25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research noted that the University of Sydney has repeated what the Australian Nobel Prize winner, Sir John Eccles, described as a revolting injustice by again rejecting the application of Dr. Frank Knopfelmacher for a philosophy post? Has the Minister also noted that Professor David Armstrong, the head of the Selection Committee, described Dr. Knopfelmacher as an excellent lecturer, a competent political philosopher and as one with adequate publications for the position? Does the Government approve a university that it supports financially placing a political test on appointments? Is there any redress or right of appeal in such cases? Will the Government bear these facts in mind in determining future financial assistance to universities?
– I did notice publication, either yesterday or today, of the fact that Dr. Knopfelmacher, having been as I understand the position for the second time proposed for appointment by the head Of the department in which he sought to work, was refused appointment by the Professorial Board of the University of Sydney. ] did not notice that Professor Armstrong himself stated specifically that Dr. Knopfelmacher was an excellent lecturer and a competent political philosopher with sufficient publications for the position, although I did notice that that was published and I have heard it said - whether truthfully or not I do not know - that that was recorded in the minutes of the meeting of the Professorial Board.
– That is true.
– If that is true, it would open up the question of why the Professorial Board, having given that testimonial, would over-ride the recommendations of Professor Armstrong and his confreres. That would appear to have been done for other than academic reasons - for political reasons.
I always thought that academic freedom involved the right of somebody holding a professorial position to express his ‘ views without losing his professorial position or the right to advancement because of the views that he expressed, whatever they might be. If this refusal has taken place as a result of the expression of some views - the views expressed by Dr. Knopfelmacher in this case would have been antiCommunist views - it would appear to be quite a severe infringement of academic freedom. I do not believe that the Government could take these matters into consideration in discussing with the States and the Australian Universities Commission the requirements of a university; nor do I know of any redress or any court to which a person could appeal in these circumstances. But I would imagine that the academic community and the public would seek to redress what appears to be an injustice.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Primary Industry, relates to the citrus industry. By way of explanation I refer to a statement which appeared in yesterday’s issue of the Adelaide “Advertiser”. It was made by Mr. M. B. Jones, Chairman of Directors of the Loxton Co-operative Producers Ltd. in South Australia. He said that the Australian citrus industry could jump 20 years if it played its cards right within the next two years. Mr. Jones also said - and my question is related to this part of his statement - that except in quality of fruit, California, South Africa and Israel were ahead of Australia in a number of matters including packing, marketing, shipping and long distance refrigerated freighting. Can the Minister comment on these statements, and can he indicate any steps that the Government has taken or plans that it has to investigate the various areas which I have mentioned so that the citrus industry will be enabled to make this substantial advance?
– Traditionally, our main export trade in citrus fruits has been to New Zealand and Singapore, with marginal shipments to European markets in some years. The New Zealand importing organisation is, it is understood, completely satisfied with all aspects of the Australian trade referred to by the honorable senator. It is true, however, that as production develops with a consequent increase in availability for export, including export to the distant European markets, more attention will need to be paid by the industry to packing techniques and marketing and shipping arrangements. The industry is working in close collaboration with the Department of Primary Industry and the Department of Trade and Industry to achieve closer co-ordination of marketing activities and shipping programming arrangements.
– My question is directed to the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. Will the Minister say whether any further consideration is being given to proposals of the Martin Committee on teacher training and whether there is any prospect of the recommendations in this regard being carried out?
– The policy of the Government on the question of teacher training remains as it was announced to the Senate when the Martin Committee report was presented to it.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. I ask the Minister whether he is the recipient of a packet of 20 cigarettes. I understand that packets of cigarettes have been sent to all members of the Parliament to sample. As I am not a smoker, I would like to know whether the Minister has sampled these cigarettes and whether or not he agrees with the viewpoint expressed by W. D. & H. O. Wills (Aust.) Ltd. regarding the use of 5 per cent, of the 1965 Australian tobacco crop, which the company regards as unusable.
– I am not a great smoker but in the course of duty I have sampled one of the cigarettes to which the honorable senator has referred. Mr. Presi dent, with your leave 1 must make a comment on the matter. I have here the roneoed letter which accompanied the cigarettes and which, I understand, all members of the Parliament will receive if they have not already received it. I shall point out some of the errors into which the company has fallen. First, the letter relates the cigarettes to the tobacco stabilisation scheme. Therefore, we are in a position to say that this letter is an attempt to influence the judgment of parliamentarians who have the proposals relating to the stabilisation scheme before them. Secondly, if we take the normal meaning of words, as I read the letter we are entitled to assume that these cigarettes are made from the 5 per cent, of tobacco leaf which was in dispute between the companies and the Government in relation to the interim scheme which precedes the proposed stabilisation scheme. If those words mean what they say, this is about the most sickly and stupid gimmick I could ever imagine, because we all recognise that every cigarette is made by blending tobaccos. No company that wants to continue in business for any length of time makes its cigarettes wholly of a lower grade of tobacco. The matter is as simple- as that. The whole principle of cigarette making is to use blends. It is in the commercial judgment of a company to determine how that blending will be done and what grades it will put into cigarettes. To put up a cigarette entirely made possibly of the lower grades and to suggest that this should be compared with cigarettes made from normally blended tobacco is, I suggest, a very poor gimmick indeed.
– Has the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate seen an article in the Press which refers to the recommendations of Mr. Landon, an American road safety expert now visiting South Australia, regarding the use of refelectorised number plates, and his representations to the various State authorities in support of this method of reducing road accidents during the hours of darkness? Has Mr. Landon made such representations to the Commonwealth Government? Will the Minister investigate this matter, or refer it to the appropriate safety body or to the
Department of Supply for consideration as an added safety device for Commonwealth vehicles?
– I read with great interest the article to which the honorable senator has referred. Mr. Landon has not, to my knowledge, made any representations as yet to the Commonwealth Government, but I shall take the opportunity to refer the question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport, who administers road safety activities for the Commonwealth, and ask him whether any representations have been made to him and what he thinks of the proposal.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. I refer to the matter raised on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate last night by Senator Cavanagh concerning a report from the United States of America that North Vietnam had, some time late in 1964, offered peace talks in Rangoon on the war in Vietnam, but that the United States had rejected the proposal. I ask the Minister: Since it is now widely reported that the United States Department of State has acknowledged that it turned down the offer, will the Minister, instead of ridiculing the reports, as he seemed’ disposed to do last night, undertake to ascertain the facts of the matter, particularly whether and when the offer was made; if it was, what were its terms and to whom and by whom was it made; whether the United States rejected the proposal .and the reasons given for such rejection; and whether the Aus: tralian Government was consulted about the offer and, if it was, what was the Government’s attitude to it?
– The Senate will remember the background to this question. It arises from the fact that some journalist in the United States of America - a Mr. Sevareid - claimed to have had a conversation with Mr. Adlai Stevenson just before Mr. Stevenson died - which, if I remember rightly, was last July - and waited until just recently to publish his version of the alleged conversation.
– America admits it.
– Would the honorable senator mind allowing me to finish my reply? Of course, the statement in question cannot be checked, with Mr. Adlai Stevenson. Two parts of it have been commented upon. Part of the statement dealt with the alleged actions of, and alleged statements by, Mr. McNamara. He has now published a report stating that there is not a word of truth in the allegations as far as they relate to him, and the State Department has indicated its concurrence in the denial that there is a word of truth in them as. far as they relate to Mr. McNamara. Part of the statement referred to some alleged actions of U Thant. He has refused to make any comment on them.
The only thing that has since emerged is that a man who is said to be the spokesman for the State Department has .been reported as claiming that some approach was made - in the view of the State Department the evidence indicated that it was not any kind of a genuine approach - for a secret meeting of two emissaries in Rangoon. I can only repeat what I said last night: If there had been any genuine approach for peace talks by the Hanoi regime and it had been turned- down, there is no doubt in my- mind; or I think’ in the minds of all sensible people, that this would have been widely publicised in the course of a propaganda campaign by Hanoi. Ever since the President of the United States said that he would be ready to hold peace talks without demanding conditions before the talks began, the initiative has been with Hanoi to accept that offer. It has not done so and that is where the matter still stands.
I have no doubt that there will be reports in more detail on what is at the moment merely a statement by a State Department spokesman that there was an approach which the evidence indicated was in no way a genuine approach.
– I direct my question to the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has his attention been directed to a report that the Premier of New South Wales has said that much more finance is required from the Commonwealth for drought relief than that envisaged, in correspondence he has had with the Prime Minister? In view of the uncertainty among primary producers injuriously affected by the drought as to what aid will be forthcoming to them from either the State or Federal Governments or both, will the Government consider convening an early conference to sort out what is obviously becoming, so far as primary producers are concerned, a hopeless farce or another game of buck passing between governments?
– Yes, I have read the comments of the Premier of New South Wales. This matter is being constantly discussed by the Commonwealth Government with the New South Wales and Queensland Governments because those two States have been particularly affected by the drought. When the Government has fully considered the matter no doubt it will then make a statement on behalf of the three Governments concerned. However, the matter is still under consideration.
– My question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs arises out of the question asked of him by Senator Cohen. Why will the Minister not seek an official report from America to refute the Press reports about peace moves, which he seems to think are untrue?
– I do not know what justification the honorable senator has for assuming that there will not be sought by the Minister a full report on what has taken place. Indeed, I said in reply to Senator Cohen that I had no doubt there would be a full report in due course on what at the moment is only a Press report to the effect that some approach, which was not a genuine approach, had been made. I have no doubt such a report will come forth.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. What organs of public opinion does the Minister regard as reputable? If news reports are corroborated by all the major newspapers and broadcasting services, does not the Minister consider that such reports should be accepted by the ordinary man in the street in the absence of any other news media?
– I do . not know whether the honorable senator expects me to go into a long list of all the organs of public opinion and divide them into those which can be regarded as reputable and those which cannot be so regarded. That would be a matter of personal opinion only and I would not be prepared to do it. I do not quite understand the point of the honorable senator’s question. Is her question: If most media of public opinion carry the same story, is that story to be regarded as being likely to be true?
– That is right.
– It all depends. A news message might be cabled from overseas through Australian Associated Press. It might come from one journalist but it could be sent to all newspapers in this country and published by them in good faith. But such a story is not necessarily factual and the newspapers which receive and publish it would not always know that.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Has the Government noted that it is now three years since the negotiation df the 1962 Geneva Agreement for withdrawal of foreign troops from Laos? Has the Government noted the complaint to the United Nations made by the Premier of Laos, Prince Souvanna, on 14th October 1965, that foreign troops from Communist North Vietnam have, in defiance of the Agreement, remained in Laos aiding the Pathet Lao rebels and using Laotian territory as a base for Communist operations in Vietnam? Can the Minister suggest a reason why there is so much propaganda from some Australian sources against American and Australian troops in South Vietnam but silence about Communist North Vietnamese troops intruding and operating in Laos against South Vietnam?
– I think the question should be put on the notice paper so that the Minister for External Affairs can give a reply to the honorable senator. I have noticed the complaints by the Premier of Laos about the continued existence of North Vietnamese regulars in Laos but the question would be better put on notice for a considered reply. I imagine that the lines persons take on this matter, whatever they may be, reflect the sympathies that the persons taking them hold.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs following my previous question. Since the Minister doubts the accuracy of newspaper and radio reports respecting external affairs, will he consider giving more frequent and informative reports to the Parliament on matters that arise overseas so that we can form a judgment ourselves?
– The honorable senator will remember many occasions in this House when questions have arisen about what is going on at a particular time in some particular country. Invariably it has been the practice of the Minister for External Affairs and myself as his representative in this chamber to indicate that we have not yet received official information and cannot accept Press reports as the basis for making a proper reply until the matter has received consideration. This is the normal practice. I remember questions about what was happening in Indonesia at some particular time. The Minister for External Affairs makes frequent statements on these matters, and usually questions on subjects about which the Government is waiting for official information are put on notice and replied to when the information is available.
(Question No. 646.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Housing, upon notice -
Has the issue of eviction notices to purchasers of war service homes increased by50 per cent, during the last six months? If so, is this because of anticipated unemployment or credit restrictions, or for other reasons?
– The Minister for Housing has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question -
The number of warrants of possession issued and executed in respect of war service homes for the six months ended 30th September, 1965, and for the comparable period of last year are set out below -
The figures do not support the suggestion that there has been an increase in the number of eviction notices issued for the reasons mentioned by the honorable senator.
(Question No. 674.)
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
– The Acting Minister for Trade and Industry has supplied the following answers -
(Question No. 696.)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions -
(Question No. 713.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following replies -
(Question No. 734.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
Australian Navy whilst sailing in tropical waters? If so, was it caused by poor service conditions and inadequate leave for serving members of the Navy?
– The Minister for the
Navy has furnished the following reply to the honorable senator’s questions -
The questions no doubt refer to certain quite unfounded rumours which have been circulating about such an incident in the destroyer H.M.A.S. “Duchess”, which is at present serving in the British Commonwealth Far East Strategic Reserve.
There is no truth in these rumours. The Captain of the ship, and the Commander of the Far East Fleet, under whose operational command the ship is serving, have confirmed this. The Captain of the ship, which is engaged on patrol duties during November, further states that the morale of the ship’s crew is high and their conduct good.
I present the report of the Public Works Committee on the following proposed work -
Extension of 02/20 runway and associated taxiway works at Perth Airport.
I ask for leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The recommendations and conclusions of the committee are as follow -
– I move -
That the Senate take note of the report.
I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The speech I am about to deliver is designed to cover both the Customs Tariff Bill (No. 3) 1965 which is now before us, and the Excise Tariff Bill 1965, which will be presented later.
The Bill now before honorable senators proposes amendments to the Customs Tariff 1965 which came into operation on 1st July 1965. The Bill comprises 15 schedules, and for the assistance of honorable senators I shall outline the subjects covered by the Bill as they appear in each schedule. The First Schedule deals, in part, with tariff amendments based on recommendations arising out of reports by the Tariff Board on the following items -
Safflower seed and soya beans, safflower oil and soya bean oil,
Ethylene polymer and copolymer products,
Continuous filament acetate yarn,
Monofil, strip and imitation catgut,
Umbrellas and sunshades,
Laboratory, hygienic and pharmaceutical glassware,
Copper and brass sheet, strip and foil,
Electrostatic air or gas filters operating at voltages not exceeding 20 kV,
Telescopic sights for weapons,
A.C. Watt-hour meters, and reports by the Special Advisory Authority on the following items -
Continuous filament polyamide and polyester yarns, and
Air cooled, four cycle, horizontal driving shaft, internal combustion piston engines, not exceeding 10 b.h.p.
Honorable senators will recall that these reports were tabled during the autumn session but have not yet been debated.
In regard to safflower seed oil, on the recommendation of the Tariff Board the ordinary duties have been increased by1s. per gallon and the sliding scale temporary duties have been removed. The Board considers that the increased fixed rate of duty will adequately protect the Australian industry. Concerning soya bean oil, there is no current local production, but as it is interchangeable with safflower seed oil and other locally produced vegetable oils the present ordinary duties are being retained to guard against substitution. The sliding scale temporary duties are being removed from soya bean oil and also from modified vegetable oils having a safflower seed or soya bean oil base. No change is being made in respect of the duty-free admission of safflower seed or soya beans.
On the various acetyl products new duties are proposed that will provide overall assistance to local production. The level of protection has been increased on Vinyl acetate monomer and cellulose acetate moulding compounds, while the rate of duty on acetic acid has been decreased.
Ethylene polymer and copolymer products are at present subject to various protective duties. On the Board’s recommendation, it is proposed to apply uniform ad valorem duties of 30 per cent, general rate and 20 per cent, preferential rate to these goods, with an alternative fixed rate duty of1s. 3d. per lb. on extruded products and articles made therefrom. The proposed rates represent an increase in duties on the major extruded products produced by local manufacturers but are substantially lower than the former duties on moulded products.
In regard to continuous filament acetate yarn, it is not proposed to vary the duties of 221/2 per cent, ad valorem general rate and 10 per cent, ad valorem preferential rate on secondary acetate yarns while nonprotective duties are being applied to triacetate yarn, which is not made in Australia.
On monofil, strip and imitation catgut the Board found that local industry had good prospects for expansion and should be able to supply the greater part of Australian requirements. The Board recommended protective rates of 20 per cent, ad valorem general rate and 10 per cent, ad valorem preferential rate.
On umbrellas and sunshades the report by the Tariff Board indicates that the Australian industry produces articles of unquestioned quality ‘ that compare favorably with the best produced anywhere in the world and that the industry has increased its production and sales over the past three years. In the Board’s opinion, the former duties were more than required to enable the more efficient producers to obtain a reasonable return on funds employed. On its recommendation, therefore, the duties on ordinary umbrellas are being reduced by 7i per cent, ad valorem and other types of umbrellas are being grouped under one item at rates about equivalent to the present level.
On laboratory, hygienic and pharmaceutical glassware the Tariff Board has recommended continuation of the current level of assistance accorded the manufacture of laboratory glassware and recommends that hygienic and pharmaceutical glassware be made dutiable at the same rates, namely 30 per cent, ad valorem general rate and 20 per cent, ad valorem preferential rate. In its report on copper and brass sheet, strip and foil, the Tariff Board found that the local industry should be accorded continued assistance. The production of radiator strip had passed the experimental stage and the Board recommended that the present bounty should be replaced by a corresponding increase in duty. Other variations in the duties on certain gauges of brass sheet, strip and foil will bring them into line with the duties on similar copper products. The Tariff Board will report again on this subject before the end of this year.
In its report on electrostatic air or gas filters the Tariff Board found that although only a small part of local demand was met by imports, the local manufacturers were at a competitive disadvantage against imports admissible at preferential rates. On its recommendation, therefore, the preferential rate is being increased by 2i per cent, to 20 per cent, ad valorem and the general rate will be. reduced by 12* per cent, to 30 per cent, ad valorem.
On high voltage static transformers, the Board has recommended extension of the present protective rates of duty to cover all transformers with ratings exceeding 50 KVA. This will remove the upper capacity limit from the protected range and obviate the need for periodic reviews of the industry as the capacity to produce larger transformers is developed. In place of an upper limit in the protected range it is proposed that any transformers of a type or size not reasonably available from local production should be admitted at concessional rates of duty under customs by-law in accordance with normal by-law criteria.
Concerning telescopic sights for weapons, the Tariff Board has recommended the removal of the protective duties as no requests were received for maintaining the present duties nor was evidence of commercial production in Australia presented to the Board. In respect of bubble levels, increased duties of 32i per cent, ad valorem general rate and 25 per cent, ad valorem preferential rate are proposed. However, entry at nonprotective rates of duty under customs bylaw is being accorded engineers’ precision levels which are not made in Australia.
On single-phase A.C. watt-hour meters the proposed duties of 40 per cent, ad valorem general rate and 30 per cent, ad valorem preferential rate represent an increase over the present fixed rate duties and have been designed to protect long established local manufacturers from increasing imports which the Tariff Board considers could otherwise reach serious proportions. Non-protective duties have been recommended for polyphase watt-hour meters.
The amendment on continuous filament polyamide and polyester yarns follows a report by the Special Advisory Authority. A temporary additional duty of 2s. 6d. per lb. on processed yarns of this type, has been applied. On air cooled, four cycle internal combustion piston engines with horizontal driving shafts, not exceeding 10 brake horsepower, a temporary duty of 17i per cent, ad valorem has been imposed following a report by the Special Advisory Authority.
Duties on fish in air-tight containers are varied in this Schedule following the completion of international negotiations. The rates are in line with the Tariff Board report on this subject tabled on 30th October 1964.
The remaining tariff amendments in the First Schedule correct discrepancies which occurred in the translation from the Customs Tariff 1933-1965, now repealed, to the Customs Tariff 1965. Honorable senators will recall that when I introduced the new tariff last session I gave an undertaking that any detected discrepancy between the old and new duties which was more than minimal would be adjusted as soon as possible. The Second, Third and Fourth Schedules of this Bill relate to amendments to the Third Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1965. They are changes which affect the payment of primage duty and are consequent on the tariff amendments 1 have previously mentioned.
The Fifth Schedule provides, in part, for amendments in respect of a number of commodities including beer, brandy, whisky, cigarettes, cigars, diesel fuel and petrol. These amendments arise out of the 1965-66 Budget. The remaining amendments in the Fifth Schedule are of the type which I mentioned earlier in that they remedy translation discrepancies in the change over from the old tariff to the new tariff. The Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Schedules deal with primage duty amendments and are consequent on the tariff changes incorporated in the Fifth Schedule. The Ninth Schedule provides for a tariff change arising out of the Special Advisory Authority’s report on rubber hot water bags. A temporary additional duty is being imposed, which is equal to the amount by which the free on board price of the imported bag is less than 3s. 3d.
The Tenth Schedule provides for amendments which give effect to the Government’s decision in respect of the Tariff Board report on crude oil. The Government has adopted the method of valuation of crude oil found in Australia recommended by the Tariff Board. It decided, however, that the additional margin of 25 cents per barrel recommended by the Board to provide an incentive for an expansion of the search for oil in Australia should be increased to 75 cents per barrel. On this basis, the return for Moonie crude oil will amount to $3.50 per barrel delivered at Brisbane. This is made up of the basic crude oil valuation of $2.48 per barrel and a quality differential of 27 cents per barrel for Moonie, as determined by the Tariff Board, together with the 75 cents per barrel exploration incentive.
An assured market at a worthwhile price is likely to provide the greatest incentive to oil exploration. The Government believes that the valuation for crude oil it has now adopted will provide that incentive at little cost to Australia so long as local crude oil remains a small part of total demand. The Government intends that the system of assistance and stimulus outlined above will operate for five years. It will, however, consider reviewing the valuation during this period, if it considers that the incentive to exploration has proved inadequate.
The Government, in order to ensure that locally produced oil will find a market in Australia, has adopted the Board’s recommendation that penal import duties of Id. per gallon on crude oil and 3d. per gallon on motor spirit should be paid by those companies which do not accept their responsibility for their share of the additional cost of local crude oil. Importers who take up their share of the additional cost of local crude oil will not be required to pay the penal duties. Customs by-laws have been prescribed for this purpose. As an incentive to the industry to adjust its patterns of production so as to eliminate unnecessary imports of motor spirit, the Tariff Board recommended a deferred duty of 3d. per gallon to operate from 1st January 1968 on petroleum products other than crude oil. The Government does not at this stage intend to act on the Board’s recommendations in relation to deferred duties; but proposes to give further consideration to measures which will encourage production of a higher proportion of the more valuable products in Australian refineries.
The Eleventh Schedule contains further adjustments of the translation from the Customs Tariff 1933-1965 to the Customs Tariff 1965. The Twelfth, Thirteenth and Fourteenth Schedules provide for primage duty amendments consequent on the changes in the Eleventh Schedule. The Fifteenth Schedule provides for a tariff change which is based on a report by the Special Advisory Authority on polyethylene gloves and imposes a temporary duty of 2s. 6d. per dozen pairs en certain polyethylene gloves. I invite the attention of honorable senators to both the summary of tariff alterations and precis of tariff alterations which have been distributed. In the summary and the precis will be found set out in some detail the changes involved, the previous rates, the rates now proposed, and the reasons for the changes.
Clause 3 of the Customs Tariff (No. 3) Bill vests in the Minister for Customs and Excise the power to determine an f.o.b. price for goods exported to Australia where, in his opinion, there are reasonable grounds for believing that the documentary f.o.b. price has been fixed with a view to avoiding customs duties. The need for this power arose because certain duties were introduced which were related to f.o.b. prices. Some of these duties are commonly referred to as “ sliding scale “ duties and come into operation automatically as f.o.b. prices fall below specified amounts. Experience has shown that duties of this type have been circumvented by inflated f.o.b. prices. This means that the overseas supplier has made an unusually large profit at the expense of the revenue. This has also enabled some Australian subsidiaries of such overseas suppliers to sell goods in Australia at abnormally low prices and thereby damage Australian industry. In other words, any loss made in Australia has been more than offset by high rates of profit made by overseas suppliers.
In practice, the discretionary power is intended to allow the Minister to reject an f.o.b. price ascertained from the invoice and other documents produced to the Department of Customs and Excise at the time of entry and to determine a notional f.o.b. price having in mind the practices to which I have referred above. The wider power would not, of course, be exercised in cases where the goods are imported in good faith and the importer genuinely incurs a loss.
A bill to amend the Customs Tariff (Dumping and Subsidies) Act was recently introduced into the House of Representatives to give the Minister for Customs and. Excise a discretionary power to determine the export price. The intention of that amendment was to counter such practices as sales dumping. The powers contemplated under this Bill are complementary to those incorporated in amendments to the Customs
Tariff (Dumping and Subsidies) Act which I have just mentioned and both will give the Minister for Customs and Excise the necessary legal authority to counteract practices designed to undermine the protection afforded to Australian industries. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator 0’Byrne’ adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator. Anderson) read a first time.
– I move -
That the BUI be now read a second time.
The Bill provides for amendments arising out of the recent Budget. The alterations cover a number of products including beer, brandy, whisky, cigarettes, diesel fuel and petrol. They are complementary to those being made by the Fifth Schedule to the Customs Tariff (No. 3) Bill 1965 which is now under consideration by the Senate. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The current copper bounty legislation is due to expire on 31st December 1965, but it is proposed that its period of operation bo extended for a further maximum period of 12 months to 31st December 1966, unless an earlier date of cessation is proclaimed. The Bill now before the Senate is to implement this proposal. The copper bounty ensures that a return of £A340 per ton is achieved by the higher cost producers in respect of the copper produced and sold in Australia. However no copper bounty has been payable since 19th August 1964, as a consequence of the rise in copper prices to £A340 per ton on that date. Since then the price has further increased to £A395 per ton. Copper prices have been high and a world-wide shortage has led to the unreal situation of two unrelated world prices for copper. The Australian position was aggravated by the lost production caused by the Mount Isa industrial dispute, which forced our manufacturers to buy at the higher of the two world prices.
As the Tariff Board could have difficulty in assessing the long-term protective needs of the copper industry because of the disturbed conditions at home and overseas, the Government considers that it would be preferable to defer the appropriate Tariff Board inquiry until more settled conditions prevail. While desirous of deferring the review of the industry the Government wishes to maintain the existing provision for bounty, as it is well aware that the copper mining communities are located in remote areas and are almost entirely dependent on the mines for their existence, and that the continuation of the bounty provision amounts to an assurance of assistance, should copper prices fall drastically, to prevent the closing of the mines with consequent grave social consequences on their dependent communities. For these reasons, therefore, it is considered that the current bounty legislation should be continued until a proper review can be conducted, and the Bill now before the Senate effects the required extension of operation.
In preparing this legislation the opportunity has been taken to clarify the application of the profit limitation provision in those cases where the claimants’ financial years and the prescribed bounty years do not coincide. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Consideration resumed from 16th November (vide page 1551).
Proposed new clause 2c.
.- Prior to the adjournment last night I was discussing why the Committee should adopt the amendment that I proposed on behalf of the Opposition to provide that in Commonwealth elections persons of the age of 18 years, instead of 21 years as at present, should exercise the franchise. In my speech during the second reading debate I advanced reasons why this should be done. One was that a person of 18 in industry can accept a job or resign from it if he so desires; he can join the Army at 17 with his parents’ consent and will receive adult wages; he can be conscripted for overseas service at 20 and he can be married at 18 with his parents’ consent. All of those things are more intimate to the young person than is voting.
We had in this chamber recently a bill relating to a reserve price plan for wool. I take it that if anyone of 18 years of age owned 300 sheep or had the required number of bales of wool, he would be entitled to vote in the referendum. If he can vote in a referendum for a reserve price plan for wool, one wonders why he cannot vote in a normal parliamentary election. With the tremendous advance in education these days, which has been helped by all Governments, Federal and State, I believe that the young person today is quite capable of exercising an intelligent vote. I am amazed to think that although a person of 18 can vote in a referendum for a reserve price plan for wool, which can affect the future of Australia’s major industry, there is opposition to granting him the vote in normal parliamentary elections. I do not claim for one moment that a great number of young people would come within the qualifying provisions of the Wool Reserve Prices Plan Referendum Bill, but no doubt there are some.
During the Second World War young men under 21 years of age who were serving abroad were given the vote. Even if they returned to Australia for any reason during the duration of the war, they were still allowed to vote. The requirement was that they must have had overseas service.
Last night I mentioned when the various States adopted the age of 21 years as the requirement for voting, and I indicated that this is not something which came into being in 1901. Surely in this age of change one should recognise that the average young person can cast an intelligent vote. It is interesting to note that male suffrage was introduced in South Australia in 1855, in Victoria in 1857, in New South Wales in 1858, in Queensland in 1872, in Western Australia in 1890 and in Tasmania in 1900. It is also interesting to note that female suffrage was granted in South Australia in 1894, in Western Australia in 1899, in New South Wales in 1902, in Tasmania in 1903, and in Queensland in 1905. As a Victorian, I am not at all pleased to note that Victorian women received the franchise in 1908.
– The Victorian era.
– That may be so. I do not think any great revolutionary changes would follow the lowering of the voting age. In debates in this place we are always prone to allude, if the opportunity is given us to do so, to how young the population is in Australia. We should entice young people to take an interest in the affairs of their nation and the methods by which they are governed. The best way to do that is by giving them the right to vote. I cannot remember in my school days being taught anything about civics but today that is one of the important subjects in all examinations. I do not think opposition to this amendment could rightly be based on the belief that young people could not cast an intelligent vote.
In view of what the Minister said when closing the second reading debate, I take it that he is not likely to accept the Opposition’s proposed amendment but, without wanting him to regard this as weakening the case for all 18 year olds, may I ask him to give serious consideration to amending the present age limit at least in regard to Australian personnel serving in our armed forces overseas. The Government conscripts these young men and sends them to serve overseas with others who have volunteered. We have a precedent in the fact that during the Second World War young men under 21 years of age were given the vote. The least the Government can do is to follow that precedent. This is not a matter of conferring an advantage on one political party over another. I believe that the right to vote would inculcate into the young man of 18 the responsibility of taking an interest in our system of government and understanding why we all are subject to the laws of the country. When we are young we always object to being told what to do, and then we bump into trouble.
If the Minister will not accept our proposed amendment, will he assure the Senate that at least he will amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act to grant the franchise to young men under 21 years of age who are serving overseas with Australian forces? Although the conflict in which they- are engaged is not called a war and the Government will not declare war, our young men are being killed. According to one newspaper, our casualties were running at the rate of 10 per cent. The last official statement was that they were only 6 per cent., but even that is a very serious casualty rate.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Briefly I want to support the amendment to which Senator Kennelly has spoken. I think we are a little too conservative these days about voting ages. I agree with Senator Kennelly that a great deal has been done in the schools and through the educational system generally to improve the political education of young people. I was a teacher for 19i years and I have found that the work that is being done in our schools these days to acquaint youngsters with our system of government and even with the operations of our political organisations far outweighs anything that was done in my time as a teacher. In addition, there are many other avenues of instruction. We have television, and I refer particularly to the programmes broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission with a political and public affairs content. There are other programmes on the commercial television stations which add greatly to the existing knowledge of our young people about political affairs.
In these matters, they are more educated and sophisticated than people were even 10 or 15 years ago.
For that reason I believe the Government should study this question of lowering the age for voting. I support it for the reasons I have given and also because that is the policy of the Democratic Labour Party. I hope the Government will look upon this proposal with a benevolent eye. I am not sure that it will do so today but perhaps, because of what has been submitted in this debate, the Government will give some thought to the matter and one of these days we might have some success.
– We are in a rather peculiar position in debating this amendment relating to the age limit for voting because this proposal was part of two amendments that were defeated earlier. The proposal has been submitted again in the clause before the Committee and the Opposition cannot claim this time that it has not had a fair bite at the cherry. First I want to reply to Senator Kennelly about the qualifications of wool growers to vote in the referendum on the wool reserve prices plan. Wool growers cannot vote unless they have reached the age of 21 years. That is provided in section 6(2) of the Wool Reserve Prices Plan Referendum Act.
Last night I was in doubt about the voting qualifications of members of Australian armed forces in the First and Second World Wars. I have had the position clarified and it is this: In the 1914-18 War, up to 1918, service personnel serving overseas were entitled to vote whether or not enrolled but only if they were 21 years of age or over. This provision applied to the 1916 and 1917 military service referendums and the 1917 general election. However, in 1918 provision was made in the Commonwealth Electoral Act entitling persons who were or had been members of defence forces to enrol and vote. This provision was effective for a period of three years only and it expired in 1921.
In respect of the 1939-1945 War, personnel on service outside Australia, or who had served overseas, were entitled to vote irrespective of age, whether or not enrolled.
Provision for this was made under the Commonwealth Electoral (War-time) Act 1940-1943. This Act was subsequently repealed. Voters not enrolled simply completed a declaration as to their entitlement.
In reply to Senator Kennelly who asked whether the Government would consider giving members of our forces overseas a vote, I would say that those who have been called up at the age of 20 years in most cases would have reached 21 years at the time they went overseas; but whether they had or had not, I am sure that consideration would be given to this aspect by the Government.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Kennelly’s amendment) be inserted.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. C. Drake-Brockman.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Proposed new clause 4.
– On behalf of the Opposition I move -
That the following new clause be added to the Bill- “ 4. Section 106 of the Principal Act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead: - 106. In printing the ballot papers to be used in a House of Representatives election -
the order of the names of the candidates on the ballot papers shall be determined as follows: -
the Divisional Returning Officer shall, at the place of nomination, immediately after the close of nominations and before all persons present, make out in respect of each candidate a slip bearing the name of the candidate, enclose each slip in a separate blank envelope of exact similarity and deposit the several envelopes in a locked ballot box;
the Divisional Returning Officer shall then shake and rotate the ballot box and shall permit any other person present, if he so desires, to do the same;
the ballot box shall then be unlocked and an officer of the Commonwealth Public Service, other than the Divisional Returning Officer, shall take out and open the envelopes from the ballot box one by one; and
the candidate whose name appears on the slip enclosed in the envelope first taken from the ballot box shall be placed first on the ballot papers, the candidate whose name appears on the slip enclosed in the envelope next taken from the ballot box shall be placed next on the ballot papers and so on until the placing of all the names has been determined;
where similarity in the names of two or more candidates is likely to cause confusion, the names of those candidates may be arranged with such description or addition as will distinguish them from one another; and
except as otherwise provided by the regulations, a square, shall be printed opposite the name of each candidate.’.”.
All that the Opposition desires in this matter is that candidates for election to the House of Representatives should be treated in a way similar to that in which we are treated at election time regarding our places on the ballot paper. It will be remembered that in a Senate election some years ago, in one State there were four candiates whose names began with the letter A. To obviate a similar occurence in future it was arranged that the names of candidates at Senate elections be grouped and then drawn from a ballot box. The group of candidates drawn first appears first on theballot paper, and so on. We believe that the ballot procedure should be followed in House of Representatives elections.
I have never known, over a great number of years, of more than seven or eight candidates seeking election for one seat in the House of Representatives. In my opinion the placing of a candidate’s name at the top of a ballot paper gives him an unfair advantage. Of course, one can change one’s name by deed poll, but not many people desire to do that. In fact it is a very rare occurrence. I can remember only one occasion when a candidate for election had changed his name by deed poll.
– Ceabrook did it.
– That is a second one. I had in mind Digger Dunn. It is true that a Tasmanian, Mr. Seabrook, changed his name by deed poll to Ceabrook.
– A man who once opposed Frank Brennan had changed his name.
– That makes three cases that we know of. We are gaining a little education in the political history of our country. I see nothing wrong with a man changing his name by deed poll.
– You are defending your own party now.
– No. One man who changed his name by deed poll was in the Labour Party and one was in the honorable senator’s party. I know that individuals have not changed their names half as often as the honorable senator’s party has changed its name. Let us be practical about this. Why should a person whose name begins with one of the concluding letters of the alphabet always find his name at the bottom of the ballot paper? Those who have taken a keen interest in elections recognise that where there are three, four or five candidates, the candidate whose name appears at the top of the ballot paper has an advantage estimated at 2 per cent.
Everyone in this chamber knows the advantage of being in the A group on the Senate ballot paper.
– The man at the bottom of the ballot paper has an advantage too.
– The people most interested in the choosing of positions by ballot seem to be those whose names begin with letters that are low in the alphabet. They would like to get away from the bottom of the ballot paper. This will not affect me very much because, as my name starts with the letter K, I am generally in the middle of the ballot paper and that is a bit of an advantage. 1 have outlined the practice followed by the Senate because this chamber is part of the National Parliament and bills have to be passed by it before they become law. Single candidates are not elected to the Senate except when extraordinary vacancies occur through the death or resignation of a senator. On such occasions the person who is elected by his State Parliament to fill the casual vacancy has to face the electors at the next election, whether it be a House of Representatives election, a Senate election or a joint election.
I cannot see any valid reason why the proposed amendment should not be accepted by the Government for House of Representatives elections. It is a fair method and gives to all parties an equal opportunity. Anyone who has taken an active interest in political campaigning over a long period of years has always been happy to have a candidate whose surname commences with A, B or C. His name is placed well up on the ballot paper. The proposed change would put a stop to the deliberate choosing by a political party of a candidate with a surname commencing with A, B or C, with a good chance of getting his name on top of the ballot paper. I am not wanting to get out of the ring myself, but it is a clear indication that all political parties believe that where there are three or more candidates for election, it is an advantage to have the top position on the ballot paper.
The proposal is similar to the method adopted by grouping. Nobody can honestly deny that when his turn comes for election he wishes to be included in the A group. It has been stated that to be included in the A group in a Senate election is worth about 3 per cent, or 4 per cent, of the votes.
Senator Gair, who is trying to interject, has had a lot of experience in electoral matters. I ask him to look up the results of a few Senate elections, giving particular attention to the votes obtained by Communist candidates when in the A group and when in the C or D group. The difference is remarkable.
A party can, in its own right, place its candidates as it wishes. In every State, each party has a right to group its candidates in Senate elections according to its wishes, irrespective of where they fall on the ballot paper. Each candidate must then take his chance whether he comes out of the box in A, B, C or D group. I cannot understand why there would be any objection to this. I think it is a fair method. I think Senator McManus will agree with me that it is the method used in important Australian Council of Trade Unions elections so that one candidate does not gain an advantage by having his name at the top of the ballot paper.
We want the people to choose. I do not say that a large proportion of the vote is involved. 1 think the first position on a ballot paper is worth at least 2 per cent. In elections, nowadays, it does not take more than a small percentage of the votes to put a great number of senators on the Government side and a few senators on the Opposition side. Therefore I cannot see any valid objection to the proposal. No more work would be placed on the divisional returning officers. In a Victorian division, the counting in a Senate election is virtually over in 5 or 10 minutes. If I am included in the A group, I do not care how the other candidates fare. I say they can take it as it falls. If the method is good enough for the Senate, surely it is good enough for the other House.
I agree that the last alteration to the method of voting for the Senate was necessary. Senate elections became a little farcical in years gone by in New South Wales when four Labour Party senators with surnames commencing with A were elected. I suppose if I had been running a campaign and I had thought of the idea at the time and could have found four suitable candidates whose surnames commenced with A, I would not have been any more pure than anybody else. In this game you have to win. The amendment offers an opportunity to remove those bad thoughts from one’s head.
– Even from the honorable senator’s head.
– I do not know that there are any more bad thoughts in my head than are in the honorable senator’s head. With respect to my friend, 1 have had a few years’ experience in the workings of Senate elections. I can only hope that the Government will accept the proposed amendment.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- I wish to support again the amendment which has been moved by Senator Kennelly. I agree with him that it is fair play. If it is fair play, why should we not adopt it? This is one of the cases to which I referred some time ago when I said that the Government ought to recognise the justice of an amendment and not maintain a firm refusal to accept an amendment which comes from the Opposition. I am glad to have an opportunity to support the amendment because some members of the Australian Labour Party at times have accused my party of taking an advantage from the present system. When they have done so, I have replied by pointing to occasions when it was obvious that the Australian Labour Party had taken advantage of the system. Why should there be the possibility of advantage for the Australian Labour Party, for us or for anybody else?
I believe that the fairest system to be adopted is to draw the names out of a hat and then determine what the positions on the ballot paper shall be. Undoubtedly, in most circumstances the top position constitutes an advantage. Such an advantage is most obvious in Senate elections. Views have differed as to the extent of the advantage. I have tried to work it out. In my view, a candidate in No. 1 position on the ballot paper gains a 2 per cent, advantage in Senate elections. In Victoria in four Senate elections, the Australian Communist Party candidate twice occupied No. 1 position and twice his name appeared down in the ruck. When the Communist Party candidate has appeared in No. 1 position, he has received over 40,000 votes. When his name has appeared down in the ruck, he has received about 10,000 or 12,000 votes. This suggests to me that the donkey vote could be worth about 35,000 or 36,000 votes. I can speak with feeling on this matter because the donkey vote cost me my seat in the Senate at an election about three years ago.
– Was it about 2 per cent, on that occasion?
– Yes. About three years ago I was beaten by about 30,000 votes. The donkey vote, which went in that election to the candidate who defeated me, would have been worth between 30,000 and 40,000 votes. I did not kick up a fuss, because that is the luck of the game. Undoubtedly, a candidate in No. 1 place on the ballot paper in normal circumstances gains over 30,000 votes.
– At the last election the donkeys voted for the honorable senator.
– No. They voted for somebody else and that worked out as an advantage to me. Clearly it is an advantage to occupy No. 1 position on the ballot paper. If we are to exercise fair play towards all candidates, I think a draw should be conducted for positions. There is one point to which Senator Kennelly did not refer. He suggested in his amendment that, where two or more candidates had the same name, there should be some way of identifying each candidate. I agree that that ought to be done, but it is not an easy task. The legislation does not permit the name of the political party to which a candidate belongs to be shown.
– They could show his initial. I recall a case in the Grampians. If I remember correctly, E. W. Hill was the Postmaster-General in the Government of the day and our candidate was E. C. Hill. The honorable senator would remember Hill from Nagambie.
– They could spell out the Christian names.
– As Senator Gair has suggested, perhaps they could spell out the Christian names in full. But even doing that might not mean much to an elector who simply knew a particular candidate by his surname. Senator Kennelly’s suggestion is a good one, but I believe it is necessary to indicate some definite way in which to distinguish between two candidates of the same name. I should like to hear more on this aspect of the matter.
I can recall a particular case that has been mentioned. I refer to the occasion when the late Frank Brennan was standing for re-election for the seat of Batman and an effort was being made to defeat him. An individual in Melbourne whose reputation was not the highest had his name changed by deed poll so that he could obtain No. 1 position on the ballot paper. His action received so much unfavourable publicity through the Press that it did not make very much difference to the ultimate result. But in recent years there have been cases in which people who had no hope of winning obviously have been shanghaied into an election just because somebody else thought that they might divert a few votes from another candidate. It would be a good thing if we could eliminate this sort of chicanery in the House of Representatives elections by drawing for positions on the ballot paper.
– The electoral laws should be framed so that candidates for election have an equal chance. Their success or failure would then depend on their appeal to the electors. Under the law as it now stands, candidates do not have an equal chance. The purpose of this amendment is to alter the law to give candidates an equal chance irrespective of the alphabetical order in which their name occurs. Those who believe in democracy, which depends upon just electoral laws, should vote in favour of this amendment. Whatever they may say, those who vote against the amendment do not believe in democracy, because they are deliberately and wilfully supporting a state of affairs which does not afford election candidates an equal opportunity.
.- I thank Senator McManus for drawing attention to proposed section 106 (b). I admit that it would be very difficult to make an adequate distinction in cases where candidates have the same surname and the same Christian name or names. I would be delighted to see the name of the political party to which he belonged placed beside the name of each candidate. But we must take one step at a time.
As I indicated earlier, I recall a case in the Grampians which involved two men named Hill. If I remember correctly, one was E. W. Hill and the other was E. C. Hill. Of course, one had the right to have his name placed above that of the other. Whilst we would like to legislate to cover all situations, I know that it would be extremely difficult to cover certain cases. However, I am certain that, if legislation were passed to deal with the matter generally, some means could be found to deal with the difficult cases, even if it meant including the names of the political parties involved.
I again ask the Minister for Repatriation, who is in charge of the Bill, not just to knock the amendment over, if I may use that expression, but to give it some thought. To accept the amendment would not affect any party detrimentally, nor would it affect candidates whose names appear lower down on the ballot paper. Not always are the votes of the candidates in No. 1 and No. 2 positions vital. When there are five or six candidates and the voting is close, one needs to look at the votes polled for the candidates in No. 3 and No. 4 positions. I hope that the Minister will at least give the amendment some thought. If the amendment cannot be accepted on this occasion - I am not courting defeat; I simply like to be practical - I ask the Minister to ensure that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) gives a great deal of thought to it in the future. As I said earlier, to obtain a box and to get somebody to shake it and take out four or five envelopes would not cause any more work. The ballot papers cannot be prepared for printing until nominations close, and the process I have suggested could be undertaken five minutes after the close of nominations.
I have great respect for Commonwealth electoral officers in my own State. I have had dealings with them over a great number of years. They have to administer the Act, and I have always found them to be very fair in doing so. I repeat that to do as I have suggested would not cause any extra work or waste any time. The method proposed would take only five minutes after nominations closed. I hope that the Minister will give the amendment the consideration that I think it deserves.
– Let me say at the outset that the position that names should occupy on ballot papers has been under consideration by the Government parties ever since I was elected to the Senate. The Government has not been stubborn on this matter. Particularly in the case of the Senate, it has examined various suggested forms for ballot papers, including a circular ballot paper, but it has concluded that nothing better is offering than the form of ballot paper we have at the present time and on which, as we know, candidates for the various parties are grouped, a draw having been held for the position on the ballot paper. It is generally believed that a candidate can obtain a bad position on a House of Representatives ballot paper. I have some figures here which throw some light on this matter. First of all I should say that it is very seldom that there are more than five candidates on a ballot paper for an election for the House of Representatives. At the last three elections for the House of Representatives candidates in No. 1 position were elected on 108 occasions, candidates in No. 2 position were elected on 102 occasions and candidates in No. 3 position were elected on 1.03 occasions. I think those figures are very different to what most of us would expect but those were the results. Therefore the Government does not accept the amendment as moved.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Kennelly’s amendment) be added.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. C. DrakeBrockman.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator McKellar) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 28th October (vide page 1288), on motion by Senator McKellar-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
I am glad of the opportunity to speak again on repatriation. The Opposition does not intend to oppose the motion for the second reading of the Bill because, although the benefits conferred on those individuals who had not received them previously are small and isolated, at least they are something. The Opposition proposes to move an amendment to this Bill during the committee stage. On the basis of the figures for the last couple of divisions this afternoon, and our experience here a few weeks ago, I would say that the Opposition will probably win and will have this amendment made to the Bill. We hope that the Government, in its sanity, will accept the amendment on this occasion.
In his second reading speech the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) said -
The purpose of this bill is to extend the operation of the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act to servicemen who become involved in the action of hostile forces in areas outside Australia but who, as the Act presently stands, would not be eligible for repatriation benefits. Honorable senators will recall that the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act was designed to meet special conditions of peace time service not hitherto encountered in Australian experience. Its broad purpose is to provide repatriation cover for serving members of the forces whose service outside Australia in warlike operations or in disturbed areas involves them in hazards additional to those of normal peace time service. Eligibility under the Act has, therefore, been provided in respect of death or incapacity arising out of service whilst allotted for special duty in a proclaimed special area. Areas may bc proclaimed and allotment made with retrospective effect. The benefits provided arc generally the same as those in respect of the two World Wars and for the Korean and Malayan operations.
The amendment we will move in the committee stage proposes greatly to extend the repatriation benefits to ex-servicemen who have served Australia whether in operational areas or not. The Minister also said -
The operation of this legislation has been generally satisfactory, but following the Government’s normal practice it has been under continuing review. As a result the Government believes that although this has not occurred up to the present, there could be situations in which members of the forces serving outside Australia suffer incapacity or death as a result of the action of hostile forces but would not at present have immediate access to repatriation benefits.
The proposal embodied in this measure is quite laudable in that it will give some servicemen benefits that are not now available to them. The Minister went on to say - . . the Act does not provide for the possibility that an action may become extended beyond a declared area-
We all know that that is a distinct possibility
We hope to elaborate on these matters in the Committee stage. I’ give the Minister great credit. I believe that he is a very sympathetic and hard-working Minister. I believe that he personally is quite in favour of the extension of a number of repatriation benefits that are not now made available to members of the Services. But we realise that as the Minister he can only carry out Government policy. He continued -
Such circumstances may not justify the use of the procedures for a general retrospective declara tion of an area and retrospective allotment of special duty of the personnel concerned. Nonetheless, it is clear that serving members so involved should have equal access to repatriation benefits with those who are allotted for special duty in special areas. It is also important that they should know and be assured of this cover without its being dependent in any way on subsequent administrative action.
The Bill, therefore, provides repatriation cover for those involved in contact with hostile forces in circumstances such as those I have indicated.
It is quite easy to envisage that hundreds and possibly thousands of the men who undoubtedly will suffer some injury or disability outside Australia will have very great difficulty in establishing their claims. This matter will need a lot of policing. It will be fraught with great difficulties inasmuch as many of these servicemen will have great difficulty in establishing to the satisfaction of the administering authorities that their disabilities were caused by hostile forces. The Minister went on to say -
The provision to be made will ensure that those who suffer death or incapacity as a result of action by hostile forces will receive repatriation benefits whether or not they had been allotted for special duty in a special area. It is proposed that the incapacity in respect of which benefits will be available will include any subsequent incapacity or death arising therefrom which is attributable to the member’s involvement with hostile forces.
As I have said, we do not oppose the motion for the second reading of this Bill, since it confers benefits on additional members of the Armed Services. In the amendment which I will move in the Committee stage we propose that repatriation benefits should be available to serving personnel in any arm of the Australian Services without any restriction whatever. I am sure honorable senators will agree that it is just as bad to be killed or to suffer an injury in an undeclared war as in a declared war. To date the Government has handled this matter in a cheeseparing and straw-splitting way. Admittedly, the Government is giving benefits to additional servicemen piecemeal. But I suggest in all sincerity that the Government’s policy in this matter, as in quite a number of other matters, to put it crudely, is as full of bloomers as an old fashioned draper’s shop.
As I have said, I do not propose to spend much time on this second reading stage. We will put our case before the Government in the Committee stage on the amendment that I propose to move. I am sure that the Government, exercising a little caution, will not run the risk of a vote on that amendment. I am quite positive that the majority of honorable senators on the Government side have humanitarian feelings. I suggest that on a matter such as this, which involves the serving members of the Services, we will receive enought support from the Government side of the chamber to ensure the success of our amendment. Therefore, I am forewarning the Minister to take my advice and accept our amendment, and so save the Government the ignominy of another defeat. I leave it at that. I will elaborate on our amendment when I move it in the Committee stage.
– in reply - I wish to say only two things. First, I thank Senator Sandford and the other members of the Australian Labour Party for the speedy passage that they have given this Bill at the second reading stage. Secondly, I thank him for the warning that he has given.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 - by leave - take together, and agreed to.
Proposed new clause 4a.
I have the honour, pleasure and privilege of moving, on behalf of the Australian Labour Party -
After clause 4, insert the following new clause: - “ 4a. Insert the following section in the Principal Act: - 7b. Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act benefits under this Act arising from death or incapacity shall be available in respect of a person allotted to special service if such death or incapacity occurred in the period between the time of his departure from the last port of call or the last airport in Australia and his return to the first port of call or the first airport in Australia.’.”.
For the life of me, I cannot envisage any honorable senator opposing this admendment. Honorable senators who support the Government are quite prepared to support, in an almost carefree, nonchalant manner, the enticing of young men to join the Armed
Services, the conscription of young men to serve in the Armed Services and the right of the Government to send those conscripts to battle areas overseas.
Without doubt, in the view of any right thinking person, those young men should become eligible to receive repatriation benefits once they leave Australia, because they then become subject to the risk of receiving all sorts of disabilities and even the risk of death. If the Government is going to place an obligation on the relatives of those who are killed or on those who suffer a disability to prove that the death or disability was caused as a result of hostile action, then, as I mentioned in the second reading debate, the whole matter will be fraught with considerable difficulty. The old infamous provision relating to the onus of proof will come into the picture when a claim is made relating to death or injury which may have been caused by the action of hostile forces. Why is there a difference? Is death or injury less serious if it is caused by other than hostile forces? Is the disability suffered by the dependants of a man who is killed less severe because his death was not the result of action by hostile forces?
Anybody with common sense and a sense of responsibility must realise that repatriation benefits must be made available to all personnel in the Services as soon as they leave Australia and until they return to Australia. The benefits must be available to the men as soon as they leave the last port of call or the last airport in Australia and until they return to the first port of call or the first airport in Australia. Is that an unreasonable proposition? Is there any honorable senator on the Government side who is prepared to stand in his place and say that the relatives of those who are killed or that servicemen who suffer a disability as a result of service outside Australia, are not entitled to repatriation benefits? The alternative is that they become eligible to compensation under the Commonwealth Workers Compensation Act. But if we look at the tragic “Voyager” disaster, in which so many lives were lost, we see that many claims for compensation still have not been satisfied. In some of the claims which have been settled the compensation does not measure up to the overall benefits which would have been made available under the Repatriation Act.
Unfortunately, there are still too many people who are prepared to sit complacently in this chamber and support the Government in conscripting our young men into the Army and sending them to the bottomless pit in Vietnam. Is it just and fair to stipulate that if these men are killed or injured on their way to or from Australia, they or their dependants are not entitled to repatriation benefits? Can anybody justify that action? I repeat that any man who leaves Australia for service in other areas is entitled to repatriation benefits. It does not matter whether it is a declared area or not. It is just as bad to be hit with a piece of steel in an undeclared area as it is in a declared area. We have to remember that unfortunately there are too many people in this country who are prepared to lay down my life for their country. There is too much lip service so far as patriotism is concerned. These people will wave flags when the servicemen are going overseas, but as soon as it comes to a matter of pounds, shillings and pence they refuse to give the servicemen the repatriation benefits to which they are entitled. I appeal to the Minister and the supporters of the Government to realise this.
What is the use of spending thousands of pounds on advertising in an endeavour to induce men to enlist in the Services if the Government is not prepared to provide them with the repatriation benefits to which they are justly entitled? We hear on the air, we see on television and we read in the Press expensive advertisements urging the young men of this country to seek a career in one of the Armed Services. For instance, the Navy has an advertisement which says: “ Join the Navy and see the world “. It does not say whether the recruits are going to see this world or the next. We must realise that every person who enlists in an arm of the Services in this country takes his life in his hands immediately. He does so on behalf of honorable senators opposite and everyone else in the community. If sufficient recruits are not forthcoming under the voluntary system the Government does not hesitate to resort to conscription. It takes young men out of industry and away from their normal way of living for a period of two years. It reserves the right to send them overseas into hostile areas. But if they are injured or killed, their relatives, in the case of death, or they, in the case of injury, do not receive any benefits under the Repatriation Act unless the injury or death occurs in the declared area.
The Bill proposes to extend repatriation benefits. If a serving member of the Forces is killed or sustains injury as a result of action by hostile forces outside a declared area, under the provisions of this measure he or his relatives become entitled to repatriation benefits. But what is the position if he is killed or suffers injury as the result of a mistake by our forces or by allied forces? I think that has happened three times recently. It has been reported in the Press that American forces, by mistake, have bombed the wrong areas. Are our men covered if they are killed or injured as a result of mistakes made by our own forces or by the forces of our allies? They should be covered from the moment they leave Australia until they return to Australia. The present position does not make sense.
An Air Force squadron may be located outside a declared area. If members of an air crew, in taking an aircraft over a declared area, are killed or injured as the result of action of hostile forces, they or their dependants are entitled to repatriation benefits. But if the men on the ground who serve in the same squadron are killed or injured outside a declared area or if death or injury is not the result of the action of hostile forces, they or their dependants are not entitled to repatriation benefits. So there is discrimination between members of the same unit. This position does not stand up to the searchlight of common sense or public opinion. If we were to conduct a gallup poll on this matter throughout Australia, I hazard the guess that 90 per cent, of the people would say: “ Give our boys the best you can possibly give them. Give them the full benefits of the Repatriation Act as soon as they leave this country and until they return.”
The Opposition has stressed these matters in this chamber quite often. As I have said, I am considerate enough to believe that a number of honorable senators on the Government side are sympathetic towards the proposals that we submit but, of course, they are under complete dictatorship. They cannot deny that. They know that as soon as the jemadar speaks they have to say: “ We agree.” They know that they have not the ghost of a chance of opposing the jemadar. For the benefit of Senator Webster, I point out that a jemadar is a big boss.
– Does he belong to our party?
– The honorable senator belongs to it. He is one of the satellites. He would not be sitting here if it were not for the big jemadar. It is interesting to note that he will be the only Government senator seeking election in Victoria at the next election and he is hopeful that the big jemadar will not oppose him.
Senator MATTNER (South Australia) [5.2.1. - I respect the zeal of Senator Sandford. I know the concern that he has for returned servicemen, but I suggest his amendment would not do anything at all that will not be done by the amending Bill.
– The honorable senator always says that.
– If the honorable senator will listen I shall be able, I hope, to explain this to him. Whether he will be able to comprehend is up to him. In these discussions we start with the points on which we are in agreement. We all agree that at present service personnel are not covered for repatriation benefits unless they are in a declared area. Secondly, they have to be allotted for special duty in that area. For the sake of argument, this special duty may be to resist the Vietcong or other warlike forces, infiltrators or elements. I agree that an Australian serviceman not in a special area or not allotted to special duty is not eligible for repatriation benefits if he is injured, wounded or killed. That is the situation today. But the Bill seeks, in proposed new section 7a, to do nothing less than to cover any Australian serviceman who, anywhere outside Australia, becomes a casualty due to the activities of hostile forces or in any other way in the course of proceeding on duty or becoming engaged in combat. The provision goes further. If he should suffer an injury which might cause incapacity at a later date, repatriation benefits are conferred on him.
– Where is that provided in proposed new clause 7a?
– The honorable senator should read it. That is the reason for the amending Bill. The Opposition has not put up one- case which would not be covered. The provision will cover everybody, and Senator Sandford knows that to be so. No case has occurred - and we hope that none will occur - in which a serviceman has been killed, injured or incapacitated in these circumstances. The Bill will have exactly the effect that the honorable senator’s amendment intends. I cannot understand why he has moved the amendment, because it will not do anything other than what the Bill will do. Various things may happen to a service man or woman anywhere outside Australia. If anything at all happens, he or she will be entitled to repatriation benefits. That is the purpose of the Bill. Service personnel in these circumstances are entitled to be covered by the Repatriation Act and they are entitled to know that they are covered. Not one case has been put up to show that any serviceman leaving Australia or returning to Australia would not be covered by the provisions of the Bill. That is why I oppose the amendment.
– I support the amendment moved by Senator Sandford. Senator Mattner has put his own interpretation upon the Bill and I am sure that the Minister will not agree with that interpretation. The proposed new section which we are considering provides -
Upon the incapacity or death of a person whose incapacity or death has resulted from an occurrence that happened other than during a period of special service of the person . . .
This is the gap in the legislation that the Government is trying to fill. Under the principal Act it is possible, by regulation, to prescribe certain areas to be special areas. Servicemen in those areas then become entitled to repatriation benefits. The Minister has announced that the Government’s aim is to cover a serviceman who, when travelling to a special area, suffers death, injury or incapacity which results from hostile action. The Opposition proposes that he be covered in respect of any occurrence from the time he leaves his last port of call in Australia. That was the situation in wars when a state of war had been declared. Servicemen leaving Australia became entitled to repatriation benefits. This is the gap which should be filled and which the Bill does not fill.
Nobody can argue on any grounds, moral or patriotic, that we should not have the same overall principles applying to servicemen as applied during the war years. We want to ensure that a person who leaves Australia for an operational area shall become entitled to repatriation benefits immediately. We say that such benefits should not be limited to cases of death, injury or incapacity as a result of hostile action before he or his dependants become entitled to repatriation benefits. It seems to me, reading proposed new section 7a in conjunction with section 65 of the principal Act, that an anomaly exists.
This allows a certain latitude. If the incapacity or disease occurred during a serviceman’s service in other than an operational area and later his service in a special area contributes to the incapacity or disease, the Repatriation Board can take account of the incapacity or disease.
We want to put this beyond any doubt. I suggest that Government members should support us. There is no question in our mind that the provision we propose is the only way to cover servicemen who leave Australia and, before reaching a prescribed special area, suffer some incapacity which may not be the result of hostile action. As Senator Sandford has pointed out, we know that on three occasions the Americans have accidentally bombed villages in the neutralised zone and in South Vietnam and innocent people have been hurt. If a serviceman is injured in an accident or because of some manoeuvre, he should not be compelled to rely on the provisions of the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act.
The Opposition does not believe that the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act is a good Act to apply to servicemen. Let me make two or three points about this Act. It applies to servicemen now serving in Malaysia and in certain areas in Thailand which are not regarded as special areas. The situation could arise in which national servicemen and other servicemen would be located at a supply point not included in the special areas. They would be entitled only to the benefits of the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act while their mates who were out on operations or were temporarily working in special areas would be entitled to the continuing benefits of the Repatriation Act.
That is an important point There is a continuing advantage in being covered by the Repatriation Act. The Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act is a poor piece of legislation. Only recently have the payments prescribed by the Act been Drought into line with the amounts contained in other Acts. It is the only piece of legislation in Australia relating to compensation which allows for set-offs. This means that sickness benefits or superannuation payments can be set off against payments made to injured persons or their dependants in accordance with the provisions of the Act.
That feature is bad enough, but the worst feature, in my opinion, is that protracted delays are allowed to take place when Commonwealth departments deal with claims for compensation. Senator Sandford has directed attention to the lengthy delays which followed the “ Voyager “ disaster. I know from personal experience in dealing with Commonwealth departments in respect of compensation claims that the Government moves very slowly and that there is delay and procrastination. By comparison, claims before State Government departments are handled very quickly. One can reach settlement in six months.
I support what Senator Sandford has said and I believe that our proposed amendment should be supported by the Government. I do not think that Senator Mattner’s interpretation of the legislation before the chamber is correct but of course it ought to be. We should make provision for the people concerned now and not wait until some disease is contracted or an accident happens in manoeuvres or during transportation and our own servicemen suffer some disability or are killed, not as a result of hostile action but perhaps as a result of the activities of some friendly power. Let us cover our servicemen from the time they leave Australia until the time they return. Having done that, then let us go further and cover our national service trainees and others who may be in a similar situation and give them all the continuing benefits of the Repatriation Act.
I have spent a good deal of time in the industrial movement. A worker in industry can approach his union and, if necessary, obtain the services of a lawyer to enable him to get a speedy decision on a claim for compensation. A serviceman is in a different situation and the prosecution of any claim he wishes to make can be quite a lengthy process because a serviceman does not have direct representation by an organisation to which he belongs.
The Opposition’s proposal is a very good one. It is justified on every count. Its adoption in this legislation would be a start. The legislation relating to national service trainees was put together rather hastily. Let us make a start on this Bill and then later remedy the defects of the other measures.
– I rise because I am very interested in Senator Mattner’s remarks. Senator Mattner’s opinion on what should be done is no different from that of the Opposition so we are at one on that issue. The only question that arises is whether the Bill at the present time does what we both agree should be done. Does it cover the man who is going on operational service from the time he leaves Australia until the time he returns to Australia?
I do not say that Senator Mattner’s interpretation is incorrect but I agree with Senator Bishop that we should at least clear up this clause so that the most elementary student will be able to understand it. I will be very interested to hear whether the Minister believes that Senator Mattner’s interpretation of proposed section 7a is correct. In any case the provisions that Senator Mattner thinks are made by the Bill will be covered by the Opposition’s proposed amendment so that he, in all sincerity, should vote with the Opposition. Even if his interpretation is correct, the Opposition’s proposed amendment will clarify the section so that there will be no ambiguity in it.
As I understand Senator Mattner’s interpretation, a serviceman’s entitlement to benefits is covered by proposed section 7a (1.) and section 7a (2.) and 7a (3.) give an interpretation of certain words used in section 7 a (1.). Proposed section 7a (2.) is in these terms -
For the purpose of the last preceding sub-section an occurrence that happened while a person was engaged in warlike operations against hostile forces in an area outside Australia shall be deemed to have happened as the result of action by hostile forces.
If we do not understand the meaning of section 7a (1.) it is clarified by section 7a (2.). Senator Mattner believes that the words “ engaged in warlike operations against hostile forces” are broad enough to cover such things as transportation to the area where a serviceman is to become engaged in operations. The Minister would assist greatly if he could give the chamber the official interpretation of the words “ engaged in warlike operations against hostile forces “. For Senator Mattner’s argument to contain any logic, it must mean that troops going to fight in Vietnam are engaged in warlike operations from the time they leave Australia.
– And are covered.
– Senator Mattner has said that they are covered so obviously the Opposition and Senator Mattner are at one on this point. We both say they should be covered. But the Opposition does not agree that the words “ engaged in warlike operations “ do cover them when they are going to and from an operational area. Perhaps the Minister will clarify this point. My experience with recent housing legislation was that the words used by a Minister in a second reading speech can be valueless when it comes to a strict interpretation of a clause. There is some justification for rectifying the position or at least for giving us another definition of the words “ warlike operations “. It should be made clear that the measure contains the words that Senator Mattner believes to be in it.
– Unlike the Opposition - or so I gather from what the Opposition has said - I am pleased to introduce a Bill such as this. The Bill is a valuable addition to other measures providing repatriation benefits. One of the features of our repatriation services is that we are continually improving them and providing additional benefits as the need arises. The objective of the Government is to amend the Repatriation Act to give the best cover to those who need it. That will be my personal aim in the future as it has been in the past.
The Bill gives repatriation cover for any death or incapacity which is attributable to action by hostile forces in any area outside
Australia. This would include Australian Territories outside the mainland such as Papua and New Guinea, although the serviceman may not at the time have been allotted for “ special duty “ in a “ special area”. This cover applies whether the serviceman is pursuing an active part in operations against hostile forces or whether he is merely present in a place where he is subjected to action by such forces.
– What is the provision if he is proceeding to the area?
– I shall come to that. Some examples of the sort of events that would be covered are, first, warlike operations commencing in but which may be extended beyond a proclaimed “ special area “. Others are an attack from hostile forces while proceeding to and from a special area; becoming involved with hostile forces in an area which has not yet been declared a special area, such as resisting infiltrators, or just being subject to attack by hostile forces at a time when not directly or indirectly engaged in operations against them.
Secondly, the Bill provides cover not only for direct injury but in respect of any occurrence, including the contracting of any disease, that happened during any such period of service. I admit that in those cases where our troops leave Australia, for example, and something happens while they are proceeding overseas that is not directly due to hostile attack, the only cover that the serviceman has is compensation. For instance, a serviceman might skin one of his legs while throwing garbage overboard from a ship. On the other hand, once the serviceman leaves port and is injured, for example, during an attack by a submarine, he is covered. Reference was made to some recent cases when our own forces were unfortunately injured during an attack by our allies. In such circumstances, our men would be covered because they were injured during operations against an enemy, even though they were not injured by the enemy.
– I take it that would be in a declared area?
– Not necessarily; but one would expect that that would be the only place where such an occurrence would be likely to happen.
– If they were not in a declared area, would the Minister regard that injury as having been caused by hostile forces if the injury was caused by an ally?
– This is far fetched but supposing our forces were being transported to an operational area and while they were in transit some of our own aircraft bombed our ships by mistake causing injury to some of our men. My understanding and that of my advisers is that in such a case they would be covered.
– We could regard our own forces as hostile forces?
– No, I do not agree.
– That is according to the wording of sub-clause (1.).
– I will not enter into a debate on that point at this stage. It is my understanding, and the understanding of officers of the Repatriation Department, that members of our forces would be covered in such circumstances. I think I have cleared up matters in question regarding injuries received in operations.
Senator Mattner was questioned about a statement he made. I think he was correct to the extent that the forces would be covered in the event of an enemy attack while they were travelling to and from an area. A serviceman would not be covered, however, in respect of every occurrence, such as if he fell on the deck of a ship. I think the amendment the Opposition asks the Government to accept is not one that we can accept at this time. As I have said, the men are covered by compensation in other cases. After all we cannot give repatriation cover from the moment personnel enter the Army or other branches of the Services. There must be some reason in these provisions. However, I am pleased to be able to present a Bill of this sort in this chamber.
Sitting suspended from 5.48 to 8 p.m.
.- I shall not spend a great deal more time on the amendment that I moved on behalf of the Opposition, but I want to join issue with the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar). I realise his sincerity and genuineness in this matter and I hope he is right in what he has said, but the point on which I wish to join issue with him is the explanation he gave in answer to the hypothetical case submitted by me and other members of the Opposition. We have asked whether a serviceman who is killed or injured through a mistake made by our own forces or our allies would, in the Minister’s opinion, be covered by the Bill. If the matter were taken to a court of law I do not think there is any question that the legal interpretation of the measure as it now stands would be that the death. or injury was not caused by the act of hostile forces. The Bill specifically sets out that the serviceman would be covered by repatriation benefits if the death or injury suffered were caused, even in an unspecified area, by hostile action.
I still contend that if the death or injury were caused by a mistake by our own forces or our allies the serviceman would not be covered. I am not perfectly satisfied with the Minister’s explanation. He may be right, but I think some specific provision should be made in the legislation to cover the position I have outlined. I do not want to dwell at any great length on this matter. We have pressed our claim for acceptance of this amendment; but I would like to reply to a couple of things that Senator Mattner said. I was rather surprised at him, because he is an ex-serviceman and I am generous enough to give him credit for being sympathetic to the needs of servicemen. He said that the Opposition’s amendment does not add one thing which is not already covered by the legislation. How silly can one be? The principal Act specifically sets out that repatriation benefits shall be extended to an ex-serviceman on special service from when he leaves the last port of call in Australia, or the last airport, until he returns to the first port of call or airport in Australia. Admittedly if servicemen for whom provision is made in this Bill meet with death or injury as the result of hostile action he or his dependants are entitled to repatriation benefits. But if the death or injury is not caused by hostile action no repatriation benefits apply. Where do we go from there, Senator Mattner? You specifically said that our amendment would not add one thing that is not already covered by the Bill.
– That is right.
– Why is it right? The Bill does not cover the death or injury of a serviceman unless it is caused by hostile action. It is no use the honorable senator shaking his head. He should not shake it too much, or he will lose whatever he has left in it. The measure specifically states that unless the death or injury is caused by hostile action servicemen are not entitled to repatriation benefits.
– He is altering his opinion.
– It is about time he did, because he is one honorable senator opposite whom I hoped would vote for the amendment. I know of his meritorious military career and of his great concern for ex-servicemen. I put it to other honorable senators on the Government side, who supported the sending of our troops to Vietnam, Malaysia and other places, that if they are prepared to support the conscription of our youth for the purpose of defending this country, then, if they have a spark of humanitarianism in them, they must vote for this amendment, the purpose of which is only to give justice to those servicemen who suffer injury and to the relatives of those who are killed. Whether the death or injury is caused by hostile action or not, once servicemen leave this country they should be regarded as being on active service so far as repatriation benefits are concerned. It is true that during both World Wars conditions were a bit different, because the state of war was then virtually worldwide, but I believe that as soon as a serviceman leaves this country he is on active service, even if he is only en route to a trouble spot.
I appeal to the Minister, because I definitely want some further assurance that what he said is right. He said that on the advice given him, he believed that if a serviceman is killed or injured he or his dependants must be entitled to repatriation benefits, even if the death or injury is caused in error by our own forces or the forces of our allies. Unfortunately, three times in Vietnam in recent months mistakes have been made and admitted by the American forces and I say that if any of our servicemen had been in the areas concerned and if they had been bombed, mistakenly, by American aircraft, they would not be covered by this Bill. I contend - I do not doubt that the legal men in this chamber will support this view - that a legal interpretation of the matter would have to be based on the wording of the Bill itself and that a serviceman killed or injured accidentally could not be designated as having been killed or injured by hostile action. I want some further assurance. I would like the Minister to say that he will take steps to have that specific position cleared up.
I shall not delay the Senate any longer. Honorable senators know the position and they know our obligations to our servicemen. I have said on many occasions that in regard to repatriation matters and the treatment of our ex-service and serving personnel we have a great and grave responsibility. Because of that I appeal to Government senators not to be frightened by what happened to an amendment made by this Chamber in other repatriation legislation recently. We know that it was thrown out by the House of Representatives; but let that House do it again. Let us at least indicate to the people of this country that we, in this chamber, are prepared, willing and determined to see that justice is meted out to the servicemen of Australia.
.- I regret that I have not been able to be present in the Committee during the greater part of this debate but, hearing what I did. of Senator Sandford’s comments, and looking at the measure, I want first to get from the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) the reason for the wording of sub-section (3.) of proposed section 7a.
– The new section 7a has been adopted.
– Well, it will throw light upon this amendment. Are you taking the Bill clause by clause, Mr. Chairman?
-(Senator DrakeBrockman). - We have done up to clause 4. We have finished clause 4 and are now dealing with an amendment proposed to be inserted after clause 4.
– This will have a bearing upon the proper framework of the clause that follows. I want an explanation of clause 4. In this section the word “occurrence” in relation to a person includes the contracting of a disease by the person but it does not include an occurrence that happened before the commencement of this section. Why?
– The principal Act describes it.
– That is all right. It includes a disease, certainly, but why is it limited to an occurrence that happens after the commencement of this clause.
– The principal Act does not do this.
– I appeal to you, Mr. Chairman, to allow as much light in as possible. It occurs to me that this has a material bearing upon the proposed amendment which 1 see before me in the name of Senator Sandford. I must say that when you look at the way in which the expression “ as a result of action by hosile forces “ is moulded with sub-paragraph 2 an explanation is required. I want to be convinced. Would the Minister tell me this: Is there not a provision in the Repatriation Act that a man is on war service from the time he leaves the last place of departure in Australia until he lands on Australian soil, on return? Then what is this special service that we are limiting by hedging it around with the expression “ as a result of action by hostile forces “? Having used the causative expression there, we also make use of a temporal definition. Proposed section 7a, sub-section (2.) reads as follows - (2.) For the purposes of the last preceding sub-section, an occurrence that happened while a person was engaged in warlike operations against hostile forces in an area outside Australia shall be deemed to have happened as a result of action by hostile forces.
I am sure that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) and Senator Cohen will see there a causative idea defined by a temporal idea. Why should not a serviceman be covered throughout the period of his war service which - tell me if I am wrong - I believe was fundamentally denned in the Repatriation Act to include all occurrences from time of last departure from Australia to the time of first return to Australian soil?
I should like, on this occasion, to justify and have understood the proposition that I have put on two previous occasions in this chamber. Let us consider the case of three persons who embark from Brisbane tonight for Vietnam. One is a Treasury officer going there on Treasury business, the second is a pay officer going there to determine what pay and allowances are proper for the fighting men, and the third is a fighting man. They all go down in a typhoon over the intervening seas. The dependants of the pay officer get his retiring benefits; the dependants of the Treasury officer get his Public Service superannuation allowance plus, in each case, £7,500 under the Air Accidents (Commonwealth Liability) Act; but the dependants of the serving man get nothing unless they receive his repatriation benefit under this Bill. If they receive his repatriation benefit under this Bill, they certainly are denied that which - forgive the expression, Mr. Chairman - the shiny bums in Canberra have ensured that the dependants of the civilians will get. I want to be assured that the serving man at least will get his repatriation benefits if he goes down in that aircraft although he has not seen a hostile aircraft or heard a shot for a thousand miles.
– Mr. Chairman, 1 want to intervene briefly in this discussion. I think the point at issue lies in a very narrow compass. The Opposition’s amendment contends for the proposition which, as I understand it, applied to persons in the armed Services going overseas during the last World War. They were covered, as Senator Wright understood, from the time they left Australia until they came back, in respect of repatriation benefits. Senator Mattner argued that there was no need for the Opposition’s amendment in view of the terms of clause 4 of the Bill. That projected us into a consideration of that point and he addressed his argument particularly to proposed section 7a, sub-section (2.) which states -
For the purposes of the last preceding sub-section, an occurrence that happened while a person was engaged in warlike operations against hostile forces in an area outside Australia shall be deemed to have happened as a result of action by hostile forces.
The honorable senator argued that “ warlike operations against hostile forces “ included the transport of a member of the Services from Australia to a special area - to a scene of warlike activity. He said that that was all part of warlike operations.
– Where is the argument concerning transport from an Australian port being part of a warlike operation derived from?
– That emanated from Senator Mattner addressing an argument to the Committee that there was no need for the Opposition amendment in view of clause 4. With very great respect I differ entirely from the honorable senator because I think .hat any consideration of the words “ engaged in warlike operations against hostile forces “ clearly imports the element of conflict and combat. The situation contemplated by the Opposition’s amendment is that in which there is no conflict and the member of the forces is proceeding from Australia to a special area where hostilities are in fact taking place and in the process suffers death or incapacity.
The position has been resolved, I think, by what the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) put to us quite clearly when he spoke before dinner. He indicated that if a member of the forces, having left Australia, before reaching the special area so designated, or before becoming engaged in any hostilities in the sense that we all understand, fell down a hatch or fell off a ship and was killed or injured, he would not be covered for repatriation benefits. That is completely clear, as I understood the Minis;ter. He is nodding his head, so that there is no argument on that point. In other words, he does not come down on the side of the interpretation which Senator Mattner put forward. It is quite clear that Senator Mattner is as keen as members of the Opposition are to see that men are covered from the time that they leave Australia until the time that they return.
As I understand the position, the principal Act which this Bill proposes to amend provides repatriation benefits for those men who are killed or incapacitated whilst attached to a unit which has been allotted to special duty in a special area; in other words, in a defined area. If either of those things happens, repatriation benefits immediately flow. This Bill is rendering the great service of extending that sphere by providing that even if a man is not in a special area but is engaged with hostile forces - perhaps proceeding from one area to another or in one of the various cases indicated in the Bill - and is injured or killed as a result of action by hostile forces in some element of combat, his entitlement is maintained. That is an improvement.
However, as the Minister has conceded, an area remains uncovered; that is the period from the time a serviceman leaves Australia until he enters a special area or encounters hostilities en route. I pose the case to the Minister of an aeroplane load of our troops proceeding to Vietnam. A defect occurs in the aeroplane which causes it to crash. The men on the plane and their dependants are not entitled to any benefits under this Bill. That is the point which the Opposition takes up. The Minister concedes, by nodding his head, that this Bill does not cover men in those circumstances with repatriation benefits. The Opposition’s proposal is simply to close that one gap; in other words, to bring the position of our forces in special areas into the category which included all of our armed forces in the last war so that there may be complete parity between them. It seems to me that 1 should not have to stress the argument that in those circumstances our men are engaged-
– What compensation is it said that a man would receive if he fell down a hatch?
Senator McKENNA__ He would be entitled to workers’ compensation, but that would be relatively insignificant compared with repatriation benefits for himself and his dependants.
– What is the present limit of workers’ compensation in the Commonwealth field?
– I could not speak on that with certainty. I have a figure in mind of about £4,000, but I should not like to commit myself without referring to the provisions in more detail.
– Would he not be entitled to some assistance under the Air Accidents (Commonwealth Liability) Act?
– I cannot answer that. The point in relation to Senator Morris’s query is that every member of the community would be entitled to such assistance. It is common to all travellers, as I understand it.
– There is a special exclusion in relation to those entitled to repatria tion benefits, so that if a man is denied repatriation benefits, that denial may entitle him to assistance under the Air Accidents (Commonwealth Liability) Act.
– The honorable senator may be right. But even if the position were that everybody flying in such an aircraft, if it were a commercial aircraft, would be so entitled, I still would claim that an injustice was being done to the man in not giving him his rights to repatriation benefits if the plane on which he was flying to Vietnam were lost.
– He is a soldier, on his way to a special area for service.
– Not only is he a soldier; I put to the Committee the thought that in the immediate future - if he is not already - he will be either a volunteer or a national serviceman who has been taken by his country for the Services, not as a volunteer. So that volunteers and nonvolunteers are involved.
It seems to me that we should not have to argue to the Government that men of both categories - volunteers and nonvolunteers - should not be put, in the circumstances that exist, into any worse position than were the soldiers of World War I. But for the war and but for their being sent overseas, they would not be in a position of boarding an aeroplane which could crash, a ship which could sink, or on which they could fall down a hatch, or where 101 other things could happen to them. Many members of the Opposition feel exceedingly strongly that repatriation benefits should be extended to all members of our armed forces from the time that they join, whether in Australia or out of Australia. That could be one of the most powerful of stimuli to voluntary enlistment in our armed forces. This thought is exercising the minds of a great many members of the Opposition.
With that kind of thinking in our minds, we wonder why the Government says: “ We will cover these men who are serving now in special areas. By this legislation they will be covered, not only whilst they are in the immediate, areas, but in respect of any injuries or death brought about by hostile action.” I shall come back to deal with the expression “ hostile action “. But the Government also says: “ We will not cover them for the one segment of their activity where they are transported to and from the fighting centres.” It seems to the Opposition to be quite wrong. In the first instance, the defect might have been cured by taking out the words “ as a result of action by hostile forces “ in the proposed section 7a.
– I think that is the key to it.
– I am afraid that on further consideration I had to discard that idea. I had a hand in framing the amendment and I had to discard that idea, for reasons I will not open up fully now. If we took that element out, the way would be open, but I am afraid that course goes a little too far. It would mean that a member of the Navy, Army or Air Force, sent to an area outside Australia where he is not in jeopardy at all, would be covered, which might be carrying the scope of the legislation altogether too far. He might be sent on a peaceful mission to a peaceful country where he would be divorced altogether from warlike operations. Therefore the Opposition abandoned that idea in drafting the amendment and settled on a proposition that we thought would put the issue beyond doubt and confine it to the simple result that the entitlement to repatriation benefits of a serviceman or his dependants through death or injury, at any time from the moment of leaving Australia until his return, would be put in line with what was done for soldiers in World War II. This proposal seems to us to be essentially [air when we are contemplating the extension of repatriation benefits to all members of our armed forces, irrespective of whether they go outside Australia, as a proper reward and inducement to serve their country’.
My final comments relate to the words “as a result of action by hostile forces”. These words are included in sub-section (2.) of the proposed section 7a, which also contains the words “ engaged in warlike operations against hostile forces “. The language used leaves open the position in which some of our allies might mistakenly attack our forces as the enemy. That can occur and has occurred. In those circumstances, could they be regarded as hostile forces? It certainly is hostile action if somebody drops a bomb on you, irrespective of whether it is done by your mates or by your enemy.
But the proposed section refers to an occurrence as a result of action - not hostile action - by hostile forces. It is wide open to argue that, although the forces were hostile, they were not hostile from the viewpoint of being our enemy. It is a little point, but nevertheless somebody has raised it. It is an interesting point.
– It is not only interesting to the fellow who is on the receiving end.
– I concede that it would be very unpleasant for him. This is a point that ought to be put beyond any possibility of doubt. The provision ought to be extended to cover a situation in which, as quite often happens in war, a man is injured or killed in error by his own mates.
– The repatriation authorities would never quibble about that.
– That may be so. We are now drawing up new rules. Let us be quite precise about them. I am afraid that I have spoken longer than I intended to speak. But I think the point has been narrowed; we understand what we are talking about. It has been stated by the Minister that the men are not covered while they are in transit either to or from Australia unless there is some hostile action.
– I am ever so glad that Senator McKenna has dwelt on the words “ as a result of action by hostile forces “. It is on those words that I base my whole argument. I think we all agree that, if a serviceman is engaged in a particular area on a particular task, he is eligible for repatriation benefits. Proposed section 7a. (1.) reads -
Upon the incapacity or death of a person whose incapacity or death has resulted from an occurrence that happened, other than during a period of special service of the person but when the person was a member of the Naval, Military or Air Forces and in an area outside Australia, as a result of action by hostile forces . . .
This relates to a man who goes outside Australia as a result of action by hostile forces; he is not necessarily face to face with them. I repeat that it relates to a man who is caused to go outside Australia by the action of hostile forces outside Australia. Once he does that - the Commonwealth is liable to pay a pension or pensions, in accordance with this Act, in respect of the incapacity or death as if the person had been serving on special service when the occurrence happened and the day on which the occurrence happened were the period of that special service.
To my mind, he is covered twice. I think we have confused the meaning of the words “ as a result of action by hostile forces “. The man in question is being sent outside Australia as a result of action by hostile forces. The moment he steps onto a boat or onto an aircraft he goes outside Australia as a result of action by hostile forces. He then becomes eligible for all repatriation benefits. That is the basis of my argument.
– The honorable senator is quite confused.
– I am not. The honorable senator said that when my head shook it rattled. At least there is something in it. Perhaps that is why the honorable senator’s head never rattles. We all are very much concerned about doing the right thing for these men. I think I am quite justified in saying that honorable senators opposite are misinterpreting the words “ as a result of action by hostile forces “. Immediately they read the words they construe them to mean that the person in question must be facing an enemy, that he must be within rifle shot. I have seen some angry men in my time, but I still do not interpret these words as do honorable senators opposite. The serviceman we are considering would nol go outside Australia if it were not for the action of hostile forces. When he is sent outside Australia he is covered left, right and centre.
– There seem to be a lot of troubled minds in this chamber tonight. By speaking now I might be able to clear away some of the doubts that exist and thus save a little bit of time. I think Senator McKenna gave a correct interpretation of the provision now before us. This Bill has been scrutinised by several legal officers, including men who previously have been given the task of drawing up repatriation measures. These men naturally have a pretty fair idea about how the minds of repatriation officials work. There is no doubt in their minds that the explanation I gave earlier is the correct one. I seek to reassure Senator Sandford by repeating that men -who are being transported by any means one cares to name and who are subject to enemy action, even if they are out side a specific area, are covered for repatriation purposes. I repeat also that, in our view, if as a result of a mistake by our allies or members of our own forces men are injured, those men are covered for repatriation purposes.
– That is only the Minister’s view.
– That is the point that I thought was exercising the honorable senator’s mind.
– It is.
– In speaking to the amendment, Senator McKenna went a little further and said he thought that repatriation benefits should be conferred on all members of the forces both inside and outside Australia. It would be only natural for those who support the amendment to say that a serviceman should be covered from port to port, that is, from the time he leaves until the time he returns. What would be the position in relation to servicemen who are going to the port for embarkation by ship or aircraft? Surely those servicemen would be in the same category as those for whom the Opposition is now trying to find a place in the legislation. They would be travelling to the port to board the same means of transport as their colleagues in order to get to the same destination. What would be the difference between their suffering an injury while proceeding to the port and any of their mates suffering an injury after having embarked? We must stop somewhere. We believe that the measure now before us satisfies a genuine need, but we are not prepared on this occasion to go to the extent that the Opposition wishes us to go. Surely that is plain enough. I do not think there is any other point that I should reply to at this stage. I leave the matter there.
– 1 agree with what Senator McKenna has said about the words “ as a result of action by hostile forces “. Senator Mattner has missed the point. It is not of much use Senator Mattner applying his interpretation to the provision when the Minister says that the position is as Senator McKenna has stated. Before I move on to the point raised by Senator Wright in regard to proposed section 7a (3.), I again draw attention to the Minister’s comment about an occurrence which might be caused by a friendly power or members of our own Services. The Minister should again look at this matter and, if necessary, introduce an amendment to cover the situation. It is not difficult to imagine that, if there is a contest at some future time about the meaning of the Act, the lawyers will disagree. As an alternative to introducing an amendment, it might be possible for the Minister to issue an instruction to the Repatriation Commission that would cover the situation. Anybody who has served overseas can well imagine members of our services grouping to be transported by sea, or for the purpose of an exercise, and somebody being shot or injured in the process. It ought to be clearly stated, either in the form of an amendment to the legislation or as a direction from the Minister, that in such circumstances a serviceman is to be regarded as being entitled to repatriation benefits. In my earlier contribution I mentioned proposed new section 7a (3.). It reads -
In this section, “ occurrence “, in relation to a person, includes the contracting of a disease by the person but does not include an occurrence that happened before the commencement of this section.
I also drew attention to the fact that section 6 (5.) of the principal Act which reads -
Where the origin of the cause of an incapacity or of the death of a member of the Forces existed before the commencement of a period of special service of the member and, in the opinion of the Commission or a Board -
the incapacity from which the member is suffering was contributed to in any material degree, or has been aggravated, by the conditions of that special service or the member’s death has been contributed to in any material degree by those conditions; and
neither the incapacity or death, nor the origin of the cause of the incapacity or death, was due to the member’s serious default or wilful act, the incapacity or death shall be deemed to have resulted from an occurrence that happened during that period of special service.
It seems to me that the principal Act already prescribed the rights of a man to receive repatriation benefits, but that in this Bill the Government intends to limit those rights to some extent. When the Minister is replying, he might refer to that matter. I raised it during my earlier contribution.
– I want to follow up what I said previously. At that time the actual meaning and intention of clause 4 were not clear. In the subsequent discussion we have had some clarity. We have been told that in the opinion of the Minister and of Senator McKenna the clause does not mean what Senator Mattner thought it meant and hoped it meant. So obviously Senator Mattner must vote for the amendment, which clarifies the position. We have been talking about the coverage of servicemen while travelling to or from a war area. The Minister startled me by saying that if something happened to a person as a result of enemy action he would be covered, but if a person had an accident on a boat - if he fell down a hatch or skinned his knee when emptying a garbage tin - he would not be covered. That brings me to the point that these provisions must apply at all times.
Proposed new section 7a (1 . ) refers to a person whose incapacity or death occurs as a result of action by hostile forces. The Minister has emphasised the words “ action by hostile forces “. At least he is inclined to extend those words to cover action by allies. The occurrence that causes the incapacity or death need not necessarily be as a result of action by hostile forces because, according to sub-section (2.), an occurrence that happened while a person was engaged in warlike operations against hostile forces shall be deemed to have happened as a result of action by hostile forces. Therefore, if hostile forces bomb a person he is covered and if he is engaged in warlike operations against hostile forces he is also covered. If a person were injured on a ship when ammunition exploded as the guns were being manned to counter the approach of hostile forces, he would be covered under sub-section (2.). But if a person fell down a hatch he would not be covered. So we can give these provisions the liberal interpretation that at or near a field of battle and in a camp certain occurrences would be deemed to have happened as a result of action by hostile forces because the person concerned was engaged in warlike operations against hostile forces. The term “ warlike operations “ could involve many things around a camp.
But what is the position when something happens to a soldier who is in a war area but is not in warlike operations? What is the position if something happens to a soldier in the streets of Saigon, not in any warlike operation and not as a result of action by hostile forces, or on a journey to or from Hong Kong or another city to which it is intended to transport soldiers from time to time for relief? I am thinking of a normal journey to or from a place of operations which would not be associated with action by hostile forces and on which the person could not be deemed to be engaged in warlike operations against hostile forces. If a person going from Australia to Vietnam is not engaged in warlike operations against hostile forces and therefore is not covered in respect of normal accidents, a different meaning cannot be put on these provisions if the occurrence happens in Vietnam. There could be 101 instances in Vietnam in which the soldier would be in danger and which would be deemed to have happened as a result of action by hostile forces or to have happened while he was engaged in warlike operations against hostile forces. This makes the need for coverage more definite.
The Minister said that he was of the opinion that when a person got to Vietnam or to a special area he would be covered at all times. But it is obvious that proposed new section 7a does not say that. So the proposed new section could well need some amendment to make it apply as the Minister intends it to apply. 1 understand that both sides of the chamber are agreed on these provisions as they would apply after a soldier reached the special area. But the question is whether the proposed new section covers what both sides of the chamber intend it to cover. The politicsinvolved in this matter are that the Opposition believes that soldiers should be covered in respect of all injuries that occur as a result of going to serve overseas, from the time they leave Australia until the time they return. I agree that the difference between the two sides of the chamber would justify taking a division on this question. We have heard Senator Mattner say today that he believes that such coverage should be provided. I gathered from Senator Wright’s remarks that he believes that soldiers in an undeclared war should receive the same coverage as those in a declared war. I suggest that either the Minister should ensure that these provisions mean what he hopes they mean or the position should be clarified by members of the Government parties supporting the amendment that has been moved by the Opposition.
Since I addressed the Committee previously, I have had the opportunity to look at the principal Act; that is, the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act 1962 as amended in 1964. I believe that it is a material matter for consideration that in that Act the concept is area and time. Any man who is allotted for duty in that area is entitled to repatriation benefits if he is injured during the time of his duty in that area. I shall read the section because I want to present my thoughts in an unemotional and unprovocative way. I think that further consideration should be given to this Bill. A new concept has been introduced. Section 6 (1.) of the Act provides -
Upon the incapacity or death of a member of the Forces whose incapacity or death has resulted from an occurrence that happened during a period of special service of the member . . . the Commonwealth is . . . liable to pay . . .
That is to say, if death or incapacity has resulted from any occurrence not conditioned by warlike operations or while engaged against hostile forces the Commonwealth is liable to pay.I am asking the Senate to spend all the time that is necessary on this matter. If we cannot clear up the matter tonight and do not defer consideration of it until another day, we do not deserve to be defended by these men. The Act states -
Upon the incapacity or death of a member of the Forces whose incapacity or death has resulted from an occurrence that happened during a period of special service . . .
Special service is defined in this way - “ special service “, in relation to a person, means service of the person in a special area while -
If a serviceman is a member of a contingent that is allotted for special duty in a special area, or if he is a member of the Naval, Military or Air Forces allotted for special duty in that special area, that is special service. If he is a member of a force allotted for special duty in that special area, or if he is a member of a unit that is allotted for special duty in that special area and he is injured in that special area, he is entitled to repatriation benefits.
The place and time elements are to be considered only so long as he is a member of a unit which, in that place, is allotted for special duty. There is no concept of causality and there is no concept that before an injury sustained in that area becomes pensionable, it must have been sustained as a result of hostile action or warlike operations. I hope I have made that point clear. I do not wish to introduce any didactic tones, but I ask for quiet consideration of this matter. Nobody here should attempt to generate a debate on this point. The necessity for this matter to be considered properly should induce an attitude of humility and should preclude any question of debating artifices.
So having made my point about the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act of 1962, 1 ask the Committee to consider the Repatriation Act 1920-1961 and that section of it which was introduced to extend benefits to certain male members of the Forces engaged in Korea and Malayan operations. If we turn to section 107b. of the Act we find that war service is defined in this way - “ war service “ means, in relation to a member of the Forces, his service while -
That is the concept which is contained in the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act which I have mentioned. If a serviceman is a member of a unit which has been allotted to special duty in a special area, or if he, as an individual, has been ordered to join a unit and is thereby allotted to special duty in a special area, he is entitled to repatriation benefits. His war service is defined as being from the time of the commencement of his duty in that operational area to the time of its conclusion. We have the place and time concept without any element of causality.
I speak on these matters because everybody knows that since workers compensation has been introduced into the civilfield it has been productive of a great volume of litigation on the question of whether or not injuries have been received in the course of civil employment. The expression “ arising out of his employment “ in relation to injury has become sanctified or the subject of sacrilege by an everlasting load of litigation. That question has caused great difficulty. This distinction between time and place, on the one hand, and causality, on the other hand, is most material from the point of view of entitlement.
If I am correct in my references tothe Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act of 1962 and the Repatriation Act 1920- 61, then I turn to the Bill to find what benefits are being given to servicemen in present warlike operations in Borneo, Vietnam or elsewhere. First, I find the words “ as a result of action by hostile forces”. Then I find that sub-section (2.) of proposed new section 7a states - (2.) For the purposes of the last preceding subsection, an occurrence that happened while a person was engaged in warlike operations against hostile forces in an area outside Australia shall be deemed to have happened as a result of action by hostile forces.
I believe that the Government has introduced into the Act for the first time, as far as I can see, in these extensional provisions that have followed the provisions in the principal Act, not merely the element of place and time, but also the element of causality. I put that point before the Committee so that it can be considered. I regret that I was not present in the chamber prior to the suspension of the sitting for dinner. I was engaged on other very pressing parliamentary duties. I believe that unless we can clearly resolve to our satisfaction the question of whether these benefits are to be provided for people whom we implicate in war areas, then, just as is done in the Upper House in Tasmania, let us lift this House and have a committee of five or six senators consult with the Parliamentary Draftsman for half an hour while the rest of the senators have tea, or let us adjourn until tomorrow, so that we may be assured that this difficulty has been overcome.
.- I hope that the Committee will perceive the significance of what Senator Wright has said. He has spoken in real terms of real problems. Unless we clearly resolve the problems of those of whom we are speaking, who are engaged in a real war, and unless we are prepared to get to the real nub of the problem, we are only dealing in semantics. Senator Gorton has repeatedly said in the Senate that when a man is hit by a bullet he is dead, in whatever language we speak. The Government is having two bob each way. It wants to make a stand on international affairs, and it wants to be put on a high level of participation in the power struggle. The struggle for power is measured in terms of the maintenance of the status quo, which is measured in status, money, position, power, image and all the rest. These are the values that exist in the world today. On the diplomatic and propaganda level Australia is getting away with these semantics. Senator Groton says that we are not at war but if a man is hit by a bullet he is dead, in any man’s language. We want to protect that man who is hit by the bullet - in any man’s language.
In this Parliament there is a cynicism of an extreme nature about this war in which we are engaged, but we are dealing with men - real men, men with wives, men with children, men with responsibility - who are leaving this country that we may live. Let us get that into our minds; these are real men. I hope that Government senators have this in mind. The Government may argue that they must be really dead - by a sniper’s bullet, or gas, or napalm, or laser ray - but the position boils down to this: A man should be covered as a soldier by all the cover that a thankful government can offer him and his dependants when he leaves this country. It does not matter what the technicalities are, whether he is in a restricted area, whether his own mates drop a bomb, gas, or napalm on him, or whether the wrong man is killed. When he leaves this country - as the propaganda machine has taught him, in his country’s defence - this country must pay up to the hilt, every bob, every cracker. It does not matter whether we call it workers’ compensation or repatriation benefit. Whatever we like to call it, it is not enough. Compensation is only a technical, legal thing by which one works out how much a man’s finger, arm or eye is worth. What is the economic factor? More is involved in the matter than this. This is a man who is prepared to give up his life for a friend. We have to bear that in mind. That is what we are dealing with in this amendment. It is bad enough to cheesepare if a man is at Canungra, training for this wicked, rotten, filthy war in which we are engaged. It is an unofficial war, and the only proof one has that we are at war is that a man is dead. He has caught a bullet and we know we are at war. It shows the rottenness of our policy that we cannot be straightforward and say to the people of Australia either that we are at war or that we are not at war.
Here we are on the border line, with two bob each way, trying to dodge our responsibilities. This is a filthy war, a psychological war. It is a power struggle. But let us not run away from our responsibilities. We know well that when a man leaves the shores of this country he might never come back. We have a thousand men up in the jungles and since they have been there, in the last three or four months, 10 per cent, of them are write-offs - casualties, dead, or injured for the rest of their lives. No-one can argue about that. Senator Mattner, who is interjecting, was a brave soldier. He has been through it. He should stick to the boys who are following on behind him. They are going through the same sort of thing as he went through, but it is worse now. In Senator Mattner’s day and in my day there were some rules of war. There are no rules now. It is catch as catch can. They will not even declare war now. That is how rotten it has become.
This Government conscripts a boy of 20 - the cheapest man in the community that it can conscript. He is old enough to be a man, but he is not given a vote. He can go to fight, and when he is dead, the Government pays the least that it can pay to his dependants. He is out of the hands of social services, because he is over 17 years of age. He has no wife or children, because he must get his parents’ permission to marry. He is the cheapest man that the Government can get to fight but it is arguing about whether, if he is killed, it will pay any money to his dependants. This is a miserable thing. The Government must face up to the fact that it has to pay, because the whole of the philosophy of our country today is measured in terms of money. Here we are arguing whether benefits will apply from the time when a man leaves the shores of this country, or when he is knocked off by a sniper, or when he gets hookworm, or scurvy, or some other foreign ailment. He is doing something up there for his country and he is exposed to all of these foreign disabilities.
This amendment states that the nation has a debt to honour, that the moment a man leaves home with the intention of fighting for the cause about which he has been told and to defend this country, the Government has to pay in hard cash. This amendment is only a start towards what we believe is simple justice for the troops. Once a man is conscripted, he is taken from his job and made part of an organisation. This is a power struggle for the protection of the status quo, and the Government must pay for him. We are being only moderate in moving this amendment, but we are just skirmishing around the edge of our responsibilities. The least that we can do is to assure these boys who are being grabbed out of their families, pushed along the line and propagandised into the Services, that once they leave the shores of this country they can be certain, whether they live or die, that the money is going to be here, despite what else is there. Therefore, I support this amendment with all of my ability.
– It is quite obvious that there is a lot of doubt still in the minds of many honorable senators on both sides of the chamber. My aim is to get the best possible Bill that we can get, and I think that there might be wisdom in adjourning the debate and bringing it on again tomorrow.
Debate resumed from 28th October (vide page 1289), on motion by Senator McKellar -
Thai the Bill be now read a second time.
.- The Opposition does not oppose this Bill. It is merely a machinery measure which, according to the second reading speech of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar), is designed to bring Australian Aborigines who served with Torres Strait Island units during the Second World War within the provisions of the Repatriation Act. The Minister said -
In the course of administration, it has been discovered that of approximately 700 servicemen enlisted in these special units, some 40 were Aboriginal natives of the mainland. Thus, they are technically not covered by the legislation. This Bill remedies that situation by expressing the definition so that it includes a mainland Aboriginal native who served in one of the Torres Strait Island units.
It is not much use crying over spilt milk, as we know, but it is regrettable that such a long time elapsed before it was discovered that 40 Aboriginal natives who had served in Torres Strait Island units were not entitled to repatriation benefits. However, repatriation benefits will now be extended to those 40 men. As I have said, we do not oppose the measure.
– I thank the Opposition for the speedy passage it has given this Bill through the second reading stage. I hope the Bill will receive an equally speedy passage through the Committee stage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 16th November (vide page 1515), on motion by Senator McKellar-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– In speaking to this legislation and the consequential Bills, one must remember that the Australian honey industry, from an export earning point of view, cannot be Classifield as one of our major primary industries. Nevertheless, it is a very important industry and of great value to Australia as a whole and particularly to South Australia - the State I have the honour to represent - which is one of our major honey producing Stales.
– Why is that?
– Because of our good climate and our beautiful flowers. We are fortunate in having in South Australia the flower known as Salvation Jane which is classed as one of the best honey producing plants in Australia. Honey produced from Salvation Jane is used as a base for blending with other honeys such as those produced from red gum, blue gum and eucalyptus.
– Does South Australia export honey?
– We export many tons annually. Legislation relating to this industry was first introduced in 1962, and the Australian Honey Board was established for the twofold purpose of promoting local consumption of honey and stabilising export prices. During the debate in 1962 my colleague from South Australia, Senator Toohey, proposed an amendment to clause 16 of the Bill which sought to impose a levy of one halfpenny per lb. on all honey producers and exporters. He proposed that the levy be reduced to one farthing per lb. and that the Government contribute the other farthing, but this was not accepted by the Government. The 1962 legislation was supported by most honey producers in Australia. It was thought that the establishment of the Australian Honey Board would encourage Australians to use more honey locally and would increase our exports.
Honorable senators will remember that in 1962 negotiations were going on to establish the European Economic Community. It was thought at that time that the United Kingdom would join the Community and that this would have an adverse effect on the export of our honey because the United Kingdom and West Germany were the major importing countries of the Australian product. The United Kingdom was allowing duty free entry with a duty preference over non-Commonwealth competitors of 5s. sterling per cwt. This was approximately 5 per cent, ad valorem. West Germany was admitting our honey free of duty in certain classifications, particularly industrial honey.
With the advent of the European Economic Community it was thought that a duty of 30 per cent, would be placed on Australian honey with detrimental effect on
Australian producers and exporters. At that time, the United Kingdom was the main user of Australian honey. In 1962-63, the United Kingdom imported 13,657,000 lb. of Australian honey valued in Australian currency at £694,000. Imports were a little lower in 1963-64 at 12,658,000 lb., worth £905,000, and fell to 7,945,000 lb., worth £376,000 in 1964-65. West German imports of Australian honey declined rapidly from 10,676,000 lb., worth £558,000, in 1962-63 to 3,699,000 lb. worth £258,000, in 1963- 64 and 2,464,000 lb., worth £103,000, in 1964-65. As honorable senators know, the United Kingdom did not enter the European Common Market and imports by the United Kingdom of Australian honey did not decline as rapidly as ‘the West German imports. This is understandable because the United Kingdom gave preference to Australian honey.
The Honey Industry Bill and consequential Bills will do much to assist the honey industry in the production not only of honey but also of beeswax. Beeswax is important in many branches of industry. Each of us who cleaned his shoes this morning used some Australian beeswax. It was found that when beeswax was mixed with harder waxes in shoe polish it gave a resilience to the polish which prevented it from hardening and protected leather from cracking. When beeswax was added to polish, half the polish did not fall out of the tin when the brush was dipped into it. Beeswax added to harder waxes permitted the production of a pastelike mixture which did not crack in winter. Beeswax is also used in the production of floor polish.
The provisions of the Honey Levy Bill (No. 1) 1965 wil release some producers of honey from the levy. In his second reading speech, the Minister for Repatriation stated in this connection -
The quantity of 120 lb. of honey represents Ss. at the current levy rate of id. per lb. and is considered adequate to exempt most amateur bee keepers from the levy. This will lift an onerous obligation from the Department of Primary Industry and result in a saving of Government expenditure in the collection of the many small levy payments.
If I might digress, this principle could be applied to some other forms of revenue collections, particularly by the Taxation Branch. The collection of small sums of money could be eliminated without great detriment to Consolidated Revenue. The honey industry is not an easy one for producers as production is subject to climatic conditions. In times of drought apiarists have to take their hives to distant parts. From time to time they visit them to extract the honey and when an area is worked out they have to move elswhere with the bees to maintain continuity of supplies. I will not detain the Senate longer as the Opposition does not oppose the Bills.
.- 1 support the measures before the Senate and I am pleased that the Opposition is in complete agreement with them also. The three Bills before the Senate are the Honey Industry Bill 1965, the Honey Levy Bill (No. I) 1965 and the Honey Levy Bill (No. 2) 1965. The main Bill is the Honey Industry Bill. The Honey Levy Bill (No. 1) amends the legislation of 1962 under which a levy was imposed on sales of honey within Australia. The proceeds went to the Australian Honey Board for administrative expenses and the promotion of sales of honey within Australia and overseas. Basically, the legislation was designed to stabilise the honey industry and exports of honey. As Senator Drury has said the levy was id. per lb. On this basis 5s. was collected from beekeepers throughout Australia for each 120 lb. produced. Provision has now wisely been made for the exemption from the levy of beekeepers who produce less than 120 lb. of honey which is the equivalent of 5s. levy. This is provided in the Honey Levy Bill (No. 1).
There is a query in my mind about the provisions of the Honey Levy Bill (No. 2) and perhaps the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) could clarify this point. The Bill allows the same exemption to apply to smaller manufacturers of goods which include honey. I take it that the exemption will apply to users of less than 120 lb. of honey. I ask the Minister to make this point clear, as his second reading speech did not say exactly how this exemption will apply to manufacturers. The main Bill now under discussion - the Honey Industry Bill 1965 - amends the Honey Industry Act 1962, the purpose of which was to promote the local consumption of honey and to stabilise export prices. I think great credit should be given to the Australian Honey Board when one looks at the immediate results of its efforts to increase the local consumption of honey. In the last 12 months consumption has risen by some 30 per cent.
This is surely one primary industry which can claim independence from government financial assistance. The funds to operate the Honey Board are gained entirely from within the industry. As is shown by the Board’s annual report for 1964-65, levies on the industry in that year yielded £52,059. With a further £600 odd from bank deposit interest, the total income of the Honey Board for the year ended 30th June 1965 was £52,701. There has been no contribution from the Government towards the running of the Board and that is rather unique in a primary industry such as this. The expenditure of the Board during the year amounted to £49,435 and it is of interest to note that the Board has committed itself in research to an amount of some £6,000, which I think does it great credit. I congratulate the honey producers on the setting up of this Board with the assistance of the Government and I congratulate it on the excellent way in which it has administered its affairs over the last few years. I congratulate the Government on taking the action it did in 1962 and that which it is now taking under these three Bills.
I am particularly interested in this industry and within the last month I attended the annual meeting of the Honey Board, which was held in the premier town of Wangaratta in Victoria. I was delighted to meet the individuals comprising the Board and also some of the gentlemen associated with the research work I have just mentioned. In the Honey Industry Bill 1965 there is a departure from the provisions of previous legislation which was not mentioned by Senator Drury, but which I think is worth mentioning. Honey production is an uncertain industry. The figures for the various States and the total production figures for Australia show that there has been a great variation in annual production due mainly to seasonal conditions. It is worthy to note that last year - and indeed for the last five years - New South Wales has been a bigger producer of honey than any other State in Australia. The second biggest producer is South Australia, the third is Victoria, and Western Australia ranks fourth. It is quite interesting to note the great variation that occurs in the volume of honey produced by each hive. For the greatest average production of honey per hive let us give credit to Western Australia. Last year, with an average production of 134.4 lb. per hive throughout Australia, Western Australia was far ahead of every other State with a production of 213.2 lb. per hive. Western Australia’s nearest competitor was South Australia, with a production of 154 lb. of honey per hive. That is an enormous difference and I thought it must have been due to the wonderful wild flowers of Western Australia; but that is not necessarily the answer. Apparently the Karri forests are the main reason for Western Australia’s high production. I give great credit to Western Australia not necessarily for the bees it produces but certainly for the honey it produces.
Australia produces about 45,647,000 lb. of honey per year and this figure has remained reasonably constant. Production in 1 963-64 was about 39.4 per cent, more than in 1962-63, but was considerably less than the record production of some 53 million lb. in 1948-49. Honey exports are most important and although the industry in the last year was able to export only some £711,000 worth of honey, the figure has varied greatly in past years. In the previous year honey worth some £1,382,000 was exported. This is one of the principal reasons for the main Bill with which we are dealing. The marketing of honey overseas is reputedly tied up in the hands of very few individuals in the United Kingdom and Germany and the price on the Australian market is regulated by a very few people. There are seasonal fluctuations in the production of honey and when a surplus occurs and growers need finance at least to quit their stocks export prices decline.
This Bill makes provision, for the first time, for the Honey Board to borrow from the Reserve Bank, and it will do so with a Commonwealth guarantee. As the Bill states, this is for the purpose of financing the holding of stocks of honey with the object of rationalising exports. I can see nothing but good coming out of this measure which is supported by the industry generally and by the Government. We are all most interested in our primary products and as dried fruits have been made available in the Parliamentary dining room for the benefit and health of members, I sug gest that consideration be given to providing honey on the dining tables at all meals. I believe this publicity would assist the industry greatly. It is an industry vital to Australia, not only for the production of honey but also for the pollenation and improvement of fruits and many other primary products. I commend the three Bills to the chamber and congratulate the Government on the action it has taken in this matter.
– I have just a few remarks to make on the legislation relating to honey and the organisation of the honey industry. For the information of Senator Hannaford, I point out that Tasmania, according to the Year Book, has in past years produced 500,000 lbs. of honey annually. I think that production is increasing, although it fluctuates according to the season. It is not always a matter of rain or of the other normal factors for a good season. The amount of nectar in the blossom determines the yield.
The honey industry is an important part of our economy. Together with the other smaller industries, it assists to make Australia a great nation. Before 1962 the Tasmanian honey producers were busily engaged in moving their hives around the State seeking an abundance of blossom and nectar producing trees. They produced leatherwood honey, which had a piquance and peculiarity of its own. Since that time the industry has gained through the commonsense of the producers themselves. I stress that point because a big section of the community today could benefit from the same attention to promotion, research and sales. Small as their industry is, the honey producers are achieving success and stability. Yet the so-called intelligent people in the community are at one another’s throats trying, it seems, to destroy their industry. I am referring to the wool growers. The honey producers have reached an agreement through the realisation that unless they unite, they will be divided and destroyed.
Germany was buying the beautiful Tasmanian leatherwood honey for application to pulleys to create friction. The Germans could buy Tasmanian honey cheaper than they could buy in Germany a compound to apply to their pulleys to eliminate slipping. Since the honey industry has seen the light, with Government assistance and guidance, with the Australian Honey
– What Government assistance?
– I refer to the Government that took a long time to become enlightened to the value of community effort and of protecting the smaller people in the community. 1 am referring to the Government that the newly arrived senator is behind. It is seeing the light. The message that the Opposition has been trying to tell the Government for so many years is gradually permeating and percolating through. We are glad to see that the honey industry is organised in the same way as the poultry and sugar industries are organised. We sincerely hope that the wool growers will achieve such organisation.
Tasmanians have an interest in the measure before the Senate. Perhaps we have a better weather pattern than have other parts of this continent of which we are all proud to be inhabitants. We cannot neglect the small component parts of our economy which are each contributing their little bit. The lastest statistics I could obtain for the honey industry relate to 1963-64. In that year Tasmania produced for export honey worth about £50,000. That is not a great, spectacular amount, but it is the effort of an industry which is using to the full the great natural gifts of this country. Our trees produce the right type of nectar for the unpaid servants, the wonderful little civilised animals - the bees - to collect. I wish we could learn a lesson from them on the value of co-operation and of helping one another to achieve an objective. The bees fill their hives and there is honey for all.
In speaking to support this measure, I believe that the Government is becoming more enlightened when it encourages the assistance of our smaller industries. In this legislation the Government has incorporated a little elasticity. I suppose a good soldier does what he is told to to, but in peace time a good soldier or a public servant should have a little discretion and discrimination. The Government would be unwise to direct that every pound of honey produced should bring a halfpenny into Consolidated Revenue. The Government is enlightened enough to say: “Why should we spend a fiver on collecting five bob?” Those people who produce only 120 lb. of honey a month are exempted from the trouble and disability of presenting reports and filling in papers. I believe that is a commendable part of this legislation. I look forward to the expansion of the honey industry and an increase in its contribution to our economic prosperity. An incentive is offered to people to go out into the uninhabited areas, for that is where the bee sucks. As the poem has it -
Where the bee sucks, there suck I.
In Tasmania the bee sucks in places to which I do not travel, such as the uninhabited areas of the west coast. Each bee garners his own little contribution and takes it to the hive. In this way, the island State of Tasmania is able to produce annually about 500,000 lb. of honey. I do not believe that the Victorian bees are any more industrious than Tasmanian bees, but there are more of them. I hope that the Tasmanian honey industry will continue to take its rightful place. Flavours are important. The coffee people advertise their product as the beans that taste the best. That is a gimmick. Tasmanian honey tastes very good on the breakfast table, and what is better than having breakfast with your own honey? I believe that this legislation represents advanced thinking by the Government. It has found that to help people to help themselves is a progressive way to expand a democratic society. I hope that the wool growers will take a hint from the honey producers.
– Order! This legislation has nothing to do with wool.
– I am making a passing reference to wool growers, Mr. President. The honey growers are giving a lead to the supposedly intelligent people in the community. They are organised for research, promotion, and sales. They have used their brains to work out successful methods. I hope that for the good of Australia the wool growers will follow the example set by the honey producers.
– in reply - As the Senate knows, I came into the chamber just a short time ago to relieve the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar). Having listened to Senator O’Byrne, I am quite satisfied that there ara a lot of bees in Tasmania and apparently a lot of honeys, too. We all listened to the honorable senator’s speech with considerable interest. Whilst there was a touch of humour in what he said, he made the point that he wanted to make. Apparently Senator Webster raised a question about the Government making some financial contribution to the industry. The Government did make a contribution of £5,000 to match a similar grant by the Australian Honey Board from industry funds for a research project. That project was completed in 1964-65. Reference to that contribution is to be found in the annual report of the Board. I thank the Senate for its co-operation in facilitating the passage of these very interesting and important pieces of legislation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 16th November (vide page 1515), on motion by Senator McKellar-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 16th November (vide page 1516), on motion by Senator McKellar-
That the Bill be now read a second lime.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
.- I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) to make some comment on the provisions of. this Bill, as I could not make sense of the second reading speech that was delivered by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar). In his second reading speech on the Honey Levy
Bill (No. 1) 1965, the Minister for Repatriation said that provision had been made for exemption of a person from the payment of the levy in any month if the honey he sold or used in the production of other goods in that month weighed not more than 120 lb., which quantity represents 5s. at the current levy rate of id. per lb. That relates to a monthly collection on honey. I take it that the Honey Levy Bill (No. 2) 1965 relates to honey used in the manufacture of other goods. Is this an annual provision or a monthly provision?
– I am informed that this Bill relates to honey used in the manufacture of other goods and that the collection in question is a monthly collection. Apparently I used the honorable senator’s name wrongly a little earlier when replying to a question asked by another honorable senator. Perhaps it was Senator Webster who asked why the exemption from the levy should be applied to honey used in the manufacture of other goods. The information I have reveals that the exemption provided for in the Honey Levy Bill (No. 1) 1965 is designed as an economy measure to save the Department of Primary Industry having to collect the levy from small producers. Probably the same exemption is being applied to manufacturers who might produce small quantities of honey for use in the manufacture of other goods. It would not be economical for the Department to collect those small amounts.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 16th November (vide page 1517), on motion by Senator McKellar.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The second reading speech that was delivered by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) related also to the Livestock Slaughter Levy Bill 1965 and the Meat
Industry Bill 1965. The Australian Labour Party does not oppose any of these three Bills, which all deal with research and promotion within the meat industry. The main change that is to be effected is to extend the current beef research scheme to cover beef, mutton and lamb. This, of course, will necessitate a re-organisation of the Australian Cattle and Beef Research Committee, provision for which is made in the measure. The maximum amount of levy that may be imposed in respect of cattle is fixed at 7s. 6d. a head. The amount of levy that is being imposed at present is 3s. 3d. a head; 2s. of which is used for research and 1s. 3d. of which is used to cover administration expenses. In respect of sheep and lambs, the maximum levy fixed by the Life-stock Slaughter Levy Bill is 9d. a head. At present the levy for administration expenses is Hd. a head. Under the legislation that is now before the Senate, the levy for research will be 4d. a head.
We members of the Australian Labour Party believe that the Government is not making sufficient effort in connection with research into primary industries. Australia, even at the present stage of its development, is riding on the back of primary industries. The Government does not encourage or promote sufficient research in these industries to give them the impetus that they should be given. We also believe that much of the research that is being carried out is not finding its way down the line to the producers. It is a pity when public money is subsidising producers’ money in an effort to promote research in primary industries and all the results of the research programmes are not reaching the producers. Much of this failure is brought about by an insufficient number of scientists to pass on the information. Much of it is brought about by a lack of channels for passing on the information. We believe that very much more could be done to pass on the results of research through extension services. In Western Australia we have quite large groups of farm management clubs through which this information could be passed on to the producers not only in the meat industry but also in other primary industries in which research is carried on.
We urge the Government to be more vigorous in trying to pass on this information and in the training of scientists. It is a well known fact that among the trained people in short supply in Australia today are veterinary scientists. Yet there are only two Australian universities at which education in veterinary science can be gained. More should be done in this field. Much more could be done to pass on the results of research by establishing a much closer contact between the producers and the scientists, even to the extent of giving practical demonstrations to the producers. I know that that is difficult in view of the shortage of scientists. But it is of little use to continue with research unless the results of it are passed on. The time may come when it will be better to stop part of the research and pass on the results, and then go back to further research as results come to hand. We believe that the Government should be giving more consideration to this mailer. lt is well known that at present our primary industries are passing through a very difficult period, lt seems to mc that the near future will be more difficult for the meat producing industries. The Australian Meat Board recognises this problem, lt recognises that more money was gained from the slaughter levy this year than would normally have been gained, because many producers were killing off sheep and cattle in order to save them from dying of starvation. But the producers still had to pay the slaughter levy. That means that smaller number of sheep and cattle will probably be slaughtered for quite a few years to come, until the industry gets back to normal. I noticed in this morning’s Sydney “Daily Telegraph “ a short article from Brisbane. It was headed “ £6±m. Drought Loss in Queensland “ and stated -
Nearly £6J million would be needed to replace cattle and sheep which have died in the drought in Queensland this year, Dr. Alexander said today.
Dr. Alexander, the Director of Cattle Husbandry, said that to the end of August 130,000 cattle and 2,250,000 sheep had died.
He said that in addition to these losses more than 500,000 animals were estimated to have been slaughtered prematurely.
That is an indication of what is happening. I think Dr. Alexander rather unestimates the cost of replacing these cattle and sheep when he estimates it at £6i million. The drought will have a continuing effect for quite a few years because many of the stock that were lost in this period were breeding stock, and they are just not replaceable quickly. But his estimate gives some indication of what the effects of the drought will be. It also must give some indication of the effect of the drought on our export income earnings from the meat industry, which has been such a good export income earner for Australia in previous years. During the next few years these earnings will tend to decline because of the lack of sheep and cattle. When we experience national disasters of this nature, we must find quick means of travelling at least breeding stock from drought affected areas to other areas where they can be fed and preserved so that later the herds can be built up again very quickly.
The east Kimberley area of Western Australia has suffered from four consecutive bad seasons. The number of stock delivered to the Wyndham meatworks this year was down by about 10,000. The Vesteys organisation has considerable station holdings in that area. It did not send one head of stock into the Wyndham meatworks this year. Last year it sent in 10,000 head. Many of those that it sent in were breeding stock. Many of them were sent in because if they had not been sent in during that season they would have died of starvation. It will take many years to rebuild the Vesteys organisation’s interests in the east Kimberley area.
Last year the Western Australian Department of Agriculture at Kununurra, in association with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation scientists at the Kimberley Research Station, conducted some experiments in the hand feeding of cattle. A test was run. I hope that another one will be run this year. I understand that the management of “ Argyle “ has stated that it will co-operate fully. Of course, the time when the scientists will be asking for full co-operation has not yet arrived. The figures given to me by the scientists of the Department of Agriculture at Kununurra when I was there earlier this year are very interesting. This trial was conducted with two groups of 146 head of pregnant cattle. These cattle had been tested for pregnancy. Each group was turned into a 6,000 acre paddock. The two padocks adjoined each other. So the two pieces of country into which the cattle were put were, as nearly as possible, the same.
One group of 146 cows was fed a daily average of 2i lb. of waste cotton seed from the Kununurra ginnery. The results of the experiment were taken. They were not final when the figures were given to me. The figures I have terminate at 7th January, although it was later than that when I was there. Although they had closed off the experiment, the final results were not available. At the end of the experiment there were still 146 cows in group A, which had been fed an average of Iiib, of seed cotton per day, and they were all in good condition. There were 61 calves at foot. Of the 146 cows originally in group B, which had fed normally off the range, there were 78 cows left and they were in very poor condition. There were 16 calves at foot. This is an indication of what can be done with proper stock management and proper research into the maintenance of the breeding stock.
It is interesting to note also that the deliveries of cattle by road train to the Wyndham meat works this year, even though we are spending large sums of money on beef roads - of course I believe that experimental work on beef roads must continue - fell by 12 per cent, compared with last year. Last year the number of cattle that was transported by road train represented 74 per cent, of the total number killed, but this year the number transported represented 62 per cent, of the total killed. The transportation of cattle by road train has to be encouraged. I realise that much of the fall in the percentage was due to the fact that Vesteys did not deliver any cattle to the meat works during the killing season. This industry, like all primary industries, is too important to the Australian economy and to the Australian people to be left in the hands of people who want to exploit it only for profit. When I say that, I do not pull any punches. I am thinking of what Vesteys has done with Australian land over the years.
To digress a little, the bulk of the .siltation problem in the Ord River has been caused in the catchment areas on Vestey’s stations. It will cost the Western Australian Government and the Commonwealth Government hundreds of thousands of pounds to reclaim the area of land that has been devastated as a result of overstocking by Vesteys and by Vesteys not looking after the country for which it has a lease and of which it is only the protector for the Australian people. There should be constant research into this matter in order to ensure that land which is the heritage of the people of Australia is managed in a proper way. lt will not then be necessary for the people of Australia to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds to rehabilitate the land. Research must be undertaken in order to preserve the breeding stock which is the basis of the industry.
As I said earlier, we do not believe that the Government is paying sufficient attention to research into primary industries. I am dealing only with the meat industry at the moment. But when I look at the report of the Australian Meat Board I find that it has accumulated assets, both fixed and liquid, of £1,332,806. The present scheme has not been in operation for very long, and the Board has accumulated this amount of money in a very short time. I realise that it is not a great amount of money to have in reserve, particularly when the allocation for 1965-66 is £1,014,000. The actual reserve in the research account amounts to £814,489. But when we realise that less than half the amount of money for which the legislation provides under the levy system is being used, the reserve is huge. We must remember also that if all the money were used it would be subsidised on a £1 for £1 basis from public funds. Overall, there is a large reserve available to the Board. If it requires extra funds at any time it is not necessary to obtain the approval of the Parliament. The levy can be arranged in a prescribed manner by regulation.
I would much sooner see all of the money provided for research being spent on research instead of a portion of it being kept to create a reserve account. The reserve provided for the current year is £207,000. That is a considerable amount of money that could be applied to research into the meat industry instead of being locked away for future use. I do not believe that the Board needs to have very much money in the reserve account because facilities exist for it to raise extra money if it becomes necessary. For this reason, I believe that the creation of a large reserve is not in the best interests of the industry. I urge the Government to undertake more research in this field. As I have said, we do not oppose the Bill.
– I am pleased to hear that the Australian Labour Party does not intend to oppose the measure. I listened with great interest to Senator Cant who led the debate on behalf of the Labour Party. He has given an outline of what he thinks the Government should do. He criticised it for not doing enough. I should like to remind Senator Cant that the levy and the Cattle and Beef Research Trust Account were established only three years ago. In 1962-63 the total expenditure was £267,000; in 1963-64, it was £424,000; in 1964-65 it was over £900,000; and this year the grant has been increased to over £1 million. When a new venture is instituted, involving the industry, the State Departments of Agriculture and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation as the instruments for spending the money cannot start off with an expenditure of millions of pounds or hundreds of thousands of pounds. They must begin from the bottom and work up. In a matter of three years the amount expended - some of which has been granted by the Government on a £1 for £1 basis - has risen to more than £1 million.
Senator Cant’s remarks about the northwest of Western Australia were very interesting indeed. He described the experiment conducted by Argyle Station, in conjunction with the Kimberley Research Station, in feeding cotton seed to 146 cattle in one paddock, leaving another 146 cattle to range over the norma] pastures available in the district. The experiment commenced on 1st October and concluded about the middle of January. The cattle in one group were fed about 2$ lb. of cotton seed a day. Being sold at £5 a ton to the stations, the seed was an economic proposition. Of the 146 pregnant cows fed cotton seed, there were no losses and 89 calves survived. Only 78 of the 146 cows on natural pastures survived, and from this group only 16 calves survived. This indicates the terrific potential of the Ord River scheme if cotton is grown and cotton seed is made available to station owners in the Kimberleys and the Northern Territory for feeding to cattle in the bad months of the year.
– Do they feed the cotton seed fibre or the oil?
– The cotton forms on the plant as a boll, in the middle of which is the seed. The cotton is taken to a ginnery for treatment, during which the seed is extracted. The cotton lint is put into bales weighing about 500 lb. The seed that is taken out of the cotton is about two-thirds of the total weight. If cotton seed oil is to be sold as a by-product, it is necessary to install machinery to extract the oil, but a simple way of getting the benefit of the oil is to feed the cotton seed to cattle on surrounding stations.
– Is it ground or is it fed as seed?
– It is not touched. After the cotton is ginned, the cotton seed is discarded in heaps at the ginnery and then sold at £5 a ton to any station owner who is interested. Senator Cant, who has made a study of this matter, took some time to prepare the figures that he gave the Senate, and I can vouch for their accuracy. These experiments were carried out on Argyle Station under the supervision of the Kimberley Research Station.
– This would amount to less than lid. a head of stock a day.
– It is quite cheap. The cotton seed is taken by truck and dumped on the station where the cattle are on the range. They organise the quantity of which they will partake each day. It is not necessary to go along and give each beast23/4 lb. a day. It is dumped in the paddock and they take what they want. It is estimated that over the 41/2 months from October to January - which is a bad time, when cattle are dying - they ate 23/4 lb. each every day.
However, I want to get on the subject of research. The meat industry is of terrific importance. Senator Cant dealt with only one phase. Other phases are of tremendous importance. Departments of Agriculture in each State are carrying out experiments on set stocking and continuous grazing, as a result of which it has been found that more stock, particularly sheep, can be carried per acre. Experiments are being conducted by the C.S.I.R.O. at Ginninderra.
– 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 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 November 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1965/19651117_senate_25_s30/>.