25th Parliament · 1st Session
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Can the Acting Minister for External Affairs give the Senate any information on the widely reported proposal to provide up to a battalion of troops to be situated near the demilitarised zone in Vietnam? If the report is factually based, is the Minister in a position to say whether this will require additional troops to those already there?
– This question, I think, is based on some newspaper reports which appeared this morning. No approach has been made to the Australian Government along the lines reported, nor to the commander of the Australian troops in the area. That is all that [ can tell the honorable senator at this moment.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has the Minister’s attention been directed to the statement in today’s Melbourne “ Age “, attributed to a Mr. James, that high Pacific air fares deterred many American tourists from coming to Australia and that the British Overseas Airways Corporation is hopeful that the present meeting of the International Air Transport Association in Honolulu will result in a lowering of all fares on services over the Pacific, and not just inclusive tour fares? Has the Minister’s attention been drawn also to the allegation that Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. is backing a reduction only in inclusive tour fares and not in general fares? Can the Minister ascertain, and let the Senate know, what the reason is for Qantas not falling in with the idea, put forward by B.O.A.C., of a reduction in general air fares over the Pacific?
– It is true that the International Air Transport Association is having a meeting in Honolulu and it is equally true that air fares are one of the items being discussed at the meeting. I do not think that we should accept a statement by one of the parties to the conference about a competitor. When we have a statement by B.O.A.C. about Qantas, the proper thing for us to do is to get the facts. I do not know what the proposals of Qantas are; nobody knows at this point of time. For that reason, I think that we should reserve our judgment. If the honorable senator will place the question, which is a very proper question to ask, on the notice paper, 1 shall get a reply for him from the Minister for Civil Aviation.
– ls the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation aware that a sign recently erected at the entrance to Llanherne Airport, on Department of Civil Aviation property, and bearing the words “ Hobart Airport “, could be classified under the Defacement of Property Act as an unsightly sign? Can the Minister advise whether this structure is of a temporary or a permanent nature, and can he indicate when a permanent structure in keeping with the standard of the Llanherne Airport will be erected?
– The honorable senator has asked for particulars about an unsightly sign. I feel that he will have to place the question on the notice paper. Obviously the Minister himself will need to call for a departmental report to supply an answer to the question.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for the Army been drawn to an article appearing in today’s issue of the Brisbane “Courier-Mail “ wherein it is stated that soldiers returning from Vietnam had been promised air travel to their home States but, on arrival and disembarkation in Brisbane, they find that they have to pay the difference between second class rail travel from Brisbane to their home States and the full air fare? Would the Minister explain this situation and the procedure to be adopted in future?
– I have not seen the article referred to by the honorable senator. In general, soldiers proceeding on annual or recreation leave normally travel by rail. I understand that in certain special circumstances air travel is provided. If the article is correct and the soldiers were promised air travel, something must have gone haywire to cause them not to receive it. As a misunderstanding seems to have arisen, 1 will make inquiries of the Minister for the Army to see whether he can bring any more enlightenment to the subject.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Works and relates to the announcement in today’s Victorian Press of the letting of further contracts for Tullamarine Airport in Victoria. What works have been commenced or are contemplated to minimise the noise anticipated when the jet port is in operation, apparently in the not so distant future?
– The responsibility of the Department of Works is to construct buildings for sponsoring departments. In the case of Tullamarine Airport, the Department of Civil Aviation would be responsible for any measures to mitigate noise, if any such measures were required. The Department of Works has not been asked to undertake any such measures, as far as I know.
– Has the Minister representing the Postmaster-General noted the reported refusal of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department to provide telephone and postal services facilities at the Savage River and Luina mining projects on Tasmania’s west coast on the ground that they are closed towns being developed by private companies? Is the Minister aware that the Tasmanian Government has undertaken to provide all the necessary services under its administration? Is the Minister further aware that the Commonwealth Electoral Office will provide polling facilities at the two centres on election day, 26th November, thereby indicating completely opposite approaches by two Commonwealth departments? Will the Minister exercise his ministerial authority to put an end to this ridiculous situation and direct his Department to proceed with the installation of these absolutely essential services forthwith?
– -The honorable senator has asked a series of questions in relation to the Savage River area and the Postmaster-General’s Department. He has also asked whether the Minister will exercise his ministerial powers in the situation he has outlined. I suggest that the honorable senator place his question on the notice paper and I will convey it to the Minister without delay.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Treasurer. As it has been reported that the Department of the Treasury shortly intends to issue $5 notes and as the notes already issued depict famous men who have been pioneers in various fields, could the Minister say whether consideration has been given by the Department of the Treasury to a request by the Australian National Council of Women, which represents thousands of women throughout Australia, that a famous woman pioneer be depicted on the note next to be issued?
– I have no information as to the form that the $5 note is to take, but I shall have great pleasure in conveying to the Treasurer the question which the honorable senator has put to me. I shall get an answer for her.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is the Minister aware of the strong and continuing criticism of the way in which the Department administers the system of notification of the result of call-up ballots? Why cannot the Government abandon the meaningless and unnecessary secrecy about the drawing of birthday dates and, by announcing the dates publicly put thousands of 20 year olds and their families out of their misery and anxiety and let all potential trainees know where they stand?
– I remember this matter being discussed previously in the Senate, when the reasons for the procedure which is followed were given. I think it would be good to get those reasons from the Minister again. Therefore, I suggest that the question be put on the notice paper so that a reasoned reply can be given.
– I ask the
Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry whether it is true that, in talks conducted in Tokyo in past, weeks between the Department of Trade and Industry and the Japanese Government, agreement was reached that in return for Japanese concessions for our primary products Japan was offered substantial concessions at the expense of Australian manufacturing industries? Can the Minister further advise when a report of the agreement entered into at these trade talks will be given to the Parliament? Or is it intended, because of the controversial problems involved, to leave the report until after the next election?
– I have no information on the outcome of the talks conducted in Tokyo between the Japanese Government and the Australian Government. Therefore at this stage I am not in a position to answer the honorable senator’s question. I suggest that he put it on the notice paper so that I can get an answer for him.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Housing. I refer to reports which have appeared in most daily newspapers, suggesting that approvals for the erection of new houses and flats have increased substantially. The Government, during the current year and in the Budget, has taken substantial steps to provide increased finance for home building. Can the Minister verify these reports, which hold great encouragement for home owners and for the home construction industry generally?
– 1 have seen the reports mentioned by the honorable senator. They have appeared in a variety of newspapers. It is very pleasing to see reports which indicate an upward trend in homebuilding. The trend between July and August was sharply upward. In July 10,266 new houses and flats were approved, and in August 11,609 were approved. About 1,000 of the improvement in approvals of 1,350 were in private houses or Bats. As the honorable senator has said this improvement is due partly to the added money made available by the Commonwealth to the
States for housing and partly to the extra money made available through the banks. I think that Senator Webster would be very interested to know that the figures for his own State of Victoria show a sharp improvement in this month.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. By way of preface 1 refer to the fact that for over 12 months I have sought details of the contents and also sought the release of a national fitness booklet but have been advised that the matter is still under examination. In view of the comprehensive article appearing in the “ Australian “ of Friday, 23rd September 1966 under the heading “ A Plan to Get the Nation Up and Running “, I ask: Why cannot the Senate have this information in answer to my question?
– Senator Mulvihill has been interested in this matter for quite a period of time. I am sorry that he has not yet received the answer that he requires. 1 will certainly take the question up again with the Minister for Health and endeavour to obtain a reply for the honorable senator in view of his interest in mis matter.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. By way of preface I wish to make brief reference to one sentence in the Twentieth Annual Report of the Australian Apple and Pear Board for the year ended 30th June 1966 which has been submitted to us. The report reveals that the recent freight arrangements bring the effective rate for cell packs for British freights to approximately $1.90 per case. The report then says -
This represents close to 80 per cent, of the f.o.b. value of the product - probably the highest incidence for any primary product exported in volume from Australia.
I ask the Minister whether he will take that arresting statement into consideration so as to see whether any measures can be produced that would forestall damage to the fruit crop to be shipped overseas next season by reason of the incidence of this unusually high freight.
– The matter which the honorable senator raises is one of great importance particularly to our own State of Tasmania in which the fruit industry plays a very important part. I have read the portion of the report to which the honorable senator refers relating to the high content of freight as against the price obtained for apples overseas. This represents a significant increase. I believe that a great deal has to be done in the industry to overcome costs. But 1 can give the honorable senator an undertaking that this freight position is to be watched. We have to do everything we can possibly do to see whether we can get a reduction in the rate for air cooled cargo for our Tasmanian fruit.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. By way of preface 1 point out that 1 am in receipt of a letter and documents from the Town Clerk of Darwin relating to an important health problem that exists in Darwin itself. I ask the Minister whether her attention has been drawn to a letter from the Town Clerk of Darwin addressed to honorable senators directing notice to the need for a sewage treatment plant for the city of Darwin to replace the present unhygienic and antiquated methods of direct discharge of sewage into Darwin harbour and the consequential health hazard arising from this practice. As the Northern Territory has no direct voice or vote in the Senate, will the Minister represen.mg the Minister for Health take steps to have an inquiry and report made by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Public Works Committee on this matter with a view to giving the Senate and the Parliament an unbiased and factual appraisal of the situation in Darwin as outlined in the letter sent to honorable senators?
– .1. have seen the letter to which the honorable senator refers. I am quite certain that my colleague, the Minister for Health, will have seen it also. The honorable senator’s question is quite a lengthy one and it concerns the Public Works Committee. I therefore suggest that that part of his question be placed upon the notice paper for consideration by the Minister for Health.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, refers to an announcement made by the Minister for Labour and National Service on 25th August 1966 to the effect that administrative details had been worked out in connection with the issue of removing the marriage bar that now prevents married women from continuing in the Commonwealth Public Service on a permanent basis. Has the Government accepted as a principle the removal of such restrictions as they apply to married women employed in its departments? If the Government has so decided, when will the new provisions apply?
– I can only direct the honorable senator’s attention to the specific statement made by the Minister for Labour and National Service. The general ideas that he put forward will be implemented as soon as possible.
– Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate, who also is the Minister for Supply, inform the Parliament whether it is the intention of the Government to encourage the Australian electronics industry, or whether most purchases in this field will continue to be made outside of this country?
– The Department of Supply is immensely interested in the problems of the electronics industry in Australia. Already we have gone a considerable way towards obtaining from the Services statements of their needs as far forward as possible, so that we can consult with Australian industries and see what they can do to meet those requirements. It is not easy for Australian industries to undertake new propositions and to introduce new manufacturing techniques without adequate notice. We are now endeavouring to get co-ordination in the defence departments in this matter so that they can give us long term notice of their requirements. This will enable Australian industries to study those requirements and to be in a position to quote when tenders are called.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, by saying how astounded I was on Thursday last at the reply that I received to a question that I asked of Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin, the Minister representing the Postmaster-General in this chamber, particularly as the question concerned a subject that is surely dear to her heart, namely, equal pay for equal work by the sexes. She did nol seem inclined to answer the question. I now ask the Leader of the Government whether he has seen a letter dated 6th July 1966, sent by the then Acting Prime Minister, Mr. John McEwen, to the General Secretary, Postal Telegraph and Telephone International, Brussels. Belgium, which said -
Your letter suggests that the Government of Australia is out of step with overseas practices and international conventions in regard to equal pay for the sexes-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! The honorable senator is making his question too much of a statement.
– This is my question. The letter went on -
The facts do not bear this out.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! The honorable senator will ask his question.
– As the Acting Prime Minister said that the Government of Australia supported equal pay for the sexes, I ask the Leader of the Government this question: If the Government supports the proposition of equal pay for equal work, has it taken any steps to ratify the International Labour Organisation Convention of 1951 which seeks to implement this principle? On what date did the Government ratify the Convention? Finally, does the principle of equal pay for equal work operate in any Commonwealth department?
– I listened to the answer that was given to the honorable senator’s question by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin. I thought it was a very good answer. He quotes from a letter that 1 have not seen.
– The Minister may look at it.
– I have not seen it. but I shall take the opportunity to look at it as soon as possible. I can only say to the honorable senator that if the letter is as he says and was written by Mr. John McEwen, there is no question about what it says being in accordance with fact.
– I direct a question to the Acting Minister for External Affairs. Has the Minister seen the statement by the United States Ambassador to the United Nations that America does not accept the conflict in Vietnam as a holy war against Communism? As we have been told in three Government publications that the purpose of our involvement is to stop Communist expansion, will the Minister inform the Senate whether we are involved in Vietnam for different reasons from those of the United States of America, or have we been misinformed by Government publications?
– I am extremely surprised that Senator Cavanagh should not understand this matter better than his question indicates that he does. Only last week in the Senate the question of whether or not the Government thought this was a holy war was brought up and it was answered to the effect that we regard it as an endeavour to show that aggression anywhere in the world will not be successful, because only by doing that can we ensure a proper basis for peace. There is no question whatever that there is aggression taking place. On this occasion it happens to be aggression by Communists. The essential fact is that it is aggression which has to be stopped, and it is being stopped. This is being said over and over again by the Government and by its spokesmen in this Senate. Yet, apparently, it still has not penetrated Senator Cavanagh’s mind.
– .1 address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. In view of Press statements indicating that Tullamarine Airport in Victoria is at an advanced stage of construction, can the Minister say what action has been taken or is contemplated to minimise the excessive noise that is expected when the airport is in operation?
Senator ANDERSON__ The work at
Tullamarine has reached only a certain stage. Consequently, it is rather early to speak in specific terms. However, there always has been an understanding that it is desirable to mitigate noise. In fact, I have personal knowledge that certain action has been taken by the Department of Civil Aviation to mitigate noise at the KingsfordSmith Airport at Mascot. Obviously, the mitigation of noise at Tullamarine would be dealt with according to the same principles as those employed at Mascot. We must bear in mind that the Tullamarine Airport covers a huge area and that the noise factor perhaps would not be as intense as it is at Mascot. However, the honorable senator may be assured that the problems associated with noise at Tullamarine will be very carefully examined.
– What type of action will be taken?
– At Mascot there are certain restrictions on the take-off of aircraft in relation to diversion at certain levels to take them away from certain areas. There are also restrictions of a technical nature on which I am not competent to give an exposition. Nevertheless, they do exist. The honorable senator may be certain that the Department of Civil Aviation has made a very close analysis of this problem. It is a problem which is not peculiar to Tullamarine. It is world wide and many world authorities have been concerned with it. The procedures involved, I think, would be very well known.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. In view of the increasing number of offences involving the illegal export of Australian parrots, will the Minister consider increasing the existing maximum penalties with a view to providing an effective deterrent?
– As honorable senators know, there is a responsibility on the Minister for Customs and Excise to protect flora and fauna. I think that we all agree with the need for this, as a broad principle. Recently, there was an attempt to export parrots, contrary to the regulations. 1 understand that the parrots were seated in boxes and that their tails had been trimmed. Certain other things were done to enable them to be sent away in packages without being discovered. These birds attract a very high price overseas. On the question of penalty, I stated recently in the Senate that the whole question of penalties is at present being examined by the Attorney-General’s Department. The honorable senator will appreciate that penalties cannot be dealt with on an ad hoc basis. They must be looked at broadly and this is being done currently by the AttorneyGeneral’s Department.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Is the Minister aware that the Launceston City Countil last night discussed a proposal to condemn an unsightly and unbecoming structure in which the PostmasterGeneral’s Department has the post office at Newstead, a Launceston suburb? As the building was erected as a temporary structure 20 years ago on a site which is inconvenient and out of view of the main stream of traffic in this area of Launceston, will the Minister make representations to the Postmaster-General to give urgent priority to planning a modern, efficient and serviceable post office conveniently situated and worthy of this growing area?
– Clearly, this is a question I shall have to refer to the Postmaster-General. The project, no doubt, will find its level in the future construction programme of the Department. I think it is true to say that the work load becomes a factor in all these matters and the degree of priority would have some relation to the possible work load of the area. If the work load is not particularly high, it might well be that the project, worthy as it may be, will have to take its turn with other more pressing work.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Is Professor W. N. Christiansen, Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Sydney, currently in Communist China assisting the Chinese in scientific research? For what length of time has Professor
Christiansen been in Communist China? Is the research in which he is engaged of any relevance to the development of China’s defence and military capabilities? Is this professor the gentleman who is a brother in law of Mr. E. F. Hill, the Secretary of the Australian Communist Party (MarxistLeninist) and was he prominent in the group of academics opposed to the appointment of Dr. F. Knopfelmacher to the position of lecturer in philosophy at the University of Sydney, in 1965?
– 1 do not know whether Professor Christiansen is in China at present advising the Chinese on the matters mentioned by the honorable senator, but I think it is well worth the while of the Senate to have this information. Consequently, if the honorable senator will put his question on notice, I shall get a full and proper answer covering all the details and how Professor Christiansen got to China.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation and refers to the continuing congestion at the Adelaide air terminal and reports that the Minister would examine South Australian claims for extensions to the passenger lounge and outer facilities at West Beach Airport. What extensions have been approved? Is it likely that any such improvements will be carried out in the current financial year?
– I ask the honorable senator to put his question on the notice paper as it relates to a statement the Minister for Civil Aviation made about his own intentions concerning a personal inspection of the terminal.
– Has the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research noted statements by the Vice-Chancellors of the Victorian universities, especially the Vice-Chancellor of the Monash University, expressing disappointment that, in respect of the years 1967 to 1969. for the first time the recommendations of the Australian Universities Commission have not been accepted, and that the universities have been voted substantially less than was recommended by the Commission? Is this not a serious departure from the established practice of relying on the recommendations of this expert body in the provision of university finances? Can we draw any other conclusion from the rejection of the Commission’s advice than that the universities will be operating under a financial squeeze, especially towards the end of the triennium?
– I think it has been made clear to the Senate that grants of money to universities, as one part of the field of tertiary education, are decided jointly by the Commonwealth and each State Government. It is perfectly true that in many States, though not so significantly in Victoria, there was a departure from the recommendations of the Australian Universities Commission. In the case of the La Trobe University, there was no departure whatever. That university was given, as a result of a joint Commonwealth and State decision, exactly what the Universities Commission recommended for all its major works, with the exception of a small amount for teaching purposes.
I did note the remarks made by the Vice-Chancellor of Monash University. He said that the University would proceed satisfactorily though it might find things a little tight towards the end of the triennium. That fact must be balanced against requirements for expenditure in other fields of tertiary education, and in the primary, secondary and technical fields.
– What is the Minister getting into the primary field for? The Commonwealth is giving it nothing.
– I am getting into the primary field because that is one to which State funds must go. just as they must go to meet the needs of secondary and technical education and the claims of all other areas of education. The States have an obligation to meet as well as the Commonwealth. If the honorable senator thinks that the States should give more to universities and less to primary and secondary education, that is his judgment. But it is not mine.
– 1 address my question also to the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. Is the Minister satisfied that the
Commonwealth is advancing sufficient moneys to the States to enable them to provide adequately for primary, secondary and tertiary education?
– What the honorable senator means is not at all clear. The money that is advanced to the States is advanced to them as a general grant following the holding of Premiers’ Conferences and meetings of the Australian Loan Council. That money is provided in lump sums to the Stales to enable them to fulfil their responsibilities, which include primary, secondary and technical education. They are constitutional responsibilities. As the honorable senator probably knows, those general grants have been increased greatly each year.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation aware that schedules prepared for the Melbourne to Launceston and Melbourne to Hobart services by both Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett-A.N.A., on which Boeing jet aircraft will be used, have been postponed because of the need to strengthen portions of the pavements at Hobart and Launceston airports? Will the Minister have an inquiry made into the lack of coordination between the Department of Civil Aviation and the two airlines on such an important matter as the capacity of the landing strips or pavements to carry Boeing aircraft?
-I shall certainly direct the attention of the Minister for Civil Aviation to the matter. This is purely a technical question and I should like the Minister to answer it.
(Question No. 960.)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions -
The Public Service Board has suppliedme with the following information -
At 30th June 1966, officers of the First Division of the Commonwealth Public Service numbered 26. There were 589 officers in the Second Division.
All First Division officers are males One officer of the Second Division is a female.
(Question No. 968.)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
What were the total allocations of special loans, grants and other Commonwealth finance made available to Queensland for developmental purposes in each of the financial years 1957-58 to 1965- 66 inclusive?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer -
The Commonwealth has made a variety of specific purpose grants and loans to Queensland in the period, and no dissection of these showing to what extent they have been for “ developmental “ purposes and to what extent they have not been for “ developmental “ purposes is available. Table 59 (page 80) in the document “Commonwealth Payments to or for the States, 1966-67”, which was presented by the Treasurer on the occasion of the 1966-67 Budget, lists all specific purpose payments of a capital nature to Queensland for the period 1951-52 to 1966- 67 (estimated). If payments in respect of education, public health and welfare, and natural disasters are excluded from total specific purpose capitalpayments, the following figures, which could besaid to include all capital payments to assist in the development of industry in Queensland, are arrived at -
(Question No. 983.)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, uponnotice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers -
(Question No. 993.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions -
(Question No. 999.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following answers -
Senato DITTMER (Queensland).-I present the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works relating to the following proposed work -
Erection of Laboratory and Ancillary Buildings for Division of Chemical Engineering of Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Clayton, Victoria.
I ask for leave to make a short statement in connection with the report.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The recommendations and conclusions of the Committee are -
Motion (by Senator Henty) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave of absence for one month bc granted lo Senator Morris on account of absence overseas.
Consideration resumed from 22nd September (vide page 688).
Department of Works
Proposed expenditure, $32,930,000.
Civil Defence - Buildings
Proposed expenditure, 583,000.
Civil Defence - Repairs and Maintenance
Proposed expenditure, $13,000.
Department of Works
Proposed provision, $38,543,000.
– I wish to raise a matter under Division No. 600 - Administrative. I preface my remarks by pointing out that I was absent overseas during the debate on the estimates for the Department of Works last year. On reading the reports of the debate afterwards I was very interested to see that a considerable amount of time had been devoted to the subject of the contracts into which the Department of Works enters with various contractors and that questions had been asked about endeavours by the Department to ensure that contractors acknowledged their apprenticeship responsibilities. On reading the reports, it became obvious that the Minister and his advisers had had difficulty in giving satisfactory answers to those questions, mainly asked by honorable senators on this side of the chamber. On reflection. I realised that it would be difficult for the Minister and his advisers to answer the queries which were raised. The matter is one of Government policy.
Honorable senators asked about the responsibility of employers in a particular industry to train enough apprentices to enable the industry to continue to cope with the work required of it. I thought the debate might have had sufficient impact on the Minister to cause him to do something about this matter in the ensuing 12 months. The argument was that the Department of
Works lets many contracts, and that it would be a simple matter for it, as a condition of awarding a contract, to require a contractor to train a sufficient number of apprentices. It might appear on the surface to be unfair that one department should be picked out and charged with the responsibility of carrying out a duty that should be perhaps the responsibility of the Government as a whole. But I think that the Department of Works more than any other department is in a position to implement this training programme.
Let me explain how important the matter it. Anybody who is old enough to remember those days will recall what dire straits Australia was in during the last world war when we were so short of tradesmen. Australia was suffering from the effect of a lack of industries able to train tradesmen. The Government of the day. and the subsequent Government, had to enter into an agreement with unions in regard to the employment of dilutee tradesmen or added tradesmen. The situation remains today as a festering sore in the ranks of all tradesmen or all tradesmen’s organisations throughout Australia. In recent years applications have been made by employers to our industrial courts for approval to enable them to write into the various awards the right to be able to engage dilutee tradesmen. In other words, employers have sought the right to train an adult at a lower standard and pay him a lower rate than the rate that would be applied to a tradesman. The dilutee system was adopted in order to cope with a particular emergency that existed in industry during the war. The trade union movement is opposed to this system today on the simple ground that industry, particularly industry concerned in this field, has not taken advantage of the facilities for. and obligations placed upon it regarding, the training of tradesmen in order to be able to cope with the demand that is made upon it.
It is well known among employers as well as among unions representing employees that there are many firms that do carry out their obligations and train apprentices to a requirement greater than their need only to have them taken away by other firms in a time of boom conditions. At the other end of the line there are a number of employers who do not accept their obligations in regard to the training of apprentices. Yet these employers become parties to applications to industrial courts for the right to take on added or dilutee tradesmen with all the consequences of this action. 1 ask the Minister for Works whether the debate on this matter last year, which is much fuller than the details that I have outlined in my speech today, was given any consideration by his Department and whether his Department, when it lets contracts for work to various firms, requires them to live up to their obligations in regard to the training of apprentices and, subsequently, new tradesmen.
– I desire to address my remarks to Division No. 967, “ Capital Works and Services “. I would like to have some details in relation to this subject. In the document “ Civil Works Programme 1966-67 “ which was circulated with the Budget papers, some details of these capital works and services are given. I draw the attention of the Minister particularly to page 17 of the “ Civil Works Programme 1966-67 “, where under the heading “ South Australia “ in relation to the Department of Civil Aviation, 1 see: “1. Adelaide - Construction of additional car park . . . $40,000”. Obviously along with other South Australian senators I regret that the Committee is not discussing a new airport terminal building in Adelaide. But §40,000 has been allocated by the Department of Civil Aviation to Adelaide under the civil works programme. I would like to find out from the Minister where this additional car park is to be constructed. I assume that it is at the Adelaide airport. I would like to know also how many vehicles the car park is expected to accommodate, whether the parking area will be metered, and also whether a roof will be provided over the car park.
I pass now to the proposed new works set out on page 19 of the Civil Works Programme. Under the heading “ South Australia “, item 1 is: “ Adelaide - Division of Soils - Extension of main laboratory for radio active area, $45,000”. This laboratory is for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. I would like to know where it is to be constructed, of what material it is to be constructed and how many rooms will be in the extension. Item 2 is: “ Adelaide - Division of Mathematical Statistics - Erection of new build ing, §100,000”. Where will this new building be erected? For how many students or scientists will it be sufficient?
I refer now to page 28 of the Civil Works Programme. Under the heading “ Repatriation Department “ there are two items - “ Springbank Repatriation General Hospital - Erection of artifical limb and appliance centre, $140,000” and “Springbank Repatriation General Hospital - Erection of outpatients’ clinic, §350,000 “. I would like to know of what material these buildings will be constructed; how many rooms there will bp in the outpatients’ clinic; and whether the Public Works Committee has reported on the adequacy of the Department’s plans in respect of these buildings. Details have already been given in the Civil Works Programme. I require further details than those given there.
I refer to page 24 of the Civil Works Programme. Under the heading “ South Australia “ there is an item: “ Port Pirie - Erection of Commonwealth Offices, $147,000.” I would like to know where these Commonwealth Offices are to be erected in Port Pirie; what will be the number of rooms in them; and what Commonwealth departments will occupy them. I refer now to an item on page 33, under the heading “ Department of Works “ It is: “ Richmond (South Australia) - Erection of stores building, $126,000”. Can the Minister state where that building is to be erected and, generally, what its construction and capacity will be?
– Senator Laught asked about a Commonwealth office building that is being erected at Port Pirie. I am afraid that I cannot tell him the number of rooms in the building or the departments that will occupy it. We erect buildings such as this for the Department of the Interior, at its request. The building then becomes the property of that Department, which lets parts of it to other departments. This building is being erected for the Department of the Interior.
The Public Works Committee has reported on the matters in connection with the Springbank Repatriation General Hospital. I am afraid that I cannot tell the honorable senator precisely what the form of construction is, except that it is a permanent form of construction. I do not know whether it is brick, concrete or concrete brick. However, it is a permanent form of construction, not a temporary form. The car park about which the honorable senator made inquiries is to be built at the Adelaide airport, although I am afraid that I cannot tell him the precise area. 1 will find out about the other matter about which he asked; namely, where the building being constructed for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation is situated.
In replying to Senator Ridley 1 can only say that it is not and has not been the policy of the Department of Works to let contracts only to firms that can produce evidence that they have a certain number of apprentices and to deny contracts to firms that cannot do that - in other words, to make that a condition of a contract being let to a tenderer. This is a matter of policy which is still in operation.
.- I refer to Division No. 600. .lt seems to me that unless the Department of Works does a tremendous amount of work by day labour, it has an unduly large number of temporary and casual employees. I would like to know what percentage of the Department’s work is done under the day labour system. I had believed that none at all, or very little, was done under that system. The appropriation for temporary and casual employees represents 44 per cent. of the appropriation for salaries and allowances. To my mind, that is a substantial percentage, unless the Department is doing a great deal of its construction work byday labour. Still referring to Division No. 600, .1 should like to know how many armoured car payroll services the Department employs. As the appropriation for this is $37,000 this year, would it be economic for the Department to have an armoured car payroll service of its own?
Another item that caught my eye was that under which $2,500,000 - an increase of $800,000 on last year’s appropriation - is to be appropriated for expenditure on fees of private architects, engineers, quantity surveyors and other consultants. The Department of Works is the main construction authority for the Commonwealth Government. There may be sufficient professional officers on the staff of the
Department, but the amount provided for fees of consultants is extraordinary. The appropriation for 1965-66 was $1,700,000, and this year it has jumped to $2,500,000, an increase of $800,000. Even for a department which spends nearly $33 million in a year, $S00,000 is not a small sum.
I return to a matter which I have mentioned here on more than one occasion. I refer to the failure to provide parking space in Government buildings. In the area of the city of Melbourne bounded by Spring. Exhibition, Latrobe and Lonsdale Streets, the Department should at least conform to modern practice and provide garage space underneath the buildings it erects. I was informed on a previous occasion that parking areas were not necessary under the first two buildings. Thank goodness those buildings were not constructed in the way that other buildings were constructed, because if they had been it would not have been possible to drive a car underneath them. The height of the area under thi buildings was not in conformity with that of the other buildings. There was no overall plan, apparently. I cannot understand how the Department operates, it knows that sooner or later a certain area will he used for an office building, but as I have said, there seems to be no overall plan. 1 know that it is easy to criticise. There is not one of us who has not made a mistake, but I can assure the Department that if architects or building construction people were to do to me and the little organisation in which I am interested, the things that it has done in its buildings in Melbourne it would not do them again. The floors of one of the buildings in the area I have mentioned do not even conform with the floors of the second building.
I should like to know why plans cannot be provided for the building programme. I know that the Department cannot obtain in one year all the money needed to build every building in a group, but surely there could be an overall plan. I understand that the Department of the Interior allocates office space, but surely that does not obviate the need to conform to modern practices. No other building construction authority in Melbourne is able to build without making provision for space for motor cars. In Melbourne I suppose that there would be one car for every 2.75 people. Why cannot some acknowledgement of this fact be made when the Department is erecting buildings in Melbourne? Recently I was in the BP building in Albert Road, Melbourne, and there were two floors of car parking space. Why cannot the Department of Works be up to date? Is it because it does not care whether people who have to visit the offices it constructs have to drive around for half an hour trying to find a vacant parking meter? Surely the Department does not think that people should not own motor cars. We should make it possible for the affairs of the nation to be transacted in an up to date manner. Let us do that as progressively as it is done in private industry.
Reverting to the immense sum that is to be paid by the Department to outside professional men,I ask: Why cannot we obtain these men for ourselves? Why should we not pay sufficient money to attract suitable men? If we did that, honorable senators would not be asked to pass items such as this $2,500,000 for outside aid for the Department. Incidentally, I suppose that these outside people charge 7 per cent. of the constructing cost of a building. I think that the Minister has sufficient business acumen to see the advantages in the Department itself employing these people. I do not say that all the work could be handled by the Department’s own employees, but at least it should employ a sufficient number of officers to deal with most of the work.
Perhaps the Minister will say when he replies whether the charge made by the outside professional men is 7 per cent. of the capital cost of a building. I deal occasionally with these people - mighty few, mayI say - andI would query it if they were to charge me more than 7 per cent. of the capital cost. It would be interesting to know whether the charges of the outside professional men are of that order. I cannot see why this nation has to go on pouring out money in this way. I believe that if the Department were to pay sufficiently attractive salaries it would obtain the services of competent employees. The heads of the Service departments are proof of that. I doubt whether it would be possible to find in Australia more competent men than the heads of the various Service departments. It is always a source of pride to me to discover, whenI have dealings with them, that they are just as good as the leaders in industry.
I should like to know the reason for the tremendous increase in the proposed expenditure this year. Does the Department plan to build much more this year than last year? I know the Department might not put it all into one year. I do not know whether construction will be greater proportionately than it was last year but I can see that the professional men will certainly get a very large amount of money. I do not say that the Department is not entitled to pay them this amount. Any man is worthy of his hire, be he what he may.
I refer again to a pet baby of mine and that is parking space under buildings. Everyone but the Commonwealth provides accommodation of this sort. You cannot build in Melbourne under the City Council by-laws unless provision is made under the building for parking. We seem to go outside these by-laws and I do not think we should. We should at least study the convenience of the people and recognise that the percentage of motor cars to the population will not decrease. Indeed, there is every possibility that it will increase and I hope the Minister will give some attention to what I have said.
– Senator Kennelly referred to Division No. 600 and the provision for temporary and casual employees. He asked why the appropriation for 1966-67 had gone up, as had the provision for salaries at page 215 of the schedule. These temporary and casual employees are not day labour people or persons workingout in the field on a construction job. They are temporary and casual employees in the Department.
– They represent about 44 per cent.
– About one third.
– More than one third.
– If the honorable senator looks at the estimates he will see provision for$14, 145,000 for salaries and allowances and $6,555,000 for temporary and casual employees. Anyway, that is what they are. The honorable senator asked about the provision of $37,000 for an armoured car payroll service and suggested that it might be more economical to own and operate an armoured car. This item provides for armoured cars in five different branches. It is not provision for only one car in one branch of the Department. This arrangement appears to bc more economical than trying to run armoured cars oneself.
Senator Kennelly also referred to car parks wilh particular reference to the provision of car parks under the Commonwealth Offices in Melbourne. I suggest that the honorable senator raise this question again when we are discussing the appropriation for the Department of the Interior. The Department of Works is a construction authority, lt provides what a client requires in a project, such as the size of the building and the facilities for the building. I have no doubt that if the honorable senator can persuade the Department of the Interior that it should have car parks, the Department of Works will build the best car parks available but only if that is required.
Senator Kennelly referred to fees for private architects. This is a matter of opinion. First let me say that there is to be a very considerable increase in the amount of work to be done throughout the Commonwealth compared with last year. The expenditure last year was $200 million and this year it is supposed to spend $250 million, an increase of $50 million in total on civil and defence works.
– Even then it will not work out in proportion.
– It is an increase of about one third. In fact, it is more than one third. Probably it will not work out in proportion. This is a matter of opinion but 1 would not like private architects, engineers and quantity surveyors not to be engaged in public works construction in the Commonwealth. I would not like to see that work all done by the Department of Works alone. Senator Kennelly asked what sort of fees the architects charged. The fees start at about 6 per cent, on capital and can go up if there is particular specialist work required. I think the honorable senator mentioned 7 per cent, and it could well be that figure. As an example, we, as a Department of Works, are required, if we are doing a job for other than a strictly government department or statutory authority or something of that sort, to charge 6 per cent, on the capital to cover the overhead of the Department for that sort of work. I say that merely to give a comparable figure.
.- I refer to the fees of private architects, engineers, quantity surveyors and other consultants under Division No. 600. The appropriation is $2,500,000. This is a substantial rise above the appropriation last year. First, I should like to query the basis upon which the Department of Works decides whether it will use its own forces or private industry. For obvious reasons, the number of architects employed by the Department of Works is not stated in the salaries and wages schedule. There are 1,360 employees in that category but the number of architects, for example, is not stated.
– What are the obvious reasons? Is it so that honorable senators will not know the numbers?
– No. I imagine that the list would be very much expanded if the number of architects, quantity surveyors and others were stated. But, as senators, we are aware that the Department of Works has a fairly substantial staff in nearly every capital city. In Victoria, there is a fairly substantial staff of architects, quantity surveyors, engineers and so on. I take the point that was raised by Senator Kennelly that an increase in the appropriation for fees of $800,000 is high. These fees are to be paid to private consultants. I congratulate the Department on this policy because I believe its support for private architects and others basically should be in line with the maintenance of a reasonable establishment with the employment of outside assistance at construction peaks.
What are the criteria upon which the Department decides to let out a particular job to surveyors or professional men? Can the Minister indicate what is the policy of the Department in carrying out contract work? Would I be correct in estimating that about 90 per cent, of the work carried out by the Department of Works today is given to private building contractors? Would that figure be approximately correct? I bring that to the fore because the Department today mainly uses day labour for maintenance work. But what are the criteria upon which the Department decides to handle a job itself from an architectural or a building point of view instead of letting it out to private industry? If there is an increase of $50 million in the building programme. I would be concerned that the fees payable to architects, engineers, etcetera. should rise byan estimated sum of $800,000. How is this figure arrived at?
I refer now to Division No. 610 - Furniture and Fittings. Am I correct in assuming that the items set out are estimates of the requirements of furniture and fittings for supply by the Department of Works to other departments? The proposed expenditure for this year is $2,408,000. Can the Minister state in. what way this estimate has been arrived at? This seems to be a tremendous sum of money. although it is not out of line with what was appropriated and expended in the last financial year. Will all this work be done by private contract, or has the department a production unit of its own which will provide some of this furniture or fittings?
The third area in whichI raise a query relates to the Commonwealth building in Melbourne. Can the Minister state the hours of work that are performed in that building by the usual employees? Can he indicate the starting time and the closing time in the offices in. Melbourne?
– Which offices?
– I am referring to the main office of the Department of Works in Melbourne. I am interested to learn the hours that are worked because of staggered times that might be worked in other industries.
– My query relates to these estimates generally. It is pointed out in the preamble to the Civil Works Programme 1966-67 that only projects costing more than $40,000 are accounted for. In other words, 100,000 projects each costing less than $40,000 could be in progress but they would not be subject to review by honorable senators. In addition, projects costing less than $500,000are not subject to investigation by the Public Works Committee. Are such projects not examined publicly? Are they under scrutiny anywhere? Where are they shown in the Estimates? Or are they not shown at all?
I point out that in the Civil Works Programme 1966-67 reference is made in Division 967 to works in progress, amounting to $66,557,448, for the Department of Civil Aviation. Does that sum include projects that will cost less than $40,000? Does it include works not examined by the Public Works Committee? If not, then it means that not only is the Public Works Committee not allowed to examine projects costing less than $500,000, but we in this chamber cannot examine works costing less than $40,000.
I was a member of the Public Works Committee for nearly three years. At that time the Committee had before it for two years a proposal for lengthening the runway at the Kingsford-Smith Airport at Mascot. Evidence was called by the Committee on many occasions. Pilots and others associated with aviation were of the opinion that the runway in question should be extended to 10,000 feet to accommodate aircraft of the future. It was stated that the Tullamarine airport would have a runway of that length. I am of the opinion that the architects, the pilots and all the other aviation people might just as well not have appeared. They argued about the width of the runway, the turn round areas and that sort of thing. They went into the matter really technically. But it was what the Department of the Treasury said that mattered. My experience as a member of the Public Works Committee was that the Treasury said how much money would be spent and that the Committee’s inquiry took place within the confines of what the Treasury said.
Finally it was decided that the runway should be extended into Botany Bay, and a terrific amount of equipment was transferred to the area. I do not know what the project will cost; it is not completed yet. But the runway will be shorter than was recommended by many of those connected with the industry. It seemed to me to be bad economics not to decide that, while the runway was being pushed out into Botany Bay, it should be extended for the full length. It seems certain, in the light of expert opinion and from what one reads in the Press, that when the newer aircraft come here the runway will have to be extended again. I am not an accountant or a financial genius, but if it does not cost twice as much to extend the runway to 10,000 feet in the future as it would have cost while the present extension was being undertaken then I am a Dutchman. To me it seems quite foolish to do this sort of thing. Apparently at the time the Treasury said that it could be extended to 8,500 feet and no more. The Treasury was not even prepared to provide for strengthening the aprons and the sides of the runway to allow planes to overrun its width. Technical considerations like that were brushed aside. A certain sum was made available and the Treasury said that it was not prepared to provide any more.
I was concerned about this waste of public money. There would not have been a man present at the inquiry before the Public Works Committee who did not know that what the pilots were saying was true But the Department said: “ No, the runway can be extended only to this length because the Treasury says that it can go only to this length.” In two years time, when it becomes necessary to extend the runway, all this equipment will have to gathered together again and fresh contracts let. I think ThiessBros, undertook the original extension work. The additional extension could have been undertaken over the last two years. I would like the Minister to give me his view on this matter. Perhaps he would also comment further about the provision of garages for parliamentarians. He said that the shortage of parking space in Sydney, for example, should be referred to the Department of the Interior.
.- 1 shall reply to the last question first. I said in reply to Senator Kennelly that if he wished to have office buildings constructed in Melbourne which provided for car parks underneath, he ought to put his views to the Department of the Interior. That was the Department for which the buildings in question were being constructed.
I shall not express any view about whether or not the new Botany Bay runway is long enough. Frankly, I have not the technical competence to do so. Moreover, it is not a matter which comes within my ministerial responsibility. I do remember the Minister for Civil Aviation saying that it was long enough. But it is not appropriate for me to enter into the discussion while the estimates for the Department of Works are being considered. The honorable senator asked me a question concerning works which cost $40,000 and over. As he knows, all of these works are listed State by State in the paper entitled “ Civil Works Programme 1966-67 “, which has been circulated. Works costing less than $40,000 are not listed item by item but are lumped together at the end of the listing of items for each State, and in this case the expenditure on such works in progress when the financial year ended was $770,010. Then set out, State by State, are estimates for new works costing $40,000 and over. At the end of that, lumped together are works throughout the Commonwealth which cost less than $40,000, for which the estimate is $1.6 million.
asked me a number of questions. One was whether furniture and fittings supplied to a department are listed at its request on its indent. That is what happens. Departments indent to us and we provide them with furniture and fittings. He asked whether we had our own furniture shop or factory in order to do this. The answer is: No, we do not. We call tenders as a rule for the supply of furniture of various kinds, and choose the lowest tender. He asked what the hours of work, exclusive of overtime were, as I understood it, at the head office in Hawthorn, Melbourne. The official hours of work are from 8.30 a.m. to 4.51 p.m. It is true, as he suggested, that in the actual processes of building, some 90 per cent, of construction, as distinct from design, architecture, engineering and other professional services, is done by private contractors. The criterion in the employment of private architects, engineers or quantity surveyors, is convenience, having regard to the work load on the department at any given time. Though there may be some occasions when a private firm is particularly chosen, in general and in the vast majority of cases it would be purely as a matter of convenience.
– I am greatly concerned at the figures shown in Division No. 600 - Administration. Leaving out of consideration amounts to be received from various trust accounts, the proposed appropriation for salaries and payments in the nature of salary is $2,480,803 more than the actual expenditure last year. Coming to subdivision 2 we find that in respect of item 01, which relates to travelling and subsistence, the proposed appropriation is about $331,000 more than the expenditure last year, which seems to suggest that there will be a lot more travelling this year than there was last year. The proposed appropriation under subdivision 1 is nearly $2.5 million more than the expenditure last year. We have to look at the schedule on page 215 to find the reason for some of this increase. While there are to be 544 additional employees this year, only 19 of these will be additional construction managers, so these figures do not suggest that there will be additional construction. There will be additional expenditure but not additional work by the Department. I think that this needs an explanation.
I am more concerned, and I think that the Department must concern itself more, with general Government policy. It may be wrong to raise this query in relation to the proposed vote for this Department, which only takes orders from other departments and undertakes construction for them, but perhaps a lot of the expenditure incurred by the Department of Works in carrying out work for other departments should never occur. For some time I have been endeavouring to secure the release from the Army of someone who believes that his time is being wasted. He was taken into the Army as a refrigerator maintenance engineer, and the only work of that kind on which he has been engaged was on obsolete refrigerators being used by forces engaged in jungle warfare, for which replacement parts cannot be obtained. All of the modern units of refrigeration equipment in Army canteens are serviced by the Department of Works. He is a trained engineer in that department, a maintenance man, who is seeking his release from the Army because he cannot get the work that the Department of Works is now performing. His skills and talents are wasted. He is doing gardening, batman’s work, and waiting on table at functions in the officer’s mess. It should be the Government’s policy to utilise mcn to the best effect.
– What is his skill?
– Refrigeration maintenance engineer.
– And he is used as a waiter on tables?
– And a gardener. [ wrote to the Minister, who transferred him to a branch of the Engineers. This transfer meant that he went from gardening to waiting on table at functions in the officers’ mess. He has had to repair two refrigerators, both of which are old models for which no parts are available. He acknowledges that in the canteens there are refrigeration plants on which he could be utilised, but he cannot touch them because they are handled by the Department of Works. He can neither get his release in order to work at his trade, at which he is competent, nor be employed in the Army on the work that he knows, because another department is doing it.
– Is he a national serviceman?
– No, he volunteered for the Army. This brings me to the question that Senator Ridley raised in relation to the employment of apprentices as a condition of contract. The Minister says that the Department has never stipulated as a condition of contract that a contractor should employ apprentices. The Department should consider whether it should insist on such a condition. I suppose that as a department it is concerned with getting a building completed, but is this sufficient from the point of view of overall Government policy? What happens to the builders of tomorrow? The supply of competent tradesmen seeking employment is diminishing because more favorable employment is available in building construction. Because trainees are not available to become competent tradesmen, a mediocre type of tradesman has emerged. The result is that the Department of Works is drawing specifications to suit the competence of such mediocre tradesmen, rather than insisting on a higher standard of work and training tradesmen who are competent to perform that standard of work.
During my time of employment in the building industry I worked on a lot of hospitals. It was claimed then that, architecturally, hospitals had reached a stage of perfection at which it was necessary that no crevices should be left in the walls to harbour dust. All internal walls had to be, not only plastered to a smooth finish, but trowelled to a bottle finish with a hard surface. There had to be no moulding run at all. To avoid the collection of dust, internal angles had to be coves, and not square angles as we see in this structure. The line between ceilings and walls had to be a cove so that dust could not accumulate. External angles had to be bullnosed, and not square, again to avoid dust collecting. Today, walls in hospitals are left with a sand finish by a wooden float. The rough surface which results provides a harbour for dust and germs and requires much more cleaning. Either the architects of those days were wrong, or the architects of today are wrong.
Whether the numbers of competent tradesmen required to achieve the standards of my time in hospital work are available today is another question. The shortage could well be brought about by the fact that tradesmen are not being trained at present. The incidence of a disease known as “ golden staph “ which has broken out in hospitals has increased in recent years. Yet, rather than train a competent work force, the Department of Works is laying down specifications consistent with the competence of the available labour. If the Department of Works has a responsibility to get a job finished, I suppose it seeks the cheapest contractor. But is this sound Government policy? Should a department work on its own from time to time? At present we are seeking competent tradesmen overseas and doing nothing about training them ourselves. The Department of Works lets contracts, without consideration of the labour force employed by a builder, to the cheapest contractor who is seeking to increase his profit by the engagement of sub-contractors.
The stage is reached where a contractor is engaged who does not employ labour, and who therefore does not employ apprentices. After a particular job is completed, the subcontractor may not know where his next job will be. He does not have the continuity of work to warrant the employment of apprentices under indentures for five years. There is a dearth of apprentices throughout the Australian building industry at present. The Government should be concerned about this problem. The Department of Works is the authority to implement its decision. I suggest that the Department of Works should take a proper attitude toward what is nationally desirable, rather than make the completion of a project the first priority.
To my knowledge, the Department of Works in Adelaide does not undertake construction. For the defence establishment at Woomera and the airfield at Edinburgh a maintenance gang of considerable size is employed in Adelaide. More complaints of bad treatment are heard among employees of the Department of Works than among the employees of any other department with which I have been in contact. 1 have investigated several complaints. Last year I complained when discussing the estimates of the Department of Works about a reply I received from the Director of Works in Adelaide. The complaints are still coming in. Irrespective of whether they are legitimate complaints, there is no harmony or happiness amongst employees of the Department in Adelaide. This lack is more pronounced in the Department of Works than in any other Commonwealth or State department. I believe that the Government should investigate these complaints.
I ask the Minister to consider whether the Government should at some level - perhaps in consultation with the Department of Labour and National Service - seek to define a policy in relation to both works. Stipulations should be made in contracts by the Department which will be beneficial for the welfare of the nation in years to come.
– Senator Cavanagh has asked questions concerning the appropriations in subdivisions 1.01 and 1.02 of Division No. 600 - Administrative. These appropriations are in respect of salaries and allowances as listed in the Schedule and payments to temporary and casual employees. These items show an increase of about $2 million over last year’s expenditure and Senator Cavanagh has queried that increase. The information I have for him is that the increase in relation to subdivision 1.01 is due partly to increments which are due and payable in 1966-67 in salaries for the first time. This increase accounts for about $122,000. Another factor is costs for a full year of salaries and increments which were paid for only part of 1965-66. This factor accounts for about $478,000. An increase of about $550,000 is accounted for by the provision for staff recruitment to vacant positions, which includes the intake of cadets for the coming year. Salary increases arising from determination No. 104 of 1966 - which was a consent award on third division margins as an extension of the taxation officers case - account for about $490,000.
– Could the Minister help us to understand that item a little better?
– They are salary increases which arose from a determination of 1966, being a consent award as to margins of third division officers in the Public Service. It was an extension of the taxation officers case, ls that the point the honorable senator queried?
– Yes. I did not understand the reference to the extension of the taxation case.
– I will get some more information later for the honorable senator. Salary increases arising from the basic wage adjustment which were operative from 21st July 1966 account for about $335,000. Provision for the transfer of temporary employees to the permanent staff in 1966-67 accounts for about $100,000.
In relation to subdivision 1.02, increments due and payable in 1966-67 to temporary and casual employees account for about $48,000. The costs for a full year of salaries and increments paid for only part of 1965-66 account for about $87,400. Salary increases arising from the basic wage adjustment effective from 21st July 1966 account for about $185,000. Provision for staff recruitment to vacant positions account for about $350,000. Senator Cavanagh and other honorable senators may be aware that all departments - not just the Department of Works - have an establishment which they are allowed to fill. They make provision in the Estimates for the total or partial filling of their establishments. This does not, in fact, mean that the money will bc spent, lt will be spent only if the departments can fill their establishments.
asked also about travelling expenses and subsistence allowances. The information I have is that the increase of $341,000 is attributable to the provision for fares and allowances of technical staff recruited in the United Kingdom; to the effect for a full year of increased travelling rates and meal allowances approved by the Public Service Board with effect from February 1966; to a rise during recent years in the staffing establishments in the Territories, involving rising costs in fares for accumulated leave entitlements; to the recent Public Service Board decision to meet the cost of fares of a family in cases of temporary transfers exceeding three months; and to fares and allowances asso ciated with a higher level of activities during 1966-67. Senator Wright referred by interjection, to the taxation officers’ case. I am informed that the Public Service Arbitrator gave a marginal increase to the Third Division taxation officers, and that subsequently the Public Service Board, by consent, extended the increase to all permanent Third Division officers.
Senator Cavanagh suggested that only 19 additional construction managers are to be recruited for 1966-67. The increase of 19 does not relate necessarily to construction managers, but covers all the classifications which are listed in that item in the schedule of salaries and allowances.
Senator Cavanagh and Senator Ridley expressed the opinion that the Department of Works should insist, as a condition of awarding a contract, that the contractor employ a given number of apprentices. It is not Government policy to require the Department to insist on this before a contract is let. The Department calls for tenders and lets a contract to the lowest tenderer who is suitable in all other aspects. Of course, in all of its own maintenance and other depots the Department employs full complements of apprentices.
– I shall relate my remarks to the item relating to expenses of site investigations and surveys, in Division No. 600, and also to the item concerning repairs and maintenance for the Department of the Interior, in Division No. 615. On 25th August I asked the Minister for Works whether any decision had been made on the construction of a Commonwealth office block in Adelaide. I reminded him that at the end of 1964 I had been told that the question was under consideration and that policy decisions had not been made. Annual rental charges for office accommodation are nearly £500,000 in both Adelaide and Canberra. Can the Minister now tell us whether the Department of Works has been commissioned to make a constructive start on the provision of a Commonwealth office block in Adelaide, and whether any surveys of land have been made? I understand that some examinations have been made, and possibly a decision has been reached. If the Minister feels that it would be more appropriate to raise this matter when we are discussing the estimates for the Department of the Interior, I shall do so then.
The other question that I wish to put arises from the amount of 34,779,000 that is to be spent on repairs and maintenance in 1966-67. Can the Minister tell me what proportion of that amount is to be spent in respect of each Commonwealth department, and particularly, what amount is to be spent in respect of offices which are rented by Commonwealth departments? The Department of Works has recently built a new Commonwealth office block at Port Pirie, at a cost of £147,000. I understand that maintenance and repairs on Commonwealth buildings which house Commonwealth departments are carried out by the Department of Works, but 1 would like to know who carries out the repairs and maintenance on private buildings, such as insurance office buildings in Adelaide, which house Commonwealth departments. In Adelaide, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices are housed in an insurance building, and the Department of Works, the Department of Supply and some other departments are housed in another privately owned building.
I understand that the cost of altering a private building to suit a particular department’s requirements has to be met by the Commonwealth Government, and that, in addition, the Government has to meet certain costs for maintenance and repairs. I would like to know whether the private owner of such a property is liable to make repairs if, say, something becomes defective in the electrical system. There are doubts in my mind as to whether the present arrangements are satisfactory. Can the Minister tell me to what extent the 27 departments that are now occupying private accommodation in Adelaide are liable for repairs and maintenance on those buildings?
– I think the Minister stated that the increase in the travelling expenses and subsistence allowances to which I referred was partly to cover the fares and allowances of professional men to be brought out from England. Can the Minister tell me whether these professional men are to be brought out from England for one particular project, whether they are to be on loan to the
Department or whether they are to become permanent residents of Australia?
The Minister corrected my statement in relation to 19 additional construction managers for 1966-67 and said that the increase covers the whole of the classifications listed, which include construction managers, area managers, regional officers, district officers and so on, all of whom would be employed on construction work to some extent. This supports my case. It would appear that the increase in the number of people engaged on construction will not be commensurate with the increase in the number of general employees of the Department.
– Senator Cavanagh is quite right. I said that there would not necessarily be an additional 19 construction managers, but that the increase of 19 covered the whole of the categories listed. I did not say that in order to reply to any argument that the honorable senator put forward but merely to show clearly what the position was. As to the matter of bringing out professional and technical staff, the people concerned would be people such as architects and engineers, who would be required to do planning work with the permanent staff of the Department.
– Would they be permanent employees or would they be brought to Australia for one job?
– We would hope that they would be permanent employees. Last year the Department sent a mission to England with a view to offering professional and technical people permanent jobs in the Department. These people may choose to bc temporary employees.
asked me a question relating to Division No. 615 - “Repairs and Maintenance “. It is a little difficult for me to tell the honorable senator with absolute precision and clarity what he wants to know. But there would be no doubt, 1 think, that should a department which was moving into a privately owned building wish to have structural changes made, partitions put up and alterations made for its own purposes in that building, the work would be carried out by the Department of Works. I think too that, in such a private building on hire to the Commonwealth, there would be ail sorts of materials and fittings - blinds, furniture and carpets - which were the property of the Commonwealth and that the maintenance work regarding those items would be done by the Department of Works or the contractor to the Department of Works at the expense of the department which owned those items. The structural maintenance of the building itself would be carried out by the private owner of the building although that might be varied depending on the terms of the actual lease that was entered into by the Department of the Interior and the owner of the building. I cannot think of any case where this maintenance would not be the function of the owner of the building. But I will look into the matter to see whether I can obtain any more definite information on that point.
I come now to the question of the construction of a Commonwealth office block in Adelaide. I looked at the notice paper today to see whether the question that Senator Bishop asked me in Committee appeared here. 1 could nol find it. If the question had been on the notice paper, I would have answered it - and I so answer the question that he has asked today - by saying that the construction of the new Commonwealth Centre is still under consideration having regard to the overall needs of all capital cities. 1, as Minister for Works-, am unable lo say just when it will be decided to proceed with the proposal. Should the honorable senator require any further details, he could approach the Minister for the Interior for them. However, I can say as Minis er for Works that my Department has not been authorised to undertake planning, and that approximately two years would be required to develop any proposed scheme, arrange a submission to the Public Works Committee and prepare detailed drawings and contract documents for the invitation of tenders.
.- I refer to Division No. 600, subdivision 2, Administrative Expenses, “ Field, laboratory and radio testing equipment - Purchase and maintenance”. It may be noted that this year the anticipated expenditure is $200,000 whereas in 1965-66 the sum expended was $176,410. From a glance at the item itself, it appears that the Department is required to purchase and maintain certain equipment that is used for specific purposes. The item refers to field testing equipment. To me that appears very vague. I could understand the item perfectly well if a radio station or even if a television station had to be erected somewhere. The field would have to be tested because the minerals and the mixture of the soils-
– May 1 interrupt the honorable senator for a moment? “ Field, laboratory and radio testing equipment - Purchase and maintenance “ refers to equipment that is taken out into the field to work as against equipment which is only to be used in a laboratory. The equipment is not to test a field. It is like field artillery. It is equipment taken out to the site.
– To me and to the average member of Parliament what the item really means and why it is in this subdivision are not clear. But I am sure that the Minister will have a good reply to make to my query.
I pass on to Division 610 - “ Furniture and Fittings “. I do know of my own knowledge the nature of the work carried out by the Department of Works in furnishing government offices and fitting them as they should be fitted. I do know the class of furniture that is provided in certain offices and the improvement on some of the old furniture that has been made by the introduction of new materials - we are all aware of this fact - that are coming on the market today and are being used advantageously by the Department. The old style wooden furniture is disappearing rapidly. In its place some synthetic material is used. A certain amount of cast iron is incorporated also. Nevertheless anyone testing the new chairs in particular finds that they are comfortable and serviceable. This is what 1 am concerned about: The operations of the Department of Works extend all over the Commonwealth. If the Department had to furnish an office in Hobart, would it obtain its furniture in Hobart or would it bring the furniture to Hobart from Melbourne? I know something of the purchasing arrangements of the Department. I know how the Department is safeguarded. But certain practices creep in.
I can see another situation in this regard. The Department would furnish offices in Sydney with furniture manufactured in Sydney. If the Department had to furnish an office in Newcastle, would it purchase the furniture from a manufacturer there? What
– I refer the Minister to the document “ Civil Works Programme 1 966-67 “. I note that in relation to proposed new works an estimated amount of $218,000 is .required for the construction of intercepting sewers and disposal units at Darwin. I note further that an amount of $1,150,000 is provided for roads, drainage, sewerage and water supply construction in the Alawa sub-division. A further item estimates $375,000 for the construction of roads, drainage, sewerage and water supply to Une Escarpment sub-division. These amounts have been set aside for sewerage and other works in Darwin as proposed new works. I think all honorable senators have received letters from the Town Clerk of the Darwin City Council. I assume that this means that the contents of the letters represent the views of the aldermen of the Council and, in turn, the views of the people of Darwin.
The letter complains bitterly by the moves by the government department concerned, or whoever is responsible in this field, to have sewerage deposited into the Darwin harbour. According to the local citizens, this action will create a local health hazard. I ask the Minister whether this project has been before the Public Works Committee? Has that Committee had a look at this matter? If so, did the Committee seek evidence from local municipal authorities regarding the matter? If it did, has it reported in favour of these works despite the opinions of the local citizens? Secondly, I would like to know whether the amounts to which I have referred take into account the requests made by the people of Darwin for the establishment of an up to date sewerage system which will not present the hazards that they, in their correspondence -I believe that all honorable senators received letters to this effect - say will exist if this work is done as planned.
– Senator Benn raised the matter of equipment that is used in a laboratory and equipment that can be used out of a laboratory. The reason for having this field and laboratory equipment is to be able to make technical and scientific tests that are felt to be necessary in all fields of construction. These tests frequently lead to considerable savings in construction costs. The radio equipment is required for communication, particularly in the Territories and when people are in Land Rovers, or vehicles of that kind, and working well away from the departmental headquarters. The actual types of tests carried out with this equipment are not shown in the material that is before me; but I believe that the equipment would be used for testing the tensile strengths of materials, the breaking points of concrete columns and things of that kind.
We have annual contracts for the supply of furniture in each State. In each year in each State we call for tenders for the supply of the types of furniture that we want. The successful tenderer supplies the furniture that we require in that State for that year. He might be in Newcastle or in some other place. But each year manufacturers of furniture have a chance to tender for and to supply furniture for the requirements of the Department of Works in each State. Senator Ormonde raised the matter of the discharge of Darwin sewage into the Darwin harbour. This discharge is taking place at present and has taken place over a period of time. I answer him as I answered the circular letter on this matter which we all received. The requirements of the city of Darwin in this respect should be taken up with the Minister for Territories. If that were done he would then instruct us if he wanted anything to be built. We do not form policy in this field. We build things that we are asked to build.
– I wish to ask the Minister a general question about his Department. I am reminded of it by Senator Benn’s statement about office furniture. Does the Minister know that the Department of Education and the Department of Public Works in New South Wales have examined this question of office furniture and have hit upon ideas that are revolutionary? They have had practice runs and exercises. They have what they consider to be a scientific approach to office furniture. Certain departments have conducted experiments in relation to posture, sitting at desks, heights of tables, heights of feet above the floor and similar matters that make for the more efficient working of the departments. This development is quite general in New South Wales Government departments today. It is said that these methods are much more efficient than the old methods.
That brings me to the point that Senator Benn mentioned. Does the Department of Works purchase its furniture in various areas? For example, does it buy its furniture for Launceston in Launceston? Is its furniture for Brisbane made in Brisbane? By that method the Department might get a heterogeneous assortment of furniture. That might not be in the best interests of the Department. Will the Minister inquire into the development in New South Wales to which I have referred and see whether the principles that apply there could be applied to his Department?
– I do not know whether the Department of Works knows about or has investigated the designs which Senator Ormonde tells me the Department of Public Works in New South Wales-
– And the Department of Education.
– . . . and the Department of Education in New South Wales have tested. I presume that he is talking of office furniture for all sorts of offices throughout the Public Service. It is possible that the Commonwealth Public Service has not heard of this matter. On the other hand, it is possible that our Service has examined it, but it might not necessarily agree with the suggested designs. I will ask my Department to consider this question in order to see whether it agrees or disagrees with the designs. In regard to the other point raised by the honorable senator, there would not be a likelihood of a heterogeneous mass of furniture being provided merely because some was bought in Brisbane, some in Sydney and some in Melbourne. My reason for saying that is that the tenders are called on standard specifications for furniture, which would be common to all cases.
Proposed expenditures and proposed provision noted.
Proposed expenditure, $260,680.000.
Proposed provision, $80,000.
– I refer to Division No. 440, subdivision 1, item 02 - “Temporary and casual employees “. The expenditure under this item last year was $1,503,334. The estimated expenditure this year is $1,467,000. That represents an increase of about $36,000. I also refer to the line “ Permanent officers occupying temporary positions “ in the Repatriation Department section of the Schedule. The appropriation last year was $382,976 and this year it is $203,776, or approximately $179,000 less.I should like the Minister to explain why these permanent officers are occupying temporary positions. I take it that the officers would be receiving their salaries in the departments to which the various divisions refer. but I would like to know why so much money is being spent on the salaries of permanent officers who are occupying temporary positions. The proposed appropriation for temporary and casual employees shows an increase of approximately $36,000. It seems that the number of employees has increased and that this accounts for some of the increased amount. In addition, there have been salary increases in the last few months. Nevertheless I would like the Minister to explain to me the actual reason for the increase.
I also refer to Division No. 443 - Repatriation Hospitals and Other Institutions. The provision for temporary and casual employees shows that a vast amount of money is being spent on such employees. I suppose we can take it that in the hospitals and other institutions the persons employed on administrative work number far fewer than the other employees, but it does seem that there has been a substantial increase in expenses incurred in connection with temporary and casual employees at repatriation hospitals and other institutions. Perhaps the Minister will be good enough to explain the reason for this. I also wish to refer to Division No. 446 - War and Service Pensions and Allowances. The provision for pensions and allowances for incapacitated ex-servicemen and their dependants is less than last year’s expenditure. The proposed expenditure this year is $113,512,000 and expenditure last year was $120,995,536. No doubt the Minister will correct me if 1 am wrong, but perhaps the increase is due partly to the fact that dependent children have reached an age at which they are no longer eligible for the allowances, and partly to the number of deaths of incapacitated ex-servicemen.
– I. inform Senator Drury that temporary employees represented 19.6 per cent, of the total administrative work force of 3,035 as at June 1966, compared with 32.5 per cent, of the total administrative work force of 2,565 at 30th June I960. The general policy of the Public Service is to have permanent establishments filled with permanent officers, but this can never be fully achieved in an economy in which there is close to full employment. From time to time papers come forward to me for the purpose of making some officers permanent and of deleting certain temporary establishments and when I ask why this is necessary, that is the reason that is given, to me.
Senator Drury also asked about pensions and allowances for incapacitated exservicemen and their dependants. There is a difference of $7,483,536 between the expenditure last year and the proposed expenditure this year. As I stated during my second reading speech on the Repatriation Bill 1966, with which the Senate dealt recently, there will be one pay period fewer during this year than last year, and that will account for most of the decrease. I did not clearly hear the honorable senator’s reference to the deaths of incapacitated exservicemen, but of course that also would account for part of the increase. I shall answer a little later the other question which the honorable senator raised.
. -I wish to take advantage of the Estimates debate to make an appeal to the Minister because at this time it may have a little more effect than written requests which on previous occasions have been refused. I refer to the provision for printing expenses under Division No. 440 - Administrative.
The proposed expenditure on office requisites and equipment, stationery and printing this year is $492,000. Because of th’is Government’s careful assessment of repatriation requirements, each year the Parliament discusses legislation to amend the Repatriation Act. In 99 cases out of 100 the amendments are passed by the Parliament and then are printed. There are throughout Australia many ex-servicemen’s organisations, such as the Returned Services League from which the plea that I am about to make originally came to me. All these ex-service organisations and clubs have a copy of the Repatriation Act. It is becoming very large, and in most cases it is rather tattered and torn. It is necessary for the organisations to paste in their copy of the Act the amendments which this Parliament makes to the Act from time to time so that they may advise exservicemen and their dependants of the latest details concerning repatriation. At the present time they have to order two copies of the amendments and it is necessary for them to do a lot of cutting and pasting to incorporate all the amendments in their master copy.
My plea is a very simple one. 1 shall nol accept the answer that it. is too expensive to do as I suggest, because from my knowledge of printing - and I am a member of the Printing Committee - that is not so. The Repatriation Department must have an idea of the number of copies of the amendments that are sent to ex-service organisations. Surely the Department could order so many copies of the amendments to be printed on one side of the paper only so that each organisation could cut them up and paste them in the master copy. This is not a matter of great moment, but if the Department were to do as I have suggested it would be well received by those who have to do the book work and give advice to the beneficiaries of repatriation.
– I wish to ask the Minister a question concerning the Repatriation General Hospital, Concord. When I visit that hospital I get the impression that it is not exactly full. I know it is pretty difficult to judge how many patients are there at a given time, but over the period 1 have been visiting the Hospital it has seemed to me that a lot of beds are almost permanently empty, I have in mind the great crisis in hospitals generally and the shortage of beds in all Sydney hospitals. Would it not be possible for the Repatriation Department to work more closely with the general hospitals in Sydney so that if beds were not available in one place, they could be made available in another? I cannot understand why special doctors should be provided for repatriation hospitals with a monopoly control of the medical cases in those hospitals. Why cannot the arrangement be more resilient so that if doctors cannot place patients in a hospital such as the Western Suburbs Hospital which is nearly always full, they could go to the Concord Repatriation General Hospital? Am 1 correct in stating that the Concord hospital has a number of spare beds? If I am correct, can that be said also of other hospitals in other States and cities? If that is so, the Repatriation Department could make a fine contribution to the alleviation of pressure in other hospitals.
My second question to the Minister for Repatriation relates to administration. I formed the conclusion that an Appeal Tribunal does not look kindly on an appellant employing as an advocate a member of the State Legal Aid Bureaux.
– He cannot be represented by .a legal man.
– Can a legal man not put an ex-serviceman’s case under any circumstances? I have the impression that it was allowed. I advised a person to get legal aid and he said he had great success with the Department. I might have been misinformed. But he did not feel he was welcome. Will the Minister comment on those matters, particularly the overcrowding or undermanning of Concord hospital?
– I shall reply first to Senator Drury and would inform him that there is a large number of temporary employees at repatriation institutions. Temporary employees represented 66.6 per cent, of the total work force at these institutions at 30th June 1966 compared wilh 62.3 per cent, at 30th June I960. The percentage has risen over the period despite the policy to replace temporary employees with permanent employees. The number of temporary em ployees is large in this area because of the nature of the work. For example, nurses and hospital assistants tend to move into a hospital and away again fairly rapidly.
Senator Marriott referred to copies of the acts. I do not think it would be a great burden for the organisations to which he referred to spend a few shillings to get. copies of the acts as they require them and put amendments in them. I do not think the responsibility should be on the Repatriation Department to see that these organisations are kept supplied with up to date amended copies of the acts.
Senator Ormonde referred to the Repatriation General Hospital at Concord. I can assure him that the position is not as he stated it. The average daily bed occupancy at Concord hospital, I would think, seldom falls below 1,200 and is generally about 1,240. It can go much higher. The Department tries to maintain a ratio of beds vacant to beds full of 10 per cent. Concord is round about that level. It is one of the hospitals which is pretty full as a rule. The honorable senator asked about other hospitals. A repatriation hospital which has had more beds vacant for some months than any other hospital is Heidelberg. This is because of the difficulty in getting sufficient nurses for Heidelberg.
asked about advocates for appellants appearing before Appeal Tribunals. I think the question was answered by several honorable senators by way of interjection. An appellant is not permitted to have legal man appearing for him as an advocate. If this were permitted, we would run into all sorts of legal technicalities and over the years this has been found not to be in the test interests of the appellants themselves. However, there is nothing to stop anybody having any person other than a legal man as an advocate. The Department believes it is a good thing that an appellant should have a man experienced in the ways of tribunals to represent him because then the appellant is not so likely to miss out on points that should not be missed out.
Sitting suspended from 5.47 to 8 p.m.
– I refer to Division No. 443 - Repatriation Hospitals and Other Institutions. I wish to seek from the Minister information about the erection of the artificial limb and appliance centre, for which the estimated expenditure is $140,000, and of an outpatient clinic at the Springbank Repatriation General Hospital.I ask the Minister whether a contract has been let for this work. Will the two projects be undertaken together, thereby making the whole of the work less expensive, or will they be done separately?
I do not know whetherI will be in order in trying to tie up the payment of repatriation pensions with the payment of income tax. I refer in particular to pensions that are payable to ex-service women.I spoke about this matter during the Budget debate. If an ex-service woman is in receipt of a pension of more than $130 a year, the concessional deduction that her husband is able to claim for her for income tax purposes is affected. I am wondering whether at some time in the future the Minister will confer with the Department of the Treasury about this matter. The pension payable to an ex-serviceman is not taken into consideration in the assessment of income tax. but the husband of an ex-service woman who is in receipt of a pension is penalised if her income exceeds$130 a year.I do not know how many ex-service women are in receipt of pensions. I cannot find the information in the report of the Repatriation Department or in any of the Budget Papers. I do not know whether the Minister can tell me at short notice the number of ex-service women who are in receipt of a pension for total and permanent incapacity. the intermediate pension and so on. I do not think that the removal of this penalty from the husband of an ex-service woman who is in receipt of a pension would entail very great expenditure. This is an injustice that could be rectified quite simply at very little expense.
– A contract has not yet been let for the work at the Springbank General Hospital to which Senator Drury referred. The Public Works Committee has reported favorably on the project. The time of commencement will depend largely upon the Department of Works. I find the second matter referred to by the honorable senator to be a little confusing. We regard male and female pensioners as being pensioners, irrespective of their sex. I understood the honorable senator to say that a female pensioner is taxed but a male pensioner is not.
– No. The wife’s allowance that is claimed by the husband of an ex-service woman pensioner for income tax purposes is affected if the wife is in receipt of a pension of more than $130 a year.
– I shall give this matter some thought and let the honorable senator have an answer later.
.- I wish to raise two matters on behalf of pharmacists, who I believe have a reasonable case, and I should like the Minister to explain to me the view that is taken by the Repatriation Department. Assume that a doctor writes out a prescription for certain medicines or surgical aids.I believe” surgical aids “ is the term used in relation to polythene gloves, which is the particular case that I have in mind. Apparently on the lists that are supplied to pharmacists these gloves appear in the same category as ethical patent medicines. A pharmacist that I know states that he would immediately hand out this item on the instructions of an agent of the Repatriation Department. But apparently a claim for this item will not be accepted, even though it has been listed by the Department as being something for which the Department will pay.I would imagine that under normal commercial law the Department has an agent in the person of a doctor who writes out an order form. Doctors perhaps write out the order on any piece of paper: there is no standard order form.
– Yes, there is.
– It is always used?
– It has to be.
– Well, I take it that that is not the sort of case that was put to me. The information given to me is that instructions to pharmacists to supply various medicines come on a variety of forms. The pharmacist takes the view that once he receives an order for medicines or goods, that should be the basis of the contract. In all probability the supply of the goods and the signature would complete the contract. If certain medicines are made up immediately and are put on the shelf. the Department should pay for them even though they are not collected. I put those two points to the Minister. Let me repeat them. First, it might be very difficult for a supplier to ascertain whether an item ordered is listed by the Department and is one for which he might logically expect to be paid by the Department. Secondly, does the Department accept responsibility for an item only after it is signed for? Is it not fair, when an item is made up but not collected, that the Department should accept responsibility for payment?
– Perhaps the best explanation that I can give to Senator Webster is to refer him to notes for local medical officers, which are issued by the Repatriation Department and sent to local medical officers for their guidance. These lay down fairly clearly that the following aids to treatment may be prescribed and supplied on Form 70-
Eye, ear and nose droppers; eye shields; eye baths; litmus paper; test tubes; diagnostic reagents; atomisers; nebulisers.
I do not know what nebulisers are.
– They are for the nose.
– All right. The honorable senator would know. Those items are prescribed on Form 70. The notes go on to state that certain other articles may be recommended on Form 71 by the medical officer. Perhaps I should say at this stagethat if a doctor prescribes certain medicines and items which are then made up by a chemist, and the Repatriation Department is of the opinion that some of those items are not on the list but should be supplied, the invariable practice is for the Department to reimburse the chemist because, after all, he has carried out his part of the job in making up the prescriptions, and then, the Department takes the matter up with the doctor, so the chemist is not the loser. The notes for local medical officers go on to state -
The following articles may be recommended by you on Form 71 and will be supplied to the patient from departmental stocks. Form 70 should not be used for these articles:
Bed pans; diabetic scales; sputum mugs; infrared ray lamps; urinals; spirit lamps; elastic stockings; hypodermic syringes.
A local medical officer living in a remote locality may be authorised by the Department to dispense his own prescriptions. In such a case he will use Form 70 and obtain the patient’s signature. Local medical officers who dispense their own prescriptions will receive a circular giving details of pricing arrangements and the necessary departmental forms. I think that covers the questions asked by Senator Webster. I feel that the other question raised by Senator Drury is one for the Taxation Branch. I am sorry that I cannot give him the information for which he asked.
– My question relates to Division No. 443, which concerns repatriation hospitals and other institutions. It has reference to the proposal that the artificial limb and appliance section of the Repatriation Department in South Australia is to be transferred to Springbank Hospital with the erection of a new building, about which the Public Works Committee has made some inquiries. I might mention that on this matter Senator Drury and I have made representations to the Minister. I must admit that he has given us every opportunity to support the proposals of the Limbless Soldiers Association of Australia, which sought to have this section retained in the city. The Association’s argument is that the change imposes employment difficulties on incapacitated people, and this seems to me to be a sound argument. It was put to the Minister. The substance of it is that if these people are required to go a further distance from the centre of Adelaide employers will find less inducement to employ them.
We put upthese representations and they were rejected. I understand that there is now some notion that the Repatriation Department might set up a courier service to accommodate incapacitated people. I should like the Minister to say whether this is so. Having regard to the very important representations that were made by the Association representing these incapacitated people, I should like to know whether an arrangement is being made for them to have regular transport to the Springbank Hospital when the new section is established. Further, I should like to know whether the same sort of arrangement might apply to other community groups, such as the Crippled Children’s Association, members of which up to now have been using and appreciating the facilities of the Department and will be required to travel some seven or eight miles further from the centre of Adelaide.
.- I should like to raise a number of points. The Minister has touched on a couple of them but, I feel, not quite fully enough. I refer to Division No. 440, subdivision 2, items 02, 04, 08, and 09; Division No. 443, subdivision 2, item 06; and Division No. 449, item 10. The first of the items to which 1 have referred leaves me a little puzzled. lt reads: “ Office requisites and equipment, stationery and printing, $490,000”. The actual expenditure in 1965-66 was $412,015. This is quite a substantial increase and 1 should like some explanation of it from the Minister. Item 04 relates to office services and it appears in the estimates each year. I am rather puzzled as to what comes under this heading. Item 08 relates to minor building maintenance and works. The proposed appropriation is a fairly static figure compared with last year’s figure. The Minister and I had words over this matter one night last week and 1 did not get much satisfaction. He did not like me and he would not tell me what was meant by it. I raise this question again advisedly because I want some information. My question is -
What are the total amounts spent on Repatriation Hospitals at Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne For hospital extensions since 1949V What are the sums expended and the nature of improvements at each hospital?
All I have to date is a very evasive answer. Do minor building maintenance and works apply to hospitals or office buildings? Exactly what is covered by this item? It is rather intriguing, because the provision seems to be of a static sum.
Item 09 relates to incidental and other expenditure. Expenditure last year amounted to $104,828. The proposed appropriation is $117,400. If this is a petty cash account, precisely what does it cover? Item 06 in subdivision 2 of Division No. 443. too. relates to incidental and other expenditure. In this instance the proposed appropriation is $580,000. Item 10 in Division No. 449 relates to miscellaneous expenditure. The proposed appropriation is $1,380,600, and the expenditure last year was $1,314,555. If we add the last three items I have mentioned, we find that the figures for petty cash accounts approximate £2 million. I suppose in a business organisa tion miscellaneous expenses, petty cash accounts and so on are minor expenditures. If the Department is spending $2 million without making any explanation as to how, why or where it is spending it, (his is pretty unfair to members of the Opposition, but it is even more unfair to people who need something from the Repatriation Department and cannot get it. They do not know on what the Department is spending this money. I should appreciate it if the Minister would give an explanation of this.
There are a couple of points that I should like to touch on briefly. Last year the Repatriation Department underspent its appropriation by about $4 million, in round figures.
– To which Division is the honorable senator referring?
– I am referring to the total appropriation for the Repatriation Department. Last year the appropriation was about $267 million and the expenditure was about S263 million. This year the appropriation is about $260 million, or about $3 million less than last year. Last week when we were debating the Repatriation Bill the Minister told us how bankrupt was his Department and how he could not find additional money to help the Boer War veterans and the Diggers of World War 1. On the Department’s figures appearing in black and white in the Estimates, it is obvious that in total the Department does not intend to spend as much as it spent last year. If it underspends to the same extent this year, the total expenditure will be about $257 million. The sum that the Department is obviously saving over this period of 12 months would go a long way toward providing the benefits that the Labor Party asked the Department to provide in the amendment that was carried last week with the assistance of the two Democratic Labor Party senators and the independent senator.
I am aware that we have not finished with the Repatriation Bill and that at the appropriate time it will be returned to the Senate in an effort to deprive the diggers of their just entitlements. However, I do not want to be too critical about this matter. I wish to know how the moneys have been spent under the headings to which I. have referred. I think that $2 million in petty cash is an awful lot of money.
– Perhaps I had better answer the questions that have been asked already before we move on to more questions. Senator Bishop asked about the courier service. The courier service can be considered for transporting aids and appliances requiring minor repairs which may be left at the branch office in the city and collected on the same day. As the honorable senator probably knows, the transport of patients is arranged by car where it is considered in the opinion of the Department to be medically necessary. I do not know that there is much point in traversing the decision to locate the new artificial limb factory adjacent to the Springbank hospital. This is in keeping with a policy that has proved to bring about the best results in other centres in Australia and overseas. We are aware that there has been resistance to moving the artificial limb factory from its present site to Springbank, but we have no doubt at all that it is in the best interests of the patients.
asked quite a number of questions. He referred to the provision for minor building maintenance and works under subdivision 2 of Division No. 440 - Administrative. An amount of §1 7,600 has been appropriated for this item. As the heading indicates, the provision is not for hospitals, but for administrative expenses incurred. It relates to works on branch offices and other buildings of that type. Apparently Senator Keeffe thought that insufficient detail has been given in subdivision 2 but, after all, it is fairly well itemised. For travelling and subsistence the appropriation is §324,000; for office requisites and equipment, stationery and printing the appropriation is $492,000. This may seem a lot, but I again remind the Senate that the Repatriation Department receives about 9000 letters a day. This means a lot of correspondence and bookkeeping are necessary. The appropriation for postage, telegrams and telephone services is $674,000. In considering this appropriation, it should be remembered that at Grace Building alone about 1.500 outpatients are seen daily. Particulars of the patients must be recorded, so it is clear that a considerable amount of stationery is necessary for this purpose.
Item 04 relates to office services, Included in this item are cleaning, fuel, light and power, water supply and sanitation. Item 09 relates to incidental and other expenditure and covers such items as compensation, repairs and maintenance of office machines, freight and cartage, armoured cars, the printing of departmental publications, and so on. Provision for incidental and other expenditure under subdivision 2 of Division No. 443 relates to expenditure at institutions, travelling and subsistence, office requisites, postage and telephones, as I have just expained
Senator Keeffe referred to item 10 in Division No. 449. This item covers payments under Repatriation regulations for recreational transport allowances, medical rehabilitation, funeral expenses, small business loans, educational grants to children under 1.2 years and reciprocal arrangements with other countries such as New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
– Is the Minister referring to item 09 or item 10?
– I am referring to item 10. 1 mentioned that it covered recreational transport allowances and reciprocal arrangements with other countries. Senator Keeffe asked again a question that was asked some time ago. It was not in any spirit of wishing to be non co-operative that his question was not answered more fully. I can assure him on that score. Every honorable senator who asks a question in this chamber is entitled to the best answer that can be provided for him and this is what one tries to do. The Department had a good look at the honorable senator’s question and was of the opinion that no answer it would involve quite a lot of research. For that reason, it was felt that his question could not be answered in the manner he desired. That is why a more complete answer was not given, but I do not think that it is quite right to say that the answer given was evasive. If the honorable senator thought that it was evasive, I can tell him that it was not meant to be.
– I would like to raise a point with the Minister concerning presentation of the annual reports of the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunals. In perusing the four reports which have been presented to the Senate 1 have noticed that each appendix takes a different form. It is impossible, for me at least, to attempt any comparison of the work of the four Tribunals. In fairness to the Minister, I should say that I mentioned this matter to him and he indicated that he had no power to dictate to the Tribunals the form in which their reports should be presented. I think it is a fair request that some effort should be made to submit the appendices in basically the same form. They do not even run in the same State order, for what that is worth, and it is more or less impossible to make a comparison of the work carried out by the various Tribunals under the various sections and of the decisions they have arrived at. The only thing which is easily ascertainable is the grand total of appeals and submissions. This information. I would submit, is not terribly relevant. I ask the Minister whether it is possible to have some uniformity in the presentation of the appendices.
– I wish to refer to Division No. 446 - War and Service Pensions and Allowances, and to the appropriation for pensions and allowances for widows and other dependants of deceased exservicemen. I do so for a very special purpose. I hope that the Minister and the Senate will bear with me because 1 have risen, not in any spirit of carping criticism, but in order to pay a tribute to somebody who passed away last weekend. I refer to the late Mrs. Vasey, who was such a marvellous friend to war widows. I think it is due greatly to her efforts that the expenditure in respect of war widows’ pensions which we are discussing tonight has reached the sum it has reached. For the past 21 years she has worked to get the war widows of this nation a fair deal from all governments. 1 happened to be associated with Mrs. Vasey 21 years ago, when she first came to Canberra with her proposals for the War Widows Guild. 1 went with her to interview the Minister for Repatriation of that time and subsequently to interview his successor. 1 remember that the Minister for Repatriation, when he saw us together, would say: “ Here comes trouble “. Mr. Chifley, the Treasurer of the day, said that when he saw us he always knew that he had to dig deep into his pocket. That was perfectly true. Mrs. Vasey was a woman who put all of her very great ability and skill into organising the war widows into a very important section of the community so that they could make their voices heard and get their just dues from the Government in the way of pensions and 01 her amenities such as hospitalisation.
I would like to pay a tribute to Mrs. Vasey. Perhaps I am out of order in raising the matter during this debate on the estimates for the Repatriation Department, but I take this opportunity to pay a tribute because her funeral was held today. On behalf of all the women who have been associated with Mrs. Vasey over the last 20 years, 1 express my deep appreciation of the work that she has done for the war widows of Australia and for their dependent children.
I now wish to turn to Division No. 449 and to discuss the proposed expenditure on the maintenance of patients in nondepartmental institutions. 1 realise that patients must be accommodated in nondepartmental institutions in those areas where there are no repatriation hospitals, but I ask the Minister whether he can tell me what proportion of the money that is appropriated under this heading is spent, not on the treatment of patients in general or public hospitals - on patients with repatriation entitlements and so on - but on elderly patients, about whom I have spoken before in this chamber, who are treated in “ C “ class hospitals. I do not think that adequate facilities are being made available for these people. Had Mrs. Vasey lived long enough, she would have seen that sufficient facilities were made available for all aged widows, to spend their declining days in peace. 1 think there is also a very great need for facilities to be made available for exservicemen in their declining years who are chronic sufferers and who, therefore, cannot be given continuous treatment in repatriation hospitals and are put into “ C “ class hospitals. Often the cost of their maintenance in these hospitals imposes a strain on their families, because the payments by the Department and their pensions are not sufficient to cover the cost. I know that quite a lot of hardship is caused in this way. So far, this problem has just been touched on. The Returned Services League has done a good deal of work in this matter, but it is not enough. There are still quite a number of elderly people who are being maintained in “ C “ class hospitals. I do not think this is good enough. 1 ask the Minister whether there is any way of ascertaining how this amount of $4 million is likely to be apportioned between the general hospitals, where patients receive full medical treatment, and the “ C “ class hospitals and other similar institutions.
– Senator Withers referred to the reports by the Entitlement Appeal Tribunals. He was quite right in saying that the Tribunals themselves decide the form in which their reports are presented. They are required to submit annual reports. 1 have tabled reports from four of the Entitlement Appeal Tribunals, and I expect to be tabling the report of the fifth tribunal - a temporary one which was established last year - within the next few days. As Senator Withers said, these Tribunals are independent bodies, and I would not attempt to suggest to them the form in which their reports should be presented. But I do know that their members read “ Hansard “ and I am hoping that they will take note of what the honorable senator has said tonight. I think it would be good if some uniformity in this matter could be achieved. I insist that the monthly reports of the Deputy Commissioners shall be of a uniform kind, because when reports are uniform in style I find it much easier to compare them and get the information that 1 need.
Senator Tangney referred to war widows. Although I may be out of order in doing so at this stage, I, too, express my gratitude for what Mrs. Vasey has done for war widows and express my regret at her passing. I. last saw her when she asked me to inspect some new homes in Melbourne that were either completed or just about to be completed. She did a remarkable job and brought happiness to many war widows. Her example has been followed in many States. War widows’ organisations seem to be very active in all States and they have built some very fine homes for people in need of them.
I am sorry that I cannot give Senator Tangney the information for which she asked regarding the apportionment of money between general hospitals and nondepartmental institutions, but I can tell her that in 1965-66 2,101 war widows and their dependants were admitted to nondepartmental institutions in country areas and 417 to such institutions in metropolitan areas. I do not have a break up of the figures for the ex-servicemen. As I think some honorable senators have beard me say before, one of the problems in the repatriation field is that of looking after what one might call the geriatrics. Only a few months ago I visited Picton, where we have a place in which these people are being looked after. A few weeks ago I visited the R.S.L. war veterans’ homes in this city and in Yass. When one sees these homes one feels a great deal of gratitude for the people who are giving such a lot of their time to providing facilities for people who are in need of help.
There is one break up of figures that I am able to give to the honorable senator. An increased amount of approximately $343,000 is to be provided this year, compared with last year, for the maintenance of patients in non-departmental institutions. The increase will be apportioned as follows: Mental institutions, $121,000; Red Cross institutions, $2,000; and other civil institutions, $220,000. The purpose of the appropriation for the maintenance of patients in non-departmental institutions is to provide for the treatment in civil hospitals - Red Cross, mental and other civil hospitals - of eligible ex-service personnel of both world wars and of the Korean and Malayan operations, and of widows, widowed mothers, etc., who are eligible under the Repatriation Act and Regulations. It is also intended to provide similar benefits for eligible persons under the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act. Last year the total appropriation for this item was $3,770,000 and our expenditure was $3,763,227 so we were fairly close to the estimate there.
We have no separate expenditure figures for chronic or geriatric hospitals and for acute cases in non-departmental general hospitals. However, table 20 in the annual report of the Repatriation Commission for 1965-66 shows that in that year patient days totalled 87,543 for “ C “ class hospitals and 190,102 for general hospitals. I do commend this report to honorable senators because it contains a wealth of information. Quite frankly, while I have had a good browse through it, I am not as familiar or as conversant with its contents as I would like to be.
.- I refer to Division No. 443 - Repatriation Hospitals and Other Institutions - and wish to deal specifically with subdivision 1, “ Salaries and Payments in the nature of Salary “. In the Schedule of Salaries and Allowances we find a breakdown of the staff of repatriation hospitals and other institutions. This breakdown shows that the number of positions in the nursing category, which in 1965-66 stood at 1,290, will rise to 1,493 in the current financial year. This category includes: Senior matrons, matrons, sisters, nurses (male), nursing aides, student nurses, nursing aides-in-training, senior sisters, senior nurses (male), senior tutor sisters, tutor nurses (male), and tutor sisters. That breakdown covers the category of employees concerned with the operational side of repatriation hospital administration.
I wish to say a few words about male nurses. It seems as if there has never been any co-ordinated effort in the States of the Commonwealth to find out what is happening in the whole setup with regard to the training of nurses. A tremendous wastage occurs each year as trainee nurses complete their period of training. The number of nurses that go on into hospitals to continue nursing and so give a return to the hospital for the period of time that they have spent in training is actually diminishing. Because of the nature of our State hospitals system, these problems are dealt with by the States in the best way that they cao. Some States have reduced the period of training necessary for qualification as a nurse. In other States, incentives have been offered to nurses to move around the various hospitals in. the States concerned to give the nurses a variety of experience. But there does seem to be a great need for an investigation on the Commonwealth level into this problem. I can think of no better place for the holding of an inquiry into this aspect and the expenditure by the Commonwealth in training young ladies as nurses than repatriation hospitals. The inquiry would investigate the reasons why these young ladies do not continue in their profession after they complete their training. Of course, it is quite natural to find some students not continuing after the first year. The type of young woman who takes on a nursing career and continues in her job after the first year has to be gentle and thoughtful. She must be a marvellous woman. These are the very characteristics and qualities that make for a good wife.
– How does the honorable senator know so much about this subject?
– I have personal experience.
– The honorable senator has contributed to the wastage.
– When I speak of wastage, I am leading up to a point. I specifically mentioned some of the categories in the nursing field in order of seniority. We find we have senior matrons, matrons, sisters, and then nurses (male). That is the seniority ranking for a man who is qualified as a male nurse. In the order of seniority we pass through a number of other classifications of nurses including student nurses before we come to senior nurse (male). I have heard of a highly qualified male nurse being classified as a deputy matron.
I believe that this aspect of nursing has to be viewed in the proper perspective. The nursing profession can be a fruitful and rewarding occupation for men who are interested in this type of work. I do not think that any embarrassment should be caused by the fact that a man takes on this profession. I understand that the trend is towards male nurses taking positions in operating theatres where they have quite a degree of responsibility and where they provide continuity of service which is so important in the highly technical and complicated surgery practice that we know today.
– The word “ wastage “ is what I want the honorable senator to explain.
– My point is that there should be some way by which girls who qualify as nurses are encouraged to continue on in the nursing profession.
– It is better for them to get married.
– They can continue nursing after marriage.
– How can they?
– What happens when a family comes along?
– I am trying to be objective in this matter. This is a problem on which J should be receiving co-operation from Senator Turnbull. The honorable senator knows the problem with which I am trying to grapple. Honorable senators find something amusing in my remarks-
Hie TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.-
Sena’.or O’BYRNE. - I am becoming involved here, Madam, through no fault of my own. I believe that there is room for an inquiry to be held on the Commonwealth level. Such an inquiry could come to grips with this problem, in a much better way than 1 could explain to Senator Cormack what I mean by wastage. It would appear that the Commonwealth and the States are not receiving full value for the tremendous amount of money that they expend on the training of girls between the ages of 1 7 and 2 1 in the nursing field.
– Full value of what?
– They are not receiving full value for the expenditure they incur on the training, accommodation and teaching of junior nurses. A sufficient number of these nurses are not continuing in the profession after their training is completed with the result that our hospitals are not fully staffed.
Let me return to the position of male nurses. After all, quite a number of people in the community feel that they are fulfilling their life’s purpose by taking up the nursing profession. Male nurses could usefully give their services to a hospital for longer periods if they were not involved in the same problem as junior nurses are involved in.
– Let us hear about their problems.
– The problem follows the natural sequence of events. Nurses marry at the end of their training period. In my view this matter has not been approached on a Commonwealth level to find out what is happening in this regard. Male nurses are being classified as senior nurses (male) and as tutor nurses (male). I think the time has come when it must be admitted that the nursing profession is not the exclusive domain of the female.
– Is the Repatriation Department not the only organisation training male nurses in Australia today?
– Other organisations train them too. I do not know the numbers. I am given to understand that when they do well they do very very well but that they can be like the girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead, that is to say, they can be horrid. A number of male nurses are occupying responsible positions in hospitals. They are occupying these positions because of their length of service, experience and familiarity with the environment of an operating theatre. An assistant in an operating theatre who possesses these qualifications is invaluable to a surgeon. A surgeon’s task in an operating theatre is made much easier and his work is carried out much more efficiently when he has someone to assist him who is reliable and who knows the whole setup. It is important in this field lo have people who are well experienced in their work. T would like to see that nursing problem examined by the Repatriation Department because of the very great amount of expenditure involved - $3,174,279 a year. Naturally, quite a large proportion of that amount would be spent on student nurses and nursing aides in training. I would like the Department to see whether there is some way in which this problem can be solved.
I refer now to Division No. 449, item 03 - “ Maintenance of patients in nondepartmental institutions “. The appropriation for this item is $4,106,000. As was mentioned earlier in answer to a question, many of these institutions cope with patients who cannot be treated in repatriation hospitals because those hospitals have not the special facilities required. I ask the Minister whether some further concession could be made to enable members who are entitled to repatriation hospital treatment because of their war caused disabilities to have access to the closest hospital available to them. Some patients travel considerable distances - at no expense- to themselves, of course, because the Repatriation Department pays a member’s fares in travelling to the nearest repatriation hospital. But a member may be moved far away from his wife and family if he lives in an area that is remote from the central repatriation hospital. Expense is involved if his wife wishes to be close to him while he is in hospital. That is an additional burden for them to carry. I believe that there should be a more liberal approach to classifying patients who could be treated quite well at local hospitals. From an economic point of view, there would be a saving in cost in the form of fares and other expenses. But the period of recovery could be shortened because the patient’s relatives would be close by instead of being far removed from him.
– That is the French system.
– Representations on this matter have been made to me by people in my home State, but I find it quite difficult to give a complete explanation of the present system. I have taken this opportunity to ask the Minister whether he can give me an idea of the circumstances in which these concessions are given and the processes by which special consideration can be obtained to enable a patient to be treated at a local hospital when the necessary treatment is available there. This obviates the necessity for the patient to travel a considerable distance from his home. If he does that and his wife wants to be close by him while he is in hospital, that involves additional expense for them.
Another item to which I wish to refer is Division No. 449, item 07- “ Soldiers’ Children Education Scheme “. Recently representations were made to me in relation to a member who was a war pensioner. He had a very severe form of neurosis. Sometimes he had periods of great depression and at other times he had periods of violence. He had had numerous courses of treatment at psychiatric hospitals and the like, without very great success. His condition was deteriorating to the point where his wife and family feared him and the psychiatrist who was attending him had no hesitation in recommitting him to the psychiatric hospital or mental institution. The psychiatrist said: “ The time has come when we have to forget about this fellow and think of his family “. I made representations to the Department on behalf of the members of the family who were dependent on him and had been left without any funds, other than a proportion of the war pension, to carry on their normal life.
Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– We do have male nurses in our repatriation hospitals. Naturally, they do a good job. I do not know whether Senator O’Byrne is aware that we have training schools inour repatriation hospitals. At the end of last year we had 385 nursing students in training at Concord, Heidelberg and Greenslopes. I think I am correct in saying that we also have some nursing students in some of the other hospitals now. This scheme is expanding. We are asking the Public Service Board to agree to the introduction of a system of nursing bursaries for nurses at Heidelberg. This will be very valuable, if we can persuade the Board to agree to it. We have more trouble holding our nurses at Heidelberg than anywhere else. The reasons seem to be, first of all, the location of the hospital, and secondly, the fact that, for some reason or other, after nurses have been at Heidelberg for a while they decide that they would like to go to Tasmania or New Zealand and, having done so, very often do not come back to our repatriation hospitals. Of course, some of them do. However, in the’ other States the nurses do not have the same tendency to migrate, as one might term it.
We have these nursing schools and they are very successful. I would like to pay tribute to the girls who enter these schools and graduate from them. They are very fine types of girls, as one would expect. In them we see a spirit of dedication that one really has to experience to appreciate.
– Has the Minister any figures on the proportion of nurses who stay on after graduation?
– No, 1 have not. We seem to get our share of them. When I meet these girls I tell them that I do not mind if they leave us on one ground alone; that is, if they are to be married. I will go along with their leaving on that ground because, in my view, marriage is the best career for any woman. Another factor which I believe makes it a little difficult for these girls to stay with us is thai the nursing that is undertaken in repatriation hospitals is, naturally, very different from that undertaken in the ordinary public hospitals. We have some women patients; but they are mostly in the older age groups. The men patients are also mostly in the older age groups. Occasionally we have some young patients, but we do not have very many of them. So that is another reason why these girls do not stay with us as long as we might hope they would.
Married nurses have been mentioned. Wc have quite a number of married nurses. Indeed, 1 do not know where we would be without them. Provision is made at our hospitals for these nurses to live in and quite a number avail themselves of this facility. Harking back to the subject of male nurses, obviously we cannot employ male nurses in the female wards.
Senator O’Byrne referred to the Soldiers Children Education Scheme. Anybody who has seen anything of this scheme is filled wilh admiration for it. It is a wonderful scheme. Wc have had go through the scheme the first lady judge, members of Parliament and a padre who has just returned from overseas. Men and women from all walks of life have gone through this scheme. It is being run by very dedicated and efficient people. Last year we spent approximately $2.5 million on it. I take a great deal of pride in it and consider it a very worthy adjunct to the repatriation system.
– I was delighted to hear the Minister say that he could answer the various questions that had been asked and was anxious to do so. Perhaps he will now answer my question. When a doctor writes a prescription it is handed to a chemist and is made up. If it is never called for the chemist is not entitled to collect from the Repatriation Department. I put forward the proposition that a contract is made at the time that the instruction is given to the chemist and that he should not be the one to lose. Perhaps the Minister also will reply to two other points. The Minister mentioned the type of order form that is used, but if he could make the position a little clearer I would be grateful. The type of instruction, or the document on which the instruction goes to a pharmacist, can vary quite a lot. The
Minister commented that in certain remote areas doctors were given the right to write the order, I take it on any kind of paper.
I now ask: Are there particular areas in which a physician may do this, or has the Department a particular order form, such as Order Form No. 70 or No. 71, to be used in all instances? Why should it not be used in all instances if a doctor is a recognised agent? Also, would the Minister make clear the form in which instructions in general are sent by the Repatriation Department to pharmacists.
– Book after book.
– 1 am informed that in some instances the instructions are sent out on roneoed sheets and in many cases are difficult to file. Is there a sufficiently good filing system within the Department so that agents and suppliers may know comprehensively the work that they are required to do?
.- I do not want to appear to be trying to provoke the Minister, but 1 am nol satisfied with the answers he has given me to the questions I. raised a short time ago. In fact, the answers appeared to be those of a politician on the eve of a Federal election. I asked him in particular about incidental and other expenditure under Division No. 449. He gave details concerning items 03 and 04, but I did not want to know about those items. I think that they refer to reasonable expenditures and are stated sufficiently in the Appropriation Bill. He then made reference to item 06 and said that this related to offices, telephones and so on. Next he referred to item 10, and I gathered that the major point he made in this connection was concerned with funeral benefits. The funeral benefits are so mean that they would not account for one quarter of this expenditure. That just does not work out. If the Minister is trying to drive me down the drain I will drive him up the wall. We do not know who is going to win, but I want honest answers to the questions I am asking. If there is to be complete evasion of these issues, what are the electors going to think? I have asked honest questions and we should be able to get detailed answers.
I again ask the Minister to explain in more detail items 09, 06 and 10 in Division No. 449. 1 do not want to know about items 04 and 05 or any of the other things that the Minister spoke about in evading my questions. Let us get down to the facts. If item 10 is larger because of funeral benefits, please tell us how much of the additional expenditure is due to funeral benefits and how much of it falls under other headings. If item 06 in subdivision 2 of Division No. 443 refers to office expenditure and telephones, why is this shown in item 03 in subdivision 2 of Division No. 440? The latter item refers to postage, telegrams and telephone services. If these things are to be covered under another item to the extent of half a million dollars the Minister should explain how much of the expenditure relates to telephones and office expenditure and how much to other things. I think that is a reasonable request. If the Minister cannot obtain the information now and wishes me to ask for it by way of questions on notice I will do so. I do not want to be unco-opera five, but I do want honest answers.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister with regard to the male nurses who are employed in repatriation hospitals. Do they receive equal pay with female nurses?
.- To reply to Senator Webster’s questions, as I indicated earlier, the booklet “ Notes for Local Medical Officers” was sent out to local medical officers. I understand that a revised booklet is to be sent out to the chemists. I inform the honorable senator that a chemist is not paid for an item that is not collected, but even if he is not paid for it provision is made for this in the costing of the items. It is taken into consideration when the items are costed in the first place. That should satisfy Senator Webster.
– No, I am not satisfied.
– Well, I am satisfied. Senator O’Byrne asked about hospitalisation and I am sorry that I omitted a reply o- is point. In special cases hospitalisation in local hospitals is provided. The humanitarian aspects are considered, and if it is possible to do this, in the interests of the patient and his family we go out of our way to see whether this can be done. However, normally the procedure is, as the honorable senator no doubt knows, for people who are well enough to be moved to the repatriation hospitals to be treated by repatriation doctors.
To return to Senator Keeffe’s queries, it might be better if the honorable senator were to place questions on the notice paper. I think that the answers which I have in the explanatory notes are not sufficiently itemised to provide the information he is seeking. Therefore, if he will place questions on the notice paper I will see whether I can get the information for him.
– I do not want a lot of detail. I just want the major features.
– Let me give an illustration. At page 17 of the explanatory notes reference is made to item 09, Incidental and other expenditure, and t’he following comment is given -
This item covers minor expenditure not separately classified-
I understand that the honorable senator might want it in classified form - such as compensation, repairs and maintenance of office machines and equipment, freight and cartage, legal costs (loans), armoured car services, and printing of departmental publications.
– What is the purpose of the armoured car service? Is it to take patients to hospital?
– I am sure that the honorable senator wants repatriation patients to receive the payments that are due to them. The armoured car service is used for that purpose. I remind the honorable senator that all these items are subject to very close scrutiny by the AuditorGeneral’s officers. As I have said, if the honorable senator wishes to have greater detail he should place questions on the notice paper.
– Thank you. 1 shall do that.
– I refer to the proposed votes for medical supplies and specialist services. When the late Senator Wade was Minister for Health he told us about the great struggle that the Government was having to reduce the cost of drugs. Senator Wade waged a long campaign in this field. I believe there were several conferences, perhaps five or six, with the drug manufacturers who are becoming a monopoly. We know that the cost of drugs is high but Ministers have spoken in the Senate about general reductions in prices of medical supplies that they had achieved. If the cost of those medical supplies has been reduced as a result of these conferences, this is not reflected in the proposed appropriation for the Repatriation Department because the proposed vote for medical supplies is $1,414,000 and actual expenditure last year was $1,352,000 compared with the appropriation last year of $1,349,890. The figures before last year might have been lower or they might have been higher. But as I have said, on these figures, reductions in the prices of drugs have not been reflected in the estimates. I assume that there are as many patients today as there were when the late Senator Wade was administering the Department of Health and was doing his best to co-operate actively with other departments in forcing drug companies Lo keep prices down. The Government was doing something then but it is not shown in these figures. 1 refer now to the fees for visiting medical specialists. There are fees for medical examinations, I take it by ordinary general practitioners and what not.
– I do not like the honorable senator’s disparaging tone.
– The general practitioners might not find it so disparaging. They are so scarce that soon they will be a monopoly. The cost of medical examinations is shown at $240,000 and I presume that is for ordinary examinations by general practitioners, but the proposed vote for fees for visiting medical specialists is $1,743,000. Actual expenditure on this item last year was $1,634,000. These large figures tell us nothing. For example, they do not tell us what the hospital has to pay for one visit for the average patient. Can the Minister for Repatriation tell us whether the fee charged by a specialist, is, for example, five guineas or three guineas a visit? We would then know whether specialists were over charging. However, particularly I would like the Minister to try to explain why the continuing reduction in the cost of drugs is not reflected in these figures.
In a debate in the Senate last week, both Senator Wright and Senator Dittmer ex pressed surprise that the Repatriation Department did not have any figures to show the incidence of cancer among exservicemen and among other people. The Minister made a reply then but probably he is in a better position now to give a more detailed explanation of the reason why the Department does not keep these statistics. Has it any idea of doing anything about it?
– First, I shall answer Senator Ormonde’s questions about the cost of drugs. The average cost of prescriptions last year was $2.26. The demand for these items during 1965-66 was greater than expected and, as a result, stocks have been depleted. These will need replacement. Usage rates are increasing in line with developing medical standards, in particular in relation to pathology, greater use of disposable items and the demand for new items continually being introduced into the medical field. Anticipated increased attendances at out-patient level will also increase demands on this item.
The honorable senator asked about the cost of fees for visiting medical specialists. The additional funds are required to meet the increasing demand for specialist consultation in general and auxiliary hospitals and out-patient level. This is in line with policy determined by the Commission on the recommendation of its senior medical advisers and the Central Office Medical Advisory Committee. This is aimed at improving treatment standards in line with general community concepts and to meet the changing needs of an ageing ex-service population. The provision for fees for specialists is a direct result of a policy that each in-patient will be placed under the care of a specialist appropriate to the type of condition from which he is suffering. Previously, the general practice was that a specialist was called in only for certain cases or when the ward doctor required specialist advice. I think that cleans up the question as far as I can answer them at the moment. I have nothing to add about cancer.
– What about equal pay for nurses?
– I do not know but I shall find out.
Senator MURPHY (New South Wales) for (he Repatriation Department which is $260,680,000. One of our functions in this chamber is, not only to see that money is provided, but also to supervise the administration as far as we may and to see that all money provided reaches its proper destination, lt is common human experience when one deals with a sum as large as $260 million that there will be abuses - instances of maladministration, both minor and serious. In many ways, action has to be taken to clear up these matters. They occur from time to time inevitably in any large department of State, especially one spending a sum such as this. If you have a vigilant Minister and advisers who are doing their job properly, they will bring these instances of abuse of the regulations and maladministration to the attention of the Minister. He will see to it that he finds out what is going on in his department. We in the Senate are entitled to be told what is happening. It is not for us to go around, ferret out. what is happening in a department and to tell the Minister it is happening and to ask for an explanation. The proper course ought to be, not only with the Repatriation Department, but with all departments, that the Senate and the other chamber be informed by the Minister as to the workings of the Department and the instances of maladministration that have come to his attention during the period under review. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) has been in charge of the Department sufficiently long to be well aware of what is going on. I ask him to tell us of the instances of abuse and maladministration that have occurred in his Department and the steps he has taken to correct them.
– Can the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) tell me whether any separate records are kept to indicate whether the rate of admission to repatriation hospitals is any higher among ex-prisoners of war who were in captivity in Japan and in Europe? Can he state whether the aggregate rate for either of those categories is higher than that for ex-servicemen who were not prisoners of war? If any marked trend is apparent, is the Department taking into account that, as the years go by and these people get older, there might be a rise in the curve of admissions and greater demands might be made on facilities in the repatriation hospitals? Is any research being done on this matter?
– In reply to Senator Murphy, I would say that I. cannot put my finger on any maladministration. As the honorable senator said, mistakes must occur in such a large department, particularly when there is such a large turnover of clerical staff. This is particularly so in the section which is housed in the Grace Building in Sydney, where we have a staff of well over 1,000. A lot of them are young girls who have just left school. Many stay there for only a few weeks. The staffing problems that must occur in that place would drive me mad. But in spite of that, and much to my amazement, very few mistakes occur. Mistakes have occurred in admitting people to hospital. Perhaps some have been admitted who should not have been admitted. But we are able to iron out such difficulties. No maladministration has been brought to my notice, even though f look at things pretty closely, as I think the Deputy Commissioner will agree. The Auditor-General’s report has given us a pretty clean sheet.
I have been handed a note which states that the Department has been free of these things and that this has been so for many years past. I attribute this to many factors. First, the Chairman of the Repatriation Commission is an outstanding man. The three members of the Commission are top notch men. We have an outstanding Deputy Commissioner in each State, very good matrons at each of our hospitals and good medical directors. Staff of this calibre are to be found from the Commission down. The Commission has been able to choose its staff and has had the right people to choose from. I am not hiding anything when I say these things. To the best of my knowledge, the Department has been running smoothly for quite a long time. This is not as a result of anything that I have done; it was running smoothly when I assumed responsibility for it.
The matter mentioned by Senator Branson has not been the subject of a lot of research, but interest has been taken in it. Up to the present we have not found that the people mentioned by the honorable senator are starting to suffer more than are people in other categories. However, the matter is exercising our attention, as is the position of people who have been exposed to radiation. We have not been able to ascertain anything in relation to people exposed to radiation that would lead us to believe that there is a trend such as was mentioned by Senator Branson.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
Department of Housing.
Proposed expenditure, $4,457,000.
Proposed provision, $58,250,000.
Senator LAUGHT (South Australia) [9.25). - I wish to discuss Division No. 260 - Administrative, and to refer in particular to the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, which 1 understand is one of the major pieces of legislation that is administered by the Department of Housing. Recently clause 6 of the Agreement was amended by adding at the end thereof the following sub-clause - (5.) During each of the financial years commencing on the first day of July in the years 1966, 1967, 1968. 1969 and 1970, respectively, each Slate shall allocate for the provision of finance for hume builders not less than thirty per centum of the total advances made to the State under clause 5 of this agreement in that financial year. 1 have received some complaints in South Australia that this provision is not being carried out. Obviously 1 regard it as being my duty to bring the matter to the attention of I he Minister and to ascertain from her why it is not being observed and whether she has any suggestion about ensuring observance of it.
The Co-operative Building Society of South Australia has written to me and has drawn my attention to the fact that over the last live years in South Australia the building societies’ share of the annual allocation has remained at a level of between 6 per cent, and 7 per cent., the remainder going to the State Bank of South Australia. It is understood that the building societies in Queensland arc to receive 40 per cent, of the housing allocation this year in lieu of 30 per cent, as in the past, and that permanent building societies in Western Australia are receiving a greater amount this year than before. This is rather worrying to mc. because in South Australia there are at least two big building societies. The Cooperative Building Society of South Australia is one of them. I understand that they are very well run and very well organised, and that they could do with a lot more money than they are receiving.
I understand that the Government of South Australia has a big say in the matter, despite the fact that it is obliged to allocate not less than 30 per cent, of the total advance for home builders. I understand that in South Australia the tendency is for the Housing Trust and the State Bank of South Australia to receive well over 90 per cent, of the money that is advanced. As I have already indicated, between them the building societies get only between 6 per cent, and 7 per cent. I put it to the Minister that she should consider this matter and should endeavour to see that the building societies get more than they do. They are able to provide a bonus in the form of a lower rate of interest to the home builders who borrow from them.
Iiic TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN. -
The question is, “ That the Committee take note of the proposed expenditure”.
Senator POKE (Tasmania) [9.30.1.- I move -
That the following words be added lo the motion - “ But is of the opinion that the expenditure be reduced by SI as a protest against the Government’s action in excluding credit unions from the provisions of the Homes Savings Cram Act 1964-1965.”
I am well aware that quite an amount of money has been allocated for homes under various headings. We members of the Opposition feel that the addition of credit unions -to the various accredited organisations that are providing money for housing would assist considerably in alleviating the housing position. Money is provided for home building under the Homes Savings Grant Act, under provisions relating to war service homes, under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, and so on. I realise that the credit unions have submitted to the Minister for Housing a case for consideration. The Minister mentioned this in her statement to the Senate which was made, if my memory serves me correctly, only last week. 1 do not know whether she is in a position al this point of time to indicate to the Committee whether or not she has - I suppose in consultation with the Government - decided to bring credit unions into (he homes savings grant field. 1 should be very pleased to hear from her on that particular point. lt has been very noticeable over the past three months that the Minister - I do not say this disrespectfully - has been rather vocal in her endeavours to impress on the Parliament and the people outside - particularly those people who are seeking homes - that the Government is doing all within its power to improve the home building rate. The application to credit unions of the provisions of the Homes Savings Grant Act would be a means whereby more money could be channelled into housing. One must also remember that the housing needs of the people must be equated to a great extent to the increase in population. Credit unions in Australia at the present time have some 200,000 members. They have saved some $80 million and have assisted quite a number of young people to obtain homes. This is a very worthy objective of credit unions and is to be applauded. One of the reasons why they have been excluded from the provisions of the Act is that they are entering into competition with building societies and organisations which are lending money al high interest rates, lt must also be pointed out that at one time credit unions did participate under the homes savings grant legislation.
Considerable numbers of people are endeavouring to have homes built but are unable to obtain finance. In Tasmania, in March of this year some 2,01.4 applicants were awaiting homes under the Housing Department scheme. The waiting period varies from six to eight months. This indicates to me that inclusion of credit unions would not only relieve housing departments of the various States of a number of applicants but also assist the people of whom I speak. I mentioned that the number of houses had to be equated to the increase in population. One has only to look at the figures to find that a continual rise in housing requirements throughout the Commonwealth has been brought about by the increase in population through migration and other factors. So it does seem to me that the inclusion of credit unions in this scheme would serve a most useful purpose. They have made a number of applications for inclusion, mainly to the previous Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury).
Tracing the history of the homes savings grant back to its birth, one recalls that it was the brain child of the former Prime
Minister, Sir Robert Menzies. In his election speech prior to November 1963 he indicated that an amount of £250, as it was then - $500, as it is today - would be made available to young people to assist them, provided they had saved £750 over a period, and provided certain other conditions were met. The conditions were not given at the time of the policy speech. They were eventually agreed upon and put forward by the Government at a later stage following the appointment of Mr. Bury as Minister for Housing.
The exclusion of credit unions highlights the Government’s inconsistency in. not including accredited organisations under the scheme. If credit union members who are already saving for homes were to get the benefit of the Act, increased resources would be available for housing. It is safe to say that without credit unions many hundreds of people, particularly young persons, would not be in homes today. They would still be looking for a place to live. In view of the number of credit unions, which is increasing throughout Australia, it is only right and proper that they should be included in this scheme. In many instances, if it were not for the money which is made available through the credit unions to their members, many young people would be suffering great financial stress in providing homes for themselves.
One of the virtues of including credit unions in the home savings grant scheme would be to relieve many young people of the heavy financial burden of second mortgages. When a young couple enters into a contract to purchase or build a home, in the majority of cases they have to enter into second mortgages. Cases have been known to me in which it has been necessary to take out third mortgages. The amount repayable is thus raised to a figure which is almost outside the capacity of young couples to pay, unless husband and wife are working and are so able to regulate their lives that they do not have a family until quite a number of years after their marriage. It appears to me that the Minister may shortly be able to give an indication of whether she is giving any more favourable consideration to the request of the credit unions to be included in the homes savings grant scheme.
Credit unions are composed of groups of people who are bound together by a common bond to assist one another in various aspects of life and in the difficulties they may face. Many members of credit unions are young people. They club together to save and to lend to one another their savings for the building of homes, the repayment of mortgages and so on. It is true to say that credit unions are lending an increasing proportion of their funds for housing, including money for second mortgages and for the purchase of land. They arc of great assistance to their members.
In the order of importance of costs incurred in acquiring a home, the cost of finance comes first; the cost of materials is next and the cost of labour is a comparatively small factor. A reduction in housing costs, perhaps, could be achieved in a number of ways. If labour costs were cut by half, the annual cost of housing would be reduced by approximately 10 per cent. If the cost of materials were halved - I merely use this to illustrate what I have said previously - the annual cost of housing would be reduced by 15 per cent. 1 come now to the interest question.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Senator Poke has moved an amendment on behalf of the Opposition, to the effect that the Senate is of the opinion that the item should be reduced by $1 in protest against the Government’s action in excluding credit unions from the provisions of the Homes Savings Grant Act 1964-65. I put it to the Senate that for several reasons the honorable senator has not been convincing as to the worth of the amendment. One reason is that, on the estimates for the whole field of governmental activity in housing, where a wide variety of problems and human situations are encountered, all subject to a wide variety of interpretations, the Opposition’s only criticism of the Government comes down to a suggestion that a certain organisation might be admitted to the homes savings grant scheme. I refer to credit unions. As I understood Senator Poke, he described them as groups of people bound by a common bond who save together and lend one another of the savings. Credit unions are described to me as service organisations where service to a member in solving financial problems by mutual co-operation is paramount. Any organisation which can encourage people to save together and to lend to one another is certainly worthwhile, but I cannot accept as a description of a credit union that it is an organisation engaged in arranging for finance within the terms of the Homes Savings Grant Act.
Senator Poke mentioned the word “ inconsistency “ on a couple of occasions. While members of credit unions lend to one another for building purposes, they also feel free to assist members by lending money for what they describe as “ any good purpose “. I submit that that expression is capable of a fairly wide interpretation. In asking the Senate not to accept the amendment moved by the Opposition 1 would like to refer to some matters related to the estimates for the Department of Housing. A quick glance at the figures in the estimates is sufficient to discover that they reflect increased activity in 1965-66. This is borne out by what the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) said a little while ago - that the Government was concerned about the construction of housing which had continued to increase. We need to preserve the high standard of housing we have in Australia, and to maintain the variety of cottages, flats, home units and all the other constructions that cater for the Australian community. 1 remind honorable senators that $120 million is to be advanced to the States this year under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, and that a special allocation of $15 million for housing was approved by the Loan Council in March.
It is important to observe that the monthly rate of advances to the States under the Agreement has increased by 25 per cent, for the present period when compared with the position about a year or more ago. It is envisaged that $8 million will be spent on matching grants for homes for married servicemen; $58 million will be spent on war service homes for eligible ex-servicemen; $9 million is to be spent on capital grants for homes for the aged; and $13 million under the homes savings grant scheme. There is a selection of figures, all of which indicate that a great deal of money is being expended on and being made available for housing throughout Australia. With that money goes departmental activity and concern and consideration for a wide variety of people. Surely this indicates that the amendment falls down and has no merits of its own on which to stand. 1 continue to refer to the homes savings grant scheme because the amendment is specifically related to it. As honorable senators are aware, the home savings grant scheme is designed basically to assist young married people to acquire their own homes. Married persons under 36 years of age are entitled to a grant of $1 for every $3 saved for the first home they own .after their marriage. The scheme also provides for a maximum grant of $500 for savings of $1,500 and, of course, for smaller grants where smaller savings are involved. To show that the scheme is already functioning efficiently and effectively. 1 draw attention to the fact that during the last financial year approximately 29,600 grants were made, totalling $13 million. Since the inception of the scheme. 54.000 grants have been made totalling $24 million.
An important factor in the operation of the scheme is that over 33,000 applications have been reviewed, of which 29,647 were approved and 4,021 failed to meet the requirements of the Act. I think it is very significant to note that, of the 29.000 odd applications which were approved, 71 per cent. - nearly three quarters - received the maximum grant of $500. Of course, I am not unaware of the difficulties of the situation. As I have said, 4,021 applications failed to meet the requirements. From my study and experience of the scheme, there seem lo be two main reasons for the rejections. The first reason is the applicant’s failure to apply for the grant within the time allowed, and the second is the applicant’s inability to show that the savings have been held in the required form. There are other matters, such as failure to meet residential qualifications and things like that.
However, the main reason for rejection seems lo be the time factor. I think that every one of us has had experience of this matter. Recently I have dealt with cases where people failed to get the grant because they applied a short time after the permitted period had expired. I would ask the Minister whether anything can be done in this regard, ls there any way in which we can increase publicity so as to draw attention to the time factor, or is there any possibility of the Minister exercising a discretion? I know that this would open up a lot of problems, but could the matter be examined so that perhaps a compromise could be worked out, even on what I will call a penalty clause?
Surely what I have said indicates that the matter is effectively and efficiently in hand. An Act of this kind, where Government money is involved, must run on set and understood lines.
– Could the honorable senator tell us why credit unions should not be included? He has not said a word about them yet.
– I am coming to that point now. A plea has been made for the inclusion of credit unions in the Act. Senator Poke has moved an amendment to the motion to take note of the proposed expenditure, and he has claimed that credit unions can help people to obtain homes. I repeat what I said at the beginning of my speech. Credit unions claim to lend an increasing amount of their money not only for housing purposes but also for what they term - I quote from one of their documents - “ necessary equipment “ and “ any good purpose “. One does not doubt the sincerity of the unions, but I submit with some emphasis that because of those words Government money specifically designated under the Act as being for housing purposes could be used for “ necessary equipment “ or “ any good purpose “. Any one of us could refer to a wide range of things that could be described in that way. These phrases allow of too wide an interpretation to permit credit unions to be included in the Act.
Furthermore, if organisations such as credit unions are admitted, where do we go from there? What is the next step? With all due respect to credit unions, if they are successful in being admitted under the Act, who else comes in? Where do we stop and where do we start? There is a wide range of organisations which could well lay a claim for inclusion in the Act. Indeed, the interpretation of the Act could be upset in many ways. Senator Poke himself pointed out that funds in credit unions at 31st December 1964 have been available for use up to 31st December 1967.
I draw the Committee’s attention to the fact that there are many organisations which are more closely aligned with government organisation and in which people may put their savings so that they qualify for a grant. These organisations are set out in quite unmistakable terms in a booklet which is published by the Department of Housing. Referring to the forms of savings that are acceptable at any time, the booklet states -
Savings in these forms are acceptable at any time. I claim, I think rightly, that nobody is placed under any degree of hardship regarding the forms of savings that are recognised under the Act.
I have pointed to the danger of the inclusion of credit unions in the Act. The field would be wide open and it would make the Act extremely difficult to interpret and administer. It is pertinent to emphasise that the forms of saving to which I have just referred are exclusively for housing on a long term basis. In my view, the admission of credit unions is not expedient at this time.
– I am rising only to protest. We have what is virtually a motion of no confidence in the Government regarding housing, and a backbencher answers on behalf of the Government. Why did not the Minister answer so that we on the cross benches could know the story? I think it is most improper that, with an amendment such as this before us - one which seeks a reduction of $1 in an appropriation and one which in other Parliaments would be regarded as a motion of no confidence, although it may not be so regarded in this Parliament - the Minister has not replied. We have had to listen to Senator Davidson. He read out the present position regarding the home savings grant scheme, but he did not give an answer to Senator Poke. I would like to hear the answer. Why are not credit unions included in the Act? Senator Davidson did not tell us that. He told us that this or that organisation was included. Surely it is up to the Minister to tell us why credit unions are not included, so that we will know how to vote on the amendment.
.- I am rather intrigued that Senator Turnbull, the independent senator from Tasmania, suggests with some heat that this is virtually a no confidence motion and one which calls for a reply from the Minister at this stage. I listened attentively to Senator Poke, but I failed to hear from him any real information as to the constitution, credit and extent of credit unions or their parallel nature with banks and other repositories in which savings are held. I hoped that that assistance would be yielded by Senator Turnbull, but he contented himself with an impromptu expostulation that one would almost believe had been born of good parliamentary behaviour and past experience. That disappointed me, too. Now that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator. Willesee) has graced the Committee with his presence, the debate might take on some degree of form. If this is a serious proposition, let us hear the substance of i*. Then I have no doubt that the Minister will grace honorable senators with her favours in reply and some of us may find the answers to our questions.
– I join Senator Wright on this question. Senator Turnbull says that the amendment moved by Senator Poke amounts to a motion of no confidence. He wants the Minister for Housing to reply to the motion. I would like to ask the mover of this amendment and also Senator Turnbull who apparently is supporting Senator Poke some questions.
– I have not made up my mind yet.
– Well, I would still like to ask the questions: On what grounds are we asked to vote on this amendment? I listened to what Senator Poke said. Like Senator Turnbull 1 would like some information on this matter. I should say that it is up to the mover of the amendment to provide the Committee with the information that we require. I agree that credit unions have done a good job in providing moderate loans for housing. I think that all honorable senators will agree on that fact. Credit unions have provided loans for repairs to homes and also for the purchase of motor cars. I should think that they provide loans for home furnishing. The question 1 ask Senator Poke is this: What amount of money will a credit union lend for the purchase of a house? Would the amount be approximately $1,000? That is the point I want Senator Poke to tell me about. Can the honorable senator tell me how many of these credit unions have ever lent $2,000 on a house?
We hear from the Opposition side that the cost of a house today is rather great. I suppose that even a moderately priced home is valued at approximately $8,000 or $10,000. The question I ask myself is: If the maximum loan that a credit union supplies to a borrower is approximately $800 to $1,000, where will a borrower obtain the rest of his finance? In other words, how far will the proposed loan of $800 to $1,000 go towards financing the building of his home? This is one of the points on which I would like to be informed.
– The honorable senator will be informed.
– We have not heard this yet. I believe that my information is reliable. Can any member of the Opposition show that what I have stated is not founded on fact?
– The debate has hardly started.
– Let me go a step further. What rate of interest will be charged? I was hoping that Senator Poke would inform the Committee on that point. I would be pleased to know at what rate of interest a loan is provided by a credit union. I pose the further question: If by good fortune a borrower is able to pay off some of his instalments, is he credited with the principal or is the interest at a flat rate?
– The honorable senator is an advocate for the usurer.
– I did not catch the interjection.
– The honorable senator is supporting the usurer.
– 1 am supporting the usurer?
– Yes, and high rates of interest.
– No, T. am not. I am just asking what rate of interest would be charged.
– Six per cent.
– ls that a flat charge?
– That is on a quarterly basis.
– I want an answer to the question that I have put. If Senator Gair has an answer, well and good. But the question I pose is: What is the interest rate?
– I told the honorable senator. It is 6 per cent.
– No. That is on a quarterly basis.
– That could be investigated. Perhaps the honorable senator can tell how much money a credit union will lend over $2,000 on the financing of a home?
– The honorable senator cannot tell me where a person would get a better rate of interest. A borrower does not get money from the banks or from any building society at that rate of interest.
– The amendment has been moved in an endeavour to give the benefit of the provisions of the Homes Savings Grant Act to credit unions. Worthy as credit unions may be - I have not said one word against their worthiness - what I am trying to point out to the Committee is this: The amount of money that a credit union would lend to a borrower is so small that, in my opinion, it would not achieve the purpose that we wish to .see achieved.
– It would help some people.
– A credit union will lend £1,000- $2,000.
– The maximum loan is $4,000.
– It is $4,000? I refute that statement. I say that on very few occasions has a credit union lent more than £400; that is $800. I ask the Committee whether that is a sufficient loan with which to finance the erection of a house. If it is not, where else can a home builder obtain his money? On what terms will he obtain it? What are the conditions of the loan? Does a credit union become the first mortgagee? What happens with regard to the people who borrow from credit unions? Let me take Senator O’Byrne’s figure. A man receives a loan of $2,000. Where does that man get the balance of his money? I have heard speeches from the Opposition side about the extortionate rates of interest that home builders are charged for a second mortgage loan. Do honorable senators opposite wish to see that sort of thing perpetuated?
Let us come back to the idea that was in the mind of the Government when this scheme was introduced. The scheme was introduced to assist the ordinary person who needs a home and who is in the lower income bracket. He can be accommodated by institutions which will grant him sufficient money to buy his house at a reasonable rate of interest spread over 15 years or more. I was waiting for the Opposition to tell me of its plans. What future lies ahead of any person who wishes to borrow from a credit union in order to build a home? Until the answers to my questions are forthcoming, I, with Senator Turnbull, will wait to make a decision.
– Senator Mattner is labouring.
– Yes, and I am labouring to good effect. I am not afraid of labour. I am not afraid of work. But I am not labouring in vain.
– Time will tell.
– I have laboured so well that not even Senator Gair has been able to give me a correct answer.
– The honorable senator would not accept a correct answer even if it was given to him.
– I have no cause to be worried. I do not think that Senator Poke will give me the information that I require. I do not think that he will point out to me just where I am wrong.
– The honorable senator should wait and see.
– I am glad that Senator Gair has come to the aid of Senator Poke, who certainly will need assistance before he will convince members of this chamber that we are justified in voting for his amendment. Mr. Temporary Chairman, I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; progress reported.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) read a first time.
[10.13] - I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Bill gives effect to the Government’s decisions, as announced by the Right Honorable the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) in his Budget speech, to increase and otherwise improve certain social service benefits. It will also make a number of machinery and consequential amendments which I will outline later. With the passage of the Bill more than 820,000 persons will receive increased pensions and allowances and probably half of all families in Australia have a close relative who will benefit from it. The main features of the Bill are -
An increase in the standard rate of pension of $1 a week to bring the maximum weekly rates payable to single age and invalid pensioners, and to widow pensioners with children, to $13 a week.
An increase of $1 a week in the pension payable to widows without children.
An increase of $1.50 a week in the combined pensions of a married couple raising the basic payment to them to $23.50 a week.
An increase in the deduction for each child allowed from a pensioner’s income for means test purposes.
Increased benefits for certain patients on discharge from a menial hospital.
Repeal of the nationality qualification for age, invalid and widows’ pensions.
These measures represent a continuation of the Government’s policy of providing greater assistanceto those sections of the community whose circumstances are less favorable than others. They represent also an expression of community responsibility for the less fortunate.
Mr. Deputy President, I will now examine each measure in detail. Currently, the standard rate of pension payable to single persons is$ 1 2 a week. This Bill increases that rate by $1 to $13 a week. It also increases the combined rate for married pensioner couples from $22 to $23.50 a week. This represents a logical development of the principle of the differential rate introduced by this Government in 1963.I would like to make the point that when measured by variations in the consumer price index, which is generally acknowledged as the best yardstick available, the pension will, with the proposed increases added, have substantially increased in value since the present Government came to office in 1949. The Senate will be interested to know that under the Bill the maximum amount payable to a single age or invalid pensioner in receipt of supplementary assistance will be $5.94 more than it would have been to a similarly placed pensioner if the rate payable had been adjusted since 1949 in accordance with the index. In the case of a widow with two children the maximum amount payable will be $9.87 more and for a married pensioner couple $2.69 more.
For most pensioners, I should also mention, the full value of the pension is not in the cash payment only. As a result of measures introduced by this Government, all pensioners are entitled to receive free medical and pharmaceutical benefits. Concessions such as radio listeners’ and television viewers’ licences and the telephone rental rebate are also provided by the Commonwealth for pensioners. The total value of Commonwealth concessions to each pensioner is now, on the average, in excess of$1. 1 5 a week. Additional concessions are provided by the States, some local authorities and even private organisations. In the aggregate these concessions are of great benefit to pensioners and they illustrate what can be achieved when other bodies join forces with the Commonwealth in the field of social welfare. The Government is grateful to those responsible for their co-operation in this field.
Mr. Deputy President, reverting to the actual rates of pension, the introduction in 1963 of the standard rate of pension gave rise to criticism from those who felt that the higher rate for single pensioners was not justified. The decisions to introduce the standard rate and now to increase the differential between the single and married rates of pension were taken only after thorough examination of the relative position of the two categories of beneficiaries. Apart from the fact that the variation is recognised and accepted in a great number of countries outside Australia, the decision is also based on the well established principle that a married couple may, in consequence of their ability to share a wide range of their expenses, live more cheaply than two single persons. The differential rate also helps to meet the situation of the surviving spouse of a married pensioner couple who otherwise would receive only one-half of the combined pensions previously paid despite the fact that the requirement to meet the same cost in the upkeep of his home would still remain.
Mr. Deputy President, some may cite the situation where single pensioners share expenses. It is true that some single pensioners are able to obtain greater value from their pensions than others by sharing expenses, but the extent to which they share will vary from group to group and from time to time. Such cases, moreover, would not be numerous, and the degree of sharing would generally fall short of that of a married couple. In any event, the Government must examine the broad field of those in need of assistance. In doing so single pensioners, who incidentally represent twothirds of all pensioners, stand out as in need of additional assistance.It is not always realised - and I would like to make this clear - that an unmarried couple who are living together as man and wife cannot receive two pensions at the standard rate applicable to single pensions. Under the provisions of the Social Services Act, such a couple are treated the same way as if they were married, when they have lived together for at least three years. Where they have lived together for less than three years it is the practice and it has consistently been the practice, to regard them as married for pension purposes.
Mr. Deputy President, as mentioned earlier the Bill before us proposes an increase in the amount of the deduction allowed from income in respect of children. At present pensioners with children are allowed a deduction from any income they may receive, apart from their pension, of $1 a week in respect of each child before that income is taken into account for pension purposes. This will be increased threefold to $3 a week. In other words by this Bill the pensioners will be able to earn an additional $2 per week for each child. This means that a widow with two children will be able to earn $6 a week for her children as well as, subject to her property and other income, $7 a week for herself, making a total of $13 a week. The Bill does not overlook the widow who receives maintenance from her husband or former husband for her children. The amount of maintenance such a widow may receive for each child, which - is not regarded as income, will be increased from $1.50 to $3 a week. Hence, she may receive maintenance of up to $3 a week for each child without the application of the means test.
The value of these proposals can best be appreciated if we take a look at the possible effect on the weekly income of a widow with two children. With an increase of $1 a week in the basic pension the widow may receive a pension of $13, a mother’s allowance of $4 and additional allowances for the children of $3, a total of $20. Add to this the new figure of permissible means of $13 and we have a maximum weekly income of $33. This is exclusive of child endowment and the value of the various concessions that are available to a pensioner. When one considers that the male basic wage - that is, the weighted averaged six capital cities wage - is $32.80 a week, I think the Government can fairly claim that the situation of widows and other pensioners with children will be greatly improved by these measures.
I turn now to the proposal to provide additional assistance to pensioners when they leave a mental hospital. The Bill increases from 4 to 12 weeks the period of hospitalisation for which pension may be paid on discharge. It also provides that if a patient is not discharged but is on leave from the hospital the accumulation of pension will be payable after absence from the hospital for a period of four weeks. The normal pension entitlement is, of course, resumed when the person leaves hospital. The Bill also extends this provision to sickness beneficiaries and persons claiming benefit on leaving a mental hospital.
It will be seen that a new field of assistance is to be opened up within the framework of existing pensions and benefits. Persons who have been mentally ill will be entitled to a substantial lump sum payment represented by accumulated pension or benefit instalments, when they leave a mental hospital. This will greatly assist their rehabilitation into the community. Among the States there are differing practices and procedures relating to release on leave and discharge of patients from mental hospitals. In New South Wales, for the year ended 30th June 1965, 77.1 per cent, of patients discharged had spent less than three months in the hospital. The stay of voluntary patients in mental hospitals is generally shorter than that of certified patients and it can be expected that the percentage of voluntary patients who spend less than three months in a mental hospital, is considerably greater than the figure of 77.1 per cent, mentioned. The majority of patients will probably suffer no loss of actual pension moneys if on discharge, or if after a period of leave, they are paid pension for 1 2 weeks of the period they were in hospital.
The wife of a married person who becomes an inmate of a mental hospital, is under existing legislation, entitled to receive a pension at the equivalent of the widow’s pension rate applicable to her circumstances the actual rate depending upon whether she has any children under 16 or student children in her care. Thus when a married pensioner becomes a mental hospital inmate, for 12 weeks of his hospitalisation two pensions will be payable - one to the patient and the standard rate of pension and one to bis wife at the widow’s rate of pension. Where a pensioner is discharged from a mental hospital, therefore, the practical effect of the provisions contained in this Bill will be that payment of his pension will be resumed immediately. In addition, he will be entitled to a payment of pension in respect of the period during which the pension was suspended up to a maximum of 12 weeks, instead of the four weeks provided under the existing legislation. Where a pensioner is granted leave from a mental hospital for seven days or more payment of his pension will be resumed and a payment up to .12 weeks in respect of the period during which he was a patient in the hospital will be made after a continuous period of four weeks leave or absence from the hospital.
Under existing provisions a person who is not a pensioner at the time of his admission to a mental hospital does not, when he is discharged, qualify for a payment of pension or benefit in respect of the period of his hospitalisation. On the passing of this Bill a person so placed, on discharge from a mental hospital or at the expiration of a period of four weeks leave from a mental hospital, may, if otherwise eligible, receive a payment of sickness benefit in respect of up to 12 weeks of the period he was a patient in the mental hospital. He may, of course, subject to the lodgment of a claim, also receive benefit from the date of his discharge. These measures are expected to do much to relieve any financial worry a patient may have either prior to voluntarily entering the hospital or during the immediate post hospital period. This in itself will be a worthwhile contribution towards the successful rehabilitation of the patient when he leaves a mental hospital.
All migrants and those interested in their welfare will welcome the proposal to remove the nationality qualifications for age, invalid and widow’s pensions. To this day the Australian law has been that aliens could not qualify for a pension. It has now been decided that it is inappropriate to retain these restrictions in the Social Services Act. Since the war the great stream of migration, so vital to our development as a nation, has contributed to Australia’s remarkable post-war population growth. Forward looking Government policies have assisted the flow of migrants, lt is in line with the objective of encouraging further migration that the alien restriction is to be repealed. The Government attaches great importance to the naturalisation of migrants as a step towards assimilation in the Australian community. However, we believe that the desire for naturalisation should not arise merely for personal material benefit, such as eligibility for a pension, lt is not intended, however, to vary the current residential qualifications which are of general application.
For the benefit of honorable senators, 1 will briefly outline the residential requirements. These are: for age pensions - continuous residence of 10 years or a lesser period of continuous residence where actual residence is in excess of ten years.
For invalid pensions - continuous residence of five years where invalidity occurred in Australia and 10 years where the invalidity occurred outside Australia. As in the case of age pensions this latter period of continuous residence is reduced where actual residence exceeds 10 years. For widows’ pensions - one year’s residence where the widow and her husband were living permanently in Australia when he died. In other cases, five years’ continuous residence immediately prior to the date on which the claim for pension is made. Persons who settle permanently in Australia are already entitled in the same way as other Australians to child endowment, unemployment and sickness benefits, maternity allowances and rehabilitation benefits. With the passing of this Bill all residents of Australia will have equal statutory rights to all social service benefits.
Mr. Deputy President, this completes the outline of the main provisions of the Bill. I would like now to refer to a proposed amendment to the principal Act which will enable ex-servicemen to be granted unemployment benefit immediately upon termination of repatriation sustenance allowance. A sustenance allowance, or medical sustenance as it is more commonly known, is paid to an ex-serviceman who is temporarily prevented from working while receiving treatment for a war-caused disability. The Social Services Act at present provides for the payment of an unemployment benefit from the seventh day after the date on which the claimant became unemployed, or lodged a claim, whichever is the later. Similarly sickness benefit is normally payable from the seventh day after the clay on which the claimant became incapacitated for work. The position of a person in receipt of unemployment benefit who becomes qualified to receive sickness benefit, and vice versa, is protected in that the change from one benefit to the other may be made without any loss of continuity of payment. This protection will now be given where a person transfers to unemployment benefit from repatriation sustenance allowance. 1 mentioned earlier that, in addition to amending the Social Services Act to give effect to the Government’s Budget proposals, opportunity is being taken to make a number of machinery amendments to the principal Act. First of all, the words “ hospital for the insane “ wherever appearing in the Social Services Act are to be replaced with the words “ mental hospital “. This is in keeping with the modern concept of treatment for mental illness.
The second proposal is to remove all references to magistrate or special magistrate from the Social Services Act. So far as social services are concerned, the title of “ magistrate “ is an anachronism, lt is a carry over from the days when pensions for age and invalidity were paid by the States and evidence as to eligibility was, in some States, heard in open court presided over by a commissioner who was usually a police magistrate. I feci sure that honorable senators will appreciate that many aged claimants regard it as something of an ordeal when told it is necessary to appear before a magistrate in connection with their claim for pension. This is an added reason for removing these provisions entirely.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the negative.
The third and final machinery item is designed to remove all references in the Act to “ aboriginal natives of Australia “. When this Government introduced legislation in 1959 enabling aboriginal natives of Australia, other than those who are nomadic or primitive, to qualify for social service benefits on the same basis as other members of the community, there remained but three specific references to aboriginal natives in the Social Services Act. These are in no sense discriminatory in their application. However, in order to remove any doubt it is proposed to delete them entirely.
I would now like to turn to the costs involved. The expenditure on social services for 1966-67, other than that resulting from the provisions in this Bill, is estimated to rise by some $34 million over the expenditure for the year 1965-66. This is partly due to the natural increase in the number of pensioners and the full year cost of the increases granted last year and partly due to the provision for an extra payment in 1966-67 to mothers whose child endowment is paid quarterly to bank accounts. Expenditure from the National Welfare Fund on items under the Social Services Act will rise from $694.2 million in 1965-66 to an estimated $757.8 million in 1966-67 and total expenditure from the Fund from $941.5 million to over $1,000 million. The pension increases and improvements provided in the Bill before the Senate will add over $40 million to the annual liability for social services. For the year 1966-67 the cost will be approximately $29.6 million.
One item of expenditure which is not included in the National Welfare Fund is expenditure under the Aged Persons Homes Act. lt is, however, relevant to mention, Mr. Deputy President, that since the inception of this Act in 1954, total expenditure has exceeded $60 million and almost 24,000 aged persons have been provided with accommodation as a result of the Act. The Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) announced during his Budget Speech that additional Commonwealth aid is to be given for nursing accommodation in aged persons homes. In the past, subsidies were paid for a patient’s normal bed accommodation and for accommodation used for patients with temporary illness. In the case of temporary illness, the patient’s bed had to be kept vacant while he was being treated. These restrictions have now been lifted. Beds in the nursing accommodation area may now be permanently occupied by particular residents, and their former beds allocated to other aged persons. Eligible organisations will be able to provide subsidised nursing accommodation of up to one third of the total number of beds in aged persons homes conducted by the organisation in a particular city or town.
May I say in conclusion that the Government is working energetically to develop the economy of this nation and to increase the well being of its people. We believe that neither security nor the means of social development can be found otherwise. It is proposed that the pension increases provided under this Bill will, in accordance with the established practice, come into operation on the pay days following the Royal Assent. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Tangney) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Bill before the Senate is in effect complementary to the preceding Repatriation Bill in that, together, they implement the
Government’s decision to increase further the pensions payable in respect of Australian ex-service personnel and wartime mariners. It is of course the practice to maintain pensions and benefits payable under the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act at the same levels as those payable under the Repatriation Act.
The Bill, therefore, provides for an increase of $2 per fortnight in the rate of pension payable under the Act to widows of Australian mariners, and also for an increase of $2 per fortnight in the intermediate rate of pension payable under section 18 (4a) of the Act to incapacitated Australian mariners unable to earn a living wage because they are unable to engage in remunerative employment except on a part time or intermittent basis.
The increase of $4 per fortnight in the special - T.P.I. - rate of pension, and in the supplementary rate of pension payable for certain disabilities, which is being provided under the Repatriation Bill, will also apply to mariners by virtue of section 22a of the Seaman’s War Pension and Allowance Act, which enable these special rates under the Repatriation Act to be extended to incapacitated mariners. Clause 4 of the Bill inserts in section 59 of the Act power to make regulations for the provision of medical treatment for student children of deceased mariners up to the age of 21 years to bring the legislation into line in this respect with the Repatriation legislation.
The opportunity has been taken in the Bill to have all money references in the principal Act expressed in decimal currency. Clauses 2 and 7 ensure that the increases in pensions can be paid on the first pension pay day after Royal Assent is given, and I trust that all honorable senators will ensure that the Bill is passed without delay.
Debate (on motion by Senator Bishop) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 10.38 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 27 September 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1966/19660927_senate_25_s32/>.