25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs clear up the confusion that exists because of conflicting reports in the newspapers circulating in Australia regarding the rumoured arrest of the Indonesian Communist leader, Mr. Aidit? Can the Minister say whether Mr. Aidit has been arrested or is still free?
– Senator Branson mentioned this matter to me earlier and I had the opportunity to ask the Department of External Affairs about it. The Department has informed me that, as I gather from the honorable senator’s question he already suspects, reports on Mr. Aidit’s whereabouts are conflicting and that there has been no official indication from Djakarta of just where he is or what is happening. arvn- aviation.
– Will the Minister for Civil Aviation consider making provision at the major airports for accommodation for persons who are delayed overnight as a result of circumstances beyond their control? I ask this question because on Monday night Senator Sim, Mr. Collard, M.P., and I slept on the floor at the Perth Airport. At least we had the flattering experience of sleeping on the floor of the V.F.P. lounge. But there must be many other people who do not receive that honour. I believe that accommodation should be provided.
– I congratulate Senator Wheeldon on being in good company when he slept on the floor in Western Australia. I have noticed overseas the development of motels in the vicinity of international airports for the purpose of accommodating people who are delayed. The provision of motel accommodation in Melbourne is being considered at present. I certainly will bring this matter to the notice of the airlines and see what can be done to provide accommodation. I cannot have honorable senators sleeping on the floor; that is no good.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Is it a fact that - and if so, what is the reason why - the telephone number of Parliament House, Canberra, is the only Australian telephone number, so far as I know, containing only three digits, namely, 705? Is the Minister aware that when a trunk line call to Parliament House, Canberra, is made from outside the Australian Capital Territory, the caller is invariably asked, after requesting number 705, such questions as : “What number?”, and “ Is that all? “; and he generally hears the puzzled telephonist say: “ Well, 1 will try it.”? As this causes frustration and unnecessary delay, will the Minister prevail on the powers that be to introduce a normal standard telephone number for Parliament House?
– I have already sought some information from the PostmasterGeneral on the situation in relation to our internal telephone facilities, and I am informed that the telephone number for Parliament House is the only one of three digits in Australia. This is because the Parliament House switchboard is the only one where in-dialling to extensions is restricted to the night hours. In-dialling facilities enable callers to dial directly to the required extensions in Parliament House after hours. For this purpose the Parliament House extension number is added to 705, thus making a six-figure group, which is the maximum within the practical limits of the Canberra network. A caller dialling a six digit number in Parliament House during the day is intercepted by the switchboard operator after 705 is dialled, and the operator then connects the call to the wanted extension.
As to the question that the Parliament House number should be altered, T can only say that if we were given a more conventional number for use during the day, it would involve duplication of equipment at greater cost. I shall ask the PostmasterGeneral whether action can be taken with a view to ensuring that members of the
Department’s telephone operating staff do not question callers as to the correctness of the number given for Parliament House, Canberra.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. Will the Army drop the practice of announcing unnamed casualties in Vietnam? Twice in the last week newspaper reports announced that the Army” had had a number of casualties but that names would be withheld until nextofkin had been notified. The Minister and all senators will be aware of the terrible anxiety that such reports bring to the family of every soldier engaged in the war. Could an arrangement be made not to announce casualties at all until relatives have been advised, by which time names may be released simultaneously with the announcement of all the facts and details?
– I think the matter is one that is worthy of consideration and I shall bring it to the attention of the Minister for the Army.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. I refer to advertisements regarding the Poultry Industry Levy Act inserted in the press by some State Egg Boards. Is the Minister aware that the Western Australian Egg Marketing Board requires all persons who own or control 20 or more hens to register with the Board and pay a levy on each bird in excess of 20? ls he also aware that in New South Wales and Victoria the advertisements state that the levy applies only to hens kept for commercial purposes? Will the Minister inform the Senate of the position in other States? Will he further inform the Senate how the application of a Commonwealth levy can vary from State to State?
– I am not aware of the facts as outlined by the honorable senator. The position is, of course, that the levy applies only when 20 or more birds are kept for commercial purposes. I shall convey the question to the Minister for Primary Industry and get an answer for the honorable senator.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration been directed to an article in today’s “ Canberra Times “ under the heading “ Why Migrants Are Reluctant To Become Naturalised Australians “? In view of the need to encourage migrants to become Australian citizens, can the Minister indicate whether their reluctance is increasing and also, what action, if any, is being taken to encourage naturalisation so far as is possible?
– My attention has been drawn to the article in the “ Canberra Times “ referred to by the honorable senator. It is estimated that 235,000 aliens are residentially qualified but have not applied for naturalisation. Of that number, approximately 42,000 are persons over 16 years of age who would normally be included on applications by their parents. In 1962-63, 47,539 persons were naturalised, 35,353 in 1963-64, and 32,601 in 1964-65. While the number of persons naturalised has declined, the percentage of eligible persons naturalised has risen in recent years. In 1961-62, 55.4 per cent, were naturalised, while in 1963-64, 62.7 per cent, were naturalised. The percentage for 1964-65 is not yet available.
A survey has been conducted to establish the reasons for non-naturalisation of migrants. I shall give to the Senate some of the reasons stated by the Department of Immigration for the lack of inclination by migrants to become naturalised. About onethird of those persons who have not applied for naturalisation still have thoughts of eventually returning to their country of origin. I am sure that we can all understand that feeling. Naturally, the proportion of people in this category decreases as the length of time spent in Australia increases. The proportion of people giving this reason for deferment is particularly high among northern Europeans, and it could be related to the present favorable economic conditions in Europe.
A number of migrants indicated that their parents and speech brand them indelibly as migrants and that, irrespective of whether they became naturalised, they would still continue to be regarded as migrants. Some migrants stated that there were few advantages to be obtained by applying. The effect of this attitude is magnified in the case of married people since, in very many cases, mother and children do not apply unless the father applies. For all that, I am sure honorable senators will recognise that every effort is being made by the Department to facilitate and encourage our new citizens to become naturalised. We all know of those efforts from our own personal experience on visits to civic halls to add encouragement to people attending naturalisation ceremonies to become Australian citizens.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Will the honorable gentleman consider directing the attention of the organisation known as the Federal Inland Development Organisation -or F.I.D.O. - to the fact that Tasmania still exists as a State of Australia, and that although the Organisation does not appear to realise it, Tasmanians are sincerely interested in the aspirations of F.I.D.O.? The honorable gentleman might also point out that Tasmanians do not appreciate the omission of Tasmania from the map of Australia recently circulated by the Organisation to members of Parliament and others whose backing and support it seeks.
– I shall be pleased to do my best to assist the honorable senator to bite F.I.D.O. and remind the Organisation (hat Tasmania is still on the map.
– I ask the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry whether he has an answer to the following question upon notice which I asked yesterday -
– I am informed that the Minister for Trade and Industry did not refer the matter to the Tariff Board as it had been examined twice already, in 1959 and 1964, and on both occasions the Board recommended that no assistance be afforded the production of flax in Australia.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs whether I am right in suggesting that the war in Vietnam is showing every sign of degenerating into a stalemate? If he agrees with my suggestion, does he not think that there are grave dangers in such a development?
– I do not think there is sufficient evidence to enable me to express agreement with the honorable senator’s proposition.
(Question No. 573.)
asked the Minister rep resenting the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has furnished the following information - 1 and 2. In answer to the honorable senator’s question, the Prime Minister has said that following the outbreak of hostilities between the two countries, there was some correspondence between the Prime Minister of Britain and the leaders of other Commonwealth countries concerning the dispute between India and Pakistan, and that consideration was given to the possibility of a Commonwealth initiative. However, the Security Council of the United Nations is at present active in endeavouring to procure a settlement to the dispute, and on 20th September requested the two governments concerned to desist from further hostilities by issuing immediate cease fire orders to their military forces. There has been a general feeling among Commonwealth countries that full support should be given to the initiatives being taken by the Security Council, and by the Secretary-General of the United Nations on its behalf. As indicated by the Prime Minister in answer to a question in another place on 14th September 1965 (“ Hansard “, page 805), the Government gives its full support to the actions already being taken but if circumstances seem to suggest that something else might be proposed or done, it would consider all possibilities, including the course of action suggested by the honorable senator.
(Question No. 574.)
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
What restrictions arc placed on cattle road trains in the Northern Territory with regard to. (a) group axle loadings; (b) individual vehicle lengths for prime movers and trailers; (c) overall length; and (d) overall width?
– The Minister for Territories has now supplied the following answers -
(Question No. 591.)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice-
– The following is the answer to the honorable senator’s question-
(Question No. 598.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Army has provided the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions -
(Question No. 601.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The Minister for Territories has now supplied the following answers - 1 and 2. This is a matter of Government policy to be determined at the appropriate time. As indicated in the statement made by the Minister for Works in the Senate on 15th September 1965, the level of royalty rates on bauxite will be reviewed in the detailed negotiations with Nabalco Pty. Ltd. for putting into effect its proposal for development of the bauxite deposits.
(Question No. 614.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The Minister for Territories has now supplied the following answers -
(Question No. 620.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice - .
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply -
On 1st November 1963, President Ngo Dinh Diem’s government was overthrown by a military coup. It was replaced by a provisional government appointed by the Revolutionary Military Council and with a civilian, Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Tho, as Prime Minister. On 29th January 1964, General Nguyen Kanh became Prime Minister following a military coup. A new constitution was promulgated on 16th August and General Kanh was President until 21st August when he resigned and joined in a triumvirate with Generals Duong Van Minh and Tran Van Khiem. On 3rd September the triumvirate was dissolved and General Kanh resumed as Prime Minister. This government dissolved itself to allow the formation of a civilian government appointed by the High National Council on 4th November 1964. The Prime Minister of the new government, Mr. Tran Van Huong, was removed from office by the Armed Forces Council on 27th January 1965, and a provisional government headed by Mr. . Nguyen Xuan Oanh was appointed pending the formation on 16th February of a new government with Mr. Pham Huy Quat as Prime Minister. A constitutional crisis involving the Head of State and Prime Minister resulted in the formation on 19th June 1965 of the present government of which Air ViceMarshal Nguyen Cao Ky is the Prime Minister.
(Question No. 623.)
asked the Minister rep resenting the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following replies -
(Question No. 625.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
What concessions are to be made to King Island soldier settlers, now that the review of their financial affairs is reported to have been completed?
– The Minister for Primary Industry has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question -
Settlers under the war service land settlement scheme on King Island who have been on permanent lease conditions for any period between 1st July 1957 and 30th June 1965 will, for each year they were under permanent lease, have their rent and interest charges reviewed on the basis of each year’s production of which the farm was capable under average efficient management. Any excess of rent charged over the rent applicable to production will be credited to the individual settler’s account. In any year where production by dairy farmers in accordance with the above terms was less than 12,000 lbs. but more than 10,000 lbs. of butter fat, or where stock carried on fat lamb farms was less than 1,180 but more than 960 fat lamb ewe equivalents, the interest charge will be reduced by £100, provided the interest charged for the year included interest on structural improvements. In any year where levels of production were below 10,000 lbs. of butterfat or 960 fat lamb ewe equivalents temporary lease charges will apply for that year. From the date of permanent lease or 1st July 1957, whichever is the later, the amount owed by each settler for advances will be reduced by £800.
Commencing with the current financial year, settlers whose farms have not yet reached standard production will be charged rent and interest according to the assessed productivity of their farms. This scheme of assessment will continue each year for individual farms until the farms reach standard production. In addition, at the end of each assessment year the productivity of the farm under assessment will be reviewed and if, for reasons beyond the settler’s control, the farm did not reach the assessed productivity, adjustment will be made to the charges on the farm.
(Question No. 629.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply -
(Question No. 630.)
asked the Minister rep resenting the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions -
(Question No. 631.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Army has provided the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions -
(Question No. 632.)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answer - 1 and 2. The total cost of the building was £2,969,144. The building has been completed.
Three working floors are already occupied by staff handling parcels, newspapers, packets and bagged mail. The original contract price was £3,182,998, so that the work was completed for less than originally estimated. Provisional amounts within the contract for certain work proved to be greater than firm prices subsequently received.
(Question No. 640.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
What is the most recent information as to the extent to which the cease fire between India and Pakistan is being observed, and what’ armed forces of the United Nations, if any, are policing the cease fire?
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply-
(Question No. 651.)
Senator LAUGHT (through Senator
Has the Minister seen a statement by the New Zealand Minister for Defence, Mr. Eyre, that Aus tralia and New Zealand should become a federation, and thereby a great stabilizing force in the Pacific?
Will the Minister prepare a statement of the Government’s attitude to the proposal for a federation?
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply -
I have seen the text of Mr. Eyre’s remarks made during the second rending debate on the Free Trade Agreement between New Zealand and Australia. A copy of the relevant sections of what he had to say is appended. From this it will be seen that Mr. Eyre welcomed the Agreement as an imaginative step and as “ the greatest step forward in relations with Australia since New Zealand became a separate colony from New South Wales in 1840.” He also mentioned his personal belief that there must come a time when New Zealand will have a form of federation with Australia. It is a source of genuine gratification to me to read what Mr. Eyre had to say about the importance of the Free Trade Agreement and the closeness of the relations between our two countries. Australia and New Zealand have deep and abiding common interests and I am confident each of our Governments will do all in their power to sustain and develop this relationship. I would not however wish to try to forecast the form which our relations might ultimately take.
Extract from speech by the Right Honorable the Minister for Defence, Mr. Eyre, in the New Zealand Parliament on 28th September 1965, during the Second Reading Debate on the New Zealand/ Australian Free Trade Agreement.
If any member should point out that the Tasman Sea separates us’ I would remind him that air travel time between Wellington and Canberra is shorter than that between Canberra and Perth. I realize that the change made by this Agreement is an important one. It is a far-reaching agreement and there are prejudices to overcome such as those which have been demonstrated by the Opposition . . Our children would never forgive us if we did not work towards greater co-operation with Australia. Great enterprises have always had simple beginnings and this Agreement is the beginning of great enterprise. It is the greatest step forward in relations with Australia since New Zealand became a separate colony from New South Wales in 1840. The alternative to the Agreement is to do nothing; to face a growing imbalance of trade with Australia; to watch our sister country - one that shares our heritage and way of life- drift away. This Agreement is an imaginative step; it isa step in a direction that can only be of benefit to both countries . . . Unlike members of the Opposition I believe in Australians with whom we have fought side by side. I believe they can be trusted. I know they can be trusted. Opposition members might fear Australians but I do not. There are thousands of New Zealanders living in Australia who do not fear Australians and many of those New Zealanders have done extremely well over there. I believe New Zealanders are sufficiently self-reliant to be able to make their way in any new partnership. 1 believe the Agreement will go down in the history books of both countries as the first step in a direction which our grandchildren will say was always inevitable and always desirable. This is an agreement which I believe will become as binding as is the spirit of ANZAC. Other speakers have emphasized the safety clauses of the Agreement. These safety clauses work both ways.Not only to protect New Zealand manufacturers but also Australian manufacturers. As the years go by I believe the Agreement will complement trade between the two countries because it protects both sides. Through this Agreement Australia and New Zealand will come closer together. My colleague the Minister of Industries and Commerce, the Leader of the Opposition, and other Opposition members are on record as not agreeing that eventually there will be union between New Zealand and Australia. They have voiced their reservations on that matter. But I. believe that this Agreement is a step - a small oneI appreciate - towards closer co-operation with Australia; a step whichI believe will one day bring a kind of federation between our two countries.I appreciate the distances that separate us but let us be realistic. I believe that members on both sides of the House subscribe to Malaysia; but do we realise that Kuala Lumpur is almost 1,000 miles away from North Borneo? Furthermore both countries do not speak the same language. We are closer in flying time to Australia than Kuala Lumpur is to North Borneo although there might be a difference in distance of about 300 miles . . We must reorientate our ideas by not thinking in terms of distances between countries but in terms of time between countries. From that aspect I believe there must come a time when we will have a form of federation with Australia. This Agreement brings that day closer and is a step towards it. It is a good agreement and I congratulate the Minister of Industries and Commerce for bringing it to Parliament.
(Question No. 652.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
As 1965 is International Co-operation Year, one of the objects of which is to secure the ratification by members of the United Nations of outstanding conventions, what steps is the Government taking to ratify any conventions not yet ratified by Australia?
– The Minister for External Affairs has supplied the following answer -
The United Nations Committee for the International Co-operation Year has drawn up the following list of international conventions as being especially relevant to the objectives of the International Co-operation Year -
Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 18th April 1961.
Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 24th April 1963.
Convention on the Continental Shelf, 29th April 1958.
Convention on Fishing and Conservation of the Living Resources of the High Seas, 29th April 1958.
Convention on the High Seas, 29th April 1958.
Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone, 29th April 1958.
Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Insitutions and Practices Similar to Slavery, 7th September 1956.
Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 9th December 1948.
Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, 13th February 1946.
Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the Specialised Agencies, 21st November 1947.
Agreement on the Importation of Educational, Scientific and Cultural Materials, 22nd November 1950.
Australia has ratified Conventions Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 in the list above, and has deposited instruments of accession to Conventions Nos. 9 and 10, with certain reservations in the case of Convention No. 10. It is not the present intention of the Government that Australia become a party to the Agreement listed as No. 11. Federal legislation is being drafted’ with a view to giving effect in Australia to Convention No. 1. Consideration is being given to Convention No. 2.
(Question No. 658.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
What attitude have Australia’s representatives at the present session of the United Nations General Assembly been instructed to take on proposals to admit Communist China?
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply -
The present Australian attitude towards Chinese representation is the same as in previous years. Although our long term objective is the achievement of the widest possible degree of international cooperation, we do not believe that the admission of Communist China to the United Nations would further this aim in any way so long as the authorities in Peking continue to adopt policies in direct conflict with the principles of the United Nations Charter. In fact,’ the admission of Communist China would endanger the very existence of the organisation as an effective instrument of international peace. Moreover, the Communists demand the expulsion of the Republic of China as a precondition of their entry, although it has faithfully discharged its obligations under the United Nations Charter. The Australian delegation has accordingly been instructed to oppose the admission of Communist China to the United Nations.
(Question No. 666.)
Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers -
– by leave - The purpose of this statement is to give the Senate an account of the present position in three areas of conflict - Indonesia, Vietnam and the subcontinent of India and Pakistan - in which recent events have caused deep concern to the people and the Government of Australia. Most of the facts I shall recite have already been published, but my statement may be helpful to members by indicating those reports which the Government believes to be reliable and significant.
I refer first to the attempted coup d’etat in Indonesia on 30th September. According to the information available to us at this moment a relatively unknown officer in the Palace Guard, Lieutenant-Colonel Untung, attempted a coup d’etat on the night of 30th September. He led certain units of the Palace Guard and had the support of Communist elements. As explained by him, his alleged purpose was to forestall a coup against the President which he alleged was being planned by high ranking Army officers and was to take place on 5th October, Indonesia’s Armed Forces Day. Time will no doubt clarify both the nature of the support which Colonel Untung expected and received and the purpose of his action. But it is clear that his action was intended to remove the senior Army generals’ known for their anti-Communist views, and so change the’ character of the Indonesian political structure. The rebel group seized control of radio and communications media in Djakarta and six of Indonesia’s leading Army generals were murdered, including the Army Commander, General Jani. The Defence Minister, General Nasution was fortunate to escape from the assassins but he was severely wounded. Despite the loss of its leaders the Army, under the command of Major-General Suharto, the Commander of the Army Strategic Reserve, effectively moved to restore the authority of President Sukarno’s Government. LieutenantColonel Untung fled to Central Java where he has now been captured and the’ remnants of his military support broken. General Suharto has been appointed commander of the Army.
In Djakarta itself, and elsewhere throughout the country, strong anti-Communist sentiment is finding expression in public demonstrations and in steps being taken by the Army to arrest persons suspected of complicity in the coup and of illegally carrying arms. Major-General Suharto revealed that members of the Indonesian Communist Party - the P.K.I. - took part in the assassinations. The leading Communist newspaper, supported the action of the coup group on the morning of the 2nd October. The Army has also drawn attention to statements and activities of Communist Party branches throughout the country which indicate that the Party was expecting some revolutionary act to occur late in September. The Army is engaged in a thorough search for weapons which were believed to have been distributed at the time of the coup attempt to Communist sympathisers in Djakarta, particularly among the members of the Communist youth organisations. On a significant scale political parties and national bodies are reducing or eliminating Communist influence within their organisations. Confirmation is being awaited of reports that the Communist Party and affiliated bodies have been banned in the Djakarta area.
It would be of little purpose, and indeed it would be inappropriate, for me to offer conjecture about the future course of events and their possible outcome. I should express, however, the Government’s attitude towards these events. These happenings remind us again that. Indonesia is still under great internal stress in its search for a form of government and society best suited to its own conditions. We in Australia are disturbed at seeing our nearest neighbour, Indonesia, shaken in this way, for we hope that Indonesia can be blessed with stability and prosperity and we know that any other state of affairs can only serve the interests of those who seek to profit from unrest, discontent and turmoil. Within Indonesia itself, there is clearly growing concern at the lack of economic progress and development. Either the work of economic construction is soon to be undertaken or further upheavals will follow. There is a great task to be done in concentrating resources upon domestic construction and development. Should the effort be made, I am sure that, to assist in this work, genuinely disinterested international assistance would be available. While determined in our support of Malaysia against Indonesian confrontation we have tried to keep open the doorway to such co-operation with our neighbour and, if that one occasion pf conflict is removed there are many ways in which we could work together for mutual benefit.
In South ‘ Vietnam, the monsoon season will shortly be over without the Vietcong having made the gains they might have expected when the weather favoured guerrilla operations. The Vietcong have suffered very heavy casualties; there is some evidence that morale has been affected; they are resorting more openly to terrorism in an attempt to bring unwilling recruits into their ranks. They are adopting brutal methods in taking food supplies from the people. Happily, more and more of the South Vietnamese people have been sufficiently freed from the imminent risk of Vietcong retaliation to give information about the movements and intentions of the Communist forces.
The numbers of South Vietnamese Government forces have risen by some 40,000 men in recent months. The increase in United States forces announced by President Johnson in August, to which I referred in my last statement on Vietnam, has taken place and continues. The Australian battalion has been built up to a battalion group. A combat division from the Republic of Korea - itself a victim of Communist aggression 15 years ago but now able to release forces to assist others - is arriving in Vietnam. Some roads have been re-opened through territory where Vietcong forces are strong. The mobility of forces in Vietnam has been improved, so that they can quickly respond to Vietcong attacks. Vietnamese government forces and those of countries supporting them, including Australian troops have mounted operations, by land and air, against the Vietcong war zones in which they are established in strength. It was an operation of this nature recently, an operation to penetrate and drive out the Vietcong from forest country which they have occupied for years without challenge, that has brought Australian casualties. All of us in this House are saddened by these losses and extend our sympathy to the bereaved.
There are signs of greater political stability in South Vietnam and the Vietnamese Government is developing programmes, such as the recent distribution of land to farmers, for economic and social improvement of the lot of the people. Our own effort is continuing. I recently announced that the Australian surgical team which served with great distinction in Vietnam has been replaced by another team which will spend twelve months there, and that, in addition, the Government has decided to send a second surgical team. The Australian engineering team which went to Vietnam in April is continuing its most useful work, and we are considering how our aid might contribute further to the needs of the many Vietnamese who have left Vietcong areas to find refuge and security under the Vietnamese Government. The Government, I should add. is most grateful to the skilled and devoted Australians who have gone to Vietnam and, in difficult times, given great assistance to the people there. But we must remember that Vietnam is a country which has known war and the economic and social strains of war for a long time. The Government of South Vietnam faces problems of great magnitude and complexity, including that of the hundreds of thousands of refugees from Vietcong areas. The Vietcong are shrewd manipulators of the strains that exist; like
Communists everywhere, they exploit discontent and the discontented. Currently they are seeking to disrupt the marketing of rice and other products and so add to inflationary pressures.
They also retain considerable military strength. Men and supplies are still being sent to them from North Vietnam and they have reserve units and stockpiled food and weapons on which to draw. There are large, comparatively sparsely inhabited areas of South Vietnam in which the terrain is particularly well suited to guerrilla operations, and from which it will be a long and hard process to dislodge the Vietcong. They and the political authorities in Hanoi have said they will, if necessary, continue the struggle for twenty years and more, and have given no clear indication that they are interested in any settlement other than one which would be, in effect, a Communist takeover in the South and which would deny the people of Vietnam the right to decide their own future. Until Peking and Hanoi cease their contemptuous rejection of every effort to find a way to a guaranteed, just and lasting peace, we must stand firm in our resolve to oppose, with determined but restrained force, their efforts and those of their agents to conquer South Vietnam militarily. It may well be a long struggle. But, long or short, it will be a struggle of crucial importance. Its outcome will strongly influence the course of future events in South East Asia and elsewhere, wherever the same technique of covert . aggression may be employed.
I now turn to the recent hostilities between India and Pakistan, which caused such concern and distress to the friends of both countries. Happily the worst manifestations have now subsided as a result of the efforts of the United Nations. The situation is. however, still tense, and the danger remains that continuing incidents along the cease Are line could lead to a renewal of the conflict. But it is our present hope that both India and Pakistan will exercise the fullest restraint and co-operate with the United Nations to prevent this from happening. Australia has profound goodwill towards India and Pakistan and values highly its friendly relations with both countries. We have always wished to see relations between them develop in friendship and co-operation. It was therefore deeply dis tressing for us to see this serious outbreak of hostilities with its tragic loss of life and destruction of property. It was harmful to the stability and progress and security of both countries and, indeed, of the whole region of South East Asia. We have, therefore, had a direct interest in the outcome, apart from the humanitarian considerations involved.
Our first anxiety has been that the fighting should stop and that the two countries should settle their differences peacefully. We have therefore given from the outset our full support to the strenuous and effective efforts of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, U Thant, to bring about a cease fire. U Thant is to be commended for the initiative and dedication he has shown once again in discharging his high office. It is gratifying that the United Nations has been able to act effectively in bringing an end to hostilities. The cooperation between the permanent members of the Security Council which led to the unanimous adoption of the cease fire resolutions is particularly encouraging. It should be emphasised, however, that a cessation of hostilities will not in itself end the conflict. Major problems still demand attention. The Security Council recognised this in its resolution of 20th September when it assumed the further responsibility of considering, after the cease fire and withdrawal of forces has been effected, what steps might be possible to resolve the political problems underlying the conflict between India and Pakistan. The Australian Government will support the efforts of the United Nations to discharge this complex and delicate task and we hope that the members of the Security Council will be able to preserve for this purpose’ the same unanimity that led to the cease fire. To supervise the cease fire and withdrawal of forces a considerable expansion in the number of United Nations military observers in Kashmir will be required. Australia has provided a number of such observers since 1950, and, if required, would consider providing more.
Finally, I should like to refer briefly to the threatened Chinese intervention in the conflict between India and Pakistan. As members will be aware, I have previously indicated our concern at this dangerous and irresponsible attempt by Communist China to interfere for its own mischievous purposes. Fortunately, the firm determination of the Indian Government to resist a new Chinese attack and the condemnation by the major powers, including the Soviet Union, of these attempts to exploit the situation, forced the Chinese to retreat from their ultimatum to India. Nevertheless, the incident has provided a clear illustration of the continuing threat of Chinese pressure throughout the Asian area, and it adds greater urgency to the need for avoiding a repetition of the hostilities between India and Pakistan.
I present the following paper -
International Affairs - Ministerial Statement, 20th October 1965. and move -
That the Senate take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Senator Kennelly) adjourned.
– by leave - Honorable senators will recall that my predecessor undertook, in 1963, to report to the Senate annually on prohibited books released for scientific and research purposes in terms of regulation 4A of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations, which was introduced at that time. Regulation 4A prohibits, except with the consent of the Minister, the importation of blasphemous, indecent or obscene works or articles. The regulation further states that the Minister’s approval of an application in writing to import such works shall be subject to a report from the Chairman of the Literature Censorship Board or the Director-General of Health.
In making this report, which is the second to be presented to the Senate, I propose to comment briefly on how the system has operated. For the period from 1st July 1964 to 30th June 1965, 64 applications for permission to import prohibited publications were rceived. Of this number three were subsequently withdrawn by the applicants and a further 26 were refused following consideration of the reasons for importation given by the applicants. The remaining 35 applications were approved after considera tion of reports received from either the Chairman of the Literature Censorship Board or the Director-General of Health. Details of these are as follows -
Medical, psychiatric and sociological works - 1 State prison authority 5 Medical practitioners 2 Medical authorities 16 University researchers
Works of Fiction - 10 University researchers 1 Counselling psychologist.
I announced recently that in conjunction with the Director-General of Health I would undertake a review of prohibited books in the medical text book category. This is the type of book most often sought and approved for importation in terms of the release provisions of regulation 4A. If, as a result of my review, existing prohibitions are lifted on certain of these books, the need for university researchers and medical practitioners to make special application will be correspondingly reduced.
Consideration resumed from 19th October (vide page 1026).
Department of Customs and Excise
Proposed expenditure, £7,292,000.
Proposed provision, £20,500.
– When consideration of the Estimates was interrupted last night to enable the motion for the adjournment of the Senate to be put, I was referring to the proposed provision for the purchase of launches. The tranquility of this chamber was shaken by the events that followed. I wish now to relate my remarks to Division No. 155 - Administrative, and to refer to the power of the Department of Customs and Excise, or the Minister, to make recommendations to the Government if it is thought that the intentions of the Department are being defeated by the actions of a particular section of the community. On 29th September I placed on the notice paper Question No. 643 in which I sought information about the total clearance in each State of commodities that were subject to the increased excise duties for. which provision was made in the Budget. It is unfortunate that that information is not available while we are considering the estimates for this Department. I have been informed that in the fortnight prior to the introduction pf the Budget sufficient stocks were delivered to wholesalers and retailers to last them for many months, those stocks not being subject to the increase in excise duties. These deliveries not only have made it possible for those concerned to avoid the payment of increased excise but also have had a disruptive effect on manufacturing generally. Because of the abnormal outflow of commodities in the fortnight before the Budget, purchases by wholesalers and retailers will have declined for some months following the introduction of the Budget. This sort pf thing could have been a factor in what has happened to General MotorsHolden’s Pty. Ltd. If my. information is correct there has been a big avoidance of excise duty by the early purchase of these commodities. This would seem to defeat the purpose of the Government in trying to raise revenue through excise duties.
I suggest that this is a matter of administration that the Department of Customs and Excise should examine. Possibly it could report to the Government on methods of overcoming this problem in future and preventing both the making of profits through the avoidance of duty and the disruption of industry. We find that increased retail prices are charged on commodities and these increases are said to be justified by higher excise duties which in fact are never paid. I believe this applies not only to small quantities of goods but to supplies sufficient for months to come. I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise to consider a departmental investigation of this matter with a view to a report to the Senate and possibly to remedial legislation by the Government if necessary.
, - First I shall answer a question asked by Senator Cavanagh last night on the provision in the Estimates for the purchase of launches. I understand that this item applies to the purchase of a motor launch for the port of Brisbane. Senator Cavanagh referred today to excise. i remind him that customs men were mentioned in the Bible and throughout history there has always been an excise man. As Robbie Burns said: “ Away with the excise man “.
-No. What Robbie Burns actually wrote was: “ The De’il’s Awa* Wi’ the Exciseman “.
– Well, so far as I can gather over the years commercial people have always tried to calculate before the Budget what excise charges will be levied. Before the Budget is presented, there is always speculation in trade and commerce and through the Press, and radio. 1 understand, and I think Senator Cavanagh does also, that this is traditionally a matter of commercial speculation. As to whether the matter should be examined, I can only say that all aspects of the administration of excise duties are studied from time to time. 1 would not like Senator Cavanagh to get the impression that there is some peculiarity about the situation now. This is a commercial gamble that goes on and it has been going on in Australia since Federation. It is a commercial risk.
– Is it suggested that anybody here had any sinister preknowledge?
– 1 do not believe that Senator Cavanagh was suggesting that.
– I am asking whether there could be any action to pre-date an announcement.
– These matters are examined from time to time.
.- I propose to refer to the customs duties on tobacco. In the past concessions have been given by the Government. I suggest that either the concessions should be withdrawn or alternatively there should be increased customs duties levied on tobacco coming from South Africa. At this point, I want to quote some figures relating to imports of tobacco from that country. In 1956-57 there were no imports of tobacco from the Union of South Africa but imports from the Republic of South Africa in 1963-64 totalled 4,978,721 lb. valued at £1,438,922. The average price was 69.36d. per lb. Quite recently, the Government had cause to request the tobacco companies to use 382,000 lb. of Australian tobacco or risk having their licence to import tobacco withdrawn. The two companies, Rothmans and W. D. and H. O. Wills, claimed that the tobacco was unusable. If that is so there must be something drastically wrong because Rothmans previously made big inroads into Australian tobacco supplies when the company first established itself in Australia and bought large quantities of Australian leaf. It is equally significant that later some tobacco that was held over because it was allegedly unsaleable was bought by this company.
A very dangerous situation is growing up in the tobacco industry particularly in Queensland, my own State, although there are bad effects in other places as well. The basis for this might be large quantities that are coming in without controls or it might be remissions of duty on tobacco in special circumstances. I am not debating the merits or demerits of those who manufacture or smoke cigarettes. If I die 15 years earlier than I otherwise would have done because I smoke cigarettes, at least I will have enjoyed life. Therefore I have no submission to make on that aspect of the matter. While the habit of smoking is tolerated or condoned and we have an Australian industry, the onus is on the Government to see that the industry operates under the best possible conditions.
Possibly there is another way in which these companies, or some of them, are buying cheap tobacco overseas. I suggest that probably they are buying tobacco through their associated companies. The price of South African tobacco which I quoted is not the price paid at the point of sale in South Africa but about half that price. These companies are owned substantially by overseas interests and possibly the companies aTe using their overseas associates to buy a cheap type of tobacco which they import and on which they pay duty. They collect it at any given time and then decide that there is no need to buy Australian leaf.
Partly because of the operations of the first company I mentioned, there has been almost total annihilation of the tobacco growing industry with the accompanying loss of their life’s savings by the growers and attendant financial distress and hardship for their families. Those affected are the growers in Western Australia, the Clare soldier settlement growers and those in the Burdekin district of Queensland, the growers in southern New South Wales and a section of the growers in south west Queensland and northern New South Wales. This firm was primarily responsible for the apparent failure of the stabilisation plan that was designed to put the industry on a sound financial footing. I submit that there is a case to be answered here. Is this situation the result of machinations that may be going on between the Government and the companies? The situation should be corrected if it is at all possible.
– I should like to tell Senator Keeffe that I do not want to be drawn into a lengthy debate about the tobacco industry now because the Government is negotiating with the tobacco companies concerned. I have hopes that as a result of those negotiations, the matter will be resolved. It is true that the Government is committed to a stabilisation scheme which, as the honorable senator knows, will provide for the establishment of a committee. An interim committee is working on the first year of the proposed stabilisation scheme. The growers, manufacturers, and three State Governments - New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland - will be represented on the committee, and the Commonwealth representative will be chairman. There has been quite a lot of publicity in the last two or three weeks about the matter. I do not want to be put in the position of having to discuss it today. Suffice to say that the Government has reason to hope that the differences in the tobacco industry are being closely examined. Honorable senators may be assured that justice will be done to all parties concerned. Perhaps Senator Keeffe and Senator Dittmer who referred to the matter last night might accept that statement of the fact. I would prefer not to be placed in the position of having to make further comments about the matter today.
– I wish to refer to one of the activities of the Department of Customs and Excise which is dealt with under Division No. 155, Administrative. My remarks will relate to the administration of the Pyrites
Bounty Act and the Sulphuric Acid Bounty Act. The Department is also concerned with the administration of the Phosphate Fertilizers Bounty Act. Recently, Senator Morris asked a question relating to the increased landed cost of sulphur. I also asked a question of the Minister on this subject. The answer given revealed a very serious situation in relation to the cost of one of the essential raw materials of the superphosphate industry. There has been a very steep rise in the price of sulphur on world markets. The landed cost has risen by a figure approaching £5 a ton. There is evidence that further increases in costs may soon apply to the landed cost of sulphur. This fact of course has a very material effect on any decision which may recently have been reached by the Tariff Board in its inquiry into the continuation of the bounties I refer to. I urge the Government to give very close consideration to any decision it may reach concerning the recommendation of the Tariff Board which was obviously made before the recent rise in the world-wide price of sulphur.
In the circumstances, it is very important that we retain in Australia the ability to manufacture sulphur from locally produced pyrites if we are to maintain any check at all on the effect of the world-wide sulphur price increases in the interests of the primary producing industry. It is obvious that this increase has been a somewhat unexpected development. I am not aware of the reasons for it, nor am I aware of the likelihood of the continuation of the high prices. But because of the danger inherent in the position to the economies of our primary industry I urge the Government to give close consideration to the new factors entering this field.
– As Senator Prowse is probably aware, the pyrites bounty was due to end on 30th June last and the Government extended it until the end of the year to enable a report on the position to be made by the Tariff Board. Under the circumstances, it would be very inappropriate for me to comment at this time. As all honorable, senators know, the Tariff Board considers all relevant factors when preparing a report for the Government’s consideration. I would think that the points made by Senator Prowse were germane to the Board’s consideration.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
Proposed expenditure, £132,818,000.
Proposed provision, £40,000.
Senator Sir WALTER COOPER (Queensland) [4.27].- I refer to Division No. 446, War and Service Pensions and Allowances. I would like the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) to tell us the amount allocated for war and service pensions and allowances. Last year, expenditure totalled £89,656,418. This year it is expected to rise to £100,970,000. That is quite a large increase for this financial year. I now want to refer to Division No. 499, Other Repatriation Benefits. The total sum allocated this year for repatriation is £132,818,000 as against a total expenditure last year of £119,481,333. That also seems to be a very large increase. I should like to know the reason for it. I can see that the amount provided for pensions and other benefits has increased considerably this year. This, in my opinion, shows that exservice men and women are receiving higher pensions, and more disabilities are being accepted as due to their war service. It appears that for some years to come a large sum of money will be required for repatriation purposes. Can the Minister tell me when it is thought the peak period will arrive both for the number of applications and the amount that will be required to meet the cost of repatriation benefits?
. -I have three matters to raise. The first relates to Division No. 446 - War and Service Pensions and Allowances. My particular concern is directed to a man about whom I spoke to the Minister recently. I should like the Minister to indicate some means by which this man might obtain some benefit. I shall mention the case briefly. The man lives in Goodwood, South Australia. He applied for the pension which is paid to a totally and permanently incapacitated ex-serviceman. He appeared before the various tribunals and was rejected because the special medical advice and opinion on which he was relying was not sufficiently strong to influence the authorities to grant him the T PI. ‘ pension. He was also unsuccessful on appeal.
This ex-serviceman is almost completely incapacitated and cannot get out. to obtain expert or specialist attention. It seems that his only avenue of redress is to be reexamined by a specialist, but in Adelaide most of these are concentrated in a particular area of North Terrace. As this man cannot leave his home to have his deteriorating condition reviewed, will the Repatriation Department provide either some means of conveyance for him to attend for medical examination or arrange for an expert medical examination in the man’s home provided of course, that the Minister agrees, on the evidence which will be presented to him, that this is justified? I point out again that this ex-serviceman has been through the process of appeals. If the Minister accedes to my request, the applicant’s condition will be re-assessed and we will be able to see whether justice has been done.
The simple fact is that this man is almost permanently incapacitated. He cannot leave his bed and his wife has to look after him. He has applied for the T.P.I, pension and has followed all the procedures that are available to him. In the circumstances I ask the Minister to consider my request that some conveyance be provided to take this man to a specialist or, alternatively, that a repatriation specialist visit his home to re-assess his condition provided, of course, that sufficient evidence to justify this is supplied by the man’s elected representative.
The next matter to which I wish to refer relates to a person who, on medical advice, had to move to Queensland so that he could be in a hot climate. This man obtained a home through the War Service Homes Division and he has now asked the Division to assist him a second time to purchase a home in Queensland. This application was vetted by the Repatriation Department. I am not complaining about that. There seems to be a pretty good method of checking whether a man who has received first assistance from the Division should receive second assistance because, on medical advice, he has had to move from a cold climate to a hot climate. In this instance, in the opinion of the Division the medical grounds are not sufficiently strong to warrant second assistance. The practice of the Repatriation Department of affording certain facilities for medical examination is a good one. I have informed the Minister of this case and I should like him to tell me now whether the procedure’ which was adopted in this instance is the generally accepted procedure.
The next matter in which I am interested - I think this would probably be covered by Division No. 440 - Administrative - relates to whether the Department has decided to set up a special section to advise national service trainees of their repatriation entitlement. As far as I am aware,, no national service trainees have as yet been in an operational area such as Vietnam but I should like to know whether the Department is at least considering the establishment of a special branch to instruct these young people. If not, will it simply deal with these cases in the routine way as they arise? For example, will the Department wait until something happens and the young people concerned apply for repatriation benefits? There should be a proper investigation of this aspect to ensure that boys drafted into the Army will be made aware of the benefits to which they are entitled under the Repatriation Act and the Social Services Act. I am also interested to know what repatriation services have already been afforded to our units now operating in Vietnam and Borneo. Can the Minister indicate to what extent exservicemen are using these services at the present time and, if possible, the percentage of exservicemen who have received repatriation benefits?
The final question I wish to ask is whether what were known previously as reconstruction training boards or committees, which, after World War II, met under the guidance of an official of the Repatriation Department in each State, are still operating for the purpose of retraining disabled or retrenched ex-servicemen and placing them in particular jobs.
: - I wish to ask the Minister certain questions related to Division No. 440 - Administrative - and I should be grateful if he can supply the answers. I have had great difficulty in obtaining an answer to my first question. Apparently some records covering the early days of the Department have been lost or destroyed so I have not been able to learn how the practice to which I am about to refer started. The Minister will well know that when a son of pensioner parents is lost in action, certain repatriation payments are made to the parents irrespective of whether they were dependent on the son when he was killed. However, such payments are not made in the case of a daughter who is killed in action unless one or both parents, if they are pensioners, can prove that they were dependent on the daughter at the time of her death.
I cannot understand this discrimination between the sexes and I have not been able to learn its background. Perhaps the Minister will be able to tell me. He may say that this practice arose when a Labour Government was in office. But if that is the answer it is no excuse for this Government perpetuating this grave injustice and discrimination between the sexes. If parents are entitled to repatriation benefits when a son is lost in action, even though they were not dependent upon him at the time of his death, it passes my comprehension - limited though that may be - why parents must prove their dependence upon a daughter who is lost in action. I know that the Minister is fair minded. I know that he will look at this matter and realise the grave injustice which has been done to certain people in the community. Apparently this injustice will continue unless he is prepared to alter the legislation. What is the reason for this gross discrimination between the sexes?
As the Minister knows, the Returned Servicemen’s League has asked repeatedly for the recognition of cancer as a war caused disabilty. I am sensible enough to realise that, with the exception of a few types of cancer, no one knows the real cause of it. In general we do not know the causation. It has been suggested repeatedly that cancer should be recognised as a war caused disability. I admit that cancer is in a different category from tuberculosis because with tuberculosis environment can play a part. Irrespective of how tuberculosis may have been caused, it is recognised as being associated with war service. But cancer is in another category.
The Government has established research centres in repatriation hospitals. I suggested to the Government some time ago that it might approach the problem of cancer from a statistical point of view. This would strengthen either the case of the Repatriation Department or that of the Returned Servicemen’s League, and might result in economic justice for claimants. If the statistical survey showed that cancer occurred more frequently in returned service men and women than it did in members of a cross section of the community, that would not necessarily prove that it was a war caused disability, but it would suggest that there might be a causal relationship. I think that the Minister should take this matter up - if it has not already been taken up by his administrative officers - with the research centres associated with the repatriation hospitals. I am interested to know whether anything has been done along the lines which I have suggested. I know that the Government is rather slow in acting on sensible suggestions, particularly if they come from the honorable senators on this side of the chamber, although when it comes to election time the Government is not slow in adopting our suggestions in order to win votes. Everybody knows that the supporters of the Government are past masters at that.
Another matter that causes heartburning is the onus of proof provision. I wonder whether the present Minister, through his administrative officers, is having anything done to elaborate this phrase “ onus of proof “. Many people claim that they are not receiving the benefit of the onus of proof section in the Repatriation Act. If there was elaboration of the phrase so that each claimant had a clear picture in his or her mind of the benefit conferred by the phrase, I think that claimants would accept, perhaps not joyfully but at least more gracefully, adverse decisions.
Those are the three questions that I pose to the Minister. I know that he is sympathetic in his approach to matters raised by returned service men and women and that his sympathetic attitude will be continued in the future. I will be interested to hear what the Minister has to say on the matters I have raised regarding the history of discrimination between the sexes, whether a statistical survey has been carried out to ascertain the incidence of cancer in returned service men and women compared with the ordinary people in the community, and whether there has been an attempt to elaborate on the phrase “onus of proof” so that people may have a clear picture in their minds of what it really means and may know whether it entitles them to some benefit. As everybody, knows, doctors do not know the cause of so many diseases. The average claimant assumes that, if a doctor cannot give the cause of a disease, he is entitled to the benefit of the doubt.
– Senator Sir Walter Cooper had begun his speech before I came into the chamber, but his second point dealt with Division No. 449 - Other Repatriation Benefits. He asked when the Department expected to reach the peak period for expenditure on repatriation benefits. As far as we can envisage at the moment, the peak period is expected in 1975.
– That is, provided that the Department does not get new commitments.
– Yes. Senator Sir Walter Cooper mentioned that there was a large increase in the amount of payments under this Division. For instance, an amount of £15,738,000 is to be provided this year as against an expenditure last year of £14.212,702, which is an increase of £1.525,298.
For specialist, local medical officer and ancillary medical services there is an increase of £470,892 in the appropriation for this year compared with the expenditure for last year; for pharmaceutical services, an increase of £450,911; for maintenance of patients in non-departmental institutions, an increase of £102,260; for dental treatment, an increase of £20,561; for medical sustenance allowances, an increase of £123.777; for expenses of travelling for medical treatment, an increase of £49,353; for the soldiers’ children education scheme, an increase of £130,743; for telephone rental concessions to pensioners, an increase of £143,365; for the grant to the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia for employment placement activities, a reduction of £160; and for miscellaneous, an increase of £33,595, making a total increase of £1,525,298. I think, perhaps, it is worth mentioning that for the first time this year the amount paid to repatriation pensioners and the amount paid to people who are in need of repatriation benefits has topped the £100 million mark.
Senator Bishop drew attention to two cases which he has discussed with me. One referred to a totally and permanently incapacitated pensioner and the assistance that could be given either t’o get him to a doctor for medical examination or to get a doctor to him. Where a patient is not capable of getting to the Department, we can render some assistance. But I do not want to generalise on this question because each case has to be considered on its merits. The other case that he mentioned referred to a man who had to leave his home in a cold climate to go to live in a warmer climate. We have to look at that case also. Then he asked about the information regarding repatriation entitlements we are making available to the new recruits who are coming into the Services. He asked what we have done so far. We are making the information available to the three Services. We hope that the men will apply to their particular branch of the Services to see what benefits they are entitled to. We are keeping this matter under consideration and are doing all we can in this regard.
– The Department does not make the information available to them? They have to go and inquire?
– Does not the Minister think it would be better to make the information available to the men so that they would know what they were entitled to?
– It is a question of expense and practicability. Perhaps we could supply the men with a slip so that they would know their entitlements.
– -Is not justice more important than expense?
– I agree. But as I mentioned in regard to the matters raised by Senator Bishop, we are having a look at this question. If we find that the means which we are adopting at the present time are not sufficient, we shall have another look at the matter to see what we can do. Senator Bishop also wanted to know whether members of the forces serving in Vietnam and elsewhere are aware of their repatriation entitlements.. As the honorable senator probably knows, some of the personnel who have served in Vietnam are back in Australia in hospital. I have talked to some of them. Of course, they know from experience what benefits they are entitled to, and they are receiving those benefits. The reconstruction and rehabilitation side of the question has been looked into by Cabinet, which has decided that rehabilitation services will be available to these men. The rehabilitation will be mainly under the aegis of the Repatriation Department although the actual work will probably be done by the Department of Labour and National Service. We felt that, as these men look to us for repatriation benefits, they should come to us in the first instance, but that the rehabilitation should more properly be provided .by. the Department of Labour and National Service. .
Senator Dittmer raised the question of the admissibility of cancer as a war caused disability. This is a difficult question, as is heart trouble. The admissibility of cancer has often been advocated during repatriation debates and I can only repeat that individual cases must be looked at.
– The Minister is not making an honest or real endeavour to answer my question.
– That is the honorable senator’s opinion. If he feels I am not making an honest attempt to reply to his question, I cannot help that.
– The Minister has not answered my question as to whether anything is being done. I asked simply whether the research centres associated with hospitals were doing anything to collect statistical evidence.
– It is true that I have not replied to that aspect of the’ question. Research is being undertaken, but I do not know what stage it has reached.
– It is not mentioned in any of the reports.
– It may not be, but this question is continually in the minds of the hundreds of doctors on our panels and it is in the minds of our own medical men as well.
– But what about statistical information as to the incidence of cancer? The Minister knows it is not being collected.
– If the honorable senator will give me a chance to answer his question, I will undertake to get for him what information I can. If there is anything to add to what I have already said I will inform the honorable senator. He also suggested that the Government was a bit reluctant to take advice from the. Opposition. We are not reluctant to accept worthwhile advice from anybody. We are out to provide the best possible service to those who are entitled to and in need of repatriation benefits.
I quite agree with Senator Dittmer that doubt about the onus of proof often exists in the minds of applicants and appellants. We must accept the fact that. when an application comes before a tribunal the applicant -whether a man or a woman - is naturally biased in his or her own favour. Applicants think they have a case and that their disability is war- caused. We accept that, and the benefit of doubt must be given to the applicant if there is any doubt at all in the minds of those responsible for making the decision. My view is that the benefit of doubt is given, I have sat in on some of these tribunals as an observer in order to see what happens. Having sat in, naturally without making any comment or any attempt to interfere - I would have neither the right nor the wish to do that - I have been advised of decisions reached in cases heard in my presence. In every instance I thoroughly concurred in the decision reached. I cannot emphasise this too strongly. Recently in this chamber, when we were debating a repatriation measure, several honorable senators mentioned cases in which they considered that the onus of proof had rested on the applicant. I do noi think that more than one dozen such cases were referred to. In reply, I pointed out that in thousands of cases the application or appeals had been granted.
– But some tribunals are more sympathetic than others.
– That is only natural. Some doctors are better than others; some are more sympathetic, and I know that the honorable senator is one of those who are sympathetic. I come now to the honorable senator’s question about the pension entitlement of pensioner parents who lose a daughter on war service. Certain dependants are provided for under certain circumstances but I suggest (hat this question be placed on notice, because we have very little information to offer at this stage. The benefits so far provided are restricted. I think I had better look further into that question.
– I would be very grateful to the Minister for doing so, because 1 have been trying for a long time to get that information.
.- Being interested in repatriation matters for a number of years I have followed the work of the Repatriation Department closely. I would like to make some comments regarding Division No. 446 and Division No. 449, to which Senator Sir Walter Cooper referred a little while ago. Division No. 446 covers war and’ service pensions and allowances and Division No. 449 covers other repatriation benefits. It is noteworthy that this year’s appropriation for these two Divisions exceeds last year’s expenditure by more than £13 million. I emphasise that this is the proposed increase in expenditure and not the total amount appropriated. On my own behalf, and I think on behalf of all honorable senators - certainly those on this side of the chamber - I want to congratulate the Minister and his Department on the helpful and humane work they are doing. In making this comment wholeheartedly and without reservation I believe I am expressing the feelings of the overwhelming majority of the people of Australia.
There is one group of repatriation beneficiaries to whom I think further help could be given without detriment to the Department. I refer to incapacitated ex-servicemen and their dependants. Last year’s expenditure on pensions and allowances for these people was £54,836,551 and provision is made this year for an expenditure of £61,240,000. A large number of returned servicemen - I think this applies more to those returned from World War I than those returned from World War II - are receiving perhaps not the 100 per cent, pension, but 50 per cent., 60 per cent, or 75 per cent, pension. Many of these men are past the age of 65 years and a lot have retired. They have not large incomes, but may be receiving £4 or £5 a week from part pensions. They receive a part pension because, for some reason or other as a result of their war service, they are less well than their fellows are. They are paid these pensions to recompense them for hardships that they experience and handicaps that they sustained during their service. We must remember that, because it is a key point in the matter to which i wish to refer.
These men, having retired, may receive a small income and also a part pension which together make them ineligible for a social services pension too. But for their repatriation pension, their income would not be sufficient to debar them from receiving a full social services pension. However, when their repatriation pension is added to their small income, they are automatically debarred by the means test from drawing a social services pension too. I have tried to stress this point. I believe that in considering it we must remember that they receive a repatriation pension because of a disability that they suffer as a result of serving their country. I have repeated that in order to emphasise it. Because they draw a repatriation pension they cannot qualify for the normal social services pension. This is rather unjust, especially to men who have passed the age of 65 years. I believe that the means test should not apply in these circumstances.
I hasten to say that at the outset i pointed out that the Repatriation Department has increased its pension payments by £.13.2 million. I am not asking for any further expenditure by the Department on that count. All that I am asking is that the means test be liberalised so that the repatriation payments will continue to be made as they have been made but the returned serviceman will qualify for a social services pension in addition. I believe that this is fundamental justice. It would not put any further strain on the estimates for the Repatriation Department. It certainly would add something to social services expenditure. But surely that should not prevent our recognising a piece of fundamental justice. I know that the Repatriation Department will be sympathetic. I am very sure that the Minister will be sympathetic too: I repeat that I recognise that a great deal of money is being paid out through this Department. If this extra help is given, it will not add one penny to the estimates for this Department; the cost of it will be carried by the
Department of Social Services. I leave the point because I believe that the justice of it is evident. I hope that the justice of it will be evident to the people who have heard what I have said.
In conclusion I repeat that I recognise the very great service that is being rendered. I have seen examples of the operation of the onus of proof provision. I am bound to say in all fairness that in any case with which I have been associated any doubt has always been resolved in favour of the applicant. I can see that there- will always be some argument on this matter because of the different approaches of the applicant and the people hearing his case. However, in the cases about which I can speak with some knowledge and authority, wherever there has been a doubt and it has been possible to point out to the tribunal that the doubt exists, I have never known that doubt to be resolved other than in favour of the applicant.
.- I seek from the Minister information in relation to a prisoner of war - I understand that his name is Chen - who was captured in 1944 and was an inmate of the Gladesville mental hospital, a non-departmental institution. After he had been in that hospital for 21 years, it was found that no department had any responsibility towards him. However, through the Press I have since learnt that he has been repatriated to Formosa; that he had a joyful homecoming; and that the matter is now considered to be closed. I ask the Minister whether this man was the responsibility of the Repatriation Department. At the time when his case was first brought to public notice, there seemed to be a reluctance on the part of every department to accept responsibility for him. The Department of Immigration denied any knowledge of him and said that he was not its responsibility. It said that the Army should be consulted, but the Army did not make any statement at all. The Repatriation Department was very non-committal.
It is most important that not only honorable senators but also the people of Australia should know about this man and his entitlements under the Geneva Convention. War carried out under conditions in which the Geneva Convention is not upheld is as brutal and horrible as it is possible for human conduct to become. I hope that, however bad war is, Australia always will uphold the basic principles of the Geneva Convention with regard to the treatment of prisoners of war. On my calculation, under the Geneva Convention this man should have been entitled to about £2,500 in deferred pay. I believe that he is entitled to that money. One of the principles is that the retaining country pays a prisoner of war the rate of pay that is payable to a private during the period of his internment. I would like to know whether the Repatriation Department eventually accepted responsibility for this man. If it did not, which department did? Who repatriated him? Was he paid his full entitlement under the Geneva Convention?
– First of all, I express to Senator Morris my appreciation for his remarks about his experience with the Repatriation Department. He suggested that there should be no means test in respect of service pensions. This proposal has been made by various bodies. Irrespective of the thinking of the honorable senator, the adoption of the proposal would result in an increase in expenditure. If it did not result in an increase in the expenditure of the Repatriation Department, it would result in an increase in social services expenditure. Naturally, as the honorable senator suggested, we all would like to see this proposal implemented. Although it has been raised, up to this stage the Government has not considered it possible of implementation. It would involve an increase in social service pensions.. Our aim is to give the maximum benefit to those who are in most need. That is why, instead of giving a general increase, benefits were given to those in particular categories. I know that everybody will not agree with this policy.
In reply to Senator O’Byrne, I say that the Chinese in question was certainly no responsibility of the Repatriation Department. We could not accept any responsibility at all for him. I think that the only way for the honorable senator to find out who is responsible is to put a question on the notice paper. I can assure him that the Chinese is no pigeon of ours. Senator
Dittmer raised a query concerning a statistical approach to the incidence of cancer amongst ex-servicemen. A huge, volume of medical data is recorded on departmental files but, even so, full medical histories of all ex-servicemen are not available. This is particularly so in regard to those who have not sought repatriation benefits. However, data is being continually and progressively taken from manual records for processing in due course on computers, but this will be a long term project.
.- I am making a late entry into the debate. 1 feel that I must have something to say during the consideration of proposed expenditures, in view of the fact that the Opposition was successful in having a very important amendment to the Repatriation Bill passed through this chamber. The Minister has said that the aim of the Department is to give the greatest aid to those who are most in need. I agree that that should be so, but surely our amendment which was passed in this chamber would have given such a benefit to those most in need. The amendment was to provide hospital and medical attention for ex-servicemen of World War I and the Boer War. I do not think any honorable senator would deny that such ex-servicemen are entitled at least to a comfortable bed when they need it.
– Order! The honorable senator must relate his remarks to the proposed expenditure under discussion. He may not refer to a bill that has passed through this chamber in the current session
– I am referring to the administration of the Department. The very important amendment to which 1 have referred proposed exactly what the Minister has suggested should be done, namely, the giving of the greatest benefit to those in the greatest need. Branches of the Returned Servicemen’s League throughout Australia have recommended that hospital and medical treatment be provided for exservicemen of World War I and the Boer War, and this policy has been advocated in the Parliament by the Australian Labour Party for quite a longe time. Submissions to Cabinet by the R.S.L. have made specific reference to this benefit. After the amend ment to give effect to the proposal was passed by the Senate, we had the unprecedented spectacle of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) coming into the debate in another place and saying, in effect, that the Government was not to be dictated to on financial policy by this chamber. How different is the position now from what it was a few years ago when an anti-Labour weird mob in this chamber dictated financial policy to the Scullin Government, as a result of which hundreds of thousands of nien, women and children were kept at starvation level.
– Order! The honorable senator’s remarks are getting beyond the range of the proposed expenditure.
– I shall get on the right track. I mentioned that just to show the inconsistency of anti-Labour parties in regard to these matters. The Minister said that the extra cost would be £2.5 million a year. 1 suggest’ with great respect that that is a paltry, miserable, lousy amount in view of the fact that the Budget provides for ah expenditure of £2,600,000,000. We cannot afford £2.5 million to make sure that those men who were hailed as heroes when they were helping tq safeguard democracy will in the later stages of their lives receive the hospital and medical treatment that they need. When the amendment was passed through this chamber I received letters from every State of the Commonwealth and numerous phone calls from people who were delighted in the expectation of receiving the benefits that the amendment proposed. I am generous enough to believe that almost all Government supporters would agree with the proposal and with the other amendments that we proposed at the same time for recognition of cancer as a war caused disability and for provision for the wives of totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen. As I have mentioned on so many occasions, these wives save the country hundreds of thousands of pounds by saving the cost of hospital treatment that would have to be provided by the Repatriation Department for T.P.I, exservicemen.
I am generous enough to believe that most Government supporters would approve the provision of these benefits but are under such a rigid dictatorship that once the jemadar cracks the whip in another place, they go for cover. For your information, Mr. Temporary Chairman, “ jemadar “ is the Arabic word for “ big boss “. Government supporters in their own consciences agree with the changes that we propose but when the whip is cracked they cringe and crawl for cover. They often chide the Australian Labour Party with being under iron discipline, but no one is under a more ruthless discipline than are members of the Government parties. Some honorable senators opposite realise that. On ability, they should be in the Cabinet, but because they do not see eye to eye with the jemadar they have no hope of getting into the Cabinet. I think that Senator Wright realises that. From the point of view of ability, he should be in the Cabinet, but he knows as well as we know that he will never be there. On occasions he, too, has let us down. In the particular instance to which I have been referring, he voted with us in favour of the amendment. Then, when the Bill came back to this chamber and a constitutional issue was raised, he threw up a smoke screen.
Order! I do not think that there is any value to be gained in this debate by going over matters that were fully debated at the time the legislation in question was considered. I ask the honorable senator to confine himself to the question that we take note of the proposed expenditure.
– I am directing my remarks to the administration- of the Department. Surely we are entitled to examine the position and to find out, if we can, just why the amendment that we passed here was not allowed in another place, after which the legislation was sent back here for the amendment to be deleted. The Prime Minister raised some constitutional issue. That is the matter to which I intended to relate my remarks. Senator Wright raised a bit of a smokescreen when the Bill came back to us on that constitutional issue. When the time came for the second vote, he walked out. He did not have the courage-
Order! Senator Sandford, I cannot allow you to continue in that strain.
– I. rise to order. Do not Standing Orders provide that when the Chair addresses a member of the Committee, that member must resume his seat?:
That is so.
– I want to mention these facts in order to indicate that, year after year, the Opposition moves virtually the same amendments to repatriation legislation in an endeavour to bring to deserving people a measure of comfort . in the last years of their lives. I do not wish to dwell at greater length on that matter.
I wish to ask the Minister whether any provision is included or contemplated to be included in the estimates for the Repatriation Department this year to create extra appeal tribunals. The Minister realises that there is an enormous time lag between the lodgment of applications and the hearing of final appeals. Quite often it has been stated here that with each year that passes the time lag becomes more serious. I know it is a problem which is not easy of solution. I would like the Minister to indicate whether provision has been made, is being made or is contemplated to create more appeal tribunals so that the hearing of appeals may be expedited. The latest information I have is that about three months elapses between the lodgment.- of an application and the announcement of a decision by the final appeal tribunal after the applicant has worked his way through the avenues of appeal. It would be interesting to learn how many ageing ex-servicemen pass away in the time, that elapses between the lodgment of their applications and the hearing of -their appeals. I am quite sure that it would be an alarming number. I have raised the matter of additional appeal tribunals so that attempts may be made to eliminate or cut down the time that elapses between the lodgment of an application and the final hearing of an appeal.
.- The estimates for the Repatriation Department illustrate the truth of the claim by some honorable senators that finance is essentially related to policy. I put to the Committee that while we are considering the adoption of appropriations totalling £132 million for the provision of repatriation services, it is stupid to impute to any member of the Committee, a rational judgment on that issue unless he has a real appreciation of policy, the purpose of the benefit that is to be bought with the money, and the value of that benefit. Therefore, at the outset, what I have to say in relation to our consideration of the estimates for the Repatriation Department is this: In the last 12 months, this country has created a revolutionary policy with regard to the obligation of our manpower for defence. In previous world wars, our manpower’ has had the option of serving voluntarily in the armed forces whereas, in recent times, we have thought that areas of conflict have come so near to Australia and the immediacy of our own independent effort to strengthen our defence has been such that the imposition of a compulsory obligation upon our manpower is warranted. We voted for that measure as parliamentary representatives of the people.
The people are occupied in all sorts of different occupations and industries. In the circumstances in which we voted for compulsory service there was less concerted interest in the activities for which our men are required to serve than in a general world war. It is our responsibility to accompany the vote for compulsory service by appropriate compensation payments for service and casualties. I believe that the Parliament is recreant to its trust unless it accepts an entirely new outlook on repatriation from the point of view of future casualties. I submit that the great civilian population we represent, whose security is being defended by a very few personnel scattered in various places throughout Asia, has a greatly increased responsibility to ensure that we award compensation to casualties of conflicts on an entirely different basis from that adopted in previous wars.
I wish Senator Morris were” here at present. He put to the Senate a proposition the verity of which I submit is incontestable. He said that- ex-servicemen of World War I and World War II who are now over 65 years of age; who are, perhaps, disabled from active participation in their occupations; who are in receipt of an income of £4 or £5 a week; and who have become entitled to receive a repatriation pension of an additional £4 or £5 a week, are thereby disqualified because of a means test from receiving social service payments. That position arises because, according to the social service legislation, a repatriation pension is to be considered in the means test.
A repatriation pension should be placed in a class entirely of its own and in noway taken into consideration from the point of view of means or income for the purpose of assessment of entitlement to social service benefits. How ungrateful it is - to use the mildest of terms - for a country which has given a small pension for a war casualty 50 years ago now to say to the recipient: “That is part of your income for the purpose of assessment by the Department of Social Services of your entitlement to participate in social service benefits along with other members of the aged section of the community.” A century ago the old and the bold from Waterloo were grateful to receive special alms on Christmas Eve. Those times are past and this country has as its first obligation on the Treasury and on any public finance to award compensation to servicemen and servicewomen, first for service and then for casualty. The obligation is such that any payment which is based on war service should be completely disregarded for the purpose of assessing entitlement to social service pensions.
I wish to say a word or two now about the obligations of civilians whose security is being guaranteed by small bands of people serving in various places in Asia. We do well to reflect on the fact that Sir Winston Churchill, after he had toured London in the early stages of the blitz and had seen the fortitude of the Londoners, said, with tears in his eyes, that he had come to the conclusion that the sacrifice must be shared. Thereupon he introduced a great scheme of war damage compensation, which was really an insurance scheme under which everybody whose property was being protected paid a contribution to a fund out of which those who suffered loss were compensated. I believe that a similar scheme could be introduced in Australia to provide for repatriation compensation. The payment, of a war risk premium of negligible amount would enable the Government to raise a fund from which to provide repatriation compensation - not pensions - in respect of casualties, whether they be fatal or non-fatal.
I advanced this proposition to the Senate in April last. Lest there be any mistake, let me say that when I advance a proposition on the floor of this chamber I mean it to be considered by the Government. Perhaps the Government will think it is worthy of consideration for only two minutes but should this matter be raised within a few months and become the subject of a vote by honorable senators, let nobody impute to me failure to raise it for the consideration of the Government. I want to make it quite clear that I have brought the matter forward. Such a scheme of war risk compensation not only would make appropriate provision for the payment of repatriation compensation but also would put war service on a basis of nobility. T am sure that 90 per cent, of the civilian population would rejoice in the thought that, by paying a war risk insurance contribution, they would be helping to create a fund of the kind I have suggested.
– Would it be on a sliding scale?
– Of course, it would be. The Government could strike whatever scale it liked. It could make provision for exemption up to £10,000 perhaps. I have just taken that figure out of my hat. I believe that 90 per cent, of the population would regard it as being a privilege to pay into a war risk insurance fund which was designed to compensate men who suffered some injury while protecting civil property, the value of which in many cases would be enhanced following the cessation of conflict. Just as we have passed from a system of voluntary service to a system of compulsory service-! hope nobody will be contemptible enough to refer to these servicemen as conscripts-
– It is national service.
– It is national service. Even though it is compulsory, it is nonetheless worthy. Just because two generations had the privilege of volunteering for service in previous wars, we ought not to deny to the present generation honour for accepting a compulsory obligation.
I want to mention two other small matters. If I may be permitted to be tedious, I want to remind the Minister that in 1963 we passed the Air Accidents (Commonwealth Liability) Bill. It will be remembered that in that legislation provision was made for the payment of £7,500 upon the death of a person travelling in an aircraft, absolutely independently of the circumstances of liability. It will be recalled that I took exception to clause 6 (2.) of the Bill, which excluded from the benefit of the legislation people who were entitled to repatriation pensions. I pointed out that in the case of a soldier who embarked at Brisbane for Malaya, that country already having been designated as an area giving entitlement to a repatriation pension, the beneficiaries were not entitled to a lump sum payment of £7,500. However, if an officer of the Department of the Treasury were to be sent to investigate conditions of service in Vietnam - that happened recently - and he died as the result of an aircraft accident, his widow would be entitled to receive £7,500. I have been told that the widow of that officer would receive a payment under the Public Service superannuation scheme in. addition to the payment of £7,500 under this Act which, I have no doubt, was the product of a few public servants who were looking after themselves, which some public servants do predominantly. I am drawing to the attention of honorable senators an anomaly whereby, although provision is made for compensation to certain passengers in Commonwealth aircraft, a special provision has been written into the legislation which excludes from any benefit men in respect of whom repatriation pensions are payable.
Emphasis is lent to my argument by the fact that not so long ago, after we had sent a thousand men into battle, we had to send two Treasury officers to Vietnam to investigate conditions of service. If those officers had been accompanied by 20 serving soldiers and if the aircraft had gone down over Borneo, the widows of the soldiers would have received repatriation payments and . nothing more but the widows of the Treasury officers would have received their full entitlement under the Public Service superannuation scheme plus a lump sum payment of £7,500. under the Air Accidents (Commonwealth Liability) ct. That anomaly needs urgent attention.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Senator Sandford went over facts that were ‘ brought to light during the recent debate oh the Repatriation Bill. I do not propose to go over them again. The honorable senator asked me whether the setting up of additional tribunals had been considered. I shall be making an announcement in connection with this, matter in Adelaide on Monday next. The honorable senator also said that in some cases death could occur while an appeal was being heard. He is probably aware that even if an applicant dies while his case is being heard, the case is decided as though the applicant were still alive. That applies also to an appeal. However, there would be very few cases of death occurring while an applicant was awaiting a decision by a repatriation board or tribunal.
Senator Wright referred to war risk insurance. Speaking as an individual, 1 must say that this submission appeals to me. I do not know whether it is practicable to make some provision such as the honorable senator mentioned. I believe the United States of America provides cover of this sort although I do not know the details of the scheme. I am not sure that this is simply a matter of repatriation but it is something to which I think consideration should be given.
.- I propose to refer to the inadequacy of the provision for repatriation pensions and hospitals and repatriation benefits generally. I listened to Senator Wright with interest. He almost had me in tears but the statements he made come within the terms of hypocrisy and humbug. The honorable senator was in this chamber when the Opposition carried an amendment to the Repatriation Act recently.
– I cannot allow the honorable senator’s use of the words “ hypocrisy and humbug “ in relation to Senator Wright.
– I shall have my opportunity to answer Senator Keeffe. We will let the people decide who is guilty of hypocrisy and humbug.
Order! I direct Senator Keeffe’s attention to my ruling.
– I withdraw the words, and I ask that Senator Wright withdraw his statement.
I did not hear the statement made by Senator Wright.
– I simply said that we shall let the people decide where the hypocrisy and humbug lie.
– I understand that Senator Wright will not withdraw the words although I had the courtesy to do so. I was saying that Senator Wright had the opportunity to do something about repatriation benefits when we voted in favour of the amendment’ to the Repatriation Act.
– To what Division of the Estimates is the honorable referring?
– I am directing my remarks to Division No. 443 but I was re,ferring to the debate recently when the Opposition asked for increased hospital benefits for diggers of the First World War and Boer War veterans. Had the amendment come into effect, I assume that additional provision would have been made in the estimates for repatriation hospitals and other institutions. When the Bill came back to the Senate for the second vote, Senator Wright did not stay with us.
– I rise to a point of order. Standing Order No. 413 states -
No Senator shall allude to any Debate of the same Session upon a Question or Bill not being then under discussion, nor to any speech made in Committee except by the indulgence of the Senate for personal explanations.
Is Senator Keeffe in order in referring to a debate that took place recently?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The point of order is upheld. Senator Keeffe must not refer to debates on legislation that has already been passed by this House during the current session.
– Very well, Sir. I have made my point. So far as this Government is concerned, while there is a war in progress, those who are prepared to participate are heroes but the moment the war ends - and this applies particularly to the major wars in which men of my generation and the generation before served - the returned servicemen, do not matter, any more to the Liberal Party.
– Rubbish. ‘
– If they did, Government supporters would have given them higher pensions or better concessions than they have been given. Senator Sandford referred to the need to provide some sort of pension for ex-servicemen suffering from cancer. Little enough is known about this disease. We heard medical men in this chamber say that the cause of cancer could not be proved.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I was elaborating on what I considered were the shortcomings of the pension scheme for those entitled to benefits under the Repatriation Act. Recipients of repatriation pensions today, as a part of the great body of social service recipients, have not been able to keep up with the cost of living. The pensions are nowhere near comparable to what they were under Labour Governments. There are groups of people who are entitled to repatriation pensions or assistance of s’ome type or other who are not getting adequate assistance. Probably one of the worst treated groups of people are the wives of totally and permanently incapacitated pensioners who, in effect, are looked upon by the Repatriation Department as cheap nursing attendants. The health of these women breaks down over a long period of time. When, eventually, their husbands become permanently hospitalised or die many of these women are forced to seek some sort of social service assistance.
Another group of people who are not cared for adequately are the youngsters who have come out of the small wars which have occurred since the end of World War II. There are inadequate repatriation benefits for many of the young men and women who have been discharged from the Services from time to time. I know that this applies particularly to those who served in Naval establishments. Some of those people went into the so-called war zones but because they did not take part in actual combat they are not entitled to benefits which they should receive. I have spoken about this matter previously and I hope to elaborate on it on some future occasion.
My final criticism of the repatriation benefits is that I believe this Government is guided by the hierarchy of the Returned Servicemen’s League. I feel that this organisation, at the top level, no longer represents the ordinary average ex-servicemen of any war. It is fearful of condemning the Government when putting forward its requests prior to Budget time. When the requests are not granted, there is little or no protest from .the top echelon of the Returned Servicemen’s League. I suppose that in this selfish world the people who guide the destinies of this organisation, which ought to be the greatest ex-servicemen’s organisation in the country, are fearful of what will happen to them if they are offside with the Government when the Queen’s birthday honours and the New Year honors lists are made out.
– Try to get out of the gutter if you can.
– I think that remark is uncalled for. In any case, the. honorable senator would not know. What I maintain is that repatriation is the prime responsibility of this Government or of any government. I agree entirely with a statement made by Senator Wright. He said that our first obligation is to those people who have given their health, and in many cases their lives, to this country. Our first obligation is to their families, particularly to their children. But, again, there is inadequate assistance in that regard. I reiterate the points made by my colleague, Senator Sandford, who spoke earlier this afternoon, when he mentioned two particular categories of people. I refer to those who have contracted cancer at some time since the war. They ought to receive some sort of privileged assistance from the Government. Their families should also be given assistance because, invariably today, the worst types of cancer are fatal. The other matter Senator Sandford emphasised in his contribution to this debate was the necessity for some sort of medical assistance to be given to diggers from World War I. Those people who served in the First World War are, today, very close to 70 years of age, or over. Their numbers are rapidly thinning. In terms of cash from the Government, assistance for them would mean a very little increase indeed in the total sum allocated for repatriation.
The Government has no problem at all to find money to send our sons and grandsons out of this country to fight in overseas areas. When national service is in full operation they will, in many cases, go overseas against their own will. There were statements in the Press today that the defence bill was likely to be increased by a further £20 million. But when the Government is asked to find an extra £500,000, or £1 million, or £2 million to assist those people who have lost their health, those wives who have lost husbands and those children Who have lost fathers as a result of previous wars, then it is found wanting. I submit that this matter should be looked at in all seriousness. It is above party politics. Today human life is at stake and human values ought to be taken into consideration when allocating Budget moneys to help a very important section of the community.
.- I have only one brief matter to refer to in this debate on the estimates for the Repatriation Department. I want to refer to Division No. 947, Capital Works and Services. My sole reason for speaking is to’ get some information from the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) as to the’ current departmental attitude to the housing of officers of the Department in Hobart. The Minister is no doubt aware that fairly central offices were erected in Hobart when the Repatriation Department was founded towards the end of World War I. Many thousands of pounds have been spent on these timber buildings and I must say that they, and the materials used, have been kept looking fairly well. I would like the Minister to let me know his thoughts on future planning for a suitable building for the Department in Hobart - one that is suitable, not only for the city of Hobart, but also for those who have to work in it. I believe it is no fault of the present Minister, but if private enterprise employed as many people in a building such as the Department’s building in Hobart the health authorities might condemn it because of the lack of space per person employed per day. and the general facilities available. I feel certain that the Department must have plans either to build new offices or enlarge the present building in order to house its officers. We realise that the Department must continue to exist for many years. I am not pressing for such work to be included in next year’s Estimates but I think the people of Tasmania should be told of the ministerial thinking regarding the provision of an adequate building for the Repatriation Department in Hobart.
– All Iwant to say in reply to Senator Keeffe is that, whilst I have no intention of criticising any speaker in this debate on the estimates for my Department, I think the kindest thing I could say about his speech is that it was marked with inaccuracies and far from the truth. First of all, he spoke about hospitals and I do not intend to answer what he said, in that regard. Referring to the. wives of men receiving the pension for total and permanent incapacity, surely he. realises now that they automatically qualify for pension on the death of their husbands. He said that they were cheap nurses. Under the new pensioner medical scheme, quite a proportion of the wives of T.P.I, pensioners will become eligible for medical service benefits. I suppose that I have spoken to as many T.P.I, pensioners as the honorable senator. When I have done so they have expressed their thanks for what the Repatriation Department is doing for’ them. I treat the rest of his criticism of the Repatriation Department with the contempt that it deserves. I am very sorry that he cast such a slur on the Returned Servicemen’s League but I point out that the League is quite capable of looking after itself.
Senator Marriott referred to buildings in Hobart. We have endeavoured to put into operation a five year plan which is expected to cost about £5 million. We have been able to implement only portion of that plan this year and I hope that we will be able to complete the work in stages. Every government has commitments to meet. The first task of any government is to defend the country. For this reason we have had to delay doing some of the things we would like to do in the field of repatriation. These include not only increasing pensions but also erecting buildings of all kinds. I agree with Senator Marriott that there, are certain buildings that should be replaced - I know of some in Queensland - but all that we can do is cut our coat according to our cloth.
– I wish to speak about the specialist consulting rooms in the repatriation hospital at Keswick, South Australia. I have been informed that ex-servicemen who have to attend Keswick for specialist treatment have to climb three flights of stairs. I have not had time to examine the building and I am only repeating what I have been told. Many of the ex-servicemen who attend for specialist treatment are sick and some are incapacitated to the extent of having to use walking sticks, crutches or even wheel-chairs. The building has no lift. Will the Minister cause inquiry to be made, and if the position is as I have mentioned will he take some action to rectify it?
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland) [8. 13]. - I should like to speak to Division No. 443 - Repatriation Hospitals and Other Institutions. I take this opportunity to pay a sincere tribute to the work which has been done by our repatriation hospitals, and I should like also to put on record my appreciation of the excellent work which has been done in recent times in the training of nurses. I, have had a considerable amount of contact with a number of young nurses who have trained in bur repatriation hospitals. They are a very fine body of young women, they have great dedication to their calling and they are showing the results of the splendid training that they have received. I should like .to put on record also the great appreciation that is felt by those who are cared for by these young nurses, and by the community generally which benefits by the training that is given them. They are dedicated to their profession and in the years that lie ahead they will render splendid service in caring for people who need their attention. On this occasion, as on others, we pay a tribute to the excellent service which they are rendering to the community.
Can the Minister tell me how many nurses are being trained in our repatriation hospitals?
– I hope the Minister will bear with me because I have only a few comments to make. On occasions I visit the Yaralla Hospital in Sydney and get the impression that only about one-half of it is occupied.
I come away with the feeling that much better use could be made of the space that is available, particularly having in mind the fact that the public hospitals - the lay hospitals, if I may use that term - are overcrowded. With a little organisation surely the Repatriation Department could set aside some of its hospital equipment, bedding and so on, for public patients. Could the repatriation and public hospital services generally be rationalised in this way?
In contradistinction to Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin, I get the impression that it is difficult to get nurses for our repatriation hospitals. I have been told that this is one reason why the hospitals cannot handle more patients. I am wondering whether conditions in hospitals are such that they do not attract girls. For example, do conditions and future prospects of nurses in repatriation hospitals compare favourably with those of nurses in general and private hospitals? There must be some reason why there is difficulty in getting female nursing staff for our repatriation hospitals. I should like the Minister to give me some information on that aspect.
– I notice that in Division No. 449 the sum of £2,700 is allocated to the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia for the placing of people in employment. The R.S.L. has been referred to here tonight in a most insulting way. The remarks of the honorable senator concerned have been broadcast. In one breath he spoke of the right . of returned servicemen and then in the next breath he vilified and damned the honour and integrity of the Returned Servicemen’s League - the organisation which has fought for returned servicemen. I am proud to have been a member of the R.S.L. for 45 years. I am proud also of those men who have fought our causes. Senator Keeffe can snigger as much as he likes, but I have never heard a more disgusting attack on the personnel of the R.S.L. than I heard tonight from him. I was glad to hear the Minister say that he would treat Senator Keeffe’s criticism with the contempt it deserved. I wish the honorable senator would go out and mingle with returned servicemen. He would then learn what they think of the League and what the League has done for them.
– I am a member. I know what they think of the League.
– If the honorable senator is a member of the League and is not satisfied with it, he should try from the inside to correct some of the faults which he believes the R.S.L. to have. He would be better occupied in that way than by damning publicly over the air an organisation which is held in the highest respect by every decent, honest citizen of Australia. If the honorable senator is a member of the Returned Servicemen’s League and if that is a sample of the service that he extends to his fellow diggers, then I am very sorry. I believe that it is not typical of the service that an ordinary returned serviceman gives to the League. After a little reflection perhaps the honorable senator will realise the damage that he has done tonight to an organisation that has fought for him as well as for other returned servicemen in Australia. Again, I sincerely regret that such a vicious, unwarranted, despicable and cowardly attack on the Returned Servicemen’s League should be made by a returned serviceman in this chamber.
– Senator Drury raised the question of the stairs at the Keswick Hospital. Although I have been in the building, I could not recall what the position was regarding the stairs. However, I am informed that the necessity for cripples or heart patients to go to clinics above ground floor level is minimised by siting heart or orthopaedic clinics as far as possible at ground floor level. However, space is limited in this area. The attendants assist patients or carry them up the stairs at the present time, but proposals are in hand for the Department of Works to’ install a lift in the building. Also, these cases are being diverted to specialist rooms where appropriate.
Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin mentioned the matter of nurses. To. refresh my memory on this point I looked at the annual report of the Repatriation Commission for 1964-65. It states that there are 385 nurses in training. Last year 65 student nurses graduated from the training schools at the repatriation hospitals at Concord,, Heidelberg and Greenslopes. At the close, of the year there were 385 nursing students in training at the Department’s institutions.
During the year a further post-graduate course in geriatric nursing was held at the Repatriation General Hospital at Concord, and unlike the first course held, this one was conducted on a full time basis over a three months period.
I mentioned a little while ago that the provision of nurses in repatriation hospitals is one of the matters causing some concern. There are several reasons for this. The question of payment of adequate wages is not the main one. Up to the present time, nurses in repatriation hospitals have had a higher take home pay than have nurses in other hospitals. I think we must have some regard to the fact that the type of patient in repatriation hospitals is different from the type of patient in other hospitals. This could have some bearing on the difficulty we are experiencing in obtaining sufficient nursing staff. Another reason for the present situation is that many of the young girls who commence training in repatriation hospitals naturally look for an opportunity to go to New Zealand to nurse there for some time. Quite often when they return to Australia they do not come back to the repatriation hospitals. That is one of the problems that we have to face.
I agree wholeheartedly with Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin when she speaks of the dedication of nurses in repatriation hospitals. As I have mentioned before, this applies, not only to the nurses who have been there for many years, but also to the young nurses. It is very gratifying to see this spirit of dedication and, of course, the patients benefit considerably from it.
Senator Ormonde referred to the number of spare beds in repatriation hospitals. I do not know where they are. Last year there was a daily bed occupancy of 3,392 in repatriation hospitals. The total number of beds available was 3,804, so the number of unoccupied beds was well within the 10. per cent, margin on which most hospitals endeavour to operate. Of course, we cannot fill every bed because we cannot put males in female wards and vice versa. The fact that there, are 3,804 beds does not mean that the hospitals can accommodate 3,804 patients. The Concord Repatriation Hospital has 1,500 beds. It is the largest hospital in Australia, lt is reasonably full all the time.
Again on the question of nursing, which Senator Ormonde also raised, the Department has had great difficulty in recruiting sufficient nursing staff in Victoria. However, we have been able to get by reasonably well. There is no question about the quality of the nursing; it is only a question of getting a sufficient number of nurses.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
Department of Works.
Proposed expenditure, £14,156,000.
Proposed provision, £16,120,400.
Defence Services: Civil Defence - Buildings, Works, Fittings and Furniture.
Proposed expenditure, £62,000.
– I want to direct my remarks to Division No. 600 - Administrative. The first point to which I refer is the provision of £650,000 for fees for private architects, engineers, quantity surveyors and other consultants. There has been a general change of opinion throughout the world regarding the employment of outside consultants. It has been particularly exemplified in the defence field in the United States of America. The Secretary of Defence, Mr. McNamara, virtually purged from the Pentagon some of the former Army heads who had become consultants. I do not mean that there is anything really unethical about it. But the point I make is that if we go outside the departments to get knowledge in particular fields, it makes the departmental officers feel that they are members of a second class organisation. Rather than spend £650,000 to acquire this outside know-how, the Government should increase the salaries of the professional staff and have a top level group of specialists. This would obviate the need to spend money on outside consultants.
As I have said, there has been a change of opinion in this regard, both in the United States of America and in Britain. I refer to defence in this instance because it has been argued that a greater saving can be effected in this field than in the public work field. Recently the British Secretary of State for Defence, Mr. Healey, said that he was interested in getting a pound’s worth of value for every pound spent.
I think a parallel could be drawn between the Department of Works and the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority, which was able to acquire an extremely skilled staff to cope not only with its operations in Australia but also with overseas assignments. I believe that the Department of Works should add to its present efficient staff. If the morale of any organisation is to be kept high it must be able to say: “ we will solve this problem for ourselves. We do not want anybody else coming into it “.
Still dealing with Division No. 600, subdivision 2, I come now to item 07, “ Advertising - Tenders and staff vacancies “. Once again I want to develop this argument about spending money outside government circles. I think that the Department of Labour and National Service, which is a highly efficient organisation, has established itself as a sort of recruiting agency, but it has so many supplementary activities that people are inclined to by-pass it. I believe that when the various Commonwealth Departments are seeking officers, instead of advertising vacancies in the Press, they should go to branches of the Department of Labour and National Service in the capital cities and indicate the type of recruits they require. Finally, I should like some information from the Minister. One item in the estimates for his Department is, “ Amounts to be received from various Trust Accounts, £103,000. Could the Minister explain that item?
– I would like some information about the future of the Department of Works, particularly in its relationship to the Department of Supply. I could seek this information when the Estimates of the Department of Supply are being debated, but I think it is appropriate to seek it now. In view of the reported statement by the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall), that there is likely to be an alteration in the status of Woomera, with the possibility of the establishment of a launching site at Darwin, I wonder whether the Department of Works staff at Woomera will be reduced at some early date. If such a reduction of staff is likely I think it would be wise for the Department to take cognisance of the position and begin to plan for the withdrawal of those members of its staff who are still engaged on certain projects in the Woomera area.
.- Senator Mulvihill sought information about item 22 of Division No. 600, “Amounts to be received from various Trust Accounts”, I understand that these amounts are arrived at in the following way: Persons employed by the Department of Works in stores workshops, hostels and plant associated with particular projects are paid from the salaries vote of the Department and the money is subsequently reimbursed from the cost of the project concerned, as a contra payment.
I am not quite sure what Senator Bishop wanted to know. I understood him to be asking about future planning for employees of the Department of Works at Woomera. If they .are permanent employees of the Department there will be other work for them to do. If they are on the staffs of contractors engaged by the Department, presumably the contractors will eventually tender for new jobs and will take their staffs with them to those jobs. If I have not answered the honorable senator, I invite him to elaborate his question further.
– I understand that the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) has announced that Woomera might recede in importance to some extent and that a launcher site might be developed, at Darwin. At present the Department of Works has a large staff in South Australia, and particularly, at Woomera, where there are also a number of contractors operating. I am suggesting that if there is to be any reduction in the Department’s staff at Woomera, and a possible transfer of some of that staff to Darwin, the Government should plan accordingly. Will the Minister inform the Senate whether or not he believes that is likely to happen?
– I am not in a position to say whether there is any truth in the suggestion that the establishment at. Woomera will be reduced or that an alternative launcher site will be established at Darwin. I do not believe that anybody could say, at this stage, whether those things will happen. If they were to happen it would be part of the planning for any new complex to be set up by the Department of Supply to see that accommodation and so on was pro vided . for the Department of Works staff required. I am sure this would be the case no matter where the new complex might be established. I do not think the honorable senator suggests that it would be practicable for . all the Department of Works staff to be kept at Woomera if that establishment were not going at full blast. I am sure that the planning of any new project would include the provision of accommodation for the Department of Works staff.
– I wish to ideal first with payments under the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act. The appropriation under that heading for this financial year is £6,000. Last year’s appropriation was £12,500 and the expenditure was £9,771. There is quite a wide discrepancy between those figures. Could the Minister give the Senate the reason for last year’s appropriation having been halved.
The second matter I wish to refer to is tendering. I am not sure whether 1 am in order in raising this matter during this debate, but I want to direct the attention of the Senate to a recent Press article which suggested that there were certain tendering rings operating, that some of the tendering had been irregular and that there was a tendency for tenderers to gang up in respect of jobs for certain departments. The Public Accounts Committee drew attention to thismatter. If it is not irregular, I would like the Minister to say whether he is completely satisfied with the manner in which tenders are submitted and to elaborate on the matters that were mentioned in the newspaper article. I would like to know whether the Public Accounts Committee uncovered any irregularities. If it did, I believe that the attention of honorable senators should be directed to those irregularities at this time or, if this is not the appropriate time, at whatever is the appropriate time.
Senator Sir WALTER COOPER (Queensland) [8.41]. - I would like some information on three items. Last year £30,308 was spent on furniture and fittings for the Department of Customs and Excise. This year the appropriation for- that item is £100,000. I would like to know what that amount is for. Last year £6,427 was spent on furniture and fittings for the Department of Primary Industry. This year the appropriation for that item is ?30,000. I would like an explanation of that increase. Last year ?3,194 was spent on furniture and fittings for the Department of Trade and Industry. This year the appropriation for that item is ?23,000. I would like the Minister to tell me what the extra amount is for.
– I refer to the appropriation for the hire, maintenance and running expenses of motor vehicles. The appropriation for this year is ?355,000. The expenditure last year was ?325,689. This seems to be an all-embracing appropriation. I realise that the maintenance and running expenses of motor vehicles would amount to quite a large sum of money. But in what way is the Department of Works involved in the hire of motor vehicles? What amount of money is attribut-able to the hire of motor vehicles? Perhaps items of this sort should be broken up when the appropriation gets up to the ?250,000 mark.
Earlier in this Parliament we had before us legislation to set up the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads as a result of an election promise given during the 1963 election campaign. I notice that ?33,000 is to be appropriated as a Commonwealth contribution to the Australian Road Research Board. I do not know whether that is a new name for the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads, or what the Board represents. In any case, the appropriation represents an increase of ?10,000 over the amount that was spent last year under this item. I thought the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads would have authority in respect of road research when the legislation to which I have referred was passed; but now we find that a greater amount is being appropriated for the Australian Road Research Board.
Last year ?53,181 was appropriated for furniture and fittings for the Department of the Treasury, and that amount was spent. This year the appropriation for that item is ?160,000. The Department of the Treasury is not a new department. I do not know whether it is expanding to any great extent. This seems to me to be a pretty large increase in an appropriation for furniture and fittings, whatever that term might cover.
– What is the amount to be appropriated?
– The amount is ?160,000, which represents an increase of more than ?100,000 over the amount expended last year. I would like the Minister to explain that increase.
– The answer to the last question asked by Senator Cant about the reason for the increase in the appropriation for furniture and fittings for the Department of the Treasury is that it is required partly to pay for items ordered but not paid for in 1964-65. The bill for those items will come in this year. That accounts for ?28,743 of the appropriation for this year. The appropriation is also required for new and replacement furniture and fittings which will be ordered this year. The increased provision is necessary for the furniture required on occupation by the Statisticians Branch of the new secretariat block which is now under construction in the Australian Capital Territory. So it is partly for furniture for a new office block into which officers will move this financial year.
asked me a question about the appropriation for workers’ compensation which has been reduced this year. Obviously, workers’ compensation is a matter on which only a rough estimate of what will be required in the coming year can be made. Last year the estimate was rather more than the amount that was required in fact. This year the appropriation has been reduced to ?6,000. Should there be accidents requiring more than that amount of mOney - of course we hope that there will not be - there is no doubt whatsoever that the amount required will be forthcoming. The amount of ?6,000 is an estimate made by the Department. The amount required could be around that amount.
Senator Toohey also asked me whether I would comment on a newspaper article in relation to the possibilities of collusive tendering. I would not wish to comment on a newspaper article, particularly one that I have not seen. From reports that I have received of that article, I understand that it refers to a belief that rings may be tendering for the supply of various materials. I have seen many different tenders for machinery and buildings, which have come into the Department of Works. I do not believe that, any ring is operating in respect of tenders for works to be carried out for the Department. There are always quite distinct differences between the various tenders for these works. I do not believe that rings operate in this field.
asked me to give the reasons for the increase in the appropriation for furniture and fittings for the Department of Primary Industry. This year’s appropriation provides for payment for furniture and fittings which were ordered last year but have not yet been paid for. Senator Cant asked me about motor vehicles. The cost of motor transport used for inspection and supervisory purposes in all branches is charged to this vote.
– I was concerned about the hiring of cars.
– The vehicles that we use on many occasions are Commonwealth vehicles drawn from the Department of Supply pool. This practice is followed instead of our buying all the vehicles that we need, and the Department of Supply charges for the hire of the vehicles. It is a book entry.
– Yes, an interdepartmental book entry.
.- We are dealing with the proposed expenditure of £14 million by the Department of Works. On looking at those parts of the Auditor-General’s report which relate to this Department, I find not one item noted by the Auditor-General as leading to criticism for misapplication of funds. Considering the immensity of the area in which the Department operates and the magnitude of the sums that it controls and devotes to public works, it is a great tribute that it can survive examination by the Auditor-General without any criticism as to wrongful expenditure in relation to any one item.
– There is some criticism in relation to the Northern Territory at page 1 3 1 of the report.
– There is some criticism as to ineffective stocktaking, but wrongful or unauthorised expenditure on any one item is not noted or proved. If confidence can be placed in the Auditor-General’s examination, that is a matter that should be noted with great credit to the Department. But I come straight away to expressing a point of view which requires from the
Auditor-General a more critical examination of these matters than is customarily expressed in his reports, not merely as to unauthorised expenditure but more importantly as to wasteful expenditure. It creates great misgiving on my part that I see not a word even adverting to the economics of the expenditure of the Department of Works. In the State of Tasmania, to which I am proud to belong, the State AuditorGeneral is unsparing in weight of criticism as to economy of expenditure, and I think that this Parliament ought to demand from its officer, the Auditor-General in the Federal sphere, a critical examination as to whether value is received for this expenditure, having regard to the recurring increases in this transitory and almost fugitive economy in which we live. Another point is that on occasions during the last year I have been treated in the Senate to contributions to debates by representatives from Victoria who wax eloquent almost in reprimand that Melbourne money is developing Western Australia or the Northern Territory.
– Hear, hear!
– Even from Senator McManus, one of the more distinguished Melburnians to whom we defer on this floor come murmurings. In Hobart it is realised that every advance or development that takes place in Darwin unifies this country and makes the whole nation as one more secure.
With those preliminary remarks, I call attention to the schedule showing appropriations under the control of the Department of Works. New South Wales enjoyed an expenditure for capital works of £11.8 million and for maintenance an expenditure of £3.9 million. Victoria enjoyed an expenditure of £8.8 million for capital works and £3 million for maintenance. Tasmania, unmurmuringly and uncomplainingly, notes that capital expenditure there was a mere £.8 million for capital work’s and a mere £.15 million for maintenance. I just note these things so that people will not think that the disparity goes unregarded. Turning to the other side of the sheet, one finds that the New South Wales and Victorian preferment is due to the need to build an international airport in Sydney and to establish a central Army training depot at Kapooka, and also to concentrated defence expenditure at Puckapunyal. It does seem to me that in the Senate we ought to reorientate our ideas. We represent our particular States of the nation and we should realise that we are contributing to the development of one nation.
Let me illustrate a point with regard to the devotion of our money to the Northern Territory. In Hobart earlier this year we had the privilege of a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meeting of representatives of the States and Territories, including distinguished members from the Northern Territory, with whom I engaged in quite serious and earnest consultation as to the local agitation for independence. In all friendliness, I thought with goodwill, and I believe with ultimate understanding, I offered the viewpoint that if Canberra, as representing the whole Commonwealth, is to contribute funds for the development of the Northern Territory, the people there would be well advised not to resent a measure of judgment from Canberra as to responsibility for expenditure in the Northern Territory. I pointed out that we cannot take the responsibility of approving by our vote expenditure in the Northern Territory without exacting some accounting from that point. Capital works expenditure in New South Wales was £11.8 million. With that preface, it might be salutary for Darwin to be reminded that in the Northern Territory capital works expenditure was no less than £6.6 million. New South Wales maintenance expenditure was £3.9 million; maintenance expenditure in the Northern Territory was £2.9 million.
I hope that my remarks are properly understood by the people of the Northern Territory who are a little disquieted because they do not have complete independence. They might acknowledge that the people who contribute so grandly in accordance with the responsibility of the Commonwealth Parliament to the increased strengthening of the Northern Territory must retain a degree of co-operation in that development and mutual responsibility with residents of the Northern Territory until, with their political independence,’ those residents can earn an economic independence of some sort. The Department of Works is a huge department in which unauthorised expenditure could be easily made.
It is a matter of great credit to the integrity of the public servants who administer the Department that, except for one rather indirect instance referred to by Senator McClelland, none of its expenditure has attracted a word of criticism. My other remarks have been devoted to indicating how co-ordinated in Australia as a whole is the expenditure administered by the Department of Works.
– Senator Cant asked a question concerning the Australian Road Research Board. The relevant item in the Estimates is to record the Government’s contribution to that Board, the objects of which are known to the honorable senator. We have undertaken to contribute 10 per cent, of the Board’s annual budget. Senator Sir Walter Cooper asked a question about furniture and fittings for the Department of Customs and Excise. The major part - £34,500 - of the increased expenditure is provided for because of the projected move of the Department into the new Customs House. The greater part of the remainder of the increase is to provide for the payment of goods bought last year.
I think the officers of my Department would like me to express their gratification at the remarks of Senator Wright. I am sure that the honorable senator will forgive me if I do not enter into views on what the Auditor-General should do, because he is not under the control of the Department of Works. I find myself in complete agreement with the view expounded by Senator Wright that we should adopt a national outlook; that we cannot benefit part of Australia without benefiting the whole. I have been saying that for some years. Provided we ensure that some sections are not unfairly treated in relation to other sections, T agree with the honorable senator.
– I wish to refer to the Schedule of Salaries and Allowances and, in the first instance, to Division No! 600. Whilst, in general, I think it is only fair that I should agree with the remarks that have been passed by Senator Wright in relation to the report for the last financial year presented to the Parliament by the Auditor-General and its references to the Department of
Works, in fact the Auditor-General has offered some criticism of the Department. In his report, the Auditor-General stated that for some years he had been concerned at the poor standard of stocktaking of tools and equipment of the Northern Territory branch of the Department. He went on to say that during the last financial year, although the audit examination had disclosed that the position had somewhat improved, it was still not satisfactory. He mentioned that following audit representations, the Department had investigated the position and, subsequently had issued detailed instructions to improve procedures. This is a very important matter, because an amount of over £14 million has been appropriated for the administration of the Department.
The activities undertaken by the Department of Works in the Northern Territory arc of particular importance to Australia and to Australians generally. 1 would like the Minister to explain what has been done by the Department to improve its auditing arrangements. At page 129 of the AuditorGeneral’s report for the last financial year a great number of important projects connected with national development being undertaken by the Department of Works is listed, lt is our responsibility to ensure that every penny contributed by Australian taxpayers is spent, not only wisely, but in the best interests of the nation. The projects listed for the Northern Territory include Royal Australian Air Force development, road and water mains construction, beef road construction, erection of schools, the Darwin wharf, welfare settlements, electricity undertakings and other works of that nature. I think the Minister should furnish an explanation of the methods adopted by the Department to overcome the weakness referred to by the AuditorGeneral.
I wish now to refer to the Schedule of Salaries and Allowances. I note in passing that the appropriation for the coming year is £14.1 million, whereas last year expenditure amounted to £12.7 million. In other words, an increase of £1.4 million is to be appropriated. The Schedule includes provision for three senior assistant directorsgeneral for whom an appropriation was not made last year. There has been an increase in the number of assistant directors-general from 5 last year to 15 this year. Bearing in mind that the proposed expenditure for the Department of Works this year is £14,156,000, that increase in staff calls for some explanation.
– There has been an increase in all kinds of staff.
– There has been an increase in all categories, but I point out to Senator Cavanagh that the increase in the number of assistant directors-general is out of all proportion to the increase lower down the scale. I note that last year there were 13 executive engineers and executive architects but that this year no provision is made for them. That may have some bearing on the situation. Whether that is related to the appointment of 10 more assistant directors-general needs to be explained by the Minister.
I come now to the proposed expenditure on the maintenance of office machines and the purchase of office machines. Last year expenditure on the maintenance of office machines amounted to £11,531. The proposed expenditure for this year is £14,000, an increase of approximately £2,500. Last year £29,803 was expended on the purchase of office machines and this year the proposed expenditure is £46,000. Bearing in mind that the increase in the proposed expenditure for this Department is approximately £1.5 million, the increase in the expenditure on the maintenance of office machines and the greatly increased expenditure on the purchase of office machines seems to be out of all proportion. That, too, calls for some explanation.
I refer now to Division No. 610 - Furniture and fittings. Under this heading provision is made for the purchase of furniture and fittings for quite a number of departments, and there is to be a somewhat astronomical increase in the sum expended. The overall increase will be nearly £500,000. In respect of the Department of Customs and Excise, the increase is to be about £70,000. Last year expenditure in relation to the Department of Primary Industry was £6,427; this year the proposed expenditure is £30,000. Last year expenditure on furniture and fittings for the Department of Shipping and Transport was £10,403, but the proposed expenditure for this year is £27,000. Finally, actual expenditure for the Department of the Treasury last year was £53,181, but this year the proposed expenditure is £160,000. I am sure the Minister will agree that these items seem to be out of all proportion to the overall sum that the Parliament is asked to appropriate this financial year for the Department of Works. Doubtless the Minister will be able to give us a satisfactory explanation. As members of the Parliament, we must be careful about the growth of bureaucracy in Australia. I direct the attention of the Minister particularly to the increase in the number of assistant directors-general from five to fifteen.
.- Senator McClelland referred repeatedly to a sum of £1.5 million. I take it that he was speaking of the difference between the total overall expenditure last year of £12,754,442 and the proposed expenditure this year of £14,156,000.
– That represents the Increase in the cost of running the Department of Works and has nothing to do with the buildings that are to be erected for other people. The major reason for this increase and the increase in the number of assistant directors-general and other planning and senior staff is the extraordinarily large increase in the volume and cost of works that the Department of Works has been asked to . undertake. For example, actual expenditure in 1964-65 on capital works under the defence programme was £14.2 million. Following the implementation of the new defence programme, estimated expenditure on defence capital works in 1965-66 is £29.07 million or more than twice as much as in the previous year. The increase in expenditure on the civil works programme is not nearly as large, but nevertheless it is significant. Actual expenditure on the civil works programme last year was £15 million, and estimated expenditure in 1965-66 is £16.8 million. Senior staff are needed to plan the expenditure of sums of money of that magnitude.
– The number of assistant directors-general this year is three times as great as it was last year, but the cost of capital works under the defence programme is only twice as great.
– Surely the honorable senator does not suggest that we should adopt some algebraic formula and say that because expenditure is to be doubled the size of the staff ought to be doubled.
– Such increases should be watched closely by the Parliament. Some explanation should be given.
– I have given the major reason for the increase in the size of the staff. There cannot be a sudden increase in the amount of money to be expended without having the staff increased and upgrading some people. Indeed, some of the staff to whom the honorable senator has referred have been raised in status.
.- I am interested in the activities of the Department of Works so far as it is the constructional authority for the Department of the Interior. I take it that the Department of the Interior has the responsibility of providing offices for Commonwealth Departments and I refer particularly now to the Commonwealth Centre in Melbourne. If I understand the arrangement correctly, the Department of Works constructs Commonwealth buildings in accordance with instructions from the Department of the Interior. In my opinion, the Department of Works is culpable for not complying with the ordinary provisions laid down by the Melbourne City Council and providing car space under Commonwealth buildings. I know that the Commonwealth Government is big enough to be able to say it will do what it wants to do. But we live in an age when motor traffic is clogging the roads. This is so particularly in Melbourne. Therefore, in that regard one would expect the Commonwealth Government to adhere to the normal procedures that a private citizen has to follow.
With great respect, I do not think the Department of Works can claim much credit for the work that has been done at the Commonwealth Centre in Melbourne. As I have said, no doubt the Department of Works builds to instructions, but the experience in the construction of the first block of buildings at the Commonwealth Centre and the way in which the buildings fit in with the second block now under construction does not do much credit to those responsible for the work.
– Is the honorable senator speaking of Essendon or Tullamarine?
– I am speaking of the Commonwealth Centre between Spring and Russell Streets and between Latrobe and Lonsdale Streets. I was concerned also when I saw in the Estimates for the Department of the Interior that the Commonwealth Government is paying about £6 million for rent of offices and buildings. I admit that only portion of this is spent in Victoria. But in Melbourne we have this huge area of land owned by the Commonwealth which is being covered very slowly with blocks of offices. What worries me is that the Commonwealth Government has had this area of land for many years. Eventually it will bc covered with Commonwealth offices; but for the life of me, I cannot understand why buildings to cover the whole block have not at least been planned so that when money becomes available, a start can be made with the construction of each block in turn.
I believe that, so far as we can, we should run Australia as a business concern. We have officers competent enough to do so. Wc should not be expending huge sums on the rent of offices when the Government has an area of land such as that in Melbourne on which buildings can be constructed. If this were done, all Commonwealth offices in Melbourne would be within one block. I hope that when buildings are constructed on this block in future, the Commonwealth Government will be wise enough to ensure that there is sufficient provision for parking of motor vehicles. I raised this matter last year. Indeed, I raised the question before the second block of buildings was started and I was told that there was a sufficient area for parking in adjacent vacant land. That might be all right for 1964 or 1965 but the area was secured by the Commonwealth Government originally so that there would be one Commonwealth Centre in Melbourne. A great number of people, both old and young, have to attend this Centre, particularly the social services section. No doubt other sections already constructed and to be built in the future will also attract large numbers of people but those responsible for car parking space under these buildings have been very shortsighted.
According to the last statistics I saw, there is one motor car in Melbourne for every 3.25 of the population including children. Consequently where space can be made available for parking underneath a building this should be done. The by-laws of the Melbourne City Council lay down that individuals must provide an area for parking commensurate with the size of the building and for the life of me I cannot understand why the Commonwealth Government does not fall into line and adopt the procedure that every private individual must follow.
– The honorable senator means space in the basement and not at ground level?
– No, underneath tl.e building. The streets, not only of Melbourne but of every other city where Commonwealth buildings are constructed, will be clogged more and more as the years roll by unless the Commonwealth Government makes some provision for parking. These days everybody drives a car on attaining the age of 18 years and I cannot understand why the Commonwealth Government will not provide space for parking. I have great respect for the Minister foc Works (Senator Gorton). Why does he not insist that this be done? I do not know whether the building was erected according to instructions from the Department of the Interior. I would like to see the Minister use his weight - I. do not mean from a physical point of view, because he does not carry much that he can throw about - to see that at least we do not commit a stupid act. We should ensure that the people of Melbourne, and those who visit the city, do not have to drive around, possibly for half an hour, to find a parking area, whatever department they may want to visit. I ask the Minister, whose Department is the constructing authority, to exercise his prerogative to see that the Government is not committing acts of stupidity, which will cause great hardship, not only at the present time but as the years go by, in the construction of government buildings.
– I regret that I have to speak twice in this discussion but, as the initial speaker, I raised three points and the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) answered only the third. So it is necessary for me to recapitulate the first two submissions that 1 made. 1 refer to Division No. 600, item 07., “Advertising - Tenders and staff vacancies “. I did suggest to the Minister the feasibility of the Department of Labour and National Service being used as a recruiting agency for staff rather than having to advertise in the Press. The other matter was item 15, “ Fees of private architects, engineers, quantity surveyors and other consultants “. I questioned the wisdom of spending £650,000 on outside consultants in various fields. I suggested that the morale of the Department of Works would be enhanced if that money were spent on permanent professional staff to meet the needs of the Department.
– When I look at the Estimates in front of me for the Department of Works I see two lines of figures which I do not think mean very much. They mean that the expenditure for this year will be more than for last year. I am going back to what Senator Wright spoke about. Are we to accept these figures? Senator Wright congratulated the Department on the efficacy of its work and on having its accounts approved by the Auditor-General. It must be an extremely skilful department that can do that. But it strikes me that we are in great difficulty when discussing public works because, after all, we have only two sets of figures in front of us. We are not here to find out whether or not the figures are added up correctly or whether or not they compare with last year in a general sense. If we are to discuss the figures intelligently we ought to have more detail about them.
There is a parliamentary committee which continually examines these matters of public works. I refer to the Public Works Committee. Details of any public works which will cost, I think, over £250,000, are placed before that Committee. It examines them and visits sites on which buildings are to be erected. Senator Kennelly has just referred to a building in Melbourne. I was on the Committee when that building was considered. If it could be arranged I think that the Minister could do the Senate a service at some time in the future if, when we are discussing public works, we could have before us the reports of the Public Works Committee on the various projects it has considered. I know that the reports are presented to the chamber at various times during the year but I suppose that most senators are like me, they read them and then put them aside in their offices. Then, when the Estimates come before us, they do not have the reports before them. I think we should have those reports before us when examining the estimates for the Department of Works. Then we would get the inside story of the criticism of each work as distinct from the criticism by the AuditorGeneral as to whether or not money is being filched. The Senate has members on the Public Works Committee and we could have their detailed criticism of the various works. Then we would know what sort of an examination to give to the figures we had in front of us in the Estimates, fortified by the reports from the Public Works Committee. I think it would be a good thing if the Minister could make arrangements in the future for such reports to be before senators when they are discussing the estimates for the Department of Works.
.- The first submission I would like to comment on was that made by Senator Kennelly concerning the Commonwealth office block in Spring Street, Melbourne. I think the criticism was limited to the fact that car parking space had not been provided. It is perfectly true that the Department of Works constructs a building according to- the requirements of the client department, just as any architect or builder constructs to the requirements of his client. In some cases this depends on the amount of money the client has. Similarly, construction by the Department of Works depends on the amount pf money the client department has. It may well be that, taking a long view the provision of car parking space in all buildings of this kind would be of use in the future. 1 do not deny that fact. I do not accept it. It is certainly arguable and could well be true. But, in this case, the specifications of the building are first drawn to the requirements of the client department and according to ‘ the amount of money it is prepared to spend. Subsequently those plans are examined by a statutory committee appointed by this Parliament, with members from both sides of both Houses. That committee examines the proposals and calls witnesses who make such suggestions for alterations as occur to them. In many oases which will immediately come to the mind of honorable senators, the committee has made suggestions. It reports to Parliament on the proposals.
This procedure was followed on this occasion and neither the committee nor anyone in the Parliament raised this matter when the report was presented. Nor did anyone think that it was of sufficient importance to insist that the client department be asked to do it. Those are the procedures followed. At the same time, one other practice is followed by the Commonwealth. In this case when the building was examined by the Public Works Committee of this Parliament the plans were sent to the Melbourne City Council for information and comment or the proposal of alterations which that body might wish to suggest. That procedure was followed and no suggestions were made by the Council as to the alterations in the plan of the building suggested by the honorable senator.
– I will see that the Minister gets them the next .time.
– All right. Senator Mulvihill raised two matters. They are matters of opinion as to what would be a proper policy to follow. I believe, and the Government’ believes, that it is a sensible policy, and it is preferable, publicly to advertise positions available in the Department of Works and to recruit its officers in that way rather than to leave the matter to the Department of Labour and National Service as a recruiting agent. That could lead to difficulties which are avoided by the placement of public advertisements which can be read by all concerned.
On the question of whether private architects should be used, I believe that the best method of carrying on public works in the volume in which the Commonwealth has to carry them on is to have a strong Government department receiving assistance from private architects and other consultants from time to time according to the demands that are placed on that department. I do not think this practice has affected the morale of the officers of the Department of Works which is, and should be, fairly high because they have been winning a number of awards throughout the country for designs of post offices and various other buildings.
They have also been getting pats on the back in architectural magazines. The staff of the Department of Works has been doing a good job, but what is more important is that it has been getting some small amount of public acknowledgment of the fact that it has been doing a good job.
I would have to consider the suggestion made by Senator Ormonde. As he has said, reports of the Public Works Committee are printed and presented to Parliament. If an honorable senator puts aside his copy and then loses it, another copy may be obtained from the Clerk of Papers. It does not seem unreasonable that if an honorable senator is interested in a particular work which has been the subject of a report, he should himself collect the report and use it as the honorable senator has suggested. After all, the reports of Parliamentary committees are for the information of members and senators.
– I have listened to the Minister’s explanation of the procedure followed by the Department in relation to the Public Works Committee. We must remember that only works which are to cost £250,000 or more are referred to the Public Works Committee. There has been considerable criticism recently of the fact that a number of projects which are to cost in excess of that amount have not been referred to the Committee, so one cannot always look to what the Public Works Committee is doing to get an insight into the operations of the Department of Works.
I want to refer to two projects. The first is stage 2 of the erection of a works depot at Heidelberg. The amount authorised for this work was £43,816. Having been authorised, I take it that the amount has been appropriated. I notice then that only £2,600 was spent to 30th June 1965 which leaves £41.216 unexpended. The second project is the erection of new wings and the alteration of the existing buildings of the Central Testing and Research Laboratory at Port Melbourne. The amount authorised for this work was £25,666. Again, having been authorised, I take it that the amount has been appropriated. However, only £1.960 was expended leaving a balance of £23,706 to be expended.
Are the amounts still to be expended to be again appropriated? What is the position in respect of these sums of money? They are not large enough to attract scrutiny by the Public Works Committee, and they are not so large that they could not be spent in one year unless a shortage of labour or materials or some such reason made this impossible.
– I find this discussion rather confusing. I notice that under Division No. 805, Civil Defence, there is an allocation of £62,000 for buildings, works, fittings and furniture. This item appears in the estimates for the Defence Services under the heading “ Under Control of Department of Works “. Division No. 694 relates to an allocation of £3 million for buildings, works, fittings and furniture. This item also appears in the estimates for the Defence Services, again under the heading “ Under Control of Department of Works “. r deal first with Division No. 805. This raises a question which is often asked - what is civil defence? By dealing with these particular estimates in a piecemeal fashion, it makes it very difficult to find out how much the expenditure of £250 contributes towards civil defence in Australia at the present time. The remarkable thing is that £250 was spent last year on buildings, works, fittings and furniture. I would like to know the type of building that could be constructed for £250 for defence purposes and also what proportion of that amount was spent on fittings and furniture.
My colleagues’ minds have run riot on the type of building that could be constructed for this amount of money for defence purposes. Is this the total sum that has been spent on civil defence in this country at a time when we are told that there is a big threat to Australia because of the domino policy of Communist China?
– That amount refers only to the buildings that are under the control of the Department of Works.
– That may De so, but I would still like to know the type of building which could be constructed for £250 that would help the civil defence of this country. I want to know how the money was spent. Also I would like to know how the Department intends to spend £62,000 that is provided this year. Was last year’s expenditure of £250 found to be insufficient for civil defence purposes? On what type of buildings, fittings and furniture is the Department going to spend £62,000 this year? I think that if an explanation could be given of the matters which I have raised, it might help answer the question which we are asked from time to time: What civil . defence do we have in Australia?
There are two other matters that I desire to raise under Division No. 600 - Administrative. One relates to the attitude of the Department to what I believe are legitimate complaints which are placed before it in a respectful manner by members of the Senate. In my office in Adelaide I interviewed a man who at one time had been apprenticed to the trade of plastering. He remained in the industry until such time as he contracted industrial dermatitis and had to leave it. He took a job as a labourer with the Department of Works at Salisbury in South Australia. . He was promoted to the position of lorry driver and he occupied that position for some considerable time, until one day, in order to assist a particular gang, he went on to concrete paving. Because of his previous training, it was soon discovered that he was very capable at this type of work. He was employed on it for some time.
I point out that this is the story told to me by the employee. He protested to the foreman about having to do cement work. He told the foreman that it would cause a recurrence of the dermatitis, which was the reason why he had to leave his previous well paid trade. But the foreman repeatedly insisted that he had to do this particular work. Eventually he got a doctor’s certificate which stated that working in cement was injurious to his skin. He again broke out in a rash and refused to do the work. For a short time he was put on to something else.
Through a disagreement with the foreman because the man would not do the cement work, he was dismissed from his employment. He told me that he approached the industrial officer who said that he would supply him with a reference. After some time the industrial officer sent him notification that his employment had been terminated because of unsatisfactory work. The man then came to see me. I do not know how much of his story is true or how much is fiction. I know that he was putting his side of the story. But he appeared to be a genuine type of man who had a legitimate complaint. He told me that he had had a disagreement with the foreman.
I rang the Director of Works in Adelaide and asked whether he would look into the matter. He said that he would. Later he rang me and said: “ I have looked into the matter and this particular individual has no complaint. He was well treated. That is the end of it.” I said: “ He appeared to me to have a complaint. I think he should be heard by a higher authority.” The Director said: “No. He has no complaint with my Department. I am not prepared to take the matter any further.” That was the end of the conversation. 1 wrote to the Minister on this question. I asked him whether he would institute an inquiry into the case. I told him that I was not saying that the statements made by the person concerned were correct, but it appeared to me that he had a claim and it should be investigated by a higher authority. After some time the Minister replied in thesame tone as had the Director. He said that he had looked into the matter and, in effect, there was no claim by the man and that was the end of the matter. I strongly regret the fact that although I had told the Minister I considered that this man had a good claim, the Minister dismissed my representations by saying: “ He has no claim and we are not going to inquire into the matter. We are not going to discuss the story that he has put up.” I would not have taken the matter any further if the Minister or the Department had showed me that the man had put something over me. But as I have said, he did not appear to be the type of man who would be lazy at his work or cheeky or ungentlemanly in his attitude. He appeared to be a very cooperative type of person. I considered that he deserved better treatment and that greater courtesy should have been extended to me when I sought an explanation of the Department’s attitude.
The other point that I wish to raise is the difficulty that is being experienced at the present time in obtaining contractors to carry out work on behalf of the Department of Works. This is due to the limited number of contractors who can operate on a large contract and the inability of qualified tradesmen to carry out building construction work today. This is a matter for concern, not only for this Department, but for every department that is interested in construction work. The State Governments have been concerned about it. It is brought about partly by the piecework system that is operating at the present time. A contractor who has had continuity of work may find that the work has run out and he cannot employ apprentices. A sub-contractor has no guarantee of continuity of work and therefore cannot engage an apprentice to learn a trade. Various trades are now being filled with less skilled men who cannot do the work required by the Department. This has so worried the Government of South Australia that one of the conditions of the letting of contracts by the South Australian Housing Trust is that the contractors must employ a certain number of apprentices. The annual report of the Trust stated that there was a dearth of skilled labour in the building construction field in that State.
I believe that the Department of Works should assist in the drive to obtain more skilled manpower in the building industry by stipulating, in its building contacts, that a certain number of apprentices shall be employed. It could give more sympathetic consideration to a builder who is prepared to engage apprentices and train them as the future tradesmen of the building industry. The Department shows no concern for the training of apprentices. During my term in this Parliament I have brought up the question of sub-contractors-
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I will answer the points raised by Senator Cavanagh so far and he can ask for any further information he wants later on. The honorable senator referred to Division No. 805 - Civil Defence - Buildings, Works, Fittings and Furniture. This matter is under the control of the Department of Works and the honorable senator asked what the expenditure last year of £250 represented. I have not that information but I can obtain it if he wishes to pursue the matter. Quite clearly that sum represents expenditure on some items of furniture or some fittings in a building occupied by the civil defence authorities. It is intended to expand civil defence and this year’s appropriation for works is £62,000. Part of that sum is required for a building at Emu Plains in New South Wales and part is for new installations at Mount Macedon, where the civil defence schools are held. The expenditure may be required for such things as the installation of fire alarms, minor works, fittings and furniture. Also, some work is being done .for the organisation in the north of Australia. The expenditure of £250 last year did not represent the total expenditure on ciVil defence in Australia. It merely represented payment for fittings and furniture by the civil defence organisation, through the Department of Works as agent.
Senator Cavanagh referred to a Mr. Hardy. It is true that the honorable senator wrote to me about this man after having first spoken to the man himself and, subsequently to the Director of Works in South Australia. I was not present at either of those conversations and the only information 1 have about them is what I have been told by Senator Cavanagh on the one hand and the Director of Works on the other. The honorable senator wrote to me and claimed that the Director of Works had been disrespectful and discourteous to him. The Director of Works told Senator Cavanagh that the case had been looked into; that there had been a number of complaints about the man concerned, and that the Department did not propose to re-employ him.
Senator Cavanagh then wrote to me complaining that this public servant had been discourteous to him. He said he was suspicious that the employee concerned might have been the victim of a rift with a certain foreman and he asked me to look into the matter. I did so and it appear quite clear thai this man had not been dismissed as the result of being the victim of a particular foreman and that Senator Cavanagh’s suspicions were unfounded. Consequently I wrote to the honorable senator and told him so. Since then I have received no further word from him on this matter.
I am not prepared to accept the statement that this public servant was disrespectful or discourteous to Senator Cavanagh. The Director has denied it. A mere refusal to carry out what appears to have been an unreasonable request by a. senator does not involve disrespect or discourtesy. I think it is unfortunate that complaints should be made in this way, in writing, about a member of the Public Service without - to the best of my knowledge - a copy of the written complaint being brought to the notice of the public servant concerned.
.- The appropriation for the Department of Works is more than £14 million, so it must be classed as a major department. 1 know that most of its work is carried out under the contract system. That means of course that the Department does not employ many hands under the day labour system.
– It employs about 7,000 hands, does it not?
– Does the honorable senator say it employs 7,000 hands on repairs and maintenance?
– No; the AuditorGeneral’s Report states ‘that last year the Department employed 9,708 day labour employees.
– That could be misleading because the men might be employed intermittently or temporarily. But that is not the point I want to make. I want to know whether the Department has given consideration to ensuring that apprentices are employed on building work carried out by contract. Does it insist that its contractors shall employ their full proportion of apprentices when engaged on such work as bricklaying, tiling, painting, plumbing or carpentry? Does it stipulate in its contracts that contractors shall do something about the employment of apprentices? If that is not done I think the Department is negligent on a national scale. Private delegations are going overseas to Great Britain and other places especially for the purpose of recruiting skilled labour. If skilled workers are recruited, added cost falls on the Commonwealth Government’ in bringing them to Australia and providing them with accommodation, lt is a costly procedure for a private Australian employer to send a delegation overseas to recruit labour. If the Minister considered this matter, I am sure that he would approve of his Department inserting in its contracts a provision that contractors shall employ the full proportion of apprentices to journeymen. That could be made compulsory by co-operating with the various apprenticeship bodies in the States. Apprentices could be moved from contractor to contractor and kept in employment.
Some years ago, when all of the Department’s work was carried out under the day labour system, apprentices were employed by the Department. But when a decision was made overnight to have work carried out under contract, all of the apprentices who were then in the employ of the Department were discharged. They were all told to report to the apprenticeship offices in the States so that, if work was available for them, they could be allocated to other employers. In view of the present position and the fact that it is more than probable that Australia will develop in the future and there will be a demand for the classes of tradesmen that I mentioned a while ago, I would like the Minister to tell me whether anything has been done about this matter. If nothing has been done about it, I suggest that he give earnest consideration to it in the future.
– When I rose earlier, I mentioned two matters on which the Minister failed to give me an answer. I think I threw him into a state of confusion; there were quite worried looks on the faces of his advisers at the time. I want to know whether the amounts that were authorised for the erection of stage 2 of a works depot at Heidelberg and for the erection of a new wing and alterations to the existing building at the Central Testing and Research Laboratory at Port Melbourne were appropriated last year and are to be appropriated again this year. Despite the fact that the amounts involved are quite small, I believe that the Committee is entitled to know about them. I take it that the Minister does not authorise amounts to be spent when they have not been appropriated by the Parliament and then, when the amounts are not spent, list them again as amounts to be spent in the future. Are there double appropriations in respect of these matters?
– In reply to Senator Benn, I point out that the Department of
Works, in its own workshops and in its own day labour force, employs the proportion of apprentices that the Department of Labour and National Service believes should be employed. The Department of Works does not insist on contractors employing a certain proportion of apprentices as a condition of being able to tender for public works. The policy of the Government is limited to works being done by contract and the acceptance of the lowest tender, provided that other things are suitable. In answer to the question asked by Senator Cant, I point out that the amount authorised is not appropriated each year. The amount authorised in respect of the cost of a building is shown and the amount estimated to’ be expended against that authorisation is appropriated each year. According to the information given to me, there should not be any double appropriation.
– I am concerned about the Minister’s reply to Senator Benn to the effect that the Department of Works, in its own workshops, employs apprentices as it sees fit. What we want to know is the proportion which the Department sees fit to employ. In South Australia it has a workshop which, in regard to building construction, is concerned only with carpentry and which employs apprentices in other building trades as maintenance workers. It has no juvenile labour at all. The proportion of apprentices in carpenters’ shops would not be the proportion permitted under the award or determination operating in South Australia. In the reply that the Minister just gave, there was no indication of whether the Department is playing its part in providing skilled labour for the building industry. I believe it is essential that Commonwealth departments contribute to the skilled labour force because they are concerned when there is a shortage of skilled labour. We were told that the Commonwealth grants to the States for housing had to be reduced because of the shortage of skilled labour in the building industry. I have stated that the Labour-governed State of South Australia is prepared to make its contribution by insisting on the required proportion of apprentices to journeymen. But it is apparent that the Commonwealth Department of Works is not prepared to do so. The bulk of its work is done by private contractors. The number of apprentices that the Department could employ in its own workshops would be insignificant as a contribution to the skilled labour force of the building industry.
This would not be the first time that a Commonwealth department laid down conditions on which contractors will be given work. I raised with the previous Minister for Works the number of bankruptcies of subcontractors and the fact that workmen were not being paid for their labour for subcontractors on Commonwealth Department of Works projects. I got out of the previous Minister an agreement that it would be a condition of contracts that all workmen would be paid for their labour. From that time on, whenever a sub-contractor has gone bankrupt in South Australia - as they repeatedly do under the present system - and a workman has not been paid his wages, a demand has been made on the builder, quoting from “ Hansard “ the guarantee that was given to me. On every occasion the workman has been paid. So, obviously the Department has laid down conditions for the payment of wages to workmen. I say that equally it could lay down a condition that a successful tenderer must make some contribution to the skilled work force by employing the required proportion of apprentices. As I said before, the number that the Department could employ in its own labour force would be an insignificant contribution.
I am not satisfied with the Minister’s reply to my question about the discourtesy of the head of his Department in South Australia. The head of any other department in that State will go to a lot of trouble to justify the action of his department. But the head of the Department of Works says: “ I have looked into this matter and have found that you have no case “; and that is the end of it. That does not appeal to me as the proper way to treat someone who presents what he considers to be a legitimate complaint. It is not consistent with the attitude adopted by other Commonwealth departments. It is a peculiarity of this Department. I will complain about it on every occasion on which it is adopted. As I said before, I do not know the facts of the case to which I referred. The man seemed to have a legitimate complaint. 1 asked for an inquiry. I was told: “There will be no inquiry because 1 have looked into the matter “. I asked: “ Will you hear this man? “ The reply was: “ No, I have looked into it “. The Minister’s approach was exactly the same.
– What was the area of practical difference?
– I do not know. That is the whole point. I have only the employee’s statement, which may not have been a statement of fact.
– But what was his grievance?
– His grievance was that he had been dismissed from his employment with an unsatisfactory reference because he would not carry out work which, according to a doctor’s certificate, was detrimental to his health, and which was not the work which he had been originally employed to carry out.
– Was any comment made by the Department?
– Only that the matter had been looked into, that the individual had no cause for complaint and that the officer was not prepared to go into the matter any further.
– Was the employee submitted to a medical test by the Department?
– There was a medical certificate. I take it that the Department’s attitude was that this was not the reason for his dismissal; I am only surmising that, lt could well be that the Department was justified in its attitude. That might be shown if we knew all the facts. I am not condemning the Department. On the facts that the employee presented to me, the complaint was justified, and I asked for an inquiry. The man had had a grievance with the foreman. I was told that the Department had looked into the matter and that it was satisfied that the dismissal was justified.
– Your complaint is that the essential fact upon which the dismissal was justified was not stated?
– It was not stated to me. As it was not stated, I cannot say whether or not the Department was justified. My complaint is as to the attitude of the Department. If it did not want a continuation of a dispute as to the rights and wrongs, at least some justification for its attitude could have been given to me, if only in confidence. This type of attitude is not adopted by other departments. For instance, the Department of Social Services has told me many harrowing tales about applicants. Officers of that Department have said to me: “ This happened, Senator, and we think that we are justified in our attitude “. In these circumstances a member or senator becomes completely confident that the Department is not acting unjustly. But in this particular case, we have nothing other than the employee’s statement and the statement of the employer that he is satisfied that what was done was right. That is the attitude adopted also by the Minister. It is the attitude that the Minister has adopted today in simply pushing off a legitimate suggestion in regard to the skilled labour force, with the reply: “We employ whatever juveniles we think fit.” That is not sufficient, if a department is genuine in trying to help development with justice for the work force of Australia.
– All I can state on the question of apprentices is what I stated before, namely, that the Commonwealth Department of Works does not now insist upon, and in fact has never insisted upon a contractor’s proving to the satisfaction of the Department that’ he had a particular number of apprentices employed before being awarded a contract by the Commonwealth. That is a matter of policy about which arguments can be made, but the facts are as 1 have staled them. On the other matter raised, it seems that if Senator Cavanagh has the camplaint which he now says he has, he has not pursued it in a way in which it was always open to him to pursue it. I believe that what Senator Cavanagh did was to ring up the Director of Works in South Australia and say: “ A man has complained to me about being dismissed for a certain purpose “, and that the Director of Works said: “ Give me time to look into this “. I understand that the Director rang back later the same day and said: “A lot of complaints have been made about this man. Numerous complaints have been made on a number of occasions and we do not propose to re-employ him “.
Senator Cavanagh did not like that reply, rightly or wrongly. There is no proof of this, either way. He made allegations against that public servant and I am not prepared to take his word against that public servant’s that the public servant was rude or discourteous to him. Senator Cavanagh then wrote to me. I then looked into the matter carefully and I wrote to the honorable senator and stated that I did not believe that the suspicions that he had voiced to me - the honorable senator himself referred t’o them as suspicions - were justified. I stated that there were many causes for complaint against this man. The honorable senator did not come to me and say: “ What are these causes for complaint?”. I do not know whether he went to the Director and said: “What are these other causes for complaint?”.
– No, I did not.
– Well, it seems to me that part of the complaint that’ the honorable senator now voices is that he can go to some other department and be given some facts as to causes for complaint, but in this instance he has never sought them - and they are there.
– I do not want to prolong this discussion much further. One is apparently learning. As I recall the conversation, when the Director in Adelaide said: “ We have looked into the matter and this man will not be re-employed”, I said: “His allegation is so and so. Will you look into that?”. The reply was: i: No, 1 have looked into the whole question “. I consider that the abruptness was an act of discourtesy. To say that the Director was discourteous in the sense that he was critical or in any other way would not be correct. It is only now that I learn from the Minister that if 1 had gone and looked for the causes for complaint I could possibly have obtained them. I hope that that invitation to see what the causes for complaint were is still open.
On the other question, as to seeing that contractors have a sufficient number of apprentices employed on their jobs, I am prepared to give the Minister the names of a number of contractors who are working on Department of Works jobs in Adelaide and who have not any juvenile labour employed. The Minister believes that the contracts are going to contactors who employ a percentage of juvenile labour. I am prepared to supply him with the names of contractors for investigation to see whether my allegation is correct. Obviously, the Minister is being deceived in his belief about the letting of contracts. I hope that this will end the matter for all time.
– Deceived in what belief?
– I take it from the Minister’s reply that he has information that the contractors to whom the Department lets contracts are employing sufficient apprentices.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– I am sorry. That was as 1 understood it.
.- I should like to clear this matter up. The honorable senator will read in “ Hansard “ what I said. I said that the Department of Works does not now insist and has never insisted upon a tenderer employing a particular number of apprentices before the Department would award a contract to him. The only other thing that I want to say is that I hope I understood the honorable senator correctly when 1 heard him say, I think, that it would be incorrect to refer to the Director of Works in South Australia as having been discourteous. I should like to get that point cleared up as, when the honorable senator wrote to me, he characterised the Director of Works as having been abrupt and discourteous. If that slur has now been withdrawn, I am very glad.
– It is a question of interpretation. I said no more of the Director than that he was abrupt and was not prepared. to give rae any reasons for the dismissal of the man. I interpreted his attitude as discourteous and reported it to the Minister. I would not say that his actions were rude or that he swore. That is not so. His discourtesy arose from his abruptness. When I told him that this man had certain complaints he would like investigated, the Director replied: “ Oh, no. We have looked into it and we cannot take it any further. That is the end of it.”
.- I enjoy listening to debates on these matters because they evince a spirit on the part of parliamentary representatives. On the question of apprentices, I think we should notice that at one stage of industrial development labour representatives were complaining of excess employment of juvenile labour to do the work of skilled tradesmen because, of course, that was a denial of the entitlement of skilled tradesmen to that work. If Senator Cavanagh tonight puts forward a view that, in letting contracts, the Commonwealth Government should consider making it a term of those contracts that the contractor should employ at least a minimum number of apprentices in relation to the number of tradesmen, I can see that he is motivated by a public spirit to get into the trades a proper quota of apprentices who will be the skilled tradesmen of tomorrow. I acknowledge the very earnest public outlook of that plea. If the Department of Works has not seen fit to include a clause to that effect in contracts in the past, at least the honorable senator’s plea deserves an acknowledgement of its content of public spirit and an assurance that the present contracts will be offered after consideration by the Government of the value of including in them terms for the employment of apprentices. It may be a great contribution to the recruitment of apprentices who are the potential skilled tradesmen of tomorrow.
It is our policy on this side of the chamber to get into the trades at the best rates of employment skilled men who will do an efficient job. Tomorrow’s requirements of the trades will never be fulfilled unless every effort is made to see that apprentices are employed to take the tradesmen’s places.
We have heard a great deal about the status of members of Parliament. As I understand it, the point raised is that reasons should be given to support a blunt statement by the Department that an employee has been dismissed with justification. It is not the place of a member of Parliament to seek out the Minister’s office, nor is it his place to go to the Director of Works. A member of Parliament speaks as a representative of the people. It is the great pleasure and privilege of Ministers whom the Crown honours by recruiting them to its service to speak for their Departments and assure the representatives of the people that there is ample information to satisfy their queries.
I will not take sides in this matter, because the documents and the facts are not before me but, in my book, it should not grow into a situation where members of Parliament are to go to Ministers’ offices, still less to departmental offices. If a Minister is appealed to after a department has provided sufficient factual background to support what it genuinely believes to be justification for its action, the Minister should independently inquire and provide sufficient factual material for both parties to satisfy themselves that a reasoned decision was made in justification of the action. I emphasise that I am not taking sides. But after hearing such an earnest debate it is my duty to state my viewpoint that we are elected as representatives of the people. I do not believe that we should attend upon those men who have the pleasure and privilege to occupy the exalted offices of Ministers. I believe that Ministers should, out of recognition for the regard that the Crown owes to the elected representatives of the people, furnish to them information that will satisfy them as representatives of the people.
– I wish to refer to the employment of apprentices. I did not previously enter into this controversy because I believe that this matter more properly concerns the Department of Labour and National Service. The arguments advanced by Senator Cavanagh and Senator Benn are well based and apply to all departments. It seems to me that the Minister is relying on off the cuff statements from his departmental officers and this raises difficulties for him in trying to answer questions on policy which ought to be directed to the department most concerned with the promotion of apprenticeship.
For the last two years, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) has had consultations with employers and the trade union movement’ to find ways to encourage the employment of more apprentices. He has urged some departments to take their quota of apprentices and has also allowed the payment of accommodation and travelling expenses for apprentices from country areas employed in the city, and for apprentices from the city who are employed in the country. This policy was recommended to the Government and has been supported by the trade union movement and employers. The Minister for Labour and National Service is anxious to ensure that the maximum number of apprentices is employed. Tonight Mr. Birrell, the honorable member for Port Adelaide, and myself saw the Minister for Labour and National Service in connection with the payment of taxation on living away from home allowances. I think we were very favorably received.
The matter of the employment of apprentices concerns not only the Department of Works. It concerns also railways, the Department of Supply, the Department of Defence, and other departments. The suggestion made to the Minister has already been put into force in relation to the Housing Trust in South Australia where, because of the large number of bankruptcies in the building industry and the inadequate recruitment of juvenile labour and apprentices, there is a shortage of skilled labour. If a State government instrumentality can take this step, obviously the Commonwealth Government can adopt the same measures in its departments.
I shall certainly raise the question of apprenticeship again when we are considering the estimates of the Department of Labour and National Service. I support what has been said by Senator Wright, Senator Cavanagh and Senator Benn. I think the Minister would have been better advised to have said that he would ascertain the policy of the department most concerned with the employment of apprentices. That is not a strong criticism of the Minister, but I suggest that it is an important one. The Minister ought to have said: “ I will obtain a reply in writing “, or “ If the honorable senator wants to, he may write to me about the matter “. i understand the difficulty involved in answering these questions off the cuff, but as the proportion of apprentices employed and the encouragement of young people into training are matters in relation to which the Minister for Labour and National Service has consulted with the employers and the trade union movement the Minister for Works should have said that he would get the information.
I believe that eventually all Commonwealth departments will have to stipulate that successful contractors must employ a certain proportion of apprentices. I know of one department which has made efforts to do this. I support what has been said by other honorable senators, and I hope that a fuller answer will be given to the queries that have been raised.
– Although the Department of Labour and National Service may say to another department: “ We would like you to employ this proportion of apprentices “, it would not have the right to say to the Department of Works, for example “ Before you can employ a contractor you must make sure that he has a certain number of apprentices “. Whether the Department of Labour and National Service should or should not be able to say that, the fact remains that at the moment it has not the power to do so. The giving of such power would be a matter of Government policy. At the moment that is not the policy of the Government.
Proposed expenditures and proposed provision noted.
Department of Immigration.
Proposed expenditure, £19,756,000.
Proposed provision, £464,000.
– The total proposed appropriation for the Department of Immigration is £20,220,000. This Department, which came into being about 20 years ago, has done a magnificent job in the development of Australia. But we have become concerned about the large number of migrants who have not become naturalised. I was alarmed recently when the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) said that about 235,000 eligible migrants had not become naturalised. We should be told what is the attitude of the Government to recommendations that are made by the Australian Citi zenship Conventions that are held here in Canberra at great expense. I have in mind the grave concern that was expressed by delegates to the last Convention about the fact that migrants who are naturalised must renounce allegiance to their country of origin. Delegates said that this was distasteful to migrants. Greek and Italian migrants say quite definitely that they more or less speak with their tongues in their cheeks when they make that renunciation. Delegates to the Citizenship Convention believe that this requirement should be abolished. I do not know the reaction of the Department of Immigration, or the. Minister, to that suggestion.
Another recommendation that has emanated from the Citizenship Convention is that recognition as Australian citizens should be automatic 10 years after migrants arrive in this country. I should like the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson), who is in charge of these estimates in this chamber, to indicate the thoughts of the Minister for Immigration on this matter. I believe that this suggestion will eventually have to be ‘adopted. As I said earlier, thousands of migrants are not yet naturalised; the number at present is 235,000, and next year it will probably reach 300,000. Migrants accept the benefits that are to be derived from living in this country, but many of them are not assuming the responsibilities of citizenship. In particular, they are not required to undergo national service training. They enjoy such benefits as social services and industrial award conditions, but we believe that they should accept the responsibilities of citizenship as well.
I refer now to the rejection of applications for naturalisation. What happens to migrants whose applications are rejected? Are they allowed to roam around Australia indefinitely? It has been said here on numerous occasions that many people who have lived in Australia for a number of years have been refused naturalisation. We on this side of the chamber believe that a committee of appeal ought to be set up to deal with objections by applicants who have been refused naturalisation, particularly if the persons concerned have been nominated by people who are good citizens of Australia. Some applications are rejected on the ground of political affiliation. We have people in the community who say that relatives overseas whom they want to bring out here would make as good citizens as they are themselves, but on the other hand people overseas say that that is not so. We believe there should be a committee of appeal under a Commonwealth judge. Associated with him should be two independent citizens. Bodies of this nature operate in similar fields such as the Taxation Boards of Review. Such procedure would absolve the Minister and the Department of Immigration from much of the blame that is now attached to them.
We notice that despite the failure of many immigrants to apply for naturalisation, an amount Of £425,000 is to be provided for the education of migrant’s in the English language. The appropriation last year was £427,430, but actual expenditure was £422,244. An amount of £15,000 is provided for the Australian Citizenship Convention and other assimilation activities, compared with actual expenditure last year of £15,222. In view of the huge amount that is spent on this item, the recommendations forthcoming from the Citizenship Convention merit more consideration. I note that an amount of £159,000 is to be provided for “ Migrant centres - operational stores and services “. The appropriation last year was £169,900 and expenditure was £147,785. 1 should like an explanation of the increase of more than £11,000.
Under the heading of embarkation and passage costs there is proposed expenditure of £145,600 for Dutch migration compared with expenditure last year of £167,108. The appropriation last year for Spanish migration was £69,000, but actual expenditure was only £6,639, and yet the proposed expenditure this year is £73,000. I should like an explanation from the Minister of these items. We appreciate the great work that is being done by the Department and its officers but an explanation of these proposed expenditures would strengthen the reputation of the Department in the eyes of the people.
Senator Sir WALTER COOPER (Queensland) [10.54]. - The proposed expenditure on the migration office in Australia includes under administrative expenses an item “Postage, telegrams, telephones and cable grams, £5,000 “. Actual expenditure last year was £1,111. Will the Minister explain why this proposed expenditure is so high?
Senator MULVIHILL (New South Wales [10.55]. - I join with Senator Fitzgerald on the theme of trends in migration. I believe one of the difficulties unquestionably is related to the demarcation between security and migrant selection. Where does security take over from the migration selection committees? I direct the attention of the Minister to Division No. 278 and Division No. 295. The first relates to the migration office in Austria and the second to the migration office in Spain. I should like some details about each of these establishments. Suppose an 18 year old boy decides to emigrate to Australia. It is reason able to assume that Austria would be a clearing house for a number of migrants from East European countries beyond Austria. A youth wanting to leave Spain would be a Spanish national.
In the case of Spain, does the selection officer check whether the youth was a member of a Falangist organisation? Conversely, does the selection officer in Austria check whether a potential migrant was associated with any left wing groups? My attitude to this is quite charitable. In all these countries a teenager could be a member of a group equivalent to our Boy Scout movement so I do not suggest that there should be rejection out of hand; but at what point does the selection officer’s task end and security come into the picture? 1 shall have something to say about this on another section of the Estimates but I am trying to establish now the area of responsibility that sometimes faces the immigration officers. I have the greatest regard for their efficiency but sometimes they are left holding the bag on the score of delays.
Under Division No. 298, provision is made for the migration office in the United Arab Republic. We know that at the time of the Suez episode there was an exodus of European groups looking for another country in which to settle. Again, we facilitated this movement. The point that intrigues me is that now, when there is a certain amount of stability in Egypt, that source of migration must have dried up considerably. I am curious to know why there is proposed expenditure under this heading of £18,300 for salaries and payments in the nature of salaries. I have another reservation on this matter. In many parts of the world you come across people who might be defined as cosmopolitan spivs. These are people who claim some European relationship but are not leaving their country on political grounds. They might be described as the counterparts of Woolcott Forbes and they are not always an asset to Australia. I should like some information on these matters.
– The time for the adjournment of the Committee is close and I shall deal with some of the matters raised by honorable senators more extensively tomorrow. Senator Fitzgerald referred to the proposed expenditure of £425,000 on the education of migrants in the English language. He directed attention to the fact that the appropriation had been reduced. The migrant education scheme is provided free of charge for non-English speaking migrants above school age to help them overcome difficulties they experience both in their personal affairs and in their dealings with fellow workers and thus to expedite their integration into the Australian community. It provides for class instruction in English on ships, in migrant centres, factories and in metropolitan and rural areas throughout Australia, where migrants have congregated. Persons unable to attend the classes can’ enrol for correspondence lessons. In addition, radio lessons are broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission in cooperation with the Commonwealth Office of
Education. The detailed arrangements for class and correspondence tuition are carried out by State Education Departments.
The Commonwealth Office of Education acts as technical adviser both to the State Departments of Education and the Department of Immigration, which is responsible for the oversight of the scheme. There is a total enrolment of approximately 20,400 students in classes and correspondence and radio courses. The provision covers reimbursement to State Departments of Education; costs of shipboard education, the preparation and printing of text books and the supply of educational aids.
– Order! In conformity with sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Temporary Chairman do now leave the chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative. (The Temporary Chairman having reported accordingly) -
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuliin). - 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 affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 October 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1965/19651020_senate_25_s29/>.