25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 10 a.m., and read prayers.
– 1 desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Attorney-General. The Attorney-General recently attended an overseas conference of British Commonwealth law officers at which recommendations were made for changes in extradition laws. Can we take it that the recommendations affect extradition within the British Commonwealth only and do not affect the present Australian stand against extradition on political grounds, particularly to Iron Curtain countries?
– The actual details of the discussion between the AttorneyGeneral and law officers of other countries are not known to me in a precise way. Nor do I know just what steps would be required in order to put into operation any common view which may have been arrived at. However, the honorable senator can take it that the Australian Government would continue to resist the extradition of people from Australia on political grounds, particularly where there is any cause to fear that extradition on political grounds could lead to action on political grounds against individuals.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. I have observed that a report on educational television has been tabled in another place. I ask the Minister whether it is his intention to table that report in the Senate today and, if so, whether it is his intention to accompany it by an explanatory statement as to the decision of the Government upon the report. I ask this question so that we will know what procedural opportunities will be given to consider the subject matter of the report and the Government’s views on it before Parliament rises this week.
– At the appropriate time this morning, I propose to table the report and to read the statement made in relation to it yesterday by the Postmaster-General
– Has the
Minister for Repatriation received a copy of a case for improved repatriation benefits for totally and permanently incapacitated pensioners in which the Commonwealth Council of the Totally and Permanently Disabled Soldiers’ Association of Australia asks for an increase in the T.P.I, pension rate; payment of medical benefits for wives; increased funeral grants and a recreational transport allowance? If not, will the Minister make efforts to obtain a copy so that he may study it? Will he undertake to make strong recommendations in support of the claims when the matters are considered for inclusion in the 1966 Budget?
– Yes, 1 have a copy of the case referred to by the honorable senator. I give the honorable senator the same answer that I gave yesterday to a question asked by Senator Sandford. I want to quote it verbatim, so that it will not be misreported, as it was yesterday. I said that the matter would be considered in the course of the Budget discussions. I give the same reply to the honorable senator today: The matter will be considered.
– The previous Treasurer announced that the Government was proposing to introduce stamp duties on a certain range of transactions in the Australian Capital Territory. The details have not yet been finalised. The last discussion I had with the Treasurer on this matter indicates that the duty will not be introduced before 1st June of this year.
– J direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, ls he able to advise me when I may expect a reply to the question to which he promised a reply on
Tuesday last? Further, can he tell me, and, if not, will he seek to find out, whether the spokesmen for the Australian air pilots are correct in saying that Australian pilots, together with Air India pilots, are the lowest paid in the world? Has Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. lost 25 highly skilled pilots by resignation in the past ten months, and because of these resignations will six of the company’s new Boeings be grounded shortly because there will be no pilots to fly them? Is it true that it costs approximately $100,000 to train an efficient pilot?
– In reply to the first part of the honorable senator’s question, let me say that, as promised, I did refer the matter to the Minister for Civil Aviation and on his advice it was referred to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I have not yet received a reply from that Minister. If I get a reply from him after the end of the sessional period, I will make sure that it is communicated direct to the honorable senator. I suggest that in the second part of his question the honorable senator was giving information or expressing his views. Therefore, I shall not make any comment on that part of the question.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry a question. Has he read a Press report of certain buyer resistance in the United Kingdom to Australian butter which is presented under the brand “ Kangaroo “? It appears that some wouldbe purchasers have refrained from buying this butter, which they feel might be made from kangaroo milk. Will the Minister ask has colleague, the Minister for Trade and Industry, to give serious consideration to adopting a more favourable name for this excellent Australian dairy product?
– I think the Senate generally would welcome the fact that Australia is marketing Australian butter under its own brand. This has been the case for some considerable time now. Previously, Australian butter seemed always to disappear into the blending field and one was not able to purchase Australian butter, as such, in the United Kingdom except at a very few places. I think the Australian Dairy Produce board is to be commended for selling excellent quality Australian butter under this brand. The honorable senator might not approve of the choice of brand, but this one has been in use for some time and I understand that it is making headway in sales. It is about two hops ahead. I feel that the brand must be given an opportunity to fulfil the purpose which the Board has for it.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. He has stated that later today he will be making a statement and tabling a report on educational television. Will he indicate to the Senate whether a subject which has been raised here over many months - the encouragement of Australian content in television material - will find a place in his comments? He may recall that over the last six months or so he has indicated that the PostmasterGeneral would be putting forward a proposition which would involve the encouragement of local talent in television productions, leading to an enormous saving in overseas expenditure.
– I am not prepared to anticipate the contents of the statement that I propose later to read in the name of the Postmaster-General relating to educational television. As to that part of the question concerning the treatment by the Postmaster-General of the report of the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television, there has been no change in the position that I have stated. The report is currently being examined by the PostmasterGeneral.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Repatriation. Can the Minister inform the Senate whether it is a fact that a war pensioner in a mental hospital has half of his pension deducted and paid to the institution? If this is a fact, will the Minister undertake to have the matter considered during the forthcoming discussions on the Budget with a view to easing this burden?
– I did not hear the honorable senator’s question very clearly, but I think that I heard enough of it to be able to say that in the case to which he referred, consideration is given to the best interests of these men. The circumstances in which they are admitted to the institution also are considered. I have given a good deal of thought to this matter and have seen quite a bit of it during the last 18 months. I am convinced that the action that is being taken is in the best interests of the men who go into the institutions.
– Is half of their war pension deducted and paid to the institution at present?
– This is so in most cases, but here again it is being done in the best interests of the individual.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Works. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to an answer which was given by the Minister for Civil Aviation to a question asked in another place on Tuesday last, in which the Minister stated that an extensive programme of works is being undertaken to improve the facilities at the Brisbane airport? He went on to say that the principal works involved the construction of a new control centre and the provision of a building with full equipment for a completely new long range radar system. He said that the work would involve the expenditure of about $3 million. He also said that he intended to ask a particular member of the Parliament to open the facilities when they are provided within the next few months. Does the Minister know whether this work, which involves the expenditure of about $3 million, will be referred to the Public Works Committee?
– I am afraid I can only say that 1 do not know whether the work will be referred to the Public Works Committee, or whether it has already been referred to the Committee. But I should think that on a prima facie view of the matter, the work would clearly fall within the purview of the Committee. I would like the honorable senator to give me time to discover what the position is in relation to this matter.
(Question No. 795.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers supplied by the Minister for the Interior are as follows -
(Question No. 808.)
Senator MULVIHILL (through Senator
O’Byrne) asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior -
What is the name of the mining company which has been granted a mining lease to operate in certain areas on the Double Island Point Lighthouse Reserve, Queensland?
Is this operation primarily for rutile mining?
What revenue does the Commonwealth Government expect to obtain from the granting of this lease?
Does the company have to lodge a bond to ensure that promises given on restoration and revegetation of the area are honoured?
Is the Government aware that, in several agreements with the States, rutile mining companies, on the plea of mining fluctuations, have repudiated such obligations to revegetate such areas?
Does the Government accept the good faith of the mining company or will it utilise experts of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation to see that pre-lease restoration promises are fully carried out?
How many similar leases have been granted by the Commonwealth Government and in what parts of the Commonwealth are they located?
Is the Government aware of the impending development of overseas rutile deposits which very shortly will depress the world price and in turn cause some of the Australian companies to fail leaving many leases in a state of rural slum?
(Question No. 818.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Army has provided the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions -
It is not normal Army practice to move recruits on duty from Wagga to Sydney by bus. It is assumed therefore, that the honorable senator refers to the usual mid-training long weekend leave, which does not entitle recruits to movement at public expense. The following answers are therefore based on this assumption -
(Question No. 863.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
-The Minister for Immigration has supplied the following answer -
(Question No. 823.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
What was the total cost for the sitting of 2 hours 56 minutes of the Senate on 8th March 1966, including fares to and from Canberra, car travel from homes to airport and from airport to Parliament House, and daily allowances for senators and staff?
-The Minister for the Interior has replied as follows -
A precise answer to the honorable senator’s question is not readily available. Not all accounts in connection with this sitting have been received. However, it is estimated that the total cost would be in the order of $9,900.00. Not all these costs, of course, would be attributable solely to the one day sitting of the Senate, as it is understood many senators attended party meetings and transacted other business, and Ministers would have been in Canberra in any case.
(Question No. 865.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
In view of the tremendous success that has stemmed from the use of mobile X-ray units to detect tuberculosis, will the Government examine the possibility of providing aid to the States for similar facilities in country areas for cancer detection, particularly for women to have free facilities for the smear test which is used to detect certain forms of cancer?
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply -
I assure the honorable senator that the Commonwealth Government is fully mindful of the necessity of combating the menace of cancer, because of the importance of this disease as a cause of suffering and mortality. The Government is devoting considerable attention to this matter particularly in the provision of finance for research both in Australia, through the National Health and Medical Research Council, and overseas. Australia is, for example, a participant in the International Cancer Research Agency and is contributing between $100,000 and $150,000 annually to this body for the training of research workers and the support of selected research projects. As the honorable senator is of course aware, a vast amount of research into the causes and treatment of cancer is being undertaken throughout the world.
The Commonwealth Government has, for many years, very materially assisted the State Governments in the treatment of cancer by lending to hospitals and universities suitably mounted radium from the Commonwealth X-Ray and Radium Laboratory. The Laboratory also provides a radon service, has the responsibility for calibration of deep X-ray equipment and the circulation of dosage tables, and controls the importation of radioactive isotopes for use in the treatment of cancer. No charge is made to hospitals which use these isotopes for the treatment of patients. The National Health and Medical Research Council has also established committees whose work has a direct implication in the treatment of cancer.
The smear test, to which the honorable senator refers, is used to detect a number of forms of cancer which invade body cavities, specimens from which can be examined microscopically. This technique has been most successfully applied to early detection of cancer of the uterine cervix, but it can also be applied with varying degrees of success to some other forms of cancer such as cancer of the lung, cancer of the stomach, and cancer of the lower bowel.
Facilities for applying this examination technique to detect cancer of the cervix exist in the Australian Capital Territory and in all States. The specimens are taken by, or on behalf of, the women’s own medical practitioners and are examined in central laboratories. Hospitals in most major centres are able to carry out this test for other forms of cancer, although the merits of this method of diagnosis in Australia for forms of cancer other than cancer of the cervix are still being evaluated. It should be mentioned that in some instances there arc more effective methods of early diagnosis, such as X-ray examination.
Expert medical opinion holds that, for the present at least, it would not be appropriate to provide mobile units to carry out smear tests for the detection of cancer, primarily because the application of these tests is very limited and the technique is still subject to a good deal more research. It is also considered somewhat doubtful whether mobile units would be adequately availed of because of the reticence on the part of many people to volunteer to be tested for cancer, especially if they have no symptoms, this reticence possibly including a fear that cancer might in fact be detected. It is considered that the existing system, whereby a woman’s doctor carries out the smear test for cervical cancer if he considers it necessary or desirable to do so, and in fact many doctors do this as a matter of routine, is to be preferred for the time being to any attempt to carry out voluntary mass surveys.
I might mention that the comparison which the honorable senator draws between cancer and tuberculosis is not entirely valid, since tuberculosis is an infectious and communicable disease and an infected person is a hazard to others. The AntiTuberculosis Campaign conducted by the States with Commonwealth financial support is accordingly designed as a public health measure. Cancer, on the other hand, is not a communicable disease and there is, therefore, no danger of a sufferer infecting other persons.
(Question No. 870.)
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply -
(Question No. 878.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply -
(Question No. 880.)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has furnished the following replies -
(Question No. 895.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The Minister for Immigration has supplied the following answers -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The Minister for Immigration has supplied the following answer - 1, 2, and 3. These matters are under consideration.
(Question No. 907.)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers - 1.5 kilowatts e.r.p. vision; 1 kilowatt sound.
– On 20th April 1966, Senator O’Byrne asked me the following question -
Is the Postmaster-General aware that Queenstown, on the west coast of Tasmania, is still without a television translator station, despite the repeated representations by residents of the west coast and the assurance by the Australian Broadcasting Commission over the past two years that one would be installed? Is he aware also that commercial television translators have recently been installed at Gowrie Park and Stanley on the north-west coast of Tasmania and that the isolation of Queenstown .should have warranted priority of installation? Will the Postmaster-General investigate the reason for the delay in obtaining the equipment for the Queenstown translator station and give instructions that it should be erected with the utmost expedition?
The Postmaster-General ‘has now furnished me with the following information in reply -
Slow progress with the construction of the access road has prevented transport of the large aerial Support tower and prefabricated station building to the Mount Owen site. Emergency arrangements are in hand to overcome this difficulty. These include temporary use of the commercial station building and tower with the kind agreement and co-operation of the operator and use of a helicopter to transport the translator equipment and temporary aerial to the site. The establishment of the Mount Owen translator service will also enable the Mount Read station, which will serve the Rosebery area, to start service, and I am now hopeful that it will shortly be possible to make an announcement of the firm opening dates for these two extensions of the national television service to the west coast of Senator O’Byrne’s State. Provided bad weather does not delay the emergency operations, I am hopeful that service will be given by about mid-June.
– On 21st April 1966, Senator Ridley asked me the following question -
Will the Minister request the Postmaster-General to give favourable consideration to having the numbers of all telephone subscribers included in telephone directories covering the respective States even if the subscribers are attached to a line or exchange in another State?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished the following information in reply -
When the Government approved the Community Telephone Plan for Australia in I960, one principal was that telephone users should be grouped according to community of interest. This was adopted’ following a detailed study to determine the most convenient and economical arrangements. The community of interest of telephone users does not necessarily coincide with State areas and in 9 number of cases the- telephone zones adopted overlap State boundaries.
To meet the needs of subscribers wishing to call numbers not listed in the local telephone directory, the Information Service is available or details can be obtained from the local exchange operator. For those subscribers who have need to make frequent calls to other telephone directory areas, copies of the relative directories are available from the local postmaster at very low cost.
– On 10th May 1966, Senator Mulvihill asked me the following question -
In view of the precedent established by the Commonwealth Government in financing the construction of access roads to television transmitters, notably the Bajool-Mount Hopeful road at Rockhampton, will the Postmaster-General give early consideration to the submission of the New South Wales branch of the Postal Telecommunication Technicians Association which seeks the extension of similar facilities to the Barraba-Mount Kapitar road which links Dorrigo with the Mount Mombill television transmitter, and which would provide a safe and direct mode of travel for the operating staff of- this television transmitter?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished the following information in reply -
It is assumed that the honorable senator’s question refers to the roads leading to the television stations located on Mr Dowe, serving the Tamworth area, and Mr. Moombil, serving the GraftonKempsey area. In choosing the access routes to television stations, the policy adopted has been to select the most accessible route from the nearest existing road of acceptable standard; in some cases a measure of upgrading work on those roads has been necessary. Further upgrading and repair work is proposed on the roads leading to both the Tamworth and Grafton stations and provision has been made in the draft Estimates for 1966-67 for this purpose. The access to Mr. Dowe was originally provided by extension of an existing road from Narrabri rather than from Barraba as the former route required considerably less expenditure for extension to the television site. It is not proposed to provide access from Barraba.
– by leave - At question time today Senator Wright asked about a report furnished to the Postmaster-General in relation to educational television. Copies of the report have been circulated through the normal channels to honorable senator’s boxes. I would now like to table the report to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board by the Advisory Committee on Educational Television Services for the information of honorable senators and read the following statement made by the Postmaster-General.
The Advisory Committee on Educational Television Services was appointed, with ministerial approval, by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board in January 1964 to advise the Board on the contribution television might be able to make to education in Australia, in view of the fact that the uses of television for this purpose had become a matter of increasing professional and public interest. The Chairman of the Committee was Mr. W. J. Weeden, Director of the Commonwealth Office of Education. Membership comprised a panel of distinguished educationists whose names are listed in the report. The Committee had fairly wide terms of reference, as might be expected in relation to a complex matter such as educational television. The Committee was also to advise on the way in which the educational television needs of this country could be met.
The Committee met in several States over a considerable period, and during the course of its enquiries obtained the views of educational authorities and others concerned with or interested in educational television. A large number of people from all States were interviewed. The Committee’s report is a valuable contribution to a relatively new field - a field in which experience in other countries shows that there is unlikely to be uniformity of viewpoint in arriving at solutions to the various questions that pose themselves for consideration. The report is equally valuable in providing an opportunity for reviewing current policies and for consideration of future developments.
The Government has given very thorough and detailed consideration to the Committee’s report. First, the Government supports the Committee’s view that instructional educational television programmes and their nature and content ought to be developed as an integral part of the education systems in Australia. It agrees also that these are primarily matters for State authorities. Education is a sovereign responsibility of the States and, accordingly, it is this Government’s view that a first and essential
Step on the Committee’s report must be consultation with the State Governments as to their requirements and priorities, and the extent to which they would be prepared to incur expenditures on educational television services.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) has therefore written to the State Premiers suggesting ‘ that a conference between the Commonwealth and the States be held at an early date to explore the matter generally and, in particular, what the needs of the States are; the possible basis for co-opera tion in any expansion; machinery for regular reviews of needs; a basis for regular consultation about State programme needs and about meeting those needs. The Commonwealth is prepared to provide some additional finance for expanding instructional television programmes, if this is desired by the States and if the States are prepared to contribute resources for the purpose.. The Commonwealth is willing also to discuss ways in which additional resources deemed necessary can be provided on a joint basis. The Commonwealth sees its role in this matter as being one of acting as an agent for the States by assisting in the provision of co-ordinated activities, including in particular facilities for the presentation and transmission of instructional material. These activities must, of course, be within the limits of the facilities and funds available at any time.
With regard to the technical aspects associated with the availability of frequency channels for educational television purposes, the Commonwealth has responsibility for the allocation of bands to meet the frequency requirements for all types ofradio communication services, including radio, television, aeronautical, shipping, governmental and various private user services.The matter must be looked at from the long term viewpoint. At present, television services are operating in the very high frequency (V.H.F.) band and, as the Committee suggests, in the larger population centres there is provision for the allocation of only one additional V.H.F. channel for television purposes. The Government believes that it is desirable to allocate channels in a band where there is scope for orderly development with minimum dislocation to other user requirements. Undoubtedly, as Australia develops, there will be need for extension of the existing types of television services, which could not be considered without considerable technical difficulty and cost to other users if the Government reserved the remaining V.H.F. channel for educational purposes. Then too, the long term demands for educational television are such that they are unlikely to be accommodated by the provision of one additional V.H.F. channel. Another factor is the requirement for Australia to meet its obligations under the International Telecommunication Convention and associated Radio Regulations.
At the present time there is ample scope for the development of television services in the ultra high frequency (U.H.F.) band. The Commonwealth would be prepared to arrange the allocation of frequency channels for educational television purposes in this band. It does not at present believe that it should specifically reserve a portion of this band for such purposes, particularly since as yet it has no accurate knowledge of the expected requirements. The Government will ensure that the appropriate Commonwealth authorities give full consideration to frequency needs for education television services in the light of the requirements of all users and technical considerations when the allocation of channels in both the V.H.F. and U.H.F. bands is being examined. Such an examination can be arranged when more is known of educational television needs, expecially after the consultations with the States, to which I have already referred.
The Committee recommended that, initially, educational television should be instituted by using the facilities of existing national and commercial television stations but that there should ultimately be a separate network of educational television stations.
The Government gave particular consideration to this question but decided, in all the circumstances, that facilities available to the Australian Broadcasting Commission and commercial stations were adequate now and in the foreseeable future to provide a satisfactory educational television service.
As honorable senators will be aware, the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the facilities of which have been used successfully in the closely allied medium of school broadcasting for 30 years, has successfully integrated educational television into its established organisation including programmes at primary, secondary and, to a lesser extent, tertiary levels. In considering the proposals by the Committee that ultimately a separate network should be provided the Government bore in mind that any new network of stations exclusively for instructional purposes would be unused for varying periods of each day and, on the other hand, there would be unused capacity in the national and commercial transmitters not only to the extent which at present exists, for example in the mornings, but because of the transfer of instructional type programming for the Commission to the new network. The Government has, therefore, decided that the Australian Broadcasting Commission should continue to present instructional type programmes in association with the State authorities and using the normal consultative machinery. The use which is at present being made of the Commission’s technical and programme facilities for educational television already represents a substantial Commonwealth investment in this field, and the Government’s decision will open the way for further development. At present, one-third of Australian schools have viewing equipment and the number is steadily increasing. The Government contemplates that the machinery for coordination between the Commission and the States should be reviewed if necessary with a view to overcoming any deficiencies which might at present exist in the provision of adequate and appropriate instructional programmes by the Commission.
When the consultation with the States has taken place and the views of the States on the report are known, the Senate will be further informed as to the specific course of action the Government has decided upon. The Government is grateful to the Committee for the thoroughness with which it carried out its investigations and the care with which it presented its views.
– by leave - I move -
That the Senate take note of the statement.
I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Motion (by Senator Henty) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a first time.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henry) read a first time.
Senator HENTY (Tasmania - Minister for Supply [10.55]. - I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to obtain Parliamentary authority for additional expenditure in 1965-66 amounting to $14,542,000 on various items relating to capital works and services, payments to or for the States and certain other services. Although additional appropriations of $6 million are sought for capital works and services it is expected that after allowing for savings in other appropriations the total expenditure on capital works and services will not exceed the Budget estimate of $420.6 million by more than about $3 million. The major requirements are $1.4 million for buildings and works in the Northern Territory, $2 million for capital expenditure on telephone and telegraphic services, $470,000 for the purchase of land and a residence in Bonn for the Department of External Affairs, and $640,000 for housing loans in the Australian Capital Territory. The amount of $8.4 million sought for other services includes $8 million for emergency food aid to India. An additional amount of only $137,000 is required for payments to or for the States. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representative.
Standing Orders suspended.
Motion (by Senator Henry) proposed - That the Bill be now read a first time.
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.
The purpose of this Bill is to appropriate $203,207,000 for certain expenditure to carry on the necessary services of the Government for the first five months of 1966-67. The total amount sought comprises -
The amount for capital works and services is required in general for the orderly continuation of works programmes. The amount of $2,000,000 sought for an advance to the Treasurer is to make advances which will be recovered within the financial year, and to make moneys available to meet expenditures, particulars of which will afterwards be submitted to Parliament. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with a message intimating that it had agreed to amendments Nos. 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 made by the Senate but had disagreed to amendment No. 2 and in place thereof had amended clause 39.
Consideration of House of Representatives message.
Clause 39. (1.) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other Act, but subject to the next succeeding subsection, an appeal does not lie to the High Court from a judgment, order or sentence of the Court given, made or pronounced under this Act except by leave of the Court or of the High Court. (2.) An appeal lies to the High Court from an order of the Court being a sequestration order or, on a question of law, from an order of the Court convicting a person of an offence against this Act. (3.) Notice of an appeal or application for leave to appeal shall be filed in the office of the Registrar for the District in which the judgment, order or sentence was given, made or pronounced within seven days after notice of the appeal or application for leave to appeal has been filed in the High Court or other Court.
Senate’s amendment No. 2.
Leave out sub-clause (2.), insert the following sub-clause: - “ (2.) An appeal lies to the High Court from an order of the Court, being -
House of Representatives’ amendment.
Omit sub-clause (2.), insert the following subclause, - “ (2.) An appeal lies to the High CourtCo) from a sequestration order made by the Court;
.- J move-
That the Committee does not insist on the amendment disagreed to by the House of Representatives, and agrees to the amendment made by the House of Representatives in place thereof.
The amendment that has been made in another place in- lieu of the amendment that was made by the Senate to clause 39 is the same in substance as that made by the Senate, except that no appeal to the High Court is conferred as of right from an order of a Bankruptcy Court imposing a fine of $200 or more. It seems to the Government that the High Court should not be burdened with relatively minor matters such as this. The fact that under clause 39 (1.) of the Bill an appeal will lie to the High Court, by the leave of the High Court or the Bankruptcy Court, will ensure that in appropriate cases a person on whom a pecuniary penalty has been imposed by the Bankruptcy Court will be permitted to appeal to the High Court.
.- The original amendment was moved by Senator Wright and was supported by the Opposition. I understand that Senator Wright is happy with the amendment now proposed by the Government. It is acceptable to the Opposition.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
.- I move -
That the Amendments of the Public Accounts Committee Regulations as contained in Statutory Rules 1965, No. 180, and made under the Public Accounts Committee Act 1951-1965 and the Amendments of the Public Works Committee Regulations, as contained in Statutory Rules 1965, No. 179, and made under the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1965, be disallowed.
I have proposed this motion on several grounds. First, I do not believe in the payment of senators and members for serving on parliamentary committees, with special emphasis on the payment of sitting fees on days on which the Parliament sits. I am very strongly opposed to such payments. The second ground has to do with the retrospectivity of the regulations. The third is the inconsistency of the Government, or the Parliament, in paying fees to certain committees and not to others.
It is interesting to note that for some time there has been some secrecy about the payment of fees. Some time ago I asked a former Leader of the Government in this place a question about the fees that were paid to various committees. The information sought was not given. I know that in another place a similar question was asked. This seemed to be a mysterious matter. However, when the regulations we are now considering were brought forward, we saw things more clearly. We find that the regulations apply to only two committees - the Public Accounts Committee and the Public Works Committee. But the members of other committees receive sitting fees. The Foreign Affairs Committee is one such committee. In that case payment is made, not under a regulation, but apparently pursuant to a decision of the Ministry. The members of certain special committees have received sitting fees. 1 refer to the Constitutional Review Committee, the Joint Committee on Parliamentary and Government Publications, the House of Representatives Select Committee on Voting Rights for Aborigines, the House of Representatives Select Committee on Grievances of Yirrkala Aborigines, Arnhem Land Reserve, and the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television.
– And the Select Committee on Payments to Maritime Unions.
– I shall come to that one. Committees which have not received sitting fees were committees of both Houses. No . fee was paid to members of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory or the Senate Select Committee on the Development of Canberra. Members of the Select Committee on Payments to Maritime Unions did not receive a sitting fee. Members of the Senate Select Committee on Road Safety did not receive a sitting fee. The same remark applies to members of the Select Committee on House of Representatives Accommodation. Not all standing Committees receive a sitting fee.
– Do they get any other emolument?
– I am referring to sitting fees.
– When I referred to the Select Committee on Payments to Maritime Unions, apparently I was thinking of travelling allowances.
– I rise to a point of order. Mr. President, is there something wrong with the public address system in the chamber today? It is very difficult to hear.
– Order! I think the trouble lies with the speaker. He is not speaking loudly enough.
– As I have plenty of time, let me repeat the details that I have stressed. I am opposing the regulations in question on several grounds. One is that I do not believe in sitting fees being paid to parliamentarians who sit on parliamentary committees, particularly when committees sit on days when the Parliament also sits, although not at the same time as the Parliament is sitting. Also, I am opposed to retrospectivity in relation to parliamentarians’ sitting fees. I feel that these are very strong points. The other aspect is the inconsistency in the whole matter of sitting fees for committees, which indicates there is no definite policy of the Government or the Parliament in relation to committees.
– Would the honorable senator explain his views on the difference between sitting fees and travelling allowance, and why he is taking only sitting fees?
– Order! I think the honorable senator had better make his own speech.
– As a matter of fact, I was about to come to that point when it was drawn to my attention that some people could not hear, and I shall deal with that. As evidenced by these regulations, the Public Accounts Committee and the Public Works Committee will receive higher sitting fees, or are receiving them. Apart from the Public Accounts Committee and the Public Works Committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Constitutional Review Committee receive sitting fees. So also did the Joint Committee on Parliamentary and Government Publications, the House of Representatives Select Committee on Voting Rights for Aborigines, the House of Representatives Select Committee on Grievances of Yirrkala Aborigines, and the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television. No sitting fees are paid or were paid to the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory or the Senate Select Committee on the Development of Canberra, the Senate Select Committee on Payments to Maritime Unions, the Senate Select Committee on Road Safety, or the House, of Representatives Select Committee on House of Representatives Accommodation.
All Standing Committees of both Houses do not receive sitting fees. So far as the
Senate is concerned, the Standing Committees are these: Standing Orders Committee, Library Committee, House Committee, Printing Committee, Regulations and Ordinances Committee, and Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications. None of these Committees receives any fees. Apparently, the Joint Statutory Committee on Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings does not receive a fee, and the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House, apparently, does not receive a sitting fee. The Library Committee, which I understand is a Joint Committee, does not, as I mentioned, receive a sitting fee.
So honorable senators will see that the whole policy in relation to sitting fees for committees is a matter of inconsistency. There is a distinction in what committees get. If those committees which get a sitting fee sit on days other than days when the Parliament is sitting, they get a travelling allowance which, of course, covers the cost of hotel accommodation, meals and so on. I think it is accepted by everyone that this is a fair allowance because otherwise the ordinary person would be but of pocket if he had to attend a special committee meeting. A sitting fee is a fee paid to a person for sitting on a committee.
– For working on the committee.
– One does not have to be on a committee. I notice that you all rush to get on them.
– My colleague says that it is for working on the committee,
– You do not sit; you work when you are on a committee.
– We speak about sitting in Parliament. If we want to split straws, we shall say “ working in Parliament “ and “ working on a committee “. Let us get down to mundane expressions. When you are working on a committee, you get a fee for working on the committee on that particular day. I now come to an aspect that is open to argument. Some, probably, who agree with me about one aspect do hot agree with me on this aspect. I believe that a parliamentary salary is paid to a member for whatever work he does. If he is chosen for a committee, his parliamentary salary covers his work on that particular committee, too. I know that some senators do not agree with that. They arc more specific in their disagreement. They disagree, as I strongly do, with the payment of a fee to committees for sitting or working here in Parliament House in particular, on a day when the Parliament is sitting. What happens in those cases is that the Parliament probably meets at half-past ten or eleven o’clock in the morning. A committee may decide to work - honorable senators will understand that when I say “ work “ 1 mean what is generally meant by the word “ sit “ - for an hour or an hour and a half before the committee members start to work in the Parliament. For that they get a sitting fee - in the case of those two particular committees - of £4 a day; the Chairman gets £5 a day.
– ls that for a complete day?
– No, for the period they work, whether it is an hour, or an hour and a half, or half an hour.
– They get the same amount if they work morning, afternoon and night.
– Those are the fees set out in the regulations. If anyone wants to split straws about whether committee members get it or may get it, let me say that it is the fee set out in the regulations.
– Be fair.
– I am being fair. I am not going to suggest that they have it in their pockets now. It is set out here that that is the fee to be paid to a person on that committee. It may be a lunch hour meeting. It may be a meeting between when the Parliament suspends its sitting at a quarter to one, one o’clock, or whatever it is, and when it resumes at half past two or three o’clock.
– Is it not a common practice for one committee to meet in the lunch hour?
– Rumour has it around the place that members of one committee, the Foreigh Affairs Committee - it is very strongly talked about - chew over their work while they chew over their meal.
– That is not correct.
– Is it fact or rumour that they are paid a sitting fee for their rumoured lunch hour meeting?
– They were paid a sitting fee if they sat in the lunch hour.
– That is not what the honorable senator said. He made an accusation that they drew a fee by sitting through the lunch hour.
– The honorable senator is a member of the Foreigh Affairs Committee; he would know. Senator Turnbull asked a question. I said it was a rumour around the House, a very strong rumour.
– I deny the rumour.
– I am sorry that this affects certain people so much.
– I have not received any remuneration on the Foreign Affairs Committee.
– I am not suggesting that you have.
– You are making a lot of suggestions.
– What are you being so touchy about?
– The honour of my colleagues.
– Order! Senator Wood, if you address me and speak a little louder we shall get further ahead.
– The point is that it is quite amply demonstrated on these regulations that certain committees are to receive fees for their meetings, irrespective of whether they meet on days other than days on which the Parliament sits, or on days on which the Parliament sits.
– The honorable senator is not suggesting that this is a new procedure? Has it not been carried on for some time?
– Yes. How long has it existed?
– Senator Morris has heard what I have said. I said that I had asked a question some time ago about the talk that was going on about committees that sat in Parliament House on days when the Parliament was sitting and received a sitting fee. On that occasion the question was sidestepped. I also said that a similar question was asked in another place and that that question, too, was sidestepped. So there has been secrecy so far as the general run of parliamentarians are concerned as to who receives sitting fees on the various committees. We are paid a parliamentary salary and I believe that if we are selected to serve on any committee we should serve on it as a matter of honour. Some members of Parliament may say: “ If we are selected to serve on a committee, even a select committee, we are doing more work than other parliamentarians are doing “. My reply to that is that I think it is an honour to be chosen by one’s colleagues to serve on a select committee, a special committee or a committee of any kind. That one is considered by his colleagues worthy to serve on a committee is an honour.
In these days certain things count for much, but those of us who believe in democracy surely believe in serving democracy in its various aspects. I cannot think of a better form of service in civilian life than for a parliamentarian to accept the opportunity of serving on a parliamentary committee on which his fellow parliamentarians consider him to be worthy enough to serve, and treating that as an honour. I have always held that view very strongly. Over the years I have had the honour to serve on several committees. At present I am a member of a couple of committees. On no occasion have I ever received a sitting fee. I served on the Senate select committee which dealt with the development of Canberra as a city. That was a most exhaustive survey; a series of meetings was held in the various capital cities as well as in Canberra. No member of that committee received a sitting fee.
– The honorable senator was also a member of the committee which dealt with immigration, was he not?
– What was wrong with that? The committee which dealt with the development of Canberra submitted a report to the Parliament and over a period of years the Parliament has acted upon the committee’s recommendations, but not one sitting fee was paid to the members of the committee. I count it as an honour that I was chosen to serve on the committee and that the Parliament accepted and acted upon the committee’s report. It is only incidental that I may have disagreed with certain sections of the report. The important point is that the report has been acted upon by the Parliament and that the committee members did not receive a sitting fee.
– We are living in. a materialistic age.
– There is no doubt about that. Another committee on which I had the honour to serve was the committee which investigated certain payments made to maritime unions. Honorable senators will remember that we took evidence in several places, including Sydney and Melbourne. The only payment received by any member of the committee was the allowance paid to cover the cost of accommodation, meals and so on. It is termed a travelling allowance. It is the allowance “ that we receive every time we come to sittings of the Parliament. That committee sat extensively and submitted a report to the Parliament. I am sure that everyone who served on the committee was honoured by being chosen as a member of it.
Senator Cormack said that I served on the Commonwealth Immigration .Advisory Council. That is true. I was a member of that body first for 12 months, representing local government. I was the Australian president of the local government authorities’ organisation. The Council asked the Minister to retain my services as a member because it felt that I had some contribution to make to its deliberations. As a consequence I was retained on that council for a number of years. We travelled extensively and sat in all the capital cities. This involved quite a considerable amount of travelling for me because I live in far northern Queensland and the committee sat on one occasion in Perth. That committee was, in the main, not a parliamentary committee. Looking back, I think at least 95 per cent, of the people who served on it were public spirited people outside the Parliament. No member of Parliament who sat on the committee received any sitting fee. That has been checked. I know that statement will disappoint some of my colleagues greatly. I am aware of what has been said around the Parliament because I have had the temerity to introduce this motion. As I have said, the sittings of that council were held, in the main, in the various capital cities.
– Was the honorable senator a member of the council as a member of Parliament or as a representative of local government organisations?
– The honorable senator did not quite catch what I said, apparently. For the first year I was representing local government - I was the Australian president of the local government authorities’ organisation - and then, because the council felt that I had some worthwhile contribution to make, it requested the Minister to retain me on it as a senator. 1 served for a number of years and no sitting fee was received.
– By you?
– By me.
– At any time?
– I cannot remember any. The checking that I have done has shown that no parliamentarian received a sitting fee. We received only the normal parliamentary allowance.
– I should like to get the facts. The honorable senator said that, as a parliamentarian, he did not receive any higher living, allowance than he was entitled to as a parliamentarian?
– That is not correct.
– This might be awkward to explain.
– Not at all. If you are honest about something, it is quite easy to explain. From memory, we received a higher travelling allowance than the normal parliamentary allowance because we sat in capital cities, where accommodation charges are higher than those that, as parliamentarians, we pay in Canberra. If I travelled with the council on a normal parliamentary sitting day after the Parliament had risen, I received the parliamentary allowance of £3, as it was then, for that day. If the committee travelling allowance was £5 a day, I received the difference of £2.
– Surely the honorable senator did not take it?
– He received only the difference.
– I am sorry if this touches such a sensitive spot with some people. Senator Webster comes from Victoria. Let me point out to him that the type of accommodation that I would accept in Melbourne would cost a lot more than accommodation is costing him or me, as parliamentarians, in Canberra. So even though I received the additional £2 allowance, it probably did not cover the cost of accommodation and meals that I required while I was in Melbourne.
– That is inconsistent with the honorable senator’s other statement.
– I am working on the basis of principle. That was a travelling allowance. I am referring to sitting fees which members of committees receive for sitting on certain days, or for working on committees, lt is not inconsistent. I received a travelling allowance. Some of my colleagues thought that ! received a sitting fee when I was a member of the Immigration Advisory Council, and I know they are disappointed that I did not.
– There is no need to say that.
– I am not a child. I know this has been talked about around the Parliament. In any case, I have made the point 1 am concerned about in relation to sitting fees. The whole situation has developed in a most unusual manner. Why is it that the members of one committee receive a sitting fee and members of another committee do not? This indicates to me that if certain committees can get the ear of the Treasurer or the Treasury they receive the sitting fee. If others cannot, they do not receive it. If sitting fees are to be paid, why can we not have some uniformity?
– The matter should be covered by the parliamentary allowances legislation.
– Of course. It should be uniform. Do not get me wrong. I am not asking for sitting fees, but if the Government thinks the members of one committee should be paid a sitting fee, the members of every committee should be paid a sitting fee. There should be uniformity. It seems to me that certain people can get the ear of certain other people and, as a consequence, sitting fees are paid to the members of a particular committee.
The other aspect with which I want to deal is retrospectivity. I feel very keenly about this aspect. I want to make it perfectly clear that my motion of disallowance comes purely from myself and has no association at all with the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. I am told that the other members of the Committee would not support me. That does not deter me from doing what 1 believe is right. In relation to this retrospectivity, we received notice of these increases in legislation that was before us last November. As from that time, the Parliament had notice of these increases. There is nothing wrong with that. But they are made retrospective to a much earlier date. I think it is a matter of about 12 months prior to that time.
– As from 1st November 1964.
– That is right. That would be about 12 months before the Parliament received notice of these increases. I believe that that is a very dangerous practice for the Parliament to adopt in relation to parliamentary fees, public funds, or anything of that character. We, as parliamentarians, know the economic structure of this country. We know that we have an arbitration system. I think most of us would say that, if the unions went before the arbitration courts and asked for every rise that was awarded to be backdated for 12 months, that would be unreasonable. I think most of us would recognise that, if the arbitration courts worked on the principle of back-dating every industrial award that they made, that could upset the whole economic structure of this country. I believe that it is entirely wrong for us to back-date fees for parliamentarians to 12 months prior to the time when notice of the increases was given in legislation.
Attention is drawn to retrospectivity in other matters. The question is asked: Why should parliamentarians be above reproach on this matter of retrospectivity? I believe that it is our duty as parliamentarians to see that we safeguard the very principles of democracy. It is up to us, as parliamentarians, to act on the highest democratic principles and in the same way as we expect other people to act. I certainly am very strongly opposed to making increases in fees for particular committees retrospective to 12 months before the time when the first notification of them was given in the Parliament.
As 1 mentioned earlier, Mr. President, the democratic point is a very important one. lt is up to each and every one of us at least to try to observe certain principles. What we want to apply to others we should apply to ourselves. If we do not expect other people to have things back-dated for 12 months or so, we should not expect that for ourselves. Our actions as parliamentarians can have a good influence or a bad influence on the love of democracy among the ordinary men and women of this country. There is no denying that actions such as this - when we give ourselves certain things - cause the standing of the Parliament to deteriorate in the eyes of the people. The Parliament is the focal point of democracy; it is the pinnacle of democracy. All our democratic principles culminate in the Parliament. Therefore, we should treat democracy as something precious and we should try to treat ourselves, in the main, as we like to treat other people.
There are glaring anomalies in this respect. Let me take the means test under which people who have certain means do not receive any age pensions or retiring allowances. But parliamentarians - having no means test applied to them and making no contribution - because of rises taking place, receive $6 a week as an old age allowance. That does not apply to other people.
– What was that?
– I understand that that does not apply to other people. We read about these things. Recently I read an article written by one of the critics which brought this matter forward. We must try to do what other people would like us to do and what we should do. I know that this matter has caused some feeling on the part of certain members of the Parliament. That does not worry me. I know that checks have been made on this, that and the other thing. Let me say this, Mr. President: I might be an odd sort of a fellow. Each and every one of us is allowed office accommodation by the Government. I have been in this Parliament for 17 years, and I have never claimed any rent for the office that I use for my parliamentary duties, although I am allowed to do so. I have paid my own office rent in respect of my parliamentary duties in my area.
– A little while ago the honorable senator referred to an amount of $6 a week. What was that?
– That was published in the Press. One of the correspondents was taking it up. The principle of being very careful about parliamentary fees is one on which I have been consistent throughout the years. When I was in local government I pursued the same policy of fighting against taking fees that might be considered to be more than necessary according to democratic ways of thinking. As I said, I might be an odd sort of a fellow; but I have fought against that over the years in municipal government as well as in the Federal Parliament. To those who want to know my record, I say that while I was in municipal government during the war my- council fees were directed to the Commonwealth Government as a contribution to the war effort. We now have voucher books for tickets to enable us to travel to and from the Parliament and we write out our own travel warrants. Before we had voucher books I always had to approach people in Brisbane for vouchers to travel to and from the Parliament. On some occasions, when the vouchers did not arrive, I was so odd that I paid my own way to the Parliament and I have never yet collected the money involved, which probably would amount to £250. I do not expect other people to do these things.
– All other people have not the money to be able to do them.
– No, they have not. If people want to make inquiries about me - this has been done - I believe that it probably is not a bad idea to let them know my record. If they want to make inquiries, they are quite entitled to do so.
– Some of them would have the honorable senator walk from Mackay to Canberra.
– That is right. As I said before, I take the view that democracy is very precious and should be so to us. It is up to each and every one of us to try to maintain it. I remember saying the following words at a meeting of the council on which I served: Democracy not only is receiving; it also requires giving.
The- very able leader of the overseas goodwill delegation of which I was a member - 1 do not know whether he will reply to my speech - will recall that overseas we found that democracy was so precious that when a person had Had one term in Parliament he could- not stand at the next election; he had to step out for one term. That situation existed because the people were afraid of losing democracy and were afraid that some might become dictators.
– But those parliamentarians went up to another House.
– They could not be reelected to the same House. Under this system, if a man was in the Senate he could not stand for the Senate again; he would have to run the risk of not being elected to another House. 1 am one of those people who believe that a person does not have to be the highest paid person to serve the best interests of the nation. My belief over the years has been that to serve in a democracy at some sacrifice is a privilege. It is practised in some countries. I refer honorable senators to the United States of America where the Cabinet is not selected from parliamentarians but from men outside the ranks of Parliament. Time after time; some great businessman is chosen to serve. He may be receiving a very high salary and allowances, but because of the honour of being chosen he decides to serve in the Cabinet at a very great financial sacrifice. That is democracy.
– Is the honorable senator suggesting that that system should be introduced here?
– It might be a worthwhile thing.
– It is very easy if a person is wealthy.
– That is true. I quite agree.
– The greatest service of all is often given for a mere pittance.
– I am glad that the Minister said that, because I was just about to mention it. While we are considering service and not getting everything possible out of it, let us go back to the various wars in which this country has participated. Hundred of thousands of Australians not only sacrificed their pay but also opportunities to establish themselves in life. Many of them paid the supreme sacrifice.
– That is true. The honorable senator is a returned serviceman.
– That is why I do not like the subject being brought into this debate. What has it to do with returned servicemen?
– It is a sacrifice for the love of freedom and democracy. To forego the payment of fees is a small sacrifice by comparison. It seems pitiful to think that we as parliamentarians are agreeable to payments of this nature, particularly backdated payments of fees, and more specifically, payments to members of committees for working on parliamentary sitting days, before, during or in between the hours when Parliament is sitting.
– If the regulation is disallowed, what would be the position of committees?
– I have not investigated that matter. I do not know. I am not a legal man. It may mean wiping out the fees or it may mean restoring the fees to the amounts that were previously paid. It would be for Parliament or the Government to take notice and take the necessary action. I have stated my points. I do not believe in the payment of sitting fees to parliamentarians who are already receiving salaries or allowances. More specifically, I do not believe in the payment of fees on days when Parliament is sitting. Finally, I strongly object to the retrospective payment of silting fees.
– Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion. At the same time, I wish to continue my remarks. Although honorable senators may decry the speech made by Senator Wood, the Australian taxpayers will appreciate the fact that he has raised for discussion what can only be described as a monstrous impertinence of members of Parliament in trying to increase their salaries and allowances. The most deplorable part of the debate so far has been that members of the honorable senator’s own party have tried to attack him in what can be described as a snide manner. 1 do not care if honorable senators on the Government side attack me. I am not in their party. Today, Senator Wood has done his duty as he sees it and members of his own Party have tried to rake up something about him; that he may have received £2 or something more than the amount they think he is entitled to legally. I think it is absolutely disgusting. Some Ministers are laughing. They are all happy on big salaries. They could not care about the honorable senator. They would like to see him wiped out from the Liberal Party. Let me remind them that if ever this man was expelled from the Party he could stand as an independent and join me.
I think it is important to make clear that there are travelling allowances and sitting allowances. I am not objecting to increased travelling allowances. I will concede that sitting allowances should be paid, but I repudiate any attempt to have such payments made to members of committees on days when Parliament is sitting. There is a distinction; not much, but I suppose there is a distinction. Perhaps committees are sitting when Parliament is not in session. When Parliament is in session it is quite wrong that sitting fees should be paid to committee members.
We have heard by interjection that members of committees do extra work. For heavens sake. What extra work? One hour at lunch time for some committee members. I must say that there is a coy reluctance on the part of honorable senators to give information, except for members of one committee, on how they sit and for how long. The belief that exists that members sitting on a committee are doing extra work while their colleagues are doing nothing is quite erroneous. It reminds me of the usual arguments that arise when the matter of increased parliamentary salaries is raised. I do not give evidence, but most members go to the committee of inquiry and say that they just cannot live on the parliamentary salary. They say they must have an increase. Because they are all philanthropists, at the next general elections the first people to apply for nominations are the very people who cannot live on the parliamentary salary.
The situation is the same in respect of silting fees. Some committee members moan because they have to work, and they suggest they do not get paid adequately.
But would any of those members get off those committees? Of course they would not. But honorable senators moan and say that they should be paid extra because they are doing extra duty in the time of Parliament. It is completely ridiculous to nearly everyone - to all taxpayers. On occasions when increased parliamentary salaries are discussed we get into little cliques. Love of each other comes forth with great joy. Senators all hug each other and are united for a change. But it is the only time that I ever see honorable senators all get together. They do not realise that the Australian taxpayers absolutely resent us. But, of course, the taxpayers cannot do anything about it. Honorable senators- know that, and could not care less. If sitting fees are to be paid to committee members on days when Parliament is sitting, it should be provided for in the Parliamentary Allowances Act so that everyone may know about it.
I appreciate that the position may be comparable to that under the traffic laws. We are supposed to know them, even though we never see them. We are supposed to know the regulations. We owe a great debt to Senator Wood for bringing this regulation to light. I do not think many members of Parliament realised that sitting fees are paid to committee members on days on which Parliament is in session. I think the Minister should make sure that there is provision in the Parliamentary Allowances Act so that it is necessary to face the challenge of this Parliament every time it is desired to alter it.
Another disgusting feature is retrospective payment, to which Senator Wood referred. One Committee in the last financial year received £772 for fees and £600 for travelling allowances. In December apparently the regulations were changed and the Committee members were given retrospective supplementary payments of fees amounting to about £283, and £463 for travelling allowances. This was a little bonus slung back to them for the previous 12 months work they had done. Where would such retrospectivity apply, other than to members of Parliament?
– Do not talk rot.
– In how many awards is there provision for retrospective payments for the previous 12 months?
– What about the obligation in respect of long service leave accepted by the community?
– What obligation?
– The honorable senator would not know about it.
– I admit I am ignorant. 1 do not know everything about everything. Perhaps the honorable senator does know everything about everything. Even if 1 have made a mistake about long service leave, that does not alter the fact that the principle involved here is wrong. The Government should not be submitting something like this, where, in secrecy, we make ourselves a retrospective payment.
– What does the honorable senator mean by “ in secrecy “?
– 1 realise that we are supposed to know about these things, but how many honorable senators could tell me, for instance, all the provisions of the Traffic Act? None of them could.
– The honorable senator is not here to know.
– If the honorable senator looks up the Journals of the House he will see that, apart from the occasion when I went abroad at my own expense, I have been here, on the average, as much as anyone else has.
– Ha, ha.
– I challenge the Minister to look up the records and ascertain the position. The fact that my name does not appear in division lists does not mean that 1 was not here in the Parliament. The only official records in this respect are the Journals of the House, which state whether we are here or not here. Whether a senator is in the chamber or not is not relevant. The honorable senator who is now interjecting knows that he used to spend much time in the bar and I have raised this with him on several occasions.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Order! The honorable senator can make a personal explanation at the end of Senator Turnbull’s speech.
– The remark can be withdrawn, but it will be recorded in “ Hansard “ and it will be reported in every newspaper in Australia tomorrow. I am not ashamed.
– Order! The honorable senator will be given an opportunity to make a personal explanation later.
– I have never been before a criminal jury.
– The honorable senator is lucky.
– That was a despicable thing for Senator Turnbull to say.
– ‘It was just as despicable for a member of the Government to say that I am not here in the Parliament much. If I am not here, that fact appears in the Journals. I maintain that, according to the Journals, my average attendance is just as good as that of most honorable senators. Presence in the chamber itself is a different matter. Often there are very few people in the chamber. On many occasions we do not have a quorum, but we are not supposed to raise that matter because it would be embarrassing’. Honorable senators are entitled to be outside the chamber if they wish. That is in order. If I have hurt the honorable senator, I withdraw my remark that he was in the bar and say that he was in the billiard room or wherever he was.
I will now come back to the question of retrospectivity and conclude my remarks. If we do not disallow these regulations, I presume that the payments specified in them will continue. I presume, further, that if we disallow the regulations those who have received the increased payments will have to refund them. I think that would be very sound, and is a good reason why the regulations should be disallowed. May I make it quite clear that I am talking about sitting fees, not about travelling allowances? Whatever the travelling allowances are, I am quite in favour of them. We certainly could not live on the amounts that were given to us previously. I think the travelling allowance has risen from £4 a day to £6 a day in respect of Canberra, and from £4 4s. a day to £8 10s. a day for places outside Canberra. I think that is reasonable. However, I maintain that it is preposterous for the sitting fees for ordinary members of committees to be raised from £2 10s. to £4. I believe that the whole matter should be taken back to
Cabinet, so that Cabinet can decide whether any sitting fees at all should be paid while the Parliament is sitting.
– Mr. President, in the interests of true debate and of the dignity of this House, I will, with your permission, get back to the issue before us. We are discussing a motion by Senator Wood to disallow certain regulations. It is perfectly within his rights to move that motion and to express his view that there should be an alteration of the general system for the payment of silting fees to members of committees. I think it was unfortunate that Senator Wood made some personal observations about other people, and that remark applies also to Senator Turnbull. As I have said, I concede the right of Senator Wood to move for the disallowance of any regulations, lt is the duty of every member of the Parliament to examine regulations.
Let me point out that in November 1965, Senator Gorton, on behalf of the Government, introduced bills, which were passed without division and even without dissent, to increase from £5,000 to £10,000 the appropriation for each of these committees. He explained that it was anticipated that extra work would have to be done and that the committees were sitting for much longer than had been the case and that therefore more money would be needed. He then dealt with the question of retrospectivity and said -
However, as soon as possible after the two Bills are enacted, the Government proposes to issue regulations to provide for increased rates of sitting fees and travelling allowances for the members of the Committees. The new rates to be prescribed will be in conformity with the increases approved by Parliament late last year in the Parliamentary Allowances Act and associated Acts, and it will be proposed that, as in the case of those allowances, the new rates should apply with effect from 1st November 1964.
Let me make one or two further comments. The Senate could vote on this matter under a misapprehension if we do not examine very carefully what we are doing. Let me comment first on some of the points that have been made by Senator Wood. No matter what we do in this matter, in whatever way we vote, we will not bring about what Senator Wood and Senator Turnbull want. If we disallow these regulations, all we will do will be to reject the increased allowances. Disallowance of the regulations would not mean that the members of these committees would not receive sitting fees. It would not mean that the committee members would have to make repayment of fees already received. If we disallow the regulations, the position in this respect will be as it has been since 1913, except for variations in the amounts of the fees. Senator Wood takes the view that there should be no payments for sitting on committees. However strongly he may hold that view, whatever we do here will not alter the system of paying fees to members of committees. I have with me a copy of “ Hansard “ containing the report of the original debate on the subject, in which Mr. Joseph Cooke and Mr. Andrew Fisher played quite a part. That was the time when fees for members of the Public Works Committee were set. It is interesting to note that the annual appropriation for the Committee at that time - in 1913 - was £2,000. It was only a few months ago that it was raised from £5,000.
I do not want to enlarge on this matter to any great extent because I do not think the debate, having regard to the way in which it has gone, is doing any of us any good. But I feel that I should add a few more words on the subject of the payment of committee members. Sometimes one meets an old timer who says that he prefers the good old days and that he believes that the system under which parliamentarians did not get any pay was better than the present system. That is a view which some people hold honestly. However, it raises other questions, such as whether members of Parliament should have private business interests or private means. Many nice debating points can be made, but it is a fact in our community today that members of Parliament are paid. The question of whether fees should be paid to members of committees does not really arise in this debate because, as I have already said, even if we disallowed the regulations such fees would continue to be paid.
Senator Wood has raised further questions of whether these fees should be paid on days when the Parliament is sitting, for meetings of what length and so on. In any walk of life when anybody is appointed to do a job, he is appointed because he is thought to have a sense of responsibility, and because it is thought that he can be trusted.
Let us have a look at ourselves. Some of us do more research than others. Some of us spend more time in this chamber than others. Some of us are much more attentive to electoral matters than others. We are not equal in these things. Who is the arbitrator? Each of us is the arbitrator. These matters are decided by our conscience, our ability and the amount of effort that we put into the job for which we are responsible. I suggest that the same principle can be applied to the operations of committees, lt is probably true to say that they do not sit only when one House is sitting.
– Order! Two hours having elapsed since the time set down for the meeting of the Senate, the orders of the day will be called on.
Motion (by Senator Henty) agreed to -
That orders of the day be postponed until after the disposal of Business of the Senate - Notice of Motion No. 1.
– It is true that the committees may sit for one hour on one day. It is equally true that they may sit for eight or ten hours on other days or at weekends. This kind of thing is happening in every walk of life. How can one pay a lecturer for the amount of lecturing that he does when he lectures for only one hour? How can one say to one of the professions - the law - or architecture - that its members get it easy with some clients but dead tough with others?
We come to the question of retrospectivity. Anybody who has appeared before arbitration courts or tribunals has had to face up to this question of retrospectivity. I say with great respect to the two previous speakers that they do not understand the industrial setup in Australia, otherwise they would not have made their comments about retrospectivity. The complicated system of fixing wages and allowances in Australia means that when a decision is made at the top it generally sets down the common law for others. The Public Service, with which we are concerned, has to fall into line on these things and bring its rates of pay up to those prescribed. It would be quite ridiculous for the Public Service Board to fight the case after a senior arbitration body had decided the matter. It must start to adjust rates of salary from the time the tribunal makes its decision. Senator Gorton made this question of retrospectivity clear in his second reading speech on the bills to which I have referred.
Senator Wood argued about the inconsistency in paying some committees and not others. Had I been his junior counsel I would have pointed out that this was arguing against his own case. If he persisted in this argument and if his point was taken up by the Government and it started to examine the situation, it could well be that we would have a situation which was the reverse of what he wants and that more instead of fewer committees would be paid. In fairness to him. he said that this was not what he wanted. But the mere fact of raising this matter of inconsistency could lead to the situation where those in authority said: “ We are going to pay the Public Accounts Committee, the Public Works Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee. Let us pay the rest of them.” I feel sure that this is not what Senator Wood wants.
I could not understand Senator Wood when he mentioned secrecy in regard to the fees. This matter of fees is clearly set out in the 1913 measure to which I have referred.
– And in every appropriation since.
– Yes. It would not have taken a great deal of research to ascertain the position on this question of fees. But as this matter has been raised, I think that it has to be answered to some extent. Even if all Senator Wood’s arguments were correct - and I am not saying that they are - we would do nothing to remedy the matter by voting for the disallowance of the regulation. All we would do would be to say: “The fees we have been paying to the committees must remain at the old rates. We will not take cognisance of the wage rises that occurred in late 1964 or early 1965. This section of the community will remain on the old rates.” The Government has not done that. It has done the normal thing. It has increased the fees in accordance with the general principles of wage increases that were announced in late 1964 or early 1965.
If one looks at the amounts involved one finds that they are very small. I have been informed that last year £2,000 was spent by the Public Works Committee on sitting fees and travelling allowances. This was for nine members of the Committee. Senator Turnbull has pointed out that the question of travelling allowances is not in dispute. Therefore, approximately £1,000 would have been spent on sitting fees for nine members of the Committee. One member of the Committee has informed me that he received £125 last year for sitting fees and travelling allowances, although he did admit that he was absent from a few meetings because he was overseas. The report of the Public Accounts Committee, which I have before me, shows that £935 was spent in 1963 and £1,481 in 1964 on sitting fees and travelling allowances. The amount about which we are speaking is not a tremendous one when we consider the budgetary considerations of the Government.
Government business is big business today. lt is becoming more complicated. I think we are getting to the stage where more committees will examine bills in the future because of the complexity of government. When one looks at the work of the Public Accounts Committee one sees that the Auditor-General has requested that Committee to examine the operations of every department every three years. Having worked in a department, I would not like to examine even one of the departments every three years. It is a tremendous job. Yet the Auditor-General has suggested that this is the type of work which the Public Accounts Committee should undertake. If one looks at the reports of the Public Works Committee, one sees the magnitude of the work that is undertaken by the Commonwealth today, in an endeavour to match the work carried out by State and private enterprises.
We must realise that for a couple of thousand pounds a scrutineering eye is being passed over these matters. Senator Wright, in his contribution to the debate on a bill which we discussed last year, said how he admired the common sense and acumen that the members of the committees bring to bear on these matters. 1 think that we are getting very cheap watchdogs, even though people argue about some of the work which these committees do. Unless one has been closely associated with the whole question of wages, one tends to overlook some aspects of it. We all have our idea of. what wages should be. Generally we believe that the other fellow is getting too much. In the whole Australian setup of wage fixation - whether it be by a Commonwealth court, a State court, a Public Service arbitrator, Public Service boards or heads of departments - somewhere along the line the decisions of these tribunals become a matter of opinion. There is no rule of law covering this subject. lt is true to say that these tribunals build up precedents of a kind, but somewhere along the line someone must say: “ This is the remuneration that I think this person should receive for that amount of work “. This was done in the case of the Public Works Committee in 1913. So far as 1 can see, at that time there was no dissentient voice on the question of the payment of fees and allowances. The only query which was raised was whether £2,000 was enough to cover the operations of the Committee. There has been no challenge to this practice from 1913 to the present time. Some comments were made about this matter by Senator Wright and Senator Wood when a bill was before the Senate a few months ago. Because the Australian Labour Party saw fit to support the measure on that occasion, we do not intend to disturb the position. We shall vote against Senator Wood’s motion to disallow the regulations.
.- In the Senate, which is one of the Houses of the National Parliament, a subject of this sort ought to be debated not under the irritation of a consciousness of interest, but with determination fearlessly to discharge a duty. In my view Senator Wood has discharged a public duty by bringing this matter before the chamber for debate in this fashion. I dissociate myself completely from many of the assertions that he made. Whether he initiated it or was provoked by interjection to address himself to personal experience, I do not recall clearly. But I regret intensely personal imputations that are offered from any quarter in this chamber when a matter of this sort is being considered. Individual facts have not been advanced before this chamber on any basis of fairness. If the facts affecting individuals are relevant we will move for the tabling of the records and then assemble the facts in a balanced sort of way and line them up for each individual. 1 abstain from any reference whatever to the individual experience of members of committees, whether this experience be in relation to the two committees under discussion or other committees. 1 do not do that as a shield against myself. I do it with the knowledge that I am not free from any of the faults that I would not impute to other people. My experience can be voluntarily advanced at the proper instance of any senator and honorable senators, with all facts before them, may then discuss them and bring the consideration to a proper conclusion. I want to add that I said when the Bills dealing with this matter were before the Senate some months ago that I regard the work of the committees of this Parliament - the Public Works Committee, the Public Accounts Committee and committees on which I have had experience - -as most rewarding in the sense of strengthening spirit that we enjoy in this Parliament. I pay a tribute again to the common sense, acumen and the sense of fearlessness that is expressed in their reports. .
The adequacy of the fees provided in the regulations does not enter into my consideration in this debate. 1 am not concerned with the adequacy or otherwise of the supplementary allowance that is paid to members of parliamentary committees. But I do think that it is an error to provide for the payment of supplementary allowances to members of committees even by way of regulation. I remind you, Mr. President, that this matter came up for discussion in a much more acute form in 1952. On that occasion, a Bill which dealt with the ordinary parliamentary allowance contained a sub-clause of unique constitutional significance which enabled the Governor-General of the day to make regulations to alter the parliamentary allowances of senators and members. If you will forgive me, Mr. Deputy President, for quoting myself I shall remind the Senate of what I said on that occasion to show that my view is in no way related to the particular circumstances in this debate. On 5th March 1952, at page 793 of “ Hansard “, I said- 1 believe that I merely have to state that propo sition in order to enable the Senate to appreciate the objection which must exist to it. lt is not proper that any Executive should have power to alter by regulation the- allowance or emolument of any member of Parliament.
I went on to say that the sub-clause provided a means for discriminating by a regulation made by the Governor-General. The danger was that the discrimination might disadvantage a man who was somewhat objectionable and conduce to the advantage of a man who was complying.
I had the honour - whatever small degree of honour comes me; none becomes me - of advancing that view alone. It went unnoticed by any express reference. But I am pleased to say that when the next Bill with respect to parliamentary allowances was before the Senate in 1956, the clause to which 1 had taken objection was repealed without comment from everybody except myself. I took the opportunity to put in the record of constitutional development and integrity certain remarks. I made them on 31st May 1956 and they are to be found al page 1 1 80 of “ Hansard “. I said -
The fourth matter to which I want to address myself is to express pleasure that the provision for altering parliamentary expenses allowances in relation to electorates is finally to be repealed. In 1952, we had a unique proposal - and I had the honour of opposing it alone - whereby X’s electorate expenses could be altered from £550 to- £900 by a government regulation. That gave the government of the day too much financial influence over a member of Parliament. 1 would never suggest that it would be abused in our time, but it was the beginning of a rift in the wall of parliamentary independence, and it gladdens my heart to see that that means of corruption has been removed from our parliamentary system.
The same objection applies, although not with equal force, to employing regulations to fix the allowances of members of committees because there is an element of discrimination in respect of the membership of committees. But when we find regulations providing for a continuing allowance for the members of some committees and members of other committees are granted or refused allowances according to a minute of Cabinet, then the error is quite pointed.
If this debate yields this point alone it will have been fruitful to a degree that we all shall appreciate hereafter. This debate may convince the government of the day and to the parliament that all parliamentary allowances should be stated in the relevant Act of Parliament and so disclosed in the public records. In this way it would be open for the criticism which will be directed at, and the credit which will come to, that procedure from the members of the public who are vitally interested and to whom all agencies of a free Press and public communication owe the duty of information. So, I hope that, hereafter, the matter of the payment of allowances to members of committees will be taken out of the realm of Cabinet minute or regulation and be made a subject matter of the relevant statutes. lt is not on that ground, either, that 1 support the motion for disallowance. I support it on two grounds. The first is that the regulation provides for retrospective payments to members of Parliament in respect of services rendered. I take the view that it is the duty of the Parliament at all times to scrutinise most carefully retrospective payments. We enshrined that principle, as it affects people other than the Commonwealth, in the Acts Interpretation Act in the early thirties. We provided that no regulation could have retrospective operation in law if it prejudiced or called for payment from a private individual. The sole exception was if regulations were prejudicial to the Commonwealth. We are not here to prejudice the Commonwealth; we are here to preserve it. In my view, members of Parliament should not receive retrospective payments either by regulation or by Act of Parliament. If such a provision came before me as an Army regulation, I would advocate its disallowance. It is much more imperative that I should support a motion for disallowance when a regulation comes before me and other members of the Parliament who might benefit from it.
The second reason why I support the motion is that the regulations do not sufficiently specify what is a sitting day in order to qualify for the allowance. With no knowledge of what is the practice of any committee in this respect or what portion of a day has been regarded as sufficient to qualify for the payment, I simply say that it is of cardinal importance that the regulations should specify the minimum period of sitting which would enable a member to qualify.
– Is the honorable senator not disregarding the work that is involved apart from the actual sitting?
– As a lawyer, 1 would never dream of disregarding that aspect of the matter. I know that a case is won, not as a result of spending two hours on one’s feet, but as a result of the week’s work, that one has put into assembling the facts and constructing an argument that will stand up to contention. As the chairman of a committee, I have had the experience of compiling a report. As a member of a committee I have altogether too great an inclination to participate in the final preparation of the report and sometimes it is necessary for me to advance a dissenting opinion. All that involves the most earnest consideration and time, in accordance with one’s ability. The honorable senator has made no allowance for that. That concerns the adequacy of the fee, which I have put completely aside. I repeat that, if regulations provide for a sitting fee. they should specify the minimum time of sitting that should enable a member to qualify.
– That is inconsistent with what the honorable senator has just said.
– I am not prepared to introduce into my speech a disproportionate reference to that aspect of the matter. As on other occasions, I have given some thought to the content of my speech I now wish to proceed to my next submission. These regulations are deficient, noi only ‘ because they do not specify a minimum time, but also because they do not absolutely prohibit the payment of a sitting fee on days on which the Parliament itself is sitting.
– Will the honorable senator suggest a minimum so that we can think about it?
– I decline the invitation to do so. I would be silly to suggest a minimum time after saying that the whole question as to adequacy is a matter to be discussed on another occasion. With all the goodwill that exists between the honorable interjector and the humble speaker, let me say that the question was either ill considered or a little inclined to irritate. I have delivered a speech which was devoid of passion and which contained no insinuation against any individual but which was based upon objective considerations which go to the integrity of the Parliament. It is for those reasons, which I have attempted to specify clearly, that I support the motion.
– I oppose the motion for the disallowance of the regulations on the ground that
Senator Wood has presented a series of reasons which cannot be substantiated. The honorable senator said that sitting fees should not be paid in respect of days on which the Parliament meets. If he were consistent, he would have moved for the disallowance of the payment of any fees at all to members of parliamentary committees, for the simple reason that a member of Parliament receives no more salary when he is sitting in Canberra than when he is back in his own electorate. The question as to whether he is in Canberra or is at home is not very important. If Senator Wood were to follow this through to its logical conclusion, he could say that it should be a matter of honour to travel to Canberra for the sitting of the Parliament and that we should refuse to take travelling expenses. That is a matter that could be debated at another time. The honorable senator spoke of retrospective payment. I believe that this aspect of the matter is really outside the scope of the subject that we are attempting to discuss. Senator Wood referred also to inconsistency in the manner in which fees are paid. He said that fees are paid to some committees and not to others. That matter would not be cured by a disallowance of these regulations.
For a number of years I had the honour to be a member of the Public Works Committee. During that time I came in contact with various senators and members of the House of Representatives, and at all times I believed that every member of the committee was stimulated by a desire to assist the machinery of government. The Public Works Committee and the Public Accounts Committee have been a tremendous asset to the Commonwealth Government. They have been an asset, not only to the Cabinet and to other members of the Parliament who have had submitted to them carefully compiled and concise reports supported by evidence taken on oath, but also to the Public Service. The heads of departments and people behind the scenes such as architects and engineers have been able to present their estimates and plans to an independent arbiter. The committees have been the watchdogs of the Parliament over the activities of the Public Service. It is a tribute to the work of the committees that down the many years of the life of the Commonwealth Parliament there has never been any breath of scandal in relation to corrupt practices. The expenditure of large sums of money by the Treasury or by other departments, or in the letting of large scale contracts would provide the field, if ever this were to happen in this country, where scandals could arise. It is, I believe, as a result of the work of the Public Works Committee and the Public Accounts Committee that the general public becomes informed of the integrity of the Public Service and the Government of this country. There is no shadow of doubt about the worth of the committees.
Senator Wood referred to the honour of serving on a committee. It is a very great honour. But it is an honour, too, to be a member of the Cabinet and it is an honour to be President of the Senate. To follow this through to its logical conclusion, no member elected to this Parliament by his own State or his own electorate should ever expect any increase in emoluments for extra duties. The regulations deal with some adjustments. I have always believed that members of committees apply themselves to the business of the committees in a conscientious way. Committees have studiously avoided sitting at a time when the Parliament was sitting.
– The Act does not permit it.
– No. The legislation specifically states that they must not sit while the Parliament is sitting. I have noticed over the years that members of the Public Works Committee have come to Parliament House before 9 a.m. and attended to very important references that have been presented to them. There is an honour attached to being a member of a committee. Senator Willesee mentioned that back in 1913 it was provided that a fee be paid for these services. After all, no person is obliged to be a member of a committee. If people did not become members of committees, the committees would not exist, because the specific purpose of committees is for members of the Parliament to become the watch dogs of the Parliament.
Therefore, this disallowance motion cannot produce anything other than equivocation as to whether the Parliament or the Government will pay a member of the committee a fee which, 1 believe, is still inadequate in relation to the time and the conscientious service that he gives to the committee. He is available at times when he could be working in his own interests back in his electorate. He travels at the convenience of members of the Public Service who, perhaps, want to present a document or evidence in some other capital city. Persons outside the Parliament may think that each time a member travels to another capital city for a meeting of a parliamentary committee he is on a jaunt, but this is not true. Most committees and most members find that their time is valuable. When they go away from their homes to attend meetings of these committees, they fit work into every moment. I have seen 10 or 12 persons come before a committee and at the end of the day the committee members were exhausted from trying to absorb the vast amount of evidence.
Senator O’BYRNE__ This is quite true.
You may spend from 9 o’clock in the morning-
– To 11 o’clock at night.
– That is true. It is not a continuous job throughout the year. Specific jobs are referred to the Committee.
Sena or Gair. - The worst thing that one can do is to overstate his case.
– I am not overstating my case. The fact is that this disallowance motion is really an attack on the whole setup of committees. If, when they were established, it was stated that fees would not be payable and these regulations established a precedent, that would be different. We are quibbling about an amount of 30s. a day. the increase being from £2 10s. to £4.
– That would depend on the allocation made by the Government.
– If a member is sitting in Sydney or Melbourne he will be allowed £4 a day as a fee- ft will make no difference whether he is in Canberra or Melbourne except that, if the committee sits in Canberra on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday while the Parliament is meeting, the committee may sit only when the Par liament is not meeting. It will have to meet before 10.30 a.m. or 11 a.m. on days when the Parliament meets at those times. It may suit some departmental heads to give evidence here rather than to travel to Sydney or Melbourne.
– On Tuesdays and Wednesdays a committee may sit from 9 a.m. till 1 p.m.
– Yes. In presenting these points, I believe that the honour of serving is accepted. Every member of a committee whom I have known has taken it as an honour. I dissociate myself from the idea that people have an ulterior motive, in that they become members of committees only to get the fees. I do not think that that is the truth. Having had the honour of being a member of the Public Works Committee for years and feeling that I had constributed something, I hate to see that service reduced to the lowest common denominator, with the suggestion that the only reason I was on the committee was to get the lousy few bob of a fee that was inadequate. Therefore, I oppose the motion.
– I speak on this occasion in a rather different capacity from that in which 1 usually speak when we debate in this Senate the disallowance of regulations. As a rule the discussion centres on whether a regulation is right or wrong. Its mainspring is the desire - the proper desire - of this House of the Parliament to exert its influence on laws made by regulations by the Executive and for the first time brought to the notice of the Senate. But on this occasion we are dealing not with something which is the direct responsibility of the Executive or with some direct Executive action. We are dealing instead with committees of the Parliament, appointed by the Parliament, responsible to the Parliament, and reporting to the Parliament, and we are dealing with them in the context that some time ago the Parliament was informed in relation to those, its committees, that it was proposed to increase sitting fees payable to their members, to increase, I think, the travelling allowances payable to them, and to do so with effect from 1st November 1964. The Parliament on that occasion agreed - as Senator
Willesee has pointed out, without dissent - in principle that this should be done.
– That applied to the total amount that would be made available for the purpose of paying these moneys?
– It applied to the total amount that would be made available and to the specific sitting fees which were spelled out in the second reading speech, the rise which was spelled out and the retrospectivity of which was spelled out. The Parliament on that occasion agreed entirely in principle that laws such as this should be made in regard to its committees, so this then is now a matter in which I speak, in a sense, as a private senator, a private member of the Parliament. We have before us suggestions of private dissent from what the Parliament has agreed to in principle. The dissent comes from three senators, Senator Wood, Senator Turnbull and Senator Wright, being directed by way of action to disallow the regulations and so prevent the operation of the proposed increase in sitting fees and certain other benefits. Apart from any question of retrospectivity, this would be the result of the disallowance of the regulations.
We heard first on this matter from Senator Wood, who, of course, expressed his private opinion. Before I advert to the specific arguments the honorable senator put forward, let me express regret that in this public House of Parliament he cast what I think would be regarded as reflections on the members of one committee by saying: “ It is rumoured that they chew over their business while they chew over their lunch “. That is a phrase which catches the ear, but I suggest to the honorable senator that he reflect on whether it is proper, on the basis of what he says is a rumour, to cast such reflections on those of his colleagues who serve on that committee. I do not know whether there is any truth in this rumour. If the honorable senator knows that there is any truth in it, he should bring it out. If he does not know that there is any truth in it, I think that when he rises again he should express .regret for having cast those reflections on his colleagues.
Senator Wood’s first point is that he does not believe in the payment of sitting fees - he has the right to express that opinion - and his second point is’ that he objects to the retrospectivity aspect. It is a matter of individual judgment whether we believe in the payment of sitting fees for these committees, having regard to the work they do. The last time this matter was debated we had placed before us some detailed examples of the work done by these committees - examples of how the Public Accounts Committee had an effect on the Executive Government of this country to the benefit of the taxpayers, and examples of how the Public Works Committee had an effect because, by its examinations and reports on public works, matters were brought to the attention of members of this Parliament in a simple and understandable way. We agreed that the payment of sitting fees was justified. On that occasion Senator Wright, who today supported Senator Wood, specifically agreed that payment of sitting fees to those committees was in fact justified.
– I adhere to that view.
– Because he expresses himself now in such a strong way I want to put his view to the Senate because it is a view which will be rejected if the motion he now supports is carried. He stated on 1 8th November 1965 - 1 feel that that-
Referring to Senator Wood’s suggestion that there should be no sitting fees in addition to the parliamentary allowances - would do much less than justice to the equipping of the Parliament with those arms of efficiency which it must have. These Committees sit for particular purposes and, by their reports, bring into the Parliament information and knowledge which, if we properly use them, would enable us also to speak with the light of knowledge in our eyes. 1 wish to say that it is only because of the growing extent of parliamentary allowances that we have neglected to alter, in accordance with modern economic values, the amount of the sitting fees of these Committees.
As I have said, on that occasion he was supporting the payment of fees which, if the motion he now supports is carried, will be refused.
– That is not a fair way of putting it.
– The honorable senator claims that is’ not fair. I am sorry. Perhaps I am being unfair. If the motion which he now supports is carried, the sitting fees will be reduced. That will be the effect.
– Read the next sentence.
– I do not want to read the next sentence. The honorable senator can read it if he wishes. Senator Wood objected also to the proposed payments being made retrospective. I thought this matter was very adequately covered by Senator Willesee, who pointed out not only that the Parliament was told specifically that there would be retrospectivity and the date to which that retrospectivity would apply, but also, when answering certain comments from some honorable senators on this side that retrospectivity did not apply in any other field and that in the arbitration field wages in many cases are increased retrospectively to the date df application.
– Not as many as we would like.
– Not as many as we would like, but the principle is accepted. 1 took a note of one remark Senator Wood made, to the effect that he objected to the secrecy with which the regulations were brought forward. It is impossible to bring forward regulations with less secrecy than in the form of a second reading speech announcing what is proposed, exactly how the proposals will be implemented, and then laying the regulations on the table of the House so that honorable senators can see whether the proposals are in accord with what had been agreed to in principle. On this occasion there has not been one suggestion that the regulations are not completely in accord with the principle.
– That is a wrong interpretation of my remark.
– I wrote it down. I am glad to hear the honorable senator say that it is wrong. If it is wrong, I hope he will make clear that he does not think they were brought forward in secrecy.
– With the Regulations and Ordinances Committee there could be nothing secret.
– That is so. An announcement was made before anything was - done. I wish to pass over the complaints made about the number of committees which do not receive sitting fees. because I do not think they are at all relevant to this discussion. This discussion relates to a desire to disallow the payment of increased sitting fees to three specific committees which the Parliament was told would be the committees to which the regulations would refer.
– Three. I believe most honorable senators on both sides would agree with me when I say that I do not think the support given to this motion by Senator Turnbull merits any reply from or any consideration by honorable senators on either side of the House. Of Senator Wright’s contribution, I merely wish to say that on this occasion, as on others, he has a perfect right to express his opinion. That is not questioned in any way. I hope he will concede that on this occasion he is expressing a personal opinion and that all other members of the Senate have an equal right to express their opinions.
– Of course.
– 1 am glad to hear it, because I wish to emphasise that all or nearly all of his colleagues have the same right to disagree with his views as the right which he asserts on occasion to disagree with the view of all his colleagues. I say that because I do not agree with his contention that in future regulations should not be used in relation to these committees. If in the future the Parliament is again approached and told that an increase is proposed for any committee of the Parliament, and if the Parliament indicates its approval of that increase, then I believe that regulations would be the proper means of handling the matter. Only if Senator Wright can persuade his colleagues that they are not should there be any alteration in the processes which so far have been followed.
In conclusion, I merely wish to say that there has been some tinge of a suggestion, some indication - but no definite statement - that the work done by members of committees, particularly of the Public Accounts Committee and of the Public Works Committee, is not particularly onerous and not, as it were, above and beyond the normal duties of a member of. Parliament,, and therefore Chat they should not receive any specific remuneration. I exclude Senator Wright from that comment. I believe that if we are concerned, as we all are - although sometimes some of us are accused of not being concerned - to see that the Parliament should have an insight into and an ultimate control over the actions of the executive government insofar as they spring from legislation of the Parliament, then it is essential that the Parliament be informed of just how public money is being spent and, department by department, what oversight is given to and what efficiency is achieved in the spending of public money. In relation to the great public works that are carried out throughout Australia, the Parliament should be informed about inspections of plans, should be told of and provided with reasons why such works are necessary and should receive suggestions for alterations of the original proposals made by departments.
The best way in which the Parliament can be so informed is by it appointing committees specially charged with those duties. If those duties are properly carried out by the individuals on those committees, an enormous amount of work is entailed. It is perfectly possible that on occasions individuals appointed to those committees do not do the full amount of work. There is always a chance of some human failure in some individual. But, by and large, I believe that we can be proud of the work that the committees do and have done over the years. I am sure that we can have that pride only because, in fact, they have done the detailed work of delving into and reporting on actions of the government. If this work is heavy, as I believe it is, and if it requires a divorce from private affairs which even members of the Parliament carry on to their profit in parliamentary recesses but which they are less able to carry on if they are working on these committees, I agree with the majority of members of the Parliament that such members of committees are entitled to the sitting fees that they receive at present. For those reasons, I strongly oppose the motion.
.- in reply - In replying to some of the arguments that have been put forward this morning, I shall deal first with what Senator Willesee said. I pay him a tribute for the dignified manner in which he treated this motion. In regard to the question of inconsistency in paying fees in respect of some committees and not paying them in respect of others, he mentioned that, contrary to what I want to achieve, the position in the future might well be that fees would be paid to the members of all committees. I trust that I have correctly interpreted what he said. Even if that did happen - it is contrary to my belief - my understanding is that there is nothing to stop any member of the Parliament signifying to the Government that he does not want to accept sitting fees.
– Of course there is.
– I am saying that, if a person is strongly against accepting sitting fees, there is nothing to stop him notifying the Government that he will not accept them.
– I do not suppose he has to take them.
– No, he does not have to take them. I hold a different view from that of Senator Willesee, in bringing this matter forward on matters of principle. If we believe that sitting fees should not be paid to members of committees, there is no reason why the reverse of what he suggested should not take place; that is, that committee sitting fees be abolished. I know that there is no limit to the number of sittings of a committee that can take place during a parliamentary session. It is said that committees do not sit when the Parliament is sitting. Nobody suggests that they do. But they do sit before the day’s silting starts and sometimes between two sections of a day’s sitting, such as between the afternoon and evening sections of a day’s sitting. They do sit on days on which the Parliament sits. That is the point that I want to make clear.
– Which committees do that? Can the honorable senator name the committees that sit at those times?
– Certain committees do that. I have been at committee meetings which members have left to attend meetings of other committees for which fees are paid. That indicates that committees sit on days on which the Parliament sits. The particular committee to which I am referrring is one whose members do not receive sitting fees. I do not want to be personal about this matter. I am telling the Senate that it is an actual fact that committees sit on days on which the Parliament sits.
– When the honorable senator does not name the particular committee, he casts a reflection on all three committees in respect of which sitting fees are paid.
– I am stating that it is a fact. Honorable senators can find out when committees sit. It is not my duty to particularise the various committees and the various days on which they sit. I do not go around this building, knocking on doors and finding out whether the Public Accounts Committee or the Public Works Committee is sitting on a particular day.
– The honorable senator should not believe rumours because they may not be true.
– This is an actual fact. I noticed that Senator Willesee did not speak particularly on that aspect of the matter. He mentioned the amount of work that the Public Accounts Committee does. He is quite right. All committees that do their job naturally do a lot of work. The extent to which the work tires or wears out an individual member of a committee depends on how he takes things.
Let me say here that very often the committees have staffs supporting them and working for them by providing material for them. We have to be careful that we do not allow committees to be built up into empires. I recall the institution - in fact, I think it was the re-institution - of the Public Accounts Committee. In the days when Professor Bland was the chairman, it had a very high standing because of the work that it did; but it had a very small staff. The members of the Committee in those days must have worked extremely hard in comparison with the members of it today. Let me tell honorable senators the extent to which its staff has grown. I understand that today it has a secretary, an assistant, a typist and two research officers. That staff, particularly the research officers, must do a terrific amount of work for the Committee in presenting material for consideration. That work must facilitate greatly the work of the Committee, which must be much easier than it was in the early days of the Committee. I understand that the Committee has made a request for more staff.
– The additional staff also makes the work much more efficient.
– Of course it does. The point I am getting at is that the people on the staff have the time to go into matters and present material to the Committee in an easily understood form. That should make the work of the Committee easier and, as Senator Wright has said, more efficient. I am only trying to point out to the Senate that when we look back over the period from when the Committee started to today we see that it must be much easier for members of the Committee to do their work now than it was in the beginning.
– Unless they are covering a wider field.
– I do not know that they are, because the reports in the early days contained quite a deal of comment - more than the reports contain now. Senator O’Byrne compared fees, received in respect of sitting days with travelling allowances and fares paid to parliamentarians to enable them to attend sittings of the Parliament. I do not think there is any comparison between those two things. If the Parliament meets in Canberra, the parliamentarians have to come to Canberra. If parliamentarians had to pay their own fares in order to attend sittings of the Parliament, we would have a Parliament of people from the areas surrounding Canberra, which would be the very negation of its name - the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended I was replying to some of the statements made by Senator O’Byrne. He referred to a relationship between the cost of travelling to Parliament and the payment of sitting fees to committee members. I do not think there is any relationship whatever. If Parliamentarians had to pay their own way, it would mean we would have only parliamentarians who lived near Canberra. That would act against the system of State representation in our national Parliament.
– They could serve for the honour of it, according to the honorable senator’s argument.
– I did not suggest that people should serve for nothing. I referred to making some sacrifices for democracy. To suggest that there is any relationship between the cost of travelling to Canberra and the payment of sitting fees to committee members is just foolish.
The sitting fee paid to committee members is £4 a sitting on days when the committee meets. Apparently somebody has misunderstood what I have said. Members of Parliament are paid an allowance of £6 a day when we attend Parliament to cover the cost of accommodation, meals, perhaps entertaining, and so on. I am not suggesting that committee members receive an extra £6 a day. I am referring to the payment of £4 that committee members receive for each day that a committee sits here at Canberra or elsewhere in addition to the £6 Canberra allowance. In referring to the extra work carried out by a committee, Senator O’Byrne referred to the work of the President of the Senate and of Ministers. I cannot see any relationship there. The President and Ministers are allocated positions in order to carry out a continuing duty. The work of a committee is an intermittent duty.
– The Regulations and Ordinances Committee is intermittent.
– All committees are intermittent.
– No, they are not.
– Does Senator Cormack suggest that the Foreign Affairs Committee, of which I understand he is a member, sits every week?
– I did not say that at all.
– It is intermittent work, whereas Ministers have a continuing duty. They are paid allowances fixed by Parliament. To relate the two types of duty is just too silly for words. It is a way of making an excuse for a situation which has developed. Senator O’Byrne referred to objections to an increase in the sitting fees paid to committee members. It is not just a matter of an increase in the sitting fees; I am speaking on a matter of principle.
Senator O’Byrne suggested that I cast a slur or aspersion to the effect that people serve on committees to get things. It is news to me that I said that. I did not say it. It might be a fact. I do not know. I did not say it.
One honorable senator said by way of interjection that the Regulations and Ordinances Committee had dumped me or deserted me in this matter. I would like to make it clear that the Regulations and Ordinances Committee works on four principal points. One of the points on which I based my motion for the disallowance of the regulations does not come within the scope of the Committee; that is a matter of policy.
If 1 understood Senator Gorton correctly, he said that objections to the legislation should have been made last November when it was indicated that the regulations were to be made. 1 inferred from what he said that he believes no objection was raised. I want to make it quite clear that I made a speech on the subject at the time, saying almost what I have said today. I objected to the forecasting of the making of these regulations. Senator Gorton also referred to my statement about a rumour of the Foreign Affairs Committee meeting at lunch time. Possibly I was wrong in using the word “ rumour “. If the use of that word is offensive, in the circumstances, I withdraw it.
– lt is highly offensive.
– As Senator Cormack wishes to state that it is highly offensive, I will put the position more clearly. It was a matter of information. I have been told by one of the members of the Committee and by somebody else that the Committee sits on during a meal hour.
– It has never sat during lunch time.
– I say “ at meal time “. I will not specify “ lunch time “. Senator Gorton said that retrospectivity was notified in the legislation in November. That may be so, but as I have said, I opposed it then. Because the legislation indicated that there would be retrospectivity that does not deny an honorable senator the right to object to retrospectivity. Senator Gorton also referred to my statement that there was secrecy about the regulations. I think he probably recognises that in my position as Chairman of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, I know something about regulations and ordinances. To suggest that a regulation was brought in secretly is beyond my thinking, under any circumstances.
– What did the honorable senator say was done secretly? He used the word.
– I tried to convey to the Senate that there has been a certain amount of secrecy about the payment of fees to committee members.
– How could there be secrecy when the matter was brought down by regulations and bills? Where is the secrecy?
– If the honorable senator listened to my remarks he would know that I said I asked a question of the former Leader of the Government in the Senate.
– But the information was available to the honorable senator in “ Hansard senator WOOD. - Does Senator Scott know all the information in “ Hansard “ and all the acts of Parliament? If he does, he is a much better man than I am. I do not profess to be conversant with everything taking place in the national Parliament, dating back to the very commencement of this Parliament. I did not have the information at the time I asked the question as it was a case of my not knowing every statute off by heart or of not having all the information as far as Parliament is concerned.
– That does not make it secret.
– So far as I am concerned, there was a fair amount of secrecy and questions were asked elsewhere. For some reason the Government continually dodged answering them. The question bubbled up because committees were sitting on days that Parliament was in session and the members were being paid sitting fees for those meetings. That is probably one of the things that brought these matters to a head.
It was suggested by one honorable senator that in moving for the disallowance of the regulations I should suggest the institution of something else. I take it that, in accordance with the processes of Parliament, once the regulations have been brought forward, if I disagree with them, my clear duty is to move for their disallowance. That is a course that is open to me. As to what ensues, that does not come into the question. I may be wrong. The legal people and the officers of the Senate would know more about this than I do. It seems to me that the only possible avenue I have open to me is to move for the disallowance of the regulations. What will follow remains to be seen, but I think I have done my duty as a senator, as I see it, in bringing this matter forward. I would like to thank Senator Turnbull for seconding my motion for the disallowance of these regulations.
Question put -
That the motion (Senator Wood’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 44
Question so resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from 10th May (vide page 875), on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– As usual, towards the end of a sessional period the churn is working. Bills are being churned out by the Government. We have many before us today and by late tonight or tomorrow morning we will have many more. I do not know how this phenomenon comes about. Is it because of laziness? I do not think so. I do not think the members of the Ministry are lazy. Is it because of incompetence? In some fields they are competent. We disagree with them, as constituting the Government, because we think they are inefficient in the administration of the affairs of this country. One is led to suspect that, underlying this phenomenon, is political chicanery. In other words, the Government wants minimum discussion. It is of no use for Government representatives to say that a similar phenomenon may have occurred under a previous Labour Government. I am not trying to justify the position. I would not know whether, if there was a rush of legislation at the end of sessional periods in the time of the Labour governments, that was because there was an emergency. I would not know whether it had occurred for a reason similar to that which Government supporters advance at the present time. But I think it is a reprehensible practice. Surely the Government has been long enough in office to know the attitude of the Opposition and to realise that people have a right to know what is going on. The Government should ensure that an opportunity is given for full discussion of every measure that comes before this chamber and another place.
For some special reason at the beginning of a sessional period the Government never has any business to place before the Parliament, although it has been in recess for months. The parliamentary draftsmen are available and the members of the Ministry also are available to determine proposed legislation having regard to the Government’s policy. Yet year after year the practice is repeated of rushing legislation through at the end of the sessional period. What is the position at the present time? Bills are tumbling in on us. I think that this practice should be condemned. The Government should try to rectify the situation. Many important bills are presently before this chamber and another place. The Bill that we are debating now is an important one. Yesterday we debated a bill which involved $150 million. It had to go through because the Government had let it be known that if we had been recalcitrant the chopper would have been out and noone would have been able to say anything. But by travelling along peacefully and meeting the wishes of the Government, we were given an opportunity to say something.
We condemn the Bill because of its limitations, but we commend it because of the authority that it confers upon the Government. We propose to support the measure. Its purpose is to give the Commonwealth Government control, within certain limitations, of the standards of drugs individually or in combinations constituting mixtures. It also gives the Government control over packaging and certain appliances associated with the administration of drugs. That is all to the credit of the Government. The Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) has pointed out that the Commonwealth will only have power to control, within the limits of the proposed Act, goods that are imported or exported, goods that are subject to interstate trade, goods that are under control through the pharmaceutical benefits formulary and goods within Territories controlled by the Commonwealth. The Government has not tried to adopt a co-ordinated approach to this question as it affects the whole of Australia and the Territories under its control.
Representatives of the Government - and I suppose in particular the Minister - will claim that that would be interfering with the rights of the States. They may say that that is the objective of my Party. We are not desirous of interfering with the rights of the States at all except insofar as those rights may conflict with the rights of citizens. After all, our prime purpose is to serve the basic human rights of individuals. We say that a common policy should be adopted in regard to the standardisation of drugs which are to be consumed by a person, whether he be in Western Australia, at Cape York in Queensland, or in New Guinea. But the Government has made no real endeavour to adopt a common policy. I know that there have been conferences between the Commonwealth Minister for Health and the State Ministers for Health and that there have been gatherings of the Directors-General of Health in each of the States in association with the Commonwealth Director-General of Health. But when one looks at the legislation one finds that the Government has not made any attempt to adopt a common approach in this matter. There may be a measure of basic unity, but there is not complete unity.
Let us consider a drug which has been proved by research in a Sydney hospital and in other parts of the world to be a potential menace if consumed in quantity. J refer to phenacetin which, if consumed in quantity, can result in kidney damage. 1 know that most drugs, if taken in extraordinarily large quantities beyond the capacity or tolerance of an individual, can result in ill effects. Yet although it is known that phenacetin if consumed in quantity can result in kidney damage, some of the States will not exclude it from the pharmaceutical lists. I do not know that it has any basic intrinsic properties that are not contained in other drugs.
The Minister has made it quite clear that the Government will not interfere with what it terms family remedies or patent medicines. 1 think that the Government has a responsibility, beyond the authority with which it seeks to invest itself under the Bill. Let us consider the amount of money that is being spent on drugs. In the last financial year I think that the Federal Government paid out £43,666,000 or £43,665,000 on pharmaceutical benefits. There were more than 47 million prescriptions, which in effect meant that the people, through lack of interest by the Federal Government, had to pay almost £12 million for those prescriptions. That enormous sum of money does not include prescriptions which were written out by doctors but which were not covered by the pharmaceutical benefits formulary, and it does not include patent medicines. I do not think that anyone would know the amount of money that is spent on patent medicines. It would run into millions of pounds.
Australians are regarded as some of the worst offenders, as far as the excess use of drugs is concerned. But the Government says: “ It is not within our authority. It is within the authority of the States.” We must not let the Government confuse the issue, thereby militating against the interests of the people. The Commonwealth Government has control of a medium of advertising which is utilised to a great extent at the present time in the selling of drugs. I know that it does not have control over the newspapers in the States - the States have that control - but it has control over television. (Quorum formed). Perhaps the Minister in reply to me will say that the terms of any medical advertisement have to be submitted to the Director-General of Health. But the Government, through the Minister for Health (Dr. Forbes) or the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Hulme), can absolutely forbid advertising in relation to medical products. I question whether any close investigation is made of the claims in respect of the benefits alleged to be associated with particular drugs or remedies.
As I have said, we do not quarrel with the approach here, limited as it may be, to set up a system of standards to control packaging or any appliance associated with drugs or preparations of a therapeutic nature. One feature of this Bill with which my Party is concerned relates to the matter of how frequently in this Bill the term “ ministerial order “ occurs. The Drug Substances Act 1953 provided for the use of regulations. I understand that the Government maintains that ministerial order as distinct from regulation is necessary for a number of reasons. One reason relates to occasions of emergency when it may be necessary to permit drugs to be sold or, on the other hand, to make drugs available. I cannot see how that reason could preclude, of necessity, the utilisation of regulations. We admit that there could be a measure of urgency; but this situation could be met by a ministerial order subject to the issue of a regulation within a set period as determined by the Parliament. It is all very well for the Government to maintain that the ministerial order will be published subsequently in the Commonwealth Government “ Gazette “. But there is no method of rectification other than by redetermination of the Government. There may be passing reference to the matter in either the other place or here, but no real basis of rectification by either House of the Parliament exists, as is the case with all other regulations.
I understand that the Government maintains that the details of many of the drugs to be incorporated in a regulation would be of a highly scientific or technical nature. Is there any difference between determining the matter in absolute terms in a ministerial order as distinct from a regulation? Surely this is not the only field in which complex scientific and technical details are desired or necessary. We will admit that a number of new drugs or combination of drugs come on to the market year after year. But the Government in this Bill has a basic determination of the standard demanded of a very large proportion of the drugs and preparations to be utilised for therapeutic purposes. The Government has the British Pharmacopoeia, the British Pharmaceutical Codex and the British Veterinary Codex. In the process of time, new drugs are added. Consequently, there will be no necessity to maintain regulations because the new drugs will be included in the volumes that I have mentioned.
The other answer that the Government has to the argument against determination by regulation as opposed to determination by ministerial order with relation to therapeutical products is that under the pharmaceutical benefits formula pharmaceutical products are determined by ministerial order. 1 think that this matter comes under a completely different category. It does not require an answer. We know the purpose of the utilisation of these products.
I notice that for some reason this Bill gives the Minister for Health authority, again by ministerial order, to exempt certain products, appliances or packages from the standards required. I am not referring now to those products not to be used for therapeutic purposes. Under the provisions of the Bill, the Minister for Health can determine that certain goods or appliances shall be exempted from the requirements of the Act. This to me does not sound right. It does not smack of the Government being really interested in the welfare of the people. It is no use saying that absolute rigidity is not necessary and that no malpractice is to be found in the field of drug supplies. I wish to refer to a case that occurred not so long ago in a Melbourne hospital. I hesitate to use the word “ aspirin “ in relation to this matter, but I think that term conveys to the average person the type of substance to which I refer. I am not reflecting on the Bayer company that manufactures aspirins because I do not think it was the firm that supplied the particular tablets I propose to mention.
The fact is that 500,000 tablets were supplied to a Melbourne public hospital and these tablets contained only half the dosage required for these drugs to be effective. So, a measure of rigidity must be observed in the approach to this problem. I realise that we cannot deal with prices of drugs. The matter of the enormous amount of money that is involved in serving the people with these drugs - the cost is borne not only by the Government but also by individuals - is not within the ambit of this Bill and so we cannot deal with that subject. As the matter is not within the ambit of the authority of the Bill, I do not propose to concern myself with it at all.
– I would be grateful if the honorable senator would answer a question for me. I do not ask this question in an attempt to create any humour. Does whisky, for example, have any therapeutic value? If it has, does whisky become then the subject of a survey by the Minister for Health by order to determine how it should be packaged and the standards that should be observed in regard to it?
– I think the honorable senator is stretching the point a bit. I am not saying this facetiously. There is a difference of opinion in relation to the digression that I have been asked to enter upon. It is not so much a digression because I am answering a pertinent question from a courteous gentleman. We will not take whisky of itself as an example. We will take alcohol in general. In many cases doctors do recommend alcohol. Other doctors say that it has no therapeutic value. Others might maintain that it does not come within the strict rule of therapeutic drugs and that it has a psychological stimulus as the basis of its effect. I, with the honorable senator, condemn it. I do not think that it comes within the range of therapeutic substances.
Coming back to the basis of my speech, I say that the Opposition feels that this is a step in the right direction. On the other hand, we feel that the Government is not sincere in that it has not gone far enough. The Government has not sought an Australia wide control of the standards of the drugs to be supplied or the packages in which they are contained. We feel that the use of the ministerial direction will have to be exercised with a measure of care. It will have to be watched with extraordinary care by this Parliament. But the Opposition does support the Bill. We will not seek to amend its provisions. We will keep it under scrutiny and watch its performance over the years.
.- I rise to speak upon this Bill disclaiming at once any speciality that belongs to Senator Dittmer. I rise to speak because of the obnoxious structure of the Bill from the point of view of an assault on Parliament. The main effect of the Bill is to substitute for powers that the Minister had pursuant to regulation, which could be disallowed by either House of the Parliament, orders in writing which, under the Bill, are not even required to be disclosed to Parliament and which aTe not subject to disallowance by Parliament.
Before I refer to matters which support my objection to the Bill - I propose to do so fully so that the full significance of my contention may be understood - I shall refer to the paucity of constitutional power that the Commonwealth Government is content to live with in this field. The general power for prescribing the strength and purity of drugs, the number and importance of which have increased out of all conception in the postwar period, rests with the six States. In a country like Australia, where communications are now quite facile, there should be uniformity. I repeat that the power resides with the States, except for the four heads of power which the Government seeks to invoke in this measure. The four heads under which the Bill makes contact with the problem deal, first, with the import of goods into the country; secondly, with such goods as become part of interstate trade; thirdly, with such goods as become subject to the laws that we have made in regard to pharmaceutical benefits; and fourthly, with such goods as are supplied to the Commonwealth or an authority or Territory of the Commonwealth. It can be seen that the Government is compelled to use this fragmentary group of powers to effectuate its policy in relation to these important drugs. That weakens the real objective of the measure. But that is not a major matter of concern to me.
As the major power in this field resides with the States, I should have thought that provision would have been made in the Bill for the formation of a council for consultations between the States and the Commonwealth. I am sure that from such consultations would evolve a common view as to the standards that should be set for drugs that have nationwide use. I should have thought that this was an appropriate opportunity to establish a consultative council on which the States would have effective representation. I do not mean that they should have majority representation or that collectively they would necessarily prevail. I believe that, even if the council had no final determinative or decisive powers but was merely an agency for consultation, anything that the Commonwealth Government did in this field would probably be followed by the States to a larger degree.
– I should have thought that there would be power under clause 30 to set up such a council. I bow to the honorable senator’s legal knowledge, but I should have thought that that authority would exist.
– If the honorable senator does not mind, I shall acknowledge his interest in that clause when I deal with it. It has not escaped my notice. I now proceed to my main objection to the Bill. I object to a part of the Bill which cannot be reformed by detailed amendment. The Bill seeks to give to the Minister of the day power over an immense field by order in writing. An order in writing, as distinct from a regulation, cannot be disallowed by either House of the Parliament. This is an advancement of the field of subordinate legislation by the Executive which puts the Executive in an uncontrollable position. At present, orders in writing can be laid on the table of the Senate only after a motion has been proposed by a senator. For 16 or 17 years there was implacable resistance to that form of communication to the Parliament of Executive orders. In recent times I had the good fortune to propose a motion of the kind I have mentioned in regard to instruments in writing under the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation Act. The present Government, I wish to acknowledge, saw fit to accept my proposal without a division being taken. But that is not satisfactory. It is one thing to disallow regulations as of right; it is quite another thing merely to have the right to move that orders be laid on the table of the Senate.
If the Senate will bear with me, I should like to refer to specific clauses in the Bill but not to discuss them as we would at the Committee stage. The general purposes for which the Bill has been framed were referred to by the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) in these terms -
Under this Bill, the basic standards for many drugs and medicines will continue to be the monographs in the British Pharmacopoeia and British Pharmaceutical Codex. In addition, it is proposed in the Bill that the Minister for Health will be empowered to determine, by the issue of formal orders, first, specific standards for individual products - at present this can be done by regulations under the Act; secondly, general standards for all therapeutic goods or for certain classes of goods, for example, tablets, capsules, and injections; thirdly, methods of testing for compliance with standards; and fourthly, requirements with respect to labelling, packaging and containers.
Any discrepancy in the goods to which the Bill and these orders in writing will apply will preclude those goods from being of any commercial value. One has only to state that proposition to assess the impact which the restrictions of this Bill may make upon this trade. Do not let anybody suggest that I am putting forward the idea that this trade in drugs is not one that needs close scrutiny and ample, proper restriction. I think that Parliament should be very careful to ensure that drugs of a deleterious nature, or impure drugs, or drugs which are quackery, are not allowed to pass into commerce so that people who have need of drugs are damaged or misled by them. But it is one of the functions of the Parliament to provide appropriate machinery whereby the public interest is served consistent with proper, but. no more than proper, infringement and restriction on the private rights of people.
In clause 5, the definition clause, we see that “labelling and packaging requirements “ means, in relation to goods for therapeutic use -
– This is very unusual, is it not, in a Bill of this subject matter?
– Yes. If the honorable senator will do me the courtesy of hearing me out, I shall be referring to the British legislation and to the Victorian legislation by way of contrast. “ Specific standard “ means -
For the purposes of this Act, goods for therapeutic use shall be deemed to be represented to consist, either in whole or in part, of a particular substance or a particular article if -
Clause 7 (2.) provides -
Clause 8 provides - (1.) Where a person satisfies a person authorised by the Minister to issue certificates under this section that goods are not intended for therapeutic use, the person so authorised may issue to the other person a certificate that this Act does not apply to the goods.
Under sub-clause (2.) of that clause, a person authorised by the Minister is entitled to give a certificate, the effect of which is to exempt those goods from the whole of the Act. Clause 9 provides - (1.) The Minister may, by notice in writing . . direct the person to furnish, in writing to the Minister or another person specified in the notice, within such period as is so specified, such information with respect to the composition of the goods as is required by the notice.
There is nothing there about prescribed information. There is nothing there as to a minimum period of time. There is nothing there that limits it to anything other than what occurs to the Minister of the day or his advisers as relevant to his inquiry or curiosity. I am not using the term “ curiosity “ in any other sense than what he is interested in, in his opinion, at that time. I am not suggesting that he will be frivolous, but sometimes there have been abuses of such notices as that on frivolous and vexatious grounds. That is of great importance, because under sub-clause (3.) of that clause -
A person is not excused from furnishing information in pursuance of a notice served on him under this section on the ground that the information might tend to incriminate him, but his furnishing of any information in pursuance of the notice is not admissible in evidence against him in any criminal proceedings.
Some people may so forget the freedoms that constitute what we conceive to be the British system as to fail to remember that 300 years ago the British system excoriated from its entity the power to make selfincriminatory statements as a prelude to torture or punishment under penalty, and compensated the man whose liberty was invaded in that respect by John Hampden’s House of Commons by a payment of no less than £5,000 in the values of 1641. Therefore, I am entitled with a greater surge of blood than usual to protest that a clause of this sort is introduced as a corollary to a clause which gives the Minister power by notice at a time he specifies to require compulsorily information with regard to any therapeutic drug, and failure to give the information is an offence. If a person gives it, it is true that the statement that he gives cannot be used to incriminate him, but once he gives it there is no prevention of his inquisitor from using it as the focal point upon which to press inquiries which would provide the evidence.
To me it is an enormity in a Bill that an administrator can have the right to issue to any person a notice requiring to be furnished information specified in the notice, not information as prescribed. There is nobody who can review the reasonableness of the notice, nobody who can call in question its capriciousness. It is not a document that comes before a court on any basis of the prerogative writs and, by the forms that are chosen by the draftsman of this Bill, it is not amenable to review by either House of the Parliament on complaint that the privacy of a manufacturer has been invaded. There is not even any protection that I see in the Bill for secret processes which are protected by patent laws, and industrial laws, and by laws in any relative field of application that I know of. So I regard this Bill as so iniquitously conceived that I register a protest against the whole of it. Its bones are poisoned.
I turn now to Part II - Determination of Standards. Clauses 1 1 and 1 2 refer to the Minister’s order in writing. The main operative clause is clause 13 which states -
The Minister may, by order in writing, determine that, with respect to a matter that is a prescribed matter, the standard for a substance or article to which the order applies is, for the purposes of this Act, the standard specified in the order . . .
There would be people as undiligent as myself who would see the words “ prescribed matter “ in the clause and say: “ There is recognition at least that this matter will be prescribed in the usual sense of the term, prescribed by a regulation amenable to our jurisdiction under the Acts Interpretation Act “. But no. The deception is in sub-clause (4.). It is outright deception to use the term, because “ prescribed matter “ is given a special meaning, despite the fact that the term has been included in legislation for 50 years with the almost unvarying meaning that it carries in the Acts Interpretation Act - connoting a regulation which may be disallowed by either House of Parliament. Sub-clause 4 is in these terms -
In this section, “ prescribed matter “ means composition, strength, potency, stability, sterility, quantity, quality, method of preparation-
If that is not sufficient for the amplitude of the petty despot who drew this Bill, the sub-clause goes on - or any other matter prescribed by the regulations.
– According to the provision, all patent drugs or methods of manufacture can be disclosed.
– They can be by the clause to which I was referring earlier. The only alternative construction to the one that I have put is that the expression “ prescribed by the regulations “ qualifies all the previous nouns in the clause.
– How could it do that?
– J agree with the interjection, but I thought I should mention that I noticed that possibility before I condemned the clause in the stringent terms I used. Clause 14 of the Bill refers to “ testing specified by the Minister “ and “ The Minister may, by order in writing “. Clause 15 (1.) states -
The Minister may, by order in writing, for the purposes of a section of this Act specified in the order, direct that goods consisting of a substance or article to which the order applies shall be labelled in such a manner as is specified in the order. 1 remind the Senate that in a previous era, when a revolution was in progress and we thought we were defending individual rights - by “ we “ I mean the Liberal Party - there were introduced into regulations applicable to the medical profession directions as to how prescriptions issued for the purpose of the medical and hospital benefits scheme should be written and labelled. Honorable senators will remember that the relevant provision of the Constitution is conditioned by the requirement that it should not in any way impose industrial conscription. A majority of the High Court at that time - I think it was 1947 or 1948- held that a requirement of that kind was industrial conscription. With great respect,
I join with those who think the decision was erroneous but nevertheless it can be regarded as showing the possible strength of view on the stringency of a clause such as this.
– Civil conscription, not industrial conscription.
– I thank the honorable senator. I mean civil conscription in relation to a professional practice or an industry.
– It is the penal clause which introduces industrial conscription.
– All I wanted to convey was that it was conscription in the civil sense. Returning to the clauses, the Minister’s order in writing is necessary in relation to labelling. Clause 17 provides -
The Minister may, by order in writing, amend or revoke an order made under a preceding provision of this Part.
Clause 18 makes quite clear that this is a deliberate process. It provides that the making of the order shall be notified in the “ Gazette “ but the orders are not to be statutory rules within the meaning of the Rules Publication Act. Before I leave Part
II let me point out that quite clearly it consists of a structure whereby restrictions are imposed upon the various standards of labelling and packaging of these goods solely by the Minister’s order in writing, which, as I have said, is not amenable to review in this House by disallowance.
Now I proceed to Part III - Goods to Conform to Standards. In this Part are the legislative operative clauses. Each clause takes up one of the separate heads of constitutional power to which I have referred. Clause 19 deals with the importation of goods and refers to goods which do not conform to the standard that has been laid down in the manner 1 have mentioned specifically, or to the general standard laid down in the way I have set out, or do not comply with the labelling and packaging requirements applicable to the goods by virtue of the order. What happens in that case? The goods become prohibited imports. Subclause 3 states -
Where the Minister is satisfied that it is not against the public interest so to do, he may, by instrument in writing and subject to such conditions, if any, as are specified in the instrument, exempt from sub-section (1.) of this section the importation by a person specified in the instrument -
of goods specified in the instrument; or
of goods to be used for a purpose specified in the instrument.
Clause 20 puts before us as a serious legislative proposal with constitutional validity the proposition that -
Except with the consent in writing of the Minister, a person shall not cause, suffer or permit goods for therapeutic use to become the subject of trade or commerce among the States unless the goods -
conform to any specific standard applicable to the goods;
conform to any general standard applicable to the goods; and
comply with any labelling and packaging requirements applicable to the goods and having effect by virtue of an order made under section15 of this Act for the purposes of this section.
I would have thought the arbitrary right contained in that clause to infringe that trade, having regard to decisions in the Dixon period, was, obviously contrary to section 92 of the Constitution, but that is another matter to which it is probably presumptuous of me to refer. Clause 21 takes up the position that except with the consent in writing of the Minister, a person shall not, under a law of the Commonwealth relating to the provision of pharmaceutical benefits, supply as a pharmaceutical benefit goods which do not conform to the specified or general standards or the labelling and packaging requirements. Clause 22 provides that except with the consent in writing of the Minister, a person shall not supply to the Commonwealth or to a Territory of the Commonwealth goods which do not conform to the standards I have mentioned.
In those four clauses - clauses 19 to 22 - the dominant provision is that prohibited imports can be exempted by the Minister’s written instrument; the use of prohibited goods in interstate trade can be exempted by his consent in writing; non-conforming goods can be exempted from the laws relating to the supply of pharmaceutical benefits by the Minister’s consent in writing; and pharmaceutical benefit goods that are to be supplied to the Commonwealth or a Territory of the Commonwealth can be exempted from the ordinary requirements by the Minister’s consent in writing. For good measure, clause 23 (1.) provides -
The consent of the Minister for the purposes of any of the last three preceding sections may be given either unconditionally or subject to conditions.
That leaves but one Part of the Bill, which has the heading “ Miscellaneous “. We find that under that Part it is necessary to use regulations in relation to the examination, testing and analysing of goods, the taking of samples, the authorisation of persons to take samples on premises, the establishment of laboratories, the issue of certificates for examined goods and the prescription of the extent to which certificates are evidence of matters stated in them.
Under clause 27, the Minister is given power to delegate his powers to another person, either generally or otherwise as provided not in any regulation but in an instrument in writing. Then, having conferred a power of regulation to the limited degree that I have indicated, the Bill provides in clause 29 (2.) -
The Minister may, by instrument in writing and subject to such conditions, if any, as are specified in the instrument, exempt from regulations . . . goods consisting of a substance so specified.
The result is that standards are prescribed and restrictions on trading in therapeutic goods are imposed according to the arbitrary and unreviewable powers of the Minister which are to be exercised in writing. To my way of thinking, the whole of that apparatus is odious and obnoxious, to use a Churchillian phrase.
The United Kingdom had to deal with this subject as recently as 1956. With a House of Commons of 600-odd members, with all the complications of a community consisting of between 50 million and 60 million people and with none of the broad expanse and community way of life which Australians are permitted, the very first section of the British Act provides -
The substances to which this Part of this Act applies are the substances specified in the First Schedule to this Act. . . .
The First Schedule reads -
Substances to which Part I of this Act Applies.
Having specified those substances in the First Schedule, the Act provides that the other therapeutic substances to which Part 1 of the Act applies are any which may be added to the First Schedule by regulations made under the Act. Then it says that the regulations shall be made not by a political or administrative Minister but by a joint committee, consisting of three Ministers, and made only after consultation with an advisory committee, the constituent members of which are indicated in the Act itself. Those constituent members include Ministers and officials, one member appointed by the Medical Research Council, one member appointed by the General Medical Council, one member appointed by the British Medical Association, one member appointed by the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain and one member appointed by the Council of the Royal Institute of Chemistry. Having required that things be done by regulations made by a joint committee of three Ministers and made only after consultation with the specialist committee to which I have referred, the Act provides -
The joint committee, after consultation with the advisory committee, may make regulations for the following purposes: -
for prescribing the standard of strength, quality and purity of any substance to which this Part of this Act applies;
Then the British House of Commons, with its idea of parliamentary institutions and of the practical administration of a very technical measure, finds it convenient to say, in section 16 of the Act -
Any power conferred by this Act to make regulations shall be exercisable by statutory instrument which shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.
Even the House of Lords, in its debilitated state in the structure of the British Parliament today, is conceded the right of supervision for the purpose of checking arbitrary regulations.
I have not studied fully the provisions of the Victorian legislation on this matter - the Health Act of 1958. In Division 111 of that Act, relative to the subject of proprietary medicines, provisions are made for a committee that is representative of the various branches of the skills and technology involved in this very important trade. Power is given to people, whose proprietary preparations are disallowed, to go before a tribunal in order to prove the purity of their preparations. There are other provisions which regulate the application of restrictive legislation to the individual concerned. Whilst not asserting that there is no provision in that Act for an order in writing - although, to the best of my belief there is not - 1 point out that it is by regulations that the Governor-in-Council applies the provisions of the Act to preparations.
In conclusion I say that it is most unfortunate that this Parliament should conceive it to be proper to accept a measure of this description when the Parliament would be quite capable of conforming to the Rules Publication Act and, if statutory rules were apprehended to grow too great in bulk, of specifying a second series of volumes to consist of rules on technical matters. Everybody would then know in which part of the statutory rules to seek the subject in which they were interested. lt is said that the use of regulations creates impracticable administration. That is a poor reflection upon Victoria and Great Britain. The legislation there indicates that the Parliaments did not think the employment of regulations prevented its practical administration.
The final determining consideration is the proper protection of the public interest by not allowing the Minister on the advice of an undisclosed committee, to proscribe a drug which, despite the best motives and the most consummate knowledge of members of the committee, may conceivably be a deleterious drug. Parliament, if it is approached by experts outside, should have the right to arrest that process and, by the same token, people in the various trades and professions who are subject to the application of this measure should have the right to see the standards prescribed specifically and generally and the methods of labelling prescribed. They could then approach the Parliament which, in its judgment, should have the right to disallow this subordinate legislation if it is considered improper. I very much regret that there seems to be insufficient support within the chamber to require the measure to be reconsidered before enactment.
.- The Opposition, as Senator Dittmer has already said, is concerned at many of the individual provisions of this Bill. Some of those provisions have been enumerated by Senator Wright. However, because the measure collectively is designed - I emphasise deliberately the word “ designed “ - to ensure some control over the usage of drugs and medicines in Australia, the Opposition does not oppose it. During the Committee stage of the debate we will be criticising some of the clauses and delegated authorities allowed for in the measure but because something is now being done, however ineffective it might be, to ensure control over the drug industry, we do not oppose the Bill.
We assure the Government and the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin), who represents the Minister for Health (Dr. Forbes) in the Senate, that we will be watching with great care the operations of this legislation when it is enacted. We receive some comfort, however small, from clauses 17 and 18 of the Bill which provide that the Minister may, by order in writing, amend or revoke an order made under a preceding provision of Part II, and that the making of an order shall be notified in the “Gazette”. We assure Senator Wright and all others who are concerned with specific clauses of this Bill that in the future we will be scrutinising the operations of the legislation. The
Minister said in her second reading speech that this is a bill of great importance to Australia and Australians because it is designed - again I emphasise the Minister’s word “ designed “ - to ensure some control over the usage of drugs and medicines in Australia. Insofar as it might achieve some purpose in that regard, we do not oppose the measure. However, frankly, we feel that it is merely a belated attempt to do samethink about what some people have referred to for a considerable time as the drug menace in Australia. The Bill will merely assist - that is the Minister’s word - to ensure that drugs, medicines and medical equipment consumed and used in Australia come up to minimum standards of safety and quality.
It has been said that the measure does not represent a change in Government policy. However, the introduction of the measure surely implies that to date the arrangements that have been made to ensure the safety and quality of drugs and medicines consumed in Australia have been far from satisfactory. I personally doubt whether the legislation will achieve all that it is hoped will be achieved. If one reads very closely the second reading speech of the Minister, this doubt certainly seems to be justified. The Minister used phrases such as “ if enacted “, “ the measure will assist in ensuring that drugs, medicines and medical equipment consumed and used in Australia meet minimum standards “, “ part of an international system aimed at providing” - aimed at, not providing - and “ in line with world wide policies which endeavour to ensure that drugs are safe “. The Minister admits that Commonwealth powers over therapeutic drugs and substances are limited. Surely this indicates that the measure far from reaches the millennium of control that is required over this industry. Throughout the measure, it is continually emphasised that the Commonwealth cannot legislate in connection with the local manufacture of drugs or the intrastate supply of such substances and the consumption of them in that regard. Therefore, the measure has a very limited purview. In that connection, I believe that much more than is designed by this proposal can be achieved by the Government.
I would hope for an assurance from the Government that State Ministers for Health would be asked to bring their standards into line with those being laid down by the Commonwealth so that there would be uniformity of control over the usage of drugs. This is a vital matter. However, it appears to me from my reading of the Bill and the Minister’s second reading speech that it has not been done. In particular I think the Bill falls far short of the general required standards, because this Bill relates only to drugs which are imported, pharmaceutical benefits supplied under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Act, and to goods supplied to the Commonwealth or which are the subject of interstate trade. Basically, they are the limits of this legislation. In other words, locally manufactured material which is used in the supply of the great bulk of proprietary lines and drugs which are used intrastate are not subject to this measure. Until the States can be persuaded to adopt a general uniform code, insofar as this Bill does achieve any control at all over the use of therapeutic goods, we of the Opposition do not oppose it. There can be no doubt that, on the facts and figures available, something had to be done. Whether this is the right way or the wrong way to do it is beside the point at this stage, but certainly something had to be done in this day and age when so many people are resorting to the medicine chest in order to cope with normal day to day living.
In his second reading speech the Minister pointed out that this century has seen the number of therapeutic agents and drugs rise from a dozen or so to about 20,000 or 30,000. All the available evidence indicates that, unfortunately, Australians are becoming a nation of pill swallowers. In the last four years the number of prescriptions dispensed under the Commonwealth pharmaceutical benefits scheme has jumped by over 50 per cent., from 31 million in 1961 to nearly 48 million in 1965. The total cost to the community jumped from about £29 million in 1961 to nearly £44 million in the last financial year - a jump of some £15 million over a period of four years. When we see that, under an arrangement between the Commonwealth and the drug companies supplying goods under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme, there have been savings amounting to some millions of pounds; when we consider the figures that I have given in relation to Commonwealth expenditure on pharmaceutical products; and when we take into account the additional expenditure by the Commonwealth under the Repatriation Act as well as expenditure by the States and that incurred by private individuals on the purchase of drugs and therapeutic articles, we realise what a very lucrative market exists in Australia for the companies engaged in this industry. How strong the industry is can be gauged from the fact that of the total expenditure from the National Welfare Fund in the last financial year, about 40 per cent, was on pharmaceutical benefits.
In view of the enormous expenditure on drugs by Australian governments and by the Australian public, the Minister docs not have to convince the Opposition that this Bill is of considerable importance. What the Minister has to show is that it will in fact cure most of the defects which, on the evidence, are rampant. This industry has been a great bonanza. The late Senator Wade, when Minister for Health, told me in reply to a question that of about 116 or 118 drug companies operating in Australia, 68 were completely owned and controlled by overseas interests. I know that a great deal of expenditure is incurred in testing the suitability of new drugs, but I wonder how effective that testing is. A couple of years ago the world experienced the terrible tragedy caused by the drug thalidomide. Thousands of unborn children were marked to have horribly distorted bodies for life because of haste on the part of the drug companies to get a pill on to the retail market. Apparently no concern was shown by the manufacturers or those controlling marketing, as to what the side effects of the drug might be.
Practically every day one can pick up a newspaper and read of a new side effect of some drug being discovered, despite the fact that the drug has been on the market for a considerable time. Reputable firms are spending many thousands of pounds on the analysis and the testing of drugs, but I sometimes think that this work is completely unco-ordinated and is often devoted to proving the potency of drugs rather than to checking malfunctions. The Pharmaceutical Industry Information Bureau recently published a booklet in support of the practice of prescribing by brand names instead of, as had been suggested, by the generic terms relating to drugs. There is a statement in this booklet which I think is pertinent to the Bill. It is -
As Mr. W. P. Neathercoat, of Organon Labs. Ltd., said at a symposium organised at Belfast Medical School: “ A single test or a series of tests on the final product is a poor substitute for close control of all stages of manufacture. It is this continuous and expensive series of analytical tests which ensure that a branded drug is always of exactly the same quality and has exactly the same pharmacological properties “.
I feel sure that all honorable senators will agree that much more can be done by the drug companies. I sincerely hope that the Minister will call a round table conference of all the drug manufacturers in Australia and all the agents in this country of overseas drug manufacturers in order to see what can be done. The National Biological Standards Laboratory has said that the drugs now being marketed are becoming more sophisticated and potent and that the establishment of standards for them requires greater scientific subtlety and depth than was required for the traditional drugs and therapeutic agents. I wish to congratulate the officers of the National Biological Standards Laboratory for the very worthy work they are performing in the interests of Australia and of the Australian people. One has only to look at the figures quoted in the last annual report of the Commonwealth Director-General of Health to see the effect of that work. Indeed, on perusing the report one will see how important is the statement attributed to Mr. Neathercoat which I quoted. In Table 45 in the 1964-65 annual report of the Commonwealth Director-General of Health we find that the number of types of therapeutic substance examined was 1,323, of which 383, or 28.9 per cent., were found to be failures according to the standards laid down by the National Biological Standards Laboratory.
I think that for the purposes of this measure it is well to cite all the figures individually. Of the 738 samples examined under the Therapeutic Substances Act, which is now being repealed by this Bill, 235 were failures, so that there was a failure rate of 31.8 per cent. Of the 325 pharmaceutical benefit samples examined under the National Health Scheme, 72 were failures - a failure rate of 22.1 per cent. Of the 219 samples submitted by other departments and authorities for examination, 54 were failures, being a failure rate of 24.7 per cent. Of the 41 samples submitted under the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations, 22 were failures - ah astonishing failure rate of 53.7 per cent. Of the 1,323 samples tested by the National Biological Standards Laboratory, 383 were failures, being a failure rate of 28.9 per cent. Pre-‘ sumably, these materials had been analysed by private companies, but of the 1,323 samples tested by the Biological Standards Laboratory, 383 or 28.9 per cent, were found not to accord with the required standards.
This percentage rate is rather frightening when one considers that there were only 1,323 samples tested. The Minister in her second reading speech indicated that between 20,000 and 30,000 therapeutic goods are being peddled around Australia. I think that the time is long overdue for the important work that is carried out by the Biological Standards Laboratory and the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee to be expanded considerably. I think it is fair to say that as a result of the great thalidomide tragedy that affected a number of Australian children three or four years ago, arrangements were made with certain other countries, including the United Kingdom. Canada, the United States of America, Switzerland and Denmark for an interchange of drug control information on a reciprocal basis. In June 1963 the Drug Evaluation Committee was established in Australia to report on the safety of drugs being introduced onto the Australian market.
– What analysis was made of the drug thalidomide before the tragedy occurred in Australia?
Senator MCCLELLAND__ I do not know what analysis had been made of the drug but, having regard to the propaganda, if I may use such a term, that was put out by the drug companies, I presume that a considerable amount of research was carried out on that drug, along with other drugs. There is a responsibility in the first instance on the drug companies to ensure that a drug is safe for consumption by the people. The Australian Drug Evaluation Committee has been accepted by the Australian authorities and I understand that its work generally is recognised in other countries. We must realise that not only is there a great amount of drug usage in Australia where, as I have said, £40 million was spent by the Commonwealth last year under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme, but there is also a potentially great export market available to Australia for these drugs. It is important that we ensure that all the drugs manufactured in Australia are up to the highest possible standard.
In the April issue of the journal “ Overseas Trading “, which is published by the Department of Trade and Industry, we see that representatives of the Australian chemical industry attended a number of seminars to discuss measures to take advantage of export opportunities available to them following an Australian Government chemical survey mission to South East Asia in 1965. The mission’s report apparently disclosed that there were good opportunities for Australian firms to increase substantially their export of chemicals, pharmaceuticals and allied products to the £175 million South East Asian market. Therefore, as I have said, it is not only in the interests of the people of this country that drug companies are made aware of their great responsibilities; it is also in the interests of the potential export market that is available to us to ensure that we adopt the highest possible standards.
Of course, one could speak at great length on this very important measure. One could recount some of the allegations made by Mr. Richard Harris in a book entitled “The Real Voice”, which dealt with the work of the Estes Kefauver drug committee in the United States. He wrote about the work of the late Senator Kefauver. He said -
But along with the new and beneficial, much has entered the American medicine chest that is insufficiently tested and ineffective for the uses doctors prescribe. Some estimates by doctors place the percentage of drugs not proved effective at three out of every four compounds on the market.
One could cite a case which was heard a couple of years ago in the New South Wales Supreme Court by Mr. Justice Myers, in the equity jurisdiction. The report of the case appeared at length in the publication “ Nation “. Mr. Justice Myers, after hearing considerable evidence and argument in an equity suit between Bayer Pharma Pty. Ltd. and Henry H. York and Co. Pty. Ltd., was very critical of the plaintiff company for the false and fraudulent advertising in which it indulged. He said -
On any view the plaintiffs aspirin tablets are falsely advertised as original or genuine Bayer’s aspirin. They are also falsely advertised as dissolving in two seconds.
Bayer Pharma’s claims to have sold its aspirins outside Australia, in such phrases as “ used by millions all over the world “ are “ necessarily untrue “.
The purpose of the advertising could only be to attract to the plaintiff the benefit of the reputation of foreign manufacturers. 1 have selected one or two examples at random. I have an article which appeared in the Sydney “Daily Mirror” in October 1963. It states that a doctor practising in Sydney had said that bungled manufacturing had resulted in worthless drugs being sold in that city. By these references I emphasise the fact that this industry has gone along in its own merry way for a great number of years without any action being taken by the Government.
– The honorable senator might not be alive today but for this industry. So he should not run it down.
– It could well be that a number of people would not be alive today but for the industry. But it is a fact also which the honorable senator cannot deny that had the industry conducted its affairs as it should have done, a great many people would not be suffering with the side effects and horrible deformities from which they are suffering today.
Frankly, the Opposition believes that a great racket has been practised in many cases by some companies - I emphasise “ some “ - on the Australian community for years. All the evidence points to the great need for something to be done. Therefore, as this Bill does achieve some purpose in this regard we do not oppose it, but we express grave doubts as to its overall effects. Much has still to be done by all governments if the powerful drug industry is to comply with the requirements and reasonable standards demanded by the Australian people after their interests have been wilfully ignored for so long by some of the pharmaceutical companies operating in Australia and by this Government also.
– I can only condemn the Bill as a whole. I think that we should be grateful to Senator Wright for his analytical diagnosis and dissection of the Bill. The honorable senator explained to us in detail the legal meaning of the various clauses which, I am sure, would confuse everyone. I am amazed at the real apathy that exists in this chamber in regard to this measure. Also, one wonders about the diligence of senators who are so attentive to this debate that they are not in the Senate chamber. They should be studying this measure. I presume that this is why they are absent from the House. No doubt in due course we will get their comments, following their study of the measure, and their explanation of it. It would appear, as Senator Wright said, that the Opposition is prepared to support the Bill although it has doubts about it. If the Opposition has any doubts about it the time to deal with the Bill is now. The Opposition should ask for the adjournment of this debate so that its doubts may be cleared up.
I do not think that the Senate realises the powers that are being given to the bureaucrats regarding this measure. I do not think that the pharmaceutical industry realises what it has done in agreeing to this legislation. The representatives of the pharmaceutical industry had a conference with the Department of Health. The best that the industry obtained from that conference was that the Minister for Health (Dr. Forbes) would use his power to make orders. The industry left the matter at that, trusting that the Minister would do everything that he said he would do. This is all very well. I have no doubt about the intentions of the present Minister for Health. But we do not know who the next Minister for Health will be. We do not know who is going to issue these orders. Of course, the next Minister for Health will not be bound by the promises of the present Minister.
I have two main objections to this Bill. The first is that it takes control away from the Government and puts it into the hands of the Department of Health and civil servants. I am surprised that members of the Government as a whole are prepared to pass this Bill because it does take away a function of the Parliament and the Parliament is not to have any say in the matter. The net result is that this chamber and the other place will have no control over this measure. We might as well dissolve this chamber and let our country be run by the bureaucrats themselves. It is surprising that a free enterprise government should allow a measure such as this to be introduced into the Parliament. Senator Wright pointed out all the details in this regard. The honorable senator warned everyone about the provisions of the Bill. If honorable senators did not listen to what he said, then they are just bringing disaster to the industry and to the medical profession. But I will leave the question of taking away powers from this Parliament to other members to emphasise because I want to get on to what is not really a medical aspect, although the medical profession is concerned with the provisions of the Bill, but the pharmaceutical side of this Bill.
When I read the goo - the sugary coated statement that has been issued by the Department of Health and which, of course, we have all read - I was taken in for a while.
– Is the honorable senator referring to the second reading speech delivered by the Minister for Housing?
– Yes. I am referring to the Minister’s second reading speech. But I am not referring to the Minister for Housing because she read the speech on behalf of the Minister for Health. In the first paragraph of the second reading speech we read -
The Bill docs not represent a change in principle or policy by the Government.
That is deliberately misleading. How can the Minister say that this Bill does not represent a change in principle or policy by the Government when the form of control of these goods - by regulation - is to be taken away and an order in writing by the Minister for Health is to be substituted? Is that not a change in principle or in policy? Here we have in the first paragraph of the second reading speech delivered by the Minister a most misleading sentence.
The Bill continues to administer doses of the goo. It says that the purpose of the Bill is to make drugs safe, pure and potent. We have legislation even now to ensure that drugs are safe, pure and potent. So there is no actual need for such a Bill. The second reading speech continues -
The importation of drugs is an area where the Commonwealth’s authority is paramount and must be applied as a control against the dumping of inferior or dangerous drugs.
Yet, in the main, the Department of Health was responsible for the introduction into Australia of South African drugs that are inferior. But because these drugs are cheap, they have been put on the pharmaceutical benefits list. They are on that list now. They are inferior drugs. These South African drugs may be substantially pure in accordance with the legislation in relation to food and drugs but their packaging and so on is inferior to that of other well known brands.
– Is the honorable senator referring to the package or the drug? His statement is a little vague.
– I am referring to the importation of a certain South African drug and to the whole of the aspects involved. The second reading speech goes on to say -
Therapeutic agents of almost every type are tested for compliance for standards by the Department of Health at its National Biological Standards Laboratory in Canberra.
So they are. That does not mean that this Bill will provide for these tests. These tests are being carried out already as Senator McClelland pointed out. The National Biological Standards Laboratory is doing a good job in this regard. The second reading speech continues -
In addition to this testing programme, expert committees comprising leading figures in a number of branches of medicine and science have been working for some time on the provision of advice on the complex questions concerning the safety and standards for therapeutic goods.
But these committees have been working all the time. This Bill does not do anything about the matter at all. All this padding is included in the second reading speech because the Department wishes honorable senators and members in another place to think that something new will be done under this Bill, when in actual fact it is already being done.
The second reading speech then refers to the British Pharmacopoeia and the British Pharmaceutical Codex. The basic standards for many drugs and medicines will continue to be the monograms to be found in these two works. But no mention is made of the United States Pharmaceutical Codex. I wonder whether the Minister can tell us, when she replies, why the United States Pharmaceutical Codex is not used. The main provision under this Bill will affect the labelling and packaging of drugs. The Bill also deals with containers, but I am not worried with this point. The fact that the Bill contains provision to control labelling is just a thinly veiled attack on the pharmaceutical industry. It is another method used by the Department in trying to gain its own way over the medical profession by requiring the use of generic names instead of the use of drug house trade names. The Department realises that doctors who are writing out hundreds of prescriptions a day using generic names may forget to put the name of the drug house company after that generic name. Then, of course, the chemist to whom such a prescription is presented has to dispense the cheapest form of that drug. The Department has tried to cut down on its costs, the blame for which it puts on the pharmaceutical industry instead of on itself because of its widening of the field of pharmaceutical benefits.
– I do not want to interrupt unnecessarily. Why would a pharmacist use the cheapest drug? Surely that would be against his own best interests.
– He is compelled by law to use the cheapest. The Department of Health insists that where no brand name is used, the cheapest of all the drugs listed shall be used. There is quite a considerable variation with some drugs.
– Must he use the cheapest or the most effective?
– The chemist has to supply the cheapest. If I prescribe acid acetylsal - that is aspirin - then the cheapest aspirin must be used. Actually, aspirin is now off the list. But that is not the form I would order if I were to use the brand name. This is why the Department of Health wants control of labelling. It has been trying to force this on the medical profession for some time. I am surprised that the pharmaceutical industry has not opposed this tooth and nail. We have had bureaucrats telling us that we must use generic names instead of trade names. Then, realising that we have to use stupendous words, the ingenuity of the Department has been employed to devise an abbreviation or synonym of the approved or generic name. Let me quote an example. The Department has very kindly said that, instead of having to write “ demethylchlortetracycline “, which is too long a name, we may write “ DMChlortetracycline “. The trade name is Ledermycin. We all know that name, and it is quite easy to write. To have to write down the synonym which the Department has issued is no better - indeed, it is much worse - than having to write the short brand name that has been supplied by the drug houses.
Let me mention another example. Instead of writing “ sulphamethoxpyridazine “, the Department says that we may use the term “ S’methopyrazine “. Normally I would use the term Loderbyn. Instead of writing “testosterone propionate”, very kindly we are allowed to use the abbreviated form “ testosterone prop.” We save six letters. The Department is prepared to do this to the medical profession. The members of the profession have to write out the prescriptions. We know what we want. We want a brand that we have confidence in. Let us not bring into this argument the fact that the firms send their detailers around to convince us. Of course they do. That form of advertising is just part of life today.
Senator Wright quite rightly said that the proposal to appoint a committee should be spelt out in the Bill. If it has been done in England and Victoria, then it can be done in this Bill. The Government has not even made a promise that it will set up a committee. We do not know who will be the members of the committee or what its powers will be. The medical profession has no faith in some of the committees that the Minister for Health has set up. One in particular is the committee which decides which drugs shall be included in the pharmaceutical formulary. Honorable senators are aware that the committee threw out one drug because it had a combination of three ingredients. It said that it was bad to have three ingredients in the one drug. I sent a note over to the Minister today about the matter, saying: “Why don’t you tell the truth? Price is the factor.” He referred the matter to departmental officers, but they did not support me. But since the original drug was thrown out, two drugs have been put on the market with a combination of three ingredients. If that is Che sort of committee that the Government proposes to set up, let it not appoint a committee. To do so would be a complete waste of time. 1 know that what happened in relation to thalidomide weighs heavily with everybody. Senator McClelland referred to Mr. Neathercote. I think the honorable senator took the quotation out of context. That person was talking about analytical tests and was suggesting that there should not be a single test but multiple tests. That would not have prevented the tragedy associated with thalidomide. I am not supporting the drug companies in relation to thalidomide. 1 think they put it on the market too quickly. The medical profession must accept some blame for using it before they were assured that it was safe.
– Surely the fact that it was supplied by the drug companies to the medical profession carried the implication that it was safe.
– From the analytical point of view probably it was safe, but unless you can test a drug clinically on human beings it is extremely difficult to say what the result will be. This is the drug that first brought out the tetragenic difficulties associated with the use of drugs on humans. From this tragedy we have learned a lot. Are we to deny people blood transfusions simply because many people die from blood transfusions? Errors occur, but we continue to give blood transfusions. We have to assess the value of these things. The Government has done nothing whatever about motor car accidents, even though the number of deaths per annum from motor car accidents exceeds the number of deaths or deformities caused by the use of drugs. Admittedly, the use of thalidomide was wrong;. I am not coming out in support of it. But you cannot stop trying to find new drugs just because you have had a tragedy with one. The work must go on. Let us not forget that for every drug that has been put on the market nearly 1,000 have been discarded. The drug companies do test them.
We in Australia have the peculiar habit of denigrating anybody who is successful. This has happened in relation to General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd. Because that company makes a lot of money, there is supposed to be something wrong with it. The drug companies make a lot of money. So there is something wrong with them. But we do not worry about the Broken Hill Pty. Company Ltd. making huge profits.
– Or the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
– Or the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee. The drug companies are making colossal profits, but they are doing research work that our governments are not doing. Anybody who is prepared to invest large sums of money must be allowed to expect a return. That is why I have supported the payment of a dividend by General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd. That company was prepared to risk its capital investment in Australia when there was no assurance that it would get a safe return. Now that the company is getting a safe return, everybody runs it down. The same thing is happening regarding the drug companies, which have spent millions of dollars on research. Competition is now much greater than in the past. The drug companies may turn out a product after spending hundreds of dollars on research, only to discover the next day that another company is one step ahead of it. With modern science advancing so rapidly, one can well understand that the drug companies must have a reasonable, or what we might even regard as an excessive, profit in order to maintain their research activities.
I would not mind betting that there is not one person in this chamber who has not suffered from some illness, or who does not know somebody who has suffered from an illness, and who has not been helped by modern drugs which are the result of research undertaken, not by Departments of Health, but by the pharmaceutical industry. So I suggest that we should not engage in the little game of denigrating the pharmaceutical industry because it is making a profit. The fact that the drug companies have experienced one tragedy does not mean that they should stop their research activities. All these things have been tightened up. This measure seeks to tighten them still further. Indeed, it not only will tighten them but will strangle them.
We should not support the Bill, for the two reasons I have mentioned. First, we are being handed over to departmental control. It is of no use asking the Minister about these matters; he does not know a thing about them. He has to rely on the head of the Department and the departmental officers. Under the Bill we are giving to the Department the control of a very vital industry which we should be controlling and in which we should, when necessary, be having a say. Secondly, I say that we should throw the Bill out because of the very fact that it is so restrictive that the whole of the industry can really be controlled by an order that labelling shall be in generic names. This would be an order of the Minister. It could not be appealed against. That would be the end of it. We would then have to follow suit and use generic names, which would mean that the cheapest product, though not the best, would be supplied. The price of the ordinary sulfonamides, the most commonly used drug, varies from 84 cents - I do not know whether that is for 40 - to $1.13. That is what the chemist is paid. This shows the big variation in the prices of these drugs, but all of the drugs are allowed. If we are not allowed to use a trade name, the chemist has to give the cheapest one.
– Are they all of the same content?
– All have the same active ingredients.
– What would be the reason for the variation in price?
– I think it is because of the form of manufacture. I am not too good on this point.
– I thought you would be.
– No, I admit my errors. I am not a know all. I should say it would be due to a difference in packing or in the cost to the company. One company may have spent far more on research than another. We have in Australia a company that does nothing at all in research, and just copies the drugs produced by other companies.
– Why not prescribe the cheapest? What is the benefit of not doing that?
– There is a variation in purity. That is one thing. I do not know about sulfonamide. I cannot tell the honorable senator as I am not a pharmacist, but there are different salts in drugs. One salt may be better than others.
– Would there not be some basis of benefit in this Bill in line with this comment that the honorable senator has made?
– No, because if the Bill were passed and the Minister issued an order that all drugs be labelled with generic names instead of trade names, the cheapest would be supplied. I have no faith in the South African drug. If it happened to be the cheapest, that would have to be it. I have no faith in that company. Just as a person is entitled to choose his own doctor, we should be entitled to choose our own drugs, within reason. Even the Department of Health takes a reasonable view in that prices vary from 84 cents to $1.13. There is a big variant But if the generic names are used, we will have to use one of the five drugs in the first group. For those reasons, 1 think that this Bill should be thrown out altogether. If it cannot be thrown out altogether, I suggest that it be deferred until we have had another look to see whether the effects will be as suggested by Senator Wright.
.- I should like to say that I am most disturbed in regard to the Bill that is before us. It is amazing to me that a Liberal Government should bring in legislation of such a dictatorial nature. I am not an expert on the medical side or able to speak on the therapeutic aspects. What I am deeply concerned about as a senator of the Parliament is the way in which this Government is trying to erode the powers of the Parliament by giving the powers to the Executive. That attitude permeates right through the Bill. The Minister may delegate to a person, either generally or otherwise, by an instrument in writing, his powers and functions under this Act, except his power of delegation. By instrument in writing he may exempt persons from the provisions of regulations made by virtue of certain clauses. The Minister may, by instrument in writing, exempt from regulations importation by a person specified in the instrument of goods consisting of a substance so specified.
The whole tenor of this Bill is the taking of power away from the Parliament and putting it into the hands of the Executive, which is really the Public Service. As Chairman of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, and as one who has taken an interest in this matter, I have noticed this trend in legislation. These provisions are coming in one after another, gently, here and there. Gradually, power is being taken away from the Parliament. The contributions made by Senator Wright and Senator Turnbull are very worthy in this regard. It amazes me to see a Government of this character bringing in this type of legislation. Personally, 1 think that at this stage of this sessional period, when we are now near the end, the best thing that could happen to this legislation would be to defer it until the Budget session. That would give people more time to consider these aspects. I am surprised to think that this Government would take these powers out of the hands of the Parliament. 1 know that this matter has been the concern of a few people. I have not been taken into the charmed circle. I know that there have been discussions with the Minister who has, I believe, said that he will put the orders on the table, and so on. That does not overcome the situation at all. A Bill that provides for the making of regulations, instead of instruments in writing, retains power in the hands of this Parliament. Regulations come before us, and are subject to a motion of disallowance by any senator. When we give those powers away, we depreciate ourselves as a Parliament. We are passing the powers to other people. L=et us not kid ourselves that the departmental officers are persons who do not like to feel more powerful. Of course, they do. It is one of those things. There is an unceasing fight by a band of people watching regulations to see that power is not taken away from the Parliament and given to other people. What concerns me is that Government supporters sheepishly follow this kind of thing. They are not concerned. I make bold to say, as a Liberal, that if the Labour Party were the Government and did this, we of the Liberal Party would be shouting to high heaven about it and saying that the Labour Party wanted to be autocratic in its control. We are doing exactly the same thing.
All I want to say is that I am strongly opposed to this legislation in this form. If the Government were to do the right thing, it would postpone the debate until the Budget session so that we could have a more thorough look at the Bill and consider it more closely from the aspect of parliamentary control. That would be the thing to do. Other legislation has been treated in this way. The Matrimonial Causes Bill was put on the stocks and held there for some time for close consideration. The Trade Practices Bill and other bills have been dealt with in the same way. I do not see any great urgency in this Bill. I do not think it is any great request to ask that the Parliament have more time to go into the Bill in order to see that the rights of the Parliament are safeguarded more than this Bill safeguards them. We should have more time to discuss it by deferring it until the Budget session. I am strongly opposed to the Bill in its present form, because I believe it undermines the democratic working of this Parliament. It takes away the rights of parliamentarians as individuals, and also the rights of the Parliament generally, and places too much power in the hands of the Executive, through the Minister.
– The Opposition does not oppose the second reading of the Bill. The highest purpose of any Government is to promote the health and happiness of its own people. This Bill purports to be directed towards the end of promoting the health of the Australian people, in that it provides for standards for goods for therapeutic use and for other purposes. Every member of Parliament would support any measure directed towards the provision of proper standards in this important field, and that is why the Opposition takes the attitude that it does. Obviously we need standards ki this field. There is a great increase in the number of drugs which are being prescribed annually, there has been a great increase in the complexity of those drugs, and specialisation is such that even persons working in the field are unable to keep up with the changes that are occurring.
There are many difficult problems. Senator Turnbull referred to some of them. He mentioned the matter of the generic description of a drug compared with the trade description. There is a good deal to be said for both sides on that subject. There is a good deal to be said on the question whether the Commonwealth, or for that matter any other institution, should always attempt to procure its drugs from the cheapest source, strange though that remark may seem. One would think that a public body should always insist on obtaining its supplies from the cheapest possible source, but those who have become a little more acquainted with this subject do not accept that view as being necessarily correct. In this field there are firms known as parasitical firms. Once an organisation has produced a drug, perhaps after a good deal of research and expenditure, the parasitical firms enter the field and produce the drug without having had to face up to the research expenditure that the first organisation had to meet. While in one instance this may be good in that an institution such as the Commonwealth can procure a drug from the parasitical firm at a lower price, the long term effect would be to destroy the value of research. There would be a tendency on the part of the larger organisations to avoid spending as much on research as they would if they were properly protected in selling what they produced.
All this means is that there should be a good deal of government regulation in this field. We should see to it that those who engage in research receive a proper and reasonable return for the results of their research. At the same time we should see to it that governments and private persons are not exploited by excessive charges for these commodities. A good deal of knowledge and understanding of this field is necessary; otherwise one may come to conclusions on a superficial view which are not the conclusions one would reach after a deeper investigation.
The Opposition takes the view that a great deal of standardisation in this field is necessary. The Government should lay down standards relating to the goods which arc the subject matter of the Bill. It also should set standards for the examination and testing of those goods. It should have the powers which are necessary to protect the health of the people working in the production sphere, because they may be exposed to certain dangers. The Government should supervise and control the introduction into the community of goods which could be deleterious to the health of the people. All these things are necessary. However, the Opposition not only in this chamber but also in the other place has expressed some concern about the way in which this is sought to be done by the provisions of the Bill.
We are not unmindful of the considerations to which Senator Wright has adverted. There is no doubt that, as a matter of principle, legislation should be made by Parliament or, if it is subordinate legislation, made under the authority of an act of Parliament by a person outside the Parliament; it then would be subject to the supervision of Parliament. No departure from that practice should be permitted except for the strongest reasons. Such strong reasons may exist where the security of the community is concerned. Such strong reasons may exist in other fields. A strong reason may exist in the field we are now considering, but the paramount principle should be that the making of legislation is a matter for the Parliament, and any delegated legislation should be subject to the supervision and control of the Parliament.
There would seem to be quite a departure from that central principle in the subject now before us. We believe that this principle should be maintained. When the issue has arisen in the Senate in recent years the Opposition has taken the stand that legislation should not be made by instrument in writing which is not subject to the supervision of the Parliament and that we should not permit these devious means of avoiding such supervision and control. This does not mean that we believe that the Senate or the House of Representatives should supervise, by way of power of disallowance, matters which are not legislation. We do not intend, and have never contended, that these legislative chambers should be converted into administrative bodies. A clear line must be drawn between the two branches of government. Where legislation of a subordinate character is involved, that legislation must be subject to the control of the Parliament. We should be able to disallow any such legislation. Where a matter is a matter of administration, it is my belief that neither House of Parliament should attempt to exercise power by overruling the actions of those in administration. There are other methods of dealing with these situations should they arise. We have the right to criticise and we have other forms of the House available to us.
I mention this because one matter which has been the subject of criticism by Senator Wright perhaps comes into the field, as I conceive it, of administration and not of subordinate legislation. I see, for example, no great objection to the Minister being able by notice to require persons to inform him about the composition of goods. That is not a matter of legislation. It is not subordinate legislation, lt is a matter of administration, lt provides for a notice to be directed to a particular person to supply information. I see nothing in that requirement which is different from the requirement contained in other laws that, for example, a person should give correct information to the police or that a person should answer questions which may be directed to him relating to some other matter. As I conceive it, that is not a matter of subordinate legislation, lt is a matter which comes within the administrative sphere. Nevertheless, I believe that there should be some protection. There ought to be provision for the protection of communications. I do not see why the secrecy of patents, processes or private information should not be guarded jealously by appropriate provisions under this enactment.
As I see the position, those are matters of administration, not of legislation. When we come to legislation we are dealing with matters in general or classes of persons. We are making a rule, not a particular requirement directed to a particular person. When we make a rule of conduct which is applicable generally, either to the whole community or to a particular class or category, that is legislation. We should ensure that legislation either is made directly by this Parliament or is made by other persons in such a form that it is subjected to the supervision and control of the Houses of the Parliament. That is the broad principle. When it has arisen, as it has on several occasions in the last four years, the Opposition has taken the stand that there should be no departure from that general principle in relation to the legislation then before us. As I recall, we moved to that end, and on several occasions the matter was so dealt with by the Senate that the principle was accepted by the whole of the Parliament and was carried into the legislation concerned.
We have made our attitude clear. The stand of the Opposition is that there is a necessity for preserving personal freedom in this community and that there is a necessity for preserving the powers of the Parliament - we are the delegates of the community - against the constant encroachments by the bureaucracy. On an occasion about 18 months ago, I predicted that this device of the instrument in writing would be seen more and more in this Parliament because it is an endeavour to sidetrack the supervisory control by the Houses of the Parliament. If this device is allowed to be introduced into measures it would mean that no longer would it be within the capacity of the Houses of the Parliament to disallow the subordinate legislation. As I have said, we members of the Opposition have put ourselves on record, as has the Parliament, as saying that, as a general principle, this device ought not to be incorporated in legislation and that we should not give the power to make subordinate legislation except when the control over it is to be exercised by each of the Houses of the Parliament.
In this Bill we see many instances of departure from that general principle. We are faced with the question whether we should insist upon observance of that general principle or whether there is any case for a departure from it. In general, members of the Australian Labour Party have taken the attitude that in this instance there is some case for a departure from the general principle because we are in a special field in that we are dealing with the standards of substances that are to be used for therapeutic purposes. We are faced with this problem: The Government says, “ We need these powers. We need to be able to do these things with despatch.”
As we have seen elsewhere, the Government is not able to make regulations in the time in which it should be able to make them in order to deal with the problems that might arise. Various reasons for that are given by the Government. To many of us, some of those reasons may not seem very convincing. It seems to me to be not a very good argument for the Government to say that its own housekeeping is so bad that it cannot have regulations made within a reasonable time. It should be a simple enough matter to make the regulations. Such an excuse should not be accepted. On an earlier occasion it was conceded that it took no more time to make a regulation than to make an order which had to be published in the “ Gazette “.
Neverthless, in this instance we are dealing with substances which are potentially or actually dangerous to the health of the public. In the broad, we are prepared to take the view that this unprecedented degree of delegation of legislation without the normal controls by the Houses of the Parliament should be allowed to pass. I say that not without a great deal of concern about the necessity for it and not without a great deal of concern about the way in which it will operate.
At this juncture I ask the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin), who is in charge of the Bill, to indicate that the Goverment would be prepared to give an assurance that the Director-General of Health, when making his annual report, will include reference to the operation of this Bill, if it is passed by the Parliament, and that in his annual report he will deal, with reasonable particularity, with the number of instances in which orders in writing were made, the reasons why they were made, the reasons for any departure from the use of regulations where they could be made and the reasons for exemptions being granted under the legislation from compliance with its requirements.
Speaking for myself, it seems to me there has been an extraordinary degree of departure from what should be the proper regulation making powers under this legislation. There is an extraordinary use of the device of instruments in writing. There seems to be an extraordinary use of the exemption power. There is an extraordinary departure from the standards that ought to be applicable to legislation that passes through this Parliament. Whilst those things may be permissible, although accompanied by a great deal of concern, no-one, particularly the people who are responsible for the drafting of the legislation that comes before the Parliament, ought to go ahead in the belief that this kind of legislation will be acceptable generally. I can see that it may pass on this occasion but it ought not to be taken as a precedent. Many honorable senators will be even more careful to scrutinise the details of legislation in future in order to avert what seems to be an increasing tendency on the part of persons outside Parliament to insert in legislation devices which are calculated to avoid supervision by Parliament of delegated legislation.
.- The Senate continues to debate the Therapeutic Goods Bill 1966. Whilst it is fair to say that most honorable senators generally would not claim to have expert knowledge in the use of the items that are enveiled in this legislation, from the general comments of honorable senators it seems that the knowledge that they have of the operations of the law as it is stated in this legislation has given some ground for doubt as to its presentation in its present form. 1 would agree with that view and 1 am concerned that a Bill such as this should be presented in the form that it takes from this side of the chamber. No honorable senator could be insensible to the importance of this legislation. I do not doubt that in the ensuing years we will see legislation being presented which has great reference to the use of drugs and chemicals within the community.
I believe that in considering this legislation we must take great notice of the second reading speech of the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) who represents the Minister for Health (Dr. Forbes) in the Senate. 1 believe that we have to consider a most difficult proposition in respect of control in this field to be included in legislation for our scrutiny. The growth of the use of drugs in the community has been well outlined and the cost to the community is receiving the close attention of the Government. I believe the Government is to be congratulated for the endeavour that it has made to bring into line the use and control of drugs in the community.
We must accept many parts of the Minister’s second reading speech. I wish to refer to several points that she has raised. I pay great attention to and accept the statement of the Minister that this Bill is in line with worldwide government policies which endeavour to ensure that drugs are safe, pure and potent. Surely no honorable senator would object to this policy which is outlined in the Bill. I certainly agree with that policy. The Minister has stated that the Bill does not represent a change in principle or policy by the Government. She has also stated that this legislation is part of an international system aimed at providing a desirable uniformity in standards and a ready interchangeability for these products in therapy and in commerce. The basis of those statements gives good reason for honorable senators to be willing to accept this legislation.
It is of such great importance in our community that drugs should be controlled that extreme legislative measures are needed. The Minister has said that the importation of drugs is in the area where the Commonwealth’s authority is paramount. That statement should be obviously true to all honorable senators. We have the assurance of the Minister that the Commonwealth will not enter into the general control of family remedies, including the bulk of proprietary lines. The Commonwealth will intervene only if a substance becomes a pharmaceutical benefit or if there arises a necessity to provide standards for any particular item or type of substance which is imported or sold interstate. The important point is that action is taken to prevent drugs having a deleterious effect on the public in general. In her second reading speech the Minister said -
I emphasise however, that, within its limited powers, this Government is conscious of the necessity of providing the legislation and the machinery for ensuring that the safeguards to protect the community are adequate.
I think the points I have repeated give adequate reason why major legislation is necessary. The arguments that have been raised by honorable senators in respect of the clauses which seem to be abhorrent to many areas of the trade today perhaps give good reason why the Minister and the Government must proceed along this line.
I believe that four areas of the Bill need some scrutiny. They are areas with which I am not particularly happy. I regard the possibility of socialisation in all fields as something we must fight against. Certainly, we must look to the possibility that others may make use of the provisions that are put down by this Government. I draw the attention of honorable senators to clause 15 which, if applied to any other industry would be most onerous, although I see the reason why the industry, the Government and the people should have their attention forcibly drawn to the type of product that is going to the market.
It is wise to outline and look clearly at the powers which are being placed in the hands of the Minister under this clause. First, we have the determination of the requirements with respect to labelling, packing and containers. That is a fairly wide field for determination. This is one area in which the Minister may by order in writing for the purpose of a clause of this Bill specify and direct that labelling shall be in a certain manner. This power could be abused. It would not be suggested that the Ministers who are involved would ever abuse the powers. But here is a fairly important power which, if used in any industry, would place great strength in the hands of a Minister. Clause 15 contains five sub-clauses. Subclause (5.) states -
Without limiting the generality of sub-section (1.) of this section, the Minister may, in an order made under that sub-section, direct that there shall, in such manner, if any, as is specified in the order, be set out on -
goods consisting of a substance or article to which the order applies;
a container or package containing goods consisting of a substance or article to which the order applies;
a label affixed or attached to goods consisting of a substance or article to which the order applies; or
a label affixed or attached to, or inserted in, a container or package containing goods consisting of a substance or article to which the order applies, such particulars as are required by the order.
As I read the clause, the Minister has complete control over the industry in regard to the type of labelling - a label might carry some advertising material, so that also may be controlled - and the size and shape of the container as well as the manner in which the goods are packaged. This control covers a wide field. I dislike the thought that any other area of industry could be so regulated. If we pass this measure, I shall certainly watch to see whether any move is made to direct other industries in this manner. Suffice it to say that the importance of this area of industry is probably the reason for the inclusion of the provision.
I query clause 20, as did Senator Wright. It states that, except with the consent in writing of the Minister, a person shall not cause, suffer or permit goods for therapeutic use to become the subject of trade or commerce among the States unless the goods conform to the standards. I think that there again the Bill may contravene provisions of the Constitution. Other speakers have made the point that there is to be great use of notices in writing. The words “ notice in writing “ occur in nearly every clause of the Bill, and certainly on every page. This procedure of notices in writing is something against which the Senate has argued on many occasions. The first instance of my opposing the Government in this House was in relation to a similar matter, where I thought certain control embodied in the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation Bill should be exercised by regulations, which can then be reviewed by the House. As several speakers have said, the procedure now proposed is one which we abhor. I endorse Senator Murphy’s comment that it might be more acceptable if we had from the Minister an assurance that the annual reports of the DirectorGeneral of Health would give reports in some detail of the operation of the legislation. That might overcome some point of difficulty.
Another matter to which I take exception arises from clause 30, which states that the Governor-General may make regulations, not inconsistent with the Act, for making provision for or in relation to the establishment of committees to advise the Minister. I believe private commerce has good reason to argue about that. I take into account the Minister’s comments here during her second reading speech and those of the Minister for Health in another place. The operation of the legislation might be quite sound under the present Minister for Health, but who knows what some future Minister would do? The clause says that the Governor-General may make regulations for the appointment of, in effect, an advisory committee. There is nothing mandatory there. Except for the statements in the second reading speeches, there is nothing to show the industry that a committee will be established, as the clause says, to advise the Minister on matters relating to the importation into Australia of therapeutic substances and on such other matters as are prescribed. I believe that the constitution of the committee should be laid down in the legislation. I direct the Minister’s attention to the Victorian Proprietary Medicines Act 1958. The adoption of some of the provision of that Act would meet the condemnation of the industry about the lack of certainty in this respect. The industry might spend hundreds of thousands of pounds in developing a drug and put it forward for evaluation, only to have the Minister, in writing, reject it. There might be a way in which eventually that could be brought into the light of day, but there is no provision here for such a decision to be reviewed.
I have mentioned the four matters in the Bill to which 1 take exception. I realise the grave importance of this legislation and I agree with the Government and the Minister that, with an industry of this kind, the control that is necessary for the benefit of the community may involve harsh regulations, or, should I say, harsh notices in writing by the Minister. I ask the Minister, when replying to the debate, to make clear what can be done on the issue of orders in writing. That is the main area of objection. I support the Bill, but I point out that the legislation must be continually reviewed to see whether it is working correctly. If this legislation controls the use of drugs in the community and ensures high quality, it will have done good service.
.- Mr. President, I ask for leave to make my speech at a later hour.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with a message intimating that it had not made the amendments requested by the Senate.
Consideration of the House of Representatives’ message.
After section 17 of the Principal Act the following section is inserted - “ 17a.- (1.)….. “(3.) If, in column 4 in the First Schedule, the letters ‘ NZ ‘ arc specified in relation to a rate of duty and those letters are followed by the letter (C)’-
Senate’s request No. 1.
Leave out sub-section (3.) of proposed section 17a., insert - “ (3.) If, in column 4 in the First Schedule, the letters ‘ NZ ‘ are specified in relation to a rate of duty and those letters are followed by the letter (C) ‘, that rate of duty shall, in respect of goods entered for home consumption on and after the first day of January, One thousand nine hundred and sixty-seven, be read as a reference to that rate reduced by one-fifth.”.
Tariff Amendment 14.
Senate’s request No. 2.
In sub-paragraph 07.05.412, column 4, leave out “NZ.(A): $0.12 per lb.”, insert “ NZ: $0.12 per lb.”.
Senate’s request No. 3.
In sub-paragraph 07.05.492, column 4, leave out “NZ.(A): $0.12 per lb.”, insert “ NZ: $0.12 per lb.”.
– 1 move -
That the requests be not pressed.
We debated this matter in the Senate both at the second reading stage and at the Committee stage. Because of the way in which we dealt with the proposed amendments by Senator Wright to the First Schedule and to the clauses of the Bill, we dealt with the matter twice at the Committee stage. We have had a very full and complete debate on the issues in which we were joined. Senator Wright, Senator McKenna, Senator O’Byrne and other speakers put the case for the proposed amendment, and 1 and other speakers put the Government’s case. For that reason I do not propose to canvass the issue again. 1 want to refer to a statement which was made by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) in another place this morning when dealing with the requests from the Senate. 1 want to refer to what he said in conclusion this morning because I feel that it adequately covers the position, in view
Of the debate that has taken place on this matter during the last two days. He said -
If . . . Australia now decides to introduce Special provisions or conditions regarding particular items we will run the risk that New Zealand will do the same and this will seriously prejudice the whole Agreement which no one will dispute is a good agreement for both countries in its general concept. The Agreement gives either Government the power to take whatever steps are necessary to protect an industry from being damaged by imports from the other country. For example, the Government can withdraw an item from the working of the Agreement for so long as it is necessary where imports threaten serious injury to an industry. It is noi necessary to amend the Agreement to do this.
Those are very important words. In conclusion the Minister said -
I give an unqualified assurance that the Government will exercise this power if necessary.
As we have had extensive debate on this matter and in view of the fact that because of the method adopted we dealt with it twice at the Committee stage, I do not propose to say anything more. The Government asks the Committee, by way of the motion that I have moved, not to press the requests.
.- I hope that 1 am not considered out of order in rising to take the call on this occasion, but the amendment was initiated on my motion. I do not intend to renew the arguments pro and con because they have been canvassed quite thoroughly. It would be, in my view, a lack of courtesy to Senator Anderson if I did not make some comment upon his short statement. I wish to thank him for the courtesy that he afforded me during the afternoon by showing me, no doubt with the approval of the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen), the “ Hansard “ report of the speech made by the Minister for Trade and Industry in another place this morning. I derive some satisfaction from the fact that my mind has been able to address itself to the arguments that the Minister has used.
The Minister for Trade and Industry mainly emphasised that the Agreement contained ample safeguards to protect the field pea industry. It is because that proposition was not well made out in the first place that anxiety exists in the industry and there is a desire by the Parliament to have some part in the implementation of safeguards for the protection of this industry. The argument seems to me somewhat to provide its own answer. The echo comes back. If the Minister is to give an assurance that the Government will exercise its power if there is serious injury to the industry, why does he wish to dissociate himself from the confirming support of the Parliament? All we are saying is: Let everything go forward for two years. If then there have been occasions on which the Minister has had to invoke this protection for the benefit of the industry, surely that will be a matter of serious concern to the Parliament. In such a case surely the Minister will welcome the support of the Australian Parliament, endorsing his defence of the industry. But if there has been no occasion on which serious injury has been caused to the industry - and there is a difference as to that fact between the Minister who cannot see it and the industry which affirms it - surely it is proper for the Parliament to debate the matter and say, in its judgment and with proper sense of political responsibility: “ We think you have not administered the safeguards with sufficient protection to the industry “, or “ We think that the industry is not correct in saying that there has been serious injury “.
The other point that we made is that in the biennial reviews that will take place negotiations will go on to add items to the Agreement so as to extend the field of the 60 per cent, of trade up to the maximum. lt is suggested that the request we have made will provide some inhibition against the success of those negotiations. The Agreement contemplates complete headlocking of this Agreement if serious injury is caused to an industry either in New Zealand or in Australia. Surely we are not so lacking in adult experience as to suggest than any real damage will be done to the mutual cooperation of these biennial reviews simply because this Parliament has said: “ We will not go along with you throughout the whole period of the Agreement. We reserve judgment. We will provide the judgment of the Parliament at the time of, or before or after, the biennial review.”
Surely it cannot be said that the Minister will be speaking with one voice and the Parliament with another. That is not the way in which parliamentary government works in this country. Why should it be thought that the Parliament will say anything different from what the Minister says, if he is faithfully protecting this industry, as I have been? I have unlimited confidence in him, but I do not think he should imply that we would say anything different. Therefore, I see a unison of effort. The Minister and the Parliament together will say: “ Go straight ahead “ or “ The damage is too great to continue “. I hope that the Committee will adhere to its requests.
.- On behalf of my colleagues on this side of the chamber, I wish to indicate that we oppose the motion that has been moved by the Minister. The Minister quite rightly said that the subject matter of the requests to another place has been well and truly ventilated by debate in the Senate. We proposed amendments from this side of the chamber which we considered would provide safeguards for the primary producers growing a these products. We think that the request that has been made by Senator Wright does not affect the basic principles of the New Zealand- Australia Free Trade Agreement. The Minister and the Government should be quite pleased that such an important agreement has the support of the Senate with only a slight amendment that alters the procedure but not the principle. The Opposition supports the request initiated by Senator Wright, and opposes the proposition put forward by the Minister for Customs and Excise.
– Mr. Chairman, I have not taken part in this debate before. I do so now because I am amazed that this Committee proposes to make alterations to an agreement that has been made with our sister dominion, New Zealand, particularly when that agreement has been negotiated by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen). He has negotiated agreement after agreement over the years always for the benefit of Australia. Now fears are voiced here that the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement that the Minister has recently made will cause damage to some of our Australian producers.
It is all very well to say that the feeling is that this Parliament will come down in favour of a continuation of the Free Trade Agreement in two years time. This could well be so. I have not any doubts in that connection. What I want to remind those honorable senators who hold this view is that we cannot expect the New Zealand Government to have the same confidence as we have that the Australian Parliament will vote for a continuance of this Agreement in two years time. This is the point to which I think we must pay some attention. I want to remind honorable senators also - the Senate may have been reminded before about this; I do not know because it was not done in my presence if it was - that as late as 9th May the Minister for Trade and Industry, when speaking to the President of the Tasmanian Canning Pea Growers’ Association, said -
The growing of peas and beans for freezing is a young but important industry. Over the last 10 years, its ouput has increased fivefold and now totals more than $15 million a year. . . .
In negotiating the Free Trade Agreement, the Government negotiated sufficient safeguards to ensure that the industry does not suffer serious damage as a result.
The Minister went on to assure the growers’ representatives that the Government would be prepared to use the provisions to safeguard the frozen pea and bean industry if necessary. 1 put it to those honorable senators: What more do they want? What further assurances do they want? 1 also want to remind them, as the Minister reminded them a little while ago, that if we make alterations to this Agreement the Government of New Zealand is given the opportunity also to make alterations that it may see fit to make. Concern was expressed to me in January of this year, while 1 was in New Zealand, by New Zealand growers regarding the effect that this Agreement would have on them. If we stir the whole matter up again, the great danger is that the Agreement will not be as we wish it to be. After all, we are all assured of this one fact: New Zealand and Australia in the years to come have to get even closer to one another in every way. Goodness knows, we have been close enough in the past. But we have to become even closer than we have been in the past. It is unthinkable to me that we are trying to alter an agreement that has been negotiated between the two countries, particularly when that agreement has been entered into by a man with the reputation of the Minister for Trade and Industry.
– Mr. Chairman, I said in the course of a short speech that I made in connection with this matter on a previous occasion that it was evident that the Senate was agreed on the desirability of a free trade agreement between New Zealand and Australia. In the course of discussion on the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement, it became quite evident to me that the Agreement was the result of two years of considerable work, consultation and negotiation with a very advantageous result to Australia. This is proven by the fact that, when one has regard to the innumerable items and commodities that must have come up for discussion, the only ones that appear to be blocking unanimous decision are beans and peas grown in Tasmania.
If honorable senators read the discussion that has taken place in the New Zealand Parliament on this matter - no doubt many honorable senators have read this - they will note that more industries than one are likely to be adversely affected and that there is a great measure of apprehension in that country about them. When reading that discussion, I wondered whether we had brought about a pretty raw deal as far as New Zealand is concerned and whether we had obtained an agreement which was balanced too much in favour of Australia. That is, of course, if we intend to have regard for our sister dominion as well as ourselves. I think that we have a moral and a natural obligation to take such a view in the matter. Others will argue that charity begins at home and that we are entitled to do the best we can for Australia. That attitude is normal, too. The thing that concerns me may be expressed briefly. Now that we have negotiated this Agreement and brought it forward as far as we have, is the matter of the bean and pea industry in Tasmania sufficient, in the absence of any real evidence that that industry or any other industry in Australia will be hampered or destroyed, to prevent the implementation of the Agreement in toto?
I can imagine - and I bow to the superior knowledge of those who have had the task of negotiating this Agreement - just how sensitive the other party to the Agreement must be on a proper examination of the whole setup. I bow to the superior knowledge of those who negotiated the Agreement and to their power of assessment of the sensitivity of the other party. I do appreciate the point when the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) says that if we are going to quibble about a single item in the Agreement without any evidence for the moment anyway in support of our apprehension concerning that industry, do we not invite the other party to raise similar points and objections concerning matters which New Zealand industrialists and others are very conscious of and gravely concerned with.
I supported the request moved by Senator Wright in connection with this matter. This was not because I believed that the Agreement itself did not contain sufficient provision for the protection of any industry or any special safeguard in the Schedule in the event of grave injury or damage being done to that particular industry. I did not support the amendment because I did not know or did not believe that the Agreement itself provided for these measures. I already knew that Article 9 contained rather ample provision. The “ Hansard “ report of the debate in the New Zealand Parliament shows that Mr. J. R. Marshall, the Minister for Overseas Trade in that country, said -
In exceptional circumstances either party may, after consultation with the other Government and for the purpose of establishing a new industry or of encouraging the expansion of established industries, withdraw items permanently from the Schedule to which the free trade arrangement applies.
That is similar to what has been said here. I support Senator Wright’s amendment because 1 believed that it would allay the anxiety of the bean and pea growers of Tasmania. Although others on my right will say that there is real evidence that the industry is faced with destruction, I say that no such evidence has been adduced. To a great extent, Senator Wright goes along with the view that no real evidence has been adduced that the industry will be seriously damaged as a result of the negotiation of this Agreement. Neither this industry nor any other can be allowed, particularly in the absence of real evidence, to stand in the way of the whole Agreement being ratified.
I am sorry that we cannot give effect to the amendment. Even though I am solicitous of the welfare of the pea and bean growers of Tasmania, following the debate that has taken place I do not believe that they have any great cause of anxiety. They have been assured by the Minister, and are assured by the provisions of the Agreement, that in the event of their industry being threatened their consultative panel will have the right to bring the matter to the notice of those who are charged with the responsibility of administering the Agreement. Appropriate action could, and would, then be taken in their interests. As solicitous as I am of the welfare of these growers or any other growers or manufacturers who might be affected by the Agreement, I believe that it is of paramount importance that the Agreement be ratified - it has been ratified by the New Zealand Parliament - and be given a chance to Show how it will operate.
I am sure that Australia will not experience very much repercussion. Indeed, it is fairly evident that we will enjoy a lot of advantage. I am not so sure that we will not experience a lot of repercussions from New Zealand. Having studied the Agreement, I am surprised that the Australian representatives succeeded in getting the New Zealand Government to sign it. It is very strongly balanced in our favour. I believe that the Agreement contains more than sufficient provision to meet any emergency that may affect the pea and bean growers or, for that matter, the members of any other industry.
– As I understood the remarks of the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) when he moved that the Senate’s request be not pressed, he mentioned two main reasons that had been advanced by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen). The first was that, if the Senate insisted upon special provisions relating to beans and peas, we ran the risk that New Zealand would take similar action. I could answer that as the Minister answered the canning pea growers in Tasmania and merely say that such fears are groundless. However, I do not rest what I have to say upon that. Rather do I say that, if New Zealand were similarly placed in regard to any item of our manufactures as are the canning pea growers of Tasmania, it would, and should, take the precaution of insisting upon a special provision. If the Agreement is still at large, that could be done. I invite Senator Gair to consider this position: If, for the sake of adopting the whole Agreement, we discarded the canning pea growers on the north west coast of Tasmania, if we ratified the whole Agreement, and if New Zealand then breached the Agreement and through its Parliament insisted on a number of changes, we here would look exceedingly foolish. The ground upon which Senator Gair based his case would then have fallen to the ground.
The honorable senator is concerned to preserve the Agreement in its entirety. If, as seemed to be indicated by the Minister when he spoke, the Agreement is still at large in New Zealand, the honorable senator may find that, having yearned for uniformity and having surrendered the welfare of this industry to the Agreement as a whole, New Zealand may make changes and may shatter all hope of the uniformity for which he contends. But I understand that there is no such risk. I am supported in what I say by Senator Gair’s comment that New Zealand has ratified the Agreement. Therefore, the first reason that was put by the Minister falls to the ground entirely. That is a reason that has no justification at all. The Agreement has been passed and consideration has concluded.
– I understand that to be the case. Senator Gair has said so.
– If we are to vary it, surely that will be an invitation to New Zealand to vary h.
– New Zealand could reopen it. I suggest that it is very unlikely. At the moment, we can proceed on the basis that New Zealand has concluded its consideration of it and has ratified it.
– On the original basis.
– On the original basis, as I understand it.
– Believing that we would do .the same.
– Maybe believing that we would do the same. New Zealand would be watching events in Australia. I have no doubt at all that the authorities there are as fully aware as we are of the contention in relation to the industry on the north west coast of Tasmania. They have ratified the Agreement, knowing that that matter was at large. There have been public statements that the Opposition would oppose these particular duties. That has appeared in the Press in the most public way. It has been a matter of common knowledge. We can be completely assured that those in charge of piloting this Agreement through in New Zealand were as fully aware of it as we in this country are, and they have ratified the Agreement.
A lot has been said, even this afternoon, both by the Minister and by Senator Gair, about the safeguards in the Agreement, the power to suspend, and the power to withdraw. What seems to be overlooked is that the pea growing season is a very short one. It runs over a period of only 15 weeks. The sowing and reaping are all completed within that period. Bear in mind that if there is to be damage, serious injury must first develop. It must be proved to the satisfaction of our own Minister. That will take time, whether or not we have an industry panel. Then there are consultations over a period of 60 days - two months. At the end of that time, if no agreement is reached, one member State has the power to suspend. We would have the power to suspend, but it must not be forgotten that New Zealand would have the same power, automatically, to suspend items from Australia to the same value. So that suspension is not much help. The damage is all done. The season has ended.
– The honorable senator is overlooking the fact that these peas are grown under contract and the contract is signed before the season commences.
– It is perfectly true that it is signed beforehand.
– But not for the next season.
– Certainly not for the next season, as Senator O’Byrne says.
– Therefore, you have not a short period. You have 12 months.
– No, it does not run as long as that. The contract is concluded, I agree, before the season begins, and it is true that the season is over. We must have regard to the fact that I put. Even when we exercise our right and suspend items for the time being, that is only a temporary provision. The pressure is on the Government then to lift that suspension. It comes from the other people in Australia whose interests are affected by the corresponding suspension that takes place in New Zealand. The pressure is on all the time to lift it. So, first of all, there is a long delay before action can be taken. There is serious injury, followed by two months delay, then the action that has to be taken in the actual suspension. This whole industry is in jeopardy. All that the Committee is asked to do, as Senator Wright has put on several occasions in the industry’s interests, is to enable the Parliament to have a look at the position. We should just take the first step in the reduction of duty. We do not take an irrevocable step at this stage. We take the first step, covering a period of two years, in complete line with the Agreement. That is all.
It is a counsel of wisdom. It is a counsel of caution. It is a counsel of consideration for the industry on the north west coast of Tasmania and for the people who have fears, whether or not we say their fears are groundless. It has been said here today that no case was made out. I am very conscious of having myself put before the Senate two propositions. Immediately, any thought of expansion in the industry, both in the field in the growing of peas, and in the processing factories, is halted. That is serious in itself. Secondly, already there have been moves on the part of the processors, who have indicated their intention to seek a reduction in the price paid to the pea growers, because of the existence of the Agreement. They are two facts. If it were said that the halting of the expansion of the industry and the threat to prices that have remained constant for five years were not real grounds for fears, I should be very surprised. I thought that Senator Gair was truly convinced by the case put up by Senator Wright - a reasoned one, a temperate one, that runs right with the Agreement during a period of two years, when the dramatic development may or may not take place.
– Senator Wright did not agree that there was any occasion for anxiety as far as this industry was concerned.
– I should like to hear from Senator Wright on that point.
– He said that there was no immediate danger.
– What other reason would the honorable senator have for moving for postponement, as a counsel of caution, than that he thought there were some real fears?
– The same reason as that for which I supported him. I suppose he wanted to appease the growers.
– No, he knew his mind.
– He knew his mind.
– It is not a question of appeasing the growers.
– He unquestionably recognised the existence of fears. I was with him when those fears were expresesd at a public meeting on the coast. He knows as well as I do just how real those fears were. I would hope that the Senate would adhere to its decision. I am not proposing to go into the whole of the argument again. We went over it when we discussed the Agreement, when we spoke to the second reading of this Bill, and when we put through this amendment in Committee. I conclude by expressing the very firm hope that those who, on a full and proper consideration of it as late as yesterday, supported this amendment, will continue to do so.
– Like Senator McKellar, I have not spoken before on this matter. I listened with intense interest to all of the points that were made in the long debate that took place on this Trade Agreement. No-one knows better than I do the development of the industry of growing peas and beans in Tasmania. When I was Minister for Customs and Excise, I took steps to see that the industry was advised of imports and the countries from which they came. I urged it to develop a case for the protection that it has now. So I have taken a keen interest in the development of this industry in Tasmania, and I would not lightly depart from the stand that I have taken right from the very start that in this Agreement there is complete protection for this industry and that no damage will be done to it from acceptance of this Agreement.
– Do you not think it has already been done?
– No. I heard the honorable senator say a little while ago that the industry put up a case for protection additional to what it has now, on statistics which showed that imports from New Zealand had dropped from 3 million lb. to 2 million lb. to 1 million lb. How can one establish a case that he has been seriously injured when in fact imports have dropped by 70 per cent, over three years? That is the point. The farmers in Tasmania are introducing modern harvesting machinery which will lower their costs of production. This equipment is very expensive and it is being introduced in only a small way at present, but as capital becomes available more and more of it will be used. I see increased production by the use of specialised New Zealand seed. I see added experience gained by the farmers in methods of production greatly increasing the yield per acre. The new processing methods will also play their part in lowering costs of production. But this is all incidental. What we are faced with in this Parliament at present is an amendment to an Agreement with our sister dominion New Zealand which took us over two years to negotiate.
I went to New Zealand some two years ago to negotiate an agreement in relation to dumping with the New Zealand Minister for Customs, Mr. Shelton. I saw a good deal of the islands of New Zealand and of the farming community. I found that in the community at large there is a great feeling of suspicion and distrust of Australians.
– To amend the Agreement now would give them an added reason for suspicion and distrust.
– Exactly. I heard views widely expressed that the New Zealanders always come off second best in their dealings with Australians and that we always find a way of evading our responsibilities. I do not agree with that and I argued stoutly with New Zealanders about it. But there is an inherent distrust and it has taken the New Zealand Government, the Australian Government and the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen), to whom I take off my hat. two years of intense labour to conclude this Agreement, which essentially is favorable to Australia. It was ratified by the New Zealand Government in good faith, in the belief that we would ratify it on the terms that have been agreed.
We would do untold damage to the relations which exist at present between Australia and New Zealand - I believe our ties must be even closer than they are - if now we started to quibble about a small point. I, for one, do not believe and I have never believed - I have expressed myself on this point in the Press and on the northwest coast of Tasmania over and over again - that the protection provided for the industry in the Agreement, in our tariff legislation and in our emergency tariffs is not adequate.
– Would the New Zealand Government refuse to accept this amendment?
– I do not know what the New Zealand Government would do. I am not speaking for the New Zealand Government. I am putting a point of view. Quite frankly, I think that is a question of no value. What the New Zealand Government would do is of no consequence. When we come to negotiate the further points which will have to be negotiated, what will New Zealand think if we, who took the initiative in negotiating this Agreement and who spent two years on it, now quibble on one small point which I am not convinced is a genuine cause for concern? I believe adequate protection is afforded to the industry. I can understand a grower feeling some concern but I am sure that there is no valid reason for concern.
I have heard a lot about dehydrated peas. Naturally, when the dehydrated peas first came on the market I studied them closely. 1 saw the potential in the process. After all, I have been on the promotional side of trade for 40 years and I know something about it. I have been assured by the firm producing the dehydrated peas that it will come to Australia. At present it has only a small pilot plant testing the market in New Zealand and Australia to find out what it is likely to be. The firm will come to Australia because this is the only country nearby where the volume of production is sufficient to make the process worthwhile.
– And the biggest volume is in Tasmania.
– That is right. The firm will come to Australia to treat our peas but I do not think it will have a monopoly. It has a certain patent of its own but similar industries have also been experimenting with dehydration processes for two or three years. I believe there will be developments in this field which will not react to the detriment of the industry in Tasmania. I speak as a Tasmanian. I speak as one who has full knowledge of the value of the industry to Tasmania, the State in which I was born and bred and the State for which I have fought all my life.
I do not believe, and nothing I have heard so far has convinced me. that adequate protection does not exist in the
Agreement. I do not believe that our industry will be harmed if we accept the Agreement, but I believe that the understanding which now exists between our sister dominion New Zealand and ourselves will be harmed if we do not. To the great credit of the Minister for Trade and Industry, we have succeeded after two years in breaking down the suspicions which New Zealand has felt towards Australia and have negotiated this Agreement which will be of great advantage to both our countries.
– I want to make my position clear in regard to this debate. I realise the seriousness of it. I realise that when a trade agreement is being signed by two countries there must be some good reason for not supporting one’s own government. Let me say immediately that I have the greatest confidence in the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen). I think he is a man of the highest integrity and the greatest man in the Menzies Government for 17 years. But that does not overpower me when I have to make up my own mind on a matter such as this.
Time and again this Parliament has discussed and protected the rights of individuals who have been subjected to certain injustices. There is no reason then why we should not try to protect an industry or a group of people who believe that they are being illtreated unjustifiably. In this very chamber we have supported on many occasions minority projects and minority groups and have tried to help them. I would change my mind if I were assured that if what we ask were done this treaty would not be signed, but I cannot get such an assurance.
– It has been signed.
– It has been signed but not ratified. I do not know whether it has been ratified in New Zealand. If it has been ratified there, the New Zealand Government must have known, as Senator McKenna clearly pointed out, that there was a likelihood of this amendment being proposed.
The Minister has told us what he thinks will happen to the pea industry. The growers themselves, the people directly concerned in the industry, have told us what they think about the Agreement. The Minister’s view is a departmental one. He does not go out and look at the industry for himself. He receives advice from his departmental officers. The unfortunate part about this is that the Tasmanian pea growers have very little confidence in the Minister’s advisers because they were told in 1963 that a panel would be set up for certain purposes. They are still waiting for advice from the Department on the establishment of that panel. It is no good saying that on 9th May the Minister for Trade and Industry gave that assurance, because the industry representatives dispute his statement. It is all very well to say that the Minister has said something; but let us put the other side of the matter when the industry does not agree with his statement. Therefore, 1 feel that, having regard to the seriousness of the matter and the fact that we will not be stopping the ratification of the Agreement, I must adhere to my previous decision to support Senator Wright’s amendment.
.- 1 wish to say a few words at this stage. The New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement has been signed. It has been stated constantly that the Agreement needs no ratification, but it needs the legislation that is now before us to make the reductions of duty operative in Australia. Nobody would be unaware that the Minister for Supply (Senator Henty) has devoted all his effort to, and given valued advice for, the development of the pea industry in Tasmania. The industry would acknowledge that unreservedly. But the fact that emerged from his contribution to this debate was that he advised this industry to seek the very protection that is now being varied under this Bill. It is under the protection of this tariff that this industry has grown.
The industry has been able to grow despite the challenge of an industry of formidable proportions in New Zealand. At all relevant times that industry has been producing between 20 and 30 million lb. of peas per annum. It has been waiting only for better markets before it expands. Although there are people who think that the soil available in New Zealand will not permit great expansion of the industry, I, in spite of my limited acquaintance with that country, would not treat that view with great respect. The point is that our industry has grown up relying on the protection that Senator Henty, with forethought, advised it to seek. With faith in that protection, the people in the industry have developed sprays by which, early in the growth of the pea, they can reduce the weeds. That alone has enabled then to expand their production by about 40 per cent, over the last one or two years. With the aid of that protection, they have been able to purchase better and more costly machinery. They have been able to do these things because they have been given confidence. lt is not merely the growers who look to the future. I made a judgment for myself on the facts. My judgment was not that there was no risk, but that the risk to them was not so significant that we should repudiate the Agreement. I said that the risk was sufficiently serious to make it prudent for the Parliament to give effect only to the first two years of operation of the Agreement and to postpone judgment on the remaining phases. That is in no sense a repudiation of the Agreement. It is idle to feed us the idea that suspicion will be engendered. This morning we heard talk of rumours. This afternoon we hear talk of suspicion. We make a judgment. But the wise man, if he has time - in this instance we have a period of eight years - will provide himself with experience in the first two years of operation before making a judgment that is operative for the whole period.
I wish to inform the Committee that, since the debate on this Bill began and as the country has got to know of my participation in it, I have received representations from not merely growers but also processors in Sydney, Melbourne and Gippsland, all of whom are reassured by the fact that there will be two years of experience before the full incidence of the graduated reduction operates. I earnestly appeal to Senator Gair and the Committee to consider the matter in that light - not as a repudiation, but simply as a reservation of decision on the remaining phases of the Agreement and the question of whether the relaxation of this protection may have a real impact which would be disastrous to this small industry.
– I want to make a few brief comments on this issue. I know that time is marching on and that we are approaching the stage at which we will make a decision on it. 1 invite the Committee to bear in mind the fact that the final arrangements in respect of the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement were made at a time when the Senate was not sitting. The Agreement was the result of about two years of work by the Department of Trade and Industry and other organisations concerned with it. Representatives of the bulk of the pea growers in Australia - the growers in Tasmania - were invited to Canberra towards the end of last July or early in August to be told what would happen in connection with their industry. If anybody claims that the industry was consulted about the ultimate provisions of this Agreement, I say that it is not so.
Continuing along that line, I invite the Committee also to consider the fact that the Agreement was made before the Senate was consulted about its provisions. We have talked about this Agreement a good deal in the last week or so. The Senate purports to represent the people of Australia, We have brought before honorable senators the views of the people in Tasmania. Others have put the views of people in other States. Now we are being asked to accept a proposition that anything that we have placed before honorable senators is of absolutely no consequence and that this Agreement was a perfect instrument although it was drawn up without any consultation with the Parliament or the industry in Tasmania. We are invited to agree that, without any help or observations from us in this chamber, the Agreement is a perfect document and will be implemented notwithstanding anything that happens here. As far as I am concerned, the proposal which Senator Wright put before honorable senators yesterday and which was accepted, in fact does not alter the functions of the Agreement. For a period of two years all the provisions contained in the Agreement in respect of trade between Australia and New Zealand will operate. Surely it is the province, right and prerogative of this chamber to have a look at the Agreement again at the end of that period of two years. Surely we must be able to say something for the people whom we represent and to put propositions to the Government on these matters.
I said earlier that the industry in Tasmania was not consulted in respect of this Agreement. At about the end of last July or early in August it was told what would happen in respect of it. Without any regard for the feelings of the people in the industry and without any consideration for their economic welfare, this Agreement was drawn up. When we, the representatives of those people, make our speeches in this chamber, are our representations to be completely disregarded by the Government? What will be the position if, at the end of the period of two years, we find that serious damage is being done to this industry? Will the Government say: “The Agreement will continue, lt is just too bad if the industry is being affected.”? I suggest that what the Agreement needs is a provision that will enable us to deal with a situation of serious injury or damage at the end of the period of two years. If we are not prepared at the outset to stand up and protect this industry, how in the name of Heaven will we do that at the end of the period of two years? At that stage it will be much more difficult for us to alter the provisions of the Agreement.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– At the suspension of the sitting I was making the point that the industry we are now discussing had not been consulted prior to the making of what turned out to be, in the long run, the final New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement. Certainly, representatives of the industry were called to Canberra in late July or early August, I believe, but not for the purpose of being consulted upon the provisions of the Agreement. They were called so that they could be persuaded to believe that the Government and the Department of Trade and Industry knew best and to accept as passively as possible the terms contained within the Agreement. 1 believe that had the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) been fair dinkum with the industry he would have told its representatives that the panel set up in 1963 had not worked as it was intended to work. The industry should have been kept fully informed all along the line of the provisions affecting the pea and bean growing industry which were to be included in the Agreement.
Apparently it was assumed in the course of preparation of the Agreement that any case which the industry’s representatives could put up would be of little consequence, if of any consequence; that in fact, they did not know what they were talking about. Although that panel did not work, we are faced with the proposition that another panel will be set up. Presumably representatives of the industry will be called into consultation. For what purpose? The Government is not prepared to accept the proposed amendment. What consideration will be given to the views of the industry in the future if the Government is determined to retain in the Agreement the terms that it now contains? It appears that the Minister has set his face against this industry. Another meeting with the Department and the Minister was called for last Monday and apparently another panel has now been established. Throughout the course of these consultations there has been an apparent lack of intention of any kind to change the existing terms of the Agreement now or in the future.
The Labour Party is not satisfied that the amendment which was carried yesterday by the Senate as proposed by Senator Wright meets the full position as we see it; but we accepted it as a compromise proposal. We certainly and sincerely hoped that the Government would have been prepared to accept it. 1 think it is a reasonable and proper proposition. Surely the Parliament ought to be ready at the end of two years to make a proper assessment of whether we ought to proceed with further reductions in the tariff. I judge from the way that Senator Gair spoke yesterday and this afternoon that the Government’s will is about to prevail. It seems that the interests of Tasmanian primary producers - particularly producers of peas and beans - are of little consequence or concern in the Government’s reckoning.
Senator Gair has told us how deeply impressed he was with the case which was made out by Senator Wright. I suggest that Senator Wright should brush up his Shakespeare as the deep impression he made on Senator Gair seems to have been only of 24 hours duration. It has been said in the course of discussion on this matter in the last couple of days that it is difficult to get into this Senate for the Tasmanian peas and beans. I think I can give an assurance to those people who have been talking like that that the Government is taking rather good care to ensure that this situation will not arise again. It may be that I have been kidding myself for a long while that Tasmania is a pretty important place. I think, now, that I will thank the Government for the facility with which it has shattered those illusions.
– During the debate on the second reading of this measure I promised my support of it because I felt that the New ZealandAustralia Free Trade Agreement was excellent. I said then that I would consider the amendment foreshadowed by Senator Wright. I considered it and voted against it when it was before the Committee. Now that the measure is back before the Committee again I want briefly to give my views as a Tasmanian senator in a situation in which the Tasmanian senators are divided in their views on this matter. I still hold by my views that the treaty provides the safeguards needed by the industry in Tasmania. The Australian Labour Party brought forward amendments concerning pig meats, dairy produce, cheese, peas and beans. Those amendments were defeated at the Committee stage of the debate.
Senator Wright then introduced his amendment which provided for a review by the Parliament in two years. It is said by some to be an added safeguard. I do not believe it is. I have listened to the debate and have read the “ Hansard “ report and I do not believe that it really provides a safeguard in addition to those provided in the treaty, to which many references have been made. I cannot help asking the Opposition, if it feels that this is a safeguard required for the pea and bean industry: Why has it not pressed its proposals for the pig meat, cheese and dairy produce sections of primary production, which might be affected by the Agreement?
This is a committee of the national Parliament and we are discussing a trade treaty between Australia and New Zealand. I believe that the Parliament would be doing a disservice to the possible happy continuation of the treaty if it inserted a proviso relating to one sector of all the area covered by the Agreement. That ls why I trust the Committee will not insist upon the amendment and will leave the treaty as it is. Let us not start by creating an unfavorable impression in New Zealand. New Zealand is a smaller country with a smaller population, with difficult times ahead of it. New Zealanders can be suspicious of the larger, more powerful and more densely populated country. I believe we would be doing a disservice by changing the treaty at this stage to include in it a new proviso to be examined by the Governments of Australia and New Zealand again. Perhaps New Zealand might retaliate in some form or other which might harm another section of Australia’s primary industry. For those reasons I am adamant in my opposition to the amendment.
Question put -
That the requests be not pressed.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. C. Drake-Brockman.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Resolution reported; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a third time.
– I present the thirteenth report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
Debate resumed from 5th May (vide page 805), on motion by Senator Anderson.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- We agreed that in debating the Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2) we would also debate this Bill, lt provides for the repeal of section 141 of the principal Act. Section 141 directs that duty shall be payable on concentrations, essences and extracts of goods that are liable to duty according to quantity, according to the quantity or equivalent of dutiable goods in which such concentrations, etc., can be converted according to a standard to be prescribed by regulation. Clause 4 amends the principal Act in relation to decimal currency. We do not oppose the measure.
Bill read a second time, and passed through ils remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed (vide page 1055).
.- At 5 o’clock this afternoon we departed for a time from the consideration of this Bill for an Act to make provision for and in relation to standards for goods for therapeutic use, and for other purposes. Since 5 o’clock I have had in mind, in view of the interest that the Senate displayed in the debate on the Bill which took place this afternoon, that it might properly be described, to use terms which have no validity under the Standing Orders or the Constitution, as a Senate Bill. I say that because the Senate has been directing its attention in substantial measure to the problems that the Bill poses for, I think, honorable senators who sit on both sides of you, Mr. President. The reason for the introduction of the Bill is, of course, to repeal an act that has been in force for about 13 years and to ask the Parliament to give new powers to the Executive Government, if I may use a United States term which has gained wide currency in Australia as distinct from the old fashioned term constantly used in the United Kingdom. In fact, what it amounts to is that the Bill which is presented to us is asking the Parliament to give a new mandate to the Ministry, occupying some dubious half light position between the old concept of the Crown and the Parliament, to deal with a problem that is involved with a modern phenomenon in large part in the capacity of the electorate to swallow the drugs prescribed by medical men such as Senator Dittmer and Senator Turnbull. The rate of prescription by the medical profession and the demand by the electorate, ‘it seems to me, has become almost identified with the ancient belief in witchcraft.
I cannot to a substantial degree differentiate between witchcraft and some of the measures which the Executive is providing for the Parliament, not only here but overseas. This process is now engaging the attention of the Parliament to a degree which would not even have been imagined by men who sat here 15 years ago. This belief in witchcraft - chemical witchcraft or pharmacological witchcraft - and the capacity of doctors always to associate themselves with witchcraft involve us in Senator Dittmer’s figures which, I remember from his speech this afternoon, were substantial indeed. He spoke in the old terms of sterling, but if I can convert the figures into the modern currency, they amount to a sum of $130 million. Now the Government, acting under the impetus of Parliament itself and the pressure of the electorate-
– The expenditure was $87 million by the Government alone and nearly $24 million by the people.
– I am grateful for the correction. I thought that the figures were a little higher than the honorable senator suggested.
– Those are the figures I did suggest.
– Then let us say $100 million.
– Now that we have arrived at a figure, what is it for?
– Senator Dittmer suggested that that was the drug bill of Australia.
– No, not the drug bill of Australia. That would be the amount involved under the pharmaceutical benefits formulary.
– Which this Bill is designed to control in some measure. The Americans would say that $100 million is not hay in any man’s language, lt is pertinent and quite proper that the Government, in the interests of good government, should seek some sort of control over what appears to me, anyway, as a layman to be a vast and increasing quantity of drugs. I say drugs, but the Minister who is piloting this Bill through the Senate described them as pharmaceutical substances.
– Most of which are synthetics.
– I accept that view. The Ministry has come to the Parliament to ask for a new mandate to deal with a problem which it considers should properly exercise the Government in the interests of economy and, 1 suggest, in the interests of the welfare of the people. I claim to know something about this matter because I, in common with some of my colleagues, have had long discussions on the problem represented in the terms of the Bill that is now before the Senate. To make it quite clear, I want to say that 1 stand here as a senator occupying a double role. Constitutionally 1 must acknowledge, and 1 do acknowledge, the rights of the sovereign States in this matter. It is also true to say that I, in common with other honorable senators, have a responsibility to the national well being and the national electorate. This is involved in the shadow land that is known as concurrent powers. One of the tragedies, it seems to me, is that, despite inability of the central government to obtain a mandate either from the electorate by referendum or from the High Court in terms of a judicial decision it has slowly over the years begun to pre-empt a position in relation to concurrent powers, by the financial control that the Commonwealth exerts or by its constitutional powers which are embedded in the Constitution, or through administrative measures. 1 shall give one example to illustrate how administratively one can begin to invade the powers of the States in relation to all sorts of things. The Government of the Commonwealth of Australia, properly I suggest, said that it would guarantee medical benefits to pensioners. I agree that the pensioners should have such benefits. That is a just entitlement, particularly since modern medical science is tending to increase the age of the electorate. But in practical terms - and this is interesting to illustrate how the Commonwealth began to invade the sovereignty of the States - in Victoria that concession, as it were, made by the Commonwealth of Australia in relation to medical entitlements for pensioners involves Victoria in the expenditure of $14.30 each year for every medical pensioner in Victoria. The taxpayers of Victoria pay the administrative costs of dealing with this Commonwealth act of grace. The taxpayers of Victoria, which is the State I have the privilege to represent, pay $14.30 per year for each medical pensioner. The Commonwealth, which assumes the political virtues that may be attached to this, rebates to Victoria $3.20 per year. One political act of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, and of the Senate which finally has to confirm this, imposes a burden on the State of $14.30 per pensioner, and the Commonwealth then comes in through the back door and, by the use of its financial power, rebates to Victoria the sum of S3. 20 per pensioner.
– Is the honorable senator speaking of the administrative costs of the scheme?
– Yes, but I only refer to this matter to allow me to lead on to another argument. The growth of Commonwealth power cannot be divorced, I suggest, from the fact that there exist two components of Crown power. There is the interim power represented by ministerial control, which has the final responsibility to Parliament, and there is the second component represented by the Public Service of the Commonwealth of Australia which has, I suggest - and I say this without any dislike at all - a continuing interest in asserting the power of the Commonwealth against the power of the States. This is done administratively. To a substantial degree the continuing power of the Commonwealth Public Service is exerted against the concurrent powers of the sovereign States by the use of administrative powers.
Again 1 quote as an example of this that the States, which are totally responsible for the control of hospitals in Australia, receive a minuscule amount of money as an annual subvention from the Commonwealth Parliament, which has constitutional power conferred on it by the uniform taxation laws. The Commonwealth gives a minuscule amount back to the States in terms of a daily bed subsidy. The fact is that the Slate of Victoria which 1 have the honour to represent in this place pays more money for the health services in Victoria than the entire Commonwealth Budget in relation to health. Then we discover that the Commonwealth Government, because of its administrative intrusion into the affairs and the management of State hospitals, has given up the civil method of conducting its correspondence with the various State Ministers for Health with respect to hospitals. It now conducts direct with those hospitals its correspondence in relation to its minuscule interests in the beds in State hospitals.
The State of Victoria, for example, pays approximately £7 10s. a day in respect of each hospital bed while the Commonwealth Government throws its gratuitous cents into the ring. The State Ministers for Health find that their hospital administrations have a new landlord, as it were, who corresponds directly with each hospital to the exclusion of the Ministries for Health and the secretaries of the Departments of Health in each of the States. That is what I mean by saying that there are grave dangers in this matter to interest senators who sit in this place supposedly - and I believe consciously - trying to represent the interests of the States.
But I think the situation is a bit worse than that. It seems to me that a person who is a member of the Commonwealth Public Service must create in an expanding economy an area of future capacity or employment for himself in relation to the expanding administrative capacity of the Commonwealth of Australia. I have watched this attitude develop over 20 years. There is a constant attempt, quite deliberate on the part of the administrative com ponent of the Executive Government, for the young barons who are not yet able to inherit the castles of their fathers to seek new valleys where, on the marches of constitutional power, they can start to carve out administrative valleys which they themselves will occupy when the time comes. This is what I describe as the baronial system existing in the situation we find today.
I now turn my attention to a general examination of this Bill. Senator Murphy, I suggest, was perfectly proper in his examination of this Bill. Senator Webster was perfectly proper also in his examination of the Bill. Senator Wright and the other honorable senators who have spoken have examined this Bill. It is the proper duty of the Senate to examine the provisions of this and every other bill that comes before it. The Senate does this in its secondary role which is not the role of observing the interests of the States but perhaps its paramount role which is to examine the problem of how Parliament shall in fact convey power to the Executive Government. The horror of this Bill is that to a most marked degree such as I have never observed since 1951 a new doctrine has begun to be assumed or, should I say, an old doctrine has been brought back into the middle of the 20th century.
– Dressed up in a new form.
– Yes, it is dressed up in a new form. I thank Senator Murphy for the interjection. It reminds me that I have on my desk a book that 1 am reading in order to inform my own mind. I had not intended to use it tonight. It is the report from the Select Committee on Delegated Legislation together with the proceedings of the Committee, minutes of evidence and appendices which was ordered to be printed by the House of Commons on 27th October 1953.
The House of Commons was moved by the action of the Australian Senate which examined in 1935 the position of subordinate legislation. In 1953, the House of Commons appointed its own committee to examine the problem of subordinate legislation and ministerial orders. In other words, the House of Commons was impressed by the action of the Australian.
Senate in examining subordinate legislation which is, as I have mentioned in the past, the process of seeking to obtain by subterranean ways powers from Parliament to be exerted in the administration of the affairs of the community.
The House of Commons is the mother of parliaments. It has an interest in the history of how all these things evolve and does not cast them away as casually as we do. I turn to page iv of this report and refer specifically to paragraph 8 which relates to the problem of how to deal with ministerial orders. It shows that this matter was fought out in a most significant way in the reign of King Henry VI 11. King Henry had other capacities besides being able to manage six wives. I do not think any honorable senator here has that capacity - as far as my knowledge of honorable senators goes. But Henry had constitutional instincts of another sort altogether. This report of the House of Commons, oddly enough, deals with the problem that we are facing here in the Senate in 1966. So, our problem today was to be found during the reign of King Henry VIII.
With the permission of honorable senators I would like to read what this report has to say in relation to the “ seizure of power for ministerial orders “ by His late Majesty, King Henry VIII, who was worn out by all sorts of excesses in addition to his lust for power. The report reads -
Now, the Minister for Health (Dr. Forbes) in another place and the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) representing the Minister for Health in this place have been saying this, have they not? The quotation continues -
This old fashioned language means when there was no Parliament sitting. We are going into recess, I hope, in a few hours time; and this is an argument also advanced by the Minister for Health spurred, I suggest, by his own public servants because he requires speedy action, Parliament not being available. This report continues -
This is what has been advanced in this place and in another place in the last three days. No change takes place. The old system goes on. The report continues -
Not the Parliament, I ask honorable senators to note -
It is still the same old story. The Minister for Health trundles forward his remarks and his distinguished representative in this place advances the same argument, too. The quotation continues -
This was the proclamation delivered in the terms I have just quoted during the reign of King Henry VI fi. The same arguments are advanced in respect of the same powers that the Minister for Health is attempting to seek from this Senate. This is the continuing fight of Parliament. When Parliament gives power to the Crown, it must exercise supervision over that power. It is interesting for me to point out, in passing, that when King Henry died the Act was repealed.
In 1935, this Senate set up a select committee to examine how power was being used by the Crown when this power was sought from the Parliament and was given to the Crown. As a result- of the report of that select committee, the Regulations and Ordinances Committee of the Senate was established in order to examine how the Crown was using its subordinate and legislative powers. It has been reporting to the Parliament ever since. I have had the honour to serve on this Committee.
– Did you get a sitting fee?
– I got no sitting fee. I am sorry Senator Wood is not here to hear that.
– It ought to be stated that no member of that Committee has ever had a sitting fee.
– None at all. I am grateful to the honorable senator for his
Interjection. There came under my eyes one day a most extraordinary file which had been misdirected to the Regulations and Ordinances Committee.
– It was not one of Dr. Patterson’s documents?
– No. It happened as the result of a simple clerical error. Because the file dealt with regulations, it was marked out to the Regulations and Ordinances Committee and there it landed. This was a very interesting file. I looked at it hurriedly and decided that I would forget everything I saw on the top of the file. But because we are dealing with this Bill tonight, I must now exceed the discretion that I then imposed on myself. On the top of this file was a letter that was addressed to the head of this Department. From memory, it read like this: “ Subtended below are four draft regulations. The first is the desirable one from the departmental point of view, but it is unlikely that the Regulations and Ordinances Committee of the Senate would tolerate it. So I direct your attention to draft regulation No. 2. This regulation is less desirable than the first, but it would still suit the needs of this Department. However, the Regulations and Ordinances Committee tends to look upon this kind of regulation with some dubiety. Therefore, I direct your attention to draft regulation No. 3. It must be a personal assessment by you as to whether the Regulations and Ordinances Committee would pass this regulation. I suggest that the maximum that we can get from the Regulations and Ordinances Committee is draft regulation No. 4. I recommend accordingly.” This is an indication that these constant thrusts for administrative power which Hobbes the philosopher described as the Great Leviathan not only existed in the reign of His Majesty the late King Henry VIII but still exist in 1966.
I go further, Madam Acting Deputy President, and suggest to you and to other honorable senators that not only does this lust for power exist but that the operation of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee of the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, which has excited the interest and admiration of the Mother of Parliaments, has now resulted in a system being adopted by which administrative power can be exerted outside the surveillance of the
Regulations and Ordinances Committee. Irrespective of the needs for it of one sort or another that have been advanced by the Minister, this Bill attempts to go outside the borders of the province of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee and to imbed in parliamentary practice a system by which the Parliament will give to the Minister the power to make orders for the regulation and conduct of his Department without any surveillance at all by the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. This is not a new departure. It is a resurrection of an old system which the House of Commons fought against 400 years ago in the reign of King Henry VIII. This system is now here again in the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1966.
How does the Minister intend to exert this power? I do not know. This will be subject to test. The House of Commons Select Committee on Delegated Legislation dealt with this matter in paragraph 64 of the report to which I have already referred. The Committee laid down certain conditions in which it thought that matters could arise which would be inimical to the wellbeing of Parliament when it grants, or rather regrants, power to the Crown. We must remember that Parliament began and continued to exist because of its capacity to wrest power from the Crown. I shall not quote from the Committee’s report in extenso. I content myself by directing the attention of honorable senators to paragraph 10 of the report, in which the Committee staled -
Sir Cecil Carr in his book “ Delegated Legislation “ (published in 1921), in Chapter III, page 19, wrote: - “ In addition to the administrative advantages . . . there are three main justifications for the delegation of legislative power by Parliament.
The first is the plain fact that Parliament ‘simply has not timeto do otherwise ‘.
We are pragmatists; we are practical senators; we are practical politicians; and I think we are well trained parliamentarians. As such, we agree with that statement. The report continues - here I suggest that Sir Cecil Carr was perhaps worried about his own colleagues -
We must agree with this. One of the claims of the protagonists of this Bill is that these powers must be given to the Minister, because they involve the matters referred to by Carr in the paragraph I have just read.
– We do not dispute that.
– I know that. I suggest that the test that we as senators sitting here should apply is not whether we should give to the Minister power to deal with specific problems associated with poisons and so forth, but the manner in which the power is used subsequently. I regard this as being a test of the honesty of the Executive component of the Government of Australia. Senator Murphy mentioned this matter this afternoon and, seizing upon it with great skill, he asked, as I understood him: “ Will the Government give an undertaking that, if the Parliament grants this power to the Government, it will report to the Senate in specific terms as to how the power has been used?” I believe that the duration of this grant of power should be limited as part of the test of the honesty of the Government, but I shall not pursue that at the moment. I am prepared to go along with Senator Murphy’s suggestion. If the Ministry is willing to give an undertaking I suggest that it must be clear and unequivocal. But I go a little further than this. I am willing not to impose a time limit on the operation of the Bill, but in the interests of the Parliament - which are the interests thatI espouse here tonight, standing as I do and addressing myself to you, Madam Acting Deputy President - I suggest that the Senate impose its own test on the honesty with which the Government approaches the Parliament for this new mandate to exercise power in a way in which, except in time of war, the Parliament has never been willing to grant. I suggest the appointment, or consideration of the appointment, before the expiration of this half Senate - half life is the scientific term - of a select committee. This is what the Parliament did here in 1953 and it is what the Parliament did upon the demise of Henry VIII, wisely deferring action until his paranoia had been exhausted by death. I suggest that a select committee of the Senate be appointed to examine how such powers have been used since the Parliament granted them to the Government, not only in relation to this Bill but also in relation to other legislation. I strongly suspect that there will be a constant demand for powers successfully transferred by the Parliament to the Crown in this instance to be transferred to the Crown in other instances. We have had this in relation to the Housing Agreement Bill in which Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin has already been involved. She is now becoming involved in a second demand on the Parliament for increased powers for the Executive to express itself in this way.
I suggest to honorable senators that the arguments which are used by the administrator embodied in the centre of power are always the same arguments that were advanced in the reign of Henry VIII and were advanced here in 1966. They should be subjected to the scrutiny of the Senate by an act of will before the expiration of the term of this Senate. Just as it was valid in 1935 to set up a select committee of the Senate to examine how subordinate legislative powers by regulation were used, I foreshadow that if some medical administrator, whose only use, it seems to me, is to sign death certificates, has not given himself the privilege of doing that before I retire by the effluxion of time, I shall move for the appointment of a select committee to examine the use of ministerial powers in relation to orders. With that proviso I am willing to support the Bill.
[8.53]. - in reply - I rise to reply to the second reading debate on the Bill before us. I thank all honorable senators for the contributions they have made in the debate, which I think have been extremely interesting and have shown a very real sense of responsibility both to the legislation before the Senate and, indeed, to the Senate itself. I should like, for a moment, to go back to the commencement of the second reading speech, to bring to our minds again what this Bill is really for. I remind the Senate that it is to ensure that drugs, medicines, and medical equipment consumed and used in Australia meet minimum standards of safety and quality. This, 1 think, is tremendously important. Of course, the standards of these substances, the standards of the containers in which they are placed, the standards of the packaging and labelling, and all of the other things which are brought into consideration in this Bill are of tremendous importance to the health of the Australian community.
The Bill, as honorable senators have mentioned, has to do with substances which are imported, pharmaceutical benefit substances which are supplied by the Commonwealth, and materials which are the subject of interstate trade and commerce. There are one or two points that honorable senators have raised which 1 shall endeavour to answer in these few remarks. Some senators have referred to power within the States. There was, perhaps, a feeling that this was not sufficient, that there was not enough power to ensure the standards of drugs - therapeutic substances, as we speak of them - within the States. I remind the Senate that the National Health and Medical Research Council considers these matters and collaborates with the States to maintain high standards. It takes a period for the effectiveness of legislation to be assessed, and the Therapeutic Substances Act has been found to have deficiencies. This is the reason, of course, for bringing this Bill before the Parliament. As a result, the Government feels, these deficiencies will be remedied. The previous Bill did not constitute a suitable legal instrument for co-ordinating policies on drugs above and beyond the existing mechanism including that provided through the National Health and Medical Research Council.
It is also interesting to note that the States themselves are considering legislation in connection with standards. New South Wales, for example, has advised that a Bill for a new Act is currently being drafted, which is proposed to be called the Food, Drugs and Cosmetics Act, to replace the old Pure Foods Act. The new Act is planned to contain a special section designed specifically to complement the Commonwealth Therapeutic Substances Act, and its provisions will be modified to be in accordance with the Therapeutic Goods Act when this Bill becomes law. The new State Act is still in the preliminary drafting stages. This is another step in the very important field of controlling standards of drugs.
Senator Turnbull put before the Senate two points in relation to which I have endeavoured to get answers for him. He spoke about inferior South African drugs on the pharmaceutical benefits list. There are South African drugs listed. However, no drug is listed as a pharmaceutical benefit unless it has been tested for quality and potency. These are important matters. He also inquired about the use of the United States Pharmacopoeia. This Pharmacopoeia is a most excellent one. However, it overlaps and differs from the British Pharmacopoeia, which is the standard in much of the existing State legislation. So, as well as being the standard in Commonwealth legislation, it is also the existing standard in State legislation. The use of the United States Pharmacopoeia would therefore produce confusion, it is felt, because of the conflicting standards.
A variety of matters which, I think, are perhaps really more for the Committee stage, have been raised, but I should like to mention them as they were brought forward by honorable senators in the second reading debate. There was some discussion about clause 9, which relates to the furnishing of information with respect to the composition of goods. The exact details of the composition must be known to enable testing of the substance and application of the standards. We would prefer to have the composition shown fully on the label. However, this could involve disclosure of trade secrets, and it is therefore objected to by the industry. This can well be understood. Therefore, power is now sought for the Minister to ascertain the composition of preparations. That information, when received, will be kept confidential to the Department and no patent secrets will be disclosed.
– That is not provided for in the Bill, though, is it?
– I think the honorable senator is making the point that there is nothing to stop this information from being divulged. There is nothing in the Bill.
– It may be that the Crimes Act protects it.
– This may be so. I do not think there would be any fear of this information being divulged. I think this would be recognised. Clause 15 was also discussed. This relates to the determination of requirements with respect to labelling, packaging and containers. There was some query about this which was a little hard to understand because the proposal seems to be quite clear and what one would expect. The purpose of labelling is to provide . identification of the goods and their sources. Most of the labelling provisions laid down by the Commonwealth are the same as those laid down by the States. I think we would see this if we looked at the labels on a number of articles offered for sale on the market.
Two additional provisions, which I believe are important, are contemplated. The first is that an expiry date must be shown for specified drugs. This is designed to prevent old and deteriorated drugs from being offered for sale. This seems to me to be a commonsense provision. The second is that a batch number must be shown on the label so that in case of emergency a dangerous balch can be tracked down and removed from sale. This is designed to safeguard the people who use these drugs. On occasion a dangerous batch of drugs has been discovered and disaster could have resulted before it had been tracked down. These seem to me to be excellent precautions.
I am sure that, like me, all honorable senators who have listened to the debate have noted the concern expressed by many honorable senators that the Parliament will not be fully informed of the standards determined by the Minister. Because I felt that this was a matter of real concern I discussed it with my colleague, the Minister for Health (Dr. Forbes) in another place. The Government feels strongly that the determination of executive matters such as standards is not appropriate for regulations. Furthermore, there is sufficient safeguard in the responsibility of the Government and its Ministers as there is in the case of all executive acts. However, if honorable senators consider that they should be given a better opportunity to examine standards than by obtaining the determinations in the ordinary way - here I reply to the point raised by Senator Murphy - I am prepared, on behalf of the Minister for Health, to give an undertaking that the DirectorGeneral of Health will include, in his annual report to the Parliament, a full statement on the operations of this Act.
– In basic English.
– I shall see what I can do about that, lt is hoped that this will meet many of the objections to the Bill. I assure the Senate that the Government has no intention of determining standards in secret. Senator Murphy asked for this assurance and I am pleased to give it to him. I feel that I have also answered the queries raised by other honorable senators. I have pleasure in closing the second reading stage of the debate on this Bill and I thank honorable senators who have supported it and who have participated in the debate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 11th May (vide page 993), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Bill before us is a purely machinery measure. With the concurrence of the States, the Financial Agreement has been altered for the purpose of converting money values in the old currency into money values in decimal currency. There is no objection to the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 3) 1965-66. First Reading.
Debate resumed (vide page 1008).
– I am taking advantage of the opportunity offered by the presentation of this Bill to raise a matter which has been mentioned in this House on previous occasions. I realise that the Senate has a great deal of business to finalise between now and tomorrow night and I believe it is far better to take the opportunity to speak afforded by a Bill of this nature than to raise the matter I have in mind on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate and perhaps keep honorable senators in this place late at night.
The matter I wish to mention concerns health and particularly arteriosclerosis. Both Senator Cavanagh and I have raised this matter previously and have asked numerous questions on it, but the answers we have received have not been satisfactory. I might add that when I speak on this subject 1 will not be stating my own case. I will be stating the case of people who already have this dread disease and people who may contract it in the future. It may be necessary for me to quote from many documents. I am sure that the Senate will be patient with me because I am only a layman, not a medical man. I may have some difficulty with medical details but the only way I can present a case for the people of whom I shall speak is to quote from the documents in my possession.
This matter was first brought to my notice in April 1964 when I read an article in the Adelaide “ News “ headed “ Party Celebrates End of Her Agony”. It was in these terms -
At a Largs Bay welcome home dinner a healthy and happy woman danced a gay jig and said “ 1 feel like living forever! “.
Now forgotten are her fervent prayers of last year for death when doctors were unable to case her agonising pain.
I understand that the guests at the party were amazed at the change in the woman. She asked the Press reporters who attended the party to have a look at her photographs that were taken for passport purposes, to note the pain and misery that were etched into her features in those photographs, and then to have a look at her at the time of the party.
This matter was brought to the notice of the then Minister for Health, the late Senator Harrie Wade. I asked him a number of questions regarding that Press article. On 6th May 1964 I asked him the following question on notice -
The reply that I received from the Minister was -
Honorable senators will understand the reasons why 1 took an interest in this case, lt seemed to me that in a nation such as Australia people should not have to go overseas to receive medical treatment. I accepted the answer that the then Minister for Health gave to my question because, as I said previously, I have no medical qualifications and at that time this was the only case that had been brought to my notice or to that of any other honorable senator. 1 went to see this lady. She told me that prior to going overseas she could never rest at night. She was living on pain-killers. The pains that she had at night were called rest pains because immediately she sat down or started to lie down these pains started and there was no relief whatever from them. The pain-killers had no effect. Her life was a misery. She and her husband had a small knitting mill in Adelaide. They had heard about the treatment given by Dr. Moller in Germany. They mortgaged the home in which they were living and sold their knitting mill to raise enough money to go overseas so that she could have this treatment.
Fortunately for her, the treatment was a success to the extent that from then until now she has had no recurrence of the trouble. That is a period of two years. We have not claimed, and Dr. Moller does not claim, that this treatment is a cure; but at least it saves people from amputation. This lady had been to the leading hospital in Adelaide; she had received advice from leading specialists; and she had been operated on. The final decision was that the limb would have to be amputated. I am happy to say that now this woman, as far as 1 can see, is as healthy as anybody else and is able to lead a normal life. But there is always the fear that she may have to undergo further treatment. The fear that is in her mind and that of her husband is that they will not be able to raise enough money to return to Germany for further treatment for her complaint.
Some little time after my attention was drawn to this case, the attention of Senator Cavanagh was drawn to the case of a Mrs. Stanick, who had returned from Germany after receiving the same treatment. Prior to going to Germany, this lady was in a far worse condition than Mrs. Lang. Gangrene had set in and had forced the amputation of one or two of her toes but left the foot gangrenous. After this lady went overseas and received this treatment from Dr. Moller, this gangrenous condition cleared up. She came back to Australia. She is now leading a normal life and is enjoying the comforts of her family. As a matter of fact, she is now working in Adelaide. In 1964 Senator Cavanagh asked the then Minister for Health a series of ]3 questions. He received quite a lengthy answer from the Minister. I will not quote all of it. The Minister, in his answer, said -
Mrs. Liang’s claim has previously been drawn to my attention. It was, indeed, pursuant to a question asked by Senator Drury about Mrs. Lang’s claim…..
I am informed that Dr. Moller has demonstrated his methods of treatment in Brazil, but I am not aware as to whether he has done so in Canada.
This treatment had been tried out in Canada. It had proved successful there. Of 127 cases treated, 120 were successful. The other seven were not successful because the disease was at such an advanced stage that the treatment was not able to cure it. The Minister also said -
In view of the report from the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, I do not consider that any benefit would be gained at present by taking the action which the honorable senator suggests.
Senator Cavanagh’s suggestion was that something be done to see whether Dr. Moller could be brought to Australia to demonstrate his method of oxygen therapy. This treatment is given by a machine that controls the flow of oxygen into the blood stream and prevents air bubbles remaining in the arteries, lt would be fatal if those air bubbles touched the brain or the heart. The Minister continued -
I have read the address to which the honorable senator refers. As the evaluation of the merits of Dr. Moller’s methods of treatment is properly a matter for the medical profession, and as the Australian body most competent to study the matter has examined details of the therapy as supplied by Dr. Moller himself, I do not consider thatit would be appropriate for me to make any comment beyond referring the honorable senator to the views of that body as outlined in reply to question 7 above.
The reply to question No. 7 was -
Details of the treatment have been made available by Dr. Moller at the request of my Department. They have been referred to, and studied by, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. The report of the College has just reached me, and may be summarised as follows -
There is great variation in the progress of peripheral vascular disease in different cases and it is therefore difficult to make a general assessment of the merits of any particular treatment. However, it is the view of the College that no really satisfactory evidence has been given of the value of Dr. Moller’s therapy.
I interpolate here that at that time we accepted the Minister’s statement because at that stage I knew of only two cases, although I believe that Senator Cavanagh knew of some others. I will refer to them later in my speech. At the time, as we thought that not a great number of people were seeking this treatment overseas and as we did not have any medical knowledge, we accepted the Minister’s statement up to a point. The Minister’s reply continued -
Intra-arterial injections have been commonly used in Australia for diagnostic purposes and have also been used in the treatment of peripheral vascular insufficiency.
We were prepared to accept this reply because we had only two cases under our notice at that time. We had to go along with the Minister. On 8th October 1964
Senator Cavanagh had published in the Adelaide “ Advertiser “ a letter asking for any person who had received treatment for arteriosclerosis from Dr. Moller to contact him. On October 13th Mrs. Lang replied to Senator Cavanagh’s request and outlined the history of her case. I shall read Mrs. Lang’s letter. It states -
I have read wilh great interest your letter Published in the “Advertiser” of 8th October, regarding Dr. Wilhelm Moeller’s treatment of arteriosclerosis. In accordance with your request for contact with patients of Dr. Moeller, I wish to advise that I have received treatment from him for arteriosclerosis during the last thirteen months. May I state briefly the circumstances and events which eventually led to my going to Dr. Moeller’s Clinic in Kassel, Western Germany fo* treatment of this disease.
Commencing in July, 1961, 1 visited numerous doctors and a specialist in a vain endeavour to Obtain relief from arteriosclerosis in my right leg. In August, 1961, I was admitted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for an arteriogram which revealed a blockage of the arteries in both legs. A few days later a “by-pass” operation was performed on my right leg and eleven days later I was discharged from .the hospital. During the next fifteen months I suffered increasing pain and an ulcer appeared below the ankle on my right leg. My local doctor applied medication to the ulcer and advised me to report again to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital which 1 did. At the hospital I was informed that it would be necessary to have the “ sympathetic “ nerve operated on and this operation was performed on 7th February, 1963.
Six weeks later I was suffering indescribable pain in my right leg and returned to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital where a further arteriogram was performed. I was then advised that nothing further could be done for either the pain or the condition of my leg and that the pain must be endured as long as possible. At this time I learned from German friends of Dr. Moeller’s treatment of arteriosclerosis and my husband and I decided to contact him immediately. Upon receipt of correspondence and pamphlets from him we decided that my only hope of relief was to leave for Kassel as soon as possible. The necessary sea bookings were made and Dr. Moeller advised of the approximate date of my arrival at the Clinic. It will be appreciated that the sacrifices made by my family to ensure such a trip were very great indeed. Our savings of thirteen years, together with the money derived from the sale of our small knitting business supplied the necessary funds to make this trip possible.
On 23rd July, 1963, leaving my husband and ll-year old son to fend for themselves during my absence, 1 left South Australia on a German freighter and was admitted to Dr. Moeller’s Clinic in Kassel 1 on Sth September, 1963. My treatment at the Clinic consisted of two periods of eight weeks and six weeks respectively with an eight-week “ rest period “ between them. After the first two weeks of treatment the pain eased considerably and 1 was able to sleep normally without sleeping tablets. (For at least three months prior to my leaving Australia I had been unable to lie down because of intolerable pain and had spent every night silting in a chair with only spasmodic periods of broken sleep.)
On 2nd March, 1964, I left Germany by sea and arrived in Adelaide on 6th April, 1964, quits free from pain and the only trace of the ulcer was a scar. 1 have now been at home for six months and at no time in this period has it been necessary for me to take sleeping tablets or “pain killers” of any description. Because of domestic financial difficulties following the heavy expense incurred by my overseas trip, it has been necessary for me to take a part-time position since my return. Naturally, to avoid overtaxing my new-found health 1 husband my resources as much as possible and rest when 1 feel it necessary. It is important to point out to you that at no time has Dr. Moeller guaranteed this treatment as a complete cure. It is possible that within three or four years a “ booster “ treatment could be necessary, but unless such treatment could then be obtained; in Australia it would be quite impossible for us to raise the necessary finance for me to make a second trip to Germany.
Mr. S. J. Lawn, M.P. has asked, me to advise you of the name and address of a man in New South Wales who claims he was treated for arteriosclerosis by Dr. Moeller some ten years ago with no recurrence of the disease. However, I think Mr. Lawn is under the impression that my husband has received correspondence from the man on this subject, but this is not so. Nevertheless, if it is possible to obtain the name and address of the man concerned, same will be forwarded to you. In conclusion may I say how delighted my husband and I are to learn of your efforts to assist the countless Australian sufferers of arteriosclerosis. Trusting that the above information will be of assistance to you, I am,
Yours faithfully, (Mrs.) M. LANG.
Mr. Sam Lawn, the honorable member for Adelaide in the South Australian Parliament, who is a sufferer from arteriosclerosis, also wrote to Senator Cavanagh and informed him of a man in New South Wales who, 10 years ago, had the same treatment from Dr. Moller and had had no ill effects since that treatment. With the concurrence of honorable senators I incorporate details of the case in “ Hansard “.
The other day Mr. Willi Herwig, who came from Cabramatta (N.S.W.), visited our office. He had followed with great interest the propagation of the Oxygen-treatment by our Adelaide Representative, since he was himself a patient of Dr. Moller and he will be grateful to Dr. Moller for the rest of his life for the successful treatment.
Willi Herwig suffered external injuries at a mine-disaster and was admitted to the Kassel City Hospital. The mine-disaster injuries did not worry his doctors, however they worried about his right leg which had a deep bluish colour and it seemed that all blood circulation had stopped. Herwig explained to the doctors, that the condition of his leg may be the result of frostbite he suffered on the Russian front and this caused a gradually increasing complaint over the years. The doctor’s suggestion that his leg should be amputated, if he wished to avoid endangering his life, terrified him. Finally he was referred through the Medical Benefits Assoc. to Dr. Moller in Kassel/am Weinberg, who has made a name for himself with the Oxygen-therapy. lt was a complicated piece of apparatus, with pumps, tubes, dials and flasks, told us Mr. Willi Herwig, and I received for two months a weekly injection into my groin and into the instep of my foot. After each treatment I had the sensation of revival and heat in the lower part of my body and soon the same feeling in the almost dead leg. lt was suggested that it would be necessary later to have an after-treatment. However this has never become necessary.
Today, ten years after treatment the only thing which remains of his dangerous condition, is his great gratitude towards Dr. Moller. Mr. Herwig told us also that after he had successfully completed the treatment, he had voluntary offered himself as a guinea-pig to Dr. Moller. The occasion was a great Medical Congress in Bad Salzschlirf (Hessen) at which Dr. Moller gave a report of his treatment. At this congress Mr. Herwig received the same injections he was given during the actual .treatment and he had to answer hundreds of questions the doctors asked him about the reactions after the injection and the history of his own sickness.
Mr. Lawn also informed us that Mr. Neil Johnson, an eminent specialist in Victoria, was interested in Dr. Moller’s treatment. Senator Cavanagh and I visited Mr. Johnson in Melbourne. He said that he felt that the treatment could be applied successfully in Australia and that he was proposing to set up a clinic in Melbourne. As the treatment was in its infancy, he said that no result would be known for at least 12 months. Later Mr. Lawn received further correspondence regarding the treatment, which he forwarded to Senator Cavanagh and myself. With the concurrence of honorable senators I also imcorporate that letter in “ Hansard “.
Dear Mr. Lawn,
Your letter of the 23rd of December arrived just before the Christinas break and unfortunately got misplaced amongst some papers on my desk. 1 soon took off on Christmas holidays and it was not until I was administering some intra-arterial oxygen to a patient today that it suddenly dawned on me that I had not had the courtesy to answer you. Please accept my apologies.
We have been rather slow at getting the apparatus to lest patients for intra-arterial gas injection going at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, and there have only been half a dozen patients submitted to critical evaluation followed by injection. On the other hand we have had twenty-four patients who have had intra-arterial injections at some stage before our scientific control apparatus was set in motion.
There seems no doubt that this method of treatment is proving of some value. It is capable of relieving the pain which these people get in their foot at night in at least half the patients on whom it has been used for this reason. Our experience is paralleling with that of the Canadians in that there is an increase in the patient’s walking ability, but it is as yet too early to know how long this increase will last. Such patients may need repeated courses such as has been advocated by Dr. Moller.
Our experience with people suffering from gangrene is very limited arid 1 personally have found only two cases in the six months where this form of treatment has been really a feasible proposition. It failed in one, but has worked in the other and has allowed the healing of a gangrenous patch on the toe. All in all our initial results seem a little more encouraging than they were when 1 spoke to your son-in-law, but 1 think that it is still too early for us to give a final opinion. Please accept my apologies once again for such a long delay in answering this letter.
Yours faithfully, NEIL, JOHNSON,
Mr. Lawn also forwarded to us correspondence that he received from the South Australian Minister for Health, the Hon. A. J. Shard, who had made arrangements for Mr. Lawn to attend the Royal Melbourne Hospital on the Monday of that week to meet Mr. Johnson. The letter states that discussion was held with Dr. Jamieson, the medical superintendent of the hospital, and Mr. Flanc, a surgeon. During the discussion it was learned that it was intended to develop the necessary equipment and to set up a clinic at the Royal Melbourne Hospital for the treatment of arteriosclerosis. It was proposed to use methods similar to those used by Dr. Moller in Germany and by Dr. Clark and Dr. Ross of the Ontario Hospital in Canada. It was claimed that all patients would be outpatients. As I said previously, Mr. Neil Johnson said that it would take 12 months to prove whether the treatment would be successful. The letter went on to say that all patients would be out-patients and continued - lt is expected the tests will prove in 12 months whether the treatment is successful or otherwise. At present there seems some doubt that all sufferers from this disease can be successfully I iea icd but this can be better assessed by the experience gained during the next 12 months.
The replies we have received from the Ministers concerned are to the effect that the treatment is already available in leading Australian hospitals. If this is so, why was it that these people, who were condemned to the amputation of their limbs, were, in desperation, prepared to cause great hardship not only on themselves but also to their families in order to go overseas to have this treatment? lt was no cheap trip; it cost them a great deal of money. As Mrs. Lang pointed out, it cost her her life’s savings to have this treatment, but, thank the good Lord, it was successful in her case and that of Mrs. Staniek. These ladies are now back in Australia. Health cannot be gauged in terms of the value of money.
Senator Cavanagh and I carried out further investigations and had a talk with the then Minister for Health (Mr. Swartz) about this new method of treatment. We asked him what could be done about it. Senator Cavanagh left with him many documents explaining the cases of Mrs. Staniek and other people who had been treated successfully. The Minister promised to go into the matter and some time later, on 29th March 1965, Senator Cavanagh received a letter from him. With the concurrence of honorable senators, I incorporate the letter in “ Hansard “.
I refer again to the discussion with you and Senator Drury regarding the treatment of arteriosclerosis by Dr. Moller.
The documents which you left with mc have been examined with interest by the DirectorGeneral and his medical officers. 1 also have had a further discussion with my medical advisors. You will recall that, in my letter of 1st March, 1965, I mentioned the exhaustive enquiries which had been made from eminent medical authorities in this country and also that a consistent flow of correspondence has taken place between my Department and its representatives in Germany on this subject.
Whilst admitting that Dr. Moller’s treatment has been beneficial to Mrs. Staniek, the success of an isolated case is not convincing evidence that this form of treatment is superior to that based on orthodox lines. The eminent authorities we have consulted have looked at this matter quite objectively and their considered opinion is that there is nothing in Dr. Moller’s reports which in any way establishes that his treatment is of greater value than other methods at present in use.
Whilst appreciating your great interest in this matter, I do not feel that sufficient evidence has been produced for me to seek the approval of the Government to bring Dr. Moller to Australia to demonstrate his treatment. However, I should like to assure you that my Department will follow any lead in this subject and will keep me advised of any new developments.
In conclusion, I should like to mention that the method of treatment by intra-arterial injection of oxygen is not unknown in this country, lt has been used on selected cases, but has been shown to be of limited value in the treatment of arteriosclerosis because this disease is a general systemic disease and any local effects are likely to be evanescent. There is nothing magical about Dr. Moller’s treatment and although there could be varying methods in the techniques of using it, it is thought that within limitations, it would be available in the major hospitals for the medical staff of these institutions should they consider its use indicated.
Again we were not satisfied with the Minister’s answer. He said there could be varying methods in the techniques of using the treatment and it was thought that, within limitations, it was available in the major hospitals. If it was available, there should have been no need for the Minister to say he thought it was available. If he had stated definitely that it was available we would have been ready to accept that statement. Since this matter was first raised in the Senate several other people have gone to Germany to receive this treatment and all of them have returned to Australia, able to lead normal lives and attend to their work again. Yet we are told that the treatment is available in Australia. If it is, why do these people have to go overseas for the treatment? Senator Cavanagh and I have spoken to some of these people. They have told us that the treatment is marvellous and that there is nothing like it in Australia. Although they were all previously condemned to amputation of limbs, on coming back from Germany they have been able to lead normal lives again. But these people ali fear that at some time in the future it might be necessary for them again to receive this treatment, and they do not know how they can obtain the finance with which to return to Germany.
Mr. Nicholas Loda, of Elizabeth in South Australia, has a job with the Weapons Research Establishment at Salisbury. He asked for six months long service leave in order to go to Germany for this treatment. When he returned to Australia, Senator Cavanagh and I spoke to him and he had nothing but praise for this treatment. He urged us to do whatever we could to see whether the treatment could be introduced into Australia. Mr. Mahlo, of Tanunda, went to Germany just before Christmas. Just prior to his sailing I rang him at Tanunda, told him we were interested in the treatment and asked him to keep us informed of his progress. Prior to going to Germany he had a small farm at Tanunda but could not work on it. He was suffering from gangrene and was in indescribable pain all the time. I emphasise that he was told that amputation was the only cure for his complaint. I received a letter from him while he was undergoing treatment. It was in the following terms -
Re your telephone call to me in November, 1 wish to let you know that I am doing very satisfactory, it is really better than 1 expected. 1 have been here 10 days, when 1 got here I could walk about one chain in agony, now I am walking over i mile before I get any signs of discomfort in myself.
I feel very happy about the treatment, there is no doubt of its success.
The only thing that I am disappointed about is that it is taking my life’s savings, get back home a poor man.
Hope to be able to let you know more as I progress.
I was in Tanunda a little while ago, attending a function. I had not let Mr. Mahlo know that I would endeavour to see him, but after the function I went to his home. He was not in the house, but was out in a little paddock changing the sprinkler caps on his irrigation system. Any farmer knows that it is not easy to change the sprinkler caps on a system when they have been rusted on over the years. He was using big Stillson wrenches without any discomfort whatsoever. He could move about and do his normal work and was quite happy. He again urged us to do what we possibly could to have this treatment introduced into Australia. When I rang him recently he told me that he had that day travelled 70 miles to repair a windmill on someone else’s property. Whe I asked whether he had any trouble with his leg he replied that he had had no trouble with it since his return from Germany. Not only that, but he said that the skin had practically covered his toe again and that there was no sign of any soreness whatever in it. I recently asked the Minister for Health again about this treatment. I was again told that this treatment is available in Australia. I believe that this is not quite right. As I said before, if this treatment is available in Australia, why do so many people have to go to Germany to receive it?
Mr. Mahlo was not the last person who went to Germany to seek it. Miss David left Adelaide some time ago and proceeded to Germany. 1 have not had a chance to contact her since her return. I believe that she had other complications, apart from the disease for which she sought treatment. But the treatment that she received was successful. She returned to Adelaide and she has gone back to Germany again. Last Monday I received a letter from a man at Port Pirie. He is 63 years of age and has this complaint. He told me that he will sell his home and go to the Germany to receive this treatment. He asked me to do whatever I could to have the treatment recognised in Australia. He is confident that when he returns to Australia be will be a healthy man and able to carry on his normal way of life. Other men have indicated that they intend to go to Germany to receive this treatment. They include a Mr. Buchanan from Allendale in South Australia, and a Mr. Sincan from Mile End. They have indicated that they will go to Germany to receive this treatment.
If, as we have been told in the replies from the Minister, this treatment is available in Australia, why is it not being made available to these people? If they are told that their limbs have to be amputated, how can they reconcile that with the statement that the treatment available in Australia is the same as that in Germany? There is another case to which I referred in the adjournment debate some time ago. An age pensioner woman who had already lost one leg had been told by the doctors that the amputation of the other leg was inevitable. She said to me: “ What have I to live for? “ She is hanging on as long as she possibly can and suffering excruciating pain rather than have the other leg amputated. As I mentioned in my speech on that occasion, she also said to me: “ Once they take my leg they take my life.” How can this woman afford to go to Germany to receive this treatment? I believe that fares and accommodation cost in the vicinity of $3,600.
I have raised this matter tonight because I believe that it is important, not only to the people who have been to Germany and have been successfully treated, but also to thousands of other people who are suffering from this complaint. Who knows that one of us may not one day suffer from it? lt does not discriminate, lt attacks anybody who is subject to this sort of disease. I ask the Minister for Health to do something about this matter. I have asked former Ministers for Health to invite Dr. Moller to come to Australia to demonstrate his method of treatment. Quite recently I. asked the Minister for Health to allow a panel of doctors to examine people who have returned from Germany after receiving this treatment. I asked that the panel of doctors examine the reports on these people before they left and make an examination of them now. If these people believe in their own hearts that the treatment is successful, the only way in which we can prove that it is is by examining the reports of them before they left for Germany and making an examination of them now. I believe that if this were to be done a more sympathetic view of the treatment would bc taken. I may be wrong, but 1 believe that there could be prejudice against this treatment among the medical profession in Australia. I may be wrong, but that is my personal view. The replies which I have received to questions lead me to believe that this treatment will not be recognised because there is some prejudice against it on the part of members of the medical profession, and they will not allow it to be used in. Australia.
Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia) I.9.46J - I rise to support Senator Drury in this matter. Although it is not an interesting subject to listen to, it means a great deal to those who are suffering from the disease. This is an important matter. If the solution is not available in Australia at the present time, we should go elsewhere for it. 1 do not think that the criticism of either Senator Drury or myself is levelled against the Commonwealth Department of Health, which has acted on medical advice in considering the representations that we have made to it. The Department has not received medical advice which would suggest that there was more beneficial treatment available in Australia than that offered by Dr. Moller in Germany. We are somewhat critical of the prejudice of the Australian Medical Association in this matter. We query whether it is prepared to give an impartial opinion on this question.
I first asked a question on this matter on 30th September 1964. The Minister’s reply, to which Senator Drury has referred, stated that Senator Drury had asked a similar question on 6th May 1964. Both Senator Drury and I spoke on the adjournment debate on 6th April 1965. At that time I referred to a number of cases, incurable in Australia, of which I had knowledge. These people had been told that the best treatment was amputation. They went to Germany to receive treatment. 1 supported these cases with documentary evidence, including, in the case of Mrs. Staniek, a clinical report from the Royal Adelaide Hospital. The report concluded by saying that in the opinion of the Professor at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, even oxygen therapy would not avert the necessity for amputation. Mrs. Staniek went to Germany for treatment and apparently was cured. She returned to Australia, but arteriosclerosis developed in the other leg. She had to go back to Germany, after losing her toe on account of gangrene. She is now living in Melbourne and is engaged in full time employment. As I have said, 1 raised this matter on the adjournment debate on 6th April 1965. I also mentioned it in the Estimates debate in 1965. Senator Drury asked a question and received a reply on this matter either earlier this week or last week. We have also had correspondence and interviews with the former Ministers for Health, the late Senator Wade and Mr. Swartz who is at present Minister for Civil Aviation. As Senator Drury said, we have interviewed Mr. Neil Johnson of the Royal Melbourne Hospital. We have interviewed Dr. Wells who is a First Assistant Director-General in the Commonwealth Department of Health, at the Administrative Building in Canberra.
The first thing we must realise is that Dr. Moller of Kassel, Germany, is not a quack. He is recognised as a practising doctor in his country. He is recognised as being of world standard in the medical profession. So, this is not a question of some quack medicine. We interviewed a number of people including the two doctors I have mentioned. We spoke to the various Ministers for Health and their departmental representatives. The Ministers had the various reports from their institutions and doctors.
Not one person - a doctor, a Minister or a departmental represenative - condemned Dr. Moller’s treatment. No-one was prepared to disparage his treatment. I think that we can epitomise what they have said by stating that medical opinion in Australia is that it has not been proved other than in isolated cases that Dr. Moller’s treatment is more beneficial than the orthodox treatment that is available here.
Let us have a look at what we know about the orthodox treatment. First, arteriosclerosis is only one of the diseases that is cured by oxygen therapy by Dr. Moller in Germany. He says that this is the wrong name for the disease because this is only one of the diseases he cures. He deals with diabetes, Berger disease and all the other circulatory diseases of the blood including hardening of the arteries and the corroding of arteries which occurs when a blockage stops oxygen going to the extremities of the body.
I come now to the symptoms of these circulatory diseases. The doctors that we interviewed furnished us with the details. Pain after long distance walking is the first symptom of this disease. It develops then to the stage which doctors term rest pains. As Senator Drury told the Senate, these pains occur mostly at night. Finally, the extremities become dead and gangrene sets in. If the condition can be kept at the rest pains period, the pain is so continuous and so agonising that Australian doctors, because they have no cure for this condition, suggest amputation above the blockage to get rid of the pain. If the condition becomes gangrenous, it is incurable, and because of the threat of poison immediate amputation is advised in view of the danger of the poison spreading throughout the body.
We have in all Australian Slates today people who have lost limbs on medical advice because of a stricture, hardening of the arteries and lack of circulation, possibly assisted by age. While no known cure exists in Australia, strong evidence is to be found that Dr. Moller is effecting treatment which, although not a cure, prevents suffering of pain and the necessity of amputation. I visited a Mr. Neil Johnson of the Royal Melbourne Hospital. We saw other doctors there. We heard that the belief of Melbourne doctors was that Australian doctors have such a prejudice against this oxygen therapy treatment that they are not prepared to give it a fair trial. It was stated that this prejudice might have been brought about by the over-keenness of Dr. Moller himself who insists that oxygen is the only method of curing this disease. Mr. Neil Johnson said that it was his belief that there are many forms of gases that could be injected into the arteries which would have the same effect as oxygen. Included among the things that would dilute the blood for the purpose of making it flow more easily is whisky, so all our drinking may not be without some benefit medically.
At the time of our visit, Mr. Johnson had ten patients with this disease at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. Dr. Moller’s treatment involved a machine that regulated, purified and pumped oxygen into the arteries of the persons being treated. But in the Royal Melbourne Hospital this injection was being carried out by hand. Mr. Neil Johnson told us that it was his plan over the period of 12 months to use various gases to sec the effect they would have. He thought that after 12 months use he would be in a position to write an article for the Australian Medical Journal on the success or otherwise of his treatment. This treatment involving the injection by hand method has had the effect of stopping the first symptoms of pain in 10 patients after long distance walking. That is as far as Mr. Johnson could go when I spoke to him. The Melbourne Mechanical Branch of the Royal Melbourne Hospital was building a machine with which it was hoped to achieve further results.
Dr. Moller has forwarded to me a report on the tests of all gases that have been used. He is still a firm advocate of oxygen. This shows that what Mr. Neil Johnson is trying to do in Melbourne has been scientifically examined, and experimented with, and that the results are already known in other parts of the world. I have here a letter which shows the success of this treatment. Senator Drury may have had this letter incorporated in “ Hansard “ already. It comes from Mr. Neil Johnson who, incidentally, has after his name the letters M.S., F.R.C.S., F.R.A.C.S. They indicate that he is a man of some standing in the medical world. As I say, I do not know whether Senator Drury has read this letter. But, for the benefit of the Senate and for the purpose of showing what has happened at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, I shall quote it. It reads -
We have been rather slow at getting the apparatus to test patients for intra-arterial gas injection going at tee Royal Melbourne Hospital, and there have only been half a dozen patients submitted to critical evaluation followed by injection. On the other hand we have had twentyfour patients who have had intra-arterial injections at some stage before our scientific control apparatus was set in motion.
There seems no doubt that this method of treatment is proving of some value. It is capable of relieving the pain which these people get in their foot at night in at least half the patients on whom it has been used for this reason. Our experience is paralleling with that of the Canadians in that there is an increase in the patient’s walking ability, but it is as yet too early to know how long this increase will last. Such patients may need repeated courses such as has been advocated by Or. Moller.
Our experience with people suffering from gangrene is very limited and I personally have found only two cases in the six months where this form of treatment has been really a feasible proposition. It failed in one, but has worked in the other and has allowed the healing of a gangrenous patch on the toe.
As I have said, no doctor in Australia is prepared to say that Dr. Moller’s oxygen therapy treatment is bad. I have referred to the only known occasion in Australia when it has been used and in respect of which the report has suggested that this treatment is beneficial. Our belief today is that, while the medical profession is somewhat prejudiced against and will not adopt oxygen therapy, facilities should be made available in more States and in more hospitals for the treatment of a larger number of patients because it has been proved beneficial to sufferers who have been treated at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
Mr. Loda wrote to the Royal Melbourne Hospital and asked whether he could have treatment there. In his reply of 22nd December 1965, the Superintendent, Mr. Jamieson, said -
There is a small research project which is being conducted by members of the Melbourne University Department of Surgery within this Hospital into the treatment of peripheral vascular disease by the use of intra-arterial oxygen or air. Arteriosclerosis is one of a number of causes of peripheral vascular disease.
This Hospital only accepts patients (other than emergency patients) who are referred by other doctors. We would therefore only be able to accept you as a patient if your own doctor recommended that you be referred for this treatment. The Hospital also has a means test, and you could be accepted as a public patient only if your income and assets were not in excess of the limits specified.
We know that a patient can get similar treatment at the Royal Melbourne Hospital if the doctor who is treating that patient will give him an order on the hospital. The fact that treatment is available is of no value if the medical practitioner is not prepared to make an order on the hospital. In those circumstances, the patient is left to the mercy of a doctor, who has no known cure other than possibly an amputation in the future.
In Adelaide a clinic has been set up under Professor Jepson of the University of Adelaide for the purpose of experimenting in the use of oxygen therapy for such diseases. This project is only in its infancy; no patients have been treated. The treatment given by Dr. Moller cannot be condemned when the only test conducted in Australia shows that it has had some success. But because of their prejudice, doctors will not recommend such treatment. If they did so on any scale, there would not be sufficient apparatus in Australia to treat the patients. We are now commencing experimental work, despite the fact that 15 years’ study and practice by Dr. Moller are available to Australian doctors. To have to go through the experimental stage when 15 years’ work by Dr. Moller is available seems to me at this stage to be ridiculous. The question arises as to whether any risks are involved in the experimental stage. If injections into arteries are given, the possibility of risk arises.
I have before me extracts from a newspaper which is published at Collins Street in Melbourne for German residents. The English translation of the name of the newspaper is “ New World “. This newspaper published an article on Dr. Moller’s treatment and Dr. Neil Johnson’s experiments. The article was sent to Dr. Moller. He forwarded a reply which has been published in this newspaper. The following is an extract from the reply -
You now report that a Melbourne doctor in the Melb. Hospital is applying my method in “ a slightly different way “, and include a report of this method in ‘Neue Welt- New World’ of 10 Aug 196S. In this article there is talk of pumping air into the arteries. Surely this can only be a crass misunderstanding. Probably, as so often happens among lay people, the word “ air “ has been confused with “gas mixtures” as for example oxygen carbon dioxide, or carbon dioxide on its own. 1 was shocked when I heard “ air “, because to nil air into an artery would not only bc negligent, but even criminal. How many people die yearly of air embolisms, simply because traces of air are taken up by arteries during operative measures or after accidents! Anyone who was ever present when a doctor applied an intravenous injection (of any kind) will know how carefully thu Joel or is concerned with preventing even the smallest traces of air from entering the vein. The same is true for the entry of air into the arteries. Air which enters the artery can, in small doses, possibly remain harmless; however even then it is possible that small particles of air pass via the arterio-venous anastomoses (i.e. the short circuit connections between arteries and veins) into the blood passages leading up to the heart, brain or lung: and furthermore it is possible that air particles are forced by a kind of “back-pressure” back up the main artery (aorta) and thus into the vitally important centres of the brain - especially in cases of low blood pressure or incorrect positioning of the body. In this way a minute air bubble which reaches the middle ear could cause life long deafness, and, in the case of the eye artery, blindness! lt is possible that in the article the word “air “ was used when “ gases “ was intended. The word “ air “ was used when Senator Drury and I interviewed Dr. Johnson. It may be that, because he was speaking to laymen, he used that term when really he was referring to other gases.
On 14th July 1965 I received from the Minister for Health a letter in which reference was made to experiments at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. I would expect the Minister to be specific in the use of words, because he knows that letters are repeated. The use of the words is important, because Dr. Moller complained about the suggestion that air was being pumped into bodies and the fact that newspaper publicity could lead people into believing that air can be put into arteries. The Minister, speaking about what was happening in Melbourne, said -
Air is used instead of oxygen because it is absorbed more slowly and the effect is enhanced.
Larger bubbles are used in the Melbourne technique than under Dr. Moller’s particular therapy.
Bearing in mind these limitations, results to date have not been encouraging.
Evidently the Minister has been misinformed, because Dr. Johnson’s reports indicate that the results have been quite encouraging from the start. On the one hand we have Dr. Moller’s statement that it is dangerous to pump air into the body and that the medical practitioner takes care to ensure that air does not enter the body.
On the other hand, the Minister tells us that they are using air in Melbourne. Although air bubbles are dangerous, he proudly states that larger bubbles are used at the Melbourne Hospital. Surely there is need for some explanation of this, and of the possibility of danger associated with an experimental staff. I do not say there would be grave danger under the care of a competent medical expert. There might be a more rapid approach io finality if we were working upon the 15 years experience of a man such as Dr. Moller.
The next interview was with Dr. Wells of the Commonwealth Department of Health who, on behalf of the Minister, went to Germany and inspected Dr. Moller’s clinic. Dr. Moller showed him round and made every facility available to him. Dr. Moller became sure that Dr. Wells was thoroughly convinced of the value of this treatment, but Dr. Wells gave an adverse report to the Minister.
– Mr. Swartz, (he then Minister for Health. He said that it had not been proved that this treatment was more beneficial than the orthodox treatment in Australia. Senator Drury and I interviewed Dr. Wells and asked him how this came about. He said: “ Well, senators, this is simply not proved. You have all the cases of successes of Dr. Moller. You know of none of the failures. Some of those successes could be due to a natural healing, when the blood will break through after a period of time, but you are giving the credit to Dr. Moller.” I afterwards sent Dr. Wells a report by Dr. Clark, of the Canadian University, from which I quoted in a speech in an adjournment debate last year. It dealt with his experiments in 117 cases, only 7 of which necessitated amputation. Dr. Wells replied that he was very interested in the report and would write to Dr. Clark in Canada to get further information. Dr. Wells cannot say that he is opposed to Dr. Moller’s treatment. He says: “I simply do not know. It was not proved to me that the treatment was more beneficial that the treatment here. You know of the successes and do not know of the failures of this doctor. I saw some in the hospital in Germany.” I said: “ All we know is the number of patients from Australia who go to him, and we can find no failure that has ever returned to Australia “. He said: “ Yes, there was one in Queensland, a bad case “.
We then presented to him a report on 15,000 cases of Dr. Moller in 15 years of practice, as presented to the medical institution of Germany. These were completely successful and could not be disputed. They are equivalent to 1,000 cases a year, or 20 cases a week. How one could see in one hospital something to justify nonrecognition or non-acceptance of those reported cases which are not disputed, I do not know. We then examined the case in Queensland that was a failure. We found that the patient was a Mr. Coren. f wrote to him and asked for information and got a reply from Knobel and Company, real estate agents, signed by Mr. C. L. Knobel. lt reads -
Re Mr. Cerello Coren.
In reply to your letter of 13th September last, Mr. Coren has requested that I write and thank you for the inquiry. He has asked me to advise you that on arrival in Germany, his case was too far advanced and the treatment was of no benefit to him. He stayed eight weeks in Germany and his treatment was by way of injections. He returned io Italy from Germany when he took ill there and one of his toes was amputated. With his return to Australia his condition was such that he was immediately placed in hospital and the next morning his leg had to be amputated. His doctor informed me it was a case of life and death and the leg had to be taken; gangrene was at its worst.
Mr. Coren has recovered from the operation and looks well. He goes sou In in the near future to be fitted with an artificial leg.
In a letter signed by Dr. Dorney, of Flinders Street, Townsville, there is a history of the case. I will not go into it fully, because it is mostly in medical terms. The doctor states -
Arteriographie showed miserable arteries hopeless for reconstructive surgery. At this time had a large indolent ulcer on left heel which took months to heal after failure of two skin grafts. … In my opinion this patient has severe peripheral vascular disease for which surgery can offer little hope for relief.
That was when he left Australia. Dr. Moller reports on this case -
Before he left here, Mr. Coren relieved me of the duty of silence, and I am therefore able to pass on to you a copy of our medical report. This points unequivocally to the fact that Mr. Coren left here in a good condition and it was also pointed out by us specifically that the therapy was to be continued because of the severity of the case. The condition of the 67-year old patient was particularly complicated and difficult because of his diabetes and the extreme contraction of the pelvic veins.
For a case as severe as this one, treatment lasting 8 weeks is by no means sufficient to establish a good collateral circuit (detour circuit). Nevertheless we succeeded within those 8 weeks not only in bringing the advanced process to a halt, but also in healing up the ulcers which had existed for a long time.
If Mr. Coren had returned to us immediately when his condition deteriorated, i.e. when he developed gangrene on one toe (when he left us, all toes were still intact), the amputation could probably have been avoided. And now we have the tragedy with which we angiologists are familiar; we know from experience that the early amputation of a toe, without angiological special treatment, usually causes the process to spread to the whole foot.
Dr. Moller sent back to Dr. Dorney a report of the treatment he had given and of the treatment that should be given. On the medical history there is no justification for holding up the case of this man, which may not have resulted in amputation had he had the full treatment, as a reason not to accept the method or as a reason to disown the method. When discussing this question, I wondered whether people go to investigate for the purpose of reinforcing a prejudice or a view that they already hold. I saw a television programme on conscription wherein a member of the other place said that he had been so many times to Vietnam. The honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) said: “ I heard the member before he went and when he came back, and his views were the same on both occasions.” Mr. Calwell said that we were engaged in an unwinnable war, but Mr. Holt went over there and found that we could win the war. Here, a doctor who may have had some prejudice, went over to Germany and became reinforced in his view that there was no evidence that this treatment was of any use.
– Did the honorable senator say that there were records of 15,000 cases?
– I said I quoted the records on 15,000 cases but records are available covering many more cases and these have been presented to the Minister.
– Cases which have received the treatment?
– Yes, German cases.
– Has the honorable senator any information to give us on the view of the Australian Medical Association on this matter?
– We have made no approach to the Australian Medical Association.
– The Association’s journals would often have commentaries on a thing like this.
– Our approach has been through the Minister. I shall read from the translation of an article on oxygen therapy which appeared in the second edition of a German journal in January 1960. This states-
Fifteen thousand cases of peripheral circulatory disorders have been treated successfully and, above all, without complications, since 1950. Long lasting effects were noted within the last 14 years with about 40 per cent., very good results with about 30 per cent., good ones with 15 per cent., less significant ones with 8 per cent, and unavoidable amputations in 7 per cent, of the cases.
That is not really the reference that 1 was looking for. I have another reference to some 30,000 cases. All this information is known to Dr. Ramsay who is the medical o fficer with the Australian Department of Immigration in Germany.
The Minister seems to be relying on Australian medical opinion which appears to be prejudiced. I wonder whether it is any use sending a doctor who is so prejudiced to investigate the case. Mr. Neil Johnson of Victoria has assured us that he is starting out on this investigation without the prejudice that many doctors in Australia have and that we will get an evaluation of the treatment. But what has been learned over 15 years is not available to Mr. Johnson today. Although certain experiments have been conducted the information gained in the past is not now available. So we have Professor Jepson in Adelaide and Mr. Neil Johnson in Victoria starting at the bottom of the ladder trying to find out the treatment of this disease which has been perfected by Dr. Moller in Germany who has 200 clinics there using this treatment. The most that can be said is that there may be an over-keenness on Dr. Moller’s part to use oxygen and to accept oxygen as the only treatment.
There is a number of cases in Australia which have been diagnosed as incurable. The people concerned have been told that the only solution lies in amputation but they have gone to Germany and have come back apparently cured. I will not repeat the details because Senator Drury has mentioned them. I think there is a list of all the cases which have been treated but I shall mention a couple of cases. We have a report from Dr. Moller on Mr. Mahlo whom Senator Drury said he had seen shifting his garden sprinklers. 1 do not think Senator Drury mentioned Mr. Johnson from Salisbury, South Australia. That gentleman has been to England and we have interviewed him. He seems to be quite well. Dr. Moller reports on these two cases in these terms -
They are particularly instructive in the sense that Mr. Mahlo was a “late case” or rather a “ too late case “ because arteriosclerosis had advanced to such an extent that the general conventional methods could not have produced any improvements. Nevertheless we succeeded here not only in averting further advance in the disease but also in bringing it to a standstill and, above all. in initiating healing. Mr. Mahlo. who on arrival had given up all hope, is returning home wilh renewed courage.
While Mr. Johnson is also already 53 years old he was, as was to be expected, more easily helped than Mr. Mahlo who was IS years older and physically more “ spent “ - a farmer. lt will be seen that Mr. Mahlo is 68 years of age and was observed by Senator Drury shifting irrigation sprinklers on his farm. Johnson was only 53 years of age and was more easily helped than was Mr. Mahlo, 68 years of age and physically more spent. Dr. Moller’s report continues its reference to Mr. Johnson in this way -
He had to stand still after 60 yards of walking. He left here with practically no complaints and has regained unlimited walking ability. To explain: Even if the symptoms only appeared 10 months ago, this proves only that the vessel blockages had become so heavy that the blood could no longer pass through them. In reality the complaint arose, according to our objective examination, at least five years ago. As a comparison, imagine a water pipe which for years allows water to pass through it quite easily; the lessening of the flow shows only when the calcium deposits have increased to the extent that the diameter is reduced appreciably.
The comparison of these two cases points to the importance of early treatment and, of course, early recognition of arterial blockages. You will see the important social function of oxygen therapy in the case of Johnson who, treated early enough, has again become totally capable of work. He therefore does not become a burden on State support as he would have done if he had remained an invalid or had an amputation.
– Has the honorable senator submitted his proposition to Dr. Dittmer, and what is the doctor’s opinion?
– I have submitted my proposition to various doctors and I would expect the honorable senator to honour the secrecy of professional discussions between different people.
– It has been considered by the Australian College of Physicians.
– I have already discussed it with our local doctor.
– Do not think that 1 was asking for anything confidential. I thought the honorable senator might have had some information or opinion which could be used for public debate.
– What I was told during the discussion did not help my case. Whether the doctor gave it proper consideration I do not know. I do not say this disparagingly or in any way discourteously but 1 do not know whether he is an authority on this disease.
– The only reason I ask is that on a medical matter medical opinion is persuasive to me.
– I appreciate that and I am pointing out the difficulty that we have experienced in getting such medical opinions. The government hospital which is treating the complaint is so far behind in its treatment that we are not getting the benefits we should be getting.
I conclude now by mentioning the case of Mr. Stanischewski who was born on 12th July 1937 and lives at Rostrevor in South Australia. I have a report here from Dr. Moller which was sent to Dr. Bullen of Campbelltown, South Australia. Dr. Moller’s report stated -
According to our observation and our findings, Mr. Stanischewski has an arterial blockage complaint of the peripheral-acral type in the upper extremities. Aetiologically we are concerned wilh a borderline case . . .
The patient was informed by the doctor that he would lose both arms within five years at the most, after Morbus Buerger had been diagnosed . . This unfavorable prognosis was the reason that the patient decided immediately to come here.
The report shows that the patient apparently has been cured of the disease. There is the case of Mr. Sincan who, as Senator Drury said, went to Germany. His was a mild case which was not diagnosed in Australia despite frequent medical attention. He journeyed to Germany and came back apparently cured. We also have the cases of Mrs. Lang and Mr. Loda. Mrs. Gaha is on her way to Germany. She is a woman of 70 years of age. She sent her medical history to Dr. Moller, who says that he can assist her. Another case to which I have referred before is that of Willi Herwig. In all, we have the names and addresses of 11 patients. In 10 of those cases the disease has been cured or controlled successfully by Dr. Moller. I read the medical report on the one person who had had an amputation. It is understandable why that occurred. The facts in relation to all the people whom we have interviewed would suggest that there is strong ground for believing that Dr. Moller’s treatment is more efficient than the orthodox method of treatment in Australia.
We ask for some investigation of this matter. I support what Senator Drury said. The Minister for Health (Dr. Forbes) should appoint a panel of doctors to study the records of these cases to which we have referred. The panel should examine them and see whether there is any support for our case. Some attempt should be made to ask Dr. Moller, who has stated that he is prepared to come to Australia, to accept an invitation to come here to demonstrate and lecture on his methods. Alternatively, we should send a panel of doctors, or a doctor who is not prejudiced against the treatment before he starts, to study this treatment. We have reached the stage where there are indications that this treatment will be adopted in Australia when it has been proved by Dr. Johnson in Victoria and when he builds up the apparatus and knowhow in respect of the treatment. His reports would suggest that the treatment was satisfactory. However, it will be many years before we eventually adopt this suggestion completely, and many limbs will be lost in the meantime. 1 hope that I have said sufficient to cause the Minister to take cognisance of this matter to such an extent that he will realise that, if there is some possibility of avoiding the amputations that are taking place today, it is criminal to do nothing about it.
.- I rise to take advantage of the latitude given in debating a measure such as this to refer to a regulation of our Department of Immigration which affects the entry into Australia of Asian staff for Asian business establishments. 1 believe that an alteration of the regulation that was made some time ago is seriously threatening the practice in Australia of an art that has come down to us through thousands of years of civilisation. ] refer to the noble art of Chinese cookery. Most Australians have observed the increase over the past 20 years in the number of establishments in which Chinese cookery is practised in this country. Obviously, Australians are appreciative of this art. I think many Australians will regret that the change that was made in the regulations some time ago seems destined to deprive some of them of the opportunity to enjoy this art.
For many years our regulations in regard to Asian staff coming into Australia were very strict. They did not permit the entry of a great number of people. But they were fairly reasonable. However, within the last year or two a change has been made. The principal features of the change are that now each establishment is restricted to one cook and now, instead of being given entry for an indeterminate period, Asian, staff are to be restricted to entry for a period of two years only. The second feature is the more serious one. I have the word of a number of Australian citizens who are proprietors of these establishments that the regulation covering the second feature makes the importation of reasonable staff practically impossible. Bringing in an experienced cook for only two years involves the proprietor in considerable expense in paying the cook’s fare, usually from Hong Kong. Then, in Australia the Chinese restaurants do not provide the food exactly as it would be provided in Hong Kong. Some slight change has to be made to cater for our Australian palates. Therefore, when a new cook comes to Australia from overseas he has to undergo training for several months.
Honorable senators will see that, whereas previously we had a very strict system of entry which did not let in a great number of these people but which at least was reasonable in allowing them to remain here for a time which would enable the employer to be compensated for the expense involved in bringing them here, we how have a system under which the employer is supposed to pay pretty large fares to and from Hong Kong and the employee is here for only two years, during which the employer does not receive a great deal of value from his employee’s service. The result is that very few cooks are now coming into Australia and, therefore, a number of these establishments are able to open only for certain periods during the week. They are forced to close on some days because they have not sufficient staff.
The position becomes very serious in the case of a person of Chinese origin who comes here and becomes an Australian citizen after living here for perhaps IS or 20 years. He establishes a thriving business and then finds that, because of the conditions laid down for bringing in a cook to succeed him or to take over from him when he becomes too old to work the long hours that he had to work to establish his business, his business cannot be carried on for very much longer. So, because he is getting old and tired, the business which he has worked for years to establish has to go out of existence.
With the alteration. of the regulations so that, whereas previously a Chinese had to be in Australia for 15 years before he could become naturalised, he now has to be. here for only 5 years, the Department of Immigration may have felt that, if it allowed Chinese cooks or staff to be brought in for an indeterminate period, that might be used as a way of evading the regulations in regard to the entry of people for permanent residence in Australia. The suggestion made by many of the people who own these establishments and have a stake in these businesses is that, if the Department or the Government feels that that is the case, the regulations might be altered to allow these people entry for a period of four years. That would mean that at the end of the period they would go home, if the Department thought that necessary in order to comply with our restricted immigration programme. But I feel that they have a case. If a man came here 20 to 25 years ago, perhaps at the age of 25. or 30, and worked until 12 o’clock at night or 1 o’clock in the morning, as many of these people do, he could find it pretty difficult to carry on by the time he got to about 55. If he has established and has a stake in a business - goodwill and everything else - I think it is only reasonable that he should be permitted to import staff under conditions that will mean he can get value from them.
I have made inquiries and it has been suggested to me that some people in the Department think that it might be possible for the proprietors of cafes to engage students who come here and do not go on with their courses. 1 would like to point out that a student of accountancy or some other subject who has not proceeded with his course is not a qualified cook. In my opinion, the best Chinese cooks are artists and to suggest that inexperienced young boys or men such as students could take over a job which requires considerable experience, to my way of thinking indicates failure to appreciate the problem. I conclude by saying that I hope the regulation will be examined. If it is examined, many Australians will be grateful if the examination is followed by appropriate action by the Department of Immigration.
Senator CANT (Western Australia) [10.42J. - In this debate we are given an opportunity to speak about matters that in other debates we are not always allowed to canvass. The first matter I wish to discuss is the North West Cape naval communication station. Honorable senators will recall that a few years ago quite a controversy arose in the Senate over whether the naval communication station should be established at North West Cape. Ultimately, the Government had its way and decided that it should co-operate with the American naval authorities and establish the base. Contracts were called for in respect of various stages of the construction of the communication station. The first contract was for £33 million and it was awarded to an American company, Paul Hardeman Inc., in association with an Australian partner, Concrete Industries (Monier) Ltd. and its partly owned subsidiary, Hutcherson Bros. Pty. Ltd.
– At about what time was the contract awarded?
– In 1962. After a short period of time these contractors commenced to get into financial difficulties and the American partner decided to retire from the contract and leave the Australian partner with the responsibility of completing it. Eventually the Australian partner turned out to be Concrete Industries (W.A.) Pty. Ltd. It is obvious that a contractor does not carry out all the works. There is a system of sub-contracting. One of the subcontractors is known as Datronic Engineers Inc.
– Were they building houses or emplacements?
– That company was responsible for the erection of the 13 masts that make up the low frequency transmitting section of the station. The company found that it was unable to extract progress payments on the contract from the American Government or the American naval authorities and was therefore unable to pay the workmen’s wages. On three occasions the workmen had to go on strike in order to obtain payment of wages for work performed. It is clear that it was not the fault of the workers because no action was taken for breaches of awards or contempt of court against the unions implicated in the strikes.
Now we find that Concrete Industries (Monier) Ltd., the main contractor, is unable to obtain progress payments and is forced into the position of using its capital to carry on. Another large contractor in Western Australia came into being during the war on urgent defence contracts and has subsequently branched out very widely into construction work, particularly in oil exploration. I refer to Bell Brothers Pty. Ltd., a purely Western Australian business. Its shares went on the stock exchange only about eight months ago. Bell Brothers Pty. Ltd. decided to sue the American naval authorities in the American courts for moneys owing to it. Whether it will ever get before the courts and whether it will be successful in its claim within the foreseeable future is problematical. But it seems to me that the American naval authorities have set out to construct the low frequency transmitting station on a bunch of I.O.U.’s. It seems to me that some very smart American business practices have been employed in the construction of the communication station.
– Does the honorable senator know whether it has been established that progress work has been completed to a stage where the contractor has a right to demand payment?
– I am not familiar with that situation and I do not think anybody else would be, because access to the works is not permitted. At what point of time progress payments would be available would not be known, but obviously some progress payments would have become payable since 1962.
– Does that mean that the contractor has had nothing since 1962?
– It means that the contractor has had something, but not sufficient to be able to pay the workmen’s wages. The workmen have had to go on strike to force the company to get money from somewhere to pay them. Bell Brothers Pty. Ltd. has been forced to take legal action in the American courts.
– The company will go broke before it gets its money.
– I do not think Bell Brothers Pty. Ltd. will go broke, but it is a scandal to think that Australian contractors who contract in good faith to carry out works which the Government regards as part of Australia’s defence policy, sheltering under the umbrella of the mighty American defence system, are not now able to obtain payment for the work they have performed. It must be remembered that it is not only workmen’s wages that are involved in this. There are also materials, some of which must be imported. The bulk of them are available in Australia but some - particularly the high tension structural steel and high tension wire for guide ropes - have to be imported from America and paid for, but there has not been sufficient comeback in respect of them.
Approaches were made to the Commonwealth Government to see whether it would assist the contractors by bringing pressure to bear on the United States authorities or persuading them to see that the accounts are paid. But the Commonwealth completely disowned the contractors. The Commonwealth says it is a matter between the contractors and the United States naval authorities, and that it cannot enter into the matter. I wonder whether the Commonwealth Government is carrying out its proper function in this field. It agreed to allow the American naval authorities to establish a communication station and the townships around it. America was granted a lease - almost in perpetuity - of Australian soil upon which to construct this naval communication station. But when the Australian contractors cannot obtain payment for the work they have done, this Government disowns them. It is a disgrace, and 1 think it is time that the Commonwealth accepted its responsibilities and used its persuasive powers or means of coercion to ensure that the contractors receive the moneys that are due to them. We are aware that for the first stage of construction of the project the main contractor was an American company, but it was part of the agreement between the Australian Government and the American naval authorities that there should be an Australian partner. It now seems that the contract price was less than it should have been because overnight, with the retirement of the American partner, the cost of construction jumped by $8 million. This represents a direct loss to the Australian partner in fulfilling the contract.
– There would need to be a further explanation on that point.
– No explanation is given. This matter has been given considerable publicity, but the American naval authorities refuse to discuss the matter. Their Public Relations Officer, who was stationed in Perth, went to America last week. Before leaving he promised the contractors that he would discuss the nonpayment of progress payments with the naval authorities while he was in America. To date nothing has happened. The American naval authorities have the advantage of the Australian contractor and the Australian scientists, engineers and skilled workmen engaged on the project. These are categories of workers that Australia badly needs on other projects and there could very well be a mass exodus of these people from the naval communication station. If that occurred, Australia would then be accused of not being able to provide the labour to complete the station and failure to do so would be regarded as an act of bad faith.
My complaint is that the Commonwealth Government, the main sponsor of the erection of this communication station, while putting Australia under the umbrella of American might and agreeing that the system may be used for communication with American underwater craft and surface craft, is not prepared to back the Australian contractors, scientists, engineers and workmen in their effort to obtain just payment for their financial outlay and labours.
If the United States Government wants to use Australia and Australian soil to further its world blockade, it should not be allowed to do that at the expense of the Australian worker. I say that this Government stands indicted for not taking any action to protect its own citizens in this matter. Urgent action is necessary and I hope the Minister for Supply (Senator Henty) will bring this matter to the notice of his Cabinet colleagues in order to see that something is done to straighten out the unsavoury situation that exists at North West Cape. I leave the matter at that. If the Minister can do something along those lines, the people in that area and the contractors will be very grateful for whatever assistance they receive.
The next thing I want to touch on is the development of the iron ore resources of Western Australia, in which this Government takes very great pride. We have heard much from the Government about the value of foreign investment in our mineral industry and I think Australia - and Western Australia in particular - is entitled to expect the maximum national development from these investments. I have spoken on this matter before and of the way in which Australia’s resources - particularly those in Western Australia - have been sold out to overseas investors, but the Government’s answer has always been: “Well., they are spending a lot of money in developmental works in northern Australia “. The inference to be drawn from that answer by the Government has been that, while overseas investors are prepared to invest money in the development of Western Australia, this relieves the Government of some responsibility for that development. I think the people of Western Australia, and particularly the Liberal-Country Party Government there, are pleased that, through its iron ore reserves, Western Australia will get three new deep water ports. It will also get three new standard gauge railways; one from Mount Goldsworthy to Port Hedland, one from Mount Tom Price to King Bay and one from Mount Whaleback to Port Hedland. Port Hedland is only a small coastal town, but it is a town in which the State Government, acting on behalf of the public, has invested a considerable amount of public money.
The State Government is very anxious to develop port facilities at Port Hedland.
American Metal Climax Inc., which is commonly known as Amax, in partnership with the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd., has leases on iron ore deposits at Mount Whaleback. The companies propose to construct a port at Point Cooke, which is near Port Hedland. Port Hedland would have been the main town associated with the port works. Cleveland Cliffs has large deposits of low grade or middle grade ore, on the Robe River. Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. also has a large deposit of middle grade ore on the Robe River. Cleveland Cliffs and B.H.P. have come to an agreement to combine their operations and construct a joint railway from Mount Enid to Cape Preston, and to construct a joint primary processing plant at Cape Preston. However, American Metal Climax and the Colonial Sugar Refining Company have run into financial difficulties in developing their ore lease at Mount Whaleback. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company is unable to provide sufficient finance for the development. The point that I make here is that the amounts for the development of the ore resources, the railway and the town at the mine site, were underestimated when Amax made application for the leases. The estimate for development has increased by some $40 million and C.S.R. Co. is unable to take up its share of this cost.
The Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) has stepped into the picture. He has attempted to persuade the State Government to agree to allow Amax to join with Cleveland Cliffs and B.H.P. and have only one port at Cape Preston. It is interesting to note that Amax has a very large deposit of very high grade ore and that Cleveland Cliffs and B.H.P. have low grade deposits that require primary processing before they can be exported. Amax has an export contract and licence for 100 million tons of high grade ore. B.H.P. has not a licence to export, nor has it an export contract. Cleveland Cliffs has a contract worth $800 million to export 74.1 million tons of primary processed ore. It also has an agreement with the Western Australian Government on the development of this project.
It seems that Mr. McEwen wants to persuade Cleveland Cliffs and B.H.P. to allow Amax to use part of their railway and port facilities. This would deprive the State of the development of one port. But Cleveland Cliffs and B.H.P. do not see it this way. They are now attempting to negotiate with Amax for a share in the Mount Whaleback deposit. They are interested in getting in on the ground floor on the export of high grade ore. They are not now interested in the primary processing part of their contract. This seems to me to be a rather funny way in which to transact business between a State Government and the Commonwealth Government, which is in complete control of these matters because it controls export licences. But it goes further than the control of export licences. The Commonwealth Government has control over facilities - and I mention in this context port facilities - connected with overseas or interstate trade. Mr. McEwen would do better to go to Victoria and look after his dairy farmers and not interfere with developments in Western Australia. It would suit Western Australia much better if Mr. McEwen did that. If he is allowed to continue to interfere in State affairs, the Western Australian Government will have to stand up and tell him that it is no longer interested in Mr. McEwen or his Party.
In addition to this development that is taking place, Amax, which is commonly known as Mount Newman, is negotiating wilh Hamersley Iron Pty. Ltd. for the use of its railway and port facilities at King Bay. These people, having gained control of these enormous riches, are now starting to bargain amongst themselves to deprive the State of the development that is due to it. I say that the States and the Commonwealth have a perfect right to step in and tell these people that if they want to exploit the raw resources of this country they must do it under conditions prescribed by Australians and by the Australian Parliament. We find that even the Japanese - I suppose because they are deeply involved in the f.o.b. or c.f.i. price of ore - are dictating to us as to where ports shall be established. They say: “ This ore belongs to us. We have contracted to buy it. It is our property and we will say where port facilities are to be constructed.” I do not know where this nation will finish if it allows outsiders to determine the methods and the nature of its development. This development of iron ore has quickly grown into a scandal. I think that honorable senators know what has happened in respect of the application by Hamersley Iron Pty. Ltd. to export 8,600,000 tons of pelletised ore or primary processed ore. The company’s application to accept this order was refused on the grounds of price. What is the answer by Hamersley Iron Pty. Ltd.? The answer by the company is that it has an export contract for 16,000,000 tons of pelletised ore. Unless it can get the extra contract for 8.600,000 tons, the construction of a pelletising plant at King Bay is not warranted.
The facts are that the company contracted to export 16,000,000 tons of ore. At that time the company knew that the construction of a pelletising plant would be required. The company knew the cost of a pelletising plant. It knew its responsibility. But in order to bring pressure upon the Australian authorities to grant it an extension of licence to export the extra 8,600,000 tons, the company said that it was not economic to build a plant to pelletise iron ore for the export of 16,000,000 tons. They knew what their cost commitment would be in respect of exporting 16,000.000 tons when they signed the contract. They knew whether it would be profitable. The company did not rely at that time upon the issue of a further export licence.
– The honorable senator does not believe that this was the only Peletising material that the company was going to produce? It intended to have further contracts, surely?
– Unlike Senator Webster, I am not used to looking in the crystal ball. I do not know what people expect. But I know that this company signed a firm contract to export over a period of time 16,000,000 tons of pelletised iron ore. The company knows what its commitment is in respect of that ore. It knows whether it can win another contract. Whether it can persuade the Commonwealth Government to give it an extra export licence is a matter for the future. The company has a contract at the present time to export 65,000,000 tons of lump ore, that is, direct shipping ore. Does the company know that it will get another contract for the supply of any further ore? Does it know whether the Commonwealth Government will grant it a licence to export that ore or whether the Japanese will be prepared to buy ore? I am not prepared to look into the crystal ball, as Senator Webster is.
– Private enterprise has to do so.
– Private enterprise does a lot of things that it has to do. I notice that some summonses in respect of very serious matters have been issued quite recently because of things that private enterprise had to do. But when a company contracts, and obtains an export licence, for a quantity of material, the quantity of material provided in the contract is allegedly economic. If further contracts can be obtained, all the better. The facilities are there. I am not one who growls about profits as long as those profits are not excessive. Probably with the established plant the profits would be greater. But the first contract the company has is an economic contract. lt must be. Private enterprise cannot operate any other way. The company may look into the crystal ball. It may be hopeful. It may anticipate further contracts. This is all to the good. But it cannot work on the basis that its original contract will not be economic. That is why I say that the 16,000,000 tons of pelletised iron ore in the first instance was an economic contract. It was sheer blackmail for Hamersley Iron Ltd. to attempt to tell the Commonwealth Government that unless it was granted a licence for an extra 8,600.000 tons of pelletised iron ore it would have to forgo its original contract.
– Those are very harsh words. The company did not blackmail the Commonwealth Government.
– I am using the words. Senator. I am using them with a full knowledge of the meaning of them. The company did attempt to blackmail the Commonwealth Government into allowing it to export at a price that the Commonwealth Government did not approve on the basis that it could not fulfil its first contract unless it obtained approval for its second contract. This development of iron ore is fast becoming a scandal. It is time the Commonwealth Government stepped in and endeavoured to clean it up in the interests of Australia. I leave the matter at that. Enough information has been put be fore the Parliament and published in the Press to alert the Government to what is going on. The Government should be alerted to the fact that urgent action is required. This information should have alerted the Minister for Trade and Industry to keep out of this field and to allow people who own the deposits, namely, the State authorities, to negotiate in the best interests of the State concerned - not in the best interests of the Department of Trade and Industry in Canberra - and to obtain the maximum benefits of national development in -this area that requires national development.
A few nights ago 1 delayed the Senate in order to discuss a matter that I considered to be important. I may have been quite wrong. It was in connection with the operation of a nickel deposit some 30 miles south of Kalgoorlie. I noticed in the Press the other day that the Geological Survey Branch in Western Australia has said that there are indications of further nickel supplies throughout the Eastern Goldfields. However, at the present time, only one such deposit exists. The Western Mining Corporation Ltd. proposes to work this deposit which it has found at Kambalda. The company has stated that it will have a treatment plant operating in 1967. This plant will reduce the ore to concentrates which will be shipped overseas for refining. I hope Senator Scott heard what I just said, because he did not understand me when I spoke on the matter last time. I stated on that occasion that if we did not know the process for refining nickel from the concentrated minerals it was time we hired some knowhow and brought some-one to Australia who understands this process instead of allowing our concentrates to be shipped abroad.
– Have the deposits been proved now7
– They have been proved sufficiently for the Western Mining Corporation to order and erect plant for the treatment of the ore. I think the honorable senator will understand that a mine is not just started. Shafts are sunk. There are access roads to be built. Shaft sinking has been started but the exploratory work to this point of time has been diamond drilling only. The indications are sufficient for the Western Mining Corporation to make a start on shaft sinking and to release the statement that it will have a production plant in operation in 1967. This is a very valuable material. The bulk of what has been produced in Australia up to this point of time has been produced in Tasmania, mainly at Zeehan and Beaconsfield. Neither of these was a high grade deposit. It seems that the deposit south of Kalgoorlie is a high grade deposit.
I oppose the export of minerals that are in short supply in Australia and virtually in short supply throughout the world. As 1 have indicated this material is valuable for very many purposes, particularly defence purposes. We should be retaining it and processing it in this country. We should not have to send it overseas to be processed and then to bring it back to Australia. To do that entails a double freight cost. We may need to impose a restriction upon the export of this mineral. All I am interested in is ensuring that the Western Mining Corporation does not get into the same position as Hamersley Iron Pty. Ltd. got into. I hope that this organisation will not enter into an overseas contract for the refining of this materia] and that the Commonwealth Government, having resurveyed the position, will then say to it: “ You cannot export this material “. The Commonwealth Government should say to Western Mining Corporation Ltd. at this point of time: “ You cannot export it”. I hope that this observation will be brought to the notice of the appropriate Minister.
I refer now to taxation zone allowances, which I have raised in the Parliament several occasions. I think we all know that in order to qualify for a zone allowance one has to work for six months or more in the area in which the allowance operates. Both zone A and zone B are operative in Western Australia. The area that lies north of the 26th parallel of latitude is in zone A, and the area that lies between the 26th parallel and a point just north of Geraldton - I am dealing only with the coastal belt - is in zone B. If an employee works for six months or more in either of these areas, which extend over more than two-thirds of the State, he is entitled to the appropriate zone allowance. However, it is possible for people to work in these areas for periods approaching 12 months without becoming entitled to a zone allowance. I draw attention particularly to the position of a schoolteacher. Normally, he would go into one of these areas in about the first week in February and would not spend one half of that financial year, say 1965-66, there. He would teach until about the middle of December and then would go south. So he would not spend six months in the area during 1966-67. It will be seen that he will have worked in the area for a period approaching 12 months without becoming entitled to the zone allowance.
– Is one entitled to apply for a variation of the income tax year?
– No. The income tax year runs from 1st July to 30th June. We say that the operation of the zone allowance is unfair. It affects a number of people in government service. It could be said that one has little sympathy for a person who volunteers to go into such an area and who knows what the consequences will be if be does not reside there for at least half of any one financial year. Public servants, policemen, schoolteachers, nurses and nursing aides have no option.
– Are they not the sort of people whose additional salary compensates them for it?
– I do not know what the honorable senator means when he uses the words “ compensates them for it “.
– I should have thought that they would get an additional allowance from their department for service in that area.
– Under State awards, they get what is known as a district allowance which is fixed mainly on three factors - isolation, climatic conditions and extra cost of living. They are the three components of the district allowances that are paid to Commonwealth public servants. Whilst they do get an allowance, in the circumstances I have mentioned they would not get a zone allowance. It is time that the Commonwealth Government looked at this matter and reduced the qualifying period to fit in more with the kind of people who, by virtue of their occupation, are compelled to work in such areas. The State teachers’ federation has suggested that the allowance should be paid on a monthly basis. So, if one worked in the area for five months, he would get five-twelfths of the annual zone allowance. This is a problem for the Cabinet and the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) to work out. It is not fair to ask these employees to continue to work on the present basis. I have noted that a consideration of zone allowances was not included in the terms of reference of the Ligertwood Committee, which inquired into taxation. That Committee could well have inquired into this matter.
I have only a couple of moments left. In that time I want to draw attention to the lack of proper telephone facilities in Western Australia. It is virtually impossible to telephone eastern Australia. One is faced, first, with a time lag of two hours, and then with a waiting period of two or three hours. Ministers are not inconvenienced, because they have priority. The ordinary business people of the State have no priority.
Telephone tapping - Vietnam.
Hie PRESIDENT.- -Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- On 17th March, at the beginning of the present session, I directed a question to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. The question was -
Are the telephones of any members of Parliament tapped by the Commonwealth Security Service?
Since that time I have referred to the matter twice, once in an adjournment debate and once when I asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General whether there was any reason why this question had not been answered. It is now nearly two months since the question was asked. It seems to be a question which calls for a very simple answer, either “ Yes “ or “ No “, yet no answer has been given to it.
– What is the number of the question?
– It is question No. 825 on the notice paper. Still no answer has been given. Failure to give an answer, I suggest, can only cause disquiet in the minds of honorable senators and in the minds of the Australian people generally.
Tomorrow will be the last day of this session. I believe that this is an important question, but even if it were not an important question I submit that no question, particularly such a simple question, should be left standing on the notice paper for as long as this without an answer being given. At the moment, all that I can do is to implore the Government to see that before the session concludes tomorrow an answer to this question is given.
– I want to take only a few moments to deal with something that concerns me. In tonight’s issue of the Sydney “ Sun “ is a column by Dita Cobb. I believe it is a women’s column. She reports that she frequently gets letters from soldiers in Vietnam and she publishes one of them today. It reads -
Yesterday we had Harold Holt in the area, so we had no chance to rest after coming back from ops.
We had to clean up the place for him - cut the grass, clean our boots and teeth so we could give him brilliant smiles to show our morale was “ high “.
He gave us a talk and said what good boys we were, and patted us on the head while we sat and thought of other things.
Honestly, you should see the absolute panic when some “ wheel “ comes here to, quote, have a word with the troops.
Far as they ever get is the officers’ mess, and then they have the hide to go home and say we are very happy and contented . . fair dinkum … I
I raise this question in view of the claim of Gunner O’Neill that he was handcuffed to a stake for seven days. The “ Sun “ also reports tonight that he was handcuffed and left in a pit for another period of time. This is all alleged to have arisen from a letter that he sent to his mother, who had it appear in a Melbourne newspaper. I hope that this soldier, in all sincerity - his name is not given - will not be subject to the same fate, by virtue of the security organisation checking on who wrote the letter, because he expressed the true position in Vietnam. I hope that he too, will not be sentenced and dishonorably discharged from the forces. I make an early protest to see that this is not done.
– This is just the type of letter of which I would expect the honorable senator to take note - a letter from an anonymous soldier. This is the type of subtle propaganda that has been going on in Australia and coming from the Opposition, from the same quarters, time and time again. It is subtle propaganda to try to defeat the efforts of the Australian nation to withstand Communist infiltration in Vietnam. 1 quite understand that it is just what the honorable senator would do - have an anonymous letter written. I will bet that it never even came from Vietnam but was written by a journalist in Sydney, and that is what he falls for.
– 1 agree wilh the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty) on this. This matter cannot be allowed to be just passed over, with an allegation made by Senator Cavanagh and a short rebuttal by Senator Henty. I agree with Senator Henty that we are faced with an opposition to the national policies of this nation which is subversive and directed from outside the nation. It is a technique that is allied to the psychological approach of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the one side and the Chinese People’s Republic on the other side, whatever is the level of disagreement between the two great Communist imperial powers. Having said that in order to identify what I claim to be an attack by subversion on the national will of Australia, I go on to say that it involves the psychological problem of how the will of the Western world can be weakened. A characteristic of the Communist dialectic in this matter is to direct the attack on what is described as a psychological ferment, a problem which relates to the emotions. What must be done is, first, to arouse the emotions and, secondly, to continue to exacerbate them.
What has happened in the Senate tonight is a perfectly clear illustration of what is happening in the electorate at the present moment. Most cruel methods are used to arouse and exacerbate the emotions of people all over the place. I suggest that Senator Cavanagh has been the unwilling and unwitting tool of a force outside this Parliament which has now a pipeline into this place. I reject it in toto and I will go on doing it as long as I sit in my place.
– I am rather amazed at the remarks of Senator Cormack. He complained about Senator Cavanagh’s reading from an article in what might be regarded as a very conservative newspaper.
– It is a letter.
– It is in an article; it is portion of an article in the Sydney “Sun”. Because Senator Cavanagh quotes from an article which appears in a conservative newspaper that, incidentally, supports this Government’s policy on conscription, Senator Cormack seems to suggest that the Sydney “ Sun “, or Dita Cobb, who wrote the article, is engaged in some sort of psychological warfare against the United States of America and’ this Government. Indeed, I think the expression “ some subversive activity “ was used. How absurd is the Government getting when it resorts to expressions of this nature? I agree with my good friend, Senator Cavanagh, that this matter should be brought to the notice of the Australian Parliament and the Australian people, because while Senator Cavanagh was castigated by the Leader of the Government (Senator Henty)-
– I raise a point of order. Senator Cavanagh disclosed to the Senate a letter that he had in his hand - he claimed it was from an anonymous soldier - as he was perfectly entitled to do. I immediately attempted to rebut this matter. Now, another senator discloses that in fact it was not a letter but a quotation from a newspaper.
– Order! The point of order is not upheld.
– I know that these things are not favoured by members of the Government. Might I also remind the Leader of the Government, who criticised Senator Cavanagh for quoting from some sort of anonymity, that only a fortnight ago the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) in another place relied upon an anonymous document. Surely the veracity of a prominent journalist is being attacked by the Government because she claims in the columns of the “ Sun “ - she has a very large reader following - that she has received a letter from a serviceman in Vietnam.
I agree that this matter should be brought to the notice of the authorities. I certainly hope that it is brought to the notice of the Australian people and I am certain that everyone in this chamber will wish to see the veracity of the journalist and the newspaper concerned exonerated.
– As 1 am the representative here of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) in another place I think I should say something about the statements which have been made in the Senate tonight. First of all, it is obvious that the two honorable senators opposite are trying to play down the value of the visit of the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) to the troops in Vietnam.
– We are trying to protect a soldier.
– The honorable senator has a funny way of doing it; that is all I can say. We do not have to accept only the Prime Minister’s word on the value of his visit. I have had the opportunity to talk to some of those who accompanied him and they say exactly what the Prime Minister himself has said about the mora le of the troops and the benefits gained by the visit. I am astounded that people who set themselves up as loyal Australians should try to decry the value of the Prime Minister’s visit not only to Australia as a whole but also to the boys in Vietnam. There is always someone in an army who is a little disgruntled. That is inevitable, lt does not matter how good a soldier a man is–
– Would the Minister handcuff him to a stake?
– Yes, I would handcuff him. In my view Major Tedder did the right thing.
– Yes. I would expect to get “ Ah “ from Senator Cohen. Major Tedder was responsible for the safety of the troops under his command, and what would have happened to the troops under his command if he had not insisted upon discipline? He did the commonsense thing. A lot of mawky sentiment has been talked about Gunner O’Neill.
– The Minister is the first Minister to talk like that.
– I am not talking to the honorable senator who can say whatever he wants to say inside or outside the Parliament. I do not know why Opposition senators had to stir up the O’Neill case again and claim that he has been badly treated. He was very lucky to be in the Australian Army. If he had been in any other army he would have received far worse treatment than he did. lt is about time Opposition senators paid a little more attention to, and showed a little more concern for, the wellbeing of our troops and of Australia as a whole and kept quiet on matters such as this.
– I was amazed to hear Senator Henty’s opening remarks when he accused Senator Cavanagh of quoting from an anonymous letter. I would not have expected Senator Cavanagh to have sought his information from the Prime Minister of Australia (Mr. Harold Holt) who relied on the support of an anonymous letter for something he said in another place. It has been said that we are trying to create confusion about the boys overseas. I hope Ministers and the Government will take note of the Liberal Party gallup poll which was held in Yarra recently. It showed that 62 per cent, of the people in Yarra disagreed with the Government’s policy.
The letter in question may be signed anonymously but the newspaper correspondent is not anonymous. If the Government thinks that it should take some security action against anyone in respect of this publication and if it wants to suppress free thought and free expression in Australia, it will take action against Dita Cobb. The fact that the correspondent is prepared to publish the letter is sufficient to indicate that she, as a responsible correspondent, deemed it to be of sufficient importance to be brought to the notice of the Australian people. Senator Cavanagh should be commended for his effort in bringing this thing before the National Parliament.
This Government wants to run away from any criticism of its policies. This is indicated by what occurred in the House of Representatives today. The Government has decided to continue sending out pamphlets at public expense to support ils policy but it will not give the Opposition a chance to issue a pamphlet at public expense. Goebbels was an amateur in brainwashing compared to this Government. It has learned plenty from the greatest propagandist who ever lived until the Liberal Party was formed in 1944. The Government is not satisfied that it has every media of public information in Australia at its disposal and plugging its policies. To convince the people that its policies are correct it has used public money to print pamphlets and distribute them to schools all over Australia because it knows that the people do not accept its policies.
Senator Cavanagh has every right to bring before this Parliament anything affecting our servicemen. This Parliament is reponsible for our servicemen being in Vietnam, and this Parliament must accept the responsibility.
– lt does.
– Of course it does. We are well aware of that but we will see what responsibility the Australian people expect from the Government which has done this thing. We will wait. We will Jet the voice of the people speak at the end of this year and we will see then what happens. Anyone who raises any question in this Parliament relating to the treatment of servicemen or whether our servicemen believe they should be in a certain area should not be downgraded here. The Leader of the Government (Senator Henty) is not entitled to stand in his place and turn this chamber into a Totalisator Agency Board office by wanting to bet that the letter did not come from Vietnam. This chamber is not to be turned into a T.A.B. office and the honorable senator knows it. If any more letters of this nature, or of any other nature for that matter, come to the notice of honorable senators through whatever media of public information, they are entitled to mention them in this Parliament. I commend Senator Cavanagh for having done so.
.- I did not think the point at issue in any of the speeches made by my colleagues on this side of the chamber was the right of Senator Cavanagh or of any other honorable senator to raise matters in the Senate. What now appears to be questioned by honorable senators opposite is the right of honorable senators on the Government side to reply to Senator
Cavanagh, or to any other senator who raises a matter in this place, and to express their opinions. I am bound to say that if this letter is an anonymous letter, and it appears-
– Ask Harold Holt whether it is anonymous.
– That is another matter. Let me ask the honorable senator about the one before us now. If this letter is unsigned and is published in a newspaper without any indication of its source, that is a legitimate point to raise when the letter is produced in this chamber by an honorable senator and some argument is based upon it. I believe that Senator Cormack is also perfectly right in drawing attention, as he did, to the fact that in Australia there is a campaign by many people in an endeavour to sap the will of Australians and to cause disquiet as to what is happening in Vietnam and to our troops there.
This is not the first occasion on which this sort of thing has been done or on which this sort of point has been raised in the Senate by Senator Cavanagh. We all can remember a time when a member of the Australian forces who was on patrol fired in self-defence against two members of the Vietcong, one of whom had thrown a hand grenade. It turned out that one of them was a female soldier and that she was killed. We remember that matter being brought forward in the Senate by Senator Cavanagh. He asked questions such as: “ Will the Australians stop killing women? “ and “ Will the Australians stop making war on women? “ Of course, it turned out that the person involved was a soldier who was in combat and who happened to be a female.
– The Government had no proof of that at all.
– No proof of what?
– That she was a soldier. The Government invented that some days later.
– Well, let us move on to another example which is on ull fours with this one. We can remember a furore, which was without any basis in fact, over poison gas being used in Vietnam by Allied and Australian troops. That matter was raised in the Senate by Senator Cavanagh in the form of questions such as: “ Will the Australians stop using poison gas?” and “ Will the Government issue an order against the use of poison gas? “ But there was no truth in that suggestion either. The gas that was being used was anti-riot gas which, in fact, is used in a humanitarian way to prevent the killing of our own troops as well as civilians among whom armed Vietcong may be mingling.
Of course, on each occasion the accusation is hard to catch up with. A suggestion that poison gas is being used, although later disproved, is hard to catch up with. So the suggestion has its effect. Again, the accusation that a woman had been killed by an Australian soldier was hard to catch up with, although later it turned out that in fact she was a Vietcong soldier. Again to night we have an anonymous allegation which, no doubt, will be hard to catch up with whether or not there is any proof of it. If Senator Cant asserts the right of Senator Cavanagh to free speech and to bring these matters before the Senate, I do not question that right. But I do claim for honorable senators on this side of the chamber the right to answer allegations in the same forthright way. We will not be intimidated by fingers being wagged at us or by suggestions that, if we reply to something that somebody else says, that is an infringement of the right of free speech and that we ought to sit down and not say a word.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.54 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 May 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1966/19660512_senate_25_s31/>.