25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIlin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Civil Aviation a question. Appreciating the fact that a new airport construction programme is a wise move in the light of knowledge of the unprecedented increase in international air traffic, will he give an assurance that every endeavour will be made to have the originally assured date of 1967, and the new expected completion date of 1969, brought closer together in order to bring the Tullamarine jet airport into action at the earliest possible date? Does he believe it is possible to have Tullamarine open for international air traffic prior to 1969?
– We will make every endeavour to get Tullamarine jet airport into operation at the earliest possible moment, but I have been long enough in this House to know that it is unwise to make promises if one does not know whether or not they can be kept. Possibly Tullamarine will be available for training purposes before the actual air terminal is opened, and it may be used also for international purposes before the domestic side of it is opened. But these are matters for the future. 1 am not giving any promise; 1 am telling the honorable senator the position as I see it at the moment.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has he seen a Press report referring to the purchase by Indonesia of two DC8 aircraft from the United States and the possibility that these aircraft will be flown to and from Sydney by the Indonesian national airline? Do existing arrangements with Indonesia in connection with Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. provide automatically for reciprocal facilities to be available to Indonesia in Australia? Have any discussions been held with Indonesia on this matter or are they contemplated?
– I read the Press report to which the honorable senator referred, regarding the purchase of two DC8 aircraft by Garuda Indonesian Airways, the Indonesian civil airline. I am not aware of the terms of the agreement which we have with Indonesia, but I imagine that, as Qantas uses the facilities at Djakarta, Indonesia, in turn, would be- able to use Sydney as a base. 1 understand that no discussions have taken place up to the present time. Whether or not the Indonesian Government intends to initiate discussions, I am not aware.
– I ask the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate: Is there any truth in the statement appearing in today’s “ Age “ that the Federal Government may be moved to an unspecified regional seat in the Blue Mountains, somewhere near Bathurst? ls this investigation being carried out by the Department of Defence, the Commonwealth or the civil defence organisation? Would such a proposal require the sanction of Parliament?
– I have not seen the report to which the honorable senator has referred. I suggest that he put his question on the notice paper so that he may be informed whether the Federal seat of government is to remain at Canberra or is to be moved to the Blue Mountains.
– I ask the
Minister for Civil Aviation whether his attention has been drawn to a statement that rural airline services will benefit from legislation to be introduced providing for the standardisation of country petrol prices. Is it a fact that most of these services are operated as subsidiaries of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd.? If and when the legislation is enacted, will the Minister give consideration to a reduction in rural air fares commensurate with the advantages that might accrue to the commercial operators affected?
– The honorable senator is referring, no doubt, to a report that the undertaking given before the last general election by the Commonwealth Government in respect of petrol prices is shortly to be implemented. Legislation is to be introduced which will bring about a reduction in prices in country areas of petrol, Avtur, aviation spirit and lighting kerosene, so that those prices are not more than 4d. a gallon above the basic city prices. The legislation will apply to aviation spirit used by country airlines, wherever they are situated, whoever they are owned by and whoever operates them.
– And wherever they buy their petrol.
– Yes. Many country airlines are operating at the present time from the airports at Sydney and Adelaide and are purchasing their supplies of petrol in those cities. The legislation to be introduced will not benefit airlines operating under those conditions. However, it will be of advantage to airlines which buy their petrol supplies in the country. I am not in a position to say whether the savings effected will be sufficient to allow a reduction in rural air fares, but I have no doubt that the first airlines to recommend a reduction in air fares would be the country airlines to which the honorable senator referred.
– I direct my question, which relates to Australian combat forces, to the Minister for Repatriation or to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, whoever is the appropriate Minister. I ask: Is there any difference’ between the benefits payable to dependants upon the death of (a) an officer in the Australian Regular Army and (b) an officer who has enlisted voluntarily or under the provisions of the recent legislation for compulsory service?
– So far as I am aware, at the present time there is no difference in the benefits payable, provided that the officer’s death is due to war service. If my answer is incorrect - I think it is correct - I shall inform the honorable senator of the correct position.
(Question No. 395.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
Have appointments been made to the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads, established under legislation enacted last year; if so, what are the names and private occupations of the appointees; and if not, why not?
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following answer to the honorable senator’s question - =
The Government is eager to have the proposed Bureau operating and at present we are engaged in searching for a suitable person for appointment as Chairman. As soon as this action is completed the Government will proceed without delay to establish the Bureau.
(Question No. 457.)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answers -
(Question No. 458.)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The following replies have been received from the AttorneyGeneral -
(Question No. 459.)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The AttorneyGeneral has forwarded the following replies - 1. (a) The Universal Copyright Convention, (b) The Brussels revision of the Convention of the International Union for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.
(Question No. 460.)
asked the Minister rep resenting the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answers supplied by the Attorney-General are as follows -
(Question No. 461.)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney General, upon notice -
– The AttorneyGeneral has provided the following answer -
A considerable amount of work has been done on this matter by the Attorney-General with a view to the introduction of new legislation. This is a field in which much consultation is necessary, particularly with the States. It is too early to announce any details or to suggest a timetable.
(Question No. 473.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has supplied the following answers -
(Question No. 478.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply - 1 and 2. Because of the high level of medical facilities, including specialist facilities, available at the Canberra Community Hospital, there is little need by residents of the Australian Capital Territory for ambulance transport to Sydney or Melbourne for specialist treatment. Having regard to the availability of certain facilities for some patients on commercial air flights, and to the availability of the Royal Australian Air Force mercy plane flight service in emergency cases which could not be sent by normal commercial air flights, it is unlikely that there would be any significant demand by A.C.T. residents to use the proposed N.S.W. Aerial Ambulance Service.
Reports on Items.
– I present reports by the Tariff Board on the following subjects -
A.C. watt-hour meters.
Electrostatic air or gas filters operating at voltages not exceeding 20 kV.
Ethylene polymer and copolymer products.
Monofil, strip and imitation catgut.
Telescopic sights for weapons.
Hand saws and blades therefor.
Trisodium phosphate dodecahydrate.
I also present reports by a Special Advisory Authority on the following subjects -
Continuous filament polyamide and polyester yarns.
Air cooled, four cycle, horizontal driving shaft, internal combustion piston engines, not exceeding 10 B.H.P.
The reports on hand saws and blades therefor and trisodium phosphate dodecahydrate do not call for any legislative action.
– by leave - The statement that I am about to read was made by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in the House of Representatives today. The first person pronoun, where appearing, relates to the Treasurer. The statement is as follows -
I would like to acquaint honorable members with the general intentions of the Government regarding the introduction of decimal currency to the operations of Commonwealth departments. Honorable members will be aware that although the banks will change to decimal operation from C Day - that is, 14th February 1966 - other enterprises may change at any time between C Day and the end of the dual currency period, which will last from eighteen months to two years after C Day.
The planning of the change in Commonwealth departments has been proceeding for some time and it is intended that all Commonwealth departments will change to decimal currency operation from C Day itself. All rates of charge will be changed to decimal currency with effect from C Day, as will rates of benefits of all kinds. From that day Commonwealth departments will, like banks, accept threepences, pennies and halfpennies only in multiples of sixpence. All of our other existing coins - the two shillings, one shilling and sixpence - and all our existing notes will be freely interchangeable in all circumstances with the new decimal currency coins and notes and there will be no problem with them. If a person is paying the Commonwealth in cash and he does not have the number of cents necessary to pay the exact amount, all he will have to do is to offer any higher amount, in notes or coins, or both, which is a multiple of 5 cents or sixpence. The exact change will then be given in cents. There is nothing difficult or novel about this. In most of our present cash transactions in £ s. d., we prefer to tender a higher amount in notes or coins and to receive the appropriate change, rather than to offer the exact amount when odd pennies are involved.
An area of the Government’s activities which will interest honorable members is the publication of documents and reports including the financial documents presented with the Budget. The intention is that the pound will continue to be used in documents issued before C Day, and that money references in documents issued after that date will be in dollars. Honorable members will appreciate that the dollar will not become legal currency until C Day. It may be that the aim of dropping references to pounds from documents published on and after 14th February 1966 will not be achieved completely, because of printing or other difficulties.
In the Budget documents to be presented to Parliament in August next, amounts will be expressed in pounds. Consideration was given to showing amounts relating to 1965- 66 in these documents in both currencies, but apart from the legal and presentational problems involved it seems that little would be achieved by such a course. There will, however, be one statement expressed in dollars which will show a summary of the overall Budget prospects. The PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Hulme) already has informed the House of the new postal rates to be introduced from C Day, and other Ministers and their departments will from time to time announce details of changes arising from the adoption of dollars and cents in their administrations.
One of my own ministerial responsibilities which is of special interest to honorable members and to the public is taxation, and I should like to convey to the House the broad outline of decimal currency planning by the Commissioner of Taxation. All returns to be furnished by taxpayers on and after C Day will be printed for completion in decimal currency. Accordingly, income tax returns relating to the income year ending 30th June 1966 will be printed in decimal form. Sales tax, pay-roll tax, estate duty, gift duty, stevedoring industry charge, tobacco charge and wool tax returns to be lodged after C Day will also be in decimals.
The completion of returns in decimals from C Day and throughout the two year transition period will not oblige taxpayers to advance the conversion of their accounting systems to decimal currency. If taxpayers do not convert on C Day, the request to complete return forms in dollars from that date will merely involve them in the conversion of £ s. d. totals to decimal totals for the purposes of completing the forms. However, return forms and other documents which may be furnished in £ s. d. after C Day will be accepted and the necessary conversions effected by Taxation Branch staff.
To assist employees to complete 1966 income tax return forms in decimal currency, employers will be requested to show earnings, deductions and allowances in decimal form on group certificates issued after C Day. The bulk of group certificates issued in respect of earnings during 1965-66 income year will thus be expressed in decimal currency, the exceptions being mainly those cases where an employee terminates his employment before C Day and is immediately provided with a group certificate by his employer. In addition to being asked to complete group certificates in decimal currency, employers will be requested to furnish the standard monthly remittance statements in decimal currency after C Day. This should not impose additional work on group employers as these monthly statements are usually accompanied by cheques, which must be expressed in dollars and cents after 14th February 1966.
Tax stamps will be available after C Day in decimal currency denominations only. Specially designed forms will be supplied to employers who are operating on the tax stamps scheme to permit the ready conversion to decimal currency of the total amount of £ s. d. stamps purchased before C Day. In this way, employees whose tax instalments deductions are being made under the tax stamps scheme will be placed in the same position as other employees in that at the end of the year they will be issued with particulars of their earnings and tax instalments deductions expressed in dollars and cents.
Although decimal currency tax stamps only will be available after C Day, it is proposed to make schedules of tax instalments deductions available in both the existing currency and decimal currency throughout the transition period. This will ensure that employers who continue to account in £ s. d. after C Day will not be inconvenienced by the need to convert salaries and wages to decimal currency in order to ascertain tax instalments deductions.
The principal effect upon taxpayers of the conversion of the Taxation Branch accounting system to decimal currency will be that all receipts issued after C Day will be made out in decimal form regardless of the currency used in making payment. To facilitate payments by cheque after C Day, notices of assessment issuing during 1965-66 and falling due for payment after 14th February 1966 will show the decimal equivalent of the amount payable. In 1966- 67 and subsequent years, notices of assessment will be expressed in decimal currency only. At appropriate times between now and C Day, the Commissioner will publish further details of matters affecting the public.
– by leave - I rise to draw the attention of honorable senators to amendments to the Charter of the United Nations, set out in Resolution 1991 of the United Nations General Assembly, which I now table, providing for an increase in the membership of the Security Council from 11 to 15, and of the Economic and Social Council from 18 to 27, and providing also for an increase from seven to nine in the number of affirmative votes needed for the adoption of resolutions in the Security Council.
These amendments - the first to the United Nations Charter since it was drafted twenty years ago - have their origin in the rapid increase over recent years of the membership of the United Nations. There were 51 members when the organisation began in .1945. Since then, with the admission of new members, mainly from Asia and Africa, the United Nations has more than doubled, to a total today of 114. This rapid enlargement resulted in increasing competition for the elective seats on the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council, since the sizes of these bodies remained as fixed by the United Nations Charter in 1945 - that is, eleven, including five permanent members, on the Security Council, and eighteen on the Economic and Social Council.
It also resulted over the years in increasing pressure for Charter amendments enlarging the Councils. This pressure was however for some time resisted by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which argued that it was neither appropriate nor legally possible to amend the Charter until the People’s Republic of China was represented in the United Nations. Since Charter amendments cannot come into force without the ratification of each of the five permanent members of the Security Council - the Republic of China, France, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics - the proclaimed opposition of the U.S.S.R. was for some years enough to inhibit efforts to enlarge the Councils. However, at the Eighteenth - 1963 - Session of the United Nations General Assembly the pressure for enlargement resulted in the adoption, of an Afro-Asian motion, of the Resolution I have just placed on the table of the Senate.
Resolution 1991 A, relating to the Security Council, was adopted by 97 votes, including Australia, in favour: 11 - the Soviet bloc and France - against; with four abstentions - the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Portugal and South Africa. Resolution 1991B, relating to ECOSOC, was adopted by 96 votes, including Australia, in favour; eleven against, including the Soviet bloc and France; with five abstentions - China, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Portugal and South Africa.
In the view of the Australian Government, the increases provided for in Resolution 1991 are sensible and equitable. The Government believes that the Security Council, while it should be properly representative, does not require great enlargement. Its function as the organ with “ primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security “ makes a wide membership inappropriate. It must avoid the danger of unwieldiness lest the necessary capability of rapid action be diminished; and its membership must meet the special qualifications laid down in the Charter, Article 23 of which states that, in the elections of the Council’s non-permanent members, due regard should be “specially paid, in the first instance to the contribution of Members of the United Nations to the maintenance of international peace and security and to the other purposes of the Organisation, and also to equitable geographical distribution”. Resolution 1991 A meets these requirements, while at the same time providing for the adequate representation of the countries of Asia and Africa in addition to the groups and interests traditionally represented on the nonpermanent seats of the Council. In the case of the Economic and Social Council, on the other hand, given the wider-ranging nature of its work and the absence of specific qualifications for membership, these constraining factors are not present and the rather greater proportionate increase provided for in Resolution 199 IB is appropriate.
Since enlarging the size of the Security Council and of ECOSOC requires that the United Nations Charter be amended, it was not sufficient for the General Assembly simply to adopt a resolution. Article 108 of the Charter states that amendments to the Charter shall come into force when they have been, first, adopted by a two-thirds vote of the General Assembly, and secondly, ratified in accordance with their respective constitutional processes by two-thirds of the members of the United Nations, including all the permanent members of the Security Council. Resolution 1991, which fulfilled the first of these requirements, called upon member States to ratify by 1st September 1965.
So far 63 member States, including one permanent member of the Security Council, the U.S.S.R., have ratified the amendments. Seventy-six ratifications, including those of all five permanent members of the Security Council, are necessary for the amendments to come into force. The 63 ratifications include Canada and New Zealand and eight Western European countries. More are expected.
The Australian Government had two main interests in the lengthy and complex negotiations at the United Nations leading up to the adoption of Resolution 1991. The first was to secure provision for an equitable and appropriate enlargement of the two Councils. This aim, as I have just described, was satisfactorily achieved. The Government’s second main interest was to preserve
Australia’s chances of election to the Councils, preferably through retention of the Commonwealth concept in the arrangements governing elections to these bodies.
Elections to the Security Council and ECOSOC were in the beginning and for many years thereafter governed by informal conventions which in effect reserved one of the six non-permanent Security Council seats to the Commonwealth and one of the ECOSOC seats to the three “old Commonwealth “ countries - Australia, Canada and New Zealand. But the convention of the Commonwealth as an electoral category came to be increasingly called into question, on the grounds that it cut across other accepted groupings. The African Commonwealth members, for example, made it plain in the years preceding the 1963 Session of the General Assembly that they wished to be elected as representatives of Africa, not of the Commonwealth. That the Commonwealth had special electoral status also attracted criticism from some non-Commonwealth members of the United Nations, especially those belonging to non-geographical groupings akin to the Commonwealth but without separate electoral status in the United Nations. These attitudes resulted in Malaysia’s failing in 1963 to be elected to succeed Ghana on the Security Council - Malaysia had to share a seat with Czechoslovakia - and in the deletion of the Commonwealth from the new electoral categories established in resolution 1991.
As is recounted in the report of the Australian Delegation to the Eighteenth Session of the United Nations General Assembly in 1963, copies of which are in the Parliamentary Library, the Australian delegation, together with the delegations of Canada and New Zealand, was active during the debate in seeking to preserve the retention of the Commonwealth concept in elections to United Nations bodies, and in seeking to assure the access of the three countries to the General Committee and the two Councils. The General Committee, which is concerned with organising the work of the General Assembly, was also enlarged in 1963 but since that required amendment of the Rules of Procedure only, and not the Charter, governmental ratification is not necessary. Tn his statement on 10th December 1963, the Australian representative developed at length the argument in favour of Commonwealth representation, as such, in the United Nations. He also emphasised the importance of providing proper access to the two Councils for countries, such as Australia, which had from the beginning played an active and constructive role in the United Nations and had much to contribute in the future. It, however, became clear, following the introduction by Australia, Canada and New Zealand of an amendment to the General Committee draft resolution providing that at least one member of the General Committee should be from a Commonwealth country, that most United Nations members were no longer prepared to take the Commonwealth into account in laying down the pattern of elections to the main United Nations bodies. The Commonwealth amendment was consequently withdrawn by the three co-sponsors. Statements were made however, by other Commonwealth countries to the effect that the Commonwealth was an important grouping which would continue to play a constructive role in the United Nations.
Despite the disappearance of the Commonwealth as an electoral category, Australia will continue to have electoral access to the Security Council through a newlycreated electoral category, previously in operation only for the General Committee, entitled “ Western European and other States “. This category was by resolution 199 1 A allotted two of the ten nonpermanent seats on the enlarged Security Council, and Australia, which like Canada and New Zealand is regarded for this purpose as belonging to the “ other States “ subcategory, can now expect to secure election at least once in 21 years as against once in 29 years under the old system. Australia will also continue to have appropriate electoral access to the Economic and Social Council. Resolution 1991B, in setting out the distribution of the nine new seats, laid it down that this should be “ without prejudice to the present distribution of seats in ECOSOC”. Australia was at that time on the Economic and Social Council - we have since been replaced by Canada - and so should continue in its expectation of a three-year term on the Council every nine years.
These arrangements adequately meet the Government’s second main interest - that of preserving Australia’schances of election to the two Councils. While we should have preferred retention of the Commonwealth concept - and, indeed, pressed hard for it - the category from which Australia is to be elected is perhaps of less significance than the preservation of the possibility of Australia’s election.
It is the intention of the Government to proceed to ratify the amendments, set out in operative paragraph 1 of Resolution 199 1 A and operative paragraph 1 of resolution 1 991B, to the Charter of the United Nations after Parliament ends its present sessional period.
I present the following papers -
United Nations - Enlargement of Security Council and Economic and Social Council -
General Assembly - Resolution 1991.
Ministerial Statement, 12th May 1965.
– I move -
That the Senate take note of the statement and the resolution.
I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate 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.
This Bill is designed to replace the Jury Exemption Act 1905-1950. Like the present Act, the Bill is concerned with the exemption of designated persons from jury service in the States and in Commonwealth Territories. The present Act has but two operative provisions. Section 2 exempts from jury service the Governor-General, the members of the Federal Executive Council, Justices of the High Court and of other Courts created by the Parliament, senators and the members of the House of Representatives and employees of the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner. Also exempted are officers of the Commonwealth Public Service. The exemption conferred by section 2 standing by itself would be a total exemption, lt is qualified however by section 3 in the case of officers of the Commonwealth Public Service. Section 3 provides that, as to jury service in any Territory forming part of the Commonwealth, these officers are liable to perform jury service unless they are specifically exempted by regulations. Section 3 was introduced into the Act in 1932 and was made necessary by reason of the fact that at that time public servants constituted a very large percentage of the total population in some Territories - in the case of the Australian Capital Territory, for example, nine out of ten potential jurors were public servants.
In the States, the position of officers of the Commonwealth Public Service under the Jury Exemption Act has remained unchanged since 1905. They have continued to be wholly exempted as a class, regardless of the nature of the duties that they may perform. This will change under the present Bill, the main purpose of which is to make provision in relation to jury service in the States by officers of the Commonwealth Public Service. The Bill does this by applying in the several States the same system as is now applied to jury service by officers of the Commonwealth Public Service in the Territories - that is, officers will be liable to serve on State juries unless they are exempted by regulations made pursuant to this Bill.
There is a history of CommonwealthState negotiations behind this proposed alteration to the jury exemption law. In recent years, three States, Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania, made the majority of the officers of their Public Services liable to perform jury service. Previously there had been a total exemption similar to that accorded to Commonwealth public servants under the Commonwealth Act. The change had regard to the increased number of persons in Government employment and consequently greater extent of the exemption accorded than when the jury exemption legislation was first enacted. The three States then requested to Commonwealth to make the majority of officers of its Public Service also available for jury service in those States.
The request was made in the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General and the question was also extensively discussed between the Common wealth and State Public Service Boards with the object of securing uniformity. It has not been possible to achieve uniformity and the other three States - New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia - presently retain their system of total or substantial exemption. After full consultation with the Commonwealth Public Service Board the Government has decided on legislation which will enable to Commonwealth to vary the exemption in those three States that have made the bulk of their own public servants available for jury service. The Bill does this by abolishing the present unqualified exemption but providing for exemption of specified public servants or classes of public servants by regulations. In that way the Commonwealth will be able also to continue to apply a system of wide exemption in the other three States that, for the present at any rate, are continuing to give such exemption to their own public servants.
The Bill also adds to the categories of Commonwealth personnel to whom the jury exemption legislation will apply. Commonwealth police officers will be exempted, just as their State counterparts are exempted by State legislation. Next there are the members of Commonwealth statutory bodies. No members of Commonwealth statutory corporations, boards or commissions are exempted, or can be exempted, under the Jury Exemption Act at present, because the expression “ officers of the Public Service of the Commonwealth” as used in the Act refers only to permanent officers of the Public Service. While it is not necessary that all members of all Commonwealth statutory corporations, boards, or commissions should be exempted from jury service, the Government takes the view that all members of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and the Tariff Board should be so exempted. The Bill gives power to make regulations to exempt in other appropriate cases; for instance, in relation to such bodies as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority, and the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. Under the Bill it will be possible to exempt also specified employees or classes of employees of Commonwealth statutory corporations, boards or commissions. Under the present Act, there is no such power of exemption although all employees of the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner are exempted by the Act itself.
The present Bill will have the effect also of bringing within the area covered by the Jury Exemption Act the exemption presently provided for members of the Forces by section 43 of the Defence Act. That section exempts from jury service anywhere in Australia or in its Territories all members of the Permanent Naval Forces, the Naval Emergency Reserve Forces, the Active Permanent Military Forces, the Regular Army Emergency Reserve, the Permanent Air Force, the Air Force Emergency Force, and, while called out for continuous service, members of the Regular Army Reserve and of the citizen forces. It is desirable that the Jury Exemption Act should deal comprehensively with the matter of exemption provided by Commonwealth law in relation to Commonwealth personnel. This Bill includes, therefore, provisions exempting members of the armed forces from jury service. In the Bill, the various branches of the armed forces I have just mentioned are covered by the composite term “ defence force “ which, under the provisions of the Defence Act, the Naval Defence Act and the Air Force Act, includes all naval, military and air forces of the Commonwealth. The term “ citizen forces “ which, along with the Regular Army Reserve, requires continuous service for the exemption provisions of the Bill to apply to it, is defined in the Defence Act as including the Citizen Naval Forces, the Citizen Military Forces and the Citizen Air Force. Section 43 of the Defence Act will be repealed by another Bill. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) 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.
This Bill stems from proposals made to the Government last year by the Australian Council of Trade Unions. They related to the sanctions provisions contained in sections 109 and 111 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Sections 109 and 111 enable the Commonwealth Industrial Court to enjoin breaches of awards or order compliance with awards and to deal with contempt of its orders. As is the custom, in relation to matters of this sort the views of the national employers organisations have also been carefully considered.
To start with I think I should set before the Senate a number of propositions which are relevant to the Bill. First, sanctions in one form or another are an essential part of our arbitration system. The Government has no intention of removing them. Secondly, proceedings before the Commonwealth Industrial Court under sections 109 and 111 should be used only as a last resort. Thirdly, in its positive approach to industrial relations the Government wishes to encourage responsible discussions between the parties when claims are made and wants to encourage the parties to take full advantage of the conciliation machinery provided in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
It is necessary that we keep the sanctions provisions of our legislation in perspective. In fact, they have a minor place, if an inevitable and necessary one. Let me demonstrate this. Over the last 15 years the average time lost by every wage and salary earner in Australia has been just under 21/2 hours a year. Of course, there have been fluctuations. Last year, the figures showed a worse record than the previous seven years. Of course, the record in some industries is well above the average of industry at large. The stevedoring industry is a notoriously bad example of an atypical performance.
The following sets of figures covering the last 15 years illustrate the extent to which the sanctions provisions have been used. The number of strikes per annum has averaged 1,248 and the number of applications under section 109 and its predecessor section 29 have averaged 26. To carry the illustration still further, the number of orders made absolute on applications under the sections I have mentioned has averaged 14. Now it is difficult to argue from these figures that there has been an excessive resort to sanctions. The figures relating to sanctions are, of course, confined to proceedings unders our Act whereas the loss of man hours and strike figures relate to all jurisdictions, Commonwealth and State. Even when account is taken of this, the point still stands.
There is no argument that the unions have the right to try to improve the wages and conditions of employment of their members. Accepting this, there must be a limit to the kind of industrial action a sophisticated community like ours can be expected to tolerate. This is particularly so where there is highly developed machinery for determining wages and conditions of employment. In some cases real grievances exist. Most cases which have led ultimately to resort to the sanctions provisions have involved claims for more than the award provided. There have been cases where advantage has been taken of the shortage of labour to make irresponsible and excessive demands. In other cases industrial issues have been the cloak for the promotion of dubious political objectives.
It is not surprising that, faced with some situations, employers have felt obliged to resort to the sanctions provisions. We often hear the argument that the mere resort to the sanctions provisions, let alone their existence, contributes to industrial unrest. This is the type of propaganda which seeks to confuse the symptom with the illness. What is necessary is that an attempt should be made to cure the illness. It may well be that in some industrial disputes individual employers may have failed to show the wisdom of Solomon. But honorable senators would probably concede that even Solomon would have not sustained his reputation if he had had to deal with the thorny problems which arise in the field of industrial relations.
As a Government, faced with the responsibility of protecting the community’s interest, our problem has been to seek a solution which will encourage responsible discussions when claims are made and, as necessary, resort to the conciliation machinery provided for by the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. If this occurs the risks of work stoppages will, of course, be reduced and consequently the need for resort to sanctions will diminish.
Let me make it clear that the Bill now before the Senate - starts from the assump tion that reasonable people will act responsibly. Conciliation can function only in these circumstances and whether or not it is between the parties directly concerned or is done with the aid of a conciliator. Of course conciliation involving even the most responsible people may lead to a stalemate. It may lead to a stalemate because there is no reason why claims should always be conceded in whole or in part. If there is real merit in a claim then one would expect that responsible negotiators would find it possible to meet the claim in whole or in part.
This Bill deals only with a situation where a breach of an award has not occurred. If one side or the other has decided, in effect, to take the law into its own hands, it must take the consequences. The consequences of such actions are those for which the existing legislation provides. As I have said, this Bill applies to situations where a breach of an award has not occurred, though there may be the threat of a strike or some other form of direct action. The Bill says, in effect, that the Commonwealth Industrial Court cannot commence to hear an application for an injunction against somebody in respect of a breach or non-observance of an award unless it is satisfied that three conditions have been fulfilled.
The first condition is that the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission has been notified that a breach or non-observance is likely to occur. The second is that that notification was given without delay or where there is delay the Commission has certified that there is reasonable cause for it. We do not base our thinking on the assumption that where an argument starts the employer must immediately notify the Commission. The employer may very well consider that given the opportunity for discussion with the union the threatened breach will not eventuate. With this in mind, if the employer commences discussions and they are abortive, then the employer should not be denied his remedy simply because he has failed to notify the Commission when the matter first arose. This is the sort of situation in which the Commission would certify that there was reasonable cause for the delay in giving the notification.
The third condition is that a period of 14 days or such longer period as the Commission has determined must elapse since the notification was given to the Commission. What is in mind is that if the Commission in its conciliation function felt that it was possible to settle the dispute it would clearly be sensible to allow the necessary extra time. In this situation, the Commission would doubtless expect assurances of sensible behaviour on both sides and particularly so that work would proceed.
The Bill does not place any obligation on the Commission to act in a particular way. As I have said, the Commission’s function will be largely one of conciliation, lt could be that the Commission is so well informed of the circumstances it can draw conclusion that there is nothing useful it can do. In some circumstances, it could bc thai the situation would justify the exercise of an arbitral function. To this third condition there is a proviso. It is that the period of 14 days shall not apply if the applicant for the injuction is able to satisfy the Industrial Court that the breach or nonobservance is likely to occur within the next 10 days. This proviso is another aspect of what I said a moment ago, that what we are trying to do is to provide for reasonable people behaving responsibly. If a union has no intention of giving any opportunity for conciliation, whether outside, or with the assistance of, the Commission, then the employer against whom the threat is made should not be deprived of his remedy.
Honorable senators will notice that the Bill places no compulsion on a party to notify the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission at all. If the party does not, then of course he cannot secure an injunction against the threatened breach or nonobservance of the award. When in fact there is breach or a mandamus to observe the award. Where an application is made for a mandamus, because of a breach, and an injunction is sought simultaneously because breaches of the same or a similar kind are apprehended, the provisions I have referred to will not apply.
In keeping with the philosophy underlying this Bill, a party taking action under section 109 without notifying the Commission of a threatened breach or non-observance of an award will not be entitled to his costs. This will be covered by regulation under provisions included in the Bill relating to the making of regulations as to costs. It will be an incentive to notify the Commission of any threatened breach. While on the subject of costs - and clauses 8 and 14 are relevant - it is proposed, when the regulations are being made, to provide first, that in order that a party should be encouraged to make the maximum use of the processes of conciliation as envisaged by this Bill, no cost will be allowed where action is taken under section 109 in respect of a threatened breach and the breach does not take place. Secondly, it is proposed that costs of representation in relation to proceedings under sections 109 and 111 will be limited to junior counsel unless the Industrial Court considers that issues of such a nature are involved that the use of senior counsel is justified. These proposals as to costs should be seen as an integral part of our approach to the whole problem. If matters get to the contempt stage then clearly the party in contempt should carry the full responsibility. Our proposals limiting costs to those of junior counsel except where special cirstances exist are based on our study of past practice. They will remove any justification for the argument that costs of sanctions proceedings have been deliberately inflated by use of senior counsel. It may be said that the provisions of the Bill do no more than lay down the sort of practice that is followed by those employers and unions who now behave responsibly. Our objective is that this legislation will provide the opportunity for all employers and all unions to behave more responsibly.
The Bill seeks to remove obstacles, either real or imaginary, in the way of the Act’s functioning in accordance with its expressed objectives contained in section 2 of the Act. It will expand the opportunities for those genuinely interested in the conduct of industrial relations to pursue and protect their interests in a spirit of responsibility. No comfort will be found in this Bill by those in the industrial relations area who advocate or resort to direct action for the achievement of their claims.
I have now dealt with the principal provisions of the Bill, that is to say, the provisions that appear in clauses 6, 8 and 14. The Bill also tidies up certain provisions of the legislation and deals with some procedural problems. I need only refer to some of these. Clause 3 and clauses 9 to 12 deal with the Inspectorate under the
Conciliation and Arbitration Act and facilitate the recovery of sums due under awards. We have inspectors who are officers of the Department of Labour and National Service and arrangements have been made with some of the States under which State labour inspectors perform inspection functions under our legislation. The Bill would enable the Minister for Labour and National Service to authorise officers of the Public Service of the Commonwealth other than of his Department to perform the duties of an inspector under the Act. There may be situations, for example, in the Northern Territory where it would be much more convenient to use officers of the Department of Territories as inspectors rather than have officers of the Department of Labour and National Service stationed there. This would, of course, involve agreement with the Minister concerned.
The Act as it now stands prevents inspectors taking action in respect of a breach of an award, including recovery of wages, if proceedings are not commenced within six months of the breach of an award. In complicated cases this is sometimes too short a period to allow inspectors to complete their investigations. So the amendment made by clause 9 will permit proceedings to be commenced at any time within twelve months after the commission of the breach.
The second provision to which I want to refer is found in clause 4. Under section 44a of the Act the President may, in the circumstances there described, constitute a joint session of the Commission where benches differently constituted have before them common matters for consideration. In short, as section 44a now stands, the President may, for example where one bench has been constituted to deal with a reference under section 34 and another bench to deal with an appeal under section 35, direct that there be a joint session of both benches to take evidence and hear argument that is common to both cases. The present provision does not authorise a joint session where matters under section 33, such as the basic wage, are concurrently before the Commission with references or appeals.
Honorable senators will remember that in 1964 the President found a device for meeting this problem. In 1964 the basic wage bench was composed of four presiden tial members and the total wage bench df the same four presidential members and a lay commissioner. The lay commissioner sat in as an observer to hear argument that was common to both cases. This device met the circumstances; it was, however, contrived. The Bill’s provisions will enable this type of case to be dealt with without resort to such an artifice. They will permit the President to constitute a joint session whenever there are matters common to different proceedings before different elements of the Commission and the President considers a joint session would facilitate the hearing and deliberations of these matters. This provision will facilitate the Commission’s work and should be welcomed not only on this account but also in saving the parties having to present the same case twice. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 6th May (vide page 623), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
THE PRESIDENT.- Order! There being no objection, that course will be followed.
– I think it is appropriate that we should deal with the three Bills together. They have a common purpose, to which we have a common objection and it will unquestionably save time to take them together, leaving the National Service Bill to be dealt with separately.
It is a reflection on the Government that, having had comprehensive amendments of the Defence Act in October 1964, we now have still further comprehensive amendments amending the amendments so recently made. There are instances of this throughout the Bill. I select a few to cite as examples. Clause 5 of the Bill amends section 10A so recently dealt with. Clause 7 amends section 32. Clause 9 amends section 39. Clause 10 amends section 41. Clause 14 amends section 45. It is true that in an odd case some amendment to the Defence Act is made necessary or convenient by reason of the fact that the National Service Act was passed in November of last year, approximately one month after the amendments had been effected to the Defence Act. But by and large the need for these further comprehensive amendments - one notices it particularly in the sections dealing with the term of service of officers - ^rather betrays the fact that in this very important matter of defence law proper consideration was not given to the subject only a few months ago.
At the outset, I want to refer to matters that are not dealt with in these proposed changes. The Senate will have noted that provision is now to be made which will enable liquor to be supplied under supervised control to national servicemen who are now integrated into a part of the Australian Regular Army, namely the Supplement. Under the National Service Act 1951 the supplying of liquor to national servicemen under 21 years of age, or its possession by them, was completely forbidden. That provision will be repealed pursuant to the passing of this Bill. We take no objection to that, because in the Australian Regular Army are men of 18, 19 and 20 years who have access to liquor under conditions that are determined by the Military Board or the delegate of the Board.
What strikes the Opposition as being odd is that the Government, in deciding to call up young men 20 years of age, has addressed its mind to making it convenient for them to have access to liquor but that it has not thought about allowing them to enjoy an even greater right - ‘the right to record a vote in the elections of this country. These young men are good enough to be called into the Army from their vocations, to be obliged to train and to serve for a minimum period of five years which may be elongated if the country is at war. It seems to me that we should confer the full right of citizenship upon these young men who, as I have already said, in addition to being required to leave their ordinary vocations will be required to give full-time service for two years and, in a state of war, may have to serve for much longer than five years. They should be given an opportunity to enjoy all the fruits of adulthood, more particularly as they are liable for service not merely in Australia but anywhere in the world. I invite the Government io indicate whether any thought was directed to the giving of this privilege. We of the Opposition think it should be a right. If no thought was given to the matter, will the Government at this late stage consider making this very necessary amendment to the legislation?
There still remain some very antiquated provisions in the legislation. One would have thought that, with all the scrutiny to which the Act has been subjected, advantage would have been taken of the opportunity to dispense with some of its outmoded provisions. In many respects the discipline of our forces is still controlled not directly by this Parliament but under imperial Acts. Provision to that effect is contained in the Defence Act, the Naval Defence Act and the Air Force Act. In this respect, we rely upon imperial statutes up to a fixed date. I should have thought that, having regard to a proper concept of our nationhood and our position in the world, the time had arrived when we should have our own code of discipline for the various elements of our defence forces. I strongly commend that thought to the Minister in the hope that, if it is not done on this occasion, on some future occasion direct attention will be given to the matter.
I realise that at the moment the Opposition could not propose an amendment to remove very comprehensive provisions of the legislation unless it was in a position to rewrite the whole code. For the Opposition to do that at this stage would not be practicable. However, we earnestly suggest to the Government that advantage ought to be taken of an early opportunity to do so if for no other reason than to uphold the dignity of our nation. Moreover, it would be of great convenience to those who are obliged to administer the disciplinary provisions of the law to have readily accessible in Australian statute or regulation form every detail that is applicable to the conduct of the forces. In addition, we in the Parliament would have the great advantage of knowing the details of those disciplinary measures and would have ready access to them. They are not readily accessible at the moment; one has very great difficulty in determining the sources of the law that has particular application to any cases that one might be considering. 1 hope that the Minister and the Government will give more than cursory attention to this request which I make on behalf of the Opposition.
The Defence Bill is quite comprehensive. It embraces 25 clauses, some of which are quite extensive. We offer no objection to most of thom. However, we do oppose some even though they are of a machinery nature. We wish to criticise others and to express certain viewpoints upon them. Our greatest objection is levelled against clause 16, which is simple in content. It is designed merely to repeal the existing section 50c of the principal Act and to insert in its stead the following section -
Members of the Military Forces may be required to serve either within or beyond the territorial limits of Australia. 1 submit very briefly that the effect of the new provision will be to destroy a position thai has been maintained for many years. The effect will be to require men who are called up in a state of war under Part IV of the Defence Act to serve abroad. So that honorable senators may appreciate what is happening I direct attention to the fact that clause 17 is designed to repeal the whole of Part IV of the principal Act and to substitute an entirely new part for it. The new part extends over a number of pages of the Bill.
Let mc summarise broadly the provisions of proposed new Part IV. lt provides that all male persons who have resided here for six months, who are British subjects and who have attained the age of 18 years but have not attained the age of 60 years are liable to be called up to serve in the defence force. Proposed new section 60 provides that in time of war - those words are significant; they exclude the possibility of the new concept of a defence emergency - the Governor-General may, by proclamation, call upon persons specified in the preceding section to serve in the defence force in accordance with the Act for the duration of the war. Then it prescribes the classes of persons who may be called up. The first class embraces persons between the age of 18 and 35 years who have no responsibility for children or wives. The next group embraces persons from 35 to 45 years of age who are characterised by the same lack oi marital capacity. The third class includes persons from 1 8 to 35 years of age who are married or are widowers with children. The fourth class embraces persons of more than 35 years of age but under 45 years who are married, and the final class embraces persons of the age of 45 years and upwards but under 60 years.
Part IV becomes operative only in time of war. I invite the Senate to note that that term is defined in section 4 of the Defence Act. The definition reads - “ War “ - Means any invasion or apprehended invasion of, or attack or apprehended attack on, the Commonwealth or any Territory under the control of the Commonwealth by an enemy or armed force.
Time of war” is defined to mean -
In the current situation today there is no declaration of war. The circumstances contemplated by Part IV have obviously, in the view of the Government, not arisen. Despite the fact that we have armed forces fighting in Malaysia to meet the confrontation of the Indonesians, that we have certain plant, equipment and personnel in Vietnam - the personnel at the moment acting as advisers - and that we are on the point of sending a battalion of our Australian Regular Army to fight against the North Vietnamese, I take it, on the one hand and against the recalcitrant members of the South Vietnamese population on the other hand, the Government has not seen fit to declare either a state of war or a state of defence emergency. The latter term is one that I concede may be quite indefinable with any precision. A defence emergency obviously has to be assessed in the light of what are the current facts when the decision about it is made. The facts can change. They may have a most infinite variety. I merely emphasise the point that in the view of the Government, despite the somewhat tangled situation and the scattering of our forces rather far and wide, we are not in a defence emergency and we are not at war.
Dealing further with Part IV, I direct attention to the fact that the classes of exemption for various people have been varied. The proposed section 61a drops six or seven categories of people who were exempt and includes three new classes that were not specified hitherto. I do no more at the moment than draw attention to that fact. At the Committee stage I hope to direct particular attention to it. The proposed new section goes on to provide for other classes of people who are exempt.
Under the proposed new section 61c 1 indicate a matter to which I shall come back at the Committee stage. I mention it now so that honorable senators may address their minds to it. I am not moving amendments to the Bill on behalf of the Opposition. We shall be criticising clauses and opposing some of them. 1 take this opportunity to give to the Senate some preknowledge of our intentions. One matter that causes us concern is the fact that under the proposed section 61c (f) Aboriginal natives of Australia are excluded from the call up under Part IV. I shall not develop the theme now. I merely indicate to the Senate that we are concerned at the fact that Aborigines, about whose welfare there is a great deal of emotional upset, not only domestically but internationally, who are recognised as citizens and who are given a vote, are singled out and exempted from the performance of what one might regard as a high civic duty in our last line of reserves in a state of real emergency. I invite honorable senators to address their minds to the manner in which that provision may be received, not only domestically but also internationally. I concede immediately that it is a concession, if you like, to say to the Aborigines: “ In a state of emergency, when the country could be under attack or invasion or under threat of both those things, you will not be called up to do your share.” They may well resent it; many of them may. The exemption may be pointed to in the international sphere as another indication that Australia still differentiates between Aborigines and its other citizens. I propose to go into that matter in a little more detail at the Committee stage. I merely give a general indication of it at this stage.
I come back to the broad effect of the proposed new section 50c, which is proposed to be inserted in the Act by clause 16 of the Bill. It states -
Members of the Military Forces may be required to serve either within or beyond the territorial limits of Australia.
Section 50c of the principal Act was amended by the Government as recently as last October. The Government rewrote it in sub-section (2.) in explicit terms, the effect of which, when read with section 32a, is that persons called up under section 50 of Part IV are not to be required to serve beyond the territorial limits of Australia unless the person called up undertakes voluntarily so to serve. There is a very firm principle in section 50c relating to the Military Forces only that was affirmed by the Government in writing that provision into the Act as recently as last October. There was an equivalent provision to that in the Act for a very long time before the Government reviewed it specifically only last October.
– From what section is the honorable senator reading?
– I am reading from section 50 (2.) of the principal Act. The relevant part of it states -
A member of a part of the Citizen Military Forces specified in paragraph . . . (c) of subsection (2.) of section thirty-two a . . .
If the honorable senator will refer to that section he will find that it provides -
It states that such members shall not be required to serve beyond the territorial limits of Australia unless they undertake voluntarily so to serve. That disposes of the matter, so far as the Military Forces are concerned.
I turn to the Air Force for the relevant comparable provision. I find in section 4e, which was inserted in the Act as recently as last October, the following provision -
A person called upon under section sixty of the Defence Act to enlist and serve in the Citizen Forces shall not be required, unless he voluntarily agrees to do so, to enlist and serve in the Citizen Air Force.
Section 4f provides that -
Members of the Air Force may be required to render Air-Force service on land or sea or in the air, and either within or beyond the territorial limits of Australia.
But those called up under Part IV are exempted. This was confirmed by the Government as recently as last October.
Wc come, now, to a completely comparable position in the Naval Defence Act. In 1964 we wrote in a new section 24 which, in effect, only rebutted what had been in the Act before. Sub-section (2.) of the new section 24, amongst other things, states -
A person called upon under section sixty of (be Defence Act to enlist and serve in the Citizen Forces shall not bc required, unless he voluntarily agrees to do so, to enlist and serve in the Citizen Naval Forces.
Therefore, in respect of the three arms of the defence forces, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, as recently as last October, the Government set its face against persons Called up in that category being obliged to serve outside the confines of Australia. As far as I cun understand, no real justification of any kind has been advanced by the Government as to why it has made this sudden change which now, in clause 16 of the Bill before us, throws those people into the category of those who must serve overseas. It is true that in the whole military setup persons who might be called up under Part IV of the Defence Act are the only people now not obliged to serve overseas. The only effect of the proposed alteration to section 50c is to rope them in. A similar position applied in the Navy and the Air Force. There is a comparable provision to that under section 50c in the Naval Defence Bill and in the Air Force Bill, both of which we have before us. In these Bills, the relevant provisions are expressed in slightly different terms but they plainly incorporate persons called up under Part IV in the obligation to serve overseas.
I ask the Government: is it not a fact that (hat provision guarding against service overseas has been in the Act for decades? That is so as far as I understand. Is it not true that the Government reaffirmed it positively as late as October last? What has happened in the intervening few months to justify so drastic a change without any adequate explanation of it to the Parliament? 1 certainly have encountered no explanations. I put this consideration to the Senate: Before Part IV of the Act is invoked - section 60 of it in particular - calling up our line of last resort, as I might term it, war will have started, war will have been declared by proclamation, a further proclamation will have been made by the Governor-General calling up these people and we will be down to the bottom of the barrel. I say that because by that time our regular permanent forces will have been committed and our conscripts, our national servicemen, will have been committed. Then we will come to our last reservoir of manpower - those in the community between the ages of 18 and 60 - and we will proceed to call them up. This is quite significant. It is quite certain, I think, that the great bulk of the persons who would be called up in that emergency would be untrained personnel - persons who, before they could engage in any combat, would need training. I think it is safe to say that that training would involve a minimum period of six months.
– The honorable senator means two years.
– It may well be two years. One can realise how improper and dangerous, maybe, it would be to commit, almost at the moment of calling up, people in that category to modern combat with highly developed weapons and systems in order to meet a foe which was well equipped and, as Part IV of the Act contemplates, was engaged in an invasion of Australia, or which threatened invasion; or it might be engaged in an attack or might be threatening an attack upon Australia, or on one of our Territories. That is the situation we are contemplating.
Let me say this: There is an obligation to call Parliament together, if it is not sitting, at the time a proclamation is made invoking troops under Part IV. The Parliament has to be called together within 10 days. Of course, it could be called together very much sooner - certainly within 1.0 days. Nothing could happen in that time; the machinery would nol be in train to register the people to be called up. In fact, nobody would have been called up, let alone undergone an adequate training period. The point I am making is that there is no haste at such a time and I think il should not be left to the unfettered discretion of an executive government to commit our last line of defence reserves called up under Part IV of the Act, to overseas service without the clear authority of the Parliament. There is ample lime to obtain such authority in the circumstances that I have outlined. We have had no real reason given to us as to why the Government wants, at this stage, to provide that personnel called up in that situation - and T repeat that this cannot be done except in time of war - should, in advance, be committed to serve overseas.
The Government must have something in mind, T hope, in seeking to invoke that provision now. However, it seems to the Opposition that the Government has nothing more in mind than to commit everybody who might enter the defence forces of this country in any of the three armed services, and in any phase of them, to serve overseas. We of the Opposition join issue with the Government over that proposition, particularly in regard to this very last line of our reserves, while war is in fact not on. The Australia Labour Party realises the need to send people outside Australia, as we did in 1943, I. think it was, during the Second World War, when we were in Government. At that time we passed special legislation to enable troops to be sent overseas. But there could be no conceivable circumstances in which that call up of our last line of reserves would take place when there would not be ample time for this Parliament to determine whether the force was to be committed overseas or was to remain in Australia.
– During the period in respect of which you are speaking, Senator, you must remember that there was something of the order of seven divisions which had been called up for full time duty for the previous 18 months prior to the circumstances you outlined.
– That is true. T am merely indicating that we are not making an objection to persons going overseas merely for the sake of making an objection. T am indicating that at another time and in other circumstances the Labour Party did not hesitate to ensure the despatch of our troops overseas. Therefore, we are not prepared to support that particular provision of this Bill. We oppose it. We believe that the Government’s action in altering the existing position at this stage and in these circumstances is utterly without justification. We feel so strongly about it that we propose to oppose the motion for the second reading of this Bill. If our opposition succeeds and if the motion is defeated the Government can bring the Bill back without that particular provision.
– Does the honorable senator refer to those people whom he calls the last line of defence?
– I refer to those concerned in clause 16 of the Defence Bill. If the Government were to take out clause 16 and the similar clauses in the Naval Defence Bill and the Air Force Bill, I venture to say that, apart from slight criticism - and our criticisms are not very trenchant compared with this one in the other matters - we would be able to reach agreement with the Government very readily on the whole of the balance of the Bill. In order to express as forcefully as we can our viewpoint as to the needlessness of this legislation at the present time, we propose to oppose the second reading of the Bills. I hope that when the Minister responds to the debate in due course he will indicate what great change has taken place, between October last and now, which has induced the Government to make this very unusual departure from tradition and from the course which it confirmed so very recently.
As to the remaining provisions of the legislation, I have given some indication of a few matters that we will raise during the Committee stage. There are other points with which we will deal, but I do not think the Committee will be taken by surprise by the matters I shall then raise on behalf of the Opposition. At this stage I merely indicate that there are some five or six matters about which we are not happy, one or two which we will vote against, one or two regarding which we would like to hear some explanation, and one or two others of which we will be critical. T will reserve what I propose to say on those matters until we reach the Committee stage.
– I have listened with great care and attention to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). I always do that when he speaks, because T find not only that he is extremely interesting to listen to but also that he presents his arguments in a fashion which I envy. But I must confess that today I have found considerable difficulty - at least with regard to most of his speech - in establishing in my own mind the attitude of the Opposition towards the Bills that we are considering. Indeed, it was only in the last two or three minutes of Senator McKenna’s speech that he established that the basis of the Opposition’s attitude towards the legislation and thu reasons for the decision to vote against it centres almost entirely on clause 16 of the Defence Bill. This clause is of critical importance, because its effect will be to make our armed forces available for service anywhere in the world. I think the comments Senator McKenna made prior to his statement about clause 16 will be argued wilh considerable interest on both sides of the chamber during the Committee stage, so I do not intend to refer to them at present. 1 hope I will have a chance to do so later on. At the moment I will confine my remarks entirely to one point.
Senator McKenna said thu in 1943 the Government of the day - a Labour Government - agreed to commit our forces for overseas service. 1 think that statement needs some examination and elaboration and I propose, shortly, to examine it in some detail, To my mind it is completely unrealistic to criticise the Government for its fairly constant attention to our defence needs, which we see illustrated by the proposed amendments to the measures with which we are now dealing. The fact that this most important legislation is receiving such detailed attention gives me a great sense of satisfaction with and confidence in my Government. I realise that, as conditions and circumstances change, the Government is ready immediately to bring our Defence Act and related measures up to date so far as lies within its power. I think it can be said that the various legislative measures which have been introduced by this Government in the past 12 months have brought a sense of deep satisfaction to every section of the Australian public, and a recognition of the fact that the Government is facing up to its responsibilities and is prepared to take its full share of the task of defending freedom in this south-eastern quarter of the globe.
I say here and now - lest I forget to say it emphatically later on - that no bill ever introduced has had greater support from me than the group of measures that we are now considering. I am afraid it is an unhappy fact that there are some people who still fail to realise that events to the north of Australia today in many ways present the same type of threat as Australia experienced on only one previous occasion - when Japan swept downwards in 1942. In my view it is very dangerous thinking to suppose that today’s danger has not within it a potentiality as serious for Australia in the long term as were the events of 1942, even though it is valid to argue that the present danger is not so imminent - and I think that is as far as anyone can safely argue today.
In 1942 we were threatened by one of a group of allies who at that time openly and frankly acknowledged that they were seeking world domination. Today the situation has changed. We are now facing a different alliance and it is operating from an entirely different springboard, because our potential enemies today are not just seeking to dominate. Bad as the situation was in the 1939-1945 period, the present position is more critical, because those whom we are now facing have already established domination over more than one-third of the world’s population. Their leaders make no secret of the fact that they arc allowing nothing to stop them in their onward march. As I mentioned a few days ago. it is very sobering to realise that not only are they prepared to bring the balance of the world’s population under their domination but also that they are boasting of this aim as one of their greatest ideals. Therefore I say that this, in itself, makes certain aspects of today’s situation even more serious a potential threat than existed in 1942. I believe there arc elements common both to the danger that threatened us in 1942 and today’s situation. I believe that the very fact that this is so has helped us in looking to our own defences and planning because we learned some very valuable lessons. One of the lessons is being illustrated in “this Bill. The Government, through the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Paltridge), has cleared away many dangerous legislative provisions.
I turn now to one aspect of the Defence Act that was introduced in 1943. But for the amendment now before us. even today we would be denied the opportunity of sending any volunteer forces into one of our present theatres of operations overseas. I refer to Malaysia. Under the Defence Act as it stands at present it would not be permissible to send forces other than volunteers into that theatre of operations.
– That is not so. Senator. National exservicemen who go into the supplementary part of the Australian Regular Army may be sent.
– I am speaking of the Defence (Citizen Military Forces) Act which was introduced in 1943 and is now to be amended. Its provisions restricted the service overseas of troops other than volunteers, even in Malaysia. That situation obtains until the legislation before us is passed. I am bound to say that this Bill eliminates what I have always regarded as one of the most sectional pieces of legislation that has ever been enacted, especially in relation to the defence forces. It will overcome the problems that arise from having two entirely separate types of armies. After the amendment becomes law, our armies will be co-ordinated and our Chiefs of Staff, in co-operation with our allies, will be able to plan ahead in the knowledge that they have not the encumbrance of the small operational area that was so serious a handicap in the latter part of World War U. They will be able to deploy our forces wherever and whenever they are needed without the inhibition of strangling regulations or legislation. I want to stress that our Chiefs of Staff will be able to plan in cooperation with our powerful allies. I am afraid that sections of the Press and the public, and even some honorable senators opposite, seem always to overlook the cardinal fact that we have a population of about 11 million people. As has been said on many occasions, it would be impossible and quite impracticable for us ever to conduct our defence in isolation. Our only hope of defence must be to plan in co-operation with our powerful allies. Possibly that pattern of planning will develop with the passage of this Bill.
One of our greatest sources of satisfaction is the recognition that our powerful allies are not just theoretical allies. The alliance has been proved at very great cost to them. Our allies have shown that they are prepared to join with all other nations who are righting for the freedom of this part of the world. The Australian people are aware of the limitations imposed upon us because of our small population. Nothing could give us a greater sense of security than the attitude and actions of the United States of America.
It is vital that we remove all obstacles from the path of our Chiefs of Staff and those persons who are planning our defence and strategic operations in the event of the cold war becoming more menacing. This fact was recognised over 20 years ago by the then Prime Minister of Australia, the right honorable John Curtin. In the debate on the Defence (Citizen Military Forces) Bill of 1943 Mr. Curtin traversed the question of overall strategy at that time. I shall quote from “ Hansard “, Volume 1 73, page 267. Mr. Curtin said -
The predominant partner of the Empire, Great Britain, and the most powerful of the United Nations, Great Britain and the United States of America, determine the higher strategy. They, of course, have the greatest responsibility and the greatest resources. The governments of the Dominions have largely passive roles in higher’ strategy. . .
Mr. Curtin went on to speak generally of the overall strategy and to make what I think is one of the most significant comments. He said -
Criticism has been made that the Citizen Forces cannot serve in Malaya and the Solomons.
That confirms my reply to the interjection of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). Mr. Curtin continued -
This quite ignores the strategical set-up in the South-West Pacific area. Our forces are assigned to the Commander-in-Chief of the South-West Pacific Area, whose sphere of command docs not extend to those regions.
That was not strictly correct, but 1 do not intend to comment on it at present. Mr. Curtin went on -
I would repeat, however, that when the position permits, Australia’n forces will be available in any theatre in which they can best be employed.
I repeat, that is a very significant comment. It is made even more significant by reference to the debates of that time. Mr. Curtin, apparently without reference to any of his Cabinet colleagues, announced that the Government would legislate to remove the barrier to sending our forces to theatres of operations outside Australia. He made that quite unequivocal statement. Subsequently he was taken to task most seriously by other members of his party, including the then Minister for the Army, Mr. Forde, who stated that there was no need to send our forces outside Australia. It should be remembered that we then had four divisions of veterans who had earned a wonderful reputation overseas. After making his statement, the Prime Minister was hamstrung. He was prevented from giving effect to it. He took no action for many months. I do not know why, but I would attempt to guess. Before any action was taken, the question was referred to the group that we now know as the faceless men. J do not know whether at that time there were 36 of them but at all events the Prime Minister of Australia was prevented from implementing the policy that he believed to be completely necessary for the defence of this country.
Having taken the matter to his masters, he was not permitted to legislate as he wished and was forced to water down the legislation to a very great extent. As a result we had the Defence Act as it stood during the latter part of the war and it caused more hardship to our planning staff and more disharmony within our armed forces than any other single act of Parliament. Indeed, unless clause 16 of the Defence Bill is accepted, our planning staff, our Chiefs of Staff and our defence forces generally will not be able to organise the defence of this country satisfactorily should such organisation unfortunately become necessary.
These are very sad facts. Frankly. I had hoped that, in the interim, the Labour Party would have become a little more modern in its outlook. .1 had hoped, I repeat, that the thinking of 1943, in accordance with which we had one army of volunteers which was prepared to go anywhere, and another army of conscripts which was not permitted to go everywhere, would have been forgotten many years ago. I do not think there is anything which more effectively damaged the spirit of the men of our overseas divisions - the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th Divisions - than did this particular piece of legislation. If anything could have been designed to destroy the esprit de corps of our great Australian divisions, this indeed was it. I can remember all too clearly, when our overseas divisions returned to Australia, the many occasions on which the unhappy word “ choco “ was thrown between our conscripts and our volunteers. I. know of families which were broken asunder as a result of this legislation. It is a measure that I have always resented and hated.
Another aspect that I think we should consider - this is another reason why I feel that any thinking along the lines advanced by the Leader of the Opposition is archaic - is that conditions today are different from those which obtained in 1939. In the first 15 months after war broke out in 1939
Australia was able to obtain sufficient volunteers to fill four Australian divisions. At that time the recruiting of a volunteer army was the correct procedure. 1 say that for this reason: We were, as an Empire, certainly engaged in a war which became increasingly worse as it proceeded, but it was many thousands of miles from Australia. Therefore, at that point of time it was acceptable that young men in Australia should themselves have the right - and they did in fact have the right - to choose where their duty lay; whether, on the one hand, they should join the 2nd Australian Imperial Force or whether, on the other hand, their responsibilities at home were such that they should not. That was for (hem to decide. I think we all accepted that as the proper basts of enlistment when the war was many thousands of miles from our shores.
This situation however, changed dramatically with the entry of Japan into the war. Not only did the situation change dramatically but also it had in it the clements of the threat which we see and must face this day. Therefore, because we are looking forward - certainly not happily - and are planning ahead to meet the possibility of an attack on the shores of Australia, I believe that the principle of a fighting force consisting only of volunteers and not including conscripts is completely untenable. Not only is it untenable to me and to people of my age, but it is untenable in an even greater measure to the young men of today who, I believe, feel as strongly as their counterparts did 20 years ago that to serve their country is not an imposition but a privilege, especially when our very shores are in danger. In this day and age and in the present circumstances it is humiliating for Australia to have two armies, one consisting of volunteers and one consisting of conscripts.
There is no alternative but for us to accept what is perhaps to many people an unhappy thought, namely, that this legislation is of overwhelming importance. I believe that a similar view was expressed 20 years ago. If one reads the “ Hansard “ record of the debates of February 1943 one will see that very many men on our side of politics forecast at that time the difficulties that inevitably would arise unless the restricted area provision was removed. It is most interesting to see how the statements made in those days have today been proved to be correct. I do not think it would be possible to express this matter more clearly than by reading a few words which were used by our present Prime Minister who was then a member of the Opposition. I should like to read a great deal of his speech made on 4th February 1943 in the debate on the Defence (Citizen Military Forces) Bill 1943, but I have not the time to do so. Referring to the possibility of young men undergoing compulsory military service being required to serve overseas, he said -
The vital question - and here I speak for myself - is one of complete unity within the forces themselves, complete identity in terms and conditions of service. We shall not get that while some men are volunteers for service abroad and others are conlined to service at home.
That is the crux of the whole matter. In the present situation which seems to be developing more unhappily with every passing month we are faced wilh a very real threat. That threat is coming closer each day. We hope that the forces with are deployed at the present time to hold this threat will be sufficient, but if they are not sufficient Australia will need, as she has never needed before, her maximum manpower, the highest esprit de corps within every unit and the greatest fighting power that is available to her. Australia will need these more than she has ever needed them before.
To move into this increasingly serious situation without having one united army and without removing the dead wood which has been so damaging in the years that have passed, would be to try to fight an enemy with our hands tied behind our backs. I most strongly commend the Leader of the Government in the Senate upon introducing these Bills and I tell him that we on this side of the chamber - as I think is evident - are with him all the way. I go further and say that from all the talking that I have done to various people and all the contacts I have made I am completely satisfied that Australia is with him all the way. I am only sorry - deeply sorry - to think that the Opposition in this Parliament will be an isolated example of those who are opposing what can be vital for the defence of Australia.
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER (New South Wales) [5.10]. - I propose to direct my comparatively brief remarks only to those portions of the Bills that make those who are called up in time of war liable for overseas service. The other portions of the Bills are important, but I think that this is an aspect that transcends all others in importance. I propose, first, to reply to the case put by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). He put the point of view that the Australian Labour Party was opposing these proposals, as I understood him, on three principal grounds. I hope that I represent his argument fairly. The first ground was that this might lead to a situation in which the calling up and sending overseas of men in time of war might result in the sending overseas of untrained men or men who were not efficient for the work, who would be placed in undue peril because of their lack of training. His second ground was that this would, in principle, be sending overseas our last line of defence. I think he used the words “ scraping the barrel “. He said that it would be a bad thing because we would be sending our last line of defence away from our own shores. I think that his first two grounds were in the nature more of debating points than of real objections. His third ground - which I think was the most important - was that nothing had happened since this matter was last before the Parliament last October to justify so important a change in Australia’s defence policy.
I do not think that anyone can foretell what will happen in total war. Some of us on both sides of the chamber have had the sad experience of seeing untrained men sent into action in a time of total war; but it would be quite wrong to object to this legislation because of the possibility of such a contingency. I do not think it is right to proceed upon the basis that, because everyone may be sent overseas if the circumstances so require, everyone will be sent overseas, and that everyone sent overseas will be in an untrained force. I remind the Senate, if any reminder is necessary, that untrained men sent overseas for military service may at times make a very desirable addition to our defence forces, because these forces do nol consist entirely of front line soldiers. There is a lot of hard, solid work to be done behind the lines which does not require the intensive training that a front line soldier needs. That is incidental to the main reply that there is no justification for objecting because of the possibility that untrained men will be sent into action.
The second point that the Leader of the Opposition made was that we would be sending overseas our last line of defence. That has an air of exaggeration about it. It rather creates this impression: Hey presto, as they are called up, they are suddenly put on a troop ship. We then have a picture of Australia without anybody in uniform in it at all; everybody who is called up is being sent overseas. This overlooks the basic consideration that training - training - training is required, that it is necessary to call up people, train them, and let them take their turn as and when they are required overseas. It is quite wrong to give any impression that this means a general exodus. It means laying down a foundation for people to be sent overseas when the circumstances warrant. Although one must regard these objections seriously as arguments put up by the Opposition, I do not really believe that they can be classified as good, solid and serious objections to this legislation.
The third objection was put in the questions as to why we did not deal with this last October and what had happened since then to necessitate such a big change. The first question that I ask the Senate is: Is it such a big change from the provisions of last October’s legislation? Do not forget that in that legislation was a provision that young fellows in the 20 years age group could be sent overseas. I do not think there is a very big difference between making liable for overseas service the cream of the nation, young fellows of 20 years of age, and making liable for overseas service the last line, people who are called up in time of war. I do not think that there is such a great difference in principle as to make this a particularly valid point to take. The Leader of the Opposition asked what had happened since last October to justify such a rearrangement. This, I think, raises the whole question that we debated in the Senate last week, namely, the position in Vietnam. If 1 may say so, that was one of the best debates that has occurred in the Senate. I came out of it, after listening to the arguments backwards and forwards, clear in my own view that what is happening in Vietnam - I believe at the instigation of and as part of a long range policy of China - and what is happening in Malaysia as a result of a great deal of personal irresponsibility on the part of the people in charge of affairs in Indonesia is putting us in Australia in the unfortunate situation that unless we do what is needed we shall see in this part of the world a repetition of what has happened in Europe. In Europe we saw country after country over-run and taken over by Communism. We will see the same thing happen in our part of the world unless we are particularly careful. I remind the Senate that the advance of Communism in Europe was stopped only when the line was drawn. I believe that the advance of Communism in this part of the world is being stopped only by the line that is being drawn in Vietnam by the United States of America and in Malaysia by Great Britain, New Zealand and ourselves against Indonesian confrontation.
Let me refer again to last week’s debate. One of the things that annoyed me was the constant reiteration of the statement that our sending a battalion of SOO members of the Australian Imperial Force would make little contribution to the situation is South Vietnam. People who say things like that forget their military history. The A.I.F. is without peer in military affairs. The addition of a fully trained, highly skilled and solid A.I.F. battalion is an important military contribution to any force. I do not know the size of the United States forces in South Vietnam - 20,000, 30,000 or perhaps 40,000. Our contribution will represent from 2i per cent, to 5 per cent, and will comprise the best equipped and best fighting soldiers that exist. Not only is their contribution in arms important but also their contribution to the morale of everyone associated with them is important.
I must apologise for constantly going over the ground of the recent debate but I feel justified in doing so. The great weakness in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition was that he did not canvass, other than in a passing reference, the real objection by the Labour Party to the use in any area whatever of those whom we have to call up in time of war. This surely is the milk in the coconut. Why would we be doing this - calling up our 20 year- old youths, sending a battalion overseas and making all these arrangements - unless there was a need for it? This is the point that the Leader of the Opposition did not canvass. In fairness to him, perhaps he did not do so because the point was canvassed a good deal in the earlier debate. But it seems to me that you cannot look at this problem without at the same time recalling the background against which the Government’s action has become necessary. I cannot accept any view other than that the Government’s action is necessary and is an integral part of our defence preparation.
Now I make another point: In this country, as in Great Britain and the United States of America - perhaps in not many other countries - public opinion has a most powerful influence on governments. In my view there is no danger of any Australian Government doing more than the circumstances warrant. I think, always, the difficulty facing a government in a democracy is to do all that is necessary in the way of defence preparations. If we had irresponsible people in charge of affairs in Australia, such as is, I believe, the position in Indonesia, and if they attempted to do more than the circumstances warranted - attempted to use in an improper way the powers given to them - democracy would work and the government would not last. Il would be defeated very quickly.
We have always been proud, with great justification, of the fact that the A.f.F. was a volunteer force. I think it is true that in the First World War the A.l.F. was the only completely volunteer Army on either side throughout the entire war. But events have changed. The entire situation has changed. I do not think it is possible in the world in which we live and in the circumstances that now confront us for any nation to rely for its defence effort on voluntary enlistments only. Against our background of prosperity, higher educational standards and opportunities for people to make more of their lives, we have done well to attract in recent years the numbers that we have attracted to the profession of arms. We have done well to build our Army. Navy and Air Force to their present levels. But we would do very ill if we thought those levels were sufficient for our immediate requirements. We would do ill if we proceeded on the basis that we can do all that needs to be done in the future as we have done it in the past - by voluntary enlistments.
The building of our Army has been achieved in proper stages and after experience has shown the possibilities of each successive step. We have relied upon enlistments. We have provided more attrac tive pay codes. We have offered greater inducements to people to come iti to the Army. We made arrangements to induce people to join the Citizen Military Forces. Then we were faced with the situation that despite all these efforts - I think we should gain some little satisfaction from the result’s - enlistments fell short of what was required to maintain our overseas forces. The number by which enlistments fell short was comparatively small, but it had to be made up in some other way. The result was the October legislation. That legislation enabled us to send certain numbers overseas. The legislation now before us is a logical and justifiable development of that earlier legislation. We have tried other methods of obtaining the necessary numbers. Of course, the circumstances to which I am referring are not exactly parallel. The proposals that are contained in this legislation will become operative only in time of war whereas I have been speaking of a time that is short of war. However, we have proved that, whatever may be the reason, under the existing legislation we will not be able to get volunteers for overseas service.
At the present time - a time that falls short of war - we have forces in South Vietnam, some in Thailand, some in Malaysia and some in Borneo. Moreover, the Navy is ranging around the whole of South East Asia. That is where our forces will continue to be deployed if there is total war. All our military advice is, and has been for years, to the effect that Australia’s defence arrangements should be based on keeping the perils of war, the incidence of war, away from the shores of Australia and that in the present circumstances our front line is in South East Asia. That is one of the reasons why we have forces in South East Asia. If events lead to war and that war runs in our favour, our forces will be standing in these parts which lie outside the territory of Australia. What a bad position we would be in if we were unable to send troops to these areas when we thought the circumstances justified sending them. It is for this reason that I so strongly support the Bill.
.- I had not intended lo take part in this debate. I had thought that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) had made a temperate and very comprehensive analysis of the provisions of the Bill and had stated the attitude of the Opposition in very forthright terms. Senator McKenna indicated that it was primarily because of the inclusion of clause 16, which repeals the existing clause 50C and instead provides that members of the Military forces may be required to serve either within or beyond the territorial limits of Australia, that the Opposition would vote against the second reading of the Bill. That attitude stems from the long established and recently re-affirmed policy of the Australian Labour Party to oppose the conscription of Australian manpower for overseas service. That is why we are now joining issue with the Government.
In the course of his speech Senator Sir William Spooner made some observations which seemed to be critical of what was said by the Leader of the Opposition. The honorable senator seemed to remain unconvinced by the arguments advanced for the forthright opposition of the Labour Party to this aspect of the Bill. It is for that reason that I am led to come into the debate. In the last few minutes of his speech, Senator Sir William Spooner drew attention to the actual situation in which this legislation is to operate. The Leader of the Opposition had subjected the Bill to a very careful analysis and had pointed out what could happen under its provisions.
– I thought that Senator Sir William Spooner said what he did say only by way of analogy.
– 1 took him to be doing two things. I took him, first, to be putting his finger on the precise point at issue - as to what will happen to the men who are called up under this legislation. He spent the last 10 minutes or so of his speech dealing with the military problem of Vietnam and canvassing ground which we all traversed last week when we were discussing the ministerial statement on Vietnam. Within the last two weeks we of the Opposition have stated that we firmly and completely oppose the decision of the Government to send a battalion of combat troops to Vietnam. That is our attitude, irrespective of whether the troops are to be volunteers or conscripts. Certainly we take the strongest objection to this legislation being brought forward in the present circumstances, in the light of what is happen ing in Vietnam. The introduction of this Bill is another and a final step in the excision from the Defence Act of all aspects of voluntariness. Until this Bill is passed, the Defence Act will continue to provide, in the terms of the present section 50c, for voluntary service outside the territorial limits of Australia. But clause 16 of the Bill is designed to repeal that section. In doing so, it will remove the last element of voluntariness in our defence system. We object to that for the whole host of reasons of principle that we have advanced in the past and which we adopt again on the present occasion.
Senator Sir William Spooner said, secondly, that other methods had been employed to get manpower for the Services but that in effect they had failed. The Labour Party did not win the Senate election at the end of last year, but nevertheless during the election campaign it made it quite clear that we were opposed to the element of conscription.
– That is why the Labour Party is still in opposition.
– That may or may not be so, but we will continue to fight for what we believe and will not succumb to the temptation to adopt temporary measures of convenience. We adopted an attitude that was traditional and which was firmly held by every member of the Labour Party. The fact that over the years the Government has failed to attract sufficient young men to the Services is an indictment, not of the voluntary system, but of the Government, which has failed to give effective leadership in relation to issues of defence and foreign policy. I do not want to canvass those wider issues now. We in the Australian Labour Party are second to none in our desire to see this country defended, but we are not prepared to support conscription for service outside Australia. That is the basis upon which we approach this legislation. We have demonstrated time and time again the sincere and honest way in which we see this problem. We are dedicated, as is every other member of the Parliament, to the defence and security of this country. We will not hear it said that members of the Government parties have a monopoly of patriotism or of interest in defending Australia. We are entitled to take a stand on the principle that is involved in this legislation. We take that stand firmly and uncompromisingly. It is obvious from the remarks of Senator Sir William Spooner that we may assume, in practice, that it is intended, if necessary, to send conscripted manpower to reinforce the troops in Vietnam. I want to say no more. Other matters will arise in the Committee stages. My leader, Senator Mckenna, has referred to the great difficulty that exists in deciding what is a time of war and what is a time of defence emergency under the legislation. With troops about to go to Vietnam, it seems to us to bc extraordinary that there is not yet any clear definition - and this is from the mouth of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Paltridge) - of where Australia stands on the critical question of whether or not we are at war at the moment in Vietnam.
5 4ll. - in reply - If Senator Cohen believes for one moment that what we are doing now or what we did in October or in June removes the element of voluntariness from the Australian Army, I can do no better than to refer him to sections 34 and 35 of the Defence Act. Section 34 states -
Except as provided by Part IV. of this Act or by any other Act, the Military Forces shall be kept up by the appointment to those Forces, or the enlistment in those Forces, of persons who. volunteer and are accepted for service in those Forces.
There is in section 35 an echo of the old Australian Imperial Forces. Senator Cormack addressed himself to this aspect when we were considering the defence legislation in October. The section states - lii lime of war, the Governor-Genera! may aiuliori.se the raising of a military force for service in that time of war or for a specified period, and a force so raised is part of the Permanent Military Forces.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) in addressing himself to this Bill made two or three rather general comments. He referred to the fact that some of the amendments - indeed, I think, all of the amendments which he read out - were made after our most recent amendments to the Defence Act in October of last year. But I think he failed to realise, as he spoke, that many of the amendments that we propose in the Defence Bill which is now before the Senate flow from the passage of the
National Service Aci of last year, which was passed subsequent to the amendments being made to the Defence Act. In some respect these two Acts are interlocking. Amendments or alterations in one require amendments or alterations in the other. Many of the amendments to which the honorable senator referred flow from the National Service Act.
Senator McKenna referred to the matter of liquor. He said, if I quote him correctly, that he regarded the proposal in the Bill as being a realistic one, and he said that the Opposition did not intend to oppose it. But he went on to say that the Government should consider according the right to vote to these young men who will be affected by this provision by virtue of their call up. I emphasise that the young men who will be called up will be called up in their 20th year. In the normal course of events they will be entitled to their first vote within a few months of their being called up. They certainly will not be overseas prior to the time when they will be having their first vote because, as has been said in this debate and in other debates, the first few months of their service will necessarily be devoted to both recruit training and corps training.
The Leader of the Opposition referred to what he described as antiquated provisions of the Defence Act. It is true that there are some very old provisions in the Act. I repeat now what I said in October, that concurrent with our writing into the defence legislation the amendments which are necessary to meet the immediate situation, we are conducting a complete review of all the defence legislation. I hope that during the next two sessional periods at most I will have for the Parliament rewritten statutes applying to all three Services, with a locking act, called the Defence Act, covering the three of them. I trust that we will, as a result, have modern and effective legislation.
Sitting suspended from 5.46 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I was replying quite briefly to the points which had been raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) when speaking on this Bill to amend the Defence Act. I had referred, Mr. President, to a number of general issues which he had raised before moving on to what I might describe as the big point of issue between us. That point of issue, of course, is the proposed amendment to section 50c of the Act. Assuming the amendment is adopted then, in time of war, all those people called up for service under Part IV of the Defence Act will be liable for overseas service.
Both the Leader of the Opposition and, subsequently, Senator Cohen expressed the implacable opposition of the Australian Labour Party to clause 16 of the Bill which amends section 50c of the Act. For my own part, I want to say that just as they are implacably opposed to this principle, as it was described by Senator Cohen, so the Government is implacably determined that this is a principle which should be adopted in our defence legislation. We are going to debate this matter at length, I would imagine, when we reach the Committee stage, and, for that reason, I do not want to say a great deal about it now. But it is relevant to point out that almost all the countries with which we are associated adopt this practice and have adopted it for many years. This applies particularly, as our experience in the last war reminds us, in the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, the new emerging Malaysia, which is solving its own problems and setting up its nationhood under threat of military invasion, Thailand which has had it for years, the Philippines and, as my friend Senator Mattner reminds me, New Zealand. As I speak of it I remind myself of the situation which existed in Australia during World War II. In those perilous times, the Government of the day had to go through a tortuous experience and had to take the people through a tortuous experience before it was resolved that conscription for overseas service should apply, at least in some limited field.
Having a particular recollection of that experience, 1 say emphatically that in view of what every other nation is doing, in view of the new situation in which we live, and having regard to events in Asia, we have an obligation not to wait until the state of war is declared to say what we will do or will not do. We have an obligation to say before that state of war arises what we are prepared to do in respect of this important matter should a state of war occur. It would be the worst of all worlds for ourselves, as Australians, and for our international understanding, if we were not to make it crystal clear lo our own people, who are entitled to know, and to our allies what would be our stand in this matter. For that reason the amendment to the Defence Act has been introduced.
The Leader of the Opposition asked what new circumstance makes it necessary to introduce this measure now in view of the fact that, seven months ago, the Government did not believe it was necessary. I think that Senator Sir William Spooner answered this phase of his criticism very effectively when he pointed out the successive steps which had been taken by the Government in respect of our defence effort and our defence forces over the years. In lune last we saw the formation of the emergency reserves for the three forces. There was also the review of rates of pay and conditions in the Services. In October, there was the alteration of the Service status of the Citizen Military Forces and the calling up of national service trainees. Another step, if I may refer to it, relates to the conclusion of the very important logistic agreement with the United States of America in respect of the provision of equipment. If we look to other sectors of our administration dealing with the defence of this country we should note the increased attention which my colleague the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) is giving to liaison with industry. Then there was the announcement, as recently as yesterday, made by my colleague the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) that the Government is undertaking discussions with the States with a view to formulating a scheme for petrol rationing, should it be necessary. All these things are not being done in a spirit of panic or urgency. I hope this Parliament and the public of Australia realise that this policy is being pursued prudently by a government realising that these things could, in some circumstances, however remote, be necessary. Realising that fact, the Government has taken these steps.
I suggest to the Leader of the Opposition that those are the reasons why this important amendment to the Defence Act, in its turn, is brought by me to the Parliament. All the experience of the last war and all the experience gained by the other nations to which I have referred, Mr. President, has indicated the desirability, indeed the need, for this sort of provision for proper and adequate defence legislation.
Those are the reasons why this Bill is submitted and why we confidently ask for the support of the Parliament in this matter.
Question put -
Thethe Bill be read a second time.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 4 (Definitions).
.- I seek some elucidation from the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) of the new definition of “ service decoration “. I find no comparable definition in the original Act. This definition is in terms wide enough to cover any possible decoration for valorous service by any member of the Australian Military Forces. It was with a degree of disappointment that many members of this Parliament found that the Government failed to make a special Anzac decoration available for Anzacs before the 50th anniversary of the landing on Gallipoli. If the definition of “ service decoration “ is to be inserted in the principal legislation to give Australia independent authority to confer service decorations as the Government thinks fit, it has support from me. Any suggestion that we should defer any longer to the ideas of the British Government in regard to campaigns of 40 or 50 years ago which the Australian Government thinks were appropriate for the conferment of service decorations, should be denied.
I wish to put on record my fervent belief that one obligation which this country has yet to discharge is to recognise by means of a special decoration the campaign which christened Australia into nationhood. I understand that four members of this Parliament served on Gallipoli. In the Senate we have Senator Sandford, who was at the landing, Senator Sir William Spooner and Senator Sir Walter Cooper. In another place, we have Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes. All have the glorious distinction of having served as Anzacs. It is in that spirit that I seek from the Minister for Defence elucidation of the purpose of this definition so that I will know whether it is related to some provision in the Bill that will enable the special Anzac decoration to be conferred.
.- I rise to seek some elucidation rather than to involve myself in advocacy of the cause sponsored by Senator Wright, although I do not deprecate it in any way. 1 would like to obtain from the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge), when he replies, an explanation of that element in the legislation which Senator Wright cited in his special plea in relation to the Anzac decoration. We know that decorations for valor are conferred by Her Majesty the Queen. But since the adoption of the Statute of Westminster, we have moved from the tightly knit concept of a British Commonwealth of nations. Inevitably, we have reached a situation of special nationhood among the nations descended from the people of the British Isles. The Crown, which in this element is the source of military honours, has acquired separate identities. The Queen of England is also the Queen of Canada, the Queen of Australia and the Queen of New Zealand. Therefore, I think it is logical to postulate that the Queen, as the source of honours has separate roles in relation to the various nations which owe allegiance to her.
Nowhere does the legislation we are considering spell out means that provide a special channel through which honours may be conferred on Australian citizens who serve in Her Majesty’s armed forces, so that these awards will have a special significance. 1 think we are reaching the stage where there must be a special process by which honours can be conferred by Her Majesty, as Queen of Australia, on forces operating in defence of Australia. This comes back to Senator Wright’s argument, because it relates to two things: First of all there was an enormous difficulty - as I well know - in getting a special decoration for those who served in the South West Pacific area in the last war in the defence of Australia. Senator Wright is advocating that in circumstances precedent to those I am describing it is not yet too late for Australia to make a special application to Her Majesty, as the Queen in Australia, to acknowledge that in fact Australia has a special right in this regard in view of its contribution to a war long past. I would bc grateful if the Minister would make some observations on the matter which 1 have elaborated.
– It may help consideration of the matter now before the Senate if I indicate that the definition in the existing Act is “ military decoration “. The description has been changed from “ military “ decoration to “ service “ decoration and I shall give the reasons for the change in a moment. 1 want now to say something about statements made in connection with the proposed Anzac decoration and honours awarded by Royal warrant to forces of the Queen in many parts of the world and in differing circumstances. It should not be concluded, because of the quite unusual circumstances which surrounded the Anzac operation and the subsequent refusal of a request for a special Australian decoration, that honours by Royal warrant are not conferred by the Queen on her forces in operations which can be regarded in a sense as isolated. For example, quite recently we have been told that two of our servicemen in Vietnam have been honoured by Royal awards. I have no doubt that Royal awards have been made in other campaigns which have not been associated either with British troops or troops of other Commonwealth countries.
Before I discuss clause 19, may I say that this question of a special Anzac decoration poses and has posed particular difficulties. I believe that the Australian Government has pursued the possibility of a special Australian award to the point where it can go no further. The facts of the matter, as described by the British authorities, are that while the redoubtable performance of the Anzac contingent in the Gallipoli campaign is always acknowledged, they quite rightly have taken the point that whereas the Anzac contingent comprised only three divisions, ten or eleven divisions from other parts of the then Empire took part in that campaign. British divisions and divisions from other British possessions participated. The British authorities take the view that it is quite impossible in those circumstances to approve of an award for part of a total force while not making a similar award available to the other parts of the force which took part in the campaign. They then point out, I think with great reliability, that if the Gallipoli campaign in 1915 were to be regarded as an operation which should attract a particular award, in fairness, other British forces taking part in other operations in a different part of the war theatre were equally entitled to an award.
For these reasons the British authorities have not been able to approve of a special Anzac decoration. I thought that Senator Wright, who raised the matter, was aware that the Australian Government, having pursued its inquiries to the end in this connection, is now considering what further action it might take which would, in the circumstances, suitably pay tribute to the Australian Anzacs who took part in that historic campaign. I regret very much that it may seem that a long time elapsed before a decision was reached. There has been no lack of good faith on the part of the Government. The explanation for the time taken to reach a decision is simply that it is a fairly complex matter. I hope that quite soon we will be in a position to make an announcement in this respect.
I turn now to the clause under discussion - clause 19 - which relates to the amended provision covering the protection of service decorations. The term service decoration “ is more suitable to describe decorations that are or can be conferred on members of the Services than is the term “ military decoration “. The term “ military decoration “ might appear to relate to decorations conferred on members of the Army. The types of awards and the services for which they are conferred are now described more adequately. That seems to me to be without doubt. The decorations which are protected are not only those awarded to members of the defence forces of Australia, but also those awarded to members of the forces of the Queen’s Dominions and of the forces of the allies of Australia. The definition of “ allies “ has been expanded lo include allies not only in war but also in warlike operations. This has a particular purpose, namely, to include operations such as took place in Korea and are taking place now in Malaysia and Vietnam.
.- I rise to seek clarification of clause 1 9 which I am reading in conjunction with clause 4 which relates to definitions. A service decoration has been defined as meaning any order, medal, badge, clasp, bar or other insignia. This includes the ribbon of any such order, medal, badge, clasp or other decoration and any colourable imitation, representation or miniature of any such order, medal, badge, clasp or other decoration. Lines 14 and 15 on page II of the Bill indicate that the Minister, or a person or any authority authorised in writing by the Minister to grant permits under this subsection, may grant permits in writing to specified persons to make and sell or otherwise dispose of service decorations.
I should like to know whether the practice which has existed through the years, whereby recognised tailors, who perhaps make uniforms or provide other clothing for servicemen, are permitted to provide replacement ribbons, will be allowed to continue. Some such tailors had quite a stock of practically every decoration in miniature. In fact, the miniature medal is not an official decoration but I point out that it has become a custom when attending certain functions to wear miniature decorations. Will there be any departure from the practice of permitting miniatures to be manufactured and sold? Will there be any restriction under this definition of specified persons? As ribbons are specifically mentioned in the definition, will the people to whom I have referred still be permitted to replace worn ribbons?
– Order! I should like honorable senators to confine themselves to clause 4. I call Senator Wright.
.- I should like the Minister to spare me a minme or two for further reference to my submission based on the definition of “ service decoration “, 1 urge that the opinion of the British authorities is not in any way determinant since we have attained dominion status by which we. as a Government, maintain our own independent existence within the Commonwealth of Nations, in no way subordinate one to the other. It is the constitutional duty of the Sovereign to act in accordance with the advice of the relevant Australian Minister. The Anzac campaign has achieved such uniqueness in our history that there should be no confusion of thought as to the propriety of issuing a medal if the Australian Government recommends this to the Sovereign.
That is the proposition 1 wanted to submit, with no idea of concealing the main point of this Bill. I feel that it is a matter imperative to be mentioned because I, for my part, fully support the principle of this Bill. When we come to discuss clause 19 I shall have my opinion to express. For the moment, let me say that we will fail dismally in our purpose unless we surround the men upon whom this Parliament places the obligation of compulsory service with every honour from this nation to which military service entitles them.
As this occasion synchronises with the 50th anniversary of Anzac, it is an occasion not to be lost to indicate to the present generation what we still think of the men who served in the Anzac campaign. It is only in that spirit that I bring up this matter. I want to put to the Minister, through you, Mr. Chairman, a clear cut expression of what I consider is the present constitutional responsibility and practice with regard to the awarding of decorations for any service or campaign, even though we were associated with British troops who, having had one commander, Stopford, would still, I should think, have a different appreciation of the Gallipoli campaign.
Having said that definitely in order to be brief. 1 point out that it is not unallied to the purpose of this Bill because we will never succeed in the defence effort that the Minister very properly is seeking to evoke from the Australian nation unless, while passing an act of Parliament providing for compulsory military service, we generate in the men and their families an understanding that this nation, while accepting their service, is willing to do them the honour to which they are entitled.
Senator MURPHY (New South Wales) [8.37.J- Like Senator Wright, I find it difficult to keep my temper under control after having heard the statement this evening of the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge). He has told us that the Australian Government has wanted to do something about these awards. As I recollect his statement, he said that the British authorities have taken the view that it is impossible to make awards to Australians and not to members of other forces, and that the British authorities have not found themselves in a position to approve the making of a special award.
We sit here in the Parliament of a supposedly independent Australia and we hear the Minister speaking in this fashion. This is a country which for a long time has been supposed to be equal in status - not subordinate in any way - to the United Kingdom or any other part of the Commonwealth of Nations. We have a Queen who is the Queen of Australia. Yet one may have the feeling that if a Minister can say these things and really mean them, he is not fit to be a Minister in an independent country. To say that the British authorities do not find themselves in a position to approve something that the Australian Government wants renders him unfit to be a Minister. If that is not the position, he should say so and say so clearly.
What kind of a country are we? We are supposed to be free and equal. The Australian Government wants to make an award to its own men. It is perfectly entitled to do that. We have complete constitutional and legislative power to do it. We should not be subordinating ourselves to anyone. Who are these British authorities who are taking up the position that they will not approve something that the Australian Government wants? It is unthinkable.
– It is Mr. Wilson.
– It may be Mr.
Wilson or anyone else. I do not care whether he is a Labour man, a Liberal, or anything else. This is an independent country and we should not be deferring to any other country. Nor should the Minister talk about the British authorities not approving. If the Minister’s words can be taken to mean what Senator Wright has taken them to mean and what I and other persons in this chamber have taken them to mean, this Government is open to the severest criticism for still maintaining its dependent view. The whole thing is disgraceful. No wonder the nations of Asia regard us still as half colonials. It is in line with the policy of a government that still wants to retain appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and that still wants to defer in 100 ways to other governments - to take this attitude of subservience. It is a disgrace to the country that the Minister should speak in this way.
.- I will not allow myself to be forced at this committee stage into a situation that has been induced by either Senator Wright or Senator Murphy. I take the point in the first place that this is one of the tedious positions in which the Parliament finds itself from time to time, when it is dredging through ‘.he committee stage of a Bill that relates to clauses of one sort or another. When we get to the committee stage, I think, heat can be engendered even more emphatically than it can be engendered at the second reading stage. There is some heat coming into this committee stage which is not warranted.
Two separate problems are involved. Senator Wright has made a plea, which he is justified in making, to see whether a precedent that goes back over 50 years covers circumstances which existed in 1915 and which can be rewarded in 1965. Senator Murphy has supported him in this. When I rose first at the committee stage I took the point of view that we march on from 1 965. The problem relates to awards and decorations which are pertinent and proper to the armed forces. Bravery and honour must be adorned with recognition, and the fount of all honour in these matters is the Crown. All that I sought to adduce was that in future there will be an acknowledgment that, deriving from the Statute of Westminster in 1927, and moving on from 1965, there is a new channel of communication by which advice is tendered to the Crown. It is not incumbent on the Crown to accept this advice, but at least a channel should be open and there should be an acknowledgment that in the future awards may be made by a process that existed prior to the circumstances that we are discussing at the present moment.
– I rise to say very quietly to Senator Murphy that his comments were as inaccurate, as misleading and as deliberately malicious as they were intemperate. He has entirely misconceived or misrepresented the position. As I have explained, these awards and medals are issued by Royal Warrant. That at least should set Senator Cormack’s mind at rest. If I have to give a specific instance, I do: The Australian Service Medal during the war was given by Royal Warrant. The awards which have recently been issued to Australian soldiers in Vietnam have been issued by Royal Warrant. There is a channel open to members of all the services in relation to recommendations for awards.
This is completely different from the situation in respect of the award in this year of a medal to commemorate the famous Anzac campaign of 50 years ago in all of the circumstances that I have attempted to describe. I regret that I can make it no plainer than I have made it. If I have not made myself understood, I am sorry. I suggest that those who did not understand what I said should read it in “ Hansard “ tomorrow - with the exception of Senator Murphy, whose view of anything I regard as completely contemptible.
– I heard what the Minister said. He has completely evaded a matter of the utmost importance. Whether the award is by Royal Warrant or whether it is by any other means, the Queen is the Queen of Australia and she should act on the advice of her Australian Ministers and no one else, whether in relation to happenings in 1965 or in relation to the award of a decoration for something that happened in the Great War. There is no doubt whatever about this constitutional principle. If service decora tions are awarded to Australians, the advice that she takes is the advice of the Australian authorities. They are the authorities who act and they are the means of communication with the Queen, if the Government is aware of its constitutional duties. If it is not aware of them, as the Minister has clearly indicated, he is recreant to his duty to the people of Australia.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 15 agreed to.
Clause 16 - Territorial limits of service of Military Forces.
– As the Committee knows, this is the matter to which the Opposition addresses particular objections. It was the centre of debate when the Bill was at another stage and I do not propose to traverse the whole of the ground that I covered then. I merely summarise it by saying that the proposed new section is designed to pick up the last element of our military forces and commit it to service overseas. Every other element is already caught up - the volunteers in the permanent forces, the volunteers in the Citizen Military Forces, the various reserves and the conscripts - and there is left only one class of person. The amendment that this clause proposes is designed particularly to pick them up.
Those persons are in a relatively clearly defined and separate class. It is safe to say that when they are called up all of our other armed forces - I speak for the moment of the military forces - are fully committed, because if they were not, there would be no need to invoke the provisions of Part IV, which is the ultimate and emergency provision. When a state of war has been declared, it will enable the Government, through the GovernorGeneral, to make a proclamation calling up the civilians of Australia who are aged between 18 and 60 years, perhaps the majority of whom have had no previous military training at all.
The Minister indicated that there was some degree of urgency about having this power now. I repeat that it cannot be exercised until war has been declared publicly by Australia, until the war threatens Australia with invasion, or until there is an actual invasion, or until the war threatens
Australia and its territories with armed attack. They are the only circumstances in which the situation can arise. When war is so declared, a further proclamation has to be made, calling up people in the 18 to 60 years age group by various stages. Where is the urgency about that, having regard to the fact that those people, utterly untrained, would have to be recruited - which would take time - medically examined and drafted into one branch or other of the armed forces? Before they can be used on active service they have to be trained, I suggest for a period of not less than six months. Senator Cormack indicated earlier today that he thought they would need two years for full training. They could not be put into active service within less than about a year, by the time they are recruited, screened and allocated, and have undergone some preliminary training. I reject the suggestion that there is any element of urgency in the present situation - that we must know, now, in this year of grace that we can transport these people to any point of the compass. 1 reject that completely.
I would like, now, in referring to clause 16 to introduce a new thought to which 1 did not advert earlier today. The Navy and the Air Force are involved in the allied Bills that we discussed today which relate to the drafting of people under Part IV. We had national service training - conscripts - in 1951. After national service training had operated for a few years we in this Parliament were told that the Navy and the Air Force had no use for national service trainees. Those Services thought that the trainees were more of a liability than a help. They absorbed training personnel and both Services abdicated the use of them.
The National Service Act passed last November does not apply to the Air Force or to the Navy. It merely conscripts men for service in the Army. I make the point that when the Government felt the immediate need for more recruits, it did not apply the Act to either the Navy or the Air Force.
– Is the honorable senator referring to clause 16 or to a proposed amendment?
– There is no amendment. I am speaking directly to clause 16. I am talking about military forces and the degree of urgency in this matter. As I see it, we are dealing with three Bills. We have an opportunity in this debate to speak not only on the Defence Bill -
– Not at the Committee stage; only at the second reading stage.
– I understood that we were to deal with the three Bills concurrently during the entire proceedings. However, I am happy to restrict my remarks to the Defence Bill. Clause 16 is comparable to clauses in the Naval Defence Bill and the Air Force Bill. It seems extraordinary that such a spread should be given to the provision relating to a call up about which there is no urgency when the idea of conscripts for the Air Force and the Navy has already been rejected. There must be some very cogent reason for this. I would like the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) to indicate why this matter is so urgent now. There can be no real reason for it. A long time will elapse from the date of proclamation calling up the men until they go into action - up to 12 months and at least six months. When we are pushed to the extremity of calling up our civilians because our usual forces are inadequate, as they must be before we call up these people, why do we decide now that the Government is to have power to send them overseas? There is time for the Parliament to determine that matter in the light of the circumstances that exist when the need for the call up arises. That is the point for which the Opposition contends. I repeat that in proper circumstances we do not object to troops being sent overseas. We have proved and established that fact, but troops should not be sent overseas at the whim of the Government of the day, particularly when there is all this leisure period available. This should be done only by Act of the Parliament itself. We oppose this clause and will take it to a vote.
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER (New South Wales) [S.55]. - In the course of the debate on the second reading of the Bill I understood Senator Cohen to claim that I had said in my speech that the purpose of the legislation was to enable the Government to send troops to South Vietnam. Various reasons exist for statements of that kind being made. One is that a speaker may say something that he did not mean to say. I have checked the “ Hansard “ proofs of my speech and I cannot see any possibility of my remarks being interpreted in that fashion by Senator Cohen. Another possibility is that I misunderstood Senator Cohen’s remarks. I think it is desirable that I set the record straight. Most obviously the purpose of this Bill is not to send troops to South Vietnam because the provisions of the Bill may be applied only when a state of war is declared. At this stage no state of war has been declared. The purposes of the Bill cannot under any conceivable circumstances be of the kind which Senator Cohen claimed I said they were. I would be glad to hear the honorable senator say that I misunderstood him.
.- Having been brought back into the debate I think 1 should say that what I said at the second reading stage was that Senator Sir William Spooner-
– Is this a personal explanation or do the remarks relate to clause 16?
– Order! We must give Senator Cohen a chance to clarify the matter.
– If Senator Sir William Spooners remarks were not made by way of a personal explanation, I am not making a personal explanation.
– Order! I ask Senator Cohen to relate his remarks to clause 16.
– I hope that you, Mr. Chairman, will extend to me the courtesy that you extended to Senator Sir William Spooner in making clear his position and in inviting me to state my position. I speak to clause 16. In justifying the introduction of clause 16 Senator Sir William Spooner in the second reading stage of the debate brought our minds very clearly to the situation in Vietnam. He had gone to some trouble to canvass the questions we canvassed in the debate last week on the Ministerial statement about Vietnam. He did that to show the general military situation against the background of which this legislation was being introduced. What I said was that the Australian Labour Party was opposed to sending troops to Vietnam, whether they were volunteers or conscripts. The honorable senator painted a picture of seriousness and gravity in Vietnam in which it was obvious that more Australian troops would be needed. It was my surmise, based on what is obvious in the present situation, that, if necessary, the Government would be prepared to send conscripted troops to Vietnam. I do not withdraw that statement.
– Only in a time of war.
– I am coming to that. The honorable senator states that conscripted troops could be sent only at a time of war. The legislation provides for the declaration of a time of defence emergency. The meaning of a time of defence emergency is completely indefinite because the definition of the expression in the principal Act is -
Time ot defence emergency means the period between the publication of a proclamation declaring that a state of defence emergency exists in relation to Australia and the publication of a proclamation that that state of defence emergency no longer exists.
That is a broad and indefinite concept. I do not share Senator Sir William Spooner’s optimism that we will not reach the stage when a state of defence emergency will be proclaimed to exist.
– But this clause would not operate in a state of defence emergency.
– I appreciate the point the honorable senator is making, but I still remain unsatisfied. Last week Senator Murphy asked a question about the situation in Vietnam, and I raised the matter again during the debate on the ministerial statement on Vietnam. We have combat troops who are to go to Vietnam. They are to fight alongside South Vietnamese and United States troops who are engaged in military operations - combat operations - against the Vietcong. The whole of the Government’s case during the debate on Vietnam was that the operations of the Vietcong were directed from North Vietnam. When the Minister for Defence has been asked whether a state of war exists between Australia and Vietnam, he has consistently declined to be drawn into giving a direct affirmative or negative answer. He has said, in effect: “ You know perfectly well what the situation is.” All I can say is that when our troops are operating alongside United States troops, some of whom are engaged in bombing operations against North Vietnam, he would be a bold person who would say that there did not exist a state of affairs which could noi in the end be said to be a state of war. That is what I want to say in reply to Senator Sir William Spooner. I do not retract the suggestion that this legislation will give the Government power, when it considers it necessary, to send conscripted troops to Vietnam.
.- ] note that the attention of honorable senators has grown. It is quite natural that that should be so when we are dealing with a matter of such great national importance. I now address the Committee for the purpose of clarifying my understanding of clause 16, which is the key clause of the Bill. We listened to various submissions being made this afternoon at the second reading stage, but I now desire to put forward my own point of view. The proposed new section which clause 16 is designed to insert in the Act reads -
Members of the Military Forces may be required to serve either within or beyond the territorial limits of Australia.
Up to the time of the introduction of the Bill, the law of the Commonwealth has required the permanent military forces to serve either within or beyond the confines of Australia. The permanent military forces consist of the Australian Regular Army and the Regular Army Supplement. It was to the latter force that the legislation of November last required youths of the age of 20 years to be recruited. The law of this country at the moment places upon the Australian Regular Army and the Regular Army Supplement, and their reserves, the obligation to serve overseas if so directed by the Government. It is a great pity that anybody should try to confuse the situation. This Parliament has already imposed that obligation.
Let mc say with all the emphasis that I can that it is a reproach to any newspaper or any person in public life, especially any member of the Parliament, to refer to members of the defence forces upon whom we have placed the obligation of military service overseas as being conscripts. I summon all my powers to denigrate those people who, having been a party to the passing of an Act which places an honorable obligation upon the military forces of this country to serve within Australia and abroad, proceed to apply to any member of those forces the opprobrious term “ conscript “.
I wish to stay on this point. The whole of our defence effort will succeed or fail according to whether or not, first, the Government makes the appropriate decision and, secondly, the heart and the spirit oE the people are so moulded as to support that decision. Nothing can be more contemptible on the part of any person in this community than to describe as conscripts a group of most worthy, honorable and decent young men to whom the National Parliament has said: “ We require you within the terms of the law to prepare yourselves for defence service should the nation need you.” We have moved on from the stage where this country, remote from European wars, relied upon a voluntary acceptance of military service to the stage where the National Parliament representing the people, has said that men of military age are required to accept the compulsory obligation of military service. I hope that in decency everybody will avoid application of the opprobrious term “ conscripts “ to men who will accept their duty willingly.
As Senator Morris, who brought to the debate the benefit of experience he gained in Tobruk, told us this afternoon so forcefully, the defence Services of this country will discharge their national duty efficiently if they have a spirit of unity. Having imposed upon the Australian Regular Army and the Regular Army Supplement, to which latter force, as I said earlier, youths of the age of 20 years are to be recruited following the passing of the legislation of November last, we now seek to avoid a distinction between compulsory military service and voluntary military service in relation to persons to whom the provisions of this Bill apply. They are male persons between the ages of 18 years and 60 years who will serve in time of war. It is upon them that this Bill imposes the obligation to render military service abroad.
Senator McKenna distorted the situation when he rose in his place and sought to convey to honorable senators and to the country the impression that the Government had stated that there was some urgency about this measure. When replying at the second reading stage, the Minister was at great pains to say that this Bill was introduced, not in a panic or as a matter of urgency, but as a matter of prudence. We are in the twilight, if you like, of a defence emergency that is growing at the whim of
Sukarno and as a result of Vietcong pressures in North Vietnam, but Ministers of this Government have carefully and wisely avoided saying in any speech or by way of official proclamation that we have reached the stage where war must be declared. But appreciating the trend of developments in South East Asia, the Government is not waiting until war is declared. It is thoughtfully considering that matter as a possibility.
We all hope and pray that war is not declared. I hope that we shall use every avenue of diplomacy and invoke all the peace mechanisms that are available to us to prevent the onset of war. But in the meantime this Bill is brought before us so that there will be complete unity in all the Australian military defence forces and a common obligation for compulsory military service at home or abroad. It has been introduced not as a matter of panic but as a matter of wisdom so that people who have an apprehension of the possibility of attack will consider soberly the Government’s advice that the Parliament should place upon military defence personnel - the Bill seeks to cover all male persons in the Commonwealth between the age of 18 years and 60 years in time of war - an obligation to serve abroad. It seems to me that anybody who fails to defend that course fails in some measure to safeguard the security of this country.
I believe that, for the defence forces of Australia to be effective before the onset of war or before the declaration of war, it is essential that we should get a sense of unity of the Army and a spirit of undivided support from the country. That is the spirit in which I conceive that this measure has been submitted to the Parliament, and that is the spirit in which I hope the Parliament will accept it. As night follows day it follows that if we have to place the obligation of external service on the members of the Regular Army, we have to place the same obligation upon the boys who are to be recruited as the supplement to that Army.
If war is declared, the whole mass of the male population in the 18 to 60 years age group, which is the reservoir from which the defence forces will be recruited stage by stage, should know and the country should realise, that they, too, are under the obligation for external service. Does any honorable senator with a sense of responsibility say that, with all the dangers which are developing to our near north, we should wait until the enemy crosses the confines of the Commonwealth before we muster an army? The Government that places this obligation upon the male personnel will not wait until that day to see that they have every opportunity for training. How shattering it would be to the security of this country if we neglected the opportunity to defend Australia externally when we had the chance to join our allies? If we wait until the enemy lands at Darwin our allies may be less interested in this Commonwealth than they are in the general defence of the democracy that links the United States of America with Australia.
– I want to make two brief comments about the submissions that were made by Senator Wright. I used the word “ conscript “. I regret that it sounded offensive in -the ears of Senator Wright, but I am afraid that he will hear me use it as often as I need to do so for the purposes of clarity, brevity, contrast and precision. 1 use the expression as a mere term of definition without offence to anybody. I used it tonight for the purposes which I have just mentioned. I say to the honorable senator that I regret if it offended him. But as long as I find it necessary to make a contrast or for the other purposes which I have enumerated, I regret that he will have to reconcile himself to hearing it.
Senator Wright’s other submission was that Senator Paltridge had nothing to say about the urgency of this matter. When he said that we cannot wait until war is upon us before we do something about it that stressed the urgency of the matter and the need to do something now. The position that I put was no distortion at all of what Senator Paltridge said to the Committee. The extraordinary twist that Senator Wright has given to the whole matter will be seen from the fact that the Minister and the Government cannot even move to make a proclamation to call up anybody in the 18 to 60 years age group until war has not only broken out but has been declared. Under Part IV of the Act, nobody can be called up until war is declared. What is the use of putting an argument such as the one that the honorable senator put to the Committee a few minutes ago, that we cannot wail until war is upon us? The very section which the Government proposes to rewrite into Part IV contains the provision that nothing can be done to call up one person under Part IV until there is a declaration of war. What an absurd proposition it was for Senator Wright to put to the Committee in relation to the matter about which we are speaking? I have confined my whole argument to the effect of clause 16 which is the clause now under discussion.
.- ] have been sitting here watching the legal hawks soaring in the hot air that rises from a parliamentary debate and wondering whether I, as a humble quail that runs along the ground, should intrude myself. I thought that we were dealing with clause 16, which states -
Section SOC of the Principal Act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead: - “ 50C. Members of the military forces may be required to serve either within or beyond the territorial limits of Australia.”
At this stage there is no question of war or the imminence of war. The clause is designed to provide that, in order to meet the strategic needs of Australia, the military forces shall be disposed where the Government wishes them to be disposed and at a time when it believes it is necessary for them to be disposed.
– It is forward planning.
– It does not matter about forward planning or strategy or anything else. We are dealing in the Committee stages with clause 16. It does not say that the forces are to fight. It says that they are to serve, to be disposed either within or beyond the territorial limits of Australia.
– They are members of the military forces.
– Surely the words “ to serve “ mean to fight?
– They do not. The members of the military forces may be required to fight under the conditions that are set out in the definitions.
– In accordance with their branch of the Service.
– We are dealing with clause 16 of the Bill. We are not talking about Vietnam or any other place. We are saying that troops may be required to serve where directed by the Government in subsequent conditions and ~.t subsequent times. Under the provisions of this Bill they may be required to fight. That is all this means.
I want to move on to the matter raised by Senator McKenna, both in his observations in his second reading speech and in the remarks he made during his consideration of clause 16 of the Bill. The tragedy of this whole debate, it seems to me, is that the concept of a military force is seen in a static situation. Senator McKenna has spoken about ultimate reserves - the bottom of the barrel being drawn in. The whole function of this Bill and of this clause 16 is to create certain conditions, not when the last 60 year olds have been dragged in to defend this country, but in connection with the building of a military force comprising the three armed Services, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. These Services do not embody a static situation with X number of divisions, Y number of squadrons and Z number of ships. There is a whole establishment set behind them that can reinforce them. That is the whole object of the Defence Bill before us at this moment. I revert to clause 16 again. We have been led off the trail. We have been asked to pass this clause which requires men to serve where the Government requires their disposition. The subsequent factor of where they become involved in battle, subject to the definitions in the Bill, will be determined by proclamation.
– There is little I want to add to this debate.- 1 rise because the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) attempted to ascribe to me the proposition that this Bill is being introduced on this date as a matter of urgency. I regret that he should have attempted to put that interpretation upon anything 1 have said. I thought that I went to some trouble to indicate that this was, in fact - and I think I used the word “ prudence “ - an act of prudence, a ground clearing operation, if you like, in order to make action more speedy if, unfortunately, the need for action should arise. That is the purpose of this Bill. It is not an urgent Bill in the sense that it is wanted tomorrow, next week or next month. But it is very, very important that we should lay down as a matter of policy what should happen if certain circumstances should occur.
I myself, and my Government, would not attach so much importance to this particular proposal if we could draw one scintilla of comfort from what happened during World War II. Presumably the Leader of the Opposition can draw comfort from what happened then. Does the honorable Leader of the Opposition look back on that period with any comfort or any pride? Would he submit this country again to the same torment of anxiety that the Australian Labour Party submitted it to in those perilous days?
– Your own Government walked out at that time.
– If any honorable senator disagrees with me I ask him to read the debate which followed the presentation of a bill in 1943 and which shows clearly and beyond contradiction the feeling of the Labour Party and what tremendous effort of mind and will it took for the Labour Prime Minister of that day to induce those who sat behind him and those who controlled his Party that this was a necessary measure in the interests of the nation. Would the honorable Leader of the Opposition say now that, if he had the opportunity again of deciding whether he would let a similar situation occur, he would do so? If he would say thar - and I can only judge from what he and those who sit behind him have said tonight - I can only say that we on this side of the chamber will not have a bar of it. That is the reason why this proposition is before honorable senators tonight and this is why I ask for the support of the Senate in this matter.
– I want to make only a brief contribution to the debate, following what the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) has just said. To understand what the Government is now proposing to do, it is essential to remember that all elements of the military forces, apart from those who may in the future be called up under Part IV of the Defence Act, are at present committed to service anywhere within Australia or outside Australia. Is there any controversy about that? They are all committed. Let us now narrow the project before us and get to the truth of this matter. The only change to be made in the existing law by the introduction of this new clause 50c is to pick up those persons who, after a declaration of war and after a proclamation by the Governor-General, and after their training, will be used to reinforce the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. Now, the change affected by that clause is not an omnibus one. It does not affect any other aspect of our armed forces on the military side except for the last reserve - the call up of the civilians aged 18 to 60. I have already indicated that there has to be a declaration of war before the Government can act in that regard. There has to be a proclamation calling up the people. To talk about this new clause as being essential for the whole conduct of war operations is not really to put a truly accurate position before the Committee. The only change which the new clause makes, as re-drafted, is to drop out the requirement in the Act that the Government itself put into it in October last year stating that persons called up under Part IV of the Act could not be sent overseas. The Government wrote that stipulation into the Act with the utmost deliberation in a re-drafted clause a few months ago. Now, from the tone of the debate tonight, one would feel that we are now being asked to make the fateful decision of whether or not our forces are to be committed overseas. All our forces are committed overseas with this one exception and this Bill seeks to pick up that one exception.
The Opposition takes the view that no reason has been given for deleting that exemption. It is unjustified. It is unnecessary. The decision as to whether our forces are to remain in Australia or go overseas can be made during the period of training of those forces. That would be a period of from six to 12 months. The strength of our proposition is that we say that in those circumstances the matter should be decided, not by a Ministry but by the Parliament, and we stand by that proposition.
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER (New South Wales) [9.30]. - Senator McKenna’s statement tonight did not go as far as did the contribution he made earlier. My recollection is that earlier in the debate he said: “ We are opposed to this provision being written into the legislation at this stage, but we would not oppose overseas service in time of war”. The honorable senator’s words were so close to those that I cannot find the logic in the Labour Party’s present stand. It seems to me undeniable that if this is the Opposition’s general approach to the question, the right and proper thing to do is to give notice to all who are to be affected sothat they will know where they stand. MayI add to that a little thrust. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) says: “ This is what the Opposition did when it was the Government during the last war”. As the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Paltridge) pointed out, that created quite a problem. It is unfortunate but true that the last time we had legislation similar to this before the Senate the Opposition opposed the proposal under which 21- year olds could be sent overseas. I hope I am not uncharitable in saying that the Opposition’s present argument betrays its deep-rooted objection to something which we, on this side of the Chamber, believe is absolutely essential for Australian defence purposes.
MayI now take my private war with Senator Cohen a stage further and say that he did not make a fair summing up of the position. He said, in effect, that in his opinion there is no difference between a state of emergency and a state of war. To my mind that is a legal quibble. I realise that “quibble” is not a nice word, but the honorable senator understands what I mean. A definition in legislation has a precise meaning. The honorable senator was wrong in the construction he put on my speech, but that is a minor matter in comparison with this bigger issue. On this bigger issue I challenge the bona fides of the Opposition. Honorable senators opposite cannot logically say: “ We would do this in time of war if we were the Government “. and oppose laying the foundations for doing it in a sensible way at this stage.
Question put -
That clause 16 stand as printed.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. C. Drake-Brockman.)
Majority . . . . 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I wish to refer to three matters in this clause. It is a very wide clause, repealing Part IV of the Defence Act and replacing it with a number of proposed sections. I refer first to the proposed section 61a which details the persons who are to be exempt from service in the defence forces in time of war under Part IV. Section 61 (1.) of the Act exempted three classes of persons who are no longer to be exempted under the legislation before us. I refer to paragraphs (e), (f) and (g) which relate to persons employed with the police or prison services of the Commonwealth or a State; persons employed in lighthouses; and persons employed as medical practitioners or nurses in public hospitals. As the Act. stands at present, all those persons are exempt from call up under Part IV. Their callings do not appear in the exemptions to be included in the new Act. I would like the Minister to comment upon those deletions. It may well be that while they are no longer to be exempt, they might fall under the provisions of the proposed section 61 (1.) which states that the regulations may provide for the deferment of the services of particular persons. Would the Minister indicate to me whether it is intended to destroy their exemptions and to consider their deferment only, so that they lose the complete exemption and in future will be eligible for deferment if the authorities think fit?
– That is correct.
– That is a much tighter provision, particularly in respect of members of the medical profession.
– Yes, it is.
– Three new categories of exempt persons have been added in paragraphs (e), (f) and (g) of proposed section 61a (I .). They are as follows - (el members of u religious order who devote the whole of their time to the duties of the order; if) persons who arc students at a college maintained solely for training persons to become mem!>crs of a religious order; and
I merely draw attention to the fact that they arc new exemptions. I have no criticism to proffer about that.
I turn now to sub-section (2.) of proposed section 61a. It states -
A person who, in pursuance of section sixty of this Act, has been called upon to serve in the Defence Force and is, by virtue of this section, exempt from service shall, notwithstanding the exemption, do any act that such a person is required, by or under the regulations, to do.
I emphasise the words “ do any act that the regulations may require “. I think the expression is far too wide. I take it that the sub-section is aiming to say to the persons who are named as being exempt: “ You still retain under the regulations the obligation to register; perhaps to submit yourself for a medical examination and perhaps to establish your entitlement to exemption “. I take it they are the three things at which the provision is aiming.
– That is so.
– I put it very strongly to the Minister that the phrase “ do any act that such a person is required, by or under the regulations, to do “ ought not to be left as wide as it is. I submit quite seriously, although I shall not move it at this stage, that the Minister might consider writing in after the words “ do any act “, the words “ in relation to registration, submission to medical examination or establishing his entitlement to exemption “.
The Minister might also wish to include another element. I am sure that he will s?e the force of the criticism that the words are too wide. They give a blank cheque to the regulation making authority to require an exempt person to do any act which the regulations prescribe. I think it should be tied down to the particular matters.
– It might be desired to include another point at a later stage.
– I think that the Minister has indicated bis acquiesence to the proposition that the acts required would be the three I mentioned - registration, submission to medical examination or establishing entitlement to exemption.
– Not necessarily exclusively.
– I merely suggest to the Minister that the expression is altogether too wide. I think the Government should address its mind to it and tie it down to a general description of the acts that the persons are required to do. To leave it as wide as is proposed creates a situation that concerns the Opposition.
I wish now to refer to the further exempt classes under proposed section 61c. I refer particularly to paragraph (f) which reads -
Nothing in this Part applies to -
aboriginal natives of Australia, as defined by the regulations, other than a class of aboriginal natives as so defined that is specified in the regulations.
Aborigines who are educated and cultured, as many of them are, may think that while they are recognised as full citizens of Australia and given the right to vote, when invasion of Australia or attack is threatened, they are not to be called up in common with their fellow citizens. Thinking Aborigines may resent being singled out for that exemption and in the international arenas, where we have been attacked in relation to our attitude to Aborigines, this legislation may provide another propaganda point to be used against us. It may be said that we are drawing a line of distinction between the Aborigines and the other citizens of our land. I concede that the Government proposes to confer an advantage or concession upon the Aborigines by providing that they are not to be called up for service here or overseas in wartime or when Australia is under threat. If they wish, they may regard that exemption as a concession or a benefit. On the other hand, they may take the viewpoint expressed by Senator Wright, that those who are called up may regard it as a privilege. I invite the Minister to consider that point. 1 realise that Aborigines may volunteer for service, as many of them have done, if they are able to speak English and have the educational standard required and the acceptable physical attributes. I understand that a number of Aborigines are serving as volunteers in our permanent forces. I am sure that the Committee would be interested to learn how many are so serving. If the Minister is in a position to give that information, certainly 1 would like to have it.
Aborigines are perfectly free to join as volunteers, as are other citizens, in the permanent sections of our defence forces. That is desirable as it indicates that there is no discrimination, but Unquestionably a distinction has been drawn between them and other Australian citizens in paragraph (0- Whether the exemption provision is regarded as a concession and a benefit or as an obligation honorably accepted, whichever view is taken, there is a discrimination, f realise that there are difficulties. If all reference to Aborigines in this proposed section is struck out and provision is not made for their exemption, an obligation is imposed on all of them to register, irrespective of whether they are nomadic, living in settlements, or completely assimilated. I concede that it would be difficult to get intelligent action or perhaps any response from those Aborigines who not only cannot speak English but are nomadic and are not in any way integrated with the ordinary Australian population. But I am inclined to think that it would be preferable to have that situation than to have the Parliament draw a distinction between the Aboriginal citizens of Australia and other citizens. If no distinction is drawn, when they are called up they will be subjected to the ordinary tests which are applied to the average Australian citizen. They may be asked: “ Have you the required level of intelligence and education? Have you the required physical attributes? Are you able to speak English? “ On at least two of those counts the nomads would be ruled out and would not be called up for service.
All I am hoping is that the Minister will be able to find a convenient way in which to administer this, having regard to the fact that he cannot expect a response from a large number of Aborigines. Perhaps he can devise an administrative method without drawing a clear distinction between Aborigines and other citizens of our country. I think he will see the problem I am posing. It has two aspects, first, objections from our own Aborigines in Australia, and secondly, inferences that may be drawn in international circles where very often we are subjected to criticism.
– There are two aspects of the submission of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) upon which I wish to comment. One relates to a field in which I take some pride in having exercised a special interest - the supremacy of Parliament. I remind the Leader of the Opposition and the Committee of the insistent constitutional conception in British democracies that the executive government is charged, without qualification, to be prepared to defend and direct the defence of the country in time of war. Having placed that responsibility upon the executive, a Parliament would be recreant to its duty to ensure the security of the country were it to deny to the executive all proper authority to that end, because no-one who refused to equip the executive with the requisite authority in complete amplitude could hold it to account.
Therefore I find it completely consonant with all my ideas of proper constitutional procedures that the legislation should require that if Parliament is not sitting at the date of publication of a call-up proclamation, it shall be summoned to meet within 10 days after that date. Any Parliament that would not take appropriate action if the executive had misused its authority to proclaim a call-up, would not be worthy of representing the people of the Commonwealth of Australia. But by the same token, a Parliament which would not confer upon the executive all the authority that it required in the light of the progress of events would be handicapping the executive in the vital matter of defence in a way which could not be justified.
I now proceed to address myself to Senator McKenna-‘s reference to proposed new section 61 A (2.). He referred to the provision that an exempted person shall, notwithstanding his exemption, do any act that such a person is required, by or under the regulations, to do. The Leader of the Opposition suggested that that should be confined to three things - registration, presenting himself for service and, 1 think, examination.
– Establishing his entitlement to exemption.
– That is right. Establishing his entitlement to exemption. I certainly misconstrued the provision if that is its intention. I remind myself that the High Court, when discussing defence power in several cases that have been before it, has said that when war exists the executive has the power of disposal of the freedom of every person and every piece of property in the country to the extent that the national defence requires this to be done. I am speaking entirely impromptu but Senator Cohen no doubt will be good enough to correct me if I am materially wrong. I think the statement to which I have referred was made in the Marcus Clark case when the High Court was considering the post-war capacity of this the Commonwealth Government to create economic regulations by virtue of the defence power. My recollection is that the High Court, dealing with that situation at the time of the Korean campaign, pointed out that in time of war the executive can direct every man and every woman to do this and to do that, and that no man will stand upon his going; he will go at once.
– The High Court referred to events precedent and antecedent to the war.
– I wish to confine this argument to the circumstances to which this clause is applicable, that is wartime. I do not deny my colleague’s interjection, but for clarity I do not wish to apply it to a state of defence emergency or to an antecedent situation. I am talking only about a time of war. In that sense, if the executive has the right to direct persons and to require and acquire property and possessions, aeroplanes, ships and all the other apparatus which is needed for the purpose of our national strength, it seems to me that when this clause says that the regulations may require an exempted person to do any act, the full intention is that he shall do what the regulations require him to do in the national service. He is not merely to present himself for registration and examination. If an exempted person is required to go, say, to a military hospital in southern Queensland and there either tend the garden and grow vegetables or be an orderly or drive a truck around some military camp, it seems to me that he must do that. He is given an exemption only because, having regard to his religious order or some other disability, it is appropriate that he should not be required to engage in combat duty.
.- So far as my memory carries me, what Senator Wright has said about the decisions of the High Court on these matters is correct. But I think the problem is not so much the amplitude of the Commonwealth’s defence power in time of war because that is extremely wide and the High Court has consistently supported a wide view of that power. The point I think Senator Mc Ken n a was raising was whether there is in proposed section 61a (2.) sufficient clarity of definition so that the person on whom the obligation will rest will know the kind of thing that is in store for him. Some of the things Senator Wright suggested that such a person should be willing to do under direction and under regulation would seem somewhat far fetched in relation to the occupation of the exempted person, lt is difficult to think that a Judge of a Federal or a Slate Court, or a member of Parliament, would be the kind of person contemplated in his illustration of a requirement to go to Queensland and do some non-combatant duty in a military establishment.
What the Leader of the Opposition has asked the Minister to do - it seems to me to be a reasonable request - is to limit in a more precise way the obligations which rest upon a person who is, by definition, exempted from service in time of war. Senator McKenna has suggested three aspects to which the service may be limited. He has not regarded those as exhaustive and he has invited the Minister to expand the categories if he thinks fit. I rise only to say that it seems to me, accepting the view of the amplitude of power put by Senator Wright, that there is still room for this practical suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition) and that the person exempt should not be completely at the mercy of the Executive using its regulation making powers under the Defence Act generally. There should be some kind of definition of his obligations. because we start from the proposition that he is a person exempt from service under the Act.
– Addressing myself first to proposed section 61a (2.), I say at once that I agree completely with the general proposition put by Senator Wright that in time of war, when the Executive must of necessity bear so much heavy responsibility, it must be accorded powers which in normal times would not even be considered by the Parliament. With that in the back of my mind, I look at the proposed provision, which reads -
A person who, in pursuance of section sixty of this Act. . .
That section deals with proclamations calling upon persons to serve in time of war. New section 60 (I.) reads -
In time of war the Governor-General may, by proclamation, call upon persons specified in the last preceding section to serve in the Defence Force in accordance with this Act for the duration of the time of war. lt seems to me that while three or four particular things to which Senator McKenna referred would be related to such matters as registration, medical examination and claiming of exemption, the tie-up of this clause to section 60 (1.) widens the field to many other matters which have direct reference to the calling up and to the service of a member in time of war, and that could, 1 feel sure, go to such matters as the type of service undertaken and a multitude of other matters which relate to service itself. I believe that this is a perfectly valid power to be exercised in this way in time of war. There is always the very general qualification that the regulations must be in accordance with the Act. 1 agree with the further point made by Senator Wright that in time of war, with the Parliament sitting immediately after proclamation of the war and, no doubt, continuing to sit for lengthy periods, this sort of thing would come under pretty continuous and comprehensive examination. Having said that, however, I say to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) that it is not my intention, nor indeed is it the intention of the Government, that any of these powers should be oppressive or harsh. I will undertake to examine the matter and if there appears to be any possibility of this occurring, I shall certainly have another look at it, but at the moment my reaction is that I believe this is a completely valid provision.
The other matter refers to the proposed new section 61c, which relates to nonapplication of the Parliament to certain persons. The “ certain persons “ referred to in section 61c (f) are - . . aboriginal natives of Australia, as defined by the regulations, other than a class of aboriginal natives are so defined that is specified in regulations.
I know that the Leader of the Opposition recognises that ‘this is not in fact an attempt to do other than make provision for the exemption of those members of the Aboriginal race who clearly cannot qualify for service. Taking an extreme case they might, for example, be members of nomadic tribes of the Warburton Ranges, they might be more advanced but still primitive tribal natives, or they might be natives who do not understand English or who do not understand Army administration or the law of the land as it applies to them. They would be provided for, of course, by regulation.
Incidentally, the Leader of the Opposition referred to the fact that Aboriginal natives may volunteer, and he asked whether we had any figures as to the number of them in the Services. Actually, I could not give those figures without a considerable amount of research. The records do not readily distinguish them as Aboriginals. I am sure this would meet with the approval of everyone. But there are Aboriginal natives in the various Services, particularly in the Army. I note the point that the Leader of the Opposition makes about the wording of this section probably giving rise to some offence. I am sure that he recognises that is not the intention. I confess that I am a little troubled about it myself and I undertake to have a look at it - not immediately, as I am under too much pressure. As I said earlier today, there will be a review of this legislation, and this is one of the things at which I shall direct my officers to investigate when this review takes place.
– I am obliged to the Minister for that assurance and I rest content with it for the time being; but just in case his officers are tempted to embark upon regulations in the meantime under
Chat particular provision relating to Abo rigines. I ask him to have a look at what was done in 1951 under the National Service Act, which contained an exactly similar exemption for Aborigines. Under Statutory Rule No. 32 of 1951, National Service Regulations were promulgated. I refer the Minister to Regulation 18, which reads -
Fur the purposes of section 18 of the Act, an aboriginal native of Australia means -
I do not want to stress the point, but I do suggest very strongly to the Committee that it is most offensive to select a class by reference to the Aboriginal blood content. All I hope is that, as the proposed provision is the exact counterpart of the exemption provision that was contained in the National Service Act of 1951, the regulations enacted under that Act will not be repeated under this legislation. In the view I take, I think they are most exceptionable. I would hope that the Minister would keep his eye on that matter.
I was completely surprised by Senator Wright’s suggestion that proposed section 61a (2.) had the effect of a manpower direction. Such a thing had never occurred to me. I thought the proposed sub-section was related strictly to circumstances connected with exemption. The sub-section appears under the side note “Persons exempt from service”. I thought it was concerned solely with matters directly connected with exemption and that there was no thought of anything in the nature of manpower direction. In the first place, I think the Defence Act would be a most inappropriate place in which to deal with civilians. From past experience I know that manpower regulations were made undersuch things as the War Precautions Act, the National Security Act or National Security Regulations. Frankly, I was taken completely by surprise by Senator Wright’s suggestion.
– I may be quite wrong, but that was the impression that 1 gained.
– I do not suggest that this is the intention of the sub-section, but Senator Wright’s argument adds strength to the argument that I put that the proposed sub-section is too wide. I do not think ii was ever intended that judges of a Federal or State court, members and officers of the Parliament of the Commonwealth or of a State, ministers of religion people training in religious orders and others who are exempted under the section were to be directed. It could not possibly be in the mind of the Government that sub-section (2.) should be available to enable the Government to direct, say, members and officers of the Parliament - people in that limited category - into some type of civilian occupation to further a war effort. I do not think that is the purpose of the sub-section but, conceding that it might have that meaning, very much more point is given to my argument that the sub-seclion should be cut down to the very things that I think the Government intended to relate to.
I know of no belter champion in matters of this kind - in keeping regulations within clear powers defined in Acts - than the honorable senator himself. He has been quite redoubtable about it. I do not argue for a moment the proposition he put as a constitutional matter and a legal matter that the Executive does take unlimited power. The Marcus Clark case to which he referred is not, asI understand it, concerned so particularly with the activity of the Executive in time of war. My recollection is that that case dealt with a post-war period some five or six years after the war ended and that it related to capital issues control. The significance of that case was not that it was activity of the Executive; it was activity of the Parliament itself. The power may have been taken under a national security regulation still carried on, but its significance was to explain that the defence power did not cease on the immediate termination of war but was projected into a pretty considerable post-war period to enable economic conditions and other factors to be restored in equilibrium. But nobody argues the proposition which the honorable senator put generally, that the Executive must be armed with absolute power. One saw that in the mass of national security regulations that affected every phase of life in Australia during the last war and for a considerable period into the post-war era.
– Was not that judgment of the High Court an acknowledgment that there was a situation prior to the declaration of actual hostilities and a situation subsequent to the cessation of hostilities in which the defence power was prevalent?
– That is the point 1 make, but the Marcus Clark case was decided in, I think, 1950 or 1951 and it seemed to be a very extraordinary extension of the defence power. It was notable for that purpose. Now that I address my mind to it, I think the Marcus Clark case swung upon an act of this Parliament. We did pick up certain national security regulations and we did confer full power on the Executive to make regulations. It really was an act of Parliament that was under challenge in that case, now that I think about it. So it was challenged - at a very sound level. But the defence power has always expanded to embrace almost anything and everything once there is war or real threat of war and that power does not wither and die on the day war ends but spills over. We saw it spill over for five or six years into the post-war period, as happened in the case referred to by Senator Wright. But that case was not particularly directed to determining what happens in war. There is no argument about that. In that case the Court was considering the power in a very belated post-war period.
– It is germane to the arena in which we are involved tonight.
– It is a broad proposition that nobody contests - that the Executive has enormous power. But we are in a time of peace. There is no war, we are told, and there is no defence emergency. As far as sub-section (2.) is concerned, we are resolving something for the future. We are settling it now in peace time. We are not in the period of war emergency that is contemplated and we should be particular in determining what may be done under the regulations.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 18 agreed to.
Clause 19 (Making and disposal of service decorations).
– I would like to direct the attention of the Committee to sub-section (3.) of proposed new section 80b. The section deals with offences in relation to service decorations. Sub-section (3.) reads -
If, in contravention of sub-section (1.) of this section, a service decoration is sold, supplied or offered or displayed for sale or supply on behalf of, or at the place of business of a person, it is not a defence for that person to prove thai the sale, supply or offer or display for sale or supply was without his authority or contrary to his instructions.
Compared with the rest of the Bill this sub-section is not a matter of vast importance, but an important principle is involved. The sub-section contemplates a situation in which, in a person’s premises, a sale or dealing with a service decoration has wrongfully taken place. The sub-section provides that even though the person in charge of the business goes into a court and accepts the onus of affirmatively proving that the dealing was done without his authority or contrary to his instructions and even though the court accepts that position, he is still to be found guilty. I have only to put the matter in those words to suggest that that is a most improper provision. I hope that the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) understands my submission. An offence takes place in premises owned by a person who subsequently affirmatively proves to the satisfaction of a court that the dealing was without his authority or contrary to his instructions. Nevertheless, he is guilty by our act of Parliament. I think that provision offends a very fundamental principle. The Opposition proposes to vote against the clause.
– I shall not take up too much of the Committee’s time. I rise to remind honorable senators that we are dealing with honours and awards - cherished, precious and prized - that are given for long and honorable service or distinguished bravery. They are prized not only by those who obtain them by Her Majesty’s warrant but also by a curious element in the community that endeavours to obtain them illegally. The value of the awards must be protected. Although I am not extremely fond of the process that is provided for in the proposed sub-section, I believe that an onus should be cast upon a person who procures ribbons and decorations for sale on behalf of Her Majesty to take precautions to prevent unbalanced, neurotic elements in the community from obtaining such awards or decorations and flaunting them in the public view. In essence, this provision is designed to protect the value of honours and awards that are given to members of the armed forces. In those circumstances, I feel constrained to accept it.
– I wish to comment upon the submission of the Leader of the Opposition, and to say that 1 am gratified at the remarks of Senator Cormack. We have approached this subject in the manner suggested by Senator Cormack. We regard honours and awards granted by the warrant of Her Majesty the Queen as being of very special character. They are not comparable to anything else that I know of. Unfortunately, because of their special character, awards, ribbons and the like often attract the attention of most undesirable elements in the community. I assure the Leader of the Opposition that my correspondence with bodies like the Returned Soldiers League in relation to the activities of these undesirable people seems to be never ending. The proposed provision leaves no loophole for anybody who may feel disposed to engage in any illegitimate operation. If this provision were not inserted in the legislation the illegal trader could employ some dupe to take the rap and pay his fine, in return for which he would receive a bonus. Then the trader could continue his illegal operation. Such cases are not unusual. Put in the way in which the honorable senator has put it, this provision could have equal application to a man of high honour and standing in the community. But I suggest that the possibility of that occurring is almost non-existent, because such a person would take special care to ensure that any such activity would not take place in his business or on his premises.
Having outlined to honorable senators the circumstances surrounding our approach to this matter, I am sure that many of them will recall that such incidents have been brought to their notice and that they like me, although not so frequently, have been appalled at the practices that are indulged in in relation to the disposal of awards, ribbons and the like. I ask for the support of honorable senators in relation to this provision.
.- I rise because of my interest in this matter and in deference to what the Leader of the Opposition has said. I direct attention to the actual terms of proposed new section 80b (1.) and point out that there is nothing in the provision to the effect that, if a decoration is sold on a person’s premises, he shall be deemed to be liable. All that the proposed sub-section provides is that a person shall not make, sell, supply, offer to sell or supply or display for sale or supply a service decoration. I see nothing in the provision which relieves the prosecution of the obligation to show that the defendant has sold or offered to sell or supply or display for sale a service decoration. All that proposed sub-section (3.), to which objection is taken, provides is -
If iti contravention of sub-section (1.) of thi& section, a service decoration is sold, supplied or offered or displayed for sale or supply on behalf of, or at the place of business of a person, it is not a defence for that person to prove that the sale, supply or offer or display for sale or supply was without his authority or contrary to his instructions.
Merely to prove that is nol a defence, but nevertheless the prosecution has an obligation. I do not see any alteration to the ordinary onus of proof.
I have not done more than glance at the position, but it seems to me that the prosecution must show beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant made, supplied, or offered to sell or supply or display for sale or supply a service decoration. Of course, if a person performed this operation through a servant, he would come within the meaning of the sub-section. But I see nothing which arises by way of implication from proposed sub-section (2.) to the effect that, if the decoration is sold at his place of business without his authority, he becomes liable. The court must consider these elements, but nevertheless it must come to the conclusion beyond reasonable doubt that there was a relationship of agency or service on the part of the hand that sold it or displayed the article. Despite the fact that the honour or award was displayed on a person’s premises and sold contrary to his instructions, the court must still come to the conclusion, as I see it, that it was done for him by his servant.
.- I raised this matter earlier when discussing the definition of a service decoration. I refer now to sub-section (4.) of proposed new section 80b, which provides -
The Minister, or a person or an authority authorized in writing by the Minister to grant permits under this sub-section, may grant permits in writing -
to specified persons to make and sell or otherwise dispose of service decorations. . .
should like to know whether there is to be any departure from the traditional method whereby certain tailors and outfitters may sell miniature medals which arc more or less duplicates of service decorations and may replace ribbons that accompany those decorations. I should like to know whether the provision I have just read will restrict those outlets or whether its purpose is to close a loophole that has enabled unauthorised persons to obtain and wear these things.
– I assure the honorable senator that the existing position of reputable and bona fide traders will be continued. They will suffer no inconvenience. This provision is solely for the purpose of tightening up control and to exclude from its operation people who are quite undesirable.
.- I refer to clause 19, which relates to the proposed new section 80b (3.). The clause was discussed by Senator Wright and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). lt is a most extraordinary provision, lt contemplates the position where a Service decoration is sold or supplied or offered or displayed, not by the particular person in the business but by some other person. It contemplates the position where you have, perhaps, a servant or an agent making a sale or making some disposition of a decoration in circumstances where the ordinary inference would be that it was made on behalf of the principal. Once the sale or the supply of the decoration was proved by a person, say, in a shop or in a place of business, you would then turn to see who the principal was. What this clause seems to say that you can identify the principal and then that principal has the onus of disproving his knowledge or his authority. But when he does that it is still no defence.
To my mind this is a quite unprecedented provision. I have not seen the like of it before. We often have cases where the onus of proof of certain facts rests upon the defendant. The ordinary position is that the Crown carries the onus of proof. But in certain statutory offences, and even in some offences under such legislation as the Crimes Act, the onus of disproving the offence actually rests upon the defendant. In this case circumstances are set out in which the defendant could make an effort to disprove his guilt, and although he does that, the clause provides that it is still no defence. I would like to know, if the Minister can tell me, just what would be a defence. If the defendant proved that the sale or the supply was not made with his knowledge and even further that the sale or the supply was effected contrary to his instructions, and if the court dealing with the matter were satisfied of those things and was nevertheless required to convict the man, under what circumstances could he escape liability?
– Where is the language that says he cannot be convicted until you prove that he has sold it or supplied it himself or through his agent?
– .If it is sold at his place of business-
– But the provisions do not state that that is an offence.
– That is perfectly true.
– You have to prove that the defendant did it. I think that there is a good deal of confusion.
– With great respect, I do not agree with the honorable senator. Once you show that the sale or supply was effected at the place of business of a person and you have somebody there who is ostensibly the agent or the employee of such a person, there do not appear to be any circumstances in which the apparent principal can escape liability. I would like to know from the Minister, if he can tell me, the kind of defence that would be available to a person who has a place of business at which, contrary to his instructions, the sale or the supply of a decoration is effected.
.- I enter the debate with an enormous amount of diffidence. Matters dealing with common law have been discussed by Senator Wright and Senator Cohen who are distinguished lawyers. But I intervene to make an observation. 1 consider that the bestowal of honours by the Crown is something which is outside and beyond the normal and usual pattern of the traffic in goods. I am of the fundamental opinion that awards and decorations, which are the peculiar province of the Crown - in this case, Her Majesty the Queen - must be protected to the absolute limit which Parliament is willing to concede.
Based on my own personal experience in war and in post-war circumstances, as were mentioned by Senator Paltridge, I consider that there has existed a vast area where the honours and awards have been prostituted by the sheer refusal of elements inside the community to acknowledge that this is in fact the case. The clause to me is perfectly clear. If an agent or a servant of a merchant or a shopkeeper disposes of an award, which is peculiarly Her Majesty’s award, it should properly be no defence for the proprietor to say that it was done without his knowledge.
I yield not a whit to Senator Cormack in my valuation of the precious and unique position of Service decorations. But if Parliament is to make laws, it is my insistence that it should express itself so clearly that the courts which administer them will not be involved in useless litigation. Those people who gibe at lawyers who have the duty as parliamentarians to express an opinion on legislation, might bear that little rebuke in mind. Is it the proposition that because of the unique nature of these decorations, if I am in England on six months holiday and have left my grocer’s shop in the control of a manager who sells one of the decorations in my shop, I am to be convicted?
– The honorable senator would not get anything. He would have to go down to a shop in St. James’s Street and identify himself before he could get it.
-It is no good using imprecision in this matter. We must be precise. If the Bill means what Senator Cohen says it does, there could be some objection to it. But as I see it, it is simply a case where you have to prove that the defendant made a sale himself or through his agent, or that he offered to sell or display the decoration. If the sale is on behalf of or at the place of business of the defendant, the mere fact that he proves that the sale was without his authority or that it was contrary to his instructions is not a defence. If you prove that although it was made at his place of business, it was not made on his behalf by an authorised agent, you still do not prove that the defendant has made the sale. That is the only positive part of the offence that can be prosecuted.
If the Government means otherwise then the Committee should do what is done in ordinary proper legislature - report progress, get the draftsman working until half past eleven, bring the Bill back tomorrow morning and then say: “We want a Bill which puts the onus of proof squarely on the defendant “. Then the Committee could consider the Bill on its merits and Senator Cormack may persuade me that in such a case it would be proper to reverse the onus of proof. I am glad to have heard Senator Cohen’s experience and to have heard him say that he has not seen a provision like this before. I would like the Minister, with the help of his advisers, to tell me where there is a precedent for this clause. Let us not allow people to be vexed by needless legislation because of the confused expression of acts of Parliament which parliamentarians are disinclined to make explicit.
– I wish to divert attention from clause 19, sub-clause (3.) for one moment to draw the attention of the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) to clause 19, sub-clause (2.) (c) which states - (2.) Nothing in the last preceding subsection prevents -
I emphasise the following words - having the decoration in his possession.
I now draw the Minister’s attention to subclause (5.) of the same clause which states - (5.) A person shall not -
I think it is common knowledge and common practice so far as Anzac Day services are concerned, for the sons and daughters of deceased ex-servicemen to take the place of the deceased in a march and wear the deceased’s medals and decorations. Yet, by the provision of thus Bill that practice would seem to be a breach in the future.
– That is not so.
– Well, that is my understanding of the clause and whether I be right or wrong I will seek clarification of the matter because it is significant to me that the Bill contains the words “ having the decoration in his possession “, in other words, having them for safe-keeping but not for public display. Because this is a common practice which is creeping into such ceremonial occasions as Anzac Day services, I would like the Minister to clarify his point.
– Regarding Senator McClelland’s concern about the child of an ex-serviceman wearing his or her father’s decorations on Anzac Day, I can assure him that no prosecution would he launched in that circumstance.
– The clause does not mean that at all.
– I do not think the clause docs mean that. But in any case it would not apply. I will attempt to make a reply to the point raised by Senator Cohen, as I followed it. If 1 may say so I find some incongruity about describing a Bill to a Queen’s Counsel.
– The Minister is doing very well.
– As I understand it the honorable senator referred to clause 19, sub-clause (3.) which states -
If, in contravention of sub-section (1.) of this section, . . .
As I understand it, sub-clause (3.) does not operate and cannot begin to operate until an offence under sub-clause (1.) has been proved. I think that covers the point made by the honorable senator.
.- With all respect, what the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) said did not meet the point I made. I want to press this matter because the more I look at clause 19 the more I think that it needs the treatment suggested by Senator Wright. That is that the Minister’s advisers should take another look at the question. The offence is created by section 80b (1) of the Act. Let us consider the proposed new section 80b (I) (a) which states that a person shall not make, sell, supply, offer to sell or supply or display for sale or supply a Service decoration. Let us consider the offence of selling or supplying a service decoration contrary to this section of the Act and leave aside the offence of offering to sell or supply. Proof is offered that the sale or supply occurred at the place of business of Mr. X. I remind the Senate that it is not necessary to prove that the decoration was sold on behalf of Mr. X. .lt is sufficient if it was sold or supplied at the place of business of Mr. X.
– The section does not say that.
– The section docs say that because there is the word “ or “ in between the two propositions. Sub-section 3 of the proposed new section 80b states - 4 in contravention of sub-section (1.) of this section, a service decoration is sold, supplied or offered or displayed for sale on behalf of, or at the place of business of a person. . .
– Tt does not state that he is then guilty.
– What the proposed section states is this: If you prove that a medal was supplied or sold at the place of business of Mr. X he does not escape conviction by proving that the sale or supply was made without his authority or even by going so far as to prove that it was made contrary to his instruction.
– The proposed subsection does not say that. It says that it is not a defence. It does not say he is guilty if he does not succeed on that defence.
– I do not want to turn this into a lawyers’ disputation. May I say to the Minister in all frankness that Senator Wright and I are entitled to disagree about the interpretation of this proposed new subsection? But the fact that we do disagree about it shows, I think, its ambiguity and, perhaps, provides a proper basis on which the Minister can have another look at the question. The section should not be ambiguous. It is a serious matter to sell or supply a Service decoration. There is a penalty of £50. Perhaps a good deal of stigma is attached to a conviction for an offence of this type, having regard to the very important values of pride and sentiments that are attached to Service decorations. It is a matter of disgrace for a man to be convicted of such an offence and the circumstances under which he may be convicted should be made perfectly clear in this legislation. If there is some doubt as to what a person charged with this offence is required to prove, and some doubt as to the circumstances under which he can escape liability, then the matter should be clarified.
– May I briefly come in at the tail end of this discussion? I have .listened to it with great, interest. I think the whole matter is obscure. Senator Wright asks that we point to where the liability arises on the person who owns the premises where such a sale is made but who did not make the sale. We cannot specifically point to it at all. That is how I see it at the moment. But it is clearly implicit that such a person will be charged by virtue of the fact that the proposed new section points out that it is not a defence for him to prove certain things. He certainly would not be concerned with offences unless he were charged, so the provision, without specifying it with clear particularity, does contemplate a charge against a man who owns premises where a dealing takes place. If it takes place and the person charged goes to the court and proves to the satisfaction of the court that he knows nothing about the offence, he is still guilty under this provision. The Opposition will have nothing to do with such a proposition. Precious as Service decorations may be, we will not ally ourselves with their protection at the expense of imposing on somebody who is completely innocent the stigma of a conviction and a penalty of £50.
Debate resumed from 6th May (vide page 624), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Senator McKENNA (Tasmania [10.52]. - I indicated on an earlier occasion the Opposition will oppose this measure by vote. Our reasons were given at that time.
Question put -
That the Bill be read a second time.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 6th May (vide page 624), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I have already indicated that the Opposition will oppose this measure because of the inclusion in it of reference to Part IV of the Defence Act under which those called up will be obliged to render service overseas. For those reasons and reasons which I gave more fully in debate on another measure we will oppose the Bill by vote.
Question put -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Senate adjourned at 11.4 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 May 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1965/19650512_senate_25_s28/>.