked effect on industry’s cost structure. The only roll on roll off ships at present employed in the mainland - Hobart trade are the “Seaway Queen” and “Seaway King” operated by the Union Steam Ship Co. of N.Z. Ltd. These ships were brought into service in June and August this year from Melbourne and Sydney respectively.
The Commonwealth does not, of course, regulate freight charges by shipowners other than the Australian National Line, but in introducing the new vessels, the Union Steam Ship Co. announced that the rates of freight applicable to the “ Seaway “ vessels would be less than the previous conventional type ships. Contrary to the statement by the Southern Division of the Tasmanian Chamber of Manufactures, we have been assured by the shipping company concerned that generally speaking the sea freights for cargo carried southbound and northbound to and from Hobart by the two new vessels are substantially lower than previously.
It is important to realise that the method of calculating freights in the two “ Seaway “ ships is on the basis of the square footage of space occupied on the vehicular decks whereas for conventional ships the time honoured method of freight assessment has been on the basis of the cubic space taken up by the cargo. For this reason it is difficult to make a direct comparison between the rates charged for roll on roll off and conventional type ships. It is relevant also that, generally, freight on the roll on roll off ships is carried on a door-to-door basis by road cartage contractors whilst for conventional type ships the charges are on a wharf to wharf basis. The changed method of calculating freight charges has probably given rise to some misconceptions due to a lack of understanding of freight procedures.
We are advised that discussions and correspondence have taken place between the Union Steam Ship Co. and certain Southern Tasmanian business interests with the object of removing possible anomalies which may now exist in the structure of freight schedules and that in several instances where reductions in overall costings had not been achieved, adjustments have been effected. As an example of the lower shipping charges on the “ Seaway “ ships than by conventional shipping, general cargo between Melbourne and Hobart is now carried at varying rates between 82s. and 104s. per cubic ton according to the height of the load, compared with 138s. 9d. per ton by previous vessels. Between Sydney and Hobart general cargo is now carried at rates between Ills, and 124s. per cubic ton according to the height of the load as against the previous rate of 152s. 3d. per ton. The Union Steam Ship
Co. advises that substantial reductions have been effected in the freight rates applying to zinc, newsprint, carbide, timber, fresh fruit and other cargo categories.
In the case of the “Empress of Australia”, due to commence service in December, a similar basis of assessing freight charges will be used, i.e., the square footage of deck space occupied. The rates to be charged will include wharfage at both ends and sorting and stacking charges will be eliminated. The general cargo rate on the “ Merino “, a conventional ship at present engaged in the SydneyHobart trade, is £7 7s. per cubic ton to which must be added wharfage and sorting and stacking charges bringing the actual cost to about £8 10s. per cubic ton. By comparison, the rate per cubic ton on the “ Empress of Australia “ will vary from about £5 10s. to £7 10s. per ton depending on the height of the load. In terms of actual cost, therefore, it does not seem there are any grounds for alleging that the introduction of roll on roll off ships has increased transport costs, but rather the reverse is the case.
– I direct a few short questions, concerning Royal visits to Australia, to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and I hope that he will give short answers. Does Cabinet arrange Royal visits or are these arrangements the sole prerogative of the Prime Minister? Is it true that shortly Australia is to be honoured by visits by the Queen Mother and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester? If we are to have these constant Royal visits, have any arrangements been made for a visit by a one-time King of England and his wife - the Duke and Duchess of Windsor? Is it a fact that many thousands of good citizens are of the opinion that the ostracism of the Duke of Windsor should cease and that a visit to our shores would hasten this desired end? Are all costs of Royal visits met by the Australian Government?
– Mr. President, invitations are extended to Royal visitors by the Government of Australia. From that it is to be assumed that most of the costs incurred while the Royal visitors are in Australia are met by the Australian Government acting as hosts. I assume that the costs of transport would not be met by the Australian Government, as it is probable that the Royal visitors would travel to Australia in aircraft or in ships provided either by the Government or the Services of the United Kingdom. Statements as to who is Invited or who may be invited are made by the Prime Minister at appropriate times.
– I ask the Minister for Works: Is it a fact that a high pressure water main which cost about £9,000 to install approximately a month ago in connection with the proposed extensions to Parliament House has now been taken up because it was laid in the wrong place? If so, will any extra cost be involved and who will pay it?
– I do not know the answer to the honorable senator’s question, but I will ascertain it and let him know.
” EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport whether the maiden voyage of the “ Empress of Australia “ is to be conducted commercially, or whether V.l.P.’s will travel on the ship on that occasion.
– I imagine that if the practice adopted in my day is followed on this occasion, V.l.P.’s probably will be invited and the opportunity will be taken to permit the ship to raise what revenue it can by carrying cargo and ordinary passengers.
– Has the
Leader of the Government in the Senate seen a recent report that Indonesia has closed its air space to Australian military flights, that this information emanated from Bangkok, Thailand, and that the ban had been a well kept secret in Australia? Is this report correct? If so, when was the ban originally imposed? Why was this Parliament not told about it? What effect is such a ban having on the reinforcement of Australian squadrons in Thailand and Malyasia and what action does the Government propose to take to have the ban lifted?
– It is a fact that the Indonesians have closed air space over territory which they claim to be their own. There is nothing surprising about such action which may be taken by all countries. There is nothing in international law which says that countries exercising power in air space which they claim to control should not exercise control over aircraft travelling through that air space. It came as no surprise when air space was closed to both New
Zealand and Australian aircraft. We have other routes by which we can get to Malaya and other points in South East Asia. We have used those routes and we are continuing to use them. Necessary operations from Australia to points in Asia are being carried on as usual. The honorable senator asked why an announcement was not made. It was not made for the simple reason that there is nothing very remarkable about a nation closing its air space for any reason which it thinks fit.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has any decision been reached on an alternative aerodrome for Canberra?
– The only knowledge I have about an alternative airport for Canberra is that when I was flying back from West Wyalong on Saturday afternoon last, one of the officers of the Department of Civil Aviation pointed out the site which the Department has in mind, but said that it will be many years before anything is done.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Faced with a strike of employees of General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd., a possible complete stoppage on the waterfront in Melbourne - according to today’s “ Australian “ - a threatened strike of airline employees upon the introduction of jet interstate flights on 2nd November, a strike at the State dockyard at Newcastle and a threatened Australian stoppage by postal workers, will the Government realise that penal provisions are no deterrent to strike action? Will it lend its good offices to endeavour to call the warring parties together to try to effect a settlement in a spirit of conciliation and justice?
– It is the practice of the Department of Labour and National Service and of the Minister for Labour and National Service, both directly and through the Australian Council of Trade Unions, to do their utmost to bring together disagreeing employees and employers, and to endeavour, whenever possible, to prevent or end strikes. I do not see why, in this ques tion, it is necessary to refer to the penal provisions of the Act, but I believe that it is the policy of the Minister not to abolish those penal provisions.
– What progress has the Minister for Customs and Excise made with the States in seeking a uniform Commonwealth-wide censorship?
– I am not in a position to go beyond the answer I gave some weeks ago when I said that all aspects of this problem are being closely examined.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Has the Minister received representations from commercial broadcasting companies for some relief from the extraordinarily high rentals charged for private telephone lines? Does the Minister realise that under Statutory Rules 1964, No. 123, issued under the Post and Telegraph Act, 1901-1961, these charges have been increased by more than 30 per cent.? Does the Minister realise that broadcasting stations in Western Australia are serving outback areas at a minimum cost, and in some cases are uncertain commercial enterprises? Will the Minister take action to have these charges reviewed in order to give some relief to broadcasting stations serving isolated outback areas which have sparse populations?
– Senator DrakeBrockman, I think it was, asked me a similar question in the Senate the week before last and I exphasised then that the telephone charges asked of the broadcasting companies are identical with those asked of any other business organisations. If the honorable senator has the impression that the broadcasting companies are singled out for specifically heavy charges, let me disabuse his mind immediately. They are on exactly the same basis as every other organisation. I would also point out to the Senate that in this particular area to which the honorable senator refers on a Commonwealthwide basis the Commonwealth Government has been most generous in its approach to the requirements of the commercial stations. It has developed quite successfully a sharing policy that is considered a generous one by most of tin people concerned. I hasten to assure the honorable senator that as far as their telephone rentals are concerned they are just the same as those asked of any other business undertaking.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister for Health. In view of the high profits made by various medical benefit societies in 1963-64 as revealed recently, does the Minister consider the proposed rise in contributions to be justified?
– I want to make two points. The first one I make - and I make it specifically - is that medical benefit funds and hospital benefit funds do not make profits. They are non-profit making organisations. They have reserves that they are obliged to maintain and so long as they are not excessive I do not think anyone can quarrel with them. The second point I make is this: At this point of time no proposals have been put before me or my Department for increased medical benefits. Having said that, I go further and repeat what I said yesterday: It is expected that a meeting will be held of the advisory council which makes recommendations to the Government in this field within a few days’ time. As I said yesterday, any proposals for increased contributions will be examined thoroughly and will be completely justified before they are approved by the Government.
– I desire to ask a further question of the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Arising out of his previous answer that it is the policy of the Department of Labour and National Service to call the parties together to try to effect a settlement, I ask the Minister what the Department has done on this occasion to call the employees and employers, General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd., together to endeavour to effect a settlement. Is there no foundation in the published reports that the Minister has advised the company to fight to a finish?
– Mr. President. I have no knowledge at all of any foundation for any published reports in any newspapers so I cannot answer that part of the honorable senator’s question. But I reiterate that it has been the policy of the Minister for Labour and National Service, working for this Government, on many occasions - as is well known to all honorable senators - to use his utmost endeavours to see, where there are disagreements between employers and employees, whether there are grounds for those disagreements and to get tha parties together to overcome them.
(Question No. 223.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following answers - 1 and 2. The “International Classification of Diseases”, which had become the widely recognised medical classification for the recording of statistical information, was introduced into departmental medical records in 1959. lt contains over a thousand main disease classifications, and the complexity of converting records and maintaining analyses of all diseases by conventional means can be readily appreciated.
Pending the planned introduction of an automatic data processing system, complete statistics showing the number of ex-servicemen who have applied for a pension entitlement and the number accepted or rejected for each of the disabilities, including cancers, listed in the “ International Classification of Diseases”, are not available. However, in view of the honorable senator’s question, and the general interest in this subject, the Department has undertaken a special survey to obtain the information sought by her in regard to cancers. It is a large project and will take a little time to complete; the information will bo made available as soon as possible.
(Question No. 262.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has supplied the following answers: -
(Question No. 266.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply has furnished the following answers -
An assessment has been made by my colleague the Minister for the Interior on the benefits to be gained from the satellite and include the following -
Although the expected life span of Nimbus I was six months, it is unfortunately no longer transmitting because of failure of the solar cells which provided power. However, the United States of America expects to have at least one weather satellite in orbit continually until the end of 1967.
(Question No. 268.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The Minister for Social Services has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions -
(Question No. 272.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The Minister for Social Services has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions -
(Question No. 280.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply, upon notice - 1.Is it a fact, as reported in the Australian Press, that the Minister for Supply, Mr. Fairhall, stated in London on 17th September, that there is every probability, where once it was just a possibility, of the TSR2 conducting its tropical and navigational tests on the Woomera range?
– The Minister for Supply has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s questions -
The Minister considers that climatic and other conditions at Woomera would enable the TSR2 tests to be completed more speedily and effectively than elsewhere, and believes that the probability of the tests being carried out there has strengthened significantly.
(Question No. 281.)
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows -
(Question No. 285.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows -
Consideration resumed from 13thOcto- ber (vide page 961).
Proposed expenditure, £3,523,000.
.- I desire to raise a number of matters relating to these estimates. I refer first to Division No. 115 - Administrative, and draw attention to the failure of the Government to move ahead with some essential law reforms which have been promised for a long time. Taking these in order of public interest, I shall commence by drawing attention to the very long time that the Parliament and the people have had to wait for the much discussed and much foreshadowed restrictive trade practices legislation. A number of years has elapsed since we first heard of the Government’s intention to introduce this legislation, the scheme of which was placed before the Parliament in December 1962 by the former AttorneyGeneral, Sir Garfield Barwick. Since then there has been a spate of public discussion on the subject, but we are still awaiting the legislation. It is difficult to anticipate the form that the legislation will eventually take, if indeed it is introduced at all. but I think it is fair to say that obviously an agonising re-appraisal of the legislation is going on in the Government’s ranks. It is plain that a great deal of pressure is being applied to the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) and the Government either to abandon the legislation altogether or to water it down so much that in the end it will be an ineffective instrument for dealing with restrictive trade practices, the existence of which is recognised beyond argument throughout the community.
I do not want to refer to particulars of the evidence that is being given at the present time before a commission of inquiry which was appointed by the Government of Tasmania, but it is quite obvious that the considerations which originally agitated the Commonwealth Government when it foreshadowed its scheme to deal with restrictive trade practices are rampant throughout the community and that the people want solid and effective action to be taken. We do not know how much longer we must wait for legislation that will give the Parliament an opportunity to discuss the precise proposals that the Government has in mind. One can only say that, looking at the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department, we are still without any provision for expenditure on any scheme that would be embodied in any such legislation. Whether the legislation will be introduced this year or next year, if at all, seems to be very much a matter of speculation. 1 repeat that certainly no provision is made under the head of administrative expenses for the implementation of any such scheme.
There are, of course, other matters in respect of which the Government has failed to take steps although new legislation to deal with them has long been foreshadowed. I refer, in particular, to the bankruptcy law. In the Governor-General’s Speech of 4th August 1954, a bankruptcy law review committee was promised. That committee was appointed on 23rd February 1956. It signed its report on 14th December 1962 and in February 1963 the former Attorney-General circulated the report to honorable senators. The Minister’s statement accompanying that report expressed the hope that a bill would be presented to the Parliament later in that year. We have not seen the legislation yet. We do not know what the Government proposes and we are still waiting for legislation which would introduce desirable and necessary reforms into a very important branch of the law.
I refer next to the question of copyright. In 1954, again, a copyright law review committee was promised in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. That committee was appointed in September 1958. It signed its report on 22nd December 1959 and it was circulated to the Parliament on 18th April 1961. In April 1962, the former AttorneyGeneral told the Deputy Leader of the Opposition who had asked a question in another place that he hoped to introduce legislation in regard to copyright by the autumn session of 1963. Again, we are still awaiting legislation on this important branch of the Law. There are, too, international conventions in the same field of copyright that have to be adopted and ratified. The Parliament is entitled to ask the Attorney-General what the Government’s intentions are in respect of each of these long foreshadowed reforms.
Dealing generally with the question of constitutional review, I think it is very plain that the Government shows no interest whatever in this matter. It is almost five years since the report of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review was presented to the Parliament. During those five years we have not had so much as an indication of the Government’s attitude with respect to the wide range of proposals put forward virtually unanimously by that all-party Joint Committee on Constitutional Review. Surely this is a matter which should no longer be ignored by this Government. The report of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review was comprehensive and balanced. It dealt with matters of great national importance covering wide areas of the nation’s economic activity and it suggested some vital constitutional reforms so that the National Parliament could be equipped with powers which would enable it to discharge its duty in the economic sphere particularly more effectively than it has done up to date. We have waited but we have never had an indication from the Government that it is actively interested in the broad proposals. We have now an opportunity to give effect to some of the proposed reforms through bills which were introduced in the current session by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) and are now before the Senate. Surely we should have from the Government a positive sign of its interest in moving the nation’s affairs forward and of its attitude to the important matters raised in Senator McKenna’s Bills. The Bills deal with the terms and rotation of senators, the number of senators and members of the House of Representatives, the division of States into electorates, and disagreements between the Senate and the House of Representatives, all matters on which the opinion of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review gave the lead to the Parliament. Indeed, it was proposed by the Leader of the Opposition in introducing the Bills that the matters contained therein should be given an expeditious passage so that they could be put to a referendum of the people at the same time as the forthcoming Senate election. Obviously that view is not acceptable to the Government.
How long must we wait before we receive an indication of the Government’s attitude? The Government is treating the Parliament with scant courtesy. It is virtually consigning to the scrap heap a report which is distinguished by the care and attention it paid to the many problems with which it dealt. Is it to be the practice of the Government in matters affecting law reform that it will merely turn a cold back on careful proposals which have not emanated in a party sense from the Opposition but have resulted from years of work? In the main the proposals carried the support of the distinguished members of all parties who were privileged to belong to the Joint Committee and to share in its recommendations. We should not be placed in the position of having to wait endlessly, without apparent hope of an answer, for the Government to show by its response that it has formed a view about these matters. If the Joint Committee was worth while appointing, it must have been because it was the view of the Parliament that these great issues and constitutional questions which affect defence and the life and death of the country in an economic sense, were of wide public interest and worthy of the serious attention of the Parliament. One can only draw the conclusion from the long silence of the Government and the many missed opportunities in response to questions asked by the Opposition that the Government has lost interest and does not desire to see the Parliament clothed with powers which would enable it more effectively to discharge its role in the second half of the twentieth century.
The report of the Joint Committee draws attention to the complex nature of the problems and sets out considered recommendations. As members of one of the. two Houses of this Parliament, surely senators are entitled to be told what is the Government’s attitude. The Opposition - the Australian Labour Party - has made it perfectly clear that it will support in their entirety the recommendations of the Joint Committee. lt is now up to the Government to say whether it will act on the view of members on its own side of politics who have endorsed the recommendations and have subscribed generally to the policy views set out in the report.
The Australian people should have an opportunity to adjudicate, to vote upon the recommendations which deal with such important issues. I ask Senator Gorton, as the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral, to give us an assurance that these matters are under active consideration and that in the course of the present sessional period we will have an opportunity to discuss at least the Bills which are now before the Senate - Senator McKenna’s Bills - which deal with critical questions of relationship between the two Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament. It should not be too much to ask that at least some statement on the Government’s attitude be made. If the Government is opposed to the proposals, let it say so. Let it not treat the Parliament with scant courtesy and make it wait year after year for the opportunity to have an open discussion on the subject. That is the plea that I make. 1 invite the Minister to give the Committee a serious reply and not merely say that these arc policy questions on which the Government will indicate its attitude in due course. We would like to know what the position is. We want to know and we are entitled to know whether any active attention is being given to these problems.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I refer to Division 122- Bankruptcy Administration - which was briefly mentioned by Senator Cohen. As Senator Cohen said, the Bankruptcy Law Review Committee was appointed in 1956 and made its report in 1962. It is well to note that the Committee also drew up a completely new draft Bill for the guidance of the Attorney General and the Parliament. The members of the Committee were: The Honorable Sir Thomas Clyne, Judge of the Federal Court of Bankruptcy; Mr. J. Q. Ewens, C.B.E., Commonwealth Parliamentary Draftsman; Mr. S. T. Jaques, Acting Inspector-General in Bankruptcy; Mr. C. A. Law, Chartered Accountant; Mr. D. L. Roberts, appointed on the nomination of the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Australia; Mr. H. N. Wardle, appointed on the nomination of the Law Council of Australia; and Mr. N. S. Young, Chartered Accountant.
The members of the Committee were all skilled in company accounts and in bankruptcy law, and amongst them was the Commonwealth Parliamentary Draftsman. It is reasonable to assume that the draft bill the Committee drew up would be satisfactory. Yet since December 1962 nothing has been placed before the Parliament. If the present Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) proposes to follow the practice of his predecessor, Sir Garfield Barwick, in placing bills before the Parliament and then allowing them to be discussed publicly before they are debated in the Parliament, it seems to me that proposed bankruptcy measure is one that could well be dealt with in this way. However, the Minister has done nothing in respect of this matter.
It is time that the bankruptcy law was amended. Reports on bankruptcy disclose that since the Committee was set up there have been 15,913 bankruptcies. That is since 1956, and 11 months of that year are included. There has been a continual increase in the number of sequestration orders. The law under which the orders axe issued is completely outmoded. The Government admitted that when it set up the Committee in 1956 to review the bankruptcy law, but nothing has been done. 1 am interested particularly in section 84 of. the Bankruptcy Act, which is clause 109 of the draft bill. In Western Australia recently a fairly old building company had to execute a deed of assignment. Its five employees were entitled to long service leave payments amounting to £993 15s., representing leave of four months, but as the result of the operation of section 84, they received only £4 6s. 8d. each. Their share of the assets of the company amounted to approximately £21 out of a total of £993.
This sort of thing is going on all the time. The Minister gives indications that a bill will be brought forward for the consideration of the Parliament yet nothing happens in respect to it. I know it is pretty difficult to tie this Government down. It just goes along at any old pace and takes actions that suit it - mostly actions that suit the people who support it. However, I should like the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) to give the Senate some indication of when a bill with respect to bankruptcy will be introduced. If the Minister is not inclined to introduce a completely new bill as he said previously that he would do, when can the Parliament expect to get the amendments that will bring this Act up to date? The particular provision I have spoken about has not been amended since the Act came into operation in 1927.
, - In speaking to the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department I also wish to refer to Division No. 115 - Administrative - and to refer briefly to the subject which Senator Cohen emphasised. That was the delay on the part of the Government in bringing about necessary law reform. Senator Cohen and my colleague, Senator Cant, have referred to the failure of the Government to introduce into the Parliament important prospective legislation. Senator Cant has just immediately referred to proposed amendments - or the failure of the Government to bring down proposed amendments - to the Bankruptcy Act as a result of the sitting and report of the Bankruptcy Law Review Committee. I think Senator Cohen also referred to the
Copyright Act and there is, of course, the now infamous proposed restrictive trade practices legislation. This legislation was promised some five years ago and it was not until December 1962 that sound proposals were put forward by the then AttorneyGeneral to the Parliament for consideration. But as late as the 10th July, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) went on record as saying that he expected the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) would be submitting to Cabinet during the Budget session of Parliament - that is this session - draft legislation to control restrictive trade practices and monopolies; that it was understood that this proposed legislation would be introduced into the Parliament; and that sufficient time would be allowed for public discussion on it. Now, that statement was made in July and to date the Parliament has seen nothing of the proposed legislation.
I do not know whether the Government has too much on its plate or is not prepared to do anything about it. It could well be that the number of parliamentary draftsmen, as set out in the estimates at page 148, should be increased to enable them to keep up with the tempo of this vital legislation which affects the wellbeing of all Australians generally. Having regard to the statement made by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) some 12 months ago at a dinner of the Chamber of Manufactures in Sydney, that the submissions put forward by these interests were the most sound and practical that he had seen about the matter, I should like the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) to explain why there is this delay in bringing about the proposed legislation.
I now refer to Division No. 115 subdivision 2, item 06 - Legal Expenses. This, of course, has been the subject of great publicity in recent months, certainly in the State of New South Wales, the State that I have the honour to represent in the parliament. We have heard from justices of the Supreme Court of New South Wales - not one, certainly two, and, I think from recollection, a number of them - who were saying that the cost of litigation had got out of all proportion so far as the ordinary man and woman in the street were concerned. I think His Honour Mr. Justice Mcclemens was referring to the high cost involved in an accused person’s defending himself in a criminal action. The other case that I recall to mind concerned a statement by His Honour Mr. Justice Richardson of the Supreme Court of New South Wales about the high cost involved in divorce actions. I am told that costs are being pushed up in divorce actions since the Matrimonial Causes Act was introduced; that costly interlocutory proceedings now have to take place; that affidavit evidence has to be filed, and that all these things add up generally to the high costs of litigation.
This is a very important matter and I should like to know what the Commonwealth Attorney-General, in conjunction with State Attorneys-General, might be doing about it because it is important that the courts of this country be available at comparatively reasonable cost to the ordinary man and woman in the community. The two instances that I have referred to related, of course, to criminal actions and to divorce actions but these ever mounting costs affect the ordinary worker and the trade union movement in common law proceedings, in equity proceedings, in workers’ compensation proceedings and, of course, in matters that take place, so far as litigation is concerned, in the High Court of Australia or in the Commonwealth Industrial Court. This is a matter that should be receiving the attention of the Attorney-General’s Department and I should like the Minister to give me some indication as to what is contemplated by the Attorney-General, perhaps acting in conjunction with his counterparts from the various States, to see what can be done in this regard.
I now turn to Division No. 117 and deal with the Commonwealth Court Reporting Branch. I notice, on viewing page 148 where the staffing arrangements of the various branches are set out that, for the Reporting Branch this year, there is to be an increase in the number of personnel involved from 38 to 46 and that these consist of clerks, monitors, clerical assistants, typists and junior assistants. Now, no doubt this is related to the establishment of sound recording, certainly in the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory. Recently, I asked questions of the Minister representing the Attorney-General about this matter. I refer the Minister to the Senate “Hansard” of 18th March where, in reply to a question that I had placed on notice, the Attorney-General provided the information that experiments with this sound recording equipment had been successful to date and that presiding judges had praised the quality of transcripts produced, but that the question as to whether sound recording apparatus would be used in other Commonwealth jurisdictions would be decided after the system in Canberra had been given a reasonable period of trial. That was in March of this year, and prior to that time the system had been in operation for some considerable time. We are now moving into the middle of October. I suggest that by this stage the Department should be able to ascertain whether or not it is a successful system and whether or not it is contemplated to extend its activities. After all, there has been an increase of eight in the number of staff involved. But I notice, likewise, that there has been no decrease involved in the amount estimated to be required for the employment of temporary and- casual employees in this Branch.
This brings me to another aspect of the estimates. I refer to the employment of temporary and casual employees in the Commonwealth Reporting Branch. Many of these people have given considerable service to the Department in either a temporary or a casual capacity. From my own knowledge, there were negotiations between the Department and the Australian Journalists Association, the union covering the people in this calling, as to whether arrangements could be made for the payment of long service leave to these employees. Many of them have been engaged in this industry for a great number of years. I should like the Minister to inform me whether the long service leave provisions are being extended to the casual officers of this Branch, and when it was anticipated that the negotiations will be concluded, if they are still continuing.
I come now to Division No. 117, subdivision 2, item 02 relating to office requisites and equipment, stationery and printing. Here I wish to raise again an important matter that I think I raised, if not during the debate last year on the estimates of the Attorney-General’s Department, certainly in the year before that. It concerns the provision of transcripts of notifications under section 28 of the Commonwealth
Conciliation and Arbitration Act. As the Minister knows, section 28 of the Act contains a provision whereby in the event of an industrial dispute occurring, or in the likelihood of an industrial dispute occurring, the parties to the stoppage or threatened stoppage are compulsorily brought before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission so that the whys and wherefores of the dispute can be investigated. Of course, this matter affects not only employer organisations, but also employee organisations. It is necessary for trade union officials, and no doubt for officials of employer organisations, to report back to their members on the proceedings under section 28 of the Act which have taken place before the Arbitration Commission.
These transcripts are not made available free of charge by the Commission or by the Reporting Branch to the parties concerned. The cost the transcripts is sometimes quite burdensome. I know that the Waterside Workers Federation and other industrial organisations have paid large amounts of money for the purchase of transcripts. Because of the compulsive provision in section 28 for the parties to appear before the Arbitration Commission to iron out either a dispute or a threatened dispute, I fed that the Department should consider providing transcripts free of charge to the parties involved so that the employer officials on the one hand, and the employee officials on the other hand, may see what has transpired and report to their members accordingly.
There is also one other matter to which I would like to draw the attention of the Minister. I refer to Division No. 125 relating to patents, trade marks and designs. There is provision for salaries and allowances, according to the schedule on page 150, of £474,300 compared with an actual expenditure of £417,305 for the last financial year. If one turns to page 150 one finds that there is a considerable increase in the number of supervising examiners, examiner of patents, cadet examiners of patents and examiners’ assistants in the patents, trade marks and designs section. There is an appropriation of £439,660 for this year for the payment of salaries and allowances to this section of employees as against an appropriation of £244,795 for the last financial year. There is quite a difference in the amount involved, despite the fact that there is an increase of some 70-odd personnel in this section. Perhaps the Minister oan explain to me the reason for this large increase in the number of personnel.
There is one other matter to which I wish to refer. I again turn to Division No. 115. I mention this because I assume that this matter-
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Taking the matters raised by Senator McClelland, I shall deal first with those raised at the end of his speech. The reason for the increase in the salaries of officers in the patents, trade marks and designs section is that the Department was 50 examiners under strength last year and an active drive was instituted to try to recruit people for this very important work and to stop arrears from piling up. That drive is still going on. It has resulted in a great increase in the number of people who can perform this work and in a great shortening of the waiting time for people who wish to have applications for patents properly examined.
In regard to transcripts, the AttorneyGeneral’s Department does not intend to provide transcripts as requested by Senator McClelland. I do not know what the answer will be, but he might care to ask the question again when the estimates for the Department of Labour and National Service are being considered. In regard to the question of long service leave for casual employees, I am informed that agreement that that would be done was reached a year ago.
– Agreement was reached?
– That is what I am informed. As far as sound recording in the Reporting Branch is concerned, the courts in which it is at present installed are the High Court and the court at Canberra. The next extension of it will be to the Court at Darwin.
The matter of legal costs which Senator McClelland raised comes only minutely into the running of the Commonwealth AttorneyGeneral’s Department, but there is provision regarding legal action when a man is under a charge. A person committed for a criminal offence either in a State court or a Commonwealth court, can apply for legal aid under section 69 of the Judiciary Act, and if the judge certifies that he is entitled to legal aid, he receives it.
– Would that apply to divorce cases, too?
– Not unless the pcrcon concerned had murdered his wife. Then, of course, he would not want a divorce.
– That provision applies only to criminal proceedings?
– Not necessarily. Senator McClelland, Senator Cant and Senator Cohen raised the matter of reform of the bankruptcy law and the provision of a new law. All I can say to them is that it is an extremely difficult, protracted and complex matter to get this Bill into a form which will suit the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden), the Government and all the people who are vitally concerned with it.
Following receipt of the report of the Bankruptcy Law Review Committee the report, together with a draft bill which accompanied it, was circulated to all interested organisations, and bodies, so it is not quite true to say that nothing has been done since the Government received the report. The Government has received hundreds of submissions and suggestions relating to the Committee’s recommendations and the proposals contained in the draft bill. According to the document that I have - the statements in it were true when it was prepared - those submissions and suggestions have all been considered by the Attorney-General, who is preparing a report for submission to Cabinet. When Cabinet has considered the report any necessary modifications will have to be made to the draft bill before it is presented to the Parliament. I repeat that those statements were correct when they were written, but a day or two ago the Government received another six tightly spaced foolscap pages of submissions, so the matter will be delayed a little further. That is the point which consideration of the bankruptcy law has reached. I know that the Attorney-General had hoped very much to be able to introduce the new bill during this sessional period but I so not know now whether he will be able to do so. The copyright law is in much the same position. All I can say is that it is receiving active consideration by the Attorney-General.
The matter of restrictive trade practices was raised by more than one honorable senator. I think it was Senator Cohen who described the proposed legislation as law reform. I do not think that it is law reform; I think it is new law. The proposed legislation cannot be regarded in the same way as one regards the bankruptcy or copyright laws. The new bill will be introduced into the Parliament as soon as the practical and technical difficulties associated with its construction are resolved. The Attorney-General has been at pains to explain that the drafting of legislation of such a complex kind as this brings with it the need for a multitude of small decisions that have to be taken step by step. Different parts of the proposals are inter-dependent, and when one decision is taken it necessarily involves looking at previous decisions to see whether they remain valid. The process must be carried out in the context of continuing representations by members of the public and by interested parties, in response to the Government’s invitation to them to examine the published proposals and to furnish it with their reaction.
As the Attorney-General has pointed out previously, a representation very often is made dealing with some particular aspect of a proposal which affects the person making the representation. That aspect must be looked at in its true orientation and relation to the proposals as a whole. Honorable senators can be sure that the Government intends to introduce the legislation at the earliest possible opportunity. Cabinet has been discussing it almost weekly in an endeavour to bring it to the point at which it can be presented to the Parliament.
Senator Cohen also referred to the report of the Constitutional Review Committee and asked what the Government proposed to do about it. Although the Government may receive advice from a committee such as this, it ls under no obligation to accept that advice. Nor is it under any obligation to say that it will never accept that advice. I think I can say to the honorable senator that it is extremely unlikely that Senator McKenna’s Bills will be debated during this sessional period, but I point out that it is not true to say that nothing has been dona in this field because the Government is moving towards implementing one of the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee. I refer to Commonwealth control of civil aviation. I remind honorable senators of Senator Cohen’s description of the report as being interesting, distinguished for the attention given to careful proposals which were advanced and commendable for the work done by the members of all parties who carried out their duties in a competent manner. Commonwealth control of civil aviation is one of the recommendations contained in the report to which Senator Cohen referred in such glowing terms. If I understand correctly, Senator Cohen will endeavour tomorrow to oppose and frustrate the Government’s attempt to implement that recommendation.
– I refer to Division No. 122- Bankruptcy Administration. I hope, Mr. Chairman, you will not think that my remarks are too remote from the subject before the Committee, but if you listen to me for a little while you will notice that I will connect them. Recently the New South Wales Government was the butt of a good deal of newspaper attack and propaganda in relation to the early closing of shops. Certain business people in Sydney, mostly small traders, are feeling the effects of the growth of monopolies. I suppose this position applies in all States because during the last 14 years in which this Government has been in office, monopoly control has grown. Although it has been said that the corner shop is in danger because of socialism - this was said about Mr. Chifley years ago - the corner shop in fact is fast disappearing because the shopkeepers are going bankrupt.
I have before me a document showing the number of bankruptcies and it is significant to find that the list includes 139 general storekeepers. I put it to the Minister that if the restrictive trade practices legislation were introduced quickly the Government might, be able to do something to alleviate the plight of these small traders. They have tried to create a public image for themselves. They have obtained newspaper publicity and have caused certain situations to develop by defying the law and keeping their shops open when really they should not be in business at all because they are going bankrupt. These 139 storekeepers represent by far the biggest group of bankruptcies, and they were all small corner storekeepers who could not compete with the chain stores and other big businesses which, by right buying, quick turnover, were operating to their detriment. I do not have to repeat the story of Mr. Allan the shopkeeper who died in gaol.
These people are demanding that the New South Wales Government alter the law so that they can trade after hours. In other words, they want to get away from the law of the land. They want to opearate their businesses outside the law because they cannot operate them within the law and make a living. That is the true story behind the agitation about shopping hours in Sydney. The Commonwealth Government has a duty to hasten the introduction of this new legislation that it has promised will control monopolies and the type of scientific merchandising in which the chain stores indulge to the detriment of the little man who has to remain open until midnight or 1 a.m. in the cities to make a living.
Another group of business people who have been seriously affected by monopoly growth to the extent that 197 of them became bankrupt comprises the small electrical traders who sell radio and television sets. The big monopoly institutions continue to receive this Government’s protection but the Government will do nothing to bring them within the law or to alter the law to protect the small man. This Government used to say that it was the small businessman’s Government, but it has lost that reputation over the past four or five years. There are many bankruptcies amongst these people who are trying to keep their businesses open while fighting monopoly opposition. They really should not be in business at all. They have to stay open all night to serve the public - a very small section of the public. That is the only way in which they can get a living. Such businesses are not entitled to stay open. State Governments should not be urged to change legislation which for years has protected employment, hours of labour, and all those other things round which the Australian economy is built, merely because this Government will not do anything to protect small business people from the weight of monopolies.
I ask the Minister to promise the Committee that the Government will do all that it can to enact the anti-trust legislation that Sir Garfield Barwick pioneered through the propaganda stages. If the Government did this quickly, it would alleviate the social problem of people who are struggling to live under the weight of monopolies and who, more often than not the Press, are forcing down living and working conditions and wages so that uneconomic businesses can remain in existence. This is really a social problem. The Commonwealth Government should not allow the New South Wales Government to bear the full brunt of a situation for which it is not responsible.
– I direct attention to Division No. 115 - Administrative. I do not propose to suffer the fate that I have suffered on three occasions in the past fortnight. 1 spoke on 30th September in the afternoon and at night and on 1st October in the afternoon. I was not gagged-
– Which has nothing to do with the Estimates.
– No. But the question was then put, so I was effectively gagged. That night I was suspended - not unjustifiably, I would think, but perhaps a bit unfairly. Yesterday the question was again put and I did not have an opportunity to speak. I do not propose to suffer that fate again. More particularly, I want to direct a question through you, Mr. Chairman, to the Minister, with regard to administrative responsibility. I ask whether any advice’ has been tendered to the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) in relation to the elimination of the archaic practice of appeal to the Privy Council. I know that this right of appeal was established at Federation but it does represent a measure of economic injustice to many persons. In some instances, financial assistance is afforded to those who seek to appeal and are given leave to do so by the High Court of Australia, but the average person does not quite realise that he might be afforded a measure of financial assistance. In the light of the division of the British Empire, the time is now opportune for the administrative staff to consider how to tender sufficient and efficient advice to the Attorney-General on the establishment of a legal set up which would protect the rights of individuals. It is not necessary to divorce ourselves at all from Great Britain, but the time has surely come when we can provide our own legal set up. I ask the Minister to say what is the position and whether there is any suggestion that we may see constitutional reform in this regard.
I realise that the responsibilties which come within the ambit of the AttorneyGeneral are multitudinous. Senator McClelland, Senator Cohen, Senator Murphy and Senator Ormonde have dealt with some of them. I plead with the Minister to examine the provision of legal assistance for deserted wives. This question has been raised frequently by many honorable senators, more particularly by those on the Opposition side, and especially by Senator Dorothy Tangney, who has a fond spot for deserted wives, as I think we all have. We realise that there is a national responsibility to those of them who are mothers. They number almost 11,000 and cost the State nearly £3 million a year. Surely it should not be beyond the Attorney-General’s Department to provide legal assistance in an endeavour to chase home responsibility to the men who have deserted these women and neglected their children. The plea has been made and there is a responsibility to face up to it. Nothing has been done. I pay a tribute to the former Attorney-General for facing up to the national responsibility to provide Commonwealth legislation in regard to marriage and divorce, which is accepted in certain circles.
I should like to raise the matter of the relationship between the Commonwealth Pol ice Force and the Security Service. I know that the Security Service is not the direct responsibility of the AttorneyGeneral, but he is responsible for the Commonwealth Police Force. Multitudinous duties are imposed upon Commonwealth police because of what would appear to be - I say this in my ignorance - neglect on the part of the Security Service in letting into this country people who should not have come here as migrants. I will not speak in terms of Communists, anti-Communists, Fascists and so on. I know that it would be particularly difficult to establish whether prospective migrants were members of such organisations. But surely criminal records are available overseas, and men and women who have been convicted overseas of criminal offences should not be permitted to come into this country to commit crimes which thrust responsibility onto the Commonwealth Police Force.
I should like the Minister to say what is the exact position in regard to restrictive trade practices. I almost said that this was a hardy annual, but I think it is a weak annual. It has almost become a hybrid perennial; I nearly said “ mongrel “ but that would not be a proper term to use. This matter comes up year after year. The former Attorney-General, to his credit, did a tremendous amount of homework on it. He explained it to the people concerned, to the nation, and to the Parliament. He circularised booklets about it. I realise that his approach to restrictive trade practices and monopolies was not particularly popular, and so it was inevitable that he had to go. Perhaps his background was against him. He had sacrificed a tremendous amount financially to come here.
– Senator, you arc right away from the Estimates.
– I am dealing with the responsibility of the Attorney-General in regard to restrictive trade practices.
– The honorable senator is dealing with a former AttorneyGeneral. Get back to the Estimates. 1 am the judge.
– I am dealing with administrative responsibility under Division No. 115, and the advice tendered. As a prelude, I am dealing with what occurred previously. The officers of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department must have tendered certain advice to the former AttorneyGeneral. I should not think that he would go off beat and distribute those booklets without advice from his expert officers. If he had not sought their advice, he would have been a complete idiot. I do not think anyone with intelligence would regard the former Attorney-General as being a complete idiot. I am trying to establish my story in my own way. Perhaps he was handicapped by his background. He came from a Labour family.
– Order! The honorable senator is getting right away from the estimates that are before us. I ask him to come back to them.
– I shall get back to them quick and lively. Let us not make any error about the matter I am discussing. I propose to say what is happening at the present time. I propose to quote the words of a Liberal member in another place to show the standover tactics that are being adopted and what was the result of a certain matter being ventilated in the Parliament. I think it is particularly important that we in the Parliament should know the advice that was tendered to the former AttorneyGeneral which resulted in the circulation of the booklets that I mentioned and which in the process of time were stamped upon by prominent Liberal members including the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). The former Attorney-General had to resign from the Parliament because he was not prepared to sacrifice his dignity, his decency and his ability.
The present Attorney-General has stated repeatedly that he is investigating the position. I take it that, he has made those statements following’ the tendering of advice to him by his administrative officers. I have the greatest admiration for the present Attorney-General and I should not think that he would act without the advice of men who deal with a measure of detail in considering these matters.
– Without Reg. Ansett’s advice?
– Not in this instance. This is not monopolistic control. That state of affairs will not exist for a few years yet, and by then we might be in a position to deal with it. In any case, I ask the honorable senator not to interrupt mc because I am being serious. I do not know whether advice has been tendered to the AttorneyGeneral in relation to collusive tendering. I ask the Minister through you, Mr. Chairman, whether advice has been tendered to the Attorney-General by his administrative officers. We used to assume that this sort of thing happened only with the major enterprises, more particularly the electrical firms and oil companies. But recently I happened to read the statement of a Liberal member from South Australia that it is happening with comparatively minor products such as cordage and twine. I imagine you would he interested in this matter, Mr. Chairman. I know you are sensible of your responsibility to the Australian Country Party and primary industry, which makes a valuable contribution to the welfare of the nation in its earning of overseas credits which facilitate the establishment of secondary enterprises and the making of millionaires. May I say in passing that I have not known many farmers to be millionaires.
To return to the matter I was mentioning, the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) saw fit to mention the industry concerned. It was the Venetian blind industry, and the particular organisation concerned was the Customcraft Blind Co. Pty. Ltd. of Victoria. A group of men courageous in enterprise and industrious in outlook were prepared to battle to establish an industry. But when they sought tape they found themselves bound by an association which would not supply their requirements at other than a set price. Also involved was the Hunter Douglas group, who are major Venetian blind manufacturers and an offspring of a United States set up. They trade in aluminium slats. I do not say that there was a cause and effect relationship but at least there was a time relationship between the raising of this matter in the Parliament and the solution of the problem. The honorable member for Higinbotham, acting with courage, gave the details of the situation. Subsequently this small group of enterprising, courageous mcn were dealt economic justice.
What happens to those unfortunate groups of people who do not approach members of Parliament to have their cases ventilated? We heard Senator Ormonde say what happens to a lot of them. They simply go bankrupt. Surely equality of distribution consistent with ability and effort expended is part of the Australian way of life. We are proud of it. If the Government does not intend to introduce legislation to deal with restrictive trade practices and monopolistic control, it should be ashamed of itself.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- I desire to raise a number of other matters. I refer, first, to Division No. 125 - Patents, Trade Marks and Designs. I draw the attention of the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) to the fact that the law relating to designs is one of the matters in relation to which we have long expected some kind of legislative action. The GovernorGeneral’s Speech of 4th August 1954 contained a promise of the appointment of a committee to review this law. 1 should like to know whether that promise has ever been fulfilled and what the present position is.
Reform has long been promised in relation to the Extradition Act. The Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs submitted a report on this matter in October 1956. I should like to know whether this matter have been considered further.
I ask the Minister also whether attention has been given to law reform in the Australian Capital Territory. Not many weeks ago Professor Richardson, the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the School of General Studies of the Australian National University, said that some of the laws of the Australian Capital Territory were outmoded and archaic and in need of reform. I directed a question to the Minister on the subject, and I am now looking forward to some indication of the Government’s proposals.
I wish to mention a minor matter which is really one of convenience to members of Parliament and others who use Commonwealth statutes and statutory rules. I relate my comments to proposed expenditure on the publication of Commonwealth statutes and statutory rules under Division No. 115 - Administrative. Recently I had occasion to look at the telephone regulations made under the Post and Telegraph Act. I discovered that to ascertain the present position it was necessary to read through an extremely large number of amendments. I direct the attention of the Minister to the fact that the regulations have not been consolidated since 1954 and 1956. I ask him to see what can be done to put the telephone regulations into a form in which they can be studied and readily assimilated by honorable senators. I have reason to think that what I have said applies to other sets of regulations also but this is one set of regulations that has come squarely to my notice in the past few days.
I want to deal briefly again this year with the matter that was raised by Senator Dittmer and which I have had occasion to press in previous years during the debates on the Estimates. I refer to the abolition of appeals from Australian courts to the Privy Council. This matter is covered in the Estimates by Division No. 120 - High Court. One could cover a great deal of ground in approaching this question but I do not want to recapitulate the lengthy arguments that i and other senators have advanced in previous years in support of the proposition that the time has come realistically, calmly, as a matter of judgment and unemotionally to abolish the appeals to the Privy Council.
There is no longer any justification in logic for such appeals. Australia has developed maturity as a nation. We have gone through two world wars and have reached a new standing and status in international affairs. We have long ceased to occupy the position in relation to the United Kingdom that we occupied not only prior to the Statute of Westminster but also prior to the new institution of the Commonwealth of Nations, supplanting the British Commonwealth of Nations which in turn supplanted the British Empire as the particular British organisation to which our country belonged. I submit that the same level of maturity should be manifested in the legal system as is manifested in the political institutions of Australia.
One has only to look at the very special position of the High Court of Australia as the interpreter of the Commonwealth Constitution to appreciate this submission. Over the years, the High Court of Australia has developed a deservedly high reputation for the skill and sophistication which members of the Court have brought to the elucidation of some very complex and far reaching issues affecting the economic life of the country in a manifold variety of ways. Nobody has ever suggested that the High Court of Australia is not an appropriate body - indeed, I say it is the appropriate body - to be the arbiter and interpreter of the Constitution.
I think we have to compare its role with that of another great court in a federal system - the Supreme Court of the United States of America - which also fulfils a strong and independent role as the interpreter of that great country’s Constitution. It would be manifestly absurd if anyone were to suggest that any decision of the Supreme Court of the United States should, in some way, be regarded as subject to some other court outside the U.S.A. There is a sufficient degree of confidence in the maturity of the highest judicial tribunal in the land to make it an outlandish proposi tion even to suggest that in some way it should not be the final court, of appeal. What is the difference between the function that the Supreme Court of the U.S.A. has in the interpretation of the United States Constitution and the function which our own High Court of Australia has in the interpretation of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia?
I venture to say that if one looks at this matter unhysterically there is no argument that could properly be advanced in support of retaining the right to appeal to the Privy Council. This is not merely a view that springs from a particular political altitude towards Australia’s development and future, including the future of its institutions and particularly its legal institutions. It is a view that is widely held in the legal profession and one that finds some support in the way in which the High Court of Australia itself has recently approached its own task. Only last year in an important case of Parker against the Queen, the former Chief Justice of the High Court, Sir Owen Dixon, speaking for all members of the Court, including justices who were not sitting on that particular case, enunciated a new position in relation to the Court’s practice of following decisions of the House of Lords. Prior to this case, not only had the High Court deferred to decisions of the House of Lords, even when not inclined as a matter of logic to follow them, but as a matter of long established practice, the High Court had deferred also to the decisions of the Court of Appeal. In this important case of Parker against the Queen which was decided last year, Sir Owen Dixon said -
Hitherto I have thought that we ought to follow decisions of the House of Lords at the expense of our own opinions and cases decided here, but having carefully studied Smith’s case I think that we cannot adhere to that view or policy.
His Honor was referring to the case of the Director of. Public Prosecutions versus Smith, decided by the House of Lords in 1961.
It has been pointed out in legal journals, including the “ Australian Law Journal “, that the significance of that declaration by the former Chief Justice lies not only in the reversal it effects in the rule of precedent but also in the time and manner of its making. In one view, it was not necessary to decline to follow the decision of the House of Lords in Smith’s case. The fact is that the occasion was there, it presented itself to the High Court of Australia and the High Court took the opportunity to stake out a specially independent role in relation to the decisions of the English courts so that, from now on, the only English court to which the High Court of Australia would regard itself as in any way bound to defer is the Privy Council itself. The view was expressed, again in .the “Australian Law Journal”, in these words -
It would we believe accord with the views of the great majority of persons having an informed opinion on the subject if by one means or another such appeals were with duc propriety now to be brought to an end.
So the view I am putting is not an isolated view and it does not spring, as I have said, from a particular political attitude. The great respect that our own High Court of Australia enjoys in the English speaking juristic world and beyond makes it a matter of dealing with these events in the context of contemporary history only.
We have reached a stage where it is appropriate to say that Australia should follow the example of Canada, which has abolished appeals to the Privy Council. It ought not to be a matter for emotion and ought not to be regarded in the nature of an act of revolt against the United Kingdom and the great English speaking judicial system which fathered our own system of law. It is a simple question of seizing the appropriate moment in history to put the seal on the independence of Australia’s judicial system side by side with the independence of our political system. I commend this proposal again to the Minister. I appreciate that it is not something that may be conceded in the course of the debate on the Estimates, but I suggest that this is the appropriate time and place to raise the matter for consideration and to invite the Government’s attention to what is now, I believe, a fairly widely supported view in the legal profession and in the community. I believe it to be time to formalise a position which in practice, as in the minds of those interested in the problem, has been the actual position.
It is true that appeals are still taken to the Privy Council. It is very rarely, either in civil or criminal matters, that special leave to appeal is granted. In problems as to the limits inter se of the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth and the States, no appeal lies unless under section 74 of the Constitution a certificate from the High Court is given that it is a matter proper to go to the Privy Council. As that is the major aspect of the Court’s work, what is left to go to the Privy Council except some matters of private law that seem to have little relevance to a court sitting 12,000 miles away?
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- I wish to refer to Division No. 125 - Patents, Trade Marks and Designs. The appropriation for 1964-65 for payment of salaries and allowances in this section, as set out in the Schedule, is £474,300. Last year the expenditure on this division amounted to £417,305. It is therefore anticipated that expenditure will increase in 1964-65 by £57,000. The Schedule shows that the number of positions for supervising examiners, examiners of patents, cadet examiners of patents and examiners’ assistants is to be increased from 147, the “number of positions in 1963-64, to 222 in 1964-65. For 1963-64 the appropriation for payment of salaries of this group of employees was £244,795. For 1964-65 the appropriation is £439,660, an increase of £194,865, which seems to be a rather large increase in respect of one year’s operations. Perhaps the Minister could inform me of the reason for this large increase. Was all last year’s work not done by the staff? Has there been a rush of work to be completed in the coming year? Surely there must have been some change in the volume of work to be performed.
It has been observed that the AttorneyGeneral’s Department has been growing. Certain officers have been transferred to the Department and an increase in the volume of work has resulted. I have noticed that we do not get reports in respect of all offices of the Attorney-General’s Department. For example, we do not get a report from the Patents, Trade Marks and Designs Office, or from certain other offices. I think the time has arrived for a general annual report to be furnished by the Attorney-General’s Department to the Parliament, setting out detailed information of the duties performed by the staff, the class of work performed and the results obtained.
Honorable senators may recall a debate that took place in the Senate a few years ago on the failure of the Attorney-General’s Department to keep up to date the regulations relating to pay of service men. It was found that that work had been neglected for about 10 or 11 years and that service men were receiving pay increases without proper authority having been granted by the Parliament. When the. matter was thoroughly investigated it was found that it arose from the shortage of parliamentary draftsmen employed in the Attorney-General’s Department. That problem seems to have been solved because it appears that the staff numbers are at a normal level.
.- Since the Minister replied to my earlier questions, I have had an opportunity to discuss the matter to which I referred with the secretary of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Journalists Association. I refer to Division 117, sub-division 1, item 02, which relates to temporary and casual employees. The Minister will recall that I referred earlier to the provision of long service leave for casual officers of the Commonwealth Reporting Branch. A number of these employees have given long and valued service, either in a temporary or casual capacity, to the Commonwealth. The secretary of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Journalists Association, acting on behalf of his members within the employ of the Attorney-General’s Department, approached the Department with a request that long service leave payments be made to its casual employees. He referred particularly to an officer who had injured her leg in an accident. I am informed that despite what I have been told by the Minister - that the matter was finalised a year ago - an approach was made to the Department by the New South Wales branch of the Australian Journalists Association early this year. I am informed that on 18th February the Assistant Secretary (Administration and Finance) advised the Australian Journalists Association that the matter was being investigated.
– Are you referring to a general matter or to an individual matter?
– As I understand it, it is a general matter. On 15th April the A.J.A. wrote to the Department seeking advice, but to date no advice has been forthcoming. I may be under a misapprehension. This could well be an individual case, but I understand that it relates to long service leave payment for all casual officers of this Branch. I suggest that the matter could well be investigated to see whether finality has been reached. According to the records of the A.J.A. the documents dealing with the matter are still in the abeyance tray.’ I should like the Minister, through his departmental officers, to ascertain the facts.
I wish to refer also to Division No. 115, subdivision 2, item 08, and to relate my remarks to incidental and other expenditure. Nowhere throughout the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department can I see any amount set aside for cost of conferences that take place from time to time between the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth and the Attorneys-General of the States. I assume that the cost of these conferences comes under the heading of incidental and other expenditure. I raise this matter because about 12 or 14 months ago I spoke in the Senate, on the motion for the adjournment, about television service contracts. As a result of my remarks at that time, and of subsequent questions that I placed on the notice paper, the matter was, I understand, discussed between the Commonwealth Attorney-General and the State Attorneys-General. The last reply that I received, but which unfortunately I have not in front of me at present, was to the effect that this problem was not now of immediate concern because the malpractices in this industry had abated.
The fact is that people are still being fleeced and nothing appears to have been done to protect them. Only last week an article appeared in one of the Sydney metropolitan daily newspapers in which it was stated that rackets were going on in regard to the modification of. television sets to provide for the new television channel that is to be set up in Sydney some time this year. I understand that the rackets are going on also in Melbourne. One practice is for socalled. tradesmen to visit homes, put a screwdriver on two terminals on the back of a television set, cause a spark to fly, and then advise the woman householder that the set is dangerous and should be traded ‘in. That is only one of the things that are going on. The Minister might well argue that this is not a Commonwealth matter but is a State matter. However, as soon as a person carrying out this malpractice is caught in New South Wales he moves to the Australian Capital Territory, and then when he is caught there he moves to Melbourne or elsewhere. This matter must be approached on a joint and uniform basis. I ask the Minister whether the Department still has the matter in mind because it affects a great number of people, particularly as the promised restrictive trade practices legislation has still not been introduced. I think that the matter should be looked at closely.
I wish to raise another matter which comes under the subject of administration. There appears to be no provision in the Estimates for the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory. It might be thought that this Court comes under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior, but I have looked through the estimates for that Department and cannot find any item dealing with the cost of administrating the Supreme Court of the A.C.T. I speak on this matter to suggest that the Commonwealth, in the administration of its criminal jurisdiction, should consider a matter to which the New South Wales Government is giving some attention, namely, the abolition of docks for accused persons.
– The abolition of what?
– The abolition of docks. They might not be known as docks in Tasmania, but they are known as docks in New South Wales. When an accused person is brought for trial he is held in the dock during the course of the trial.
– Where is he supposed to go?
– Just let me finish. The New South Wales Minister of Justice has announced that he is considering removing docks from the criminal courts of New South Wales because under British law every person is deemed innocent until he is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and the mere placing of a man in a dock in a court, particularly when there are court officers or policemen standing alongside him, may mean to a jury an implication of guilt. The Minister of Justice investigated the situation in the United States of America and elsewhere and he is giving consideration to this matter. He thinks that an accused person’s trial can well be prejudiced if he is placed in a dock. He thinks also that the accused should be given free and reasonable access to his legal advisers. The Minister representing the Attorney-General may or may not agree with this contention, but I mention the matter because I believe there is a great deal of truth in the suggestion that has been put forward. I ask the Minister to consider the matters I have raised.
.- I rise in deference to the thoughtful speech of Senator Cohen, but before I refer to: that speech I want to make passing reference to a few observations that have just fallen from the lips of Senator McClelland. I wonder whether the Minister of Justice in New South Wales has given consideration to the process that obtains in America where, when a President is assassinated, the prisoner who is accused of the crime is available to be shot when in custody. That to me seems to be an indictment of American practice, and should deter us from too hastily copying the methods used there.
It may be that there is not as much in Senator McClelland’s suggestion as he implies. If he simply wishes to put an accused person in a more accessible post: tion to converse with his legal advisers, well and good, but let us never place the accused on the bench in the hope that we will remove all prejudice from him. Let us remember that some accused are dangerous persons and have to be searched every time they come into the company of law abiding persons. We do not want to generate the idea that there is any great prejudice against an accused. I merely make these few remarks to remind the Committee that the paramount interest in a court of criminal jurisdiction is justice. An accused person should certainly not be prejudiced but neither should he be put on a pedestal, or in a position of preference in relation to other people in the court. I would hate to see an accused person put in a position where he could not be observed by the judge and the jury, or by the public. On the other hand, the public may feel a little prejudiced against the accused, and therefore for his own protection he should be in a special position. Similarly, for the protection of the public, he should be in an isolated position. In saying that I raise no argument against the plea that an accused person should not be prejudiced.
But I rose just to say how much I appreciate the manner in which Senator Cohen put his material in regard to the proposition that the appeal to the Privy Council should be abolished. I have come into the chamber without having formed any concluded view upon that matter myself and I trust it will not detract from what Senator Cohen has said if I do not join in the advocacy of his cause. I only wanted to add, in the hope that the Attorney-General’s Department is actively giving consideration to that matter as incidental to other matters that are on its programme at the present time, that I noticed in an article in the last issue of the “Law Quarterly Review” that the evolution of the English Court of Appeal and the House of Lords as a dual appeal system was evolved in 1875 out of most extraordinarily minute and trivial political circumstances. Ever since that time England has, from the point of view of its own municipal system, a dual appeal from a Justice of the High Court to the Court of Appeal and then normally to the House of Lords.
In Australia, since the formation of the Federal system, from a single judge who exercises the principal jurisdiction of a Supreme Court, there is an appeal, first of all, to the Full Court of the Supreme Court; then, if it is a civil matter involving over £1.500 as a civil right, there is next an appeal, as of right, to the High Court; and after that there is an appeal by leave to the Privy Council.
I simply state those facts because I have been interested to read the recent article written by Sir Garfield Barwick when he was Minister for External Affairs and before he assumed the office of the Chief Justice of the High Court, and published in the recent edition of the “Federal Law Review” in which he indicates reasons for establishing an intermediate appellate tribunal in the Federal system in Australia. Now, if we were to get that system we would have an appeal from a single judge of the Supreme Court to the Full Court of the Supreme Court, then to the intermediate
Federal Court, then by leave to the High Court and then by leave to the Privy Council. 1 know that the Attorney-General’s Department is actively considering this establishment of an intermediate federal appeal court, and I rise not to join in a thoughtful discussion of this question of the appeal to the Privy Council, but only to ask the Attorney-General’s representative here to take note that within the legal profession there is a growing anxiety that the system of justice, overweighted by an indefinite succession of appeals with the consequent cost and delay, is being impeded. I simply wish to make that reference knowing that the matter is under active consideration by the Attorney-General’s Department.
One other word I cannot forebear to express whilst on my feet: 1 hope that the Minister will offer some observation as to the utility in the year 1964 of legal service bureaux. To me it is quite inappropriate that these bureaux should continue to exist. If there are dependants of ex-servicemen and ex-servicemen themselves who are in need of legal advice I feel sure that the officers of the Attorney-General’s Department, if they had the spirit and energy to fertilise this purpose, could make a far moire comprehensive arrangement with the legal profession generally whereby, in deserving cases, advice and advocacy would be forthcoming without fee on an infinitely more efficient and comprehensive basis than it is available from these legal service bureaux which, I think, are inappropriate to the present day.
.^-! would like to reply before these matters get too numerous. Senator McKellar raised a question as to where money was provided in the Estimates for the upkeep of the Supreme Court. It can be found at the top of page 133 of the Estimates under the Department of the Interior in the top lot of Estimates. Senator McClelland raised a question, if I understand it correctly - and I think I do - concerning an organisation or a group of people who want to have the right to service television sets in the hands of the public restricted to them. They do not want to allow anybody except members of that group to go and repair sets. I am not prepared to express either my own view or the Government’s view as to whether that would be a proper course to pursue. The Attorney-General’s Department at one stage did have some complaints that some people without proper competence were doing damage to sets. Apparently, that is not now happening. It might well be that the proposal mentioned by the honorable senator would, in itself, be a restrictive trade practice.
On the question of the cost of conferences between Attorneys-General of the various States, this appears under the AttorneyGeneral’s Department at Division No. 115, sub-division 2, item 01, “Travelling and subsistence - £40,300”. Regarding the matter raised by Senator McClelland before as to whether casual employees in the Commonwealth Court Reporting Branch should be eligible for long service leave, I think, perhaps, he may be speaking about an individual case instead of a general case, or possibly there is some other misunderstanding somewhere along the way. I am informed by the Attorney-General’s Department that it told the Treasury, which is the Department which administers the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Act, that casual reporters employed in the Commonwealth Court Reporting Branch should be regarded as employees within the meaning of that Act. So that is a repetition of the departmental view 1. gave the honorable senator before.
The matters raised by Senator Cohen were in regard to the law for designs and patents. There again, designs appear to be so inexplicably intermingled with copyright that legislation for both would virtually have to be brought down together. There seems to be no chance of bringing down a law for copyright that does not apply to designs nor to bring down a law for designs that does not apply to copyrights.
– Is there a separate committee?
– I do not think there is a separate committee but the AttorneyGeneral’s Department is considering the matter. The question of the possible alteration of extradition laws, as suggested by the Foreign Affairs Committee, is one that is under active consideration. Referring to the matter of law reform in the Australian Capital Territory, the Department of the Interior, which acts in the role of a State government for the Australian Capital Ter ritory, is getting out a scheme for law reform. When it is ready the Department will discuss the implementation of the scheme with the Attorney-General’s Department. I will draw the attention of the Attorney-General to the honorable senator’s suggestion about the telephone regulations being made more easily readable. There is a regular review going on of these publications. There are myriad numbers of them but I will draw the attention of the Attorney-General to that particular one.
Regarding the matter of appeals to the Privy Council, I found the remarks both of Senator Cohen and of Senator Wright extremely interesting. Of course, it is not a matter which directly appears in the estimates of the Attorney-General’s Department and it is not a matter which the AttorneyGeneral himself could decide. Obviously, it is a matter for decision by the Government. It is also a matter on which I do not propose to express any opinion, except to tell both honorable senators that their remarks will be drawn to the attention of the Attorney-General, if not by his officers who are present, then by myself.
I do not feel competent to express a legal view at all on the matters that have been raised. I have been informed that there arc some complexities and complications in this matter because under the Constitution there are State rights for individuals to appeal direct from a State court to the Privy Council, and no matter what we did that would still carry on. But these are legal complexities into which I do not want to enter at the moment. I will leave them to the members of the legal fraternity, if that is the correct word, to discuss amongst themselves.
– I refer first to Division No. 115 - Administrative - and ask the Minister whether provision is made for the administrative costs involved in the staff of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department handling the introduction of the restrictive trade practices legislation in the year 1964-65. The delay in the introduction of this legislation is a matter of great concern, particularly to the people of Tasmania, where the need for such legislation is so apparent. At the present time in Tasmania an inquiry is taking place into prices. Some of the practices that obtain in business today have to be seen to be believed. We find that in practically every field of endeavour because of the practices being carried on, the consumer is being immortally fleeced by trade organisations.
I now want to refer to Division No. 128 -Commonwealth Police Force. One particular matter that came out of the inquiry 1 have mentioned was that a small Hobart knitwear retailer was boycotted by Melbourne manufacturers. An honorable senator from Tasmania who sits on the Government side considered that this was so unfair that he sought the aid of the Commonwealth Police force. The police interviewed the Melbourne manufacturers and pointed out that they were unfairly treating the knitwear retailer. As a result of the police intervention, supplies of knitwear were made available to the retailer. T think that the honorable senator showed great initiative in trying to get justice for a person in a particular case.
It is most interesting to observe that the activities of the Commonwealth Police Force can be extended into such a field. Through police intervention, manufacturers can be reminded of their moral obligation to the community and to the small retailer in particular, and informed that such practices are frowned upon by the Commonwealth Government and the community. The police are in a position to advise these people that it is better if an agreement is reached.
– That was hardly the basis. It was that the Commonwealth police have a duty to administer Commonwealth law; and it was in respect of the Australian Industries Preservation Act that the situation referred to by the honorable senator was revealed.
– That is a most interesting aspect. The Government already has power under the Australian Industries Preservation Act. This is the first occasion on which 1 have heard of the power being exercised. I refer to an article in the Hobart “Mercury” of 2nd October 1964, in which it is stated -
A boycott of a small Hobart knitwear shop by two Melbourne manufacturers had been lifted after intervention by Commonwealth Police, the State Prices Inquiry was told yesterday.
One firm had honoured the agreement to lift the boycott, but the other had not done so fully.
Mr. M. C. Boucher, proprietor of Pastels* a knitwear shop in Collins Street, Hobart, gave evidence before the Prices Inquiry. He said - . . a woman representative of G. P. FitzGerald and Co. Ltd. had “ put a gun at the head “ of a Hobart manufacturer’s agent to prevent the supply of knitwear to Pastels.
Mr. Boucher said that the agent, Mr. D. Lowe, had told him supplies would have to be slopped. “ FitzGeralds said they would boycott the firms supplying me, “ Mr Boucher said.
He said the representative of FitzGeralds was a Miss Card.
Mr. Boucher said it was through Senator Wright that the “ boycott “ was lifted. He had approached the Commonwealth Police.
Two Commonwealth police officers visited two Melbourne knitwear supply firms, who agreed to supply the shop.
The supplies concerned were two national lines of knitwear, Heathermoores and Crestknit.
That is all I know of the proceedings before the Prices Inquiry, but it does illustrate that, through the exercise of the powers that are already vested in the Commonwealth, more can be done to stem this ever growing tide of restrictive trade practices, price fixing and the like.
Another example of these practices related to king size packets of soap powder. It was sheer blatant dishonesty for manufacturers to have a king size packet of soap’ powder with ‘* lOd. off” printed on it. In a particular store there were packets of soap powder with a content of 35i ounces and immediately alongside them were king size packets with “ lOd. off” printed on them, with a content of 31 ounces, both being sold for the same price. Owing to a change in merchandising, two consignments of packets of soap powder, one with a content of 351 ounces and the other 31 ounces were in the store at the same time and no attempt was made to inform the public that there was a difference of 4i ounces in the contents of the packets. The lOd. off was only a gimmick anyway. The price was raised by 10d., and then it was taken off. The point is that the people were not getting value.
Until the restrictive trade practices legislation is introduced, there must be a moral responsibility on the Attorney-General’s Department to do something about this matter, particularly in view of the revelations that are coming to the notice of the public as a result of the inquiry in our little State of Tasmania. I believe that we in Tasmania are pious Toms compared with those in the business jungle in the capital cities, particularly Melbourne and Sydney.
– It would be an offence in every State to label and sell a 31 ounce packet as a 35i ounce packet. You do not want restrictive trade practices legislation to make that an offence.
– No, but there does not seem to be anyone responsible for seeing that this is policed.
– The Chief Secretary’s Department in each State does that.
– They know about it now, but they cannot open a packet.
– They can buy a packet any day they wish, take it away and weigh it.
– At any rate, it was not divulged until the prices inquiry had examined the matter.
– If you go on and be fair you will see that the storekeeper gave evidence that that particular consignment had been overlooked by his staff for one day.
– It is a little like the practice in some shops of giving the wrong change. When this is brought to the notice of the shopkeeper, he says: “I am sorry “, and that is the end of it. What I want to stress in raising this matter is that unless the Commonwealth Government gives the necessary guidance, and if one person gets away with these small degrees of dishonesty, then dishonesty will become the rule rather than the exception. This will have a cumulative effect which will stimulate the ever increasing price spiral and undermine the whole national economic fabric.
The Government is opposed to price control but eventually it will have to face the necessity to introduce Commonwealth legislation to provide a measure of price control, just as it has to face the necessity to introduce legislation relating to restrictive trade practices. Many present day business men will have to be disciplined. Our nation will suffer great disadvantages if restrictive trade practices are allowed to continue unhindered.
The fact that the Commonwealth Police Force was able to intervene on this occasion raises the point that the Australian Industry Preservation Act should be implemented more effectively until such times as the restrictive trade practices legislation is introduced - irrespective of the reasons for the delay in its introduction, whether they be political or mechanical. The Commonwealth Government has an instrumentality under its control, the Commonwealth Police Force, which obviously by its actions, was able to settle a very ticklish problem involving an unfair imposition on a small trader, lt actually got to the nub of the problem of what can be classified as business immorality throughout the nation.
As I said earlier, if this is happening in Tasmania, and was brought to the surface only as a result of the prices inquiry, to what extent must it be gathering momentum in other States. I hope that the Minister will give an assurance - that when the need arises the Government will use the Commonwealth Police Force to try to stem this very ugly tide which is rising and undermining our whole national economic fabric.
.- I should like to refer to Division No. 126 - Legal Service Bureaux - which was mentioned by Senator Wright. Honorable senators on both sides of the chamber have stated that legal aid should be available to people who are unable to pay the usual legal costs. Where are these Legal Service Bureaux situated? Do they in fact act only for returned soldiers or in repatriation matters? A step has been taken in the last 1 2 months by the Law Institute of Victoria to set up a panel of legal men.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension I had been inquiring of the Minister regarding the services rendered by the Legal Service Bureaux. I also had referred to the help that was given to people who were not able to pay full legal costs. I understand that criticism has been voiced here and in another place regarding the accessibility of legal help rendered by members of the legal profession. I should like to inform the Senate that in Victoria the Law Institute set up a committee of four which undertakes voluntary legal aid. The committee is formed of two representatives of the Law Institute and two members nominated by the Victorian Bar Council, that is, the barristers’ council. These people meet once a week and will render help to anyone who can be proved to have need of their services. The Legal Aid Act was passed at the beginning of this year and the committee came into operation on 14th April. Since that date, it has received 964 applications and dealt with 225 cases. Of those cases, 20 were in regard to divorce and 59 were in regard to maintenance. So in Victoria, at any rate, Sir, legal aid is available, given voluntarily by the legal profession and also through the Public Solicitor under the Poor Persons Legal Assistance Act of 1958.
I should like to turn now to Division No. 115, subdivision 4, item 02 - Matrimonial Causes Act - Grants to approved marriage guidance organisations. 1 notice with very great thankfulness that the grant is to be increased by £1 1,000, the appropriation last year having been £62,000 and the proposed appropriation for 1964-65 being £73,000. Approved marriage guidance councils in all States are doing excellent work. This extra assistance will enable them to expand their work. In Victoria there are a few provincial cities where people have banded together with the purpose of setting up marriage guidance councils. The increased grant will enable this work to be developed in Victoria. I know that in Townsville there is a branch of the Brisbane marriage guidance council. There is no need for me to point out that the work of marriage guidance councils has been tremendously helped by the grants that have been made by the Commonwealth Government over the past few years.
This grant, of course, Sir, is for counselling services only. I should like to put to the Minister that perhaps at some stage consideration could be given to help for the preventive side of this work, the educational programmes that are being undertaken by all States. They have been a very great feature of the work in Victoria, and all age groups have been assisted to realise the responsibilities of marriage and the problems with which young people are beset at the beginning of their married life. They receive excellent help, also, in facing up to the responsibilities and problems that arise as children grow into the difficult age of adolescence.
I was interested and very alarmed indeed to read comments made by a psychiatrist who has just recently returned to Melbourne. He says that one in every ten persons in Australia is emotionally distressed and this distress affects one in every three families; that a child born in Melbourne or any other Australian city has ten times more chance of spending part of its life in a mental hospital than at university. That is a very alarming state of affairs indeed, lt makes us realise that anything that can be done to preserve the mental health of the community must be undertaken. This work of the marriage guidance councils in preparing people for marriage and assisting th: m afterwards in the various stages of married life is a means of achieving stability of family life - emotional stability, which after all is tremendously important for the marriage partners and for the children who in turn will marry and have either emotionally disturbed homes or stable homes. It is only through establishing stability in family life that we can develop our country to the best possible standards. So I should like to suggest that perhaps the Minister might, when thinking of the Estimates for next year, give some consideration to the very valuable work of education being carried out by the marriage guidance councils.
.- There is one matter that I want to raise in relation to . a suggestion made by Senator Wright as to the possibility of a multiplicity of tribunals in the system of appeals. Senator Wright referred to the proposed Federal Court, and to the fact that if it were esablished there would be appeals through it from the Supreme Courts of the States to the High Court of Australia and eventually to the Privy Council. I want to inquire what the present position is with relation to the proposed Federal Court..
At the Commonwealth Law Convention in January 1963 the then Solicitor-General, Sir Kenneth Bailey, announced that the Attorney-General had the authority to design a new Federal Court. His words* I think, may be referred to verbatim so that he cannot be misquoted. At page 325, volume 36, of the “Australian Law Journal “, Sir Kenneth is reported to have said -
It may not be known that the AttorneyGeneral has Cabinet authority to design a new Federal Court with a view to consideration by Cabinet for approval for legislative action.
That announcement was received with interest at the Commonwealth Law Convention in January 1963. I ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General: When did Cabinet give that authority? This was not disclosed by the Solicitor-General on that occasion, and, as far as I know, it has not been the subject of any statement since. Secondly, I ask the Minister: What stage has been reached in designing the new Court? The then Solicitor-General referred to the wish of Sir Garfield Barwick, who was then Attorney-General, to lighten the burden of the High Court in its overall tasks in the Australian judicial system. I should like to know what progress has been made and when we may expect some announcement.
– I address my remarks to Division No. 115 - Administrative. I should like the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) to indicate whether the Government has any plans to assist public spirited citizens who organise themselves into groups such as the Australian Consumers Council. My examination of the situation leads me to believe that this Government does nothing to assist the consumers. This afternoon Senator O’Byrne told us about the exploitation of consumers in Hobart, with one of the big chain stores offering light weight in certain packages and duplicating certain other packages. I have before me the final report of the Committee on Consumer Protection in England. The work of that Committee was almost completely financed by the United Kingdom Government. In the United States of America there is an organisation known as the Consumers Advisory Council which has to do with the co-ordinating of activities to give consumers some sort of protection and which provides the machinery for consumers to develop their own protection against exploitation. That is apart altogether from the normal legislation which is designed to afford protection but which is evaded by those smart people in the community who continually exploit consumers.
In the Labour world we used to have the slogan “ Workers of the world unite “. It could well be replaced by the slogan “ Consumers of the world unite “. Yesterday Mr. Whitlam, when addressing the Federal Labour Women’s Conference, dealt very strongly with consumers’ rights. I was very impressed by the case he advanced, which received a good run in the newspapers today. There seems to be developing a strong public belief that this Government should give a lead in the matter. Even if the Government is experiencing difficulty in preparing legislation to control monopolies, it ought not to find any difficulty in assisting the citizens of Australia who want to do something for themselves to fight exploitation by drug manufacturers, cosmetic manufacturers and the manufacturers of soaps and powders which are sold under various names. The consumers need some protection, and the Government ought to give it to them. I should like the Minister to give me his views on this matter.
I refer now to the administration of the divorce legislation. Recently I asked the Minister whether the Government was trying to reduce the high cost of divorce proceedings. I reminded him that a judge of the Divorce1 Court of New South Wales had drawn attention to the ever increasing cost of divorce. I might be quite wrong in my recollection, but it is my understanding that one of the purposes of the marriage and divorce legislation that was passed a couple of years ago was to reduce costs. In his reply, the Minister told me what the Government had been doing and then used words to the effect that it was not the Government’s intention to cheapen or make easier the obtaining of a divorce. I gained the impression from the Minister’s answer that regarding divorce costs, the rich were better off than the poor and that the Government was not necessarily eager to cheapen the cost of divorce to such an extent that divorce would be popularised or, if I may use another phrase, to the extent that it would be easier for the poorer sections of the community to get a divorce. Can the Minister develop his answer any further? I should like to think that that is not his view.
I come now to legal aid bureaux. My experience has been that when people go to these organisations for aid they feel that they are getting second class treatment. I have had quite a lot to do in helping people who have become involved with legal troubles and I have sent them to the legal aid bureaux. There they have lined up with others and sat on a form to await their turn. By the time they have gone through the process of getting this form of government assistance - I think this applies to all legal aid bureaux - they feel that they have had enough and that from the moment they first received advice right up to the court proceedings, if such proceedings have been instituted, they have received only second class treatment. I ask the Minister whether there is any justification for that belief, which is rather general. 1 was interested to hear Senator Wright criticise the system this afternoon. I think he had in mind that other means were available whereby a better legal service could be given to the poorer sections of the community. Will the Minister tell me whether the Government has any views about changing or improving the system in the interests of people who come up against high legal costs?
I note that at page 53 of the AuditorGeneral’s report for the year ended 30th June 1964 the following statement appears -
During 1963-64, certain revenue receipts were accounted for incorrectly under - Court Reporting Branch; Fees, fines and costs of court; and Miscellaneous.
Will the Minister give me an explanation of that statement?
– First, I want to refer to the last matter to which Senator Ormonde referred, the question of legal aid. I would not like Senator Ormonde to get tangled up into agreeing with Senator Wright’s statement on this question. According to my interpretation of Senator Wright’s statement, he took the attitude generally that legal aid should bc restricted to ex-servicemen who were in difficult circumstances. His speech mainly was directed to restricting the use of legal aid at this stage to necessitous cases involving persons who had done a service to the country.
I do not think that is in accord with Senator Ormonde’s views but I think the general opinion on the Opposition side would be that the provision of legal aid should be extended. Many persons who have a legal claim or a good defence are deprived of the opportunity of putting their case before a court because of the cost. Although we on the Opposition side are associated with some legal luminaries, their political leanings do not extend to generosity in defending cases. Legal proceedings are costly and many persons are unable to press their claims fully.
The system of legal aid in South Australia would appear to be different from that operating in the Australian Capital Territory. In South Australia, if a person can establish entitlement to legal aid under a means test he is sent to a private solicitor who takes the case over in the normal way. I believe the solicitor is paid a retainer by the Law Society of South Australia. There is no question of a person needing legal aid being defended only by one of a panel of solicitors in the employment of a particular department. Any suggestion of inferior treatment such as seems to apply in New South Wales does not appear to have any application in South Australia. We have had many hard fought cases there which have gone to a higher court of appeal. These cases have been conducted by private solicitors acting on instructions from the Law Society of South Australia. I throw that information in for consideration.
I turn now to Division No. 1 15 - =- Administrative. The proposed vote for the administrative staff of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department is £350,200, ah increase of nearly £45,000 on actual expenditure last year which totalled £305,716. This immediately suggests that there is to be an increase in staff. I am concerned whether the Attorney-General is getting competent staff to advise him. This is very important. The present Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) seems to have a fanatical hatred of some political views. He can see a Communist plot behind all the activities of his opponents. Nevertheless, I do not think he would make statements with such assurance unless he was getting what he thought to be accurate advice.
All ministers, and particularly the Attorney-General with a busy and extensive department, must have a big staff to advise them. In another place, the present Attorney-General has already made one statement that he had to retract concerning the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns). He made a statement in which he said that Dr. Cairns was associated with a certain person on a platform in Victoria at a meeting of a peace conference. The Attorney-General said that he was acting on information, and his information was inaccurate. He had to withdraw his statement and apologise to the honorable member for Yarra. This must be very embarrassing for a man holding such a high position as AttorneyGeneral and we must sympathise with him if be is acting on false advice given to him by officers of his Department who have unreliable sources of information or have not thoroughly checked. the details of information they were, supplying to the AttorneyGeneral.
A ministerial statement on the Australian Congress for International Co-operation and Disarmament was presented in the House of Representatives by the AttorneyGeneral and was read in the Senate. This referred to the activities of the Australian Communist Party and the peace congress. Informed persons who have looked at the list of those who were said to be sponsors of the peace conference or actively supporting it would say that the AttorneyGeneral’s statement was ridiculous. It was a long statement and it could not have been made from the Minister’s personal knowledge. He must have had advice or information prepared by his Department. Again, the advice was inaccurate and held the Department up to ridicule.
On 1st October in another place the Attorney-General made another statement concerning Mr. E. S. Sachs to whom the Minister referred as Mr. Solly Sachs. Mr. Sachs is in Australia on behalf of the South African Defence and Aid Fund and collecting on behalf of the African Defence League. The Attorney-General said that Mr. Sachs had stated in 1950 in a law court in South Africa that he was a member of the Communist Party. We find, now, that about that time Mr. Sachs was getting a verdict from the court awarding him f 500 for defamation. The order was made against a person who had said that Mr. Sachs was a member of the Communist Party. In fact, Mr. Sachs had been expelled from the Communist Party in 1931.
– One has to be a member to be expelled.
– The point I am making is that the Attorney-General said that in 1950 Mr. Sachs had stated to a court that he was a member of the Communist
Party. The only interpretation of that statement is that the Attorney-General believed, on reports he had received in 1950, that Mr. Sachs was then a member of the Communist Party whereas at that very time Mr. Sachs was getting a court verdict against somebody who had said that he was a member of the Communist Party. In fact, it was then 20 years since Mr. Sachs had had any association with the Communist Party. Obviously such a statement holds the author - in this case an important Minister - up to ridicule. If he continues on this line, the apologies will have to come from him so frequently while he is wrongly advised on these matters that they will not only fill “Hansard” but will also make necessary some review of the holder of his position.
– Or a disclosure of the evidence.
– Or a disclosure of the evidence. But, so far, a disclosure has not been made and, in fact, the Minister has had to make apologies. In relation to Mr. Sachs, the Minister has to show that the official records of the South African court were wrong if he is to support his charge. So his task becomes more difficult. I do not know whether additional officers are to be appointed to enable the Minister to show that the official records of the South African court are wrong but I believe the Minister will find that he has an onerous task in trying to exonerate himself from the responsibility for the false accusations he has made.
I ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General whether the reports on which the Attorney-General’s statements have been based have come from the Attorney-General’s Department. Can we have an assurance that officers who are appointed in future will be more reliable in supplying information to the AttorneyGeneral for the statements that he makes from time to time? ,
– I shall reply to the remarks made by Senator Cavanagh although what he had to say was not strictly applicable to the Estimates. Senator Cavanagh referred to statements made by the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden). These statements were, in the main, completely accurate and where they were not completely accurate they were inaccurate only in minor detail.
– Is that why the Attorney-General apologised?
– I am only answering the points raised by the honorable senator. Taking them one by one, he first made an incorrect statement as to what was said in the Mouse of Representatives by the AttorneyGeneral about the honorable member for Yarra. Senator Cavanagh said that the Attorney-General had stated that the honorable member for Yarra was associated with a Communist on the same platform at a peace conference. In point of fact the Attorney-General did not say that. Let us at least make our statements accurate. What the Attorney-General said was that the honorable member for Yarra spoke from the same platform as a Communist at a meeting called by the Yugoslav Settlers Association. The facts are that the honorable member for Yarra and other persons were sponsors of a meeting called by the Yugoslav Settlers Association. The meeting was addressed by the honorable member for Yarra and by a Communist, but they did not happen to speak from the same physical platform.
– That is not so.
– That is so. They did not happen to speak from the same physical platform. I suggest that was a very minor point in the context in which the AttorneyGeneral withdrew. The honorable member for Yarra and a Communist spoke at .the same meeting and, indeed, on the same lines, but not on the same physical platform.
Senator Cavanagh referred also to the statement of the Attorney-General which related to a peace conference. It was a completely factual statement and, so far as I know, none of the facts contained in it has been questioned. It showed the genealogy of the peace conference back through various other peace conferences, stemming originally from the Communist world, as an instance of Communist policy. The statement named - and I have not heard any question that the names were incorrect - the Communists associated with the organising and the running of the peace conference. It stated that it was right and proper for the people of Australia to know these people were associated with the conference, the views they hold and the genealogy of the conference. There has been no withdrawal of the statement and there is no need for a withdrawal. It is a perfectly factual statement which the AttorneyGeneral made on this matter.
Senator Cavanagh referred to a man called Sachs, who the Attorney-General said, in a case heard about 1950, had declared himself to be a Communist. The facts are that this man Sachs in a case heard in 1945 - a few years before 1950 - did state before a Johannesburg court: “ 1 am a Communist “. That statement was repeated to tho House of Representatives by the AttorneyGeneral and is a statement of fact. If Senator Cavanagh cares to mix that case with another case heard in 1952, which is a completely different case, that has nothing to do with me, nothing to do with the Attorney-General and nothing to do with his Department. It simply indicates that Senator Cavanagh does not know the facts, or has been given an incorrect version of the facts.
I move now to the question of the Legal Service Bureaux and the Law Society’s Legal Aid Scheme, which are two schemes which Senator Cavanagh confused when he addressed the Senate. The Law Society’s Legal Aid Scheme, which Senator Ormonde referred to and which Senator Cavanagh, I believe, thought he was referring to, is a scheme which has nothing to do with the Federal Government. It is conducted in various States in various ways and is financed by the various State governments. It has nothing at all to do with us. The Legal Service Bureaux, which Senator Wright mentioned, and thereby caused some objections to be raised by Senator Cavanagh, is a completely different scheme. It is a scheme for assistance to cx-soldiers and their dependants. It is confined to giving these people advice and to appearing for them only before repatriation tribunals.
– Does the honorable senator think it gives first class advice and representation?
– I do not form opinions, except in circumstances where I am sure of my facts. I would not like to pass judgment ‘ on lawyers or their competence.
Senator O’Byrne referred to the question of packaging and to regulations which should be brought in to see that the packaging of goods could be regarded by a consumer with confidence. This is not a matter for the Attorney-General’s Department, but, in a sense, it is a matter for the Commonwealth Government. I think it falls within Commonwealth powers. It is something which the National Standards Commission has under its consideration. Through association with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and with the Prime Minister’s Department it is something with which I have been directly concerned. Some time ago wc had in Canberra a conference of all the States, which administer weights and measures, packaging and things of that kind, lt was conducted under the chairmanship of the Commonwealth and reached agreement for uniformity on patterns of instruments used in trade. The Victorian Government was asked to conduct publicly an extensive examination into what should bc done to amend the regulations to ensure that packaging was what Senator O’Byrne would wish it to be - something a consumer could look at with confidence. A magistrate - I think his name is Cuthill - conducted the investigation. He has brought in his report and a further conference will bc held at which all the States will attend, under the chairmanship of the Commonwealth. It will be held early in December and an attempt will be made to bring in uniform regulations in relation to packaging throughout Australia. Senator O’Byrne referred also to the Australian Industries Preservation Act which prohibits collusive action in interstate or overseas trade. Action is taken under that Act in the normal way whenever a breach of its provisions is brought to the attention, in one way or another, of the Commonwealth Government.
– 1 wish to refer to Division No. 124 - Conciliation and Arbitration. The AttorneyGeneral’s Department is responsible for the administration of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act insofar as it relates to the appointment’ of presidents and deputy presidents to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. 1 refer to sections 7 to 11 inclusive, 89 to 94 inclusive and 98 to 103 inclusive, Part
VH, and section 198 insofar as it relates to prescribing the practice and procedure and fees payable in proceedings before the Commonwealth Industrial Court or the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration or prescribing matters for the purposes of Part VII of the Act. The administration of the Act is divided between the Attorney-General’s Department and the Department of Labour and National Service. The Schedule shows the staffing of the section of the Attorney-General’s Depart; ment which deals with conciliation and arbitration to be one Industrial Registrar, five Deputy Industrial Registrars and a senior clerk, 23 clerks, and 27 clerical assistants, typists and junior assistants. I ask the Minister whether he believes that the Commonwealth conciliation and arbitration organisation, insofar as it is administered by his Department, is sufficient to meet the expanding demands made upon it.
From time to time we have raised in the Senate the matter of the application of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act to disputes extending interstate. Whilst the sections I have quoted come within the administration of the Attorney-General’s Department, the application and use of conciliation officers and of the courts comes within the scope of the Department of Labour and National Service. I ask the Minister to indicate to the Senate exactly how far the powers of the Industrial Registrar and his deputies extend in the Commonwealth conciliation and arbitration set-up. Of course in the State court in Western Australia the registrar does a very important job in registering and giving advice to unions. He takes part also to some degree in the training of apprentices. I think that this section of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act should be looked at. Perhaps the Attorney-General should widen the scope of the Act. Perhaps he should appoint more conciliation officers and have more conciliation than arbitration. 1 suggest that inquiries should be made to see whether the Attorney-General has power to increase the jurisdiction of judges, conciliation officers and others under the conciliation provisions of the Act.
– What was said by the Minister representing the Attorney-General has prompted me to rise in this debate. The reputation of persons is a very precious thing in this community. Yet, in this Parliament we constantly hear attacks on reputations. It seems that every generation has to fight for the traditional freedom of speech and right of assembly in British communities. Constant attacks have been made in these chambers upon these rights.
Senator Cavanagh raised the matter of Mr. Sachs. I want to deal with this matter only in passing because 1 understand that Senator Cohen will speak about it in more detail.
With which division is the honorable senator dealing?
– Division No. 115 - Administrative. I am dealing with a matter that was dealt with by the Minister.
– I have allowed fairly wide latitude but I do not think I can continue to do so. Will you please try to keep to Division No. 115?
– 1 will, Mr. Chairman. The division covers the functions of the Attorney-General’s Department, the advice given to the Attorney-General and presumably any maladministration of the Department. It is a very serious thing if a Minister can attack a man’s reputation by stating to the Parliament and to the people of Australia something which he alleges was true in 1945, and then, when questioned, reply that what was said was true. I do not know whether it was true or not, but in fact something happened in 1951 or 1952 which is a matter of public record. This happening should have been known to those advising the Attorney-General. If it was not known, then those advising the Attorney-General were not doing their job. If it was known then it should have been indicated. It is just as much a lie to suppress the truth as it is to lie expressly. That is one of the oldest principles known to man. When a person’s reputation is at stake the Parliament and the people are entitled to know the whole truth. Either there has been maladministration on the part of the advisers of the Atorney-General or there has been a suppression of truth.
The other matter which the Minister representing the Attorney-General dealt with related to peace congresses. He referred to what has been said in respect of these con gresses. Here again there has been a suppression of the truth. I do not know whether what was said by the Attorney-General was correct or not, but I know that it was not the whole truth. I am not a sponsor of the congress that has been mentioned, nor am 1 associated with it, but I do know, from what I have seen in the daily newspapers, that a great number of honorable persons are associated with it. Some are respected members of trade unions, some are respected professional persons; and others are respected members of churches. Respectable persons in the community have investigated this body and have seen fit to sponsor it. I do not think a statement which failed to reveal these facts should have been made in this Parliament on behalf of the Government.
The Parliament is entitled to be told the whole truth. There ought not to be a suppression of the truth or some half statements made which put organisations in the worst possible light. If this course is to be continued it will bring into disrepute bodies which ought not to be brought into disrepute. The Attorney-General has the responsibility to administer security matters, but organisations of this kind ought not to be brought unfairly into disrepute. If the investigations of the Department are faulty then they ought to be cleaned up and then the whole truth should be put before the Parliament and the Australian people.
– I do not believe I have ever heard in this chamber a vaguer or more tendentious statement than the one we have just heard from Senator Murphy. Let us go back to the beginning of this situation. The Attorney-General stated that a man called Sachs had said in. about 1950 that he was a Communist. That is the total of what the Attorney-General stated. As a result of that statement he has been attacked tonight by Senator Cavanagh and accused of not telling the truth, of saying things he should not have said, and of making ridiculous statements.
What are the facts? The facts are that this man in 1945 said before a Johannesburg court that he was a Communist. If Senator Murphy wants the truth to be told he should not attack people who, when telling the truth, just happen to be two or three years out in time. The most dangerous thing that can happen is for people who are discharging a responsibility to give a factual account to bc attacked and intimidated in an effort to stop them telling, not just facts, but facts which are not palatable to certain individuals.
– Tell all the facts.
– Those are the facts. What the Attorney-General said was that in 1950 this man said in front of a court that he was a Communist. Honorable senators opposite can read what he said.
I come now to the peace conference. Of course there are a number of people who endorse the peace conference and intend to go along to it. They have made their own judgment. They believe that they can overcome the Communist influence in this conference. Nobody is attacking them for that and nobody has attacked them. But again, it is perfectly right and proper for the Attorney-General of this Commonwealth to point out the genealogy of this conference - the steps, one by one, by which it has descended from the Communist world, and the number of Communists’ associated with it in key positions. That having been done let people make up their own minds whether to associate with the conference or not. That is all that has been done and these people should not be attacked. When they are my colleagues they will not be attacked without defence by me for having said, not wrong things, but true things, although those things may bc unpalatable to some members on the Opposition side. 1 move -
That the question bc now put.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Department of External Affairs
Proposed expenditure, £15,433,000.
– Mr. Chairman, in rising to open the debate on these estimates I do so conscious of the fact that the Department of External Affairs-
– Senator Tangney, just before you start, I would ask for the co-operation of the Committee in. trying to stick a little bit closer to the Estimates than we have done up to this point of time.
– 1 hope to do so but I would like to preface my remarks by saying that the Department of External Affairs is a very important department because it represents the whole image of Australia as it is presented to the world; I would like to congratulate a fellow Western Australian, Mr. Hasluck, on being the new Minister in charge of this Department because he is the first Minister in the history of the Liberal Government who has had this portfolio only to discharge. With his background I am sure he will give the portfolio more attention than has been possible by previous Ministers who have had also to administer other very important portfolios.
Honorable senators will notice that the total expenditure of this Department is very large. In some sections it is larger this year than it was last year. We do not cavil at that at all because it indicates that the stature of Australia in external affairs is growing, [t is very difficult, I think, to separate the Department of External Affairs from the Department of Defence in some cases. They are so interlocked at times that one becomes a part of the other. I would like to pay tribute at this stage to the many officers of the Department of External Affairs who serve us abroad. Last year it was my good fortune to be a member of a Parliamentary delegation that visited various parts of the world and in each of them I found that the officers of the Department were only too ready and willing to assist.
– Mr. Chairman, I rise to order. I do not wish to be ungallant. but would the honorable member confine herself to an element of the Estimates that we can readily identify?
– I am coming to the subject of expenditure on our embassies in some of these countries. I notice in Division No. 173, for instance, that we have just established an embassy in Austria.’ When I was there last year there was no Australian embassy in Austria at all. The work that should have been done there by our diplomatic representative was being done by officials of the Department of; Immigration. I think we owe a debt to those’ officials in the Department of Immigration who are carrying on work at the present time that should be done by officers of the Department of External Affairs. I agree with the increased expenditure in this Department as far as establishing the embassy in Vienna is concerned.
I regret that there is no embassy in Yugoslavia. I think that this is a very important place and I think that we should have an embassy there. If honorable senators look down the list in the estimates they will find that there is no representative of the Department stationed in Yugoslavia. I mention this fact, not because it is a country with a Communist Government, but because it is a country from which we have for many years drawn so many migrants who have become excellent citizens. Long before World War II we had many Yugoslav people coming to my own >State of Western Australia, setting up industries, going into areas where other people would not go and establishing market gardens and vineyards and so on. There is a very big Yugoslav population in Australia. There is a Yugoslav Consul General in Sydney and I think, when considering all this expenditure on European embassies, that there is a necessity to establish one in Yugoslavia. Members of the delegation found when we were there, that the work of representing Australia was being done from the embassy of Great Britain. Britain was representing Australia.
Those officials were doing quite a good job as far as they knew it but what do they know about Australia? They have not been to Australia and they do not know about Australian conditions. At that time it could have been difficult for Australians in Yugoslavia because arrests had been made for the illegal entry into Yugoslavia of some men who had been in Australia. I would like to say, in all fairness to the Yugoslav authorities, that they invited representatives of the Government and the Opposition to a conference to talk the matter over with them and to see what the actual position was and to see the evidence that they had. Those officials were very fair. They were very anxious that the image that was being built up in Yugoslavia of Australia as a good place for young men to settle and to build up their homes, should not be destroyed in the minds of the Yugoslav people by this unfortunate incident. I would like to see, as I say, more of the money for this Department concentrated on establishing some kind of direct representation in a country with which we have so many ties, particularly when we consider the vast number of Yugoslavs who have settled in Australia and who arc, in the main, very worthwhile citizens. Further on in the same group we come to Ireland. I refer to Division No. 184. For a long time there was a disagreement, just on a” technicality, between Australia and Ireland with regard to representation in the two countries. I would like to say again that our representative in Ireland, before the raising of the status of our embassy, was doing a magnificent job. When re-classifying these offices I hope that the men who have done this good work will not be overlooked. Just reverting to Austria for a moment, I found that the official from the Department of Immigration who was doing this work had no diplomatic status. He could not even park his car in front of his office without the good graces of the Viennese police because he had no diplomatic immunity. He had no diplomatic allowance, yet during the week that I spent in Vienna he had entertained more than ten visiting Australians at his own expense in his own home. 1 think that these men who do these things are not doing it for any personal gain - they do not get anything out of it themselves - but do it in order that the image of Australia abroad can be maintained.
I notice in the Estimates that quite a number of the embassies and diplomatic posts we have established abroad arc in South East Asian countries. That is all to the good because, after all, we ourselves are a South East Asian country geographically speaking and establishing embassies in these countries is one way of gaining better understanding with them. As I say, it links up much better with our defence policy if We have people on the spot who can really interpret Australia’s point of view and can give us active reports of what is happening in those places.
– What estimates arc we on?
– Is the honorable senator taking a point of order?
– Yes. I thought there was an understanding between the Government and the Opposition that we confine ourselves to the Estimates. I could not follow the honorable senator. She has moved from Vienna to Dublin without any reference at all to the lines of the Estimates.
– Honorable senators will remember that prior to the commencement of the debate on these estimates I asked for their co-operation in an endeavour to keep a little more strictly to the estimates than they had in the past. Senator Tangney first of all dealt with Vienna, then she dealt with Ireland, and now she is dealing with the Department of External Affairs in Divisions Nos. 145 to 240. She has not identified the particular division about which she is speaking, but she is still speaking of the Department of External Affairs. 1 ask the honorable senator as far as she possibly can to keep to the amounts of money that we propose to spend on particular items. We are getting all over the place. I do not want to curtail the debate at all. We arc discussing the proposed expenditure on certain items, and I ask the honorable senator to continue on that basis.
– I am sorry if I am not making myself clear to Senator Cormack. It is rather difficult on the spot to try to add up the amounts of money which arc being spent in all of the South East Asian countries. The money that is being spent in those countries is being well spent. I would not mind if more money was being spent because if we are getting value for the money, it is money well spent. I am certain that we are getting value, judging by the calibre of the people who represent Australia in those countries. 1 come now to Division No. 207 - Permanent Mission to the United Nations. We are increasing our expenditure from £84,570 for last year to £106,000 for this year, and if we add to that amount the administrative expenses of £35,900, it makes a total of £141,900. We are increasing our expenditure at a time when the work of the United Nations is much more complex because of the admission of more and more nations to the Organisation. We have seen recently the emerging nations of Africa, which are entering into full nationhood, becoming members of the United Nations. The Australian Labour Party maintains that support of the United Nations is an integral part of Australia’s foreign policy. We must give un swerving loyalty to it and to its agencies. We must try to ensure that the Charter of the United Nations is fulfilled, and that border disputes which could lead Australia to war and which could lead the world into a great conflict if they are not resolved are brought before the Organisation. Therefore, we agree with the expenditure on the United Nations as set out in the estimates.
I would like to see more and more members of Parliament being given the opportunity to see the United Nations at work, t would like to see more and more members being given the opportunity to visit other countries, in some of which we have representatives, in order to broaden their horizons. I am sure they would all come back feeling as 1 have that we in Australia have very little to grumble about because Australia is a land which has so much to offer. We are opening our doors to many people from underdeveloped countries. There is quite a lot more that we can do in this regard. I refer now to Division No. 165, sub-division 6, item 13, Earthquake relief - Yugoslavia. Last year we donated £10,000 towards this relief.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- I desire to make a few comments on the estimates of the Department of External Affairs. I hope that Senator Cormack will bear with me because I want to cover the estimates from Division 172 to Division 236. I want to be serious about this matter. Recently I was fortunate enough to visit a large number of our embassies in various parts of Europe. I was most grateful for the help and kindness extended by the personnel of the embassies. They could hot have treated me better if I had been personally known to them for a long period of years. As far as the officers are concerned, 1 think that we are well catered for. I am saying nothing about their work, but I am concerned with the lack of business acumen on the part of the Department of External Affairs in relation to buildings and other matters in various parts of tha world.
I have made only a very rough calculation, but I should say that we are paying between £600,000 and £630,000 in rent far various embassy offices and, no doubt, residences.
– I would have expected the figure to be greater.
– You may be better at calculations than I am. I have made a rough calculation. No doubt if I were to ask the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) how much the Department of External Affairs pays in rent for offices and residences in the various embassies throughout the world, he could put us both right. I do not think I have taken into consideration in that calculation provision for our offices in London, which come under the control of the Prime Minister’s Department. I feel that we should purchase, as far as it is practicable, a number of offices overseas because to me it is bad business to pay more than £600,000 a year in rent. It is true that we own the embassy in Washington, and 1 understand that land has been bought on which other buildings may be constructed.
Because offices have to be rented, sometimes they are not situated in the best positions. We have to rent them wherever we can get them. I do not think that adds to the prestige of this country. Surely we are in a position to own some of our offices overseas. As I have said, that would be a much better proposition than to pay out money in rent. As Senator Morris was so concerned about the cost, and as he probably is a much better mathematician than I am, perhaps he will inform me how far we can go with a building programme overseas if we capitalise on our assets. It would be much better to do this from the point of view of Australia’s prestige. At the same time, it would give our representatives overseas much better office accommodation than they now have.
I now want to refer to our officers. The officers to whom I spoke overseas told me, without growling in any way about their conditions, that they do not fare as well as do the Canadians, for example. Admittedly the Americans are better off than anyone. It is not my purpose now to do any more than to see that our officers are brought to a level that is at least comparable with that of officers who represent countries which have possibly only 7,000,000 or 8,000,000 more people than we have. It must be understood that all officers in the various embassies mix together socially and otherwise, and I do not think that Australia’s representatives should be the poor relations. I understand that the Public Service Board reviews the conditions of overseas officers about every two years. I point out again that only in one case, and then only because I asked the direct question, did I hear anything in the nature of a complaint. However, I made a point of probing this matter in subsequent conversations elsewhere. I do not think the present arrangement is good enough. If we have representatives overseas they should not be regarded as our poor relations. I wonder whether it would not be wise to remove the officers of the Department of External Affairs from the control of the Public Service Board. That thought was pretty widely held many years ago. However, all I am concerned about is that officers representing Australia overseas should receive remuneration somewhat comparable to that received by representatives of other countries.
No business acumen is shown even in the purchase of motor vehicles. When I was overseas I rode on one occasion in one of our cars. I asked the officer how long hehad had it. He mentioned the period and added that if the Department of External Affairs was wise it would trade in the vehicles much sooner than it did. I do not know why the Department should lay down the rule that these motor vehicles cannot be traded until they have been in service for at least two years. We are entitled to up to date facilities. To trade in motor vehicles sooner would not cost the Department very much because everyone knows that even if sales tax is levied in the countries concerned, these vehicles are purchased free of sales tax. This is another matter lo which I think the Department should give, some thought.
It is not my purpose to build up our officers overseas so that they overlord their fellow officers in Australia, but it must be remembered that they sometimes suffer very great family disabilities when they accept overseas appointments. As a rule, they are away from home for three years and serious difficulties can arise when their children reach the age at which higher education is essential. I was informed that in one instance the parents thought so much of their child’s education that they left the child in boarding school in Australia before they proceeded overseas. We must do the right thing by these people.
I am sure that every honorable senator who has been fortunate enough to meet our overseas representatives will agree with me when I say how pleased we were to meet them and how courteous they were to us. Unfortunately the Department, and the Public Service Board which I understand still controls the salaries of the officers concerned, wants to get them on the cheap. 1 do not think that is good enough. Our representatives should be at least on the same level as are the officers of comparable countries. 1 particularly ask the Minister to discuss with his colleague the desirability of owning our own buildings overseas, for financial reasons if for no others. Honorable senators who have been in London recently no doubt have seen the very fine building which was built by the New Zealand Government. Admittedly it is a new building among a lot of old buildings, but it is still a fine structure. From information I have obtained, the New Zealand Government is making a profit on the building because the rent it is receiving for the space that it is not using is more than sufficient to cover the capital cost of the building and the interest. With all due respect, if I had my way I would tear down our present building and erect a decent one in its place.
Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I should like some information from the Minister in respect of Division No. 202 - Embassy - United States of America. Every year we see an extraordinary position in the estimates for the Department of External Affairs, lt has been discussed, but no satisfactory arrangement seems to have been made. Item 01 in subdivision 1 relates to a proposed appropriation of £96,600 for salaries and allowances as per the schedule on page 163, whereas the next item relates to a proposed appropriation of £147,600 for temporary and casual employees. No particulars are given as to how that money is to be disposed of or the services that it will cover. The schedule lists some very important classifications of officers, but in no other department do we find such a proportionately high provision for temporary and casual employees.
Division No. 231 - Consulate-General - New York makes provision for a proposed appropriation of £29,600 for salaries and allowances as per the schedule, and a proposed appropriation of £128,300 for temporary and casual employees. The position in regard to the office of the ConsulateGeneral at San Francisco, which is covered by Division No. 233, is not quite so blatant. The proposed provision for salaries of permanent officers is £19,200 and the proposed provision for salaries of temporary and casual employees is £25,400. There is no information whatsoever as to what constitutes that amount.
While seeking this information from the. Minister, I want to say that our representation overseas is excellent. We have encouraged and should continue to encourage young Australians to aspire to be career diplomats. Although heavy expenditure may bc necessary for casual employees, offices overseas should be mads a training ground to provide experience. ‘ More opportunity should be given to Aus,tralians to occupy positions in these offices. Casual employment in the Commonwealth service should be cut to an absolute minimum. There must be some extraordinary features of this service. Nevertheless, to my way of thinking, it is very casual and easy-going to nominate three offices in relation to which the Parliament is asked to authorise expenditure of £230,000 although no particulars of the proposed expenditure are given. This is a major portion of the expenditure by this service and I should like more specific details and some expression of opinion as to whether permanent officers could not occupy some of these positions, providing a more permanent structure.
– I desire to refer to economic defence support assistance to members of the . South East Asia Treaty Organisation and aid to India. I wish to refer also to defence services not under the control of the Department of External Affairs. I ask . whether we are dealing now with the question of aid to India.
– We are dealing with Divisions Nos. 165 to 240.
– Very well. I shall have an opportunity later to discuss these matters. I refer to Division No. 165, sub-division 4, item 01, which relates to special overseas visits. I suppose this relates to visits overseas by members of this Parliament under the auspices of the Department of External Affairs. Senator Maher and I went on such a trip this year to Pakistan, India and Ceylon. I mention this matter to direct the Minister’s attention to the fact that there seems to be some laxity about arrangements for these delegations that go overseas.
– Delegations such as that on which you went are not paid for by the Department of External Affairs. They do not come under these estimates.
– Perhaps the Minister could tell me what department is concerned?
– The Prime Minister’s Department.
– Under the same division J refer to sub-division 5, item 13, United Nations - Cost of Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus. The proposed appropriation is £44,800. Last year we expended £50,136. Will the Minister say how long it is thought we shall continue with a peacekeeping force in Cyprus and whether the proposed reduction in. expenditure indicates that the need for such a large force will not be as paramount this year as it was in previous years? May we expect expenditure for this purpose to dwindle over the years? I refer now to sub-division 6, item 01, Colombo Plan - Economic Development. I refer also to the next two items which relate to technical assistance under the Colombo Plan and to the Special Commonwealth African Assistance Plan. The sub-division also makes provision for contributions to the World Food Programme, the Stabilization Fund, Laos, and for a number of relief plans relating to other countries. I refer to this subject because of the multiplicity of the forms of assistance that we give and I ask whether our assistance is going in the best direction for the nations concerned. When in India I saw evidence of a lot of assistance that had been given under the Colombo Plan, including assistance given by Australia. It would seem that a country seeking assistance applies for help to establish a certain project and that if the countries to whom the application is directed agree to support the project the money is forthcoming. However, there would seem to be very little inquiry about the best way in which such countries can be assisted. I do not suggest any curtailment of assistance for the development of the Asian countries. Possibly a greater degree of assistance should be given. But 1 do not think that we should be expected to contribute continually as a relief organisation. We should try to ascertain whether the assistance we are giving is used to the best advantage to enable these countries to become self supporting.
When I was in Bombay I saw a gift that had come from the Austraiian Government. It took the form of stainless steel milk storage cubicles and mobile milk bars to take milk to localities where the population assembles from’ time to time. The idea was to add flavourings to the milk to encourage a greater use of milk at a time when the country was not producing sufficient milk to supply householders. The quality of this equipment was a tribute to the manufacturers and to Australia generally. Obviously this was an unfortunate gift, because it was to be used to distribute a commodity that was in short supply. If the gift had taken the form of agricultural machinery or scientific help of some description, it might well have hastened the day when the country would not need the assistance we are now giving to it. We discovered on numerous occasions during our overseas trip that help given to agricultural scientists who came to Australia under the Colombo Plan or assistance that has been given under the Freedom From Hunger Campaign has been very much appreciated and has been of greater assistance to these Asian countries than gifts for the distribution of commodities such as I have mentioned. I ask whether consideration should not be given to combining the various avenues of assistance so that we could investigate the best methods by which to help these countries in Asia.
– Senator Kennelly raised a number of matters to which I should like to reply. He asked me the total amount which the Department of External Affairs paid in rent. I have not been able to obtain the figures, but I understand that the honorable senator obtained them from the Department himself this afternoon. So I am willing to concede that the figure that he quoted is probably accurate. He also mentioned the need for buildings. The Department has in hand quite a large building programme which includes buildings either to be constructed or in the process of construction in Argentina, Fiji, India, Indonesia. Japan, Laos, Nigeria, Sweden, the United States of America, Brazil, Malaysia and Pakistan, lt will be seen that the Department is taking some steps along the road that Senator Kennelly said it should follow. The Department has a trade-in policy in relation to motor cars. Whether it meets everybody’s requirements or judgment I do not know. A programme of replacement and purchase of additional vehicles totalling 39 vehicles is provided for in Division No. 240.
– Senator Kennelly seemed to think that members of the staff were underpaid.
– He expressed the opinion that they were underpaid. Pay and allowances and arrangements to meet varying living costs overseas are under the control of the Public Service Board, which is a statutory authority. An alteration of the law would be needed to remove the Department of External Affairs from the control of the Board in that respect. Such a precedent could not be established without consideration of all the implications involved, particularly when members of the staff of the Department of Immigration and the Department of Trade and Industry are doing similar work. Senator Cooke referred to Division No. 202 - Embassy - United States of America.
– And the consulates at New York and San Francisco.
– At page 163 in the schedule of salaries and allowances there is a detailed breakdown of the amounts that are paid to permanent employees of the Department. The other provision is for locally engaged employees who are employed with the approval of the Public Service Board in Australia at rates of pay which are scaled to ruling rates in the United States. I refer to people who are employed as typists, guards, messengers and clerks and who are not members of the Department of External Affairs. There is quite often a considerable turnover of those personnel. The same general situation applies in regard to the New York consulate. At page 168 in the schedule of salaries and allowances details are given of payments under Division No. 231 to permanent members of the Department of External Affairs. Again, other employees are staff who have been engaged locally with the authority of the Public Service Board at the ruling rates of pay. Of course, when the Australian £1 is converted into American dollars, one does not get as much for those dollars as one would get for the £1. Again, when the ruling American rate of pay is converted into Australian currency, the salary looks very high indeed.
– I am not quarrelling with the salary. My complaint is that the major expenditure is not classified.
– The only advice I have is that this class of employee is not classified in any department. Senator Cavanagh asked how long the Australian force in Cyprus would need to be there. I cannot answer the question, because in part the stay of the force depends upon the wishes of the United Nations. There will always be some argument as to whether aid given by Australia to other countries is directed into the best possible channels. I think that on the whole it is so directed, lt seemed to me that there was some confusion in the honorable senator’s mind about the gift and distribution of various commodities. It is true that commodities such as wheat and flour are given to these countries for distribution. They are sold by the governments of those countries and the money so obtained is placed in counterpart funds. These are then used in consultation with the Australian Government for some specific project requested by the Indian Government and agreed to by us. The money is used, not to buy some consumable article which simply disappears, but on something that will contribute to the economic growth of some area of that country, either by accretion of capital, the provision of health services, or the erection of equipment or something of that sort.
.- I wish to speak on Division No. 202 - Embassy- United States of America. I listened to the statement made by the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) and I have the impression that the present Chairman of the Public Service Board was himself an officer of the Department of External Affairs.
– He was with the International Labour Organisation.
– So he was with the I.L.O. in Geneva. He would have first hand knowledge of the duties that officers in our embassies would have to perform. He would have very accurate knowledge of living expenses and rents which have to be paid abroad. He would have first hand knowledge of the life of the officers who are posted overseas by the Department of External Affairs. I am one of those who are quite prepared to leave the officers of the Department of External Affairs under the Public Service Board but at the moment I am considering the vote for the Australian Embassy in the United States of America. I shall refer to only a few items to indicate that the amounts set out in detail under Division No. 202 are under constant surveillance.
If we examine sub-division 2. item 04, we find that actual expenditure last year on the rent and maintenance of the office was ?29,982 and that the proposed vote is ?37,000. That proposal could have come about only on the recommendations of the officers in the U.S.A. The recommendation would not be made in Australia although the amount would be decided here finally on the advice of officers who are overseas. Under the same sub-division, the proposed vote for maintenance of the Ambassador’s residence is ?7,750 - and I take it this would be for maintenance only - and the actual expenditure last year was ?5,871. So it does not appear that accommodation is decreasing. It would appear, if we are to spend more money in the United States, that the accommodation at the Embassy is being improved constantly. Another item is the rent and maintenance of other buildings for which the proposed vote is 3,600.
At page 163, in the schedule of salaries and allowances for the Department of. External Affairs, we find some illuminating information. Officers at the Embassy in the
U.S.A. include an Ambassador, seven officers of the Department of ExternalAffairs, three clerks and two secretary,typists. Set out in the schedule are some of the allowances that will be paid. The repre- sentation allowances for this year are .set down at ?8,856. That sum is provided in addition to the salaries of the officers. Below that item there is set out a provision . of ?21,674 for local allowances, compared with the appropriation last year of ?15,824, and ?3,492 is provided for child allowances. I should like to have from the Minister a break-up of these allowances. It would be unfair to expect the details tonight but I should like to have them tomorrow or even next week. I refer to the representation allowances of ?8,856 and the local allowances of ?21,674. If I could get a break-up of those figures I would be happy.
– Does the honorable senator mean a break-up as between the different officers?
– Fairly roughly - yes. I know that the officers at the Embassy are provided with funds by the Government to entertain Australians who are touring overseas and I should like to have the break-up of that amount.
.- I refer to Division No. 169- Antarctic Division. I have referred to this division in every debate on the Estimates since I became a senator because seven years ago I learned that we were paying hiring charges for an Antarctic ship. I believe that in the first two years we were paying rental for two ships. At that time, the responsible Minister would tell me that we could not build these Antarctic ships’1 in Australia. He said they were of a special type and there were many reasons why they could not be built in Australia.
At a conservative estimate, we have been paying about ?200,000 a year for. rental of a ship and I am not certain that there were not two ships for which we paid for several years. In any case, there has been one ship for which we paid a rental of about ?200,000 a year for seven years. That is a total of about ?1,400,000.- rental for a ship to carry out our work in the Antarctic. That would probably be. enough money to build two ships of that size. I suppose that because of our geographical position we are likely to be permanently interested in the Antarctic as are other nations. Surely we are not going to continue permanently to pay out rental for a ship. There has to be added all the other expenses incurred in relation to the payment of personnel. 1 ask the Minister whether we have not arrived at the stage when we can decide that if we are to take part permanently in this work in Antarctica we should build our own ship and employ an Australian crew. We should train our own crew, because I understand that when you hire a foreign ship you must employ a foreign crew. I repeat that £1,400,000, the amount paid in rental over the period to which I refer, would build a very fine ship for voyages to Antarctica. If we did not have seven years ago the requisite experience in our shipyards to build such a vessel, it seems to me that the Government should have been studying this problem over the years. I would like to hear the Minister’s view on this matter.
– I am very grateful to the Minister for his very fluent explanation of the expenditure of £301,200 in the United States of America. This amount is greater than the total expenditure of the Consulate-General in New York, as shown in Division No. 231, and is as much as the combined expenditure of our offices in New York and San Francisco. It greatly exceeds the expenditure by any other Australian embassy, yet the Minister explains that it represents payments to casual employees - to typists here and there. The Minister advised us that we have three offices in the United States. We already knew that; and we know the amounts of their proposed expenditure. The schedule shows that for 1964-65 there is an appropriation of £29,600 in respect of the office of the Consulate-General in New York. The Minister informs us that we will be paying over £300,000 to 128 casual employees, such as messengers and typists.
I cannot accept that explanation. I ask the Minister to explain what check we have on the expenditure of an amount in excess of £300,000. What particulars can the Minister give to the Senate in relation to this expenditure? I want to know who is being paid, whether the employees are in senior positions and whether they are Aus tralians. I cannot accept the explanation that nearly 50 per cent, of our expenditure in the United States is incurred in payments to casual employees in minor, unimportant and supernumerary jobs.
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER (New South Wales) [9.53]. - I relate my remarks to Division No. 165 - Administrative - and more particularly to sub-division 5 - Internal Organisations. I wonder whether the Minister has readily available a compilation which shows the direct and indirect cost of Australia’s membership of and association with the United Nations Organisation. If the information is not readily available, I shall not press the point. Looking through the Estimates as they are presented, it seems that the same items appear under different headings on different pages. There is a great variety and great number of headings and it is a matter of more than passing interest to me to know what is the total of the various items, so that I may form a judgment as to the efficiency of the Organisation and the cost to Australia.
.- 1 wish to apologise to the Minister for my absence when he answered my question. I heard the answer, but I was unable to come to the chamber as I was detained by an interstate telephone call. The Minister said that the Department gave a list to me yesterday. If he is as accurate in that particular as he was in relation to some other matters, it is no wonder that some people say that he had better get his facts right. The fact is that I asked for the information some weeks ago and got it about eight or tcn days ago. As I have already informed the Minister, I totalled the rents paid for offices in various countries and arrived at a figure of about £627,000. To be safe, I said that it was roughly in the vicinity of £600,000. I believe that is not an economic way for the Department to carry out its function. It is a tremendous amount of money that could be spent in erecting our own buildings. From the few remarks of another senator which I heard, I take it that it was said here that our people overseas are well looked after. All I stated was that I wanted our people to be at least as well looked after as the people representing the sister dominion of Canada. My information is that they arc not so well looked after.
Division No. 240 - Overseas Establishments - Buildings, Works, Equipment and Furniture - contains 13 items relating to overseas establishments. Item 13 refers to an appropriation of £119,200 for “Other overseas establishments”. I believe that a further study should be made of this matter. 1 do not like to see our flag flying over buildings up side streets or in little streets. That is not good enough for me. I am very proud of Australia, and I suppose I am rather partisan in that I am at all times prepared to stand up for this country. I ask the Minister whether the proposed expenditure under Division No. 240 relates to buildings that we will own. I marvel at the proposed expenditure of £26,900 in the important country of Sweden. For the United States of America there is an appropriation of only £21,400. Perhaps the Minister could start by dealing with the country nearest to us. I want to know what we propose to build in Indonesia at a cost of over £245,000.
.- Senator Cooke asked me whether I could give him any further details of how this money would be spent in Washington, San Francisco and New York. I can tell him the number of employees in each of these places. There are 68 employees in Washington, 55 in New York and 13 in San Francisco. They are employed on the type of work I have already indicated, and the check on them is that they are employed only with the permission of the Public Service Board, which is the body that looks after the staffing of all departments. The Board also sanctions the wage rates that are paid to the people in these places. There is a good deal of turnover in some of these staffs, or so I have been told when 1 have been overseas. Some people on a working trip take a job for a couple of months and then move on. Some of the staff are local residents. The point is that permanent staff is not recruited in Australia. Probably the cost would be higher if that were done.
asked a question about Division No. 240. The £245,000 is for a chancellery in the Republic of Indonesia for the Department of External Affairs.
– Does the Minister know what the total estimated cost is?
– No. This is the amount we are being asked to vote for this year. I could obtain the total cost.
The amount of £21,400 to be spent in the United States of America is for preliminary work on the big chancellery to be built in Washington. This outlay is required for surveying, sketch plans and other work that will be required before the building itself gets under way. That amount does not represent the cost of the building, which will be extremely high. All the items under Division No. 240 relate to buildings we are constructing or to furniture and equipment for buildings. Purchase or replacement of motor cars, as mentioned by Senator Kennelly, would also be included.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Proposed expenditure - Economic and Defence Support Assistance to Members of S.E.A.T.O. and Protocol States, £1,000,000 - noted.
Aid to India
Proposed expenditure, £48,000.
– I rise on this particular matter ; because I take it that- the aid to India of £48,000 which we are discussing represents some form of military or defence aid to ‘ India. Having been to India I know that this is a matter that is creating some friction at the present time between India and Pakistan. These countries are in dispute over Kashmir, and India is using the invasion by China and a threat of invasion by China to justify a build up of defence equipment. As far as the Pakistan Government is concerned this alleged invason is not a real threat and is not the real reason for India’s build up of arms.
I travelled through India and met various Ministers and military heads. I found that the true origin of the India-Chinese dispute was not reported correctly in Australia. Whilst by no means justifying China, I point out that the true history of the dispute, which is accepted in both India and Pakistan, is that China occupied an uninhabited area in the Kashmir region. No Indians lived in the area and the Chinese have occupied it since 1952.
– Where is it in relation to the McMahon line?
– There is disagreement between China and India about the boundary. The area occupied by China since 1952 was Indian territory according to the McMahon line, but it was uninhabited territory. In 1962 - 10 years later - politicians in India discovered this occupation by the Chinese and instructed their army that the Chinese had to be removed. The Indian Army encircled the Chinese and when this happened China retaliated by invading India. The invasion was not limited to that particular area but was along the 2.000 mile front that separates China from India. The Chinese made rapid progress into India’s territory.
– Did they penetrate also into upper Assam?
– I am giving you the report that is accepted in India. The Chinese having invaded Indian territory with success, and having reached the point which they claimed was the true boundary between India and China, withdrew to the positions they held prior to the 1962 dispute. China still occupied the Indian territory which she had held since 1952 and offered to meet India in conference to try to work out the true line of demarcation between the two countries. India refused to confer while China was occupying Indian territory. f have tried to give the Senate the history of the dispute which is accepted in India. I am not justifying China’s attitude. India says that she was caught unprepared on that occasion and must not be caught unprepared again. She has therefore appealed to various nations for military assistance in order to build up her army so that she can meet a threat of further invasion by China. Pakistan will not accept that there is a threatened invasion of Indian territory by China. The territory occupied by China was uninhabited but the people of India claim that the mountains form a natural defence barrier. India wants to control the passes through the mountains. Pakistan considers the build up of armaments by India to have been undertaken with the idea of invading Pakistan because of the Kashmir issue. I am not saying that this version is correct, but it is the version that is accepted in Pakistan at the present time.
This aid to India is creating great hostility from the Pakistan Government to the nations giving it. There is much criticism of this aid which is building up India, lt is claimed that if China wanted to invade India she would not go through the mountain passes but would go through Burma, which is a better route for invasion. But China has made no attempt to do so and is prepared to negotiate on the question of the future boundary with India. In the meantime we are giving aid to India which is creating hostility in another country and with a people who could eventually, unless there is some solution to the Kashmir issue between Pakistan and India, come into conflict with India.
– Mr. Chairman, I wish to take the point of order that the honorable senator is reading from a document and J should be grateful if he would table it.
Order! Senator Cavanagh, would you like to name the document you are reading from?
– I am not reading from a document. I have before me the estimates for the Department of External Affairs which I am prepared to table if Senator Cormack wishes. In this vote we are dealing with £48,000 worth of aid to India. While assisting in India’s defence, we are creating hostility from another Government with which we have been on friendly terms. What I am suggesting is that there should be a greater concentration of effort to try to settle the dispute between India and China which would not necessilate foreign aid for the purpose of the defence of India and which would reassure the Government of Pakistan that there is no assistance from outside sources for a build-up of arms which could be used against Pakistan in the future. I make those remarks for what they are worth following my observations during a tour of Pakistan and India.
.- Referring to that point, all I have to say is that it was the policy of the Australian Government to assist the fellow Commonwealth country of India when she was invaded by the Chinese. I say that, even if Senator Cavanagh says that the Indians were aggressively fighting the Chinese 80 miles inside the Indian border.: I” assure honorable senators that the Indian Government and the Indian people do not accept it as a fact that they were not invaded. They believe that they were invaded. They sent a mission out to the Australian Government to ask for help. They received that help and I am proud of the fact that they did.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Department of Labour and National Service
Proposed expenditure, £3,423,000.
Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia) 110.151. - Mr. Chairman, I first wish to refer’ to Division No. 330, sub-division 4, item 01 - Apprentice Training - Financial assistance. I raise this matter because there is a system in operation whereby the Commonwealth Government gives financial assistance to apprentices from the country who have to live away from home in order to obtain an apprenticeship and to follow it. I knew of a case in Western Australia where a country apprentice was forced to live in the city in order to obtain an apprenticeship. On making inquiries in South Australia I found that this position is more serious than it is in Western Australia. Where there are a number of small country centres with juvenile populations growing up and where the population is declining, so that opportunities of employment are lessening, it is necessary for these young lads to travel to other centres in order to obtain employment and to receive tuition.
With the concentration of the population in the cities, there are few country centres where these boys can receive apprenticeship and it is oft times necessary for a country lad wishing to obtain an apprenticeship - thereby, 1 suggest, benefiting the nation - to leave his home and live in the city. There he is faced with a higher rate of board than if he were to remain in the country centre. He is also faced with living away from home expenses for which he does not get any reimbursement. I suggest that there should be an allowance for country apprentices who find it necessary, in order to obtain proper training, to leave their homes and live in another area. I do not suggest that this should be extended to those who do so by choice. But those who find it necessary to do so should receive some reimbursement from the Commonwealth Government under this scheme which was inaugurated to encourage apprentices. Because of these circumstances we are losing a number of apprentices who would become skilled in an occupation. Lads arc forced to take any job available in country areas although they have the brains and education to accept an apprenticeship and be thoroughly trained in some occupation.
I also want to refer, in connection with the administration of the Department of Labour and National Service, to the assistance afforded to physical and mentally handicapped people in finding employment. In Adelaide there is a rehabilitation centre which seems to have worked out its own method of finding employment for physically and mentally handicapped citizens. There is also an office connected with the. Department of Labour and National Service which has two officers especially for the examination of these people so as to assess their capabilities for employment and, if possible, to find work for them. While it is a service to these people to assess their capabilities, the Department is doing insufficient in the way of finding them employ-i ment. It also seems to be a service that is not known greatly to the employer organisations, or to particular employers associated with organisations, and it is extremely difficult in South Australia to place physically and mentally handicapped people in employment. We also find that when jobs are found for them there is a lack of understanding of their position. There is no officer to look after their welfare in such employment with a result that problems arise. If there were some understanding and some liaison between the physically or mentally handicapped and the employer this might overcome the position and these people would be able to continue their work. On a number of occasions we find that employment is terminated because of some difficulty that arises between the employer and the employee. The employee has been dismissed because no-one from the Department has seen the working conditions and no-one has properly explained to the employer the handicap of the particular person. While the employer knows that there is some handicap he does not have the value of a departmental report as to the capabilities of the employee and, during the time of employment, does not see what difficulties arise and does not discover whether they could be overcome.
I do not know the position in the other States, but I suggest that in South Australia there should be an enlargement of this section of the Department that deals with physically and mentally handicapped people. There should be a welfare officer who could regularly discuss working conditions with employers so that greater opportunities of employment could be found for these people and so that they might keep the positions which they presently occupy.
Under Division No.330 - Administrative - I want to refer to the important duties of the Department of Labour and National Service in obtaining employment for people and in keeping them in peaceful employment where there is no necessity for them to take action such as that which we are seeing at the present time in the dispute at General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd. Unemployment has been created through the strike action which the men at that plant have found it necessary to take. I was interested in and impressed by the reply of the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) to a question asked in the Senate. He said it is the policy of the Department to call employers and employees together to see if there is a basis of settlement of a dispute that has occurred. I have not known of a time when there has not been the possibility of settling a dispute if both parties sit around a conference table, under the guidance of a good chairman, ventilate their grievances and seek a just and equitable solution of the problem that has arisen.
From reading the report of “ Hansard “ in another place, I am not convinced that in this particular dispute, which is possibly the biggest dispute that Australia has had for some years, the Department is lending its good offices for the sole purpose of making an effort to settle the dispute. We shall not settle a dispute by referring to a person as a Communist or as the biggest menace in the trade union movement in a particular State. We should make every effort to keep personalities out of the matter and to see whether we can have discussions with a view to settling the dispute. No good purpose is served by people referring to Communist activities because the biggest industrial organisation involved in this dispute is the Vehicle Builders Employees Federation, which has one of the best records in Australia for the absence of industrial strife. No-one can point the finger of scorn at a Communist in the management of the union in any State of the Commonwealth.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- The total of the estimates for the important Department of Labour and National Service is £3,423,000. There are other Departments that are not as important but which have much larger estimates. I have always considered that this important Department does not have the right type of organisation to fit into the modern scheme of industrial relations between employers and employees.
– To which Division is the honorable senator referring?
– Division No. 330 - Administrative. I ask the Minister to consider establishing a section in the Department which would act as trouble shooters - people who would go in when a dispute occurred and who would understand the industrial problems on which they had to adjudicate. The history of the Department is that the officers go into a dispute after the stable door is almost locked. They do not know much about the conditions which created the situation and they have to wait for reports. I think that it is the duty of the Government to know all about industrial disputes as they are occurring and developing.
In the prewar years, in the war years and in the immediate postwar years the Government did have trouble shooters who went to the coalfields and other industrial areas. They were really on the ball in those days because the position was more desperate. There was a great shortage of fuel. The Government was interested in trying to discover the basis of the industrial troubles that existed. But that is not the position today. I recall that on many occasions Mr. Harry Bland, who is Secretary of the Department, was rushed in when a dispute was well under way, whereas if he had been rushed in earlier he would have known all about it and might have been able to help stave off extension of the dispute. Referring to the dispute at General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd. which Senator Cavanagh mentioned-
– I think that dispute is a bit outside the ambit of this expenditure.
– We are discussing the estimates of the Department of Labour and National Service.
– I know, but I do not think that the dispute has any bearing on this expenditure. I ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the expenditure which we are discussing.
– The Minister in another place has declared his attitude on this matter.
– We are not in another place. We are in the Senate.
– The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) is actively engaged in this dispute. The officers of his Department are engaged in investigations which 1 say should have taken place long ago.
The Government considers that General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd: is a pearl of an industry. It is an industry of which the Government is proud, but I do not think that many supporters of the Government know anything about the conditions which exist in the industry. I like to think this is a great Australian industry, but at the Dandenong plant of General MotorsHolden’s Pty. Ltd. there is a turnover of labour of something like 95 per cent, in every 12 months. How do you get good organisation in an industry like that? There is not much dignity in working for General Motors-Holden’s because it has a turnover of labour of 95 per cent.
– Where do they go?
– I do not know where they go. I am merely saying that there is a turnover of labour in these workshops of 95 per cent, every 12 months. The Department should know that and it should also know that disputes must occur because of the development of bad conditions in the industry. It should have acquired the knowledge that trouble was certain to occur at some stage or other. I venture the opinion that the Minister did not know, that the Government did not know, and that the Department did not know.
– Where did the honorable senator get the figures?
– From an impartial source. I did not get them from the employees’ organisations or from the employers’ organisations.
Another matter about which honorable senators may not know is that General Motors-Holden’s is not really an Australian industry at all because about 85 per cent, of the men who work there are not Australianborn. They are new Australians. I know that some people might say: “ They are Australians now “, but the fact is that almost totally new Australian unskilled labour is engaged in this industry. The point I want to stress is that a department which calls itself the Department of Labour and National Service ought to be on the ball in relation to this information and ought to have trouble shooters and contact men who are all the time studying what is happening in industry and the great changes that are taking place in industry due to automation.
The Department would become so much more efficient if it had that kind of organisation. In some sort of way it tries to do what I have mentioned, but you must have an organisation that specialises in this kind of activity. The New South Wales Department of Labour and Industry does this work. It has its factory police and it receives a certain amount of information. The Commonwealth Department of Labour and National Service could receive similar information if an organisation of the kind that I have mentioned were attached to it. It has the men - I could name them - who are well trained. They have come up from the grass roots of industry and are now officers in the Department. They could do this work without interfering in any way with employer-employee relations. In a very easy manner they could display their understanding of the problems confronting industry. I am certain that we would have more peace in industry than we are likely to have in the future unless something modern along the lines that I have suggested is done.
We are still going along in the same old way . with our industrial relations. We are not doing anything to streamline our organisation to cope with present day requirements. We are not making any attempt to learn why there is a 95 per cent, turnover of labour in the
General Motors-Holden’s factory at Dandenong. If we find out why this is so, we will then be making a contribution to industrial peace in Australia.
– I refer to Division No. 330 - Administrative - and take the opportunity to raise a matter that I mentioned when we were discussing the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department and which the Minister suggested I should raise when the estimates for the Department of Labour and National Service were before the Committee. I refer to the provision of transcripts of proceedings following notifications under section 28 of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
As I pointed out earlier to the Minister, section 28 compels both employer and employee to present themselves before the Arbitration Commission in the event of a stoppage or a threatened stoppage. The pros and cons of the dispute or threatened dispute are then heard by an Arbitration Commissioner. I pointed out that the Commission goes into the facts of the case, on many occasions at great length. Trade union officials, and no doubt the representatives of the employers, have to report to their organisations the result of the proceedings. The cost of the transcripts of proceedings under section 28, as distinct from general transcripts, is quite substantial and of some importance to a large number of organisations.
Again I plead with the Minister to heed my suggestion that the transcript of proceedings under this section should be provided to the parties concerned free of charge. This would be of great benefit both to the employer and employee organisations. I repeat that the compulsive nature of this section of the Act, and the fact that the organisations are compelled to appear before the Commission, is all the more reason why the transcripts should be provided free of charge.
I turn now to item 01 which relates to salaries and allowances as set out on page 184 of the Appropriation Bill. I notice that it is proposed to increase the number of district employment officers and assistant district employment officers from 622 to 663, an increase of 41. I hope this means that more employment offices will be established in our country centres because that is where the younger generation, in particular, is finding great difficulty, especially after school examinations have concluded, in securing employment. Young men who want to take up a trade or go into some professionare forced to move to the city because that trade or profession is not immediately available in the country town. Indeed, if they wish to remain in the country they could well be compelled to accept an avenue of employment that otherwise they might not undertake.
There is also the problem - this is the more serious one - of providing employment for young girls in country centres. Today many girls leave their homes in search of employment and wend their way to the city. Great social and family problems are involved. Because of these employment problems I hope that the creation of an additional 41 positions will mean the appointment of more district employment officers in the country centres of New South Wales.
Has the Department made any provision in the estimates for the establishment of an automation department? This is a matter that concerns the community, particularly as day after day we find automotive procedures and techniques entering Australian industry and processing plants at a rapidly increasing rate. This means either that employees, when they approach the retiring age, are displaced earlier than they had budgeted for, or that employees who have been trained for a particular avocation suddenly find that overnight the job for which they had been trained and equipped as the means of their livelihood, is abolished and they are forced on to the labour market and to accept another kind of occupation.
This is a serious problem and one that concerns the trade union movement of Australia. It has been the subject of conferences time after time. Now is the time - in fact I believe the time has passed - for the Department to give some consideration to the establishment of an automation department or an automotive department - choose whichever title you prefer - to investigate automation and the problems associated with its techniques.
Now let me refer to item 10 which relates to incidental and other expenditure. I direct attention to the advertising of vacant positions. The Commonwealth Employment Service or the Department of Labour and National Service could well take up this matter with various employers who advertise vacancies from time to time. May I refer to the building industry by way of illustration. An advertisement might appear in the Press on a Saturday to the effect that a number of builders’ labourers are required for a certain project at a certain place and that those interested are to apply at 7.30 a.m. on the following Monday. I understand that in many instances in response to such advertisements a great number of men line up at a particular project in the hope that they will secure employment. I suggest that a simple way of attempting to overcome the problem would be for the Department to get in touch with employer organisations asking them to request their members to set out in detail the number of positions required to be filled in accordance with such advertisements. This would save a lot of time, travelling and expense, and it would mean greater efficiency all round.
I refer also to Division No. 330, subdivision 2, item 05, which relates to official publications. The amount proposed to be appropriated is £13,400, whereas the expenditure last year was £9,840. There must be some good reason for the proposed increase of 50 per cent, in expenditure and 1 suggest that the Minister might be able to elucidate that particular item for me. 1 support the remarks of my colleague, Senator Cavanagh, in relation to apprenticeship training. In Division No. 330, subdivision 4, item 01, we note that the proposed financial assistance for apprenticeship training this year is to be £140,000, whereas the expenditure last year was £59,730. It is quite obvious that employers have not in the past faced up to their responsibility to train apprentices. I have in my hand a Press clipping relating to a statement made by Mr. Edwards, a former master builder, of Sydney, to the effect that there is no shortage of boys offering for training in the building industry but that employers are not taking them on. In the September 1964 issue of “ Automotive Topics “, Mr. Delandro, Chairman of the North Sydney Technical
College Advisory Committee, is reported to have said that many motor trade employers were not taking their full quota’ of apprentices and were thus doing a disservice both to the industry and to the public. He pointed out that we in Australia have very little chance of getting more mechanics from overseas as migrants because there is any amount of work for them in other countries. He added that employers had to accept more responsibility than they had accepted in the training of apprentices.
The proposed increase in expenditure under this heading, I suggest, relates to the suggestion put forward earlier this year by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) for the training of adults. As has been pointed out, I think, by my colleague, Senator Cavanagh, the type of scheme noted by the Minister is not acceptable to the Australian Council of Trade Unions and to the trade union movement generally, because it would relegate the apprenticeship system to a position of minor importance, leading eventually to its elimination. The plan formulated is not acceptable either generally or in sections of industry. In short, it could not produce skilled tradesmen. These are all the remarks that I wish to make at this stage in relation to these estimates, and I trust that the Minister will give suitable replies.
– In reply to Senator McClelland, the proposed increase in financial assistance for apprenticeship training has nothing to do with the adult training scheme. It is for extension of the scheme previously introduced to provide assistance for apprentices from country areas to be trained in country areas. It is proposed that the assistance will continue to be for these apprentices to be trained either where they arc or elsewhere in country areas, and not for them to move to the city to be trained and become city tradesmen. The proposed increase in the provision for official publications is due partly to an increase of £600 in the contract price for the printing of the “Industrial Information Bulletin”. The 1963-64 expenditure for this publication covered only 11 months, and only three quarters were provided for in relation to the “Personnel Practices Bulletin”. These two matters account for an increase of £790. The increase in the programme for the printing of career pamphlets is costing £350, and £1,820 is attributable to increases in costs of a number of other publications which are lumped together. These increases total £3,560, which is the difference between the expenditure last year and the proposed appropriation.
There is no provision for an automation department in this year’s Estimates. The increase of 41 in the schedule of employees arises because 41 temporary positions have this year been classified as permanent. There does not seem to be any reason why transcripts of proceedings under section 28 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act should be provided. The position is no different from that of proceedings under other sections of the Act, the transcripts of which are charged for. I shall bring to the notice of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) the fact that the honorable senator has raised the matter again.
– The administration of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority comes under the Department of Labour and National Service. The Authority’s report this year has been expressed in somewhat pungent terms. I wish to bring to the notice of the Committee one or two of the remarks made, because the Department is responsible for the efficiency of this section of labour. After noting that there is some satisfaction in the record number of cases of apples and pears shipped to the United Kingdom, the report states -
The weighted index for all cargo handled shows that there has been an overall gain of 0.1 per cent, on cargoes handled, as compared with the average for the three years ended June 1963. This figure represents a net gain of 26,755 man hours, but for the most part this has been achieved by improved cargo handling methods. Certain vital cargoes, such as general overseas loaded and discharged, iron and steel overseas discharged, timber overseas discharged, wool overseas loaded, and meat and freezer overseas loaded, were all handled at lower rates than the three year average referred to. . . . Drastic improvement is particularly needed in Sydney and Melbourne.
After making some other comments, the report states -
Notwithstanding the improved loading rates for some cargoes, the lower handling rates for others, which include exports, is a matter of serious concern.
It notes that the average weekly hours worked by watersiders have increased this year from 28.5 to 32.4 and then states -
Average weekly earnings by regular waterside workers of the real labour force rose mainly as a result of higher weekly hours worked, increases in the hourly rates of pay on 18th October 1963 and 19th June 1964. The average for all Australian ports increased by £3 16s. 5d. to £27 ls. 7d. per week. .
That was for a weekly working period of 32.4 hours.
– That is one-half of a day’s fee for a lawyer. You are always getting stuck into the wharfies; now I am getting stuck into the lawyers.
– The honorable senator is not even spouting salt water; he is blowing off froth. I am talking about the earnings of waterside workers.
– That is so, and I am talking about the fees of lawyers.
– Every honorable senator, including Senator O’Byrne, might well give some thought to the report of the responsible authority. I think everybody iti Australia will be interested to know that waterside workers receive £27 per week for 32 hours of time. Those words are specially chosen. The report further states -
Disciplinary action under section 36 of the Act was taken against all the waterside workers involved in 24 of the 65 stoppages and against some of those involved in one other.
Let those who think that the penalties prescribed by the industrial legislation are too severe note the following statement of the Chairman of the Authority -
However, during the year the Federation adopted the tactic of insisting on the right of every waterside worker involved being present at the inquiry and being heard. It is virtually impracticable where stoppages involving all or most of the labour force occur, particularly in large ports, to conduct formal inquiries under these circumstances . . .
Then, after making a few more comments, the Chairman stated -
The imposition of penalties has not prevented unjustifiable stoppages in some ports, as for example, Sydney and Melbourne. The volume of work and earnings in such ports have reached such a high level that the suspension of attendance money and/or the suspension of registration for a few days have proved not to be an effective deterrent.
Although the total number of man-hours lost was about one-half of that of 1962-63, the Authority considers that there was no justification for at least the major portion of time lost. Seventyfour per cent, of the loss occurred in Melbourne and Sydney, as opposed to 79 per cent, for last year.
I think it is proper that we should take note of those comments, which show that there is grave concern in the mind of the Chairman of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority about the continued deterioration of working efficiency on the waterfront. It is a matter which should be of concern to every honorable senator.
.- I relate my remarks to the proposed expenditure on salaries and allowances under Division No. 330 - Administrative. I refer particularly to the provision for senior industrial relations officers and industrial relations officers. For some considerable time I have been advocating the allocation of more industrial officers in the States to enable the Department of Labour and National Service to discharge its full responsibility to ensure the observance of awards. Over the years the Department has shirked its full responsibility in this respect and there has grown up the custom of leaving the responsibility to Stale officers, for whom provision is made in item 07 under the heading “ Administrative Expenses “. Officers of the State Governments, who have nominal authority to police Commonwealth awards,find it absolutely impossible to give any time to Commonwealth activities because they have plenty of State awards to supervise. Therefore, the main responsibility for policing Commonwealth awards has fallen on the shoulders of the trade union secretaries and organisers. Their real job is to seek the welfare of their members. They should not be required to spend 90 per cent, of their time performing a function which rightly belongs to the Department of Labour and National Service. This state of affairs has lasted for so long that any plea for an increase of the number of industrial officers in the States more or less meets with a blank refusal. The matter is one of major importance, because it is in this field that industrial trouble arises. If officers of the Department were available to shoot trouble before it developed, there could be much more industrial peace.
I refer now to the training of . adults for industry. In my view, the Minister for
Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) has approached this matter entirely from the wrong direction. If he intends to retrain people who have been dis- placed by automation, he should implement a retraining scheme. When he states that because of the shortage of skilled labour it is necessary to dilute the various crafts and trades by introducing a shorter term of apprenticeship for adults, he is striking at the very roots of the skilled trades. The Apprenticeship Commission in Tasmania has stated quite unequivocally -
The Commission knows of no shortage of youths for entry into apprenticeship in Tasmania nor any justification for the employment of adult apprentices.
That communication was signed by E. N. West, the President of the Apprenticeship Commission. He stated in a further communication -
Little real need exists for the Introduction of the Commonwealth training scheme in Tasmania to meet present requirements. The automotive industry appears to have a shortage of tradesmen, but the majority of firms are employing their full quota of apprentices.
The men who are employed in the various skilled trades are intelligent men who not only have served their apprenticeship but also have been doing an excellent job.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Chairman do now leave the chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative. (The Chairman having reported accordingly)
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- I rise to join issue with the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) on some statements he made earlier tonight while discussing the estimates for the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. The Minister’s statements related to a visitor to Australia, Mr. E. S. Sachs. Replying to Senators Cavanagh and Murphy who had raised some questions about answers given by the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) concerning Mr. Sachs, the Minister for Works saw fit to associate himself with the- statements adverse to Mr. Sachs which had been made in another place by the Attorney-General. I refer to an answer given on 1st October to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) by the Attorney-General who said -
When tackled about this matter tonight, the Minister for Works, who represents the Attorney-General in this chamber, said, in effect, that if there were any error on the part of the Attorney-General it was a minor one and that the date should have been 1945 and not 1950. He left a very clear implication that Mr. Sachs, who is a visitor to this country and has no voice of his own in this chamber, had said under oath in a court case in South Africa in 1945 that he was a Communist at that time. That is an allegation of a serious character against a person who is not a Communist.
It is necessary to look at the matter in perspective and I want to take a few minutes of the Senate’s time to examine certain known facts concerning Mr. Sachs’s record so far as it is possible to ascertain them, and to suggest that when the record is examined, it is evident that the AttorneyGeneral has lent himself to some reckless statements about Mr. Sachs’s character and his political allegiances. To my great regret, the Minister for Works, who represents the Attorney-General in this House has taken the position, not that he does not know the facts and will refer the questions to the Attorney-General, but that he makes himself independently responsible for the statements he has made. I do not think the Minister would want to retreat from that position because earlier he did not pretend that he wanted further information. He put himself in the position of one who knows the facts.
So far as it is possible to ascertain the facts. Mr. Sachs was a member of the Communist Party of South Africa until 1931 when he was expelled because of differences with the party. That was 33 years ago. Anybody who comes forward in 1964 and wants to highlight Mr. Sachs’s Communist association or Communist membership bears the heavy responsibility of saying that that is a fair statement to make about him in 1964. I am not speaking from facts which I know of my own knowledge. I rely on a report of a decided case reported in the South African Law Reports in 1952 and on what was said by the learned trial judge. Mr. Justice Clayden, in giving judgment in a case in which Mr. Sachs sought damages for libel on the ground that he had been falsely called a Communist. The case was heard in May 1951 and it was reported in Volume 2 of the 1952 South African Law Reports. Mr. Sachs was awarded £500 damages in the Witwatersrand Local Division by Mr. Justice Clayden for his false allegation.
May 1951 when the judgment was given was just a few months after 1950 - the year in which according to the AttorneyGeneral Mr. Sachs had said on oath in a court in South Africa that he was a Communist. The Minister for Works now says that it was not 1950, really, but 1945. It is necessary then to look at the history of Mr. Sachs, or what can be ascertained about Mr. Sachs, between 1931 and 1945. What is known is that in 1942 in a libel case in the Witwatersrand Local Division, Mr. Sachs recovered £600 damages for libel because he had been falsely called a Communist. That was in 1942 - 11 years after he was expelled from the Communist Party. This much can be established and it is referred to in this judgment in the 1952 volume of South African Law Reports. It is therefore known that in 1942, Mr. Sachs obtained damages for libel because he was falsely called a Communist.
– He made his expulsion pay.
– Apparently he was a successful plaintiff in a large number of actions and if anybody cares to repeat those allegations against him outside this Parliament he may well find himself an unsuccessful defendant in a libel action. The year 1945 is the year on which apparently the Minister for Works now relies as a relevant time. I ask him to name the case in which
Mr. Sachs stated in 1945 that he was a Communist at that time and to produce the record if he can. If the Minister cannot do that, I ask him to tell the Senate frankly what is the source of the information on which he bases the allegations he has made. Unless that is done, we will be left with the uncomfortable feeling that Ministers of the Crown - the Attorney-General and the Minister who represents him in this place - have acted irresponsibility and have lent their names to assertions which cannot be justified and that the only purpose of making any reference to communism in relation to Mr. Sachs is an attempt to discredit him. The animus which they have displayed towards him in these answers would be much better directed against the apartheid policies of the South African Government of which Mr. Sachs is so forthright and resolute an opponent. For a moment or two 1 want to refer to what was said in the South African court so that it will be beyond argument and so that the Minister will know what he has to deal with, because there can be no other purpose and no other justification for dragging this Communist allegation across the scene unless it is to smear Mr. Sachs while he is visiting Australia to raise funds for the defence of accused persons and their relatives who are disadvantaged under the repressive South African law. The Minister for Works was very quick to react a couple of weeks ago in this chamber against what he thought were unjustified allegations made by counsel assisting the Royal Commission on H.M.A.S. “ Voyager “ in relation to people whom he considered it was his duty to defend in this chamber. I do not wish to debate with him tonight whether he was justified on that occasion in seeking to defend individual persons who had been named by counsel assisting the Royal Commission. The fact is that he rose to resent the allegations against these people which were made on what he thought to be an unsupported basis. What is the difference? What is the reason for applying to a man against whom a vague political allegation is made a standard different from the standard applied to serving officers in the Royal Australian Navy against whom an allegation of negligence is made?
When you are dealing with people’s reputations you are dealing with something which is very precious. In politics we become accustomed to give and take, to the rough and tumble. We are used to allegations which hurt occasionally and perhaps we are used to hitting back as hard as we receive. But there are some objective standards of fairness in public life in this country - or there ought to be - and a man who visits this country for a purpose supported by probably the whole of the civilised world - the purpose of resistance to racial policies which have been condemned in the United Nations and which Australia at long last is tending to support by its vote in the United Nations - and whose visit is supported by people like the Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr. Woods, should not have his reputation put at peril by irresponsible statements, no matter how distinguished the person making those statements. Statements reflecting upon the character and associations of visitors to Australia should not be made unless there is ample and abundant proof to justify them. Anybody who falls short of that standard of restraint, when it comes to dealing with personal reputations, deserves censure, t regret having to say these things. 1 am sorry that the Minister has seen fit to associate himself fully with the reckless statement made by the Attorney-General in the other place.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr: Calwell) has asked a number of questions of the Attorney-General which, I understand, are to be answered in due course. I cannot anticipate what the answers will be, but I am bound to say that the AttorneyGeneral will be pushing uphill to justify his statements in the light of the statements and findings of Mr. Justice Clayden in the case of “ Sachs v. Werkerspers Uitgewersmaatskappy Bpk.” in 1952. In that case the learned Judge sets out the history of Mr. Sachs. I. ask the indulgence of the Senate to read it into the record. The learned Judge stated -
The general circumstances in which the articles complained of have to be interpreted are as follows. The plaintiff has been the general secretary of the Garment Workers Union for over 20 years. He has always been an active trade unionist and is regarded with respect in trade union circles. He has represented the South African workers overseas, as a Government nominee and otherwise. As general secretary he is, in terms of the constitution of the Garment Workers Union, a member of the central executive committee of the Union . . .
The plaintiff was recently re-elected as general secretary. The plaintiff is on the national executive and is treasurer of the South African Labour Party. In 1943-
That is the year after he was awarded damages for libel in the Witwatersrand Local Division and two years before the date that the Minister for Works now seizes upon as the probable date on which Mr. Sachs confessed, if he did, to being a Communist. The Judge continued -
In 1943 he stood as a Socialist Labour Party candidate for the Transvaal Provincial Council. The evidence shows that he is opposed to the Government policy of “ apartheid “, that he holds “ very democratic “ views in regard to the position of the native in industry. His views are against race equality but in favour of the view that the non-European worker has a place in industry and must be protected accordingly.
Mr. Sachs was successful in eight of his ten claims in this action. In relation to the particular allegations of “ communism “ against Mr. Sachs, His Honour said -
Uncontradicted evidence has been given . . . that it is common knowledge, very well known, that Mr. Sachs was expelled by the Communist Parly many years ago . . . Claim 10 is, I consider, serious; not only because of the allegation that the plaintiff is a Communist but because of the way in which this is made, by suggesting that he is a “ concealed “ one, and because of the attributes given to such a person by the definition of Communism. The damages will be £500.
His Honour gave judgment after rejecting a number of defences, none of which included the defence of justification. It was never sought by those who had published the defamatory material to justify the allegation. The defence was that the material really referred not to the plaintiff, but to some other person. There was a denial by the defendant that the offending article was capable of referring to the plaintiff, who was Mr. Sachs.
I have gone to the trouble of documenting the case, so far as it is possible to do so, not for the purpose of asserting any personal knowledge of the facts, but because, knowing something of the mission of Mr. Sachs to this country, it seems to me in the highest degree reprehensible that Ministers of the Crown lend themselves to aspersions on the associations of visitors to this country. It does not really matter whether the persons concerned are visitors. It happens that Mr. Sachs is a visitor. Such aspersions can only have the effect, the design or the purpose of undermining the standing in the community of the person against whom they are made. That is the burden of my complaint. I suggest that we have to be careful where we throw stones and that the same kind of caution and restraint is necessary in dealing with allegations of personal associations of this kind as was thought to be justified, from the point of view of the Minister, when he set out to defend people against whom he did not think there was proper evidence or against whom he thought unfounded allegations had been made. I invite the Minister to say, if he can, from where he gets his information about this matter because it seems, on the face of it, to be inconsistent with all that is known from an apparently impeccable source after judicial inquiry about a person who, I would suggest, has been grossly offended by the Minister’s remarks.
– I am not concerned with Mr. Sachs and I have not attacked his associations in any way. I have not attacked his personal associations; I do not know anything at all about them. In this case the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) was attacked in this chamber for having made an allegedly false statement in another place. The statement he made in the other place was that he understood that Mr. Sachs in a court had himself said that he was a Communist, in 1950 or thereabouts.
– He said it on a television programme, too.
– That may be so. In fact Mr. Sachs made this statement in a court in 1945. If he was not a Communist, he should not have said so; but if he did say so, then the Attorney-General is entirely correct.
– Where did he make the statement?
– In a court in South Africa in 1945. This is the sole point at issue in the situation: Did this man make the statement that the Attorney-General says he made in a court in South Africa. I say that he did. I say that the AttorneyGeneral is, therefore, entirely justified in making the statement which he did. I know nothing else about this man. I have not attacked his associations or anything else about him. But I do believe that the Attorney-General was entitled to make a statement which was a factual statement. That is all he has done, and that is all I am concerned about.
– The Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) was asked in a very courteous manner what evidence he had to support his very grave assertion. At least Senator Cohen produced the evidence of a court case. 1 do not think it is good enough for the Minister to get up and blatantly try to bulldoze - if I may use that word with respect -his way through the discussion without producing any evidence whatsoever. The submission made by Senator Cohen was very reasonable. It was documented by his reading of the judgment in a court case. Unless the Minister can produce some evidence - and he has not attempted to do so - he should be man enough to admit that he has made a mistake.
– But I have not.
– If the Minister persists that he is right he should be prepared to submit evidence to the Committee. 1 do not think that any person is entitled to try to bulldoze his way through a debate without supplying any evidence whatsoever.
I heard the “ Four Corners “ television programme in which this man admitted that he was a member of the Communist Party up to 1931. He said that he was expelled from that party on that date.
– He naturally would join the Labour Party.
– A number of them have joined your party; make no error about that. All I say is that if we are to uphold the prestige of this Parliament we should expect to receive from the Minister, either now or later, a statement containing evidence to support the allegation he has made.
– I should like to add only one contribution to the debate. I happened to see the television programme to which Senator Kennelly has referred. When this man Sachs was asked whether he was or had been a member of the Communist Party, he was pushed into a corner and finally said: “ Yes, I was a member of the Communist Party “.
– He had been.
– Yes, that is right, he had been.
– In 1931.
– Yes. The man said he was a member of the Communist Party. The Attorney-General stated that this man was a Communist and the man confessed that he was.
– That he had been a Communist.
– That is correct. It is interesting to hear the comments coming from the other side in defence of this self confessed Communist.
– If you were to say outside the Parliament what you are saying now you could be sued for slander.
– No. I saw this on television. I am prepared to go outside the chamber and say I heard Mr. Sachs say that he was a member of the Communist Parly.
– In 1931.
– That is right.
– What about in 1945?
– If you want to talk about 1945 you get up and do so.
– This man admitted to an audience in Australia that he was a member of the Communist Party.
– I feel somewhat guilty as I was the originator of this discussion in this chamber for the reason that was better stated by Senator Cohen, namely the injustice of ruining the reputation of a man who is in Australia to support a specific cause with which we all agree. This matter was raised for the purpose of ascertaining whether the Department was getting proper advice in view of the number of mistakes it had made. I referred not to only one inaccurate statement by the Department but to three.
I maintain that it has been clearly demonstrated tonight by Senator Cohen, supported by documentary evidence, not only that the statement of the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) in this particular case was inaccurate, but also that the Minister for
Works (Senator Gorton), representing the Attorney-General in this chamber, takes full responsibility for the assertion that in 1945 Mr. Sachs said he was a Communist. When we asked the Minister in this chamber to produce his authority, the only authority he gave was that the Attorney-General had said so. That is the source of his information. He is backing a statement by the Attorney-General against a South African law report.
– It is a different court case.
– The Minister has taken responsibility for the statement without referring it to anybody else. He has said that Sachs said this in 1945. When challenged by Senator Cohen to produce his authority, he said: “ My authority is the Attorney-General “. He is prepared to accept as authoritative a statement by the Attorney-General as against the reputable report of a court case in the Sooth African Law Reports.
It has been suggested that this man had made a profit out of his expulsion from the Communist Party. The man himself did not make the profit. The profit was made because of statements such as that made by the Minister in this chamber tonight except that those statements were made without the protection of parliamentary privilege. If the Minister is sure of his ground he could prove us to be all at fault by repeating the charge he has made outside the House. Then further profits would come to this particular individual.
Senator Branson has done no more than support the remarks of Senator Cohen. All
Senator Branson said was that this man, on a television programe, said: “I was a member of the Communist Party “. Senator Cohen gave documentary evidence that this man said he had been a member of the Communist Party. If this man were a Communist, in the light of recent actions we could expect that he would never have been permitted to enter Australia. This is a condemnation of a man who came to Australia on a certain mission only because certain Ministers do not support that mission, despite the vote of our delegates to the opposite effect at the United Nations.
– I think that this argument has arisen tonight on grammatical grounds rather than ideological grounds. I think the way in which the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) expressed the position by saying that this man had said in 1945 that he was a Communist, has caused this argument. If the Attorney-General had made the statement that the man, in 1945, had said that he had been a Communist, a great deal of this discussion would not have arisen. There is nobody on this side of the chamber or on the other side who would suggest that this man had not been a Communist in 1931. We are equally assured that in 1964 he is not a Communist. Therefore, in the meantime, he has seen the light. We only have to refer to the Bible to see that there is more joy in Heaven over one sinner who does penance than over 99 who do not need to.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.31 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 October 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1964/19641014_senate_25_s26/>.