25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following bills reported -
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Bill (No. 2) 1964.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Bill 1964.
– by leave - I move -
This motion, Mr. President, is necessary to implement the proposed meetings of the Senate for the remainder of the year’s sittings. It is proposed that next week the Senate will sit on Tuesday, 27th October to Friday, 30th October inclusive, the hours of sitting proposed being: Tuesday 2.30 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Wednesday 2.30 p.m. to 11.30 p.m.; Thursday 10.30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday 10.30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Senate will then adjourn for one week and will again meet on Monday, 9th November until cither Thursday, 12th November or Friday, 13th November. If necessary, next week the hours of sitting for the final week of the year’s sittings will be again reviewed. I shall consult with the Leader of the Opposition before making any necessary further adjustments to the hours of sitting for the final week.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I address my question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Does the Minister know that eight groups hold almost 30 per cent. of the shares of Ansett Transport industries Ltd.? Of these groups Mount Lyell Investments Ltd. and Boral hold 2,753,000 shares, the W. R. Carpenter holding company 2,589,000, Mr. and Mrs. Ansett, 643,000, Australian Mutual Provident Society 500,000, the Perpetual Trustee company 500,000 and Huddart Parker 389,000. Is the honorable gentleman aware that these groups, because of their basic enterprises, would be unlikely to have conflicting interests and so could, for all practical purposes, control the policies and activities of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd.? Does he consider that Labour Party representatives are unfair in condemning Mr. Reg Ansett as the ruthless, tough, pushing, favourite son of the Menzies Government when he is merely the front runner for powerful groups who, in no small measure, dominate the Government and to whom the Government must owe many favours? Does he not also consider that these groups should be sound enough financially to provide sufficient finance at their own risk without guarantees from the Government?
– The honorable senator mentioned some holdings in Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. I have no personal knowledge of any of them. He mentioned particularly some 30 per cent. of these holdings-
– Almost 30 per cent.
– He mentioned that almost 30 per cent. of these holdings were’ held by eight groups. That is to say, almost 70 per cent. of the holdings in this company are largely held by small people throughout Australia who have a great deal of confidence, apparently, in this organisation. It would be interesting to know just which people were in this group One might find members of the Opposition among them. I expect that almost all types of people hold some of the shares. One thing is certain: The Australian Labour Party will never forgive this man because he picked up the wreck of the old Australian National Airlines company which the Socialists had deliberately wrecked so that they could maintain a government monopoly. He picked up this company out of the ashes and has made a success out of it as a private enterprise run in competition with the government owned airline. The Labour Party will use every device and every possible method it can to defame this man in every way. There was a time when, whether you believed in a man’s cause or whether you did not, you admired a fighter. The Australian Labour Party has made continual attempts to defame this man. Whether or not you believe in his causes, he is a fighter-
– Mr. President, I rise to order. The Minister is making a political speech in defence of a man who has bad no accusation cast against him. I suggest that you, Mr. President, ask the Minister to answer the question or sit down.
– I, too, rise to order. I ask Senator Hendrickson to state the number of the Standing Order on which he bases his point of order.
– The Minister for Civil Aviation is not answering the question asked by Senator Dittmer, who did not make any attack on Mr. Ansett.
– Honorable senators have the right to ask questions in their own way. Personally, I think that many times honorable senators miss the point by asking wide and rambling questions. I hope that some day honorable senators will pay greater attention to making their questions more specific. But what an honorable senator asks is his own business and, equally, what a Minister says in reply to a question is his business. I have no intention at all of directing a Minister on the way in which he should reply to a question. I call upon the Minister for Civil Aviation to resume his reply.
– I want to refer to one more aspect of the question which the honorable senator addressed to me. The Australian Labour Party will never forgive this man for taking the wreck of the old A.N. A. organisation and building it up into a successful private enterprise in competition with the government operated airline which it favoured and which it may be quite prepared to continue to favour as a government monopoly. Let me assure honorable senators opposite that the people of Australia prefer the competitive system, the two airlines system, which this Government has instituted. This system is a great success because it brings good internal services to the people of Australia at a lower cost than is the case in any other airline service in the world. This competitive system has been built around the wreck of the old A.N.A. organisation, which the Socialists attempted to destroy before they were thrown out of office in 1949. Because this man is the one who has achieved this success, the Opposition will take every opportunity to defame him, not respecting the fact that, whether you believe in his cause or not, he is a fighter.
– I have seen , the Press report to which the honorable senator referred. It appeared in most of this morning’s newspapers. I am sure that everbody is heartened by learning that a big motor vehicle organisation is embarking upon an expansion scheme which will not only increase the Australian content of the vehicles concerned but also provide more employment for the Austraiian working community. Earlier this year, the Minister for Customs and Excise, in conjunction with the Minister for Trade and Industry, announced that a scheme would be put into effect from 1st January of next year under which the Australian automotive industry would be encouraged, over a period of five years, to increase the Australian content of motor vehicles. The scheme envisaged separate arrangements with various organisations in relation to concessional or by-law entry. Firm arrangements are now being made with the various organisations. It is hoped that at the end of the five year period the Australian content of vehicles will be not less than 95 per cent. It was very heartening to read in our newspapers in the last 24 hours that one organisation is undertaking a tremendous new programme in this direction.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Defence. When the Defence estimates were discussed in another place not one Minister spoke in support of them. Will the Minister give an assurance that when those estimates are discussed here he will be present and will take part in the discussion?
– I was not aware of the position as described by Senator Cant. I am surprised that he seeks this assurance from me. If it is necessary to give him such an assurance, I do so most enthusiastically.
– I recall that balance sheet, which I read a few days ago. The number was 78,000, if my memory is correct. It is a very good and healthy sign that so many Australians - many of them small people - have had the confidence to invest in this enterprise.
– My question is directed to the Acting Minister for External Affairs. Has the Minister seen a statement attributed to Sir Mark Oliphant, wherein he is reported to have said that he felt that if negotiations could bring about the handing over of Taiwan to Red China, the Communists would cease to be so aggressive? He continued -
In my naive way, I asked whether this could not bc done without the loss of defencibility or power for the West.
Does the Minister not consider that this inhuman suggestion would mean virtually passing the death sentence on 12 million of our allies in Taiwan who are fighting for their and our survival against the vicious Red Chinese Communists?
– I saw the statement attributed to Sir Mark Oliphant in the newspapers. It seems to me to be a most extraordinary proposition to hand over to Communist rule, particularly Communist Chinese rule because in Communist China there has never been any indication of belief in the sanctity of human life at all, 12 million people who at the moment are not under Communist rule. It seems to me to be an extraordinarily dangerous proposition that a country and a population of this size are expendable in order to fit in with the ideas of a professor or a politician, particularly when we consider our own population, which is even smaller. A proper moral approach to the self-determination of other people seems to be lacking. If there had been a suggestion of a referendum or something of that kind I could understand it, but just to hand over a country seems to me indefensible.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. Has the Minister seen a statement attributed to his colleague denying that he told the Premier of Victoria, Mr. Bolte, at the recent Premiers’ Conference and Australian Loan Council meeting to go back to Victoria and increase rail fares and freights and to match New South Wales in other revenue raising directions if he wanted to submit a case for a new State grants reimbursement formula for Victoria? Is it a fact that the Minister for Trade and Industry stated that there was not a vestige of truth or fact in any such statement, and that he had not uttered a single word along those lines at the Premiers’ Conference? If these denials are factually reported, what action does the Government propose to take, first, to correct the wrong impression created by Mr. Bolte’s grossly misleading statement, and secondly, to ensure that there are no further breaches in relation to statements made in camera at Premiers’ Conferences and meetings of the Loan Council?
– I have read in the newspapers the two points to which the honorable senator has referred. I have read in the newspapers remarks attributed to Mr. McEwen and also remarks attributed to Mr. Bolte in explanation of what he had already said. I have nothing other than the newspaper reports to guide me at the moment, and I have never formed an opinion based upon newspaper reports only.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. In view of the obvious increase in the bitumen sealing of roads in the Northern Territory because of this Government’s programme for the rapid development of the Territory, will the Minister ask his colleague to approach the oil companies to find out whether any company or association of companies will establish a bitumen manufacturing plant in Darwin, which would mean a decrease in the cost of road construction and provide a valuable new industry in the Territory?
– I shall refer the suggestion made by the honorable senator to my colleague. At this time it seems to me to rest upon the commercial possibilities of such an enterprise. Nonetheless, it is an interesting suggestion, and I shall certainly bring it to the Minister’s attention.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate seen a published statement to the effect that American experts regard Central Australia as an ideal place and as having ideal facilities for the disposal of atomic waste? Has any approach been made to the Australian Government to have atomic waste dumped in Central Australia? Is it the Government’s intention to permit such waste to be disposed of or dumped in Central Australia?
– I have not seen any report of a suggestion that Central Australia may be an advantageous place for the dumping of atomic waste, nor am I familiar with any request or any approach to the Australian Government in this regard.
– I have been informed by the Minister for Shipping and Transport that there have been references in trade journals during recent months to a device such as that described by the honorable senator. The Australian Motor Vehicle Standards Committee, which prepares and recommends for Australia-wide adoption draft regulations defining vehicle construction, equipment and performance standards for road vehicles, has listed for consideration at its next meeting in February or March 1965 an automatic beam switching device called the “ Koite “ safety eye. It is likely that this device is similar to the one referred to by the honorable senator.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Health, ls he aware that Australia has the highest death rate from heart disease in the world and that 50 per cent, of all deaths arc due to heart disease? Will he discuss with the Department the advantage of creating a science institute in Australia for the treatment of heart disease? I am advised that some 14 science institutes are established in England and Scotland and that they are making great progress in curing heart disease.
– I am sure that all honorable senators are aware of the incidence of heart disease, but I am not in a position to say whether the incidence of heart disease in Australia is higher than it is in any other country. I would bc inclined to doubt that very much. However, the broad issues that the honorable senator has raised require close scrutiny by the Department of Health and I shall refer the question to the Acting Minister for Health.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Is the Department of Civil Aviation responsible for the safety regulations applicable to parachutist clubs? If it is, will the Minister inform me whether such regulations cover the safety of the parachutist once he or she leaves the dropping plane or whether they apply only to the dropping plane and the dropping zone? Will the Minister also inform me what supervision, if any, is carried out by the Department of the packing and inspection of parachute equipment?
– Yes, the Department does have some control - it has issued regulations - over the descent, from the time the parachutist leaves the aircraft. There are also regulations covering his fitness, age and experience, and other such things. As regards the final part of the question, the Department has issued regulations on how a parachute has to be packed, and so forth, but it has no jurisdiction over seeing that these directions are carried out. That, I should think, is a matter for the parachutist himself. He would be the one who was most interested.
– I direct to the Leader of the Government in the Senate a question which concerns the imminent advent of the Volkswagen organisation into the manufacturing of cars in Australia. By way of preface, I point out that the present major car manufacturers are able to obtain reciprocal tax concessions, and under the laws of the country do not publish their balance sheets, thus concealing the vast amounts of money leaving Australia in the form of dividends, with consequential industrial unrest over the ability of the companies to pay better wages. In view of the statement of the Prime Minister that he would review the matter of Australian financial participation in overseas companies which come into already established industries in this country, will the Leader of the Government give an assurance that early consideration will be given to providing that in addition to there being a 95 per cent. Australian content in the cars, at least 49 per cent, of the capital content of the companies be Australian also?
– I am not familiar with the financial structure of the organisation which is to undertake a vast the manufacture in Australia of the Volkswagen car. But I am delighted with the news, and I hope that my delight is shared by every member of the Senate at this further manifestation of the confidence of the world in Australia. This will give an opportunity for further employment in Australia. It will give an opportunity for Australia to increase further its already vastly increased stature in the commerce of the world. The honorable senator quite erroneously quoted the Prime Minister as having said that he proposed to review the matter of Australian participation in manufacturing ventures undertaken by firms with overseas parentage. At no time-
– He certainly did.
– At no time- at no time - at no time has the Prime Minister said that. If the honorable senator insists that he did, he insists in complete error; that is all.
– The Sydney Press said that he did.
– What the Prime Minister did in a recent speech, which I understand was given in Adelaide, not in Sydney - again erroneously quoted by the honorable senator - was to repeat almost from his policy speech his comments on Australian participation in this sort of venture. That was no more than indicating that he was favorably disposed towards, and would welcome an opportunity for, Australian participation in ventures of this type. But there was no intention that there was to be a review by the Government.
– Why not?
– The honorable senator, by interjection, asks a further question. It springs, of course, from the policy of the Labour Party itself, and the Labour Party’s policy in connection with this matter is so to hamper any one who wants to invest in Australia as to preclude the further possibility of any overseas investment in Australia. That is not the policy of this Government. The policy of this Government is to encourage investment in Australia, at the same time encouraging Australian participation in such investment.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the long established efficient Australian industries are passing into foreign ownership and control? Does our balance of trade depend on capital inflow to purchase such industries? Has the Government any plans to get any of these industries back into Australian hands or is it content to allow them to remain under foreign control for ever? Lastly, has the Government paid any heed to the warnings on this matter which have been given, not only by the Australian Labour Party, but also by leaders in Australian industry and by the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia himself?
- Senator Murphy has completely overlooked one aspect of this matter and it is this: If an established company in Australia is purchased by an overseas company, allowing Australian participation or not, then such purchase is effected only because those who sell the company - the vendors - are prepared to sell it. Senator Murphy’s question raises a further point which is dear to the heart of the Australian Labour Party: It would impose some restraints upon the people who own property in this country to dispose of such property as they wish. The honorable senator overlooks another factor. If these sales do occur, one certain consequence is that the capital which is paid to the vendor company is then made available in Australia for further capital investment by that vendor company. Thus the opportunity is given for a secondary expansion of the economy.
As to the question concerning the attitude of the Deputy Prime Minister, I have answered very many questions on this matter in the Senate and elsewhere and I say what I have said so frequently before on this matter: It is quite impossible in my view to lay down a general rule that is applicable to every one of these negotiations. Each and every one of them has different factors. Each and every one of them must be judged on its individual merits.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Health. Is the Government still considering a proposal to increase medical benefits funds contributions by £5 a year for family units? Can the Minister inform the Senate why this savage increase is necessary?
– Here we have a classic case of putting up an Aunt Sally and knocking it down. Quite clearly, the honorable senator has picked a figure and then referred to it as a savage increase. In the general order of things, I would not answer a question couched in that form but since it relates to health, I will get an answer for the honorable senator if he will put the question on notice.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. Is the Minister aware that Australian troops in Borneo are dissatisfied because the zone allowance paid to them is less than the zone allowance paid to Australian troops serving in the Northern Territory and New Guinea? Is the Minister aware that Australian troops serving on the Malayan Peninsula are paid an additional 9s. a day because they have to eat English forces’ rations? Will the Minister take action to bring the zone allowance for Australian troops in Borneo at least up to the rate that is paid to troops in the Northern Territory and New Guinea? Why cannot Australian troops on the Malay Peninsula be provided with Australian rations?
– I am not aware of the conditions to which the honorable senator refers. I shall immediately refer the matter to the Minister for the Army. I shall ask him to study the comments of the honorable senator and to furnish him with a reply.
– Can the Leader of the Government in this place tell the Senate what was the original capital of the General Motors-Holden’s organisation when it established its motor car manufacturing business in Australia? Will he undertake to obtain for the information of the Senate the aggregate disclosed profits of General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd. from the time of its inception to the current financial year?
– I am not aware of the initial capital involved, but I am aware of the amazing growth of the company and the resultant benefits to Australia. The honorable senator asked me whether 1 would ascertain for him the aggregate amount of the disclosed profits. If he wants any assistance, I will do as he asks, but why does he not look at one of the company’s balance sheets?
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Now that China has entered the race for universal death, has the Government any authentic information about the stage which China has reached in its efforts to improve its position in relation to the nuclear bomb?
– The Australian Government is not in possession of any information from the Government of China about the progress which has been made with nuclear explosions or the production of nuclear weapons. The information that is available and which can be assessed by observation and instrumentation seems to indicate that the most recent explosion is not of a technically advanced type when compared with what has occurred in other parts of the world. It is believed that the recently reported nuclear explosion indicates that China will not be in possession of nuclear weapons for quite a number of years to come. That is the only information that is available; no information is available from the Chinese Government. We must necessarily rely on the sources that are at our command.
– I address to the Leader of the Government in the Senate a question which is supplementary to that asked by Senator Brown. Since the explosion by mainland China of a nuclear device last week, has the Government made any approach to the Chinese Government urging it to sign the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty? In view of the fact that Australia has no diplomatic relations with China, through what channel of communication did the Government make its views known, if in fact it did so?
– I prefer to confer with my colleague, the Acting Minister for External Affairs, before providing an answer.
– My question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate relates to investment in overseas companies.
Has the honorable gentleman seen an article in the “Australian” of 5th October 1964 under the heading “ Investment Alarm “ and the sub-heading “ Menzies calls for bigger share in overseas firms “? The newspaper correspondent, John Stubbs, stated -
The Prime Minister-
– Order! The honorable senator is basing his question completely on a newspaper article and is proceeding to quote the article. If he has a question he should ask it. I shall not allow him to preface his question any further.
– In view of the fact that the Prime Minister did make the speech which was reported in the “ Australian “ - not in the “ South Australian “, that the speech was made to 750 political and industrial leaders in South Australia, and that the Prime Minister indicated his concern
– Order! The honorable senator must ask his question.
– Would the Leader of the Government in the Senate take the speech of the Prime Minister as indicating that it is his wish that participation of Australian investors in overseas firms be proceeded with for the benefit of Australia?
– The honorable senator is at least now in possession of accurate information to the extent that he knows the meeting took place in Adelaide, and not in Sydney, as he previously said it did. I have not seen the article referred to by the honorable senator, nor do I know the gentleman who wrote it. But this I do know: The Prime Minister has said that his references to overseas investment in the speech he made in Adelaide were in line with the comments he made in respect of this matter in his policy speech. I accept that as being the actual situation. I do not accept a garbled newspaper account written by a gentleman who probably was not even at the meeting.
(Question No. 316.)
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows -
(Question No. 317.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
Did the Currie Commission on Higher Education in Papua and New Guinea recommend, inter alia - (a) that an Institute of Higher Technical Education be established in the Territory as a matter of high priority and that the early establishment of a fully autonomous University was essential; (b) that a Principal and other necessary officers of the proposed Institute of Higher Technical Education be appointed in 1964-65; (c) that the first contract for buildings for the Institute adjacent to the proposed University site near Port Moresby, and on the Konedobu model, be let in 1964-65; (d) that a preliminary year should be taken in the proposed University of New Guinea and that it should be given for the first time in the Administrative College, beginning if possible in 1964, with the assistance of seconded staff; (e) that a Registrar, staff architect and clerical staff for the University should be appointed in 1964;
– The Minister for
Territories has supplied the following answers -
– On the 2nd September, Senator Wright addressed a question to me concerning a scheme for the exchange of Australian and Russian professors. I said at the time that I thought there was an arrangement between the Australian National University and a Russian institution for this purpose and that I would obtain further details for him.
The Australian National University has now provided me with such information. The University has a formal agreement with the Moscow State University which provides for the exchange of up to three senior post-graduate students per year. This exchange scheme was inaugurated in 1961. Difficulty was experienced in getting the scheme under way because of the lack of knowledge in each University of the active lines of research and facilities in the other. Only two students from the Australian National University have been accredited to the Moscow State University under the scheme plus a research student from the University of Sydney who was included in the quota at the request of that University. Three research students from Moscow State University have come to the Australian National University.
In order to create better understanding of the facilities of each University, two professors are now being exchanged each year on an informal basis. These professors visit for one month, giving lectures and taking seminars with advanced students. The first two professors to come from Moscow State University were Professors Sokolov and Kurosh, a theoretical physicist and a mathematician respectively. From the Australian National University Professor Fenner (Microbiology) has visited Moscow State University, Professor David Brown (Geology) and Professor Neumann (Mathematics) are also visiting Moscow this year. The University is considering the exchange of junior staff for limited periods and is also considering secondment of teachers of the Russian language from Moscow State University for periods of a year or two.
Motion (by Senator Gorton) - by leave - agreed to -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies Act 1964, the Senate elects Senators Cant and Cormack to be members of the Council of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, and to continue as members for three years from this day.
Motion (by Senator Palrridge) agreed to-
That Government business take precedence of general business after 8 p.m. this sitting.
Consideration resumed from 2 1st October (vide page 1 193).
Department of Social Services
Proposed expenditure, ?9,087,000.
– I am pleased to be able to take part in this debate. Whilst we are not pleased with the rates of benefits-
-(Senator McKeIlar). - To which Division is the honorable senator referring?
– I am dealing generally with the question of administration. We have in the Department men of ability who could give great assistance to those in need of it. My remarks are prompted by the discussions on benefit rates, on the means test and on other matters of that nature that have taken place, not only in Committee in the Senate, but also during the debate on the Estimates in another place. They are prompted also by a statement I read recently that a bold plan for a free health service was suggested by a young Melbourne doctor. He proposed a free health service for all Australians within ten years. The Department has a staff of 2,674 under its control. Over a period of years I have been very closely associated with these people. I know that amongst the top ranking employees of the Department are some of the finest public servants in the land. I am hopeful that they will take into consideration many of the proposals which have been made from time to time for improving social services. I believe that the Government itself is beyond the pale, and that it is almost impossible to get any assistance from it.
I desire to ask the Minister a number of questions in relation to Division No. 470 and Division No. 475. I refer first to the matter of extra duty pay, dealt with in Division No. 470. The expenditure last year was greater than the amount sought to be appropriated this year. Last year ?1,255 was expended, whereas this year the proposed vote is ?1,000. I should like to know the reason for this. I pass to Division No. 475. In sub-division 1, item 02 relates to temporary and casual employees in State establishments., and item 03 relates to extra pay duty. Item 08 in sub-division 2 refers to the commission on benefit payments made by post offices. There has been a reduction in each of these items, and I should like to know the reasons for this. It might be suggested, in relation to the latter item, that a saving has been achieved as a result of the greater use of cheque payments. There is also . a reduction in item 09, which relates to incidental and other expenditure. I should like to comment on these matters. Although the expenditure of the Department is growing, I notice that the overall staff has been reduced by 28. I would like an explanation from the Minister on this point’.
Although the number of staff has been reduced year after year the number of people seeking these benefits is increasing. For instance, there were 711,388 people receiving age and invalid pensions as at 30th June 1963; there were 235,064 maternity allowances paid during that year; there were 1,535,388 endowed families receiving child endowment; and there were 3,432,166 endowed children in the families, ‘‘“here were 58,477 people receiving widows pensions; there were 25,981 people receiving wives and children’s allowances; there were 40,624 people receiving funeral benefits; and 271,769 people were granted unemployment, sickness and special benefits during the year, of whom 51,532 were still receiving the benefits at 30th June 1963. I am pleased to see that the officers engaged in this Department have received salary increases, but although the number of people seeking benefits has increased, there has been a reduction in the number of personnel.
I do not suggest for one moment that the Department is not in a position to know what is required, but because of the increased volume of work at the present time, I ask the Minister to explain why there has been a reduction in the staff. I know that the department is being completely revolutionised. New processes, such as the use of punch card machines, are taking the place of the old manual systems, and the staff will be able to deal much more expeditiously with the work. This department had a total expenditure last year of £336,947,500. Therefore, I think that the matters which I have raised might be explained by the Minister.
Another point on which I desire advice, and which was raised by my colleagues, refers to Division No. 475, sub-division 4, item 02 - Homes for Aged Persons - Grants to eligible organisations under the Aged Persons Homes Act. Senator Cavanagh went into great detail on this point. We on this side of the Chamber are concerned about the needy. The Minister said that a group of well-meaning people could get together and, provided they could secure the co-operation and the approval of the department, would be eligible to participate in the grants under the Aged Persons Homes Act. There are other sections of the community, particularly the municipal councils, which are barred from receiving these grants. They are concerned about the needy and are interested in providing homes for people who desperately need them. Also, the trade unions are anxious to house their elderly members. I would like to know from the Minister how many trade unions have the approval of the Department and are participating in these grants.
A matter which was raised by Senator Cavanagh, and about which I am concerned, is the question of special benefits. 1 feci that special treatment is being given in this connection. I do not suggest for one moment, nor do I think that the Minister would suggest it, that the payment that is being given to Victoria in respect of deserted wives should not be made, but the fact is that States such as New South Wales have been facing this problem for a considerable time. I do not say that they are not being recouped in some way for the payments they make in this respect, but the amount that is recouped is very small. Why should such States be in less favorable circumstances than is Victoria?
I do not think the Minister would suggest that this money is taken into account when grants are made to the States. Certain States should not bc penalised for doing the correct thing and showing some humanity. All States should be brought into line. These people do not receive the widow’s pension; they are paid the male rate of unemployment benefit of £4 2s. 6d., plus 10s. or 15s., whichever applies, for each child. The present practice is unjust to the States that are doing the right thing. If this amount is paid to Victoria, I see no reason whatever why it should not be paid to other States, particularly to New South Wales, which is the State about which I am most concerned.
Provision is made for an allocation of £11,500 for the housekeeper service. A housekeeper service has been in operation in New South Wales for a considerable time. How much of the £11,500 does New South Wales receive? I know that the provision of this service costs the New South Wales Labour Government many thousands of pounds each year.
Compassionate allowances are mentioned in the report of the Director-General of Social Services. He states -
These allowances are payable on a discretionary basis to people in necessitous circumstances who are unable to qualify for pensions and benefits under the Social Services Act. On 30th June 1964 there were 243 people receiving compassionate allowances in lieu of pensions - 197 on an age pension basis, 19 on an invalid pension basis and 27 on the basis of widows pensions.
Expenditure for the year, including other payments of a similar nature, was £83,431.
The Minister might also tell me the States in which the compassionate allowance is made available. This, too, relates to the matter of the favoured treatment granted to certain States.
Summarising my remarks briefly, let me say that in the Department of Social Services are some of the finest and most capable public servants in the land. I should like these officers to give consideration to the major issue of the abolition of the means test. I think that in relation to payments to deserted wives the practice in operation in Victoria is the correct one. The Commonwealth, not the States, should have responsibility for making these payments. I believe that the rates of social service benefits generally should be reviewed. We are enjoying an era of prosperity, according to the Government, so the elderly and the infirm should receive some benefit from this so-called prosperity we are supposed to enjoy.
If the Government considers the matters that I have mentioned we may achieve some good results. I realise that the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) is only representing the Minister for Social Services, who is in another place, so he cannot be expected to make the important decisions necessary, but the nation would benefit if the Administration devoted time and thought to the questions that have been raised.
– The honorable senator raised some broad issues on which I should like to comment. With bewildering speed he mentioned at least a dozen different matters contained in the Estimates. In replying to honorable senators, I may omit to mention some items. Let me assure them that every question raised will be considered by the departmental officers and that any replies I have omitted to give will be sent by letter to the honorable senators concerned.
As I have said, Senator Fitzgerald raised some matters of policy. I remind him, and indeed all honorable senators, that we are not dealing here with the appropriation of funds for the general pensions field. Those appropriations are to be found in another document. The amount of £336 million to which he referred will come from the National Welfare Fund. Honorable senators will recall that in the closing stages of the debate last night Senator Murphy asked where the appropriation for special benefits could be found. I told him then that it was to be found in a departmental estimate of £650,000. Actually, it is a part of the appropriation for the National Welfare Fund, so it does not come within the ambit of our discussion here.
– It should not be discussed here.
– No. Last night the debate became very wide. I do not object to that, because it makes for a better debate, but in truth the subject that Senator Murphy raised last night is not one for consideration in the discussion of these estimates.
– An appropriation for Queensland is shown.
– That remark brings me to a matter that was raised by Senator Wedgwood last night. She mentioned the housekeeper service. Document B has been produced to show the special provisions for payments to the States. It shows an appropriation of £15,000 for the housekeeper service. That appropriation is included in that document because it is a consolidation of payments to the States. In the case of Queensland however, because the payment for the housekeeper service is not a payment to the State, it is shown in these estimates.
– What I want to know is how it comes to be regarded as an ordinary annual service of the Government. It is a payment to the Country Women’s Association in Queensland.
– It is an appropriation of funds and must be shown in the Estimates. However, I shall obtain a more precise answer to that question in a moment. The point is that the appropriation of £15,000 is shown in document B because it is consolidated with other payments to the States. The payment to Queensland is shown under Division No. 470 of the Estimates because it is not a payment to a State. Senator Fitzgerald asked me what amount is paid to New South Wales for the housekeeper service. It is £5,900.
The matter of aged persons homes was debated very fully last night and reference was made to various organisations which qualify under the provisions of the Act. I made the point that an organisation had to be a non-profit organisation and that it had to qualify in the terms of the Act. Groups of people with charitable objectives could comply with the requirements. Provided they complied with the terms and requirements of the Department and the Act there was no reason why they should not get into operation in this field. Municipalities do not qualify. That is a matter of Government policy and I will not discuss it now. As I understand the position, in certain circumstances trade unions could meet the requirements. Subject to the normal requirements with which any other organisation has to comply, a trade union could qualify under the Aged Persons Homes Act.
The honorable senator referred specifically, I think, to Division No. 470, subdivision 1, item 03, which covers extra duties paid. The proposed appropriation is £1,000, whereas last year the appropriation was £1,370 and the expenditure was £1,255. 1 am sure that the honorable senator would be the first to agree that in a huge department this would ba an item which would depend on current circumstances of administration. I do not think that 1 need say any more about it than that. The honorable senator referred to State establishments, and in particular to Division No. 475, sub-division 2, item 08, which relates to commission on benefit payments made by Post Offices. The proposed appropriation is £440,000, whereas the expenditure last year was £448,860. This provision is for the payment of commission to the Postmaster-General’s Department for the cash payment of age, invalid and widows’ pensions and child endowment at post offices. The rates of commission are: for age, invalid and widows’ pensions, 7s. per £1 00 paid, and for child endowment 20s. per £100 paid. I think the honorable senator sought the reason why the proposed appropriation for 1964-65 is £8,860 lower than the expenditure for 1963-64. The payment of a lower amount of commission is due to the fact that fewer payments of social service benefits are being made in cash at post offices. There is an increasing number of age and invalid pension payments made by cheque, and of child endowment payments made by cheque or by quarterly bank credit, The dissection of the estimated expenditure for commission in 1964-65 is as follows - Age and invalid pensions, £119,000; widows’ pensions, £16,000; and child endowment, £305,000. These amounts total £440,000, which is the amount of the proposed appropriation.
Reference was made to Division No. 475, sub-division 2, item 09, which relates to the proposed appropriation of £28,600 for incidental and other expenditure, as against an expenditure last year of £32,297. The honorable senator asked why it was expected that there would be a fall. The item provides for all administrative general expenses other than those included in items 01 to 08 of this sub-division. It covers such expenses as freight and cartage, excluding that from supplier to departmental store for goods purchased under item 02; maintenance of office machines; repairs and maintenance of cars; pay roll delivery service; court charges and legal expenses; advertisements; purchase and repair of protective clothing; reimbursement to banks for cheques lost in transit between branches; newspapers and publications; survey costs; compensation payments under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act; reimbursement of university fees paid by cadet social workers; and other expenditure of a miscellaneous nature. From 1st July 1964 provisions for the removal and storage of officers’ furniture and for the tea trolley service were transferred to the Department of Supply and the Department of Labour and National Service respectively. That was a considerable item. The estimated expenditure for 1964-65 is about £3,700 lower than the expenditure for 1963-64. The main variations are: Decreases - transfer of provision for removal and storage of office furniture, £2,200, transfer of provision for tea trolley, service £2,200, freight and cartage, advertisements and other miscellaneous matters, £600, making in all £5,000. Offset against that are these increases: Maintenance of office machines, £600, repair and maintenance of cars, £200, other miscellaneous matters, £500, making in all £1,300. If you subtract the increases from the decreases, you get £3,700.
I think Senator Fitzgerald referred to payments being made to Victoria in relation to the special benefit fund. He spoke in broad terms about the fact that Victoria was getting an advantage over the other States. I only repeat what I said last evening, namely, that the provision was introduced in 1947 and has prevailed ever since. The reason for it at the time was that the other States did in fact have some arrangement whereby they made payments to deserted wives.
– The Commonwealth is making part payments to the other States now and a full payment to Victoria.
– The only difference is that for the first six months Victoria gets a special rate of £4 2s. 6d. in circumstances where it is applicable and that in the other States the six months’ period operates. That is the understanding that I have. It is a matter which is not unknown to Premiers and Premiers’ Conferences. It is not unknown to the other States. They have not taken any action in relation to it. It is one of those things that evolved, and I do not want to make any other comment on it. It is a fact. It began in 1947, and I am not being political when I say that it happened during the lifetime of a Labour government. If there is any matter to which I have not replied specifically in the circumstances in which I find myself today, we shall certainly see that a suitable reply is given by correspondence.
.- I refer to Division No. 475, sub-division 4, item 05, which relates to a proposed appropriation of £120,000 for grants to eligible organisations for accommodation for disabled persons. For some time now I have been asking the Minister to look into this matter of assisting disabled people. I do not know of any section of the community the members of which arc more courageous or are doing more to help themselves, but they need certain things altered to give them more incentive to go on and possibly eventually to relieve the Commonwealth and the taxpayer of the need to pay them any pension at all. I had a question on notice for some time; it was answered a week or so ago. It asked how many applications had been made for this accommodation for disabled people, and I was told that one application had been made, suggesting that this perhaps was not the most urgent need for assisting these people. I was told that this was the result of a request that had been made to the Minister as the most efficient and most suitable way of assisting. I should like to ask the Minister which organisation asked for this type of assistance and, if only one grant had been applied for, was it that organisation that applied for it? In that case, I think it is very notable and laudable that it has been given £150,000. I hope they are finding this is the most urgent need they have. However, as only one organisation has asked for it, I would like to know whether the Federal Council for Disabled People was involved in this request. Is it the sort of thing that the
Council believes is the most urgent need? Recently 1 led a deputation to the Minister with the Federal Council for Disabled People and this was not what they asked for at that rime. They feel that there is a more urgent need and that is to provide these people with the incentive to go on and work harder and longer and thus draw nearer to the time when they can be fully employed in industry and be relieved of the need to ask for pensions. They want to do this and it should be encouraged. They show a splendid spirit when they want to be relieved of the pension.
I also asked the Minister some time ago whether he could furnish any figures as to how many people could be employed in sheltered workshops or industries, especially disabled people, and, if not, whether he would make it possible for some of these organisations themselves to go into the opportunities for employment and possibly to ascertain those who would still like to be employed but were unable to be employed. If they cannot be employed, what is the reason? Is any inquiry in the process of being underaken? It seems to me that it is very necessary to know whether these people want to be employed and cannot be employed, and how they can be assisted, not by the Government, but by the organisations which are prepared to do this work. It is most urgent to cope with this problem and the best way is to increase the amount of accommodation in which they can work. I do not refer to hospital accommodation. Surely it is better for these people to lead a normal life at home and go to work provided there is sufficient accommodation for them, but it seems that this is not available.
It also seems to be urgent that these people should be allowed to earn an additional amount before their pension is affected. Obviously, many of them are even out of pocket by going to a workshop to work one or more days a week. By the time they pay their fares, they are out of pocket. This does not offer much incentive to them to help themselves, to work more and gradually rehabilitate themselves. I think it is urgent that this should be investigated and that additional work opportunities should be provided. This can be done if workshops or factories can get some kind of government assistance. 1 urge the- Minister to look at this problem again to see whether something can be done to help these people to help themselves. This is what they want to do. They want to relieve themselves of Government assistance in the most practicable way. This would also add to the workforce of Australia and that is something we need.
– For the benefit of honorable senators, I wish to explain the procedure I adopt in giving honorable senators the call. Briefly, when an honorable senator has spoken, whether on the Opposition side or the Government side, and the responsible Minister has replied, I give the call to the honorable senator on the opposite side to the honorable senator who spoke last. I do not regard the Minister as a Government senator for the purpose of these procedings. I hope that is clearly understood. Sometimes two honorable senators on the Opposition side may get the call in succession if no honorable senator on the Government side has risen. Sometimes the position is the other way around. I want to be fair to all honorable senators and I ask for their co-operation in addressing their remarks to the items under discussion.
. - I address my remarks to Division No. 475, sub-division 4, item 01. Would the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services explain briefly what constitutes compassionate allowances and other payments under special circumstances? I should also like an explanation of item 04 in the same sub-division. What is meant by “ Supplementation of pensions and allowances to which the Transferred Officers’ Allowances Act applies, or which are payable under section 71 of the Superannuation Act “? A man who is living alone and paying rent is entitled to the supplementary allowance. If he is living alone he can have an income of £2,020 but not receive a supplementary allowance. I ask the Minister whether a man who is living alone and paying rent can have any income whatever and still collect the supplementary allowance.
– I direct attention to Division No. 470 - Central Administration, and wish to refer to compassionate allowances. Reference was made to this matter by Senator Fitzgerald. The handbook “ Commonwealth Social Services “ states at page 1 1 -
For classes A and B, the term “ widow “ includes a deserted wife, divorcee, a woman whose husband has been in prison for at least six months, and a woman whose husband is in a menial hospital.
No where in this document can I find any reference to a deserted de facto wife. There are some of these in our community. Simply because they have failed to go to a registry office or to a church to get married, they are unable to qualify for a pension. I find that there are people in the community who are not even Australian citizens and who are not naturalised but who are paid a compassionate allowance equal to a widow’s pension. They may never become Australian citizens and their children also may never become Australian citizens, yet they are entitled to a compassionate allowance. An Australian woman who has lived with a man for a number of years and borne children to him, is rejected if she applies for a pension or a compassionate allowance. The Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) has admitted this in a letter to me in which he stated in reply to a letter I wrote on 14th July 1964 -
As a general rule a compassionate allowance, equivalent to a pension, is paid only to an unnaturalised person who possesses all the other qualifications necessary to receive a pension . . The view has always been held that under the existing social welfare structure there will always be a residue of cases to be dealt with by voluntary effort and State instrumentalities.
Looking at this matter a little further, we find that a divorced person is entitled to receive a widow’s pension.
– That is right. She has been married.
– The woman may even have been the cause of the divorce, yet having caused the break up of a marriage, within the terms of this definition she is entitled to claim a widow’s pension. Then we come to the position of a woman whose husband is in gaol. It should be remembered that the gaol sentence has to be six months or more so the crime is generally a rather serious one.- The crime is a voluntary act, and the man is sent to gaol when he is convicted. Arising out of that voluntary act the man’s wife is entitled to a widow’s pension.
The woman I am speaking about lived with a man for about 17 years and bore him seven good Australian children. Then he decided to desert her and she was left without any support with which to bring up those children. She applied to the Department of Social Services for a pension but her application was rejected.. Then she made an application to the Department for a compassionate allowance equal to the widow’s pension plus children’s allowances, but the Minister for Social Services rejected that application. He said that it was not within his power under the law to grant a widow’s pension, and I agree. However, it is within the discretion of the Department to grant a compassionate allowance. The Department often grants a compassionate allowance to people who probably will never be Australian citizens, but this good Australian woman is unable to get assistance. If the Minister far Customs and Excise cannot answer my query, he should take the matter up with his ministerial colleague with a view to having the position rectified.
– I wish to advert first to the matter about which Senator Wedgwood and I join issue. Provision for the housekeeper service has been included in the Estimates since 1951- 52. In previous years provision for all the States appeared in the one item. In the last financial year the appropriation appeared in Division No. 364, sub-division 3, item 02. In 1962-63 it appeared in Division No. 364, sub-division 3, item 03. As to this year’s provision, all I can say is that there is an historical background to the matter and that the proposed appropriation has been included in Document B.
– It has, but I should still like to know by what criteria it was placed in that document.
– Well, where else could it go? This all hinges upon the rearrangement of the Budget Papers. I prefer not to go any further with that matter.
– I appreciate your point, but 1 do not understand the reasoning behind what has been done.
– When a member of the Public Accounts Committee acknowledges that she cannot understand the reason, what chance has anybody else of understanding it? Senator Buttfield raised the subject of accommodation for disabled persons and grants to eligible organisations. She made some general observations on matters of policy which it is not appropriate for me to deal with here. It will be recalled that some time ago I, as Minister representing the Minister for Social Services in this place, furnished an answer which revealed that only one organisation has applied for a grant. I do not think we should be critical of the fact that only one organisation has applied. When all is said and done, the relevant legislation was passed only in November 1963. No organisation can gather together all its financial and administrative resources and embark upon such a programme within a matter of months.
– The Minister does not think that the legislation was not what these organisations wanted?
– No. I think it is too early to pass judgment on that matter. If any welfare organisation wishes to take advantage of an Act of Parliament and enter upon a building scheme, it must first get the Act, read it, interpret it and take it to people who can advise about its application. Then it has to look to its own financial resources and decide how best it can administer the scheme. I suppose every honorable senator is associated in one way or another with a charitable organisation and would have had experience of this sort of thing. There is always a time lag in these matters. I would not be prepared to agree at this stage that this legislation did not meet the requirements of these organisations.
– Can you tell me how many organisations asked for assistance?
– I can say that the Civilian Maimed and Limbless Association of New South Wales has not yet made application. By reason of the very nature of things, the organisation may well not yet be ready to proceed; I do not know. The Civilian Maimed and Limbless Association of New South Wales and the Australian Council for the Rehabilitation of the Physically Disabled took a prominent part in representations that were made prior to the passing of the legislation. They said that hostel accommodation was the most pressing need. 1 think all of us know the human dynamo - Mrs. Bedwin - who is behind the Civilian Maimed and Limbless Association of New South Wales. She and her husband, as the President and Secretary respectively of that organisation, went to every State of the Commonwealth when advocating that something be done in this field. A grant has been approved for a South Australian organisation which is associated with the care of mentally handicapped persons.
Senator O’Byrne raised the subject of supplementary assistance to pensioners. The honorable senator raised several matters relating to the means test. I think it would be wiser for me not to attempt to answer these queries but to ask the departmental officers to extract the necessary information. In general terms, supplementary assistance amounting to 10s. a week is available to persons who are in receipt of the full standard rate of pension if they pay rent and are considered to depend entirely upon the pension. A small supplementary income would be permitted. However, I repeat that 1 think I should rely upon my officers to supply the necessary information.
Senator Cant referred to payments to deserted de facto wives. Speaking generally, this is regarded as a State responsibility. However, in Victoria, where no State assistance is available, a special benefit is paid in cases of hardship, especially when children are involved.
– Do you mean in the first six months?
– No. We are talking about payments for the whole period of desertion.
– I am talking about payments to deserted de facto wives. I come now to Division No. 475, subdivision 4, item 01 - compassionate allowances and other payments under special circumstances. The proposed expenditure for this year is £92,000. Actual expenditure in the last financial year amounted to £99,801. This item provides for the payment of compassionate allowances to persons who are suffering hardship but are ineligible for statutory benefits, compensation payments to former employees of the Civil Constructional Corps and other civilians for war injuries, and also certain ex gratia payments. Compassionate allowances are paid at rates identical to the rates of appropriate benefits under the Social Services Act. The major categories are: (a) Payments equivalent to age or invalid pensions, wives allowances and funeral benefits made to or in respect of aliens who are not naturalized and whose circumstances warrant special consideration; (b) payments equivalent to widows’ pensions to women who are innocent victims of bigamous marriages and who have young children and to persons who become widows after arrival in Australia but who are not naturalised; (c) payments equivalent to maternity allowance and child endowment to wives of members of the defence forces serving in Papua and New Guinea.
An amount of approximately £14,500 is provided in this item for the payment of compensation and hospital and medical expenses in respect of members of the Civil Constructional Corps for death or for incapacity sustained in the course of and directly attributable to their employment during the 1939-45 war, and other civilians who suffered injuries as a result of enemy action in the 1939-45 war either as civilians or as members of approved civil defence organisations. Also provided in this item is an amount of £2,400 for the payment of a weekly allowance to ex-members of the women’s Services who are in special circumstances - expectant mothers discharged from the Services for this reason, and unmarried. This allowance may be paid for a period of three months before and three months after the birth, but for a longer period where the medical opinion is that the applicant is unfit for work or where suitable work is unobtainable.
A very small amount is included in the item for the repatriation of age and invalid pensioners or other social service beneficiaries. This is done at the request of the persons concerned where it is in their interests and, having regard to the expectancy of life and other factors, it would prove more economical to the Commonwealth to meet the expenses of repatriation than to continue to pay benefits over an extended period. The appropriation for 1964-65 is £7,800 lower than the expenditure for 1963-64. The reduction is related to compassionate allowances and to payments to aged Chinese. It is expected that the number of these aliens receiving payments in the nature of pension will fail. Approximately 95 per cent, of the recipients are now over 75 years of age.
The honorable senator also referred to item 03 - Pensions to officers on retirement. The expenditure on this item in 1963-64 was £3,446, and the appropriation for 1964-65 is £3,500. Provision is made under this item for the payment of pensions to ex-officers, and their dependants, of certain departments and authorities. For various reasons, these pensions cannot be paid from Commonwealth superannuation funds, or can be paid only to a limited extent from those funds. Five pensions are paid at present. Expenditure in 1964-65 will be slightly higher than in 1963-64 due to an increase in the rate of one of the pensions.
I turn to item 04 - Supplementation of pensions and allowances to which the Transferred Officers’ Allowances Act applies, or which are payable under section 71 of the Superannuation Act. In 1963-64 the expenditure under this item was £22,927. The appropriation for 1964-65 is £16,500. This provision is required to enable pension increases granted to certain transferred officers under the Transferred Officers’ Allowances Acts and the Superannuation Acts of 1951, 1954, 1958, 1961 and 1963 to be continued during 1964-65. The estimated expenditure for 1964-65 ls £16,500, approximately £6,400 less than the expenditure in 1 963-64. The reduction is mainly due to the fact that during 1963-64 the Treasurer approved increases which, in most cases, included arrears from December 1962, and in some cases from January 1961.
– 1 would like to obtain from the Minister some information in respect of Division No. 475 - State establishments. I refer to item 01 in sub-division 3, which relates to the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service - plant and equipment. The appropriation of £3,000 for 1964-65 is considerably less than the expenditure of £4,889 in 1963-64.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– I would like the Minister for Customs and Excise to supply information in connection with Division No. 475, sub-division 3, item 01, relating to works services, Commonwealth rehabilitation service: - plant and equipment. The appropriation for 1964-65 for this section is £2,000 less than the appropriation for 1963-64. Why is this excellent section and facet of the work of the Department of Social Services given less this year than last year? Is it because the number of persons trained and treated in the rehabilitation centres becoming smaller each year? What centres - arc now operating? What is the actual number of pensioners who have been treated and rehabilitated? I would also like to know, if these figures are in the hands of the Minister’s officers, the number of persons who, as a result of the training they received from the Commonwealth rehabilitation service, have been able to take their place again in . industry. I have been interested in this wonderful service for many years. When it first started, it did an excellent job. I hope that the fact that the appropriation this year is £2,000 less than it was last year does not indicate that there is to be any deterioration in the service.
Another subject to which I wish to refer is Division No. 475, sub-division 4, item 01, Homes for aged persons - grants to eligible organisations under the Aged Persons Homes Act. I have received, as I think most honorable senators have, correspondence from various organisations asking whether this particular grant for the homes for aged persons is being absorbed by charitable groups or, using the language of the estimates, eligible organisations, which ask approximately one-third deposit from the pensioner seeking accommodation and which seek grants from the Government representing two-thirds of the cost of building that accommodation. These organisations are giving an excellent service, but they are providing accommodation for people who are in better financial circumstances to the disadvantage of indigent persons who have no income except their pensions or no property or cash assets and therefore have no possibility of getting anything like £500 to £1,000 to use as a deposit on accommodation. I would like the Minister to say how many eligible organisations operate on the deposit system in providing accommodation to aged persons. What amount of the vote of- £3,700,000 is appropriated to that type of organisation for providing homes for the aged? Are statistics kept of the essentially charitable organisations which are providing homes for aged persons who are without capital and are the most necessitous section of our community?
One does not wish to be critical in these matters. If the amount appropriated is sufficient to provide for all the necessary services, then this question will not arise. I find, and I think other honorable senators have found also, that some pensioners cannot pay the deposit that gives them an equity in a building, and that a tremendous number of them are seeking accommodation that is not available to them. All the real charitable homes are full. 1 wonder whether the really charitable side of this service is fading out of the picture. Are there many applications for the type of grant that gives an aged person accommodation irrespective of whether or not that person has capital reserves of £500 to £1,000 to use as a deposit for accommodation? What amount of this money is spent in these two divisions, one of which is represented by organisations which charge a deposit and which operate under a somewhat commercial system, and the other of which is represented by charitable organisations that provide accommodation without deposit to aged people which, I believe, is the first concept of this particular type of grant?
I would like the Minister to give me some information in relation to Division No. 475, sub-division 4, item 05, accommodation for disabled persons - grants to eligible organisations. The Minister has given some explanation in regard to this matter, but I ask him whether he could make clear just what constitutes an eligible organisation in respect of these grants. Are the conditions that make an organisation eligible set out clearly? Has the estimated amount of £150,000 which has been set aside in the estimates been appropriated to satisfy one or two anticipated claims, or will this money be available to any organisation which can meet the requirements of the Department of Social Services, and be declared eligible to become an applicant for a grant? What qualifications are required by the Department before an organisation is eligible to participate in these grants?
.- I Would like to ask the Minister a question relating to Division No. 475, sub-division 1, item 01 in respect of regional offices, ft seems to me to be most essential that services equal to those in metropolitan areas should be made available in country areas in all States of the Commonwealth. I read with interest in the report of the Department of Social Services that there are now 23 regional offices established throughout Australia. The work of the Department is being decentralised, apparently, in two stages, the first dealing with pension claims and the second dealing with the granting of maternity allowances and child endowment benefits. I seems that, in the first stage, 18 of the proposed 23 regional offices are in operation in regard to pension claims, the exceptions being Sale in Victoria, Cairns and Mackay in Queensland, Port Pirie in South Australia and Launceston in Tasmania. In addition to the five I have just mentioned, the offices in Newcastle and Armidale in New South Wales are unable to deal with maternity allowances and child endowment benefits.
It is obvious that this service is giving tremendous help, particularly to those who are claiming maternity allowances. Maternity allowance and child endowment benefit facilities have in the last year been made available in Canberra, Lismore in New South Wales, Hamilton in Victoria, and in Toowoomba and Townsville in Queensland and, by the operation of these new facilities, help is being given to 142,000 women. I ask the Minister whether the increase in the appropriation from £2,566,500 in 1963-64 to £2,632,000 in 1964-65 will enable staff to be employed at those centres which are not operating in those two stages so that, in the forthcoming 12 months, they will be able to do so.
– Senator Cooke dealt with the item which relates to plant and equipment for the Commonwealth rehabilitation service. In the strict sense, we are relating this estimate to the plant aspect. The reason why there has been a reduction in the amount appropriated is that these centres have received their estimated requirements and, obviously, the amount set aside for the next financial year is based on that fact. 1 know the honorable senator was only leading in.
Everybody else has done the same, so I shall not hold that against him. The general appropriation for rehabilitation services comes from the National Welfare Fund. As a matter of general interest, it can be said that there has been no falling off in rehabilitation activities. The figures in the annual report for 1963-64 reveal that 1,229 persons were placed in employment, compared with 1,176 in the previous year. In 1963-64, 1,635 handicapped people were accepted for rehabilitation. They comprised 305 invalid and widow pensioners, compared with 259 the previous year; 60 recipients of tuberculosis benefits, compared with 53; 82 persons aged 14-15 years, compared with 75; and in the miscellaneous classification 86, compared with 70. A total of 1,635 persons were- looked after in that year, compared with 1,553 in the previous year. Expenditure on rehabilitation services under the National Welfare Fund - I know the Chairman will forgive me for mentioning this although it is outside the estimates - was £744,579 in 1963-64, compared with £697,736 in 1962-63. The estimate for 1964-65 is £793,000. The picture is fairly clear. If the honorable senator desires any further information I will be happy to let him have it.
Senator Cooke referred to homes for the aged. I think that everybody will agree that we have given this subject a fairly good airing in this debate. I have said already that the last survey revealed that the majority of residents of these homes were pensioners without any means other than their pensions. There is no strength in the argument that these homes are being provided for people who are not pensioners or who are not in need of this accommodation.
Reference was made to accommodation for disabled persons. The qualifications necessary for an organisation to receive assistance under this scheme are the same as those provided under the aged persons homes scheme. An organisation must satisfy the Department that if has the necessary qualifications before it can receive a grant. Up to the present, only one organisation has obtained assistance. However, as I said earlier, the Act was introduced only in November of last year, so it is too early to make any definite judgment on whether the scheme will be successful.
Senator Breen raised the question of regional offices. The Newcastle office will be fully decentralised as soon as the building is completed, and Armidale is in a similar position. At present there is not sufficient work to warrant changes at Sale in Victoria, Port Pirie in South Australia and Launceston in Tasmania. That is the position at present, but the Department will watch developments. The Department is considering decentralisation and hopes to present a report to the Minister before the end of the financial year outlining recommendations for future development. The extension to people in country areas of services similar to those enjoyed by city folk is firmly accepted as a principle, and we hope that progress will be made in that direction.
In view of all the departments that still remain to be considered, I hope that honorable senators will from now on, as far as is practicable, confine their remarks to individual items.
– I seek information from the Minister as to where I might find references to the expenditure - if indeed there is any - on two matters. The first is research into the social conditions of persons who are in receipt of social service payments of one sort or another. I asked some time ago whether any research was being conducted by the Department into the economic position of age, invalid and widow pensioners. I was told on 2nd September that no research of this kind was being conducted. I asked whether the Department had made any study of the relationship between pension payments and the actual needs of pensioners for food, clothing and other items necessary to sustain a reasonable standard of living. The answer I received was: “ No “. I seek to know whether research of any kind into the social environment, and the conditions under which recipients of social service payments live, is being conducted by the Department, and, if so, where the proposed expenditure on such research is to be found in the estimates.
I ask also whether provision is made for welfare work, and, if so, where it is to bc found in the estimates. What staff of welfare workers, if any, dees the Department have? Where is the provision for their salaries, and, in a broad way, what work is being undertaken by them? 1 am concerned with both of these aspects because, in my view, there should bc a relationship between the actual economic position of pensioners, and others in receipt of social service payments of one sort or another, and the payments they are receiving. On my understanding, at the moment the problem is being dealt with largely by voluntary welfare organisations. I am interested to know whether the Department has provided for this matter and where the details can be found in the estimates.
– I wish to raise two matters on lines similar to those mentioned by Senator Cohen.
– He was asking for information.
– I will be asking for information, too. I should like to know what the Department is doing to find those members of the pensioner class who do not come readily within the ordinary categories of pensioners. Recently the personnel conducting the “ Four Corners “ television programme spent about half an hour interviewing pensioners who were in dire circumstances. I know that members of Parliament were critical, of the Australian Broadcasting Commission for allegedly picking out extreme cases and trying to make out that they were typical of pensioners generally. Of course they were not, but the A. B.C. did give four or five what I might call classical cases of people who were really in dire circumstances. They were people living in Sydney in flats or garrets, who had no contact with the outside world and no members of their families around them. I gained the impression that apart from sending them their pension cheques, as far as the Department was concerned these people did not exist. The officers of the Department of Social Services do good work and are very understanding. I suppose that within the ambit of the Public Service regulations they do all they can, but I have always thought that a type of field work should be carried out. I would like to know from the Minister whether the Government is considering the development of field activity. As we know, hospitals have almoners who search out people who are in a bad way and try to do something for them.
I wish to refer to another matter which concerns publicity of the rights of pensioners. I want to know whether the Government has considered-
– -The honorable senator should know that most of the matters to which he is referring should have been dealt with when we were debating the Social Services Bill recently. He should confine his remarks, as far as he can, to the estimates under discussion.
– Very well, Mr. Chairman. I would like to know whether the Government is doing anything about this matter. About a fortnight ago the “ Daily Telegraph “ newspaper ran a series of articles in which it asked pensioners to communicate with it in order to discover what their rights were under the various pension acts. I went to the office of the “Daily Telegraph”. I thought that only politicians received queries of this type, but the “ Daily Telegraph “ was inundated with mail from pensioners seeking information on their rights in relation to pensions. If the Department could allocate finance for the establishment of an information bureau where people could be informed of their rights, it would be of great assistance to the people concerned and, of course, would do a lot of good for the Department itself.
– In answer to both Senator Cohen and Senator Ormonde, I point out that details of the actual expenditure are to be found in Division No. 470, sub-division 1, item 01 - Salaries and Allowances as per Schedule. The Department of Social Services, by its very nature, is constantly carrying out an exercise in the field of research. From day to day the officers of the Department are interviewing people who apply for benefits. It has been my experience, and no doubt that of other honorable senators, that where a person cannot go to the office, the Department sends a highly trained officer to his home. The officer interviews the person and gives him the best possible advice to help him obtain pension benefits.
In the field of research, there is a unit which is responsible for carrying out regional research projects on social service matters, such as estimating the number, the cost and the effect of variations in social service qualifications and rates. It provides information and comment on social security theories and practice. It is also the function of this unit to collect and complete statistical data concerning the number of benefit claims received, granted, rejected and so on, and the number of benefits that are in force. It is a constant task. There is also a social welfare unit which is under the control of the Director-General of Social Services. It is primarily concerned with the development of social work within the Department, and the co-ordination of social work in the six State headquarters. It provides a social case work service to certain recipients of benefits. It also collects a store of information on all aspects of social services in Australia and overseas, and maintains an index of social welfare agencies throughout the Commonwealth. As we all appreciate, this work is of the essence of the Department. The work is going on hour by hour and day by day throughout the whole of the financial year.
– I wish to ask a question concerning Division No. 470 - Central Administration. It refers to the matter of payments to deserted wives, which was raised last night. Would the Minister undertake to table the documents which constitute the agreement under which special payments are made to residents of one State during the period which, for residents of other States, is a six months waiting period?
– I wish to raise a point in connection with Division No. 470, subdivision 2, item 04 - Incidental and other expenditure. I relate my remarks under this heading to the proposed move of the Department of Social Services from Melbourne to Canberra. I should like to know from the Minister when it is intended that the move will be effected,” and whether or not it is intended that the Australian Mutual Provident Society’s Building in Canberra will be occupied by the Department. If this is so, I should like to know the amount of rent that the Department intends to pay the A.M.P. Society for the occupancy of the premises.
– In reply to the question asked by Senator Murphy, quite clearly I, as the Minister, representing the Minister for Social Ser-. vices, cannot table the information, but I shall certainly direct the honorable senator’s request specifically to the Minister. The matter raised by Senator McClelland would entail an answer in considerable detail by the Minister. I shall see whether it is possible for the information to be made available to the honorable senator.
– I wish to pursue very briefly the matter that I raised concerning research and its relationship to the matters referred to by Senator Ormonde. I am wondering whether the results of the Department’s discoveries in the survey work and research work mentioned by the Minister could be made public in some way. There is a widespread feeling, certainly amongst voluntary welfare organisations, that there is a need for a national stimulus, or for some direction and initiative from the Government in welfare matters. In one of the serious comments that have been made upon the whole problem of poverty in Australia, it has been suggested that there is a reluctance on the part of the Government to make this information available.
I desire to quote briefly from an article written by Mr. R. G. Brown, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Social Studies in the University of Adelaide. It is entitled “ Poverty in Australia “ and was published in the “ Australian Quarterly “ of June 1963. The article states -
More information is needed about how people on low incomes live and what their problems are. Some has been gathered by government departments. For example, the Commonwealth Department of Social Services has conducted sample surveys of its beneficiaries to determine their resources, and the Commonwealth Department of Health has undertaken inquiries into the composition of the group who arc not enrolled for medical and hospital benefits (and who might well include a considerable number of large families on low incomes). But it has not been Commonwealth policy to publish this sort of information. Since there are no reasons such as national security which may be thought important enough to prevent publication, the assumption must be that it is withheld on political grounds.
Is there any specific reason for withholding publication of these reports? If there is not, will the Minister consider arranging for their publication in some suitable form?
– The Department is co-operating in collating certain information in a study of poverty. The release of that information is not a matter for the Department, which is merely helping the organisation making the study by providing some background material.
– Helping whom?
– Apparently a poverty survey group.
– From the University of Melbourne?
– Yes. There has been a limited publication of certain information. It is for the Minister to decide what he thinks is appropriate for release and what form that release should take. I am not in a position to say anything further.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Proposed expenditure, £120,678,000.
.- I shall refer briefly to the general administration of the Repatriation Department. Repatriation was covered fully when the Repatriation Bill was before the Senate fairly recently. Following the advocacy of Opposition senators in relation to repatriation matters generally, will the Minister say whether anything has been done, or whether anything is proposed to be done, to more or less streamline the operations of the Repatriation Department, particularly in regard to the hearing and finalising of appeals that come before the various appeal tribunals?
As is known, an application for repatriation benefits is considered first by the Repatriation Commission. If the commission rejects the application the applicant has the right of appeal to a higher authority. But, as has been mentioned so often in this chamber, the disturbing feature, which still persists, is that there is such a time lag between the lodging of an application for repatriation benefits and the finalising of the appeal. Will the Minister say whether anything has been done, or whether anything is contemplated, along the lines of perhaps increasing the number of appeal tribunals? I have not the figures readily available at the moment but I know that there are many thousands of cases listed for hearing by the various determining authorities. I want to stress a point that I have made so often. In each succeeding year the time lag is becoming much more serious particularly for ex-servicemen from the First World War. Time and tide wait for no man, and these ex-servicemen are growing older every year. They are doubly disadvantaged by the unduly lengthy time lag.
The application of the vexatious and controversial onus of proof provisions of the Act also arises. Will the Government insist that the onus of proof shall lie fairly and squarely on the determining authority in accordance with the Parliament’s intention when these provisions were inserted in the Act by a Labour Government, I think during the war years? Will the Government do something to set at rest not only the mind of the individual who lodges an appeal but also the minds of returned servicemen’s organisations? Men are being driven to desperation and distraction in their endeavours to place their cases fairly and squarely before appeal tribunals.
I say unhesitatingly that in many cases there is a good deal of justification for believing that the onus of proof provisions are not being applied as the Parliament intended they should be applied. I have here a letter from an ex-serviceman who served in the First World War. This is only one of many cases that have come to my notice. This letter was published in the Melbourne “ Truth “ under the heading “ Hostile Tribunals “. The ex-serviceman may be exaggerating. I do not cast any reflection on the personnel of the tribunals, but the letter recounts this man’s experiences. We all know how volatile some ex-diggers can be. We know that they vary in their approach to bodies of authority. The letter is in these terms -
I have had 16 Repatriation tribunals, mostly hostile with untruths and insults.
He has claimed in various letters to me - I have a very thick file on this ex-serviceman - that he has been actually insulted before some of the tribunals. In one instance he was told to seek admission to an old men’s home. That is not much consolation to a man who has served his country not only in the First World War but also in the Second World War. The letter continues -
I am now marathon 80 years old, and the survivor of 13 mcn in a platoon thai stuck out heavy mustard gas all night on May IS, 1918, at Villers Bretonneux. 1 refuse to attend any more-
He means tribunals - end would like to see these tribunals abolished.
That may be an exaggerated view of the way in which the appeal tribunals and the Repatriation Department generally operate, but it is an indication of individuals - -there arc thousands of them - being dissatisfied with the time lag for one thing, and with appearances before appeal tribunals. As we all know, there is no appeal against the decision of the War Pensions Assessment Appeal Tribunal unless fresh evidence is brought to light. Without reading all of the letter, the writer says -
Federal member Mr. Fraser-
The man lives in the western districts of Victoria - did no good. Insisted on me supplying fresh evidence. I wrote back and told him it was a trick question used for years by Repatriation and what belter evidence did he want than letters from officers and mcn-
Presumably officers and men with whom he had served. This man claims that he has submitted to the appeal tribunals statutory declarations by officers and men with whom he served, which indicate that he suffered the effects of mustard gas. However, he was not sufficiently bad to be evacuated. Everybody who served in the forces knows perfectly well that tens of thousands of servicemen were affected by mustard gas, but not sufficiently badly to bc evacuated, so this docs not show on their medical history sheets. Many of us, out of a sense of loyalty in our young, impressionable, tender years, did not want to leave our mates. We would sooner remain with our unit than be evacuated unless, to use the vernacular, we were cot cases. Many thousands of men in these circumstances elected to remain with their units.
Any medical man of any repute would back up the argument that mustard gas must have a serious effect in later years. This individual considers that in many respects he has not had a fair deal from the Repatriation Department and the various appeal tribunals before which he has appeared. I should like to know from the Minister whether anything has been done to streamline the whole procedure to bring it up to date, particularly as to the operation of the onus of proof provision, and the time lag which is very serious and becomes more serious every year. Further, I should like to know whether the Government has done anything or whether it intends to do anything in regard to the recognition of cancer as a war caused disability for the purposes of repatriation, lt will be recalled that during the recent debate on amendments to the Repatriation Act, the Minister himself said that in certain circumstances cancer cases were accepted by the Repatriation Department. Everybody, even the kindergarten child, knows that the medical profession has not the foggiest idea of what causes cancer. If cancer is accepted in certain circumstances, that conveys the impression that in certain circumstances the medical profession actually knows the cause of it and has attributed it to war service. Having regard to the fact that the cause of cancer is not known by the most eminent medical authorities, I suggest that no medical authority can in fact deny that cancer in ex-servicemen has been either caused or aggravated by war service.
I should like to know from the Minister whether anything has been done or whether anything is contemplated in regard to that vital question. It is a matter that has been advoacted and submitted by all exservicemen’s associations in Australia. The advocacy does not come entirely from us on the Opposition side. It comes from those organisations and through the Parliament it is being directed directly to the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz). Three of the most important matters discussed in the recent debate in this chamber on (he Repatriation Act related to appeal tribunals, the onus of proof, and the recognition of cancer as a war caused disability. The other important matter that we debated was the provision of hospitalisation and medical treatment of ex-servicemen of World War I.
There is no need for me to repeat what I said then and what I have said often in this chamber. Obviously, the numbers of ex-servicemen of World War I are diminishing every year. It does not follow, as some people might think, that if hospitalisation and medical treatment are provided for ex-servicemen of World War I, all of them will apply for admission to hospitals and medical treatment immediately. Only those in need would apply. There are many, as we all know, who are in such circumstances as would permit them to obtain their own hospital treatment and medical attention. I should like to know from the Minister whether anything has been done along these lines. These are important questions and they are becoming more important every year. I suggest that the Government should do something about hospitalisation and medical treatment for ex-servicemen of World War I, because the matter is of vital importance.
-(SenatorDrake-Brockman). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– In September last we had a debate on repatriation. I well remember it because, as honorable senators know, it was early in my career as a Minister representing another Minister. The matters that Senator Sandford has raised this afternoon were vigorously - I think that is a fair word to use - debated on that occasion by Senator Sandford, myself and other senators. Onus of proof, acceptance of cancer as a war caused disability and hospitalisation of exservicemen of World War I are all matters of policy which were debated under the Repatriation Bill. I do not feel disposed to be drawn into another vigorous debate on the same issues this afternoon when we are dealing with these estimates of the Department of Repatriation. All I can say is that I shall see to it that the comments of the honorable senator are drawn to the attention of the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz).
I have been asked whether some regard has been had to the question of a time lag in relation to appeal tribunals. Reports are made to the Minister from time to time as to the waiting list, so that he and his senior officers can make an appreciation of what is happening in relation to outstanding appeals. I cannot say any more than that. I respect the honorable senators for the particular issues that he has raised. He raises them with a regularity which we appreciate. I shall see that these matters are drawn to the attention of the Minister for Repatriation. - Proposed expenditure noted.
Department of Immigration
Proposed expenditure, ?16,795,000.
– I feel that I must enter into this question. I want to make some comments in relation to Division No. 270 - Administrative. From time to time I have raised matters relating to the administration of the Department of Immigration. To my mind, this is one of the most shameful departments in respect of its operations and is being used by many other departments and the Government to keep people out of this country without giving reasons. When people are refused admission to Australia by the administration of this Department, this immediately raises the query: “Why? What is there against the particular individual? “ The Department, in the main, has been silent on the question. Many a person, perhaps many an intending migrant, has had some aspersion cast upon his character or his previous life by the action of the Government, which will not disclose reasons for his exclusion. The same situation applies to those whom we will not permit to remain in Australia; reasons are not disclosed. I have dealt with the individual cases myself previously and I do not want to be guilty of tedious repetition. I simply want to voice my protest.
I turn now to the administration of the Department of Immigration. Apparently, this Department is able to decide that certain delegates to a peace conference in Sydney cannot be admitted to Australia. Apparently, the only reason is that these delegates intend to attend a peace conference. This is contrary to what was stated in the Senate by Senator Gorton representing the Attorney-General. Senator Gorton said he was not concerned with who attended the peace conference but had a responsibility to tell the Australian public the facts about the peace congress. If they then decided to attend, he said, they could do so. But we find that three important delegates to the conference from overseas have been refused the right to enter Australia on the score that they come from Communist countries and perhaps are Communists. It is obvious, from a reply given by the Minister for Works this morning, that three students from Moscow have been studying at our university here so we have not a ban on Communists coming to Australia. It is the purpose for which they seek to come to Australia to which the Department objects. ls it wrong, in the opinion of the Department, for anyone from a Communist country to desire to discuss peace? Is it a shameful thing for people from those countries to want to come to Australia to attend a peace conference? One is a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church whose exclusion the Minister has sought to defend because this dignitary is not a certain bishop who was entertained by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Nevertheless, he is a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church. Is it wrong for him to advocate peace on earth and good will to all men according to the teaching of the founder of the Christian religion? Is it wrong for Communists to discuss peace? Will these people be allowed in for other reasons although they are refused entry to Australia on this occasion because they want to attend a peace conference? 1 do not want to delay the Committee unnecessarily but I want to voice my protest and to tell the people that the Department of Immigration is inconsistent on the question of who is to be permitted to enter Australia. What matters is not who the person is but the reason for the proposed visit. Today we have seen reports of the successful negotiation of a wheat contract with China. Those who negotiated this contract will not be unwelcome when they return to Australia. They will be welcomed wilh open arms because they have concluded a commercial transaction. But it seems that if they wanted to discuss peace it would be a crime in the eyes of the Government and the Department of Immigration and they would use their powers to ensure that these people were not permitted to enter Australia.
Is the way to preserve freedom by restricting freedom? Would these two Russians really corrupt, convert or brainwash many Australians? Or would more damage be done by building an image of Australia as a nation which bans books, talks, and people?
I ask the Minister lo reconsider his attitude to those who wish to attend this peace congress and to make a decision in keeping with the statement of Senator Gorton that we are not concerned about who attends the congress so long as the facts about it are known. I have previously referred in the Senate to the case of Mr. von Elm who has been refused permission to enter Australia by the Department of Immigration. I do not want to go into this matter at length but I cannot believe that the Department is keeping Mr. von Elm out of Australia because it is afraid that he will corrupt or brainwash any Australians.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator McKellar).Order! The honorable senator is getting wide of the estimates under discussion.
– With due respect, Mr. Chairman, I say that the whole question of administration of the Department of Immigration is under consideration.
– That is so but the honorable senator is dealing with the policy of the Department and not with its administration.
– No. I am dealing with the administrative actions of the Department.
– I beg to differ. The honorable senator is dealing with policy. I ask him to direct his remarks to the specific items in the estimates.
– I was speaking on the whole question of administration but in view of your ruling, Mr. Chairman, I can take this matter no further. I simply voice my protest and ask that these matters be reconsidered by the Department of Immigration.
– It has been Government policy for many years not to publicise reasons for refusing to admit immigrants to Australia. This policy has been followed by successive governments including governments of the same party political persuasion as is Senator Cavanagh. One has only to recall events of the past to appreciate that there are good and cogent reasons why we should not start giving reasons. Once that happens we will have disputation for ever and a day. We are now admitting about 125,000 immigrants to Australia each year and for a variety of reasons, including health and other grounds, sometimes we have to refuse some persons who want to enter Australia. It has been government policy ever since we embarked on an immigration programme not to divulge reasons for rejecting immigrants.
As to the other matters that have been raised by Senator Cavanagh, the Chairman has pointed out that the honorable senator was dealing with policy. It is Government policy not to permit delegates from Communist countries to enter Australia to attend a peace conference^ So far as I personally am concerned, I want to make it clear that this matter has been dealt with very adequately in the other place by the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) and by his representative in the Senate. As to the conference that is to be held and which has been mentioned by Senator Cavanagh, I find myself in complete and absolute agreement with everything that has been said by the Attorney-General and by Senator Gorton who represents him in this chamber. However, these are matters of policy and cannot be discussed appropriately in the debate on the Estimates.
– I address my remarks to Division No. 274 - Immigration services, subdivision 2, item 03, Contribution to maintenance of migrant families. I understand that when immigrants have resided in South America, North America or West Germany for five years and dependants in Italy or some other country are eligible for a pension, the pension, or part of it, is paid by the country to which they have migrated. If this is so, has Australia ever considered giving assistance of this sort to dependants? Has the Government considered whether immigrants to Australia could enter a voluntary superannuation scheme to take care of aged parents in their own country, since the immigrants are taxpayers here?
– I have a couple of queries to raise with the Minister. Generally speaking, I cannot complain about my dealings with the Department of Immigration. The officials of the Department have been very fair in trying to carry out the policy of the Government. Of course, that is what they are there to do. I should like to refer to a couple of aspects of immigration policy.
– Order! To what part of the estimates is the honorable senator addressing his remarks?
– I refer to Division No. 270 - Administrative. The Department could well have a second look at the type of case I am about to mention. At the present time I am handling an application for a father, mother and four children to be allowed to settle in Australia.
– In what country are they?
– They are in Europe - I think in Yugoslavia. I have been told by the Minister that one of the children is ill and cannot be allowed into the country. No doubt that is so, but the father has offered to leave the sick child with relatives if he is allowed to bring the rest of the family out. Quite apart from the humanitarian aspect, it would be a very good investment for the Government and Australia as a whole if the Government were to allow this family to come. Surely five members of the family could carry the one who is invalid or partially invalid. Surely it is possible for the Government to find a way out of the difficulty in such cases. I know that we cannot afford to bring in people who are likely to be permanently in receipt of social services in Australia, but with this family there would be five assets as against one possible liability. As I said earlier, quite apart from the humanitarian aspect, it would be good business.
I know that the Government has a long range policy about the exclusion of people from Australia and that it has its reasons for not allowing people in to attend the forthcoming peace congress. But the Government’s attitude in that respect seems strange to the public when other Russian delegations are allowed to come here. Only three weeks ago a Russian delegation was in Australia. It was led by the Vice Chairman of the Kiev University, and it included an interpreter and a lady professor. Those three people went throughout Australia. They were extended the courtesy of the Government. They were assisted to move around Canberra and were shown everything. They were educationists; they were here to study education. 1 do not know whether they were members of the Commnnist Party. 1 attended a dinner with them here in Parliament House. They were very interested in Australia and I thought seemed to be pro-Australian. They expressed certain views quite publicly and were impressed by the education set-up in Australia. It is quite inconsistent of the Government to be so adamant, on the one hand, in its attitude towards certain people and to say that they cannot come in because of their political leanings-
– Order ! The honorable senator is discussing the policy of the Government. Such references have been ruled to be out of order.
– On the other hand, the Government is quite lenient to other visitors from the Soviet Union. Now I shall deal with another special case, which indicates how careful the Department must be in deciding that a person cannot come into Australia because he is a political risk. Two years ago a person who was very prominent in what one might describe as the anti-Communist movement in’ Australia - he belonged to one of the groups which fights Communism on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and every other day of the week - came to me to see whether I could help him to get his family out to Australia. They were in Egypt, having gone there from southern Europe. I set about trying to have them allowed into Australia as migrants. The then Minister for Immigration called me into his office and explained very nicely that the family could not be allowed in as one of the children had a hole in the ear and needed medical attention. The Minister was trying to do the right thing, but I was told on the side that really a security risk was involved.
If I had been successfully fobbed off with the statement that the child needed medical attention, nothing more would have happened; but I pressed the matter. With much embarrassment to myself, I had to seek out this man on whose behalf I was acting. When I told him that his family could not come here because they were a security risk, he nearly collapsed and he felt like clearing off to the bush. He did not think such a thing was possible. A little later the Government found out that the man was not the security risk that he had at first seemed to be. The Minister very kindly wrote to me and told me that if I got in touch with this person, who by this time had left Sydney for reasons of his own, I could inform him that if his family got busy and fixed up their papers they could all come to Australia. They are all in Australia today and are good citizens, but at one stage they were considered to be a security risk.
– They may have been Fascists.
– I do not know about that. 1 do not think so. The Government must show understanding in such cases, because lots of people in Europe have political ideas which they might not have had if they had been living in other circumstances.
I was interested in the case of a man who was able to leave this country on a visa. He left when his wife was ill and without her permission. He was accompanied by a de facto traveller, shall I call her. This departure had all the appearance of being official; indeed, it was official. He left Australia with the official sanction of the Government. I did not think that any man could leave this country without the permission of his wife. I was surprised to know that this man was able to do so. He was well placed, and a bit of a confidence man. He approached the top section of the Department and was able to influence the Minister to issue a clearance. I believe that is the situation. I am not saying that the Minister was not fooled. I have no doubt that he was “ conned “ by somebody else into giving permission. I would like the Minister to explain to the Committee what is the law that applies where a man wishes to go overseas and leave his family, perhaps almost destitute. The man to whom I have referred left behind a sick wife and five children. He is still overseas although I think his girl friend with whom he was travelling has returned. Apparently she has taken a tumble. Is it possible for a man to obtain official approval to leave the country without the permission of his wife?
– I shall deal first with a point raised by Senator Ormonde. An application for a passport must be accompanied by a document signed by the spouse of the applicant. If it is not so accompanied, the issue of the passport is held up for 21 days. The spouse of the applicant is notified that application for a passport has been made, and if the spouse wishes to oppose the application, sufficient time is allowed for action to be taken. If no action is taken within 21 days, a passport visa is issued to the applicant.
Senator Branson referred to Division No. 274, sub-division 2, item 03, which relates to a Commonwealth subsidy paid to hostels. The suggestion made by the honorable senator is new and I am unable to comment on it. I shall certainly pass it on to the Minister and ask him to communicate with the honorable senator.
– The Minister does not know about North Africa, South Africa and West Germany?
– No, and the information is not readily available to me at the moment. Senator Ormonde referred to the immigration of a family which may include a sick child or adult member. Most honorable senators have had some association with this type of case and have received representations from people placed in these circumstances. We all are familiar with cases where migrants, after establishing themselves in Australia, seek to bring here the other members of their families. Decisions to refuse entry on the grounds of health are taken on advice received from officers of the Department of Health. Health is a vital question and the Department of Health arranges that medical examinations are conducted overseas before entry to Australia is approved. In some instances the Government has allowed a sick member of a family to come to Australia after officers of the Department have satisfied themselves that the other members of the family are reasonably capable of caring for the invalid.
Attention must be paid to the type of incapacity involved. Tuberculosis readily comes to mind. Special care must be taken to determine whether a prospective migrant is suffering from a notifiable disease. Each case is treated on its merits. I can say from my experience of departmental officers that every avenue is explored in an endeavour to assist prospective migrants. If the honorable senator has a particular case in mind, I suggest that he convey the details to the officers of the Department, who will examine the case as favorably as they can. Consideration will be given to the human factor, to the preservation of the health of
Australians, and to the ability of the family to care for its sick member.
– I wish to obtain from the Minister some information in relation to Division No. 274, sub-division 1, item 09 - Greek migration. Last year the appropriation for this item was £130,000 and the expenditure was £129,874. For 1964-65 the appropriation is £257,100. One gathers from the large increase in the appropriation that the Government intends to accelerate its efforts to obtain more Greek migrants. However, in Division No. 286 - Migration Office - Kingdom of Greece - the appropriation for 1964-65 is £127,200. For 1963-64 the appropriation was £138,000 and the expenditure was £131,559. Because the appropriation for 1964-65 in respect of Greek migration has been increased by £127,226 over last year’s expenditure, one might expect a corresponding increase in the costs for the migration office in Greece. At first glance it appears that the appropriation for the migration office in Greece is considerably lower than it was last year, but on examination it is apparent that the method of preparation of the estimates has been changed. Incidental and other expenditure, postage, telegrams, telephones and cablegrams, office rent and maintenance, motor vehicles, maintenance and running expenses in 1963-64 were shown under the heading “ Administrative Expenses “. That position has been changed. 1 checked through the estimates for every other migration office and in no other case did I find that the expenses that I have just detailed were removed from the sub-division of “ Administrative Expenses “. I ask the Minister to explain why it is that these items have been removed from the sub-division in which they have previously appeared and whereabouts in the estimates they are now shown. I should also like to know why the estimates for the migration office in Greece have been treated differently from the estimates for each other migration office.
– 1 wish to direct the Minister’s attention to Division No. 274 - Immigration Services - and the item therein relating to Italian migration. The appropriation for this item for 1963-64 was £44,800 and the expenditure was £18,053. For 1964-65 the appropriation is £93,200. If the Government could spend only £18,053 on Italian migration out of an appropriation of £44,800, it is rather difficult to understand why this year the appropriation has risen steeply to £93,200. I wish to raise the case of a migrant with whom I have been dealing who came to Australia in 1952 and remained here as a single man for three years. Then, owing to the illness of his mother in Italy, he had to return to that country. He was given permission to be out of Australia for 12 months. His mother lived longer than expected and, as a result, he had to stay in Italy somewhat longer than the 12 months’ period he had been granted. His visa was withdrawn. While he was in Italy attending to his mother during her illness, he met a lady whom he married. Following the death of his mother, this man made application to return with his wife and two children to Australia. I am informed that the members of the family are in good health and that there is no health or medical reason why these people should not be able to come to Australia. The Department of Immigration has persistently refused to issue a visa for this man and his family to come to Australia despite the fact that he had previously been admitted to this country.
The Department has gone a little further than that. Iri one application for the issue of a visa, a mistake was made when the proposition was put up to the Department of Immigration that this man’s uncle had accommodation for him and his family when they arrived here. Immediately this information was made available to it, the Department indicated that it was prepared to issue a visa. But the mistake was discovered. I want to say to the Minister that it was an honest mistake and that there was no intention to deceive the Department. As soon as the mistake was discovered, the Department was advised that it was not an uncle but a cousin who would provide accommodation for this man and his family and would support them until such time as the man was able to obtain a job. The Department of Immigration immediately decided that a visa would not be issued on the sponsorship of the cousin. Yet this Department constantly says that it is prepared to issue visas to intending migrants who are sponsored by near relatives.
The tragedy of this case is that this man had been admitted to Australia previously for permanent residence and it was only because of family reasons that he went back to Italy. It was only because his mother lingered much longer than expected that he stayed there as long as he did. As I have said, he was married while he was there and now has two children. They would be two very good Australian children if they were brought here. They would be brought up in Australian circumstances. But the Department refuses to issue a visa to the family. During the three years that this Italian was in Australia, at no time was he a charge on the Australian Government. He came here, went to work in the country and took the jobs that were available to him. At no time was he a charge upon the taxpayers of Australia in any way whatsoever. Yet, we find that, on this occasion, the Department is quite adamant that it will not issue a visa for him to come out here and bring his family with him. I think this is the sort of thing at which the Government should be looking. This is a man who came here and learned to speak our language and to live with our people.
– Order! The honorable senator, in making his point, is indulging in tedious repetition. I direct his attention to the fact that we are discussing the estimates for this Department, and I ask the honorable senator to confine himself to them.
– -With respect, 1 will put it this way: Last year, the appropriation made by the Government was £44,800, of which £18,053 only was spent. The appropriation proposed this year is £93,200. Yet, here is a person who has previously been in this country and who is now refused a visa. He does not want an assisted passage this time. He is prepared to pay all the expenses for his family and himself to come here. The Government is more than doubling the appropriation this year, yet the Department does not propose to issue a visa to this man and his family who are people who should at least be considered eligible to come to Australia, particularly as this man was eligible previously and has not suffered any deterioration in health since then. I want the Minister to tell me exactly what the policy of the Government is in respect of cases of this type. li the Minister wants the name of the applicant, 1 will be pleased to give it to him.
Senator ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Customs and Excise) [3.40J.- - I think Senator Cant’s last sentence sums up the position. If the honorable senator gives me the name of the person concerned in this case, I will certainly have the matter re-examined. It is easy to obtain a re-entry permit before leaving Australia. There may have been some reasons why-
– The extra length of his mother’s illness.
– There may be some circumstances in this particular case which may be associated with that matter. As Senator Cant will appreciate, I am not competent to give an answer here to a particular case. There is an agreement between the Governments of Australia and Italy in regard to the number of assisted passages for migrants. This may have been another factor involved in this case. But if the honorable senator provides me with information about this case, I will see that a thorough examination is made of it.
Senator Wedgwood raised a matter which related to the migration office in Greece. This office is used for dual purposes. It is also the office of the ConsulGeneral. Certain amounts are to be appropriated for this office in the estimates of the Department of External Affairs. Therefore, the honorable senator will be able to pursue this matter, with the thoroughness for which she is famous, when those estimates are being considered. If I am wrong, I will no doubt be brought to heel. But my officers tell me that this office is used for dual purposes and there are certain amounts appropriated in the estimates of another Department.
– It would have been appropriate for a notation to have been included to that effect.
– That point is well founded. Some of the decreases are due to the transfer of some items to the estimates of the Department of External Affairs following the establishment of the Consul-General’s office, which takes over certain common services, such as transport, and some staff. As to the number of Greek migrants for 1963-64,. our original programme provided for U500 and the actual intake was 2,633. The estimated intake for our 1964-65 programme is 3,500.
.- I refer to Division No. 286 - Migration Office - Kingdom of Greece, the total appropriation for which, in 1964-65, is £127,200. I ask the Minister whether the Australian migration office staff in Greece has looked into a matter which occurred during the past year when a Greek migrant who had come out to Australia under the migration scheme returned to Greece with Australian citizenship and was called up by the Greek Army while he was in that country. It seems to be a contradiction that this could happen to a man who has full Australian citizenship and that some compromise has not been made between the Greek Government and the Australian Government in this regard. Can the Minister inform me whether the Department is working on this problem to try to sort it out?
The other matter to which I wish to refer comes under Division No. 303 - Migration Offices - Other overseas posts. I am not certain what posts are involved. I would like to ask the Minister whether it would be possible for an overseas officer of the Department of Immigration to pay occasional visits behind the Iron Curtain, as a sort of ombudsman or public relations man, in an effort to solve some of the practically insoluble problems involved in the poignant cases which senators and members of the House of Representatives have to deal with from time to time. I have even gone to the extent of writing to Khrushchev in relation to a woman in Russia who was left a widow. I tried to do something through the Australian Ambassador in Moscow, who was a friend of mine. I tried in every possible way.
Perhaps the link that appears to be missing could be supplied by the Department of Immigration. Perhaps an officer of the Department, acting as a sort of public relations officer, could make direct contact with authorities behind the Iron Curtain and do something to help the relatives of people who have come to Australia and have become very good citizens. The case to which I have referred is that of the mother of some migrants in Australia. She has become a widow and is old, yet some barrier is preventing her from coming to Australia. I believe that the Department of Immigration has men who could open up some channels through which cases such as this could be brought to a successful con- elusion. Perhaps a roving officer could be appointed who could go anywhere in Europe. The item in the estimates to which I am relating my remarks refers to “ overseas posts “. Whether it could cover the type of person I have in mind, I do not know; but such a person could help families similar to the one I have mentioned. One of the objectives of the Department is to keep families together. We should try to help people who are already in Australia to be united with other members of the family living overseas, if this can possibly be done.
– The overseas posts covered in that item are in Switzerland and Kenya. Provision is made for the salaries of officers at those posts. Senator O’Byrne will appreciate that, for the most part, Australia has no diplomatic posts in the kind of countries to which he has referred. Contact with these countries is made normally through the appropriate British consul or ambassador. In any case, this is a matter of policy. I think the honorable senator will readily agree that all I can promise to do is to refer to the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) the matter he has mentioned.
The other point he raised related to a migrant from Greece. I am told that the Departments warns all people who may be regarded as dual nationals by their former countries of the risks that they take when returning to those countries. They are warned that they may be liable for military service if they return there. We do not let any person get caught up in that terrible situation without giving him a warning, and I am informed that the warning is given in writing. We know of no other way of giving the information. We are not in a position to say what action any other government will take. The problem of dual nationality is receiving constant attention, but it cannot be solved by Australia alone. It is a matter for negotiation between Australia and the countries in which we have migration programmes.
– This is one Department which is not affected by political differences.
– To which item is the honorable senator relating his remarks?
– To administration.
– What division?
– Division No. 270. I wish to speak about the administration of the Department. This Department is not affected by the political differences which affect other departments. I know that we have our differences when questions of policy arise, but, generally speaking, immigration is dealt with on a non-party basis. I want to talk about the history of the Department, as well as about the present administration.
I support the remarks that were made by Senator Cavanagh. He raised a departmental matter rather than a matter of policy. I cannot understand why a person who has resided in Australia for 20 odd years cannot become naturalised. If a person is not eligible for naturalisation by that time, he has no right to remain here.
– It was 37 years.
– Order! I cannot see how this matter relates to any item of expenditure in the estimates.
– It relates to the administration of the Department, and I submit that it is relevant. Matters of this nature are referred to officers of the Department from time to time.
– We are dealing with the estimates for the Department of Immigration and any comments should be relevant to those estimates. We cannot, as it were, go around the world, dealing with all sorts of matters.
– I am speaking to the estimates and dealing with the administration of the Department. I think it is important that matters that are raised in the Senate should be brought to the attention of officers of the Department. Some of the very senior and important officers are here now.
The first Minister for Immigration was the present Leader of the Labour Party, Mr. Calwell. He was appointed in 1945. I think we all agree that he did a very fine job. I should like to pay tribute to the Ministers who followed him in this portfolio. I have no quarrel with the present Minister, who I believe is trying to do a good job. He realises the importance of the huge undertaking under his control. I should also like to pay a tribute to the staff of the Department. Those in this country and those filling overseas posts are achieving excellent results.
I should like to raise some points of criticism on behalf of a very good friend of mine, a person who occupied a very high and important post in the Department and made a contribution to the immigration programme. I refer to Mr. Jack Hooke. Recently he served in the United Kingdom and Europe as a technical adviser to the Department. He raised certain points which he felt might not have been brought to the attention of the Department. Therefore, I shall refer later to some of them.
I have always expressed sympathy towards the newcomer to Australia because it is only in recent times that he has been accepted in the community. Intolerance is one of the worst traits of man, whether it be in regard to religion, race or nationality. Migrants are among the people who are affected in this way. A young migrant who came to Australia seven years ago recently married into my family. He was asked about his first reaction when he arrived here. He said that he expected to see kangaroos and blackfellows throughout the length and breadth of Australia. To his surprise, that was not the case. I do not think that incident reflects a great deal of credit on the propaganda that has been issued on behalf of this country. I am a member of the Labour Party Immigration Committee, and I am happy to say that the material which has been supplied to us indicates that the propaganda is now worth while.
In the article by Mr. Jack Hooke, to which I have referred, he says -
The Commonwealth Department provides a flood of all sorts of material, most of it good of its kind although there is still rather too much emphasis upon black fellows and golden sand.
I believe that in England and in other parts of the world there is still too much emphasis on blackfellows.
Order! I cannot see that these remarks relate to the estimates under discussion.
– I atn referring to Division No. 274 - Immigration Services.
– I must ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the estimates under discussion.
– I am doing that. [Quorum formed.] I am discussing the question of publicity in other parts of the world. In many instances in the past the publicity has not shown Australia to the best advantage, but I am happy to say that the publications that have been forwarded recently to the Labour Party Immigration Committee, and the advice that it has received from the Department of Immigration, show that the position has improved.
Pamphlet No. 18a of 1964 deals with the question of housing in Australia. It gives the impression that homes of a fine type, and in great numbers, are available to migrants on arrival in Australia. People who have lived in New South Wales for many years do not have houses of the same standard and with ‘the facilities that are referred to in this pamphlet. I do not suggest that we should write Australia down, because it is important that we have migrants. I am certain that unless we populate the country we will not hold it for very long. The immigration programme has helped our population to increase to more than 11,000,000. To be a great nation, this increase must <be continued and therefore we must be concerned to overcome the major problems that face migrants. The number of female migrants is a problem that concerns us at the present time. I know the Department and the Government are anxious to overcome this difficulty.
There are 250,000 migrants, .including children, who are residentially qualified but who have not yet been naturalised. That is a matter which should concern us all. The municipal councils must be commended on their naturalisation ceremonies. The Department is to be congratulated on the way in which the ceremonies are conducted today. I come from the Waverley area, where a first class organisation operates. Our naturalisation ceremonies are regarded as show pieces, so far as television and photographic coverage is concerned. I pay a tribute to the mayors who have held office in Waverley for the last 12 or 15 years. Alderman Anderson, Alderman O’Keefe, Alderman Jeppesen and the present Mayor, Alderman Doug Morey, have conducted naturalisation ceremonies of which all our people can be very proud.
On the question of the naturalisation of the 250,000 migrants I have mentioned, I suggest that church leaders and the Good Neighbour Councils under the control of municipal councils might interest themselves in this matter. Migrants could be approached with a view to their becoming naturalised and more closely associated with the Australian community. Of the 250,000 migrants, 50,000 would be children. Therefore, there are some 200,000 adult migrants who could and should be naturalised. The municipal councils are in the forefront in this work. Leading citizens, not only in Sydney, but throughout Australia, could be asked to help.
The article by Mr. Jack Hooke. which 1 shall give to the Minister, draws attention to a number of problems regarding migrants that exist in other countries of the world. He points out that the migrant flow is definitely diminishing. He feels that the priorities which have operated in the past-
The honorable senator is getting on to policy again.
– I do not want to do that. I merely wish to draw the attention of the Government and of departmental officers to what is happening in other parte of the world, particularly in relation to mistakes that have been made. Mr. Hooke referred to the application forms that are filled in by migrants in other countries. He said -
Application forms are still somewhat extravagant in their use of the querulous query sign. Most of the questions should be reserved for the interview. The interview itself should be raised to its proper significance as the most important single feature in the procedure, thus also the interviewing officer must be of very high calibre.
He pointed out that this problem arises in any part of the world where a person completes an application form. He went on to mention doctors and doctors’ fees in these terms -
The migrant costs Australia many hundreds of pounds which we willingly pay as being a fair charge, but in face of this large investment we still insist upon the migrant paying the doctor’s fee for his medical exam.
Now this is just plain stupidity. The cost nationally is infinitesimal but the delays and wastages caused by its application more than offset the gains attributable to publicity and propaganda.
I could go on, but I will hand this document to the Minister in the hope that the officers of the Department who are rendering such valuable service to Australia will read and digest Mr. Hooke’s article.
– I refer to Division No. 274 - Immigration Services - and the proposed allocation of £3,000 to the Australian branch of the International Social Service for purposes of a grant in aid. Apparently there was no appropriation or expenditure in respect of this item in the last financial year. Is this the first time such a grant has been made? Is this a governmental body or a body on which the Australian Government is represented? Is there any legislative authority or any delegated legislation to make this an annual payment?
I turn to the appropriation of £69,000 for Spanish migration. Why was there an expenditure of only £14,464 last financial year when the appropriation was £133,500? Does this indicate that Spanish migration virtually collapsed last year? Is the appropriation this year - about four times the amount expended last year - an indication of a revival in Spanish migration?
I refer now to assisted British migrants. Has the Government any concrete plans for dealing with the very serious matter of the failure of British migrants to become Australian citizens? The position is so bad that of the 500,000 British migrants who have come to Australia since 1949 and are now eligible for registration as Australian citizens, only about 11,000, according to the figures supplied to me, have become Australian citizens. In any event, the number who have become Australian citizens is only a very small fraction of the number eligible for registration. The position seems to be getting worse.
In my view, this indicates the Government’s failure to bring home to the migrants the necessity to register if they wish to become Australian citizens. No doubt many British migrants assume from the fact that they are required and permitted to enrol as electors and to vote, and from the fact that they are entitled to various other privileges, that they are Australian citizens. It probably comes as a great surprise to them to find that they are not. The publicity that I have seen on this aspect is pretty weak. Could something be done, perhaps by way of increased publicity, by making special appeals and by providing more information on the necessity for registration, to bring this matter home to British migrants? Could there be perhaps some registration ceremony similar to the naturalisation ceremony?
Will the Minister tell me what disabilities are suffered by British subjects who are not registered as Australian citizens? I seem to recall that a certain piece of legislation which was passed this year - offhand I think it was the Homes Savings Grant Bill - applied some advantages only to Australian citizens and not to British subjects. Am’ I correct in my recollection? If there are any disabilities suffered by British subjects who are not Australian citizens, could this be mentioned in the publicity directed towards British migrants so that they will see at least some of the advantages in becoming Australian citizens?
– I intervene at this stage to reply to some of the questions that have been asked. Dealing with the last matter that Senator Murphy mentioned, the only disability from which, so far as I am aware, British subjects resident in Australia suffer is that they cannot be issued with an Australian passport. I stand to be corrected on this, but I arn not aware of any provision in the Homes Savings Grant Act which prevents British subjects taking advantage of it. This, I think, is in part an explanation of why British people living in Australia do not register. There is no real incentive for them to register. In terms of advantages, they are in fact Australian citizens of British origin. They enjoy all the advantages of Australian citizenship. Australia and the United Kingdom have interchangeable social service systems and British migrants have a vote. They are in fact Australian citizens.
– Are they included in the 250,000 mentioned as not being naturalised?
– I will come to that in a moment. At present I am dealing specifically with the point raised by Senator Murphy. It is true that a considerable number of British migrants have not registered as Australian citizens, as distinct from becoming naturalised. As I have said, I think the reason is that there is not much incentive for them to do so. As in everything else, the freedom of the subject remains. Whether migrants register or become naturalised is a matter for themselves to decide.
The reason for the small expenditure last year on Spanish migration is that the Spanish Government, for its own domestic reasons, altered the assisted migration scheme. This matter is the subject of constant consultation with that Government, in the hope of leading to a renewal of the migrant intake from that country. The decision was a decision of the Spanish Government, made no doubt for domestic reasons.
Reference was made to Division No. 274, sub-division 2, item 10, which relates to a grant in aid to the Australian Branch of the International Social Service. This provision has been made to assist the Australian Branch of the International Social Service to pursue its primary aim of helping individuals who, as a consequence of migration, are faced with personal or family problems the solution of which requires action in two or more countries. The types of cases handled by the International Social Service cover a wide range, and vary from reunion of families where there is some impediment to normal sponsorship - for example, residence in Iron Curtain countries - a medical or legal problem or a question of custody of children, to adoption of foreign children involving legal requirements of at least two countries, tracing missing persons, care of orphan children, and travel loans in cases that have been handled by the Service in another capacity. That is a general comment on that particular provision.
I want to refer to a number of matters raised by Senator Fitzgerald. He referred to the subject of publicity, a pamphlet on housing, and the percentage of migrants seeking naturalisation. I have the advantage of a reply given by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) in another place to both the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Pettitt) and the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), who raised this question and drew attention to the fact that 250,000 migrants, including children, who are residentially qualified to apply for naturalisation, have not done so. First, it should be mentioned that over 60 per cent, of eligible migrants have successfully sought Australian citizenship. This compares favorably with the experience of other countries which have built up their populations by large scale immigration. Nevertheless, the Minister shares, as we all do, the concern expressed regarding those who have not applied, and he mentions some of the measures already taken to encourage them to take naturalisation. First, the procedure for applying for naturalisation and the forms used have been simplified. All that an applicant now needs to do is to fill in his name and address. This results in his receiving assistance by officers of the Department to complete the remaining requirements. Secondly, surveys have been carried out recently to ascertain the reasons why a number of eligible migrants have not applied for naturalisation. The results of these surveys will be known in due course and no doubt they will suggest some additional measures which might reasonably be taken.
Some experiments have been carried out in enlisting the co-operation of employers of migrants, with excellent results. This line of action will be expanded. In the publicity field, a special effort has been made by the Department to bring to the notice of migrants the simple procedures to be followed to acquire citizenship. Every migrant, when he has been here for four and a half years, receives notice that he will be eligible to receive naturalisation after completing five years’ residence, and that he can lodge an application forthwith. However, there must be no coercion, and in the final analysis the decision whether to be naturalised or not must be a voluntary decision taken freely by the individual. That last sentence, of course, is on all fours with an answer that I gave to a question without notice in this place some weeks ago. In the final analysis, it is the right of the individual to decide whether he wants to perform the act of naturalisation, but every effort has been made to encourage migrants to do this. More publicity and other means are being used so that they may be informed of the desirability of becoming naturalized.
Senator Fitzgerald referred to a pamphlet on housing in Australia. I do not think it is accurate to say that the booklet is misleading. As I understand it, it is a factual statement of the position, which was very carefully vetted by the Immigration Advisory
Council before publication. The booklet has been published in good faith in a proper appreciation of the situation to be of assistance to intending migrants. The honorable senator also mentioned a number of other matters. Some of them are general matters of policy. If I embarked upon a debate on these matters I would be in difficulties with the Chairman. I shall not offend the Chair by attempting to follow Senator Fitzgerald in those various general matters. I undertake, as I have said to other honorable senators, to direct the attention of the Minister to the general comments that have been made.
– I refer to Division No. 274, subdivision 1, item 01, which relates to British migration. I should like the Minister to tell me whether the Department has an arrangement with Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. in relation to its drive for apprentices overseas. I think that this drive is a great idea. Will the apprentices that the company may get in England - I think it is probably advertising also in Europe - be given assisted passages? Does the Department, in its publicity campaign overseas, lay stress on the advantages of being apprenticed? If the Government is assisting B.H.P., for example, in its campaign, does it intend to interest other employer organisations in doing the same sort of thing?
– I refer to Division No. 274, subdivision 1, item 04, which relates to the general assisted passage scheme for nonBritish migrants. I ask the Minister to correct me, if necessary, in my belief that when a migrant who has become a naturalised Australian citizen goes back to his home country - say, Yugoslavia - and marries a Yugoslav girl, whom he brings out to Australia, she does not automatically accept his Australian nationality but has to go through a form of naturalisation. I believe that she has to be here for six months before she is eligible to do this. Then, she still comes up against the problem that if she is not considered to be reasonably fluent in English she cannot be naturalised.
I pose this question because, in the troubled times in which we live, Australia could be involved in an international incident or war with one of these countries.
The husband, being an Australian citizen, would be quite all right, but because the wife had not been able to learn English in the short period of time she could be interned. Some women, coming from countries where they have lived a very sheltered life, do not get about as much as a man does in the course of his employment, and find it quite impossible to learn the language within the period. I do know of cases of great distress because women have not been permitted to be naturalised or to accept their husbands’ nationality as soon as they arrive in Australia. I do not know whether my belief is correct, hut I am informed ‘that the position is as I have stated. Will the Minister please advise me on this matter?
. -In the brief time available to me, I have obtained some information in reply to Senator Ormonde. I am informed that the Department of Immigration maintains close co-operation with industries - and not only the organisation mentioned by Senator Ormonde - to attract special immigrants to Australia for industries where employment is assured for them. They get the benefit of assisted passages. I am unable to say definitely whether publicity is specifically directed to apprenticeships but I shall obtain the information for the honorable senator.
Senator Branson raised a number of issues which will require a detailed answer from the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) and I will see that the honorable senator gets a reply. Briefly, no residential qualification is required in the case Senator Branson mentioned but the wife would be required to apply for naturalisation. She has to take the first step.
– I wish to revert to a matter I mentioned earlier. I asked the Minister for Customs and Excise whether any disabilities were suffered by United Kingdom immigrants who were British subjects but did not register as Australian citizens. I suggested then that there might be some disabilities or differentials and mentioned specifically the Homes Savings Grant Act 1964. I have made a quick perusal of this Act and it seems that my recollection of the details was correct. There is some advantage in being an Australian citizen in the context of this legislation because under section 14 of the Act, a person is an eligible person so far as residence in Australia is concerned if he has been an Australian citizen for three years. Then he has merely to reside in Australia for only three months before the prescribed date to benefit from the provisions of the Act. In other cases, the person concerned has to reside in Australia for three years before the prescribed date. So, offhand, it would appear that if a British subject went overseas for a trip during the three years before the prescribed date, he would be seriously affected if he were not an Australian citizen.
Possibly there are other similar disabilities tucked away in Australian acts. An incentive to obtain Australian citizenship to which the Minister referred might be provided if a search were made though various enactments. If they conferred some advantages on Australian citizens, these could be brought to the notice of persons concerned. I would not suggest that there should be any compulsion but all of us would like to see persons residing permanently in Australia become Australian citizens by choice. If there are some incentives, the Department of Immigration might consider ascertaining what they are and publicising them.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Department of Supply.
Proposed expenditure, £33,044,000.
– This is the first of the proposed votes associated with the defence of Australia. The appropriation for the Department of Supply last year was £32,382,050 and actual expenditure was £29,293,165. The proposed vote for this year is £33,044,000. We have been told that there is a dangerous situation to the north of Australia and that our position in this area, at the least, is not comfortable. We were also told when the Budget was submitted that, in peace time, taxation and other charges on the people have to be increased to improve the defences of Australia. Yet the appropriation for the Department of Supply this year is little more than it was last year.
I propose to deal with the items under the Department of Supply collectively but I notice that under Division No. 763 - Administrative, the proposed vote is £3,551,400. Under Division No. 771-
Weapons Research Establishment, subdivision 2, the proposed vote for administrative and operational expenses is £3,884,400. The appropriation last year for this sub-division was £4,299,600. I should like to know why the provision for administration has to be divided into separate pieces. I should also like to have a break up of the proposed vote for administrative and operational expenses under Division No. 771.
Under Division No. 769, the provision for storage services is £1,092,000 compared wish £1,058,000 last year when actual expenditure was £1,041,834. What is meant by “ storage services “? I have vivid recollection of the Department of Supply closing down the naval victualling stores at Fremantle. I do not know whether this comes within the category of storage services, but as we go through the Estimates I shall inquire whether this is another of the reductions in defence installations in Western Australia. The victualling stores conducted by the Department in Fremantle no longer exist. Through these stores, the Department earned considerably revenue from overseas for Australia because all sorts of overseas ships were victualled there. The report of the Department of Supply states -
An income of nearly £6 million from overseas was earned during 1963-64 in return for exports of goods and technical processes and in return for services provided in Australia to other governments.
This is the connection in which I have mentioned the victualling stores. When naval ships from other countries came into the port of Fremantle they were serviced from those two victualling stores. It would seem that there has been some loss of trade as a result of the closing down of those stores. In my opinion, the closing down of the stores at this stage was not the right step to take. I should like to know whether the proposed expenditure under Division No. 769 includes stores such as those I have referred to.
In Division No. 773, subdivision 2, item 12, provision is made for project materials and contractor charges. The amount of the proposed expenditure is £1,209,500. This seems to be a new item. There is no reference to it in any footnote. Last year there was no appropriation for this purpose, and no expenditure. I should like the Minister to explain what the item covers. In the following item provision is made for the expenditure of £90,000 on contributions to research. I note that throughout these appropriations a considerable sum of money is to be expended in connection with the Weapons Research Establishment, and that there are many references to the space tracking stations. I do not know whether there is any association between those establishments and the proposed contributions to research. Perhaps the Minister can offer some explanation.
I referred earlier to the proposed expenditure of £1,092,000 under Division No. 769. Under Division No. 775 - Reserve Stocks, provision is made for the expenditure of £499,000 on stores and materials. If we subtract the sums that are not to be charged against the Department, we find that the total expenditure under this division will be £379,000. The Department should be able to offer some explanation of this proposed expenditure. The mere placing of it in the form in which it appears in the Estimates does not provide us with any information at all. Under Division No. 777, provision is made for an appropriation of £750,000 for furniture removals and storage. That seems to be a rather exorbitant amount.
– It is a new item.
– That is so. If we look through the estimates we find that this year the Department will acquire furniture to the value of £45,000. Yet we have this provision of £750,000 for the removals and storage of furniture. Just where are we going with this? The Department should give us some explanation. There seems to be some fairly sloppy book work going on. If we look at Division No. 786 - Other Administrations - Recoverable Expenditure, we find that in subdivision 1, item 04, Other - whatever that may mean - last year the Department expected to spend £1,042,000. It spent £719,526. This year it expects to spend £1,200,000. Surely somewhere along the line there is a better explanation of this proposed expenditure. What are the other Administrations? Some of the expenditure could relate to the United States of America, which of course would be associated with the tracking stations; some of it to the United Kingdom, in connection with the Weapons Research Establishment; and some of it to the European Launcher Development Organisation, which has been featured in the Press within the last few days. We do not know what “ Other “ refers to in item 04. The Minister should give us some explanation of that.
When we look at the report of the Department of Supply for 1964 we find that most of the projects associated with the Department are situated in New South Wales and Victoria. They are situated as follows: The Defence Standards Laboratories at Maribyrnong, in Victoria; the Aeronautical Research Laboratories at Fishermen’s Bend in Victoria; the Aircraft Factory at Fishermen’s Bend and Avalon, in Victoria; the Airframe Repair Workshops at Parafield and Northfield, in South Australia; the Explosives Filling and Ammunition Factories at Maribyrnong and Albion in Victoria, Mulwala in New South Wales, Footscray in Victoria and St. Mary’s in New South Wales; the Clothing Factory at South Melbourne and Brunswick in Victoria; the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow, New South Wales; the Ordnance Factories at Maribyrnong and Bendigo in Victoria; the Engine Works at Port Melbourne, in Victoria; and the Central Drawing Office at Maribyrnong, in Victoria. The Government should commit itself further to its announced policy of decentralisation. There should be some decentralisation of the activities of this Department.
– Is the honorable senator suggesting that some of them should be transferred to Perth?
– No. I suggest that they could easily be transferred to Kalgoorlie where there is adequate space. If the price of gold falls very much further, Kalgoorlie will become another ghost city. It would be an ideal place for these sorts of factories. To transfer them there would mean the retention of the population in that area instead of building up the mammoth cities which are unable, perhaps through lack of administration, to conduct their affairs properly. Overall, there are a lot of queries about the Department of Supply to be answered. A few weeks ago we were told by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) - no one has any reason to doubt him, as his department is gathering the information - that Australia was facing one of the most dangerous situations that it had faced since the end of the last war. Yet we find that the expenditure of this most important department, which provides the machines of war and the necessary war materials for the Services, is to be increased this year by only approximately £li million in spite of the fact that increases in taxation, allegedly for defence purposes, will amount to more than £36 million.
, - Senator Cant has set me a formidable task by his references to Divisions Nos. 763, 769, 773, 775, 777 and 786, and by his general comment on decentralisation. I do not know that I can provide answers to all his questions, but I shall do my best. The honorable senator linked his reference to Division No. 763 to queries in relation to administrative salaries and payments in the nature of salaries. In general terms, it is true that a comparison of last year’s vote and expenditure shows that there has been an increase in this year’s appropriation. It is not a substantial increase - £2,866,000 compared with £2,701,000. The explanation of the provision is that the staff employed at 30th June 1964, both permanent and temporary, totalled 1,732. It is expected that the staff will increase by 153 in 1964-65 for the reasons given in the staff statement. Provision has been made in the estimates for 1964-65 for the costs of the additional staff and for adjustment to salaries resulting from the recent basic wage increase. The branches of the Central Administration are Secretariat and General Administration, Finance, Personnel, Research and Development, Contracts, Stores and Transport, Security, Planning, Explosives, Ordnance, Ammunition and Small Arms, Works, Industrial, Aircraft and Guided Weapons.
In each State other than Victoria departmental functions are administered by a State Controller. State branches comprise sections corresponding to the branches of Central Administration, or such of them as operate within the State concerned. In South Australia research and development activities are excluded from the direct control of the State Controller, whilst in Victoria the State functions are carried out by Central Administration. There is a break-up of the State staff into permanent officers, and temporary and exempt employees, as at 30th June 1964. At that date 1,403 permanent officers were employed. Provision is made in the estimates for 1,532 permanent officers, and for 353 temporary and exempt employees, as against 329 such employees at 30th June 1964.
The salary schedules show that there are 1,758 created permanent positions in Central and State Administrations. Some of these positions are vacant and many are filled by temporary employees. An increase in the number of permanent staff is expected as the result of general staffing proposals in the administrative branches. The increase includes 41 cadets to be recruited in replacement of cadets advanced to professional status in 1963-64, and 50 officers for the implementation of the recently approved A.B.C. cataloguing programme.
I turn now to Division No. 773 and the items therein relating to project materials and contractor charges and contributions to research. In previous years these items were included in sub-division 3 - Special Research Projects. By Treasury direction that subdivision has been deleted. The expenditure under item 12 of sub-division 2 relates to a classified weapons project. Item 13 covers space tracking and grants to universities.
Senator Cant referred to Division No. 775.Reserve Stocks. Provision of f 499,000 is made in sub-division 1 - Purchases - for the purchase of a wide range of reserve stocks and the manufacture of essential explosive materials. The under-expenditure in 1963-64 was due to a delay in the delivery of materials on order, particularly from overseas. In sub-division 2 - Issues - Provision is made in the two items - Amounts to be provided from other appropriations and Amounts to be received from various Trust Accounts - for recoveries from Service Departments and from Government factories for sales of production reserve stocks. The manufacture of essential explosives materials and the cost of purchases of production reserve stocks procured in advance of anticipated orders from the Services less recoveries by sales to Government factories and Service Departments is provided for in this Division. Recoveries by sales to contractors are credited to revenue. Ordinarily factory purchases of materials for specific Service orders are financed from the respective factory trust accounts.
Senator Cant also referred to Division No. 777 ; Central Transport and Storage Authority ; Furniture Removals and Storage.
It is important to realise that the appropriation for this Division includes furniture removals on behalf of all non-trading Commonwealth Departments, not only on behalf of the Department of Supply. The cost of removal and storage of furniture of public servants, other than those employed toy the Postmaster-General’s Department, the Commonwealth Railways and statutory commissions and instrumentalities, is provided for in the appropriation for the Department of Supply.
– What are the exceptions?
– The exceptions are really the commercial undertakings - the Postmaster-General’s Department, Commonwealth Railways and statutory commissions and instrumentalities. With those exceptions, the appropriation of ?750,000 for the Department of Supply relates to all Government Departments.
– Could the Minister tell me how this was handled before the Department of Supply performed the duties?
– In previous years this expenditure was financed through the Munitions, Stores and Transport Trust Account and recovered from the client departments. The provision of a single appropriation under the control of the Department of Supply eliminates the need for accounting recovery, which was administratively inconvenient and costly. I think that is a brief and clear explanation of the position.
I turn now to Division No. 786 - Other Administrations - Recoverable Expenditure. This amount is required in the main to meet the estimated cost of rifles, ammunition and miscellaneous stores supplied to countries other than the United States of America and the United Kingdom. I think Senator Cant asked for the names of the countries.
– They include Malaysia and African countries - in fact, any country, other than the United States and the United Kingdom, with which we do business. That is the information with which I have been supplied in relation to Division No. 786.
Senator Cant also made a generalisation about the decentralisation of all establishments. Frankly, I am not competent to give an informative answer at the moment. I certainly will raise it with the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) and ask him to address a communication to the honorable senator in relation to it. I readily think that in the creation of any establishment the Government or any of its departments would have regard to certain known factors of the needs of that particular establishment. As a case in point although it is oversimplification, it is pretty obvious that the appropriate place for Woomera is in Central Australia. It is fairly obvious also that Salisbury, which serves Woomera, needs to be within reasonable distance of Woomera and somewhere in the line of communications. I cannot give a precise answer. I know that the honorable senator would not expect me to do so. I think I can say in broad terms that the location of all these establishments would be selected having regard to the availability of manpower and equipment, and also to their functions. However, I will get a reply from the Minister for Supply in relation to the specific queries raised by the honorable senator.
.- I feel, concerned about the present procedure..! direct the attention of the Minister to Division No. 771, sub-division 2, and to the indefinite description “Administrative and Operational Expenses, £3,884,400 “. The report of the Auditor-General does not disclose that he has given a certificate to show that he has examined that appropriation from the point of view of economy of expenditure. We do not know the ambit of that proposed expenditure. I suppose that the Auditor-General’s officers have audited that figure from the standpoint of propriety of expenditure; that is to say, that the expenditure has been in conformity with Parliamentary appropriations. But what is this item all about? I submit that departmental estimates submitted to Parliament simply misguide us unless they contain a reasonable amount of detail. I would expect a sub-division of that sort to be broken into at least 20 different categories before it could be intelligently appreciated.
I come to Division No. 777, Central Transport and Storage Authority - furniture removals and storage. Although Senator Cant included this division in the matters on which he spoke, it was an entry which engaged my attention first because it appears as a new item. I understood the Minister to say that this is because of some different basis of accounting. Can we have some comparison between this figure and what has been taken from the various departmental estimates in previous years? When I am told that this appropriation includes the expenses of furniture removal and storage, I take it that this relates to the furniture of officers. But I am told that it relates to officers other than those in the trading departments such as the Railways and Post Office. How does it compare with past expenditure and, specifically, does it include the furniture removal expenses of the officers of the Department of External Affairs? 1 have seen from time to time in Commonwealth Public Service documents huge items of expenditure incurred in connection with furniture removals and I have a suspicious feeling that there is not much of a watch kept on this matter. I would like the Minister to concern himself with that point of view. I know that we built the Public Service up on the basis that each officer is entitled under a certain regulation to claim promotion to another post. Public servants transfer from Darwin to Canberra, or Darwin to Hobart, over long distances although the shade of difference in status and salary may ‘be no more than £300 a year. It does seem to me that, in this branch of the Department’s activities, a great deal of expense is incurred that is not warranted. I put the proposition to the Minister in that form because I think he owes it to the Committee to say what scrutiny is made of this class of expenditure in order to ensure that economy is practised.
– Division No. 711, for which an amount of £3,884,400 is provided, is the vote for the weapons research establishments at Salisbury and Woomera. Sub-division 2, to which Senator Wright refers, covers all the administrative costs involved in supporting and conducting the Weapons Research Establishment at Salisbury and the Woomera range. Many of the items and operational expenditures are classified. Therefore, I am not in a position to give the honorable senator any further information than that which is shown in the estimates. I am not competent, nor am I authorised, to make any further statement than that.
Senator Wright also referred to Division No. 777, to which Senator Cant also directed attention. Senator Wright pointed out that it was a new Division and asked whether any figure could be given of expenditures under this heading by other departments before the matter was brought under the control of the Department of Supply. I am told by my officers that we are not in a position to give the honorable senator the precise figures at this point of time. This estimate was based on the consolidation of estimates provided by other departments.
– I should have thought that anybody, before he could make an estimate of that sort, would have to collate the figures.
– I should think the figures are available. The only point is that they are not available to me here at this moment. Senator Wright also raised a question in relation to the Department of External Affairs.
– Only as to the furniture removal expenses.
– This matter is quickly disposed of, because this appropriation relates to the Department of External Affairs within Australia only. The activities of this Department outside Australia are not included in this estimate.
.- I do not want to make trouble, but I do not think this is quite the standard that should be prescribed by this Committee when it is dealing with a proposed expenditure of £3,884,400 for administrative and operational expenses. We all know that an appropriation bill is just meaningless unless it contains a reasonable amount of detailed information. The form of these Estimates does less than credit to those who prepared them and certainly does no credit to the intelligence of those to whom they are presented. Unless we can have some reasonably detailed dissection, the item should not be passed.
With regard to Division No. 777, not a scrap of information has been put before the Committee, despite two requests. There is no information which would justify anybody forming a judgment as to the pro.priety of this expenditure of £750,000. Senator Wedgwood has just referred me to another item, but I prefer to focus attention on this amount of £750,000 for furniture removals and storage. Surely, in relation to a section of a department, we can be told what was the greatest and the least expenditure incurred in removing and storing the furniture of officers? Surely we can be told the distances involved. I put to the Minister the possibility of an officer being transferred from Darwin to Launceston for the sake of the higher status represented by an increase in salary amounting to £300. I venture to suggest that the cost of furniture removal alone in a case such as that would be something like £700. I want an assurance that matters such as that are being closely scrutinised. The information that has been supplied is not good enough.
– I refer Senator Wright to page 116 of the document we are considering. At the foot of that page he will see a note in small print which begins as follows -
Allowing for transactions recorded elsewhere, including overheads, the sharing of costs of the joint United Kingdom-Australia Weapons Project is as follows -
The only other point I wish to make is that this is a joint United Kingdom-Australian project. The reference is to Division No. 771, sub-division 2 - Administrative and Operational Expenses. I repeat that there is some information on the document itself in relation to that matter.
As to the other matter raised by the honorable senator, I make the point that the figure of £750,000 was arrived at by examining the estimates of other Departments. Those estimates are now consolidated under this heading in the estimates for the Department of Supply. The honorable senator says he wants more details. He is entitled to ask for them, and it is my duty to make representations to the Minister for Supply in an endeavour to obtain for him the information that he wants. I shall do that. I make the general observation that huge amounts are involved in transferring, for instance, members of the various armed Services. In those circumstances, it will be appreciated that this amount of £750,000 is not really very large.
Further, the Committee will appreciate that it does not come within the competence of the Department of Supply to control the movements of officers in other departments. Movements take place as a result of promotions within the public Service, and they form part of the operations of the various Departments. The function of the Department of Supply is merely to consolidate the costs involved and to set them out in its estimates. I cannot give the honorable senator any further information. I shall refer his criticism to the Minister.
– I want to retain a spirit of goodwill, but it will be difficult to do so unless there is a little more forthcomingness on the part of the Minister. The Department of Supply is acting as an agent in these matters; it carries out furniture removals and storage for what are called its client departments. That is an expression that attracts my attention. The Minister seems to be satisfied with saying that the Department of Supply has no responsibility for individual items of expenditure. I can understand that, but I hope we are not going to slip into a situation where we are prepared to let the matter go at that. A Minister who asks for the appropriation of money for an item such as this has to justify his request.
If the Department of Supply is not concerned, somebody somewhere down the line must accept responsibility for transferring Joe Blow, say, from Darwin .to Launceston at a cost of £700. I put that proposition to the Minister and I will continue to put it until I am corrected. I want some information. I want to know whether somebody in the Public Service keeps a very close watch to see that great expense is not incurred for the sake of a trivial promotion or to comply with regulations. I think that is a reasonable proposition. The Minister should consider the matter a little more closely from that point of view and let the Committee know what system of administration is adopted.
I referred, just by way of example, to sub-division 2 of Division No. 771 - Administrative and Operation Expenses - for which the appropriation is £3,884,400. It is simply not correct for the Minister to say that the matter is explained by footnote (a) at the bottom of the page.
– I did not say it was explained by that; I said that was part of the explanation.
– It does not meet the position at all. Frequently commercial balance sheets and profit and loss accounts are criticised because they contain no details. Indefinite and generalised accounting gives rise, not merely to lack of economy, but also to slipshod methods, wanting in integrity and creating loopholes which put temptation in the way of people. It is the indefiniteness of an item such as this - unsupported by the Minister or his officers, even when a request is made - ‘that I am criticising. A schedule should be produced covering the matters contained in this item. Unless that is forthcoming, what assurance have we that the appropriation should be £3.8 million or £2.8 million? Not one member of this Committee is able to exercise a judgment in the matter.
Having referred to those matters twice, I should now like to refer to another matter. I notice in the Supplementary Report of the Auditor-General under the heading of “ Transport “ the following cheerful statement
The net profit on the operations for the year was £222,441 compared with £76,125 in 1962-63.
Departments have become agents for each other. One Department supplies transport for many others, and no doubt debits them with the cost of its services. What sort of accountancy is it that shows such a profit? To speak of a profit on interdepartmental activities might be completely misleading. I think we are each pulling each other’s legs.
I do not think it is good enough to note the expenditure unless we are given more detail as to what the £3.8 million consists of, or unless we are told that it will be dissected into the 20 most important items and the information forwarded to honorable senators by letter.
– I have already indicated to the honorable senator that his comments will be communicated to the Minister. I can do no more than that.
– To which Division is the honorable senator referring now?
– To Division No. 771, sub-division 2 - Administrative and operational expenses. I want to know what supervision is made of the individual costs incurred by officers on transfer, and whether any supervision is exercised against a cost being incurred in order to comply with trivial status considerations by reason of the operation of Public Service regulations. I should like to have information from the Minister concerning the nature of the profit mentioned by the Auditor-General. I do not derive much confidence, even from the Auditor-General’s report, in this field of activity. Year after year he makes no comment on the economy of the cost to which he certifies. The statement as to profit may be an entirely false one, except insofar as one department has charged another department. The figure relating to the charge exceeds the cost by £220,000. It is not a profit in the real sense. We should have some assurance regarding the mechanisms that ensure economy in this instance.
– I can only repeat what I said before, that the information I have given is all the information that I am able to give. I must rest upon the security classification which has been placed upon the item. The fact .that I cannot give more information should not be interpreted in any other way. Of course, the Department has control of the item. Each item of cost is given the utmost scrutiny by each department before it is consolidated in the Estimates.
– Does the Public Accounts Committee come into it, too?
– The Public Accounts Committee can come into the matter if it wants to do so. Senator Wright referred to the Auditor-General’s Department. Quite clearly, any amount which is to be consolidated in the Estimates has to stand the scrutiny of the department concerned; it has to stand the scrutiny of the Department of the Treasury; and it then has to stand the scrutiny of the AuditorGeneral’s Department. It is reasonable for the honorable senator to say he wants more information. I shall try to get it for him. It should not be said that because it is not a consolidated amount it is not well founded. It is well founded. In this case the amount has been taken from previous estimates of the Department.
I am not competent to comment on the matter raised regarding transport. I have been handed a note on the rate of profit. The operating total is about £4 million. Firm rates of charges are fixed and these are adjusted from time to time. Certainly, they are adjusted annually. An attempt is made to hold profits to a minimum. The increased profit in 1963-64 was gained despite many cost increases in that year. I think that this reflects, a degree of efficiency within .the Department. I have not any other information on this question of profit, except to say that estimates of costs of transport from the various departments are critically examined from time to time, and there again there are many safeguards to ensure that justice is not only done, but appears to be done.
– I want to make one or two comments on Division No. 771, sub-division 2 - Administrative and Operational Expenses. I can see quite clearly the problem which is troubling Senator Wright. We have to authorise the expenditure, but we cannot examine the detail of it to satisfy ourselves that it is correct. Naturally, there is some concern in the minds of honorable senators when this sort of thing happens. On the other hand, I can see the problem which faces the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson). This Department, in part, deals with security matters, and it is impossible to detail the expenditure for classification reasons. Also, the Minister only represents the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall), so it is difficult for him to give details.
I have listened to the debate with considerable interest because of previous experience in listening to the analysis of various estimates in other places. I have in mind the thought and the comfort, if I might use that word, that the Public Accounts Committee scrutinises in detail a great deal, if not all, of this expenditure. I am a little too inexperienced to know how the Committee operates, but I have drawn a great deal of comfort from the belief that these matters, in fact, pass through its hands. I do not expect that the Auditor-General could give us an answer as to whether or not the money is being wisely spent. He certainly could give an opinion on whether the accounting procedure is correct. From’ a practical point of view, I think that is what he does. Undoubtedly, he could not say: “ This Department has spent £3.8 million. I certify that these accounts are correct, and I also certify that the Department is being conducted economically”. He cannot do that because ft is completely outside his field. So we have a problem - a big problem, an understandable problem. I have always believed - I may be wrong but I do not think that I am - that in the final analysis the Public Accounts Committee is the watchdog in these matters.
– I refer to Division No. 765 - Government Factories - Maintenance of Production Capacity. This relates to the activities of the Department of Supply. There are occasions when Senator Wright and I agree - on those occasions when he is correct. He is correct on this occasion when he demands that information to justify a proposed appropriation be given to the Parliament by the Government. I know that Senator Wright gives a lot of consideration, and sometimes a little thought, to these issues. We are not provided with any information on the details-
– The honorable senator has all the information in Division No. 765.
– Is the Chairman in charge of the chamber or is the Minister?
– 1 am merely interested in setting the honorable senator right.
– The Minister appears to me to be interrupting. I leave myself in the Chairman’s hands.
– In those circumstances, I take the point of order that there is no suggestion in Division No. 765 of any information being withheld.
– May I finish my story without rude interruptions? The Minister is not usually rude, and I know that he is anxious to provide information now, but can we not be provided with something other than what we find in the Press? Here we are dealing with an important section of the Department of Supply. In recent months we have noticed the concern expressed by the Services about inefficient materials supplied to them. In many cases, materials have been absolutely condemned because they have been inefficient and unable to fulfil the purpose for which they were prepared. We cannot maintain production unless we have a measure of efficiency in the whole set-up of the Department of Supply.
I do not propose to attack the Weapon* Research Establishment; it is doing an excellent job. It employs an extraordinarily talented group of men at both Salisbury and Woomera. But do not let us forget that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) has said that this probably will be our period of greatest danger. The people are concerned because of that. We must bear in mind that the activities of the Department of Supply are basic to the soundness of our defences.
There appears to be a deficiency in the organisation. There appears to be inefficient supervision. I do not know whether the people who prepare the materials that are rejected are not sufficiently qualified or whether the supervisors are not exercising proper supervision. If I wanted to drag in red herrings, I could refer to the “Voyager” disaster and many other Navy accidents. There seems to be a measure of inefficiency in administration. This is all the more worrying when we realise that Australia might suddenly face a catastrophe. We do not have to cast our minds back over very many years to recall the danger that Australia faced because the Government of the day - which was condemned by the then Minister for Defence, Mr. Thorby - failed to put our defences in a state of preparedness.
– Order! The honorable senator is getting away from the subject before the Chair.
– I am merely saying
– Order! The honorable senator was supposed to be referring to Division No. 765.
– That is right.
– I ask him to return to that subject and keep to it.
– I am relating my remarks to the maintenance of production capacity in Government factories. With due respect, Mr. Chairman, if I sometimes digress it is because I am enthusiastic to defend this country.
– That is no excuse.
– I am excusing myself. You know my emotional approach to these issues. I am seeking something for the nation, not for the Opposition. The Opposition in this Parliament is relatively unimportant at present because the Government has the numbers, but things will change after the Senate election. All wc arc seeking is that there shall be efficient administration of this country. Surely that is not divorced from reality or from the estimates with which wc are now dealing. A great deal of money is involved in the appropriation for this Department. There is an appopriation of £1,520,000 for reserve capacity maintenance and £95,000 for re-arrangement of capital facilities. There is also another appropriation of £85,000, for which the Government has not seen fit to give any explanation, lt merely comes under the heading of “ Other expenditure”. Through the years the Government has got away with so much that I have appreciated the attempts of honorable senators on the Government side to see that it does the right thing and provides a real measure of information for all members of Parliament, whether they are in this place or in the other place, whether they arc on the Government side or on the Opposition side. Do not forget that honorable members on both sides of the other chamber are not particularly happy about our defence arrangements. Neither are we in this Senate.
The Department of Supply is a relatively important part of our defence mechanism. We cannot discuss our defences without considering the activities of the Department of Supply, because of the demands that have been made and will be made on it. The negligent approach to our problems and the present inefficiency in production must reflect in some measure on the Department. Let us be quite frank. It is time that the Government, the people and the Press recognised that any lack of productive capacity is the result of inefficient administration for which only one group of people is responsible. It is the Government of the day, and more particularly the Ministers. When we individualise, it must be the Minister in direct control of a particular department. Frankly, Sir, we on this side of the chamber are sick and tired of having personnel within the departments debited with so-called mistakes. In many cases, they are not so-called mistakes - they are real mistakes. The Government has got away with political murder. That is what it has been doing for many years. It is of no use for Senator Sir William Spooner to smirk over there, because he has been part and parcel of it for many years. He was the best propagandist-
– Get back to this division.
– I can draw parallels, in my own limited way.
– Provided they suit the Chair. Get back to the division.
– Suit the Chair? Have I not certain basic rights?
– Yes, the honorable senator has, and I am quite prepared to see that he gets them, but he will not be permitted to abuse the privilege as he is trying to. Get back to the division.
– Mr. Chairman, I have never sought to abuse the privilege, as you know. .1 am trying to explain the deficiencies of the Government, how it can rectify these deficiencies, and how it must face up to them even in its own party room. When there are deficiencies in administration, as I said, it is of no use to blame the inefficiency of people in particular services or in particular departments. The end result is inevitable. It must be traced back. Rather should I say not “ back “, because of their position, but “ up “ to the Minister in charge of a particular department. The Department of Supply has been under challenge for many years. It is not so long ago that we were even told of the amounts of money that had been wasted. It is not so long ago that we read not only of the amounts involved but also of the ineffective weapons that were produced. It is not only the money wasted in the department that produces these particular items that we must remember. It is the question of the utilisation of them. Perhaps they could have been something in the nature of a hazard to the people who were using them, if there had not been a measure of efficiency of supervision when these products were issued by the Department of Supply to the various Services.
I sometimes wonder, in my own ingenuous way, whether these departmental officers were not suspicious of the inefficiency of administration and the inefficiency of the conduct of operations within the responsibility of the Department of Supply. Ordinarily, being of a trusting nature, I would think that when it came from a particular department it was all right. 1 would accept it as being so. But apparently the chiefs in the various sections of the Defence Services ware suspicious. Why were they suspicious? I am not of a suspicious turn of mind, but I sometimes wonder why they happened to be suspicious. Their suspicion was justified. We have heard it so often. Questions have been asked and the answers have not always been satisfactory. We know that the Government has the right to indulge in propaganda and to cover up its sins of omission and commission. These are not sins of omission. Within the Department of Supply, these happen to be sins of commission. What would have happened to the various people in charge of these particular sections to which products from the Department of Supply had gone and which had utilised these products, if the products had been defective? What would have been the answer of the Government to the people, or more particularly to the relatives of people whose lives had been lost, whose health had been damaged or whose limbs had been destroyed? It is so simple to realise that this could quite easily have happened but for the astuteness of certain people. I am sorry I used the word “ suspicious “.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
-! present the following reports of the Public Accounts Committee -
Sixty-seventh Report - Treasury Minutes of the Twenty-first, Twenty-second, and Fifty-eighth Reports,’ together with summaries of those Reports.
Sixty-eighth Report - Expenditure from Advance to the Treasurer (Appropriation Bill 1963-64).
I ask for leave to make a statement.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - There being no objection, leave is granted.
Senator WEDGWOOD (Victoria).- The Sixty-seventh Report sets out the recommendations contained in the Twenty-first, Twenty-second, and Fifty-eighth Reports of the Committee, together with the Treasury Minutes that it has received and considered. In the Sixty-fifth Report, the Committee referred to an undertaking given by the Department of the Treasury to supply it with a half-yearly report on outstanding Treasury Minutes, indicating progress made by the departments in dealing with the Committee’s comments. The first such report was submitted to the Committee on 26lh August 1964.
The Sixty-eighth Report presents the results of the Committee’s investigations into expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer for the year ended 30th June 1964. Public hearings were held in connection with selected items and the Committee’s comments appear at the conclusion of the report on each separate item. This information is contained in chapter II of the report. In chapter III of the report the Committee has made certain general observations regarding the quality of the evidence submitted by departments. During the course of the inquiry, the representatives of the Treasury undertook to prepare, in collaboration with the Committee’s staff, a suitable pro forma statement and to circulate copies of this to departments for their guidance. It is hoped that this will result in an improvement in the quality of material submitted to the Committee for its examination.
Ordered that the reports be printed.
Sitting suspended from 5.43 to 8 p.m.
Retirement from House of Commons.
– I have received a letter from the Rt. Hon. Sir Winston Churchill in connection with the resolution of the Senate on his retirement from the House of Commons. The letter reads-
Dear Mr. President,
I am most grateful to you and to the Senate for the Resolution you passed on August 18. Would you please convey to the members of the Senate my very warm thanks for this signal honour which my Australian friends and comrades have done me?
Debate resumed from 15th October (vide page 1030), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– At the outset, I should like to thank the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) for his courtesy in making available to me three of the senior officers of the Department of Defence to answer the many queries I had in relation to this Bill. I should like also to express my thanks to the officers concerned for the help that they were not only able to give me but were also very ready to give. My task tonight is made a good deal easier by the nature of the second reading speech that the Minister presented to the Senate a few days ago. I. think I describe it accurately when 1. say -it is a very fair summary of the provisions of this Bill. The Minister indicated in that speech that he had announced in June two measures. He put them very briefly in a sentence -
These measures were the establishment of volunteer emergency reserve forces and the provision for the calling up of citizen and reserve forces to the extent necessary to meet the requirements of all three Services in circumstances short of general war. lt is rather amazing that two propositions that could be put so briefly arc now, with a few other matters, expanded into 24 pages in one bill and spill over into two other associated bills which the Minister dealt with in the course of his second reading speech and to which I shall perhaps make brief reference in the course of my speech also. The primary measures are really concerned with improving the recruiting figures in Australia for our armed services in a lime of concern as to our security in this part of the world.
I begin by making the statement that the fact that we have to have a bill and these various associated measures is a real indication of the failure of the recruiting campaign that the Government has conducted up to date. I go back to the target last set in the Parliament by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). First, the Minister for Defence of the day, Mr. Townley, on 24th October 1962 announced a three year programme in defence, com mencing from 1st July 1962 and running to 30th June 1965. In the course of that speech the Minister set targets for the enlistments in the various sections of the armed forces. Seven months later on 22nd May 1963, the Prime Minister in a very extensive defence review, again reviewed these targets. He increased all of them - some of them fairly substantially - so the latest figure of which I am aware that we have had in this Parliament was put to the Parliament on the date I indicated - 22nd May 1963. The target set on that date for the Australian Regular Army was 28,000 to be attained by 30th June 1965. The figures that appear in the defence report that is now before us indicate that at 30th June last after two of the three years had expired the total recruited was 23,493. That means that at the moment 4,507 members of the Australian Regular Army would need to be recruited between the 1st July last and 30th June next if the target set is to bc achieved.
There is another consideration that, from the nation’s viewpoint, may make that gap wider. I refer to what is now called the Australian Regular Supplement. Hitherto, it was called the Australian Regular Special Reserve. In that body, there are three classes of persons, as I understand the position. First, there are those officers and men who, because of age or medical classification, arc not eligible for service in the A.R.A. Their medical classification is No. 2 whereas for those in the A.R.A. the classification is No. 1. There is a second category of officers appointed and soldiers enlisted for special tasks the duration of which is not known. This category includes doctors and technical officers. Their medical classification is also No. 2.
Finally, there are perfectly fit members who enlist only for three years and not for the six years that the A.R.A. itself requires. They are completely fit, their medical classification is No. 1 and the maximum age for enlistment is 43 years as in the A.R.A. 1 understand that in that particular category there are some 4,000 or 5,000 individuals and I think it is fair to say that about half of them would represent the mcn who are completely fit but who have enlisted for short periods. They would be available for front line service.
The remaining 2,000 or 2,500 would not be available for front line service and therefore, in the view I put, that represents one great deficiency in the target set by the Government. So whatever that figure is - and I understand it would be in the neighbourhood of 2,000 to 2,500- it should be added to the numbers still to be sought this year. That is, to the 4,507, add perhaps another 2,500, which makes the deficiency of men for the front line active effort something like 7,000.
In the Citizen Military Forces, the target for 30th June was set at 35,000. The report at 30th June shows that there were 27,505. In other words, 7,495 additional personnel are to be found by 30th June next. I pause here to comment that when the three year term began on 1st July 1962 there were some 30,000 personnel in the C.M.F. and it is not encouraging to find that at 30th June last - two years later - the figure had actually fallen by 2,500 to 27,505.
Passing now to the permanent members of the Navy, the target for next June was 14,300. Members available at 30th June last totalled 12,569 leaving 1,731 still to be recruited in this financial year. For the Air Force, the target was 18,300. At 30th June last 16,564 had enlisted leaving 1,736 to be found in this financial year. Those four numbers add up to the sizeable total of 15,469 to be found in this year. I feel justified in adding to that number the 2,500 members of what is now called the Australian Regular Supplement who are class 2 medically. So it would seem that at the moment the Government has the enormous task of finding about 18,000 personnel to bring its forces to the original target stated by the Prime Minister and which was to be reached by 30th June next. One cannot regard that situation as being satisfactory, and obviously the Government does not.
During the recess in June last the Minister for Defence announced new provisions, including additional pay for the armed forces. He announced that members of the Citizen Military Forces doing training duty - not continuous duty - would have their earnings disregarded for the purpose of income tax assessment. He also announced a programme to build some 3,700 houses during the next three years at a cost of £I4± million for members of the Australian Regular Army. Members of the
Emergency Reserves, to which I shall refer presently, were given a financial inducement ranging from £100 to £175 a year, developing over a four year period, and in addition a bonus of £55 on any occasion when they are called up for continuous duty. Finally, there is a lengthy schedule of provisions in the Bill covering persons who are called up for continuous service with the Emergency Reserves and with the Citizen Military Forces. The Bill provides that they are to be given protection in their employment so that after a period of con=tinuous service their employment is to be restored. They are to have the benefit of long service leave and other ordinary industrial benefits as though their employment had not been interrupted. On the face of them, they are all rather powerful inducements to people to join the forces. How far they will be effective only a period ahead will tell.
I pass now to a consideration of the main provisions of the Bill. The outstandingly new factor that we face is the establishment of an Emergency Reserve in each of the armed forces - the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. Those reserves are to be recruited from trained personnel who have’ left the ordinary armed forces, including the C.M.F., on the basis that they may be called up at any time for continuous service whether it be in peacetime, in a time of defence emergency or in time of war. If they are called up other than at a time of defence emergency or war, then they can be called up only for a continuous period not exceeding twelve months. We will call that a period of peace, or relative peace. They may be used during that time for service both in Australia and overseas if it is thought fit. Having served a continuous period of twelve months in time of peace,, they are to be released and not called up’ again for a period of twelve months.
The Minister might correct me if he disagrees with the way I put this, but it seems to me that the main difference from the viewpoint of obligations between the Australian Regular Army, as we now know it, and the new Emergency Reserves is that a member of the Emergency Reserves may be called up only for a limited period in time of peace. In all other respects the obligations seem to me to be the same. The members of both forces are required to serve continuously at short notice. Only a notice by the Governor-General in the Commonwealth “Gazette” is required to call out the whole or any part of the Emergency Reserve. Members of both the A.R.A. and the Emergency Reserves are required to serve in Australia and outside Australia. They arc all compelled to remain in service, even if they have served a period of twelve months, if during that time a defence emergency is declared or war breaks out. Members of the A.R.A. perform continuous service throughout the period for which they have enlisted, which in most cases is six years.
I come now to the Citizen Military Forces. As determined by the Government, all members of the C.M.F. volunteer to serve overseas if required. The Bill provides that, upon the making of a proclamation as to the existence of a state of emergency, the Governor-General may call up members of the Citizen Forces. When that is done they must, of course, answer the call. The Governor-General, in making the proclamation, must give the reason why he has declared a state of defence emergency. Moreover, if the Parliament is sitting he must disclose that reason to the Parliament immediately or, if it is not sitting, he must call the Parliament together within 10 days to put that reason before it. So a call up for continuous service in the C.M.F. is completely dependent upon the issuance of a proclamation of that nature. Once that takes place, members are liable to serve both inside and outside Australia. The proposal is that that proclamation may be issued not merely in time of war but in a time of defence emergency. The Bill defines a time of defence emergency as the period between the making of a proclamation by the Governor-General and the making of a further proclamation ending the period. No attempt is made to set out, even in general terms, the circumstances that might justify the making of such a proclamation.
– That power must always be reserved to any government.
– I am not arguing against that. I am merely recording what 1 find to be the interesting provisions of the Bill covering the new aspects of recruitment. There are many matters that are dealt with in the Bill to which no exception is taken by the Opposition and which I think have been quite adequately explained by the Minister. I do not intend to embark upon a discussion of those. In this speech I propose to confine myself to the new aspects of recruitment to the forces which the Bill introduces. I am merely pointing out the differences in call up in different situations and for different forces. I have already indicated the position in regard to the Emergency Reserves. Members of those Reserves can be called up at any time by the Governor-General. They will have volunteered .to serve in time of defence emergency, which of course involves the making of a proclamation, and in time of war. A similar proclamation is required to call up the C.M.F. The Minister may call up members of the ordinary Australian Regular Reserve in time of war or in time of defence emergency. As it is expressed in the Bill, that also requires the making of a proclamation, because there can bc no defence emergency until one has in fact been proclaimed.
The members of the Australian Regular Reserve, as I understand it, are under only one obligation at the moment; that is to serve in a time of national emergency. At this minute they are not required to serve in a time of defence emergency, in the terms in which the Bill has defined that expression. The proposal is that they will be liable to be called up in a time of defence emergency - that is the new provision - as well as in a time of war. Those provisions seem to us to be reasonable. We are not objecting to them. We do not object generally to the Bill, but whether it will succeed in attracting the numbers that the Government hopes to obtain remains to be seen. As we stand for the adequate defence of this country, we hope that the Government’s ambitions will be realised, because when one looks even at the targets that are set for our defence forces, one realises that our defence rests on a comparatively thin layer of personnel. They are not in great numbers. Their ranks are capable of expansion, but they cannot be expanded in any great hurry. Even the new Defence Emergency Reserve was considered by the Minister, when he made his statement in June, to yield only about 3,600 personnel. We do not have the figures for the Navy or the Air Force, which may be expected to join such an emergency reserve. I would be grateful to the Minister if he would during the debate convey to the Senate an idea of the numbers that are expected to be gained in both the Navy and the Air Force.
The Opposition is concerned with what is provided for members of the Services to whom the new proposal is made, to accept a liability to be called up in a time of defence emergency. The Bill seeks to meet the position by a provision that within 30 days after the passing of this Act members of the Services may write to their commanding officer to indicate that they do not want to accept that obligation. If they write such a letter they must be released. There is also a particular provision for the Citizen Military Forces, that any present member who indicates within 30 days after the passing of the Act that he is not prepared to accept the new condition, is entitled to be discharged, or to have his resignation accepted, according to his rank. The Opposition feels that that is not the right way to approach this matter. In this case the onus is put upon individuals to step out of line, as it were. The Opposition feels that an opportunity for re-enlistment in the C.M.F. on the new base should be offered and that those who are prepared to accept the two conditions - continuous service in a time of defence emergency and in a time of war - should enlist plainly on that base, arid that those who do not wish to enlist have simply to do nothing.
I point out to the Senate that it may well be that this right conferred upon members of the C.M.F., and exercisable within 30 days of the passing of this Act, may not even come to their notice. Everybody is deemed to know what is the law, but it may well be that many members will remain quite ignorant of their rights. There is no particular provision for notification to each person. I have no doubt that as a matter of fair dealing the Department of Defence will see that notification is given to individuals. However, in the light of the experience of some of our members, we strongly favour the position that men in the C.M.F. should contract into an acceptance of this new opportunity and should not be obliged to contract themselves out. They are put in a difficult position. The decision of the Opposition to propose the making of such a proposition was reached only late this evening when the first opportunity for the Party to consider the Bill was had. If time had permitted me to draft an amendment to meet that suggestion I should be submitting it to the Senate at a later stage. However, I merely indicate now that when the Bill is in another place some action will be taken by the Opposition, with a proposed amendment, to express that point of view.
Another thought that has occurred to members of the Opposition is that members of our armed forces and their dependants should be given greater benefits in respect of injury or death than they now receive. At present the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act applies in respect of injury or death of members of the services. Their dependants receive some financial benefit. I am open to correction, but I believe that there is provision for payment of a maximum of £3,000. It is not a very great amount and does not carry a young widow with young children very far. The Opposition feels that it is right that men who volunteer for service overseas - and nearly all of them do - and who serve under the conditions that I have outlined tonight, should have available to them the benefits of the Repatriation Act in respect of hospitals, pensions for appropriate cases, and so on.
I suggest to the Minister that not only is that fair, but it might be one of the best inducements he could offer to those people who might not otherwise be tempted to join’ our armed forces. I confess that I do not see my ability, or the ability of anybody else, to express that point of view in an amendment to the Bill, except by way of expression of opinion, whether tagged on to a second reading speech or otherwise. If acceptable, it would of course involve extensive amendments to the Repatriation Act.
I wish now to refer to a comment made by the Minister in his second reading speech. He said -
Should it be necessary to declare a state of war then the whole nation would be mobilised - by conscription.
I scoured the Bill to find a particular provision on that subject. Finding none, I went through it again. I raised a question with the Minister’s officers on that score in connection with clause 35. I shall advert to that matter at the Committee stage. At present I merely put to the Minister that I have not found in the Bill any provision which is relevant to conscription in Australia. I do not think that it is intended that there should be. I should like the assurance of the Minister, since he has raised this matter which I think is not relevant to the Bill itself, that according to the viewpoint of the Government there is nothing in this Bill which contains the element of conscription.
– Now we get it.
– I beg your pardon?
– This is it.
– Well, let the honorable senator say what he means. I would like to assure the honorable senator, through you, Mr. President, that my statement goes no further than the words I have uttered. I do not know what sinister things Senator Cormack finds to permit him to say: “This is it.” There is no sinister significance in what I say. I am merely expressing surprise that a Bill which, according to my reasoning, has nothing whatever to do with any provision for conscription should contain such a reference by the Minister. I point out that he put it in this way -
Should it be necessary to declare a state of war, then the whole nation would be mobilised - by conscription.
The Minister is talking of more than merely Army service when he says that. I take it from my understanding of that comment that what he has in mind is section 60 of the Act which provides for the calling up in time of war of male persons into the Citizen Military Forces. I take it that is all the Minister had in mind. I would merely like his assurance on the point. Let me say this, particularly for the benefit of Senator Cormack, that one realises that in a war of the type that we had on the last occasion, the whole nation was mobilised in almost every aspect of life, and that that was done by the Australian Labour Party.
– Say that again.
– Would the honorable senator like me to say it again?
– Yes, I would.
– I merely make the comment that the whole nation was mobilised in the war on that base. We had manpower conditions, and conscription conditions, and the whole nation was in fact mobilised as it had to be in a situation of total war. But I merely express surprise that the Minister in his speech adverted to the question of conscription at all, because I take that subject to be not relevant to any provision that this Bill contains.
– Actually, it is no more than a general statement having reference to a condition of war.
– I take it that the Minister agrees that there is no provision in this Bill relating to conscription.
– The provision in the Bill is 60(c). When the Bill is before the Committee, maybe we can discuss it in more detail.
– I was leaving a detailed discussion of the matter until the Committee stage. I was merely seeking an assurance from the Minister when he rose to reply. He has given that assurance now, so there is no need for me to stress the matter further.
There are many other provisions in the Bill which interest not only myself but all honorable senators and members of the Opposition in particular. I do not propose to advert to them. The Opposition is not opposing any of them. There seems to be a sound reason for their introduction. So, I content myself at this stage with indicating that we do not oppose the measure and that in another place we will seek to give explicit expression, if that can be done, to the two viewpoints that 1 have indicated regarding the application of repatriation benefits and reversing the procedure that has been adopted requiring people to contract out instead of allowing those who want to accept the double burden of contracting in. With those comments, I leave the Bill.
– I have, as I have mentioned on other occasions, a great respect for the debating skill of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). But tonight I felt very sorry for him, and I am sure that most honorable senators on this side of the chamber feel sorry for him as well. What has happened is that the Leader of the Opposition has been giving us a dissection on the Bill, and not expressing, except in the roundest possible terms, any opinion as to what the policy of the Australian Labour Party is in regard to the defence of Australia. This subject has been deliberately avoided. I suggest that it has been deliberately avoided because it is not suitable to the Labour Party to have this issue raised in the Senate.
– ls that relevant to this Bill?
– The reason why the Australian Labour Party does not want this subject raised in the Senate is because it is the characteristic quality of the Leader of the Opposition in another place, Mr. Calwell, to deny to the Senate any right of examination of fundamental policies which, in this case, relate to the defence of Australia, and to withdraw that right from the Senate. Therefore, he has instructed Opposition senators, I suggest, that they are not to commit themselves in any degree or in any way in a debate that takes place in the Senate in relation to bills which are originating in this chamber. T suggest that this action is, in essence, contempt of the Parliament or of the Constitution.
– In what way is general defence policy relevant to this Bill?
– Although there are carping critics outside the Parliament and inside the Parliament, in another place, on the defence posture of Australia, honorable senators opposite have not mentioned their policy in relation to Australia’s defence problems existing at the present moment. The honorable senator has confined himself to an examination of what are failures to reach target figures in relation to the voluntary defence effort that is required from Australia. I mention again those words “ voluntary defence effort that is required from Australia “. Then, in a sort of aside, the Leader of the Opposition referred to section 60 of the principal Act, which will undoubtedly be dealt with as forecast in the Committee stage, where mention is made of the power of conscription. Of course, this power has always been available in Australia. The power of conscription has been constantly qualified by the Australian Labour Party since the days of Mr. Andrew Fisher to the stage where severe limitations are placed upon the use of manpower and the fundamental defence of Australia by drawing arbitrary lines across an atlas and saying, for example, that a conscriptee may not go further than a prescribed degree of latitude. I see that a new and novel strategic implication has b:en introduced into the attitude of the Australian Labour Party by the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) who has now selected a degree of longitude which will run at right angles to the Equator and which will be the strategic limit to which Australia will employ its forces in the future defence of this country.
The Minister for Defence (Senator ‘ Paltridge) who happens to be also the Leader of the Government in the Senate - and I suggest, a most distinguished and able Minister - has set out to clear away some of the undergrowth that has existed in relation to our Australian defence problems in times of peace, in order that he can clear the way for a further fundamental approach to the problem of Australia’s defence. These Bills which are now under consideration relate to the clearing away of this undergrowth - this jungle of administrative, political and statutory requirements which relate to the defence problems of this country. Unless this undergrowth is cleared away, a new and dynamic approach to the problems of the defence of Australia cannot be undertaken in the light of the changing conditions which have arisen in the last two or three years. That is the problem with which these Bills set out to deal.
– Is the honorable senator insinuating that the previous
Ministers who held this portfolio were inefficient?
– This has nothing to do with the efficiency of the previous Ministers. This has an absolute relation to the changed situation which has occurred in South East Asia in the last three or four years. Senator O’Byrne would have been the last senator, I think, who would have supported any attempt by the Government between 1953 and 1960 to engorge the revenues of the country to set up a defence condition in which men were withdrawn from industry and from working on the land and in which the economy of the country was absorbed in order to create a defence force which was not required in that period of seven years. In other words, the Government carried out the first charge and responsibility it has to Parliament and to any electorate, which is to assess from time to time the risks of the short term and the long term. I reject any attack or any comment that the Government has been recreant to its duty in the last ten years in relation to the defence state in Australia, because the Government had to take due regard of the priorities in relation to the danger that would confront Australia in this period. In this the Government must constantly rely, of course, on the professional advice of its advisers in relation to defence.
– Who allowed the jungle and the undergrowth to grow?
– I have just mentioned part of the jungle - the constant refusal of the Australian Labour Party to acknowledge the fundamental responsibilities in defence. That is something that I will deal with in a moment if Senator O’Byrne will listen.
Before I embark on a consideration of the Bills, I should like to say that 1 took the opportunity offered by the invitation that was extended by the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) and the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) to attend the Army exercise which took place over a period of three or four weeks in the area around Jervis Bay. The Australian Regular Army proceeded to carry out an exercise which simulated the conditions of war likely to confront the Australian people, perhaps, in the next five or six years. That is something which one cannot anticipate with any pleasure. I should like to pay a tribute to those who participated in this exercise. I have been a soldier myself, and I have, I like to think, a soldier’s eye. I spent two days with the Australian Regular Army, watching this exercise.
I was impressed, to a degree which I cannot take up the time of the Senate to explain, with the high level of professional competence of all ranks of the Australian Regular Army who participated in the exercise. I thought that the competence and the quality of the service troops were as high as anything I have ever seen in war. 1 considered that the capacity, the training, the competence in the use of weapons, the stature and bearing of the battle groups I saw there were at least equivalent of those in the Australian Imperial Force in 1943. I think that the men of the A.I.F. of that time reached a standard of skill at arms and in field craft that had probably never been seen amongst any soldiers at any other time - certainly in the modern context. This experience was well worth while, because it showed in the most positive terms that the money that has been devoted to the Australian Regular Army has been well spent. The devotion of the officers and other ranks is such that the Australian people have been more than amply repaid for the taxes they have paid for the maintenance of the Army.
Having said that I should like to say that although an invitation was extended to members of the Opposition I saw none of them there. Without taking a partisan view, I say that I believe that members of the Opposition both here and in another place who wish to proffer comments upon the defence capacity, the skill and the efficiency of the armed forces should at least take the trouble to see for themselves how the money that the Parliament votes is being spent, and what results are being attained.
The Bills before the Senate have to be examined in relation to four qualities. I have discovered that no member of the Opposition either here on in another place has considered the problems that these Bills pose - I concede them to be first phase Bills - on the four main problems that confront Australia at the present moment in relation to defence. The first thing to be done is for all members of Parliament, irrespective of party, to discern what the problems really are that relate to the defence of Australia - to discern them clearly and competently. The second thing, I suggest, is that when the problems have been discerned they must be dissected to see what the components are. Neither here tonight from the Leader of the Opposition, nor in my examination of “ Hansard “, have I been able to discern that these two requisites have been acknowledged by the Opposition. The first two requisites arc, first, to discern what the problems really are, and secondly, to dissect the problems.
There is a third quality, and these bills begin to examine this quality. The bills, in essence, indicate that the Minister for Defence at least has discerned the problems, that he has begun to dissect the problems and that he is proceeding to treat the problems. The bills set out to provide some of the solutions to the problems that confront Australia in a modern context. If I may use the words of the Leader of the Opposition, the bills set out to examine a condition which is novel in our experience - that is, a condition antecedent to war.
As a people we have always accepted - this we have inherited from our European tradition - that war begins with a formal declaration; but the situation in which we find ourselves now, particularly in South East Asia - this was readily discerned by the Leader of the Opposition when he spoke on the statement dealing with events in the Gulf of Tonkin - is that there are conditions which amount to war although there has been no formal declaration of war. There arc conditions antecedent to war. These Bills set out to dissect the problems. This is one of the elements which the Bills seek to overcome.
There is a fourth element or quality which has not been admitted by the Opposition either here or in another place. That is an unwillingness on the part of the Opposition to accept the treatment that is required to cure these ills or solve these problems. It is true that, in the final analysis, the means by which the problems can be solved must eventually reside in the electorate, but it is not possible to resolve the problems in the electorate unless the will to solve them exists in the electorate. This will has been constantly damaged by the Australian Labour Party. That Party has made constant attacks upon the will of the people in relation to capacity to defend themselves. In this respect, I suggest, the Opposition is recreant to the duty it owes to the citizens of this country and to the obligation it has as the alternative Government.
Let us get down to the question of discerning what are the problems of the defence of Australia. That is the first thing that has to be examined. The threat to the defence of continental Australia is a far away threat at the present moment, but we must have regard to the speed with which events move in this modern world. A threat may exist in China or Formosa, and we know that one does exist in South Vietnam. Such a threat must be met in the place in which it begins to create problems which, in the strategic sense, will involve Australia and its defence. It must be met at that place, not at a place defined arbitrarily by longitude or latitude. We have to accept the obligations of maturity and of responsibility for our own defence. We must decide whether to accept the responsibility for our own defence at the place where a crisis exists, or whether to revert to the old Australian Labour Party concept, which I have defined in this place on other occasions, of “ Fortress Australia “. That concept implies that our defence ends at our own shore line and does not extend to where a threat exists. These considerations are inherent in any examination made to discover what the problems are.
The main problem is on two levels. We have the problem of the defence of Australia against a faraway threat, but a threat which is real and dangerous, and we have the problem that will arise if we accept the “ Fortress Australia “ concept and say that our defence effort extends only to the shores of Australia. It is acknowledged in the Bills, in the first clearing away of the undergrowth, that these two situations cannot be isolated; they are inter-dependent. The threat that exists, let us say, to our north raises the short term problem of the defence of Australia, but in the long term it may well affect the defence of continental Australia. These situations are not separate; they are inter-dependent.
These Bills therefore pose for the acknowledgment of the Senate the obligation to examine the problems in a modern context. The Minister has said - I support him in this, and I am sure all honorable senators on this side of the Committee support him - that the problems have to be faced on two levels. There is the short term problem - that of the supposedly far away threat, although it is really a very close threat - and there is the second or long term problem of the defence of continental Australia, which may arise, perhaps, in the next ten years. That is a brief examination to discern the two problems.
Now wc have to dissect the problems still further. As I have suggested, that is phase two of this matter when we address ourselves to these Bills. What is the weight to be given to each arm of the Services, and what is the weight to be given by the population in relation to the sustenance of the three arms of the Services? In this respect I suggest that the three Bills make it fairly clear what the future position will be. The role of the three arms is not a uniform one because the quality of the three arms differs. There is the problem of the Royal Australian Navy,, which basically has a strategic role. There is the problem of the Army which has, in the context of the far away threat, a tactical role, and there is the problem of the Air Force, which has a tactical and a strategic role.
These three roles set up a separate problem in each of the three Services. The roles cannot be unified, as I hear it suggested in another place. There cannot be a unitary service because the three forces have separate responsibilities which ultimately must be married in the joint chiefs of staff. The three arms of the Services have separate problems in relation to equipment, and they have separate manpower problems. Because they have separate roles, they have separate disciplinary problems, which I hope I shall be able to deal with in the Committee stage.
In the dissection of the problems, there is another problem. This is the one that I suggest the Australian Labour Party has never been willing to face in peacetime. Nevertheless, we have to face the problem in peacetime. We have to face the actualities of war in peacetime. To illustrate to honorable senators the problem that is involved, and bearing in mind the interjection that was made by Senator O’Byrne when I began to speak, I shall take the years from 1953 to 1960, when the danger curve started to rise. If we had at that stage begun to create defence forces suitable to deal with the situations that may exist in the next three years, we would have been involved in the problem which I am about to recount in relation to only one of the Armed Services of the Commonwealth. The problem of the Army is not only one of manpower. It involves equipping the manpower, because manpower without the means to engage in resistance to armed force is useless.
To equip a division for the requirements of the defence of Australia on a far away shore against an apparently far away threat, or for the fortress defence of Austrlia, involves large sums of money. The price tag to provide each division in a modern sense with the equipment which is required under the war establishment and the war equipment tables, so that it will bc able to carry out the role which the people demand and which the Government acknowledges it should carry out, is for £350 million. When there is gay talk about the number of divisions we should raise in Australia, we have to bear in mind that for every division we wish to raise in Australia for the Army - with no relationship to the
Royal Australian Navy and to the Royal Australian Air Force - the price is £350 million.
– Including the annual maintenance cost?
– No. That is the capital cost of a division, together with support troops and equipment. It is proper, as Senator Mattner has suggested by interjection, to refer to the annual maintenance cost. The maintenance cost of a division, not being used for the purposes of war but being ready for war, is £150 million a year. It is all very well for Senator McKenna to talk about the failure of targets in manpower. This is only part of the problem. As I suggested when I began to speak, when we dissect the problem we begin to discover all the elements of it.
In the Army alone, for the purpose of defence or during a period antecedent to war, every division that is put into the field costs £350 million. The annual maintenance cost, to have a division doing nothing except training and being available to be used when required is £150 million.
I revert to a remark made by the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Davis) in another place two days ago. He said that the Melbourne Trades Hall Council had carried a resolution requesting the Australian Labour Party in Canberra to press upon the Government the need for a reduction in the expenditure on defence in Australia at the present moment. Yet in another wing of the Party there is gay talk about the defence capacity of Australia. The Party will not face the problem of costs, not only in terms of manpower, but also in terms of the economic capacity of the country to sustain the defence effort which it so glibly talks about.
Let us deal with the subject of the disposition of these forces. Does the Australian Labour Party accept that the strategic defence of Australia requires disposition forward of the Australian shores? That is what these Bills deal with. It is fundamental to the defence of Australia that we accept forward disposition. I go further and say there is no immediate likelihood of the Australian shores being invaded in a physical sense by men within the next 10 or .15 years. I may be wrong. Let us put it at seven years. But there is no capacity existing in the potential enemies that Australia may find itself facing in the next seven years to enable them to move manpower onto the continental shores of Australia. Therefore, we must accept the fundamental strategy which involves forward disposition.
I do not accept for one moment the strategic examination of defence requirements by the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) in another place. He said that all forces should be withdrawn to a degree of longitude which begins in Siberia and ends at Darwin; that all west of that degree of longitude should be handed over to the existing forces which are menacing South East Asia at the present time; and that Australia should retire with the United States to a line between, I think he said, Kamchatka, which is in eastern Siberia, and Darwin. To suggest that the United States should be persuaded by Australia to retire east of this line and abandon all responsibilities west of the line is one of the most fantastic concepts in relation to the defence of Australia and of the free world that has ever been advanced. This is the strategy that Communist China is advancing. The honorable member for Yarra, I am informed on reasonable authority, is a likely leader of the Australian Labour Party. His suggestion fills me with horror and, I might add, fear.
Let mc get down to the problem raised by the Leader of the Opposition when he referred to the fact that the manpower targets are not being achieved. I believe it is the duty of this Government, to exhaust every possible means by which the manpower requirements of Australia are obtained from those who are willing to surrender their leisure, or, indeed, the ordinary processes of life, voluntarily to defend Australia by offering themselves on the two levels that I have mentioned, first, for the Australian Regular Army, and secondly, as follow up reinforcements that may be required in a time of war. I am referring to men in this context. Women can be conscripted later under section 60 of the principal Act, which provides for conscription after every other avenue of attracting manpower has been explored. Only when we have accepted and acknowledged the responsibility wc have for the defence of Australia should this question be re-examined.
Neither the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate nor the Leader of the Opposition in another place has proffered any reasonable suggestion on how to get the number of men required to fill the order of battle or the war establishment in the defence of Australia in a forward posture. All we have heard from the Leader of the Opposition tonight is that there has been a failure to reach the target figure, whereas the Leader of the Government in the Senate, exerting the will, the capacity and the energy which he possesses to a remarkable degree, has advanced three or four suggestions by which the manpower requirements for the defence of Australia in the forward disposition will be fulfilled. I hope that they will be fulfilled because you cannot begin to fill the Citizen Military Forces until you have filled the Australian Regular Army. It is only from the Regular Army that you will get the manpower required to instruct the C.M.F. effectively and provide the nexus by which the C.M.F. will be properly and efficiently trained to professional level in association with the Regular Army.
– Are you in favour of full lime national service training?
– I am prepared to meet that situation without any equivocation if the voluntary system fails. But is Senator O’Byrne willing to accept to do that? Not a single member of the Australian Labour Party is willing to accept the responsibilities that accrue to any mature nation in relation to its defence. I know what I am talking about.
I turn now to the last element in the problem as 1 see it, as I am sure my colleagues see it, as I am sure the Minister secs it, as I am sure the Government sees it and as I am sure a great number of people in Australia see it. I refer to the will to resist. Through the ages war, unfortunately has been examined by the mind of man. Probably the man who tried most to give a logical quality to a highly illogical proceeding was the German Clausewitz. He asked himself this fundamental question: “When is a nation defeated? “. He replied: “ When the will of a nation to resist no longer exists “. That is the problem that confronts us in Australia, Have we the will to resist? No service is done to the will of the Australian people to resist when men, for political purposes, are recreant to the principle that they swear to uphold when they come to the Parliament - the integrity of the nation - and begin to raise doubts in the minds of the people, thus diminishing their will to resist. The problem is not only one of the will to resist but also of the will to sustain resistance. The Australian electorate is being asked to show the will to resist. That should not be denigrated.
– In two wars the people have been prepared to resist only under Labour. The party that Senator Cormack supports could not get any effort from the people. They did not trust it in either the First World War or the Second World War.
– That is a puerile, adolescent interjection. I will not comment upon it other than to acknowledge that it is the interjection of an intellectual adolescent.
I hope the Minister will forgive me if I mention here a conversation that I had wilh him two or three days ago in relation to this matter. I said: “In the modern world in. which we live everyone seems to be finding solutions with the aid of computers and formulas of one kind or another. I suggest that there is a formula in this problem as it affects Australia. The long term defence problem of Australia equals the short term defence problem of Australia, plus the will to apply both of the elements that I have mentioned.”
As a first step, the Parliament is being asked to clear away some of the undergrowth of legalisms and regulations and reveal the reality of the dangers which the Prime Minister has said, perfectly truly, confront Australia. We seek to develop the Australian Regular Army and the equivalents in the other Services, with their reserves, so that they are capable of being disposed as far forward as in commensurate with our strategic needs. We seek to fill the C.M.F. and train it to the level of professional competence which I discovered at Jervis Bay in Exercise Longshot. We ask that, if this fails, the Australian Labour Party will join with Government members and acknowledge the maturity that lies in all societies that wish to exist. In the final analysis, when danger threatens the national society, all who are able and fit must be disposed as the nation requires. I commend the Bills.
.- We have just been treated to a remarkable speech. I think Senator Cormack was most annoyed that the Opposition supports the Bills. That is all I can make of his speech.
We have before us three bills relating to our Defence Forces - Navy, Army and Air Force. What is wrong with the honorable senator? Does he not want us to approve the Bills? Surely that was not in his mind. He seemed to be most disappointed that in the months ahead he would not be able to go to the people of this country and say: “There are those Labour people again. They will not raise one finger in the defence of Australia.”
He treated us to a dissertation and asked: “Why does not the Labour Party state its defence policy? “ We have been promised a defence review for quite a long time. All we hope is that the Minister will bring it down in time for us to give it mature consideration. 1 know that he has troubles in his own party - I think he will admit that himself - because there are some who want national service training reintroduced and some who do not. But it is his job, not mine, to fathom out the answer to his problems. I cannot help him because at times I have enough troubles of my own. At least let him bring down bis defence review so that the Senate will have time to give it the mature consideration it deserves. That is all we want him to do.
Then I hope my friend and colleague from Victoria will not treat the Senate to such a discourse. It was a very nice one that he gave tonight. I like the manner in which he speaks and the tone of his voice, but to my mind it was a remarkable exhibition. We support the Bills, and irrespective of what our friend may say about what the Australian Labour Party believes, we shall not let this country down any more than he will let it down. History speaks for itself. The honorable senator must not be disappointed because he will not be able to get out in the electorate in a month or so and flog us on this question. I thought the Government’s aim when it introduced these Bills was to convince honorable senators that they were good Bills. With minor exceptions, that is what has happened on this occasion We will find that when the motion for the second reading is put the Ayes will have it. If my friend does not want that, what does he want?
I understand the bills to deal with the status of the forces. I understand also that everyone who joins the Navy and the Air Force enlists for overseas service. This legislation will bring into being emergency Reserves. Like my leader, I shall be grateful if the Minister, in reply, will tell us the number to be in the Army Emergency Reserve. At the present time men who are in the Australian Regular Army may be sent anywhere. Members of the Citizen Military Forces may be sent anywhere in Australia and its Territories, I understand, in time of peace, and anywhere else in time of war. That is the position at the present time. It is proposed that the Emergency Reserves of each Service may be used when the Governor-General, by order, calls them out. From my own point of view, I would have been much better pleased if the Governor-General, when he called out those reserves, had to give reasons. I personally would like that. But in spite of that, let me assure my friend that we are still supporting the Bills.
When there is mention of the word “conscription” other than in time of war, wc will ask: “Where?” Make no bones about it. Our ears will shoot up like those of the hares that Senator Cormack knows a great deal about in the part of Victoria in which he resides. It is true that we queried the word. It is amazing to me that the word was used in the speech. The Minister said -
Under the Defence Bill, members of the military forces who volunteer for enlistment in those forces may be required to serve either within or beyond Australia.
This is the part that really answers the question that I pose -
When persons who do not volunteer are required to render service in the Citizen Military Forces - and here 1 refer, for example, to persons who are called up compulsorily in time of war - they are not required to serve overseas unless they undertake voluntarily to do so.
So I wonder what my friend Senator Cormack got upset about. In fact, I wonder why the word was even put in the speech. I suppose there is more than one definition of “ conscription “, but the common understanding of the word in this country in relation to military service is that it relates to overseas service. It is true, as Senator Cormack said, that in the last war the Labour Government allowed conscription up to a certain parallel of latitude. I am told that it was up to the Equator. I was not there, and I give great credit to all those who were. I shall not argue whether the limit was a mile one way or the other. The facts are that that is what we did. It is all right to criticise that decision now but there was no criticism in 1941 and 1942. There was a united nation, which was very good.
Senator Cormack seemed concerned because the Leader of the Opposition had said that the Government’s recruiting campaign, unfortunately, was not meeting with the success that the Government and the Opposition desired. We want to defend this country equally as much as does Senator Cormack. Therefore, we are hoping that what the Government has submitted will prove successful. Even if we have disappointed Senator Cormack because we are supporting the Defence Bill, we have two little queries on it. We believe that instead of members of the present Citizen Military Forces being able to contract out, arrangements ought to be made for them to contract in. That is not saying that we do not want them to contract in. At least, they will then be certain. There will be no misunderstanding as far as the individual is concerned. At present a member of the C.M.F. contracts in to serve within Australia and its Territories in time of peace and outside them in time of war. If we want him to serve outside Australia in an emergency, let us make sure that he understands it.
In his second reading speech, the Minister said that members of the Emergency Reserves would receive a special bounty of £100 for the first year of service rising by £25 each year to £175 for the fourth and subsequent years together with a gratuity of £55 for each call up for full time duty. I think it would be preferable if these men were given protection under the repatriation scheme and I hope the Government will look at that proposition.
I doubt if there are any payments under the State workers’ compensation acts as low as those provided in the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act. We want to see the Government get the men it requires for the Services and we think that the Government should make service in the forces as attractive as possible. These men are prepared ro risk their lives when they are called up and sent overseas but they should have inducements to cover them even during the time when they are training. 1 do not think that such provision would make great inroads into Commonwealth finances and I think that if this were done there would be far better chances of getting the required numbers.
While Australian servicemen were on service outside Australia during the Second World War, they were subject to the disciplinary provisions of the United Kingdom laws except that the death penalty did not apply to Australians. I take it that a similar provision will apply under these proposals. That would mean that our forces would be on the same footing as those who served in the Second World War in this connection.
In conclusion, I hope the Minister will give some thought to the suggestions that have been made by the Leader of the Opposition. As Senator McKenna has said, because of pressure of work this matter was not considered at an Opposition party meeting until 7 o’clock. We decided to try to get at least two amendments through, one dealing with repatriation and the other to cover contracting in and contracting out by members of the C.M.F. I wish the Bills success and hope that the outcome is satisfactory.
– I have pleasure in supporting these Bills and 1 am glad that the Opposition is also supporting the measures. Defence is an issue of great concern to the people of Australia and to our allies, and it has been to the forefront for a long time. Only recently the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) reminded us that we were living in times of great peril. Today we learned that that unhappy country of South Vietnam has again lost the ruler who has been in charge of administration for the past few months. South Vietnam is only 2,300 miles from our shores or approximately the distance between Sydney and Perth and we must realise that if South Vietnam and its neighbours should fall, we could be faced with a serious situation. That is not to mention the threat that could develop in countries even closer to us than South Vietnam.
We in Australia are in a category different from that of the United States of America and the United Kingdom. This island continent of ours has South East
Asian people virtually around it and circumstances could arise to make the inhabitants of those nations feel that a war of colour was involved. We must bc very careful to avoid such a situation.
Our first defence bulwark lies in the strength of our allies but we must remember constantly that the first responsibility of our allies is to their own. If their national existence and their people are threatened, their first obligation is to their own people and their own country. Then they can fulfil their other obligations. It is essential, therefore, that our own defences should contain sufficient forces to act as a deterrent at least for a period.
Another important point which comes to mind is that we in Australia occupy a very prosperous country. Although the prospect is remote, we must be sure that our prosperity does not lead to decay as it has done in other prosperous countries throughout history. This must not happen in Australia. There is not much point in building up a wealthy country for ten or twelve years only to lose it because we have neglected our defences. We must take out insurance against such a development and to do that we must make some sacrifices by building up our defence forces and equipping them. We are building up another bulwark of defence by our long range immigration programme. We are engaged in a race to build up our numbers. So far our immigration measures have been satisfactory in that regard, and I believe that they will continue to be successful but this takes time. We must realise that even if we could double our defence forces within a week and equip them adequately, we still could not defend Australia for any length of time. This must be kept in mind when we consider what we should have and what we ought to do in the way of defence.
It is vital that we have this deterrent force because, as I have said, it is useless building up wealth and prosperity if we are to lose the country within a comparatively short time. Therefore, we must accept the fact that in seeking to establish an adequate defence for Australia, our measures must interfere with our development and our national economy. We will be called upon to make some personal sacrifices. That position must be faced. Some suggest that at present we have overfull employment and that if we take more men out of employment it will cause dislocation and difficulties. Of course it will. In view of the importance of the objective for which we are striving, we simply must accept that situation.
Let us look at the public image of our armed forces, starting with the Navy, which is the senior Service. The Navy is fast becoming equipped with modern weapons. In spite of recent unfortunate happenings, there is nothing wrong with our Navy today. So much for the Navy. I am dealing with these points briefly tonight, because we have been told that it is hoped that before we rise we will be told about extra measures that will be adopted in the very near future. I shall pass over the next senior Service at this stage in order to deal with the Royal Australian Air Force. In my book, no airmen are superior to the members of the R.A.A.F. When we get the needed equipment, all that we shall need will be the manpower to operate that equipment. 1 come now to the Army. Like Senator Cormack, I had the experience a fortnight ago of seeing Operation Longshot, which was a combined exercise of the Army, Navy and Air Force, with the Army playing the principal role. I, too, would like to congratulate all the personnel who took part in that exercise, from the commanding general down to the ordinary soldier. It was a very good exercise indeed. It demonstrated what a logistic support force can do. I thought the conditions were made as realistic as possible in the corcumstances. They were so realistic that a mock burial was conducted. Fortunately, those concerned did not bury either Senator Cormack or myself. That shows the detail that was attended to in an effort to exercise every branch of the Services that took part. I was particularly impressed by those who were given the task of commanding some of the units. They were certainly very fine officers. I suppose that was one of the reasons why the personnel under them conducted themselves so well.
We saw the equipment that was used. 1 was most interested in the part that helicopters are playing, and will play, in modern warfare. One commanding officer told me that he believed they would play the role that the three ton truck has played in the past. That might be only a very slight exaggeration. They seem to be vulnerable in certain situations, but we must remember that they can fly at very low levels and that they normally will not be flying over enemy lines. They will fly fairly close to enemy lines, but in view of the fact that they can fly almost at tree top level they are not easy to detect. Of course, when flying where they will be subjected to small arms fire they will be vulnerable.
– Did the honorable senator fly in one?
– No, I did not, but I spoke to some who did. They arc certainly a very good machine to have. I shall not attempt to discuss the Bill in detail. Suffice it to say that I am Very glad indeed to see that provision is being made for the setting up of Emergency Reserves. Over the years I have been able to assess the value of the Australian Instructional Corps, which was of geat assistance to the Citizen Military Forces just prior to World War II. Honorable senators have heard me ask questions about the possibility of reestablishing the nucleus of an Australian Instructional Corps from men who have retired from the Australian Regular’ Army on account of age or possibly minor health defects. We should be able to attract to such a corps men who would not be prepared to re-engage with the Australian Regular Army.
I believe that we should re-establish the Citizen Military Forces. A few years ago we gave the C.M.F. a nasty kick in the teeth. No doubt mistakes were rri.de at that time. It is of no use to cry over spilt milk, but we can profit from past mistakes. Let me remind those who are not convinced of the value of the C.M.F. that many of our top ranking Army officers in World War II. paid a tribute to the work that had been done by the C.M.F. A very big majority of the field officers and staff officers of some of the A.I.F. Divisions, notably the Sixth Division, came from the C.M.F. Although a mistake was made a few years ago, we should try to encourage men who are not willing to enlist with the Australian Regular Army to join the C.M.F. It should be possible to encourage the C.M.F. to do a little more training than was done in the past. Although some might pooh pooh the idea that even a meagre amount of training would be of value, I believe that it would be of value. There should be training on perhaps two weekends each month with a camp lasting for three weeks, or preferably a month, once a year. In many industries men have three weeks annual leave and in some industries four weeks leave. Industry still seems to get by without any great dislocation. I am sure that a camp of three or four weeks duration would fit into the general scheme of things without disrupting our economy.
Although the enlistment of men from various areas tends to lead to the forming of little cliques, that does not prevent the men from mixing once they get together at parades and camps. Nevertheless, the men are happier if three or four fellows can go from the same area. I have been besieged in the past by country people who bemoaned the fact that the C.M.F. had been split up and that many centres which formerly had C.M.F. units no longer had those units. Of course, there was a reason for that. As I said earlier, I do not think we would make the same mistake again in similar circumstances.
– Would you not dissipate those forces by introducing a national service training scheme?
– I do not think so. There is room for both. The volunteer is a tower of strength. I am not one of those people who say that you cannot mix conscripts and volunteers. During World War 11 it was proved that you could mix them. They mixed very quickly and Had great esprit de corps within a few weeks of joining.
If we are to get better results than wc have obtained in the past from our recruiting campaigns we will have to do one or two things. I do not think that we can go any further on the road to increasing pay or benefits for our servicemen. Although service conditions contained many shortcomings, they have been rectified. I am supported in this view by the views of men in the Australian Regular Army. They feel that the conditions available for men upon entering the Services are quite reasonable. It is not possible to buy men for the Services. It is necessary for us to take a leaf out of the book of the United States, where a propaganda campaign is continually waged. Great emphasis is placed on the benefits which accrue to the nation through its Armed Services. Servicemen are given encouragement and status. The same results could be obtained here. We have made no efforts in this direction. We place advertisements in a few newspapers from time to time, pointing out the value of a Service career, and so on, but I think something more than that is needed. We should launch a publicity drive, a propaganda campaign - call it what you will - starting with the Prime Minister and working downwards. I think such a move would have some effect in appealing to the patriotism of our people. We have our different political views and our different ideas about religion, but fundamentally, at heart, when the need arises we are united. It is this quality that has made the British great and I trust will always make them great. It lies dormant until times of emergency. Military training is not only of benefit to the nation but is of great value to the individuals who take part in it. Some people would not give twopence for our young folk of today, but they are all right underneath. Training such as I have referred to would do them the world of good.
The Services have had particular difficulty in retaining their technical personnel. Once they are fully trained, many do not re-enlist but are lost because they can command higher wages outside the Services. Some of the technical personnel of our Armed Forces are very highly trained and, of course, command a very high premium for their services. This problem is not peculiar to our defence forces, but it is one of the factors acting against the reenlistment of techncial personnel. I do not know that I can extend any benefit to the Senate by speaking further in this debate, as we wish to pass the Bill through this chamber tonight. I welcome these defence Bills in the knowledge, which I hope I share with all members of the Senate, that they contribute greatly towards the defence of this country.
– in reply - I express my appreciation of the manner in which this Bill has been received by the Senate. It is not, of course, a unique experience to have a Bill unopposed by the Labour Party. But if I may be permitted to make a personal observation, it is a unique experience for me to introduce a Bill into the Senate which has, as I understand it, the active and positive support of my friend, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly). 1 am reminded of the saying of a philosopher, or a columnist - I am not sure which - to the effect that if you live long enough, anything can happen to you. I am delighted that on this occasion Senator Kennelly has expressed his support of the measure.
It cannot be claimed for the Bill that it does anything dramatic towards increasing the numerical availability of the Armed Forces, but I think it can be claimed that it breaks new ground insofar as it does two things which have not been done before in our history. First, it creates an Emergency Reserve for the Australian Regular Army, which itself has not been established for a great number of years. The early history of Australia and the history of the two World Wars has indicated that Australia has depended for her defence, in the main, on voluntary enlistments. In recent years we have had a Regular Army, a new concept in our democracy. The present measure makes possible the creation of a reserve for the Regular Army. Secondly, it introduces to our defence legislation, a new provision to meet the changing circumstances of our time, and our geographical circumstances. It makes it possible for the Citizen Military Forces to be called up in times short of war. Although these provisions, I hope, will find their way through this Parliament by way of a Bill which is not very dramatic, they will be seen in retrospect to have created something of a landmark in the development of Australian military history and defence.
The new circumstances which make it necessary to declare a time of defence emergency are well known to all of us. We live so differently today from our circumstances in other years. Overnight a situation can develop in one of the countries not too distantly removed from us, that can create almost an immediate demand for action to be taken in respect of our defence. The legislation before us, as I have said, permits this action to be taken.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) reminded me that I did not mention the numbers which might be expected to join the Naval Emergency Reserve and the Air Force Emergency Reserve. It is expected that about 2,000 volunteers will join the Naval Emergency Reserve, and that about 1,000 or 1,200 volunteers will join the Air Force
Emergency Reserve. Only two points have been raised which require any comments by me. The Leader of the Opposition indicated that it is the intention of the Opposition - if I did not misunderstand the honorable senator - to consider moving certain amendments in another place. The Opposition considers that an amendment is necessary in respect of repatriation benefits. AH I can say to the Leader of the Opposition in this respect is that members called up either in the Emergency Reserve or in the Citizen Military Forces and who serve in operational areas will receive precisely the same treatment as other members of the Forces. They will be entitled to full repatriation benefits as are members of the Australian Regular Army.
– Outside Australia?
– Yes. In declared operational areas they will be eligible for repatriation benefits.
– Would not Australia also be an operational area in an emergency?
– Operational areas are declared from time to time as the military situation demands. My friend who interjects will recall, I am sure, that there were parts of Australia and of Australian Territories which were declared operational during the war. The declaration of an operational area depends entirely upon the operational circumstances of the time. But I make the point that when these men serve in operational areas they will automatically have available to them repatriation benefits.
The next matter which was raised was in respect of the provision in the bill that members of the Citizen Military Forces will be given an opportunity within 30 days of the passage of this measure of opting out if they do desire because they do not wish to proceed with their obligations, taken beforehand incidentally, to serve overseas. I make the position quite plain that this provision which gives them the opportunity to contract out will be brought to the individual notice of every serving member of the C.M.F. I make the further point that even if a member of the C.M.F. does not exercise that option within 30 days then, in times of peace, he will have the opportunity of applying for a discharge, such application being treated on its merits. So, I do not think that, looking at the matter realistically, there is any possible danger of a member of the C.M.F. inadvertently finding himself committed to something with which he was not completely familiar.
But there is another and a more important reason why I believe our arrangement is a better arrangement than the one that is contemplated by the Leader of the Opposition. It is this: I believe that what we propose to do is completely in line and in harmony with the feelings of the members of the C.M.F. themselves. I remind the Senate that those members have already undertaken to serve overseas. They have done that. But the altered conditions which extend that undertaking previously given from a period limited to time of war to now encompass a period which includes a time of defence emergency alters their conditions. We are, therefore, giving them this opportunity. I am sure, however, that the most cursory inquiry as to the feelings of the vast majority of the members of the C.M.F. will show that they will welcome this further opportunity to indicate their willingness to serve.
J i: has been my experience as Minister for Defence - and I am gratified to know this, and I make it known - that the Returned Servicemen’s League has constantly, over a long period of years, asked that the role of the Citizen Military Forces should be made clearer, and that this particular provision introduced in this bill <phen announced last June was greeted by the R.S.L. with enthusiasm. I do not think there is any more that I need say at this time. I understand that, in Committee, we will have further discussions.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses I to 8 - by leave - together, and agreed to.
Clause 9 (Promotion from the ranks).
– This clause provides for the repeal of section 11a of the principal Act. The section that is to be repealed imposes an obligation that appointments to commissioned and noncommissioned ranks should be made from the ranks of the Citizen Military Forces. I put it to the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge): Is there any substitute for the section that has been repealed, or has that principle been abandoned? I recognise we have come a long way from the old days when people bought commissions and it was probably to guard against this possibility that section 11a was inserted in the principal Act. Could the Minister comment on that position?
– The principle of making appointments from the ranks to commissioned and noncommissioned ranks in the C.M.F. has not been abandoned with the repeal of section IIA of the principal Act. The regulations to be made under the new Act will permit the appointment from the ranks to commissions of persons who qualify at courses or examinations but, in addition, will permit the direct appointment to commissioned ranks of persons with special technical or professional qualifications.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 10 (Provisional appointments).
– Mr. Chairman, this clause repeals sections 14 and 15 of the principal Act. Those sections provide for the making of provisional appointments to commissioned ranks. In the light of their repeal I ask the Minister: Is there any provision in the Bill to provide for the continuation of provisional appointments, or are they to be entirely abandoned?
– The repeal of sections 14 and 15 does not mean that the provision for making provisional appointments is abandoned. Paragraphs (b) and (c) of new clause 10 (2.) provide that regulations can prescribe the qualifications and requirements for appointments and promotions of a specific kind. New regulations will include proper provisions on the lines of the repeated sections regarding provisional appointments.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 1 1 agreed to.
Clause 12 (Seniority).
– Clause 12 repeals sections 19 and 20 of the Act and inserts a new provision. The repealed sections deal with the seniority of officers in the active military forces and provide that their seniority should be determined upon the basis of the dates of their respective appointments. Under proposed new section 19, which is sought to be inserted by clause 12, seniority will be determined by regulation. Can the Minister say whether the principle of seniority based upon the date of appointment will be preserved in the regulations that are contemplated?
– Once again, let me say that there is no intention of discarding the principle that seniority in the active military forces will normally be regulated by the date of appointment to the forces. The regulations will, however, allow an officer of the active Citizen Military Forces who is transferred to the Reserve of Officers to retain his former seniority if reappointed in the active Citizen Military Forces after such a Reserve has been formed.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 13 (Repeal of Sections 21, 21a, 21b and 22).
– The clause repeals four sections. They all deal, not with the appointment, but with the promotion of officers, and provide that promotion will take place as a result of examinations. Is this principle now abandoned and is the situation now covered by proposed new section 10 and the series of sections that are associated with it in clause 8 of the Bill?
– Section 10 will now be the relevant section. Examinations have never been prescribed under sections 21, 21a, 21b and 22 of the Act because it has not been practicable to do so. It has been possible to prescribe academic, professional, military and other qualifications for promotion in the military forces. The regulations will make it a requirement for promotion that officers either qualify at a course or pass a written examination.
– I thank the Minister for the explanation. It would be delightful for the candidates if the examinations were set out in the Act. I think they would all be successful. When you come to think of it, that would be a delightful procedure. It would save the candidates a great deal of nervous tension.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 14 agreed to.
Clause 15 (Defence Force).
.- As I cast my eye over this clause ] come to sub-section (3) of proposed new section 32, which I will read out merely for the purpose of trying to clear my own mind on what is involved. Sub-section (3) reads -
The Regular Army Supplement consists of officers appointed to, and of soldiers enlisted in, that force and of officers transferred to that force from any other part of the Permanent Military Forces or from the Citizen Military Forces.
I assume from that that the Military Board may move officers from the Citizen Military Forces to the Regular Army Supplement. Sub-section (4.) provides -
The Regular Army Emergency Reserve consists of solidiers enlisted in that force and of such officers as are appointed to that force or transferred to that force from any other part of the Permanent Military Forces or from the Citizen Military Forces.
I would be grateful if the Minister would explain to me the meaning of those proposed sub-sections, in order that 1 may refer, when we come to Clause 16. to subsequent provisions on which 1 shall require some explanation.
– I do not follow the point.
– I just want to know the meaning of the two sub-sections.
– Does the honorable senator wish information about the Regular Army Supplement?
– I have a note describing the Supplement. I referred to this matter in my second reading speech. It consists of men who are Class 2 medical men and who are doing jobs of a type which might be clerical or technical, or jobs which it is difficult to have done by men who are not in the Army.
– I made some reference to the Regular Army Supplement in the course of what I had to say during the second reading stage of the debate. 1 would be grateful if the Minister, for the information of the Committee, would indicate generally what are the functions of the Regular Army Supplement and how it is composed. My question is similar to that asked by Senator Cormack. I dealt with the matter rather extemporaneously. I would appreciate it if the Minister could give mc some more detail.
– 1 can now give the Committee more details than I was able to give to Senator Cormack. The Regular Army Supplement is the new title to be given to the existing Regular Army Special Reserve, and is one of the four forces of the permanent military forces, lt comprises the following: (1) The RASR (A), which consists of officers and soldiers who, because of age or medical classification, are ineligible for service in the Australian Regular Army. The medical classification is class 2. (2) The RASR (B), which consists of officers appointed and soldiers enlisted for special tasks, the duration of which is not known, namely, doctors and technical officers. The medical classification is class 2. (3) The RASR (O), which consists of other ranks enlisting for three years only. Age and medical fitness requirements are the same as for the Australian Regular Army, that is, medical classification class 1 and a maximum age for enlistment of 43 years. This part makes provision for those who do not wish lo sign for a six years? engagement in the Australian Regular Army.
– Will the Minister clarify what the four Reserves will be?
– I should like to ask the Minister whether I was correct when 1 stated what I believed to be right, namely, that those who are at present in the Regular Army Special Reserve will in future become members of the Supplement?
– That is right.
– Could the Minister indicate whether I am correct in my belief that in what is now the Regular Army Special Reserve, but what later will become the Regular Army Supplement, there arc some 4,000 to 5,000 people? I understand that of those, about half would represent men enlisted for full time service with the operational army - men enlisted for the short term three-year period who are quite physically fit.
– I am sorry, 1 cannot give the honorable senator the precise number. I am told it is about 4,000. He was correct in stating that about half are enlisted full time in the R.A.S.R.(O). I think that the honorable senator answered the query raised by Senator O’Byrne. The special reserve is to be changed to the supplement. That is provided for in the proposed new section 32 ( I .), which reads -
The Permanent Military Forces consist of four forces . . .
I would like to correct some information that I gave concerning the strength of the supplement. The R.A.S.R.(A) consists of 266 men, the R.A.S.R.(B) consists of 127 men, all officers, and the R.A.S.R.(O) consists of 1,685 men, which makes a total of about 2,000 men, not 4,000.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 16 (Organisation of Military Forces).
– 1 wish to ask the Minister a question in relation to the proposed new section 35. The side note refers to “ Special force in time of war”. 1 shall ask the Minister the question and perhaps he wi:l permit me to reserve my comment on it until after he has answered it. The proposed new section 35 reads -
In time of war, the Governor-General may authorise the raising of a military force for service in that time of war or for a specified period, and a force so raised is part of the Permanent Military Forces.
That takes my eyes up to the proposed new section 31 which reads -
The Military Forces of the Commonwealth consist of two parts, namely, the Permanent Military Forces and the Citizen Military Forces.
It seems to me that proposed new section 31 is qualified by proposed new section 35, and that in time of war there shall be only the Permanent Military Forces. The Citizen Military Forces will cease to exist. That seems to me to be the implication.
– I am also interested in the proposed new section 35. It was this proposed new section that alerted my mind, on the first reading of it, to the possibility of conscription. I, too, thought that the proposed new section was outside the ambit of other proposed new sections. It was the Minister’s comment in his second reading speech that made my mind turn to conscription. I rather satisfied myself that it is not implicit in that proposed new section. I took it to be some kind of expeditionary force. I asked the Minister whether he would care to comment on it, and he indicated that he might say something on the point at the Committee stage.
– I shall deal first with the point raised by Senator Cormack. The proposed new section 35, to which he referred, is in substitution for the present section 31 (2) (b). If the honorable senator refers to the Act he will see that this proposed new section is a substitution and it is referred to as a force similar to the Australian Imperial Forces.
– I assumed, of course, that the Minister would reply that. “ in a time of war “ referred to the raising of military forces equivalent to the Citizen Military Forces. The proposed new section 35 reads -
In time of war, the Governor-General may authorise the raising of a military force for service in that time of war or for a specified period, and a force so raised is part of the Permanent Military Forces.
I have read this deliberately becauseI desire to insert words so that the section will read as follows -
In time of war, the Governor-General may authorise the raising of a military force for service in that time of war or for a specified period, in the Territories of the Commonwealth of Australia, and a force so raised is part of the Permanent Military Forces.
In other words, it seems to me to indicate that in these circumstances the GovernorGeneral may authorise the raising of forces that may be taken from the Citizen Military Forces, in this context, for example, and transferred holus-bolus to provide reinforcements for the Permanent Military
Forces. In this case it seems to me to indicate the end of the entity of the Citizen Military Forces, which I conceive to be a paramount part of the defence force of the Commonwealth.
– This proposed new section provides in time of war for a force which is in addition to the Permanent Military Forces. It is referred to in section 32a of the principal Act.
– May I refer to the present position of the law? I think this is the point in which Senator Cormack is interested. The present section 3 1 reads - (J.) The Permanent Military Forces shall consist of Active Forces and Reserve Forces. (2.) The Active Permanent Military Forces shall consist of officers appointed to, and of soldiers who are bound to continuous military service during the continuance of their engagement in -
And this is the provision that goes to the point raised by the honorable senator -
In actual fact, although not in expressly the same order of words, it is that particular section that is to be taken out and inserted separately as the proposed new section 35.
Might I, whilst I am on my feet, say that I received a note from the officers of the Minister’s Department in answer to a question which I posed. I should be grateful if the Minister would confirm it. 1 do not know whether he has a copy of it. If he has not, I should like to read it and ask him to confirm it.
– My note regarding conscription is that the proposed new section 35 in clause 16 of the Bill does not mean the raising of a conscript expenditionary force liable for overesas service. The section must be read in conjunction with the proposed new section 34 and with the proposed new section 50c (2). The proposed new section 34 provides that all military forces shall be volunteer forces except those called up in time of war compulsorily under section 60, part IV, and national service trainees. The proposed new section 50c (2) states that those called up compulsorily under part IV, as well as national service trainees, shall not be required to serve overseas beyond the territorial limits of Australia, unless they volunteer so to serve. The proposed new section 35 envisages a force of the nature of the A.T.F. which could become part of the military forces, and as it does not come within the exceptions mentioned, it is a volunteer force. The proposed new section merely re-enacts the position of the present section 31 (2) (b). In other words, the position is unaltered.
.- There is a question of principle involved in this. I am recalling my experiences, in common with the experiences of other exservicemen. It is proper, of course, that the military forces shall be organised as prescribed, but where no provision or insufficient provision is made, proposed new section 35, which we are discussing at the moment, will apply.
What happens in a situation of this nature?I do not accept, in the broad, the principle that obtained from 1939 to 1945. During that time the A.I.F., in essence, was the permanent military force and the C.M.F. was milked continuously to provide reinforcements for the permanent military force. Having milked the C.M.F. continuously for this purpose we were confronted, in a subsequent phase of the war, with the situation of having to employ within territorial limits the C.M.F., which had been reduced in stature, quality and competence because it had been milked for three years. Does clause 16 postulate that this situation is likely- to occur in the circumstances that I have outlined?
.- The clause does not postulate that. It provides for the raising of a special force in time of war, in addition to the permanent forces. In that respect it preserves the legislative provision that existed during the last war. I appreciate the point beyond that to which the honorable senator comes: What happens administratively to the A.I.F.? I think that is the point he was making.
– What happens administratively is not provided for or covered by this clause.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 17 to 22 - by leave - taken together and agreed to.
Clause 23 - Service of the Permanent Military Forces.
– I refer to proposed new sections 46 and 47. Will the Minister explain why it is left to the Governor-General to call up the Regular Army Emergency Reserve, under proposed new section 46, and to the Minister to call up the Regular Army Reserve, under proposed new section 47? I believe I know the answer, but I should like to have it from the Minister’s lips.
– The Regular Army Emergency Reserve is confined to a relatively small number of men who have volunteered to serve in the Regular Forces at a time when there is an operational need for the various forces to be provided with key men for the purpose of an immediate operation. In relation to the calling up of the citizen forces, it is provided that in time of emergency the citizen forces, or part of them, may be called up by a proclamation which states the reasons for the call up, but only after those reasons have been communicated to the Parliament. In other words, the call up of the Emergency Reserve is what might be described as an administrative act to call up those who have volunteered and are readily available for that immediate purpose. The other relates not only to a more serious state in our international relations but involves also a far greater number of men. At that point, the call up must be by the Parliament, by proclamation.
– The same would apply to the Regular Army Reserve as to the citizen forces?
Clause agreed to.
– Mr. Chairman, I wish to refer to proposed new section 50d.
– That is in clause 23. We have already dealt with that.
– I can understand the honorable senator’s difficulty, because clause 23 covers pages 10 to 13 of the Bill. He could meet his point if he sought a recommittal of clause 23 to enable it to be discussed again.
– Does the honorable senator ask for leave for the clause to be recommitted?
– Leave is granted.
Clause 23 (recommittal).
.- I apologise to the Committee. Proposed new section 50d, which clause 23 seeks to insert, provides -
Where any part of the Citizen Military Forces is employed on continuous full time military service, it shall, forthwith, after it ceases to be so employed, be returned to the locality of the Command or Military District to which it belongs.
I assume that the “ Command or Military District to which it belongs “ is the Command or Military District in which the unit was raised, if that is the meaning, I suggest the proposed new section should read - . . bc returned to the locality of the Command or Military District in which it was raised.
The normal practice in these matters is for the General Staff or the Military Board to move units hither, thither and yon. My suggestion, if adopted, would mean that a member of the C.M.F. would return to the area in which he lives, because that would be where his unit was raised.
– 1 do not think there is any difference in substance. I notice that the proposed new section is a paraphrase of the old section, which has been in existence since 1903 and in which the phrase “ to which it belongs “ has been used. I do not know whether there is any real objection to the retention of the words. All I can say is that as the honorable senator has raised the point, and as the legislation is now undergoing examination, as I think he is aware, I will discuss his proposal with the draftsman.
.- I accept the Minister’s statement. Oddly enough, this raises another problem. Nearly every defence force - at any rate those of the United Kingdom, I think Canada, and certainly the United States of America - allows a conscriptee or a voluntarily enlisted person-
Consideration interrupted. ;
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, 1 formally put the question -
That the Chairman do now leave the Chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the negative.
– It allows individuals to opt for their discharge in the theatre of operations at the conclusion of peace or of an armistice. This has happened quite often. This provision, which has never applied in the past, takes away a right which is inherent in an individual. If he sees an opportunity to take up a life, say, in New Guinea, and does not want to be returned to Perth, he can opt to be discharged in that area. Instead, it seems to me that he will have to be returned to Perth and find his way back laboriously to take up a new life in the area that he has selected. I shall be grateful if the Minister will comment on this.
– I do so from my own recollection, which I am sure corresponds with that of the honorable senator. There was provision in the administration of discharges for soldiers to take discharges away from their point of enlistment or the point at which their units were raised. This was dealt with administratively, and I have no doubt that it will continue to be administered in that way in the future.
Clause agreed to.
Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken together and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment;, report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 15th October (vide page 1030) on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
.- I rise only to deal with a matter in this Bill which I think will concern all honorable senators. I know from a chance remark that was made by Senator Kennelly in reply to me earlier this evening that he has noted this particular aspect. Clause 4, the definitions clause, reads - the Naval Discipline Act ‘ means the Imperial Act called the Naval Discipline Act, 1957, as in force on the date of commencement of the Naval Defence Act 1964;
Clause 13 reads -
Sections thirty-four to thirty-seven (inclusive) of the Principal Act are repealed and the following section is inserted in their stead: - “ 34. Subject to this Act -
This Naval Discipline Act was not only most exhaustively examined by two committees over a period of ten years, but also it was exhaustively examined, as shown by my own examination of the debates in the Committee stage, by the House of Commons, which went over it with a fine tooth comb. One of the things that will worry anyone who has taken the care to look up the Naval Discipline Act of 1957 is a section which relates to mutiny of two persons in conjunction with the enemy, for which the death penalty is prescribed. It is the only offence under this Act for which the penalty is death. This matter, as honorable senators will recollect, was examined pretty carefully in the House of Commons. It was the unanimous opinion of the House of Commons that for this particular offence the penalty of death should be retained. I raise this matter only because the people of Australia are sensitive about the imposition of the death penalty. Clause 13 concludes with these words -
It seems to me that, if it is required, the provisions of the Naval Discipline Act of the United Kingdom could be modified for our purposes by regulation. I accept that. Although it is part of our folk lore, if I may say so, that the Naval Discipline Act is a pretty horrendous sort of Act, the facts are, as adduced in the House of Commons debate, that the death penalty had been exacted in the Royal Navy only once in the 100 years prior to 1857, when the new Naval Discipline Act was passed by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
This leads me to the other question in relation to the Queen’s Regulations and Admiralty Instructions. I do not intend to make a second reading speech, but I feel that the Committee has to be informed on this. We have proposed a holus-bolus incorporation in this Act of the Naval Discipline Act of the United Kingdom and the Queen’s Regulations and Admiralty Instructions up to what might be described as the cut-off point, which is the introduction of this Bill. In these circumstances we have to turn to our own Naval Regulations and Statutory Rules to try to find our way through this jungle. I can only describe it as a jungle. I am sure the wisest petty officer sitting in the petty officers’ mess or the most encrusted seaman sunning himself on the forecastle of a naval ship could not find his way through these regulations and the Naval Discipline Act with all the appurtenances that have accrued by this transfer of the old system of administration into the Royal Australian Navy.
This leads me to another observation. Compatibility has existed in the past between, the Royal Navy and the Navies of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and, once, South Africa. This compatibility was necessary because of the homogenity required in terms of war in the ships of those navies sailing and operating under one command. If this has to bc changed by a further development in the national stature of Australia, in the disposal of its defence forces and particularly its naval forces, the time is appropriate when pressure should be exerted by the Minister for Defence to see that the whole of this jungle is made clear. At present there is confusion in the incorporation of ‘ the Naval Discipline Act, the Queen’s Regulations and Admiralty Instructions in our own regulations. The contents should be embodied first in an appropriate statute that fits the ethos of the Australian people. Secondly, in doing this we should bear in mind the responsibilities that accrue - as I understand perfectly - and are related to the service of Australian ships and personnel with allied fleets, and ships of other nations. This is already covered by a subsequent regulation. But the whole business should be examined and produced, in terms that relate to the Australian ethos, in a clear and coherent statute of rules and regulations. 1 have the honour to represent honorable senators on the Regulations and Ordinances Committee and I can only say -that when it deals with naval regulations and ordinances, they are beyond my comprehension. I do not know whether this is due to lack of time and resources or to a shortage of parliamentary draftsmen but I should like to have the comment of the Minister on this matter. Without being too exhaustive I should like to say that if it ever comes to a bill for an act to bring down an Australian naval discipline act. 1 hope the legislation will retain the old prefix to the Naval Discipline Act of the United Kingdom which goes back 300 years. Senator Wright will be interested to know that it first had a formal preamble approved by nine commissioners appointed by the House of Commons including the regicides Whitelocke, Bradshaw, Walton and Sidney. They subsequently suffered the pangs of death when the Restoration took place. The Articles of War which first appeared in 1652 carry a preamble which 1 should like to see maintained as it embodies the tradition that has existed in Great Britain for centuries, lt is a preamble that has already been incorporated in the Naval Discipline Act 1957 of the United Kingdom. The original preamble was first devised by Blake in 1652 and according to legend was drafted by Milton -
This was incorporated in the Naval Discipline Act of the United Kingdom of 1957 and although it was changed in part it reads -
Whereas it is expedient to amend the Laws relating to the Government of Her Majesty’s Navy whereon tinder the good Providence of God the Health, the Safety and the Strength of the Kingdom so much depend. . . .
.- I agree with Senator Cormack that while we are reviewing and amending some of. the sections of the Naval Defence Act, wc should maintain some of the old traditions in our own regulations, subject to modifications and adaptations. I believe, however, that we in this country might reasonably apply ourselves to having our own separate set of regulations and ordinances relating to all services. I have always felt that the older traditions of England were such that, having been handed down through the years, in the end result they imposed a discipline that was very severe. I refer in particular to the term “ L.M.F. “ Which occurs in the various Queen’s Rules and Regulations and other ordinances. In these days of modern warfare, the psychological strain and other factors can bring about a state of mind in an officer or other ranks which might attract a charge of lack of moral fibre. I think these provisions should be brought into line wilh the Australian approach to this matter.
– In the Naval Discipline Act there is no reference to lack of moral fibre.
– But there is in tha Air Force Act and these provisions should be reviewed. A complete set of our own rules and regulations pertaining to our own Services should be drafted incorporating all the best of the old traditions but suitable to our own Australian forces. Over a number of years I have thought of men who were stationed in some of the service areas in England during the Second World War. These men had been in battle and had been decorated but they had been stripped of their rank. All they had were their wings which could not be taken from them. They had gone through a severe nervous breakdown which had been classified as lack of moral fibre. When rules can be as severe as those in the United Kingdom, they need close consideration. Perhaps they were found to be necessary in the days of the old press gang to keep the boys in line. The lash and fear of death were the punishments that kept them in order. But we should treat our men on higher levels than that and while basing our rules and regulations on those of the United Kingdom, we should review them before incorporating them in our own rules.
– I wish to refer to matters that have been raised by Senator Cormack. In my view, a definition such as this should not appear in the Bill for the purpose for which it is included. It is not consistent with the dignity of an independent nation to have such a definition the effect of which is that, in order to define the law of this country on naval discipline, one has to refer to an Act of another country and thereafter to regulations and instructions. Australia is left to modify by regulation the operation of the law of another country. That situation is appropriate to a Crown colony but not to a nation like Australia which for a long time has declared itself publicly to be, and has publicly been regarded by the United Kingdom as being, equal in status with and in no way subordinate to the United Kingdom or any other member of the British Commonwealth. Therefore, such a clause should not exist in the Bill.
– In order to satisfy your conscience, Mr. Chairman, I shall relate my remarks to clause 13. In doing so, I take up Senator
O’Byrne’s reference to the lash. If the honorable senator cared to read the Naval Discipline Act of the United Kingdom, he would find that it was marked by great humanity and that it bore no relation to what might be described as the bad old days. It is proper that I should place on record the fact that the First Lord of the Admiralty, when introducing the legislation in the House of Lords, said that in the Navy - that is, the Royal Navy - a distinction is not generally drawn between active service and peace service. He said that safety of the ship involves the necessity that the captain should continue to act as magistrate of the community as well as guardian of the safety of the crew. In drafting regulations under the Naval Discipline Act it must be borne in mind quite clearly that the captain of a ship is not only the captain, as in time of war, but is also the magistrate of a community. In the Navy there is no distinction between war and peace.
– Senator Cormack raised two or three very interesting points. He mentioned references in the Naval Defence Act to the Queen’s Regulations and Admiralty Instructions and pointed to the deficiencies. Senator Murphy raised the matter too. Those deficiences are recognised. Indeed, in part - one might more correctly say in small part - the Bill corrects one of the deficiencies. The principal Act provides that the imperial legislation for the time being in force shall be taken up. This could have, and I understand that at times it has, led to a situation where the British legislation referred to has been amended and we have not known about it. The result has been that the British legislation and the Australian legislation have been inconsistent.
The honorable senator also referred to the impossibility of even the most seasoned seaman being able to find his way through the Queen’s Regulations and Admiralty Instructions. The fact has been recognised. Ever so gently I tell the honorable senator that I do not think the Navy regulations and orders are any less jungle-like than are the relative Army orders. But the Australian Navy has got together in one volume all the English orders and Queen’s Regulations and has indexed them in such a way as to afford some relief. Of course, that does not get to the root of the problem, to which Senator Murphy referred. I indicated earlier that we have the whole of the defence legislation very actively under review and it is hoped that we will be able to introduce legislation that will avoid the need to refer to British legislation or British regulations.
Senator Cormack referred to the penalty of death for mutiny. Section 98 of the Defence Act provides -
No member of the Defence Forces shall be sentenced to death by any court-martial except for mutiny, desertion to the enemy, or traitorously delivering up to the enemy any garrison, fortress, post, guard, or ship, vessel, or boat, or aircraft, or traitorous correspondence with the enemy; and no sentence of death passed by the court-martial shall be carried into effect until confirmed by the Governor-General.
The honorable senator will observe that mutiny is covered by the section.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 1 5th October (vide page 1030), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Australian Congress for International Co-operation and Disarmament.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– On 17th September I spoke on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate. I stated that the so called peace conference that is to be held in Sydney from the 25th to 30th October was Communist inspired and that it would result in Communist propaganda. I appealed to all decent Australians to boycott the confer ence. Obviously my fears were shared by other very responsible people. I have in my hand a document which has been signed by 53 responsible Australian Labour Party trade union officials. For the benefit of honorable senators who have not seen the document, I intend to quote from it. It is headed: “ Statement by New South Wales A.L.P. Trade Union Officials on the Communist Party’s Current Peace Conference “. It is dated 16th October 1964 and states -
From October 25-30 a National Congress for International Co-operation and Disarmament will be held in Sydney.
This is the fifth such “Peace” Congress to be held in Australia since 1950.
The past four National “ Peace “ gatherings and many of the organisations associated with them have been exposed to the public as merely partisan pro-Communist outfits. This was especially so for the last national “ Peace “ gathering - the A.N.Z. Congress held in Melbourne during November 1959.
As a large number of those associated with the organising of this coming “ Peace “ Congress have, in the past, been actively associated with these exposed partisan “ Peace “ groups and “ Peace “ conferences, we believe that there is little possibility of the October Congress being any different from its predecessors, especially the thoroughly discredited Melbourne A.N.Z. Congress.
As members of the N.S.W. Branch of the Australian Labour Party and full-time officials of the Trade Union Movement we, the undersigned, support all genuine peace organisations. Our sentiments are based on the aspirations of the majority of working men and women, aspirations which are for peace and against thehorror of war.
Accordingly, we call upon all Australians to work for a genuine peace, but be on their guard against activities of bogus Communist-inspired “ Peace “ groups whose ultimate aim is not to advance the cause of world peace but to further the aims of International Communism and split the Labour Movement.
There are 53 names set out underneath the statement and against each is quoted the branch of the Australian Labour Party which is represented and the position occupied by the signatory. I ask leave to have the document incorporated in “ Hansard “.
– Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted.
– If the Senate wishes to wait, I will read the names and thus have them included in “ Hansard “.
The first one is D. Ahearn, National President of the Federated Ironworkers Association.
– I rise to a point of order. Is it possible that the document may be tabled so that the tedium of listening to the recital of the list of names may thus be avoided?
– A motion to that effect can be moved only at the end of the honorable senator’s speech.
– I intend to see that the names appear in the “ Hansard “ report. I shall read them. They are -
Association. (Bradfield A.L.P.)
Finnegan, Organiser, Newcastle Branch, Federated Ironworkers Association. (Lambton A.L.P.)
Federated Ironworkers Association (Manly A.L.P.)
The men whose names I have read out have at least remained true to the 1951 ideals of the Australian Labour Party, wherein it was held that it was an offence’ warranting expulsion from the party if a member took part in these peace conferences. How different the situation is today, when ten or twelve Labour Party Federal members and senators have been sponsors of this Communist-front organisation.
– No doubt the persons whose names Senator Branson has read out occupy the positions he has stated. They are entitled to their opinions, but if one were to read out the names and occupations of members of the Australian Labour Party, and the trade union movement who were associated with the peace conference we would be here all night. A great number of them were associated with it and they also are entitled to their opinions.
Senator Branson read out over 50 names of persons, but there are over 30,000 members of the Australian Labour Party in New South Wales and several million trade unionists in Australia. The Australian Labour Party has not in any way opposed the peace congress. I do not know what has been done by other branches of the A.L.P. but I know that the New South Wales branch has seen fit to permit its members to attend the congress on the terms that when they are putting forward proposals at the congress they should adhere to the policy of the A.L.P. This is quite natural. The Australian Council of Trade Unions has expressed the view, through its Executive, that the peace congress is a sincere and bona fide organisation. Many members of churches have sponsored the congress. Many respected business and professional persons in the community also have acted as sponsors. What are we to think when a member of the Government parties stands up in this Senate and says that the Australian Labour Party should boycott this Congress and. in effect, that any member of our party who attends such a congress ought to be expelled from our party? Does he suggest that persons who have written to the newspapers and have said that they are members of the Liberal Party-
– I said that, in 1951, a member of the Labour Party would have been expelled.
– Do not avoid the point. Is the honorable senator saying that people who are members of the Liberal Party and who are attending the Congress ought to be expelled from the Liberal Party? Here is the situation: I asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Paltridge) several weeks ago a question, which I have not with me at the moment, but which was to this effect: Did the Government object to citizens who were members of various political parties, including the Australian Labour Party, the Communist Party, and, from what I saw in the newspapers, members of the Liberal Party, as well as citizens of various religious and other persuasions, meeting in a perfectly lawful manner to discuss openly questions of peace and disarmament? His reply was to the effect: No, there was no objection. What the Government was wanting to do was to point out certain matters in relation to what the Leader of the Government in the Senate said was the inspiration for the Congress. But his answer as to whether the Government itself objected to such persons attending this Congress was, as I recall it: “ No “.
– I said it was a Communist front show.
– Yet Senator Branson stands up here and talks about people boycotting it and suggesting that they should bc expelled from a political party. While it is important to remember in times like these that there is a tendency for totalitarianism to manifest itself all over the world, the peoples of the world have maintained their freedom by their willingness to have free discussion even on matters which are apparently disliked by some of them, lt was a great thinker who said: “ Anything that cannot stand discussion, let it crack “. Other great thinkers have put forward the view that if truth and error are allowed to combat freely, then the truth will prevail. One cannot take in a free society - that is, if you are going to maintain your free society - the view that because something is inspired by somebody you do hot like, then necessarily it must be bad. Suppose, at the worst, that this Congress did have Communist inspiration. What does that mean? Does it mean that one has to take the view that anything which is Communist inspired is therefore necessarily bad? That would be a stupid view which could not bc maintained in. a democracy. We must be prepared to go past these things and to face the real situation.
Here you have a Congress about to meet in this country. In the city of Sydney, the first citizen, who is generally recognised to be a man of great repute, and a very level headed and well balanced person, has seen fit to say that he himself will welcome this Congress. Other persons of great repute in the community holding official positions in churches, government and other bodies have also seen lit to treat the Congress as it is apparently now constituted as being a sincere and bona fide body. What point is there in seeking to denigrate and destroy the work of a Congress which is supported by so many reputable persons and which is about to engage lawfully in discussion on matters which are important to people aM over the world? This is not the way to encourage the maintenance of a free society. This action is not consistent with being a responsible member of a free society. Senator Branson, I think, should reconsider the approach which he makes to this matter and perhaps exercise more charity than he has so far.
.- I move -
That the paper, “ Statement by New South Wales A.L.P. Trade Union officials on the Communist Party’s Current Peace Conference “, be laid on the table of the Senate. 1 propose this motion in order to give honorable senators an opportunity to examine this document.
– I second the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Mr. President, at this late hour I want to congratulate Senator Branson on his consistency and sympathise with him in his infantile arguments and his fight for a lost cause.
– I should like to remind Senator Branson that in today’s Press reference is made to an examination of the atmosphere over Japan in connection with contamination which may occur after the explosion some where in China of a thermo-nuclear device or some type of nuclear device. The Japanese people have raised themselves from the devastation of the last war. They have recovered sufficiently to stage a magnificent Olympic Games, acquit themselves well in those games, and be wonderful hosts to the nations of the world in the pursuit of sport and also of peace. It is to be deplored that they should have a recurrence of radio activity over their country after freedom for a relatively short period from this threat. The same problem confronts us in Australia. In the near future, a thermo-nuclear bomb is to be exploded in our area. I do sincerely hope that the prevailing winds will not blow the dust from that thermo-nuclear explosion over Australia to kill our unborn children. I hope also that no honorable senators will have any of their grandchildren or great grandchildren maimed, stillborn or otherwise affected as a result of the fallout from the bomb that is to be exploded in the southern hemisphere in the very near future by the French Government.
Despite the Senator Bransons and the Goldwaters of the world I hope that the great ideal of Christianity will eventually prevail on this Earth, and that there will be peace on earth and goodwill towards men.
In the same way that some people are prepared to rattle the sabre, I am always prepared to speak out for peace because it is the only hope for the survival of mankind. Nobody should allow his mind to be so addled that he thinks that anybody can gain out of war. No-one ever gains out of war. Will man ever liberate himself from stupidity and the jungle while he continues to skim the cream off generation after generation and throw them into battle to be killed? The stupidity of this is beyond calculation. Yet, amongst the chosen representatives of the people of Australia in this Senate, we have these remnants who are still trying to besmirch those of us who believe in peace as the only hope for mankind. Despite the attacks, and as long as I have breath in my body, it will be one of the main purposes of my existence to ensure that my children and my grandchildren will never have to go through this stupidity. If I can do anything to prevent this I will. I support any move whatever by any mcn of goodwill towards the achieving of the great objective for which mankind must strive. If there is to be any hope for his survival as a species on this Earth, mankind must strive for peace.
Senator KENDALL (Queensland) [U.20j. - All 1 want ta say is that I support entirely what Senator O’Byrne has just said. If a few more of us would think along those lines, and believe in the things to which he has just referred, the world would be a much better place in which to live.
– I congratulate Senator Kendall on what he has just said. Let me say to this Parliament and to the people generally that I propose to attend the Australian Congress for International Cooperation and Disarmament, along with a number of my colleagues. My purpose is quite plain, succinct and sincere. With my colleagues, I believe in this great nation of Australia and in its future. With my colleagues, I believe that the future of Australia and of Australians will be better in peace than in war! I am happy to go to a Congress to discuss the. question of how to live in peace, at which there will be present a number of bishops, and at which there wi’l be in attendance the minister in whose church I worship.
I shall attend the Congress, not as a parliamentarian, but as the father of three young Australian children, interested in their future and welfare and in the future and welfare of the younger generation of this community. I shall advocate and pursue the polices of the Australian Labour movement, in which I believe and in which many thousands of other Australians believe. I trust that no political party will gain control of the Congress. With my colleagues, I am prepared to go there, to listen, to look and to learn. If the Congress is not in my interest, I certainly hope that it will be in the interest of my children and the children with whom they play - the younger generation of Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.23 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 October 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1964/19641022_senate_25_s27/>.