25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Is it a fact that the Federal Government has not been able to come to a final decision on the construction of a standard gauge railway from Cockburn on the South Australian border to Broken Hill? Is the Minister aware that the continuing delay by the Government in reaching a decision on how and when to contribute to the standardisation of this line is causing grave concern in South Australia and also a growing belief that we may not see the completion of the project in the next decade? Will the Minister do all he can to have a final decision reached on this vital project so that the conversion of the Port Pirie to Broken Hill line can take place at the same time as the conversion of the Adelaide to Port Pirie line?
– I shall refer the honorable senator’s question to my colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport, in order to obtain a statement which is as up to date as possible, before the Parliament goes into recess. However, I take the opportunity to inform the honorable senator that only two or three weeks ago the Minister, in reply to a question of a similar nature, explained that it was quite impossible for the Commonwealth to undertake rail construction work, or to arrange to do it, in the absence of agreement with the Government of New South Wales which was imposing, as a condition for the construction of the length of line referred to by the honorable senator, the reballasting and, I think, the reconstruction of a further length of line in New South Wales in which the Commonwealth is just not interested. The negotiations had reached that point two or three weeks ago. I shall ask Mr. Freeth whether any progress has been made since then. It will be for the Government of New South Wales to indicate its willingness for the work to proceed before it can proceed.
Senator Sir WALTER COOPER__ I address a question to the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Has the Minister seen a statement attributed to Dr. John McConnachie Ingram, of the United Kingdom Meat Research Institute, and published in the “ Producers Review “ of October 1964, claiming that feeding sugar to pigs shortly before slaughter improves the keeping quality of the meat, and also that sugar feeding rapidly restores the condition of animals fatigued by their journey to the abattoir? Will the Minister indicate whether the Animal Research Laboratories of the C.S.I.R.O. have had experience of such treatment and, if so, with what result?
– The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation is not engaged in this form of experiment. The Organisation’s work on meat has been almost entirely concentrated on beef. The Division of Food Preservation, which would be the Division interested in this field, does know that work of this kind is going on overseas, although it is not engaged on such work itself in Australia.
– Will the Minister representing the Attorney-General provide a list of parliamentarians throughout Australia who are official sponsors of the proCommunist peace conference now being held in Sydney?
– There is, I think, a public list on which are the names of 33 parliamentarians throughout Australia. I have the list and I could read the names out now, but as there are 33 names perhaps it might be better to incorporate the list in “Hansard”.
– Is leave granted?
– Then I will read the list. The names as shown are -
Mr. A. E. Bennett, M.L.A.; Dr. J. F. Cairns, M.H.R.; Mr. Clyde Cameron, M.H.R.; Senator H. Cant; Senator J. L. Cavanagh; Senator S. H. Cohen; Mr. F. Crean, M.H.R.; Mr. M. D. Cross, M.H.R.; Mr. T. W. Dalton, M.L.A.; Mr. C. Earle, M.L.A.; Mr. L. J. Ferguson, M.L.A.; Mr. P. Flaherty, M.L.A.; Mr. E. J. Harrison, M.H.R.; Mr. F. W. James, M.H.R.; Mr. L. W. Johnson,
M.M.R.: Mr. W. Hayden, M.H.R.; Mr. C. Holding, M.L.A.; Dr. H. Jenkins, M.L.A.; Mr. R. Jackson, M.L.A.; Mr. W. Morrow-
He was a member of Parliament; I do not know whether he is now. I understand he has retired. The remaining names are -
Senator D. McClelland; Mr. H. Mclvor, M.H.R., Mr. T. Morey, M.L.A.; Mr. G. Neilly, M.L.A.; Mr. H. F. Newton, M.L.A.; Mr. M. Nicholls, M.H.R.; Senator J. O’Byrne; Senator R. Poke; Hon. R. T. Pollard, M.H.R.; Mr. W. M. Rigby, M.L.A.; Mr. T. Uren, M.H.R.; Mr. J. M. Tripovitch, M.L.A., and Mr. C. Turnbull, M.L.A.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services and relates to the housekeeper service grant. What are the qualifications necessary to obtain this grant? Is there a maximum or a minimum amount which can be granted to any one organisation? What is the basis for estimating these grants? Has South Australia applied for a grant for any organisation such as Meals on Wheels?
– I suggest that the honorable senator place this series of questions on the notice paper so that I can obtain for her a comprehensive answer. I can say that to my knowledge South Australia has not sought the benefit of this provision.
– The South Australian Government?
– Yes. An application has to be made by a State Government. I know that the main requirements are that the service should be available to all sections of the community, that it should be of an emergency nature and should be available only for a limited period in any one household, and that the organisation concerned should recover from the client as much of the cost of the service as is practicable, having regard to the client’s ability to pay. Those are the general provisions. As to the specific question relating to South Australia, I think it is proper that I should get a comprehensive reply from the Minister for Social Services.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral. I am not quite clear of the crime committed by the gentlemen whose names have just been read out. I am rather hard of hearing. What was the reason why the Minister read the names out? What have these gentlemen done? What is the crime they have committed?
– The honorable senator has asked whether these people have committed any crime. I am sorry that he is hard of hearing. If he were not, he would have understood that no accusation was made by the honorable senator who asked for the names of those sponsoring a public conference. I do not quite understand why there should be such objection to the names of people who have publicly sponsored a conference being made public.
– Will the Minister for Civil Aviation inform me whether the aerodrome building at Devonport will be reconstructed? If so, when?
– I do not know when the suggested improvements to the Devonport aerodrome arc to be started. Some work is to be done on extensions to the terminal building itself which is too small for the present volume of traffic. The Department of Civil Aviation is also keeping a close eye on the pavement and the runway. I am sorry that I cannot inform the honorable senator just when the improvements will be undertaken.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a full page coloured advertisement in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of last Monday associating the Shell Oil Company of Australia with commercial aircraft flown by Ansett-A.N.A.? Will the Minister inquire whether the controlling power behind the Ansett-A.N.A. financial structure is that section of the international oil cartel represented by the Shell Company? Will the Minister also inquire whether the international oil cartel has any predominating influence in Australian privately owned airlines generally?
– Apparently the honorable senator is suggesting that in the air transport industry, there are some faceless men as mere are in the Federal Executive of the Australian Labour Party. If this is his imputation, I daTe say he will have time to find out in due course.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Has the Government considered the request from the Taxpayers’ Association of Australia for a reasonable period of delay in the passage of the legislation recently presented to Parliament by the Treasurer arising from the report of the Ligertwood committee? The Taxpayers’ Association has pointed out to me that the principal Bill runs to 62 pages and a supplementary memorandum extends to 116 pages. The Association claims that the revenue will be in no way prejudiced if the passage of the legislation is held over to the sittings of the Parliament in the autumn of 1965. It believes that responsible bodies outside the Parliament and the Public Service can make useful contributions to the eventual shape of the legislation.
– I have been informed by my colleague, the Treasurer, that some consideration has already been given to this request and he has agreed to receive a deputation from the Taxpayers’ Association on the matter tomorrow morning. The right honorable gentleman informs me that there are, however, important reasons why the Bill should be passed as soon as practicable. The Government acknowledges that the Bill is technical in character but it should not be difficult of comprehension by persons such as members of the Taxpayers’ Association who have a specialised knowledge in this field. It is undesirable that a long period of uncertainty should persist before adoption of the legislation by the Parliament. The Treasurer further advises that the Government is willing to give consideration to views and suggestions relating to the legislation which may reach it over the period of the Parliamentary recess, and if it can be demonstrated that some amendment is necessary or desirable it will take appropriate action in this direction in the autumn session.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and Industry. In view of the need to provide the bes.t possible training in Australia for Colombo Plan students, both for their benefit and in the interests of good relations between the two countries, will the Minister ensure that there is closer planning between the Department and employers in industry before such students visit workshops? On most occasions they are refused the opportunity to use the tools of trade and must stand by and watch, as firms are frightened of accident and compensation claims. Will the Minister ascertain whether this difficulty could be overcome by means of a comprehensive workers’ compensation insurance scheme?
– This matter would primarily fall, I should think, within the purview of the Minister for External Affairs, as it is his Department which brings to Australia Colombo Plan trainees to carry out courses which are decided upon by their own governments before they are brought to this country. I do not recall cases in which Colombo Plan trainees have been brought to Australia to do machine shop work. I gather from the honorable senator’s suggestion that he has in mind people who are being trained as apprentices or are learning to be technicians and working in factories.
– They are taken to workshops to see them in operation.
– Quite. But if they were brought here for the purpose of learning the management of workshops and things of that kind there would be no requirement that I can see for them to engage in the actual operation of machine tools in workshops. I would have thought that it was the training of skilled tradesmen or technicians which would require the operation of machine tools in workshops. I am trying to make the point that I do not know of any Colombo Plan trainees who would come to this country to do that sort of work. Most of the training of that kind is done in the home countries by Australian instructors who go there to teach people who are training to be tradesmen. I shall make inquiries to see what is the position, having given the honorable senator my own impression of it.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the
Postmaster-General, ls the Minister aware of the fact that a Postmaster-General’s red motor vehicle has been seen in the streets of Launceston with a “ Vote Labour “ sticker on it? Is a member of the Australian Labour Party Senate team an employee of the Postmaster-General’s Department in Launceston? Does the Postmaster-General approve of the use of a motor vehicle, owned by the taxpayers of Australia, for the purpose of displaying partisan political propaganda? If he does not, will he order an immediate investigation of the misuse of a public vehicle for the purpose of displaying political propaganda?
– If the leader of an Australian Labour Party Senate team is an employee of the Postmaster-General’s Department, that is in accordance with his inherent rights as a citizen. Nobody would question that it is his right, as it is the right of every citizen, to be a candidate for election to Parliament. If, on the other hand, as the honorable senator indicates, a Postmaster-General’s vehicle is being used to display political propaganda, that is most improper. I shall certainly draw the attention of the Postmaster-General to the honorable senator’s question.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation: Is the wider spread of schedules, as announced by the major airline operators, the result of a careful study of the many representations that have been made for a much wider spread of aircraft departures, or is the 10- minute interval in departure times the result of a decision of the Department of Civil Aviation as a precautionary measure against aircraft congestion at airports and for the continuation of passenger safety?
– The 10minute safety interval is in accordance with a regulation of the Department of Civil Aviation, based purely on the safety of aircraft taking off. The Department has no jurisdiction, other than in respect of safety, over the Australian airlines. I have passed on to the airlines the many representations I have received from honorable senators on both sides of the chamber, and the public, for the widening of schedules, but the Department can take into account in its regulations only the safety factor. The Depart ment regards 10 minutes as being a sufficient margin of safety between the takeoff of one of the new Boeing 727’s and the take-off of the next one.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation a question which bears upon his last answer. He said that there will be an interval of tcn minutes between the times of departures of the new Boeing aircraft. How was it decided which airline’s aircraft would be first out of, say, Melbounre each morning? Was that decided in the same way in which it was decided which of the two new Boeings would land first in Australia? It will be recalled that, according to Press reports, the matter was decided by lot. Is it intended that the company whose aircraft leaves first will retain that position or will the first departure be rotated on a weekly or a monthly basis?
– I have not seen the schedules for the times of departure. I do not know whether the position is as he has described, but I understood that if the aircraft of one airline left one airport first then the aircraft of the other airline would leave another airport first. If the honorable senator wishes to obtain the correct information, I ask him to place his question on the notice paper and I will get the particulars for him.
– I ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General whether, in view of his reply to the question about sponsors of the peace congress currently being held in Sydney, he will read or have incorporated in “ Hansard “ the list of sponsors, including 52 clergymen, and teachers, trade unionists, university staff, business and professional men, artists, writers and other groups of worthy citizens.
– If Senator O’Byrne withdraws his previous objection to the names being incorporated in “ Hansard “, I shall be delighted to have them incorporated.
– Very well.
– With the concurrence of honorable senators I incorporate the list of names in “ Hansard “ -
Teachers. - Mr. A. J. Barratt, Mr. P. W. Beer, Mr. P. J. Bloomfield, Mr. M. Brown, Mrs. J. Clarke, Miss N. Cooper, Mr. A. Culgin, Miss D.
Dear, Miss M. Dear, Mr. W. Dutton (Ret.), Mr. E. Du Vergier, Mr. A. Edmunds, Mr. J. Frederick, Dr. L. Galli, Mr. B. Gillett, Miss E. Gilmour (Ret.), Miss L. Gilmour, Mr. W. E. Gollan, Mr. L. Gugenberger, Miss. A. Hamilton, Mr. A. Harvey, Mr. F. W. Harvison, Mr. B. Hilling, Mr. W. Hook, Miss E. Horner, Miss F. Hornibrook, Mr. K. E. Johnson, Mr. W. Kavanagh, Miss M. Kent-Hughes, Mr. J. Lancaster, Mr. W. J. Latona, Mr. W. Leslie, Mr. S. Lewis, Mr. B. Mcllroy, Mr. L. F. McRae, Mr. J. Mackay, Mr. B. Manefield, Miss E. W. Mattick, Miss B. Mitchell, Mr. A. L. Molesworth, Mr. M. Moore, Mr. A. C. Murphy, Mrs. B. Nay, Mr. H. Norington (Ret.), Mr. T. Nyham, Miss E. Old, Miss D. Osborne, Miss H. Palmer, Mr. M. Poole, Mr. B. M. Porter, Mrs. E. PrestonStanley (Ret.), Mr. A. Rimes, Miss M. Roper, Mrs. E. Snape, Mr. R. S. Soloman, Mr. J. Starling, Mr. E. A. Sweaney Mrs. M. H. Sweaney. Mr. J’. Thompson, Mr. E. Tomlinson, Mr. B. Toms, Dr. R. C. Traill, Mr. S. Walsh, Mr. W. J. Whalan, Mr. J. Williams, Mrs. E. Withers, Miss L. Woodcock, Mr. S. Woodward.
Business and Professional. - Dr. G. Adler, Mr. D. W. Allen, Mr. P. D. Allsop, Mr. A. M. Andrews, Mr. Angelo, Mr. D. R. Barton, Mr. L. Bromfield, Mr. F. W. M. Brown, Mr. D. Cameron, Dr. Moss Cass, Mr. N. Catchpool Dr. L. Caust, Mr. H. Chalmers, Dr. H. O. Chapman, Dr. W. Childs, Mr. J. Clark, Mr. P. Clarke, Dr. C. Copland, Dr. J. Couani, Mr. R. Court, Miss B. Collins, Mr. H. Cranswick, Mrs. J. Dahlitz, Dr. J. Daws, Dr. Lesley Dougan, Mr. M. C. Edward, Dr. E. Emery, Dr. C. English, Dr. D. N. Everingham, Dr. P. J. Fensham, Mr.
B, J. Fleay, Mrs. Pixie Foley, Mr. D. Foulkes Taylor, Dr. R. M. Fredman, Mrs. E. B. Gale, Dr. M. George, Mr. L. S. Gillard, Dr. G. Goding, Mr. S. Goldbloom, Mr. L. Gottlieb, Mr. F. Goldney, Mrs. J. Guyatt, Dr. L. Harris, Dr. H. Higgins, Dr. N. R. D. Higham, Dr. T. A. G. Holmes, Mr. R. W. Holt, LL.B. Mr. J. Hurley, Dr. Mary Irvine, Mr. M. Isaacs, Dr. N. Johnson, Dr. E. Jorgensen, Dr. J. Kelly, Dr. E. KentHughes, Mr. J. G. Knowlman, Dr. A. G. H. Lawes, Mr. T. Lee, Mr. E. T. Linacre, Mr. A. McCudden, Dr. M. A. McDowall, Mr. D. Macindoe, Mr. S. Mane, Dr. R. D. Marshall, Dr. V. Marshall, Dr. A. Mann, Dr. D. R. Moore, Mr. G. Morrow, Mr. P. Murphy, Dr. M. Mushin Dr. Drury Oeser, Mrs. J. O’sullivan, Mr. E. Pollard, Mr. J. Redapple, Mr. G. Robertson, Dr. Dorothy Rubinstein, Mr. J. Rutter, Dr. C. Sandy, Mrs. I. Scott, Dr. G. Shaw, Dr. R. Shaw, Dr. H. Silverstone, Dr. S. Siedlecky, Dr. F. Slater, Dr. G. Stanton, Mr. E. Stone, Mr. R. N. Summers, Mr. R. Smith, Mr. S. Thalassinos, Sister J. Wakefield, Mr. G. L. Walker, Mr. J. Walker, Dr. L. J. Webb, Mr. R. S. Webb, Mr. J. Wheeldon, Dr. Egal White, Mr. R. D. Williams, Mr. R. B. Withers, Mr. N. Zusman
Local Government. - Cr. Nola Barber, Aid.
R. Birch, Aid. H. Burnham, Mr. A. Gietzelt, Cr. E. H. Jell, Mr. M. Keane, Mr. A. Knight, Aid. J. Laundry, Aid. R. Lynch, Cr. A. J. McLellan, Mr. J. Nicholson, Aid. N. Origlass Cr. H. A. Thomas, Aid. I. Thornley.
Sportsmen. - Mr. C. Burke, Mr. J. de Courcy Mr. J. Dawson, Mr. R. Hanson, Mr. P. Hawthorne, Mr. W. Jones, Mr. N. Mulligan, Mr. N. Hazard, Mr. A. Pinfold.
Parliamentarians. - Mr. A. E. Bennett, M.L.A.; Dr. J. F. Cairns, M.H.R.; Mr. Clyde Cameron, M.H.R.; Senator H. Cant; Senator J. L. Cavanagh; Senator S. H. Cohen, Q.C.; Mr. F. Crean, M.H.R.; Mr. M. D. Cross, M.H.R.; Mr. T. W. Dalton, M.L.A.; Mr. C. Earle, M.L.A.; Mr L .J. Ferguson, M.L.A.; Mr. P. Flaherty, M.L.A.; Mr. E. J. Harrison, M.H.R.; Mr. F. W. James, M.H.R.; Mr. L. W. Johnson, M.H.R.; Mr. W. Haydon, M.H.R.; Mr. C. Holding, M.L.A.; Dr. H. Jenkins, M.L.A.; Mr. R. Jackson, M.L.A.; Mr. W. Morrow (Retired); Senator D. McClelland; Mr. H. Mclvor, M.H.R.; Mr. T. Morey, M.L.A.; Mr. G. Neilly, M.L.A.; Mr. H. F. Newton, M.L.A.; Mr. M. Nicholls, M.H.R.; Senator J. O’Byrne; Senator R. Poke; Hon. R. T. Pollard, M.H.R.; Mr. W. M. Rigby, M.L.A.; Mr. T. Uren, M.H.R.; Mr. J. M. Tripovitch, M.L.A.; Mr. C. Turnbull, M.L.A.
Trade Unions. - Mr. E. T. Abraham, Mr. H. Alexander, Mr. M. Alexandrides, Mr. A. Arnell, Mr. R. Arnold, Mr. J. Asher, Mr. G. Atkins, Mr. R. Baldwin, Mr. J. Beitz; Mr. C. Betts, Mr. J. W. Bevan, Mr. C. Bone, Mr. J. Brown, Mr. L. Brown, Mr. C. J. Bushell, Mr. F. Butler, Mr. L. H. Boyce, Mr. W. Beesley, Mr. R. Cameron, Mr. F. Campbell, Mr. L. Carmichael, Mr. T. Chard, Mr. P. Clancy, Mr. J. Coleman, Mr. J. Convery, Mr. F. E. Chamberlain, Mr. R. Cram, Mr. E. H. Crimes, Mr. G. M. Dawson, Mr. E. G. Dixon, Mr. E. Dobson, Mr. A. Dowling, Mr. R. T. Drake, Mr. J. Dwyer, Mr. J. Egerton, Mr.
V. Elliott, Mr. W. P. Evans, Mr. W. Eveleigh, Mr. D. Ferguson, Mr. A. G. Fifield, Mr. C. H. Fitzgibbon, Mr. H. R. Fletcher, Mr. J. H. Foley, Mr. J. Forde, Mr. A. C. Fox, Mr. J. D. Garland Mr. R. Geitzelt, Mr. T. Gordon, Mr. H. Gower, Mr. H. Grant, Mr. A. Harding, Mr. J. Hanson, Mr. A. Harris, Mr. P. Healy, Mr. J. E. Hefferman Mr. A. E. Horsburgh, Mr. R. Hughes, Mr. M. C. C. Jordan, Mr. E. A. Johnstone, Mr. J. Keating, Mr. W. Keating, Mr. W. Lane, Mr. J. Lambert, Mr. H. Lashwood, Mr. K. Lobley, Mr.
Loughlin, Mr. K. Lovell, Mr. D. Lippiatt, Mr. A. MacDonald, Mr. D. Mcintosh, Mr. E. McNamara, Mr. M. McNamara, Mr. B. McManus, Mr. A. McNolty, Mr. D. MacSween, Mr. N. McKenzie, Mr. W. Mahon, Mr. S. Marshall, Mr.
Martin, Mr. R. Mathews, Mr. R. Miller, Mr. D. Moore, Mr. M. Nixon, Mr. F. Nolan, Mr. M. O’Brien, Mr. W. O’Brien, Mr. F. O’sullivan, Mr.
G. Parker, Mr. W. Parkinson, Mr. W. Parry, Mrs. M. Pearce, Mr. F. Purse, Mr. J. Petrie, Mr. E. Ramsay, Mr. F. Rushbrook, Mr. T. F. Ross, Mr. R. T. Scott, Mr. G. Slater, Mr. W. Smart, Mr. J. Steel, Mrs. E. Stenhouse, Mr. J. Tapp, Mr. D. A. Taylor (Retired), Mr. F. Taylor, Mr. L. H. Thompson, Mr. C. B. Tong, Mr. F. Waters, Mr. W. Webber, Mr. F. Whitby, Mr. C. R. Williams, Mr. L. Williams, Mr. K. Wilson, Mr. T. Wright, Mr. J. Williams, Mr. I. Wyner.
Artists, Writers. - Mona Brand, Nancy Cato, Mena Calthorpe, C. B. Christeson, O.B.E., Noel Counihan, Don Crick, Dymphna Cusack, Edith Casely, Mr. R. DeBoissiere, Brian Fitzpatrick, Mrs. Lyndall Hadow, Frank Hardy, Mary Harris, Leslie Haylen, Xavier Herbert, Dorothy Hewett,
Frank Minder, Margel Hinder, Mr. F. James, J. J. Jones, Miss P. Kclk, Margo (..ewers. Alan Marshall, Frank Moorehouse, Mr. John Morrison, Pixie 0’Harris, W. E. Pidgeon, Roland Robinson, Mr. A. Rydge, V. Serventy, Rodney Shaw, Thistle Stead, Mr. R. Tullipan, F. B. Vickers, Kath Walker, Judah Waten, Bill Wannon.
Churchmen. - Rev. N. Anderson, Rev. A. D. Brand, Rev. P. Boase, Rev. J. G. Beer, Rev. J. W. Brooks, Rev. D. Brimacombe, Rev. K. C. W. Beckett, Rev. J. D. Bentley, Rev. A. R. Broadbent, Pastor W. D. Bryce, Rev. L. Ball, Rev. W. A. Clint, Rev. W. H. S. Childs, Rev. G. Coad, Rev. Dr. E. E. V. Collocott, Rev. N. Crawford, Bishop G. R. Cranswick, Rev. G. J. Dillon, Rev. A. M. Dickie, Rev. R. Davis, Pastor G. T. Fitzgerald, Bishop D. A. Garnsey, Rev. N. Glover, Rev. R. Green, Rev. W. Higgins, Rev. F. J. Hartley, Rev. T. Harvey, Rev. A. Jackson, Principal K. Leaver, Rev. G. R. Limb, Bishop J. S. Moyes, Miss R. Mccutcheon, Rev. N. McLeod, Rev. A. McGregor, Rev. V. Nightingale, Rev. P. O. Parnaby, Mr. S. T. M. Pierce, Rev. D, Pope, Rev. W. Pollack, Mrs. J. Richards, Rev. G. R. Riley, Rev. W. V. Rymer, Rev. J. O. Rymer, Rev. N. Ross, Rev. P. M. Saphin, Rev. B. Silverwood, Pastor R. H. Sercombe Pastor C. Taplin, Canon Thomas. Rev. E. G. Towner, Mr. D. Tsingris, Rev. J. Westerman.
University. - Mrs. H. Beyer. Prof. J. H. Bishop, Dr. E. W. Bowen. Mr. C. Bredt, Mr. K. D. Buckley, Mr. A. Carey, Mrs. N. Christesen, Mr. L. Churchward, Mr. G. R. Cochrane, Mrs. M. Dawson, Prof. M. Ewing, Mr. T. Field, Dr. K. T. Fowler, Mr. G. W. Ford, Mr. C. Hamer, Mrs. J. Hase, Dr. M. L. M. Kay, Mr. M. N. Kelly, Mr. B. S. Landa, Miss E. D. Lindsay, Dr. S. H. Lovibond, Dr. R. E. B. Makinson, Mr. I. McPhail, Prof. C. B. O. Mohr, Mr. G. Palmer, Miss Jan Ranford, Dr. H. D. Rathgeber, Prof. II. A. Richardson, Mr. J. P. Richardson, Mr. E. B. Robinson, Mr. R. A. Ross, Dr. J. Ross, Dr. N. Talbot, Prof. G. Tanner, Prof. E. Tapp, Mrs. L. Tarnawski, Mr. N. S. Thornton. Mrs. M. Thornton, Dr. F. Turner, Mr. E. L. Wheelwright, Prof. S. E. Wright.
Other Groupings. - Mr. W. Acton, Mrs. L. Adler, Miss J. Allen, Mr. L. N. Allen, Mr. G. Anderson, Miss S. Andrews, Mr. W. J. Ashcroft, Mis. F. Bernhard, Mr. L. Bostock, Mr. J. P. Callaghan, Mrs. N. Chalmers, Mrs. N. Christianson, Mr. P. Clarke, Mrs. E. R. Coaldrake, Mr. C. Connor, Mrs. E. Connor, Mr. J. Connell, Mrs. J. Courtice, Mr. F. Costello, Mrs. P. Cowcher Mr. W. Cunningham, Mr. J. Devenney, Mrs. P. Duguid, Mrs. J. Emerson, Mr. K. McD. Farrell, Mr. A. Fielding, Mr. F. Fyfe, Mr. L. Gibson, Mrs. W. Green, Mrs. E. A. Gregory. Mr. M. Gregory, Mr. F. W. Cross, Mrs. E. Griffin, Mrs. E. Glen, Mr. G. Gow, Mr. C. Grant, Mrs. C. Grant, Mr. 1. Guy, Mrs. M. Hartley, Mr. W. Hartley, Mr. J. Hawker, Mrs. M. Hill, Mrs. C. Hoare, Mr. A. A. Hooke, Mrs. J. Hooke, Mrs. M. J. Holmes, Mrs. P. Hopwood, Mrs. E. Hutchesson, Mr. G. Hutchesson, Mrs. M. Isacs, Mrs. E. R. Kay, Mrs. D. Kite, Mr. T. Kenyon, Mrs. H. Knowlman, Mrs. M. E. Korwill, Mrs. P. Latona, Mrs. E. Lewis. Mr. F. J. Leacock, Miss J. Lewis, Mrs. L. Lippman, Mrs. G. Lloyd, Mr. G. Maclean,
Mr. D. Mackay, Mrs. M. Mitchell, Mrs. L» Miller, Mr. O. A. Mendelsohn, Mrs. L. Moseley, Mr. K. McNaughton, Mrs. J. McNaughton, Miss I. McCorkindale, Mr. P. McHenry, Mr. B. Phillips, Mrs. D. Pullin, Mrs. B. Ranger, Mrs. G. Reynolds, Mr. B. Robb, Mrs. N. Robertson Cuninghame Mis. E. Rothfield Mrs. V. Rydge, Lady Jessie Street, Mrs. D. Shanahan, Mr. R. Sharrock, Mr. G. Shearston, Mrs. B. Smith, Mrs. O. Snelling, Mr. G. W. R. Southern, Mrs. M. Stewart, Mr. E. E. Tebbutt, Mr. 3. Tillet, Mrs. G. Tossell, Mr. V. Valentini, Mr. R. Vickary, Mrs. E. Wakefield, Mr. L. Ward, Mrs. M. Watt, Mrs. M. Whalan, Mrs. W. Wheelwright, Mrs. E. Winspur, Mr. V. S. C. Williams, Mr. E. Woodall, Mrs. M. S. Woodhams
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for National Development seen a report that both the Ampol and Amoco organisations, which are building oil refineries in Queensland, have said that they will not be refining Australian oil but apparently will be importing cheap oil from cheap labour countries? Will the Minister take the matter up with his colleague to see what steps the Government can take to make it compulsory for Australian refineries to use Australian oil and thereby give protection to the oil industry in the same way as we afford protection to primary industries and other secondary industries in Australia?
– I am not personally familiar with the report to which Senator Wood refers. I do recognise, however, that this is a most important question, and I should like the opportunity to discuss it with my colleague and ask him to provide some information on the matter.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Is it a fact that many companies exploring iron ore deposits in Western Australia have disclosed phenonemal amounts of high grade iron ore? Is it also a fact that the companies have made consistent approaches to the Government for export licences and that up to this time none has been granted? Will the Minister state the reason for the delay?
– It is now an established fact that the iron ore deposits in Western Australia exceed in tonnage anything that only a few years ago was even dreamed of. The logged deposits in Western Australia - I am citing a figure used recently by the Premier - now exceed 15,000 million tons of iron ore. It is true that applications for export have been made to the Commonwealth Government. I know of only one application which is outstanding at the moment, and that I know because of a Press report I have seen within the last day or two. That is the application for export in respect of deposits at Mount Newman, which has been lodged by the new combination, American Metals Climax Inc. and the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Ltd., known locally, I think, as Climax. As for other applications, I think that they have all been met. I do not know of one that is outstanding. If I am wrong, I shall take an early opportunity to correct myself.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Following my general question on Tuesday to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry on the moves of the new Labour Government in the United Kingdom in relation to import tax, I now desire to direct a specific question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. A wine industry spokesman in South Australia has represented to me that the new British import tax on Australian wine is a crippling blow to the hope of increasing sales in the United Kingdom. Will the Minister obtain for me precise information as to whether the tax applies to Australian wine? If it does, will he please understand these genuine fears of the wine industry and do what he can in forthcoming negotiations with the United Kingdom to alleviate the position?
– I have noticed the Press comments in the past 24 hours by a spokesman of the Australian wine industry, directing attention to the type of problems that will emerge for the industry if the situation in the United Kingdom is as indicated. Senator Laught seeks specific information. I ask him to place the question on the notice paper, and if possible I shall then obtain from the Minister an expeditious answer to the query.
– Apropos of Senator Scott’s question, just answered by the
Leader of the Government in the Senate, I think that every honorable senator will be delighted to hear the news that vast discoveries of very valuable iron ore have been made in Western Australia. There is a particular point upon which I should like to have information. Are any plans afoot for the establishment of iron and steel works in that area of Western Australia referred to, or is all the emphasis on the export of iron ore to other countries?
– Export licences for iron ore are given on terms which impose certain conditions on the licensees. The Western Australian Government, for its part, has taken the opportunity to impose certain very rigid conditions on those who wish to export. For example, where railway construction is needed to get the ore from the lode to a port, the companies concerned are required in most cases to construct their own lines and their own housing, and provide their own port facilities; and, in one case, they are required after a period to set up a first stage steel industry and at the end of 20 years to have in operation a completely integrated steel industry.
I am not familiar with the terms of all the agreements, but what I have said in reply to the honorable senator’s question will, I think, lead him to conclude that these deposits are not being used merely as quarries with no resultant benefits to the Australian economy.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service seen the recently published first reports of the Manpower Research Unit of the United Kingdom Ministry of Labour, forecasting the British work force position for the next ten years? In the interests of Australian industry, will the Minister have a similar forecast published in relation to the Australian work force?
– The answer to the first part of the question is: “ No. “. The answer to the second part of the question is that I will ask the Minister whether he can do this.
– Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate consult with his Cabinet colleagues with a view to calling a conference of all major oil companies operating in Australia so that the Government can place before them the Australian view that, unless they are prepared to support the Australian oil industry and to use Australian oil, steps will be taken to deal with them?
– This question, which really involves a matter of policy, is one for my colleague, the Minister for National Development. I have no doubt that he is giving constant consideration to the problem which Senator O’Byrne has raised. I will refer the question to him. As I said in reply to an earlier question by Senator Wood, if any information can be released on this matter I will ask him to release it.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) agreed to -
That Government business lake precedence of general business after 8 p.m. this sitting.
NEW BUSINESS AFTER 10.30 p.m.
– I move -
That Standing Order No.68 be suspended up till and including 13th November 1964 to enable new business to be commenced after 10.30 p.m.
I think honorable senators will recognise this as a motion which, in comparable terms, is always presented to the Senate and to the House of Representatives at about this stage of the sittings. It is designed to provide for the introduction, when necessary, of new business after 10.30 p.m. 1 am well aware, of course, that we have already agreed that there should be an adjustment of both the hours and the days of sitting to meet the exigencies of the last six or seven days of the sittings. In presenting this motion to the Senate I make it clear that the arrangement will be used only when it is necessary to do so, and on some of the occasions it will certainly be to the advantage of the Senate.
– As the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) has stated, this is a familiar procedure at this time of the Parliamentary sessions. The Opposition consistently opposes such motions.
– Hear, hear!
– I hear the voice of a former Leader of the Government in the Senate. I do not propose today to restate the arguments that have been put forward on previous occasions. I merely indicate that we are coming to the end of a sessional period, with a week’s adjournment facing us. and with one more week’s activity to follow. I received from the Minister as late as this morning a complete list of the bills which it is contemplated the Senate should deal with. He has numbered them himself. There are 40 bills which have yet to go through the Parliament. That sounds worse than it is in fact because four bills are grouped in one instance and five in another instance; but regardless of how they are grouped, the bills cover a large number of subjects. They all are of importance, and we have very limited time.
The procedure to which we are asked to agree contains the possibility of all-night sittings, with business coming into the Senate for the first time after 10.30 at night and then being pursued throughout the night. That is very bad from every viewpoint. It is bad from the viewpoint of the legislature and also from that of the legislators. It imposes undue strain. If the procedure is persevered with for any length of time it renders honorable senators unable to attend to their duties competently. For those broad reasons we on this side of the chamber oppose the motion.
The Minister has been most co-operative with the Opposition in keeping it advised of proposed arrangements and in consulting it concerning the hours and days of sitting. He announced in this place recently that he would confer with the Opposition regarding the programme for the final week. It so happens that time has not permitted such consultation to take place. I am really hopeful that the Minister, after conferring with the Opposition, will be able to work out a scheme for the final week which will not involve the undue strain of allnight sittings, but until such consultation takes place and until such time as we get a picture of what is contemplated, I record our opposition to the motion.
– I do not intend to vote against the motion. I rise merely to say that in my view the accumulation of bills at this stage of the session is a grave reflection on the management of Government business and on the conduct of business by the Parliament.
Question put -
That the motion be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on a motion by Senator Paltridge) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to make four relatively minor amendments to the Aus tralian Coastal Shipping Commission Act which are intended to maintain the Government’s policy of allowing the Commission the maximum flexibility in its operations consistent with the necessary overall Ministerial control. The main amendment relates to the Commission’s borrowing powers contained in section 30 of the Act. The Commission is faced with substantial capital expenditure over the next few years for the construction of new vessels which it has on order or intends to build, and for associated shore facilities. The Commission presently has on order the “ Empress of Australia “ for the Sydney to Tasmania passenger and cargo trade, the “Musgrave Range”, a 21,000 ton bulk carrier, both of which vessels are expected to be completed in the near future, and also a 47,000 ton bulk carrier, due for completion in 1966. The Commission also has announced its intention of constructing two fast rollon rolloff vessels for use between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and there is a possible requirement for another 47,000 ton bulk carrier.
Under the Act as framed at present, the Commission is limited to borrowing for temporary purposes on overdraft with a maximum of £5 million. The proposed amendment retains the limitation of borrowing to a total of £5 million but extends the sources from which funds may be obtained. The proposed new section is in the same terms as section 31 of the Australian National Airlines Act 1945-61, which controls the operations of the Australian National Airlines Commission. Under the new proposals the Commission will be able, subject to the necessary approval, to borrow money other than by a bank overdraft, and also to borrow from the Treasurer out of moneys appropriated by Parliament for the purpose. The £5 million upper limit provided in the present Act will remain, and the interest rate and other terms of loans from the Commonwealth will be as determined by the Treasurer, who, in making such a determination will fix an interest rate not less than that payable on the preceding long-term Commonwealth loan raised from public subscription in Australia.
As I have already mentioned, the Commission has undertaken a substantial programme of new construction, and it is felt desirable to provide for loans from the
Commonwealth, within the existing limitation of its borrowing powers, to ensure that its programme is not delayed by any temporary shortages of finance. A further improvement introduced by the new provisions is that the Commonwealth has the alternatives of providing additional funds either by increases in the Commission’s capital or by loans in the manner described. This will enable the Commission to maintain a balance, as circumstances may require, between capital and borrowed funds.
The proposed amendment will give the Commission greater flexibility in the use of its borrowing powers to finance its construction programme, and to manage its borrowing in line with its needs.
Section 22 of the principal Act requires the Commission to obtain the Minister’s approval to any staff salaries exceeding £2,500 per annum. The amendment proposes to increase this limit to £3,500 per annum in line with the general rise in wage and salary rates since the Act was originally passed in 1956. The final amendment proposed relates to the use of any money held by the Commission but not immediately required. At present section 32 sub-section (2) of the Act provides that it may be invested on fixed deposit with a bank or in Commonwealth securities. Since the Act was passed the Commonwealth Reserve Bank has sponsored the development of a short term money market which enables the investment of surplus cash for short periods at rates of interest which generally are higher than those available for fixed deposits, although the loans are secured against Commonwealth Government securities. The amendment seeks to add such investment to the other two possible uses of surplus funds.
I feel sure that honorable senators will agree that the Commission since its establishment in 1957 has made a substantial contribution to the efficient operation of the Australian coastal shipping trade, not only by the efficiency of its operations but also by the lead it has taken in the development and construction of modern vessels. The proposed amendments will assist the efficient operation of the Commission and I therefore commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Bryne) Adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The main purpose of this Bill is to give effect to the unanimous recommendation of the Dried Fruits Control Board for amendments to the legislation under which it is constituted, to give it greater flexibility in arranging its affairs. The opportunity has also been taken in the Bill to make a number of machinery amendments to the Act to bring it into line with present day practice in legislation dealing with commodity boards.
Section 9 of the Act provides that the Board shall annually appoint one of its members to be Chairman of the Board. During its 40 years existence the Board has taken the view that its Chairman should be a person independent of the dried, vine fruits industry. Thus it has always chosen to appoint the Commonwealth member of the Board as its Chairman. The present Commonwealth member is Mr. Eugene Gorman, Q.C. He is also the Chairman. Mr. Gorman, who has rendered such sterling service to the industry, has recently indicated to the Minister for Primary Industry and to the Board, that he wishes to retire from the Board, perhaps next year. This has caused the Board to review the legislative position governing the selection of a chairman and it has recommended that a provision be inserted in the Dried Fruits Export Control Act, along similar lines to a provision in the Canned Fruits Export Marketing Act, 1963, which would give the Board optional authority to appoint an additional member to the Board who would ex-officio be the Chairman. Such a provision would only be operative where the Board decided, with the approval of the Minister, upon the appointment of the Chairman from outside the ordinary membership.
In reaching this decision, the Board has had in mind that it is the Minister’s intention, following the retirement of Mr. Gorman, to appoint a senior departmental official as the Commonwealth member of the Board who would not be available to assume the chairmanship of the Board. This course is considered to be highly desirable in the interests of closer liaison between the Department of Primary Industry and the Board because of such developments as the introduction of the dried vine fruits stabilisation scheme and the international pricing agreement with Greek and Turkish interests. The Board has indicated to the Minister that it fully understands this situation.
The Government has been pleased to accede to the Board’s recommendation and its implementation is provided for in clause 6 of the Bill before the Senate. Its adoption will enable the Board to continue to appoint one of its regular members as Chairman or, alternatively, with the approval of the Minister, to appoint another person as an additional member who would, ex-officio, bc Chairman. At present, the Act provides that the Chairman shall be elected annually. The Board realises that security of tenure for a longer period will probably be necessary to induce a person outside the industry to accept the office of Chairman. The Bill therefore provides that the Chairman may be appointed for a period not exceeding three years as determined by the Board and that he will be eligible for reappointment.
In overseas countries, and in this country as well, the Board is referred to as the Australian Dried Fruits Control Board although, legally, the word “ Australian “ is not part of its title. The Bill remedies this deficiency. The Bill also provides for the creation of an office of Deputy Chairman, and gives the Board the power to appoint executive committees and to delegate powers to such committees. These are fairly standard provisions in present day legislation dealing with commodity boards, and their necessity for effective administration is obvious.
The Board, in common with all other commodity boards which are charged wilh the organization of exports, engages in overseas promotion and other activities designed to increase sale and consumption in export markets. The Board’s power to engage in such activities has, in the past, stemmed from its general spending powers. It is considered desirable to refer to the Board’s powers to promote in overseas countries, in more specific terms, and the Bill does this. The machinery amendments, to which I referred earlier, are designed, in the main, to bring the Act, which was last amended in 1953, into conformity with recent practice in respect to commodity board legislation, and relate to such things as the financial and auditing requirements. In addition, the Bill recognizes the trade description applied to the dried fruit variety known as “raisins”. Prior to 1956 the variety was styled “ lexias “. At the time the Act was brought down it was the practice to provide that the Governor-General should appoint members and take other action in respect of appointments. In present day legislation of this nature, these powers are exercised by the Minister, and the Bill proposes that the necessary amendments should be made. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Toohey) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
, - I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The main amendments to the Dried Fruits Export Charges Act 1924-1929, which are proposed by this Bill, are consequential to the amendments to the Dried Fruits Export Control Act in the preceding Bill which I introduced into the Senate. They recognise the change which is proposed in the title of the Dried Fruits Control Board by the addition of the word “ Australian “, and the substitution of the word “ raisins “ for the word “ lexias “.
The Bill is purely a machinery measure. It does not alter the rate of charge imposed on exports of dried vine fruits which remains at a maximum of one-eighth of a penny pir lb., which is equivalent to 23s. 4d. a ton. The income from this charge presently being levied at the permitted maximum, finances the operations of the Board. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Drury) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Gorton) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to reconstitute the statutory office of SolicitorGeneral of the Commonwealth, which was created by the SolicitorGeneral Act 1916. The office has hitherto been held by distinguished public servants, the Permanent Heads of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. They were, in succession, the late Sir Robert Garran, the late Sir George Knowles and, most recently, Sir Kenneth Bailey, the present High Commissioner to Canada, who retired as SolicitorGeneral in July of this year. The Government announced towards the end of last year that, when Sir Kenneth Bailey retired, the offices of Solicitor General and permanent head would be separated. The SolicitorGeneral will hold a non-political office, and, as in New South Wales and Victoria, he will be kept free of departmental responsibility and administration so that he can concentrate on his function as permanent counsel for the Crown.
Increasing pressures in recent years have made the Government’s action inevitable. It is not possible to administer a great department of state with full effectiveness while appearing in court, and the converse is equally true. Sir Kenneth Bailey did appear in court in quite a number of major cases. But the appearances were not as many as he, and the Government, would have wished. Their very success pointed up the need for the SolicitorGeneral to be free to appear in court whenever an important case required it, because Crown counsel permanently associated with government legal work can bring special qualifications to the conduct of a case or the furnishing of an opinion at the highest level. This, of course, considers the matter from the point of view of maximum effectiveness of the SolicitorGeneral. It is no less important to consider it from the point of view of maximum effectiveness of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. That Department is an important department, with offices in every capital city, and with responsibilities covering the whole field of Commonwealth law. The Permanent Head’s proper function today does not include court advocacy, his function being to administer his Department and to advise the AttorneyGeneral in regard to legislation, legal policy, law reform and the general conduct of the Commonwealth’s legal business. The conclusion must be that the office of SolicitorGeneral should become a separate office.
The political officer, that is to say, the AttorneyGeneral, is responsible on the one hand to advise the Government and to act as its counsel, and on the other hand to administer a Department of State through its Permanent Head. While the role of the Permanent Head in relation to the Minister will be readily understood, it is also demonstrable that the Minister needs an officer in a similar relationship to him in regard to his functions as counsel for the Crown. The SolicitorGeneral will be that officer, taking precedence after the AttorneyGeneral in Federal courts and discharging the function of second law officer of the Commonwealth.
The SolicitorGeneral will be appointed from among counsel practising at the bar. He will retain the independence of counsel, because, although he will have only one client, he will during the term of his appointment, be assured of security of tenure. He will, of course, be eligible for appointment to the bench, and both England and Australia have ample precedent for the appointment of a SolicitorGeneral to judicial office. The term of a SolicitorGeneral’s appointment is to be a fixed term not exceeding seven years but he is to be eligible for reappointment. The Government’s intention is that his salary be the same as the first line of Permanent Heads, that is to say, the same as the Secretary to the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. His pension rights are to be the same as those of a judge under the Judges’ Pensions Act. The Bill provides for some financial compensation in the event that he is not re-appointed at the end of his term and has to re-establish himself in private practice before he has qualified for pension. In this way the Bill gives proper security to the Solicitor-General, who will give up a greater income in private practice to become a non-political officer, outside the Public Service, serving different Governments in succession. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cohen) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 28th October (vide page 1389), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- The Bills that I propose to discuss are three in number and they relate to three matters. First, they fix Parliamentary allowances and expense allowances for all members and senators in the Parliament; secondly, they deal with ministerial allowances and expense allowances for Ministers and officers of the Parliament; and thirdly, there are provisions for retiring allowances for all members, introducing a new feature to provide for special retiring allowances for Ministers and officers of the Parliament.
I indicate at the outest that I shall address myself briefly to these measures for three reasons. First, the Opposition supports the three Bills. Secondly, I find myself in agreement with the arguments addressed by the Minister to the Senate when he put the Bills before us yesterday. Thirdly, I have refreshed my mind by referring to the 1959 debates, when the emoluments and conditions of Parliamentarians were last reviewed. I find that I addressed myself at very great length to the various measures on that occasion. They were debated at leng;h not only at the second reading stage but also right through the committee stages. On that occasion, I moved a number of amendments to the structure that was then erected in this field, primarily at the instance of the Richardson committee.
I do not feel that I need traverse all the grounds with which 1 then justified the attitude of the Opposition but I think it will be recalled that I did urge that emoluments be not merely adequate to allow a member of this Parliament to attend to his duties properly and adequately, unworried by economic considerations for himself and his family, but also that there should be some measure of security for people who embark upon the precarious course of life in politics. I advert to what I then said to make this point: I am strongly of the belief - I have expressed it many times from my place in the Senate - that in addition to those elements the emoluments ought to be sufficiently high to have an element that will attract to the service of the nation in this Parliament men of the necessary character, ability and energy from all walks of life. If I were to make any criticism of this measure it would be that I do not see that element in the amounts that are provided.
I would agree with the statement of the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge), who is in charge of this legislation, that this review is due - that it is overdue - and I point out that had my view prevailed even five years ago the basic amount now fixed for Parliamentary salaries would have been in operation in those five years. I did have regard for the various elements to which I have now addressed myself. There is probably no other calling in Australia similar to that of a Parliamentarian. Not only has responsibility in the National Parliament grown enormously, but also there have been enormous changes. This Parliament has emerged as the dominant force in the nation amongst the Parliaments. I have only to indicate that just pre-war in 1939 the Federal Budget was approximately £100 million per annum, whereas the Budget this year is £2,51 1 million, a most colossal development in activity and responsibility. The effect is to be seen in the activities of the members who constitute the Parliament. There has been no question about the enormous demands that are made on individual members. The remuneration, I repeat, should not only be adequate but also be such as to attract to the service of the Parliament the very best people from all walks of life.
This measure contains one new feature - the introduction of ministerial pensions. I think this is the only entirely new feature of the three Bills before us. There is provision for ministerial pensions, based on long service in a ministerial capacity. The provision applies also to certain officers of the Parliament, namely, the Leaders of the Opposition. In the case of Ministers and the Leader of the Opposition, every year of service is counted towards the qualifying period. This does not apply to others. In the case of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives and the Leader of the Opposition in this place, only one half of the time that they serve in either of those capacities is counted as qualifying service entitling them to what I loosely call a ministerial pension. In the case of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this place, only one quarter of the time served in that capacity is counted. It may not be a very consoling thought to the present Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this place to realise that on that basis he would need to occupy the position for 32 years before qualifying. Basically, the point I am making is that the ministerial pension is to apply simply on the basis of long service in the Parliament in an arduous and responsible capacity.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition may not be in opposition that long.
– I feel very sure of that. I hope also that he will progress beyond his present position to ministerial office, so that his qualifying period will be very much short of 32 years. I was merely indicating the basis upon which the new pension has been established. I emphasise that the pension is solely for prolonged service of a very responsible nature.
– On a contributory basis.
– I am coming to that point. This kind of pension was recommended by the Richardson Committee back in 1 959, but nothing was done then, although the Prime Minister indicated that it would be reconsidered on a contributory basis. The relevant fund has now been established on an actuarial base, requiring every occupant of the offices affected to contribute at the basic rate of £4 5s. a week. On the actuarial calculation, that will be adequate, from the viewpoint of contributions by subscribers, to meet the demands that will be made on the fund. The pension ranges, I think, from £9 a week to £21 a week, according to whether one has had eight, fourteen or more years of service. We do not oppose the provision even though it is an entirely new feature.
There are two aspects of these measures that I think are particularly pleasing to members generally. First, there is the fact that, with the lifting of the retiring allowance to some £33 14s. a week - again after long service, either for three parliaments or for eight years, and involving an increase of contributions from £5 to £7 14s. lOd. a week - something is being done to give the wives of members some sense of security and some measure of recompense for what they have to endure in having husbands as parliamentarians. They play a major part in our activities. They suffer vast disruption of their domestic life. This provision is pleasing to all parliamentarians and gives them a sense of modest confidence that on their deaths they will leave to their widows enough to enable them to live in reasonable comfort or at least with dignity.
The second aspect is that the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Fund has done exceedingly well. It has earned far more from its investments than the actuaries predicated when it was formed in 1948. It has been earning very well. The latest report on the Fund indicates that there is today an accumulation of £560,138. Again actuarially, it has been shown that in 1963 about £77,000 was surplus to the requirements of the Fund. In his second reading speech the Minister indicated that the surplus has now developed to beyond £100,000. That means that the Fund is in a very sound position.
That surplus has been contributed to by colleagues who have retired, and the Government has been induced to propose the lifting of the pensions that they were paid on retirement to a level somewhere near that of the pensions that will now operate. Those who now receive £.10 a week will receive £15 a week. Others will have their pensions increased by £6 a week. The Fund will bear those increased payments. It should be a matter of pleasure to all honorable senators to feel that their colleagues who have passed from the parliamentary scene since the scheme was introduced in 1948, and widows of colleagues, will be brought more up to date in their pensions. Since the pensions were granted in 1950 the value of money has been eroded appreciably.
At this stage I do not feel that I need do more than repeat that the Opposition supports the measure. I acknowledge that the Government has shown courage in introducing it at this time. When a bill of this type is before the Parliament it is always subjected to the glare of publicity. One does not object to that. It is right that the functions of this Parliament in every aspect should be subjected to the searchlight of publicity. I think the Government is to be commended for a degree of courage in facing up to that position at this time. The provisions are reasonably modest. They could be adequate for the time being. I regret that they have not been approached on a wider base, from the viewpoint that I have already expressed.
The position must be faced that under our Constitution the Parliament has the responsibility of fixing the emoluments of its members. Nobody else can fix them. The Parliament has to fix them. If there is to be any change it must be made by the Parliament. The mere fact that there are contrary views to the proposals of the Parliament cannot deter the Parliament from proceeding when it thinks that the time has arrived, in justice and for the national good, to do something of this nature. The Opposition is of opinion that that time has arrived. So, Mr. Deputy President, I have pleasure in indicating that we support the measure.
– The measure before the Senate concerns the allowances and emoluments of members of Parliament and Ministers of the Crown. Obviously, it is an important public measure. 1 for one would not support the view that members of the Parliament should sock to treat it in a hush hush manner or abstain from debate on account of secrecy, because I. believe that one of the functions of the Parliament and of those who come here in a representative capacity, as we do, is to inform the general public, not only of our formal vote, but also of the reasons for our vote. Therefore, I take the opportunity to participate in this debate, with no pleasure, but with a full sense of the invidiousness of the situation when members of Parliament face the matter of their own emoluments, in which they have such an interest.
The fact that an interval of approximately 12 hours has intervened between the introduction of the measure and our opportunity to rise and speak to it is a source of satisfaction for honorable senators. I have found that period insufficient because I do not readily keep myself equipped with the provisions of this legislation. There are a few matters which, at the Committee stage, I shall ask the Minister to elucidate. It is true, as the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) said yesterday and as Senator McKenna said today, that the inescapable duty and authority to fix our emoluments is vested in the Parliament. But that does not mean that we cannot call in aid an agency or tribunal which could give a measure of reassurance to the country that there had been, in the processes of fixation of parliamentary emoluments, independent consideration at some stage of the procedure. The ingenuity of those who have thought on this subject has not been able to evolve an agency or tribunal, which would satisfy the principle of independence, to deal satisfactorily with the position of Parliament, the final responsibility of which must at all costs be maintained. But of course, in the tedious job of deciding our tariff arrangements, about half way through the history of our federation, this Parliament established a board of considerable independence to advise it concerning adjustments that should be made and the protection that should be given to our industries. I mention that matter because we can recall that although the Tariff Board was established with no overwhelming support from the majority of members of the Parliament, its work has given continuous satisfaction. So it would not be at all out of keeping with precedent if we were to evolve an independent tribunal which had a continuing existence and a continuing responsibility in this matter. It would bc a great aid to members of Parliament, I am sure, and would relieve them of the perplexity which they face in dealing with this matter.
I believe there is a tendency in these debates to give expression to a point of view which has regard only to the individual demands and requirements of members. We must have regard to Parliament as an institution vis-a-vis its members, and that must mean that whatever we do in relation to a measure of the kind now before the Senate must be adjudged as having a real relationship to the people outside. T am pleased to note that in the speech which was made in introducing the Bill some comfort was given by the observation that this increase in parliamentary emoluments is taking place at the end of a series of adjustments in the field outside the Parliament and should not be regarded as the initial stimulus to an upsurge of increases. Anybody who saw the way in which this country developed in the years of stability between the end of 1960 and the beginning of 1964, ought not lightly to engage in activity that might cause even a slight ripple on the economic sea and rock the boat. The advantages of economic stability to the country have been demonstrated, in that three year period, to be very great.
We live in a country in which the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commisison adjudicates in wage matters. ]f it adds £1 a week to the basic wage, that increases the cost factor in industry by approximately £100 million. The Commission sits continually. I refer to it only because I believe it would be most illogical for that tribunal to say that there is a real connection between adjustments of the salaries and emoluments of members of Parliament and Ministers of the Crown and adjustments that are made on the basis of the capacity of industry to pay. But I do not pretend that logic is a clear stream in the channels of thought of that tribunal, or indeed, of any other body of men. There is a risk that the repercussions of this measure will have untoward results in creating instability in the economy. That factor alone should induce restraint rather than excess in the field of remuneration we are discussing.
In the discharge of our duty I believe it is incumbent on us to survey other fields of endeavour to ensure that we do justice not only to the institution of Parliament and its members but also to our supporters. 1 refer to the taxpayers. I approach this
Bill with much less vigour than I will approach another bill, dealing with taxation, that is to come before us shortly. I shall instance just one provision in the proposed income tax legislation. If a person creates a trust, the income from which is a modest £400 a year, and under the terms of the trust the enjoyment of the income is deferred for the advantage of an infant, an invalid or a spinster, that income, as proposed in the legislation, will be taxed at the rate of 10s. in the £1. That is not a matter for discussion now, but the point I make is that in the field of taxation we are putting the Commissioner of Taxation into the position not merely of an interpreter of the law but of a person with discretion to say, as between taxpayers engaged in similar transactions, that A shall pay tax and B shall not. We are drifting, therefore, into a system where, if there are no safeguards, priviledge might be thought to be extended to members of Parliament, and where the authority of the official, not the rule of law, is the safeguard to the individual taxpayer.
The next observation I want to make is that there is something illusory about what wc are engaged in today. The salary of a Minister is to be £8,000. On an ordinary assessment, the income tax to bc deducted from that salary would be about £3,500. I am speaking in round figures as I have not had access to the most recent schedule. The income of an ordinary member will be about half that of a Minister. Taking it as £4,000, the tax to be paid will be about £1,200. There is an everincreasing elevation of incomes, but because of the steepening incidence of taxation, the high income figures are really an illusion. I think that some approach must be made to this problem; otherwise we will have in the community such a degree of uniformity that the man whose energies are supposed to be developed by the prospect of enjoyment of higher rewards will find frustration.
Having made those preliminary remarks, I now wish to make some observations on the specific provisions of the Bill. There is an adjustment of the salary of members and senators from £2,750 to £3,500, with an adjustment of the expense allowance, in the case of senators, from £750 to £1,000. I shall content myself by quoting those figures. The first thing to be remembered is that we start off from what must be conceded by all to be a generous base - the base of the Richardson report. Since the presentation of that report, there have been changes in various fields. The cost of living has gone up and the remuneration of many sections of the community has been adjusted. I have not made a percentage assessment, but I am not confident that some of the figures published in this morning’s press should be relied upon. The engineers’ case had an important impact upon professional salaries generally, but I believe that we need to approach that case, if it is to be taken as a guide, with great care. The engineers had been badly neglected. They started their endeavours to get an increase in salaries as far back as 1956, but their efforts came to fruition only after six or seven years. Therefore, the increase of engineers’ salaries in the period from 1959 to 1964 is not a satisfactory guide.
We also hear reference to what has been done in the State Parliaments. I believe that we are apt to mislead ourselves badly by paying much attention to the State Parliaments. State parliamentarians are caught up in the vortex of an artificially inflated internal economy. The State Parliaments do not have complete responsibility, as this Parliament has, for raising the revenue by which the nation is supported, and adjustment of the salaries of State members is subject, therefore, to criticism on that basis. When we have regard to the experiences of other Parliaments, we ought at least to glance at what is being done in Great Britain. The only adjustment that has been made there over many years has been to augment the salary of £1,000 by an expense allowance of £750. The salaries of members of the House of Commons have been left at the very low level of £1,000. I am not saying that that is at all acceptable to me as a standard of remuneration for members of this Parliament, but I just make reference to it. Then I have regard to the position in the United States where, of course, the remuneration is enormously in excess of what is proposed in this Bill.
Having regard to all these matters, I say, as a general proposition, that for the majority of members of this Parliament the adjustment of parliamentary salaries and expenses allowances is appropriate. It is bigger than I would have expected before yesterday morning, but not much. At any rate, I think it is appropriate; I would have thought that the new ministerial allowances, instead of being double those provided for ordinary members, would have been about 50 per cent. more. I do not understand that the Senate is in any hurried mood today and I see no reason why this debate should be shortened. For myself, I much prefer a debate in which each individual expresses his view, hoping that it will be respected even if it is different from the views expressed by others. But the individual, of course, has great respect for the collective point of view.
As to the increment of ministerial allowances and expense allowances of £2,000 I will adopt that as appropriate. I shall also adopt as appropriate, although very reluctantly and with acute surprise, the adjustment of what are called travelling allowances. I simply say I will not dissent from the adjustment of these allowances which are to rise from £12 to £15 a day for senior Ministers and from £10 to £12 a day for junior Ministers.
I come now to the next field - the superannuation for retired members of Parliament. The proposal is to advance the weekly superannuation payment to the individual member from £18 to £32 or £33 a week. This is a very great increase. I take some satisfaction from the actuarial certification that the members’ contribution fund had a surplus of £77,000 last year and is estimated to have a surplus exceeding £100,000 now. It has been deemed proper to share this excess retrospectively, so to speak, with the persons who ceased to contribute to the fund years ago. Their weekly superannuation is to be brought, not to £33, but to £18. However, we should recognise that in increasing the parliamentary superannuation allowances to that degree, we are proposing a very great increase. This is not justified by the mere reference to the fact that our contributions are in the form of an investment amounting, if I heard the Leader of the Opposition correctly, to £550,000.
The contingent liabilities that I on defeat or my widow and the widows of other honorable senators will impose on that fund have to be taken into account. But nobody has said that of this £15 a week increase in £10 is to come from the Treasury. Only £3 of every £10 of the increment will be yielded by the members’ contributions to the fund. I take that figure of £15 as the weekly increase for the purposes of easier arithmetic. This proposal means that of the increase of £15 a week, we pay in contributions £4 10s. a week and the Treasury provides the balance. We do not want to conceal this fact. If we take credit for our contribution in this respect, it is not proper to say that the take home pay from the actual parliamentary allowance is reduced by that contribution. The fact is that if we pay the contribution out of our salary, we were given it in our salary originally. Notwithstanding that, I propose to support this provision also.
I come now to the feature of the Bill which the Leader of the Opposition briefly noted as something new. I am sorry to say that, in my view, the notice paid to this feature in the second reading speech, is too insufficient to fulfil the requirements of candour. In the first place, I want to remind honorable senators of what the Minister for Defence said in the second reading speech when he announced that the Government had decided against the appointment of a committee to advise it in this instance. The statement was -
We decided against a committee because what we are now proposing to the Senate is essentially an upgrading of the amounts applying under the existing arrangements for salaries, allowances and retiring allowances. It is not a review of the structure of the arrangements or of other parliamentary privileges.
That statement brings to light a distinction that I stressed in the debates on a similar measure in 1959. I have not had time to refresh my mind about what I said then but 1 do not care because in this case the reference is not necessary to establish consistency in my advocacy; I am speaking as I judge the situation today. The revolutionary nature of the proposal in 1959 lay in the completely altered structure of parliamentary emoluments. For the most part, the present proposal is not of that character, but is an adjustment of the rate of emolument on an existing structure. This is not so, however, with regard to what has been called the ministerial superannuation fund, which is entirely new. The- importance of this matter should not escape us, because it creates a vested interest on the part of every beneficiary of the fund. Ministers of the Grown wield terrific authority in a system like ours. Let me hasten to add that by reason of their great abilities and their record of integrity, it is most satisfactory to a country like Australia, bursting with development, to have Ministers of their calibre. But do not let us forget that we might pass through a period when change in ministerial offices may be more frequent than they have been in the past 15 years. To create vested interest in these high offices may produce an inducement consistent in one sense with the independent discharge of duty, while at the same time producing inducements to men of outstanding ability and integrity to seek appointment to such offices. But the establishment of a ministerial’ superannuation fund is a new proposition, and I notice that the only reference made to it in the second reading speech of the Minister is a very scrappy reference at the end. The history of this matter shows that a non-contributory scheme was rejected previously although it was recommended by the Richardson Committee. It was rejected by the Government in 1959 on the advice of its parliamentary supporters. The matter is introduced now in the second reading speech in this statement -
Finally, we have examined the possibility of a contributory scheme to give very much modified effect to the recommendation of the Richardson Committee for a supplementary scheme for Ministers and certain other office bearers. The scheme now to be introduced, based upon actuarial advice, provides for a basic contribution rate of £4 Ss. per week and pensions varying with service from a minimum of eight years to a maximum of 14 years. The contribution rates have also been calculated on a basis to ensure that 30 per cent, of the pensions will be met from the fund.
When one turns to the Bill, one finds that the weekly superannuation payable to Minister after eight years service is £9, for a contribution of £4 5s. a week; but after the 14th year of service the superannuation payment raised on the same contribution - if I understand the position - rises to £21 a week. It is said in the second reading speech -
The scheme now to be introduced, based upon actuarial advice, provides for a basic contribution rate of £4 5s. a week . . .
In the time available, although I have requested it, I have not had the advantage of access to any actuarial report and I speak now subject to that handicap. It should be recognised that in relation to this scheme, whatever the contributions make ir. the way of fund, they provide for reimbursement of only 30 per cent, of the pension. In the case of the Ministerial fund, out of every £10 of superannuation payments made, the Treasury provides £7 and the fund provides only £3. I consider that when a Minister who is eligible for parliamentary superannuation of £32 or £33 a week adds, even after 14 years service, a pension of £21 a week, making in all some thing over £50 a week of which 70 per cent, comes from the Treasury, it is not a proposal that can gain my approval. Although I suppose that I will be very much alone in the position I have stated, I express my opposition. Those are the views that I have to submit. In Committee, as I have indicated, I will seek explanations on one or two matters.
– I wish to make two points in regard to the Bill before the Senate. The first point relates to the increase in Parliamentary salaries and the second point relates to the method used to increase Parliamentary salaries. In my 18 years in parliaments I have never discussed a salary bill. On this occasion I am neither opposing nor supporting the increase. I think it is highly improper for anyone who has an outside source of income to discuss what his fellow members of Parliament should receive. For that reason I do not discuss the question of what is a proper parliamentary salary. However, I feel that the whole question of the salary increase is slightly indecent when considered in relation to our status as members of Parliament. I fail to see why the Government cannot tie parliamentary salaries to a structure such as the salaries of heads of departments, the basic wage, or to some such system, so that if there is an increase in the structure to which parliamentary salaries are tied, they are automatically increased. This system would be advantageous, especially in regard to adjustments to the cost of living or the basic wage.
I think there is nothing worse than the fact that each time parliamentary salary rises are discussed we arouse the intense hatred of the rest of Australia. Last night I had to go to Melbourne and in the short time I was away from Canberra I was bombarded by people who are completely opposed to the increases in Parliamentary salaries. This is nothing new. Everyone is opposed to increases in salaries for members of other professions. If doctors wish to increase their fees, immediately there is an outcry. If the salaries of civil servants are increased, again there is an outcry. If the workers at General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd. seek increases in pay, again there is an outcry. As soon as members of Parliament wish to put up their salaries, a similar outcry occurs. Everyone believes that his own professional or group salary should be increased, but that no-one else’s salaries should be increased. It is the way of the world.
I do not subscribe to the view that increased pay will bring about better representation. For so long as there is a pre-selection system it will not be possible to obtain better people for Parliament by increasing parliamentary allowances. For that reason I oppose such a view. It is my own private view that an increase in the salaries of members will not result in better people being nominated. It may happen but, of course, candidates must face the hurdle of party preselection and those who are subservient to the local committee obviously receive first preference. Therefore I doubt that better representation will be obtained because of increased pay. I am totally opposed to the view that members of Parliament are philanthropists who, year after year, suffer economic hardship and just cannot continue on their salaries. I often feel like weeping for these unfortunate people, except that they are philanthropists, because it is said that, year after year, they are losing money; but when the next general election comes up, the first people to nominate are these members of Parliament in order that they can get back to Parliament and lose more money. I do not hold with the hypocritical view that members of Parliament must have an increase in salary because they cannot carry out their duties on the salary at present allotted to them.
Another aspect to which I wish to refer is that we are quite happy about increasing Parliamentary salaries, but we forget about everybody else in the community who cannot get salary increases. We are also very generous with our superannuation benefits, but we are not generous to anyone else. It is taxpayers’ money we are using, as Senator Wright so ably pointed out. Our contribution to the fund - £5, or £7 in future, or whatever it is - is very small indeed when considered in relation to what we are to receive in the long run. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) resigned from the Ministry many years ago because he felt that there should be a national superannuation scheme. It is very hard to believe in the honesty of the Government in increasing parliamentary retiring allowances when it does not introduce a national superannuation scheme for the whole of the Commonwealth. As I have said, I neither oppose nor support the salary increases. 1 do not think I should enter that field of discussion, although I express my own opinion that if everyone else gets salary increases, there is no reason why members of Parliament should not also get salary increases.
I come now to the method of increasing parliamentary salaries. It is the method which has irritated the public immensely. I have not spoken to one person on this subject who has not referred to the indecent - indeed, suspicious - haste with which this has been done. We have often heard in this chamber that, justice must not only be done but must appear to be done. I am afraid that in this instance justice does not appear to have been done. We have spoken about the fact that Parliament in its sovereignty sets down the salaries of members of Parliament. That is true. But honorable senators did not hesitate when they thought things were wrong to set up a committee - a farcical committee, if I may say so, although I was not in the Federal sphere at that time - which decided magnanimously to raise their salaries. Admittedly it was a committee of advice, but is there any reason why the Senate could not have had the committee, in a slightly altered form, come forward again? This haste raises suspicion against the Government, particularly when just recently the Government, for political reasons, gazetted with undue haste regulations to help a particular company. Now members of the Parliament very smartly are moving through the process of having a bill passed by both Houses to increase their salaries.
If I write a letter to a Minister, it takes me on an average two months to get a reply. Here we are considering legislation fixing higher salaries within a day or two of the decision having been made. Not being a member of a party, I was told only yesterday afternoon after the Senate met that the Government had agreed to salary increases and that the Bill would bc introduced in the lower House immediately. We can talk in this chamber about other matters without getting any action taken. I have raised the subject of single women with babies not being entitled to medical benefits. You call yourselves Christians, but you sit here smugly and could not care less about these people. Such assistance means a lot to this sort of person, but you do nothing about it because it does not affect you. But when your salaries are concerned you are unanimous and speed things up as much as you can. I have raised the position of pensioners who are inmates of mental institutions. Everybody else in this chamber and everybody else that I know of agrees that an alteration should be made, but you do nothing about it. But when 3’ou come back to your salaries, the matter is attended to quickly.
This sort of action annoys the public. Without question, members of the Parliament are entitled to an increase. I think everybody agrees that particularly those who have been here for a long time are entitled to an increase. But why can we not again set up a committee to investigate the matter? Such a committee should be independent. It should have as its members people who can assess the economic position of members of Parliament. Indeed, the committee could make an economic survey of what members of Parliament earn and what they have to spend. I do not believe - probably other honorable senators are of the same opinion - that members of Parliament should have to subscribe to every club or organisation that writes and asks them to become its vice-president or patron. There are thousands of clubs in the community. Such requests are utter blackmail. If members think they should become vicepresidents or patrons of clubs, that is their business. If they feel that they must do that to retain their seats and their incomes, that is their business and is not the concern of anybody else. But that sort of thing should not be taken into account in an economic survey of the amount of money that members of Parliament should get.
I know that many members of another place and of this place agree with me when I say that this measure is being stampeded through. The public does not like that. No one will disagree with me when I say that you have a right to an increase in salary. But why can you not do it as you did it in the past? Any increase granted as a result of an investigation by a committee could be made retrospective to 1st November.
– That would cause a row.
– It would not cause a row if we brought the matter out into the open and said that we proposed to increase our salaries. I know that increases are not popular, but why not give the public a chance to learn about them in advance? Anyhow I do not think you should increase your salaries until the next election. You should come out into the open before an election and say: “ We propose to increase our salaries “. It would not matter, because people have to vote for either the Liberal Party or the Labour Party, except in Tasmania.
– We are on the eve of an election.
– But it is not an election for both Houses. Members should wait until there is to be a general election and then say: “ We propose to increase our salaries”. Then they would be doing it openly and, theoretically, no-one would have a kick against them. If members of the Parliament are entitled to a higher salary, they have nothing to be ashamed of. They should set up a committee to advise them, especially in regard to the points raised by Senator Wright. I do not know whether an actuarial statement has been prepared. I presume one has been prepared. Is one available, Mr. President, for us to see? If one is available, it should be tabled or put in the main party rooms and in my room and the party room of the Australian Democratic Labour Party so that we can study it. From what Senator Wright had to say it would seem that the figures produced are not correct. They might be correct, but that could easily be determined by reference to an actuarial report.
– Senator Wright did not suggest that they were not correct. He said that he did not know.
– -Well, Senator Wright does not know; he is very doubtful about it.
– He would not suggest that they were not correct.
– He may not have suggested that they were not correct, but he thought it possible that they were not accurate. In any case, Senator Wright may raise the point himself at the Committee stage. The need for an increase in salaries should have been placed before a committee. Both of the major parties could have said to the public: “ We propose to increase our salaries. We intend to submit the matter to a committee for consideration, and propose to date the increase as from 1st November”. I do not think there would have been any complaint about that. That is how this matter should have been handled.
– Mr. President, every few years the salaries and allowances of members of the Parliament have to be adjusted. It is quite obvious that since 1959, when the last increase was granted, members of the Parliament have been finding it increasingly difficult to pay their way. Because of that, the Government has decided upon these increases. It is indeed pleasing to note that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), speaking on behalf of the Opposition, is not opposing the measure.
Senator Turnbull has advanced many suggestions. He has complained about having written to Ministers and not having received replies. He has suggested that a committee should be appointed to investigate salaries and allowances, that the committee should report to the Parliament and that the Parliament should then make a decision. I point out that in the final analysis it is the responsibility of the Parliament to make such recommendations and to pass the necessary measures. Since I was elected to the Parliament three separate committees have investigated salaries and allowances. In 1951 and 1955 the Nicholas Committee reported, and in 1959 the Richardson Committee submitted a report. Prior to that the necessary decision was taken by the Parliament, as is being done on this occasion. What did those committees do? They made recommendations to the Parliament and the Parliament made the necessary decisions. Bills were introduced in both Houses. I do not believe that the appointment of a committee every time an increase is thought to be necessary is the proper answer to the problem.
– Why did the Government set up committees in the past?
– We have done it in several ways. We have not always appointed committees. Indeed, we have appointed committees on only three occasions since I entered the Parliament. The honorable senator believes that we should now appoint another committee to investigate the matter. I point out that even if a committee were set up its task would be only to make recommendations and the Parliament would have to decide whether to accept them. Who knows better than members of the Parliament what their expenses are and what they should be receiving? The honorable senator said that many members claimed that they were not receiving sufficient but that they always submitted themselves for re-election. That is a pretty poor argument. I recall that prior to the meeting of the Richardson Committee several members on both sides of the Parliament approached the Government and said: “ We cannot carry on. We will have to put in our resignations if we are not assured of an increase.” That was the reason for the establishment of the Committee. So it is wrong to say that there are members of Parliament who will always come back and have another go. They came back then on the assurance that they would be receiving more money, and they got it. When a member comes into the Parliament he may have accrued £4,000 or £5,000 of capital. He becomes involved in politics and every three years he sees that capital diminishing, but he does not resign because he is interested, not in the money that he receives but in the job that he is doing. He would not resign until he had run out of that £5,000 of capital. I know of members who have done this.
I know the costs to private members in the life that we lead. People without other forms of income, with families to educate and a certain standard to maintain, are not able to live on this salary. I believe that very few people in Australia know what the expenses of a member of Parliament really are. For one thing, it is necessary for a member to have some means of transport if he is to do his job. I understand that chambers of commerce throughout Australia, and particularly in Western Australia, have decided to pay an employee who uses his own motor vehicle in his employment about ls. 2d. a mile for the first 5,000 miles and a little over 8d. a mile for the balance. It is easy to assess that a member, particularly one who represents a State such as Western Australia-
– Or Queensland.
– And Queensland. Such a member must travel a distance in excess of 20,000 miles a year.
– I travelled 700 miles last week in Tasmania.
– Yes. I have taken out some figures, because I believe honorable senators will be interested. Our allowances are to be increased from £800 to £1,050. Let us consider motor car expenses alone. A person who travels 20,000 miles a year by car - I doubt whether many senators do less - would, on the basis of the allowances determined by the chambers of commerce in respect of employees, which have been cut to the nearest penny, of course, receive almost £800. In Western Australia a trip to Derby and back by motor car along the coast, with visits to the various towns, involves a period of three weeks. Senators are supposed to do this, and they do it.
– But the honorable senator flies whenever he goes up there, I should think.
– It is not very convenient to fly, because schedules are not designed to permit a member to go from place to place quickly. If he did the circuit by air, it would take a month, as he would be three or four days in a town. It is necessary for him to have a motor car. Senators on both sides of the chamber have done such trips, and we know.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I mentioned the electorate allowance and pointed out that for a member of Parliament to fulfil his duties he must of necessity have a motor vehicle. If he is a senator representing one of the larger States the cost of the travel that he has to do becomes excessive. For instance, to travel by car to Derby in the north of Western Australia along the coast road and to make calls to three or four adjacent districts involves a distance of 4,000 miles and necessitates an absence of about three weeks from his office. On the trip the senator would require hotel accommodation most of the time which, on the average, costs £5 a day, so for a trip extending over 21 days the cost of hotel accommodation alone is £105. Taking an average of lOd. a mile for car expenses, the trip of 4,000 miles would cost about £170, giving si total of £275 out of pocket expenses for the three weeks.
That does not take into consideration the entertainment that a senator must provide when he visits friends in these towns. When you have lunch at the hotel in a town you are always called upon to shout for the bar. You are expected to spend some of your electoral allowance on entertainment. Of course you do this, but that is over and above the £275 that I have mentioned. In effect, the electoral allowance of £1,050 is absorbed in one trip to the north of three weeks duration, plus the minimum 20,000 miles travelling that one has to do each year. In addition, donations which we are expected to make to various organisations from time to time average about £200 a year.
In my view the electoral allowance does not meet the expenses that a member of Parliament must face. Members of the House of Representatives receive a little more than do senators. That is completely ridiculous. A member of the House of Representatives, representing a country electorate, can receive an allowance up to £1,300 whereas a senator who represents a State which includes several electorates receives only £1,050. I do not think that is fair but this is not the time to raise it. We are thankful for the proposed increases. But there probably will come a time when the other matter can be raised.
I agree with the Leader of the Opposition who said he believes that if you increase the salaries and allowances of members of Parliament you will encourage people, probably better equipped than some of us here today, to enter politics. Senator Turnbull contradicted that and said that in his opinion it would not have the desired effect because an increase would not necessarily bring in more highly skilled people. 1 think he mentioned in support of his view, that notwithstanding that some more highly skilled people might try to enter politics, they still would have to face the selection barrier of the various parties which decide who shall represent them.
This, of course, is a problem. But many people in Western Australia and in other States have said to me often that they would be very interested in becoming members of Parliament but they would have to give away so much in the form of remuneration that they just could not afford to do so. This is true. I think any honorable senator would find that quite a number of people receiving salaries between £6,000 and £8,000 a year are anxious to enter Parliament but cannot do so because of the remuneration that is offered. Even though the basic allowance will be increased now from £2,750 to £3,500, there is still a wide gap between that rate and their outside earnings of between £6,000 and £8,000 a year.
We must consider the work that a member of Parliament has to do. He represents an electorate or, in the case of a senator even a State. This year’s Budget is in the vicinity of £2,500 million so, if I may refer to it in this way, the Parliament is by far the biggest business undertaking in Australia. We want the top men from industry and from other walks of life to run our great country. I say emphatically that you will not get the top men to take the administrative jobs if you offer them a basic salary of £3,500. Therefore, in the interests of the taxpayers of Australia it is right that we as a Parliament should offer sufficient remuneration to encourage our best brains to come forward and to take an interest in running this great country.
There has been talk about the proposed increases. What do we receive in fact? The basic salary will be increased by £750 a year. Prior to the increase a member received a salary of £2,750. If you take from that the deductions at source - tax of £653 and superannuation of £260, a total of £913 - the take home pay is reduced to £1,837. We are to receive an increase of £750 a year, making a total basic salary of £3,500, less deductions at source of £967 for tax and £403 for superannuation, a total of £1,370. The take home cheque for the year will be £2,130, or £293 more than we received prior to the increase. I do not believe the increase will be of much help to members of the Parliament. I think it could have been greater. As I have mentioned, the increase in the electoral allowance will be only £250. The allowance for senators is to increase from £800 a year to £1,050.
The allowance still will not meet the electoral expenses of a concientious member of the Parliament. However, that is by the way.
I turn to the retiring allowances. I understand that some people think that the amount of the contribution is a little too high. We are to contribute Hi per cent, of our basic salary, which will necessitate a contribution of £7 14s. lOd. a week, for which we will receive a retiring allowance of half the basic salary, or £1,750, provided that we serve in three Parliaments, or for eight years, or retire voluntarily after 12 years. What I like about the new arrangement is that the Government has considered the need to look after members who were defeated or who resigned from the Parliament prior to 1959 and who are receiving only a small retiring allowance. The fund has a total amount of £560,000 in it at the moment. That has been contributed to by members. According to the Commonwealth Actuary, there is an surplus of more than £77,000 in the fund. As a result, we are able to provide better retiring allowances for former members of the Parliament. They win receive an increase to help them along. Members who retired or were defeated after 1959 will receive a retiring allowance of 50 per cent, of their parliamentary salary. This will mean, of course, that members who were defeated in 1959 will receive half of the basic salary of £2,750.
I come now to the retiring allowances for Ministers. Because of the additional contribution that they make to the fund, they will be entitled to retiring allowances ranging from £9 a week after eight years service to £21 a week after 14 years service. I believe, Mr. President, that a Minister of the Crown must be above reproach in all forms of business activity. I understand that a Minister is not permitted to be a director or chairman of directors of a company. Usually, Ministers are so busy that they have not the time to engage in activities which are open to ordinary members of the Parliament. Since Ministers contribute more to the fund, than do members, I cannot see why they should not be entitled to a higher retiring allowance. However, I should like to see an arrangement whereby members would have the prerogative of electing to contribute at the same rate as Ministers and, after having served for the prescribed time, would be entitled to receive the same retiring allowances.
All in all, I should say that the measures we are discussing have been designed to help members of the Parliament meet their everyday commitments. The proposed increases will enable them to get closer to meeting their commitments than was the case formerly. I do not live on my parliamentary salary and I believe that there are very few members of the Parliament who could do so without being very restrictive in their spending. I have much pleasure in supporting the motion.
– In 1959 the Australian Democratic Labour Party very strenuously opposed the proposal to increase salaries and pensions of members of Parliament. The attitude of the Party to the Bill now before the Senate is similar to the attitude we adopted in 1959. At that time, we opposed the increases on the ground that an independent tribunal had been set up.
– The honorable senator should not be silly. We opposed the increases in 1959 on the ground that an independent tribunal had been set up. It had been our policy over the years, opposed strenuously, of course, by the Australian Labour Party, to have an independent tribunal investigate pension payments to the aged and invalid members of the community and to improve the position if possible. We thought that if it was proper to set up an independent tribunal to decide our own pensions it would be equally proper for the Parliament to set up an independent tribunal to devise a decent standard of living for the pensioners of this country. That is the attitude we took on that occasion. We did not say that the increases were not justified. In fact, we said they were justified.
Although my Party at this moment is totally opposed to increases in parliamentary salaries and pensions, there seems to be quite a difference between the legislation now before the Senate and the 1959 legislation. As I have said, on that occasion an independent tribunal dealt with the matter. On this occasion the Parliament is acting directly to increase salaries and pensions, so this is a different situation altogether. 1 think that for a long time senators and members of the other House have been treated throughout the country - and even by the Parliament itself - as second-class citizens. It is time that we raised our status in the eyes of the people of Australia. As far as salaries and amenities are concerned, we are really only second-class citizens in the community. That position should be changed. A simple instance is the provision of travelling facilities. The members of this Parliament are the most important people in this capital city. Canberra re-ally revolves around us, yet the ordinary backbenchers have very few privileges. It is up to the Parliament to improve the status of members of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Why should not a member of the Parliament, if he desires, have the use of a motor vehicle to enable him to carry out his Parliamentary work? Why should he not have a car to take him home in the cold small hours of the morning? Why should he not have the right to such amenities? Not very long ago, I was unfortunate enough to have to leave this place and go to a hospital. There are no amenities in this House for anybody who is taken ill.
– The honorable senator had expert attention here.
– I had expert attention, I must admit that, but there were no facilities for a continuation of that expert attention here. These things should be looked into. As members of the Federal Parliament, we should have certain amenities.
The Government has decided that there shall be an increase of parliamentary salaries and pensions. I have no quarrel with that. Although, as I said, my Party strenuously opposes the increases - I think a lot of people outside are opposing them - I believe that the circumstances now are different from those that obtained at the time of the last increase. We are trying to raise our status. Under the circumstances, I support the measure. I do not agree however, with the statement that we are doing this as a Parliament. I think that we are accepting a fait accompli. On future occasions, I believe a parliamentary committee comprised of members of all parties should bc appointed, and it should bring its findings before the Parliament. If that were done, the decision would truly be a parliamentary decision. That has not happened in this instance. I did not know that this legislation was to be introduced until lunch time yesterday. Under the circumstances, I think we are following the right lines, but a lot more could be done to raise the status of members and senators.
.– At the outset of my remarks, I should like to explain that I was not present yesterday at the meeting of my party when this matter was brought forward. I was engaged on other important matters. It was not until I had a discussion with Senator Paltridge last night, while the Senate was debating other matters, that I first knew of the details of the Bills now before us. It was almost midnight when the Senate adjourned, and in view of the early commencement this morning there has not been much time for research into this matter.
We have before us legislation which affects what I might call the two sections of the Parliament - the private senators and members and the Ministers. In the case of private members and senators, salaries are to be increased by £750 per annum, and in the case of senators the electoral allowance is to be increased by £250. An alteration is to be made to retiring allowances which will, I think, represent a considerable forward step. It is fair to say that we are to receive very generous treatment. The increased’ retiring allowances will entail, on the part of those who remain in the Parliament, a considerable increase in their contributions from £5 to £7 14s. lOd. I think it will be generally acknowledged that the retiring allowance now is particularly generous, amounting on the average to £34 1 0s. a week, up to 65 years and in the case of retiring at the age of 65, I think it runs out at £37 10s. I do not think anybody can cavil at a retiring allowance of that amount.
– It is subject to income tax.
– All income is subject to tax. In speaking of the retiring allowance, I am speaking only of the gross amount because every section of the community has to pay income tax.
There are three aspects of this matter which mainly concern members of this
Parliament. It is some years since parliamentarians have had an alteration of their salaries and allowances. In view of the period of time that has elapsed, I think most’ people will concede that, whilst the present increases may be considered to be generous, there is considerable merit in them. In considering these increases we should look at the difference between the position of a private member and that of a Minister. The salary of a private member will be increased by £750 and that applies also to the salary of a Minister in his capacity as a member of Parliament. But, Ministers are to receive a further increase - that is, to their ministerial salaries - ranging from £150 for a junior Minister and £1,000 for a senior Minister a year. In all a junior Minister will receive an increase of £1,500 a year and senior Ministers an increase of £1,750 a year. 1 do not want anyone to think that I make this content because of vindictiveness towards the Ministers or a disregard of their responsibilities. Among our Ministers, we have some very capable men. I believe the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Paltridge), for example, is a man of great ability who probably would go even further if he were in another place. I pay my respect to some of our Ministers. However, when salaries are increased, persons with larger incomes should not receive the same proportionate increase as those with smaller incomes because there are some basic requirements in living and other aspects to be considered. I think recognition should be given to the fact that those with larger incomes do not require as great an increase. 1 would have liked the Ministry to make a gesture - and I believe Senator Wright indicated this - so that the Ministers would have accepted a smaller increase in ministerial salaries since they are receiving the same increase in members’ salaries as do the ordinary members of Parliament. Of course, a decision has been made and we have it now before us.
I turn now to the retiring allowances and the new aspect that has been introduced by the provision of a special retiring allowance for Ministers. I am not in favour of this proposal. It is entirely new and represents an alteration in the existing structure of the retiring allowances scheme.
The proposal is that a Minister or the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, who contributes £4 5s. a week, will receive after eight years a retiring allowance apart from the allowance he will receive from the senators’ and members’ retiring allowance fund. A person over 65 who has been a Minister for eight years will receive, on retirement, approximately £37 10s. plus 19. If the retiring member has served as a Minister for 14 years or more and is over 65 years of age he will receive £21 a week in addition to the £37 10s. making a total of £58 10s. a week. That is a very good retiring allowance.
I realise that some of the bigger business concern in Australia are making similar ample provision for their executives but there is a principal involved in the parliamentary proposal which interests me. Smaller amounts are to be provided for the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, who are to contribute £2 2s. 6d. a week, and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate who will contribute £1 3s. 3d. a week. But in respect of the top stratum, there is a principle involved about which I feel strongly. Take the case of a person who has held ministerial office for 14 years. If he pays £4 5s. for one or two weeks or a month or whatever the time may be and then retires, he will be entitled to a retiring allowance of £21 a week as a minister in addition to the amount he will receive from the senators and members retiring allowance fund. I believe that is a wrong basis upon which to start.
I realise that if a man has served in the Ministry for such a term it would be unfortunate if he did not get the appropriate retiring allowance. This could be attributable to an unfortunate circumstance of time and it could happen to Ministers and others in various ways. Honorable senators will recall senators and members of Parliament and former Ministers who retired without an allowance such as that provided in this measure. That is unfortunate but it does happen. However, I think we are starting on a wrong basis in providing that qualification for this new ministerial retiring allowance will pertain to service and not to the length of service and contribution. I believe that the qualification should commence from the time that a person begins to contribute to this fund. Otherwise a person can get a flying start towards qualifying for a big retiring allowance in return for a small contribution.
An honorable senator retired from ministerial office not so long ago. He had served as a Minister for more than 14 years. He probably did not have any inside knowledge of these proposals but if he had waited just a few months and retired next month, he would have received an extra £21 a week for a contribution of a few pounds. I do not wish to look far to the right of me in this chamber but honorable senators might guess to whom 1 am referring. Now, because of the time factor and because he was not briefed, that honorable senator who now sits as a back bencher will not receive this increased retiring allowance although he served in the Ministry for more than 14 years.
I mention that as a case in point. I emphasise this aspect because I think there was a fairer way to make this provision. As a matter of fact, I am not at all keen about it. This proposal was recommended by the Richardson Committee in 1959 and was discarded by the Government. I am surprised to see it revived. I think such matters should be arranged on a different basis and that the period of service should begin from the time the persons concerned began to contribute to the special fund. As a Senate we do not want to see discrimination between Ministers and private members or senators. We do not want distinctions so that one stratum is more privileged than another. That sort of thing can happen when a scheme is introduced without discussion. A study of the legislation shows that there is discrimination.
It is interesting to note that the widow of a senator or member on a retirement allowance will receive only five-twelfths of the husband’s allowance. A Minister’s widow will receive five-sixths of the rate of pension that would have been paid to the retired Minister.
– That is not my understanding. I hope that the Minister will clear up the point.
– It is a common fivesixths.
– The Bill states-
Section nineteen of the Principal Act is amended -
– It states “ parliamentary allowance “ not “ parliamentary retiring allowance “.
– I take it that.it means parliamentary retiring allowance.
– No. It is the equivalent of five-sixths of the retiring allowance.
– They are both £28.
– It states clearly - 22K. (2.) (a) (i) a pension, during her lifetime but ceasing upon her re-marriage, at the rate of fivesixths of the rate of the pension that was, or would have been, payable to the deceased person;
There it is, unless I do not understand plain English.
– It is five-twelfths of the allowance.
– It seems I have gained the wrong impression. The Minister and my legal friend say that I am wrong, so I stand corrected. However, I think that the principle I referred to at the commencement of my address is wrong. I do not agree with it. I feel that it is something that should be looked at and that the ministerial retiring allowance should be linked to the period of payment into a special retiring allowance and also to the period of service. I have expressed my views on this matter. As to the difference between payments to senators and Ministers, I think we should always recognise the desirability of not having too great a discrimination between Ministers and senators in respect of their emoluments and the various activities of this chamber.
– Mr. Deputy President,I rise to support the Bill. Members of this Parliament and of the other Parliaments of the Commonwealth, and, I think, the people of the
Commonwealth in the main, have accepted a certain principle in respect of parliamentary government. Sixty years ago - perhaps more than that - parliamentary representation was the prerogative of the wealthy section of the community. Only the people who could afford it represented their constituents in Parliament. I suppose they did as a labour love, out of a feeling of patriotism. There has gradually grown up the idea that parliamentary emoluments should be such as to enable people of all walks of life to enter Parliament, if they so desire. I repeat that that is a principle which has been accepted. 1 believe it should be accepted. I believe that the Australian people accept it. If the principle is accepted, the idea must also be accepted that from time to time, due to variations in conditions, there should be adjustments to parliamentary salaries. The present adjustment is one of them.
I suppose I am a little careless about this proposition, inasmuch as I have now only one dependant and it would not have been a very great hardship for me to have continued on the conditions existing to date. But so often today the cry is for young men with growing families and the attendant responsibilities. I think adjustments to salaries are necessary from time to time, but I cannot understand why the spotlight is so much on this Parliament. I was associated with a State parliament which, only recently, has considerably increased the salaries of its members. Some years ago, by a more generous system than we propose to adopt in relation to parliamentary retiring allowances in this Parliament, the same State parliament increased its parliamentary retiring allowance from £12 or £14 to £30. So far as I am aware, those increases did not cause the slightest ripple in public opinion. If they did, I did not hear of it.
The focus of attentions seems to be this Parliament. This morning I read of a comment by the President of the Taxpayers Association in Victoria to the effect that the present adjustments to salaries and retiring allowances - and they are only minor adjustments - would cause inflation. I listened with interest this morning to Senator Wright - I think I can quote him correctly - when he said that he wondered why there should be any connection between industry’s ability to pay a certain rate and all the other conditions upon which the Commonwealth Con ciliation and Arbitration Commission bases its findings, and the emoluments paid to members of Parliament. Had it been considered that rates of pay should not be increased unless they would not cause inflationary pressure in the community, it is certain that there would have been no adjustments since 1939 because the threat of inflationary pressure is always with us. I believe that this Parliament has taken the right and proper course in adjusting parliamentary emoluments.
The theory has been advanced that the matter should have been referred to an outside committee for investigation and arrival at an independent decision. In my view, the experience of this Parliament in referring such matters to a committee has not been fortunate in all its aspects. The present adjustments are based on the report of the Richardson Committee. That report advanced the proposition that all senators should receive an electorate allowance of what I believe to be a completely absurd amount. Of course, it was less at the time of the report, but at present it is £1050. The report stated that a member of the House of Representatives who, in all probability, represents a pocket handkerchief electorate, should receive a bigger electorate allowance of £1,100. [ cannot understand why honorable senators did not do something to rectify this anomaly a long time ago. What parliamentary experience would members of the Richardson committee or any other committee have had? How would they know what was involved? They would know only what they were told in evidence. What practical experience would they have had of the duties and responsibilities that devolve upon honorable senators? I do a tremendous lot of country work in the little State of Tasmania; I travel more than 20,000 miles a year. That means that I need a new car every three years. If one takes into account depreciation and running expenses, one notes that the amount designated in the proposed adjustment will be barely sufficient to cover the expenses incurred.
I believe that I must go along with this proposition. When I first looked at it, I wondered whether the added emoluments would be worth the controversy that they would cause. As Senator Scott said, although a considerable percentage of the increase in salary will go to a superannuation fund and will eventually come back to members of the Parliament or their wives, the immediate increase in salary will be only £293 a year. That is not a very big increase for the private member. Should we wait until all the factors that are used as an argument against the granting of adjustments are smoothed out? If we are to tie our wagon to the position of the less fortunate people in the community, if we are to say that the emoluments should not be adjusted until, as senator Turnbull suggested, pensions are paid to the inmates of mental institutions - probably that should be done; I do not know - if we are to wait until we reach a Utopian state in the community, then there will never be any adjustment of parliamentary salaries and allowances.
I support the measure. In the prevailing circumstances the adjustment - that is all it is - is moderate. It should not provoke the undue criticism that has been levelled against increases in past years. 1 repeat that I have much pleasure in supporting the proposal.
– in reply - I begin my reply by expressing gratification at the response of honorable senators to this measure. There has been general agreement about the proposals with, not unexpectedly, a variation in the enthusiasm with which they have been received. This indicates in very certain terms the nature of a parliament in a democracy. The debate has thrown into sharp focus the complexity of the problem of trying to equate the needs of various members and of ensuring equity in the various proposals that are advanced.
We have as members of this democratic Parliament men from all walks of life. Some of them are more fortunate than others. I am sure Senator Turnbull will not mind my quoting his case, because he himself quoted it. He said: “ I am a man who practises a profession. I have access to funds in addition to my parliamentary salary.” We have, on the one hand, men who are in the same category as Senator Turnbull. But on the other hand we have in the Parliament men who, in order to satisfy themselves that they are doing their job satisfactorily, have voluntarily given up their profession. Very much the same situation obtains in relation to members who obtain their income from sources other than professional practice. So we have a wide variety of incomes to consider when facing up to this problem. I speak in a purely personal way when I say that I have always regarded it as being a basic principle that rates of parliamentary pay and allowances should be pitched to cater for the needs of the man who is less fortunate than those who are practising a profession or have another source of income. If I may adopt a thought expressed by Senator Lillico, only by adopting this as a basic principle can we hope to have available the services of men who can stand for truly democratic principles without any fear about their future or the future of their wives and kiddies.
I take the view that the Richardson committee proposals which were adopted by this Parliament some five years ago were not in any sense luxurious. I regarded them as being realistic but no more. If we want proper representation by men who are appropriate for the task, then I believe that the salary scale that we adopted in 1959 was realistic. The proposals which are currently before us, and which do not seek to make any alteration to the structure of parliamentary salaries and allowances, are restrained, reasonable and moderate. There is nothing luxurious about them. I take the view, Mr. President, that if a review of salaries and allowances had been referred to a tribunal, as has been suggested in some quarters, then the rates recommended might have been in excess of those we are now considering. I point out to my friend Senator Wood, who had something to say about ministerial salaries, that my remarks in this connection apply generally to members’ salaries and ministerial salaries and allowances.
I think we can isolate what seems to be the one point at which any substantial criticism has been raised. That is in respect of the establishment of ministerial retiring allowances. It has been suggested that this was a departure from the usual adjustments - from the adjustments which had occurred - that it was the introduction of something new. If it was, then it was introduced not without its having been considerably discussed and considerably considered both by members of the Parliament and by the Government. If one looks to the beginnings of that sort of thing, one must necessarily come back to the Richardson report, and I should like to read the relevant paragraphs on the proposal, which was made five years ago by the Richardson Committee -
When, after many years in Parliament, including a number of years of highly responsible, arduous and health-destroying service as Minister or of equally exacting and scarcely less responsible service as Opposition Leaders, such men retire from politics, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for them to obtain other employment at all in keeping with their needs. There has been outside politics, in the last fifteen years or more, a growing recognition by public bodies and private employers of their obligation to make full provision for the superannuation of their employees, and the provision made invariably increases with the importance and responsibility of an employee’s position. No such provision (except the meagre benefits of all Members under the contributory Retiring Allowances Scheme) . . .
That is as it was then, in 1959 -
I do not want to put too fine a point on this, but I am sure that every senator sitting in this chamber has in his own mind as I read those words examples of former Ministers living in very poor circumstances indeed, not at all in conformity with that which would be expected for an ex-Minister or indeed what an ex-Minister with years of service might himself expect. The report continues -
We think it would be a reproach to the people of Australia if proper provision were not made so that ex-Ministers and Opposition Leaders who have served as such for at least six years will be able to keep themselves in modest dignity and meet the obligations which they will necessarily have; or if adequate provision were not made for their widows.
Accordingly we propose the provision of noncontributory retiring allowances for ex-Members who have served, whether as Ministers or Leader or Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives or Leader or Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, for an aggregate period, in the case of service as Minister or Leader of the Opposition, of six years, and a longer period in the case of the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives; also for pensions to the widows of such persons.
I mention that as being the expression of the view of a Committee which sat as long ago as 1959. In that year, the recommenda tion of that Committee, which was not proceeded with, was that there should be a non-contributory scheme and that there should be a qualifying period of six years. What the present proposals embrace is a contributory scheme with a qualifying period of eight years, and I suggest that having regard to what goes on in the world of industry or commerce the proposals which are made do no more than what can be regarded as usual in Australia today.
Senator Wood indicated that there could be instances here of presently serving Ministers gaining some advantage because they have already served a qualifying period of eight years. Indeed, some of them have served almost twice that period. The advantage would be gained if, for example, they ceased to be Ministers for any one reason within a very short time of this scheme becoming effective. This I must acknowledge, but if one looks at the scheme as a whole,, one sees that while this advantage might accrue at one end, at the other end some Ministers - I cite my colleagues Senator Anderson and Mr. Chaney - have no advantage of that sort to gain and must serve eight years - an inordinately long period in Australian politics - ‘before they become eligible for these retiring allowances. But in any case I think it must be obvious that a scheme of this sort has to be started. One has to make a start line somewhere, and the start line is the position as it exists today. When we apply this principle to this particular retiring allowances scheme, the Parliament does no more than was done back in 1949 in respect of the members’ retiring allowances scheme.
– And elsewhere, too, in the States, the position is exactly the same.
– Yes. In 1949 there were sitting members of this Parliament who ceased to be members very shortly after the passage of this legislation out who benefited by the establishment of the retiring allowances scheme. In all the circumstances, I think that this is a reasonable and proper, and indeed the only practical way to get such a scheme under way.
Other points which were made, to which I listened with particular interest, were one or two references to the discrepancy between senators’ allowances and the allowances paid to members of the House of Representatives. My own personal experience leads me to certain very firm conclusions in this respect. I know that the use to which a member or a senator puts his allowance varies very greatly indeed as between person and person and the type of service that is given to the electorate or the State. I have also noted with great interest that in the House of Representatives the only thing that is or can be recognised is not the type of service, which differs as between one member and another, but the size and the difficulties of the electorate represented.
There are two or three categories. The representative of an electorate like Kalgoorlie, for example, will receive a much higher allowance than will the representative of a Melbourne metropolitan electorate. The adoption of this principle in the House of Representatives seems to give reasonable satisfaction. In the Senate, however, we have a flat rate. Apart altogether from the validity of the differentiation against a senator because he is a senator, if we were to adopt in this place the same principle as it adopted in the House of Representatives I think we would end with the situation in which the senators from Queensland and, I would think, from Western Australia, would, for the purpose of this allowance, be treated rather more generously than are the senators from Tasmania or from Victoria.
– You are speaking now as a Minister.
– I am speaking as a senator.
– It all sounds false to me.
– It is not a bit false.I do not think the honorable senator has been following my argument. I am arguing that if the principle that is applied in the House of Representatives were applied in the Senate the senators from the larger States would be treated more generously than are the senators from the smaller States.
– What would be wrong with that?
– I am merely commenting on a suggestion that was made in a couple of speeches, and I hope that I am directing the attention of honorable senators generally to what might be a method of approach to a problem which affects senators particularly. That is all. I am not commenting on whether this is right or wrong.
– Seeing that the Minister is a member of the Cabinet, it is a bit late now to be commenting on it.
– That might well be so, but the honorable senator should not forget that years ago these allowances were the subject of representations from all parties to a certain committee, and the committee made certain proposals which we adopted and which the Opposition in turn adopted. What I am saying now is that if the Senate wants to look at this matter in the same light as the House of Representatives looked at it, there may be a case for so doing. But if that is so, now is not the time to do it. The time to do it is in the quiet that follows the passage of a bill like this, when everyone has time to reflect on the equities or inequities of the existing system.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 28th October (vide page 1389), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
.- Although provision has been made, for example, for Leaders of the Opposition, there is no reference anywhere to the Presiding Officers of the Parliament. Will the Minister tell me whether there is any specific reason why Mr. Speaker and the President of the Senate have not been considered?
.- The Presiding Officers are covered in the first Bill, the Parliamentary Allowances Bill.
– I should like to mention a report that has been circulated in the newspapers to the effect that I am lucky enough to be, as it were, among the Ministers of State. It has been claimed that I, being leader of the third party in this Parliament, will receive the £1,000 that is paid to the leader of a party. I should like to correct that.
– The honorable senator’s party is not the third party; it is the fourth party.
– The honorable senator should explain that to the newspaper reporters. The fact is that I receive no allowance for being the leader of my party. I have read the Bills very carefully and have noted that, in brackets, certain conditions are laid down under which the leader of the third party may receive increased emoluments. I think the unwritten law is that there should be at least 10 members of a party in the Parliament before any allowance is paid to the leader of that party. I should like to have the statement in the newspapers corrected. The newspapers throughout Australia have said that I will receive £1,000 more than I will actually receive.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 28th October (vide page 1390), on motion by Senator Paltridge-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
.- Although clause 14 of the Bill refers to the retiring allowances of certain members of the Parliament, no provision is made for the Presiding Officers. I suggest that they have a higher constitutional responsibility to fulfil than has any Minister or the Leaders of the Opposition. Indeed, without their capacity and authority the business of the Parliament could not proceed and the means of Government could not ensue. Why are the Presiding Officers of the Parliament the keys which unlock the door of the Parliament not mentioned? I believe that their responsibilities are at least as great as those of the most junior Minister.
.- The officers who were included in the scheme were those covered by the recommendations of the Richardson Committee five years ago. The Bill takes up the recommendations as they came from that Committee. There was no recommendation regarding either Presiding Officer of the Parliament.
.- I seek from the Minister an explanation of the effect of the amendment proposed by clause 9 of section 17 of the Act. I direct particular attention to the expression “ his failure to secure the support of a political party from which he reasonably sought support, or his expulsion from a political party “. That seems to me to be an interminable definition of the circumstances in which a member retires voluntarily. I am aware that that language is derived from the original Act,but it seems to me to be odd language to use. It also seems to me to be odd to adopt those circumstances by way of illustration in trying to determine whether or not a person may be deemed to have retired voluntarily.
I can understand that if a man loses endorsement by the party to which he belongs he also loses the chance of successfully standing for Parliament. I think the Minister should agree that it is odd to use the criterion of party membership, party support or party expulsion in determining whether or not a person has retired voluntarily, particularly when we remember that in this place parties are not recognised. Membership of the Parliament alone is recognised. I have risen chiefly for the purpose of obtaining an explanation of the proposed amendment. I have wallowed in the words that have been used, but my brain has failed to retain the sense from beginning to end.
.- I do not know the practice that applies in the party to which the Minister belongs, but I ask him to bear in mind, when he is replying to Senator Wright, that when a member of the Australian Labour Party stands for pre-selection he gives a guarantee that if he is not endorsed he will not stand against persons who are endorsed. I suggest that when a person is retired by his own party organisation we have almost another form of retirement within the meaning of this legislation.
– I think that the point made by Senator O’Byrne is specifically covered by that part of the definition which refers to failure to secure the support of a political party from which the person concerned reasonably sought support.
– That is the point that Senator Wright raised, and I asked whether the Minister was aware of the Labour Party provision to which I referred.
– Yes. My answer to Senator Wright is that if his mind fails to grasp the continuity of the clause, he should pity me. I think that the reference to the loss of endorsement, or to expulsion from a political party, is a recognition of practical aspects of politics in Australia today with which each and every one of us could conceivably become involved in the course of our political career. If the words offend against the description of voluntary resignation, I can only say that we should accept failure to secure support of a political party or expulsion from a political party as being pertinent to the circumstances of political life.
.- I am grateful to the Minister for providing me with information on the question of why the Presiding Officers of the Parliament have not been included in the provisions of the
Bill. The Minister said that they were not referred to in the report of the Richardson Committee. In certain circumstances, such as in relation to parliamentary needs, 1 am prepared to regard Sir Frank Richardson as having an almost Messianic quality, but I do not consider that his report bears all the hallmarks of sanctity. Surely, in all such cases the reports that are presented provide only the foundations on which governments and parliaments may proceed to take such action as they deem necessary. The reports are merely elucidatory. Their function is to elicit the facts that relate to problems which confront the Government or the Parliament, as the case may be, from time to time. The Parliament appoints a commissioner or a rapporteur to discover the facts and to bring them before the Parliament or the Government. It is proper and pertinent, I think, for the Government to add to or to subtract from such reports in the light of the circumstances.
As I mentioned earlier, the Presiding Officers of the Parliament rank in the hierachy of government at least equal to the junior Ministers. I go further, Sir, and say that in the table of precedence - and this surely is a mark of their importance - the Presiding Officers rank next to the Prime Minister. Therefore, I consider that it is proper at this stage for the Parliament to be vigilant to maintain its own importance and to preserve the rights and privileges which it seeks always to sustain under the Constitution. The Presiding Officers of the Parliament at least should be considered in these circumstances. I hope, therefore, that it is not too late for the Leader of the Government in the Senate to consider, and to allow the Senate also to consider, the position and rights of the Presiding Officers in this context.
– The Parliamentary Allowances Bill provides in clause 3 -
The Parliamentary Allowances Act 1952-1959 amended as set out in the Schedule to this Act.
If we turn to the schedule we find the following provisions -
Omit from sub-section (1.) “Two thousand two hundred and fifty “, insert “ Three thousand “.
Omit from sub-section (2.) “ Five hundred “, insert “ Six hundred “.
Omit from sub-section (3.) “One thousand”, insert “One thousand two hundred and fifty “.
Section 6 of the Act states -
There are payable to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives allowances at the rate of £2,230 a year, and there are payable to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives allowances in respect of the expenses of discharging the duties of their respective offices at the rate of £500 a year. 1 think that those provisions cover the points that Senator Cormack was making.
.- I wish to speak on the point that has just been raised before I turn to the clause to which I previously referred. It seems that the grouping of Ministers and the Presiding Officers in the Parliamentary Allowances Bill has not been carried forward into the Retiring Allowances Bill, in respect of the special fund that is to be created for the benefit of Ministers and leaders of the Opposition. I must confess that I did not detect this omission before Senator Cormack mentioned it. In the reading I have done, I saw that the Presiding Officers were grouped with Ministers and leaders of the Opposition for special mention in the Parliamentary Allowances Bill and I did not detect the omission of the Presiding Officers from the new scheme that is being evolved for Ministers and leaders of the Opposition. I rise with the thought newly presented to my mind by Senator Cormack that the Presiding Officers are the special representatives of the Parliament, whereas Ministers are representatives of the Executive and of the Queen, owing responsibility to the Parliament as members of it. If this new scheme is to be accepted - as it will be - what justification will there be for the exclusion of the principal parliamentary officers - the Presiding Officers - who, in their persons and offices, represent the Parliament?
I believe that the scheme favours Ministers to too great an extent. I have not seen the actuarial basis upon which the scheme is founded, and I think it is inappropriate to discuss it now. If the scheme is to go forward, I should like to hear discussion not simply upon the basis of Sir Frank Richardson’s say-so of 1959. Because of the length of the intervening period, that is much less authoritative than it was even at that time. I should like to remind the Senate that on that occassion I said I thought that the experience of Sir Frank Richardson was such that he was not the appropriate person to advise us on the constitutional requirements of the Parliament. I say that without disrepect. I respect Sir Frank Richardson’s experience in the sphere in which he has traded, but I do not credit him with the appropriate experience to advise on the constitutional development of this place. Even on the basis of Sir Frank Richardson’s report, the omission of the Presiding Officers from this scheme requires a little discussion. I should like to hear the Minister give the reasons for the omission.
– I repeat the reasons which I gave just recently. The Richardson Committee - not Sir Frank Richardson himself - examined this proposition and made its recommendations on the basis of what it believed to be equitable, practicable and desirable.
– I did not hear the Minister read from the report any specific reference to this matter. It did not appear as though this question occurred to the Committee.
– I am sure the honorable senator is right. I do not think there is a specific reference in the report to the Presiding Officers or to the reasons for their exclusion. The report refers only to those who the Committee recommended should be included in the scheme. There are one or two matters that occur to me now that might have persuaded the Richardson Committee to reach its conclusion. I should prefer not to expose them now because this discussion takes me by some surprise. I should like to give it consideration.
I say to my friend Senator Cormack that, the question having been raised, I will undertake to bring it to the notice of the Government and ask the Government to consider it. If the Government’s consideration is favorable, I will suggest that the Act be further amended in the near future.
– I am obliged to my friend, Senator Paltridge, for bis unqualified and gracious reply to the submissions and observations I have made. I am sure that my colleague Senator Wright acknowledges it too. I wish to say to the Minister that I raised this matter with no intention whatever of embarrassing him. It was not until I looked at this Bill that it come to my notice that the principal officers of the Parliament had not been considered. Therefore, I had to raise the matter from the floor of the Senate, without giving prior warning to the Minister of my intention to do so, as is my normal practice. 1 wish the Minister to be clear on that point.
I have in my hand the report of the committee of inquiry into the salaries and allowances of members of the Commonwealth Parliament. On page 45 there is a passage which begins: “ Section 0. - Additional Retiring Allowances for Ministers and Opposition Leaders “. I have read the passage and it is manifest that no consideration was given by the rapporteur, Sir Frank Richardson, to the special position that the Presiding Officers occupy in relation to the whole system of the Parliament. I can only assume that, in relation to the Bill we are now discussing, there has been a manifest oversight in the drafting and in the examination by Cabinet of the very special position that these officers occupy in the Parliament. As I mentioned, they are officers without whom the Parliament cannot operate.
I impress most strongly upon the Minister that this matter should be raised with the Government and given the utmost consideration, and that on a subsequent occasion steps should be taken they undoubtedly will be taken as I understand the Minister’s statement to see that justice is done to the principal officers of the Parliament.
.- I return to the matter that I raised previously. I wish to refer specifically to paragraph (a) (ii) of proposed new sub-section 17(4.), which refers to the expulsion of a member from a political party. I know that people have had, and may still in the future have, the honour to be expelled from a political party for adherence to what they consider to be a very proper principle. On the other hand, some political parties have standards with which individual members come into conflict because of misconduct in a political sense which would not bring them within section 44 of the Constitution. That section provides that if a person has been convicted and is subject to be sentenced for any offence punishable by law to a term of imprisonment for one year or longer he forfeits his seat in the Parliament. That is a reason for depriving him of his superannuation pension under the principal Act, an amendment of which we are considering. As I read Section 22 of the principal Act, a person is entitled to a refund of contribution but to no other benefit.
The clause to which I am directing my mind provides for the granting of a special benefit to a person who does not voluntarily retire. If such a person had been expelled from a political party, it seems to me that he can be deemed to have retired voluntarily. Something should be done to make clear the distinction between expulsion from a political party because of parliamentary misconduct and an expulsion that has taken place on other grounds. I do not expect the matter to be decided now but I raise it so that the Minister’s officers will take this matter into consideration at some future time.
While I am on my feet, I acknowledge that I was guilty of an oversight, Mr. Chairman, when you asked whether it was the wish of the Committee that the Bill be taken as a whole. I did not object then but I hope you will agree to my request that we dispose of clauses 1 to 13 and then vote on clause 14. I wish to register my vote against that clause.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator McKellar).We shall follow that course.
– If no other honorable senator wishes to speak, I shall refer to clause 13, which amends section 21 of the principal Act. Section 21 states -
. where a person entitled to a pension is or becomes - (a)the holder of an office under, or employed by, the Commonwealth or a State, or an authority of the Commonwealth or of a State;
A sub-section provides that the reduction should never be more than 50 per cent of the parliamentary retiring allowance. I view this situation with disquiet because members of Parliament may be appointed to judicial office. It seems to me that the occupant of a judicial office receiving a parliamentary retiring allowance is in an odd position that requires consideration. Further, if the person in receipt of superannuation is occupying a non-judicial office carrying a high salary, it seems to me that it would be proper for him to draw so much of the parliamentary retiring allowance as would be attributable to his contribution.
Even so, a superannuation fund is always a common fund. What one loses by the advantages of good health and continuing to be a member of Parliament is made up by the fact that those who are prematurely affected by ill health or are defeated at an early stage get a benefit. I consider that a retired member of Parliament who holds an office carrying high emoluments is in a special position and that his pension from the retiring allowance fund should not be reduced to the extent of 50 per cent but withdrawn completely during his occupancy of that office. I think this is a matter which is worthy of consideration.
Clauses 1 to 13 agreed to.
Clause 14 agreed to.
Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 28th October (vide page 1 390), on motion by Senator Paltridge.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Senator McKENNA (Tasmania - Leader the Bill are a logical development of what has been occurring in the Commonwealth Public Service. They relate to Permanent Heads of departments and holders of statutory offices and provide for certain increases in emoluments. The Opposition has no objection to the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 28th October (vide page 1339), on motion by Senator Paltridge.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- The Bill now before the Senate authorises the raising of loan funds to be expended by the various States, under the Housing Agreement Act 1961. In his second reading speech Senator Paltridge, the Minister representing the Minister for Housing, pointed out the various amounts to be made available to the States by the Commonwealth, totalling £51,350,000. The Minister referred to advances which are made to the States and are repayable over a period of 53 years at a certain interest bearing rate. One of the problems of the home seeker today is the high interest rate payable on housing loans. Whilst a period of repayment of 53 years seems to be quite a good proposition as a long term loan, one should stop to examine it, and consider the age of the borrower and the amount of interest that will be paid over that period.
The average cost of a home at present exceeds £4,000. I shall have more to say in this respect later. For the purpose of this discussion at the moment I shall refer to a house costing £4,000. The deposit payable may be low, or as is the case with some housing authorities, no deposit may be payable and instalments may be paid weekly or monthly. Very few people buying such houses will ever see the day that they are paid for. As a rough calculation, one could say that by the time a £4,000 home is paid for, the total amount paid on it would exceed £7,000. Over a period of 53 years a house will depreciate considerably and before it is fully paid for probably it will have passed to a younger member of the family.
I wish to refer now to the present housing lag. 1 am fairly reliably informed that 62,000 or 63,000 persons are waiting to buy or rent homes from housing authorities in Australia. The measure before us will assist in providing finance to home builders, but I suggest that it is insufficient to overcome the present lag. Young couples today are faced with the major problem of finance for deposit and for payment of instalments on houses. I am not sure of the conditions that prevail in other States, but in Tasmania young couples who are about to marry or who have recently married have a very poor chance of obtaining a house through the housing authority. Generally it is necesary for a married couple to have two children in order to be in line for a house through the housing authority. We may ask ourselves: “ Why does this lag exist?” In a word, the answer is “ finance “. I think finance is the most important factor in housing. Government supporters have played on the point that the rate of home ownership is at present higher than it has ever been in our history. J suggest that the actual owners of homes - those who have the deeds to their homes - are very few. One cannot regard a person as a home owner unless he has the deeds of his home. Certainly, thousands of people gain an equity in a home, but I cannot see the logic of classifying as home owners those people who are simply home purchasers.
Other than for financial reasons it is hard to understand why there is a shortage of housing. I think everybody will agree that there is no shortage of building materials throughout Australia. A few years ago the Government relied for an explanation of the housing lag on the shortage of building materials and of skilled labour. In Tasmania, with the possible exception of bricklayers, all building workers are available to work on housing. Applicants to housing authorities who qualify for a house must wait for anything from six months to two years. I have dealt with cases in Tasmania where applicants have had to wait up to four years. In such cases there have been special circumstances, as honorable senators will realise. Nevertheless, the time lag is a big factor. If a young couple are planning to be married and must find temporary accommodation, even for six months, they must live with their in-laws or find a flat for which a very high rent is payable. Difficulties are created for them. It is necessary for them to furnish their temporary accommodation, but when a house is allotted to them by the housing authority, the furnishings they have purchased may not fit into that house.
I am also concerned at the high cost of land, which adds considerably to the cost of building a home. I shall quote from a bulletin issued by the Housing Industry Research Committee in Victoria as recently as January of this year. The book states that the all-homes average deposit is £1,768. The average deposit on a brick veneer cottage is £1,948, and on a weatherboard cottage £1,057. I realise that those figures do not touch upon land prices, but I thought it was as well to mention them before referring to land prices in Victoria which could quite easily be regarded as being a guide for the rest of Australia.
Land prices vary from capital to capital, from State to State and from municipality to municipality. Nevertheless, the figures I am about to cite can be taken as a guide. The average price of blocks of land in and around Melbourne in 1960 was £1,045. In 1961 the average rose to £1,184, in 1962 to £1,275, and in 1963 to £1,364. Those figures reveal an increase of slightly more than £300 a block in a period of four years. That rise considerably increases the purchase price of a home. The same trend is apparent in regard to the average price of homes in Victoria. In 1960 the average price of a brick veneer home was £3,822, and of a weatherboard home £2,993. In 1961 the respective figures were £3,981 and £3,052, in 1962 they were £4,042 and £3,159, and in 1963 they were £4,084 and £3,193. It will be seen that the average cost of a home and a block of land is considerably more than £4,000. I shall have more to say about that as I develop my remarks.
I now propose to cite some figures which appear in a newsletter prepared by the Housing Industry Research Committee in October 1964. These figures show that the average price of building blocks in the fringe areas of Melbourne rose by about £80, or 5.9 per cent., during the 12 months ended in June 1964. One wonders whether wages are keeping pace with the increase in land values and in the cost of materials. The figures which have been obtained from 20 municipalities around Melbourne, show that the average price of the building block in fringe areas has risen by 32.8 per cent, since June 1962.
People are having to move further from the heart of the city. That in turn means an increase in the cost of transport to and from the city for persons who are employed in the city. Not only are transport costs increased, but also the value of wages is depressed. The effect has been more marked in the metropolitan area of Melbourne as a result of the increase in rail and tram fares imposed by the Bolte Government. I admit that Mr. Bolte has now decided to withdraw some of the increases. So the workers will be assisted in that way. People who have to live in these fringe areas must also pay a higher cost for services. The newsletter that I have just mentioned shows that between 1954 and 1964 the average price of a block of land has risen by £1,116. In 1954 the cost of a building block in Melbourne was £32S whereas today it is £1,444. Another significant set of figures reveals that from 1955 to 1959 the price of land rose by 139 per cent., or an annual average of 27.8 per cent. There has been a tapering off in the last few years, but the overall increase between 1955 and 1964 was 177.2 per cent.
It is evident that young couples find it quite difficult to obtain the necessary deposit for a home. As 1 mentioned earlier, the all homes average deposit in 1963 was £1,768. It is quite evident that deposits will continue to increase from year to year. What hope has a man in the low income bracket who is earning no more than £18 a week, and who has a family of three, four, five, and in isolated cases up to 10 children, of saving enough to pay a deposit on a home? One is entitled to expect that some authority should build homes that can be let at a reasonable figure to assist these people to rear their families. A person who has so many children is contributing much to the economy of this country and the country has a responsibility to assist him to the greatest possible extent. There is a great need for population throughout the
Commonwealth and people with large families are making the greatest contribution towards populating the country. An approach should be made somewhere along the line to keep land prices in check so that the average working man can purchase a block of land and eventually get sufficient money to pay a deposit to purchase a home through a co-operative building society, a bank or a government instrumentality such as a housing commission or housing department.
Many factors add to the cost of homes. Apparently, this has been recognised to some extent by people in authority. It is apparently recognised by the Commonwealth Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury). On 16th March 1964, at a luncheon of the Association of Co-operative Building Societies, he said that the complex building regulations added an estimated £250 to the cost of each new home in Australia. It is rather significant that shortly after he made that address the Government brought forward a bill to enable persons under the age of 36 who saved £750 within a certain period to qualify for a free Commonwealth grant of £250. Whether this was an effort on the Government’s part to overcome the cost of the complex building regulations by granting £250, I do not know. Perhaps it was not. I think that the legislation, which was introduced in the early part of the year, was to honour a promise made by the Liberal Party during the last election campaign. That promise was made merely as a gimmick to get the young people to vote for the Liberal Party.
– The honorable senator should not believe that.
– I do believe it, and I have very good reason to believe it. Quite a number of young people told me that they voted for the Liberal Party only because they could get £250 to assist them in building a home. It was rather significant that when the promise was made conditions were not specified. The promise was played up by the Press, which is a good friend of the Liberal Party, in such a manner that young couples really thought they would get £250 with no strings attached. Quite a number of people fell for that gimmick.
I suggest that the amount of money being made available now to various authorities does not provide the assistance hoped for by people and organisations interested in housing the people. The Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge), in his second reading speech, said that under this scheme 51,600 houses had been built in the past three years. That is an average of 17,200 homes yearly. Relating that number to the population of over 1 1 million - 1 know that many homes have been built in other years - I emphasise that it does not account for the housing requirements of much of the population.
I am particularly concerned with the Aged Persons Homes Act, under which about £30 million has been allocated. This has done much to relieve the housing worries of aged persons, but many of these people cannot qualify for assistance under that Act. They rent rooms or flats and live under deplorable conditions. If more money were made available to assist them it would be a humane act. For many years I have thought that the Government could do something to assist in the provision of homes for departmental employees at an economic rent. I know that in some instances houses are provided for Commonwealth employees at a rent which is a fixed percentage of income. In my opinion, that is entirely wrong. After all, a house costs so much to build, and the land on which it is built costs a certain amount. The occupant, irrespective of his standing, should not have to pay a percentage of his income in rent. He should have to pay only an economic rent. There are many departments with employees throughout the Commonwealth. If I tried to enumerate them, I would miss some, so it is better not to mention any.
The staffs are transferred from State to State, from area to area and from location to location. Some of them have felt really confident of remaining in an area or a district for a considerable time. They have found the deposit necessary to build or purchase a home, but after having made themselves comfortable for a few years they have been notified that they are to be transferred to another district or another State. They must dispose of the house. It may be said that they receive more for the house than they paid for it, but the point is that when they transfer to another location they must purchase another home which, because of the trend in housing costs, carries a highly inflated price, so they lose in that respect. Perhaps the Government could consider the question of, where possible, supplying its own employees with adequate housing.
The Minister mentioned in his second reading speech that of the £51,350,000 which is being advanced by the Commonwealth for the current financial year, some £33,750,000 will be allocated to the States for their construction programmes and some £17,600,000 will be made available to home builders through building societies and other approved lending institutions. The proposed allocation is £345,000 more than it was last year. If one takes £4,000 as the average cost of a home, excluding the cost of land, the increase in the proposed allocation will build the tremendous number of 86 homes. So the Bill does not do such a great deal to meet the housing needs of the people.
I suggest that the Government should set up a research and survey branch in the Commonwealth Department of Housing and that this branch should conduct investigations with a view to helping home seekers to decide whether it is better to build in fringe areas, such as those that I have mentioned in Melbourne, or in inner areas where facilities such as roads, water and sewerage are available. High density bousing in areas where facilities are already available would reduce housing costs. The proposed research and survey branch could inquire also into the possibility of lower interest rates and cheaper land. There is no doubt that a branch such as I have suggested would be of great assistance. I appeal to the Minister to give my suggestion some consideration and to bring it to the notice of the Minister for Housing.
It is not my intention to speak at any length on this occasion. The Opposition does not oppose the measure, and there is no reason why it should not pass through all stages without any difficulty.
– I have been wondering whether Senator Poke’s speech had anything to do with the fact that there were very few senators in the chamber or whether there was some soporific quality of the subject under discussion that induced some degree of somnolence even in the usually alert Press Gallery. The apparent lack of interest in the Bill could be due, of course, to another cause. I suggest that the splendid work done by the Government over the past years has brought about such a great improvement in the housing of the people and the availability of houses that this is no longer a matter of great political importance. It is, of course, of great concern to the people who are directly connected with a need for housing, but the degree of that concern obviously has been lessened by this Government’s activity in the field of housing.
As has been indicated by Senator Poke, the legislation now before the Senate is not opposed. It is supported by both sides of the chamber. The proposed allocation to the States continues the annual contributions which provide such substantial assistance to the State Governments in the provision of housing. The States themselves determine the importance that they apportion to housing in relation to other expenditures. Although the Commonwealth proposes to allocate £51,350,000 to the States, which is an increase on last year’s allocation, the relative amount apportioned by the States to housing has declined, so the States too must feel that they are catching up with the housing needs of the people.
The relevant figures for the last two years are interesting. In the twelve months ended in September 1963, 98,163 houses were completed whereas in the twelve months ended in September 1964, 121,346 houses were completed. This supports the view that I have advanced that the Government is substantially meeting the housing needs of the people. The Minister has said that over the past three years the State housing authorities have used £100 million for the erection of 31,900 dwellings, and £50 million has been advanced through the home builders account to make loans to some 19,700 individuals to acquire their own homes. In other words, £150 million of public money has resulted in the acqusition of some 51,600 homes. I suggest that this is a massive contribution to the overall total of 121,346 homes built last year.
There has been criticism of the policy which some of the State housing authorities have adopted in selling houses rather than renting them, or in selling at least a large proportion of the houses built by them. I feel that that policy is entirely commendable. Wherever possible we should encourage people to buy their own homes. It has been said that they may not get the title deeds, but at least they have an investment, and the fact that they are purchasing their homes gives stability to their financial affairs. In any community it is always evident that people who own their homes or are attempting to do so take a much greater pride in the appearance of their homes. In’ turn, this is reflected in the general appearance of a town or city. I repeat that home ownership is entirely commendable.
My particular interest in this Bill and in the question of housing generally relates to rural housing. The other aspects of housing have, I feel, been adequately covered, but the matter of rural housing receives far less attention in this and other legislative places than it deserves. In considering the housing position generally, it is advisable to have a look at the statistical situation regarding the distribution of population. The latest figures available show that in the areas classed as metropolitan in our statistical documents, Australia is deemed to have 56 per cent, of its population. That is to say, 56 per cent, of the population lives in the capital cities and suburbs. In areas which are classed as other urban areas, such as country towns with a population of more than 1,000 people, 27 per cent, of Australia’s popula-tion is to be found. In rural areas - that is, in areas where people live on farms and in country towns with a population of up to 1,000 people - 17 per cent, of the total population is to be found. This distribution varies, of course, from State to State. In Western Australia the corresponding figures are 57 per cent, in metropolitan areas, 17 per cent, in other urban areas, and 26 per cent, in rural areas.
It is, I think, important to remember this distribution of population when we are considering the home building activities of the nation in general. It is very difficult to obtain accurate figures for housing, allocations based on this population analysis, but there is much evidence to show that the needs of the rural population are virtually being neglected! When speaking during the debate on the Homes Saving Grant Bill in the previous sessional period I said -
At present, with the best will in the world I cannot see how this legislation will operate in the field of rural finance except in the case of a man who docs not need it because he is relatively wealthy.
Having said that, I watched with interest the development of legislation. Earlier in this sessional period I asked a question on this subject, and on 22nd September I received an answer which stated that throughout the Commonwealth, by 21st August, 1,219 metropolitan applications had been approved and only 184 nonmetropolitan applications had been approved. If we relate those figures to the statistical fact that 56 per cent, of the people are classed as metropolitan dwellers unci 44 per cent, non-metropolitan dwellers, the number of successful applications for homes savings grants represents 87 per cent, for metropolitan dwellers and 13 per cent, for non-metropolitan dwellers.
Apparently there are no available Australiawide figures regarding the allocation of (he 13 per cent, of grants made to nonmetropolitan applicants, but I have been given some figures for Western Australia which, I believe, would not be substantially different from the Australian figures. As I explained earlier, the Western Australian figures are divided into other urban and rural categories. They show that despite the division of population on the basis of 56 per cent, and 44 per cent, for metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas respectively, 144 grants were made in metropolitan areas and only three in nonmetropolitan areas. This means that approximately 98 per cent, of the allocations were made in metropolitan areas and only 2 per cent, in non-metropolitan areas.
When we examine, as I did, the two per cent, for non-metropolitan areas, we discover that one of the three rural grants was made in Albany, one in Byford and one in Northam, all of which would be classed statistically as other urban areas. At that time, not one grant had been made in the whole of the rural areas of Western Australia which contain 26 per cent, of the population of the State. Surely the opinion which I expressed earlier, that the rural areas were not receiving a fair deal in the application of our housing policies, was fully justified.
When one examines the reason for this disparity in building in rural areas and metropolitan areas one wonders why it is that 17 per cent, of the Australian population apparently does not have any entitlement at all to available public moneys for housing. The 44 per cent, who are nonmetropolitan Australians apparently have much less need proportionately for housing than have the 56 per cent, who are metropolitan dwellers. Surely it is not because there is no need for new housing in rural areas. Even the most casual observer will find many sub-standard homes in country towns - homes that would never be tolerated in the cities. Is it because country people are now regarded by housing authorities generally as second-class citizens? Are we placidly to contemplate this situation in housing that is accentuating the drift to the cities and militating against the development of industries in rural areas? Certainly, the absence of long term finance and, of public or private money for agricultural workers, whether self-employed or not, is militating against the development of our agricultural industries.
I should like at this stage to quote what Mr. Grant McDonald, who is’ President of the Farmers Union of Western Australia, had to say in relation to this matter in a recent letter published in the “ Farmers Weekly “ and in other newspapers in Western Australia. He said -
With the opening up of vast areas of new land and the introduction of new techniques in farming there is a demand for skilled farm labour.
Because of the increasing costs and the reticence of lending firms to finance such ventures, many farmers are not able to provide finance for suitable housing. In fact, they were beginning to wonder why this section of industry should be one of the very few, in the main, to house ils own work force. “It is hoped”, said Mr. McDonald, “that some means may be found whereby long term loans for housing of farm workers on similar conditions as provided by the State Housing Commission (the principal aim of which is to provide housing for the work force in the community) could be arranged.
Or that the Housing Commission could arrange for the provision of houses in country centres for farm workers under similar conditions to those arranged in the case of housing requirements for the work force of secondary industry.”
I submit that this problem deserves the urgent attention of the Minister for Housing and the State housing authorities. It should certainly be of concern to banks and other lending institutions because the lack of adequate long term finance for rural areas is having a retarding effect upon our agricultural development generally. Consequently, Australia’s economic stability is jeopardised by this apparent neglect of what is a socio-economic problem of the greatest magnitude.
– in reply - In closing the debate I should like to take the opportunity to commend Senator Prowse for a speech devoted to a subject in which he has shown a long continuing interest. I listened with a great deal of sympathy to what he had to say about rural housing. I recognise the importance of it. 1 hope Senator Prowse will not misinterpret my remarks when I point out what he himself pointed out during his speech, namely, that the application of loan housing funds is not the concern of the Commonwealth Government. The State Governments put into operation their own housing policies, lt would be regarded as unwarranted interference if this Government were to dictate to any State Government by demanding that a greater proportion of money be allocated to rural building than to metropolitan building. I recognise the importance of rural housing, and I shall certainly take the opportunity to direct the attention of the Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury) to the honorable senator’s comments on the need for banks and other lending institutions to have regard to a problem which is, I think, increasing in intensity.
Senator Poke devoted a great deal of his time to a statistical review of the building industry which was, I thought, very interesting. However, when he moved into the political area he was not on very firm ground. The statistics given in my second reading speech show, beyond any possible dispute, the success of the policy of the Government in respect of home building. We have just emerged from a record year. During the last financial year, 107,000 home units were built. That represents the greatest housing achievement in the history of the Commonwealth. Any enthusiastic critic can always say to a government, whatever the circumstances, that it should do more, but the facts here, I suggest, speak for themselves.
I want to refer briefly to Senator Poke’s reference to the splendid piece of legislation tinder which Commonwealth assistance is provided to erect homes for the aged. This scheme does not come within the administration of the Department of Housing; it is the concern of the Department of Social Services. Senator Poke should be rather hesitant about criticising the record of the Government in relation to this scheme, which this Government commenced, which it has developed and under which over the years it has increased its contributions to bodies providing homes for the aged. In relation to the honorable senator’s reference to the housing subsidy scheme, I think it should be pointed out that that scheme has been in operation for on a comparatively few months, yet 3,755 applications are currently being processed. More than 10,000 applications have been received and it has been necessary to reject only 545. The amount paid in grants by the Department of Housing, in the few months of the existence of the scheme, is £1,338,740. He would be a hard man to satisfy who would not see in that a particularly encouraging development in housing construction and in social legislation of a very worthwhile character. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 28th October (vide page 1340), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- The Bill provides for the raising of £4i million for capital required for war service land settlement in the States of Tasmania, Western Australia and South Australia. An amount of £1,113,000 will be allocated to Tasmania, £2,302,000 to Western Australia and £1,085,000 to South Australia. During his second reading speech the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) said that the overall war service land settlement scheme has reached the phase where the development of projects was drawing to a close. That is a most important announcement. Most applications for war service land settlement assistance were made in the early 1950’s and it is now 1964, so it must be conceded that it is time an announcement was made that the development of projects throughout Australia is drawing to a close.
The Minister mentioned specifically that development is still proceeding on King Island and Flinders Island and in the Montagu Swamp. The Minister also stated that development was still proceeding to a lesser degree on holdings in the Hundreds of Borda and Gosse on Kangaroo Island and at Loxton in South Australia. They are exceptions. The Minister also stated -
Most of these settlers started with little, if any, capital and under the cost-price relationships which have existed over some more recent years, it is taking them longer than may have been envisaged to finance the ensuing years’ working expenses without recourse to borrowing. Although the Commonwealth has no desire to compete in the sphere of rural credit with established institutions, until the settlers’ financial affairs improve to a stage where some farm assets can be freed from a security charge to the Crown, the Commonwealth has no alternative to providing finance to meet the settlers’ reasonable requirements for credit.
I shall concentrate my remarks on King Island. The project there is not drawing to a close because it has reached a secondary stage where re-development is necessary. This goes back to the choice originally of King Island as a war service land settlement project. After the First World War, a certain number of dairy farmers were settled successfully in the Yambacoona district in the north of the Island. Over the years through hard work, ability and perseverence they made a success of dairy farming. They took their butter fat to a local factory and worked in well with the rest of the King Island community. But after the Second World War, the project was developed on a much wider scale and has come up against problems that have never been fully appreciated.
The major problem of King Island is its isolation. It is virtually in the middle of Bass Strait between Victoria and the north west coast of Tasmania. It is separated from large centres of population by Bass Strait. In earlier days, farming was conducted on relatively large areas of grass land which could be bought cheaply. The working of this land required a lot of local knowledge. Because of what were called coastal conditions, cattle could be fed on the coastal strip only for limited periods. Then they had to be moved. Cattle which became “ coasty “ fell into very poor condition. Even so, the older farmers made a reasonable living if they had sufficient area of land.
As the war service land settlement scheme developed, it brought about intensive farming requiring more labour and materials. The problem was still one of easy access to markets because most of the produce had to be marketed in Tasmania or Victoria. In the year ended 30th June 1963 only 10 per cent, of the calves, 4 per cent, of the cattle, 13 per cent, of the sheep and lambs and 11 per cent, of the pigs raised on King Island were consumed on the Island. The remainder went to Melbourne. Of the 975 tons of butter produced in 1963, only 45 tons or 4.6 per cent, was consumed locally. I quote these figures to illustrate that freight is the big factor affecting King Island and has a major bearing on the success or failure of the war service land settlement scheme. Of the population of King Island, 2,800 are associated with farming. About 2,800 are engaged in business including the retail trade. There is some scheelite mining and fishing, but it is predominantly a farming community.
The main problems are the high cost of living and the high cost of producing and marketing produce. As farming has become more intensive, the land has been subdivided, farmers have applied fertilisers such as superphosphate and copper sulphate and the construction of dairies and various buildings and the provision of amenities have become necessary. All those matters have added to the high costs that soldier settlers have had to meet.
– Surely that was foreseen by the Tasmanian Government.
– I do not think so. For Senator Cormack’s benefit and to illustrate my point, I shall refer to costs on the island over a period of 10 years. In 1953, the freight rate was 93s. per ton. In 1963 it was 128s. per ton. The cost of freighting a fat steer from King Island to Melbourne rose from 121s. in 1953 to 181s. 6d. in 1963, an increase of 50 per cent. The cost of freighting yearlings and vealers rose from S9s. 6d. to 134s., an increase of 50 per cent. In 1953 it cost 12s. 6d. to send a woolly sheep to the Victorian market. The cost now is 20s. 5d. each, an increase of 64 per cent.
– The cost now is about £9 a beast.
– That is right. I have that figure. In 1953-54 the farmers received 4s. 6id. per lb. for butter fat. In 1962-63 they received 4s. 4d. per lb., which meant a reduction of 2£d. per lb. over that 10-year period In 1953-54 their wool averaged 81.5d. per lb. and in 1962-63, 58.96d. per lb. Their lambs averaged 82s. in 1953-54 and 48s. 6d. in 1962-63. In 1953-54 their cow beef sold for 115s. per 100 lb. and for 125s. per 100 lb. in 1962-63. Those figures show that the prices they have received for their products have either remained very close to the prices prevailing 10 years before or have fallen. I have here a list showing that the price of butterfat has fallen by 2d. per lb., of wool by 3.79s. per lb., of lambs by 13s. per head and that the price of cow beef has risen by Hd. per lb. Pig meat has risen by Id. per lb. Those figures illustrate that the returns to the farmers have remained very steady or have declined over the 10-year period.
The sheep breeders’ association of King Island made a survey of the cost of production and found, in the year of its survey, that the average cost of producing a fat lamb on King Island was £1 19s. Id. The survey pointed out that the present sea freight on fat lambs equals 56 per cent, of their cost of production. The same survey produced comparative figures for the freight costs of fat lamb producers at King Island and Kerang, Victoria. Kerang was chosen because it is the same distance from Newmarket, Melbourne, as is King Island - 180 miles. A fat lamb producer at Kerang has an annual freight cost of £542, compared with an annual freight cost of three and a half times that amount - £1,887 - to a King Island fat lamb producer. The figures represent the comparative costs of getting the same stock to Newmarket. On present sea freights, it is less expensive to ship woolly lambs by air from King Island than by sea. The point I am making is that the success of the King Island war service land settlement scheme is subject to the ruling freight rates. I repeat that they constitute 56 per cent, of the cost of production.
The Government has invested a total of over £4,250,000 in the war service land settlement scheme on King Island. Of 164 farms on the island, 100 are dairy farms and 64 are sheep farms. It is very sad to say that the majority of the settlers are in a serious financial position. Many are unable to meet their commitments and 85 soldier settlers have left their farms, most of them for financial reasons. At present 15 war service land settlement farms are vacant. In this morning’s Tasmanian newspapers a report appeared that the matter was raised at the Returned Servicemen’s League conference. Mr. Lee, the President of the R.S.L., advised the delegates that they should return to their States and advertise that war service land settlement farms are available for settlement, particularly on Flinders Island. The present adverse, uneconomic conditions prevailing against successful farming on these islands mean that a man would have to give very serious consideration to going there. Full allowance has to be made for the fact that there are good and bad farmers, wherever you find them and whether they are ordinary farmers or war service land settlers. It is a very sad state of affairs that so many of them have left their farms. Quite a number are still working on their farms but are also taking part-time work outside so that they may be able to meet their commitments. The King Island Council has made very strong representations to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) that, unless relief is given, the war service land settlement scheme on King Island could fail because of the high and rising freight rates.
– Why cannot the Tasmanian Government grant subsidies?
– It does, to a degree. It is subsidising superphosphate. In a moment, when I can find them, I shall give the honorable senator the figures on superphosphate. There are subsidies. The “King Islander”, the new ship trading there, is the equivalent of a roll-on roll-off vessel and is ideal for operations in the shallow waters around King Island. Unfortunately, the high cost of its construction - it was built at Devonport, Tasmania - and its running costs have made it imperative that its captain-owner, Mr. Houfe, increase the freight rates to the scale I have mentioned. Representations have been made to the Australian National Line to take over the “King Islander” in the hope that the booking and other facilities of the Line, both in Melbourne and in Tasmania, could perhaps reduce overhead expenses to the point where the operations of the “ King Islander “ could show a profit and also provide for King
Island the service that is so important to the residents there.
– That would only produce the conditions of a hidden subsidy instead of those of an overt subsidy.
– I suppose that would bc true, but an obligation rests on both the State and the Commonwealth now that these people have been induced to go there, to build their homes and to take their families there and settle. They just cannot afford to walk off the place. They should not have to do so. There should be a thorough survey of the financial potential and of the feasibility of farming successfully.
The Tasmanian Auditor-General has made quite a few comments about the war service land settlement scheme. He said -
The total written oft as at 30th June 1964 on account of the excess cost of holdings amounts to £1,531,002, as detailed below, of which the State’s contribution amounts to £610,784.
He pointed out that the estimated losses were as follows: At Pegarah, £438,548; at Furneaux, which is on Flinders Island, £273,979; at Waterhouse, which is on the north east coast of Tasmania, £301,311; and at Montagu, which is the Montagu swamp on the north west coast of Tasmania, £187,500. The total is £1,201,338. He said further -
Funds supplied for making advances to settlers ave made available to the State under the provisions of the Commonwealth Constitution in such circumstances as to become in effect State funds until such time as repayment is made to the Commonwealth.
After referring to a further increase in the arrears on settlers’ accounts, he said -
The figures are subject to credits arising from concessions still to be determined by the Committee of Investigation but it is pointed out that at present only the settlers on the major projects and a few smaller estates are apparently intended to benefit from the scheme.
In making that statement, the AuditorGeneral has really summed up the situation. Many of the farmers on the areas I have mentioned have not very much chance of success. The Auditor-General further said -
Settlers’ accounts are still in a very satisfactory position and many have shown further considerable deterioration. Perusal of a cross section of files gave the impression that there was not much in the way of a steady drive towards reducing arrears, but that on the contrary little of a positive nature was seemingly being done to persuade settlers to improve the position of their accounts. Perhaps as a consequence, it was noted that many settlers did not even bother replying to the Board’s letters.
When we read that many of the settlers are leaving their farms, it is no wonder that they do not bother to answer the letters. They are simply unable to meet their financial commitments.
When the scheme was introduced in 1945, it was emphasised that no man should be placed on the land unless he was assured that the ultimate value of his holding would enable him to meet his commitments and to enjoy the Australian standard of living. The position now is that not only are these men not able to enjoy the standard of living that it was hoped they would be able to attain but also that they are under very great stress- because of their inability to meet their commitments. They have advanced in years. Some of them have been working on their properties for twelve years without knowing where they are going. During that time many of them have raised families and are now committed to their education.
In my view, a more realistic approach must be made to this problem. A solution will cost a lot of money. In view of the agreement that has been made between the Commonwealth and the States whereby the Commonwealth provides the finance and the three agent States undertake the administration, a decision must be made as to whether the farmers are to have the same standard of living as that of the average farmer or the average citizen of Australia.
– May I interrupt for a moment? I am interested in what the honorable senator is saying. Let us suppose that no capital charge had to be met in the profit and loss account for the year. Could these people then make a profit?
– I thought that I had some figures which I could cite as an example, but I am afraid I cannot find them just now. The capital needed -
– Do not worry about the capital needed. I have worked that out. It costs £28,000 without stock.
– That is right. The cost of a dairy farm on the Mawbanna swamp works out at about £270 an acre, or £33,000 to £34,000 for a little over 100 acres.
– Would it be a solution of the problem if the Crown were to become the owner of the land and these people were to be given a straight out lease?
– That might be a solution, but most of the farmers believe that the harder they work the more they should be building up their own equity. Without the incentive of knowing that eventually it would become their own property they would say, “Why bother working hard when it will never be ours? “ They might then do what other people have done; they might go to the local town and the picnic races and not be good farmers.
– That is a possible solution of a seemingly insoluble problem.
– Yes. It could be solved only if an acquisition authority, leaning on the side of generosity, were to say to a farmer: “This farm is now at a stage of production where, with a reasonable amount of attention, it can give you a good standard of living. Prom now on you can take it on at an economic price which will allow you to go ahead under your own steam.”
– The other agent State, South Australia, runs this system. There is no freehold title in that State. All soldier settlers there are on leasehold and pay an annual rent.
– Yes. It would appear that that is what will have to be done regarding the difficult areas of King and Flinders Islands and even at Mawbanna and Waterhouse, although Waterhouse is perhaps a little better because the settlers have bigger areas.
– Would you not say that there was a pressing urgency for the report of that committee to be finalised and released as soon as possible?
– I should say that was of the utmost importance. The State Government has referred the report to the Minister for Primary Industry, who has it under consideration, but he and the Department do not seem to feel any sense of urgency in relation to this matter. Month by month the situation becomes aggravated. The fact that the committee was making inquiries built up hopes for a complete review. The hopes of the settlers were raised to a stage where, I suppose, a certain nervous stimulation was produced.
– It is two years since the committee started.
– Yes, and week by week, and month by month the secondary frustration is becoming greater. I ask the Minister to use his good offices in pressing the Minister for Primary Industry to expedite not only the release of the report but also action upon it. The men who were appointed to investigate the problem were capable, practical people. During their investigation they established a tremendous amount of goodwill amongst the settlers. None was criticised as being neither practical farmer nor accountant. Each considered various aspects of the inquiry. The stage was set for something to be done to bring finality at last, yet there has been a long period of investigation, followed by the presentation of the report to the State Minister, and now to the Commonwealth Minister. The thought in the minds of the settlers is: “ How long can they continue to push us around? “ That is a very bad state of affairs.
Many aspects of war service land settlement could be discussed. I have specially stated the case of the King Island people and I have mentioned the situation at Flinders Island. Recently, during the debate on the estimates of the Department of Primary Industry, I raised the matter of the eight farmers at Preolenna, a small settlement on the north west coast of Tasmania who received an oral assurance - they called it a promise - from Tasmanian officers administering war service land settlement that they would not have to make repayments in the first year, that repayments in the second year would be only 33 per cent, and in the third year only 66 per cent., of the annual figure, and that thereafter they would make full repayment. Now, in their second year, they are being required to make full repayments. This requirement is upsetting their budgeting to the extent of causing financial embarrassment. It would not be difficult to rectify this duality of orders, so that instead of full repayments beginning this year, repayments would increase progressively over a period of three years. I hope that departmental officers will be able to provide a way for the Minister to give his authority for the honouring of an oral undertaking by State officers.
I hope that by the time legislation to amend the Act comes before us again, instead of referring to development projects drawing to a close in Western Australia and South Australia the Minister will be able to say that the continuing frustration of the settlers to whom I have referred has been solved. It would be a wonderful thing to see the position cleaned up and to have the men released from the very heavy burden of worry that they are carrying at present. We support the measure.
[5.42.J - in reply - I thank Senator O’Byrne for his contribution and I am happy to note that the Opposition supports the legislation. Most of his comments related to the economic situation of the settlers on King Island. He made a similar point in the broad during the consideration of the proposed expenditure for the Department of Primary industry. He laid special emphasis on the question of freight. I believe he made the point that to a large degree the financial plight of many of the war service land settlers in Tasmania was due to the burden of freight charges. I think it is appropriate to say that the Commonwealth Government has appointed a departmental inquiry to investigate this problem in relation to King Island. The Departments of Primary Industry, Treasury, Shipping and Transport and, indeed, the Prime Minister’s Department, arc represented on that inquiry.
Senator O’Byrne referred to an investigation made by a committee appointed to examine the problems on King Island. He pressed, as he did a few evenings ago, for the committee’s report to be published and action to be taken. It is true that a committee of inquiry into the economic situation took about 18 months to come up with its report. Naturally, the Tasmanian Government examined the report, which finally was referred to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann). I repeat what I said earlier, namely, that consideration of the report by the Department of Primary Industry is well advanced and that as a consequence of that consideration there will need to be a conference between representatives of the Department of Primary Industry and the appropriate Tasmanian department.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Reports on Items.
– I present reports by the Tariff Board on the following subjects -
Elastic and clastomeric fabrics.
Fish in airtight containers.
Electric generators, motors and rotary converters.
Debate resumed from 28th October (vide page 1392), on motion by Senator Anderson -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This bill consists of five clauses and seeks to amend sections 8, 57 and 67 of the principal Act. The Bill has the approval of members of the Australian Labour Party and is not being opposed. The first object of the Bill is to enable the Minister to facilitate the entry into Australia of important visitors and their parties, and other persons and groups of persons whose admission, on a temporary basis, it is desired to facilitate for example, delegates attending international conferences in Australia.
The second object of the Bill is the simplification of procedures to be followed by passengers travelling by sea. This will provide the Government with proper records and control over such movements. For many years persons travelling to Australia by air have completed the passenger card prescribed by the Migration Act. This procedure has worked successfully. The Bill indicates the Government’s intention to apply this procedure to travellers by sea.
In his analysis of the Bill the Minister has set out explicitly the Government’s proposals. Section 8 of the Migration Act at present exempts four specified categories of persons from the need to be granted an entry permit on arrival. These are, first, members of the armed forces of the Crown entering on duty; secondly, diplomats, consuls and trade commissioners, and their staffs and dependants; thirdly, members of the complements of vessels of the regular armed forces of a government recognised by the Commonwealth entering Australia on leave; and fourthly, members of the crew of any vessel landing on leave during the stay of their vessel in port. Clause 3 of the Bill will permit the Government to give full effect to the Status of Forces Agreement, which has recently been concluded with the Government of the United States of America, in relation to the admission of United States personnel and civilians within clearly defined categories. Important visitors will also be exempted from the need to be granted an entry permit.
I believe that these matters have been considered very carefully by the departmental officers and have been made the subject of submissions to the Minister. We think that the Government’s proposal will assist in every way people coming to our shores by providing the facilities that are so essential. As I have said, persons entering Australia by air complete the passenger card prescribed by the Migration Act, and persons leaving Australia by air complete the passenger card prescribed by the Air Navigation Regulations. The Government’s intention is that this procedure which has operated so successfully for air travellers shall be followed by persons coming to Australia by sea.
As the Senate will realise, since 1945 almost 2 million people have entered Australia, the biggest majority by air but a tremendous number by sea. As one who has travelled on several of these overseas ships and has seen migrants coming to Australia, I realise the problems and difficulties that they encounter with the numerous forms that they have to complete. In the circumstances we agree with the Government that every opportunity should be taken to simplify the procedure. We understand that the proposed procedure has been followed, for a trial period, on a number of trips and that it has worked satisfactorily. No doubt this has prompted the Government to advance the proposals that are now before us.
Newcomers have all the worries of the world on their shoulders, so the difficulties that they are encountering must be resolved. The proposal we are now discussing will help to do this. I know that on arrival here they are given every assistance, but the fact remains that they are very concerned and no doubt would prefer to follow the simplified procedure. For these reasons we concur in the Government’s action. While this is only a somewhat minor Bill, its proposals will assist the men and women arriving in Australia.
We must show every kindness, patience and consideration to the new arrivals.
If they are to be regarded as welcome additions to our country, every care must be taken to overcome any difficulties that they may encounter in making this country their own. I am sure that this Bill will help to do that. We are very happy to support it, because we recognise that the success of our immigration programme depends so much on our attitude to newcomers. We commend the administrative officers for their suggestions, which certainly will be welcomed by people arriving in this country.
– I should like to say a few words in support of this Bill. I am delighted that a barrier which has confronted people entering Australia is now to be removed. I do not know whether honorable senators remember, but it could not be more than six yeaTs since I brought this matter to the attention of the Parliament. Now, hey presto, it is done. It is wonderful to think that the Government has taken this action.
– The honorable senator must have been responsible for it.
– I may have been. Six years have elapsed. In any event, it is certainly good to find that action has been taken. Anything which will facilitate the entry of either migrants or tourists to this country is of great advantage to them. I was interested to see a Press report in the last few days to the effect that somebody who had been investigating tourism had said that members of Parliament and perhaps also public servants were still not fully aware of the value of tourism. I think that is quite true, when we realize that it has taken so much time to have the Act amended in this way. If the amendments that have now been made have the effect of assisting to encourage migrants to come here they are laudable, although I doubt very much whether they will have that effect. I do not think that prospective migrants are aware of the difficulties involved in the paper work they will have to do when they are entering Australia. However, if their entry is made easier, perhaps they will advise their friends to follow suit.
People who come to Australia by air complete a passenger card before arrival, and the proposal is that people arriving by sea will have their entry facilitated in the same way. That will be of great advantage to them. The fact that there are certain people who have had the privilege of entering Australia without administrative difficulty being placed in their way does not worry me very much because the four categories of persons mentioned in the Bill do not add very much from the point of view of migration or of tourism. However, a matter which is of great importance to us in Australia is that under this Bill the section of the Act which prevented United States Service personnel from entering is to be brought into line with the Status of Forces Agreement with the Government of the United States of America. We certainly rely on our friends to help us to defend this country and to guarantee its security. We rely on them to assist us because we could not possibly do all that is required to defend it. If the American Service chiefs have asked that we facilitate the entry of American personnel to this country I think it is extremely important that we do so.
The fact that the visa system is not affected by the Bill is not of great importance because obviously people who are coming here to live or for a lengthy stay need to be more closely examined. But it has been obvious for many years that it was not important for people who were coming for a short stay to go through the formalities that were required i of them. It is interesting to me that the Department now admits that a more complete check is made and that it is able to keep better figures relating to persons entering and leaving Australia. That, of course, is greatly to our advantage because it means that we will have better statistics. As we know, on many occasions reference has been made in this place to the fact that the statistics have been incomplete. It is also interesting to see that the Department has operated the new procedures on a trial basis and has found them to be eminently satisfactory in all respects. I am very glad that these amendments are being made and I have pleasure in supporting the Bill.
[8.141. - in reply - It is gratifying to know that honorable senators on both sides of the chamber are as one on this legislation. I appreciate the remarks that have been made by Senator Fitzgerald and also by Senator Buttfield.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
– I present the fourth report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Gorton) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to alter the number of judges who may be appointed to the Commonwealth Industrial Court. The amendment proposed to be made by clause 3 will enable the number of judges, apart from the Chief Judge, to be increased from three to four. Clause 4 deals with an associated matter to which I shall refer in a moment. When the Commonwealth Industrial Court was established in 1956 provision was made for a Chief Judge and not more than two other judges. This number was, however, soon shown to be insufficient. The Conciliation and Arbitration Act requires that, in general, not less than two judges must sit to constitute the Court. In the early days of the Court, it was the practice to assemble a court of three judges, and the Chief
Judge should be in a position to do this whenever occasion calls for it. Unavailability of a judge because of other judicial work or for any other reason can make this impossible and indeed, at times, has caused difficulty in assembling a court of two judges. In 1960, one of the judges went abroad on extended leave of absence. In the same year, the judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory resigned. Rather than appoint a successor to him at that stage, it was considered preferable to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to enlarge the Industrial Court by one judge so that the Industrial Court judges could between them carry out the functions of the Australian Capital Territory judge as well as their own f- motions.
Since 1960, therefore, and until recently, the three judges of the Industrial Court, other than the Chief Judge, have done the whole of the judicial work of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory, but this work so increased that it became necessary, in July of this year, to appoint a judge specifically to that Court. The Industrial Court judges are still required to assist with the judicial work of that Court, and with the rapid growth in population it is clear that that assistance will increasingly be necessary.
The Industrial Court judges are also additional judges of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory, and, as such, afford relief, when necessary, for the judge of that Court. They are also the judges of the Supreme Courts of the smaller external Territories, Cocos Island, Christmas Island and Norfolk Island. The Chief Judge has, in addition to his strictly judicial duties, undertaken a number of quasi-judicial assignments. Since 1961, he has been the judge appointed under the Navigation Act to conduct courts of marine inquiry; on a number of occasions he has presided over boards of accident inquiry under the Air Navigation Regulations; in 1958 and 1959 he was chairman of the committee appointed to review the copyright law of the Commonwealth, and recently he acted as arbitrator under section 13a of the Copyright Act 1912-1963. He was of course the Royal Commissioner who inquired into the collision between H.M.A.S. “Melbourne” and H.M.A.S. “ Voyager “. An example of other calls on the time of one or other of the judges of the Industrial Court is the inquiry at present being undertaken by Mr. Justice Eggleston with a view to recommending standard rates of professorial and other academic salaries as a measure for the purpose of recommending grants to be made to universities. Another example is a recent request from the Government of Fiji for one of our senior judges to be made available to sit as a member of its Court of Appeal, perhaps three times a year and for two or more weeks on each occasion.
The Government thinks the Industrial Court judges, apart from the Chief Judge, should be increased in number from three to four. The industrial cases in their nature and consequences, are such that they must frequently come on without delay. The Chief Judge has been unable on many occasions to assemble a court of three judge-s, and the court has had to sit with only two judges. The Chief Judge should be in a position after allowing for the absence of judges due to illness, or on leave, or on duty elsewhere, to assemble, with little or no notice, a court of three judges. It is further necessary to be able to do this while still giving assistance in the increasing judicial work of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory, and the judges must still be able to cope expeditiously with demands made on them to undertake other judicial assignments such as I have referred to.
Clause 4 of the Bill was included, originally, to place it beyond doubt that acceptance of judicial office in Fiji, which of course is outside the Commonwealth and its Territories, will not create any inconsistency with a judge’s position as a judge of the Industrial Court that might conceivably affect the validity of his commission as such a judge. It was thought proper to state expressly that a judge will receive no remuneration in respect of appointment as to Fiji. This, of course, is already the position in regard to Territory commissions a judge may hold. It was also necessary to say, for the purposes only of section 101 of the Act, that a judge absent from Australia performing the duties of an appointment such as to Fiji, would be deemed to be absent on leave, so that, if the powers and functions of the Chief Judge would otherwise devolve on him, they would then devolve on the judge next below him in the order of seniority.
These were the original considerations behind clause 4. But, in drafting the clause, it appeared undesirable to refer to appointments like Fiji without also referring to judicial appointments in our own Territories, because the judges of the Industrial Court do hold commissions in the various Territories, and the Bill should exclude any possible inference of inconsistency between those commissions and the Industrial Court commissions. As the Territory commissions have been effective for some time, the clause is retrospective in relation to them. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cohen) adjourned.
Consideration resumed from 28th October (vide page 1386).
Proposed expenditure, £1,482,000.
.- In the debate on these estimates, with a voice faint but insistent, I should like to suggest to the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) that consideration be given to the organisation of parliamentary sittings, with a view to the efficient carrying out of parliamentary work and to economy. I have in mind the cost which is incurred in the transport of members and in the payment of allowances to members whilst in Canberra. I remind the Committee that we secured an improvement in sitting arrangements some three or four years ago - it might be five or six years ago - whereby every three weeks there is a break of one week in which members are not required to come to Canberra. That arrangement still makes it very difficult to organise work at home and work in Canberra, and I urge the Minister to consider the adoption of the idea of full-time continuous work in Canberra for a fortnight and then a full week in the home State or the electorate of the member. This would, I believe, reduce considerably the expenditure incurred on travel. It would reduce in a real sense the ennui and exhaustion caused by travelling, and it would enable more continuous concentration on parliamentary duties. It would enable members of the Parliament to consult the chief officers of the departments in Canberra and come to a much more satisfactory understanding of the work of the Executive and the bureaucracy in relation to the Parliament. It would also give members a better opportunity to regulate their work at home. I earnestly recommend to the Minister once again consideration of the programme 1 have suggested.
– When Senator Wright submits this proposition to me, my personal reaction as one who comes from a far away State, is one of warm support. I am completely receptive to the suggestion. From my personal point of view, and certainly from Senator Wright’s point of view, it is a matter for considerable regret that members from the nearer States, who come in much larger numbers, do not seem to take kindly to the proposition which has been put forward. This proposition has been discussed in the party room of Government members from time to time, and I have no doubt that the same sort of considerations have induced members of the Labour Party to raise the proposition in their own caucus.
Unfortunately, there seems to have developed over the years an insistence by members from the nearer States that it is imperative that each and every week-end, and in the early part of the following week, they be in their States. I do not have any great expectation that the proposal put forward by Senator Wright will be very warmly received by the majority of members. If I can speak as an individual rather than as a Minister, I give the honorable senator the assurance that on every possible occasion I will support the proposition that he has put forward.
– I support the proposal raised by Senator Wright, but I have a horrible suspicion, which no doubt he also entertains, that although the Minister has indicated a sympathetic attitude towards what I consider is a practicable proposal, the matter is going to slop there. The Minister said that he himself believed that it was most unlikely that those in high places-
– I did not say that.
– I thought that is what the Minister meant. I will withdraw what 1 have just said and say that 1 believe that those in high places will readily forget, after this evening, that this submission has been made. I should like to see a committee appointed for the purpose of considering what constitutes practicable arrangements for sessions of the Parliament - how they can be conducted in the most economic and practical way. Honorable senators will recall that from time to time over many years the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has referred to the utter futility of the system under which we work, particularly towards the end of sessions when the Parliament sits a! all sorts of outrageous hours with no thought to a systematic arrangement of timing or anything else. Of course, this points to what we all know so well: That we are the victims of ministerial arrangements. While the decisions rest in high places in the Cabinet and present arrangements stand, we ordinary members shall continue to be pushed around. I use that expression in the widest sense. We will continue to sit at all sorts of odd hours and times without any proper cohesion and without any thought given to the proper working of the Parliament.
– That is not true.
– The Minister does not agree?
– I do not agree that honorable senators are asked to sit at all sorts of odd hours and at odd times.
– On the occasions I have mentioned we have had what are popularly known as all nighters
– We have not had an all nighter for three years.
– I said that we have had all nighters. Certainly it is not three years since we had the last all nighter.
– The honorable senator’s purpose and mine are one. I suggest to him that if we keep to this proposition we might get somewhere.
– 1 have allowed myself to be diverted a little by the Minister. However 1 shall return to the point I was making. 1 believe that a committee of some sort should be appointed to go into this matter and see whether we can arrive at a much more satisfactory arrangement. I am sure the Minister will agree that there must be more satisfactory ways of organising the sittings of this Parliament than the present arrangement. I support Senator Wright in this request.
I turn now to a vastly different matter. From time to time over the past two or three years it has been the custom to have displays in the King’s Hall associated with the Department of National Development and sometimes with the Department of Defence and other sections of the administration. Great interest has been taken in these displays, not only by members of Parliament, parliamentary officers and residents of Canberra but also by the travelling public who visit the national capital in ever increasing numbers each year. I should like to see this practice extended and to have more frequent displays in the King’s Hall because I believe they serve a useful purpose for the Parliament, the residents of Canberra and visitors.
– 1 address my remarks to Division No. 109 - Joint Committee of Public Accounts, sub-division 2, Administrative expenses. The appropriation last year was £3,400 and actual expenditure was £3,393. The proposed vote is £7,500. I notice that the appropriation for salaries and allowances for the Joint Committee of Public Accounts in Division No. 109, sub-division I last year was £7,300 and the proposed vote this year is £6,500. Apparently, the staffing of the Committee has been almost stationary but there is a big rise in administrative expenses. I am not for one moment criticising the work of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts but I should like to know why the administrative expenses have doubled. Is there some big change in the setup of the Committee? Has it travelled more widely than in previous years?
I am interested also in Division No. 108 - Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, In this case, the situation seems to be the reverse of that applying to the Joint Committee of Public Accounts. Administrative expenses for the Public Works Committee last year totalled £5,122 and the appropriation was £4,370. The proposed vote this year is down to £3,000. Has this important Committee been less active or is it travelling less than it did? It is important for us to know the trend. I notice that the actual expenditure on salaries and allowances for the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works last year was £3,022. The appropriation was £3,930 and this year it is £2,960. Those are two minor items on which I should like to have information.
I turn now to Division No. 101 - Senate, sub-division 2, item 05, Inter-Parliamentary Union Conferences - Representation. Last year the appropriation was £10,506 and actual expenditure was £21,888. This year there is no proposed vote for this item. I understand there is to be an annual conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Has a decision been made not to support such a conference this year?
Under Division No. 102, sub-division 2, there is item 05, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conferences - Representation. The appropriation last year was £8,350 and actual expenditure was £8,328. The proposed vote is down to £2,200. That is approximately a quarter of the expenditure last year. Is it the policy of the Government to cut down representation at these conferences? I think the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association is of great importance to the members of this Parliament. It also has a wider significance. It is of great importance to the British world that these conferences be held and that Australian representation be at full strength.
The other matter to which I wish to refer relates to Division No. 105 - Joint House Department. I invite the attention of the Government to the fact that in Parliament House there appears to be no equivalent to what we knew in the Army as a regimental aid post.
– There is now one downstairs.
– I will not refer to that matter any further as I am informed by my colleague, Senator Wright, that one has been established. My remarks were prompted by several incidents that have occurred here recently. In a building in which approximately 500 or 600 people normally work it is appropriate that there should be such an institution. I am very glad to hear from Senator Wright that there is one in existence.
– There are two matters which I wish to discuss in relation to these estimates. The first matter refers to the public. I cannot see any reference to the public in these estimates, so I shall relate my remarks to Division No. 105 - Joint House Department. Very elaborate provisions are made in Parliament House for the entertainment and for the feeding of honorable senators and for members in another place. Also, provisions are made for important visitors. People who are lucky enough to be friends of members of Parliament and who want to listen to the debates in Parliament are able to be taken to dinner by members of the Parliament. They are the fortunate ones. Also, members of the Public Service - and there are a few sitting in the chamber tonight - are able to have a yarn and to have dinner in the area which is provided for the officials. But there is no place provided for the public.
I feel sorry for a great number of the public who come here and wander around King’s Hall. They have nowhere to have a cup of tea. No provisions are made for them whatsoever. I do not think that a person can get a cup of tea within three miles of Parliament House. A person is able to get a cup of tea at Manuka, if he gets there early enough, or he can go to Civic. The people about whom I speak usually come here in Pioneer buses and they do not ‘have enough money to go to the Hotel Canberra and, of course, it is only possible to eat at the Hotel Kurrajong at 9 o’clock, 1 o’clock and 6 o’clock.
– Does the honorable senator want to make Parliament House into a super-mart?
– No, I do not. Senator Toohey spoke earlier in the debate about having displays in King’s Hall and inviting the public to look at them. Surely people from outside Canberra should be invited here and not people from Canberra, because Canberra people do not know where Parliament House is. I think that is a correct statement to make. People from other cities come to Parliament House, but they cannot get a cup of tea.
– Does the honorable senator want to turn Parliament House into a tea house?
– No. I understand that in the House of Commons the public can have afternoon tea. We expect the public to come here and sit in the galleries. I have seen crowds of people in the galleries, but they have a long way to go if they want to have a cup of tea. The Government would have to do very little to make provision for the public to have a cup of tea here. A fence has been erected enclosing a large area in which an extension to this building is being constructed. Nobody has complained about the space that is being taken up in that way. That is necessary, of course. However, there are other areas in the passage ways of Parliament House which could be used for the purpose I recommend. I think that this matter is the responsibility of the Joint House Committee. Senator Kennelly suggests that the bar could be cut in half and facilities for the public to have a cup of tea could bc provided there. I do not agree with that suggestion. I would not be here long if I did. 1 think it should be possible within the precincts of the building for a small restaurant to bc established where people could sit in the sun and have morning or afternoon tea. I think it is a matter which the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) could consider. People have said to me: “ What is the good of going to Parliament House? You go in there and you wander around but there is no place to have a cup of tea.” Large deputations come to Parliament House.
– They do not want to eat. They want to argue.
– We on this side of the chamber have this experience, whereas honorable senators on the other side might not. One day members of the Seamen’s Union of Australia came to Parliament House and they wanted something to eat. I suggested to the group of seamen that they have dinner with me. I took them all to dinner. There were nine of them. They all ordered big steaks. I was called away to the telephone, and when I came back I noticed that the steaks which they had partly consumed when I left had disappeared and that they had other steaks on their plates. I said: “ What was wrong with the first steaks? “ The leader of the group said: “We always have two steaks on the Australian National Line “. They were seamen employed by the Government’s shipping line.
– Why do not the bus proprietors take the people to Civic or to Manuka for cups of tea?
– I do not think that that is what should be done. Another afternoon a deputation comprising people from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne came to Parliament House. I approached the women in the deputation. They asked me where they could get a cup of tea. I said: “You let the male members of the deputation see the Prime Minister and let them carry on the revolution. I will take you to afternoon tea “. I took them to afternoon tea. There were 20 of them, but there was nowhere else for them to go. I did not please the male members of the deputation very much because they needed numbers this day and they did not get what they wanted.
There is another matter to which I wish to refer. It relates to daily newspapers. Daily newspapers are in very short supply, particularly to honorable senators. Honorable senators must have noticed that every day at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon there is a rush from this side of the chamber, particularly. It might occur on the other side of the chamber, but I only see what happens on this side because if I do not keep my eye glued on it, I am not in the rush and I do not get a newspaper. Six copies of the daily newspapers are provided for 27 Labour senators.
– Take that matter up in Caucus. Do not bring it into the National Parliament.
– I say that more papers should be provided for honorable senators.
– The honorable senator wants everything free.
– I do not want them free at all.
These are the two propositions that I put to the Minister: That we consider providing facilities for the public to have a cup of tea - and that would not be hard to do - and that we give serious consideration to increasing the supply of daily newspapers for honorable senators. If we were able to do both those things we would be doing a service.
– Mr. Chairman, I think that the provision of additional facilities along the lines suggested by Senator Ormonde would impose an almost impossible task both on the physical resources of the building and on the staff. I frequently look around this building and I wonder that it is possible to do so much for honorable members and for visitors. The solution to the matter lies, if 1 may say so, not in this building but in the visionary plans in connection with the construction of a new Parliament House. In view of what has been said J take the opportunity of passing my congratulations, for what they are worth, to the staff of Parliament House who in my view manage, under great difficulties sometimes, to cater for numbers of patrons far in excess of those for whom the facilities were designed to serve. I certainly do not know of any way in which additional facilities for serving tea and buns for visitors - I think that was the suggestion - can be provided. However, we have a most co-operative staff and I will take an opportunity to draw the attention of the manager of the Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms to what the honorable senator has said tonight.
If I may say so there seems to be some division of opinion on the provision of newspapers for honorable senators.
– Oh, no.
– This is true. Last night one of Senator Ormonde’s colleagues put it to me that it was a sheer waste of money to provide newspapers in party rooms. Tonight Senator Ormonde puts it to me that this is a service which should be upgraded. I am a most obliging type of chap, as I hope he realises, but I think the Opposition senators ought to come to an agreement on what they want done. If they do reach a decision on this matter and let me know of it - and if the request is reasonable - I think something might be arranged.
Senator Laught, referring to the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, asked for an explanation of the proposed variation in expenditure this year compared with that of last year. The note I have about this matter is that the proposed increase is to cover travelling expenses, and parliamentary printing and stationery, the cost of which will be heavier than that of last year due to the fact that a greater number of meetings of the Committee will be held interstate. The next query was in relation to the Public Works Committee where the reverse is the case. The explanation is that the estimate for 1964-65 has been based on the expectation of a heavier incidence of sittings in State capital cities than has been the case in the past. The Chairman of the Public Works Committee has indicated that this is so and also that the general activity of the Committee will be considerably greater in 1964-65.
A question was asked about representation at the Inter-Parliamentary Union conferences. The estimate for 1964-65 is nil as against the expenditure last year of £21,888. No estimate has been made for this item as all the delegates to the 53rd Conference at Copenhagen in August 1964 had left Australia prior to 1st July. The expenditure for 1963-64 included the costs of the delegations to the 52nd Conference held at Belgrade and to the 53rd Conference held in Copenhagen.
– There will be no conference this year?
– The two conferences were covered in the 1963-64 expenditure, all the delegates having left Australia prior to 1st July. A further question was asked about the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association expenditure in 1963-64. The amount of £8,300 included the cost of an Area Conference held in Canberra amounting to £4,500.
– I have only one brief question. It comes under Division No. 105, subdivision 2, item 04 - Parliament gardens. I notice an allocation of £550 for 1964-65. Last year there was an appropriation of £1,350 and an expenditure of £1,162. I would like the Minister to inform me why there was such a sharp drop in that proposed expenditure.
.- The expenditure under that item has been reduced by £800 due to the fact that the Department of the1 Interior will supply in future, free of charge, potted plants which, in the past, were charged to this vote. The additional cost of £188 provided in 1964- 65 is to cover the cost of cutting one of the hedges surrounding the parliamentary gardens. The contractor for the work did not complete this job in time to allow payment for it to be made before the close of the last financial year.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Prime Minister’s Department
Proposed expenditure, £21,566,000.
.- Mr. Chairman, 1 want to refer to Division No. 400, sub-division 4, item 06 - State funerals. That amount appropriated for 1963-64 was £4,418 and the expenditure was £4,397. This year an amount of £1,800 has been appropriated. 1 am most interested to know who is the official estimator, the man who points the bone by estimating that we will spend £1,800 on State funerals in the forthcoming year.
– He was correct last year.
– That is the astounding thing. Whoever he is, he is most accurate. He is so accurate as to be frightening, because it means that to spend £1,800 in the forthcoming year we will have at least one funeral. I would like to know how these figures are arrived at.
– A contingent provision of £1,800 has been made to meet the cost of State funerals from time to time. The expenditure in 1963-64 was incurred with seven State funerals.
– I wish to refer to the item relating to the Committee of Economic Inquiry which appears in sub-division 4 of Division No. 400. The appropriation for 1964-65 is £40,500. Last year’s expenditure was £56,085. I would like to know whether the Committee to which this item relates is the Committee which is known as the Vernon Committee, established in February 1963.
If so, does the appropriation of £40,500 for 1964-65 mean that the Committee is to conduct further investigations over a long period? Can the Minister give the Senate an indication of when to expect. a report from this Committee? I have placed on the notice-paper questions concerning the Vernon Committee because I believe that it is an important committee and the Sena-e should be informed of the results of its inquiries. Is the Committee doing anything at present? Why is there a delay in the presentation of its report? If the Committee is covering a wide field of investigation, I think that its inquiries should be hastened as much as possible. The fact that the appropriation for 1964-65 approaches the appropriation for the previous year suggests immediately that it is to operate for another 12 months and that it will be at least that long before we receive a report from this most important Committee that was established in February 1963.
I wish now to refer to the item in Division No. 400 which relates to the Royal Commission on the loss of H.M.A.S. “Voyager”. The expenditure last year on this item was £29,766 and the appropriation for the forthcoming year is £17,500. I would like to know whether that appropriation is in respect of a debt outstanding as a result of the Royal Commission, or whether it is intended to cover further investigations.
I turn now to Division No. 400 subdivision 5 - Grants-in-Aid. During the discussion on the estimates of the Department of Social Services I was told that the request I am about to make should be directed during discussion on the estimates of the Prime Minister’s Department. From time to time applications for grants have been forwarded by the National Nursing Education Division of the Royal Australian Nursing Federation and the National Florence Nightingale Committee of Australia. Apparently this Division undertakes the education of nurses who perform a most essential and humane duty. The aim of the Division appears to be to rectify the position that between 40 per cent, and 50 per cent, of those persons who undertake to join the nursing profession do not complete their training. Somewhere in the course of training there is a serious wastage of nurses. Each year between 2,800 and 3,200 nurses graduate, but quite a number of them do not register after graduation. After having been trained, at some expense, their services are no longer available to the ailing. This is one of the considerations of the Division. In order to conduct its inquiries, the Division requires more money than donations by nurses can provide. The Government has repeatedly been asked to assist. The amount requested is only £10,000, which is a relatively small amount when compared with some of the appropriations which appear in subdivision 5.
As far back as 1961 the National Nursing Education Division wrote to the Hon. Dr. Cameron on this question. Subsequent approaches were made to the Minister for Health (Senator Wade), on 11th June 1962, and to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), on 20th August 1962. The Director of the Commonwealth Office of Education, Mr. W. J. Weeden, was approached on 27th July 1963. Each approach was unsuccessful. Dr. Cameron replied that the matter would be considered when the Budget for 1962-63 was being framed. Nothing further has been heard and the Division is placed in a dilemma. It is unsure whether the Government accepts its plea as worthwhile and whether the Government will give assistance to this most worthy cause. When the Division wrote to mc I agreed to make representations on its behalf at the appropriate time and to ask the Government to consider its request. It seems to me that the Division is at least entitled to know what has happened since Dr. Cameron wrote that its request would be considered in the 1962-63 Budget. I submit that in future Budgets the Government should make a grant to this most deserving cause.
.- I wish to address a few remarks to Division No. 400 - Administrative, and more particularly to sub-division 5 - Grants-in-Aid. The appropriations set out in sub-division 5 show that a great deal of help is given to many worthy organisations in Australia. Assistance is also given to some organisations outside Australia. 1 believe that in each case the assistance given is very desirable because it is improving the image of Australia in the eyes of people at home or overseas. I believe that another organisation of high repute which has been formed in Australia should be included in the list of appropriations in sub-division 5. I refer to the Royal Air Force Escaping Society. To give honorable senators some idea of the standing of this organisation, I point out that the patron is Air Marshal Sir Frederick Scherger and the President is Air Chief Marshal Sir Basil Embry. This organisation is well known in Australia and overseas. I propose to appeal for some assistance to be given to the organisation. To do so I must first explain a little more fully what the organisation is, and I shall do so quite briefly.
In 1945, when the Royal Air Force Escaping Society was formed under its first President, Marshal of the Royal Air Force Viscount Portal of Hungerford, 500 subscribing members pledged .themselves to remember tangibly as a lifelong bond the gallantry and self-sacrifice of those citizens in occupied countries who risked frightful torture and death to save some 2,000 Allied airmen who escaped in Europe or in the Pacific area. Only a few of those citizens have ever received token recognition in £ha way of awards and decorations from the governments concerned. The Escaping Society itself does not receive any financial assistance in its work from any official or governmental source. At this very moment there are 500 urgent cases of poverty, illness and distress which have been studied and verified. Many of these people are aging and their children are in dire need. The Escaping Society firmly believes that our national honour is involved and it is determined, with the help of the generous Australian public, partly to honour a duty to these heroic people.
In various countries quite a large number of our own airmen were saved. Some were helped to escape and to return to their home bases, and they continued to fight as airmen as a result of the work that was done by residents of the various countries concerned. As I said, many of these residents faced grave danger and suffered grave hardship. They were in danger of losing their lives. Airmen who were assisted to escape have pledged themselves to help those who helped them during the war. As a result, they give of their money anc* activity to carry on this work. If Austral!) owes a debt to anybody at all, it certainly owes a debt to those people who were responsible for returning our airmen to our own shores. A large number of these airmen are doing a great deal of work in this direction in a voluntary capacity.
Those men are seeking to provide this year, if at all possible, about £10,000 towards this work. They have made an appeal throughout Australia for help. This is a very worthy cause, and I know a great deal of help is being given by generous Australians who are sympathetic. My personal belief is that this work should be the responsibility not only of those individuals who gave a great deal in service in the Air Force during the war. I should like to see the Australian Government accept some responsibility in the matter. This organisation should be given some help from Commonwealth funds. The most satisfactory form of assistance would be a donation to match the amount of money that is raised by the organisation itself. I suggest that if the organisation raised £5,000 or £10,000, the Government should match that sum and so assist the organisation to carry on its great philanthropic work which it regards as one of national honour and which we all should regard in the same light.
– I am sorry that I cannot help in relation to inquiries about matters that do not appear in the Estimates. I have not before me any data about organisations which have asked unsuccessfully for assistance. The only material I have before me is that which explains payments that are to be made. It does not cover payments which, for one reason or another, have been rejected. I do not know of the National Nursing and Florence Nightingale Association to which Senator Cavanagh referred, although I have no doubt that it is an organisation of standing. I suggest to the honorable senator that, if he thinks the request has not been sufficiently regarded, he should renew his representations. I regret that I cannot give him any reasons for the rejection. I have not any correspondence before me.
– That is understandable.
– The same remark applies to the Royal Air Force Escaping Society. I am familiar with that organisation. It is a first class organisation, and it is doing a first class job. I wish it every success. As I recall the situation, this organisation directs its appeal exclusively to the public of Britain and Australia. My recollection is that it does not apply for governmental assistance. I recall discussing the Society with Air Chief Marshal Embry two or three months ago and I think he made the point that the Society appealed to the public rather than to governments for support. I heartily endorse everything that Senator Morris said about the organisation. Senator Cavanagh inquired about the progress that was being made by the Committee of Economic Inquiry. Did the honorable senator want some details of the expenditure or some information about the Committee’s report?
– I want some details about what the Committee is doing and when we might expect to have its report.
– What it is doing, of course, is conducting an inquiry into the Australian economy. This very important job has been placed in the hands of a very competent committee which consists of Dr. Vernon as Chairman, Sir John Crawford as Vice-Chairman, Messrs. Myer and Molesworth, and Professor Karmel. All those names are well known in the Australian commercial world. The honorable senator asked when we may expect to receive the Committee’s report. Someone asked me a question about this some weeks ago and I said that I thought the report would be available about midOctober or at the end of October. I think that it is the aim of the Committee at least to conclude its report by November and to have it in the hands of the Government before the end of the year. I think it is getting very close to the point when the report will be submitted.
The other question related to the “Voyager” inquiry. The expenses of the royal commission into the loss of the “Voyager” are expected to total approximately £47,300. Expenditure was £29,766 in 1963-64 and it is expected to total £17,500 in the current year. The details are: Counsels’ fees, paid in 1963-64, £25.000; to bc paid in the current year. £15,500; payments for transcripts of evidence £4,365, all during last year; printing of report £1,500, all in the current year; miscellaneous expenditure £375 last year, expected to run to £500 this year.
– I wish to make a brief inquiry under Division No. 400. I refer to subdivision 5, item 25, under which provision is made for a payment of £5,000 towards the cost of erection of the Chifley Memorial Fountain. I dare say that I should be expected to know where this fountain is being built and particulars of it, but I do not. I ask the Minister to give us some of the details of the proposal to build this memorial, and to say whether it is erected now. In relation to the matter raised by Senator Cavanagh, I ask whether the fact that £40,000 is to be apropriated for the Committee of Economic Inquiry indicates that this is a continuing committee.
– No, the Committee aims to make its report and to wind itself up towards the end of the year. 1 have great pleasure in informing the honorable senator from Sydney that the Chifley Memorial, appropriately enough, is to be erected in the heart of Sydney in Chifley Square. The Commonwealth has agreed to provide £5,000 towards the cost of erecting an appropriate fountain in Chifley Square, which is the open area created by the intersection of Hunter and Elizabeth Streets and the Elizabeth Street extension. The area was recently so named by the Sydney City Council in memory of the late right honorable J. B. Chifley, the former Prime Minister.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland) [9.24]. - I refer to Division No. 400, sub-division 4, item 13, which relates to the proposed appropriation of £14,000 for the Queen Elizabeth II Fellowship Scheme. We are all interested in this scheme and are very pleased about it. Can the Minister give some information as to how it is progressing? I refer also to subdivision 5, item 22, which relates to the proposed appropriation of £90,000 for the Australian-American Educational Foundation, which appears to be a new appropriation. I should like some information on that.
.- Since I have been casting my eyes over certain pages of the particulars of proposed expenditure, I am reminded that it may be a sign of the growth and maturity of the Commonwealth of Australia that the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department should carry provision for princely and munificent sums for all sorts of things. Specifically, I direct attention to Division No. 400, sub-division 4, item 03, which relates to the proposed appropriation of £33,000 for the Commonwealth Literary Fund for payment to the credit of the Commonwealth Literary Fund Trust Account. It appears to be traditionally a function of princes, kings and others of noble rank to succour unfortunate people living in garrets, scribbling away on pieces of paper and finally producing masterpieces.
It is true that this system has succeeded. It comes to mind that Voltaire was given to humanity by Frederick of Prussia. Even such a leader as Cromwell in the Commonwealth attached Milton to the council. Then we have Dr. Johnson and the Earl of Chesterfield, as we go down the list. Not last, and certainly not least in that century, the Earl of Essex was the patron of Shakespeare. It seems to me that with these great sums of money coming out of the proposed vote for the Prime Minister’s Department for the Commonwealth Literary Fund, something bad is going on in the Commonwealth literary garrets, because so far I have not seen that anyone of any great merit has produced anything that will live in history. I have read, of course, the authentic work on Australian life, “ Moleskin Midas “, the author of which was helped by the Commonwealth Literary Fund. That illustrates that something can emanate from this fund.
I was wondering whether the Minister would be kind enough to explain to honorable senators - or is this a private matter, because I do not think it is a charity - whether the people of Australia may expect some Milton to emerge sooner or later and if perhaps, as was characteristic of the English custom, a butt of wine were added to the inducements that flow from this patronage, we might get these mute birds in their cages to sing more lyrical notes than they appear to be singing at present.
.- I refer to Division No. 400, sub-division 5, item 24, which relates to a proposed grant of £20,000 to the Returned Sailors Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia towards the cost of a pilgrimage to Gallipoli to mark the Anzac jubilee. Have any conditions been imposed on the disbursement of this amount of £20,000? Has the Prime Minister’s Department any idea of the number of original Anzacs who would like to have a subsidy to go on the pilgrimage, or will only those whose fares are fully paid benefit from this grant?
The idea of a pilgrimage to Gallipoli is, I think, excellent. I have had representations from men who were at the landing. As a matter of fact, we have one in the Senate, Senator Sandford, who as a boy was at the original Gallipoli landing. Those who have spoken to me have shown an interest in trying to save in order to make the trip with their old comrades. I was not able to obtain any information at all. I could not really find whether the pilgrimage was to be organised by the Commonwealth or by the R.S.L. I note that the Prime Minister’s Department is making this money available to the R.S.L., but can the Minister give me any details of the grant?
– Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin asked about the Queen Elizabeth II Fellowship Scheme. On the occasion of the visit of Her Majesty the Queen early in 1963 it was decided to commemorate the Royal visit by the foundation in perpetuity of post-doctoral fellowships in the physical and biological sciences. With Her Majesty’s consent, these fellowships were to be known as Queen Elizabeth II fellowships. The awards were to be announced from time to time by the Prime Minister, and a secretariat was established in the Prime Minister’s Department to assist the Queen Elizabeth II Fellowship Committee which had been established to consider applications and to administer the awards.
Five fellows were chosen in June 1964, for whom stipends and payments to the host institutions will be payable in 1964-65. It is expected that a further five fellows will be chosen in November 1964, for whom expenditure on travel costs only may be incurred in 1964-65. Expenditure in 1964-65 is expected to be £4,500 for travel costs, £7,000 for stipends and allowances and £2,500 for payments to host institutions.
I think the honorable senator also asked about the Australian-American Educational Foundation, for which an appropriation of £90,000 has been made. The Commonwealth has agreed to contribute £90,000 a year for five years towards a joint AustralianAmerican scheme to provide scholarships to permit the continuation of educational exchanges when the present Fulbright scheme funds are exhausted. It is expected that a provision of £90,000 will be required this financial year.
asked about the Commonwealth Literary Fund and expressed the view that the provision of a butt of wine might make more songful the lyrical birds at present in their cages. That is a very interesting view. I would not undertake that any action by the Commonwealth Government would produce that result, but I think it is fair to say that this Fund has had a very stimulating effect upon Australian literature. It is very much appreciated and I think it has had the effect it set out to have. I am well aware, of course, that some of the authors and some of their works have been extremely controversial. I am equally well aware that some of the works produced with the assistance of this Fund have been quite outstanding. I think of some Western Australian authors who have been assisted and who, as a result, have produced studies of their own country and of their own State which are of outstanding importance.
– The Minister is being very cagey.
– I think that if the honorable senator and I looked at our own States we could point to authors who have benefited greatly and who have produced works that have added quite a good deal to our culture.
I turn to the grant of £20,000 to the Returned Servicemen’s League towards the cost of the pilgrimage to Gallipoli to mark the Anzac jubilee which falls next year. The Government believes that those taking part in the pilgrimage should meet their own fares and other expenses. It is recognised, however, that there will be some who obviously should be included in the party but who will be unable to meet their fares and expenses without some financial assistance, lt has been decided, therefore, to make the grant of £20,000 to the R.S.L. so that it can assist those people who have not sufficient funds available.
.- 1 am grateful to have received the call from you at this stage, Mr. Temporary Chairman, because I was waiting to mention this item and was pleased that Senator O’Byrne had referred to it. The grant seems to me, if I may say so, wholly inadequate as an indication of the Government’s recognition of the significance of this occasion. I hope that at some stage the Minister will give the Committee a more detailed statement of what is proposed. From what he has said, it would appear that this is simply a vote of £20,000 to the Returned Servicemen’s League, which will use it to assist the passages to Gallipoli of veterans who otherwise could not make the trip. But how many will £20,000 assist to make the trip?
Honorable senators who have read Alan.brooke’s book about Gallipoli and his graphic description of the gardens and cemeteries there will have noted that his only complaint is that no-one ever visits them. We in this country who were striving for our national existence 50 years ago now come along on the 50th anniversary of the landing on Gallipoli and proffer £20,000. I had hoped that the Government would recognise this as an occasion when generous assistances would be granted. My own idea of the kind of assistance that should be given on an occasion like this is £200,000, so that every person who fought there, if he were able to make the trip, could bc assisted to such a degree that his contribution, if he were in any way in need of money, would be minimal. I know nothing of the R.S.L.’s plans. Not being an ex-serviceman who went out of Australia, one of the things that I have against the League is that it denies membership to those who were denied exit from Australia. A national epoch-making event such as this should not be left entirely in the hands of the R.S.L. The Government should take the opportunity to see that the pilgrimage is one of national significance. 1 can imagine a contingent going to the Gallipoli Peninsula and making such an occasion of the meeting with their former Turkish enemies as to demonstrate the way in which goodwill can be recovered; then making a pilgrimage through the capitals of central Europe, including some of the German towns, and finally arriving in London. I should think that Australia and Australia’s relationship with Europe - tremendously significant as it is - would receive a great stimulus. It would do everybody good. The Government appropriates £33,000 for the Commonwealth Literary Fund and £20,000 for the pilgrimage to Gallipoli. I think - I say this without any heat and very quietly because I want to evoke sympathy and interest - the comparison is deplorable.
– I regret that Senator Wright should regard this . contribution by the Commonwealth towards the Returned Servicemen’s League project as miserly. I point out that this is a project which the League is organising, lt decided to mark the 50th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli in this way. The League asked the Commonwealth for assistance, and we granted £20,000 in support of the project. It did not ask for a specific amount. I understand that no disappointment has been expressed at the grant of £20,000. This is not a Government undertaking to mark the 50th anniversary of Anzac. The Commonwealth Government is marking the occasion in other ways which I think are deeply significant and which will endure. They will commemorate for a long time the fact that the Australian people honoured the 50th anniversary of Anzac in a very fitting way.
Here in our National Capital we are constructing the Anzac Way, just across the lake. That is an undertaking of no mean significance. It is costing nearly £250,000. In the future visitors to Canberra will look across the lake from this location, which will be a focal point, and will see a wide commemorative approach to the Australian War Memorial, and I am sure they will be impressed by it. I believe that this is a fitting way in which to mark the anniversary. In addition, the Government is undertaking the production of an Anzac film which will have wide circulation in Australia and probably outside this country, again to indicate what Australians think of this very memorable occasion and how they are prepared to commemorate it. Other things are being done, such as the printing of special stamps. It is in these ways, in addition to the assistance which has been given to the R.S.L. project, that the Government is undertaking the task of suitably marking a most memorable occasion.
– In connection with the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department, I wish to refer to Division No. 400 - Administrative, and particularly to subdivision 5, Grants-in-Aid. Item 09 relates to the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust. 1 point out that it is some 10 years since the Trust was established in Australia for the purpose of presenting the arts to the Australian community, encouraging patronage of the arts, and creating an image of Australia through portrayal of the arts. Now, after a period of 10 years, I suggest that the Government should have a close look at the activities of the Trust, including its successes and failures.
I do not intend to labour the point at great length during this debate, but I point out to the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) that as recently as last August a “Current Affairs Bulletin” was published by the Department of Tutorial Classes in the University of Sydney. A fairly close perusal was made of the activities of the Trust in comparison with similar activities in presenting and portraying the arts in England, Canada and New Zealand. I think it is fair to say that after a comparison of the activities of the Trust with those of comparable organisations in other English speaking nations it was felt that the expenditure involved in maintaining the Trust had to be watched with some particularity.
Without reading all the relevant passages in the document, may I say that I think the views of the Department of Tutorial Classes are admirably summed up at page 125, where the following statement appears -
Frequent administrative failures have been justified by distorting the image of our existing theatre or tacitly regretting an “ undiscriminating “ or “ inexperienced “ public.
On this same subject matter, as recently as 14th August last an article appeared in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ in which a comparison was made of the activities of the Trust with those of the comparable organisation in Canada, which is known as the
Canada Council. For the edification of the Minister, I shall refer to one or two short paragraphs in the article. It is stated that the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust is concerned only with the theatre arts, which I think is a fair statement, whereas the Canada Council’s operations cover the broad field of all the arts, including architecture, the arts of the theatre, literature, music, painting, sculpture, the graphic arts, other similar creative and interpretive activities and, most importantly, the humanities and social sciences.
The article also points out that unlike the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust, the Canada Council throughout its seven years has acted only as a subsidising body. It has left the establishment of artistic institutions to regional or group enterprise, whereas the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust is a subsidised body which spends the amount of the subsidy as it sees fit.
My remarks on this aspect of the estimates can best be summed up by referring to portion of a letter that was written as a result of the article which appeared in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. It was addressed to the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ by the Director of Adult Education in Victoria. He pointed out that the large subsidy, amounting to some £200,000 each financial year, encourages the Trust into increasingly lavish expenditure in the face of public indifference and into other kinds of behaviour which betray a neurotic concern to justify its existence. He went on to say -
All this is a threat to the proper growth of the arts of the theatre in Australia.
It is indeed high time that the Federal Government began to look carefully at this problem. . . .
I put the following question to the Minister: Are there any conditions imposed on the subsidy that has been granted during the decade since the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust came into existence? Is the Government satisfied that Australians generally are receiving value from the money that is being spent? Is the Trust really contributing to the development of the arts in Australia, or is it, in fact, catering only for the snobocracy in the community without in any way developing public patronage of the arts in the interests of Australia and of Australians generally?
I also wish to refer to Division No. 400 - Administrative, sub-division 4, item 02, Exhibitions of Australian works of art in Australia and overseas - Contributions towards expenses. I notice that the expenditure of £4,811 last financial year is to be increased this year to £10,000. Perhaps the Minister will inform me of the type of expenditure that is envisaged. How much is it intended to spend on exhibitions of Australian works of art in Australia, and how much on exhibitions of Australian works of art overseas? 1 come now to Division No. 430 - Public Service Board. Salaries and allowances are set out in a schedule. If honorable senators turn to the schedule, they will find that the central staff of the Public Service Board has been increased from 264 to 299. That is an increase of 35. However, I notice that the number of first assistant commissioners and assistant commissioners has been increased from three to the somewhat large number, comparatively speaking, of 15. The increase in respect of this item alone will rise from £12,924 to £69,675. I know that in the last financial year the growth of the Public Service has been considerable, but what is the reason for the comparatively large number of appointments to the positions of first assistant commissioner and assistant commissioner? In those positions there has been a large percentage increase, although the overall central staff of the Board has increased by only 35.
– I shall deal first with Senator McClelland’s question about the increase in the number of first assistant commissioners and assistant commissioners in the Public Service Board. I am informed that the actual increase in positions is only four because, of the total of 15 positions now shown, 1 1 represent positions which have existed for a number of years but which have recently been redesignated. The four new positions occur as follows: (a) In the Management Service Division, to cope with the considerable development within the Service in automatic data processing, industrial engineering and like activities; (b) in the Arbitration Division, where the number of claims by staff associations has increased considerably in both number and scope; (c) in the Developmental Division, which is at present involved in extensive studies and research into the salary classification structure of the Service as a whole; and (d) in the Conditions and General Division, to cope with the increased work flowing from occupation with high level parliamentary and other committees, statutory authorities with which the Board is concerned, and association claims affecting general conditions of service other than salaries. That is the explanation of what at first appears to be a very large increase. I think it is quite a satisfactory explanation.
Senator McClelland also addressed himself to the subject of the Australian Elizabethan Trust. I am not familiar in detail with the work of this Trust, although as one of the community I frequently come in contact with the plays and other entertainments that the Trust presents to the public. I have formed the view myself that, by and large, the Trust is doing a pretty fair job. I recognise that in matters such as this opinions will vary, lt is a healthy sign that the work of the Trust is noted and criticised. I think that nothing but good can come from a sharpening of public opinion on this type of endeavour. Whether one likes or does not like the productions of the Trust does not seem to matter very much if critical comment has the effect of raising the standard of the work the Trust undertakes. This sort of public interest is a good thing. I will certainly take the opportunity to direct to the attention of the people who are most interested in this subject the comments that have been made.
I am informed that it is quite erroneous to compare the Australian Elizabethan Trust with the Canada Council. The Canada Council, I am advised, is not in any sense parallel with the Trust. The Canada Council, like the British Council, is a monolithic art group which covers everything. The Commonwealth Government’s assistance to the various arts flows through many bodies, including the Commonwealth Literary Fund - of which we spoke earlier this evening - the Art Advisory Board and the Humanities Research Council. All of these bodies receive support, but not through the Australian Elizabethan Trust.
The last query raised by Senator McClelland related to expenditure on Australian works of art in Australia and overseas. He commented on the increase in the estimate this year. Provision is required to meet the cost of exhibitions of Australian art both overseas and in Australia, and of exhibitions from overseas which are circulated throughout the Commonwealth. In 1964-65 provision has been made to finance the following: The Sao Paulo Biennial 1963, an Australian exhibition in New Zealand, Australian Painting Today, a major exhibition in Japan and an exhibition in Australia of recent Australian sculpture. Expenditure in 1963-64 included expenditure in respect of the following exhibitions: Tate Gallery Exhibition, London; Commonwealth Art Today exhibition, London; exhibition of Australian arts in South Africa; Paris Biennial 1963; Australian Painting Today; and an Australian exhibition in New Zealand.
– I support the plea of Senators O’Byrne and Wright in relation to Division No. 400, sub-division 5, item 24, Returned Sailors’, Soldiers’, and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia - Towards cost of pilgrimage to Gallipoli to mark the Anzac Jubilee in 1965. I join them in asking for an increase in the proposed grant of £20,000. I understand that the R.S.L. is having great difficulty in financing this pilgrimage. I do not know what approaches have been made to the Government recently but the cost of the pilgrimage announced by the League is beyond the means of many men who served in the Gallipoli campaign. Most of them would be around 70 years of age now.
I was not on Gallipoli as the artillery was not at the landing - the infantry was - but I know something of the problems that have arisen in the chartering of ships and organising the pilgrimage. The cost is precluding many veterans who deserve to take part in the pilgrimage back to Gallipoli. I appreciate what the Minister has said about the wonderful view to the Australian War Memorial along the remodelled Anzac Parade in Canberra. That is a national work and the men who served at Anzac will not get very much from it in a personal way, but the pilgrimage back to Anzac Cove is something tangible and personal and something the veterans of the landing deserve.
With your permission, Mr. Chairman, I shall digress here to make a plea for the restoration of the memorial to the 2nd Division A.I.F. at Mont St. Quentin. I have approached the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) and delivered letters to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) asking whether it was possible, if the original memorial could not be restored, to erect something appropriate in its place. The original statuary showed an Australian infantryman forcing his bayonet down the throat of a German eagle, lt was removed by the Germans during the Second World War and taken to Germany. A plaque was put in its place. The original statuary has now become a German monument and not a monument to Australian valour.
A number of people who have been consulted about this monument are sheltering behind Sir Charles Rosenthal who was not sympathetic to the return of the monument from Germany. Sir Charles Rosenthal was a good soldier, but with due respect to him I say that he never captured the spirit of Mont St. Quentin. He was too far back. But more than 12,000 men of the 2nd Division A.I.F. gave their lives there in the First World War. It has been said that the 2nd Division organisation is not in favour of the restoration of the monument. Those of us who are interested in this matter have written to every unit that took part in the action and I know something of it, but nobody knows anything about the alleged views of the 2nd Division Association.
One of these days I will really let my hair down about this. We have at Canberra a replica of the figure of the Australian infantryman by Gilbert, the man who produced the original monument for Mont St. Quentin. We are not asking for the original monument to be restored but we ask that a statute of the Australian soldier as it appears at the Australian War Memorial should be placed on the pedestal at Mont St. Quentin which now stands gaunt and ugly. I repeat my plea for an increase in the proposed grant of £20,000 towards the Gallipoli pilgrimage.
– I address my remarks to Division No. 433 - Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. Apparently this Organisation has everything planned and works according to plan because the actual expenditure last year of £858,000 was the exact amount of the appropriation. The proposed vote this year is £960,000. How is the extra £102,000 to be spent? There are no details of any kind in these estimates.
– Under Division No. 400, there is item 06, “ Commonwealth Economic Committee - Contribution, £29,400 “. Under sub-division 4 of Division No. 400 there is item 11, “Committee of Economic Inquiry, £40,500”. Does that mean that we have two economic committees functioning at the same time? Are they both necessary? I refer now to Division No. 400, subdivision 4, item 01, “Historical and other works of art, including commission of portraits, £17,000 “. Will the Minister give me some information on that proposed expenditure?
– In reply to Senator Ormonde, I inform him that there are two committees. The Commonwealth Economic Committee is composed of representatives of Commonwealth countries. It has existed since 1925 and its functions include those formerly carried out by the Empire Marketing Board. It is entirely different from the Vernon Committee of Economic Inquiry.
The proposed vote of £17,000 for historical and other works of art is to finance the acquisition of pictures for the national collection, the acquisition of paintings for overseas posts, the acquisition of objects of art, and commissions for portraits of Governors-General, Prime Ministers, Presidents of the Senate, Speakers of the House of Representatives and distinguished Australians.
.- I wish to comment again on the Gallipoli pilgrimage. Senator Mattner has referred to this matter and the Minister has made a statement in reply to earlier representations. I appreciate as much as anyone does that somebody had the prescience to remodel Anzac Parade at Canberra so that it will be ready for the celebration next year of the 50th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli. This is a grand national contribution to the commemoration and it is quite timely; but the Minister claimed that the proposed pilgrimage is being left solely to the Returned Servicemen’s League. I sought to convey that it was an opportunity of such significance that the Government ought to see that it is a national pilgrimage and that those who wish to participate are assisted. I am not going to try the Minister’s patience further on this subject. Senator Mattner has brought to the attention of the Senate the fact that the cost is deterring individual interest. I believe that each person who is to attend is expected to be able to raise about £1,000. 1 believe that the Government can recreate national morale and spirit for defence by recognising this occasion in a personal way.
The Committee discussed at some length the expenditure of £750,000 on advertising for recruits for the Army. If scholarships were offered - 10, if you like, or 20 - to the most promising recruits in the Army, or to soldiers in their second or third year of service, and they were given the privilege of accompanying this pilgrimage, it is not possible to tell what contribution that would make through an opportunity to participate in the traditions of the Australian Army. I believe it would do more towards the creation of a real spirit for recruitment in the defence Services than half of the expenditure on advertising for recruitment that the Committee discussed last evening. I will not labour the point, because I intend to take up the matter in a more personal way with some of our colleagues so that the cause may be advanced.
– The Minister did not reply to my query in relation to Division No. 433. Is he able to do so now?
– I am unable to give the honorable senator any information that is worth while. Included in the increase of £102,000 there will be escalation of salaries and wages. I do not have any details available at present. I shall see whether I can obtain any information for the honorable senator and, if so, I shall make it available to him. I would not like it to be thought either by Senator Mattner or Senator Wright that what they have said in respect of the Anzac commemoration goes unheeded by me. It does not. However, 1 think that we are at cross purposes, perhaps because of my failure to understand precisely what has been put. The Returned Servicemen’s League, of its own volition and in a spirit which is well understood by all of us who are members of the League, undertook this project. It wrote to the Commonwealth Government and asked for assistance. A grant was made and the matter has ended there so far as it concerns the Prime Minister’s Department. It can do nothing else about it. All I can say further at this stage is that I noted with interest what Senator Wright put.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Proposed expenditure - Prime Minister’s Department (Special Expenditure) £30,000 - noted.
Department of Shipping and Transport
Proposed expenditure, £24,596,000.
Department of Shipping and Transport (Special Expenditure)
Proposed expenditure, £82,000.
– In relation to the estimates of the Department of Shipping and Transport I should like to address a few remarks to show the Minister the interest we have in the service to King Island in Bass Strait. Permission was requested on behalf of the service plying between Ulverstone and King Island to buy a ship abroad so that the ship at present on that service could be replaced. About eight months ago we arranged a deputation. A Mr. Kimberley was interested in the matter. I am not aware that an announcement has been made in response to that deputation. If Senator O’Byrne has any information to the contrary I shall not weary the Min is.er. It may be unfair to ask the Minister to be informed on such a matter. If he is not informed on it, I ask that it be passed by for le moment and noted for one of the departmental officers to send information by letter on the subject.
I wish also to refer to the application for a subsidy by Mr. Houfe. I do not bring this matter to the attention of the Committee in a spirit of complaint, but in a. spirit which should be in conformity with our purposes in Parliament. King Island is a small settlement. It is isolated and has outside communication only by sea and air. Obviously it is dependent for its trade upon shipping services. Mr. Houfe undertook the construction of a vessel for a service to King Island and was given the ordinary subsidy assistance under the Federal shipbuilding scheme. It was granted as a special concession, because his ship is not of tha size that conforms with the ordinary requirements of that scheme. When he placed the ship in operation he found that it was: necessary to upgrade his freight charges very considerably. This was necessary despite the subsidy fixed about eight or tcn years ago by the Tasmanian Government; the payment of which is continuing. It is of very small dimensions.
To an agricultural community which is completely dependent upon its shipping service, the increased freights have become a grievance. I hope that the Minister’s office will direct the attention of the Minister to Mr. Houfe’s application for a subsidy so that finality may soon be reached. I want it to be realised that in this Parliament at Canberra we are not likely to forget the resolute and purposeful community at King Island, isolated as it is. The residents there have established a community at a considerable disadvantage. One of the chief purposes we should serve is to see that a remote community like that at King Island is not forgotten. I believe that the people there are well entitled to subsidy assistance with regard to freights. I hope that earnest attention will be given to the application so that relief may be afforded to the King Island residents. They have had to bear increased freight charges for about 12 or 14 months and it has become a matter of grievance.
Proposed expenditures noted.
Proposed expenditure - Commonwealth Railways, £9,908,000- noted.
Department of National Development
Proposed expenditure, £25,699,000.
.- I refer to Division No. 350- Joint Coal Board. The report of the Joint Coal Board for 1962-63 states that the power and functions of the Board include the taking of such action as in the opinion of the Board is necessary or desirable to ensure that coal is produced in the State of New South Wales in such quantities and with such regularity as will meet requirements throughout Australia and in trade with other countries.
The estimates for the Department of National Development make provision for administration of the Bureau of Mineral Resources and for field operations, which have to do with mapping and the search for coal and oil bearing areas and various minerals. Provision is made also for the Australian Atomic Energy Commission and the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. The Joint Coal Board is performing a function which it has almost completed. In my view, the functions of the Board should be extended. When Senator Sir William Spooner was the Minister for National Development.be said on quite a number of occasions that he was working towards the establishment of a fuel board. I thought he had in mind an extension of the powers of the Coal Board so that it could interest itself in the winning and distribution of minerals, and in other sources of fuel, with a view to rationalising supply in the national interest. The supply of natural gas and fuel oil comes into the picture. Honorable senators know the struggle that has occurred between the producers of fuel oil and the producers of coal, and that coal is being pushed out of the local market - I say that advisedly - and on to the external markets which are not as secure as is the local market. There is constant argument about whether in a time of national emergency coal resources or oil resources are the more important. This question is posed: In the national interest, should the coal industry be allowed to give way to the fuel oil industry?
I think Senator Sir William Spooner was very much in accord with the arrangement in America, which has an organisation that exercises oversight over fuel supplies in an endeavour to rationalise production in the national interest. I have heard the comments of great authorities on this subject, including Mr. Pettingell, who is the Manager of the Australian Gas Light Co. in Sydney. On occasions he has spoken about natural gas and what will happen if it is found in the Sydney Basin. The discovery of natural gas in that area would alter the whole outlook on fuel in Australia, particularly in New South Wales. On many occasions Senator Sir William Spooner announced the discovery of natural gas in different parts of Australia. I have been told that if natural gas were piped to Brisbane, the whole coal industry in that area would be wiped out. I am not suggesting that these developments will not occur, but I do not think they should be allowed to take place willy nilly.
This is my query: Are the Government and the Minister considering an extension of the powers of the Joint Coal Board to give it authority, even if only in an advisory capacity, over the production of other fuels in Australia? I should not have to remind the Minister that very severe competition helped to destroy the coal industry in pre-war days. The same sort of thing could happen again. I appeal to the Minister to consider my proposal that the powers of the Coal Board should be extended to encompass the matters I have been mentioning.
.- With all the good will in the world, I am sure that Senator Ormonde cannot reasonably expect me to answer during a debate on the Estimates what is fundamentally a question on policy. The honorable senator has directed attention to a number of difficulties which arise not only in the coal industry but also in other fuel industries. He has suggested, in the broad, that all fuels should come under some form of Commonwealth control. Without enlarging upon the possible desirability of such control and without discussing such important matters as the constitutional aspects of the problem, I have only to mention the problem to indicate that it would be quite impossible to embark upon what the honorable senator might regard as being a satisfactory answer. He has mentioned that Senator Sir William Spooner, as a former Minister for National
Development, seemed to be moving towards a certain objective. AH I can say is that Senator Sir William Spooner did make certain policy statements from time to time in relation to fuel and 1 have no doubt that, when appropriate opportunities present themselves, Mr. Fairbairn, the present Minister for National Development, will make similar policy statements on behalf of the Government about fuels generally.
.- I should like to make a few comments about Division No. 352, which covers the proposed expenditure of £10.9 million under the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Act. The first point 1 make is that it is very inconvenient and unsatisfactory to have the detail of that item printed in small type as a footnote. Why cannot that detail be set out in a proper accounting manner so that we may read it properly? It seems to me that, after taking account of estimated receipts and expenditure and subtracting the Loan Fund item, we arrive at the net amount that we are asked to appropriate from the Consolidated Revenue Fund. I ask the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge), who is in charge of these estimates in this place, to ensure that an instruction is given that in next year’s estimates this information will be set out in such a way that everybody will be able to see at a glance how the final figure is arrived at. Has the Minister at hand details of the main developmental projects which it seems to me will absorb the expenditure this year of approximately £20 million? Can he say whether in fact that is the sum involved?
– The main undertakings currently in hand are Murray 1 and Murray 2, which are power stations, and Jindabyne, which is a pumping station and reservoir. This explanation does not meet the objection of the honorable senator to the setting out of the amount of the expenditure, but if he would be interested, I could give him the breakup under some heads of expenditure to be made this year.
– If the Minister has a document, I will be quite prepared to take it for perusal. I just wanted to know how much was coming from Loan Fund, as distinct from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
– From Consolidated Revenue there will bc an amount of £10.9 million, and from Loan Fund an amount of £10.75 million.
– Thank you.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Department of Housing.
Proposed expenditure, £36,806,000.
– I refer to Division No. 260 - Administrative. Under sub-division 2, last year an amount of only £16,951 was expended from an appropriation of £32,600 for administrative expenses. 1 take it that this underspending was because of the lateness of starting the operation of the new Homes Savings Grant Act, which this provision would appear to cover. I desire to say a few words on the administration of the grants.
From my interpretation of the Act, I believe that the Department of Housing is imposing conditions which are contrary to the Act and to the intentions of the Parliament. Some time ago Senator Tangney, referring to a newspaper article in which it was alleged that the grant of £250 could be spent on wine or for various other purposes, asked whether this was so. I think that the then Minister for National Development, Senator Sir William Spooner, disputed that that could be done. I recall that in piloting the Bill through the chamber the Minister agreed that the money could be used for other purposes, and he took the attitude that a person could receive a grant only once and the abuse would not be great. In the Adelaide “ News “ of 14th October, Mr. Raymond Kerrison, a journalist, wrote -
Let us look at what happened to the two election stunts. The £250 gift supposedly was earmarked to help fill the deposit gap. In practice, it works out that the lucky receivers can spend it on a house, or a holiday, or even dump it all on Eskimo Prince - and there are no questions asked. 1
It is incredible that this can be done with a gift made for a home. I directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Housing, Senator Paltridge, a question on notice, to which I received a reply on 23rd September. The Minister said -
Sub-section 23 (1.) of the Act says that a grant to an eligible person shall be paid at such lima as the Secretary determines. Paragraph (0 of section 14 says that a person to be eligible to receive a grant must have entered into a contract to buy or build a home or, as an owner-builder, have made substantial progress in the building of a home. Clearly the grant may not be paid to a person who merely expresses an intention to acquire a home.
Obviously, it will not be paid under those conditions. The Minister went on to say -
As section 24 of the Act implies, before a grant is paid the Department must be reasonably satisfied that the home will be bought or built, and lived in, by the married couple.
The only thing wrong with that part of the answer is that section 24 implies nothing. It refers to methods which the Government may take to recoup grants that have been made, if certain conditions prescribed in other sections are not complied with. Section 20 lays down the conditions under which the grant is payable. The Minister for Housing or the Secretary of the Department must be satisfied that the couple intend to use the home for their matrimonial home. There was a question about signing an affidavit to that effect. Contrary to the Act, the Department is insisting that before any grant shall be made receipts must be produced to show that 10 per cent, of the contract price of the home has been paid. So we find the Department imposing conditions on the grant which are contrary to what Parliament determined should be imposed.
– Contrary in what respect?
– The Act provides that the grant shall be paid when certain things are done. It is necessary to understand two points. One is the prescribed date, which decides not only the date at which savings end, for the purposes of the grant, but also the period at which they commence. There are also the question of acceptable savings and a very important provision as to eligibility of applicants. To be eligible an applicant must have saved for a period of three years. The prescribed date, which is the date of signing a contract, determines the three year period. The savings must be in the three year period before the prescribed date. Another condition of eligibility is that a contract must be signed. Of course, there is nothing in the Act to say that payment must be made at that time. I have referred to the only requirements as to eligibility, but the Department has imposed the condition that applicants must have paid 10 per cent. The Minister justifies this by saying that the grant shall be paid when determined by the Secretary of the Department. I agree that this is a fact, but the Secretary has not a right to apply other conditions that determine time of payment. Section 9 provides that the Minister shall treat all applications in accordance with the Act. He cannot go outside it. Later in the reply the Minister stated -
There is nothing to prevent a lender agreeing to lend up to a given amount before the grant is paid and the amount of the grant subsequently being used to complete the payment for the home. The grant may be used to reduce the amount of the loan drawn or to repay portion of the loan. Alternatively, the couple may decide to pay a higher deposit on the home in the knowledge that they will receive a grant and that it will be available to assist them to buy furniture and fittings for the home.
Of course, if it is used to buy furniture and fittings for the home it is not used for the building of the home. They could also decide to buy other things or they could adopt the alternative suggested by Ray Kerrison and dump it all on Eskimo Prince.
Before constructing a home, a person must arrange his finance. Savings before the end of this year, or money spent on the purchase of land on which it is intended to construct a home, are acceptable savings. Before anyone can arrange finance to construct a home, he must have completed purchase of the land. The lending institutions then lend a proportion of the total cost of the land and of the completed dwelling. It is generally found that the lending institutions will lend the proportion that the owner has to find if he has a reasonable block of land. If a man can arrange to buy land and uses the grant to assist him in his negotiations with the land owner, he can then build a home. But this imposes further conditions. The grant can be made available only to a person who has sufficient money to complete the purchase of and for the construction of a house and to pay 10 per cent, of the construction cost to a builder. The impoverished person who is struggling to establish a home cannot receive the grant while these conditions operate, despite the Minister’s statement during the debate on another measure today about the wonderful success of the scheme. This scheme has been in operation since 1st January of this year. While it is true that an application could not be made before 1st January, I think that some time in December last year it was decided that the owners of houses built or purchased before that date were entitled to the grant if they complied with the other requirements.
Let us consider Senator Prowse’s remarks. In South Australia 156 applications have been accepted and 11 have been rejected. According to the Commonwealth Statistician, 5,444 contract built houses and 265 owner built houses were commenced in South Australia in the March and June quarters. This is while the Act has been in operation. The number of homes commenced in South Australia has almost reached the 6,000 mark, but the Government grant has applied to only 156. The contribution that the Government is making to home building is there for all to see. It is true, and it can be said, that all of those homes would not be eligible for the grant, because some would come within the scope of the State housing grants, under which a deposit of £50 is permissible; some would not be eligible for other reasons, and some could be in the hands of speculative builders. However, the Government’s actions are causing considerable hardship to that section of the community which it was thought would be helped by the grants.
Another section of the pamphlet published by the Department of Housing, entitled “ A Grant for Your Home “, is in these terms -
The amount saved in any year of savings is acceptable up to £250. However, ifa person saved more than £250 in a year of saving that began before 1st January 1965, these savings may be accepted provided that they are not more than three-quarters of that person’s total savings and not more than £560. The limit of £560 is approximately threequarters of the maximum acceptable savings of £750.
Will the Minister tell me from what section of the Act the Department gets any authority to limit the person’s acceptable savings to not more than three-quarters of the total savings and not more than £560? A person employed in this building who has applied for a grant has been affected in this way.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- I rise simply for the purpose of enabling Senator Cavanagh to continue.
. -I appreciate Senator Wright’s action. If he is making a favorable speech at some time in the future, 1 shall try to reciprocate. Section 22 of the Act states -
– (1.) Subject to the next succeeding subsection, the amount of a grant under this Act to an eligible person shall not exceed an amount equal to -
In other words, we must know the savings of the person and his spouse as at a date seven years previously, we must add any acceptable savings in the seven years after that, and we must deduct any decreases in savings in those years. The person will then receive one-third of the sum as a grant.
The Departmental pamphlet says: “ We will not allow you to have more than £560 “. This is contrary to the Act. We have the Department administering the Act in a manner contrary to that which the Parliament intended. I realise that this is a very difficult Act to understand and to administer, but it must be administered in the way which the Parliament intended. I can only assume that one reason why eligible persons are not applying for the grant is that the Department has imposed conditions with which they cannot comply, although they can comply with the conditions imposed by the Act. The grant becomes simply a gift to the wealthy person who can purchase a block of land and arrange a loan. He receives a gift from the Government and may do what he likes with it. In those circumstances, how can it be maintained that the scheme is successful?
The Minister stated that if the grant were available to everyone there could be abuses, and the money might not be used in the way in which the Government intended it should be used. I think that it is the aspiration of every married couple to obtain a home. Because of the way in which this legislation is being administered, married couples are being deprived of assistance to bridge the gap between the purchase price of blocks of land and the amounts which they are able to obtain from finance organisations.
– 1 wish to refer to Division No. 265 - War Service Homes Division. I invite attention to the excellent report of the Director of War Service Homes for 1963-64 and in particular to the subject of strata titles which is referred to at page 6 under the heading “Applicants assisted under the Act “. The respective States of Australia have enacted real property legislation. Normally, such legislation provides for areas of land to be included in titles. However, in New South Wales it is now legal for a title to be issued for a floor of a multi-storey building, or for an area that is not confined to ground space.
By reference to the report, I find that in New South Wales in 1963-64 a total of 306 eligible persons were granted assistance to purchase home units registered under the New South Wales Conveyancing (Strata Titles) Act 1961. The Director states in the report -
This brings the total number of advances made in respect of home units in that State to S76. New South Wales is the only State at present to have legislation in operation creating a home unit title which has been accepted as meeting the requirements of the War Service Homes Act.
Most ex-servicemen who served in the last war would by now be at least 40 years of age. Possibly the average age would be between 50 and 55 years. I think that in most instances they would have grown up families and that very few of their children would be under the age of 16. Normally they would not require a residence surrounded by a garden. In other words, they probably would be best suited by a flat or a home unit. It appears to me that that would be the most desirable accommodation for men in that category, but such accommodation is provided under the War
Service Homes Act only in New South Wales. The States of Australia, other than New South Wales, should be encouraged to adopt a system of strata titles and to provide for such titles in their real property legislation. I am putting that forward as an ideal.
– It is a bit up in the air.
– Certainly. But it can be done in New South Wales, to the great advantage of ex-servicemen who seek accommodation under the War Service Homes Act. I ask the Minister whether he will use his good offices to encourage the other States to adopt the strata titles system. If he is not able to negotiate with the other States, I ask him to discuss the question with officers of his Department who may be able to evolve a system to give added security to the Department where the State will not provide a strata titles system.
It should not be beyond the wit of the Department to evolve a satisfactory form of security under the existing real property legislation of the respective States. It seems to me a great pity that ex-servicemen who desire accommodation of this kind because they think it is most appropriate to their needs should be denied assistance under the War Service Homes Act if they live in States other than New South Wales. I put to the Minister that this should be a challenge to the Department to evolve a method of security which will be satisfactory to the Commonwealth and which will protect Commonwealth revenues. The Minister may be able to persuade backward States to devise a system of strata titles, but if he is unable to do so it should not be beyond the ability of the departmental officers to present to him a satisfactory system under which ex-servicemen living in States other than New South Wales may enjoy the privilege which ex-servicemen in that State enjoy.
– The Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury) and his Department are very much aware of the situation described by Senator Laught. The honorable senator will no doubt be interested to know that negotiations currently are being held with the States which have not acceptable title provisions with the object of working out an arrangement under which strata titles will be available. I am told that there is an acceptable title in Tasmania for buildings of a similar kind.
– Am I to receive no reply from the Minister to the questions I asked?
– The honorable senator spoke for half an hour on the administration of the Department. All I can say to him is that I propose to pass his comments to the Minister and to ask the Minister to write to him in some detail. I suggest that it is unrealistic to expect me to give a full explanation of aspects of the administration of the Department during the debate on the estimates.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Senate adjourned at 11.1. p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 October 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1964/19641029_senate_25_s27/>.