25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the
Minister for Civil Aviation: Is it a fact that discussions have been held between representatives of Trans-Australia Airlines, Ansett-A.N.A. and officers of the Department of Civil Aviation regarding a projected increase in air fares? Is it a fact also that those discussions resulted in an agreement that there should be a general increase of 5 per cent.? If such discussions were held, where, on what dates and between what persons were they held?
– I cannot give the information that the honorable senator seeks. I telephoned to Melbourne this morning to see whether I could get any information on this matter, which he raised last night, but today is a holiday there and I was unable, before I came in to the chamber, to get the Director-General to supply the information sought. As I told the honorable senator last night, as far as I am aware, no decision has been made. At this stage I do not know whether any negotiations or discussions have taken place between my Department and the airlines. They may have taken place, but I am not aware of them as yet. I was unable to get any further information this morning because, as I have said, today is a holiday in Melbourne. As I informed the honorable senator last night, if the airlines make application for an increase in fares and cannot substantiate their case, there will be no increase. If they can substantiate their case, I suggest that there will be an increase.
– Will the Minister find out, and advise the Senate later today, whether these things have been done and he, as Minister, has not been informed?
– Nothing could be done without my knowing. Nothing could be done without action on the part of the Minister.
– I know that, but I am asking the question.
– I can assure the honorable senator that no decision has yet been made in this matter.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Can he inform the Senate of the result of the cease fire negotiations between Pakistan and India? If he is not in a position to do so now, will he please try to have this vital information for the Senate before it rises tonight?
– India and Pakistan have announced their acceptance of the cease fire called for by the Security Council of the United Nations in its resolution of 20th September. The cease fire was to take effect as from 8 a.m. today, Australian time. A United Nations team will supervise the withdrawal of forces to the positions they occupied before 5th August, as provided for in the Security Council’s resolution. The resolution also provides for consideration by the Security Council, after the cease-fire provisions have been complied with, of what steps could be taken to assist in solving the political differences underlying the conflict. The Government expresses wholehearted pleasure at this result flowing from the action of the Security Council.
– My question, which I direct to the Minister representing the Minister for Housing, relates to the provisions of the homes savings grant legislation under which grants to home builders are made on the basis of £1 for £3 on savings up to £750 over three years. I ask: Is the Minister aware that a limited number of people who would otherwise qualify are prevented from receiving the benefits of the scheme because pouring of the foundations of their prospective homes had begun at the date of commencement of the Act? The homes were not completed for some years afterwards and, during that time, their construction was financed from the savings of the home builders by investment in component materials and labour after the commencement of the Homes Savings
Grant Act. Would the honorable gentleman not agree that investment in homes in the circumstances I have outlined accords with the spirit and intention of the legislation? In view of the apparently unintentional discrimination in such cases, would he take up with the responsible Minister the question of suitable amending legislation designed to correct this situation?
– In respect of the Homes Savings Grant Act, as in respect of other legislation, there has to be, of course, a starting point. I gather from the honorable senator’s questions that he is concerned with those home builders who actually commenced home construction prior to the commencing date of the Act. I have no idea how many people are or might be affected, or what is the general effect of the starting point chosen, but I shall bring hisquestion to the notice of my colleague, the Minister of Housing, and ask him to make whatever comment he finds appropriate.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Housing: Is it a fact that the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation has fixed the charge for the availability of its insurance at 2 per cent., or at any other rate and, if so, at what rate?
– I am not aware of any decision which the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation may have taken in respect of the fixing of interest rates. As with the previous question, I shall refer it to my colleague, the Minister for Housing.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry: Do the Commonwealth and New Zealand Governments propose establishing a joint shipping line when the Free Trade Agreement has been successfully launched?
– I have no knowledge of, nor have I heard, any such suggestion.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. I remind him that, under the National Health Act, student children of pensioners can be classified as dependants only until reaching the age of 16 years. Can the Minister say when legislation, as referred to in his statement of 18th August, will be introduced to extend the classification of student children to the age of 21 years, thus bringing the National Health Act into line with the relevant provisions of the Social Services Act and Repatriation Act?
– The Minister for Health has supplied the following answer: The National Health Bill 1965 will include provisions to widen the definition of dependants for pensioner medical service purposes, so that all dependants of pensioners recognised by social services and repatriation legislation for pension purposes and those recognised for tuberculosis allowance purposes will also be accepted for the pensioner medical service. The Bill is at present in the course of drafting and will be introduced during the current sessional period. It is proposed that the provisions in relation to dependants will commence at the same time as the arrangements proposed in the Social Services and Repatriation Bills.
– Can you, Mr. President, make a statement on claims that were made yesterday in another place that procedures have been determined to minimise interference with members and the work of the Parliament by demonstrators in King’s Hall?
– To the best of my knowledge, the arrangement referred to yesterday has been in operation for a considerable time. However, on the recent occasion when waterside workers came to the House it was not administered as carefully as it should have been. Members of the general public have a right to come into King’s Hall, but they cannot do so to interfere with the working of the Parliament or the movement of members themselves. So, of necessity, some restiction has to be placed on them. But if they are reasonable, no difficulty is experienced. It is the congregation of groups in King’s Hall that interferes with the legitimate working of the Parliament which we are opposed to and will restrict in future.
Senator FITZGERALD__ I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services. Is the Minister aware that when the Minister for the Interior opened the extension to the Koomarri Centre in O’Connor, Canberra, on Saturday last he said that mental retardation affects 2 per cent, of the population? Does the Minister agree with this statement, which would mean that, in a population of 1 1 million people, 220,000 would be mentally affected? In view of the fact that this great problem affects not only, individual families but the nation as a whole, I ask the Minister whether he will request the Government to institute now a Commonwealth inquiry into all aspects of mental retardation along the lines suggested in a motion that was moved in this place by myself on behalf of the Australian Labour Party last year.
– I shall refer the honorable senator’s question to the Minister for Social Services. Senator Fitzgerald, as he has just indicated in his question, has always taken a very real interest in the treatment of mentally retarded children. This is a matter of policy and therefore it will require an answer from the Minister for Social Services.
– My . question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Housing. Am I correct in believing that the maximum loan that is available to the purchaser of a war service home is £3,500 and- that the amount of a loan is limited to 90 or 95 per cent, of the security? Am I correct in my belief that in many cases applicants have found it necessary to go onto the second mortgage market for supplementary finance? Can the Minister inform me whether the benefits of the provisions of the Housing Loans Insurance Act are available to reduce the need for applicants for war service homes to seek second mortgage finance?
– I believe that the sum of £3,500 and the percentage of valuation referred to by the honorable senator are correct. As to the remainder of the question, I should prefer the Minister for Housing to have an opportunity -to make some comment. Therefore, I ask that the question be placed on the notice paper.
– Will the Minister for Civil Aviation initiate action to reduce apparently increasing delays in the unloading of passengers’ baggage at the capital city airports?
– I thank the honorable senator for raising this important matter which I have under consideration already. The position is that it sometimes takes an air passenger longer to get from the airport into the city than it takes the aircraft to fly between cities. It is essential that the airlines study the situation with a view to making some adjustment. They must devise more modern and quicker methods of handling baggage. The State Governments also have a duty to examine communications and the roads from the airports to the cities because better highways should be available for the transport of air passengers. I can assure the honorable senator that the matter is under consideration by me.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. In the light of the - Minister’s statement yesterday regarding the proposed re-routing of flights by Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. on the Kangaroo route, will the refreshing news of the Pakistan-India ceasefire now cause a change back by Qantas to the normal routes between Australia and Europe?
– This might be done. No doubt the management of Qantas has this matter in hand. If there is a return to the normal routes, as I hope, it will be of great assistance to all concerned.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Is the Minister aware that prominent citizens of Dubbo have expressed concern that the Dubbo airstrip is not sufficiently strong to carry the new F28 jet aircraft which are being considered by Airlines of New South Wales Ply. Ltd. for its country services, and that thing could deprive Dubbo of a fast jet service between Dubbo and Sydney? Will the Minister arrange as a matter of urgency for a departmental airport inspector to inspect the Dubbo airstrip with a view to recommending improvements that will cater for the air transport needs of the western districts of New South Wales?
– Yes, I have been kept fully informed of the position at Dubbo. I have read Dubbo press reports on this matter and have also had representations from members in another place who represent the area. We have been in communication with the Dubbo City Council for some considerable time with a view to the introduction of the local ownership plan for the Dubbo airstrip. This plan has worked successfully in more than 160 areas where the local councils or municipal authorities or the community itself have taken some responsibility for the maintenance of the airports in their area. I understand the Dubbo City Council considers that the airstrip serves so many areas besides Dubbo that it is not anxious at this moment to accept the local ownership plan but it could follow the example of other areas where a number of shire councils have joined together. I am sure we would be able to deal with the problem of the Dubbo airport in that way with better understanding all round. The honorable member for Lawson in the House of Representatives (Mr. Failes) has asked mc to make an officer available to examine the position and I have told him that I will ascertain whether an officer of the Department of Civil Aviation can go to Dubbo to examine the situation.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation with reference to that section of the report of the Department of Civil Aviation which was tabled in the Senate recently relating to the operation of unprofitable air services in remote and isolated areas of Australia. Will the Minister be good enough to let me have some information about the Stanton inquiry relating to Connellan Airways and particularly to aspects of charter work?
– I shall see whether I can get the particulars requested by the honorable senator. If he will put his question on the notice paper it will keep the matter alive and ensure that it is not overlooked.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. In view of the activities of his Department to curb the smuggling of narcotics, does he not consider that a natural corollary to this activity would be parallel action by the States to tighten up internal provisions against drug pedlars? Will the Minister consider calling a conference of appropriate State Ministers to prepare a uniform code to combat this social evil?
– I think it is appropriate to say that there is a tremendous amount of co-operation between State authorities and my Department in this field of activity. The Senate will recall that yesterday I gave information about a raid which took place on a drug den in Sydney. That raid, of necessity, required a great deal of co-operation between my Department and the New South Wales Police Department and its vice squad. The New South Wales authorities provided the black maria in which certain recalcitrants were taken into custody. The question of whether there should be a uniform code as distinct from close co-operation is one that I want to look at fairly carefully because it seems to to me that the functions of police and vice squads in relation to the activities they undertake may not necessarily be consistent with the functions of the Department of Customs and Excise. However, it is a good question. I will ask my officers to examine it and I will give a reply to the honorable senator.
– I direct a question to . the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry. The Minister, of course, is acutely aware of the anxiety being felt by pea and bean growers on the north-west coast of Tasmania concerning the impact of the provisions of the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement. I ask the Minister whether he has any figures or estimates which would indicate the dimensions by which the pea and bean production has increased in Tasmania since 1958 when the tariff was originally recommended against peas and beans imported from New Zealand. I wish to have some basis to enable me to estimate the degree to which this industry is dependent upon the tariff?
– I do not have the figures in my mind, but I shall get them for the honorable senator during the course of the day and let him have them. This industry in Tasmania has expanded considerably. If my memory is correct, I should say that Tasmania produces somewhere between 60 per cent, and 70 per cent, of the total Australian production of frozen peas. This is a most important industry to Australia. I will get the relevant statistics and send them to the honorable senator.
(Question No. 523.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has replied -
(Question No. 534.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– My colleague has supplied the following information -
(Question No. 546.)
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– The answers are as follows -
(Question No. 599.)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What are the details of the amounts to be paid to schools, other than State schools, in South Australia for the provision of science blocks and science teaching equipment during the current financial year?
– The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answer to the honorable -senator’s question -
The following tables detail the amounts to be paid to independent schools in South Australia under the provisions of the States Grants (Science Laboratories) Act 1965 in respect of the financial year 1965-66-
Roman Catholic Schools
Total amount available: (£60,300).)
I point out that in each case portion of the funds is for building and portion is for equipment. By and large, the general rule is that we have a limit for equipment of approximately £1,000 per laboratory per school. This figure varies depending upon the equipment at present in possession of a school and other factors, but that is a rough rule.
– I have been able to obtain further information on the question which Senator Kennelly asked a short time ago. The relevant officer in the Department of Civil Aviation advises me that no discussions have take place with the Department.
I understand that the two airlines have been in conference on this matter, but there have been no discussions with the Department of Civil Aviation.
Reports on Items.
– I present reports by the Tariff Board on the following subjects -
Non-spirituous citrus juices and syrups.
The report on non-spirituous citrus juices and syrups does not call for any legislative action.
– I present the following . report of the Public Accounts Committee -
Seventy-first report - Northern Territory Administration.
I ask for leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Mr. President, in 1957, the third Committee conducted an inquiry into the Northern Territory Administration following criticisms which had been made by the Auditor-General and the Public Service Board. Following that inquiry, the third Committee presented three pertinent reports to the Parliament - the 35th, 36th and 37th reports, relating to the Northern Territory Administration. The widespread nature of the criticisms raised by the third Committee and the persistence of specific criticisms made by the AuditorGeneral some six years after that inquiry had occurred, caused the Committee to resolve that the circumstances of government and its problems in the Northern Territory should be reviewed. In this report, the Committee has sought intentionally to provide honorable senators with a comprehensive record of the general improvements which have occurred in the development of the Territory’s resources and government in recent years.
The report shows that, while much has been achieved since 1957, some problems to which the third Committee drew urgent attention are, as yet, unresolved and new problems have emerged to confront the Administration as the pace of development in the Territory has quickened under stimuli provided by both private enterprise and government. The Committee found no less than 21 matters requiring urgent attention either by the Northern Territory Administration or by Commonwealth departments and authorities represented in the Territory. The Committee found, for example, that there is still an urgent need for a formal, authentic statement to be published in the Northern Territory “ Gazette “, setting out the structure of the Northern Territory Administration and listing the Commonwealth departments represented in the Territory with their functions under both Commonwealth and Territory law. We believe that the Commonwealth Administrative Arrangements Order provides a ready precedent for such a statement. There is still an urgent need for the establishment of a Public Service inspector’s office in Darwin and there is still an urgent need to improve office and hostel accommodation in the principal centres of the Territory.
Although housing has been improved following the establishment of the Northern Territory Housing Commission and an increase in the supply of houses by the Administration, the problem of housing continues to have an adverse effect on the recruitment and retention of public servants in the area. We consider that the relevant authorities associated with the design of staff houses should give continuing attention to changes being made in the designs and construction of houses for use in tropical areas and that an effective and continuing liaison between the Administration, the Department of Works ‘ .and the Housing Commission should be established to ensure that minimum housing costs consistent with housing requirements in the Northern Territory are achieved.
The evidence presented to the Committee shows that, subject to the electricity supply of Tennant Creek being resolved satisfactorily, further consideration should be given to the establishment of an authority to administer business undertakings in the Territory. In addition, the future brick needs of Darwin should be assessed by the Northern Territory Administration and a determination should be made as to the advantages of the brickworks being brought under joint administrative control with other business undertakings.
The Committee also found that, arising mainly from increased activity by the Legislative Council, the resources of the Crown Law Office in Darwin require strengthening and that maximum assistance should be provided by this- office for the Darwin City Council, the only municipal body in the Territory, in regard to the drafting of by-laws and the appropriate redrafting of the Local Government ordinance to ensure that by-laws can be enforced openly. I am sure that honorable senators will agree that local government is an essential basic element in the structure of Australian government. In this regard, the Committee believes that as the Northern Territory moves forward to eventual State status as a partner in the federal system, the Government and the Northern Territory Administration should actively and continuously seek to promote responsible local government in the area. I commend the report to honorable senators.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I present the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works relating to the following proposed work -
Site preparation for the north-west building area at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport.
I- ask for leave to make a statement in connection with the report.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The recommendations and conclusions of the Committee are as follows -
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) agreed to-
That Government Business take precedence of General Business after 8 p.m. this sitting.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator McKellar) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to increase the rate of tax on wheat delivered to the Australian Wheat Board from one-fourth of a penny to three-tenths of a penny per bushel, an increase amounting to onetwentieth of a penny per bushel. The wheat tax collections are used to finance wheat research in Australia and are paid into the Wheat Research Trust Account established under the Wheat Research Act 1957. When the rate of tax was agreed upon in 1957 and incorporated in the Wheat Tax Act of that year, the rate of one-fourth of a penny per bushel was fixed in the light of the views of wheatgrowers as expressed through the Australian Wheatgrowers’ Federation and in consideration of the funds necessary for the research programme that was then envisaged.
The Wheat Research Act 1957 provided for the setting up of a Wheat Industry Research Committee in each of the five mainland States and a central Wheat Industry Research Council. Moneys raised by the wheat tax on wheat delivered to the Australian Wheat Board in each of the mainland States are available for expenditure on research programmes approved by each State Wheat Industry Research Committee. On the other hand, the Commonwealth contributes up to £1 for £1 with wheat tax collections to the wheat research programme through an annual appropriation, the amount being determined annually in the light of the needs of the research programme and in relation to funds available. The Commonwealth contributions are used to meet expenditure on research programmes submitted by the Wheat Industry Research Council for the approval of the Minister for Primary Industry.
The wheat research programme throughout Australia is directed to studies in the following broad categories -
Soils. Soil nitrogen, fertility, organic matter, microbiology, tillage and moisture conservation.
Plant physiology. Research in relation to environment in the different regions of the wheat belt.
Plant breeding. Breeding of wheat to improve yield, quality and resistance to disease. Breeding of pasture grasses and legumes for wheat belt soils and environments.
Wheat quality. Basic studies of those components of grain which influence wheat quality.
Wheat diseases. Wheat rust, root rotting organisms, virus diseases, etc.
Wheat storage. Insect pests of stored grain and problems of temperature and moisture control.
Noxious weeds. Skeleton weed, yellow burr weed and others.
Mechanisation. Tillage equipment, harvesting machinery, etc.
Assistance has also been provided for the training of research workers by the provision of studentships at the under-graduate and post-graduate levels at Australian universities.
Although income from the wheat tax has increased considerably over the years since 1957, as a result of the expansion in wheat growing, the costs of research have also risen substantially, with the result that additional income is needed if the research programmes considered necessary by the State Committees and by the Wheat Industry Research Council are to be carried out.
The proposal to increase the rate of wheat tax to provide additional funds for research was made at the last annual conference of the Australian Wheatgrowers’ Federation in April 1965 and is an indication of the recognition by wheat growers, throughout Australia, of the value of the wheat research programme. Whilst considering the need for additional funds for the research programme, the Federation also had in mind the approaching change to decimal currency and the rate of tax now proposed of three tenths of a penny per bushel is exactly equivalent to one quarter of a cent per bushel. This Bill has the worthy objective of assisting in additional research and extension for the benefit of one of our major primary industries. As I have already stated, the proposal to increase the rate of tax has the approval of the Australian Wheatgrowers’ Federation, which represents wheat growers throughout Australia. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator McClelland) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator McKellar) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill provides for the raising of loan moneys amounting to £3,800,000 for war service land settlement in the States of Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania during the 1965-66 fianancial year. These moneys are required to meet the Commonwealth’s responsibility to provide the capital funds required for the scheme in those three States. It is anticipated that the money will be advanced to the States in the following amounts - Western Australia, £1,716,000; South Australia, £1,200,000; Tasmania, £884,000. The total of £3,800,000 is the gross amount required for grants under the States Grants (War Service Land Settlement) Act 1952-53. Repayments arising from expenditure in this and previous years, which are paid to the credit of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, are expected to reach £4,295,000 in 1965-66.
Of the £3,800,000 proposed to be raised under this Bill, £2,970,000 is intended to meet the demands of settlers for advances for working expenses, stock, plant, and so on. Of the estimated repayments of £4,295,000 mentioned previously, £3,290,000 represents repayments by settlers againsttheir advances. The provision of funds for making advances to settlers, therefore, is the main purpose of this Bill and the necessity to provide finance for this purpose will continue for some years to come. As honorable senators are aware, it is a basic principle of war service land settlement that lack of capital does not debar ex-servicemen from participation in the scheme. Most of the settlers started with very little capital and, until such time as their financial position reaches the stage that some of the securities held by the settlement authority can be discharged, they are unable to operate through the established institutions dealing in rural credit.
The balance of the moneys provided for under this Bill will be used for development mainly on the King Island, Flinders Island and Montagu Swamp projects in Tasmania and at Loxton in South Australia. It is hoped that developmental work in these areas can be completed within the next two years. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
] 1.48. - 1- move -
That the Bill be now read a second time. The purpose of this Bill, the first of three Bills which I will deal with in relation to diesel fuel, is to provide for a change in the rate of tax on diesel fuel from ls. to ls. 3d. per gallon when duty free, diesel fuel is sold or otherwise disposed of to a person who is not the holder of a certificate. A person who is the holder of a diesel fuel certificate is entitiled to purchase diesel fuel at a duty free price for use otherwise than in propelling road vehicles on public roads. However, should this person sell or otherwise dispose of this duty free fuel purchased under his certificate to a person who does not hold a certificate, the- person who sells or otherwise disposes of the diesel fuel is required to pay tax at the ruling rate. This amendment to the rate of tax is consequent upon the customs and excise tariff changes contained in the recent Budget proposals. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Bishop) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time. The purpose of this Bill, the second of the three bills in relation to diesel fuel, is to provide for the change in the rate .of tax on diesel fuel from ls. to ls. 3d. per gallon where duty-free fuel has been used in propelling a road vehicle on a public road. A person who is the holder of a diesel fuel certificate may use duty-free fuel, purchased by virtue of his certificate, in propelling his road vehicle on a public road. However, he is required to notify the Collector of Customs of such usage within 21 days and to pay tax on the fuel so used. This amendment to the rate of tax is consequent upon the customs ° and ex cise tariff changes contained in the recent Budget proposals. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate on motion by Senator Bishop) adjourned..
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time. ‘
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time. The purpose of this bill, the last of the three diesel fuel bills, is to alter the provisions relating to the payment of rebate of customs and excise duty on diesel fuel. I would like to point out here that a person who is not the holder, of a diesel fuel certificate must purchase, his diesel fuel at a duty paid price. -Should he use this fuel otherwise than in propelling a road vehicle on public roads he is entitled to a rebate of the duty originally paid.
The recent Budget proposals have increased the rate of customs and excise duties on diesel fuel from ls. to ls. 3d. per gallon. Rebates of duty on diesel fuel therefore will, for some short time to come, be payable at different rates depending on the particular rate of duty paid at the time of purchase. This amendment to the Act allows for rebate of duty to be paid at the same rate at which it was originally paid. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Bishop) adjourned.
Consideration resumed from 22nd September (vide page 552).
Proposed new clause 2a. “2a. After section twenty-one of the Principal
Act the following Part is inserted -
Part IIa.-t-Joint Committee on Repatriation.
– (1.) As soon as conveniently practicable after the commencement of this Part, a Joint Committee of nine members of the Parliament-, to be called the Joint Committee on Repatriation, shall be appointed according to the practice of the Parliament with reference to the appointment of members to serve on Joint Committees of both Houses of the Parliament: (2.) Three of the members of the Committee shall be members of and appointed by the Senate, and six of the members of the Committee shall be members of and appointed by the House of Representatives. 22a. The members of the Committee shall hold office as a Joint Committee until the House of Representatives for the time being expires by dissolution or effluxion of time. 22b.- (1.) Any member of the Committee may resign his seat on the Committee by writing under his hand addressed to the President of the Senate if he be a Senator, or to the Speaker of the House of Representatives if he be a member of the House of Representatives. (2.) The seat of any member of the Committee shall be deemed to have become vacant if he ceases to be a Senator or a member of the House of Representatives (as the case may be). 22c. Where the seat of any member of the Committee becomes vacant, it shall be filled by appointment according to the practice referred to in section twenty-two of this Act within fifteen sittings days after the happening of the vacancy if the House of the Parliament of which he is a member is then sitting, or if not, then within fifteen sitting days after the next meeting of that House. 2 2d. There shall be a Chairman and a ViceChairman of the Committee, who shall be elected by the members of the Committee at their first meeting, or as soon thereafter as is practicable. 22e. At any meeting of the Committee -
five members shall form a quorum;
the Chairman or. in his absence, the ViceChairman or, in the absence of both the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman, a member elected by the members present, shall preside;
all questions shall be decided by a majority of the votes of the members present; and
the Chairman or other member presiding shall have a deliberate vote and, in the event of an equality of votes, shall also have a casting vote. 22f. The Committee may sit and transact business during any adjournment or recess as well as during the session, and may sit at such times (including times while either House of the Parliament is actually sitting) and in such places, and conduct their proceedings in such manner, as they deem proper. 22g. The Committee shall have power to send for persons, papers and records. 22h. The powers, privileges and immunities of the Committee and of its members shall be those of each of the Houses of the Parliament and of its members and its committees. 23j. The Committee shall examine the Repatriation Act and regulations and, in a report to the Parliament, recommend amendments necessary to be made in the Act and regulations to remove existing anomalies and improve their provisions.’.”.
– The amendment that has been moved on behalf of the Opposition is quite clear and straightforward. We are asking the Government to appoint a joint committee of members of both Houses of the Parliament to examine repatriation matters in the widest possible manner. I appeal to the Government to accept the amendment, because the findings of such a committee would be of assistance to the Government as well as to those of us who sit on this side of the chamber. If the proposed joint committee is esablished and takes evidence, its report will be of inestimable value to the Government, the Repatriation Department and to ex-servicemen generally.
There is nothing controversial in the proposal. The Government has nothing to lose and everything to gain by agreeing to the appointment of the joint committee. Why should such a proposal not be favorably considered in the light of the ramifications inherent in the work of the Repatriation Department? If the Government is not prepared to accept the amendment, I should like to know from the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) what objections it has. For the life of me, I cannot see how the Government would lose face by agreeing to the appointment of a joint committee. Such a committee could do nothing but good in the field of repatriation because no supporter of the Government will deny that there are anomalies in the administration of the Repatriation Act.
I do not want to speak at great length on this proposal today but I make a final appeal to the Government to agree to the amendment. If the Government is not prepared to agree to it, I appeal to honorable senators on the Government side who are realists and who have a sense of justice to support the amendment. By doing so they will render a service to the Government, the Repatriation Department and ex-service men and women.
.- I rise to make my views on the amendment known first because of the substance of the amendment and, secondly, because of the concluding remarks of Senator Sandford. I believe the Senate has a great function to perform if its members will participate in committee work; but I think also that the Senate will abuse its powers if it chooses inappropriate types of committees and wrong occasions for committee work. There is nothing in the Repatriation Act, the War Service Homes Act, the Defence Act, the Stevedoring Industry Act or the Aged Persons Homes Act that would justify a standing committee of the Parliament to be constantly looking over the shoulder of the responsible Minister. A standing committee of that sort upon a broad facet of administration would be an evil to introduce into our system of responsible government; because it would erode the confidence that should exist between the Houses of Parliament and the Ministers and would put us as private members of Parliament in a position where, from year to year and session to session, we would be constantly overseeing and supervising the administration which should be the proud responsibility of a Minister to discharge on his own judgment.
– What about the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television of which Senator Wright was a member?
– I shall come to illustrate where we would find by way of distinction an appropriate field of work. I believe Senator Ormonde is trying to be captious.
– The honorable senator deserved a little rebuke for his interjection and he has got it. A standing committee on the repatriation legislation is entirely inappropriate for the reasons I have mentioned. Such a committee would erode the Minister’s sense of responsibility and correspondingly damage- the sense of confidence he should bring to the House. I am compelled” to observe at the same time as I pay a tribute to the confidence that Ministers bring to this chamber when answering questions that some convey the impression that they are withholding rather that revealing information. They do not display the full spirit of confidence that I would expect. That criticism does not apply to repatriation matters. I think that if an honorable senator can produce an instance to show that a Minister has failed in any degree In giving us the information required, this is the chamber in which a further answer should be insisted upon.
The appointment of a standing committee has been suggested. A select committee, which would not be continuously supervising and irritating the Minister year by year over a decade, would be more appropriate. I understand that a select committee on repatriation has not been appointed since 1944. At any rate, there has not been such a select , committee in the 16 years that I have been a senator. I want to say that I have considered these amendments, and the one which seeks to give the right of appeal from decisions that have been adversely based upon the onus of proof principle is an alternative to a select committee which would satisfy me.
Perhaps I am putting my argument badly. Last year, I refused to accept any form of complaint with regard to the Repatriation Act and asked all members of the Senate to bring along particular instances which, on the examination of the individual, would afford a basis for complaint as to the general administration of the onus -of proof section. I have done my homework on this matter. I referred to four cases just by way of principle last night. The Minister, in the reply that he gave me, rather showed a degree of condescension and denigrated my contention on the ground that I had been able to submit only four cases. That did not indicate to me that he really understood the significance of those cases. In my book four cases would be sufficient to prompt the appointment of a select committee to review them.
Such a select committee would have the benefit of the presence of law officers of the Crown who would advise members of the committee on the facts of the cases and whether, in their opinion, the onus of proof provision has been properly applied. I am quite convinced from the replies given by the Minister, for Repatriation, for whom I have the greatest regard and in whom I have confidence, that there is not yet a real appreceiation of that onus of proof section. I shall deal with that matter later in Committee when we come to the relevant amendment. I indicate to the Minister my abiding concern and anxiety at the present time, and I think that this is an appropriate matter for examination by a select committee. If that proposition is not acceptable in relation to that section of the Act, then I indicate that the provision which gives the right of appeal to persons against what they claim is the misapplication of the onus of proof principle fits exactly my idea at present of what is proper, subject to the redrafting of the section which, I think, is in a very clumsy form.
Those are the reasons that I urge against the appointment of a standing committee as proposed in the amendment proposed by Senator Sandford. I wish to make my position plain in the hope that we will act as a real committee on this matter. I hope that the select committee will be appointed. As honorable senators know, a select committee would have available to it advice of crown law officers on particular cases on which their opinions could be sought. Members would not be bound by individual medical opinions upon the legal interpretation of the legal duties of tribunals in the administration of the onus of proof provision. It is my abiding conviction that a misconception of the real intendment of Parliament in respect of section 47 of the Repatriation Act has grown up in the medical profession. Due to the respect that is given to the professional opinion of a medical man on a medical question, it is that misconception in the medical profession that is chiefly responsible for the prevailing discontent as to the granting of the benefit of the doubt under the onus of proof section.
.- Because we have- a good deal of respect for the sincerity of Senator Sandford and his genuine efforts over the years to improve the lot of ex-servicemen, my leader, Senator. Gair, and I gave this amendment a great amount of consideration. But we are unable to support it. It is a very serious thing to impose upon a Minister and his department what is, in effect, a supervisory committee. To justify doing so, it would be necessary to show, first of all, that such a committee was essential and, secondly, that when appointed it would be effective. We do not believe that it is essential and we do not see how it would be effective.
The suggestion is that this committee would examine the administration of repatriation, discover anomalies and make recommendations to the Minister. I do not think that there is any Minister in this Parliament who gets more advice and recommendations in regard to the administration of, and the anomalies that exist in, his department than does the Minister for Repatriation. There are in existence in all the ex-servicemen’s organisations expert groups which are continually making representations to the Minister for Repatriation, and which are putting information before him in regard to these matters which, I would feel, this committee would be inclined to put forward. In those circumstances, I would agree that the Minister was right when he said that he himself would like to go a lot further in repatriation because he had a number of things in mind which he would like to carry out. But his trouble is not with his Department but with the Treasury in getting the money for these proposals. I do not think- 1 can agree with the suggestion that probably emanates from the Treasury that nothing more can be done at this time because of the sums to be spent on defence. I think an examination of this Budget shows that the Treasury has not exactly scraped the bottom of the barrel in order to provide for defence. At any rate, I do not see that a select committee could give to the Minister any advice or assistance that he is not getting already from ex-servicemen’s organisations. In my view, they are the proper bodies to make representations on these matters to the Minister.
I ask myself whether such a committee would be effective. It would make recommendations, I understand,, to increase payments to repatriation pensioners. Years ago, I took a large part in an activity of my union, the Teachers’ Union, designed to get an independent tribunal whose decisions would have to be accepted by. the Government. I formed grave doubts at that time of the effectiveness of any kind of committee or tribunal which could recommend only, because I learned from bitter experience that governments do not take a great deal of notice of recommendations. So, in those circumstances, it appears to me that this committee is not essential, and if it were appointed, it would not be effective. I think that there is the danger that repatriation, which all political parties agree up to date should be treated on a non-political h««is or a non-party bias basis, could become to some extent the subject of political disputation and advantage if a committee of this sort were in operation. As I have said before, I think the appropriate people are already doing the job which it is envisaged the proposed committee will do. In my opinion, we should leave it at that. Therefore, the two representatives of the Australian Democratic Labour Party will not vote for the amendment.
.- I am disappointed to hear the views of Senator McManus on this subject. I am sure that .he has not delved into the proposition that we are putting forward. Senator Wright, in his contribution to the debate on this amendment, spoke of setting up a select committee to consider certain specific matters. I agree that those matters could be the subject of inquiry by a select committee. Amongst other things, it could inquire into such matters as the onus of proof, the right of appeal, the position which arises when one medical opinion is opposed to a number of others, the submission of new evidence and so on. There is a need for a review, if we could call it that, of the application of the Repatriation Act. I cast no aspersions whatever, on the administration of the Act by the Repatriation Department; it must interpret the Act. The officers do their job conscientiously and well. My remarks are directed not at them but at the Act itself. 1 could illustrate my point by directing the attention of honorable senators to the case of a prisoner of war who has been moldering away in a hospital since the end of the 1939-45 war. When inquiries were made about this man the Repatriation Department was not able to say specifically where its responsibility lay. The Department of Immigration had played round with the question but it could not get past the Department of External Affairs, which was considering whether the man should be sent to Formosa or to mainland China. A case such as this is a reflection on someone.
– r am interested in this. Did the honorable senator make inquiries himself of these Departments or has he obtained his information from Press reports?
– I have learned this from Press reports but I have a statement from the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) relating to it. It is in these terms -
Mr. Tan Yiu Tek, the wartime internee, whose repatriation is being considered, has not been a “ forgotten man “.
Up to 1957, there had been regular consultation about him among the Department of Immigration, the Department of the Army and the New South Wales authorities.
I should have thought that this would have been a matter for the Repatriation Department because, after all - I hope the Minister will take note of this - according to the Geneva Convention this man is entitled to his full army pay for all the years he has been in the Gladesville hospital. I hope the Department will ensure that he gets every penny to which he is entitled. It is a reflection on someone that this man should have been in the hospital for so long. Although the Minister for Immigration said that there had been regular consultations about this man among the various Departments, nothing specific was done. The Minister went on his statement to say -
Earlier this year, my Department learned that Mr. Tan wished to go to Formosa and that he would be fit to travel without escort. There seemed no likelihood that he would be admitted to Formosa and the New South Wales health authorities were advised that it was not possible to arrange for Mr. Tan to be repatriated to mainland China.
Now, in view particularly of the fact that the Consul for China in Sydney is finding out whether Mr. Tan will be admitted to Formosa, his repatriation is being further considered.
It is very difficult to obtain any specific information on this matter other than through the Press, because this man seems to be no-one’s responsibility.
The Melbourne “Herald” of 1st September 1965 carried an article under the heading: “12 P.O.W.’s Still Held Here?” The article claimed that this man’s relatives in China were raising the fare to bring him home. The “Canberra Times” of 8th September 1965 printed an article which bore the heading “ New Report of :66 P.O.Ws. is Doubted “.
– That was denied.
– That is right. The point I am making is that this type of thing should not be allowed to happen in this country. I am sure the honorable senator will admit that. Under the Geneva Convention, a prisoner of war has certain specific rights. The fact that this man has been off the books of any Department, so to speak, is a reflection on someone. He has been just a number, an unknown but probably a friendly man wandering around the hospital with no-one knowing anything about him. I suppose if he had stated his case to anyone we would have been reminded of the old story - “ That man is not Napoleon; I am Napoleon “. As I have said, the fact that nothing has been done about this man is a reflection on someone.
This case illustrates our claim that certain sections of the Act will bear a very comprehensive review. What is- involved is the difference between the spirit of the Act and the way in which its provisions are interpreted. The departmental officers are interpreting the Act strictly as it is written. I am sure honorable senators would agree with me that there is no such thing as perfection in any acts of any parliament. They can always bear scrutiny. For that reason, we on this side of the chamber support the proposal to set up a joint committee to investigate all aspects of repatriation. Such a committee, using the talents and the sincerity of members of both Houses of the Parliament who have been associated wilh repatriation, would ensure that the job we. promised our ex-servicemen would be done will be done, in accordance with both the spirit and the letter of the Act. I support the amendment.
.- In referring to the Opposition’s proposed amendment, let me point out to honorable senators that it accords with the formula which has been discussed over recent years. I think we first raised this matter in 1963. Perhaps, as Senator Wright suggested, a select committee could achieve the objectives that we have in mind. I can understand what he intends and I commend him for reaching out thus far. This suggestion was not raised in previous debates and has not been considered by the Opposition. A select committee would be better than no committee.
I am supporting our formula because, when we first introduced it in 1963, we saw it as a way of reviewing the Act and overcoming the complaints which have been made by almost every ex-serviceman who is suffering some physical disability or illness, and of considering the representations made by the ex-servicemen’s organisations. I am surprised that Senator McManus, who has been a member of this’ Senate on previous occasions* should put up the argument that representations should accomplish what” the organisations seek to accomplish and overcome the anomalies that exist. As I understood it, that was his argument. In fact, ordinary representations have not achieved the desired objectives. Members of Parliament, officials of ex-servicemen’s organisations and other people who have made representation about the provisions of the Act, rates of pension and so on have not been able to secure the redress that they have sought although, as I admitted last evening, some improvements have been made.
We know that over the years there have been continual complaints about the Act being amended belatedly. Amendments have been proposed particularly in relation to sections 47 and 48 of the Act, but we have not been able to overcome the long standing complaint that someone has to have a look at these matters. As far as I am aware, the last occasion on which a general committee inquired into the matters was in 1942. There was a review in 1950, but it was not subject to the scrutiny or suggestions of members of Parliament. If we are to provide modern standards, the Government ought to allow the parties in the chamber, which have different attitudes towards social welfare, to express their points of view. In particular, the submissions that have been advanced by the ex-servicemen’s organisations should be considered. The proposal which we have put forward is as. good a test as we can get, although on another occasion I would certainly support the appointment of a select committee to examine the anomalies about which we have complained.
A review is necessary because of the complaints which have been made over the years. They have not been remedied because the organisations and the Australian Labour Party are still putting them forward. I was surprised to learn recently that an anomaly existed in relation to the entitlement of the Red Shield people. I understand that members of the Salvation Army are not yet entitled to the benefits of the Repatriation Act in the same way as, for instance, a Roman Catholic padre is entitled to them. I do not think that many ex-servicemen would bc aware of this, but I have been told that it is so. This is one of a number of matters into which I believe the proposed committee could inquire. So I put the proposition that our resolution contains a formula which is a good one. Other measures might be taken later to provide for the supervision of the Minister’s actions, if it is argued that this should be done.
There is one other point that 1 want to make. I agree entirely with what Senator Wright said last night. There has not been a real examination of this matter since 1942. The report of the committee which examined it then is the last report which T have been able to obtain. The only member of that’ committee who is still iri the Parliament is the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). The other members have since left the Parliament or are deceased. Australia is now in an entirely new position in relation to its commitments. We are almost an independent country. Young men are being committed to military service in certain areas, by the law of the land. These people have to be provided with proper standards, of repatriation, which were belatedly provided for the ex-servicemen of the First and Second! World Wars. I think it is time that we did’ something in this regard.. I commend the proposition which has been advanced by Senator Sandford.
– I rise to ask whether we all are conversant with what the proposed amendment seeks to do. I am concerned at the suggestions made by Senator Wright and Senator McManus. From what they said, I” gained the impression that they believe thatthe proposed joint committee- on repatriation is to be established for the purpose of increasing the benefits payable under the Repatriation Act. I am not sure whether that is so. Although the proposed new. clause, if inserted, will become, a permanent . section of the Act, the committee will , have only one .function and that is to examine; the Act and regulations and report to the Parliament. It would therefore appear -that, after the committee has made a report, .it will have no further .duty to perform.
It is not a question of a permanent committee being established :to look over the shoulder of the Minister for Repatriation all the time.
– Why docs the honorable senator say that it would not be a permanent committee?
– It will have only, one duty to perform.
– How long does it continue to function?
– After it has fulfilled the one function which is proposed, it will have no more work to do. The amendment proposes that a new section be’ inserted in the Act. lt will remain there. Once the committee has carried out its function it will have the responsibility continually to examine the Act and make reports to the Parliament. The function of: the Committee will be to examine the Repatriation Act and regulations and. in a report ‘ to the Parliament, recommend amendments necessary to be made in the’ Act and regulations. Its recommendations will be designed “ to remove existing anomalies and improve their provisions”. I am at a loss to understand what is meant, by the words “ improve their provisions “..
– The- provisions of theAct and regulations.
– The proposed new clause says that the Committee shall - . ‘. recommend amendments necessary to bo made in the Act and regulations to remove existing anomalies. …….
Up- to that stage there is no question- ofalteration of the Act. But it could well be that the wording of the Act does not express the- intention of those who originated it and that this proposal seeks to- rectify that position. At’ the present time- anyone who seeks advice regarding the interpretation of the Act and ‘regulations is in a hopeless’ position. On numerous occasions it is necessary -to refer matters to the Repatriation Department and to accept the advice given by the Department, because there are so many regulations and provisions involved. I do not think that the Act provides the answers to all the questions that have been raised by -ex-servicemen from time to time. We may ask: Does the wording of. the Act permit it to operate in the way in which it’ was intended? Although legal opinion is necessary to interpret a particular provision,a more thorough examination is needed to> find out what was intended originally in the wording of the Act
I do not think that these questions which have been raised are appropriate ones for the consideration of the proposed committee. The committee would perhaps recommend to the Minister that, under the onus of proof provision, if there is a reasonable doubt the intention is that it should be given to the applicant. At the present time the tribunals are interpreting the Act in such a way that the applicant is not given the benefit of the doubt in a case where there is a conflict in the medical evidence. One of the questions which the committee could consider is: Did the legislature intend that where a doubt existed in the mind of the tribunal it should be given to the applicant? At the present time that is not the case. I ask the Senate to consider the amendment seriously. Whatever its shortcomings may be, no one can say that we are satisfied with the Act today, and that the regulations express the intention of the legislature.- There are many glaring anomalies in the administration of the Act that require rectification. The Committee having examined these cases and made a report to the Minister for Repatriation, its immediate duties will be completed, although the amendment provides for its continuing existence.
– First, I should like to mention that although we are dealing with the formation of a committee, the discussion seems to be revolving around several other proposed amendments to the Act which will be considered, later. Honorable senators will remember that last night I said that I was desirous of having the repatriation legislation improved. I emphasise . that statement, because if I felt for an instant that the formation of a committee such as the amendment moved by the Opposition proposes would be of assistance, I would welcome it, but I am firmly convinced that it would not be of any assistance at all for the following reasons: In the repatriation set-up we have in each State a Repatriation Board. These Boards are. handling cases on every working day. Last night I gave some figures. About 17,000 applications were accepted in the 12 months ended on 30th June of this year. Therefore, from time to time the Act. is being examined and consideration is given as to whether it can be improved. So much for. the Repatriation Boards.
Then we have the Repatriation Commission, in relation to which the same thing applies. Wherever it is thought that an improvement can be effected - to the benefit, not to the detriment, of those persons who apply for repatriation assistance - the matter is taken up, thrashed out, and sent to me to see whether we can make the improvement. Improvements are effected very often by way of regulations.
– I think ‘ the Minister said that 10,000 claims were accepted.
– No, I said last night that 17,021 claims were accepted and that 10,350 appeals were allowed. Cases do not all go to the tribunals on appeal, but some 10,000 appeals were allowed. As I mentioned last night, the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal has an identity separate altogether from the Repatriation Commission. It is set up under the Act for the purpose of giving decisions on repatriation matters, entirely independently of the Repatriation Commission. These tribunals are handling thousands of cases each year. The members of these tribunals meet annually and have conferences. All kinds of matters are brought up. Consideration is given as to whether this or that can be improved. Recently I received the result of their last conference; I had not been able to attend it, because I had other commitments. The same thing applies to War Pensions Assessment Appeal Tribunals. The chairmen of these Tribunals have an annual conference and the same procedure is followed. I omitted to mention that our Deputy Commissioners, too, have conferences, and the same conditions ‘apply. If I see something that should be improved, we try to have it improved.
Senator McManus mentioned the very important fact that, while this is going on, advocates of the Returned Servicemen’s League in most States are appearing for applicants. They have before them the provisions of the Act and they see how (he legislation works. They, too, have an opportunity to see ‘whether or not the’ legislation can be improved. I can assure honorable senators that they are very active; there is really no need for me to tell the Committee that. . In addition to the R.S.L. are all the other organisations for ex-service personnel, including those who represent totally and permanently incapacitated persons and partly blinded persons. I do not know just how many of these organisations there are, but there seems to be a dickens of a lot when they all start writing letters. It is their job to see whether the legislation cannot be improved to provide extra benefits.
We have this continual review and, for the life of me, I just could not imagine any committee - I do not care how good - appointed by this Parliament, could do more. It would be most unusual for a committee of this nature to sit on more than 20 days, but it might sit for more days or for fewer days. It would sit only part time and it would be most unlikely to pick up things that all the avenues I have mentioned had failed to pick up. It is for that reason that the Government does not accept the amendment that has been moved by the Opposition. Quite frankly, I do not think that it would be of any advantage at all to those who should be getting repatriation benefits.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Sandford’s amendment) be inserted.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator I. A. C. Wood.)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause 2b.
– I move -
After clause 2. insert the following new clause: - “2b. Section thirty-seven of the Principal Act is amended -
This is a perfectly straightforward amendment and one that we have endeavoured to insert in the legislation on previous occasions. The matter that it raises is becoming increasingly important because all the time ex-servicemen are, of course, becoming older. I will not deal with the amendment at length because, as I have said, the Senate is well aware of what it involves.
I want to make a brief reference to what I consider was a completely illogical statement, by Senator Turnbull, who is a medical man, I understand, ofsome repute. I think he made a statement to much the same effect when dealingwith a similar amendment that was proposed last year. It was a somewhat astounding statement. When the honorable senator was speaking Senator Wright, I think, asked: “ Do you know what causes cancer? “, and the honorable senator replied: “ No. Do you? “. Although the honorable senator admits that neither he nor the highest members of the medical profession in this country or anywhere else have the slightest idea of what causes the dread disease of cancer, when he was dealing with the question of the onus of proof he made the astounding statement that unless it could be proved that the incidence of cancer was higher amongst exservicemen than amongst other members of the community; cancer should not be automatically accepted as a war caused disability.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting, I moved on behalf of the Opposition an amendment to the Repatriation Act so that recognition may be granted to cancer as a war caused disability. I do not intend to take up a great deal of time on this matter because I believe that all honorable senators are fully aware of the Opposition’s reasons for moving the amendment. Senator Turnbull yesterday made statements in relation tb the amendment which in my view, were completely illogical. I would even go to the extent of saying that they were irresponsible. I do not intend my remarks to be derogatory, because we can all make mistakes. Honorable senators will remember the old saying to the effect that if you do not make a mistake, you do not make anything.
Senator Turnbull was asked by Senator Wright, who interjected: “ Do you know what causes cancer?” Senator Turnbull replied: “No. Do you?” Senator Turnbull went on to use the same argument that he used last year. It is illogical in my view and I believe that my opinion is shared by most honorable senators. If the medical profession does not know what causes cancer, how in the name of God can a doctor say to a man staking a claim for recognition of cancer as a war caused disability: “ War service did not cause your cancer.”?
Press reports of anti-cancer campaigns have stated that most eminent medical men in the world are still at a loss to know what causes this dread disease. Therefore I ask: How in the name of goodness, if any consideration at all is to be had for the onus of proof provision, can it be said by the medical profession that although its members do not know what causes cancer war service did not cause an- applicant’s cancer? Is it not completely illogical?
– If the honorable senator is happy about it - -
– I suggest to Senator Turnbull, if he is. honest and sincere - and I hope he is - that he will admit how illogical is his statement. I appeal to Government supporters: In view of the fact that the highest medical knowledge has failed to reveal the cause of cancer, how can it be said that war service has not caused it to be contracted? Another completely illogical statement made by Senator Turnbull was that unless it can be proved that the inci dence of cancer is higher among exservicemen than among the rest of the community, it should not be recognised as a war caused disability. That is completely illogical. The same argument could be used in relation to tuberculosis or any other complaint or disease suffered by an exserviceman that was not obviously caused by war service. I do not have sufficient medical knowledge to recall the names of other complaints and diseases suffered by exservicemen that could be placed in the same category. Senator Turnbull maintains that unless the Opposition can prove that there is a greater incidence of these diseases among ex-servicemen than among the rest of the community, they should not be recognised as war caused disabilities. I am surprised that such a view should be put by a professional man. Earlier I bracketed the honorable senator with the legal profession. I now apologise to the legal profession.
Last year the Opposition moved an amendment similar to that which is now before the Committee. We believe that it is completely justified. We owe a great debt of gratitude to our ex-servicemen. The Opposition will also be moving an amendment in relation to the onus of proof provision. I ask the Government to extend the recognition of pulmonary tuberculosis as a war caused disability and to grant recognition to cancer. I have said before - and I make no apology for repeating - that some ex-servicemen in the later years of their lives are becoming desperately frustrated. Their frustration is harder to bear than it was when they were younger. I ask the Government to face up to its responsibilities. I again remind honorable senators opposite that in 1949 the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), who was then Leader of the Opposition, said that repatriation is a great, grave and proud responsibility. I give him full credit for his statement and hope that the Government is prepared to live up to it. Unless and until the medical profession can state without equivocation that war service did not cause or aggravate cancer, the provisions of the repatriation legislation should be extended by means of the amendment moved by the Opposition to include cancer as a war caused disability.
.- I desire to support the amendment moved by my colleague, Senator Sandford. The effect of the amendment is to place cancer on all fours with tuberculosis in the application of the Repatriation Act. It would relieve the applicant of the responsibility of proving a causal connection between his war service and the disability of cancer. To my mind, it is illogical to say that the acceptance of tuberculosis is justified but the acceptance of cancer is not. Admittedly, the case made for the inclusion of cancer on the same basis as tuberculosis is partly compassionate in character and otherwise rests on the difficulty of establishing the causal origin of cancer. This is still largely part of the unknown in medical science. In my view, the argument that has been put by Senator Sandford is a particularly compelling one, because of the great difficulty of ever being able to say in a cancer case what the origin of the disease was. When the argument is applied in the case of a man who has had war service, there is the difficulty of attributing the disease, in any way that can be proved, to some aspect, causal or temporary, of his war service. I believe that it is not good logic to say that this is justified in the case of tuberculosis - again because of the difficulty of being able to pinpoint the time or place of origin of the disease - and to turn our back on it in the case of cancer.
There is a very substantial and growing body of opinion in the community - it is not limited to ex-servicemen but is shared by people of compassion and broad outlook - that cancer ought to be placed upon the same basis as tuberculosis. This amendment has nothing to do with the onus of proof. It is designed to relieve the ex-serviceman of the need to prove that the disease was war caused. The section relating to tuberculosis explicitly states that the ex-serviceman shall be paid a pension as though the incapacity or death resulted from an occurrence during his war service.
– Where is that provision? I was looking for it in section 37.
– Sub-section (3.) provides, that, where the pension in respect of death or incapacity would not otherwise be payable, the Commonwealth shall pay as though the incapacity or death resulted from an occurrence during his war service. That assumes one of two positions. ‘ It assumes either that the occurrence that led to the disease did not happen during war ser vice but that nevertheless the disease is pensionable or - perhaps this is the more likely position - that it is just not capable of being demonstrated when, where or how the disease was contracted. Looking at the problem from the standpoint of principle, there is no reason for distinguishing cancer from tuberculosis. I appeal to the Minister to see the logic of this position and to accept the amendment that has been moved by Senator Sandford on behalf of the Opposition.
.- Senator Gair and I support the amendment. Both of us have received very strong representations from ex-servicemen in regard to it. We realise that the Government, in adopting the attitude that it has taken, is relying upon what it believes to be strong medical opinion. We have made some investigations ourselves. We believe that there is a doubt, and therefore we propose to vote in favour of giving to ex-servicemen the benefit of that doubt. Senator Turnbull said that the Government’s case was supported by the fact that the relevant statistics indicated that ex-servicemen were no more susceptible to cancer than were members of the community who were not ex-servicemen. I point out that ex-servicemen were a picked group when they originally enlisted. They were, a particularly healthy group: they had to pass a very severe medical examination. If the figures indicate, as is suggested, that the incidence of cancer amongst ex-servicemen is about the same as in the rest of the community, it could be argued - the argument would be open to attack, perhaps, on some other medical ground - that, because these men originally were an extra healthy group, their war service made them more susceptible to this dread disease. We realise that there is a doubt. We are aware of the opinion upon which, the Government has acted, but we have decided that in this case , the ex-servicemen should be given the benefit of the doubt.
– As has been stated by honorable senators who have spoken in favour of the amendment, this problem ‘ has caused a lot of concern to ex-servicemen and those who are eager to see that the best possible conditions are obtained for them. The Government believes that generalised descriptions can be misleading. The term “cancer” covers a very wide variety of diseases that occur in many parts of the body. I think we all will agree with that statement. Whilst the precise cause of cancer is unknown, a lot is known about factors that do not contribute to particular cancers and a lot is known about their development.
I make the point, too, that there is no evidence which suggests a general connection between service conditions and cancer. In any case, to generalise about service conditions can be as misleading as to generalise about a particular disease. As we all know, conditions of war service vary widely, as to duration, hardship and so forth. Therefore, we believe that the only satisfactory approach to the problem is to look at the circumstances of each individual claim. That is done, the same as with coronary occlusion and illnesses of that kind. We just cannot accept the view that, because a person has served in the forces and he later develops cancer, his war service has been a contributing factor. The circumstances of the case are examined and a decision is given following that examination.
– What is the use of looking at each individual claim if the Department does not recognise cancer as being war caused?
– We do not accept it generally as we do in relation to tuberculosis. I repeat that each case is looked at individually. That is the atittude of the Government. We cannot accept the amendment.
– In view of the point that has been raised by Senator Toohey’s question, I rise to say what I was almost refraining from saying. We have been assured this week that we do not live in a technocracy but in a democracy. If one followed the full flood of that idea, one would be forgiven, perhaps, for transgressing technical rules, technical diagnoses, or technical analyses of medical problems so recondite as the. origin of cancer. The reason why I cannot ‘ accept the amendment is this: We would do great abuse to the Repatriation Act if we made it a vehicle .for arbitrarily adding a series of diseases and made them compensable irrespective of . whether they were war caused.
– But the Government has done so in relation- to tuberculosis.
– I am about to deal with the real reason why tuberculosis was accepted. If I were a member of a select committee on this subject, I would want to have skilled medical opinion, not for the purpose of directing the committee, but for its consideration. I do not believe that a trauma that is suffered by a person on active service is generally accepted by the medical profession as being quite clearly irrelevant to the origin of cancer. 1 am fortified in that view by the Minister’s statement that each case is dealt with on its merits. 1 was trying to ascertain from the Department’s report the percentage of claims based on cancer that are accepted. The percentage is quite considerable.
Our understanding of this matter would be greatly assisted if we could get a proper interpretation of the onus of proof provision and were not unduly daunted by the idea that it is rubbish to relate trauma on war service to the possible cause of cancer. Information I have obtained from members of the medical profession with whom I have discussed this matter does not lead me to believe that it is generally accepted medical opinion that it is rubbish to connect trauma with cancer. When we understand properly the onus of proof provisions in this connection and recognise that the cause of cancer is not known, we get an inference consistent with the claims that cancer could be war caused. Unless the Department can disprove that, the pension should be granted.
I make those observations in deference to the obvious interest of those who would give this proposal statutory form if the two points of view could be reconciled. But on my present knowledge I believe it would be an abuse of the repatriation provisions to make a series of maladies such as tuberculosis, cancer and cardiac troubles the vehicle for war service pensions simply because those maladies happened to be visited upon returned soldiers. For those reasons 1 do not think the amendment should be accepted.
.- As a rule I take a lot of notice of what is said by Senator Wright in this chamber. I followed his speech closely and 1 regret to say that in my opinion his argument is illogical.
– lt contradicted itself.
– Senator Turnbull should let me deal with it in my own way as 1 shall let Senator Wright deal with him if he feels so inclined. I know whom I would back if it came to an open go. Senator Wright has said in effect that a returned soldier should not automatically get a pension for a disease he contracts. But we’ have one disease in that category now and that is tuberculosis. I have listened to many arguments advanced in this chamber to the effect that medical science apparently does not know the cause of cancer. Some say that therefore medical science cannot say that cancer is not caused by war service. Senator McManus said that the incidence of cancer is not less evident among exservicemen than it is among those who did not serve in the armed forces. He said it should be less because when men were accepted into the forces they were medically fit. If we accept the proposition that there should be less cancer in a group that is medically examined and pronounced fit than there is in a group which is not declared fit, I do not see why we should grant a pension automatically to a person who contracts tuberculosis and will not give a pension automatically for a disease like cancer when no one has been able to discover the cause of the disease or a cure for.it.
I cannot follow Senator Wright’s argument. I say with great respect that he would have been much more logical if he had opposed the automatic provision of a pension for a serviceman who contracts tuberculosis. I do not say that the Repatriation Commission or its officers have not tried to be fair in relation to the onus of proof provisions when dealing with the few cases I have referred to them. But I do not think they are correctly interpreting the onus of proof provisions in the case of cancer sufferers because they cannot say whether or not cancer can be caused by war service. While we do not know the cause of cancer, any claims in that connection must be open to doubt.
Fortunately we have found a cure for tuberculosis. We are proud of the fact that there is less tuberculosis now than there was before Australia really entered the field of prevention and cure. Yet we grant a pension to an ex-serviceman who has tuberculosis. I regret that Senator Wright took this stand. He could have gone further and suggested taking out of the Repatriation Act the provision for an automatic pension for tuberculosis. As I have said, we can cure tuberculosis; yet Senator Wright will not support a pension for a cancer sufferer although medical science does not know the cause of cancer and unfortunately cannot be certain of a cure. I hope that on reflection Senator Wright will change his mind.
I should like to know what principle is involved in the opposition to this proposal. Perhaps the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) could explain it. After all, let us be fair. When the nation is at war we go to a lot of trouble to induce men to serve in the forces. Even if this proposal means stretching a principle a little I do not think we shall lose anything by it and the nation could easily afford to pay the cost.
– Senator Wright asked why tuberculosis was accepted as a war caused disability. The answer I am given is that when the provision was brought in, tuberculosis was what one might call a scourge which was attacking a number of comparatively young people. Therefore, the provision was inserted in the Act to cover those cases. I am able to supply some figures concerning the incidence of cancer. From 1st October 1964 to 31st August 1965, 2,004 claims were made and 517 were accepted. In the period from the beginning of 1959 to the end of August of this year, 3,328 cancer claims had been accepted. I think these figures illustrate what I said earlier, namely, that each case would be considered on its merits.
– There is one point I wish to raise. I recall that during this debate last year discussion was initiated by Senator Murphy and he put his case very fully. But this case has not been so forcefully put today. Senator Wright has said that cancer is a disease for which benefits are payable under the Repatriation Act unless a board, the commission or a tribunal can prove that it was not war caused. The Act provides that if it can be established that the cancer was war caused, a pension is paid. If a doubt exists in the minds of the members of the tribunal the pension is paid. The Minister for Repatriation has just given us figures of the number of claims that have been accepted.
I come to the position as regards tuberculosis. No class of ex-serviceman has been prevented from receiving a pension for tuberculosis. The benefits were extended to cover returned soldiers if they contracted tuberculosis even, when it could be proved that it was not war caused. The extension of the pension to include tuberculosis as a war caused disability was for the sole purpose of making a payment for men who were suffering, as the Minister said, a prevailing disease at that time . in recognition of their war service. Senator Kennelly reminded us that we made strong appeals to men at the period of crisis to serve their country. There are always problems with disabilities suffered by servicemen returning from a war. Some ex-servicemen contracted tuberculosis, lt could be proved, in fact, that this disease was not caused through war service. But because of the contribution that these men made to the defence of this country and because they Were in an unfortunate position, the Government granted the sufferers a pension entitlement.
A pension is now paid to ex-servicemen suffering from cancer other than those cases where it can be proved that the disease was not war caused. If any doubt exists in anyone’s mind as to the need for an extension of the provisions governing cancer, let me point out that this is a disease that is becoming more common today than tuberculosis. Surely it. is a disease that causes greater suffering than tuberculosis. No disease is more difficult to cure. No disease causes greater pain to the patient. No disease causes such a lingering death. When we think of the concession that has been given to ex-servicemen who have contracted tuberculosis, and the suffering of the few who cannot establish their cases involving cancer; for those reasons and on humane grounds should not the benefits of the Act be extended to ex-servicemen in recognition of their services to this country at such times as they are stricken by this dreadful disease? This is what the amendment seeks to do. I do not think the dispute as to whether or not the disease was war caused comes into the question, because the extension of this benefit will affect only the persons in respect, of whom it can be proved that it was not caused by war service. Knowing the contribution made by these men, the promises made to them at the time we needed their services and the suffering that they will endure to the end of their days, as a reward for their service to the community any responsible government should extend these benefits to them. This amendment seeks to do that as a further re-payment of our debt to those who served us in our time of need.
– The present position under the Act is that a person can receive a pension only if he satisfies the tribunal according to the onus of proof provisions that his cancer is war caused. We seek to change this so that all sufferers from cancer, who satisfy the other provisions of the section, shall be entitled to a pension even though the cancer was not war caused. It seems to me that there are three strong grounds for making this change. The first ground is the one which has been referred to in this Committee - that is, gratitude. Those persons who served in theatres of war are entitled to gratitude from the community. To me it is not a sufficient answer to say, as Senator Wright did, that to extend this benefit would cause anomalies and that the Repatriation Act would change its character because persons would receive benefits even though their suffering was not caused by war. There are already many anomalies in the Act. We make provisions in other Acts to reward persons because they served in the war. One has only to turn to the war service homes scheme under which persons receive benefits although there may be no connection between their inability to provide a home in 1965 and their service at some earlier period.
The next ground is that there is doubt about the possible connection between war service and suffering from cancer. Senator Turnbull has said that there is no possible connection. That view, I am sure he would concede, is not shared by all of his eminent colleagues. There are some very eminent persons who would say that there is a connection between stress and cancer and there may be a connection between trauma and cancer. There are Other equally eminent, and perhaps more numerous, colleagues of the honorable senator who have denied both propositions. So it is in the area of doubt. That is why we should look at the onus of proof provisions in the light of what the Minister has just told us because, as I understood his figures, it seems that some substantial proportion of those who were claiming to be suffering from war-caused cancer were having their applications granted.
– lt was about 25 per cent.
– Yes. When one looks at the onus of proof provisions, one finds that these mean in relation to cancer claims as well as to other claims that a lot of persons who had their applications granted were probably - and I repeat the word probably - not suffering from a war caused disability. This is the effect of the onus of proof provision. It is only where it can be established against them beyond doubt that their cancer was not war caused that they lose their claim. The inevitable conclusion in regard to all claims, whether they be for acceptance of cancer or other diseases, is that persons receive benefits who probably are not suffering from any war caused disability. When one considers cancer and the doubt which surrounds the connection between war and cancer, one realises that a grave inequity may have been created. If Senator Turnbull and those eminent medical persons who share his view are correct, none of the applicants should be receiving pensions. This means that a grave inequity has been created between the one-quarter who receive pensions and the three-quarters who do not. Therefore, one would think that as a matter of justice Senator Turnbull would come to us and say: “ As a medical matter, it is nonsense to say that people should receive a pension for cancer because they served in war. Either you give it to none of them or you give it to all. Do not create a gulf between them. Either all should get it or none should get it “.
We accept the view that some should get it - there is no chance of retreat from that. The tremendous difference of opinion in the medical profession on the question of the connection between war service and cancer cannot be resolved by us here. We know that in many cases cancer can lie dormant for years. It is therefore reasonable that those who have had war service should, as a matter of gratitude, receive the benefit of a pension. To remove what may well be an unjustifiable distinction between those cancer sufferers who can get over the onus Of proof provision and those who cannot, 1 believe that all should receive a pension.
This brings us to a further argument which Senator Turnbull and Senator Wright might consider, namely, that it is by providing benefits for some special and deserving section of the community that we establish precedents which may be applied generally. Cancer is a dread disease and any person in the community who falls victim to it should receive every consideration. If the way to begin this is to grant pensions to a certain section of the community, then those who served in time of war would be among the first to deserve it. For those three reasons I ask the Senate to support the amendment which has been proposed by Senator Sandford.
– I want to develop the matter which was raised by Senator Murphy. I am amazed that, according to the statistics cited by the Minister, somewhere in the vicinity of 25 per cent, of ex-service applicants are receiving pensions for cancer. Dozens of returned servicemen, or their relatives after the exservicemen’s death, have asked me whether they can get some recognition of cancer as a war caused disability. On not one occasion have I succeeded in getting the Repatriation Department to accept cancer as a war caused disability. I have told many applicants to appeal but I know that in dozens of cases they are diffident about doing so because they feel unable to present a case to a tribunal and they do not avail themselves ‘of the opportunity.
I think this opens up a whole new field of thought on this matter. In the first place, let us consider the revealing figures which the Minister cited and ask ourselves this question: Do the tribunals show a far greater degree of mercy to people who served in war and are suffering from cancer than does the Repatriation Department? I believe that to be the case. I think it is clear that the Repatriation Department has constantly re-, fused to yield even one inch in any claim to treat cancer as a war caused disability. As I have said, the tribunals have shown a higher degree of mercy,, or perhaps. have shown a greater- recognition of the merits of claims than has the Department and have granted pensions.
– At the risk of being tedious, I rise in deference to what I believe have been genuine contributions to a purposeful debate. Senator Kennelly submitted that because we accepted tuberculosis as a war .caused disability we should also accept cancer. I find that submission to be without logic. The Minister confirmed that in 1950 we accepted tuberculosis because it was then a scourge against which a great national assult was made. I go further than Senator Kennelly went and say that in my view cancer is a much more punitive scourge upon humanity than tuberculosis was in 1950.
The Minister was prompted by my remarks to cite certain- statistics which indicated that 25 per cent, of applications for pensions on the ground of cancer were accepted. I do not agree with Senator Murphy that if 25 per cent, are accepted, the remaining 75 per cent, should also be accepted. With the complete dearth of knowledge on the part of the medical profession, how can it - be shown that in 75 per cent, of cases it was not war caused?
– The honorable senator is reversing what I said. I said that if 75 per cent, of cases are not war caused, the point which arises from what Senator Turnbull and his colleagues assert is that probably the 25 per cent, were not war caused either. Therefore, there is a great inequity.
– That is putting it in another way, but the conclusion reached is exactly the same as I have been putting. The Minister has said that 25 per cent, of cancer cases are now accepted as being war caused. I do not care whether the tribunals are convinced that causation has been proved, or whether under section 47 they regard themselves as being bound to accept that it has been disproved. To my mind Senator Murphy’s argument is compelling, that if we are going to accept 25 per cent, as war caused, with the present state of medical knowledge it is difficult to justify the rejection of 75 per cent. From the point of view of logic. I think the conclusion is pretty impeccable that it is either all or none.
It would be a pleasure and a privilege for all of us to assent to the proposition that in every case a pension should be granted. But in my present state of understanding, I am bound to say that if the onus of proof provision were given a real chance to operate by virtue of the next amendment that we are going to discuss - whether in the form originally put forward or in amended form - and if this matter were to come up for argument before a judge in two or three cases, great assistance might be afforded. For those three reasons, at the present time I adhere to my former views.
.- I think that we are overlooking one very important factor. It is that cancer occurs in young men and women who have not served in any of our forces.
– So does tuberculosis.
– Admittedly, and that is why we look at each case individually. I disagree with what Senator Wright said, that we give a pension to all or to none. I think that is completely irrational. I regret that I cannot give Senator Toohey a break down of the 500 cases which I mentioned. We have not such an analysis, but we believe that in most instances the appeals would have been allowed by either the Repatriation Boards or Appeal Tribunals. Do not forget that there are ex-servicemen on all of these tribunals.
– There are one or two matters that I wish to raise regarding the statistics that have been quoted concerning the probability of a section of the community having cancer. It was said that the incidence of cancer amongst returned servicemen is no greater than it is amongst members of the public. Could the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) tell me how this survey was carried out? Are the cases referred to by the Minister the only ones that have come to the attention of the Repatriation Department? Has a survey been made of the ex-servicemen from the First World War? We know that many ex-servicemen who die from cancer have never made an application for a pension to the Repatriation Department. Were they taken into account in the survey? I am very interested in this matter. On what authority does the Minister say that the incidence of cancer among returned servicemen is no greater than that among the general public? How can we get over the hurdle of the medical profession saying that in certain cases cancer is not due to war service? That, is the stumbling block when we consider repatriation appeals
Two swallows do not make a summer, but I shall refer to the cases of two. men. One man suffered violently from indigestion but would hot go to a doctor. There was no question about how the other man spent his money and in doing so he aggravated his internal trouble. The two men served side by side. The man who aggravated his condition by the life he led now receives a pension. The other man, who had a wife and family, led a very worthy life and was a good citizen. He died very suddenly. His life was snuffed out like a candle. Nothing could be done for him. I appealed on behalf of his widow but I could not get. anything for her. This kind of thing takes a lot of explaining away. I have been fortunate in many other cases. I do not blame the medical profession, but we . are up against the fact that it cannot say whether or not cancer is war caused.
The whole question revolves around the onus of proof. I do not want to make a distinction between ex-servicemen of the First Australian Imperial Force and those of the Second Australian Imperial Force. But if we take the First A.I.F., there are not many ex-servicemen to whom this provision could be applied because a great number of them already receive a service pension. If they have cancer they are treated at repatriation hospitals. There are only the ex-servicemen who do not receive either a war pension or a service pension to be considered. There are not very many of them. It would be rather interesting to know how many would apply for a pension on account of cancer in the future. I can see that the great difficulty we have to overcome is in regard to medical opinion as to whether or not cancer is war caused. I think that the whole question hinges on the onus of proof. I believe that if the tribunals forgot some of the medical evidence that is put before them, in the light of the knowledge that this question .cannot be proved definitely one way or the- other, they could say: “This is just what the Federal Parliament decided we should do. We should give the exserviceman the benefit of the doubt.”. Once we get the tribunals and the Repatriation Department to- do that, I do not think we will have very much trouble.
.- -There is one question that I would like to ask the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar). In the case of an application for a pension on account of cancer being made and the medical opinion differs on whether the cancer is war caused or not, how does the ex-serviceman fare before the tribunal? Is he given the benefit of the doubt?
Senator MCKELLAR (New South Wales - Minister for Repatriation) (3.15].- I shall reply first to Senator Mattner. I did not compare the incidence pf cases . as between those persons who had not served in the Forces and those who had. What I said was that many young men and women who had not served in any branch of the Forces had developed cancer and we did not have comparable figures for civilians and ex-servicemen. In relation, further, to the onus of proof, surely proof that the provision is being carried out is to be found in the number. pf cases, that have been allowed.
In reply to Senator Tangney, let me say that when there is one doctor for and one doctor against, the Chairman of the War Pensions Assessment Appeal Tribunal or the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal, or the Commissioner - whichever authority is hearing the case - always gives the benefit of the doubt to the applicant. There is no doubt about that.
– I want to clear up this matter, because I do not think that the Minister is putting the actual position on the question of onus of proof. I agree with him that the benefit of the doubt is always given to the applicant, and must be so given under the Act.
– It is not.
– I submit that it is, but the doubt must exist in the mind of the tribunal, That is the position. When there is conflicting evidence by two doctors, the tribunal decides what evidence it will accept. If it accepts the evidence of a doctor who is of the belief that the disability was not war caused, then no doubt exists in the mind of the tribunal, and therefore the claim is rejected. That is the way in which the onus of proof provision operates. Frequently there are cases in which there is disagreement amongst doctors which would justify ordinary people in having some doubt. As in any other court proceedings, the tribunal from time to time has to decide what evidence it will accept. In such cases it could well accept the opinion of one medical practitioner as against the opinions of three or four other medical practitioners. It is in this respect that we are finding so much difficulty today with the question of onus of proof. The doubt must be in the mind of the tribunal, which has a perfect right to decide the matter on all of the evidence available.
I do not think a reply has been given to the submission that the amendment is solely for the purpose of assisting those who are suffering from cancer that was not war caused. As Senator Murphy said, it pro-; poses an extension of benefits to a deserving section of the community. Senator Wright - I think very passionately - put the proposition that there was no-one in the chamber who would not be prepared to extend that benefit if it were possible. That was the effect of what he said. If that is the feeling of the Committee, the Minister has some responsibility to let us know how much it would cost to extend this benefit to those ex-servicemen who are suffering the scourge of cancer but cannot establish that it was war caused. At this stage of recognition of cancer, the Minister could justify refusal to accept this amendment only if the cost were prohibitive or embarrassing to the Government. The suggestion is that the cost would not be heavy. I therefore ask the Minister again to take a look at this matter and to consider the arguments that have been advanced in the light of what it would cost to implement such a humane provision for the benefit of those who have given so much in the past.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Sandford’s amendment) be inserted.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator LA. C. Wood.)
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Proposed new clause 3a.
.- I move -
After clause 3, insert the following new clause:- “ 3a. After section forty-seven of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: - 47a. - (1.) Where a claimant, applicant or appellant under this Act considers -
that, in hearing, determining or deciding his claim, applicationor appeal, the Commission, a Board, an Appeal Tribunal or an Assessment Appeal Tribunal did not give to him the benefit of any doubt in respect of a matter or question referred to in paragraph (a) or (b) of sub-section (1.) of the last preceding section; or
a person or authority who contended that his claim, application or appeal should not be granted or allowed to the full extent claimed did. not discharge the onus of proof placed on that person or authority by sub-section (2.) of that section, the claimant, applicant or appellant may appeal to the High Court, or to the Supreme Court of the State or Territory of the Commonwealth in which he resides, against the determination or decision of the Commission, Board, Appeal Tribunal or Assessment Appeal Tribunal, as the case may be, on the ground that he was not so given the benefit of a doubt or that the person or authority did not so discharge the onus of proof. (2.) Jurisdiction is conferred on the High Court, the several Supreme Courts of the States are invested with federal jurisdiction, and jurisdiction is conferred on the several Supreme Courts of the Territories of the Commonwealth, to hear and determine an appeal under this section. (3.) The jurisdiction conferred on, or invested in, the High Court or a Supreme Court by this section shall be exercised by a single Justice or Judge, as the case may be, of the Court. (4.) The Court hearing an appeal under this section may make such order with respect to the appeal as it thinks fit and that order shall be final and conclusive. (5.) An order as to the costs of an appeal under this section shall not be made. (6.) The regulations may make provision for the furnishing to a Court to which an appeal is made under this section of any records in the possession of the Commission which’ relate to the appellant.’.”
The subject matter of this amendment has been dealt with during the second reading debate and has also been referred to in the debate on previous amendments. We all know that this is a contentious matter. What is agitating the minds, not only of individual ex-servicemen but also of the various returned soldiers’ organisations throughout the country, is the non-application of the onus of proof provisions by the determining authorities in the manner which this Parliament intended and still intends. In actual practice, in most cases the onus of proof rests on the applicant or appellant. He has to prove his case and show the determining authority that there is no doubt about the justice of his claim. In practice, for a claim to be refused, it is necessary only for a doubt to exist in the mind of the determining authority. There have been hundreds or thousands of cases over the years in which, even though the weight of the medical evidence has been on the side of the appellant, because of a doubt in the mind of the determining authority the application has been rejected.
Another disturbing feature, on which I think the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) made some comment yesterday, is that the determining authority is not obliged to - nor does it in fact do so - give the reasons for its decision. I think the Minister also said yesterday that he was very much in favour of the determining authority not having to give the reasons for its decision. I would like to know from the Minister,when replying to the debate, the reasons for his view that the determining authority should not have to give reasons for its decision. I am not a member of the legal profession but I believe that in any civil court where damages are claimed, or in any civil action at all -
– This applies in every tribunal that deals with workers’ compensation, which is analagous to this issue.
– No matter what the case is the tribunal involved must give reasons for reaching its decision. I have seen, unfortunately, the stereotyped reply that is issued to applicants for war pensions. It is in the same old language and blanks are left for names to be typed in. The reply states: “The Tribunal has considered your application but is of the opinion that your disability is not due to war service.” The disability might be named. No matter how hard the applicant tries, he will not secure from the determining authority the reasons for having reached its decision.
I have known of many cases - probably most honorable senators have had the experience - where the weight of medical evidence is in support of the application, from the point of view of numbers, yet the determining authority has rejected the application. 1 make no apology for repetition in these debates. I repeat that we have to realise that it is becoming increasingly difficult for applicants to support their claims to Tribunals in such a way that the Tribunal will be influenced in their favour. In court cases, skilled legal counsel may be engaged to state a case. I am reminded of the time when Pat was arraigned before a court for sheep stealing. Pat said that he would plead guilty. He was approached by a member of the legal profession who said: “ If you engage me, I will get you out of this trouble “. Pat engaged the legal man, went before the court and was found not guilty. Pat scratched his head and said: “ I’m damned if I know,’ but I thought when I went in there that I had pinched those sheep “.
An applicant before a Tribunal is not in the same happy position of being able to engage legal counsel. I know that applicants approach the hearing of their applications and appeals in fear and trepidation. They are almost aquiver in endeavouring to place their cases before the determining authority. I believe that the onus of proof provision ‘ needs to be completely reviewed and the only way to do it properly is to give the determining authority judicial standing. Ex-servicemen who are applicants for war pensions are getting up in years and are suffering much more from their disabilities with advancing age. The determining authority takes it upon itself to say that a disability is not due to war service, but the applicant may know that the complaint from which he is suffering was in some degree - if not actually caused by war’ service-: - aggravated by war service. “Who can definitely say that the war service’ of an exserviceman from ‘ World ‘ War I or World War II has not in some way seriously affected him in later” life? -“ ‘
I suggest that the Government will be failing in its duty, and obligation to exservicemen unless it accepts the amendment moved by the Opposition. An applicant whose application is rejected should have the right to appeal to the High Court or to the Supreme Court of the State in which he lives. The amendment states -
If those words were not inserted in the Act, thousands of applicants would be dissuaded from approaching the courts by the fear of an order for costs being made against them.
It is never too late to mend. It is of no use Government supporters saying that the legislation has operated for years or that this or that Government did the same thing. That is no reason to perpetuate an injustice. I ask the Government to give serious consideration to the amendment and to accept it. By so doing, it will be extending a great benefit to the ex-servicemen of this country.
.- I consider that the amendment before the Committee should be supported in principle unless we can be assured that there will be an opportunity for a select committee investigation into the recognition of cancer as a war caused disability, and into any other anomalies that bedevil .the Act. I believe that the investigation should be made within the forthcoming year. I would be quite happy to have an amendment of the Repatriation Act preceded by a select committee consideration but, if we cannot be assured of that, I am prepared to vote for the amendment to’ establish my adherence to its principle. I may do so in the Senate where, in my party, I believe it is not only my entitlement but my duty to exercise my judgment on issues such as that before. us. In this instance, as in others, I do not exercise my judgment against the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar), supported as he is by his advisers, without due deference. I pay nothing more and nothing less to the Minister’s decision and judgment.
I support the principle of the amendment because.’.’! am satisfied, from individual cases, that in the minds of legal advisers, who have such .influence in persuading decisions “by Tribunals at all levels - whether in hearing- the original application or an appeal - -there is a chronic misconception of the legal meaning of section 47. I say that with great deference to the medical profession. Nevertheless, I register it as one pf those things in which there is a deficient understanding of the legal guidance that should govern the approach to these claims. 1 ani also influenced by the fact that in individual cases I have investigated I have not reconciled the conclusion to refuse a pension with a proper understanding of section 47. The cases I have investigated are not numerous. I have not been furnished with the experience of these cases that a lot of honorable senators have had over the years. I shall tell the Committee of one case within my experience. A serviceman was shot by a sniper. The bullet went through his chin, came down through the diaphragm and damaged two ribs so that they grew together. The bullet is now resting near the vertebrae. The victim, at the age of 62, complains of arthritis in the vertebrae. Nevertheless, he is denied a pension because he has been able to carry on, with the great fortitude he displayed in fighting, the conduct of his farming business. Because he first complained at the age of 62 years, he is said to be complaining merely. of old age.
I know of another case where a soldier formed a foot pad to hold down barbed wire in an exercise in Syria. He was trodden on with a spike as the troops went over him. He went into hospital. I want honorable senators to understand that I am not precise in the statement of facts of these cases. He was in hospital for a short time and was found to be suffering from, I think, spondylitis.
– That is inflammation of the spine.
– It is something like that. In the file that I perused at least two of the medical men say that trauma is a likely cause of the trouble. In spite of having that specific origin on which to base his claim, the applicant has been denied a pension. I know of another case in which a man contracted pneumonia in 1917 and was invalided as a bad pneumonia case to an English hospital. He has had intermittent lung trouble throughout the years ever since. I forget whether he is in receipt of a small pension or has been denied a pension. But in the last three or four years X-rays have been taken and it has been averred that the lung trouble consists of a residue of hydatid kernels. Forsooth, it is said that the reason why he is not entitled to a pension is that he must have had hydatids before he went into the Army. I asked myself: “Were there no dogs in France? Were there no hydatid germs which during the war were associated with his pneumonia, or otherwise?” Since the onset of this trouble he has had intermittent, progressive lung trouble, but he is denied a pension. This man gets such pain that now, at the age of 62 years, he has to lie prostrate on the ground on his farm to get relief.
I know of another man who has died. His widow has given me the details of his medical history. I cannot reconcile the decision in that case with the application of the onus of proof provision. These matters have been before all the authorities in the Department, and I am not satisfied, with very great respect to all those who have not experience of legal interpretation, that there is a proper understanding of what the Parliament meant in section 47 of the Act.
I said last night that Sir Garfield Barwick, when he was the Attorney-General, furnished an opinion on this section, if the section were interpreted in accordance with his opinion, there would be no ground for complaint. If section 47 were interpreted iri accordance with that opinion - it would be’ so interpreted by any judge before whom an appeal was taken - there would be removed the keen sense of injustice and grievance that I have on behalf of the three or four men whom I have mentioned and which other honorable senators have on behalf of a far greater number of persons. I shall not read all of what Sir Garfield said, because it has been reported by “ Hansard “ in earlier debates. Sir Garfield made four points. He said - .
Section 47 makes very remarkable inroads upon this usual course of events in the establishment of a .civil claim.
He had referred to the fact that a claimant must establish his case. He continued -
I think its- first impact is to require any reasonable inference which favours the view of the serviceman to be accepted. .
That statement is inadequately understood by sections outside the legal profession. I emphasise the word “ inference “. He said further -
This means, therefore, that where there .are competing inferences, all reasonable, the tribunal must accept that inference which leads towards success of the serviceman in his claim and reject “all other inferences, including even an inference which the tribunal thinks to be a more probable inference, than the inference which favours the ex-serviceman.
That is the second proposition that comes from this opinion, The third is as follows -
The next inroad which the section makes on the usual case is that it places the onus of proof on the Crown . rather than as in the ordinary case on the claimant.
The fourth proposition that 1 have culled from the opinion, which I am presenting very inadequately from the viewpoint of doing justice to it but which presentation will suffice for this occasion, is as follows -
In my opinion the. serviceman must efficiently particularise his current condition whatever it is to enable examination and verification and assert that his condition is due to war service of which he gives some account. It is then for the Crown to negative that that condition is war-caused or war-contributed.
If we take those four propositions together, and if we take into account the present state of knowledge as to the origin of cancer, how can it be said that 25 per cent, of the cases that have been submitted under this section have been properly accepted and 75 per cent, have been properly rejected? 1 submit that the four cases I have placed before the Committee make it imperative for there to be ready access to the courts for an interpretation of section 47. If the courts before whom appeals, are taken in the terms of the amendment agree with the opinion of Sir Garfield -Barwick, a great area of. complaint will have been removed. 1 have dealt with the reasons why I favour this view.
Now I want to make a few comments about the form of the amendment. I have circulated an amendment which, in my humble view, is better in form than that which has been moved by the Opposition. For the purposes of my vote, it is immaterial which form sub-section (1.) takes. I should not regard either of the forms that are before us as being a final piece of draftsmanship. To put my suggestion formally on record, I move - 1
Leave out sub-section (1.) of proposed new section 47a., insert - “ (1.) Any claimant, applicant or appellant under this Act aggrieved by any determination or decision involving the operation or interpretation of the provisions of section forty-seven of” ‘this Act may appeal to the High Court, or to the Supreme Court of the State or Territory of the- Commonwealth in which he resides, against the ‘ deter mination or decision of the Commission, Board, Appeal Tribunal or Assessment Appeal Tribunal, as the case can be “.
When the amendment was circulated, it was not understood that I wanted it to terminate . at that point. 1 ask honorable senators to cross out the remaining words in the circulated amendment.
– Does the honorable senator want to delete from the circulated amendment all words from and including “on the ground that”?
– Yes. I want to do so because they are rather confining words. I want ‘an applicant to have an appeal in any case in which there is involved the operation or interpretation of section 47. Then I want a court to have the right to dispense final justice such as, in its proper practice, it thinks fit.
– That alteration will not affect sub-sections (2.), (3.), (4.), (5.) and (6.)?
– No. It does not alter the substance of the provision.
I have a second observation to make and I want to convey this to members of the legal profession on the Opposition side: I want it to be noted that the amendment, either in its original form or in its improved form, may show inadequacies by reason of the fact that it will not apply in respect qf the decisions that ante-date this amendment. Something should be done to make decisions within the last three years appealable to the court if put forward in the next month or some such period.
Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I intervene only, to allow Senator Wright to continue his remarks.
.- I am obliged to Senator Willesee for his courtesy. My next observation on the question of form is that nothing is said as to the nature of the appeal. My conception of it is that in the Federal courts at least the first one would be of a judicial nature and therefore in the original jurisdiction of the court in the same way as an appeal from a decision of a Board of Review in the taxation field is an appeal so called; but if it is an appeal from an administrative tribunal, it is a rehearing. At any rate, it should be made clear that this is an appeal by way of rehearing.
My last observation- on the matter of form is that in both the Opposition amendment and the wording 1 have used for the sake of eliminating contentious points of form, the appeal is given to any claimant, applicant or appellant in respect of any decision, whether it be of- the Repatriation Boards, the Repatriation Commission, the War Pensions Assessment Appeal Tribunals or the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunals. I think it would be proper that the appeal to the court should lie only from the decision of the Entitlement Appeal Tribunal or the Assessment Appeal. Tribunal. If the application has gone, through, the . process of original consideration by the Repatriation Board, then by the Repatriation Commission and the Assessment Appeal Tribunal or . the Entitlement Appeal Tribunal and has been refused, the appeal should. lie only from that Tribunal. Notwithstanding its formal- .defects which are matters of draftsmanship, if the, Committee thinks the substance of the. amendment is acceptable, it can always be recommitted as a matter of form. So notwithstanding these defects, my opinion is that the principles of this amendment should be accepted.
– The ultimate aim of the amendment proposed by Senator Sandford, and that moved by Senator Wright is the same! I do not know of any ex-servicemen’s organi.sation which would favour such a course. The organisations raise their hands in horror when it is suggested that an appeal should go to a Supreme Court or. the High Court as has been suggested. What about the costs and the delays involved in such procedure? The proposal is impracticable and I think that is recognised by the representatives of . the ex-servicemen.
Senator Wright mentioned legal opinions that had been given over the years and I think he correctly interpreted them. I have a copy with me now. There are several points, however, to which I direct the attention of honorable senators. It has been said that the provisions of section 47 are not being properly applied. I have said that they are. When I have spoken privately on these matters to members of the Appeal Tribunal, they have told me that in many cases they have bent over backwards to give the appellant the benefit of the doubt. I get this story not only from members of the Tribunals but also in many cases from the advocates.
Let us consider the position. The determining authorities, whether they are members of the Repatriation Boards, the Repatriation Commission, an Entitlement Appeal Tribunal or an Assessment Appeal Tribunal, all know the law. That is their job. They handle cases every day and inevitably if they do not know all about it at the start, they get to know it before long. All- the members of the determining authorities are ex-servicemen who have had overseas service. This in itself should tend to give them a bias towards the applicants. Surely thatis understandable and should be expected. I am all for it. One member on each Board, Commission and Entitlement Tribunal is selected from a list of names submitted by the ex-servicemen’s organisations. We do not pick the names from a hat. The exservicemen’s organisations give us three names and a choice is made. We claim that these provisions should enable a full and sympathetic application of the legislation to be made and in fact they do.
Misunderstandings of this particular section come from persons who do not understand that the doubt to which section 47 refers is a doubt in the mind of the determining authority after it has considered all the evidence in accordance with section 47. It is not just a doubt which remains in the mind of a claimant or some third party who may or may not be in possession of the facts. The fact that there is a conflict in the evidence, as is often the case, does not necessarily mean that there must be . a doubt left in the mind of the determining authority. The authority has to act judicially and consider, all the evidence. The evidence against the applicant may be convincing or it may not. If it is so convincing as to leave the determining authority in no doubt, the determining authority must decide accordingly, but if the authority is left in any doubt, that doubt must be resolved in tha applicant’s favour and the claim must be admitted.
The system of deciding claims is a three stage system. Claims are determined in the first instance by a Repatriation Board with a right of appeal to the Commission and there is a further right of appeal to an Entitlement Appeal Tribunal. Notwithstanding the provisions of the Act and the system of determining claims, it is unlikely that everyone who has an adverse decision will agree that the decision is correct. We have to remember that some of these claims are put in by men who are doubtful whether their claim will be admitted or not; but it is only natural and proper that they should take the opportunity presented to them to see whether they can get a favourable decision. In many cases their application is granted. In some cases it is not. In some cases a man will. say, “I did not get the benefit of the doubt “.
asked whether I would say why I felt we should not call on the determining authorities to give the reason for a decision. Surely when a case comes before a judge and jury, the reasons for a decision are not given.
– No, but the judge has permitted his reasons to be known.
– - But the jury does not give its reasons. If the determining authorities were required to state reasons, obviously this would necessarily protract the time taken in the determination of claims and appeals. It would be impractical to accept this suggestion without a major expansion of the system under which the determining authorities now operate. We feel that the fact that a claimant and his advocate have an opportunity to inspect the files and the summary of evidence surely gives them a lead as to the reasons why the claim was unsuccessful. On these grounds I propose to vote for the first part of Senator Wright’s amendment which proposes to leave out sub-section (1). I presume that we will have two votes. We are to vote on the questions that sub-section (1.), of proposed section’ 47a., Senator Sand ford’s amendment, be left out and that the words proposed ‘ by Senator Wright be inserted in their stead. If that is the case, I propose to vote for the omission of the sub-section. The effect will be to nullify Senator Sandford’s amendment in that respect. 1 shall then vote against the insertion of the words proposed by Senator Wright.
– We reach a very unusual position where the Government and the Opposition are in complete accord about the course of action that ought to be taken. The Opposition proposes to join with the Government in voting to leave out certain words in Senator Sandford’s amendment and to substitute for them the revised subsection (1.) that Senator Wright proposes. I agree that the draft as originally submitted by him is improved by the deletion of certain words. It is left wider in the way he has put it. I think the amendment is ample. It expresses the position much more clearly and simply than it was expressed in the amendment that Senator Sandford proposed.
I take the opportunity to say something on one other thought that Senator Wright expressed. He said that he thought there ought to be a’ provision antedating the operation of this provision. I am open to correction on this point, but my impression is that any finding of the Repatriation Commission or the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal is never final. The whole matter can be reopened any time on the ascertainment of further or other evidence.
– That is the obstacle - the condition of finding further evidence.
– I am not quite sure as I speak now of what the exact conditions are.
– Further evidence.
– Well, fresh evidence could be a condition. I would imagine that, even if this particular provision were accepted and a fresh application were made, it would be a new set of facts in the circumstances of the case. My own feeling, having considered the matter on a minute’s notice on what Senator Wright said, is that ‘ his difficulty will probably be met by the ‘ consideration that this is a new circumstance or situation that entitles a fresh approach,
– I suggest that we do not have to decide that now.
– I hope that the honorable senator agrees that we do not have to decide the matter now, but that may well be the answer. I am not being dogmatic about it. That is a thought that occurs to me. The Minister indicated that there would be a flood of appeals and applications to the High Court -
– No,I did not say that altogether. I said that it would result in delays and costs.
– Well, delays and costs, and I think the Minister said also that it would be impracticable. I put the reverse view. Once the High Court pronounced on one or more of these cases, everybody in the Commission and every member of the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal would have clear principles laid down by the Court. I would think that a decision upon merely a handful of cases would enable the High Court to set principles which would be completely clear and that could be followed at the administrative level by the Commission and again by the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal. I do not think that the difficulty that the honorable senator postulates would really arise.
The only other point on which I wish to comment at the moment is this: The decisions that are appealed from, whether they are decisions by the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal or the Commission itself, are appeals from administrative decisions. We are appealing to a judicial body and seeking to confer jurisdiction upon the High Court. On full consideration, there may be some need to cover the position. I think that, at the moment, it seems to be adequately covered to make sure that the appeal is on the question of interpretation or that the appeal is based on a matter of law. I am thinking of the boilermakers case back in 1956.
– I do not think that that argument requires it to be confined to an issue at all. It has to be a judicial issue.
– The honorable senator has expressed it and the Opposition has expressed it as an application against a determination involving the operation or interpretation. It occurs to me, at first sight, that the interpretation of a statute and its application are a matter of law. I merely indicate in passing, purely on a final consideration of the matter, that that aspect ought to be taken into account. I hope that the Committee will support the proposition that we leave out sub-section (1 . ) of our proposal. We shall support the insertion then of
Senator Wright’s proposal.I hope that the amendment as so amended will have the support of the Committee.
– An amendment has been moved by Senator Wright to the amendment moved by Senator Sandford to leave out sub-section (1.) of proposed section 47a. The question before the Committee is that the words proposed to be left out be left out.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Wright’s amendment to Senator Sandford’s amendment) be inserted.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator I. A. C. Wood.)
Majority . . . . -
– It would be futile now to proceed with the remaining part of Senator Sandford’s amendment because the operative portion of it has been deleted and nothing has been substituted. The balance of the amendment would be quite meaningless unless the right of appeal were confirmed. In the circumstances, the Opposition will not persist with its emaciated amendment.
Question resolved in the negative. Clauses 4 to 10 agreed to. Proposed new clause I 0a.
.- I move -
After clause 10, insert the following new clause - “ 10a. Section 100 of the Principal Act is amended by inserting after paragraph (b) in the definition of ‘ member of the Forces ‘ the following paragraph -
a representative of the Salvation Army,’.”.
It will not take me very long to cover the necessary ground to make clear the Opposition’s intention in proposing this amendment. We believe that members of the Salvation Army, who did a mighty job in both world wars, should have the same right of appeal as do ex-servicemen generally. I think all ex-servicemen appreciate the great work that members of the Salvation Army did in all theatres of war in the face of all the hazards of wartime conditions.
At present the members of the Salvation Army concerned are entitled to claim repatriation benefits but unfortunately, if their applications are rejected, they have not the same right of appeal as do ex-servicemen generally. The purpose of this proposed amendment, therefore, is merely to bring them into line with ex-servicemen and with members of other denominations who were engaged as padres or in other capacities.
I do not think there is any need for me to elaborate further. I think the Senate will agree that we should extend the right of appeal to those very fine people who rendered such wonderful service to this country and to the forces to which they were attached. I hope the Senate will realise its obligation to give them the same rights as are enjoyed by ex-servicemen. I leave the matter there.
– At the outset let me say that I agree completely with Senator Sandford’s concluding remarks to the effect that these people did - indeed, they are still doing - a wonderful job. The Government does not accept the amendment, which proposes to add “ a representative of the Salvation Army “ to the definition of “ member of the Forces “ in section 100 of the Act - which applies to the 1939- 45 war only. The apparent intention is to provide, first, a legislative basis for benefits they now receive as an act of grace; secondly, to give them access to the threestage system of determining claims under the Repatriation Act and, in particular, access to the appeal tribunals, which carries the right of personal appearance and with an advocate if they so wish; and thirdly, to enable them to press for eligibility for housing loans under the provisions of the War Service Homes Act.
Salvation Army men are among a number of categories of persons who were not members of the defence forces but who served during the 1939-45 war in various ways and in various places in association with the armed forces. The range of benefits for these act of grace folk is substantially the same as for ex-service personnel and dependants. However, as mentioned, they do not have access to tribunals. The present proposal is a two pronged approach. lt seeks, first, a statutory basis for the benefits they receive and to give them access to the tribunals; and secondly, as a logical consequence if the first approach is accepted, an entitlement to a loan under the provisions of the War Service Homes Act. This seems to be the ultimate and principal objective. Within the past week or two I, and I understand other honorable senators, have received representations along these lines. I understand that the Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury), who administers the War Service Homes Act, has given a ruling on these representations.
Statutory provision under the Act for the Salvation Army would not give its members in practice additional pensions or other benefits. It would not give them any more than they are receiving at the present time: But it would give them access to Entitlement and Assessment Appeal Tribunals. We have been looking at this matter for some time’ to see whether something can be done. If they do not have access to these Tribunals, perhaps we could appoint a body to decide matters that are in dispute. While the members of the Salvation Army do not have this right at the present time, there are no bars against their approaching the Repatriation Commission at any time to have previously rejected claims reconsidered or pensions reassessed. It is for these reasons that the Government does not accept the amendment.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Sandford’s amendment) be inserted.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator I. A. C. Wood.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause 10b.
– I move -
After clause 10 insert the following new clause- “ 10b. After section one hundred and twentythree of the Principal Act the following section is inserted - 123a. The Commission may, subject to such conditions as it from time to time determines, provide medical and hospital treatment for a member of the Forces as defined in section twenty-three of this Act and for a person to which section one hundred and twenty of this Act applies.’.”.
This is a similar amendment to the one which has been proposed by the Opposition for the last couple of years. It is designed to cover medical and hospital treatment for ex-service personnel from World War I and the South African War. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber have raised this matter from time to time. It is something that the Government cannot in perpetuity ignore. The need for such treatment becomes more urgent and necessary as time goes on. This is not charity. There is an obligation on the community, through the Federal Government, to provide hospitalisation and medical treatment for ex-service personnel of World War I and the South African War.
When a similar amendment was moved by the Opposition last year, honorable senators opposite mentioned that there were 10,000, 12,000 or 16,000 people involved. But I think those figures create a wrong impression. The implication is that immediately this legislation is passed, 10,000, 12,000 or 16,000 ex-service personnel from those wars would have to be admitted to repatriation hospitals. Of course, on reflection and using a little of common sense, we must realise that only a comparatively small percentage of that number would need hospitalisation and medical treatment in repatriation hospitals. In addition, a considerable percentage of the people who would be entitled to medical and hospital treatment might elect to secure treatment in other hospitals. Honorable senators opposite cannot say that if we approve this amendment the Government will have to cater for the whole number of survivors from the First World War and the South African War. As I have said before, many of these men are approaching the midnight of their lives. Surely we have an obligation to provide them with medical attention and beds for what will be, in many cases, the last few months of their lives.
These things were promised to the men who enlisted for service in World War I or the South African war. Only a few of those who served in the latter war remain. We know that many of these men are in desperate need of hospital and medical attention. We know that the cost of being ill, when one has to meet the expense of ordinary medical and hospital treatment can be terrific. This is quite a burden on many thousands of men who gave the best years of their lives to the service of this country. 1 do not want to delay the Committee. The reason for the amendment is well known, lt has been circulated among honorable senators and is the same as that submitted last year, lt might be said that it’ would cost the Government quite a lot to provide the extra accommodation that would be required.
– I should like an explanation of the references to section 120 and section 23 of the Act. I do not quite understand how they are involved.
– As I have not the principal Act with me, I cannot give the honorable senator that information offhand. The purpose of the amendment, as he obviously knows, is to provide hospital and medical treatment for ex-servicemen of the 1914-18 war and of the South African war. That is all that I am concerned with at present.
– Section 23 defines members of the Forces. The honorable senator says that that applies only to 1914- 18 veterans. I read “members of the Forces “ to mean persons who served during any of the wars.
– I understand from what the honorable senator says that the section merely refers to “ members of the Forces “, which means members entitled to benefits under repatriation legislation; it does not mean all members.
– Obviously the honorable senator has not read his own amendment.
– I have read the amendment. I know, what it means. I know what it seeks and that is what I am endeavouring to achieve. Every honorable senator knows, because the same amendment was submitted last year. We are hoping that the Government has gained a little more tolerance and understanding since last year. We hope that the Government, in its tolerance and understanding, will realise that the surviving exservicemen of those two wars are entitled to this benefit. We owe it to them as a debt of gratitude. The Government might say that extra accommodation and facilities would be needed. I submit that if the amendment is accepted the Government will be killing two birds with the one stone. If it gives hospital and medical attention to these people through the Repatriation Department, it will ease the burden on ordinary State hospitals. We know that there is an acute shortage of hospital facilities in every State. The Government would be helping these ex-servicemen by giving them the attention that they need and at the same time it would be relieving the ordinary hospital and medical facilities in the various States.
From inquiries that I have made I understand that there have always been spare beds in repatriation hospitals throughout the States and in some instances even spare wards. So far as my information goes, the accommodation very largely is already available. Facilities for medical treatment also exist in the various repatriation hospitals. In any event, if there is a shortage of hospital accommodation and medical facilities, it is the duty of the Government to ensure that provision is made for these people. I appeal to the Government to realise that this is a matter of grave urgency which has been outstanding for some time. These men are entitled to the best that we can give them. It was promised to them. They have undergone conditions that are very hard to describe to persons who did not experience similar conditions. The effects of this service upon these people must be getting greater and greater with the passage of the years. The Minister has won two or three votes already. Surely on the law of averages we are entitled to win this one. I appeal to the Minister to induce the Government to relax a little, to become a little more tolerant, and to realise that these men are only asking for something to which they are. justly entitled.
– It would give me a lot of pleasure if I could accede to the honorable senator’s request on this matter. Rather more people are involved that he suggested. The figures that we have show that we would have eligible for full treatment some 50,000 and for part treatment 15,000. If we had the bed space required for those numbers, it would be a fairly simple matter to make provision for beds. I remind the Committee that a few years ago when the service pension ceiling was raised, about 20 per cent, of such personnel as we are dealing with now became eligible for medical assistance and this, to a large degree, satisfied many of the persons who wanted men in this category to be entitled to receive treatment. The only people not now eligible are those disqualified by the means test. As I mentioned yesterday,, one of our main objectives has been to give assistance to those most in need of it. We feel that if we include all those people who are eligible under the means test we are assisting the people in that category. After all, the people disqualified by the means test can contribute to the hospital and medical benefit schemes available to them.
Another point which I think Senator Sandford mentioned was that this amendment, if agreed tO; would set a precedent for the 550,000 pensioners from World War II. If we give this benefit ‘to the people for whom it is now sought, later on, although the honorable senator and I will not be here then, somebody else will grant it to the survivors of World War II in view of the fact that it was extended to the survivors of World War I. But we here do not have to worry about that. However, those are matters that must be considered. While it would be very nice to agree to this amendment now, it is not possible to do so. For the reasons I have given, we reject it.
.- It is not because of the presentation by Senator Sandford that I am persuaded that there is merit in the amendment, but because I have had it explained to me by the officers who are here to assist the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar). I find that the intention of the amendment is to confer entitlement to treatment in repatriation hospitals on diggers of the First World War and Boer War veterans. I spoke in favour of this proposition last night and. also last year. I believe that, in this matter, where there is a will there is a way. As this is the 50th anniversary of the landing on Gallipoli, I believe we would do. ourselves less than credit if we did not. at this stage accord the proposed benefits to the men concerned. What applies to veterans of .the First World War’ and the Boer War will not apply on an equal basis to veterans of World War II until 1989. There may be an altogether different outlook, leading to a ready acceptance of this principle, long before the 50th anniversary of World War II is reached. I favour the amendment.
– I want to say one or two words in support of the amendment and to clarify the position. Confusion apparently arose because Senator Sandford did not have the Act with him when he moved the amendment. Section 23 of the Act describes a member of the forces or a returned soldier as a person who served during “ the present war”, which is the 1914-18 War. Section 120 of the Act extends certain provisions of the legislation to veterans of the Boer War. The position is different from what I thought it was because the Act, in this respect, applies only to First World War and Boer War veterans.
I realise the position that the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) is in and the problem that would be involved in providing, hospital accommodation for all the extra people who would be entitled to it if we carried the amendment. But I do not think the problem is of the magnitude suggested by the Minister. Would it be necessary to give these men treatment in repatriation hospitals? 1 believe that a great many of them are already receiving medical treatment of some kind. All that the amendment really seeks to do is to put the responsibility for the payment of the cost of medical and hospital treatment on to the Government. The cost of the treatment of these men probably is already, to a large extent, subsidised by the Government in one form or another under the medical and hospital benefits scheme. So it could well be that the cost of accepting this proposal would not be as great as is imagined by the Minister. It is only a question of which Government department shall pay. In addition, the great trouble that such people would encounter in getting their illnesses accepted as attributable to their war service would justify their being given more sympathetic consideration than is now accorded to them.
.- The two representatives of the Democratic Labour Party in this chamber will support the amendment. So much has been said about the service which these men gave to their country that I think it would be a very gracious act for us to add something practical to all the words that have been uttered. Apart altogether from the question of the means test, we feel that in almost every case the ills these people suffer must have been contributed to, at least to some extent, by the severe hardships they endured during their war service. In those circumstances, we think they deserve this assistance from their country and we propose to support the amendment.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Sandford’s amendment) be inserted.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator I. A. C. Wood.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
.- The Opposition is now in fighting form and has the whip out. I am confident that we will win the vote on the next amendment I have the honour to move on behalf of the Opposition.
After clause 10 insert the following new clause: - “ 10c. After section one hundred and twentythree of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: - 123b. The Commission may, subject to such conditions as it from time to time determines, provide for the wife of a person in receipt of the Special Rate of pension under the Second Schedule to this Act such medical benefits as she would receive if she were the wife of a person eligible for medical benefits under the Pensioner Medical Service.’.”
The Committee will realise that the aim of the amendment is to provide medical benefits for the wives of totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen. We have an obligation in this matter, as we had in relation to the preceding amendment. Many hundreds of T.P.I. ex-servicemen are not in repatriation hospitals receiving treatment. Probably there are thousands of these cases being attended to in their homes by their wives. The wives for years are placed under a terrific strain in looking after their totally and permanently incapacitated husbands. They are rendering a great service to the community.
– They are unpaid nurses.
– I am coming to that point. The wives of T.P.I. exservicemen are saving the repatriation Department tens of thousands of pounds each year which otherwise would be spent in providing hospital treatment and the nursing attention that they now supply in their homes. It seems that the Committee is becoming more tolerant, as is evidenced by the result of the vote on the preceding amendment. It seems, also, that we have more understanding and that the Opposition can look forward with quiet confidence to winning the vote on the amendment I have just moved. The object is equally deserving. In some cases, assistance is desperately needed. Many of the wives of T.P.I. pensioners are in comparatively poor circumstances. They receive practically nothing for themselves from the Department. They receive a small allowance, but nothing to compensate for the great service they are rendering to their husbands and to the community by saving the Repatriation Department probably hundreds of thousands of pounds a year that would be spent to provide the services that go with hospitalisation. I leave the matter to the sense of justice of the Committee and to the tolerance that is gradually spreading on the other side of the chamber. I am quite confident that the Opposition will have sufficient support to gain acceptance of the amendment. I give the Government some good advice: Accept the amendment. Do not be defeated again.
– I suppose that I should first congratulate Senator Sandford on having won after a lot of attempts. I hope that he will not win again. The Government does not accept the amendment for reasons I shall state. The pension of £14 5s. a. week for totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen was fixed after recognition of the facts referred to by Senator Sandford. They were taken into account when the rate was arrived St. Wives of T.P.I, pensioners receive an allowance of £2 a week. Extension of the pensioner medical service to include wives of service pensioners will take effect as from 1st January 1966, and they will benefit along with other members of the’ community. T.P.I, pensioners have told me that their only complaint is that they have not been able to obtain free medical service for their wives. As. from 1st January next, the pensioner medical service will be of real assistance to them.
The principle to be maintained is that repatriation benefits are provided to exservicemen themselves for war caused disabilities, to service pensioners under certain conditions and to war widows and their children as direct dependants of deceased ex-servicemen. It has never been part of the repatriation system, as such, to provide this benefit nor, in accordance with the principle I have stated, should it be. There have been progressive liberalisations of the means test which have enabled T.P.I, pensioners and their wives to receive some means test pension, thus increasing their overall pension income and the capacity of the husband to provide medical cover for his wife under community health schemes which are heavily subsidised by the Government. The pensioner medical service has been liberalised and will be of great assistance to wives of service pensioners. At the present time the Government cannot accept the amendment moved by the Opposition.
– Do I understand the Minister to say that in fixing the rate for totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen the point raised by Senator Sandford was taken into account? If that is so, it seems to me to be a rather illogical way in which to try to handle the matter. If it is suggested that we should fix a flat rate, add it to a pension, and say: “ This is what we assume will cover the responsibility of this person for his wife over a certain period of time “, we would be paying to keep some people who would never use the benefit but would not be paying sufficient for others. Obviously, when we fix the rate for a T.P.I, pension, or even the new intermediate rate that is about to be granted, we are taking over responsibility for some of the medical services and are paying the pension to people who because of their war service can no . longer accept the responsibility themselves.
Senator Sandford is merely putting forward a logical extension of the principle of paying for the sustenance of a pensioner and his wife. He wants the Government to accept direct responsibility for providing medical benefits for the wife. Unless I did not understand the Minister correctly, I think that the Department is approaching the matter rather illogically in anticipating the amount and in adding it as a flat rate. The Government already says: “Yes, we accept responsibility for paying a pension to these people and for providing them with medical care “. Now Senator Sandford is merely asking, on behalf of the Opposition, for medical benefits to be made available to the wife of a person who is in receipt of the special rate pension.
– I had thought, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that when, somebody moved an amendment to a very important Act of this Parliament there would be some certainty about what was intended or that some clarification would be offered by way of explanation. Unless I am very much mistaken, I do not think that the amendment confers much direct authority upon the Commission. The amendment states -
The Commission may, subject to such conditions as it from time to time determines-
Does that mean a weekly determination by the Commission - provide for the wife of a person in receipt of the Special Rate of pension under the Second Schedule to this Act such medical benefits-
– Will the honorable senator continue with the remainder of the amendment?
– It continues - as she would receive if she were the wife of a person eligible for medical benefits under the Pensioner Medical Service.
I do not think the amendment is clear. What will be given will be left to the Commission. Either these people are entitled to medical benefits or they are not.
– I do not think that what the honorable senator has said is so.
– I may have misinterpreted the amendment. I point out that it states -
The Commission may, subject to such conditions as it from time to time determines-
I may be quite wrong, but I believe that I am interpreting it correctly. I believe that such a provision should not be included in an Act of Parliament. I oppose the amendment because, as I said last night, we in this place must look at such matters in a responsible way and remember that everything cannot be given to everybody in one year. Moreover, bound up with this legislation is the legislation that makes provision for social service benefits. In its current proposals the Government has done a good job for repatriation pensioners, and I do not believe that there is need for this provision to be added to the repatriation law at this time.
– Possibly the amendment needs some clarification. If there is any weakness in it, it is in the word “ may “. 1 believe that the amendment expresses an intention and that the Commission would have to act accordingly.
– What are the conditions that are envisaged?
– The Commission would be subject to such conditions as it laid down. We must take into account the full intention of the amendment, which is that medical benefits should be provided for the wife of a special rate pensioner. Those benefits are defined as being those that are received by persons who are eligible for medical benefits under the pensioner medical service.
– But in stipulating the conditions the Commission could cut the benefits down in any way it wished.
– I do not think it could.
– It could not cut them down, because they do not get any at the present time.
– Just a moment. Let us have one at a time. Obviously, the medical benefits are defined in the last part of the amendment. I cannot imagine what’ the conditions would be, but they could not alter the medical benefits that would be granted. The conditions could provide only that’ the eligible person should do certain things. One condition could well be that the wife would receive the medical benefits if she was not earning. But the Commission would have no say in the kind of medical benefits to be granted; they are defined. As I said earlier, possibly one weakness is to be found in the use of the word “ may “. I should think that that word would be defined in the Acts Interpretation Act as meaning that this would not be mandatory. The use of this word would provide an escape that would enable the Commission to reduce the cost if it found that cost to be prohibitive.
– Precisely the same qualifications apply to the amendment that the honorable senator has just moved.
– Yes, but the whole point is that these amendments would express the intention of the Parliament and the Commission, as a servant of the Parliament, would, within its capabilities, give effect to that intention. As I said a moment or two ago, the word “ may “ provides the escape if compliance with the exact letter of the provision were found to be ruinous. I think this is a good stipulation in a new amendment. Possibly as time went by the word “ may “ could be altered to “ shall “.
I point out that the rates in the Second Schedule include provision for members of the forces who have been blinded as a result of war service. Surely nobody would say that the wives of such persons should not receive medical benefits. I repeat an argument I have used previously; that is, that the medical benefits that are at present being received by such persons possibly are being heavily subsidised by the Government through the medical benefits scheme. When we talk of cost, that can mean only the cost to the Repatriation Department, not additional cost to the nation. It is simply a question as to which department should pay. It seems to me to be quite inappropriate to say that the allowance - I think a sum of £2 10s. was mentioned - would meet the requirements of the wife of a special rate pensioner. It discriminates between pensioners who have healthy wives and those who have invalid wives. They are at such a disadvantage that we must grant social service benefits to them. We suggest that there should be an extension of benefits under the Repatriation Act to these most deserving people.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Sandford’s amendment) be inserted.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator I. A. C. Wood.)
Majority . . 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause 1 1 agreed to.
Clauses 12 to 14 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator McKellar) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 16th September (vide page 499), on motion by Senator McKellar-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill 1965 is consequential upon the Repatriation Bill 1965. There is not much to be said about the Bill at the second reading stage, but it is my intention in Committee to move the amendment which I have circulated to honorable senators. I do not propose to delay the Senate now. I shall be concentrating my attention on my amendment in Committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Proposed new clause 2a.
.- Copies of the amendment that I have the honour to move on behalf of the Opposition have been distributed to honorable senators. The amendment is very short and its purpose is to bring seamen who qualify for war pensions and allowances into line, in respect of appeals to tribunals, with ex-servicemen who qualify for repatriation benefits. I move -
After clause 2, insert the following new clause - “2a. After section 8 of the Principal Act the following section is inserted - 8a. Where an appeal to the Commission under section (7.) of this Act fails, the claimant may appeal to an Appeal Tribunal established under the Repatriation Act 1920-1963 and the Tribunals established under that Act are vested with the necessary powers to hear and determine the appeal.’.”.
The reason for this amendment is possibly quite clear to honorable senators. At the present time seamen who qualify for war pensions and allowances do not have a right of appeal on similar lines to that granted to ex-servicemen under the Repatriation Act. The only appeal, I understand, that a seaman has in the event of the rejection of a claim by the Repatriation Board is to a committee which, I believe, is called the Seamen’s Allowances Appeal Committee. On the information given to me, I understand that this committee sits in camera and does not give reasons for its decision. A seaman has no right of appeal against the decision of this Committee.
There is no need for me to elaborate the fact that seamen during both world wars did a mighty job for the nation. They are entitled to all the benefits we can give them particularly in regard to the determination of applications that they make to the Repatriation Board or the Commission. We propose, by this amendment, that a seaman whose claim has been rejected by the Seaman’s Allowances Appeal Committee shall have the right to appeal to the appeal tribunals established under the Repatriation Act. Seamen who are qualified applicants for pensions and whose applications are rejected should be given the same right to prosecute their claims as is given to exservicemen. I hope that, when we vote on the amendment, our numbers will improve a little. I leave it to the good sense of honorable senators and the tolerance and sympathy of the Minister to accept the amendment or make sure that we win the division.
– Under the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act there is a two stage system for determination as against a three stage system under the Repatriation Act. The two stages under the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act are that the matter comes before the Pensions Committee and is then subject to appeal to the Repatriation Committee which, I understand, consists of three members. I have these comments to make on the matter: The three tier system of determination is appropriate to the particular circumstances of the relation of death and incapacity to war service, which includes all the general circumstances of that service as well as death or incapacity arising out of direct enemy action, or arising from action in combating an enemy attack or suspected attack.
The basis of eligibility under the two Acts is quite different. The Repatriation Act covers, as I have mentioned, all the circumstances of service in the defence forces in time of war or warlike operations by those bound to that war service and provides compensation in respect of death or incapacity due to that service. The Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act applies to merchant seamen engaging in their normal occupation but in respect of whom, and their dependants, the Commonwealth has accepted responsibility to make compensation where death or incapacity ensues as a direct result of enemy action, suspected enemy attack, or in consequence of capture or detention by the enemy. Therefore, the basis of eligibility is much more restrictive in the case of mariners. In fact, section 14 of the legislation provides that a pension for incapacity can be granted only where a prescribed medical officer certifies that the incapacity is directly attributable to a war injury. Here there is the difference that a prescribed medical officer has to give this certificate.
The main disadvantage to mariners is that they have no right of personal appearance, with advocates if they desire, in the seamen’s jurisdiction whereas claimants have this right at tribunal level under the Repatriation Act. However, as I have mentioned, the two systems are not entirely comparable and the existing provisions may be regarded in the circumstances as adequate. We feel that the form of the amendment would not be adequate to adapt to the Act the necessary provision in the Repatriation Act to enable the tribunals to deal with appeals by mariners. We feel also that the amendment is an expression of policy and that it is not adequate to give legal effect to the objective the honorable senator has set out to attain.
.- I am rather amazed at the attitude adopted by the Minister. I have always understood the position to be that merchant seamen who come under the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act and who serve within a war zone get the same treatment as the men they took to the war zones. We have to realise that unless the mariners were prepared to risk all on a voyage to take our troops or whatever our troops needed to a certain place, our troops and their requirements would not have reached that place. All Senator Sandford asks in his amendment is that those people who are entitled to benefits under this Act should have the right of appeal against the rejection of their claims. It is most unfair if the Government treats in a certain way one section of those who serve this nation and denies to another section the same treatment. Why differentiate between two sections of the men who served the nation in time of war?
I hope that the Minister will give this proposed amendment sympathetic consideration. All that the men concerned here desire is the right of appeal against any decision to the appeal tribunal established under the Act. The men we are discussing now were classified as serving in the war when they were within the confines of a certain area. I am amazed that the Government has one rule for one section of the men who served the nation in war, and a different rule for another section. I ask the Minister to treat the two sections in the same way. These persons should have the same right of appeal to a tribunal as persons who come within the scope of the Repatriation Act.
We must remember that Australia is an island continent and that the Government has said, with a certain amount of justification, that we can best defend our country away from our own shores. I think we are entitled to claim that the men of the Merchant Navy played their part in defending this country. I regret that I do not have the figures with me, but I was told that their losses during the war were high in proportion to their numbers. In the circumstances, one finds it hard to reconcile the Government’s attitude towards a section of the people who served the nation in war in one way with its attitude towards another section of the people who served the nation in another way.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Sandford’s amendment) be inserted.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator I. A. C. Wood.)
Majority . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator McKellar) read a third time.
– by leave - Mr. President, I inform the Senate of the appointment of members of the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education. This Committee, under the chairmanship of Dr. I. W. Wark, will make recommendations to the Commonwealth about the provision of grants to or on behalf of colleges of advanced education. These colleges are tertiary level institutions, other than universities, to which the Government is prepared to make special capital and recurrent grants in association with the States. We decided to do this following our consideration of the report of the Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education in Australia, and our concept of the development of these new colleges was explained in some detail in a statement of Government policy which I made in this chamber on 24th March last.
I am pleased to announce that each State Government has indicated its readiness to co-operate with the Commonwealth in the development of these colleges of advanced education, and that discussions are in train in preparation for the first triennium commencing 1st January 1967. We have also had discussions with the States concerned about their proposals for attracting the special interim capital grants which the Government indicated in its policy statement it would provide over the period to 31st December 1966. Legislation to authorise those interim capital grants will be introduced later in this session.
The Advisory Committee, which will not be a statutory body, will have up to seven part time members in addition to a full time chairman. We have been fortunate to secure the services of a group of men who, because of their individual qualities and experience and their knowledge of the Australian higher education scene and the diversity of their experience, will, I am confident, make a most valuable contribution to the development of these colleges. The membership of the Advisory Committee is: Chairman, Dr. I. W. Wark, C.B.E., Ph.D. Lond., D.Sc. Melb., F.A.A, F.R.A.C.I., M.A.I.M.M.E.; and members, Mr. V. G. Burley, B.E., M.I. Mech.E., M.I.E. Aust., M.I. Prod.E., A. M.I.E.E., F.A.I.M., Director, CadburyFryPascall Pty. Ltd., Claremont, Tasmania; Professor Gordon Greenwood, Ph.D. Lond., M.A., Professor of History and Political Science, University of Queensland; Mr. S. E. Huddleston, B.Sc. B.E., B.Ec., Manager, Administration, Electricity Trust of South Australia; Mr. J. H. Kaye, B.Com., D.P.A., F.A.I.M., F.I.P.M., Director of Personnel, Standard Telephones and Cables Pty. Ltd., Sydney; Professor G. L. McClymont, Ph.D. Camb., B.V.Sc, Dean of Faculty of Rural Science, University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales; Mr. H. P. Weber, M.Sc., M.I. Chem.E., F.R.A.C.I., F.A.I.M., Managing Director, Massey-Ferguson (Aust.) Ltd., Melbourne; and Dr. H. S. Williams, Ph.D. Lond., B.A., B. Sc, Dip.Ed., F.B.Ps.S., F.I.P.M.A., M.A.C.E., Director of Technical Education, Western Australia.
Sitting suspended from 5.47 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed -from 22nd September (vide page 523), on -motion by Senator McKellar-
That >the .Bill be now read a second time.
.- This Bill, when passed, will authorise the holding of a referendum of wool growers to decide ‘Whether they want a reserve price scheme ‘for marketing. If .they decide that they do, the auction system will be retained as :it is at present, but a reserve :price arrangement will be added to it. This will mean .that no wool will be able to be sold for less ‘than the reserve price laid down, in that way the : growers “will retain the present ^auction system, with its benefits of high -prices, and also will be protected against low prices, whether they be brought about ‘by lack of demand or, worse still, by the .machinations of the auctioneers and wool ‘buyers. lae Australian Labour Party supports the scheme. We have always supported organised .marketing. Today it is difficult to find an Australian .primary industry that has not a marketing scheme. In .days ,gone by most members of the Government parties, including members of the Australian Country Party, would not have anything to do with organised marketing; but time has brought changes. AH honorable senators have seen the value of organised marketing to the industries concerned. I . suppose that one of the .most important organised .marketing schemes today is that in the wheat industry, where there is a guaranteed price for all wheat sold for home consumption and also for up to 150 million bushels of export wheat a year. I doubt whether there has ever been a more prosperous .time for wheat growers than the period during which the wheat stabilisation scheme has “been in operation.
– When did the Labour Party first put organised marketing into its policy.
– I can think of no better person in this chamber to answer my young friend’s question than Senator Gair from Queensland.
– I am not talking. about socialisation, but about organised marketing.
– Yes, organised marketing. In fact, when one reads the history of the primary industries of this country, Queensland, under a Labour administration, stands out with its schemes for organised marketing, even for the peanut crop. At all times the growers have had control of their industries. We need only look at the sugar industry to see an example of organised marketing and, better still, organised planting. I doubt whether that industry would be as prosperous as it is but for the efforts of men who, over the long years, have believed in organised marketing, which has brought success and a fruitful return to the people who labour on the land.
– The honorable senator did not quite answer my question.
– I thought I should leave it to be answered by a man who .at present is a senator and who, over the long years of his political life, played a very important part in organising the rural industries of his ‘State and in helping the farmers by so-doing.
It is true, as I said, that this Bill, when passed, ‘will only ‘give the Government the fight to hold a referendum. It will not bring in the -reserve price plan. ‘I do not know whether my young friend who has been interjecting wants to support the Bill or not. He has the right to speak for himself and I do not want to pre-judge his thoughts on the matter. However, he would be very much out of step with other members of this party at ‘the moment if :he did other than give his support to ‘this -Bill.
For the purposes of this referendum, the definition of a wool grower will be a person who sold 10 bales of shorn wool in the 1963- 64 season or who has owned not Jess than 300 sheep at all times from and including 1’6’th ‘September of this year. One of the beauties of ‘this Bill is that it gives the wool grower who owns 300 sheep the same voting power as the wool grower who owns 10 times as many sheep. All that I say to .my young friend is this: I hope that when we come to discuss other bills dealing with voting, members of the Country Party will adhere to the principle of one vote one value just as strongly as they adhere to it in respect of this referendum. It will be interesting to see what will happen in relation to bills to come before us.
If this Bill is passed, wool growers will be compelled to vote. I see nothing wrong with compulsory voting. We have it for the election of members of this chamber and of the other place, and I think it is wise. In the referendum one may expect about a 95 per cent, vote, such as we have in elections for this House. Let us hope that that will be so. Although the Bill does not outline the scheme on which the wool growers will be asked to vote, it provides that the case for the scheme and the case against the scheme will be presented, the statement of each case to be, I think, in about 2,000 words. Therefore, the wool grower - prior to casting his vote will have an opportunity to read the pros and cons. That will be in accordance with the principle that operates when we have referenda in relation to the Commonwealth Constitution.
I congratulate the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) upon his second reading speech. I read also the second reading speech of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) in another place. To be quite candid, I thought the speech by our own Minister contained much more detail than did the other speech. I congratulate the Minister upon giving a full explanation not only of the Bill but also of the scheme that will follow should this Bill be carried, as I hope and believe it will. The proposal is that a fund of £80 million, £30 million of which will be provided by the growers, will be available for use if wool submitted to auction does not bring the reserve price. The industry must believe that -this will happen, because it is levying itself to the extent of £30 million. I believe that in odd .cases some of the fund may have -to be used.
Wool that is submitted to auction but does not bring the reserve price will be bought in and offered for sale when the market appears .to be in better shape in relation ito price. The -portion of the fund to be provided by wool growers will be built *up at a rate of £4 million a year by means of a -percentage levy on the value of the wool clip. I understand that attempts are being made to have the balance of £50 million provided by Australian banks. If they cannot meet the request, the money will be guaranteed by the Government. The reserve price will be fixed each year and will be recommended by the Australian Wool Board to the Cabinet, which will have power only to reject or endorse it. Therefore, the reserve price will be one which the growers’ own organisation will determine. It will not be possible for the price to be amended by the Government. The Minister expects that the reserve price will be conservative, but high enough to influence prices. I think he is wise. I do not like the word “ conservative “ at any time but I suppose that is just a matter of choice of words.
– It is only a matter of time.
– I do not know what my good friend means by that.
– The honorable senator will become more conservative as he grows older.
– I am getting on a little in age now; I see the wisdom of this provision. One wonders whether the scheme would be of any use at all if a price were fixed that would hurt the scheme and would not do justice to the wool growers. It amazes me that there is any opposition at all to the scheme. Such a scheme has been in operation for a number of years in South Africa and in New Zealand, which are the two other main wool growing countries of the world. Their schemes have worked very successfully. One has only to cast his mind back to what -happened .during the last war, when the government of the day, acting under its wartime powers, bought in wool through what was commonly known as the Joint Organisation. The Organisation had a great amount of wool after the war was over, for which it fixed a reserve price. If I remember correctly, it took five or eight years to dispose df that wool and the incoming clips. I understand that the Government sold that wool at a profit of something like £90 million, which was later distributed among the wool growers.
The number of authorities within this industry is somewhat confusing. There are the Australian Wool Board, the Australian Wool
Industry Conference and the Australian Wool Marketing Authority. In the course of his speech, the Minister said that the members of the Wool Marketing Authority would be appointed by the Wool Board for a period of three years and that in appointing the chairman of the Authority the Wool Board would be required to consult the Minister and the executive of the Australian Wool Industry Conference. He also said that before appointing the other members of the Authority - except one, who would be appointed by the Government - the Wool Board would be obliged to consult the executive of the Wool Industry Conference. I am pleased that the Government has at last seen the wisdom of attempting to provide an organised marketing scheme for what is one of Australia’s major industries and is acting in such a manner as to place the scheme in the hands of a majority of the wool growers, through their organisations. One can only wish the scheme success and trust that, despite the pressure being exerted on the growers by those who earn a good living by riding on the backs of the growers, those who do the work in the industry will reap the benefit of it.
I was amazed when I read clause 7 of the Bill. I often wonder what our legal friends are thinking of when they draft legislation in this fashion. Sub-clause (3.) of clause 7 states -
A person is not entitled to vote more than once at the referendum.
Sub-clause (4.) goes on to say -
For the purposes of this section, a person voting in the capacity of personal representative or trustee shall be taken to be distinct from the same person voting in his own right or in another capacity of personal representative or trustee.
Why must our legal friends clothe measures in such verbiage rather than use simple language that he or she who runs may read and readily understand?
– If they did that everybody would understand it.
– I suppose that is so. As I have said, sub-clause (3.) states simply that a person is not entitled to vote more than once at the referendum. Nobody could quarrel with that. It is the next sub-clause that I quarrel with. Could not whoever drafted the Bill have worded the provision in this manner: “ A person is not entitled to vote more than once in this refer endum except when he votes as a personal representative or trustee “? I would be the last person to tell a member of the legal profession in this chamber or elsewhere what his job is, but our legal friends should remember that, in the main, they are dealing here with ordinary laymen. I often wonder why they cloud legislation in this way. Let us hope that future legislation will be drafted more clearly than the measure with which we are now dealing. Clause 13 says, in effect, that the partners in a partnership can vote as long as either one or both of them can prove that they have the required number of sheep or have produced the required number of bales of wool. Clause 10 (1 .) provides that a person is not entitled to vote unless he has produced at least 10 bales of wool or has 300 sheep. Clause 14 states - (1.) The Deputy Returning Officer for a State shall transmit by post or deliver to every person enrolled on the roll for that State a ballot-paper in accordance with the prescribed form.
What does the word “ deliver “ mean? Does it mean that there will be polling booths for this referendum and that at those booths the returning officers will hand over ballot papers to the wool growers who are on the roll? Surely that is not what is going to happen. I thought that in a referendum of the wool growers every ballot paper would be sent out by registered post, together with a stamped addressed envelope in which the wool grower would return the ballot paper. This is important, because we are dealing with the biggest rural industry in Australia - an industry which is the main means of livelihood of this nation.
– That provision is qualified.
– I do not know whether it is qualified. Why do not the Parliamentary Draftsmen tell us what we want to know when they are drafting legislation?
– What is the weakness of personal delivery as an alternative to using the post?
– I believe there is a weakness. How certain can one be that if a returning officer or his deputy is sent to a farm the wool grower will be there?
– But what about the farmer going to the electoral office?
– I think all the ballot papers should be sent out by post.
– But what is the weakness of the situation? One cannot envisage the electoral officers travelling all round the country.
– What percentage of the wool growers can the honorable senator envisage going into town to vote? If the honorable senator’s reckoning were carried to its logical conclusion, it would be necessary to have nearly as many polling booths for this referendum as are required for a general election. Otherwise, the honorable senator would expect the wool growers to cover a great many miles to get to certain centres. I think the most practical method is to provide for postal votes.
– What is the weakness, in a few cases or many, of the alternative of delivery?
– I believe that this planned referendum cannot be compared with a general election where every person registered on the electoral rolls votes. The honorable senator says that a wool grower could go into a town and place his vote. I think it should be laid down that the wool growers may vote by post.
– The honorable senator has said that, but what is the weakness of the alternative?
– I do not want the ballot papers carted around.
– The honorable senator does not want an alternative at all.
– I do not want any alternative. I want postal ballot papers to be provided. I think the matter is impotant enough to warrant registration of the ballot papers which, when posted, should be accompanied by a reply paid envelope for each wool grower.
– I have not heard any people affirm that a postal ballot has more integrity.
– I am looking at the practical side of it. Because the Government is making voting at the referendum compulsory, the procedure should be made as easy as possible for the wool grower who has the right to vote, rather than impose upon him an obligation to travel. I hope that when the regulations are gazetted postal votes will be provided for.
The Bill lays down that a company shall have only one vote. I understand that procedure was adopted in the 1951 referendum. Speaking from memory, the only difference is that in the 1951 referendum a wool grower could be enrolled to vote if he sheared five bales of wool. That entitlement has been raised to 10 bales. In this way, the Government has indicated to the people something that they have already come to realise but might have forgotten - that since this Government has been in office inflation has increased by up to 100 per cent.
Other than the need to provide for postal votes, I see nothing wrong with the Bill. I believe that postal votes would prove to be much more satisfactory. I am rather intrigued with some of the comments that have been made on this Bill. There is no need for me to stress to the Senate the tremendous importance of the wool industry to the nation. Our wool clip each year is worth about £400 million. Our annual income from exports of wool is about £375 million. In fact, wool represents one third of our total exports. Anything that affects the wool industry is of vital concern not only to the wool growers but to the nation as a whole.
Honorable senators opposite may wonder why the Opposition is so keen to have an orderly marketing system. Only a few years ago, the New South Wales Government ordered an inquiry into the auction system of marketing wool. At that time Mr. Justice Cook said that pies did exist, and that they were associations of buyers who combined to reduce prices by arrangingfor limited bidding at the wool auctions. Mr. Justice Cook said in his report, amongst other things - i therefore hold that pie arrangements . . . are detrimental to the public.
– To what provision of the Bill are those considerations relevant?
– They are just as relevant as the scheme that we have spoken about earlier. If Senator Wright is opposed to the Bill - from his interjections I do not know whether he is - he will have an opportunity to tell us. He will not only tell us, he will tell the wool growers in his own State.
– And he usually does.
– I am not saying whether the- honorable senator’ usually does’ or does- not-. He- will have an opportunity to do so, but I doubt that he will. The scheme is’ essential to the wool growers’ to’ ensure that they receive* the value of their: product.
– That may be a reason to vote “ Yes “’ at the referendum, but what’ relation has it to the provision for holding a referendum?
– It has just as much relation to the Bill as parts of the Minister’s second reading speech. One must be in good company in following the Minister. Over the years we have been told how necessary is the orderly marketing of wool. I am delighted that at last the Government has seen the way to wisdom. The Opposition has been asking the Government to introduce legislation of the type before us for’ a number of years, but it has not been done previously.
– It is the first time that the industry has been unanimous on this matter.
– Therefore the Government knows for the first time that if it had not introduced this legislation, the wool growers would not vote for it as well as they have done in the past
– That is the honorable senator’s opinion.
– But it is borne out by the facts. I sincerely hope that the Bill is passed and, what is more, that the plan is carried at a referendum. Labour believes that the worker in the city is worthy of his hire. We do not go behind backs in our fight to see that he receives his entitlement. Everyone must agree that the man on the land is also entitled to a reasonable and fair return for his products. I sincerely hope, on behalf of the Opposition, that the Bill will be agreed to. Honorable senators opposite have not had a chance to express any opposition to the measure, but supporters of the Government in another place opposed it. The “ Daily Telegraph “, which is the official organ of the Liberal Party in New South Wales, has published a letter that was written by the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall).
– The honorable senator does not believe what appears in the Press, does he?
Senator1 KENNELLY. E ami not saying whether’ I believe it:or. not!. Lain! only saying that it appeared in the: Press. I will, let the honorable senator say whether he believes, it. This is what Mr. Fairhall had. to. say–
– What he is alleged to) have. said.
– The- Press report reads1 -
The letter, dated August ‘21, is’ from, the- Minister’ of Supply (Me. Alan Fairhall) . . .
I shall not’ read’ it’ all. This’ is what the’ Minister’ said -
Let me begin by saying that I distrust the reserve price plan as much as- you do and sincerely hope.’ it will be thrown, out.
Possibly the wool growers who have been cheated out of a fair’ and honest return for their product over the years will help in the throwing out when occasion arises. The Opposition has great pleasure in supporting a plank of its own platform by supporting the Bill.
– This legislation is of tremendous importance to the wool growers of Australia. It is naturally of importance also to the economy of Australia, because the export of wool provides a large amount of our export income. I do not believe that a reserve price scheme will solve all the problems of the industry, but I do believe that it will make a considerable impact and that it will be of considerable help in stabilising prices and creating confidence when we have a depressed market. That is the time when the reserve price scheme will come into operation properly and will prove to be worthwhile.
May I say at the outset that I support not only the Bill but also the reserve price scheme. The debate on this Bill should not be confined to the advantages and disadvantages, if any, of the reserve price scheme. The Bill is designed to set up machinery to enable the wool growers to have an opportunity to say whether they want such a scheme. For years it has been agreed by the wool growers generally, all the organisations of which I am aware, and of course by the Government, that before there should be any major change in our wool marketing, scheme the matter should be referred to the growers by way of a referendum. This is where we find ourselves after years of arguing about whether this schemeor that scheme will succeed.
IemphasisethatIsupporttheintroductionofaconservativereservepricescheme; becauseIbelievethatsomeattemptmust bemadetoironoutfluctuationsintheprice ofwool,especiallyasmanufacturersnow haveanotherfibretowhichtheycanturn andarenolongerdependentonwoolalone. IfhonorablesenatorshavereadthemarketingproposalsoftheAustralianWoolBoard, theywillhavenotedthattheproposed schemeisaconservativescheme.Ithasalwaysbeenbelievedbyresponsiblesections ofthegrowerswhoreallywantedamarketingsystemthatitshouldbeaconservative system.This,ofcourse,iswhattheGovernmenthadinmind,ashasbeenindicated inthespeechoftheMinisterforPrimary Industry(MrAdermann).
Recently attempts haves been made by organisations and individuals to say that we will have a conservative scheme to start with but that it will become radical and eventually will become an acquisition scheme. In my judgment, that is quite wrong. I believe my view is shared by the industry, the Australian Wool Board and other responsible people. As one who has been associated with various organisations over the last five or six years that have been in consultation with: the Government, I know that it was the idea of the Wool Board to have a conservative scheme. I am disturbed by the attempt that has been made to say that the scheme will become radical and that eventually it will become an acquisition scheme. I am very pleased that the Minister for Primary Industry had this to say in his reply during the second reading debate in another place: -
Let me say categorically now that neither acquisition, nor nationalisation is involved in the proposed scheme. It is no more and no less than a reserve price scheme, drawn up by the people in the industry and negotiated by them with the Government. The Government would look upon acquisition as a fundamental change in wool marketing for which the approval of the producers wouldbe required.
I agree with every word of that statement, and I believe that that is what the industry wants.
Because it has been said that the scheme is something less than that, the Parliament should include in the Act a provision that adoption of an acquisition scheme can be determined only by a ballot of wool growers at a referendum. To do that would make the position clean andwouldcut the ground from under those persons who are attempting to destroy the proposed reserve. price scheme. I think it is only just and right that we should take this precaution, because we do not know whether in five or six years an attempt will be made to introduce an acquisition scheme. Perhaps at some time or other we will have such a scheme, but the growers should say whether or not we shouldhaveit. Therefore, I hope that before this Bill is passed by the Parliament provision will be made to ensure that the proposed scheme cannot be replaced by an acquisition scheme unless the growers agree to it at a referendum.
As I said before, it is because of fluctuations in the price of wool that I believe the proposed scheme will be of considerable help to the industry.I was opposed to such a scheme a few years ago, but because of fluctuations in the price and the existence of synthetic fibres I believe that we must have another look at our marketing system. I very much doubt whether the industry could again survive the fluctuations that were experienced between February 1963 and March 1964 when the average price of greasy wool fell by 20d. per lb. Because of those violent fluctuations manufacturers, particularly overseas, were forced to turn to a fibre the price of which was more stable and the holding of stocks of which required less capital. I believe that that factor helped to depress the market still further. We must remember that nowadays all textile mills are geared to handle wool and synthetic fibres. This is different from the position that obtainedsomeyears ago.
– Do they handle amixture of wool and synthetics?
– They are now in a position where they can handle them either as a blend or as separate fibres. I have discussed the wool marketing scheme with many who are opposed to it and they agree that fluctuations in prices are damaging but they have not suggested a satisfactory alternative. Admittedly they have suggested that credits might be given to some of our buyers and this might be a means of assisting to meet the problems, but only to a degree and I do not think that any assistance so provided would be of vital importance.
I am disturbed by the attacks that have been made in recent months on organisations and individuals, particularly those associated with the Australian Wool Industry Conference. The personal attacks that have been made on the Chairman of the Australian Wool Board, Sir William Gunn, are to be deplored. I have worked with him for a number of years and I know that no man has served the grazing industry better than Sir William Gunn has, both in the wool and meat branches. It is a pity that at a time of national importance like the present when we are trying to determine an important issue, personalities have been brought to the fore. I hope this campaign will not continue. Even those who are in favour of the proposed scheme are not without fault. I take great objection to the advertisements and statements of persons calling those who are opposed to the scheme the “Pat Mackies of the wool industry”. I do not go along with such statements. This is a free country and this issue is not clear cut. Therefore, every individual has the right to say whether he is for it or against it. I respect the views of others.
I think it is important to mention that both the Australian Wool Industry Conference and the Australian Wool Board have got away from the functions for which they were originally designed. When these organisations were set up, we believed the Conference would be the policy making part of the industry and the Board would be its administrative body. This was an important part of the plan and ultimately it will come to this. But at present the opposite situation prevails. Unfortunately we have the Australian Wool Board entering into the industry’s politics. This is not doing any good to the image of the Board or its proper functions. I hope that when the current issue is determined, the Wool Industry Conference and the Board will get back to the real purpose for which they were originally designed.
The present situation has been brought about largely by the promotion campaign started a few years ago. The Board had to go into this field on that occasion because of its knowledge of promotion and its close contacts with the International Wool Secretariat. I emphasise - and this is supported by responsible leaders on the Board - that we have to reverse the present position of the Board and the Conference. I hope that from now on responsible people will get away from personalities and destructive criticisms of the scheme which have caused great bitterness in the industry and that they will stick to facts whether they are for or against the proposed scheme.
As quickly as I can, I want to traverse what was happening before the Australian Wool Industry Conference was set up. At that time we had three Federal organisations - the Australian Wool Growers and Graziers Council, the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation and the Australian Primary Producers Union. They were continually putting conflicting views to the Government and responsible authorities regarding the wool and meat industries. Because of this the Wool Marketing Committee of Inquiry was set up under the Chairmanship of Sir Roslyn Philp. The Committee recommended at paragraph 674 of its report -
It is because of the lack of a body concerned with marketing, the lack of a co-ordinating body, the lack of one voice which can speak for the industry and the defect in the set-up of the industry that we feel constrained to recommend the erection of a central commission or board upon whose decisions Government could confidently rely and which could speak with final authority on all matters affecting the industry.
At that time the Committee’s recommendation for closer co-operation between the organisations was looked upon as just as important as the Committee’s recommendations on marketing and promotion. Because of the Committee’s recommendations, the Australian Wool Growers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation met and agreed unanimously to the establishment of the Australian Wool Industry Conference and its constitution. The Australian Primary Producers Union was not admitted to the Conference but I hope it will be in the near future. I have been one of the strongest advocates for the Union’s admission to the Conference. I hope in the interests of the Conference and the wool industry generally that it will not be long before the Union is represented. At the first meeting of the Conference, Sir John
Crawford, as independent Chairman said this -
It is just not consistent with a reasonable process of thinking about great issues to expect unanimity of voice and vote in every matter. The unityI have in mind does, however, mean an organisation is available which aims, and tries hard to operate a process which enables a concensus of view in the industry to be established.
After the Conference was established, it conferred with the Government on representation on the re-constituted Australian Wool Board. In May 1964 the Government accepted the advice of the Conference for a large increase in the rate of levy to provide more funds for promotion. When a vote on the scheme was taken in the Conference of 50 members, the voting was 40 to 10 in favour. Recently, the Conference voted 45 to 5 in favour of the marketing scheme. This all indicates that a tremendous improvement in organisation has been made since the establishment of the Conference in 1962. This is very different from the previous conflict of views. Now the Government looks to the Conference as a responsible organisation for its views and advice but not for dictation. No organisation can dictate to the Government but the Government has had to consider the re-constitution of the Australian Wool Board and its views on promotion and marketing.
I have spent a little time on the history of the formation and functions of the Conference because I think it marks a great step forward and contradicts those who would try to ridicule the Conference and destroy its image. So far, I am completely in agreement with the proposals because I believe it has been the function of the Government to look to the industry for advice. However I must be a little critical on two matters. First, I am critical of the growers’ contribution of 3 per cent. of the gross proceeds of wool sold to the capital of the proposed scheme and the contingency fund. As an executive member of the organisation, I have been critical of this at executive and conference level. I believe the growers should have contributed more like3½ per cent. and then there might be sufficient finance for this fund.
SenatorO’Byrne. - What was that?
– I said3½ per cent. That is my idea of what the levy should have been, rather than 3 per cent.
– An extra½ per cent.?
– Yes, that is my idea of what it should have been. I know that the Wool Board has reserves and can manage until 1967 on them. On the other hand, an organisation or statutory body which handles the finance that the Wool Board handles from year to year - approximately £17 million - should never be without adequate reserves which, in my judgment, should be at least £3 million all the time. I know, also, that we hold reserves both for research and for promotional funds. If we can manage until 1967, as mentioned by the Minister, more funds will have to be found for research because, at the present time, we are spending in excess of £3½ million and we have an annual income of only £1½ million. This is made up of £500,000 from the growers and £1 million from the Government. We are carrying on at this time on our reserves. This has to be altered.
I know that the growers generally know that by June 1967 an additional £2 million a year will have to be found from growers and/ or Government sources. As honorable senators know, at the present time there is a 2 per cent. levy on wool growers for promotion and research. Unfortunately, because of the fall in price and the fall in production, the whole of this 2 per cent. is being used for the very worthy work of promotion and research. This leaves 1 per cent. available to the Board. The growers’ capital fund and operating expenses, because of the very severe drought that we are experiencing, will prove this amount to be inadequate. The National Council of Wool Selling Brokers of Australia in June or July of this year, I think it was, said that there will be a fall of 6 per cent. in production this year. I think that the fall will be considerably more than this figure. My statement was borne out recently in a statement by the National Council of the Wool Selling Brokers in Sydney and Brisbane that there has been a fall of 30 per cent. in receivals into store in the last two or three months. This indicates that the effects of the drought will be fairly drastic. Therefore, receipts will not be good. This, coupled with the fall in price, will have an effect on the money that will be available.
The Wool Board will require slightly more than £17 million a year for all the aspects- o£ marketings promotion and research. The average price we are receiving for- wool at the- present time- is approximately 56cf. per lb. Should production come down to 5 million- bales’ a year, it could1 well be that we- will’ have- a deficiency of £-2 million a year. Admittedly, this deficiency could be made up- from the reserves we will have to 1967, but after that the reserves will be right down- to bedrock. I- think it is wrong for the industry to do this. I have made that statement in- other places. I think that more adequate- finances’ should’ have been provided by wool growers. Had this been done, the- authority could buy with confidence and the Board could- function with the- knowledge that adequate fund’s were available.
So far I have dealt with the responsibilities of the growers. They could, have said that their contribution should have been 3i per cent. The Government cannot be criticised for the fixing of 3 per cent, because that was the recommendation of the growers. I have no knowledge that- the Government is unhappy about that recommendation. But, in my opinion, that was bad judgment by the growers. The proper function of the- industry ought to be to advise the Government on the referendum plan. But when growers go further than that and talk about the referendum, I differ with them and say that I think that it is the proper, function and the province of this Government to determine the provisions of the referendum. Whilst it is right and proper that the: Australian Wool Industry Conferenceshould give its views to- the Government, I think, that in the matter of the referendum the Government has- to stand up- to’ its, responsibility and fix: the terms- of that referendum.
– And the Parliament..
– Yes, the Parliament, too. Consideration should have been given to the production of wool and I believe that rather than have a multiple system the requirement should be that before the referendum is declared carried the Government must be assured that the majority of voters in favour represent at least 50 per cent, of the wool. This is the measure that is used in other parts of the’ world. I have referred to this in other places also. I wishto quote an act of one country and mention the. act. of another country in regard to- this. matter. Such, a” system, is used in the. United States of America. Section 708 of. the National Wool Act. provides that, wool growers in that country wilt vote- at periodic, polls to. determine whether’ or not deductions from’ their support towards incentive payments should’ be made for wool and lamb production. The: relevant portion, of section. 708 reads -
The Secretary of Agriculture may conduct- a referendum among producers to ascertain, their, approval or favour. The requirements of approval or favour shall be field’ to be complied1 with’ if two-thirds of the total number of producers- on two-thirds of the volume- of production- as the: case may be represented in such referendum indicate their approval or favour.
Such a- scheme, I think, should have been put into operation here; The wool industry is a complex industry. It has various facets such as fat lamb production and bigger properties producing considerably more wool than other properties. Therefore, I think justice would have been done in this regard if such a scheme had been introduced. Alternatively, the Government should have said: “ It takes more than a simple majority of, say, 55 percent, or 60 per cent, in favour of a scheme before it can be carried “. If a scheme had been put into operation whereby the majority of growers represented the larger part of the production, it would have been quite satisfactory to me, and, I think, would’ have been satisfactory to a large number of wool growers.
Such a voting scheme also operates in the United Kingdom. I have not the relevant United Kingdom act here but such a scheme or voting principle is observed there. Such a scheme preserves the principle of one vote one grower. It does not necessarily impose a minimum of 10 bales. It could even have gone back to three bales. It gives just and proper consideration to the largest producer who is dependent on wool and it gives him voting power and also gives voting power to family property companies and to all companies. At the present time, a company in Australia may have 30 properties and it will get one vote only. I do not think that this is justice of. a kind with, which I can agree. I believe that the Parliament should have stood up to its responsibility here, and not. necessarily accepted the ad; vice of the Government. I would say also that the impression is held - L have noticed this: since.’ I have been, coming to. Canberra; and it is completely wrong-that the Australian’. Wool Industry Conference was happy in the: compromise that was arrived at. The two organisations concerned; as honorable members: would know,, were evenly divided. The Australian Wool, and: Meat Producers Federation was: in favour of an eight bale limit, and the Australian’, Woolgrowers and Graziers Council was in favour of the multiple system.
I should like to read to the- Senate an extract from the- minutes of a meeting of the Conference at which there was a long debate on this issue. It is in these terms -
That is Sir John Crawford: - said it was quite clear that there was a strong: division of opinion.. The purpose of a referendum was to provide guidance to the Government of the day as to whether they should or should not proceed with legislation for a marketing scheme. The Government was not bound to accept a narrow majority:
That indicates that at that stage the Australian Wool Industry Conference was fairly evenly divided on this issue. Admittedly, we came to a compromise afterwards, but it is completely wrong to say that there was any sense of unanimity. This is borne out by the fact that the Australian Wool Growers and Graziers Council at a subsequent meeting confirmed the decision it had made 12 months earlier. I believe that if this referendum is carried with a very small majority, there will be considerable dissatisfaction within the industry.
May I say that I have been critical of this aspect. I would liken the proposal to a suggestion to alter the. constitution of any organisation,- be it a sporting club or anything else. I say sincerely that the present marketing system has served the. industry well since the earliest days, of ia wool marketing system in Australia and, although it entails some risks, to alter this system merely on a simple majority is just not good enough. When the Australian Wool Industry Conference commenced operations it included in its constitution the provision that any alteration to the constitution would require, a 66 per cent, majority. That was the way the Conference viewed that matter, and I think it was right. In fixing, this voting quali fication the. Conference should have- given, some’ heed’.1 to. the production side of the industry.
I was critical of these issues before I came into, this. Parliament and I see no reason now to alter my views in the two directions I. have, mentioned,, but on general* principles I. support the’ Bill and a reserve price system because I believe we need something to stabilise wool prices. I believe that a reserve price system, wisely managed and adequately financed, would help the industry in this, respect.
– At the outset I congratulate Senator Kennelly on his presentation of the Opposition’s view of this most important proposal for a referendum of wool growers on the question of a reserve price plan for1 wool. I feel obliged also to compliment Senator Bull for his reasoned, logical presentation of the case for a referendum. During the course of his remarks Senator- Bull said that at one time he was opposed to the scheme. It is obvious that over the years he has matured, has become less subject to pressure and can see the wider horizon beyond the fear campaign which is being waged on specious grounds and often by the use of very vicious methods. I am pleased at the-, stand Senator Bull has taken. It certainly will support and reinforce the remarks that I have to make.
The main purpose of this Bill is simply to. seek a referendum of wool growers to’ ascertain whether they desire a reserve price for their wool sold at open auction. The Bill is as simple as that. For the life of me, I cannot understand why all the red’ herrings are being pulled across the trail. I think it is fair that the case for and against a reserve price plan should be put, but expensive pamphlets urging people to vote “No” have been issued by the AustralianMercantile Land and Finance Co. Ltd., Pitt Son & Badgery Ltd., Winchcombe, Carson Ltd. and Alan W. Campbell, chairman of the Australian Woolgrowers Marketing Authority. All these bodies are bombarding the wool growers with propaganda. In. none of the pamphlets can I see. any definitive or; clear reason why they oppose the plan, other than, the fact that, the status quo suits them.. They believe that, the. benefits which accrue to a very small section of,’ the industry from the. present system, in. spite of the fluctuations in price and the many anomalies which arise, are greater than they would enjoy under an organised wool marketing scheme.
The Bill seeks to get a majority of wool growers to authorise the Conference, and an authority set up under it, to put into operation a reserve price plan. We have not yet reached that stage. We have not reached the first hurdle on that aspect of the case. What we are seeing now is the natural sequel to the wool growers having a Wool Board and a Wool Industry Conference set up for the purpose of wool promotion and research. The industry had many obvious shortcomings. Having employed very intelligent men to come to its aid, to show it how to meet competition from synthetic fibre, to teach it modern methods of presenting this wonderful natural fibre, to show it how to become more efficient in the promotion and presentation of wool, the growers have now realised that their hands are tied because there is a basic instability in the whole process of marketing and presentation.
I say that advisedly. The textile industry is afraid of these fluctuations in price. It will not plan far enough ahead and buy in wool for fear that a competitor might buy at a lower price and then would be able to undersell it on the open market. The inbuilt instability of the industry will remain as long as we have these fluctuations in price. Although it is impossible to force these views on the wool growers or the textile industry, they must realise that these fluctuations are the main barrier to a fair fight - and a fight it is - against synthetic fibres. For that reason I think it is important that we have this basic inbuilt stability as a consequential and complementary factor in promotion and research and in streamlining the industry from the growing of the wool to the manufacturing process.
The referendum will be conducted by the electoral authorities. I do not think that any person would doubt the integrity of the electoral authorities. It will be conducted along exactly the same lines as a referendum held for the purpose of altering the Constitution. The main difference will be that it will be confined to those who are bona fide wool growers and/or sheep owners. The minimum basic requirement has been set at 10 bales of wool or 300 sheep, which should encompass all those who justifiably claim to be part of this great wool industry. The line had to be drawn somewhere, and it has been. drawn at 10 bales or 300 sheep. In an ordinary referendum the people of Australia agree that the Government should draw the line to decide who shall be entitled to vote. Honorable senators opposite say that the minimum voting age should be 21 years. Of course, I do not agree with that proposition. If troops are able to fight at 18 years of age, they should be able to vote.
– Does the honorable senator think that the more juvenile members of the community should be entitled to vote?
– I say that the soldier should be entitled to a vote at 18. There are in the general community young people who are just as intelligent as those in the Forces. However, that is getting off the track. A line has to be drawn. Certain people are excluded from voting.
Under our Commonwealth Electoral Act, people who are confined to mental institutions and, as I have said, those under 21 years of age, are not entitled to vote. In this instance the line has been drawn at 10 bales of wool or 300 sheep. The price received for each pound of wool is just as important to the man with 10 bales as it is to the man with ISO or SOO bales. It is a part of his livelihood. He is concerned to get the best value for his wool that he can on the market. In an ordinary Commonwealth referendum, the humblest person in the land is entitled to a vote. Under this proposal the humblest person in the wool industry is entitled to a vote. He can lodge a secret vote according to his views. But I would like to take up the point about postal votes, which was made by Senator Kennelly.
I have seen the type of propaganda that has been distributed. I know the atmosphere in wool towns only too well. I know what they are like at election time when people come in from the outlying areas. The wool growers come to town. They meet their agents and the president of the local graziers association. An atmosphere is created. The fear campaign, to which Senator Bull referred, is at its hottest. That is the atmosphere in which voting will take place in a wool town on a specified day. On the other hand, a postal vote would be sent to the home of the wool grower, and in the calmness of his home environment he would be able to make up his mind untroubled by the heat that is generated by a propaganda campaign.
For that reason I think there is a lot of merit in the case which has been presented for a postal vote. For many people whom I know personally and who live 60, 70 or 80 miles from a town, it will be very inconvenient to come into town to vote. Of course, that is not the situation in my own State, but I know that in some areas of Australia people have to travel those distances if they wish to go to town.
– The referendum is based on postal voting.
– I was under the impression that it was to be conducted by electoral officers.
– It is essentially a postal vote, but it provides the other system as an alternative.
– I doubt whether it is a postal vote entirely. I intend to develop an argument a little later about the individuality of the wool grower.
– There must be provision to cover circumstances in which it is not convenient for a postal vote.
– If we exclude the few sheep that are used as lawnmowers, very few wool growers live in towns. Nearly all of them have to live outside town areas in order to grow wool. It might be convenient in many places for wool growers to come to town. It may be their marketing day, or a social occasion. We can be certain that functions will be held on this particular day. People will be holding raffles to raise money, and that type of thing. That will be the atmosphere in a wool town.
– You cannot stop it.
– No, but with postal voting people are not exposed to this atmosphere. Regardless of the wealth, status or influence of the wool grower, each vote will have the same value. That point was made by Senator Kennelly. Even though it may be repetitive, I want to make it again.
The principle of each vote having the same value puts the referendum beyond reproach. The idea that the welfare and future security of the man who has a large property are more important than those of the small grower to me is not democratic. If that were the basis of the scheme I would not be supporting this measure as I am tonight. As is the practice in any Commonwealth referendum, a booklet will be produced at the Government’s expense because this referendum will be held at Government expense. That will be the taxpayers’ contribution towards a section of the community which does such a magnificent job for the economy of this n’ation. In the long run the taxpayer, who is financing the referendum and the printing of the “ Yes and No “ booklet, is participating in the referendum. This is a national project.
It is a tragedy, in my view, that the wool growers should be torn apart by wool politics. Earlier in the debate an honorable senator said that the wool growers are only amateurs in the field of politics. That is so. We experienced politicians, who know all the ramifications of politics, can smile at the stupidity of these people who have a common interest at stake. There is no doubt that the interests of the wool industry are being served when the taxpayers are prepared to stand behind the industry to the extent of £80 million. Whether the money is to come from the loan market or from some other source, the taxpayers want to’ hand it over to the wool growers.
– It is all by way of loan.
– Of course it is all by way of loan. That is all right because the wool will be only on loan. The wool will be sold. There will be no carry-over of wool. There never has been in the past. There is talk about stockpiling. I invite any honorable senator, to name any year in the last 20 years in which there was a considerable stockpile of wool in this country. We clear our wool every year.
-!-Between 1939 and 1945, during the war, there was always a stockpile.
– I will deal with wartime in a minute. There is a war on now. Earlier someone mentioned the fear of acquisition. If there is a war, no ships will be available. The wool growers will approach the government of the day - honorable senators opposite probably will not be in power then; they will be back in their funk holes - and say: “Mr. Prime Minister, will you acquire our wool?”. They will approach the government as quickly as they can in order to get their wool acquired, if there is a war. And there is a war on now.
– Is the honorable senator advocating acquisition now?
– The honorable senator cannot put his words into my mouth.
– I am asking the honorable senator a question.
– I am saying that, if we were in a state of war, if there was no shipping to transport our wool to its :natural markets throughout the world and if the -economy was on a war footing, that would be the natural-thing to do so that the wool industry could continue to operate. Money would have to be paid to the wool grower to enable him to pay his bills. Therefore, the wool would have to be bought within Australia, whether by the wool buyung firms buying the whole clip or, if that was beyond their financial resources, by the Commonwealth buying it. I think the honorable senator would support that and, if he wants to put words into my mouth, I will say that that would be acquisition. I would like to see him stand up in his place in this chamber and oppose acquisition under those circumstances. However, this is getting me away from the point.
– But that would be a national emergency.
– Of course it would. At the moment the Commonwealth has the power to do that under its -defence powers. So, whether the wool growers liked it or not, if the Commonwealth found that its defence powers had to be exercised, it could acquire wool without any plan such as the present one. So let us forget ,that aspect of the matter.
I grieve to see the promising start that was made when the Australian Wool Industry Conference and the International Wool Secretariat were set up. I said to myself: “ At long last, the boys from the bush are
Starting to see the light. They are realising that unity is strength. They are getting a little injection of trade unionism, knowing :that united you stand, divided you fall.” The wool growers got their ,back room boys to give them some ideas about promotion and research.
We have >to bear in. mind that in dealing with wool growers we are dealing with a group of people who, because of the very nature of their industry, are cautious, conservative people. When I first saw the word “ conservative “ in the description of the reserve price plan, it offended me a little because I do not like the word. To me “ conservative “ means backward, aged and old hat. It connotes the maintenance of the status quo, or worse. But the whole world evolves and moves forward regardless of the old stick-in-the-muds.
– If -the ‘honorable senator does not like the word “ conservative “, what word would he use?
– I would use the word “-conservative “ to describe wool growers as a breed. I was about to elaborate on that. As I said, because of the very nature of their industry, they .are cautious, conservative people. I say “ because of the very nature of their industry “ because the events of a year between shearing and shearing are infinite in their variety and often unpredictable in their sequence.
A man on the land may be battling through a drought and have all his family praying for rain. He may have set his date for shearing. The contractor may arrive with his team and the wool may start to move across the board. He may be half way through his shearing when the rain comes down. He may have a cold snap after the rain. The effect of a cold snap on newly shorn, drought stricken sheep can be disastrous. He wants the rain, but when it comes it can be disastrous for him. He may lose large numbers of his sheep.
– You can’t win.
– The honorable senator has not heard me out. If heavy rain falls, the wool grower may lose sheep by their becoming bogged in rain soaked paddocks. The wool grower knows of these risks and has to allow for them. He never expects anything but a pretty tough old battle against nature and the elements. He takes all possible precautions, but he has to grapple with the unpredictable. He can lose stock in .the wet; ;he .can lose them in the dry. He can get a break in his wool or tenderness in the fibre between the dry and the wet.
– For the simple reason that the wool is growing in one set of conditions - dry conditions - and then, when the rain comes and the green feed grows, there is a new type of growth and the tensility ,of the wool is altered between the dry and .the wet. Therefore, there is a break.
– The Minister .is a Queen Street (farmer; he would not know.
– The Minister would not know. He has wool pulled over his eyes and indulges in woolly thinking. I mention these matters ‘because 1 want to elaborate on this word “ conservative “. ‘It is an operational word.
– What has .this to do with the .Bill?
– It is .the very essence of the Bill. The purpose of this legislation is to authorise the holding of a referendum on a .conservative reserve price plan. The life blood of the wool grower is the sun, the rain and the soil; and all of them :are unpredictable.
– What about his sheep? ; Senator O’BYRNE. - When a wool grower puts sheep into that atmosphere and that environment, it makes him a conservative type of man. The same may be said about his sheep, which Senator Henty has brought to my mind. The wool grower has to ‘deal with -the same problems in respect of his sheep. I have spoken about ‘his land, his soild and his grasses.
In different parts of Australia, wool growers have to contend with all manner of stock diseases, such as foot rot, worm, pink eye, sheath rot, pulpy kidney, lymphidinitis and scabby mouth. The wool grower learns to counter the .ravages of these diseases, .but they are unpredictable. In .many cases they are very severe. He also has the problems of bush fires, floods, frosts, heat, cold and evaporation. They add to the hazards and cause him to be .more conservative.
– What about blowflies?
– He also has to cope with the blowflies that strike his sheep and cause them to .get blood poisoning, which may result in death or ‘may ‘ruin a lot of wool. Wool growers in various parts of Australia have to deal with foxes, rabbits, crows eagles, ‘hawks, dingoes, town ‘dogs and noxious weeds, such as the noogoora burr, Bathurst burr, spear grass and poison weeds.
– And bindiis
– That is quite right. These problems are partly predictable, but it takes vigilance and hard work to keep them under control. That makes the wool grower a conservative man. 1 name these hazards in the life of a wool grower because they illustrate his ever present battle against nature in its perverse moments and the effect that that battle has on his personality. «He has to be self-reliant. He relies on the methods that have been tried and tested in the conduct ;of his .industry. When he receives propaganda along the lines of that which .wool growers have received recently, tit confuses him because this method .has never been tried before. The idea is to get to the wool grower’s mind, which is fully occupied with all of the interests and difficulties that I have outlined. It is directed at him in order to create fear in his mind. It says: “ This is the unknown. There is a trick in it. They are going to socialise you. They are going to acquire your wool. Bill Gunn is a boofhead.” Anything at all is said to take them off the track. This brings me to the point as to why a departure from old practices is made with a measure of scepticism by .wool growers. In my .opinion, he is .about the last of the Mohicans .amongst primary producers to accept the protection of legislation, either State or Commonwealth. As pointed put by Senator Kennelly earlier, if he is a mixed farmer, he will take support for his wheat. The farmer will take support ,for his sugar if he .is .in the north of Queensland, Sot his dairy products, his butter, his eggs, .his vegetables and his meat, including his pigmeats. In each instance he is a lot better off by having .protection for his products by government action.
Whether or not the wool grower wants this protection is exactly what the wool grower is to decide in the referendum that is proposed. At the present time, he produces his wool, bales it, sends -it ‘in most cases to his ‘selling agent, who catalogues it and displays it to the buyers who bid at auction, and the high or the ‘low ‘b’id, less commission, is paid to the grower.- Under the proposed scheme, the wool Will be sent to the agent. It will -be displayed, bid for, and knocked down to ‘the highest bidder - with a difference. A representative of an authority set up by the Australian Wool Industry Conference will be present. He will be there personally or his influence will be felt in the floor price or reserve price plan. The prices will not be allowed to fall below the conservative figure that has been fixed. Wool that does not reach the reserve price will be purchased by the authority, held and resold under more favourable conditions.
What is the objection to this scheme? I want to get this message home. If the wool grower can only see this proposal, with more light and less heat upon it, he will see that the Commonwealth is to guarantee a loan of £50 million to back the scheme, so that it will be to the wool grower’s advantage. Honorable senators who have had the experience that I have had of trying to get money out of the Treasury will know that a very sound case must be put forward. After all, who has evolved this plan? The A.W.I.C. itself has done so. It does not consist of cloak and dagger men. It consists of men whom the wool growers themselves have selected as delegates to their own organisation. I agree with Senator Bull’s reference to the Australian Primary Producers Union. When the A.W.I.C. was being established, I said in the Senate that we were making a grave mistake because the producers were dividing amongst themselves. I said that this was too powerful a section of the wool industry to be not represented on the Conference. However, this defect may be rectified some day when bygones will be bygones. If this were a scheme devised by us in the Senate or in the party rooms, one could bring out the politics, the smear and the fear. But it has come from men who are themselves wool growers selected by their own industry. Surely the line of mistrust must be drawn somewhere. Otherwise, if these people cannot be trusted, we are back to the jungle.
The Government is guaranteeing £50 million of the taxpayers’ money or loan funds to make the scheme a success. If anyone should complain, it is the taxpayer, but no, it is a section of the industry which stands to gain £50 million or more, if necessary, at the cost of £1 or 5 lb. of wool a bale a year. If the price of wool is improved by Id. per lb. as a result of this scheme, the average wool grower will get his money back immediately. One could not get as good a return as that from the T.A.B. The wool grower is on a certainty, if there were ever one.
– What is the T.A.B.?
– It is the Totalisator Agency Board. What do the opponents of the scheme say? In the propaganda pamphlet which I have in my hand, they say: “Vote No”. They say that this is not a negative policy, nor is it a lack of policy. They say that a reserve price cannot influence the demand for wool. People who are in the trade will substantiate my statement when I say that if they could buy ahead with a certain knowledge that the fluctuation area had been reduced, they could plan their manufacturing ahead and meet any competition. That in turn would give a smoother flow from the raw wool through to the consumer. That could - and in my view would - improve the demand for wool. But the people who advocate a “ No “ vote say categorically that a reserve price cannot influence the demand for wool. Is that not negative? Of course, it is negative. They do not say why it cannot influence the demand for wool; they just say that it cannot. It is a case of black or white, yes or no, plus or minus. There are no inbetweens. There are no greys. Conditions are not like that in the wool industry.
– They are behaving just like our Opposition.
– There is a certain amount of politics involved. I say that these people are only amateurs. They say that the scheme will offer no defence against the threat of substitutes. Why will it not offer such a defence? It will offer a defence against substitutes, because it relates to part of the trinity in the handling of wool - research, promotion and marketing. It will provide a defence, yet these opponents make the categorical statement that it will provide no defence. Is that not negative? The whole of their case is negative. I cannot find one positive, substantiated reason. They merely say: “You will be in trouble. Vote *No’. When in doubt, vote ‘No’.” They are merely creating doubt and fear. They say that the plan will make no assault on rising costs. What an argument that is. I asked Senator Bull a littler earlier what was the shearing rate. He said that it was about £8 10s. a hundred, or perhaps a bit more. In my period on the land it was 30s. a hundred. A contractor would shear sheep for1s. a head. The rate is now 4s. a head, so it has risen by 400 per cent.
– Or is it 300 per cent?
– It has risen to 4s. a head. The shearing rate has risen from 30s. a hundred to £8 10s. or more. Land values per acre or per sheep have risen. At one time wool used to be carted for1s. a ton a mile. Now, of course, that is only chicken feed.
– What is the charge now?
– I do not know. One has just to get a quote.
– It is still1s. a ton a mile.
– The opponents of the scheme say that it makes no assault on rising costs and that it is just a red herring being drawn across the trail. All these pamphlets say that the plan makes no assault on rising costs. Is that not negative? They say that funds could be diverted to research and to raising production. Of course they could, and I would like to see more funds applied for those purposes. The opponents of the plan are avoiding the issue. They say the demand for wool would be diverted to alternative fibres. That is negative. The job is to ensure that the demand for wool is held by promotion and other such methods of strengthening the industry. People are willing to buy our wool but the present auction system, with its fluctuations, is a barrier to the textile industry; it creates uncertainty in their planning for the future. The wool grower is being asked to streamline his industry and plan for the future.
Those opposed to the scheme say that diversion of demand to alternative fibres will not be prevented by a conservative reserve price scheme. That is a negative approach. Every point they make is negative. What does the Australian Wool Industry Conference propose? One of its objectives is to secure the maximum overall financial return to the wool growers. This is positive. Other objectives are to achieve some measure of price stability for the wool growers - that is positive - and to facilitate marketing reforms. That, too, is positive. For the life of me I cannot see how the wool growers can take any notice of or be influenced by the opponents of the scheme when there is a clear case such as this. I do not know how they can be bothered with the propaganda that is flowing out at great expense for the one purpose of confusing them.
It may be of interest to the opponents of the scheme to realise that in the event of a war between India and Pakistan - let me interrupt myself to say that I wrote this yesterday and there is no war between those two countries today. This shows how things can change. However, there is still a war in Vietnam, a civil war is imminent in Greece and things are unsettled in South America and South Africa. These troubles could escalate and cause tremendous shipping problems so that the Government would have to buy all the Australian wool for stock piling, pending delivery to the markets. All the bogeys that are produced about what may happen under this scheme would melt like snow in the sun in the eventuality of a hot war in which there would be no shipping available for wool. I will conclude by quoting the Hon. R. T. Pollard, who has laid the foundations for organised marketing in many industries. On 14th September he said in another place -
From year to year, from month to month, from week to week and indeed from day to day the prices of equivalent quality wools sold at auction have varied widely. One can understand that no legislation which this Parliament can pass can hold the world to ransomor cope fully with all the intricacies of international trade. However, it is pertinent to say that to the extent that the organised marketers of wheat, butter and sugar have been able to face the world’s producers of those products with a united front with distinct and real advantages to Australia and the primary producers concerned, even the most meagre element of organisation in our marketing of wool, backed by legislation, will benefit Australian wool growers to a similar or greater extent. Only a fool would suggest that we can fix an extravagant price for wool and expect the world to pay that price. Equally, after making a survey of all the relevant international factors, a study of the economics of all countries which normally purchase our wool, a study of the machinations of the wool buying agencies in Australia and in other countries and a study of the operations of the futures market, only a fool would suggest that an organisation of 90,000 wool growers who will be eligible to vote under this legislation would not be immeasurably strengthened in their capacity to bargain more advantageously than any single individual. That is the view of the Labour Party, which it has held for a long time.
I sum up by saying that the subject of organised marketing is not new to the wool industry. The scientist has made his contribution to the minimising of the effects of disease and pests. The stud breeder has developed magnificent strains of Australian, wool sheep; the manufacturer has evolved techniques that make the woollen product even more attractive. We of the Labour Party pay tribute to the achievements of all these contributors to the wool industry and we now give our fullest support to the Bill, which we believe will bring great benefits to the wool industry of this country.
.- The speech to which we have just had to listen reminds me of a saying by an old friend of mine. It went as follows: - “ Much squeal and little wool, as the devil said when he sheared the pig.” Coming back to the level of serious debate, not offering to the sheep the insult of govering him by such effusions as that given us by Senator O’Byrne, and turning to a consideration of this Bill, which has an impact on perhaps the most important industry in our country, I want to make the point that we are not here to debate the pros and cons of a reserve price marketing plan. We are here to discharge our responsibility as members of this Parliament in seeing that proper legislative provision is made for the wool growers to vote on this proposal. It is the right of the wool growers to decide by vote whether or not this reserve price plan shall be offered by the industry to the Government for legislative enactment.
It is not only the national aspect of the matter which must be considered: the woolgrower is also entitled to recognition of his ownership and interest. The first thing I wish to say regarding the Bill concerns the contentment I see on the front benches of the Government tonight, after assurance of Labour Party support for the measure. I love to see the Government in that position because I feel it envies me on the occasions when I have had to put up with it. Tonight let me ruffle the smoothness and calm of those front benches.
I want to say quite directly that this Bill in its deficiencies is a real discredit to those who devised it. It contains a proposal to put a referendum as to the adoption or rejection of a plan, but there is no plan in the Bill. No member of this Parliament has seen the plan. It is still to be produced by the Minister in the form of a statement in writing to the Chief Eelectoral Officer. I think that Parliament, if it is’ at all live to its responsibilities, before voting for the presentation of a plan to producers should insist that it is stated in the Bill before Parliament.
The. second point about the proposal is that the plan to be voted on originated at a conference, the constitution of which we debated two years ago. It was a conference aritficially set up by two vested interests in the industry to the exclusion of one other interest. How either the Liberal Party or Labour Party in any parliament can recognise such an arbitrarily constituted organisation as the proper fons et origo of a plan like the one proposed as representative of the wool industry, I do not know. I deny the right of the Conference to speak for the wool industry. It is not representative of the wool industry. It is simply a fusion of two organisations with interests in the wool industry. It excludes one other organisation that has a substantial interest in the industry.
I recall with satisfaction that despite the Jeremiahs of that day who said that a referendum could not be held in the wool industry, some sort of a vote is to be offered to wool growers. When I hear honorable senators opposite seriously contemplate acquisition as the possible natural outcome of this wool reserve prices marketing plan, I shudder. If anybody really contemplates putting up an acquisition scheme except in times of great national emergency, without a referendum of the wool industry, he is contemplating complete confiscation on a communial basis. In what we have been reminded in the last few days is a democracy, that would be an absurdity. The’ plan offers an organised influence in wool marketing. I look favorably upon a consideration of such an element in wool marketing, but that is only my view as an amateur. .
Tonight we have not heard a word to indicate that the plan involves taxation of the wool growers. We heard a great contribution by Senator Bull, who referred very forcibly to another aspect. He assumed the right of ‘ advocating a levy, not merely, of 3 per cent., but of 31 per cent., simply considering its adequacy. The aspect to which I wish to draw attention is that the Bill will make possible a levy of 3 per cent, on the wool growers’ product. The idea of imposing any plan involving such a levy as that without giving the wool grower a vote is abhorrent to me.
I think that the provision that requires voting to be compulsory is good. The provision introduced into the Bill that both sides of the argument - for or against the acceptance of the plan - be issued in a pamphlet to accompany the ballot papers is good. I am in complete agreement with it and I am indebted to have a man of the practical experience in the wool industry possessed by Senator Bull of the same point of view. I am also in complete agreement with his denial of the propriety of the franchise that is given to the wool grower. It is an absurdity to take a vote on the basis that each wool grower, provided he produces at least 10 bales of wool or owns 300 sheep, shall receive a vote while the wool grower who produces 1,000 bales of wool and who may own 50,000 sheep also has merely one vote.
In the edition of 31st August of the “Sydney Morning Herald”, a useful analysis of the absurdity of this situation appeared. The figures that were available under the classification of rural holdings by size and type of activities published in 1963, based upon conditions of 1959-60, were used. They were the last figures then available. A classification of sheep holdings was produced and, with the concurrence of honorable senators, I incorporate it in “ Hansard “.
The author of the classification has taken the basis of 100 sheep to represent three bales of wool. The deduction is drawn that 44.5 per cent, of the votes in the wool referendum will be commanded by growers who provide 15.1 per cent. of. the relevant clip. Therefore, Mr. President, the 51 per cent, majority vote that the Government says it will recognise can be produced by a mere 16 per cent, pf the wool production of the country. I believe that is a complete absurdity and any government which puts forward such a proposal is recreant to the trust that it has to govern the country in which the wool industry is the chief industrial component and a great strength in defence.
– Ten per cent, of the wool growers produce 50 per cent, of the total wool clip. The honorable senator would give the vote only to them because they produce 50 per cent, of the wool. The honorable senator’s argument is rotten and absolutely stupid.
– I was pleased that Senator Bull thought fit to refer to the conditions that operate in such a stupid country as the United States of America. I refer to the judgment of Senator O’Byrne on these matters. In the United States, as Senator Bull has pointed out, there is provision for a weighted vote in the National Wool Act of 1954, for the purpose of authorising support price plans. Before approval can be given for such plans, two-thirds of the total number of producers or two-thirds of the total volume of production, as the case may be, must be represented in the referendum.
– That is the wool lobby which keeps our wool out.
– Those who prefer to listen to the bleating of Senator O’Byrne might like to be reminded of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1958 of the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom’s marketing scheme requires; a poll of registered producers to be taken. For the purposes of any poll in relation to wool, the 1950 scheme provides that a person who is capable of producing one unit of wool for every 10 sheep over four months old in his possession at the qualifying date shall be deemed to be a producer. So that in the legislation of the United Kingdom and the United States there is an express adoption of the weighted vote in relation to wool.
The third point I make in regard to this franchise is this: If the Labour proposition of one man one vote is valid, why have a minimum qualification of 10 bales? If there is a valid parallel between the political franchise and this producer organisation franchise, why not go to the country on the political basis and say that those who have a tenancy franchise of only £10 rent per year shall have a political franchise? That would bring it into complete parallel with this silly little minimum that is a recognition of one’s interest in the wool industry. That is a meagre and inadequate example which makes a 10 bale qualification look quite silly.
The fourth point that I make against the one man one vote franchise is that in our rating for municipal and local government legislation we quite commonly have voting according to one’s interest. For port authorities we have voting according to one’s interest. In every company that has any decency and integrity, or which accords equity to its shareholders, one is allowed to vote according to one’s capital interest in the company. I am always very hesitant to rise in debates like this to offer my views unless I am able to support them.
– The honorable senator is very woolly on this one. He is following like a little sheep behind the fellows who have put out propaganda. The little boy has lost his sheep and does not know where to find them.
– I am reminded that there is an erstwhile jackeroo in the chamber. I thought a jumbuk may have strayed from the flock and come in here. It is an elementary proposition that in an industry ballot the basis of voting is not one vote per head but one vote per unit of interest or production. I was delighted to get in my mail yesterday a letter from a very thoughtful but unpretentious wool grower of southern Tasmania. After expressing the hope that I would make some comments on these matters, the argument on which I commenced to formulate weeks before receiving the letter, he said -
You will no doubt observe that a producer selling 10 bales of wool has as much say as another selling 100 bales, and therefore putting 10 times as much money into the revolving fund as the first man.
I look on this plan as a big company with the wool growers of Australia as shareholders, and in no company in the world has the small shareholder the same voting strength as the big one.
I want to make one further observation in regard to the franchise.
– An amalgamation of small shareholders in a company can outvote a large shareholder.
– I would deny that as a general proposition.
– Ask Mr. Shepherd. He will fell you that.
– Who is Mr.
– The small shareholders cannot outvote a large shareholder. They tried it there on a show of hands, but at the poll they were hopelessly defeated. Whilst paying respect to the interjection of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty), may I say that it is recognised that in articles of association a company can give a particular class of share a disproportionate value of voting strength. I started off by speaking about companies of integrity and equity. They recognise a franchise that has regard to interest.
Having dealt with companies, I propose to obtrude upon the Senate a few remarks about organised marketing in other spheres. Under the Dairy Produce Export Control (Election of Board) Regulations, which have been gazetted under Commonwealth legislation, it will be found that for the purpose of the election of the marketing board a factory that produces 20 tons of butter has one vote, a factory that has a production exceeding 20 tons but not exceeding 100. tons has two votes, and a factory that has a production exceeding 100 tons has one . vote for every 100 tons or portion thereof exceeding 100 tons.
– They are factories.
– So what?
– They are not producers.
– They do not make butter at home now.
– If I may be permited to proceed without vacuous interjections being made, I point out that under the Canned Fruit Export Marketing Act 1963 each cannery voting is entitled to one vote for every 120,000 cans produced and if one company owns more than one cannery the production of all the canneries is aggregrated to fulfil the entitlement I have described. If Senator O’Byrne will direct his thoughts to what happens in a Labourridden State, a State that has been bedevilled by a Labour Government for more than 30 years, he will find that in the statute that established the Tasmanian Stone and Berry Fruits Board it is provided that every registered grower has the following voting powers: Up to and including five acres, one vote; over five and up to ten acres, two votes; over ten acres, three votes. It will be discovered that, in regard to voting for the Tasmanian Fruit Board, every registered producer has voting powers on the following scale: Up to and including 10 acres, one vote; over 10 and up to 25 acres, two votes; over 25 and up to 50 acres, three votes; over 50 and up to 100 acres, four votes; and over 100 acres, five votes.
The 10th report of the Rural Reconstruction Committee produced in relation to commercial policy in agriculture in 1946 contained this comment -
The basis on which a poll of growers is taken prior to establishment of a board is important. The first point to be decided is the qualification necessary for the right to vote. Many industries have large numbers of producers who are only in a small way and represent a relatively small percentage of the total production. If the minimum production to qualify for a vote is too low those producers whose interests are not necessarily the same as those who have large and medium sized units of production may outvote the other groups and end in providing a form of regulation which is unsatisfactory to the best interests of the whole.
These matters to which I have referred might not in themselves be of any great authority; but there are many commodity boards upon which one man has been given one vote irrespective of the interest weight vote to which I have referred. No real study or consideration has been given by the Government to this essentially basic question and it reflects no great credit on the Government to present a Bill which, in the form in which it has been designed, will produce a result that cannot be recognised as a proper indication of the views of the industry. Therefore, my proposition is that the Bill for a referendum should be passed but the provision for a franchise should be amended and I hope that further consideration will be given to this matter in the committee stage.
.- We have listened to two speakers on the Government side. One of the speakers is an experienced wool grower and what he has said may be accepted as evidence on the provisions of the Bill. The other speaker was a wool gatherer and his ravings may be brushed to one side. There is a constant struggle in the world today for economic security. Engaged in this struggle are all nations, and group’s of peoples as well as individuals. Industrial workers can see machines and automation slowly approaching their occupations to overwhelm them. Similarly, the wool growers can see. synthetic fibres heavily competing with wool. Is it any wonder that they are concerned about the future of; their industry? They are not engaged in the. production of wool for only a day. They hope to engage in it for several years. But at present they find it almost impossible to look forward with any surety to the future and what it will bring in the way of prices for their product.
Senator Bull spoke of synthetic fibres creeping into the wool industry. We know that that is so. I am one who is rather old fashioned in certain respects and I think there is no substitute for wool. I believe wool can be replaced with nylon and other synthetic fibres only for certain articles of apparel. I am not going to tell again the story of going into a general store and seeing blankets manufactured of nylon in Poland. How they could provide warmth for a person in bed is quite beyond me.
Wool prices have fluctuated over the years and I admit frankly that I have never been able to ascertain exactly why they fluctuated. Some honorable senators will recall the time when AAA fleece brought no more than 9d. per lb. on the market. An honorable senator has mentioned the acquisition of wool. During the Second World War the Australian wool clip was stored for several years and advances were made to the wool growers through the agency of the Commonwealth Bank which was established originally by an ordinary Labour member of Parliament. Treasury bills were raised to pay the growers. When the war was over there was a form of sale from government to government. I think the United Kingdom Government bought nine-tenths of the wool we had in store.
We have seen these things and experienced wool .growers are fully aware of them. They are watchful of the interests of their industry because they have to be watchful. Every person in the community is trying to see what the future holds for him. A member of Parliament must do what he can to try to ensure that he is re-elected.
That is his security and he must consider what he has to do.
Why did the Government introduce the Wool Industry Act of 1962? That is the question with which I wish to deal.One might ask why this Government, which constantly talks about the righteousness of private enterprise, introduced a Bill in 1962 designed to some extent to control the wool industry. I was a member of the Senate when the measure went through. I was fully aware of the fact that the wool growers themselves actually had formulated the Bill. They had approached the Government and outlined their immediate requirements. They co-operated with the Government in having the measure prepared and brought before the Parliament. I shall quote a few important extracts from the Act. The Wool Industry Act 1962 provides - 5.- (1.) The objects of this Act are-
The Act also made provision for the establishment of the Australian Wool Board and the Australian Wool Industry Conference. These two bodies are statutory bodies and their actions are lawful because they must act in accordance with the provisions of this Act which was passed by this Parliament. The Act defines the. functions of each body for which it has made provision. These bodies have functioned in the interest of the wool industry since they were formed.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laught). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the negative.
– I am going to deal now with the economic aspect of the wool industry. The economy of the Commonwealth concerns every person in the community. Historically, Australia has depended upon the prosperity of its pastoral production which embraces wool and wheat. If we look into the future as far as we can see, we appreciate that we will continue to depend upon pastoral export income for many years to come. Wool plays a very important part in the economy of Australia. So, the Government was fully entitled to go ahead and introduce the Wool Industry Act 1962 to which I referred a minute or two ago. As a matter of fact, half of the total export income of this country is earned through the sale of wool and meat. That being so, honorable senators can see that the economy is half resting upon wool sales. This is a very important aspect indeed. If wool prices fall - and they can be manipulated, I believe, in such a way that they can fall much lower than they are at the present time - they can. continue to fluctuate. Wool prices have been fluctuating over the last month or so. They could reach a lower level and probably stay there for a while. That situation can be avoided by this proposal by suggesting, first of all, a referendum favouring a reserve floor price.
It is interesting to consider the sum of money that the Wool Board will handle this year. We heard tonight how wool growers will be taxed to provide millions of pounds to carry on their scheme and to enable the Wool Board to carry out its lawful functions. But this year the Commonwealth Government is to take a fairly large sum from Consolidated Revenue and make it available to the Wool Board. I am looking at the Report of the Auditor-General upon the Treasurer’s Statement of Receipts and Expenditure for the year ended 30th June 1965. Under the heading of “ Special Appropriations” at page 71, the following entry is found: Wool Industry - Research (Act 1957-1960). In 1963-64, the sum of £802,118 was provided. Under the Wool Industry Research Act 1962-1964, the sum of £1,590,568 was made available last year. This year, for wool promotion purposes, £9,124,422 will be provided. For the same
Item in 1963-1964, the sum of £2,643,000 was provided. So, honorable senators can see that the Wool Board handles those funds. lt is credited with those sums which it uses for certain purposes. I wish to point out that the Wool Board does operate as a responsible body. It must be responsible because its accounts are the subject of audit inspection. The Wool Board must account for every penny it spends. It is the responsible body. One of the other bodies exercising functions under the Wool Industry Act 1962 is the Australian Wool Industry Conference. The Conference makes recommendations to the Wool Board and, finally, something comes before the Parliament. Tonight, we have a proposal that a referendum be taken to decide whether wool growers are in favour of what is commonly known as the floor price.
Looking at this matter in the way that a typical citizen would look at it, what do we sec? We know that buyers from many nations come here when wool is auctioned. The wool is set out in various lots by expert wool classers. The lots are listed through schedules. Auctioneers call the name of a lot and it is offered for sale. Look at it this way: It is quite possible for a group of buyers to come together and exchange opinions and information as to what wool they are going to buy on a certain day. It is quite simple for one representative to buy for several wool buyers. If wool buyers were around this Parliament for a year or two, they would soon learn how to do these things. In other words, they could fix the price themselves. They could arrange the price. I do not know whether this has been going on. I would not care to say that or even suggest it. I have no knowledge of that going on, but it could be done.
If this referendum is carried, this plan will be instituted. One does not need a great deal of imagination to have some idea as to what the plan will be and how it will operate. Wool classers, probably the best in the Commonwealth, will be employed. .They will assess the value of the wool to be auctioned, or they will class it according to its fibre or quality. There will be men who will be quite capable of assessing what the world market price should be because with the communications which now exist they can find out what the price of wool is on the European market, the British market, or in the markets of South Africa, New Zealand or any other part of the world. All that information can be flashed to Australia in a matter of a few seconds. Working on that information, those men should be able to fix a floor price. I do not profess to have any knowledge of that subject, but I feel sure that they could fix a price which would be fair and reasonable in all the circumstances. I believe that if a suitable price ils not bid by a potential buyer at an auction the wool should be withheld from sale. We have men in Australia quite capable of assessing the value of wool, and if the price is not obtained I do not think any Australian would suggest that the wool should be sold.
This legislation concerns a proposal to introduce a new system of selling wool. The small wool growers’ have asked for it. I do not think the wealthy wool grower is anxious to have it. I regard as a wealthy wool grower a man who can graze on his property up to 100,000 sheep. As a rule he has the best quality wool, his property is in good country, his sheep are well bred and he has men engaged to classify the flocks. There are men whose job it is to classify the flocks, and the wealthy graziers do not keep sheep unless they are well up to a certain standard. Perhaps those graziers are against the scheme. Perhaps the absentee owners of pastoral’ properties are opposing the plan because they think they may miss a vote, but their agents in Australia will probably be doing their best to prevent the scheme from coming into operation. I do not think anyone should object to giving this new scheme to market Australian wool a trial for sue months, twelve months or even two or three years. This could be done without disrupting the commercial life of the industry. I think the scheme is belated. It should have been introduced years ago. I can remember being in the Senate some years ago when wool brought over 240d. per lb. Wool was bringing such a high price in those days that a special income tax was introduced to . skim, as we were told, the cream off the incomes of the wool growers.
I understand that the wool growers will be required to provide approximately £30 million of their own money to get this scheme running smoothly. If . they are allowed to contribute the £30 million over a number pf years they will not feel the burden of the contribution to any great extent. Certain honorable senators have mentioned levies. They have said that the wool growers are levied on this and on that to provide a certain amount. But this is their industry and their future is tied up in it, so the levies placed upon them are a contribution towards their own future welfare. This is going on in every walk of life today, so there should not be any dispute about it.
Wool growing has changed considerably over the last 20 or 30 years. I think there are very few properties in Queensland today grazing up to 1 00,000 sheep. As leases have expired, the Queensland Government has subdivided the properties into blocks of 30,000 or 40,000 acress. Where there once was one station property grazing probably 100,000 sheep, there are now numerous holdings of 40,000 acress, according to the locality, with probably 7,000 or 8,000 sheep according to the grazing capacity of the property. So there has been a form of closer settlement in Queensland. This process will continue. As leases expire there will be further subdivisions and more settlement.
It is not the man on the big property who will support this measure. It is the man on the small 40,000-acre property who will be inclined to support it, because, in a way, he is still a battler and is seeking to do the best for himself and his family. He wants to be assured that the price of wool is stable and that if a certain price is obtained for wool this month he can expect it to be paid to him next month, next year and so on because he has to make certain financial arrangements and he wants to be able to meet his commitments when they become due. The only way he can do that is by having a stabilised price paid to him for his wool.
There has been talk about the method of voting. I shall not even touch upon that. The ballot will be conducted by the Commonwealth Electoral Office. I am one who has confidence in the officers of that department. In fact, I think every elector in the Commonwealth has confidence in the conduct of the electoral officers. I am not worried about the method of voting, whether it will be by postal vote or whether a voter, must attend a polling booth. I believe that the ballot will be conducted honestly and fairly.
I support wholeheartedly the principle of one wool grower, one vote. Anyone who would advocate anything different from that would go right back to the old days of the Legislative Council in Queensland, when squatters had two or three votes because they owned or occupied so much land. We do not want to march backwards; we want, to go ahead. We want to become more, democratic. Borderline cases will arise. A man with 300 sheep or who produces 10 bales of wool will be entitled to vote, but another man with fewer sheep will not be entitled to vote. Senator Ormonde is debarred from voting because he has only 299 sheep on his Maitland property.
In any case, the referendum will be conducted in due course. I am one who earnestly hopes that, in the interests of the future economy of the Commonwealth and of those engaged in the wool industry, the referendum will be carried.
– When I heard Senator O’Byrne give his rather vivid description of what he regarded as a wool grower I almost failed to recognise myself as that conservative, cautious individual who is afraid of change. It is obvious that Senator O’Byrne does not know anything about wool growers because they have proved by their ready adaptation to changing conditions that they are ‘neither conservative nor cautious.
The Bill which we are debating provides for a referendum on a reserve price plan for wool. It comes before the Senate amidst conflict within the industry, not only in relation to the merits of the plan but also in relation to voting qualifications, financial arrangements and other matters. It is inevitable that in an industry as diverse and complex as the wool industry there will be differences of opinion on the issues involved. This in itself is a healthy attitude and one which should not cause concern. It is also natural and right that discussion should take place outside the industry. The wool industry is of such tremendous importance to the Australian economy and to the well being of Australians generally that any major decision by the industry will have repercussions throughout the economy.
I stand firmly to the policy of my party. This is not in dispute. The industry itself must decide whether it considers the reserve price plan to be in its own best interests. I, as a wool grower, will make my decision and vote accordingly. The wool industry has the right to decide its future by referendum. The result of the referendum should clearly express the wish of the wool growers. I acknowledge the difficulty in determining to the satisfaction of all concerned the qualifications that decide who is a wool grower and who is not.
There are many people who produce wool but are in no sense genuine wool growers. Statistics prove conclusively that this section could determine the decision one way or the other. I do not wish to canvass this position further. A recommendation was made by the Australian Wool Industry Conference. It was a compromise decision, as mentioned by Senator Bull, but it was accepted by the Government. I am not quarrelling with the Government’s acceptance of the recommendation. I merely express the view that careful consideration must be given to this question, should similar circumstances arise in the future. I believe that Senator Bull made a very notable contribution when discussing this particular aspect.
Having stated that I stand firmly to the view that the wool industry itself must make its own decisions as to whether or not it wants a reserve price scheme and despite comments I have read no-one has attempted to deny the industry this right. Parliament has a clear right and responsibility in all matters affecting the national interest. Surely no-one suggests that because the oil industry or the steel industry wishes to introduce a marketing arrangement, Parliament should accede to the request of the industry without question, expression of opinion or criticism. No honorable senator on either side of the chamber would disagree with this view. That is why I deplore and I think that every honorable senator should deplore - I make no personal attacks in this matter - the reported statements by Sir William Gunn attacking members of Parliament in quite violent terms for their actions in exercising their undoubted right to question and criticise. Their motives should not be impugned. An honorable senator says that Sir William Gunn had a lot of provocation. That is a matter of opinion. If the quite extraordinary statements to which I refer had any basis, then debate on any1 subject would be restricted to those who have a direct and indeed vested interest in the matter. This would be so palpably absurd as not to require further comment.
I am concerned that Sir William Gunn should impugn the motives of members of Parliament. He is reported to have said -
The back benchers were representing somebody, but not the wool growers in the country. They must have a motive, but it is hot the welfare of the wool growers.
Sir William is guilty of a careless assumption when he implied that he and those who support him represent the wool growers of Australia. I note that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) has invited the Committee for the Retention and Improvement of the Free Wool Market, with other organisations, to prepare the case against the plan. I do not know, nor have I met, any of the gentlemen who comprise that Committee. I know that amongst its members are Mr. Carter, past chairman of the Australian Wool Bureau and International Wool Secretariat and past president of the Graziers Federal Council; Mr. Wilson of Victoria, who is a past president of the Graziers Federal Council and past vice-president of the Graziers Association of Victoria; Mr. McAuley, who is president of the National Farmers Union of South Australia; and Mr. Hawkes, who is a former member of the Australian Wool Bureau.
Although I do not know these gentlemen, I suggest that they ate men of integrity and experience in the wool industry who have given long service to the industry. They possess the democratic right to express views without being victimised or having their motives questioned.1 I also note that the Graziers Association of New South Wales, the Graziers Association of Victoria, the Graziers Association of Riverina, the Stockowners Association of South Australia and the Pastoralists Association of West Darling are to assist in drawing up the arguments against the plan. I can only assume in my innocence that these organisations, which represent a substantial section of wool growers in three States, have decided by a majority vote - even if only a simple majority - to oppose the plan. This, of course, is their democratic right, the same right which has been exercised by Sir William Gunn. I freely give him and those who campaign in support of the scheme that right. The back benchers whom Sir William, Gunn so falsely accused of improper motives, would seem to me to be representing the views of a substantial section of wool growers in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, and no doubt in the other States.
– The Australian Wool Board has some recognised status with the Government.
– I am not denying that.
– The honorable senator should have said so in his speech.
– Let me make my speech in my own way. I have mentioned this matter, not because I wish to add to the bitterness and confusion that has developed within the industry, but because I believe it is intolerable that people outside the Parliament should attempt by false accusations’ to deny members their rights and responsibilities.
I have mentioned that the wool industry is a complex industry. It has always spoken wilh many voices. It was only after the strong recommendation of the Philp Committee of Inquiry that an organisation representing the industry, or most sections of it, was formed. In common with all wool growers, I welcomed the formation of the Australian Wool Industry Conference and hoped that in time it would be able to bring the industry together so that it would speak, as far as possible, with a united voice on the major issue confronting it. This hope has not been fulfilled to the present. The wool industry is badly disunited. No useful purpose is served in engaging in recriminations or criticisms unless . they attempt to be constructive or point to lessons to be learned. It should have been recognised that any drastic change in marketing would provoke discussions and opposition that would be based on honest and sincere differences. This happens, as it should, in any community.
On this score I criticise both sides. I believe that at first the Wool Board was at fault in giving the impression that it was anxious for an indecently quick decision without discussion or debate. This gave rise to a feeling amongst wool growers - and these views have been expressed to me by the wool growers in my own State - that they- were being pressurised or bulldozed into supporting a scheme that they, in fact, knew little about. They were left to conclude that no view other than that advocated by the Wool Board was warranted or justified. Whether or not they were justified in believing that, I think is immaterial.
I believe that the Wool Board has badly overstated its case and exaggerated to some extent the likely benefits to be gained. I regret that on occasions personal attacks and imputations have been made regarding the motives of those who do not support the scheme. Likewise, I can find much to deplore in the campaign conducted by the advocates who do not support it. They have allowed the campaign, which began as art honest and healthy difference of opinion, to degenerate into a slanging match. They, too, in my opinion, have been guilty of exaggerating and overstating the dangers that exist in the case put forward in support of the scheme. The only effect has been to cause confusion in the minds of wool growers, and in this sort of atmosphere an informed and intelligent vote is hardly possible.
I therefore welcome the decision of the Government to have a case for and against the scheme prepared and forwarded to those eligible to vote. My only regret is that this decision was not made earlier. It should have been. Those who stood against the proper presentation of both sides of the case have a heavy responsibility for the position that exists in the industry today. My one hope is that those charged with preparing the cases will use reasoned arguments so that wool growers will be in a position to make a wise decision on the issues involved. I note that some criticism has been levelled at this decision on the ground that it wilt help defeat the reserve price plan. I find this a rather odd argument. If the arguments in favour of a “ Yes “ vote are so strong, I find it hard to accept the point that the presentation of a case against the scheme will have any effect on the result. If the case for a “ Yes “ vote will not stand calm examination - I believe that it will - it must be unsound.- I place my trust and confidence in the wisdom and good sense of the wool growers.
Sitting suspended front 11 to 11.35 p.m.
– The wool industry is Australia’s greatest single industry. For anyone to suggest that important decisions in respect of it should be based on the presentation of only one side of an argument, in my view, is rather odd and strangely undemocratic. It is not my intention to deal with the history of the wool industry or the merits and demerits of the reserve price plan. We are debating only a bill that aims to obtain the clear wishes of the wool growers.
Like other speakers, I am far from happy with some aspects of the Bill. In some respects, I do not think it is a particularly good bill. I acknowledge that it would be virtually impossible to overcome all anomalies in voting rights in an industry such as the wool industry. I also acknowledge that satisfaction cannot be given to everyone. However, I doubt whether a proper attempt has been made to overcome anomalies with regard to partnerships or family companies. As Senator Bull has dealt with that aspect, I will not pursue it further. I merely place on record my dissatisfaction with the Bill in those two respects. To argue, as someone in the other place did, that very few would be affected, fails to recognise the rights of those’ who are affected. These and other aspects have been argued and remain arguable. There is nothing to be gained by pursuing them any further now.
I mentioned earlier that wool marketing is a complex problem. No analogy can be drawn between the wool industry and any other primary industry. Some people have tried to do that. In fact, some honorable senators tried to do it tonight, but they were not very successful. As only 8 per cent, of our wool is bought locally, a home consumption price, such as exists in the wheat industry and other industries, is not practicable in the wool industry. The world is not concerned with our cost structure; it is interested in buying wool at a competitive price. The factors that affect the price of wool, in the main, are outside our control. The international situation, economic conditions in many countries, the financial and economic policies of governments, changes in bank rates and fashion trends are only some of the factors involved. Other speakers have mentioned the effect of speculators, pies, forward selling and future markets on prices. I note that the Australian Wool
Board’s “ Report and Recommendations on Wool Marketing “ discounted to a very great extent the effects of those factors on the price of wool, and regarded them as being only marginal. ,
My endeavours have been not to take sides in this matter but to ensure that the industry will be able to make a decision on it and that that decision will represent the considered views of the industry after the growers have had the opportunity to decide, free from pressure and after careful consideration of the factors involved. I can only express the hope that after the decision has been made the bitterness surrounding this campaign will be forgotten and all sections will ‘join together and work for the good of this great Australian industry.
I am far from happy with the way in which this whole matter has been dealt with both by the Australian Wool Industry Conference and by the Government. I have also criticised the proponents of the “ No “ case, The Minister has stated that the Wool Industry Conference formulated proposals for the scheme. As I understand the position, the Conference never received the report of the Wool Marketing Committee; only the Australian Wool Board received it. So, what evidence did the Wool Industry Conference use in formulating the scheme? What advice did it have in dealing with the technical aspects of the scheme? I believe that the report of the Wool Marketing Committee should have been made public. That could have prevented at least some of the doubts and controversy. Tq regard the report as a secret document is to invite criticism.
Parliament has not been told whether the guarantee that- the Treasury proposes to give is unlimited, and, if it is unlimited, on what evidence that decision is based. Has the Treasury or the inter-departmental committee that reported to the Government on the proposed scheme seen or studied the report of the Wool Marketing Committee? I speak as a member of the Parliament. I believe that, the Parliament has a right to know these things. There has been a strange reluctance to provide information. Most of the information that we have had to be dragged out by pressure and questioning. I make these observations because I believe that a lesson should be learnt.
The lesson is that there is less likelihood of acrimonious dispute if all concerned are straightforward in their attitude and if all relevant information is made available immediately. Most of the confusion and bitterness that now exists results from the failure of responsible people to act responsibly.
Having made those comments, I again express the hope that the industry will settle its differences, that the Australian Wool Industry Conference will act as it was intended to act and that the differences will be forgotten. I compliment Senator Bull, with his deep knowledge of the industry, on his comments on this Bill. Whether or not the reserve price plan is agreed to, I hope that the people in the industry will settle their difference and once again work together for the good of the industry and the good of the economy. I strongly support the holding of the referendum and I place my trust in the wisdom and intelligence of the wool growers.
– Like all members of the Opposition I support this Bill. It is one of the few bills to come before the Senate which should receive the commendation of honorable senators. The wool industry is perhaps the most important Australian industry. The export income earned by the industry in 1963- 64 amounted to £480 million, or 35 per cent. of our total export income. In 1964- 65 the industry earned £404 million of export income. That represented a fall of £76 million. For how long Australia can continue to have this industry being subject to market fluctuations and the people who manipulate the market I do not know, As we rely of primary industries for our export income, I believe that the time is overdue when this Government should start to take regulatory action in respect of this industry. The figures that I have quoted show the importance of the industry not only to the people engaged in it but also to the Australian economy.
Perhaps it is still true to say that Australia rides on the sheep’s back. Although we are building up our manufacturing industries and we hope to build them up very much more, at this point of time and for the foreseeable future Australia rides and will continue to ride on the sheep’s back. If we are to have a comfortable ride, it is time we began to look at the animal that we have mounted. This is the only great primary industry that has not been the subject of an orderly marketing scheme. It is true that on two occasions, after World War I and World War II, there were orderly marketing schemes which proved successful but, generally speaking, the industry has been allowed to run at large and no move has been made to regulate it.
It is to be regretted, I think, that the proposal of the Australian Wool Industry Conference is for the setting of a conservative minimum price level. I am not sufficiently conversant with the matter to be able to say that the price should not be much more than a conservative price. All that I do say is that on no occasion has Australia been unable to sell all the wool that it produces. For this reason I am led to the conclusion that all the wool that is available to the world market is saleable. Perhaps we could have gone for something more than a conservative price. Nevertheless, the industry itself, through its representatives, has settled upon a scheme to provide for a conservative price, whatever the meaning of “ conservative “ may be. The measure provides means of ensuring that there will be an element of stability in the industry.
Stability in our marketing arrangements is something that all of us look for. It should be welcomed by growers because it will allow them to apply a measure of proper farm management, which is most important for farmers. Among these I include pastoralists, the big grower and the small grower. If some stability results from this legislation they will be enabled to apply some measure of proper farm management. They will be able to go about their work knowing that there will be an assured minimum price for their product. This is something for which they have to look, always hoping that there will be a maximum price. It is part of the free enterprise system that people who produce goods expect to get the maximum price for them. That applies to all areas of the community. Even the workers expect to get the maximum price for their labour. Those who produce goods from the land expect the maximum return for them. If the growers adopt the scheme that was outlined by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) in another place, they will have a measure of stability because they will know the minimum price that they will receive.
Organised marketing schemes . have proved their success in other primary industries. They have allowed proper planning by persons engaged in the industries. For instance, the wheat industry, statilisation scheme has allowed wheat producers to plan their farms on the basis that they have an assured income from an assured production. Overall, this Bill should be welcomed by wool producers. One of the basic faults with the wool industry since World War II has been the fluctuations in prices. Everyone will agree that these fluctuations have been the greatest enemy of wool. They create a feeling of uncertainty in the minds of producers as well as in the minds of the end users or manufacturers.
This is a very big problem not only for the manufacturers but also for the consumers. It must be realised that the accounts of manufacturing industries cannot be made out from wool sale to wool sale. They must be made out over a financial year. Prices are fixed in relation to the capital within the industry and the dividends that it expects to be paid. For this reason, manufacturers must at all times budget their accounts on the basis of the maximum price that they expect to pay for the raw materials to be used. Therefore, if the price of wool falls and they are able to buy at a lower price, they will make a greater profit. I am not particularly interested in that aspect at this point, but I am interested in the fact that they set their prices in accordance with what they think will be the maximum price for the raw products that they must use. The maximum price is then passed on to the consumer. If the price of the raw material happens to fall, the shareholders benefit. If the price rises, this reacts against the shareholders. Overall, I believe, the price of goods to the consumer, as a result of the great fluctuations that have taken place, has been loaded’ against him. Therefore, the introduction of an organised marketing scheme must bring not only to wool producers but also to the manufacturers of wool, the end users, a measure of security and stability. They will be able to plan their markets.
I realise that the Bill is not one to produce a scheme for wool marketing. It is to pro vide for a referendum of wool growers who will, in their own right, endorse or reject an orderly marketing scheme. I should have liked the scheme to be before the Parliament but I should have objected to its inclusion in this Bill. The growers are entitled to see particulars of the scheme upon which they are to vote but to include the scheme in this legislation would, I think, have been quite wrong. The Bill is purely to enable the industry to decide whether or not it wants organised marketing; The manner in which the organised marketing, if approved, will be carried out will be the subject of legislation to come before the Parliament at a later stage. It is true that with the case for the “ Yes “ vote and’ the case for the “ No “ vote particulars of the scheme for orderly marketing to be implemented if the growers approve will be supplied. The fact is that because the wool industry has been alolwed to run at large since 1951, when the Joint Organisation Scheme came to an end, there has been a pretty long period of chaos in the industry. I say this quite advisedly. There have been high prices and low prices, and there has been chaos in the industry. It is time that chaos came to an end.
Fluctuations in price have been the greatest enemy of the wool industry. They have led the manufacturers, the end users of these fibres, to turn to a more stable market - to turn to the use of synthetic products. This has not been good for the wool industry. Therefore, anything that will produce a measure of stability in relation to wool must have some effect in discouraging the use of synthetics. The wool growers have been subjected to uncertainty about their incomes. They have produced their wool for a particular auction sale not knowing the price at which it would be sold. In order to try to keep their product before the consumer public, they have been subjected to a levy for promotion. This means that the WOOl growers have had to pay in both those ways, but without attaining some stability in their industry. This has been bad for wool. Manufacturers have tended to drift away from the use of wool because of the uncertainty in price.
I cannot emphasise too much that it has not yet been proved anywhere in the world that there is a real substitute for wool; but there are other things which can be used in place of it. There are synthetic products which can be sold at a price lower than that of wool - at a stable price - although they do not have the qualities of wool. The user of synthetic fibres knows that he can buy the quantities he requires when he requires them, and that in six or nine months the price will be relatively the same as it was when he made his first purchase. This is. not so with wool, because the price may be either up or down at the next wool sale. Then, of course, it is not always possible to shear sheep when one would like to shear them. Shearing has to be done when they are ready to be shorn. Large bodies of wool coming on to the market may depress it, and this also reacts against the incomes of the wool growers. The consumers of wool products have been subjected to higher prices because the manufacturers must protect themselves. The fact that the manufacturers must protect themselves against fluctuations in the price of wool has cost the industry many millions of pounds. Documents which have been circulated to us have shown that the wool industry has lost some £1,000 million since the Joint Organisation scheme ended. This is money which should have gone to the growers.
– Whose estimate was that?
– The figure was estimated by the committee on marketing.
– By which committee?
– I think a Mr. Campbell was the secretary or chairman of the committee. He made five or six different tests, each of which showed that the industry has suffered to the extent of about £1,000 million since the end of the Joint Organisation Scheme.
I think the reserve price plan should be welcomed by every responsible person in the community. Everyone who is interested in the advancement and development of Australia must welcome it. I say this after having made a study of the Australian economy in relation to the balance of payments and our export earnings. Export earnings are of vital importance because if Australia does not earn enough from its exports the only solution of our balance of payments problem will be to allow more foreign investment In this country - to sell a little more of Australia each year in order to balance our accounts. Ti some stability could be given to this industry, I think even this Government could do some economic planning. This matter is vital to the ordinary workers of Australia, because if our economy is not in a healthy condition - it is in a very unhealthy condition at the present time - their standard of living must depreciate.
Yet, despite the proven advantages of the British-Australian Wool Realisation Association after the First World War and of the Joint Organisation Scheme after the Second World War, there are still in our community those who are opposed to an orderly marketing scheme for wool. One wonders why these people are opposed to the scheme. Everyone is entitled to his views on matters of national importance, but I also believe that everyone is entitled to question the motives of both those who favour a scheme and those who oppose it. For a great many years, the policy of the Labour Party has been consistent, in respect of the orderly marketing of our products, and in particular our primary products.
I am not satisfied that the opposition to the referendum proposed by the legislation now before the Parliament is genuine and that its motives are not reprehensible. There are in this community people who have made vast sums of money out of the chaos that has existed in the wool industry since the Joint Organisation Scheme ended. I believe they want this chaos to continue, for their own selfish interests. They do not want organised marketing and they are therefore spending many thousands of pounds on other propaganda in opposition to the proposed marketing scheme. These people have exploited the wool industry. The committee of inquiry led by Mr. Justice Cook in New South Wales gave ample proof of the way the wool, market was manipulated for the benefit of vested interests and not for the benefit of growers.
– Through pies.
– Pies, among other things, were operating at the time. Their operations could come within the definition of restrictive trade practices. The market was not conducted for the benefit of the industry and Australia but for the benefit of a few avaricious and selfish people who wanted to get as much as they could as quickly as they could out of the wool industry. 1 believe that the orderly marketing scheme as proposed will give warning to those who have exploited the industry that the honeymoon is over and they will have to look to other ways of manipulating the Australian economy. I agree wholeheartedly with the proposal of the Minister to submit to the growers a case for the “ Yes “ vote and a case for the “ No “ vote. I think it is only fair that the people who are expected to vote in a referendum should be made aware of all the facts. I have read a lot of literature produced in favour of the “ No “ vote. I think the Government should be very careful of the propaganda that is submitted to the wool growers at the time of the referendum, lt should be examined to determine whether it is factual and based on evidence.
– Who is to prepare it?
– The Minister has given a list of the organisations that will be interested in preparing the case for the “ No “ vote. From what I have seen of that case, I question whether it is factual and whether it should be sent to the growers at the time they are to vote. Most of it is not supported by fact or by evidence. Nevertheless, it is right and proper that these people should be able to present their views at the time the referendum is to be held. I want to emphasise that the wool growers should not be influenced by half truths and unsupported evidence. I hope to be able to refer to some of the case prepared in favour of the “ No “ vote before I conclude my speech.
Considerable criticism has been made by those people supporting the “ No “ vote of the qualification for voting in the referendum. It is fixed at production of 10 bales or ownership of 300 sheep. I have here a document sent to me and signed by R. W. Macarthur-Onslow. In the first instance he is critical of the ownership of 300 sheep qualification. He states it is not necessarily true that 300 sheep will produce 10 bales pf wool and I think that point must be conceded to him. I would be the last not to do so. However, I would, like Mr.’ MacarthurOnslow to concede to me that 300 sheep may produce more than 10 bales of wool.
The line is drawn arbitrarily and someone has to get hurt on either side of it.
After considerable . negotiation, the Australian Wool Industry Conference recom? mended to the Government that the qualification to vote in the referendum should be production of 10 bales of wool or ownership of 300 sheep. ,It should be recognised that the Conference is composed of repre: sentatives, of .the large growers and the small growers. It is to be recognised also that the large growers went to the Conference to settle the matter of the voting qualification on the basis pf 20 bales. The small growers went to the Conference to advocate a basis of 5 bales. ‘ There was considerable negotiation between .representatives of the large and the small, growers, and the qualification arrived at was production of 10 bales or ownership of 300 sheep. This Parliament would be very foolish to attempt to alter the result of considerable negotiation between the wool producers. I cannot conceive’ that a line could be drawn ‘in such a way that nobody would be offended by it.
I do not know where the statistics come from, but it is said’ that by fixing the qualification at 10 bales, 30,000 wool growers who produce less than 10 bales will not be eligible to vote at a referendum for orderly marketing. However, if orderly marketing is adopted, they will have to pay the levy necessary to finance the scheme.
– –The wool growers want the qualification of 10 bales, do they not?
– The Australian Wool Industry Conference decided on 10 bales. I am drawing attention to the fact that wherever an arbitrary line is fixed, anomalies must be created and people must be offended.
– Does the honorable senator think that politicians should fix an arbitrary line?.
– No. I do not. I think the politicians should accept the line drawn by the Wool Industry Conference.
–That is what we have done.
-!- I am covering the provisions of the Bill. With other members of the Opposition, I agree with this legislation. It is seldom that we agree with the Government. We agree to the provisions of this Bill because we have advocated them for a great number of years. At least, ; the Government has the good sense to introduce this legislation. It has been forced once again to adopt the policy of the Australian Labour Party.
– When did the Labour Party first write orderly marketing into its federal policy?
– It has been written in for many years. Who introduced wheat stabilisation and the dairy marketing scheme? The honorable senator should- grow up.
– The honorable senator has not answered my question on orderly marketing.
– It has always been our policy. Labour adopted the policy of orderly marketing and protection of trade before the honorable senator was born. Little boys should be silent. It seems to me that wherever the line is fixed, anomalies will be created. 1 believe that in drawing the line at 10 bales and. 300 sheep the Wool Industry Conference has been as reasonable as possible. This Parliament should not attempt to interfere with a line that has been drawn by the representatives of the industry.
Those who have prepared the case for a “ No “ vote are critical of the line that has been drawn by the Wool Industry Conference. They say that it is bad for the industry. The fact that they criticise the arbitrary line that has been drawn does not necessarily make that line bad. Growers, through the propaganda that has been put out, are being influenced towards the view that that line is bad. The “ No “ case that is to be put to the growers in the referendum should be closely scrutinised by the Government to ensure that it is supported by the facts.
We are supposed to be the responsible representatives of the people and not any one section of them. The wool industry, of course is the interest of all the people. That is another reason why we should be guided by. those who have the greatest interest in the wool industry and whose livelihood stems from it. It is said that, by fixing the arbitrary line at 10 bales and 300. sheep, undue weight is being given to the .small grower. It is argued that the large producer should be given a greater share in the vote than the small producer. I am led to believe that there are still people in the community - I have in mind what Senator .Wright has said tonight - who still believe in the system of plural voting. This issue should not be settled on the basis of how much a person produces but on the value of what he produces to his own economy. Ten bales of wool may be just as important to a small farmer as are 100 bales to a large producer. Yet there are those who argue that a person who produces 100 bales should have greater voting power than the man whose production is less. I believe that the value to the producer of the wool that is produced should be the deciding factor. I am not here to say whether 10 bales is of more value to one grower than 100 bales would be to another grower; but I still say that 10 bales produced b.y a small mixed farmer might mean the difference between his being able to carry on and going broke. Ten bales of wool produced in that context become very important to him.
Those who are- opposed to the proposal that has been put forward advance another argument against the adoption of an orderly marketing scheme. They say that, if the Parliament approves the referendum and if the growers accept the marketing scheme, they will be ignoring the considered views of an overwhelming majority of experienced wool growers and authorities who have devoted their lives to the industry. I wonder whether they are talking about wool brokers. They are the authorities who have spent their lives in the wool industry. They were apprenticed from the day they left school, and they have earned their living through the brokerage section of the industry. It is they, in the main, who have exploited the wool industry. The adoption of an orderly marketing scheme would hurt them somewhat.
I ask honorable senators to note the words that have been used-“ the considered views, of an overwhelming majority of experienced wool growers and authorities who have devoted their lives to the industry “. I should have thought that the considered views of the authorities and those who have devoted their lives to the production of wool had been expressed to the Wool Industry Conference by either the 25 members of the Conference who represent the large growers or the 25 who represent the small growers. If those who have devoted their lives to this industry are not represented within those groups, then they can only be within the ranks of the wool within the industry for their own benefit brokers. They want to preserve the chaos within the industry for their own benefit and to preserve the millions of pounds that they are able to make out of it.
The statement to which I have referred completely ignores the fact that the referendum was agreed to by the wool growers’ representatives. It also ignores the fact that the marketing scheme can come into operation only after a majority of the growers have voted in favour of it. AH we are deciding here tonight is whether a referendum shall be held. At this point of time we are not deciding what scheme shall be introduced, although I admit that the Bill does provide that the scheme to be introduced shall be that agreed upon by the growers. I question that, because I say that the orderly marketing scheme adopted will be that agreed upon by this Parliament when the relevant legislation comes before it. Whilst it may bo
– It will be.
– I do not anticipate the decisions of the Parliament. Whilst it may be the scheme that has been presented by the Wool Industry Conference, it will not necessarily be that scheme. Eventually it will be the scheme that is agreed upon by this Parliament and not by the growers. I think that it is an impertinence to put that provision in this Bill. I am led to the belief that the Parliament is being taken for granted, that the scheme introduced will be that of the growers and that this Parliament will have no say in it. I would support the scheme that has been prepared by the growers, but I am only one of 60 senators. There are 124 members in another place and the scheme put forward by the growers will not necessarily be that passed by the Parliament. I think it is gross impertinence for a Bill to contain a proposition that the scheme that will operate in the industry if the referendum is carried will be that approved by the growers because it will be that approved by this Parliament. Whether it happens to be the scheme produced by the Australian Wool Industry Conference representing the growers is another matter. This parliament will have to approve of it.
Another important point is this: The growers will have the case for the “ yes “ vote and for the “ no “ vote presented to them by the Conference. They will also have a precis of the scheme presented to them. That is more than: this Parliament has had. The Parliament has not seen the details of the scheme that is to be introduced if the referendum is successful. We have only a broad outline of it in the Minister’s second reading speech. It would have been only common courtesy for the Minister to have circulated details of the scheme to honorable senators and members of the House of Representatives for perusal before they discussed this legislation. It could be a scheme we would not urge the wool growers to adopt. Looking broadly at the scheme that has been outlined by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) in his second reading speech, we find that it is somewhat parallel with the scheme that the Australian Labour Party has propounded for a number of years to give stability to the industry. If the details of the scheme are in line with the broad principles outlined by the Minister in his second reading speech, it is worthy of adoption by the industry and of support .by the Opposition. I support the measure before the Senate. i
Friday, 24th September 1965.
– I rise to support the Wool Reserve Prices Plan Referendum Bill providing for a referendum of wool growers on the introduction pf a reserve price plan. 1 do not intend to speak for long but I want to submit a table I have prepared. Wool growers will be able to study this table and learn from it details of the various methods of selling wool adopted from 1916-17 to 1964-65. The table gives the period and number of years during which each method of disposal operated, the average price per bale and the amount of work calculated on a weekly basis provided from the proceeds of one bale for an employee receiving the average basic wage. The table should give wool growers an indication of the prices they will receive or would have received under the various methods of disposal of wool which have operated since 1916-17.I took a lot of trouble to prepare this table andI thank those people who have assisted me. I believe the table will be of great interest of the industry and with the concurrence of the Senate I incorporate it in “ Hansard “ -
I propose to answer some of the points that have been raised during the debate. Senator Cant said he was not altogether in favour of the word “ conservative “ in relation to the reserve price plan.
– I do not know the meaning of the word “ conservative “.
– I would say it means that you do not take a lot of risks. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) made a statement on the plan in his second reading speech. Evidently it has been devised by the Australian Wool Industry Conference. The. Minister said that when wool prices are high, there will be a big discrepancy between the reserve price and the price that wool will bring. When wool is bringing average prices, the discrepancy willnot be so great. When prices are low, reserve prices will be set at a level close to those prices. That answers questions on that point.
Senator Wright is to move an amendment designed to change the criteria for voting in the referendum. The Bill provides that the minimum qualification for voting will be the production of 10 bales of shorn wool during 1964-65 or the ownership of 300 sheep. Each eligible producer will be entitled to only one vote regardless of the size of his clip or the number of properties be owns, but there are certain exceptions. Senator Wright’s amendment proposes that a person shall be entitled to -
I suppose that those represented by the Wool Industry Conference and the Australian Primary Producers Union, which is also supporting the scheme, form a great proportion of the wool growers of Australia. It was they who requested the Government to establish criteria for voting that they thought would be fair. I do not know whether a wool grower producing 1,000 bales of wool has a greater interest in living than a person who produces 1 0 bales of wool. I disagree with the statement by Senator Wright that a very small percentage of the growers produce 90 per cent. of the wool. What worries me is this: If you give, one vote for one bale, you could easily get to a position as mentioned by SenatorO’Byrne, where 10 per cent. of the growers may be producing 50 per cent. of the wool and have control of the industry. This matter was battled out by the industry itself and we should support it. Therefore I cannot support Senator Wright’s amendment.
This is a move in the right direction. Some honorable senators have said that this is the first time the Government has done anything to introduce a reserve price plan for wool. I remind them that in 1951 a referendum was held and lost.
– Do not bring that up.
– The Government supportedit.
– They killed it themselves.
– I cannot remember whether the Labour Party supported it or not. It was lost. It is right for the Government to agree to a referendum of wool growers. I believe it is right for the industry itself to decide whether it wants a reserve price plan. That is the reason of the referendum. I do not intend to engage in the debate for or against this plan. All I have done is produce this table in an endeavour to enlighten any wool grower who wants to read it, so that he can make up his mind as to whether the scheme is a good or a bad thing. Therefore, I have much pleasure in supporting the Bill.
– Mr. President, this Bill is of enormous importance not only to the wool growing community but also to Australia generally. With about one-sixth of the world’s wool and sheep, Australia produces one-quarter of the world’s wool, and more than one-half of the world’s fine quality merino wool. Bearing in mind these figures and the fact that some 95 per cent, of the Australian wool clip is an export commodity, one can see the importance of this measure to the Australian economy generally. The value of Australia’s wool exports currently is running at the order of some £370 million. We of the Labour movement welcome any attempt made by anyone, be it this Government or any other government, to bring stability to the marketing of Australia’s primary products.
As the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) said in his second reading speech, this Bill provides for a compulsory referendum for the purpose of ascertaining whether the wool growers of Australia approve a plan for maintaining reserve prices for Australian wool sold at auction. We of the Australian Labour Party do not oppose the Bill. Perhaps, to some of us, it does not go far enough. From the point of view of the franchise laid down, some of us might feel that the measure should be more generous. Nonetheless, we are prepared to accept the 10 bale limit and’ the 300 sheep minimum because, as I have said, at least this is an attempt on the part of the Government to give growers some say in respect of the manner in which they might determine their wool should be sold. For instance, I have already mentioned that from the viewpoint of franchise the Government perhaps could have been more generous. I understand, on information supplied by the Bureau pf Agricultural Economics, that there are 10,000 wool growers in Australia, each of whom is producing only 1 bale of wool; there are 4,800 wool growers each of whom is producing 21 bales; 8,400 wool growers each producing 5 bales; and 7,800 wool growers producing 71 bales. If one takes these figures collectively, one can see that there are some 31,000 people engaged in wool production who will be denied a say in this referendum, Personally, I would have liked to see provision made whereby these 31,000 growers, or the vast majority of them, would have been able to express themselves on this very important topic. Still, this is an attempt at giving the wool growers some opportunity for an expression of opinion. Therefore, as I have already said, we of the Labour movement support the Bill.
Senator Bull and Senator Wright have suggested that the Government should provide that the referendum, in order to be carried, should have the support of a majority of voters and the affirmative vote should represent the larger part of the wool grown. Indeed, Senator Wright has circulated an amendment which, I understand, he proposes to move in Committee. This suggestion might appear to be all very well, but let us look at the facts! On 7th May 1964, the Minister spoke on the Wool Industry Bill in relation to promotion, and he said that 7 per cent, of our wool growers produced 42 per cent, of our entire wool output. Conversely, 93 per cent, of growers produced only 48 per cent, of our wool clip. In other words, on those figures, if the arguments put forward by Senator Bull and Senator Wright are to be upheld, nearly a 90 per cent, majority of growers would have to decide in favour of the referendum before it could be carried.
Surely it is not suggested that the 7 per cent, of the wool growers who produce 42 per cent, of our total wool output are to have votes six times the value of the other 93 per cent, in this very important primary industry. Surely it is not suggested that the vote cast by a large producer should have a greater value than the vote of what we will call the grower on a closer settlement area who might have a mere 300 sheep or who might be producing a mere 10 bales - the battler who is dependent on the industry for his livelihood and the support of his family. This applies particularly at this time to the battler who may be one of those in debt to pastoral companies. Their indebtedness is £15 million more this year than last year, according to the annual report of the Reserve Bank of Australia which was recently tabled in this Parliament. Surely that person is entitled to the same voice in the determination of this very important question as the man who has large holdings, large flocks and considerable affluence. As Senator O’Byrne said earlier this evening, there has to be a limit. It has been decided that the limit will be the production of 10 bales of shorn wool and the minimum will be the ownership of 300 sheep. We accept the contention that there has to be a limit. While I, personally, and those of my party would like the limit to be more generous, nonetheless we support it.
If there is any real criticism to be levelled, it is that the Government has dilly-dallied and deferred dealing with this matter for far too long. For instance, some opponents of the reserve price scheme are stating, and have been stating in the Press, particularly in the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “, that growers are moving too fast towards their objective. It has even been suggested by those advocating the retention of the free auction system that the industry should be examined by a fresh judicial inquiry. Of course, a wool marketing committee of inquiry was established by this Government in about 1960. The very people who are now advocating a new judicial inquiry into aspects of the industry were the advocates of the establishment of that committee in 1960. That committee became known as the Philp Committee. It consisted of the late Mr. Justice Philp of the Queensland Supreme Court, Mr. D. H. Merry of the Australian and New Zealand Bank, and Mr. M. C. Buttfield of the A.M.P. Society. That Committee took evidence throughout Australia and overseas. In 1962, it brought down its recommendations. Admittedly, when presenting its report in that year, the Committee concluded that the introduction of a reserve price scheme was not advisable. The Committee could not satisfy itself that the risks inherent in such an arrangement were compensated by the gains to be made from its introduction. It also made the following statement -
The growth of forward selling and the joint development of pies and aggregation of buying strength will require to be carefully watched. It will, therefore, be essential that consideration be given to changes in these factors, which could, if unchecked, have a serious effect on wool prices. In view of the possible growth of forces in the auction system which may disadvantageously affect competition we hold the view that the industry may need ultimately to envisage the introduction of some altered method of marketing raw wool. Accordingly, we recommend that the Australian wool industry, through the wool commission proposed to us, should place itself in a position to move to some appropriate system of marketing its product, if and whenthis move appears to be desirable.
The recommendation of the Philp Committee to establish a wool commission virtually was taken up by the establishment of the Australian Wool Board. It is also interesting to observe that the Philp Committee said -
Had such an organisation existed-
That is, an authority such as the wool commission it proposed or the Wool Board as now established - there would have been no need to set up our Committee - such an organization would have been far better equipped than we could ever be to advise on the difficult question to which we refer in this report.
The Wool Board was, in fact, established, and in its very first Annual Report it had some interesting conclusions. On page 9 of the report the following appears -
The Board, after having given full consideration to Promotion and Marketing, has come to the following conclusions -
That there is an urgent need for an examination of the method by which the Australian wool clip is marketed and the Board is determined that the examination be carried out with the least possible delay.
That wool promotion cannot succeed in its objectives if the method by which the Australian wool clip is sold is not the most efficient.
That it is in the best interests of the wool-growing industry that the expenditure on wool promotion be increased to £16,250,000 in 1964-65.
This appeared in the first Annual Report of the Wool Board, for the year ended 30th June 1963. It is now September 1965 and at long last we see legislation of this nature coming forward. The Wool Board appointed a special Wool Marketing Committee to inquire into this matter. This Committee was not a grower dominated Committee.
Surely, on an examination of the background of the members of the Committee, one must come to the conclusion that the decision was nol a decision made by growers or made without regard to the views of all sections of the wool industry. Seven or eight prominent members of the community were on the Marketing Committee. The background of the Committee members indicates that this was not a grower dominated Committee. The Chairman was Mr. S. Nevile, a former State manager of a large paint manufacturing organisation, commonly referred to throughout the community as Bergers. At present he is managing director of Port Phillip Mills Pty. Ltd., a wool processing organisation. One member was Mr. D. A. S. Campbell, a world renowned wool buyer. He became president of the New South Wales and Queensland Woolbuyers Association and subsequently chairman of the National Council of Wool Selling Brokers. For many years he was also chairman of the Federal Exporters Oversea Transport Committee, which negotiates freight rates with United Kingdom and European shipowners for virtually all cargoes moving between Australia and Europe. Then there was Mr. G. W. Docker, former manager of Goldsbrough Mort and Co. Ltd., which, of course is a wool broking firm. Another member was Mr. S. Burston, a grazier in the Riverina area of New South Wales and also a director of Dennys Lascelles Ltd., a wool broking firm in Victoria. Then there was Mr. Claude Renshaw, a leading grazier. and farmer of Binnaway, New South Wales. As the Minister would know, he is a very prominent citizen in the western districts of that State. Sir William Gunn, Chairman of the Australian Wool Board and of the International Wool Secretariat, was an ex officio member of the Wool Marketing Committee. Finally, but not least, there was Sir John Crawford, one of the leading economic advisers in Australia. Sir John Crawford had an early career in banking and afterwards became departmental head of the Department of Trade and Industry. Now he is research Director of Pacific Studies at the Australian National University. I have mentioned these gentlemen to indicate to the Parliament and to the people of Australia that the recommendation of the Wool Marketing Committee came from representatives of a vast cross-section of the wool industry and that the Committee was not grower dominated,, as has been suggested in some quarters.
In any event, the recommendation and report of the Wool Marketing Committee, which was established by the Wool Board, was presented to about 50 wool growers at the Australian Wool Industry Conference which represented the organisations from which the Committee members were nominated. One could speak at great length on this subject and about the deficiencies over the years of the present form of marketing Australia’s main produce by the free auction system. I need do no more than state that the system which the proposed referendum is designed to decide on was adopted in New Zealand in, I think, 1952. According to a circular issued by the Australian Growers Wool Marketing Committee on 4th March 1964 to members of this Parliament, if our prices had maintained the same relativity to New Zealand prices as they did in the first year of the New Zealand plan, which I now notice was 1952, the benefit to the> Australian economy to date would have been in excess of £1,000- million. If that figure is correct it is a pretty poor show that the Government has taken since 1951, when the last referendum proposal was put to wool growers, to advance the suggestion again.
– The £1,000 million has gone into the ‘hands of the two and a half percenters.
– Exactly. There have been, land of course there still are, pies operating in the Australian community under the free auction system. Indeed, on page 13 of its second annual report for the year 1963-64 the Wool Board, under the heading “ Organised National Buying, and Local Buyers’ Arrangements, or ‘ Pies ‘ “ had this to say -
The Board has examined this problem and recognises the possibility that the effects of such arrangements, if they, become extensive and whether they are operated on a national or local level, could damage the free auction system and it recommends that the proposed authority keep these aspects of the auction system constantly under review.
Dealing with the futures markets, the Board stated -
It is recommended, that the operation of wool futures markets generally, and in particular of the Sydney market, should be kept under close review by the Wool Marketing Authority, particularly with reference to the limitation of daily fluctuations and the control of excessive speculalive elements; and that consideration should be given to statutory authorisation of the market’s rules, as has been done in the case of the New York futures market.
Mr. President, all I need to say at this stage is that the decision to hold a referendum is in line with the decision of the 1965 Australian Labour Party Federal Conference. This was that co-operation amongst primary producers should be encouraged, and that all Commonwealth primary products marketing legislation should be reviewed and, where necessary, amended to provide for the more effective co-ordination, control and marketing of primary products in Australia and overseas by the respective marketing authorities concerned. 1 sincerely hope that this legislation will be enacted. I sincerely hope that the referendum will be carried because not only will it be in the interests of wool growers, but, I am sure, also in the interests of Australia generally.
– Mr. President, in the rather somnolent atmosphere engendered by the early hours of the morning 1 rise to speak on what is, to my mind, one of the most important matters considered by this Senate for some time. Certainly it is a matter concerning our greatest industry. While I regret that I- must detain the Senate a little longer, 1 feel that we have a legitimate complaint in that, in the other chamber, some three days were occupied in discussing this matter but we are expected to dispose of the subject in one evening.
However, I would like to make some reference to one or two things that have been said in the course of this debate on the Wool Reserve Prices. Plan Referendum Bill. Senator kennelly used a certain word in connection with the moneys that are being guaranteed to provide the financial strength that will enable the plan to be put into operation. I am sorry that he used the word “ fund “ in connection with the sum of £80 million. It will not be a fund. If the sum of approximately £7 million a year is raised a fund of £30 million will be obtained from growers’ contributions. But there is to be a right to draw which is to be guaranteed by the Commonwealth Government.
This does not mean that there will be a fund for this purpose. Whether the right to draw will be used or not will depend on the way in which the scheme proceeds. I mention that matter because I feel it is important. Throughout the country one of the reasons put forward in opposition to the plan is the great cost. The figure of £80 million has been mentioned as a cost. It is not a cost. If, by some catastrophe, it became a cost the whole economy of this country would be in ruin. However, I want to proceed to have a brief look at some of the things said by Senator Wright. I have no doubt that he is enjoying a well earned rest at the moment.
– Oh, but he is listening to the honorable senator.
– I thought 1 might get a bite. The well known forensic skill with which he supports the propositions that he gives to the Senate, which was in evidence this evening, was not accompanied by very sound reasoning. He did say something at the outset with which I agree and no doubt it was good tactics to do that. He said he was not here to debate the plan, and I agree wholeheartedly with that statement. I did not agree with many of the other points that he raised. He said that the Bill is a discredit to those who devised it. We are used to hearing that sort of remark from Senator Wright, and we were not surprised that he should use it on this occaison He went along, as I have said, with that forensic skill for which he is noted, first to rubbish the Australian Wool Board and to discredit its members who are the representatives of the wool industry. He may not recognise them as such, but the Parliament and the Government does. The decisions which the Board reached’ have been implemented to a great extent, in the Bill which is before us.
Senator Wright directed his main attack upon the method by which the referendum is to be carried out and the voting franchise of those engaged in the industry. He claimed that it was an unfair and improper way in which to conduct a referendum. I presume that he is a member of a legal body and that as such he would at times have to vote on the deliberations of that society. I wonder whether, before a vote is recorded, the members go from one to the other to find out how much a lawyer makes in the conduct of his business. Does the man who makes £5,000 a year from practising law have one vote and the man who makes £20,000 four votes? Does Senator Wright suggest that the man who has a taxable income of £10,000 should have 10 times the number of votes of the man who has a taxable income of £1,000? To be logical, surely this is a comparable case.
Then, of course, being a legal man Senator Wright sought to use precedent to support his case. He had to get down to the level of Tasmanian agricultural organisation. But he did not say that he had failed to find a precedent in the Commonwealth organisation of industry and that no industry in the Commonwealth recognises the principle of a weighted vote. Does the honorable senator suggest that we should establish a precedent in the wool industry? This principle has not been adopted in the wheat industry, which seems to have satisfactorily resolved all the problems that it has encountered. lt is an efficiently organised industry.
I think that Senator Wright was really scratching the bottom of the barrel to get an argument to support his case. He proposes to move an amendment at the Committee stage. I was very interested to see the equity involved in his proposal. He suggests that one bale of wool will make a difference of one vote. He suggests that a man who has 29 bales of wool will have one vote, and a man who has 30 bales two votes; that a man with 49 bales will have two votes and a man with 50 bales three votes; and that a man who produces 99 bales will have three votes, and a man who produces 100 bales four votes. In Senator Wright’s opinion, this is a vast improvement on the proposal that has been put forward after great argument over a long period of time by the accredited representatives of the wool industry. The Government has accepted the recommendations of those representatives. Senator Wright suggests that we can, during the course of this debate, come to better conclusions than were reached by the industry representatives after careful and anxious consideration over a very long period.
I pass now to one or two other matters that have been put before- us. I congratulate Senator Bull on the speech that he made.
We always welcome a convert to the following. His witness tonight has been very helpful. I did not agree with some of his viewpoints, obviously, but to my mind his conclusion was the right one. Senator Sim regretted the vilification that has entered into this campaign. He then proceeded to give us a little gentle vilification on his own account, a continuation of the criticism that has been hurled at the Chairman of the Wool Board, Sir William Gunn, throughout this campaign.
Senator Bull, who has been closely associated with Sir William Gunn, found it advisable during his speech to defend him and the work he has done for the industry. I have no brief for Sir William Gunn, nor do I propose to enter into the argument, but when Senator Sim; was speaking, I interjected that surely if any man had been provoked by weeks and weeks of vilification Sir William Gunn had been. While I do not endorse his’ criticism or the words he used in defending himself, or retaliating, I think Sir William Gunn’s action was at least human and understandable.
There are some things that I want to say about the measure we are how considering. This Bill represents just another stage in the patient and skilful work done by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) and those associated with him in bringing together into one body the representatives of the two largest organisations primarily- concerned in the production of wool. Everybody interested in the wool industry is- agreed that this bringing of the two organisations together in one body was an achievement of. great importance and a tremendous step towards bringing better organisation to the industry. There is no need for me to detail the steps by which the present situation has been reached. First there was the Philp report, out of which arose the Wool Industry Act followed by the appointment of the Australian Wool Board and the setting up of the Wool Marketing Committee of Inquiry.
Because what I have to say follows from it, I want tq quote from the first annual report of the Australian Wool Board. This report has been referred to already by Senator McClelland. I emphasise that it was made in June .1963. Tn its conclusions, the Board said - 1
That there is an urgent need-
I emphasise “ urgent need “ - for an examination of the method by which the Australian wool clip is marketed, and the Board is determined that the examination be carried out with the least possible delay.
That was over two years ago, yet there are some people who are saying now that Sir William Gunn was trying to bulldoze this measure through. He put two years of careful and painstaking study and effort into presenting to the industry a plan for improvements in the marketing system. Now we are told that he is bulldozing. 1 do not know whether we should call it Tom Bulldozing, because I am sure that Senator Tom Bull would not support that suggestion. The report went on to say -
That wool promotion cannot succeed in its objectives if the method by which the Australian wool clip is sold is not the most efficient.
I want the Senate to think about that statement for a moment. I believe that it is true. The Board of the International Wool Secretariat carried a resolution which is set out in Appendix C to the first annual report of the Australian Wool Board. Consequent upon those findings, action was taken to secure the necessary funds for promotion and research and, in that connection, legislation was passed, by the Australian Parliament. I point out at this stage that no referendum was held to decide whether or not the growers were in agreement. It was assumed that because their representatives agreed there was no need for a referendum. I remind the Senate that the resolution on promotion and research was carried by the Australian Wool Industry Conference by 40 votes to 10. That vote was taken by this Parliament to mean that that was the opinion of the wool growers and that there was no need for a referendum.
Of course, the growers - particularly those In Western Australia - were not unanimously of the opinion that promotion should have precedence over marketing reform. There were many vigorous protests from men who had long been active in the wool industry, particularly on the organisational side. They were strongly of the opinion that the cart was being put before the horse. They were also of the opinion that without soundly based marketing schemes promotion would be largely wasted. However, the majority of the Australian Wool Industry Conference and the Australian’ Wool Board prevailed and the decision was accepted in the belief and understanding that the Wool Marketing Committee, which was charged with the responsibility of investigating, the position, would produce an acceptable and soundly based marketing plan.
I believe that that has been done. The legislation that we are now considering is designed to allow the growers to vote now on the suggested reserve price plan. Surely there is no need to remind honorable senators that this plan was agreed to by a 45 to 5 vote of the men whom this Parliament recognises as the industry representatives. The promotion levy, which involves approximately twice as much money as will be required to finance the marketing proposals, was agreed to without asking the growers to confirm the opinion of their representatives. Now the vote of 45 to 5 by the industry representatives is to be double checked by a vote of the growers. I am not contesting that decision. It has been accepted as a principle that a vote of the growers should be taken. But I cannot refrain from pointing out that that was not done in respect of the much larger sums of money to be provided for promotion and research.
Now we see flaring up a great campaign, largely fostered and supported by interests outside the production section of the wool industry, against the decision of the Wool Board and the Wool Industry Conference. Largely under pressure from supporters of the “ No “ vote it has been decided to send out to voters a copy of the plan as proposed, a case supporting the plan and a case against the plan. I have very mixed feelings on this matter. I think that it is an insult to the intelligence of the wool growers in that it assumes that they are not capable of reaching an independent judgment without the help of opposing cases issued under the authority of the ‘Government. This, to my mind, can only serve’ to confuse the issues. I have no doubt that that was why it was so vigorously pursued by the “ No “ advocates.
The industry representatives have given the closest examination possible to this matter of marketing and have put forward a plan on a 45 to 5 vote. Sections of the industry and organisations which, in themselves, are not unanimous - their decisions were arrived at on a majority vote basis and many of their members did not agree with the decisions taken and do not agree on the grounds for their opposition to the plan - are being given the opportunity of putting into 2,000 words the grounds of their opposition. I think that it would be very interesting indeed to be present while the opponents of the wool plan try to agree amongst themselves on the basis for the selection of their 2,000 words of opposition. I contend that if opposing cases are to be presented, the only people who should have been given the privilege of recognition by the Government are the majority and minority voters of the Australian Wool Industry Conference. These men are recognised as the representatives of the industry, and they have had the opportunity of giving close study to the findings of the Wool Marketing Committee. They have heard and studied all the evidence. Surely the five men who voted against the plan should be the people who should justify their vote by giving their reasons for opposing the majority decision. In other words a “ No “ case should be the minority decision of the Australian Wool Industry Conference.
If, as a result of the propaganda now flooding the country against the majority decision of the Australian Wool Industry Conference, the growers are so confused that the vote results in the plan being defeated, a very great responsibility will fall upon these people. Certainly when the promotion and research plans come up for revision there will be a demand for a growers’ vote in the matter. And who can foresee the result?
In my own State the defeat of the referendum and the rejection of the reserve price plan would produce rather violent reactions from growers, who would believe that they had been led up the garden path by the tactics usesd to persuade them to support promotion before marketing, when all their instincts made them believe that that was reversing the proper order of things. As a grower 1 wholeheartedly support the reserve price plan, and as a member of this Senate I believe that I have a clear duty to state my position unequivocally. I only wish that my colleagues on this side of the chamber were equally unashamed of their convictions in this matter.
I support the Bill and hope that its purpose will result in a clear “ Yes “ vote. If it does not, I gravely fear for the future of the industry and the industry organisations. If the plan is defeated, when the present legislation supporting the promotion programme comes up for review I will have to support the producer demands, that will inevitably arise, for a referendum on the matter.
. Claims’ have been made in some quarters that if the proposed reserve price plan for wool is implemented, the way will be open for an acquisition scheme to be brought in without the consent of wool growers. On behalf of the Government, I wish to say categorically that no acquisition scheme is contemplated in the context of the current plan. This plan is no more and no less than a reserve price plan drawn up by the wool industry itself and negotiated with the Government. The Government wishes it to be clearly understood that it looks upon the compulsory acquisition and sale of wool as a complete departure from the present system of wool marketing. As such it would not be introduced unless it were approved by wool growers at a referendum. Moreover, the Government itself would have to be convinced that such a radical change in wool marketing was desirable and feasible. It has also been claimed that the scheme might lead to the nationalization of the wool industry. Any suggestion of nationalization is absurd and entirely overlooks the constitutional limitations on the power ‘of the Commonwealth. The Government feels that it is necessary to state the true position in these matters so that wool growers will not be deceived or misled.
I desire to make some brief remarks on what has been said, in the debate. I, too, congratulate Senator Bull on his speech, but in the same breath I say that I disagree with him violently . in relation to one or two points. First, he said that we should provide that a two-thirds majority of growers must be in favour of a reserve price plan before it is adopted. If a two-thirds majority were needed before such a scheme could come into operation we would not have a scheme at all. It will be hard enough to get just a bare majority. He went on to say that he was not happy about the 10 bales qualification and that he thought that the Government should give a lead. In this respect I disagree very violently indeed. What the Government is proposing is the provision of a referendum to enable the wool growers to vote on the scheme that has been drawn up by them. The conditions have also been drawn up by them. The Government would have been very ill advised to say to the wool growers that the qualification for voting should be 15 bales or 5 bales, or that there should be a twothirds majority, or something of that nature. It would be very foolish for any government to do that, and as a former wool grower I would be very violently opposed to it. The wool growers themselves have asked for a referendum, so we are proposing to give them a referendum under the conditions for which they asked. That is where our duty begins and ends, so far as I am concerned. Senator Wright has said that the plan should go with the Bill. I do not agree with that at all. What would be the good of putting the plan with the Bill? We are not voting on the plan. The plan, with the case for and against, is to go out to the growers, who are the people who will vote. We do not want the plan in the Bill, because we are not voting on it. It is for the. growers to make up their minds about it.
An honorable senator asked, in relation to voting, why the qualifications were not altered. We are adopting the same principles as were adopted in relation to all the other industries that have asked for referenda or for control of marketing. There has been no departure from practice, nor do I believe that there should be any alteration. Senator Sim suggested that when the Government was doing anything of a similar nature it should give the matter careful consideration. My goodness! For months and months Cabinet has given very careful consideration to these proposals. Only as a result of that consideration are we discussing this Bill tonight.I think that that about covers all that I want to say. Once again I thank the Senate for the manner in which the debate has been conducted. I hope that the Bill will be given speedy passage in Committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I would like one matter cleared up. How will the growers receive their ballot papers and register their votes? Will the ballot papers be sent to the growers by registered post and will they be provided with a stamped addressed envelope in which to reutrn their ballot papers?
– A grower who is entitled to vote may go to an electoral office, obtain a ballot paper, and there register his vote. Otherwise the ballot paper will be sent to him and he will be provided with a stamped addressed envelope for the return of his vote.
– Will the ballot papers be numbered?
– I do not know.
– I wish to refer to clause 7 of the Bill. Sub-clause (3.) of that clause reads -
A person is not entitled to vote more than once at the referendum.
I move -
Leave out sub-clause (3.), insert - “ (3.) A person is entitled to -
one vote if he has produced not less than ten but less than thirty bales;
two votes if he has produced not less than thirty but less than fifty bales;
three votes if he has produced not less than fifty but less than one hundred bales; and
four votes if he has produced not less than one hundred bales.”.
I have not heard any argument in any sense adequate to answer the submissions that I made on this matter at the second reading stage of the Bill and I content myself with submitting the amendment to the Committee.
– The Government is not prepared to accept the amendment, which it strongly opposes. I think I earlier gave reasons why we should adhere to the provisions that have been laid down. Another reason for not accepting the amendment is that there is a degree of urgency about this Bill. If we accept the amendment, the Bill would have to go back to the other place. Even if I thought there was some merit in the amendment - and I do not - for the grounds that I have stated 1 would be very chary about accepting it.
– 1 direct the attention of the Committee to clause 13 of the Bill, which deals with partnerships. As I understand the Bill, if four partners shear only 36 bales of wool, none of them will have a vote. I think this indicates that the Bill has been drawn by the sheep, just as if is being supported by some of them.
– Is the honorable senator moving an amendment?
– If the four partners had equal shares in the business, the wool shorn would amount to nine bales each, and this amount would not entitle them to a vote. It would be most unlikely that four partners anywhere in Australia would shear only 36 bales between them.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion, by Senator McKellar) read a third time.
– Public Service. Motion (by Senator Henty) proposed - That the Senate do now adjourn:
refused to allow him to answer. According to the Press report in this afternoon’s “ Mirror “ the Prime Minister was clearly angry as he spoke.
I believe we should examine some of the early history of this case and see how a public servant has been vilified because he has dared to stand as an Australian Labour Party candidate. The Public Service Act says quite clearly that when a public servant elects to stand for Parliament he must resign his position not earlier than one month before the date upon which nominations for the, election close. Let us trace a little bit’ of the history of this man who has been so Vilified because he has taken this courageous action. He is a fifth generation Australian and his forbears were among some of the earliest settlers in the electorate which he proposes to contest as a representative of my party. Public reference was made for the first time in the last day or two to the fact1 that this man is related to a Minister of the Government. There has been no attempt whatever by either the Labour; Party or Dr. Patterson to trade on this relationship.
Dr. Patterson is a Bachelor of Commerce, a Master of Science and has received his doctorate in Agricultural Economics. In 1958, in recognition of his contribution to the Australian beef cattle industry, the Australian Meat Board gave him a grant to study’ development problems in the United States of America. These are the qualifications of the man who is being dragged down, today by people in the political parties which apparently he does not support. Not only is he qualified in the academic field but also, as a sportsman and an Australian, he has a very grand record indeed. He has gained recognition and respect in the field of sport and during his university days was;a full blue of the University of Queensland. He is. a former Queensland junior tennis champion, a former North Queensland tennis champion and while at Bundaberg High School he captained the school in athletics, tennis, football and cricket. He was selected to represent the Australian universities at tennis and in all fields of sport he has the highest respect of his colleagues.
One of the strange things about this case is the tremendous, rush- to remove Dr. Patterson from his Department. I say quite clearly that at no time has he ever conveyed to any member of the Australian
Labour Party any information which had come into his possession as a responsible public servant. Assuming that the election does not take place until November 1966, this would mean that he would resign in approximately September or October of next year. Under the provisions of the Act it would thus be expected that a public servant would continue in his present job until the date of his resignation and that during that time he would have all the rights of a public servant. But pressure has been exerted on him to stand down and he has refused to do so on the grounds that surely a public servant has the right of every other person in the community to stand for parliament without being victimised or pressurised by the Government to give up his job.
Would he have been asked to stand down if he were a member of the Liberal Party or of the Country Party? I say emphatically that he would have not. fa a few moments I will quote a parallel case in which a member of the Liberal Party contested a political position and did not lose any status at all. The Public Service Board has created a new position. Why was it created? It was created purely so that Dr. Patterson could be put in cold storage and would have the minimum opportunity, in the suspicious minds of the people who have put him there, to engage in any action against the Government. As I have said, this honest senior public servant has not made any attempt whatever to misuse his position.
Section 50 (1.) of the Public Service Act provides -
Where a vacancy exists in an office in any Division other than the First Division, and in the opinion of the Board it is necessary to fill that vacancy by the transfer or promotion of an officer, the Permanent Head of the Department in which the vacancy exists may, subject to the provisions of this Act. transfer or promote an officer to fill the vacancy.
The usual interpretation of this section has always been that, where a vacancy exists and needs to be filled urgently, an officer may be transferred or promoted to it. At the moment no such vacant position exists and there is not any normal reason for one to be created. It is understood that the new vacancy was advertised in the “ Gazette “ today. Obviously, the Government has had this position under consideration for some time. Why has it become urgent to create the new position when other positions In the Department remain vacant, despite the agitation that has been going on for some time to have them filled? The Treasury and the Public Service Board this year took about four months to create positions and make funds available for a few positions in the Project Evaluation Branch of the Northern Division. Requests for positions in the Policy Examination Branch, which were urgently required five months ago, have not even been answered by the Board.
The position has become so serious that the Assistant Director, Mr. Sutherland, requested a transfer to the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. It is understood, again from Press reports, that this request for a transfer has been withdrawn. Has it been withdrawn because the Government has decided to appoint Mr. Sutherland to the vacancy that will be created by the transfer of Dr. Patterson? I might say that Mr. Sutherland’s application apparently was made before Dr. Patterson decided to nominate as a candidate for the Australian Labour Party. In a matter of a few days, the Government can create a Second Division top level job, using public funds so that an officer can carry out innocuous work. This is a complete waste of public funds and of the talents and academic qualifications of one of our best senior public servants.
Why were these underhand tactics used? The new job that has been created has been advertised in the “ Gazette “ in such a way that other public servants will be stopped from applying for it. This is contrary to all the rights of the Public Service, because two positions have been created with public funds but public servants throughout Australia will be denied the right to apply for one of the positions - the new position that is being especially created to pigeonhole Dr. Patterson. The Prime Minister is reported to have said that the action of Dr. Patterson was monstrous. Yet some years ago a permanent officer of the Department of National Development, a Mr. Prowse, unsuccessfully contested a seat for the Liberal Party without being denied access to documents and without suffering any loss of status when he was defeated and returned to his department. It seems quite wrong that two officers should be treated in such different ways.
The Government has created a precedent by the dismissal of Dr. Patterson. The gravest consequences of its action is the danger to all Federal public servants. It could happen in the future that another senior public servant, or perhaps a public servant of lesser rating, will desire to nominate as a political candidate. He will run the ever present risk of not being allowed to do so, dr doing so at the risk of losing ‘his job. He may be down-graded or pigeon-holed, as is to happen to Dr. Patterson.
The Public Service Board appears to agree entirely with the Government’s stand in respect of Dr. Patterson. It is contrary to all democratic principles. I know that Dr. Patterson is a man of very high ideals who will not take this lying down. It appears from Press reports that there is a possibility that he will lodge an appeal. He has every right to do that under regulation Ml and section 52 of the Public Service Act. As a position has been specially and hurriedly created by the Government through the Public Service Board particularly for Dr. Patterson, the Board has already set itself up as prosecutor and judge.
The responsibility of the Public Service Board is jealously to protect the rights of public servants. Under the present conditions it is blatantly pressurising an officer because he has dared to elect to stand for Parliament - the highest office in the land. Had he decided to stand as a candidate for the Australian Liberal Party, he would have been the snowy haired boy of this country. Many other public servants have done the same thing. I referred a short time ago to a gentleman by the name of Prowse.
Let us examine the credit side. Dr. Patterson was largely responsible for the northern development programme planned for this Government. He has every right to claim full credit for the Government’s beef roads programme in northern Australia. After years of study in northern Australia and several years df research in the United States, he wrote his doctoral thesis on beef road development in northern Australia. The Government received an electoral setback at the end of 1961 . As I have said previously in this Chamber, it was not until 1961 that the Government knew that there was a State of Queensland. This was the first time the State got a reasonable sum of money for developmental works. Dr. Patterson’s recom mendations on the economic planning for beef road development in northern Australia were gratefully accepted by the Government, desperately in need of development projects to regain its prestige in Queensland. Since, then Dr. Patterson has continued to concentrate a considerable portion of his time on beef roads, and has spearheaded the present major plan involving expenditure of £100 million on a fully integrated road system for northern Australia, which is under consideration by the Government.
Dr. Patterson was the man in charge of the Commonwealth Government’s investigation of brigalow development in Queensland. His experience in the brigalow areas and of its problems enabled him to put forward a case which backed brigalow development to the hilt. Again his recommendations were gratefully accepted by the Government. In addition, Dr. Patterson has prepared a scholarly report on the Ord River project. This is a project that in the early stages had the backing of this Government. Then, for some reason, it went cold on the project. For the sake of a few million pounds, this scheme which could open up vast areas of north western Australia is being neglected. Why?
Dr. Patterson has been maligned by the Government and is to be kicked into a pigeon-hole where he will be useless and his talents will be wasted. His great energies will be lost until he is elected as a Labour Party member of this Parliament. In 1960 and 1963 Dr. Patterson was offered a job by the World Bank. He refused because he preferred to work on the developmental problems of Queensland, of which he had first hand practical knowledge of cane and cattle. In the Federal Bureau of Agricultural Economics, as a result of field surveys he gained a thorough knowledge of the production, marketing and processing of Australia’s primary products - wool, meat, sugar, dairy products;, wheat, grains, cotton, irrigated crops and so on. I hold up to you a man who was honest. Had he wanted to collaborate with the Australian Labour Party in any dishonest way, he would not have indicated before he lodged his nomination that he intended to nominate as a candidate for the Labour Party. But he honestly informed his superior officer of this. The Labour Party could have done what other political parties have done from time to time and not called nominations for the Dawson seat until the last month or two prior to the expected date of the election, knowing that Dr. Patterson was available. But in this matter, too, the Labour Party was completely honest, as was its prospective candidate, Dr. Rex Patterson. He is now being victimised because he was honest. Had he cared to be dishonest, the Government would not have known, until just prior to the next Federal general election, what he intended to do, and he would then have continued in the position that he currently occupies and would have done his job honestly as a senior and responsible public servant. I may say that this sort of thing is not likely to happen in the Australian Country Party. I understand that Sir William Gunn’s -defeat in the pre-selection contest for the Maranoa seat was projected some days ago. It is rumoured in Queensland that Sir William will be a candidate for pre-selection as the Country Party candidate for the Dawson electorate, but this may not be announced for some time.
Today’s newspapers, under big headlines, have referred in varying ways to. the action taken against Dr. Patterson. I have here cuttings from the “ Australian “, the “ Canberra Times “ and the Brisbane “ CourierMail “. An editorial in today’s “ Canberra Times “ contains an interesting passage. It indicates that a precedent has been established because Dr. Patterson has been dealt with in this way, and adds that it is up to the Government to see that Liberal Party candidates are dealt with in the same way as the occasion arises. I have already proved that there is differentiation according to the political party to which a person belongs. It is significant, too, that one of the newspapers that supports this Government solidly - the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ - did not publish in its early editions anything about the rather nasty treatment that has been meted out to Dr. Patterson, though I understand that some reference to the matter appeared at page 14 of the last edition.
I should like to know what is happening to this Government. The other day, we heard the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) dismiss the report of the Vernon Committee of Economic Inquiry out of hand. Apparently he is not prepared to take any serious note of it. Now, one of the
Commonwealth’s most prominent and most faithful public servants has been dealt with in what is indeed a shabby manner. What is to happen to the plans for northern de,velopment that ought to be going ahead? The Administrator of the Government of Queensland in his speech when opening the Queensland Parliament a few weeks ago, referred to the development of that State and said that the State Government was awaiting replies from the Federal Government on a number of requests for special financial aid for developmental projects in north Queensland. The projects included were -
Harbour dredging at the Weipa Bauxite and Gladstone alumina projects; harbour dredging at the sugar ports of Cairns and Townsville; extension of the present construction of beef roads to include the major roads of the third area (MacKenzie-Isaac Rivers basin . section) of the Fitzroy basin brigalow lands; a long-term loan for development of this area; construction of more than 600 miles of developmental roads in North and North-west Queensland; and a subsidy for mineral exploration in the North.
In the Commonwealth Budget presented a few weeks ago, there was provision for a loan of £750,000 for the development of the Weipa harbour. I emphasise that this is a repayable loan. What a magnificent offer. Does this mean that we are now in a situation in which we have a committee that has been established contrary to the Labour Party’s policy? I direct the attention of the Senate to three points in the Labour Party’s policy on northern development, which are stated in the following terms -
Because of the action that has been taken in relation to Dr. Patterson, any movement at all in the Northern Division between now and the next Federal election will be held up while members of the Government parties engage in pettifogging arguments in their desire to remove people from office because they want to exercise their democratic right to stand as candidates for the Australian Labour Party, or to exercise some other democratic right. The government of this country will be held up because of these little things. The Government ought to be big enough to overlook problems associated with people who want to be candidates for a political party and should not hold up the whole of the programme for northern development.
This man has produced all these public documents that I have mentioned. Nothing has been done secretly or in an underhand manner. He has produced documents on other aspects of northern development as well. I sincerely regret having to delay honorable senators at this late hour, but I believe that what has happened warrants the strongest possible protest in an effort to get some sort of justice for a man who has given his all, his life, to this country.
– in reply - I was interested to hear Senator Keeffe express regret at having to delay the Senate at this late hour. He spoke as though it was a matter or urgency. There is only one element of urgency, and that is in respect of an appeal that the honorable senator says Dr. Patterson proposes to make. Apparently these remarks are designed to assist his appeal. They may or may not be considered. As was pointed out by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) today, for the head of a division who has access to Cabinet papers and the intimate details of decisions of the Government to remain in his position while he is endevouring todefeat the Government is to place himself in an impossible situation. I do not think that any man, when he realised the circumstances, would believe that he should stay in that position.
I have no knowledge of Dr. Patterson beyond the fact that he has excellent qualifications and has been an excellent man. I cannot find anything to raise against him. But that is not the point. It does not matter how good the man is or what he is. The position is that he holds a position of intimate trust and has access to documents, to advice, and to the plans of a Government that he wishes to defeat. In my opinion, no man would wish to continue to occupy such a position in these circumstances.
– It is all right for a man to stand for election as long as he does not stand for the Labour Party?
– The honorable senator had his say and nobody interjected. He did not say anything that warranted an interjection. I put the position quite clearly. I believe that, when the smoke dies down, Dr. Patterson will realise, if he is the man that the honorable senator has said he is, that he should not continue in his position During the next election campaign he will be able to send around the north of Australia copies of “ Hansard “ containing the magnificent election speech that the honorable senator has made for him. When he realises the position that he is in, I am sure that he will not wish to continue in his present office.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjournedat 1.55 a.m. (Friday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 September 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1965/19650923_senate_25_s29/>.