25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuilin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Housing examine the practicability of having printed and circulated to honorable senators a booklet or pamphlet outlining the functions of the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation, similar to the one dealing with the Homes Savings Grant Act?
– I will convey the honorable senator’s suggestion to the Minister for Housing.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry: Is it a fact, as reported, that there has been an outbreak of blue tongue disease in southern Queensland? If so, are there any indications of foot and mouth disease being present also? What action is being taken to stamp out the outbreak? If the outbreak is the result of someone illegally bringing in semen, as alleged, will the Minister name the person responsible if doing so will enable graziers to avoid any risk of further contamination or spread of the disease?
– If the Senate agrees, 1 shall make a statement on this matter at the conclusion of question time.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health: Did he see the television programme “ Project 65 “ on Sunday last, in which an Australian dentist in London, Dr. Ian Hay, said that the Australian community was the most heavily dentured community on earth? ls the Minister also aware that under the British free medical scheme upper and lower dentures are prescribed only under the most extreme circumstances, whereas in Australia, because of the high cost of dentistry, patients demand dentures so as to be relieved of the recurring cost of dental fillings? Is he in a position to say when we in Australia will have free dentaltreatment?
– I did not see the television programme to which the honorable senator referred. The matter of free dental care in Australia has been considered by the Government over the last four or five years. It has to be considered in the context of the provision of other services.
– It is a matter of policy.
– As my leader reminds me, it is a matter of Government policy. The Government has to consider such things when they come up from time to time. That is all I can say to the honorable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. According to the annual report of the Department of Civil Aviation, Trans-Australia Airlines received £130,000 last year in subsidies on air routes in Queensland, and Queensland Airlines Pty. Ltd. and Ansett-A.N.A. combined received £30,000. Could the Minister give details of the routes operated by T.A.A. on which subsidies are paid, setting out the amount of subsidy paid on each route? Can the Minister give details of the routes on which subsidies are paid and the amount of subsidy paid on each route? Can the Minister supply some information on the routes operated by Queensland Airlines Pty. Ltd. and Ansett-A.N.A. on which subsidies are paid? Is it not a fact that a subsidy is paid on the Townsville-Mount Isa air route? Is it not a fact also that according to the report of the Department of Civil Aviation the load rate on this route is now 70 per cent, and according to the Department’s ratings, a 70 per cent, load rate is a profitable rate? If that is the case, in what circumstances is a subsidy still paid on that route?
– I have not the details of the Queensland air routes which are subsidised, but I have the case of the Townsville-Mount Isa route fairly clearly in my mind. This is not a direct service operated by Trans-Australia Airlines.
T.A.A. traverses a circular route including other outer airports on the way to Mount Isa. This service is subsidised because of the services rendered to the other outports. However, if the honorable senator will put his question on the notice paper I will obtain for him the details he has requested
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. Has the Minister read a news story published in the Sydney Press under the headings “ Aussie Atrocity - Villagers Murdered - Charge in United States “? Will the Minister have this matter investigated and make sure that Australian servicemen are not rubbished by reports of such a character which are being published repeatedly in overseas journals? Will the Minister obtain a reply to my question of last week requesting visits by parliamentarians to our servicemen? I can assure the Minister this question was prompted by a number of complaints from servicemen on leave who said they are being humiliated, given outlandish duties and treated as third rate soldiers by their allies. They feel this treatment could be rectified by an inspection on the spot by people in authority such as their elected representatives.
– I read the article to which the honorable senator has referred and I also read a statement by the Minister for the Army, which I fully expected, to the effect that he was having this matter investigated at once. If the honorable senator had read the article closely he would have seen that announcement by the Minister and his question would have been answered. Visits have been made to the troops in Vietnam by the Minister for the Army and other Australians. I shall ascertain what happened to the question asked by the honorable senator last week and will see if I can get an answer.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Repatriation. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to articles appearing in the Press concerning a new technique by which amputees can stand and walk a very short time after undergoing serious operations? Could the Minister des cribe this technique and inform the Senate of the benefits it can bring to ex-servicemen and others?
– The technique to which the honorable senator has referred is one which was introduced to Australia by medical officers of my Department - I say that with pride - with the prime purpose of assisting in the treatment and early rehabilitation of those who lose their legs. It was first used in Poland and a number of amputees have been fitted with what is known as an immediate prosthesis. This in some cases has resulted in men, instead of being hospitalised for lengthy periods, being able to return home and back to work within a few weeks of the operation. The case to which the honorable senator refers did make medical history in this country in that the patient had an artificial limb actually fitted on the operating table after an above the knee amputation and was able to stand and support some of his weight on it only 36 hours later. The virtue of this system, which I must add can only be applied in certain cases, is that circulation is improved, the patient does not lose his sense of balance and generally can walk again without too much trouble, and muscles do not waste. The psychological and economic advantages are obvious.
– By way of preface to. my question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, I point out that in every annual report since 1956 the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission has publicly criticised the unsatisfactory accommodation that is provided for the Commission and the poor conditions that exist in Sydney. As this affects citizens as well as the Commission and impairs the efficiency of arbitration, will the Minister say why the complaints have not been attended to? Will he ask the Minister for Labour and National Service to do something about it?
– I shall not ask the Minister for Labour and National Service to do something about it but will bring to his attention the fact that Senator Murphy thinks something should be done.
– I ask my question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, because of the increasing contribution (hat is made by women to the work force of Australia. This matter has been raised by my colleagues on a number of occasions and by women’s organisations. I ask: Has the Government given further consideration to lifting what is commonly known as the marriage bar by the repealing of section 49 (2.) of the Public Service Act, which provides that every female officer shall be taken to have retired from the Public Service upon her marriage unless the Public Service Board certifies that there are special circumstances which make her employment desirable, and which also prohibits the employment of an already married woman either permanently or temporarily unless the Board gives a similar certificate? If consideration has been given to this matter, may the Senate be informed whether a decision has been made to repeal the section?
– This is a very important question. It is one that can be answered only by the Minister for Labour and National Service. If the honorable senator places her question on the notice paper, I shall get an answer for her.
– Has the
Minister for Civil Aviation seen a report that the Government intends to purchase, among other aircraft for use by the Royal Australian Air Force, two BACIII aircraft to enable V.I.P.’s to fly non-stop to any part of Australia? Is the Minister aware that the New South Wales Ambulance Transport Service has been attempting to obtain Government approval, so far without success, to enable either Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. or Trans-Australia Airlines to assist it in giving an aerial ambulance service to outback areas of New South Wales? In view of the importance of aerial transport to outlying and far flung country districts, will the Minister make representations to the R.A.A.F. to see whether, now that additional aircraft will be available, it can make an aircraft available to the Ambulance Transport Service so that this authority can effectively carry out its important and responsible life saving work?
– The aircraft which the honorable senator has mentioned are to replace obsolete aircraft that are at present in use. The honorable senator will recall that at the moment the Air Force has Convair and DC3 aircraft in use. He has referred to the ambulance service in New South Wales. I have given this matter a lot of consideration and have had a lot of discussion with the Ambulance Transport Service Board. I point out again that many charter services are available. A number of individuals and small firms carry out this kind of work. I think that the Service should contact the people who are equipped to undertake this kind of work.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs let me know what the Government plans to do about rendering technical assistance to areas in the Pacific? Can he indicate precisely the countries to be assisted and the extent of such assistance?
– This question has reference to a small amount of money being made available this year to provide assistance to Western Samoa and British territories^ - I think they are the Gilbert Islands - in the Pacific. An amount of £50,000 for this purpose has been included in this year’s Budget to provide assistance similar to that given under the Colombo Plan. Technical training in Australia will be provided for people from those areas in the Pacific and Australian experts will be sent to places in those areas, again to assist technically. The only action taken so far of which I am aware is that an officer of the New South Wales Department of Agriculture has gone to one of the places to be assisted - I believe to Samoa - to advise on how to get rid of bunchy top, which is a banana disease. Another officer is touring Tonga and other islands to investigate the technical ways in which we can best assist. Assistance will be given mainly through a technical programme - the training of technicians and apprentices - and by sending Australian experts to the areas in the same way as is done under the Colombo Plan.
– My question, which is supplementary to the question asked by Senator Morris, is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. I direct the Minister’s attention to a report that the semen suspected to have caused the outbreak of blue tongue disease is being sent to South Africa for testing. Does this indicate that we have not the laboratory facilities or trained personnel available in Australia to carry out the necessary tests?
– The first part of the honorable senator’s question will be covered in the statement I am to make. I will refer the second part of the honorable senator’s question to the Minister for Health.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration seen newspaper reports that a very large family group of English migrants is contemplating returning to England because the only members of the family remaining in England - a son and his wife - have been refused permission to migrate to Australia because the son’s wife is an epileptic? In view of medical research into epilepsy and also in view of the humanitarian factors involved, will the Minister review the case and so enable this family to be re-united in Australia and not in England?
– I think it would be appropriate for me to refer the honorable senator’s comments to the Minister for Immigration to determine the facts of the case and whether anything can be done.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry: Can the Minister give any information on the Government’s consideration of, or the early release of, the report of the Tariff Board on the motor vehicle industry? Is the Government considering representations from the Federation, of Automotive Products Manufacturers and other motor industry representations on this question and on the matter of speeding up the programme to increase the Australian content of motor vehicles?
– I have no information from the Minister for Trade and Industry as to the position of the Tariff Board’s report on the motor vehicle industry. Naturally, the Government is watching closely the position of the motor vehicle industry, but at present I have no further information on what steps are being taken. A statement will be made in due course.
– I address my question to the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. What has happened to the report of the Weeden Committee on Educational Television? Was the report not made to the Government through the Australian Broadcasting Control Board as long ago as last March? Why has the report not been made public? In view of the important role which television can play in education, may we hope for a Government statement on the Committee’s report before Parliament rises this year?
– The answer to the lust part of the question, which I would like to refer to first, is that I see no possibility of the report being presented to Parliament before Parliament rises this year. It has been before the Postmaster-General for a considerable time through the medium of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and has been the subject of discussion by officials in the communications world. That is to say, the report has been examined and reported on again, as it were, to the PostmasterGeneral by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the PostmasterGeneral’s Department and another group whose name I have forgotten at the moment. This report has been the subject of discussions also in the education section of the Prime Minister’s Department and will bc the subject of further discussions between myself, the Postmaster-General and the Government. It will be the intention to release the report together with a statement of the Government’s decisions on it, as is usual. But I cannot see any possibility of that report being presented before Parliament rises this session. Nor would I like to put a time on the presentation of the report except to say that we are working on it.
– Can the Minister for Customs and Excise give the Senate any information as to whether the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade has made a decision in regard to Australia’s desire to reduce the duties on certain imports from under developed countries?
– This question should have been directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation who represents the Minister for Trade and Industry in the Senate. However, probably some confusion has arisen concerning the matter because I was in charge of the appropriate Bill when it was before the Senate. I will see that the question is directed to the Minister for Trade and Industry.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. In view of Australia’s excellent record of air safety due largely to the attitude of successive governments in providing quite substantial funds to ensure the selection of suitable aerodrome sites, and the provision of adequate runways, navigational aids, operations procedures and skilled personnel for the purpose of maintaining this fine record -
– Order! Is the honorable senator addressing his question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport?
– I am addressing my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I am working up to a point on which I direct my question to the Minister. In view of Australia’s excellent record in this field, will the Minister prevail upon his colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport, to act upon the advice of responsible bodies concerned with the appalling loss of life on Australian roads, and also with the consequential tremendous economic losses resulting from road accidents, that considerably increased funds be made available for road and highway construction and maintenance, the implementation of modern traffic control procedures and other essential measures as have been proved conclusively in other countries of the world to reduce the road toll?
– The honorable senator asks a question in relation to road safety control and the role of the Commonwealth Government in road safety. It is a question which does not call for a short answer. The position is that the States clearly have heavy responsibilities in this field. The role of the Commonwealth Government finds expression through the Australian Transport Advisory Council which has the function, with the various State Governments, of trying to obtain a uniform approach to this problem. In addition, there is the Australian Road Safety Council, which is under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Government. Each of the States has its own road safety council. Matters of policy arise in the question asked by the honorable senator. For that reason, I think I should refer the whole question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport and ask him to provide a reply.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development and relates to the operations of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority. Will the Government give consideration to the immediate conservation of water used for the generation of electricity through Tumut 1 and Tumut 2 power stations until the water level in the Burrinjuck Dam is high enough to ensure that there will be no restrictions on irrigation in the Mumimbidgee valley?
– The question should be placed on the notice paper.
– I raise a point of order, Mr. President. Senator Murphy asked a question. If the Minister representing the Minister for National Development is not present, courtesy demands that some Minister should rise and, if he cannot answer the question, ask that it be placed on the notice paper. We do not like to be kicked about and we will not be kicked about.
– So that there will be no misunderstanding, let me point out that you, Mr. President, said that the question should be put on the notice paper. I am quite happy to stand in my place and ask Senator Murphy to put the question on the notice paper.
– I am sorry, Mr. President. I did not know that you had directed that the question be placed on the notice paper.
– I point out that no Minister rose and that obviously no answer was to be given. That is why I said the question should be placed on the notice paper.
(Question No. 585.)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– -The Treasurer has supplied the following answer -
The honorable senator’s question apparently relates 19 a comment I made in the course of my attendance at an economic forum conducted by the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures in Melbourne on 8th September last. A question was asked of me, concerning the effect on the Australian balance ‘of payments of payments made for insurance and shipping charges, from the floor of the gathering after the general addresses had been delivered. In answering the snipping aspect of the question, I made a comment to the effect that I hoped to live to see the day when there would be Australian ships carrying Australian goods to other parts of the world. I went on to point out that there were some practical problems that would need to be overcome but I commented that I did not think they were insuperable.
It will be apparent that I was expressing a personal viewpoint and that in no sense was I making a policy announcement on behalf of the Government. The particular questions the honorable senator has asked therefore do not arise. I am aware, of course, that relevant Commonwealth Departments have made some examination of the relative costs that would be involved in the shipment of Australian exports in Australian flag vessels.
(Question No. 728.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
Is it illegal for fishermen and other persons to land on the islands on which Commonwealth lighthouses are situated?
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has supplied tha following answers -
Islands on which Commonwealth lighthouses are situated may be divided broadly into two categories: Group A - Those on which the lighthouse reserve comprises only portion of the island, and Group B - Those on which the lighthouse reserve comprises the whole of the island. With regard to Group A, it is clear that it would not be illegal for fishermen or other persons to land on any portion of such an island outside the lighthouse reserve, unless they landed where it was illegal to do so for reasons not the responsibility of the Department of Shipping and Transport.
With regard to Group B, such landings would not necessarily be illegal. The answer to the question of whether or not a particular landing was illegal would depend upon the circumstances. The laws of trespass as they apply to Commonwealth land apply equally to lighthouse reserves, that is, the common law relating to trespass and section 89 of the Crimes Act. Additionally, section 19 of the Lighthouses Act provides a penalty for trespass on a lighthouse or marine mark of ship or property used for lighthouse services. In general no objection is made to landings on lighthouse reserves on islands by fishermen or others, provided they do not cause any nuisance or damage, and there has been no reason in recent years for any legal proceedings to bc taken against any person for this reason.
(Question No. 731.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has supplied the following answers -
(Question No. 750.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has supplied the following answer -
– On 11th November 1965, Senator Morris asked me the following question -
I direct to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry a question with reference to the subsidy being paid to assist the shipping line operating to South America. How many separate voyages were made in 1964-65, 1963-64, and 1962-63? What are the principal commodities transported from Australia? To which South American ports are they consigned?
The Minister for Trade and Industry has supplied the following information -
There are two separate shipping services operating with Commonwealth Government assistance to South America; one to the east coast and one to the west coast of South America and the Caribbean.
East coast service -
In all, seven voyages have been completed since this service commenced and the final sailing under the Agreement is loading at present. The dates on which loading commenced in each case were: 9th May 1962; 27th September 1962; 22nd February 1963; 10th August 1963; 16th January 1964; 17th February 1965; 2nd August 1965; and 12th November 1965.
Principal commodities in this trade are steel, tinplate, zinc, mineral sands, malt, barley and agricultural machinery.
Ports of call for this service are Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Rio de Janeiro with some vessels also calling at Santos.
West coast and Caribbean service -
There have been 24 sailings in this trade since the Commonwealth began its financial assistance in January 1962. Of these the first 2 in 1965 were operated outside the Agreement and no subsidy was payable. Loading dates for individual voyages were: 16th January 1962; 17th March 1962; 9th May 1962; 19th July 1962; 26th September 1962; 14th December 1962; 28th February 1963; 21st May 1963; 27th July 1963; 14th August 1963; 26th November 1963; 1st January 1964; 5th April 1964; 15th July 1964; 27th September 1964; 12th December 1964; 17th December 1964; 28th January 1965; 20th February 1965; 21st March 1965; 3rd May 1965; 15th July 1965; 19th August 1965; and 10th October 1965.
Principal commodities in this trade are meats, butter, and other milk products, tallow, wool, automobiles and parts, agricultural machinery and steel sheet.
Ports of call on the service are Callao (Peru), Guayaquil (Ecuador), one Colombian port, La Guaira or other Venezuela port, Port-of-Spain (Trinidad) and Bridgetown (Barbados). Vessels also call at Kingston (Jamaica) outside the Agreement.
– On 25th November Senator Bishop asked me the following question, without notice -
Is it a fact that 3,000 bags of Christmas mail, including some for the United Kingdom, were left on the Melbourne wharves last Sunday because a Greek ship sailed before the mail was loaded? Will the Postmaster-General consider making special arrangements to air freight this mail to forward ports so that it may reach London before Christmas Day?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply-
Of the mail left behind in Melbourne by the “Australis” all the letter mail and a quantity of other articles were airlifted to Perth and taken aboard the vessel there. The balance of the delayed mail will be conveyed from Melbourne by sea and is expected to arrive in the United Kingdom before the end of December.
– by leave -I have been supplied with the following statement, which was made in another place this morning by the Minister for Health (Mr. Swartz)-
Early in September a Mr. Gordon Burcher returned from America bringing with him a vacuum flask containing 58 ampoules of cattle semen. On arrival at Sydney airport he declared the vacuum flask to Customs Officers but not its contents. He took this semen to his farm at Mount Crosby, about 25 miles south west of Brisbane and over the last three weeks he has inseminated four cows with it.
On 25th November he took three ampoules to the Veterinary School of the University of Queensland where he asked a technician to tell him if the semen was still viable. On 26th November the Chief Quarantine Officer (Animals) at Brisbane was informed of this. He immediately confiscated all unused ampoules and quarantined the farm. After consultation with my Department, he ordered destruction of all ruminants on Burcher’s farm, namely 21 cows and 13 calves.
The semen was obtained from a Government Artificial Insemination Centre in British Columbia, Canada, which borders the United States of America. As blue tongue is widespread in the United States of America, there is a possibility that the virus may have crossed into the neighbouring provinces of Canada. Blue tongue is a serious disease of sheep which is transmitted by midges of the genus culicoides, hence it cannot be contained by isolation of infected animals. Cattle can be inapparent carriers of the virus and it is transmitted from them to sheep and other cattle by midges. There is no suspicion whatsoever that this semen contains foot and mouth disease virus, as it is many years since foot and mouth disease has been present in North America.
I must point out that the animal Quarantine Service is responsible for keeping blue tongue and other diseases of animals out of Australia but in the event of the entry of a disease, it is the responsibility of the State to deal with it. On Tuesday last, the Director of Veterinary Hygiene of my Department convened a consultative committee of senior veterinary officials in Brisbane, which recommended the slaughter of all ruminants within 1½ miles of Burcher’s farm, the insecticide fogging of all habitats of midges in this area, and sealing off of the area for ruminant animals for two months after slaughter operations have been completed. This will involve the slaughter at abattoirs of 600 or more animals. Any form of compensation will be considered by the Queensland Government.
The Queensland Government and particularly the Queensland Minister for Primary Industries are to be commended on the prompt acceptance of these recommendations by the consultative committee and there is every reason to hope that any possible outbreak of disease will be averted. This is a regrettable incident, which demonstrates how the action of an individual can frustrate the efforts of the best quarantine precautions. The question of any legal action is under consideration by the Commonwealth Government.
Motion (by Senator Henry) agreed to -
That Government business take precedence of general business after 8 p.m. this sitting.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act. The Bill effects two amendments announced by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in his Budget Speech. Both of these affect the income tax liabilities of members of the Defence Force. One will exempt from tax the pay and allowances of members of the Defence Forces Emergency Reserve for part-time duty and the other will grant an exemption to members of the Defence Force serving in Vietnam and Borneo. Both exemptions are to apply as from 1st July, 1965. Another amendment proposed by the Bill will extend taxation relief to woolgrowers who have been forced by drought conditions to advance shearing dates and shear flocks twice during the income year 1964-65. In the absence of the amendment, these people would have to account for the proceeds of the two clips as income of the one year. In broad terms, the amendment will permit them to have the net proceeds of the second clip treated as income of the 1965-66 year.
The Bill also proposes an amendment consequential on legislation enacted in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea earlier this year. Under the legislation an exemption was granted from Territory tax on income derived by a company solely from carrying on a declared pioneer industry, and on dividends paid out of that income.
It is proposed by the Bill that dividends paid to Australian investors by Territory companies out of income from conducting a pioneer industry be exempt from Australian income tax. There is, however, a reservation that we retain the right to make our own judgment as to whether it is appropriate for an industry to be treated as a pioneer industry for the purposes of the Australian exemption. The Bill also contains some other measures affecting the taxation of distributions made by companies out of profits. The scheme of the income tax law is that, except where specifically exempt, dividends paid in cash are assessable income. On the other hand, a dividend paid completely from certain capital profits of a company is exempt from tax if it is satisfied by the issue of shares in the company.
A practice has grown up of using exempt bonus issues as a means of getting profits of a company into the hands of shareholders in cash and free of income tax. One way is to make the bonus issue redeemable in cash. Another is to follow the bonus issue by a reduction of capital and, in effect, pay out profits to the recipients of the bonus issue or other shareholders in cash. The proposed amendment will ensure that distributions of these kinds are not exempt under the provisions that exempt bonus issues made out of capital profits, but it will not affect any other exemptions that may be available. The Treasurer announced this proposal on 10th June, 1965, and said then that, as to redeemable shares, the amendment would apply to dividends declared after 10th June, 1965. The Bill does this. As to issues of shares not redeemable in the strict sense, but having a corresponding effect, the amendment will apply to dividends declared after 28th October, 1965, that is, after the day on which the amending Bill was introduced.
A further purpose of the Bill is the withdrawal of the income tax rebate of 2s. at present allowed on each £1 of income from Treasury notes included in a taxpayer’s taxable income. I would emphasize that this amendment does not affect the allowance of the rebate in relation to Commonwealth securities generally. It applies only to Treasury notes. A purpose of Treasury notes is to provide an instrument of monetary management in relation to short term funds that - usually as a result of seasonal fluctuations in liquidity - become temporarily available for investment. The Government has had put to it the view, which it accepts, that the tax rebate on Treasury notes has an uncertain incidence and makes difficult a direct comparison of the rates offered on these notes with rates available on other short term securities. Such factors as whether a subscriber is taxable, and the rate of tax he pays if taxable, affect the value of the rebate. The rebate is to be withdrawn only on Treasury notes issued after a date to be proclaimed and an announcement of the date of withdrawal will be made at the appropriate time.
Other amendments proposed by the Bill affect taxpayers who incur expenditure in converting business machines for use with decimal currency. The expenditure is to be allowed as an income tax deduction in the assessment of the year of income in which it is incurred. Related amendments apply to taxpayers who receive compensation payments from the Commonwealth in respect of machines that require conversion. Where the machines are trading stock these payments will be included in assessable income. Where the machines are plant used in producing assessable income, the payments will, in broad terms, be applied so as to adjust income tax depreciation allowances available in relation to the machines.
The provisions of the income tax law applying to subscriptions to some kinds of associations are also to be amended by the Bill. The amendments will affect annual subscriptions in excess of £21 - $42 - to associations which incur expenditure on activities of a kind that, if the members carried out the activities and incurred the expenditure themselves, would be an income tax deduction for the members. As the provisions now stand, the deductions available can include outgoings of a capital character, such as the cost of an office building and, as amounts of this nature are not deductible if incurred by a taxpayer directly, an amendment is proposed to ensure that they are not deductible through the subscription provisions of the law.
The Bill proposes also that the tax on income be known in future simply as “ income tax “ and not as “ income tax and social services contribution”. The latter description is not only outmoded but ls troublesome when it has to be repeated many times in legal and official documents. This simplification, which is purely formal and portends no policy changes, was recommended to the Government by the Ligertwood Committee. There remain amendments which arise out of the Government’s review of representations received in connection with the major amendments to the income tax law in 1964 following the Government’s consideration of the report of the Ligertwood Committee.
As to prior year losses of companies, honorable senators will recall that, under the 1964 legislation, the deduction for 1965-66 and subsequent years of a prior year loss of a company was made dependent upon a continuity of beneficial ownership in the company by the same shareholders of shares carrying specified rights. This continuity has to be maintained through both the income year in which the loss was incurred and the income year in which a deduction for it is sought. The rights specified are 40 per cent, of the voting and dividend rights and 40 per cent, of entitlements to distributions of capital in the event of the company being wound up.
I need hardly remind honorable senators that the purpose of the provisions was to provide a counter to the purchase of shares in a virtually defunct company with accumulated tax losses, so that a profitable company could escape tax by diverting its income to the loss company. This Bill does not alter the basic principles of the 1964 provisions but it does modify their application in several important ways. First, the percentage of shareholding test will be maintained but an alternative, in the form of a continuing business test, will be introduced. If a company satisfies the continuing business test, the fact that there has been a greater than 60 per cent, change in the voting, dividend or distribution rights wilt not affect its deductions for past year losses. A company will meet the proposed test if, at all times during the year of income in which a deduction is sought, it carries on only the same business as it carried on immediately before the change in its shareholdings occurred. This amendment is proposed to meet cases where a merger or takeover ls not followed by termination of the business activities and does npt have associated with lt a transfer of profitable business from one company to another so that a profitable company can get the benefit on the losses incurred by an unprofitable company.
An amendment is also proposed which, in broad terms, will ensure that a company does not lose its right to a deduction for a prior year loss where there has been a change in its actual or direct shareholdings but a corresponding change has not occurred in the persons who hold the indirect. beneficial interests. For this purpose, provision is being made in the Bill that, in appropriate cases, the beneficial interests of persons in a company may be traced through one or more companies.
The balance of the major amendments proposed by the Bill relate to superannuation funds. Some of these are designed to remove limitations, which may have been imposed by the original provisions, on the right of a trustee of a superannuation fund to appeal to a court against a decision of the Commissioner. Others are of a technical nature and have the purpose of eliminating possible ambiguities.
I have often heard it said as to superannuation funds - possibly it will be said again in the course of the debate on this Bill - that the Government has done just what the Ligertwood Committee warned it against doing, that is, it has unduly interfered with the operation of the traditional funds. But anyone who has made a careful study of the Committee’s report and the legislation will find two things. One is that, with one exception, the tests provided in the law are almost identical with those proposed by the Ligertwood Committee and which the Committee, in its wisdom and after a painstaking review of the situation, said it considered most bona fide funds could readily meet. The other is that the Committee saw no alternative to discretionary powers being vested in the Commissioner of Taxation if bona fide funds were to continue to be exempt on their income and other funds were not to continue to exploit the provisions to the tune of millions of pounds annually. If that exploitation is to be defeated, there must be tests for a superannuation fund to satisfy before it becomes entitled to tax exemption or a special deduction.
One amendment to the superannuation provisions which I would specifically mention deals with the application of benefits forgone by persons who cease to be members of a superannuation fund seeking exemption from tax or a special deduction equal to 5 per cent, of the net cost of the assets of the fund. At present, qualification for the exemption on the one hand, or the special deduction on the other, depends upon the amount of benefits forgone being applied for certain purposes within two months after the end of the year of income or within such further period as the Commissioner of Taxation allows. In response to representations received, it is proposed that trustees may apply the relevant amounts within the period now specified in the law or progressively over a period in accordance with an undertaking approved by the Commissioner.
The Bill will also permit a director who is not, in the strict sense, an employee of a company, to be a member of the company’s superannuation fund for its employees.
Modifications are also proposed of provisions that authorize deductions for employers for contributions to superannuation funds for their employees. Existing provisions require application of benefits forgone by ex-members to be made within appropriate limits not later than two months after the end of the year of income or within such further time as the Commissioner allows. If the relevant amounts are not so applied deductions allowable to the employer may be reduced. Again, in response to representations received, it is proposed that, if the relevant amounts are applied by trustees in accordance with a scheme approved by the Commissioner, the rules for reducing the deductions allowable to the employer are not to apply.
Detailed explanations of the Bill are contained in explanatory notes being made available to honorable senators and I do riot propose to speak at greater length on the Bill at this stage. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill is a purely formal measure. It is necessary because of the proposed change in the name of the tax on incomes. This change is to be made by the Bill to amend the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act that is at present before the Senate. Under that Bill, the tax on incomes will in future be known as “ income tax “ instead of “ income tax and social services contribution “.
The present Bill will amend a definition in the Income Tax (International Agreements) Act. That Act gives the force of law to Australia’s double taxation agreements with other countries. The definition defines “ Australian tax “ for the purposes of the Act as “ income tax and social services contribution “. The amendment will extend the definition to include Australian tax under its new name.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill relates to the dividend withholding tax on dividends derived by non-residents from Australian companies. It is consequential on provisions in a Bill to amend the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act about which I have just spoken. Under existing legislation the dividend withholding tax is imposed as “ income tax and social services contribution “. It is proposed that there be a general change in the name of the tax on incomes and as part of this change the withholding tax will be imposed as “ income tax “. This Bill declares the rate of withholding tax as “income tax”.
The Bill does not make any change in the existing rate of dividend withholding tax of 30 per cent, of the dividend. However, not all dividends flowing overseas are taxed at that rate. Provisions in our double taxation agreements with the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and New Zealand have the effect that the rate of dividend withholding tax on most dividends passing to those countries is IS per cent, of the dividend. The Bill will not change this situation. An explanatory memorandum available to honorable senators includes further explanations of the Bill. 1 commend the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) 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.
This Bill provides for the validation until 13th February 1966, of the collection of Customs duties under Customs Tariff Proposals Nos. 8 to 12, that is to say, the proposals which have been moved in Parliament since the 12th October 1965 to date. Honorable senators will appreciate that time will not permit these proposed tariff changes to be debated before the close of the session.
The tariff changes will be re-introduced next year by Gazette Notice as amendments to the Customs Tariff 1966 and will operate from 14th February 1966. The changes will later be introduced as Tariff Proposals in the first days of the autumn sessional period and subsequently in a bill, when the opportunity to debate them will become available to honorable senators. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 1st December (vide page 1974), on motion by Senator Henty-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- When the Senate adjourned last might, I had just commenced my comments on this Bill. The Constitution Alteration (Parliament) Bill 1965, as proposed by the Government, is based on the provisions of section 128 of the Constitution. It is interesting to note some of the hazards through which this measure must pass before it becomes law. Section 128 of the Constitution deals with the mode of altering the Constitution. For that purpose, each House of the Parliament must, by an absolute majority, pass this measure before it is submitted to the people. Today we are to have a Call of the Senate, which brings us together for the purpose of considering the referendum proposals. Section 128 also provides that should one House pass a measure relating to the alteration of the Constitution and the other House fail to pass that measure with or without amendment, and if after three months the originating House again passes the measure and puts it forward to the other House and the other House again objects to it - . . the Governor-General may submit the proposed law as last proposed by the firstmentioned House-
That is, the originating House - . . and either with or without any amendments subsequently agreed to by both Houses, to the electors in each State. . . .
This is a most interesting proposition. It is also interesting to those who are concerned with this matter to note that the Constitution provides -
And if in a majority of the States a majority of the electors voting approved the proposed law, and if a majority of all the electors voting also approved the proposed law, it shall be presented to the Governor-General for the Queen’s assent.
So, in this referendum as in any referendum, it is necessary for a majority of the States as well as a majority of the voting population to approve the matter proposed before it is presented to the Governor-General.
– I think that may be in question.
– it may be in question? 1 have read section 128 of the Constitution which indicates the mode of altering the Constitution. I assume that is what we are doing at the moment. However, Senator McManus may be correct in what he says. The Bill is assured of passage through both Houses of this Parliament, lt is in that light that we make our comments on this Bill so that the people within the electorates may know the views of their representatives. It is for that reason that 1 rise to make my remarks on the Bill.
This Bill seeks to alter the Constitution in two ways. First it assures the Senate that its representation from each State will not fall below 10 senators. The Bill also seeks to omit sections 24, 25, 26 and 27 of the Constitution. These sections provide that the number of members of the House of Representatives is to be approximately twice the number of members of the Senate. The decision by the Government to break this tie between the House of Representatives and the Senate has caused the Government to seek this alteration of the Constitution. While I am not over-enamoured of the arguments I have heard put forward in another place and by the leaders of this House, I give my support to the Bill because, the Government having made the decision that this matter should be submitted to the people by way of a referendum, 1 believe it would be wrong to deny them the opportunity to decide this matter. A valid argument for the action proposed is that this course was suggested by the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review. In my short time in the Senate I have come to realise that recommendations of that Committee are accepted at random. I would be pleased if the Government would take notice of some of the recommendations that I have seen put forward by committees in the last 12 months. I refer in particular to the very important recommendations of the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Tele vision. Certain recommendations put forward by that Committee would well have been noted before this time.
The basic reasons for proposing this legislation are, first, to increase the number of members in the House of Representatives and, secondly, to give some assurance to the Senate that its numbers will not be reduced. It is difficult to understand why the membership of the House of Representatives should be increased at this time. Arguments can be adduced both ways as to the volume of work that a member of the House of Representatives is required to do. The Government, in its wisdom, has decided that the number of members representing the Australian population in the House of Representatives should be increased. I agree with some of the comments that have been made during the course of this debate. Australia has been particularly well governed over the last 12 or 14 years. The representation of the Australian people in this Parliament has played no small part in bringing about the standard of living which is enjoyed by the people of Australia, which is one of the highest standards in the world. I hope that the type of personal representation which we have will be continued. If this can be achieved by allotting a certain number of voters to a parliamentary representative, I agree that this is a wise provision.
The arguments which have been advanced against altering the Constitution in this regard do not appear to be necessarily valid. If we look at the statistics which have been taken out on this matter by the Parliamentary Library we find that in Canada, in the House corresponding to our House of Representatives, a member represents approximately 72,500 electors. In France a member represents an average of 100,000 electors. In Italy the average number of electors represented by a member is 81,000. In the Netherlands the average representation of a member is 81,000 electors. A member in the United Kingdom represents approximately 86,000 electors. If we go further afield we find that in India a member represents approximately one million people while in the United States an average of 442,000 electors are represented by a member. I have not heard it suggested that these figures indicate that better representation of the people or a better system of Government is to be found in either of the last two countries. It is my view that, in the foreseeable future, it will be necessary to increase the size of the House of Representatives. It will be quite the popular thing in this referendum for people to advocate that this increase should not take place. Indeed, I believe that people generally will be looking for advice along these lines. I suggest that there is no particular justification at this moment for the proposition that the size of the House of Representatives should be increased. However, in Australia, which I am led to believe is increasing its population faster than most countries in the western world, some decision will have to be made on this matter in the foreseeable future.
A Minister claimed yesterday that the proposal will permit the number of members of Parliament to be held at least within reasonable limits. Let us hope that is so. I do not wish to see 250 members in this Parliament, but I hope that in my lifetime I shall see our population grow to such an extent that on the basis of electorates of 800,000 people that would be the number. I think the suggestion that electorates comprise 80,000 people needs greater consideration.
The other proposition which is of importance is that representation in the Senate should be held to approximately 10 Senators for each State. This does not mean that the size of the Senate will not be increased. It is Country Party policy that additional States should be created, and I hope that within my lifetime I shall see the Senate increased in size because of the creation of new States. I agree with the comments that have been made to the effect that the Senate, even at its present size, is of great value. Increasing the size of the Senate at this time would not enhance its value. I believe that the existence of the Senate alerts the Government to the danger of putting forward legislation which may be unacceptable. This is perhaps one of the most important functions of a second chamber. With 60 members the Senate is a very effective debating chamber and can put forward strongly the views of the States. There is no need for it to be encumbered by greater numbers. The present membership allows an adequate cross-section of views to be presented, equal strength being given to socialist and anti-socialist views. It also permits sufficient time for well informed debates. The quality of our debates could be lowered if our numbers were increased. In my view, insufficient reasons have been advanced for increasing the size of the Senate, although there may be good reasons why the size of the House of Representatives should be increased in the near future.
There is only one aspect of this matter on which I have some doubts, and I would be loath to do anything which would reduce the effectiveness of the Senate. I have in mind section 57 of the Constitution, which refers to disagreements between the Houses. I have inquired whether there has been any area of disagreement and I have been advised that there has not. I prefer to make up my own mind, and I have come to the conclusion that there is some danger of this, although it is most unlikely to eventuate. This matter was mentioned in the excellent debate on these Bills yesterday. My view is that, as there has been no disagreement in the 65 years since federation, there is not much likelihood of disagreement occurring in the future. I do not think anyone has suggested a question on which there is a likelihood of disagreement occurring. The provisions relating to a deadlock require an absolute majority of the members of both Houses to approve a proposed law before it becomes effective. Having considered the intricate windings of this matter, it appears to me that, parties being as they are and as they probably will be in the future, any disagreement requiring a joint sitting of the two Houses would probably be decided on party lines. State issues would not carry much weight at such a joint meeting.
– Does the honorable senator not think it ali depends upon the actual issue?
– It does depend upon the issue, but I have not heard any honorable senator suggest an issue which could possibly cause a departure from a vote on party lines. I heard Senator McManus say yesterday that he believed this could occur in the foreseeable future. I would be very interested to know what the issue could be. He did not tell us.
As I said earlier in my remarks, I agree that this is one area in which the Senate could be weakened. If a joint sitting were held now, the voting strength would be two to one in favour of the House of Representatives. If the numbers in the House of Representatives increased to any great extent, the voting strength could be four to one in favour of that House and the Senate’s position would be weakened still further. 1 do not believe there are many members of the House of Representatives who would care very much about the strength of the Senate being weakened. As I understand, the Labour Party’s policy is that the second chamber should be eliminated.
– At the appropriate time.
– At the appropriate time. Before the Senate can be eliminated the views of honorable senators will have to change considerably. They would have to vote in favour of elimination. The support of the Labour Party for the proposition before us does not necessarily stem from the fact that it sees much wisdom in increasing the size of the House of Representatives. I think it stems from a belief that here is a chance to further weaken the Senate and gradually reduce its effectiveness as a House of review.
I conclude my remarks by saying that as this matter has been carefully considered by the Government and by both Houses of the Parliament, and as it is certain that the measures will pass, I agree that the proposals should be put to the people of Australia so that they can have an opportunity to decide their attitude.
.- My remarks will be brief, but I should make some contribution to the debate on this important matter. I regret that a good deal of the merit of the proposal has been obscured by what I regard as somewhat wild statements. They have not contributed to a proper atmosphere for the debate. A good deal has been said by those honorable senators who oppose the proposal about what was alleged to have been stated by members of the Government parties and members of the Labour Party over periods ranging from 20 to 30 years. Fortunately, I cannot get caught up in those toils because I was not a member of this Parliament at that time. I am in the happy position that no one who reads “ Hansard “ can quote against me some of the things which could perhaps be used against others in this debate.
Quite frankly, I do not think that looking into the past has proved anything. We are dealing with a measure that is before the Parliament at this time. We have to give our verdict in the light of conditions as we see them now, not in the light of the conditions of 20 years ago, 30 years ago, or even of 1948. I want to say at this stage that I support the proposals that are before the Senate at the present time. I am not concerned about what happened in 1948. I think that the question we have to ask is: Is it necessary or justifiable to increase the numbers in the House of Representatives, and to hold a referendum for that purpose? I believe that it is justifiable.
Other red herrings have been drawn across the trail in this matter. One of them is the question of whether, by increasing the number of senators to retain the existing nexus between the two Houses, we would or would not increase the possibility of deadlocks. I submit that this is a matter that requires the attention of the Senate separate and apart from the question of whether there is justification or otherwise for increasing the numbers in the House of Representatives. If the Senate believes that with the present position or any future position regarding the number of members in the Senate, consideration should be given to and a decision arrived at in respect of the way in which we should resolve deadlocks, let us deal with that question in the proper way, without associating it and confusing it with something that is another matter altogether. I raise this point only because it has been mentioned on repeated occasions during the present debate. I think that it tends to confuse rather than to help clarify the situation.
The second reading speech, which accompanied the presentation of the Bill, has come under fire. I have found some weaknesses in the second reading speech. One of them concerns the question of deadlocks. I think that in this respect there is a weakness. The second reading speech is itself an invitation to the members of the Senate to direct their minds along channels which lead away from the main stream of argument, that is, as to whether there is justification for increasing the number of members in the House of Representatives and breaking the existing nexus between the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) in his second reading speech said -
Therefore, if there is to be a Senate in which a clear majority becomes possible, the members of the Senate would need to be such under the Constitution that an odd number would be elected every three years. The present odd number is five, and the next seven. If seven were to be elected every three years, there would be a Senate of 84 members and, under the Constitution as it now stands, the House of Representatives would need to have approximately 168 members.
The purpose of this passage in the second reading speech was obviously designed to deal with the question of the relationship between the numbers in the two Houses. In dealing with the question of the deadlock provision, the second reading speech leads us along a trail which, I think, could have been much more clearly covered in another way. As I have said, it contains an invitation to go down trails which lead us away from the main stream of the argument.
– Does not the second reading speech refer to deadlocks between the parties within the Senate?
– Yes, that is true.
– Then one cannot avoid reference to numbers, if there is a deadlock between the two Houses.
– I agree. I am dealing with the specific question of deadlocks between the parties in this chamber. I think that this is a matter than can be resolved only by being dealt with as a separate question. It is a big question, too. Whether it is good to resolve the matter by having a joint meeting of both Houses or whether it should be dealt with in another way, with the Senate arriving at a different conclusion, is a very weighty problem indeed. It is one which I believe ought not to be confused with the question of whether or not there is justification for an increase in the number in the House of Representatives.
I believe that we have to make our decision on the broad outline of the proposal. I see nothing sinister in it. A number of wild statements have been made suggesting that it will weaken this chamber in some way or the other. I do not think that anybody would quarrel with the contention that at some point of time - leaving out the question of the relationship between the two Houses and at this stage dealing solely with the matter of the increase in the number in the House of Representatives - there must be an increase in the number in the House of Representatives. It seems to me that the only bone of contention is when this increase should take place. I believe that there is justification for it taking place now. Senator McManus and Senator Gair hold very strong opinions that it should not take place now.
– It is unwarranted.
– I do not believe that it is. The point I am making is that I do not think that Senator McManus, Senator Wright and Senator Gair would argue against or would seek to weaken in any way the proposition that, at some point of time, there must be an increase in the number in the House of Representatives. If that is accepted, we come to the question of when it should take place. The words that are used to surround the proposition do not obscure that basic fact.
It becomes a question of when the increase should take place. There is also the question whether the relationship which exists between the two Houses at the present time under the Constitution is a desirable one, and whether it should be maintained or disturbed. I think that a lot of argument could be adduced in favour of maintaining the present relationship, and conversely, a lot of argument could be brought forward against maintaining it. On the score of logic, I think that a much more forcible argument could be brought forward for breaking the nexus between the two Houses. I think that that becomes inevitable when we look at the situation as it applies today.
Much has been said as to what was in the minds of the founding fathers on this matter. We have to take note of the fact that, although they had to look into the future, they were not dealing with the situation that exists in 1965. They were dealing with a situation that existed in the very early 1900’s. They would have been miracle men if they could have provided a Constitution to suit the needs of a developing country like Australia 50 years after they had taken the initial steps to put the Constitution into effect. The fact remains that they did this in the 1900, and no matter what ability or foresight they had, it is quite obvious that at some point of time alterations and corrections would have to be made in the Constitution. No honorable senator in this chamber would be foolish enough to claim that he could sit down and proceed to rewrite the Constitution and give an unconditional guarantee that it would suit the needs of this country until eternity. No-one would claim to be able to do that. It would be silly to do so.
We have come to a point along the road of our national progress where we have to examine this proposal, apart altogether from heat, hostility and vested interest, and decide whether or not it is for the good of the country. A great deal has been said about the number of seats that will result from the proposal and how they are to be apportioned. I have not the faintest knowledge of how many seats the Liberal Party of Australia, the Australian Country Party, the Australian Labour Party or the Australian Democratic Labour Party will gain as a result of the increase in numbers in the House of Representatives. I do not think that anybody in this chamber could make a forecast in that regard. After all, the people will have the final say. To suggest that any one of the parties I have mentioned has a vested interest in getting this measure passed so that we can then proceed to apportion the seats, is somewhat cynical because we have not the faintest idea, nor can we forecast in any way, which party will win the seats. Only the future can look after these things. This is a matter to which we must put our minds.
Senator Webster, I thought, raised quite an interesting new angle, as to whether there should be an increase in the size of the Senate. I am not, and have never claimed to be, an authority on constitutional law, but I can see no reason why the Senate, if it is thought necessary and fitting, could not - regardless of whether or not we agree to the proposition that is before us at the present time - at some point in the future decide that the membership of this chamber should be increased and proceed to take the necessary action to increase it. Why should we not do that? There is nothing to stop us. I believe that we cannot continue to retain the present relationship between the numbers of the two Houses and that if 100 million people populate this country at some point in the future and the membership of the other place is increased greatly we should have a number of senators which is exactly or as nearly as practicable half the number of members of the House of Representatives. That is the way in which I see it. If we think that the number of senators is insufficient for it to be what it originally set out to be, that is, a House to guard the requirements of the States, what is to stop us from proceeding to discuss whether there should be an increase in the number of senators? In that way, an increase could be effected. There is nothing at all to stop of us from doing that. In fact, the subject would provide a most interesting discussion, perhaps a better one than those upon which we have engaged on some matters that have come before this chamber. The point raised by Senator Webster is interesting, and I should certainly like to hear it discussed. Another matter that has intruded into this debate, and which has more than a little interest in it, is whether this is a States or a party House.
– 1 have no doubt as to what it is.
– I do not think that any of us has any doubt as to what it is. There are occasions when we can get together on the basis of protecting the interests of our respective States. In fact, this happens from time to time, but basically, in this day and age and in the way in which party politics operate in Australia, the Senate can be regarded only as a party House.
– The founding fathers did not view it in the same way at that time.
– If my memory serves me correctly, although the founding fathers did not set out to lay down the principle that the Senate would become a party House, they recognised the possibility that it might. I think that we are deluding ourselves if we try to create the impression - however independently minded we may be individually - that the Senate is purely a States House and party politics does not in any way intrude.
– It could revert to that.
– I am not suggesting that it could not. I am talking of the situation as I see it at the present time. 1 do not think that the Senate can be regarded as a States’ House, although in the ways that we act, with whatever means are at our disposal, we do our best honestly, I feel, on all sides of the chamber to represent our States. But underneath it all is the inherent suggestion of party politics from which we cannot escape, whether we like it or not, and however independently minded we may be individually.
I come to a point that I consider is most important and is probably the major reason why I rose to take part in this debate. There is a regrettable tendency on the part of those who oppose the provisions of this measure to depreciate the activities of members of Parliament, and to suggest that they are lazy and not looking after their constituents as they should do. In support of this contention, the position of the State member has been brought into the discussion. It is suggested that because there are, collectively in the various States, hundreds of State members of Parliament, the work of Federal members is lessened. This is not true. As a matter of fact, quite the opposite is true. In many instances the activities of a State member, rather than taking away the work of the Federal member, actually increase it. Some of the most active State members in my own State repeatedly refer to me matters that have been raised with them by their constituents. They put forward a reasonable proposition in these terms: “ This is a Federal matter “ - it may deal with immigration, or taxation, or social services - “ and as a consequence we thought it would be better for you to deal with it because you are in constant contact with Commonwealth departments and you are a member of the Federal Parliament “. This situation is well known to members. Senator McManus made a point about the number of State members and about the fact that we are supposedly over-governed in Australia. I would be willing to bet that Senator McManus knows of many occasions on which State members have gone to Federal members and said: “This is matter for you to deal with. We want you to take over the job “.
– I do not get any requests from D.L.P. State members.
– True enough, but I am prepared to say that if there were
D.L.P. State members the honorable senator would get plenty of requests. I do not think that this can be denied; it is a fact that cannot be contradicted. This is a spurious argument. It does not in any way portray the true position. I do not want to be one of those who write down the activities of members of Parliament, particularly members of the Federal Parliament.
I come now to the question of how many electors or people one can adequately represent. There has been a lot of confusion about the suggested figures of 80,000 and 100,000, as to whether these are electors or people. I am talking about people, about how many people a member of the Federal Parliament can adequately represent. I think it comes down to the basic point of the extent to which the member himself is prepared to do the job. That is the important thing. If he is prepared to face up to the full area of the responsibility that can be encompassed by a federal member, the scope is limitless. As one extends his activities and shows a willingness to help people in matters of immigration, social services, taxation, and other fields that are the work of a federal parliamentarian, he comes to be known more widely and this increases the number of people who come to him. The effect is like throwing a pebble into a pond; the ripples that radiate from it pass over a wide area. If a member is prepared to do the job of representation properly, the scope is limitless. I will not be dogmatic and say that if a man does the job properly on a full time basis, making himself available at any time, he can adequately represent 20,000, 30,000, 40,000 or 100,000 people. In my opinion, 80,000 would be the maximum number that a member could even start to represent adequately, if he did his job properly.
Let us not have any nonsense about this question just for the purpose of scoring debating points, while writing ourselves down in the process. That is the last thing that we as members of Parliament should be doing. If one cannot find in the proposal any more penetrating weaknesses than that, all I can say is that there are no weaknesses in it. I do not believe that we are overgoverned. Anyone who talks in terms of overgovernment is, in a way, seeking to destroy the very pillars of this chamber, because there are many people who would agree, in relation to the Senate, that we are over-governed. They regard this chamber as unnecessary. This is not, in my opinion, a valid argument, or a reason that can be advanced for rejecting this proposal. It shows a regrettable tendency to write ourselves down as a group in respect of the work that we do.
I believe this measure should be carried. I suppose it would be easy to go to the public and, using a form of scare tactics, say that what is proposed here would increase the powers of parliamentarians, produce a situation of over-government and make deep inroads into the pockets of the taxpayers. I suppose all those things could be said if one wanted to make political capital out of this issue. In some quarters they might possibly have the desired effect. However, I have examined the situation and I am satisfied that there is nothing sinister in the proposals. I believe it is inevitable that the number of members in the House of Representatives will increase as the nation progresses and our population expands. There is room for genuine differences of opinion as to the point of time at which this increase should take place, but I believe that is the only ground upon which differences can occur if we have the interests of this country at heart.
– Let me say at the outset that I cannot go along with what Senator Toohey has just said about State members adding to the work of Federal members, although I suppose it is true to the extent that State members channel Federal work through to us. However, State members deal with roads, bridges, schools, municipal affairs, land resumptions and many other matters which are very close to the people. If a Federal member had to deal with matters such as that in addition to matters that come within the province of this Parliament, his work would be very great indeed.
– Will the honorable, senator tell me whether State members give him any work to do?
– Yes, they do, and so do other people. But that does not alter the fact that State members work on matters which are close to the people. Therefore, we in this Parliament are not required to do that work. I have been a member of a State Parliament and I speak from experience when I say that State members deal with matters that are very close to the people.
– They take over the functions of government but not of members of this Parliament.
– No, I do not go along with that idea. There is, as there should be and must be, an interchange, but in the main the two functions are divided, and this eases the burden on both State and Federal members. I have risen to speak mainly as a representative of the smallest State and the one which would probably be most affected by such an alteration of the Australian Constitution. I can go along with what the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) said in 1948, when he was Leader of the Opposition. His statement was quoted in this chamber by Senator McManus only yesterday. The right honorable gentleman said -
These facts represent a further enormous movement towards central control, through two States, of the entire Federal system of Australia . . . the significance of the voice of Tasmania will correspondingly diminish.
Senator Toohey said that there was little profit to be gained from going back over the years and from taking note of what had been said 20 or 50 years ago by prominent politicians on behalf of their parties. However, in my view the circumstances surrounding this matter have not altered over the years.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Since the last increase in the membership of the House of Representatives was made in 1948, the whole Commonwealth-State set up has altered in only one way. The need for safeguarding the interests of the smaller States and for the maintenance of the strength of the Senate is greater now than it was then because of the terrific concentration of power, particularly financial power, in the hands of the Commonwealth Government. This has occurred to an extent that was never envisaged by the founders of Federation in Australia. There is no doubt about that.
On this matter, I take precisely the same stand as that taken by Senator McKenna and Mr. Calwell in 1948. I dissociate myself completely from the stand taken by Senator McKenna in the Senate yesterday. I do not go along with the idea that conditions have changed and that the set up has altered. The geography of Australia and the dispersal of population in this Commonwealth are the same as they were in 1948. All the factors are the same except the greater aggregation of power in the Commonwealth. Only the exigencies of the political situation have altered. The men have altered but not the factors or the implications or those things that mean so much and are of such importance to the people of Australia. The report of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review has been quoted extensively in this debate. I want to read only two paragraphs -
The Committee’s report continues in that vein. My point is that the strictures mentioned in this report could be imposed with equal force on the House of Representatives. There is no difference. Senator Cohen said yesterday that if the Australian Labour Party were in office as the Government it would put all the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee into operation.
– No, it would put them to the people.
– That is correct. A Labour Government would proceed at once to put them to the people and, if possible, put them into operation. That would reduce the Senate to complete impotence. This would be the first step. If the next step were taken, the Senate would be reduced to impotence and in such conditions, the sooner it was abolished the better. Then you would bring into existence the conditions envisaged by the Prime Minister in 1948 and the whole Commonwealth set up would be governed by the most populous States. This might seem an exaggeration but if that came to pass, it might well be that it would set up a strong and sustained demand either for secession or some other form of local government in some areas of Australia. Already we have had a secession referendum in Western Australia. Certainly it was an innocuous one but the people of Western Australia felt that all the worthwhile power in a continent the size and area of Australia was tied up in a centralised government. If such a situation came to pass I shudder to think what the fate of the smaller States and the outlying areas of Australia would be. Something in the attitude of the Opposition bewildered me some time ago and exemplifies the position in which Tasmania could be placed. The Federal Conference of the Australian Labour Party is composed of six members from each State on exactly the same basis as the Senate.
– For the honorable senator’s information, they are handsome men and not faceless men.
– That could be. I am sure if Senator O’Byrne is one of them he would qualify in that regard. But the Federal Conference of the Australian Labour Party has six members from each State. A proposal was put forward by Mr. Cyril Wyndham that the membership should be changed from 36 to 132. This proposal was to go before the Federal A.L.P. Conference in Sydney last August. Under the proposal, the Federal Conference was to be constituted on the same basis as the House of Representatives. There would be so many members from each State plus the leader of the Party in each State, plus the leader of the Party in the Commonwealth Parliament. The total would be 132. Commenting on this proposal, the Tasmanian Press reported a senior State A.L.P. official as having stated -
The Tasmanian A.L.P. viewpoint would be completely lost at Federal Conference as this State would have only six representatives out of a total of 132.
He went on to say that the Tasmanian delegation would fight such a proposal to the last ditch. That was the attitude of the Tasmanian branch of the A.L.P.
– Is the honorable senator suggesting that there is something wrong with the way in which the House of Representatives is constituted?
– I am not. I am merely saying that it is bewildering that a party which would abolish the Senate or reduce it to impotence should say, when somebody sought to impose upon it in relation to its domestic affairs the constitution that I have referred to, that the voice of Tasmania would be completely lost. Such a statement seems to me to be quite contradictory to the attitude that would adopt precisely the same system for the government of the Commonwealth of Australia. I go further. What the members of the Australian Labour Party said in relation to the domestic affairs of their own party probably is true. It certainly would be true if applied to the Commonwealth Parliament.
I think it was Senator Bull who drew certain comparisons. I have heard it said that comparisons should not be drawn in discussing this subject, because the needs of various countries differ. Very often people who say that comparisons should not be drawn are opposed to comparisons if they do not suit the proposition they are advancing; but if comparisons suit the propositions they are putting forward, then those people are amongst the first to draw comparisons. It seems to me to be of tremendous significance that in New Zealand, which has a unitary form of government in which one House of Parliament exercises the functions that are exercised in this country by both the State and Federal Parliaments, and in which the system of local government is similar to our own, there has not been an increase in the membership of the Parliament since 1900, which was before we in this country federated. Membership of the New Zealand Parliament has remained the same in spite of the fact that in the intervening period the population of the Dominion has increased in the same proportion as has ours. I have received reliable information to the effect that it is not envisaged that the membership will be increased in the near future.
Senator Webster cast doubt upon the need for increasing the membership of the House of Representatives, and others have done likewise. Unless it can be shown clearly and conclusively that there is a need for the membership of the House of Representatives to be increased-
– Now or in the near future.
– Now or in the fairly near future. If the need for an increase cannot be established, the case for the holding of a referendum falls to the ground and the proposal should not be submitted to the people. I wondered why the nexus about which so much has been said was provided for in the first place. I admit that recently for the first time in my life I ascertained what Quick and Garran had said on the subject. They said that the proposal that the Senate should be approximately half the size of the House of Representatives was adopted after due consideration and for weighty reasons. It was considered extremely necessary to prevent an automatic or arbitrary increase in the numbers of the House of Representatives, as a result of which there would be a continually growing disparity between the numbers of that House and the Senate, and to give some security for maintaining the numerical strength as well as the constitutional power of the Senate.
It was argued that if the number of members of the Senate remained stationary while the number of members in the House of Representatives was allowed to continue increasing with a progressive increase in the population, the House of Representatives would become inordinately large and expensive and the Senate would become weak and impotent. It was claimed that to allow the proportion which the Senate bore to the House of Representatives to become eventually the merest fraction would in course of time lead almost to the abolition of the Senate. I again suggest that, with an aggregation of power in the Commonwealth Parliament to an extent undreamed of by the people who drew up the Constitution, the need to retain the Constitution as drafted is ever present and is even more definite today than it was 20 or 30 years ago.
The Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) referred to the system that operates in the United States of America. I understand that there are approximately 100 members in the United States Senate and that the size of the House of Representatives in that country is considerably larger than that of our House of Representatives. It has been claimed that there has been no derogation of the standing of the United States Senate because of the disparity between its size and that of the
House of Representatives. Quick and Garran say that possession by the United States Senate of certain important judicial, legislative and executive powers which have not been granted to the Australian Senate, such as the sole power to try cases of impeachment, to ratify or to refuse to ratify treaties, and to refuse to confirm executive appointments made by the President places the United States Senate in a position of much greater importance than that enjoyed by the Australian Senate. When I think of the power of the United States Senate to ratify or to refuse to ratify treaties, I think what a solace it would be to be able to come here and discuss with some authority the implications of the recently signed New Zealand-Australia Trade Agreement. That is a power we do not have now and have never had.
– Could the honorable senator tell the Senate in what way increasing the numbers of the members of the House of Representatives will affect that position.
– It will not affect it in any way. I am simply trying to refer to the implied suggestion that the United States Senate has not suffered because of the disparity between its numbers and the numbers in the United States House of Representatives.
– Because it has the four powers.
– And there is another distinction; that is that the party discipline that operates in the United States Senate is not to be compared with the party discipline that operates in this place. I have heard it said by someone who is familiar wilh the position that it is a fairly common thing to see half the Democrats on one side of the chamber of the United States Senate, and the remaining Democrats on the other side of the chamber. The same point applies to the Republicans.
No case has been made out for an increase in the membership of the House of Representatives. I believe that a tremendous amount of the time of members of the House of Representatives, and of honorable senators, is spent campaigning for the next election. I do not blame members for that, but the fact is that a great amount of their time is spent on matters which positively have nothing to do with their functions as members of this Parliament. In these circumstances, it is a full time job. The numbers could be increased again and again, each time making the necessary campaigning more intensive than ever before.
I do not believe that a case has been made out for conducting a referendum. I think it is still true, as was said by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in 1948, that it would aggravate the position and hasten the tendency for Commonwealth matters to be completely dominated by the two big States, and particularly by the capital cities of those States. Today, the Commonwealth is involved in matters in many fields. If that tendency is hastened, in spite of what is said about the equality of electors, by adding to the representation of the people in the big cities the development of the Commonwealth will not be assisted. I oppose the Bill.
– I did not intend to enter this debate as I believed that with the two main political parties supporting the Bill, it would receive a nearly unanimous reception. However, we have now reached the stage where we do not know where we are, and the only party showing a consistent approach to this measure is the Australian Labour Party. In attempting to prove that the legislation is necessary, some of us have fallen into the errors of condemning the founding fathers of Federation and of making comparisons that are unreal. I do not believe that supporters of this legislation wish to criticise the soundness of the Constitution, nor do I believe that any honorable senator fails to appreciate the need for the provision in the Constitution that there should be established a States House and a House of Representatives.
It was believed at the time of Federation that the Senate should have half the numbers of the House of Representatives. In the era of Federation, the political knowledge of that time was gained by studying examples of other federations, particularly the United States of America. It was not known how Australian politics would develop in the coming 64 years. Australians do not have a habit of slavishly following another society in cultural or industrial matters, or in anything else. Because of our environment and history, we have developed along particular lines. No true comparison can be drawn between the duties of Australian senators and United States senators.
Rightly or wrongly, we have developed a House of Representatives system under which members of the House of Representatives endeavour to keep in close contact with the people. The number of sitting days of the House of Representatives can be cited to show that no member is breaking down under the strain, but we cannot examine the activities of members outside the House in order to prove that it is possible for them to represent a great many more electors in their electorates without breaking down. It is necessary for members to keep in close touch with the electors. It has been said that only about 1 per cent, of the electors approach their members to complain or to consult them, but the system has developed whereby members seek to become socially acquainted with their electors. I do not say whether it is right or wrong, but it is the system that has developed in all States. I, for one, would not be prepared to destroy it. I do not know whether it can be destroyed, because it has simply developed.
Since the numbers of members in the House of Representatives were last increased, the numbers of electors have also increased and brought about a corresponding increase in activities for members. If we have not yet reached breaking point, with the rapid development of Australia, we must at some stage reach the point when it is necessary to increase the numbers of members in the House of Representatives. This Bill does not seek to increase representation anywhere. I believe that a subsequent Bill will provide for a small increase in the membership of the House of Representatives. We must face up to the fact that at some time in the near future there will be justification for an increase in representation in the House of Representatives. When that time comes, if the present nexus between the Senate and the House of Representatives is to be maintained, it will be necessary to increase the numbers of senators by 24 and the numbers of members of the House of Representatives by 48. They are increases that we do not at present require.
The justification has been put for not increasing the numbers of representatives that there is a danger that the Senate will lose its power and fall under the control of the predominant States of New South Wales and Victoria. I think this was destroyed by the argument put forward by Senator Wright when he pertinently pointed out that the Australian Senate has greater power than possibly any other Upper House of any Parliament in the world. Therefore, the security that we have must rest in the power that this House possesses. It does not matter what multitude of members there is in the other place on the other side of King’s Hall. If legislation brought before this House from the other House can be vetoed by the members of this House, however few they may be, then surely we will be able to maintain our existing power.
– It would not matter whether legislation was vetoed by 60 senators or 180 senators; it would still be vetoed.
– Yes. That power in relation to the Senate is written into the Commonwealth Constitution. By this Bill the Government seeks through a referendum to secure the power to increase the membership of the House of Representatives without increasing the membership of the Senate. The Bill goes further and proposes that there shall be an increase in the number of members in the other House on every occasion that the number of electors represented by one member increases in excess of 80,000. The matter we have to decide is whether a member of the other House is capable of looking after more than 80.000 electors and, if so, whether we should not let the size of the other House remain as it is at the present time. Looking not at the question of what a member of the House of Representatives does in that House but at the development of Australia and the increase in population that is taking place, we must come to the conclusion that a time will be reached when the number of members of the House of Representatives will have to be increased. I have toured with the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Mortimer) in South Australia. I have also been over most of the area that is covered by the electorate of the honorable member who represents the north west of Western
Australia. I was greatly surprised at the extent of the area of those electorates. I know that it would be impossible for those two honorable members to look after more electors than they now have.
If we consider the thickly populated metropolitan areas where the size of electorates is not so great, we are faced with the fact that more calls are made upon those members by electors than are made on country members because of the closeness of the member to his electors. We must take up some time in considering that point. I think it must be agreed - I do not put it any stronger than this - that if the argument is put forward that at this stage of our development the members in another place are not over-worked and that no justification exists for an increase in the size of that House, there still must come a time when an increase of membership of the other House will be necessary. That fact must be accepted by all honorable senators. When that time comes we will have to decide whether we should increase the size of this House also. The Joint Committee on Constitutional Review reported that such an increase was not necessary and that the election of more senators could somewhat impede proper discussion in this House in its role as a House of Review.
If we are to have a full discussion of all matters - and possibly full discussion will not bc permitted in the other place with the increase in membership - we should aim to keep the membership of the Senate to the minimum required for that purpose. If we do so, we will be able to have a full and frank discussion of all the matters which come before us. These are the questions we have to decide when considering this Bill. The question of what is done in the Upper House of the United States of America compared with what is done in the Australian Senate has been raised. But a comparison of this Parliament with a parliamentary body that operates in an entirely different way is not valid. If honorable senators look at the powers of the United States Senate Committees they will see the justification for the larger number of senators there. United States senators have secretarial staffs of from four to six persons. So, United States senators, although their staffs are not direct legislators, do have many more duties than we have here. This is the point that makes the difference. An unfair comparison is being drawn between the Australian Senate and the Senate of the United States of America.
Fear has been expressed as to the rights of the States in representation here. Senator Lillico said definitely that the position would arise where we would be controlled by New South Wales and Victoria. The rights of the States cannot be interfered with, while the Senate has the power of veto. This power possibly is unique to this chamber. I do not think it is held by any other Upper House in the world. Some honorable senators have discussed the effect of the breaking of the nexus on the influence of the Senate in a joint sitting of the two Houses. I point out that the need for a joint sitting has never arisen in 64 years. This is not to say that the time will not come when a joint sitting will be necessary. The question is: Are we to increase the number of members of the Senate in excess of the number required for proper debate on the legislation brought before us because there is a section in the Constitution relating to joint sittings which may or may not be used at some time or other in the future, and it is essential for us to preserve the numerical relationship between the two Houses? The answer could be an alteration of that section of the Constitution. I do not know whether honorable members have considered that aspect. Why alter the Constitution to increase the number of members of the Senate when this would be of no benefit to the functioning of this House, which is able to carry out its work satisfactorily with the present number of members?
– Would the honorable senator support an amendment to that section giving that protection?
– I would want to look for some alternative to that move first. If repeated deadlocks occur between the Houses there must be some method of solving the position. The provision we have now is for a double dissolution - an appeal to the people - which has been resorted to on two occasions with success. If that provision had not proved effective there was still recourse to another section of the Constitution to enable joint sittings to be held. We have had no reason in 64 years to implement that section. That is not to say that it may not be needed in the future. If there is the danger that a joint sitting may be required, surely this is the question for us to ask: Is there another method we can use whereby the rights of the States will not be placed in jeopardy and by which the Senate can function efficiently after the breaking of the nexus and by keeping the Senate as a House of Review? Is there some other method by which we can get over these deadlock provisions if there is any danger in the existing situation? I have not given the matter any thought because I do not consider that the danger is real. The first question is whether the section providing for joint sittings will ever be used. The second question is whether a joint sitting would be dominated by New South Wales and Victoria. For this to happen the representation of Victoria and New South Wales in both the House of Representatives and the Senate would have to be more than the combined representation of all other States in both Houses.
– We could easily-
– I do not think it is easy. The honorable senator is considering the division of the Senate in relation to the question of power being in the hands of New South Wales and Victoria. It may be that if the eastern States develop more rapidly so as to justify a larger membership in the Parliament that situation could come about. The point I am putting forward is that we must review the operation of the Constitution from time to time. Because the fathers of Federation in 1901 decided that a certain provision was suitable for that time that does not justify the continuation of that provision if it is found to be out of place because of our present development.
As has been stated, if we had a member in the House of Representatives for every 80,000 electors we would have 250 members in that chamber by the time our population reached 20 million. Such a population was thought to be impossible at one time. That would be an appropriate time for a further review of the setup of our Houses of Parliament, and perhaps at that stage we would have to introduce the committee system. At the present time it is considered that 80,000 electors can be looked after by a member of the other place.
There is no benefit to be gained by comparing what the Labour Party does at its Federal Conference with what this Parliament does. The Federal Conference of the Labour Party is, as it were, a States House in much the same way as is the Senate. The Tasmanian delegate, whose statement in the Press was read by Senator Lillico, certainly had a right to dispute the change proposed in the organisation of the Federal Conference of the Labour Party, but his argument would be completely destroyed if the Federal Conference operated on the basis of, as it were, 120 men in the House of Representatives with the Tasmanian representative having the right to sanction or to veto any of the proposals advanced. That is the position in this Parliament.
The proposals contained in these Bills will not interfere with the powers of this House. There is an assurance that representation will remain at 10 senators for each State and there is an indication of what should be proper representation in the House of Representatives, lt is proposed that, with changes in the population, the numbers in the House of Representatives will automatically be increased or decreased, without regard to representation in the Senate. I suggest that at some time or other, when this system becomes cumbersome, we will have to look at it again, but for the immediate future the present proposal would seem to be the solution.
We must have regard to the system as we have developed it. We must have regard to the duties of members of the House of Representatives and the functions that they have to attend. We must recognise that there is a breaking point and that we have reached the stage at which members of the House of Representatives need additional assistance. That additional assistance would be provided if their numbers were increased, but the assistance would be excessive if the size of the House of Representatives were increased by 48 members with a consequent increase in the size of this House by 24 senators.
State rights remain protected. The whole basis of the argument of the opponents of these measures is that State rights will not be protected. I do not think anyone can argue logically that there is any danger to State rights while the Senate maintains the power it now has. There is no attempt here to take power from this House. The Constitutional Review Committee sought to extend the powers of the Federal Parliament in some respects, but even with those increased powers of the Parliament the Committee insisted that the Senate’s right of veto should remain. I can visualise that the time will come when Australia will bc so united as to forget State boundaries. However, I realise that State jealousies exist now.
If representation in the Senate were on a similar basis to representation in the House of Representatives there could be a serious neglect of sparsely populated areas. Therefore, I think the Senate has an important role to play. What is important is the power and strength of the Senate. It was suggested by interjection that a Senate with six members, one from each State, could protect State interests, but we have increased the size of the Senate from time to time in accordance with what we have believed to be necessary for full and efficient discussion of national questions. For many years we had a Senate of 36 members, but with the increased activities of the Federal Parliament it became desirable to increase the strength of both Houses, so Labour brought in the necessary legislation. I do not think anyone can say that move was not justified.
No-one can reasonably say, and no-one has said, that there is any justification for increasing the number of senators. All those who oppose these measures have said that there is no need to increase the number of politicians. I put it to the House that we could not increase the Senate numbers without impairing the quality of our debates. We are already somewhat limited for time and I do not know how many times the gag would have to be applied if we had 20 or so additional senators who wanted to participate in discussions, perhaps at late hours of the night. However, I do not agree with those who say that there is no justification for increasing the numbers in the House of Representatives. It must be admitted that at some stage in the near future there will be need to increase the numbers in that House. I say the numbers should be increased without increasing the numbers in this chamber. It is not fair to judge a politician who is working hard and attending Parliament regularly on the basis of what are called his annual jaunts overseas. 1 do not think anyone can really say that travel is not beneficial to a member of Parliament. Many of the activities of members of the House of Representatives cannot be related to particular legislation. They must look after their electors, although some people say that this is done only with an election in view. However, this is the way in which Federal politics in Australia have developed in the 65 years of federation. Does anyone want to destroy the system we have built up, the political way of life we have established and the whole parliamentary edifice? I came into this debate with some hesitancy and only with a desire to correct statements to the effect that these proposals involve a danger to the States. 1 say that a danger does not exist.
It has been stated that we are now acting contrary to the policy that was enunciated by the Chifley Labour Government on this question of the breaking of the nexus. I think that if the members of the Labour Party which is in opposition today had had to consider the question at that time they would have taken the same attitude as did the Chifley Government. Some of the members of the Chifley Government are still in this House. It has been stated that at that time those who had to consider the matter did not have the benefit of a report such as that of the Constitutional Review Committee. The Committee went into this question thoroughly. But more importantly, we are at a stage of development today which necessitates a different approach being made to the question. Having laid down a policy, if we were not to change it in accordance with the development of the country today, I think that the Labour Party would be stagnant and would neversucceed.
We make no apology for the fact that some of the statements which are being made at the present time differ from statements which were made, even by the same people, in 1948 or 1949. It is realistic to accustom oneself to the present circumstances and to appreciate the necessity for change because of the rapid development of Australia at the present time. I lend my weight to those honorable senators who have supported the proposal, and I hope for the successful passage of the two Bills.
.- The first question that is before us today - the breaking of the nexus between the two Houses - leads to the question whether the number of members in the House of Representatives only should be increased. I want to say at the outset that I am diametrically opposed to this move. I believe that the stunt which is being pulled off is like pulling the wool over the eyes of the people. It is not fair dinkum.
– Why not?
– Of course it is not, and the honorable senator knows it is not. This situation would not have come about, as Senator McManus pointed out last night, if an impasse had not occurred a couple of years ago when there was a proposal for a redistribution of the electorates.
– Does the honorable senator really believe that? I do not.
– I have a right to my opinion. I believe that is what has brought this situation about. At that time there was an impasse over the Australian Country Party agreeing to it, and the Australian Labour Party supported the Country Party on the issue. Over a period of time there has been a shuffling around as to what should be done. Last night we heard a statement from Senator McManus concerning a matter, which has been freely mentioned in this place. If what he said is true, I think it is a shame to think that a LiberalCountry Party Government should lend itself to an alteration of the Constitution in order that the Liberal Party might receive an absolute majority in this Parliament; in order that it might control the Parliament on its own.
– Is the honorable senator accusing his own Party of skulduggery?
– I am saying what Senator McManus said and what has been peddled around this House. If it is true, it is degrading that we, as a parliamentary party, should stoop to try to change the Constitution for this purpose. There is no question that the matter is being worked in concert with the Labour Party. What do we find on this occasion? The great supporters for this change are not the members of the Liberal Party, or the members of the Country Party, but the members of the Labour Party. It is obvious that the people who comprise the parliamentary parties on the Liberal and Country Party side are not all in favour of this move.
– It is a Government Bill.
– I do not care about that. This is a House of review and we are able to apply our independent minds to any particular matter. That is one thing that we in the Liberal Party have the right to do. I stand here without any fear of contradiction on this matter. Before my selection prior to the last Senate election, when questions were asked of me, I stated then that what I had done before I would do again if a situation arose in which I considered it necessary to vote against the Government. From my point of view I stand here with a clear mandate, and with an endorsement of my Party and the people whom I represent. I shall always vote on matters in this House according to my conscience because the Liberal Party gives us the right to do so. Freedom to vote according to one’s conscience is given, not only to the members of the parliamentary party, but to all the people who comprise the main body of the Liberal Party. We believe in the freedom of the individual. We are not tied down to a caucus decision and we are not prisoners within our own minds.
I am opposed to this question because I think that no foundation has been laid for increasing the number of members in the House of Representatives. I have heard Senator Cavanagh, Senator Toohey and other honorable senators ask: “Where is there an argument for increasing the number of members in the Senate?” Nobody is arguing that the number of senators should be increased. But nobody has given one sound reason why the number of members in the House of Representative should be increased. 1 have asked certain honorable senators to give me one reason why the number of members in the House of Representatives should be increased, and I have been met with roundabout statements which, contained no reason at all.
– The honorable senator never hears things that he does not want to hear.
– I am prepared to listen to argument, but I did not hear from
Senator Toohey any reason why the number of members in the House of Representatives should be increased. If any honorable senator can give me a reason why it should be increased, I am prepared to listen. We have heard a great deal about the work which members of the House of Representatives have to perform. But has any honorable senator heard of a member of the House of Representatives breaking down under the work that he has to perform? Has any honorable senator heard of them wanting to pull out at election time because of the amount of work that they have to do? They are all breaking their necks to have a go. We have to be realistic.
I have not come into this chamber to talk about lofty constitutional matters. I am no legal authority. I am going to talk of this proposal as would the ordinary men and women in the street. They are the people who are to vote on the proposal. Therefore, let us discuss in simple terms why there should be an enlargement of the representation in the House of Representatives. Today there are 123 members in the House of Representatives and 60 members in the Senate.
– The people are going to be suspicious of the proposal when they know that the Labour Party supports it.
– Yes, but there are a number of members of the Labour Party who individually are not in favour of it. I refer to those who have a sense of the requirements of the House of Representatives and of the Parliament generally. There are many members of the Labour Party who have a high regard for proper parliamentary standards. They should not fall into line and agree with the decision that their leaders have tried to trap them into accepting on this issue.
Arguments have been advanced for the breaking of the nexus. It has been said that to do so would not impair the rights, powers and status of the Senate. These are easy things to say. But let us come back to the Constitution. Senator Lillico referred to Quick and Garran who indicated that, at the time when they were writing on the subject, there was quite a lot of argument about the numbers in the Senate and in the House of Representatives. Senator Lillico did not refer fully to what Quick and Garran had said, so I shall do so. They said that it was argued that if the number of members of the Senate remained stationary while the number of the members of the House of Representatives was allowed to go on increasing with the progressive increase in population, the House would become inordinately large and expensive while the Senate would become weak and impotent, lt was claimed that to allow the number in the Senate eventually to become the merest fraction of the number in the House of Representatives would, in course of time, lead practically to the abolition of the Senate. They said that the United States Senate possessed certain important judicial legislative and executive powers which had not been granted to the Australian Senate.
Senator Lillico dealt with that question, and I do not propose to go over it again. Quick and Garran pointed out that the present relationship between the number of members in the Senate and the House of Representatives was adopted after due consideration and for weighty reasons. They also pointed out that it was considered extremely necessary to prevent an automatic or arbitrary increase in the number in the House of Representatives which would lead to growing disparity between the numbers of that House and the Senate, and to give some security for maintaining the numerical strength as well as the constitutional power of the Senate. Some people have said that the enlargement in the number of members in the House of Representatives will not affect the Senate. Of course it will. Despite what has been said, the Senate is the States’ House and it is a House of review. If people like to go into the Senate and just be party hacks, that cannot be helped, but to those of us who are prepared to accept the Senate as a House of Review and a States House it will remain so.
– The honorable senator is a member of a party, yet he starts talking about party hacks.
– The Minister, also, is a member of a party.
– And I do not despise the salt that I eat, either.
– If Senator Anderson were listening, he would know that I made my position clear on my preselection. The party knows where I stand. I am prepared to vote according to the requirements of my conscience in this chamber.
– That is the important thing.
– That is it. I will not have anyone dictate to me as if I were just a party hack. I will not be just a party hack on this matter. As far as I am concerned, this is a States House and a House o’f Review. It also has the power to initiate legislation, as many people do not know. If we allow this situation to get out of hand, with an increasing membership of the House of Representatives and a Senate which becomes smaller and smaller in proportion, the Senate will diminish in importance, irrespective of what any. people say. I ask those who are so keen about the party aspect: What will happen about representation in the party room? Take the case of Tasmania, the smallest State. The Labour Party’s own organisation so far has not been able to fix up the matter of its representation, as Senator Lillico has so ably drawn out. This is because of the fight by Tasmanians, who say they would be dwarfed by a great increase in the number of members from other States, if the situation becomes as some people in the Labour Party want it to be. The same position would develop here. What would happen at party meetings? Where would the Tasmanians come in? Where would the Western Australians and South Australians come in, and to a lesser extent, where would Queensland come in?
As far as I am concerned, the basis of the Constitution is not wrapped round the House of Representatives; it is wrapped round the Senate. We could not get a Commonwealth Parliament until the fears of the small States were allayed by having a House in which each State had equal representation. But that equal representation must be in some reasonable proportion to the members in another place. This talk about increasing membership ad infinitum in the House of Representatives not affecting us at all is sheer moonshine. I was rather Interested to hear the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) last night putting the case for an increase in the House of Representatives. He instanced the case of a member of the House of Representatives who represented 100,000 people. Later on, of course, the number could be 200,000, then 300,000, and then 400,000. What would be wrong with that? In the United States of America there are about 450,000 people to each member of the House of Representatives. Let me remind Senator McKenna that if membership of the House of Representatives is to be increased throughout on this ratio, as this referendum - if it goes forward and if it is successful - will permit, when we have 44 million people we will have about 448 members in the House of Representatives. That gives an indication of the proportion to which certain sides want to build up the House of Representatives.
It is a most interesting study to watch the argument from the Ministerial side and from the Labour side. The Country Party - unfortunately and foolishly, I think - is supporting this argument. We hear people talking about bigger and bigger parliaments. If some members of the Executive had their way, they would rule this country with about 25 ministers. They do not want anybody else. Let us get down to a realistic situation. Everybody on this side of the chamber who has spoken against this proposal has expressed himself as being not interested in an enlargement of the Senate or in an enlargement of the House of Representatives. The argument is put up that we are trying to increase membership of the Senate. Nobody who has spoken from this side has asked for an increase in the size of the Senate. We say that there are now enough parliamentarians, including members of the House of Representatives and senators.
Everyone has a duty to do. As Senator Toohey said, let us not depreciate members of the House of Representatives, but let us not depreciate members of the Senate, either. Senators have a duty to perform. Just as the work performed depends upon the quality of the individual member of the House of Representatives, so does it depend upon the quality of the individual senator. If members of the Senate were doing their jobs, they would have a lot more work to do than have members of the House of Representatives. First of all, they have a much larger area to cover, if they are getting about, seeing and doing things. Secondly, they represent many more people than do members of the House of Representatives. Tears are shed about representation of 100,000 people, including babes in arms, children, and others who have not a vote. It is easy to build up these figures and talk in this glib sort of way to kid people along. Why do we not talk about the number of electors that we represent?
Let us talk about the Senate. Think of the poor New South Wales senators, who represent 4,192,648 people. Representing that number of people, they must have a terrific weight on their shoulders. Let us divide the number by 10, to find how many people are represented by each senator. Senator Anderson represents 419,000 people and so does every other New South Wales senator. Victorian senators represent 3,208,000 people. If we parcel those out into 10 groups, each Victorian senator represents 320,000 people. Queensland senators represent 1,610,000 people, or 160,000 each. South Australian senators represent 1,054,000 people, or 105,000 people each. Western Australia has 804,643 people. Senator Sim, Senator Branson and their colleagues represent 80,000 people each, if we divide the total number by 10. Tasmania has 366,024 people, so if we parcel these out each Tasmanian senator represents about 37,000 people. The Northern Territory has 34,803 people and the Australian Capital Territory has 88,571, but the Australian Capital Territory has not yet got a member with full voting rights.
From the way in which we hear the talk going on, one would think that members of the House of Representatives were bowed down by the weight of their great representation. Listening to the discussion, one would not think that a soul lived in the States as a whole, which the various senators represent. Let us get the right proportion. When we think of enlarging membership of the parliaments, let us remember that Australia has 92 ministers and 709 members and that parliamentary government costs this country £7,391,213 a year. Then we talk about more parliamentary government by increasing the number of members in the House of Representatives. Let us get a clear picture of the duty of parliamentarians. I came into this Senate after having served for a long time in local government. I was not only an alderman but also mayor of my city for a long time.
– You were the old grey mayor.
– It was a very active city. I think Senator Gair, who was Premier of Queensland at that time, will agree at least that I was progressive. It was a city that had more schemes in hand at that time than had any other city in Queensland, apart from Brisbane. From the point of view of economy and administration, it was considered to be an efficient city. Local government is the form of government closest to the people. Local government is the form of government which receives most requests from the people. From my local government experience I learned that one can do very minor things which should really be done by officers of the council. I found that if a hole develops in a road, if a footbridge is broken or if the grass in some place gets a bit too high, people want to go to the mayor or the aldermen about it. After a time, we told the people that the members of the staff of the council - the Town Clerk, the engineer or whoever it might be - were the persons to be interviewed. The result was that our administration worked in a first class manner and minute details were not the concern of the mayor and the aldermen. I have always taken the view that the mayor and the aldermen of a council should decide the policy and that the staff should carry it out. This applies in this Parliament, just as much as in local government.
– There is only one weakness in that argument. You have still got to win an election.
– I will come to that. The point is that you can make a lot of work for yourself if you want to. That brings me to this point: Do we want parliamentarians to be message boys or do we want them to be parliamentarians in the proper sense of the term? A parliamentarian can induce people to come to him with all sorts of trifling things. If the referendum goes through and the great increase in the size of the House of Representatives which is sought takes place, the new. members will be found, in the main, to represent areas in the capital cities and the large industrial cities. The main government departments are in the capital cities, and they are the places to which people should go to see about their troubles. I have never yet found, in going to a department, that I did not get a reasonable reception from the staff.
– But the honorable senator is a parliamentarian; that makes a difference.
– What I am trying to tell the Senate is that as a mayor or as a parliamentarian I have always found that one can achieve quite a lot if one does not go over the head of a department and if one recognises that it has a part to play. I am sure that Senator Gair will admit that in Queensland our departments played it that way and that we got a good response without annoying Ministers and parliamentarians. You can make a message boy of yourself. The question might well be put to the people: Do you want message boys or parliamentarians? We know that there arc members of Parliament who go out of their way to do certain things in order to curry favour with the people. That is not the true parliamentary standard.
– That is not fair.
– I have been told of such things by parliamentarians both on this side of the chamber and on the other side. I am talking plain common sense. We are here to be honest and to enable the people to make a judgment-
– You are not the only one in this place who is honest.
– I know that you think I am dishonest.
– I do not. I said you are not the only one here who is honest.
– There can be no objection to my being honest. I know there are parliamentarians who watch for obituary, engagement and wedding notices and send out letters to the people concerned. They also send letters of congratulation to newcomers who are naturalised.
– There is nothing wrong with doing that.
– I think it is degrading. If anybody tells me that that is a parliamentary duty, he has a different conception from mine of parliamentary duty. To me, it is electioneering. There is a great difference between parliamentary duty and electioneering. I do not think we should want to increase the numbers in another place when members there or anywhere else are doing these things.
– It is our way of life. Members of all parties do it.
– I think it is degrading. In my opinion, we should not approve of an increase in the size of the Parliament unless we can be sure that the increase is necessary to enable members to perform their parliamentary duties in the proper way. A Labour parliamentarian said to me - and I agree with him - that it was not his place to be a message boy; his job was to come here and adjudicate on legislation - for the good of the country.
– Is that our only duty?
– It is not the only duty, but it is an important duty. I have never believed that we should build up this Parliament to a greater size only in order to encourage people to do things purely from an electioneering point of view. Our duties have to be clearly defined in the minds of the people.
– Do we not represent our electors here?
– Of course, but we should not go out of our way to encourage the sort of thing I am speaking about. If anyone could prove to me that coming here to act as parliamentarians was not our major duty, I would be surprised. It would indicate to me that we do not know what parliamentary duties are.
– What are our major duties?
– Anybody with any common sense would know what our duties are. The honorable senator is a newcomer here. I have been here since 1949, and I know it is my duty to come here and adjudicate in the best interests of this country.
– It is not the only duty.
– Of course it is not, but the honorable senator does not claim that the things he does to win the next election are parliamentary duties. That is what has happened in the case of lots of our parliamentarians over a period of time.
– Has the honorable senator ever kissed the babies and shaken hands with the ladies?
– As a bachelor, 1 can say that is not one of the things 1 have done - kissing babies and so on. To my way of thinking that is another of the things which is degrading. The Australian perceives, I think, the insincerity of people who do those things and wakes up to the fact that they are done purely from a political point of view. I am surprised at the attitude of my own party and of so many honorable senators. We in the Government parties say we believe in the bicameral system. I feel that this step which the Government is taking, very strongly supported by the Labour Party, is the sort of thing which will wreck the bicameral system. Yet, when the referendum is over, we will still have Ministers and parliamentarians saying that they believe in the bicameral system. How can they believe in it, when they take action like this? The Senate does not have to take my word that this sort of thing breaks down representation in the Parliament. Last night Senator McManus quoted a speech made by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in 1948 in which he said, in effect - that under the new proposal New South Wales and Victoria would have 80 members and would run this country.
That would mean that the present situation would be completely upset because of the increased proportion of members of the House of Representatives in relation to the Senate. Senator McManus also quoted a speech by Mr. Harold Holt, now the Treasurer, who said in 1948, referring to the Labour Government, that it hoped public outcry against an enlarged Senate would mean the abolition of the Senate. That is the trend. As members of the LiberalCountry Party coalition, we should be very deeply concerned about this trend among the top people in our parties and whether they are really sincere when they say they believe in the bicameral system of Government. I believe it is the safe system in a democracy.
Every effort should be made by honorable senators to ensure that the Senate is strongly entrenched in this democratic form of government. If the two Houses remain as they are, I am convinced the bicameral system will be on firmer ground and we will have Houses of Parliament which at least will be manageable. I want to tell those who are strongly urging an increase in the membership of the House of Representatives that members of that House have informed me that their numbers are so great now that they have difficulty in getting a question in at question time. They also have difficulty in getting on the list of speakers in debates. If the membership is increased, their difficulties will be all the greater. I am very surprised that anybody should suggest that it would be beneficial to build up the parliamentary system in this way.
– Would the honorable senator be in favour of decreasing the size of the House of Representatives?
– I am not speaking about decreasing the size of the House of Representatives but I am convinced that a smaller Parliament could run the country just as well.
– That is what you have said the heads of your Party say and you have only 25 men at the top.
– I say that the House of Representatives is so big now that some members of the Party that Senator Tangney supports as well as mine have told me they have difficulty in getting a question in at question time and in getting on the list of speakers.
– There is even more difficulty in getting an answer.
– Yet the honorable senator wants a bigger House of Representatives. The House of Representatives is plenty big enough now and for a long time to come. As Senator Lillico has said, comparisons are wanted only when they suit your own case. But if members of the House of Representatives in the United States of America can deal with the needs of 450,000 people, surely members of the House of Representatives in Australia can deal with the needs of more people than they do now. Senator Anderson, Senator Murphy and other senators from New South Wales have said that they have 419,000 persons on their hands and that number represents only a one-tenth share of the people in New South Wales. Surely their responsibilities to the electors are just as great as those of any member of the House of Representatives with 80,000 or 100,000 persons in an electorate. We must remember that these are not all voters. They are people of all ages from babyhood up.
Senator Wright referred to this piffling little question of increasing the number of members in the House of Representatives. That is all that has been produced from the report of the Constitutional Review Committee. No move was made to implement the recommendations in that report until difficulty arose in the redistribution of electorates of the House of Representatives. Now that this great report of the Constitutional Review Committee has been bandied about, we find put before us one of the most piffling questions raised in the whole report. As Senator Wright has said, if the Government was really keen on reviewing constitutional matters, why did it not deal with some of the major points in the report? Why does it concentrate on this piffling point? The referendum will cost £725,000 according to Senator Wright.
– That estimate was supplied by the Minister for the Interior.
– That is a lot of money. A lot could be done with it in Queensland.
– You could nearly start an opera house.
– Yes, with proper safeguards. That is what a referendum will cost, and it will not be concerned with a major question but this piffling matter of increasing the number of members of the House of Representatives.
– It would be very helpful to people in the drought stricken areas.
– I am coming to that point. Fancy the Government wasting the nation’s time and its own on this matter. Senator Gair referred to the drought. This is one of the worst disasters that has happened to Australia. Is there any galvanising of thought and action to try to overcome these difficulties and make sure we have safeguards against another drought? Would it not be far better if we were to devote our time and energy to devising ways and means and schemes to prevent difficulties of this sort in the future? Instead of doing that we are planning a referendum on this trifling question of an increase in the number of members of the House of Representatives. It is really staggering to think the Commonwealth would waste its time on such a referendum. As the Prime Minister said in 1948, an increase in the House of Representatives without an increase in the Senate would mean that Aus tralia would be run by Victoria and New South Wales because of the greater representation those two States would have.
– Is the honorable senator seriously suggesting that the country is not run that way now?
– It is calculated that if this proposal were put into effect, Victoria and New South Wales would each get an increase in representation about equal to the combined total for Tasmania, Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland. That indicates the great power Victoria and New South Wales would have.
– Is the honorable senator worried about New South Wales?
– I am not so concerned about the increase in the membership for New South Wales. That does not worry me so much. I am worried about the Victorian parliamentarians. Because of their great power they would work tooth and nail to draw more and more to Victoria. They would want even more than they get now. I am deeply concerned about this. As a Queenslander, I think we should be on our guard against such an increase in the membership of the House of Representatives with such a large proportion of the representatives going to those States.
– The honorable senator is not worried about New South Wales?
– I do not worry so much about New South Wales. I think the representatives of that State take a broader view than do the representatives of the other States. I am more concerned about the Victorians and their attitude to the outlying States. This is a serious matter.
I am strongly opposed to the referendum because I do not think there is any need for an increase in the number of members of Parliament. No-one has yet told me why there should be an increase in the number of members of the House of Representatives. No-one has been able to show me that a member of the House of Representatives has more work to do than a senator if each does his job. One of our Queensland representatives is Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin. I make bold to say that nobody receives more correspondence than she does or gets round the State more. That is because of the many calls that are made on her time. I should say that no Queensland member of the House of Representatives could match the amount of travel that she undertakes. The amount of work that is done depends very much upon the individuals themselves, whether they be in the Senate or the House of Representatives. We should not downgrade this House and its members in order to build up the numbers of the House of Representatives.
For these reasons, I am very strongly opposed to the holding of a referendum. I shall vote against the Bill to indicate to the people of this nation, and of my own State in particular, that I am opposed to the referendum. I think it would be to the detriment of Queensland and the Commonwealth in general. As I read the report of the debates that were held in 1948, I find that, in opposing the holding of a referendum, I am in the grand company of the present Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), Mr. Calwell, Senator McKenna and Mr. Kim Beazley. I repeat that I am in that grand company, as indicated by the attitude of those men at that time, in coming to the conclusion that to break the nexus and to increase the size of the House of Representatives would be dangerous to the Commonwealth as a whole but particularly dangerous to Tasmania, Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland. I repeat that I am opposed to the holding of a referendum.
– It was my privilege to serve as a member of the Senate from 1944 to 1946. At that time I was a member of the Opposition and there were only 36 senators. Strangely enough, I have a very high regard for the way in which the Senate functioned during that period. These remarks will have an important bearing on what I shall say later. When the Representation Bill 1948 was introduced, I was not a member of this House. Nevertheless, I was very interested in the remarks made at that time by Dr. Evatt, who was then the Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs. I propose to quote extensively from his comments, because I believe that everybody in Australia will acknowledge that he was an authority on constitutional law. He was perhaps. one of the greatest constitutional lawyers that Australia had had. I pay great respect to his comments and to his rulings on this sub ject. What did Dr. Evatt say during the debate on the Representation Bill 1948, which was so hotly opposed by the present Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies)? He said -
A great deal of the argument in opposition to the Bill rests not upon the fairness and justice of or the necessity for the Bills but upon the existence of certain constitutional restrictions that bind the Parliament.
One of the most prominent aspects of the debate was the reference to the ratio between the Senate and the House of Representatives that is fixed by the Constitution. It was constantly argued that that ratio should be modified or, if we use this other horrible term that has been used, that the nexus should be broken.
The same argument that was advanced in 1948 is being advanced today. We all know that the ratio provided for in the Constitution is two to one, or one senator for each two members of the House of Representatives. Dr. Evatt said that if we looked at this matter in the abstract and quite apart from the struggle that led up to the framing of the Constitution, perhaps some argument could be advanced for modifying the ratio. I emphasise that he said that there might be some argument that could be advanced. Generally, I suppose, it should not be a rule of constitutional law or practice that the popular House should always bear to the Senate the numerical relationship that is provided for in our Constitution. I use the term “ our Constitution “, because we are not dealing with what happens in America or anywhere else.
Those who want to break the nexus have forgotten that the provision in question was deliberately inserted in the Constitution for the protection of the Senate as a States House. Even more importantly, the States are protected by section 57 of our Constitution which provides that, if there is a dispute between the House of Representatives and the Senate, there may be a double dissolution and then a joint meeting of the two Houses. That is fundamental in our Constitution. Do we want to throw away that protection without some real argument being advanced for doing so? Not once have I heard those who are proposing the breaking of the nexus deal with section 57 or advance any reason in support of their proposal. If they could advance one reason.
I would be very happy. The importance of the provision which requires the number of members in the House of Representatives to be twice the size of the number in the Senate must be considered in association with section 57 of the Constitution. Those who desire to break the bond - that is a more suitable word - or the tie which exists between the two Houses have not advanced one reason in support of the proposal. Let those who advocate breaking the bond carefully study their remarks and point to anything they have said in justification of their claim.
To alter the relationship between the two Houses which is provided for in section 24 of the Constitution would be to alter completely the intention of section 57 that there should be a balance between the two Houses of approximately two to one. Section 27 provides -
Subject to this Constitution, the Parliament may make laws for increasing or diminishing the number of iiic members of the House of Representatives.
If this legislation is passed and a referendum is carried, the number of members of the House of Representatives will not be limited in future. The spurious argument has been put, to mislead the public, that only 20 new members are proposed for the House of Representatives. I wish people would read “ Hansard “ and find out what is recorded therein. I emphasise that if this legislation is passed, the increase in membership of the House of Representatives will not be limited to 20. The people who are proposing to break the tie between the Senate and the House of Representatives should go to the public and say that an unlimited number of members can be appointed if the referendum is carried. 1 believe that some of the remarks made by supporters of this Bill are correct. Senator Cavanagh put the proposition that in the very near future there would be 200 or more members of the House of Representatives, which is greatly different from 140. If the reasoning of supporters of this measure is correct, when our population reaches 20 million people, there should be 250 members of the House of Representatives. The arguments advanced by some supporters of the Bill would lead us to believe that there will be an increase of only 21 in the membership of the House of Representatives.
– So that, in effect, the honorable senator is saying that this legislation is opening the stable door?
– I would say that it is doing more than that. There is nothing to prevent a great increase in the membership of the House of Representatives in the near future, even to 250. I have heard an honorable senator say that the number of senators should be limited to 60 because a better chance is given to each senator to have a say. If the membership of the House of Representatives is increased to 250, there will not be very much opportunity for members there to have a say.
I deprecate some of the remarks that were made in the House of Representatives during the debate of the Representation Bill in 1938, particularly the remarks relating to the Senate and senators. I shall quote a brief snippet from the speech of ‘a prominent member.
– Name him.
– The honorable senator can read it.
– Tell us who it was.
– Why should I go to the trouble? The honorable senator can look it up for himself. It was said -
By and large, no senator can reasonably claim that his duties are very exacting.
– Would the honorable senator tell us the page number?
– It is page 1262. The remarks continued -
I say it wilh no pleasure, but the Senate has fallen in the esteem of the people, for senators tend to become rubber stamps. Senators have lost their identity and real independence.
I had some experience of the Senate from 1944 to 1946. I was not here in the period from 1946 to 1949. The remarks I have quoted may have been applicable in 1948, but I very much doubt it. I wish to refute them with all the emphasis I can summon. They do not apply today. I am one of the few senators on this side of the chamber who have sat in opposition. I have had a fair amount of experience in this Parliament and I am delighted to see the rise in the status of the Senate that has occurred since 1949. I want that rise to continue.
I think it is fair to say that many electors honestly believe today that members of the
House of Representatives have lost their real independence because of the increasing authority assumed by Ministers of the Crown in recent years. That assumption of authority may have important implications in the sphere of constitutional law. It is remarkable to me that the framers of the Constitution showed such rare intuition as far as human nature was concerned, and saw or sensed the possibility of two great political parties - one in Government and one in Opposition - joining forces to defeat or delete important provisions in the Constitution. To me it is very significant that the Opposition and the Government should join forces and tacitly agree to delete important provisions in the Constitution. What is the reason for this agreement? I do not believe that it is to enhance the parliamentary system of government. I believe it is because each great party believes that it will obtain a future profit if the proposed referendum is carried.
I have a problem I wish to put to the Senate. I want the electors to have the right to a referendum, but I strongly oppose an increase in the membership of the House of Representatives at present, because no valid reasons have been given to justify it. To act consistently with my view that there is no necessity for an increase in the size of the House of Representatives, I must vote against the Bill lest it be construed that I have not the courage of my convictions. I intend to vote against the Bill.
– I should make it clear that I am not the Minister handling this Bill for the Government. Therefore by speaking now I do not necessarily terminate the second reading debate. In a debate on another measure recently Senator Wright made some points which could be linked to this measure. I took an opportunity to reply to him on that occasion and to express some views on the question of constitutional reform.
– Is the Minister referring to the States Grants (Special Assistance) Bill?
– Yes. To that extent, my views in relation to this matter are fairly clearly known. However, after listening to the debate this afternoon, I have some difficulty in reconciling com pletely the arguments put by some honorable senators. I have listened to the debate on the two days it has taken place. I gather, first, the proposition is put by Senator Wright that three fundamentals were established by the founding fathers at their Conventions and that these fundamentals were written into the Constitution when Federation became a reality. Senator Wright said the first fundamental, in effect, was that, as far as the Senate was concerned, an equal number of senators was to come from each of the original States. The second fundamental in the honorable senator’s proposition was that the number of senators was to be as near as practicable to half the number of members of the other place. The third fundamental to which Senator Wright made strong reference, I thought, was the provision that in the event of deadlock and double dissolution there was to be a joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament. Senator Wright went on to say that these fundamentals were in fact the basis of the creation of our Federation. He said that these conditions necessarily were tied together and that they had to remain constant for us to have a Federation or Commonwealth, as he understood it.
– Weaken one and the structure is weakened.
– I think that, as Senator Branson says, by weakening one the structure is weakened.
– I want to repeat the argument I put in relation to this aspect when we were discussing the matter previously. The point I want to make is this: Nobody denies that these in fact were the considerations which made it possible to bring about the Federation of Australia. Nobody denies that the smallest States felt that, at that stage, they had to have these fundamentals to come into the Federation. This is an historical fact which is documented throughout all the Conventions and has been accepted over the years since Federation. But I suggest that that is not to say that 64 years after Federation those conditions or fundamentals must necessarily apply today.
I think this is the dividing line. Those who oppose this legislation say that because those conditions existed in 1899, 1900 and 1901 when Federation took place they exist today. The argument is that because these fundamentals were written into the Constitution in 1901 they must remain in the Constitution. I want to remind the Senate that the Commonwealth Constitution itself provides machinery for the changing of provisions in the Constitution in the sense that changes can be made for the good government of the Commonwealth. In my thinking it is not an argument to say that because certain provisions existed at the time of Federation they must ever remain and be applicable. I remind honorable senators that we have had constitutional reform before. Referendums have been held. We all recognise the difficulty of the passage of a referendum because the Constitution provides that for a referendum to be carried there must be not only a majority of electors but also a majority of the States in favour of it. The founding fathers took a fairly cautious approach when they wrote into the Constitution the provision relating to a majority of the States. To have a majority of the six original States a vote of four to two is required. That is a pretty big majority when translated in terms of mathematics. Nevertheless provision is made for the changing of the Constitution by referendum.
In our history changes have been made to the Constitution, first, in relation to our social service laws which, obviously, the founding fathers did not foresee when writing the Constitution. Secondly, a change was made in relation to the Financial Agreement between the States and the Commonwealth. The referendum on that matter was passed in the 1920’s. The change in the Constitution was necessary because the founding fathers at the time that they wrote the Constitution did not foresee the problems that would arise in the financial arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States immediately following the end of the First World War. So, it is necessary to have provision for the changing of the Constitution. Here we are proposing a change in the Constitution by breaking the nexus between the House of Representatives and the Senate.
I heard some comments this afternoon which would suggest a reflection upon another place. Quite frankly, I wonder whether senators are completely competent to make a judgment as to the functions of a member of the other place and what his role should be. Senator Wood criticised the fact that a member of the House of Representatives sent telegrams to constituents in certain sad circumstances and also sent congratulatory telegrams on other occasions in relation to happy events. Goodness me, are we not getting down to the parish pump level when we talk in this way? We have a party system. Let us face the fact that even before the Constitution was written some of our founding fathers predicted what would happen - that the two Houses of Parliament would become party Houses. I have made no criticism of the Party system. In our age the party system in this country and in the English speaking countries of the world has given stable government. We can be proud of the fact that our parliamentary institutions work under the party system. The party system provides in the very nature of things that we have to woo electors.
– That is not a parliamentary function.
– It is part of our function. It is part of parliamentary life.
– It is campaigning.
– There is no suggestion that we should bury our heads in the sand to this fact or that we should pull the wool over our eyes. Senator Wood knows that this has been going on since Federation. Deakin, one of the founding fathers, pointed out that inevitably the party system would prevail, and would have its effect on the functions of parliament. The party system has prevailed. We have no need to be ashamed of it. It works. It gives stable government. We have to recognise this system. We have to look at it but not as it was looked at in 1899. We have to consider whether it is an efficient and competent parliamentary system for this day and age. I think that is the test we have to make and that we should not apply the test that, because certain provisions were considered for the Constitution in 1899 and 1900 and written into the Constitution in 1901, they are inviolate. Our Constitution provides that we can make changes to it. History shows that changes have been made.
As I have understood the debate on the occasions I have been able to listen to it, it is not in dispute that there is no necessity to increase the number of members in the
Senate. No honorable senator has the idea that a case exists for increasing the number of members in the Senate. Provided we were prepared to increase the number of members in the Senate and the House of Representatives, there is no need for constitutional reform. We know, for instance, that when the number of members in the House of Representatives was increased in 1948 the number of members in the Senate was increased accordingly. We did not then have the outcry from the Senate that has occurred in relation to this Bill. I almost said “ dissident voice “. That would be an unkind term.
– It should be in the plural.
– The point of view has not been expressed that it is wrong to increase the number of members in the Senate along with the number of members in the House of Representatives. The shoe begins to pinch because the numbers in the House of Representatives are being increased and the numbers in the Senate are not being increased, but I have not heard anyone who has spoken in this debate suggest that there is any case for increasing the numbers in the Senate. To fail to break the nexus would be to produce a Senate with numbers out of all proportion. This would cut across the whole argument of those who oppose these measures. As honorable senators know, a constitutional alteration is not necessary to increase the numbers in the House of Representatives, provided the numbers in the Senate are increased also.
Far from unduly increasing the number of parliamentarians - I am speaking now of the two Houses - these proposals will have the effect of keeping down the number of parliamentarians. Whether we like it or not - obviously some honorable senators do not like it - over the years there will be a demand - a normal, natural, healthy demand - for an increase in. numbers in the House of Representatives. Unless the nexus is broken, we will do the very thing about which some honorable senators are complaining. Let there be no doubt about it; the size of the House of Representatives will increase. If it does not increase as a result of this referendum, it will increase by other means. It could be increased by increasing the numbers in both Houses. Then all the arguments that the opponents of the proposal have used would fall to the ground.
I come now to the point at issue, which is the proposed increase in numbers in the House of Representatives. The numbers were increased in 1948 because of a recognition of the need to reduce the work load by providing more parliamentarians in the National Parliament. I think honorable senators take a very narrow view - a parochial view and certainly a view which shows no forward thinking - when they think in terms of Australia with a population of only Hi million or 12 million people and therefore requiring only a small number of parliamentarians. I believe there is justification for increasing the numbers in the other place and I am sure the numbers will be increased. I am equally sure that ultimately the electors will accept the proposition.
It is not fair to compare the activities of a senator with the activities of a member of the House of Representatives. I have had the experience of being a member in a State House and, like Senator Wood, I have had experience in local government. Like Senator Wood, I have also been the mayor of a municipality. I thought the argument he advanced was very weak. His approach to being the mayor of a municipality was vastly different from mine. I was not defeated when I was active in local government affairs but I suppose eventually I would have been had I adopted his approach. My approach was that my door was open at all times to ratepayers or anyone else who wanted to see me.
– Accessibility. There was a fundamental difference between Senator Wood’s approach to his duties and my approach to mine, and that fundamental difference has carried through to the activities of a senator compared with the activities of a member of the House of Representatives. Let us face it; under the party system - I have referred to it already and here is where I tie it up - if a member of the House of Representatives adopts Senator Wood’s approach how long do you think he will remain a member of the House of Representatives? He might survive as a senator, because all senators have, so to speak, tags around their necks which proclaim them to be members of the Liberal Party, the Country Party or the Labour Party, but how long do you think he would survive if, when approached by one of his electors, he said: “This matter is not big enough for me. I deal only with big broad national problems. You can take your problem to some departmental officer “?
A member of the House of Representatives represents a constituency in a State and the obligation is upon him to be ready at any reasonable time to talk to any person on a constituency problem. That is an integral part of his job. If he does that job and does it faithfully, he may live to a ripe old age as a parliamentarian, but he must do his job faithfully. However, the numbers in electorates have grown enormously and a member is not able to do the job he is expected to do.
Some comparisons have been made between Australia and the United Kingdom and the United States. The comparison between Australia and the United Kingdom begged the question. There are no State Parliaments in the United Kingdom, but there are county councils which have powers that in some cases exceed the powers of State Parliaments.
– In education.
– Of course. By making such a comparison honorable senators are not comparing like with like. Then a comparison was made between Australia and the United States, but any comparison must have regard to the populations of the respective countries. There is a vast difference between our population of 11 million and America’s population of 190 million. We must remember that there are certain constituencies in Australia where distance and lines of communication are just as important as is the number of electors.
– They are as large as some European countries.
– That is right. I find it difficult to accept the argument that we, as senators, are competent to make a judgment on this matter and say: “In our view, members of the House of Representatives are not overworked. They are doing nicely, thank you, therefore there is not a case for increasing the numbers in that House “. Senator Mattner is taking umbrage at what certain members of the House of Representatives have said about the Senate. My goodness, if members of the other place were thin skinned they could take umbrage at some of the things we have said about them. I think it is only a little bit of name throwing from House to House and does not carry any weight.
I accept the view, and I know the Government accepts the view, that there is a case for increasing the numbers in the House of Representatives. Therefore, there is no doubt that the people of Australia should be given the opportunity to say whether they also accept this view, with the provision that the numbers in the Senate will not be increased.
I want to refer to only one other question - that of having a joint meeting of both Houses of the Parliament after a double dissolution. Senator Wright put this up as one of the three links in the preservation of the interests of the smaller States. The facts of life are that we have never had a joint, meeting of the two Houses. There may be a few of us here who sometimes stray from the path of party affiliation, but fundamentally this is a party House, and the House of Representatives is a party House. The difficulty that led to the double dissolution would be overcome by that double dissolution.
– Because that would be the issue on which the matter would be fought. Up to the present time we have had double dissolutions but we have not had a joint meeting of the Houses and I do not think we ever will. I do not regard Senator Wright’s argument, when taken with the other two points tq which I have referred, as being a safeguard for the smaller States. Since Federation the smaller States have been faithfully represented. In fact, they have never suffered at the hands of the larger States. In the 12 years that I have been in this chamber, from time to time reference has been made to the Bolte bridge in Western Australia and complaints have been made about the operation of the special grants for roads.
– And the Ord River project.
– I have heard odd complaints about capital works.
– Has the Minister ever heard anything about the Snowy River?
– However, the honorable senator’s conscience should tell him that the interests of the smaller States have been well and faithfully preserved and represented in the National Parliament. The people who come here adopt a broad national outlook. They give due regard to the smaller States. Even though it costs the taxpayers in New South Wales and- Victoria more than it costs the taxpayers in the other States, the people in New South Wales and Victoria do not deny the money to the smaller States because they recognise that Australia’s future is at stake. It hurts me to find when the chips are down that some people say that we have to do something to preserve the interests of the smaller States. History will show that in the first 65 years of Federation the smaller States have done very well under the National Parliament and that there is no need for the safeguards that our founding fathers placed in the Constitution. The proposal to break the nexus between the Senate and the House of Representatives is a just and logical one in the day and age in which we live.
– in reply - We have had a very protracted debate on this legislation. Some interesting points have been raised during the debate. I would like to congratulate Senator Anderson on his comments. I thought we all agreed that the people should be given an opportunity to be the judges in this matter. The legislation provides for certain things which are to be submitted to the people of Australia for decision. To deny the legislation is to deny the right of the people to pass judgment upon the matters contained in the legislation. As far as I can see, we have to follow one of two courses. The first course is that we accept the recommendation of the Constitutional Review Committee and that we have, as Australia grows, electorates of approximately 80,000 people because that constitutes fair representation in the House of Representatives. Australia would be divided into the number of electorates that it was found necessary to have after each census.
We can follow that course, break the nexus and not necessarily increase the number of members in the Senate at the same time as we increase the number of members in the House of Representatives. On the other hand we can do what we have always done. That is, we can increase the number of members in the Senate, whether it is warranted or otherwise, with every increase that is made in the number of members in the House of Representatives. Those are the two courses that we can follow. We have to follow one or the other. In the history of Federation, and in the history of the Federal Parliament, whenever the number of members in the House of Representatives has been increased there has been an increase in the number of members in the Senate.
I do not want to follow the arguments which have been used during the debate and which were used in the second reading speech as to why we cannot have an even number of senators retiring at the end of each term. As Senator Anderson said, and I wholeheartedly agree, Australia is bound to the party system. If elections are to be fought by parties to gain control of the government, then with even numbers there will be a close, almost deadlocked, Senate. We have to preserve the odd numbers so that five senators retire at the end of each term. In this way each State is given the opportunity of saying on which side of the political fence it wants to stand. The States subsequently return three senators from one party and two senators from another party.
– Frequently six senators have to be elected when there is an extraordinary vacancy to be filled.
– No Constitution could overcome the possibility of a death occurring.
– And no confusion results.
– But there have been equal numbers in the Senate.
– The States return three members from one party and three members from the other party.
– That is the point I am making. I am indebted to Senator Cohen for drawing our attention to what Alfred Deakin said on this point. We have been told about what our founding fathers did in drawing up the Constitution. They were farsighted people, but they were no more farsighted than was Alfred Deakin. At the Sydney Convention in 1897 he said -
The men returned as radicals would vote as radicals; the men returned as conservatives would vote as conservatives. The contest will not be, never has been, and cannot be, between States and States … it is certain that once this Constitution is framed, it will be followed by the creation of two great national parties.
– There are going to be a few strays when this vote is taken.
– Yes. There is always a stray or two In every field. Over the years they come and go. The honorable senator’s party may be one of the great national parties in years to come. Alfred Deakin continued -
Every State, every district, and every municipality, will sooner or later be divided on the great ground of principle, when principles emerge.
Senator Cohen said ;
That very distinguished statesmen Alfred Deakin, was of course speaking at a time before our party system had crystallised . . .
We followed the two courses that I have stated. Surely we in the Senate are not to adopt the attitude that there is never to be en increase in the membership in the House of Representatives without its being tied to an increase in the number of senators. Those who deny an increase in membership of the House of Representatives are, in effect, saying just this. To relate the membership of the Senate to the proposed increase in the membership of the other place, at the present time there would have to be an increase of 24 senators, so that at the end of each period of three years seven senators would be contesting election in each State. This would be necessary in order to decide the party political representation.
– I do not think so.
– It is quite so, if we are to have party government. Senator Mattner thinks that this is not necessary. I heard him state his argument. I did not interject because I was listening to him in my office. This is the proposal that I put, and it is sound and practical. We must be sound and practical. I have listened to the arguments as to the dangers that could accrue if we had to dissolve after the Senate had been deadlocked on a bill, the bill had been considered again after the prescribed period of months, and the Senate had been deadlocked again. After a double dissolution, we would go to the people of the Commonwealth, who would decide. If the Senate were then still deadlocked, we would have a joint meeting of the two Houses. It is said that this is where the danger of weakening the Senate lies. Under the proportional representation system, what margin is there ever to be in this chamber for one party or another?
– Very little.
– It will be very limited. The margin may be two, three or four votes in this chamber in favour of the Government or the Opposition. It will depend upon the party political issues on which the election is fought. We are proud to carry the party banner when we go to the electorate.
– It is the one that gets us here.
– Yes. Let us be practical and realistic about this. We are proud to carry the party banner, and so we should be, because the stable countries are countries which have a parliamentary party system, with government and opposition, designed on the system under which we operate. I understand that there has been a double dissolution only twice in the 65 years since Federation, and after the people had spoken there was no need for a joint sitting of the Houses. There has never been such a sitting. This bogy is raised in relation to a House elected on the proportional representation system, in which one side or the other will never have a majority of more than two or three after an election won on party issues. Does anyone say that in a joint sitting of the two Houses a majority of two or three in this House for one side or the other would count against the majority existing in the House of Representatives.
– Are all elections fought on party issues?
– Of course, this would be a party issue; otherwise, it would be resolved.
– If one party won in the Senate and another won in the House of Representatives-
– Suppose no party won at all. The honorable senator is talking about mythical propositions. I am talking about the practical realities of life.
– In other words, the Minister cannot answer the question.
– Of course, I can answer the question. If the Government had a majority here, or if the Opposition had a majority here, the majority would be only two or three, and it would have no impact, in a joint sitting of the two Houses, on the majority with which the government was returned. I agree with every honorable senator who has said that there is no need for an increase in the membership of the Senate. I think that we have reached a fair representation of the States, with each State being represented by 10 senators. At the present level of population, the Senate is adequate and competent to deal with the problems that come to it. I have always thought - I suppose this is because I have sat only in this chamber - that the standard of debate and cut and thrust here are superior to that of another place. I believe that senators do good work, but I see no need for any increase in our membership. I see no danger whatever to the small States as long as each State is adequately and equally represented. It is just as easy for 30 senators from three small States in a House of 60 to gang up together as it was for 18 senators from three small States in a House of 36 to gang up together to block legislation that they think is to the disadvantage of small States. This equal representation is the whole basis of the Senate and this is the purpose for which it was formed. As long as all States have equal representation, there is no danger whatever to the small States.
Some honorable senators have got off the track of the Bill, which refers to only one matter. They have said that they will not have it because they believe there is no need to increase the membership of the House of Representatives. They are prejudging something which the Constitutional Review Committee recommended, which the Government accepted, and which I believe is right. I am a firm believer in and a great admirer of parliamentary democracy as practised in Australia. I believe that Australian parliamentarians make themselves available more readily to the people than do parliamentarians of any other country.
This is what the people want and this is what they are entitled to have. I have heard sneering comments about pension paper fillers-in. It is easy to be glib and sneering about the service that parliamentarians give to their electorates. There is far greater service to be given than the mere filling in of pension papers. The representative of about 80,000 electors must live and move among them. He must know the people, the organisations and the needs of his electorate. We talk about senators and representatives in the United States of America. For the ordinary individuals, they are harder to get at than the North Pole. One has to go through a batch of secretaries - about six to each member - who do their work. With great respect, I do not think that they are in as close touch with their electors as is the Australian politician, of whom I am a great admirer. We talk about the United Kingdom system, under which a member has an agent living in an electorate. If an elector gets through the agent, he may be lucky enough to get to the member, in time. The other day a senator told me of two American citizens who had come off a boat in Perth and were in trouble. They were taken directly to a senator. They could not believe that they had immediate access to him. This is proper parliamentary democracy, practised by down to earth practical members of Parliament. I am a great admirer of that system. I think it is wrong to say that when electorates reach an enrolment of 80,000 or more we are not entitled to have an increase in the number of electorates and therefore a gradual increase in the number of members in the House of Representatives. I understand quite clearly the Democratic Labour Party’s point of view. It insists that the nexus should stay, because then any increase in the number of members of the House of Representatives would mean an increase in the number of senators and then down would come the quota, giving the Democratic Labour Party an opportunity to gain more seats.
– How many seats will the Government get out of the redistribution?
– The honorable senator is a practical politician, as I am. Surely he is not denying that the nexus is to his advantage.
– I am not a practical politician. I am just a babe in the woods.
– I know that. I can see the Democratic Labour Party’s point of view, and I do not disagree with it. If members of that Party feel that the nexus is an advantage to them, they are entitled to say so, but they should not deny that that is the reason why they are not supporting the referendum. If the quota comes down, particularly in the smaller States, the parliamentary representatives of the Democratic Labour Party could grow in numbers, and this could give them the balance of the power in this House. On one occasion it could be the Democratic Labour Party holding the balance of power, another occasion it could be another minority group, to which we would, perhaps, take violent objection.
– The Minister does not object to us?
– I reserve my decision on that. 1 see the Democratic Labour Party’s point of view. It is a fair and practical political point of view. It wants to continue the nexus, not to break it. It wants to increase the number of members in the House of Representatives and the number of senators, because a lower quota provides more opportunity to increase its numbers in this chamber. That is fair enough, and I understand that point of view. I have covered the points I wanted to make. I believe we are not democrats and that we are not practising democracy if we deny the right of the Australian people to judge on this matter. To one honorable senator who said he would vote againstthis Bill, I say that he is denying the right of the electors to voice their opinions. I do not think we should do that.
– Oppose the decision of the people afterwards, if you want to, but give them the right to judge.
– That is so. I do not think we would be wrong in passing this legislation and allowing the people to judge. What honorable senators do on the hustings is a matter for their own common sense and judgment. For my part, I am going to do everything I possibly can to see that the people of Australia are told the proper story; that they are given the facts and are made to realise that they can only increase the num ber of members in the House of Representatives - as it needs increasing - by adding to the number of senators, unless the nexus is broken. I am going to advise them to break the nexus. I will advise them that I see no danger whatever to the small States. I sincerely hope there will be enough of us to convince the people that this is the proper thing to do, in the interests of Australia.
Question put -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 37
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– For the information of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) and honorable senators, I have circulated an amendment and it has been indicated to me that without an instruction, it may be that the title of the Bill would not be wide enough to embrace the subject matter of the amendment. I do not concede that that is so but in case there is any doubt about it, I ask for leave to move a motion for an instruction to the Committee of the Whole in relation to that amendment
– Is leave granted?
Honorable Senators. - No.
– Leave is not granted.
– Leave not being granted and we having assented to the motion of the Minister in charge of the Bill to suspend the Standing Orders for one purpose, I wish to move a motion for the suspension of Standing Orders to such an extent as would enable me to move the amendment I have just referred to. In submitting this motion to the Senate for the suspension of Standing Orders-
– I rise to a point of order. Is Senator Wright in order in proceeding with such a motion without notice? Is it not incumbent on him to give notice of motion? I submit that it is. The Standing Orders require that no motion can be made without notice. There is no contingent notice of motion that would allow the honorable senator to move.
– Order! Senator Wright is in order in moving the suspension of Standing Orders but he will need an absolute majority for the motion to be passed.
– I regret that I have met with this opposition. I call attention to the fact that I would not seek consideration of this matter except that it is a matter of constitutional amendment. We all without objection agreed to the suspension of the Standing Orders regarding the time in which this matter could be debated. In the course of the debate on the second reading, the discussion has shown the relevance of the proposal to break the nexus between the House of Representatives and the Senate to section 57 of the Constitution which provides for a joint sitting of the Houses of Parliament, and then on an absolute majority of the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate present at that meeting, the disagreement between the two Houses is decided.
I propose to move the suspension of the Standing Orders so that this chamber can be authorised, without the inhibitions imposed by the Standing Orders in Committee, to take that matter into account. It arises directly as a result of the proposal to break the nexus. It has been before this chamber and before the Parliament for a number of years as a matter of discussion. It is one of the points upon which some people place their sole objection to the acceptance of this constitutional provision. I cannot see what possible objection the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) or his Party or anybody behind him could have to the Committee of this chamber taking into consideration, as incidental to our discussion of this Bill and as a matter of direct vote, a matter that we have dealt with in relation to the proposal contained in the Bill.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that the honorable senator is not discussing anything relevant to the suspension of the Standing Orders. He is now discussing the subject matter of the Bill.
– Order! Senator Wright is in order in arguing his case. I trust that he will not widen the argument unduly. He is in order as he is proceeding at present.
– I shall endeavour to be scrupulous in confining myself to matters relevant to my proposal that it is proper to suspend the Standing Orders to enable us to discuss this matter. The viewpoint I shall put and have been putting is that the whole debate on the second reading has shown the relationship and the relevance of this matter to the major proposal. That is the point I want to rest upon completely in moving this motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders. I am not arguing now for the substance of my motion that has been circulated by way of an amendment. I am trying to persuade the whole of the Senate that as1 a majority, it has nothing to fear in matters of decision.
I am only invoking the opportunity to debate this matter as an incidental because if we are going to send this matter to the people - and the chamber has voted for it - the more discussion that precedes such action to elucidate the relevance between the breaking of the nexus and the decision to be obtained by a joint sitting the better. Surely that would be to the credit of the Senate and lead to enlightened discussion in the country. I therefore ask of those who have a great respect for Australian parliamentary democracy - from whom I hope I am not excluded - that we vote so that a debate of this interest and great importance to the small States, if my view has any validity, may proceed. I ask honorable senators to allow the Standing Orders to be suspended to enable a debate of this character to be combined with that which we have had on the second reading of the Bill.
I move -
That so much of Standing Orders be suspended s would prevent the moving, without notice, of a motion for an Instruction to the Committee of the Whole.
– Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion.
– I oppose the proposal that the Standing Orders be suspended to enable Senator Wright to move this particular motion. Quite frankly, I think this is designed merely to carry on further argument that has been presented by those who have opposed the second reading of the Bill. It is quite clear that the subject matter of Senator Wright’s amendment has no relevance to this Bill at all. If the honorable senator is allowed to move that motion, I shall take that point of order immediately. The Bill relates to fixing the numbers of members of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The honorable senator seeks to import into the debate on a bill the main provision of which is designed to break the nexus between the two Houses an entirely foreign matter, namely, a disagreement between the two Houses. That is a tortuous and complicated matter. It has already been the subject of a recommendation by the Constitutional Review Committee. Just how complex it is may be seen by one glance at the report and recommendation of the Committee.
As the merest incident to the resolution of disagreements between the two Houses there is provision in section 57 of the Constitution for a double dissolution and, if the matter which provoked the double dissolution is again submitted to the Parliament and is again rejected by the Senate, for a joint sitting. That is not only an exceedingly remote position but also the barest incident in the whole question of the resolution of deadlocks between the two Houses. To import that matter into a question as to how the numbers of the members of the two
Houses shall be determined is nothing more than an irrelevant device to distract attention from the main proposition. What happens at a joint sitting is a matter for argument, but it is not relevant in determining the numbers for which provision is made in this Bill.
I voice my objection to the subject matter of the amendment being opened up further. If the Senate agrees to the suspension of the Standing Orders to enable the honorable senator to proceed, at that moment I shall again raise the point that I am now putting to the Senate - that the amendment has no relevance at all and is designed entirely to spread the tortuous chain of confusion and irrelevancy over the main proposition that is before the Senate.
– The Government cannot support the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders. Nobody can say that the Senate has been denied a long opportunity to debate the subject matter of the Bill. As a matter of fact, I have been chided about the length of time that has been allowed for the debate and the number of honorable senators who have spoken.
– Chided by whom?
– I have been chided by one or two about the debate going on for so long.
– Gagging, eh?
Senatory HENTY.- No. We did not gag the debate. We allowed it to run.
– Was it suggested that it should be gagged?
– We suggested that honorable senators should be given a fair opportunity. I look at the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders as being a mere device on the part of those who oppose the referendum to gain an opportunity to continue debating the matter. I see no relevance in the motion. The Government opposes it.
.- I express my disappointment at the apparent determination of the two major parties to gag Senator Wright. If the proposition that has been put forward by Senator Wright is irrelevant, then a great deal of the discussion to which we have been listening over the last two days has been irrelevant. At the second reading stage we discussed the matter very fully. Senator Wright now proposes to move an amendment relating to a matter that we have been discussing very fully for two days, but an unfortunate feature of the Standing Orders is preventing him from doing so. We have heard so much about the right of people to decide things by casting a vote that it seems to me to be rather remarkable that those who have made such statements do not want this matter to be decided by a vote. If Senator Wright is prevented from putting forward his proposition, then in the course of the referendum campaign I shall tell the people of the tactics that have been adopted by those who put themselves forward here a few moments ago as the protagonists of freedom of speech.
– As one who voted in favour of the motion for the second reading of the Bill, let me say that I would not have voted in that way if I had known that I would be prevented from having an opportunity to discuss the proposed amendment. I believe that the subject matter of the amendment is as relevant to the whole subject as is any portion of the Bill we are discussing.
– I agreed by voice that leave be granted to Senator Wright to move an amendment. I understand that there were dissenting voices on the Opposition benches. Consequently, this motion is now before the Chair. I intend to support Senator Wright. We do not know what his argument will be. I think he should have a right to advance those arguments.
.- As another one who raised his voice in support of granting leave to Senator Wright I, like Senator Laught, am surprised that there should now be opposition to Senator Wright being heard. We have heard a lot about democracy. Those who supported the motion for the second reading of the Bill were very strong in their support of the rights that have been mentioned and of people having an opportunity to vote. Now, when an honorable senator desires to put forward a matter for discussion, he is to be frustrated. Seeing democracy has been talked about so much, surely the Senate should display a democratic spirit by allowing Senator Wright to be heard.
– I recall the following words that were uttered by Voltaire -
I do not agree with a word that you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
What we are asked to vote upon is whether an honorable senator should be permitted to express his opinion by moving an amendment. I want to make it abundantly clear that in voting in favour of the motion I shall not be voting in favour of the merit or otherwise of the subject matter of the amendment but on the right of an honorable senator to express his view. I support the motion.
– May I seek your guidance, Mr. President? I was unavoidably absent from the chamber when Senator Wright rose to speak. If the Standing Orders are suspended, will it be in order for the honorable senator to move his amendment?
– Order! If the motion is carried, Senator Wright will be free to move his amendment. The carrying of the motion would be an instruction to the Committee to consider the subject matter of the amendment.
Question put -
That the motion (Senator Wright’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority .. ..15
Question so resolved in the negative.
-(Senator DrakeBrockman). - Is it the wish of the Committee that the Bill be taken as a whole?
– The question is that the Bill stand as printed.
– I indicated a wish that you should not take the Bill as a whole, Mr. Chairman.
– I did not hear the honorable senator.
– I rise to a point of order. I ask for an instruction as to the stage at which you will be putting the title of the Bill, Mr. Chairman.
– I will be putting the title of the Bill at the end.
– I seek a direction from you, Mr. Chairman, as to the propriety of moving as an amendment to that title the addition of the words “ and other matters relevant thereto “. I seek a direction as to whether there is any standing order to preclude my moving such an amendment to the title. I seek that direction at this stage only because it will be unfortunate if we come to the end of the Committee discussions and alter the title and have to chase ourselves back again.
– I rule that it would not be effective to move an amendment to the title of the Bill unless an amendment had been agreed to in respect of the clauses of the Bill.
Clause 1 agreed to.
The Constitution is altered -
.- Clause 2 raises a question as to the appropriateness in the present enactment clause of the terms: “ Be it enacted by the Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty, the Senate, and the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia, with the approval of the electors, as required by the Constitution . . “ I wish to draw attention to the nature of the subject matter of clause 2. I do not want the matter to go in curiam past the Committee. Therefore I wish the matter to be drawn to the attention of the Committee. In section 128 of the Constitution it is provided, amongst other things, that there may be alteration of the Constitution. It is provided that it should be done by passage of a Bill through the Parliament and then by a vote of the people at a referendum. Then certain referendums may be carried by the votes of the majority of the people and a majority of the States. However, at the end of section 128 is a significant paragraph which attracts consideration because of the subject matter of clause 2 which is now before the Committee. The relevant words of that paragraph, referring to an alteration of the Constitution, state -
No alteration diminishing the proportionate representation of any State in either House of the Parliament . . . or in any manner affecting the provisions of the Constitution in relation thereto, shall become law unless the majority of the electors voting in that State approve the proposed law.
That provision in the Constitution deals specifically with the type of amendment that comes within the description of an alteration of the Constitution diminishing the proportionate representation of any State in either House of the Parliament, or in any manner affecting the provisions of the Constitution in relation thereto.
It is open to argument that an alteration of the Constitution which affects the provision in relation to proportionate representation of any State in either House of the Parliament is one which comes within the last paragraph of that section. Therefore, Mr. Chairman, if the contention be valid that, under section 57 dealing with a joint sitting of the members of both Houses of the Parliament this paragraph that the Committee has the responsibility of accepting or rejecting now affects the provisions of the Constitution in relation to proportionate representation of any State in either
House of the Parliament, we need to be aware of an important possibility. It may be decided that a referendum of this character has to be passed, not merely by a majority of electors Commonwealth-wide and by a majority of the States, but also by a majority of the electors voting in the State whose proportionate representation may be affected. If that is the true character of this provision in clause 2 it raises for consideration the appropriateness of the enactment clause that the approval of the electors is required by the Constitution. Before those words are affirmed by the Parliament and by the Governor-General when the matter comes before him after the referendum and after a consideration of the votes in any State that may be affected, we need to be assured that the requirements of the Constitution for the passage of a measure of this character are complied with.
This matter does not come before members of the Constitutional Review Committee as a new matter. It is one to which the Committee gave very serious consideration. The Senate is entitled to know that the Committee sought the opinion of learned counsel on this matter. As well as opinion contrary to the contention I have put forward, very responsible opinion was given in favour of my view. Therefore it is not a view which should be disregarded solely on the ground that I expressed it here.
– I have no intention of entering into a discussion on constitutional law. I do not believe this is the place for such a matter to be argued. The question of the kind of majorities necessary to carry the referendum is not strictly relevant to the clause. However the best advice the Government has is that the last paragraph of section 128 has no application to this Bill.
Clause agreed to.
– Order! I refer to the point of order that Senator Wright raised earlier. I wish to make it clear that it is in order to move an amendment to the title, but any amendment would not be allowed at this stage to extend the scope of the Bill.
– I will leave it at that, but I should like to be informed of the Standing Order under which the ruling is given.
– The Committee can refer to or deal with only those matters that are referred to it. I believe that Standing Order is No. 263.
Mr. Chairman, you know, and you will not need me to give any assurance, that I observe your ruling with great respect. It is only when you say that an amendment to extend the title would not be in order that I seek to move for the insertion of words which, in my submission, do not extend the title but are inextricably involved in the title already. The title is -
A Bil: for an Act to alter the Constitution in relation to the Number of Members of each House of the Parliament.
I move -
After “ Parliament “ insert “ and other matters relevant thereto”.
The laws of reason command us to read already into the title that which I now seek to express. The words “ and other matters relevant thereto “ do not extend the content of the title. They simply make express for those who run as well as read that which is already involved in the laws of reason.
– I think that if I allowed the honorable senator to move that amendment we would be getting back to the amendment which I told him earlier I would rule out of order. The honorable senator has used the various procedures available to him to attempt to bring his amendment before the Committee and they have been defeated. I think that, by moving this amendment, he would be extending the scope of the Bill.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 30th November (vide page 1887), on motion by Senator Henty-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
(5.33]. - This is the second Bill relating to the proposed referendum to come before the Senate. It follows a recommendation made by the Constitutional Review Committee. I am happy to say that all 12 members of the Committee approved the recommendation.
– But not to bring it forward as an independent matter at a referendum.
– As far as I am concerned, each recommendation stood on its own feet. It is a matter for political decision whether one or more of these matters should be dealt with at a time. I would go this far with the honorable senator: In the Bill that I presented some little time ago dealing with the number of members in the House of Representatives and the Senate I did combine these two matters in the one measure. I did think it was relevant to the repeal of section 24 and its reenactment, where we talk about the people of the Commonwealth and the people of the States, that we should simultaneously in the one referendum incorporate a matter that goes to the question of who is or is not to be included in the people of the Commonwealth and the people of the States. It seemed to me to be completely relevant. It might have been better to have taken these two matters in the one bill under the heading of the bill we have just debated. I would go so far with the honorable senator. But it is entirely a matter for governments to determine how much of any recommendation for the alteration of the Constitution they will put at one time.
– I was not referring to that. I was referring to selecting this small matter relating to the Aborigines out of the total recommendations of the Committee.
– I quite agree with the honorable senator in that proposition and I expressed some views along those lines when I addressed myself to the last Bill. I said that whilst those matters are important, I thought there were vastly more important constitutional matters that should be dealt with. The honorable senator may remember my comment.
I would expect, I think with confidence on this occasion, that no one in the Senate would oppose the submission of this matter to the people and would not be prepared to support it before the people. The provision concerned is quite obnoxious. It was born at a time when it was difficult to calculate the number of people who would fall into the category of Aborigines and it has been left untouched. It has caused great offence. It did not affect the rights of Aborigines. It was directed simply towards determining the number of persons in Australia for the purpose of calculating how many members would be elected to the Parliament. It was not directed against Aborigines yet it has been largely misinterpreted and regarded in that way by people overseas. Its repeal will remove a great deal of misunderstanding.
As everyone knows, section 127 provides that in reckoning the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth, or of a State or other part of the Commonwealth, Aboriginal natives shall not be counted. Apart from its statistical significance, the main effect of the section is to preclude the Aboriginal population of a State from being taken into account when determining the number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen for the State. Section 24 of the Constitution provides that the number of members chosen in the several States shall be in proportion to the respective numbers of the people of each State. Since the Aborigines of a State must be taken into account for governmental purposes, a State can rightly assert that they form part of its population for constitutional purposes.
Since the Committee made its report, the right to vote at Commonwealth elections has been conferred on Australian Aborigines. Section 127 has no direct bearing on the question of the eligibility of Aborigines to so vote. Its repeal would receive international approbation. As it is, section 127 is liable to be misconstrued abroad. Anyone with a good memory will recall that I used those exact words in relation to this same matter in September last when I presented a similar Bill to the Senate.
In submitting this matter to the Parliament both the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) and the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) referred to another placitum in section 51, which bars the Commonwealth from legislating with special laws against, amongst other people, the people of the Aboriginal race. They gave reasons why that should be left alone. At this stage I do not propose to follow the trail laid in that matter. There is no proposal for constitutional alteration in relation to it. Of the suggestion that I have heard advanced in the course of the debate in the Parliament, I am favorably disposed to the one proposed by Mr. Wentworth in the other place.
– Would the honorable senator like me to suggest that this has no relevancy to the title of this Bill?
– I do not mind if the honorable senator suggests that, but I am in very good company when I am in the company of the Government, which introduced this subject matter. I think the Prime Minister and the Minister in this place have made the issue relevant. I will make my remarks relevant to their speeches, if not to the subject matter of the Bill. I merely indicate that I favour the kind of proposal that Mr. Wentworth made, which would provide that this Parliament had power to make laws for the advancement of the people of the Aboriginal race and would prevent discrimination or anything of that nature, whether in Commonwealth or State laws, against those people.
As Senator Wright knows after having sat with me as a member of the Constitutional Review Committee for three years, one does not embark lightly on constitutional change, particularly in precise form, without not hours, not days but weeks of thought, putting the matter aside, looking at it again and trying to visualise all the new factors that might be stirred up by what one does. I content myself merely with indicating that I favour the type of approach I have mentioned. I do not commit myself to precise words on any amendment. I would want to give the matter a lot of thought before I expressed any approval of a precise alteration. But that is not before us.
I take time to refer very briefly to one more matter. We hear arguments directed to the founders and the ideas that influenced them when they drafted the Constitution. The tendency has been to regard as sacrosanct every idea that they held. But those who insist on looking back at the past overlook that those founders and drafters of the original Constitution foresaw the need for change and wrote in section 128 for that very purpose. Change is on the way. What we do when we propose to amend the Constitution with the concurrence of the people is to take advantage of the foresight of the founders of the Constitution, who, as I have said, saw the need for change and provided the means for it. We simply use the means that have been put into our hands.
Quite frankly, the vision of the founders of the Constitution was limited, as ours is, too. I have not much patience with people who waste time on what the founders decided then. This is 1965. Conditions today are entirely different from what they were then. This is a new world. The position of the Commonwealth in relation to the States has altered dramatically and stupendously. To try to direct the future, let alone the present, by the sayings and ideas of the past is to me a rather futile exercise. Instead of worrying too much about the past, I would hope that we in this chamber, whilst casting respectful glances at the past, would be infinitely more concerned about the future. The future of Australia is very much wrapped up in a Consitution that is not outmoded and is progressive. Small as this particular measure is, it will help the process of change. I record the Opposition’s strong support for it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from Committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
The bells having been rung -
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! I have to inform honorable senators that their names will be called alphabetically by the Clerk. I request them to answer to their names.
Senate called by the Clerk.
– Order! I have to inform the Senate that all senators with the exception of Senators Cormack, Marriott, Ormonde, Paltridge, Poke, Ridley, Sherrington, Turnbull and Willesee have answered to their names. I direct that the names of those who have not answered be called again.
The Clerk called the names of those senators not answering to their names.
– Mr. President, regarding the absence of Senator Ormonde, might I explain to you that he was present today but is ill and has left the precincts of the House. I ask that his name be included in any motion to excuse absent senators.
– Order! I have to inform the Senate that Senator Cormack, Marriott, Paltridge, Poke, Ridley, Sherrington and Willesee are absent on leave and that Senator Turnbull is overseas.
Motion (by Senator Henty) agreed to -
That in view of the fact that Senators Cormack, Marriott, Paltridge, Poke, Ridley, Sherrington and Willesee are absent on leave, that Senator Ormonde had become suddenly ill, and that Senator Turnbull is overseas, the said senators be excused for failure to answer the call of the Senate.
Motion (by Senator Henty) put -
That the Bill be now read a third time.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 35
– There being 43 “ Ayes “ and 8 “ Noes “, the question is resolved in the affirmative by an absolute majority of the Senate as required by the Constitution.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Henty) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– As this is a Bill to amend the Constitution, the provision of section 128 of the Constitution must be observed. I therefore direct that the bells be rung. (The bells having been rung) -
– The question is “ That the Bill be now read a third time “. Those in favour say “ Aye “, to the contrary “ No “. As there is no dissentient voice, I declare in favour of the “ Ayes “. A division has not been called for, but it is desirable that the names of those senators present agreeing to the third reading should be recorded. I therefore appoint Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin and Senator O’Byrne tellers. (The following names were then recorded.)
– As 50 senators have agreed to the third reading, I certify that the third reading has been agreed to by an absolute majority, as required by the Constitution.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 30th November (vide page 1882), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- The purpose of this Bill is to increase the charges imposed on airlines, both internal and external, which use the navigational facilities provided by the Commonwealth Government within Australia. Under the Airlines Agreements Act the Commonwealth can increase the charges by 10 per cent, in any one year. Unfortunately, the Act does not provide that that increase will be made each year.
In 1964-65 the air navigation charges collected by the Commonwealth amounted to £2.2 million. With the 10 per cent, increase proposed by this Bill, the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) anticipates that the charges collected by his Department in the year 1965-66 will amount to £2.839 million. 1 have attempted to find out what the Department considers to be the proportion of its expenditure that can be attributed to the facilities used by the airlines, but that information is not easy to obtain. I understand that the Department is working on the matter and I hope that I will be able to obtain the information from the Minister. I had a word with him about it and he told me he would be able to get the information. It is not easy to fix the amount of expenditure that can be properly attributed to the use of the facilities by airlines, whether internal or external, because there are many questions to be considered. One question is: What part of the salaries of the DirectorGeneral of Civil Aviation and of all the administrative officers would come into it?
Coming to the 1964-65 report of the Department of Civil Aviation, I think the Minister should be proud of his officers for producing such an excellent report and, what is more, one that the Senate has received in time to give it plenty of attention. I see the Minister laughing. He knows what I mean. I hope that if we are both here next year - at the moment I see no reason why we should not be - he will have next year’s report available earlier in the year.
It is interesting to note in the report that last year £14 million was spent on air navigation facilities. If we included depreciation, interest on capital and superannuation for employees, the amount would rise to approximately £20 million. The total value of fixed assets is shown in appendix 35 of the report as £86,294,000. It is interesting also to note that the total amount of revenue received from air navigation charges up to the end of the last financial year is £12,584 million. No-one wants to place an unfair burden on the airlines, and particularly on the domestic airlines, but, on the other hand, air services are a means of transport. I think I mentioned last year, when we were discussing a similar measure, that one has to make sure that the Government will give this matter very serious consideration and, without unduly affecting the airlines, increase these charges each year. The airlines, as a means of transport, compete with the State railways. I believe that in my own State of Victoria more than £105 million has been borrowed for the railways and I doubt whether £5 million has been paid off the principal. That loan has stood over a long period and the people of Victoria who use the railways have been paying fares which cover not only the normal working expenses but also the principal and interest on that borrowed money. No doubt this applies also to other States.
The Minister has stated that it is the policy of the Government to move progressively towards the ultimate recovery of the cost of aviation facilities which could be attributable properly to the industry. This will not be easy. No doubt a fair portion of the charges can be debited to expenditure on defence. If we are unfortunate enough to be at war, all these aerodromes and facilities will be invaluable for defence. This is another example of the wastefulness of war in money as well as in human suffering but such expenditure is necessary if we are to be prepared. The Opposition does not oppose the Bill and I might say that we shall be pleased to support a similar measure in 12 months’ time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 30th November (vide page 1888), on motion by Senator Gorton -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I am very happy to be the spokeswoman for the Opposition on this Bill relating to the Australian National University. So that the Bill can be better understood by honorable senators, I hope they will bear with me if I give a little of the background regarding the establishment of the University which is now recognised as among the finest of its kind in the Commonwealth. It is rather interesting - and the Senate should take notice of this point - that the original legislation brought down in this Senate for the establishment of a national university on 17th July 1946 was the very first Bill introduced into this Senate by the present Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) who had then just received his first appointment as a Cabinet Minister. Senator McKenna was congratulated at that time by honorable senators on both sides of the chamber for the manner in which the Bill was introduced. It is also interesting to record that that was the first occasion upon which deliberations of the Senate were broadcast and it was particularly fitting that those proceedings were broadcast when the proceedings were of such national interest. Those discussions were worth while and the result of them has been of lasting benefit to Australia.
Senator McKenna’s task on that occasion ; and I was happy to be one of the supporting speakers at the time - was not a particularly easy one because the Opposition of the day opposed the Bill strenuously. The present Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research (Senator Gorton) was not a member of the Senate then. I do not think he would have opposed it so strenuously as did other members of the Opposition at that time. One of them, Senator Leckie, said it would result in Canberra becoming a sort of boarding house for undergraduates.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that the Opposition of that day opposed the establishment of a national university?
– Definitely, lt also called the university a “ synthetic, provincial university”. Senator Leckie went on to say -
When people from overseas visit Canberra they will naturally ask where the Australian National University is situated, and the reply will be, “ Over there in the paddock “.
That was one part of the opposition to this Bill and 1 must say that although it was received with some lukewarm approval by the present Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), it did not receive his wholehearted support. Everybody thought it was much before its time. They hesitated to think, first, that a national university should be so called and, secondly, that it could provide for the research schools it was proposed to establish.
In its beginnings, the Australian National University was to be only a research institute with provision to be made ultimately incorporating the Canberra University College. This also has had a very important and interesting history because as soon as Canberra became the seat of the Federal Government in 1927, a committee was appointed to report on the provision of university facilities for residents of Canberra with particular reference to the needs of officers of the Federal Public Service and their families. This was rather a narrow term of reference. However, this committee did report and recommended the establishment of a university.
In January 1929, the University Association of Canberra was formed under the chairmanship of one who was to have a very great name, not only in Australian constitutional history but also in the life of the universities of Australia. I refer to Sir Robert Garran who, to the day of his death, remained one of the champions of the Australian National University. The University Association of Canberra and the committee which had been appointed to report to the Parliament on the provision of facilities for university education in Canberra had the great pleasure in December 1929 of seeing an ordinance passed by which the Canberra University College came into being and was affiliated with the University of Melbourne, which undertook to provide courses and to supervise examinations and so forth.
The Canberra University College was opened on 31st March 1930 with 30 students. I have not the figures for this year, but at the end of 1964 the total number of students who were enrolled at the Australian National University was 2,423. That shows the terrific growth that has occurred since those 30 students were enrolled. The majority of those students were part time students; they were civil servants who at evening were attending lectures under the aegis of the University of Melbourne in order to improve their status in the Public Service. From that very humble beginning has come the Australian National University.
Somebody may ask what all this has to do with the Bill that is now before us. When the 1 946 legislation for the establishment of the Australian National University was passed it was resolved that, while in its formative years it should consist only of research schools, ultimately it should incorporate studies at the undergraduate level so that the Canberra University College would no longer be dependent upon the University of Melbourne but would become an integral part of the Australian National University. In the intervening years the University has been particularly fortunate in the type of men who have guided its destinies. I think first of one man at what is now known as the School of General Studies and whose name is brought to mind by this Bill. I refer to Professor Burton who has been the Principal of the Canberra University College, now the School of General Studies, since 1949. He has had a brilliant academic career. He was a Rhodes Scholar in Queensland in 1922. It will be seen that for nearly half a century he has left his mark on university education in Australia. Yet he is one of the quietest and most unassuming of men. He has done a terrific job for university students in Canberra. He has contributed greatly to university education in the National Capital and elsewhere.
At the time of his appointment to the Canberra University College he was a lecturer at the University of Melbourne. When he came here he was appointed as Professor of Economics. Every time I look at him I wonder how in the world he became a Professor of Economics. I imagine him rather as being a scholar delving into the classics, or into poetry, literature and so forth, not as being engaged in the hard headed sphere of economics. Even greater than his influence in the classrooms has been his influence upon the student body as a whole. To him the students were definitely people. He had their interests at heart. For the last 16 years he has been a father, counsellor and friend to generations of university students who owe their success in life to the interest that he took in their welfare. I mention Professor Burton tonight because it is owing to his resignation as the Principal of the School of General Studies that this Bill has become necessary.
After the Australian National University was established, the Government of the day and the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction, Mr. Dedman, received great assistance, particularly in the establishment of the John Curtin School of Medical Research, from Sir Howard Florey. He is a great Australian. He was responsible in part for the development of penicillin, is a world renowned scientist and, I am happy to say, has been Chancellor of the University since August this year. It is fitting that Sir Howard Florey should have been appointed as Chancellor of the university which he did so much to help in its formative years. It is as a result of his wise planning that a great deal of success is attending the work that is being done at the John Curtin School of Medical Research.
For years the University remained purely and simply a research institute. After some years it was decided that the Canberra University College should be incorporated in the University, as was originally intended in 1946. Many thought - 1 must confess I did so - when the 1960 legislation came before the Parliament that the Canberra University College would become the poor relation in the set-up, as the men who were in charge of what is now the Institute of Advanced Studies were men of world repute. We as a Council - I use the word “ we “ because I have been privileged to be a member of the Council since its inception - have been very well served by the men who have been appointed to the staff of the University. Because of the glamour that was associated with the names of some of the men who worked in the Institute of Advanced Studies it was thought that perhaps the undergraduate school would not fit very easily into the general pattern. I am very pleased to say that I was wrong. In the five years that have elapsed since the Canberra University College became an integral part of the Australian National University it has made very great progress and has become a very important part of the University.
When the Canberra University College was incorporated in the Australian National University it was decided that Professor Burton should retain his title as Principal. So, until his resignation takes place as from the end of this year, he will have retained the title of Principal of the School of General Studies as from the time of amalgamation. I am pleased that Professor Burton is not retiring altogether from the educational scene. He was recently appointed to a committee which is to inquire into teacher training in the Australian Capital Territory. It is because of his resignation that this Bill has become necessary. The office of Principal is to be abolished. That is the first thing that is to happen.
However, the School of General Studies will not lose its importance as part of the University. A person who is to be known as the Deputy Chairman of the Board of the School will replace the Principal. This office will not be held by one person for any length of time; the appointment will rotate among various professors of the School of General Studies, as is being done at the present time in the Institute of Advanced Studies. So the two sections of the University will now be on the same footing.
The second section of the Bill provides that the Vice-Chancellor shall no longer be called upon to preside at every meeting of the Board of the School of General Studies. He may be replaced at his own request, when he is present at a meeting, by the Deputy Chairman, who will be appointed under this Bill.
The third section of the Bill deals with undergraduate representation on the Council of the University. It is very important, because the University does not consist only a number of beautiful buildings or of professorial staff. The most important section of a university is its students. It is essential that they should be represented on the governing body. According to the rules of the University, at the present time the undergraduates’ representation on the
Council must be by students of at least 21 years of age and two years graduate standing. The position become rather difficult, because by the time graduates have two years standing, they are out of touch with undergraduate opinion. They may still continue research work, but could still be out of touch with undergraduate opinion. It became very difficult for students to elect one of their number who could measure up to the requirements. Therefore it has become essential that the rule should be altered. According to this Bill, that provision of two years standing no longer applies. The alteration will enable students to have a much wider selection when appointing representatives on the Council.
Fifthly, the Forestry School was an independent establishment in Canberra for many years. At the beginning of this year it was incorporated within the University. This posed several problems, one of which is that the students at the Forestry School who have come there as a result of assistance by the States are not responsible for fees. Before this legislation was drafted, the University was not empowered to remit their fees. This Bill tidies up that position. It is more or less a tidying up bill. The Council may remit the fees of students who are sent there by State authorities.
It is also necessary to safeguard the employment and superannuation rights of those persons who were on the staff of the Forestry School before it was affiliated with the Australian National University. In order to ensure that the members of the staff of the Forestry School who are working under Public Service regulations do not lose anything by their transfer to the Australian National University, this Bill aims to see that all their rights of employment, superannuation, and so on, are safeguarded. Within three months of this Bill becoming law, they must elect whether they wish to be employed under Public Service regulations or under the University regulations. Certain sections of the Australian National University Act passed in 1960 relate to the incorporation of the Canberra University College with the Australian National University. That has now become a fait accompli. Therefore those sections are no longer required. This Bill provides for their deletion.
Before I conclude my speech, I would like to pay a personal tribute to the men who have, over the last 18 or 19 years, worked to bring the Australian National University to the very high standard it sets at the present time. The first ViceChancellor was Professor Sir Douglas Copland, who was a marvellous organiser. He helped the University through most of its early teething troubles. He passed on a very lusty infant to the next ViceChancellor, Sir Leslie Melville, who did an excellent job. He was privileged to see the University grow and become recognised, not only in Australia but elsewhere, as a seat of learning. The present ViceChancellor is Sir Leonard Huxley who has done and is still doing a magnificent job. Turning now to Deputy Chancellors, I mention that Dr. Coombs was a fellow student of mine at the Perth University. He has been connected with the A.N.U. since its , inception. He has devoted a great deal of his time and talents to the University, and an amount of organising skill which is evidenced by the work he has done at the Commonwealth Bank and in other economic spheres.
The Australian National University has had three Chancellors who have been eminent men in particular fields. Lord Bruce was the first Chancellor, followed by Sir John Cockroft, who is one of the world’s greatest authorities in the scientific field. He has just completed his term of office and now the A.N.U. is to have the great privilege of welcoming as Chancellor Sir Howard Florey, whose name is known not only within Australia but throughout the scientific world, because of his great discoveries such as penicillin, which have brought untold happiness to millions of people.
I wish to say once again how much we appreciate the work that has been done by Professor Burton. He has received an honour from the Queen for his work in connection with the University. One of the halls of residence - or boarding houses, as Senator Leckie thought they were to be - has been named after him. Senator Mattner was not terribly keen on the establishment of the A.N.U. I have looked up his speeches made in 1946. I wonder whether he has been to the University lately and has seen some of the developments which have taken place. I am quite certain that in his wildest dreams he did not envisage that those developments could come to pass within such a short time.
It is also worthy of note that the original outlay for the Australian National University was less than £1 million. Millions of pounds have been spent there since to make it a university of which we should all be proud - a university worthy of taking its place in the National Capital, with all that connotes. It is a tribute to those who played a part in making it a reality. Once again, I congratulate Senator McKenna on the lasting value of the first piece of legislation that he put through this House. I hope that in the future he will have similar success with other legislation.
– I support the Bill, but regret that there is very little left for me to say because Senator Tangney has covered the ground most adequately. It is very interesting that when the Australian National University was launched nearly 20 years ago, the learned and distinguished parliamentarians who dealt with the Bill did not predict anywhere near correctly the growth of the institution that has taken place. Senator Tangney admitted less than six years ago that she had no idea that the integration of the Institute of Advanced Studies and the School of General Studies would be so successful. Honorable senators will be interested to learn that this year expenditure of about £7 million was approved of by this Parliament for the Australian National University. Practically all of it relates to development within a mile of Parliament House. Some of that amount was spent on capital works, and the balance was spent to subsidise running expenses. It should be well understood that the cost of running a university is not nearly met by the fees that students pay. This applies particularly to a university of this nature. It should interest honorable senators to know that there are now nearly 3,000 students attending the Australian National University. There are slighly under 200 students in the Institute and, of the other 2,800 students, about half are full time students and half part time students. So, one of the original ideas of the first council has been met, inasmuch as those people employed in the civil service by day are able to attend the University by night. Yet, there are well over 1,000 full tune students.
It is interesting to note also that the halls of residence are so constructed that they are of the co-educational variety. Young nien and young women reside in the same hall of residence. There are two of these halls. One is named after Professor Burton. The other, Bruce Hall, is named after the first Chancellor of the Australian National University. Other accommodation in addition to that on the campus is being used. It is hoped that denominational colleges will be started. It is to the credit of parliamentarians over the years that they have had great faith in this institution. I remember the late Sir Earle Page once discussing the matter with me and suggesting that many hundreds of acres more than the original holding of the University should be applied for. Sir Earle predicted that some day the Australian National University would require a huge area of land. I am glad to know that at the back of Black Mountain overlooking Lake Burley Griffin there is quite an area of land upon which some day no doubt residential colleges will be erected. The University has property at Mount Stromlo where the observatory section is quartered. In the north west of New South Wales it has one of its telescopes. I believe that the University is developing some techniques in the Tennant Creek area and is receiving some overseas money for that purpose. So quite a large amount of capital is invested in the University. I think it is well to realise that it is only by virtue of the legislation passed by the Senate and the moneys which are made available each year in the Budget that the Australian National University can progress.
One point I would like to stress in connection with this Bill is that the University is not the Canberra University. It is the Australian National University. It does more than educate people living near it in the Canberra area. The reason I say this is that the Australian National University should be regarded as an Australian institution. I hope that more students will come to it from the States. I hope that, as the University develops, some of the faculties that will be attractive to students from the States will be introduced. The Australian National University is very strong in oriental studies, statistics and political science. I would like to see students recognise this fact and come from the various States to the Australian National University. It is my hope that the halls of residence will be able to accommodate up to 1,000 men and women within the near future. Union facilities, sporting facilities and such like, which will take good care of students coming from the States, are available.
The Institute of the University, as Senator Tangney pointed out, was commenced 20 years ago. The Institute is really a research school. It has a limited number of research students who ultimately hope to obtain a Ph.D. degree. This is one of the really bright facets of university education in Australia and it is attracting top line students from all over the world. Students have come from Asia, South America, North America, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Consequently, this Institute is of enormous cultural value. The School of General Studies equips young people to enter the professions of teaching, law, commerce and the civil service. The Institute is the research section and includes the Mount Stromlo Observatory. Scholars and professors of world renown are attracted to the Australian National University. All this development has been achieved in under 20 years. It was a proud moment for Senator Tangney tonight when she announced to the Senate that she has been associated with this University both in the parliamentary sense and on the council for that time. It gives me a sense of pride to announce that, as a representative of this Senate, I have been associated with the Australian National University for over six years. In the time I have been on the council, the student population has grown from 140 to nearly 3,000.
I wish to pay tribute to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) who has taken a very keen interest in the Australian National University. It has been under his particular care. That does not mean, of course, that the Australian National University has received any special handout in the monetary sense. This University, in common with every other Australian university, has to apply to the Australian Universities Commission for its triennium payments. The Australian National University, side by side with other Australian universities, has been helped tremendously by this Government. I hope that it will expand and bring forward propositions of use to the academic life of Australia.
What I do want to stress to the Senate, which is the House that takes great care of projects from the point of view of the States, is that, as I see it, no State university has suffered because the Commonwealth Parliament has assumed responsibility for the Australian National University. If anything, the State universities have improved their own well being and status because the Australian National University, in its Institute, has turned out the most brilliant students. Many of them have taken positions in the State universities. The Australian National University is making a contribution to university life in Australia by bringing forward particularly brilliant students who can take their proper places in the field of tertiary education.
Let me turn to the clauses of the Bill. As Senator Tangney has said, the Principal of the School of General Studies, Professor Burton, is about to retire. Upon his retirement the office of Principal will be abolished and in place thereof the office of Deputy Chairman of the Board of the School will be established. It is hoped that the deputy chairmanship will be occupied in turn by the professors of the School of General Studies. As Senator Tangney also said, it is most important that the undergraduates of this School should have a representative on the Council who has been chosen from a fairly wide field. At present the representative of the undergraduates of the School must be a person who is a graduate of at least two years standing. This qualification has rightly been eliminated by the Bill.
There is another small point I want to mention relating to contracts entered into by the University. Under the present law every contract must be executed under the common seal of the University. Honorable senators can imagine that a university which receives from this Government the sum of about £7 million a year would be entering into a good many contracts annually. Consequently, it has now been laid down that it is not necesasry for contracts to be executed under the common seal of the University. This applies to contracts which, were this not a university, need not be under seal.
A good deal of red tape associated with University contracts has therefore been cut away. This is all to the good. I have much pleasure in supporting the Bill and in congratulating the Government on its great interest in the Australian National University.
.- I enter this debate only to pay a tribute to the members of the Australian National University Council and to all those other people associated with the University who have guided it along the path which has made it the establishment it was destined to become. My association with the University dates back to the Interim Council. I was a member of the first Interim Council of the University. Although I was not an academic, I was inspired by the spirit behind the concept of the University. I am pleased to note that the University has grown and developed along the lines desired by the leading men who conceived the idea. I refer particularly to the late Right Honorable J. B. Chifley and Mr. John Dedman. They created something of which we all can be proud.
I also wish to pay a tribute to the present members of the Council. They are doing a good job in helping this University to attain its true cultural level and to grow in its achievements. Its place in Australia’s life is widely recognised, and it is achieving what it was planned and designed to achieve. The nation can be proud of our National University and can rightly pay a tribute to those who are now so carefully nurturing its progress. I am very pleased to support this measure, which will help the Australian National University to continue to do the great job that it is doing.
– in reply - At the outset let me say that I did not know, before Senator Tangney mentioned it, that the matter we are discussing tonight had its origins in a Bill which was originally introduced into the Senate by the present Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). I think this is a complete refutation of the Shakespearean saying that the evil men do lives after them but the good is oft interred with their bones. Here we have a complete reversal of that.
I was surprised to hear Senator Tangney say - I was not here in those days so I j was not aware of it - that there were some murmurs of objection from certain honorable senators now on this side of the chamber. I did not think that the present Government parties raised any objection at that stage. But, as I thought about the matter, I thought also of all the statesmanlike, imaginative and forward looking proposals which we on this side have put up in the last ten years and which from time to time Senator McKenna and Senator Tangney have found themselves forced to oppose. Sometimes it is a mistake to oppose. If this proposition when it was originally advanced was opposed, that was a mistake at that time. But if it was a foundling child left on this Government’s doorstep, then I think Senator Tangney would be the first to agree that it was taken in, handled with loving care and stuffed full of all sorts of financial foods.
– That is called giving, succour.
– I am not sure who was the sucker, but at least the child grew. Now the University has grown to such an extent - I think Senator Laught understated the expenditure, which will be nearly £9 million this year - that it has an Institute of Advanced Studies with some top line world figures as well as others who, 1 think it is fair to say, periodically take time off from their political activities to further their academic pursuits. I think that one of the best things that happened to this University was the rather forced marriage of the previous Canberra University College and the previously rather divorced and ivory towered Institute of Advanced Studies.
– That was envisaged at the beginning.
– I have no doubt that it was envisaged at the beginning, but a good deal of opposition had to be overcome to bring it about. 1 am quite sure that the infusion of undergraduates into the general body of the University has been of advantage. The requirement which the best professors never sought to avoid but rather welcomed - that they do some teaching as well as research to keep in touch with young minds - has been to the great benefit of both sections of this University.
I do not think I need say much more about this measure except perhaps to mention the reference to State universities not having been disadvantaged in any way by the building up of the Australian National University. That, of course, is a factual statement. However, I hope and I believe that we will reach a stage at which we will not be thinking of a State university as a State university but rather will be thinking of universities in Australia situated in different localities to serve the people who live in those localities.
The general body of tertiary and university education in Australia cannot but be helped, no matter whether a university is strengthened or another university is provided, if the need exists for one in a particular area. I hope to live to see the day when all universities in Australia do not seek to have all faculties in them; when all universities do not need to have a faculty of law, a faculty of medicine or a faculty of economics; but when, in accordance with the pattern in other countries, universities can specialise, not completely, but to a certain extent in a particular discipline. As the Massachusetts Institute of. Technology in the United States of America has become synonymous with excellence in engineering work, so perhaps in the future the Townsville University College might become synonymous with tropical veterinary science or something of that nature. People from all over Australia could go to that university for that discipline, and other people could go to other universities, for law, medicine or whatever it might be. This will not take place for some time, but I hope that eventually it will.
The actual proposals in the Bill have been accepted on all sides. So on those I do not wish to speak, nor do I need to speak. Senator Tangney mentioned the men who have, from time to time, held positions of importance in the University and who have acted on its Council. I think she omitted the name of one man who has never been Vice-Chancellor or Chancellor, but who has had a great effect on the growth of the University over the years. I refer to Dr. Coombs.
– I mentioned him.
– I did not hear the honorable senator do so.
– Senator Tangney went to the University of Western Australia with Dr. Coombs.
– Then that explains his subsequent brilliance. I am sure that the Bill which is before us will contribute to the better administration of the University as it grows; that more and more people will go to it from the States, as they are now doing; and that it will provide, not only for full time education to which Senator Laught referred, but also for part time education which is not at night. I know something of this because I think that my wife will get a degree from the University next year if she passes the examinations at the end of this year. I am glad that the Bill has received general acceptance. I hope that the University will continue from strength to strength and that it will accept the guidance that it needs to have given to it from time to time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Assent to the following Bills reported -
Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1965.
Customs Bill (No. 2) 1965.
Excise Tariff Bill 1965.
– The business before the Committee is the consideration of the amendments to the Standing Orders recommended by the Standing Orders Committee.
Motion (by Senator Gorton) proposed -
That the amendments be agreed to.
– The Opposition supports the motion. The report which has been presented is very well presented indeed. One can see at a glance the effect of the changes proposed. It is accompanied by remarks giving reasons for each proposed change. There are drafting changes. There has been much tidying up of the Standing Orders. There are no changes of great substance to which I need to direct attention. I am pleased to see that the rules relating to questions hitherto not in detail in the Standing Orders are now to be included.
The preparation of the amendments has undoubtedly taken a great deal of time. On behalf of the Opposition - perhaps I can speak for every honorable senator in the chamber - I would like to say that we are grateful to the members of the Standing Orders Committee who have given so much time and careful thought to this work. We are grateful to the Clerk who no doubt was the guiding genius in the matter, and to his officers who helped in the work. We are happy with what is proposed and have much pleasure in supporting the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Senate adjourned at 9.28 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 2 December 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1965/19651202_senate_25_s30/>.