25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m.. and read prayers.
– [ direct a question to the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. Is the Government, in the terms of the Minister’s statement of 21st September on tertiary education, simply asking universities not to develop fresh adult education activities in universities which could be more satisfactorily undertaken elsewhere, or is the Government in fact intending strictly to follow the Australia Universities Commission’s recommendation and not provide any Commonwealth money for university adult education after 1969? Is the Minister aware that the Commission, in its investigation into university adult education, made no effort to interview any director of university adult education about his Department’s activities? On what basis docs the Commission make its recommendations, as it has given no reasons for them?
– In the statement to which the honorable senator refers there were two matters which might, perhaps, have become a little confused in this field. One was the recommendation by the Australian Universities Commission that subtertiary courses should be removed from university facilities, and the statement indicated that the Government accepted this recommendation. The other recommendation from the Commission was that adult education should no longer be carried on by universities, using university staffs and university facilities, and the statement indicated that the Government did not accept this recommendation from the Commission but would require the matter to be examined during the coming period before a final decision was made.
– Has the Acting Minister for External Affairs seen an article in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of Friday, 7th October, attributed to Senator
Keeffe, President of the Australian Labour Party, wherein he says that at present Australian and American leaders are dedicated to a programme of war and that our Prime Minister will sell the soul of the country for the sake of trade? Will the Minister advise what damage is likely to result from this statement to our public relations, particularly with our strongest and closest ally in this sphere?
– I do not think that there would in fact be any damage to Australia’s external relations as a result of this statement. I have not read the statement but I have seen a newspaper report which attributed to Senator Keeffe a statement calling on the people of Australia to demonstrate in front of President Johnson when he revisits this country. We must realise that any individual in this country has a right to protest against policies with which he disagrees and even to call for peaceful demonstrations against such policies, provided those demonstrations are peaceful and do not interfere with the rights of other people to express their opinions or to use public facilities or to extend a welcome to a visitor. The wisdom and common sense of such a statement clearly are matters that the people of Australia would wish to examine. I should not think that any importance would be attached to the statement if it had been made by Senator Keeffe as an individual. Indeed, in that case it probably would never have been heard of. But it was made by the man who is the President of the Australian Labour Party and was made by him in that capacity. I myself do not. believe that the statement, or any part of it, represents the view of the majority of those who support the Australian Labour Party, lt does represent, I think, the views of one section of those who support the Party and which is represented by such people as Senator Keeffe, Senator Cavanagh, Mr. Uren and Dr. Cairns.
– Why pull me in? I am innocent.
– I am sorry to have caused that cri de coeur from Senator Cavanagh. I pulled him in because only a week or two ago he said that he was in favour of peaceful demonstrations of ‘this kind. If he has since changed his mind, so much the better. It is of some significance that this call for demonstrations comes right on the eve of an election at which the people of Australia, in a normal, true, democratic manner, will be able to express their choice of and their judgment on the policy of the Government and the conflicting policies of the Opposition in relation to Vietnam. The statement referred to comes from a section which, unfortunately, has some influence inside the Labour Party. No doubt it will be judged by the Australian people.
– Is the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that contracts for the purchase of several new V.I.P. aircraft were held up for several weeks because of a change of plans in regard to the interior colour schemes of the aircraft? Is it a fact that the delay was caused by indecision on the part of the wife of the Prime Minister, who selected the colour schemes? Is it a fact also that interior decorating experts were flown to Australia from overseas to consult with Mrs. Holt? Will the Minister state the total additional cost that was involved because of these factors?
– That question is worthy of the honorable senator who made the statement to which 1 was referring a few moments ago. In any case, it ought to have been addressed to the Minister for Air, who is the Minister responsible for this matter.
– I rise to a point of order. The Standing Orders clearly state that insulting remarks shall not be made either in the asking of questions or in the replies that arc given to them. I claim that the remark that was just passed by the Minister was grossly insulting.
- Mr. President, if my statement upsets Senator Keeffe I shall withdraw it and say that the question was not worthy of the honorable senator who made the statement to which I was referring.
Delegation from Sabah.
– I desire to inform the Senate that a delegation of three members of the Sabah Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association is at pre sent in the gallery of the Senate. The three members are the Honorable Lee On Yin, Leader of the Delegation, the Honorable Amin bin Ali, and the Honorable James Stephen Tibok. On behalf of the Senate and the Commonwealth of Australia Branch of the Association, I extend to the three members a cordial welcome.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. In September 1965 the Minister advised me that the Snowy Mountains Authority proposed to instal a plaque commemorating the men of various nationalities who lost their lives on the Snowy Mountains project. It was proposed that the plaque should be installed in a memorial museum. Can the Minister now give details of the progress made on this venture during the past 12 months?
– I will find out the answer to the honorable senatorsquestion and let him know it. Unless he wishes to place his question on the notice paper. I suggest that we deal with it in that way.
– Can the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate assure me and the Australian people that the security arrangements for President Johnson’s visit are completely adequate? As Senator Keeffe was reported (to have advocated demonstrations throughout Australia against President Johnson and the American Government’s policy with respect to Vietnam, will such demonstrations be adequately covered by our security and police forces so as to ensure the safety of the President?
– I think the security arrangements for the visit of the President of the United States would be, to a considerable extent, in the hands of people of the United States who are charged with that responsibility. They would, of course, get full co-operation from the people in Australia who are charged with the safety of public figures. I do not anticipate, in spite of the rather pompous call for demonstrations throughout Australia, that there is likely to be a danger to the President, unless it comes from some crackpot. That risk always exists for anybody in public life.
– Can the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate advise whether it is true, as stated in the Press, that the adverse trade balance for September of §48.8 million was due mainly to the final payment for H.M.A.S. Hobart to its builders in the United States of America? Can the Minister also advise how many more Australian ships are to be built or equipped in the United States, and why such ships cannot be built and equipped in Australian dockyards, thus providing work for Australian employees and manufacturers?
– I noticed the item to which the honorable senator referred. 1 doubt whether it is accurate, but 1 would like the part of the honorable senator’s question which refers to the Press report to be put on the notice paper so that I can obtain a factual answer for him. At this stage 1 can only express my doubt that it is accurate. One further ship is being built for the Royal Australian Navy in the United Stales. That is the third D.D.G., which has been ordered in that country. The reasons why it was cheaper and quicker to secure these modern vessels there were fully covered during the debate on their being ordered in the United States.
– My question is directed to the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the fact that the Prime Minister proposes to hold a special meeting with State Premiers in the New Year to discuss the vexed question of Commonwealth and State finances, will the Minister suggest to the Prime Minister that the meeting be held in Hobart, away from the atmosphere and pressures which appear to ferment the interstate jealousies existing between New South Wales and Victoria? Will the Minister also suggest that early February, the time of Australia’s greatest aquatic carnival - the Royal Hobart Regatta - is the time most likely to produce a new, clear, forward looking approach to the problems that exist?
– The short answer is “ No
– I address a question to the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate. Does the Government’s invitation to President Johnson to visit Australia at this time mean that there is to be a change of election practice by the Liberal Party, and that in future, instead of members of the British Royal family, American politicians will be invited to this country to support the Liberal Party’s election campaigns?
– lt must be a matter of some amusement to the Australian public in general that some members of the Opposition think that an American President can affect the votes which the people will cast, on their judgment as to the performance of the Parties competing for those votes, at the forthcoming election.
– My question is addressed to the Acting Minister for External Affairs. 1 ask: Has the Government any confirmation of the report that the Communist powers have rejected the proposals made by the United Kingdom Foreign Secretary as a basis for negotiation for a settlement of the Vietnam problem? If these proposals have been rejected, and in view of the continued suggestions by the Labour Party that the Australian Government should put forward its own proposals for a settlement in Vietnam, has the Australian Government information to suggest that any such proposals would be treated other than with the same type of abuse and contempt that has greeted proposals from other sources?
– There have been, of course, a number of occasions on which suggestions for an honorable peace and a peace which conforms with the interests of the people of South Vietnam, have been put forward by various agencies including agencies from the Commonwealth. So far none of these have been accepted. Indeed, the only response that they have managed to evoke has been the response of: “ Get out of South Vietnam and let us overrun it.” f see no reason to suggest that that has been changed at this point of time.
– I direct a question to the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research, ls the Minister aware of the .serious concern in the universities because of the inadequate library facilities in Australian universities generally and especially because of the failure of the Commonwealth and States to make adequate provision for libraries in the financial allocations for the next university triennium? Was the prevailing dissatisfaction demonstrated in the national sit-in organised last week by the National Union of Australian University Students? Since well developed libraries are the life blood of any institution of learning, can the Minister say what prospects there ‘are for special attention to be given in the near future to this important aspect of tertiary education?
– Since the inception of the triennium programmes recommended by the Australian Universities Commission, money for the provision of libraries has been a part of the grant which has been made to universities. If a university does not in fact spend that money on library facilities but spends it on something else, that is a matter of priority for that university to decide; but it is not correct to suggest that no provision is made for libraries in universities.
– ls it different with the Colleges of Advanced Education?
– lt will be.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Housing. Has she seen a recent statement attributed to the Chairman of Brickworks Ltd., that the building industry sees every indication of entering a slow decline and that some positive Government action is required to stabilise building activity if the housing needs of the community are to be overtaken? Bearing in mind that last financial year there was a one per cent, decline registered in the rate of housing construction in Australia, will the Minister agree that any further decline will have a serious and deleterious effect not only on the Australian housing programme but also on the Australian economy generally? What steps if any are contemplated by the Minister to step up Australia’s housing programme In order to overcome the situation which the Chairman of Brickworks Ltd., envisages?
– I read the comments of the Chairman of Brickworks Ltd., which the honorable senator has mentioned. I would remind him and other honorable senators’ that the figures showing the increase in housing have been very notable over the last period. 1 think that the honorable senator asked in his question whether the Government was concerned about housing. I assure him that the Government always is concerned about bousing in this country. This concern has been very well illustrated by the actions which the Government has taken. I also remind the honorable senator, as 1 have reminded him on previous occasions, that in March last the additional sum of $15 million was made available to the States for housing. Also action was taken through the banks earlier in the year. We have seen and are now seeing increased figures for commencements. I assure the Senate that this Government has a very real appreciation of the importance of housing in the community and will always watch this matter very carefully indeed.
– Is the Minister representing the Prime Minister aware of pictures published recently in national newspapers which showed certain supposed university students burning replicas of the Australian flag? Would the Minister advise what action, if any, is intended to be taken against these people? If they are, in fact, students, will they be permitted to continue at schools financially assisted by the Australian people?
– I do not think that the Government would consider any action against these 25 or 30 people who stood around and behaved in a rather childish fashion outside the Prime Minister’s Lodge. I would not like to suggest that any of them who had scholarships should have the scholarships withdrawn. 1 have no doubt that they will grow up.
– My question is directed to the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and
Research. Why is it that, of the thousands of Aboriginal children of school age in the Northern Territory, less than five children attend secondary school and no Aborigine has ever completed secondary schooling? As this was drawn to the attention of the responsible Minister in the Senate two years ago, what is the reason for the continuance of this extremely poor level of Aboriginal education, and what is the Government doing about it?
– The question should be addressed to the Minister for Territories. Since I represent the Minister for Territories in this chamber, 1 suggest that the question be placed on the notice paper so that the Minister for Territories, who is responsible for educational activities in the Northern Territory and in Papua and New Guinea, may have an opportunity to answer it.
– I ask the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate whether he is willing lo undertake to consult with the Leader of the Opposition in order to discover the cause of the dislike that the President of the Australian Labour Party bears towards the United States of America and its President.
Senior GORTON. - It takes more than one to have a consultation, and 1 cannot answer for the Leader of the Opposition. j Senator Murphy. - I raise a point of order. I submit that the question is out of order because it is in conflict with Standing Order No. 99, which provides that questions shall not contain inferences or imputations and that they shall not ask for expressions of opinion.
– The point of order is not upheld.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. In view of the many tragic deaths on farms caused by tractors and other farm machinery, is there any likelihood of uniform safety measures being introduced in the manufacture of such equipment? As one State could be disadvantaged if there were no uniformity between the States in this matter, would the Minister consider having it raised at the next meeting of State Ministers of Agriculture and the Federal authorities?
– I know that what the honorable senator says is correct. Unfortunately, many deaths are caused by tractors capsizing. These accidents occur mainly with light tractors or with tractors that are incorrectly hitched. I shall refer the question to the Minister for Primary Industry and see whether something can be done to avoid the loss of life to which the honorable senator has referred.
– Has the Minister representing the Prime Minister read reports of the serious misgivings expressed by Mr. Rod Miller recently because of the failure of the Prime Minister to give any positive indication that the Commonwealth Government will protect Australian oil tankers from overseas monopoly shipping lines?
– No. I have not read it.
– Is the
Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral aware that commercial television stations have greatly loaded their rates for political advertising during the forthcoming Federal election campaign? Has the Government any means by which it can prevent this type of discrimination? Has the Government any mechanism to ensure that commercial television stations allocate sufficient free time to the parties for a fair statement of their case in the election?
– Mr. President, it is in an election climate that the question of broadcasting time always seems to emerge. In the circumstances, I think I should ask the honorable senator to place the question on the notice paper in order to give the Postmaster-General the opportunity to reply to it.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence: Would the Government be prepared to grant air travel concessions to Western Australian servicemen on pre-embarkation leaveto enable themtotravelto Western Australia by air? I should like to add, by way of explanation, that, as I understand the position at the presenttime, rail concessions are available to servicemen. However, for Western Australian servicemen who went by rail, the long distance between the eastern States and Western Australia would mean that a great part of their leave would be taken up in travel. This would not be the case if the servicemen were able to travel by aircraft with the concessions.
– This is a question which, I think, does involve a matter of policy. But if the honorable senator cares to take it up with me later, 1 will talk to the Minister for Defence to ascertain whether in fact he has taken the matter into consideration, or what his views are in relation to it.
(Question No. 926.)
asked the Minis ter representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In the light of the Government’s past statements on preserving native fauna and flora, what action has been taken to protect existing mammals and birds on Barrow Island, Western Australia, where oil exploration is in progress?
– The Prime Minis ter has provided me with the following answer to the honorable senators question -
Barrow Island is a Western Australian reserve, and the State Government is the body responsible for the preservation of native fauna and flora there. Our information is that the company engaged in oil drilling at Barrow Island is particularly diligent in the preservation of fauna and flora; the clearing of ground for roads and drill sites is being kept to a minimum. We are also informed that the company concerned is working in the closest co-operation with the Western Australian Department of Fisheries and Fauna.
(Question No. 942.)
asked the Minis ter representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is it a fact that various members of the Government, including the Treasurer and the Minister for the Army, have taken part in functions associated with Captive Nations’ Week, one of whose objects is to deny that the Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are properly part of the Union of
Soviet. Socialist Republics? If so, docs this reflect the policy of the Government, and does the Government intend to take further action on this matter within the United Nations or elsewhere?
– The Prime Minis ter has provided me with the following answer to the honorable senator’s question -
Some members of the Government have taken part in functions associated with Captive Nations’ Week. The Australian Government does not recognise the validity of the incorporation of the three Baltic Slates of Estonia,Latvia and Lithuania into the Soviet Union, but it does recognise the Ukraine as an integral part of that country. Australian representatives have expressed Australia’s views on Soviet colonialism many times in the United Nations in the past and will continueto do so on any appropriate occasion.
(Question No. 933.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
Has the Minister received from Ansett Transport Industries and the Australian National Airlines Commission proposals for the review of the Government’s domestic airline policy. If so, will the Minister make these proposals available to the Senate prior to any review of the domestic airline policy by legislation?
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following answer -
As publicly stated, the Minister for Civil Aviation has called for a major review of the two airline policy. This policy has served us well and we have a pattern of domestic air service operations of which we can be proud. Nevertheless it is proposed to review all existing policies governing air transportation in Australia and, to assist in this review, the two major domestic airlines and indeed other interested parties were invited to submit their views as to any changes to existing policies they consider desirable. It would not accord with established practice to make public correspondence of this nature.
(Question No. 964.)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Has the Prime Minister seen the Australian Associated Press report in the Melbourne “Herald” of 30th August 1966 and the “Sydney Morning Herald” of 31st August 1966, stating that, during 1966, desertions from the Army of South Vietnam were nearly 20 per cent, higher than the 1963 figure of 113,000 reported in the “New York Times” of 24th February 1966?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions, which have been supplied by the Prime Minister, are as follows -
(Question No. 973.)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will the Prime Minister explain the apparent salary increase discrimination in recent adjustments made to Third Division officers in the Taxation Department, vide Public Service Arbitrator’s Determination No.104 of 1966, by which some employees who have service dating backto 1947 were excluded from the wage increases?
– The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answer to the honorable senator’s question -
Permanent clerical/administrative staff of the Third Division of the Commonwealth Public Service received salary increases as a result of Determination No. 104 of 1966 of the Public Service Arbitrator. This determination was made in favour of the Administrative and Clerical Officers Association whose membership consists only of permanent officers, as distinct from temporary clerical employees, and it implemented an agreement between the Public Service Board and the Administrative and Clerical Officers Association, covering permanent clerical administrative staff.
Temporary employees in the clerical/administrative area of the Commonwealth Service are covered by a determination of the Public Service Arbitrator made in favour of the Federated Clerks Union. On 20th September 1966 the Federated Clerks Union filed with the Arbitrator an application seeking extension of the provisions of Determination No. 104 of 1966 to its members. The Public Service Board has indicated to the Arbitrator that it concurs with this application.
(Question No. 978.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has supplied the following answers -
(Question No. 986.)
asked the Minis ter representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is it a fact that, in the recruitment of hostesses to staff the Australian exhibition at the Canadian Trade Fair, the selected girls are expected to pay their own fares to Canada? If so, does not the Prime Minister consider that excellent types of ambassadors for Australia may be excluded due to personal financial limitations?
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honorable senators question -
The hostesses who will staff the Australian Pavilion at the Universal and International Exhibition to be held in Montreal in 1967 are to be recruited from the many Australian citizens who will be visiting Canada for their own purposes during that year, or who will be travelling abroad and are prepared to arrange their itineraries to permit them to be in Montreal Tor the necessary period. Applications were invited on that basis and several hundreds have been received. The successful applicants will in all probability incur little or no expense in travelling to Montreal over and above what their own plans for travel would have cost them. The Commissioner-General for Australia at the Exhibition is confident that a group of hostesses will be recruited who will bea credit to this country. The recruitment of staff from among Australians abroad will permit the funds which would otherwise have been spent on fares to be directed towards the presentation of an Australian exhibit of the highest possible quality.
asked the Minister re presenting the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has supplied the following answerto the honorable senator’s question -
(Question No. 1004.)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honorable senator’s question -
(Question No. 1008.)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer -
(Question No. 1015.)
asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply has furnished the following answer -
The Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee was established in 1957 under the chairmanship of Professor E. W. Titterlon. One of its responsibilities is to monitor the fallout over Australia caused by nuclear tests conducted overseas.
The Committee has maintained continuous monitoring of fallout, employing a number of programmes to suit prevailing requirements. The major monitoring effort is directed at the surveillance of long-lived radio-active debris in the environment, including strontium 90 and caesium 137.
Recently the monitoring was extended to detect and measure any fresh fallout from the French tests. Because of its special importance, milk features in the monitoring programmes and regular measurements are made on samples representing all milk consumed in a number of major population centres in Australia.
The Committee’s network of stations throughout Australia has detected some fallout from the French tests, but the fallout is at very low levels, and this conforms with the Committee’s earlier predictions and analyses conveyed to the Government in a report by the National Radiation Advisory Committee, which was tabled in Parliament on 17th March 1966.
The Committee will continueto assemble and assess detailed data on fallout from the French tests. The National Radiation Advisory Committee will examine this data also, in keeping with its role to advise the Government on matters concerning the effects of ionising radiation on the Australian community. Furthermore, in keeping with its established practice, the Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee will publish, in scientific literature, the detailed results of its work in this field.
Sena torM cM ANUS asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
In view of repealed statements about compulsion and conscription of twenty-year-olds for Vietnam, is it a fact that young men of this age have an alternative, by way of enlistment in the
Citizen Military Forces for home training, provided they so enlist prior to receiving their call-up notice?
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answer -
National service registrants must apply to join one of the citizen forces at the time of registration if then they are not already members. Those who are already members and those who apply to join the citizen forces at the time of registration must give an undertaking to serve efficiently in those forces for the required period. Provided that they meet these conditions these men may serve in the citizen forces as an alternative to national service. (Question No. 1020.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answers -
(Question No. 1030.)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
In view of the Treasurer’s statement in reply to Question No. 830, that in 1964 the Gov ernment had agreed, as a result of the adoption of decimal currency,to convert at its own expense, all new price computing scales purchased between 1st January 1946 and 30th September 1965,will the Treasurer review his decision not to act on this undertaking, a decision which is causing great dissatisfaction in the meat industry, whose representatives consider that a promised policy is not being honoured?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer -
As explained in the answer to Question No. 830, it proved impracticableto administer the
Government’s original proposal to arrange for the free conversion of all new price computing scales purchased between 1st January 1946 and 30th September 1965. The Government decided instead to widen the scope of its assistance by paying cash compensation, equivalent to estimated conversion costs, to owners of all scales purchased before 30th September 1965, provided the scales were in a satisfactory working condition. This policy, which was announced in May 1965, thus covers many scales which would have been excluded under the original plan. In the opinion of the Government, it offers the fairest solution in the circumstances.
Since May 1965, representations have been received from a number of scale owners asking for the reinstatement of the original proposal. However, because of the complicated structure of the price computing scale industry, neither the Decimal Currency Board, the scale owners, noire present at ives of the scale industry have been able to suggest a feasible method of arranging a Government sponsored conversion programme.
As the arrangements approved by the Government have now been in operation for some time, and more than 12,000 claims for compensation totalling $400,000 have been met, the Government does not propose to alter the present arrangements for compensating owners of price computing scales.
(Question No. 1031.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
What is the total amount of Commonwealth revenue made available annually to the Good Neighbour Movement in cash giants, and also the annu.il cost in indirect grants?
– The Minister for Immigration has provided the following reply -
(Question No. 1033.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
Will steps bc taken by the Department of Territories to eliminate the incidence of malaria in the Jimmi Valley in the Western Highlands, Territory of Papua and New Guinea?
– The Minister for Territories has supplied the following answer -
Malaria eradication requires substantial physical and financial resources and it is not possible at this stage to provide protection for the whole Territory. In extending the periphery of controlled areas account is taken of economic potential, the size of population and the suitability of the road network available to give access to the area by spray teams. Steps will be taken to eradicate malaria in the Jimmi Valley but as it is a remote area without a developed road system no definite date has been set for the commencement of the programme in this area.
(Question No. 1042.)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer -
I and 2. Statistics relating to pay-roll tax rebates allowed up to 31st December 1964 in respect of exports in 1960-61, 1961-62 and 1962-63 were published in the supplement to the 44th Report to Parliament of the Commissioner of Taxation. Those statistics show the increases in exports over the average for 1958-59 and 1959-60 achieved by employers who obtained rebates in respect of exports in those years and the amounts of rebate allowed. Similar statistics of rebates allowed up to 31st December 1965 in respect of exports in 1960- 61, 1961-62, 1962-63 and 1963-64 are to be included in the 45th Report to Parliament of the Commissioner of Taxation.
In the reply on 27th September 1966 to the honorable senator’s earlier question, it was indicated that statistics had nol been compiled showing the increases in exports which gave rise to the rebates of $14,274,000 allowed in 1965-65. Rebates allowed in any financial year relate to exports in a number of years. Statistics of increases in exports have been classified only according to the year of export and nol according to the financial year in which the rebate is allowed.
(Question No. 1044.)
asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply has supplied the following answers -
– -On 30th August, Senator O’Byrne asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services a question without notice about the employment of physically handicapped persons in the Commonwealth Public Service. The Prime Minister has advised that the administration of the conditions governing the employment of physically handicapped persons in the Commonwealth Service is the responsibility of the Public Service Board.
The Board has advised that, since the then Prime Minister’s announcement on 16th May 1962 concerning the relaxation of the standards previously applied to the employment of physically handicapped persons, more than 2,400 permanent appointments have been made from persons suffering from a wide range of disabilities, who previously would have been rejected for permanent appointment on medical grounds.
In the field of temporary employment also there is scope for the employment of physically handicapped persons, and subject to the statutory provision relating to the order of engagement, ability to perform satisfactorily the duties of the position to be filled is the main criterion. A considerable number of handicapped persons who are not eligible for permanent appointment under the existing conditions are believed to be employed by the various Commonwealth Departments in a temporary capacity, although specific statistics are not maintained of this category of employees.
The Board has also advised that the physical fitness standards which are applied are continually being examined in the light of experience and development in medical knowledge and, wherever possible, the existing requirements are modified to widen the opportunities of employment for physically handicapped persons.
– On 21st September last. Senator Devitt asked the following question regarding the pilot shortage and the steps being taken to relieve this situation -
In view of the recent report of the Department of Civil Aviation concerning the need to recruit 1,500 pilots lo meet the requirements of civil aviation in Australia over the next five years, and recognising the valuable part being played by aero clubs in the field of pilot training, will the Minister lake immediate steps to consult with aero clubs with a view to assisting those bodies to the maximum extent possible in their endeavours to foster and promote an interest in a field of flying from which an increasing number of commercial pilots are now being drawn?
The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following information -
The Government, being fully aware of the need to encourage more young Australians 10 lake up flying as a career, has recently decided to continue its flying scholarship scheme for another live years. The sum of $100,000 will be made available annually for this purpose, plus a further amount of up to $75,000 each year on a dollar for dollar basis with the airlines. In addition to this direct scholarship assistance, the Commonwealth will also provide in the current year funds totalling $2.1 1 ,000 as flying training subsidy, aircraft purchase assistance, and secretariat grants to the Royal Federation of Aero Clubs and the Association of Commercial Flying Organisations.
The Department of Civil Aviation already maintains a close liaison with the aero clubs and flying schools and their governing bodies. This cooperation, together with the financial assistance being allocated to the flying training movement by the Commonwealth, should stimulate interest in flying and help considerably to overcome the present shortage of pilots.
– On behalf of the Public Accounts Committee I present the following report of the Committee -
Eighty-second Report - Expenditure from Advance to the Treasurer for the Financial Year 1965-66.
Mr. President, 1 seek leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– In approaching its inquiry into the Consolidated Revenue Fund results for 1965-66, your Committee re-endorsed the principle adopted last year of conducting a single inquiry but presenting two separate reports to the Parliament. This report covers 44 items included in that inquiry. Later this week, your Committee expects to submit the second report relating to the Consolidated Revenue Fund and covering the remaining 20 items examined in the inquiry.
As a result of a change made in the nature of the information sought from departments, the evidence revealed a number of instances in which departments sought and obtained access to funds from the Advance to the Treasurer late in the financial year but had not, for various reasons, finally required the amounts obtained. In some cases, this situation reflected the absence of a realistic approach in the assessment of financial needs during the closing weeks of the financial year. Your Committee’s examination of departmental submissions also showed that, in a number of cases, amounts had been charged to the Advance to the Treasurer without warrant authority. In this regard, your Committee would invite attention to the need for Treasury Regulation 90 (1) to be observed at all times by departments.
The evidence also revealed that some departments had incurred expenditure against the Advance to the Treasurer because the processes employed in arranging for the permanent appointment of temporary staff had not been completed by the end of the financial year. Whilst your Committee recognises that certain unforeseeable circumstances can arise in which depart ments may find a need to make additional submissions or corrections to their written submissions when appearing before the Committee, such additions and corrections should be made in sufficient time before the inquiry to enable the Committee to take them into consideration in its oral examination of witnesses. In this regard, we would invite attention to Memorandum 66/411 issued by the Public Service Board on 18th J anuar’ 1966, to all departments indicating that it is in the interests of each department and the Service generally that the evidence to be tendered to the Committee is of the highest quality. I commend the report to honorable senators.
Ordered to be printed.
Senator WEDGWOOD (Victoria).- On behalf of the Public Accounts Committee, I present the following report -
Eighty-third report - National Capital Development Commission. 1 ask for leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Our inquiry into the National Capital Development Commission is the first major examination made by your Committee into a statutory authority since your second Committee inquired into the Australian Aluminium Production Commission in 1954 and 1955. During the inquiry and in the course of inspections made at the time, we were greatly impressed with the record of development achieved in the City of Canberra in the relatively short period of the Commission’s existence. It is a matter of considerable satisfaction to your Committee, as I am sure it must be to all honorable senators and to the nation as a whole, that from very uncertain beginnings, Canberra is now assuming a stature and beauty which befits it as the National Capital of this country.
As this report represents an extensive examination of a statutory authority, I would invite the attention of honorable senators particularly to the conclusions of your Committee set out in chapter 15 of the report. Briefly, the Committee finds that the Commission should regularly review the allocation of its design work to the Department of Works and private agents; that its cost records related to particular projects should be improved; and that the financial statement appearing in its reports to the Parliament should be reviewed notwithstanding improvements made in its report tabled in the Parliament recently. Your Committee also finds that a system should be devised to provide greater forewarning for the Department of Works as to the programme which the Commission proposes to implement; that the Department of the Treasury and the Department of the Interior should reach early agreement on outstanding matters relating to costing in the Department of the Interior; and that the Commission’s landscaping cost records should be examined critically.
Whilst fully aware of the flexibility conferred on statutory authorities as specified in their enabling legislation, your Committee feels that, in cases where such authorities incur the expenditure of public funds but do not have available to them the normal commercial measurements of profitability as guides to management, such authorities should include in their reports to the Parliament an analysis of their staff establishments and the nature of the changes made in them from year to year. In the case of the National Capital Development Commission, this proposal would be met if the Commission’s reports were to include details of its staff, by divisions, and in a form for each division, along the lines of the information supplied for each Commonwealth Department in the schedule to the Appropriation Act.
Finally, your Committee believes that the present form of the civil works programme document submitted annually to the Parliament requires revision to disclose the estimated expenditure on proposed new works, and that the Department of the Treasury, the Department of the Interior and the National Capital Development Commission should confer with a view to determining the alternative methods which might bc employed to enable this to be achieved. We also believe that consideration should be given to appending to the civil works programme document a schedule containing the final expenditure incurred on projects, the details of which have been deleted from the document upon completion in the previous year. I commend the report to honorable senators.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I present the fifteenth report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
– by leave - A number of questions have been asked of me here and of the Prime Minister and the Acting Prime Minister in another place about the situation in the Indonesian island of Lombok, from which a number of reports have come of famine. Suggestions have been made that, the Government should send supplies in the form of rice to the island, and some individuals and organisations have actually initiated private schemes to this end.
The Government has not wished, without receiving a request from the Indonesian Government, to take any unilateral action in this matter. It wished to wait first for the results of an Indonesian Government inquiry into the situation and then to ascertain whether, in the light of this report, there was anything which it could usefully do following a request from the Indonesian Government. The Embassy in Djakarta was instructed to discuss this matter with the Indonesian authorities expressing our full sympathy, but making it clear that we regarded the subject as the business of the Indonesian Government in which we did not seek to interfere unless they so wished.
Our information now is that the Indonesian Government has the matter well in hand, it has been critical of the authorities in Lombok for permitting the export of rice when there was a serious shortage in another pan of the island. We are informed that little or no additional rice needs to he sent from other parts of Indonesia to tide over the position until the next harvest and the Indonesian Government is taking other longer term steps in the deficit areas.
This report not only affects what the action of the Government should be but it also produces a useful guide to private individuals and organisations in Australia anxious to help. We are informed that the Indonesian Government would prefer that voluntary action in this field should be channelled into the sending of vitamin tablets, particularly Multiple 131 Complex, which could be put to good use.
Honorable senators may be aware that the World Council of Churches has been active in this regard and that the Australian Council has been sending vitamin tablets to the Indonesian Council of Churches for distribution in Lombok. Two consignments have already been sent and the Government has agreed to meet the freight charges on these and on two further consignments which will be sent in the next two weeks. We therefore hope that this channel might be used by members of the public who are interested to get in touch with the Council of Churches, it already being in useful contact with its Indonesian counterpart.
To recapitulate, 1 can inform the Senate that our Embassy in Djakarta has been informed by the relevant Minister - the Minister for Social Affairs - that the Indonesian Government appreciates Australian expressions of interest and help, but that with the measures now in hand the Minister feels that the Lombok problem can be dealt with adequately from Indonesia’s own resources and without seeking help on a governmental basis. The Indonesian Government appreciates the spirit behind private offers of help and to the extent that these have already been organised considers that they could best be applied to the supply of vitamins and antibiotics through existing charitable organisations in Indonesia. The Minister has informedthe Embassy that there are no requirementsfor rice from outside Indonesia for the specific purpose of helping Lombok.
– by leave - The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) has advised me that, having considered the Twenty-second Report of the Senate’s Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances, he accepts the basic principle which the Committee has raised. The Minister has asked me to inform the Senate that it is his intention to further amend the Advisory Council Ordinance 1936-1966 to repeal the provision to which objection has been raised by the Committee and to insert a provision which specifics the allowances to which elected members of the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council are entitled. The Minister has instructed his Department to take action forthwith to have this amendment prepared.
The Minister has indicated to me that his utmost concern is that theelected members of the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council are treated justly and equitably. It was with this thought in mind that the provision now adversely reported upon to the Senate was inserted. The Minister hoped that it would introduce a means whereby members could obtain the benefit of any variation in their allowances with the minimum delay. There was no intention on the part of the Minister to disregard any basic principles of subordinate legislation. On behalf of myself and of the Minister for the Interior I wish to place on record my appreciation to the members of the Committee of the Senate for once again bringing to our attention fundamental principles to be borne in mind in the framing of delegated legislation.
Notice of motion standing in the name of Senator Wood - by leave - withdrawn.
Motion (by Senator Gorton) proposed -
That during the ensuing three weeks unless otherwise ordered the daily hours of silting of the Senate be as follows -
Tuesday: 3 p.m. till 6 p.m. 8 p.m. till 1 1.30 p.m.
Wednesday: 2.15 p.m. till 6 p.m. 8 p.m. till 11.30 p.m.
Thursday: 10 a.m. till 1 p.m. 2 p.m. till 6 p.m. 8 p.m. till 11.30 p.m.
That unless otherwise ordered the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate have effect at 11.30 p.m. on each sitting day.
– Mr. President, I have had discussions with the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) in relation to this matter. In fact, I discussed it with the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty) before he took ill early this morning. The Opposition has no objection to these proposed sitting hours. They allow for flexibility. A motion similar to this was agreed to during the autumn session earlier this year for the first time. The purpose of the motion to which we agree is to overcome the need for late sittings, to which all honorable senators have objected for many years. The former Leader of the Opposition. Senator McKenna, invariably rose in his place to oppose the suspension of Standing Order No. 68 because such would involve the Senate in late sittings.
This motion is agreed to by the Opposition on the understanding that, unless an emergency arises, the sitting of the Senate will not extend past 11.30 p.m. The Opposition takes it that the usual procedures will be observed. That is, we expect the Government to meet us if we want the debate on a Bill to be adjourned till the next day of sitting rather than to a later hour of the sitting. This proposal did work well during the last session. We trust that the arrangement for the extended sitting hours will work well on this occasion and so avoid late sittings because, as I think all honorable senators will agree, we do not get efficient debate when the Senate sits into the wee small hours of the morning. I repeat that the Opposition accepts the motion proposed by the Minister for Works andtrusts that the arrangement will work as well as we hope it will.
– in reply - I am glad to hear from the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Willesee) that this motion meets with that measure of approval. However, 1 hope that he will understand that I have not been a party to the previous discussion on this matter and that in relation to the possibility of silting later than 11.30 p.m. I have not had discussions with him. Therefore, I would not wish the Leader of the Opposition to think that 1 had agreed to that matter or thatI am bound by that discussion. Unless it appears to be absolutely necessary, I do not think anybody in the Senate would wish sittings to continue past 1 1.30 p.m. If this should appear to be necessary, 1 would have to retain the freedom of action to enable the Government to do that.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Assent to the following Bills reported -
Social Services Bill 1966.
Repatriation Bill 1966.
Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill 1966.
Consideration resumed from 29th September (vide page 862).
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
Proposed expenditure, $28,720,000.
Proposed provision, $1,292,000.
– A few weeks ago, honorable senators had the pleasure of viewing in Kings Hall an exhibition which displayed the ambit of the activities of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. I think we obtained from that exhibition a much higher appreciation of the ramifications of this body. Notwithstanding that, 1 believe we all had a pretty fair picture of the work of the C.S.I.R.O. Anybody who has had any dealings with this Organisation has been extremely impressed with the dedication of every officer from the most senior to the most junior. There is no doubt that, as with every other organisation, the stage has been reached now when a reorientation of some of its future functions will have to take place. The value of the C.S.I.R.O. and what it has meant to Australia as a whole cannot be assessed. Letting my mind wander back to the exhibition in Kings Hall, I think that it is a complete mistake to have the idea that the C.S.I.R.O. works purely in the field of agriculture. It is obvious that parity has been reached between its achievements in this field and secondary industry.
Several problems confront the C.S.I.R.O. In these days when big corporations are rivals in respect of obtaining scientific staff, it is obvious that at times what is popularly termed a brain drain will occur in relation to C.S.I.R.O. Some of its operations are financed from funds established for specific purposes such as tobacco research. There has been a tendency at times for the work of C.S.I.R.O. to become too sectional. Probably the people in charge of this Organisation have felt that, in deference to some of the donors of the bequests that it received, it should undertake certain research whereas they felt in their hearts that if their research had been broader Australia’s wellbeing would have been advanced further. It is obvious that, in relation to scientific research, the Government has to develop the situation to the stage where C.S.I. R.O. is not beholden to donors of these funds for research purposes.
In my specific submissions I want to deal with the report of the Organisation for 1965-66, with particular reference to wildlife. I pay tribute lo the Minister for the opportunity that he gave me to have a lengthy discussion with Dr. Frith. I know that the wildlife section has already played a tremendous part. 1 believe that 1 should dissipate immediately the misconception which some people have that wildlife is just an expensive luxury and that it might be all right for a few tourists to see a section of our fauna, and leave it at that. Anyone who has spoken to Dr. Frith and his officers has discovered the recurring benefits of their work. They might be engaged on a project to examine the migration of bird life from New Guinea to Australia. Some of the information that has been obtained is fed to other government departments. I believe that already the work carried out by the wildlife section of the C.S.I.R.O. into many aspects of our fauna has returned dividends. But 1 cannot but make comparisons between the manner in which this Government co-operates with the C.S.I. R.O. and the manner in which governments in other countries co-operate with similar departments becaust [ do not feel that co-operation between the Government and the C.S.T.R.O. has been developed to the full in Australia. lt is fitting that the Minister in charge of the C.S.I. R.O. has had experience of the Navy portfolio. I refer him to “ Newsweek “ of 12th September 1966. It contains an article about the problems that confronted the United States Government when it was felt that the green turtle was virtually facing extinction. The United States Navy was called in. It teamed up with private scientists in an expedition in the Caribbean Sea. The operation was known as Operation Green Turtle. As a result of it, the United States Navy collected certain species of green turtle in various parts of the Caribbean Sea. The idea was to farm them out into certain other sections that were regarded as ideal habitats.
I have more than a sneaking suspicion that our Services generally do not look upon that sort of project as something that should be encouraged. I know of the Minister’s personal sympathy for the operations of this section of the C.S.I. R.O. However, we are living in an age of budget commitments. The point that I am trying to emphasise is that wherever we can have these fringe benefits, whether it be in relaion to the Navy, the Army or the Air Force, obviously we will reduce the overhead. This is also the age of the good image. I do not think J have to emphasise the point that if the taxpayers at large see a naval vessel being used in this type of venture or any Army Helicopter being used for bushfire prevention they will say: “ I begrudge having to meet some of the expenditure of the Services, but 1. can see that some of our money is being used for civilian purposes.” J hammer this theme. 1 will be interested to hear the Minister’s reaction, particularly in view of his knowledge of naval procedure. I believe that this is something that we should explore a little further.
At the commencement of my remarks I said that the broad structure of the C.S.I. R.O. was reaching a stage at which some further structural changes may have to be made. What I am about to propose is not a revolutionary proposal. In years gone by the Aeronautical Research Laboratories were transferred to the Department of Supply. 1 am relating my proposal to wild life section of the C.S.I. R.O. I suggest that we study the operations of the Canadian Government in this respect. 1 select Canada because it operates under a Federal system, as we do. In that country wild life comes under the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources. That leads me to the conclusion that the day is not far distant when Dr. Frith and his officers may not be as submerged - perhaps that is not quite the appropriate word - as they are now. If they were linked with the Department of National Development they might achieve even more. I am not questioning what they want to do - their objectives. 1 am bearing in mind the situation in Canada, where the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources explores the question of imposing levies on mining corporations, oil drillers and similar people and using some of the money that is raised to meet the cost of its wild life operations.
I do not want anyone ,to say: “ Yes, but we have all our State instrumentalities in this field”. That is also true of Canada. Recently I had a lengthy discussion with officers of the Canadian High Commissioner’s office, and they gave me data with which 1 will not belabour honorable senators at the moment. For every report such as the one which 1 now have in my hand, and which is the annual report of the Federal department, there is a corresponding report from each of the six provincial departments. 1 believe that this parallel development is the natural line of development in Australia. The Department of Supply has taken over some previous operations of the C.S.I.R.O. and I believe that the time is not far distant when we in Australia will see in this sphere developments similar to those that have taken place in Canada. There has been some reluctance on the part of State Governments lo have the Federal Government buy into these sorts of projects, but I believe it is inevitable that the Federal Government will do so.
I notice that at page 93 the Annual Report of the C.S.I.R.O.. referring to kangaroos si d tes: Other species are in urgent need of conservation “. I do not want to rock the boat in relation to certain submissions that have been put to the Commonwealth Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) on these matters as they apply to New South Wales, particularly a submission that I have made in regard to having a worthwhile reservation in the Western Division for red kangaroos and certain species of wallabies. But this is the National Parliament, and, whilst today 1 am making out a case in relation to New South Wales, within the space of five years or more Victoria, Western Australia, Queensland and other States will all have their own problems and cases to put forward.
One thing about which I am always regretful in relation to the tremendous amount of research that Dr. Frith and his colleagues have done throughout the Commonwealth is that often they reach a point where they say: “This is what should be done “, and then the ball runs loose and bounces between the States and the Commonwealth. There is what a State wants to do; then there is what the Commonwealth would like to do. I give full marks for what has been done in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. But in the evolutionary society in which we live, it is inevitable that, if ways and means are not found to give more money to the wild life section of the C.S.I.R.O. - I know this is difficult - that section will have to be integrated into the Department of National Development. 1 have before mc a publication which I am sure one or two members of the Government parties read regularly, lt is “ Muster “, the official journal of the Graziers’ Association of New South Wales. lt contains an article with reference to the New South Wales Premier’s complaint or statement that the resources of his State are not sufficient to permit the adoption of a suggestion to purchase helicopters for a variety of purposes, including use by the State Department of Agriculture for the control of noxious weeds and one or two other projects. That gets me back to my theme. If the C.S.I.R.O. were related to the Department of National Development it would loom a little larger and for the surveys that it makes from time to time it would probably be able to obtain the services of the Air Force. The Department of National Development is responsible for a fair amount of revenue being derived from mineral royalties and other revenue producing agencies, and if this wild life section were integrated wilh the Department it would be able to obtain the additional equipment that it is not able to obtain at present. Some people raise their eyebrows when they hear about these developments.
I have in my band a rather remarkable publication - the United States “ Sports Illustrated “. Sandwiched in between articles on golf and gridiron football is a very illuminating article about a portion of -the New Jersey coastline which is worth many millions of dollars as real estate but which a local government body and the United States wild life authorities were able to have placed under perpetual leasehold as a sanctuary for herons and other bird life. I believe that we should be going in for this type of development and that there should be a growing public awareness of these matters. With all due respect for what has been done by the wild life section, as set out in the annual report, I believe that the era of surveys has gone. From now on there will have to be worthwhile projects of acquisition in these fields.
I have purposely compressed my submissions because some of the things that I have said today, particularly in relation to revenue production, will be equally relevant to the estimates of the Department of
National Development. I conclude on this note: This year is the 50th anniversary of the C.S.I. R.O. lt has been a tremendous field of endeavour. However, I believe that at this stage there has to bp a reorientation. The Labour Parly says that Australia must have a broad science policy. I know that other people can elaborate it much more fluently than 1 can. 1 content myself with saying that al this point in the activities of the officers of the wild life section we should endeavour to emulate Canada in a broader field.
– 1 want to draw attention to the work of the C.S.l.R.O. in the field of primary industry. A few days ago 1. had the pleasure of attending the opening of a display by the Organisation in Kings Hall, lt was opened by the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research (Senator Gorton) and I was very impressed by the exhibition. The display was mainly concerned with the primary industries of Australia. We are all conscious of the great work that has been done by the C.S.l.R.O. in advancing our primary industries. I find that the appropriation under Division No. 150, subdivision 3, item 01., Agricultural Research - Animal health and reproduction is to be reduced by approximately §1.75 million from an appropriation of $4,276,100 last year to $2,264,400 this year. Honorable senators are entitled to some explanation for this reduction in an important field of research.
Under subdivision 3, provision is made for various branches of agricultural research. In the provision for research into the plant industry, me appropriation of $2,125,200 is almost $1,000,000 lower than the appropriation of $3,121,600 last year. In respect of the next item, Agricultural research - Entomology and wildlife, the proposed appropriation is $1,671,500 compared wilh an appropriation of $2,055,100 last year. The proposed appropriation for land research is $969,200 compared with $1,177,500 last year. The proposed appropriation for investigation into the processing of agricultural products is $1,377,800 which is a big reduction on the appropriation of $3,296,200 for this investigation last year. The provision for investigation into the processing of forest products is $1,155,600, compared with $1,146,300 last year, a reduction of approximately $30,000.
This amazes me. Why is there to bc such a huge reduction in the appropriation for research into these important branches of production when the Australian economy is based on primary industry? Our export earnings and our balance of payments are based on what we can export and our main exports are primary products. Yet it is proposed to reduce the amount set aside for research into these important industries. Honorable senators are entitled to some explanation from the Minister. Any reduction in research activities into primary or secondary industries is a retrograde step. What is more, the amounts involved arc not small. In fact, they are too large.
There is a proposed appropriation of $2,107,400 for chemical research of industrial interest compared with an appropriation of $3,182,400 last year. Australia cannot afford to reduce research into any aspects of our activities, let alone research into branches of primary industry. We should be expanding research and research facilities and we should be finding ways and means of passing on the results of research conducted by the C.S.l.R.O. lo the ultimate users and the producers of these products. Although the total appropriation for the C.S.l.R.O. has risen from $25,901,600 last year to $28,720,000 this year - an increase of approximately $3 million - the primary functions of the C.S.T.R.O. are being severely restricted according to the proposed appropriation, and I think we should have an explanation from the Minister.
Provision is made for agricultural research into soils but I am rather disappointed to note that there is no reference in this connection to research into soil erosion. This is an important aspect, of the Australian way of life. The arable lands of Australia are constantly being eroded by drought, flood and other means. Yet no scientific body is inquiring into the alleviation of this problem. I should like the Minister to explain, if it is within his ministerial capacity, what the Government proposes in this important field. In particular, I direct attention to the very large reduction in the appropriations for various aspects of agricultural research.
Senator GORTON (Victoria- Minister for Works and Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Re before I reply to Senator Mulvihill. The apparent reduction in the appropriation - and it is only an apparent reduction - is the result of a different method of presenting the funds available for the purposes covered by this section of the Estimates. The honorable senator should have a copy of the booklet entitled “C.S.I.R.O. - Estimates of Expenditure 1966-67 - Brief Explanatory Notes “. This booklet has been distributed to honorable senators and I direct attention to page 31. A perusal of that page indicates why this explanation is necessary. Senator Cant referred to agricultural research into animal health and reproduction. Actual expenditure in 1965-66 was $4,215,041 and the proposed appropriation is $2,264,400. That leads to the impression that the amount allocated for agricultural research under this heading is to be reduced. But to that amount of $2,264,400 must be added the total amount of $2,314,268 shown against the category “ Animal Health and Reproduction “ on page 31 of the explanatory notes as the amount available from wool, meat and dairy funds, and from other sources. The last time that these accounts were presented to the Parliament the funds available from the Treasury and from the wool, meat and dairy funds were presented as one total, which was $4,215,041. On this occasion, I think as a result of the requirements of the Public Accounts Committee, we had to present in the paper that is before the Committee of the Senate only the Treasury funds, but to those must be added the funds from the wool, meat and dairy industries, in order to get a comparison of the provision this year with the provision last year. In fact, the net result is that last year there was a provision of $4,215,041 and this year, by the addition of all the sums which are jointly available, the amount available under this item will be $4,574,668, which’ is in total an increase. I shall not go through all of the other heads that the honorable senator mentioned, because the same sort of explanation applies to all of them. One has to take the funds available from all sources other than the Treasury, and add that amount to the Treasury funds in order to get the total amount available.
Senator ORMONDE (New South Wales) [4.42J. - I ask the Minister to bear with me while I press a point of view on the title, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. That title implies to me that this Organisation which, of course, I favour and praise, is attending to scientific aspects of investigation of primary industries, all sorts of rural interests and conservation matters, as well as industrial research. Under Division No. 150, starting from Salaries and Payments in the Nature of Salary, 33 items are noted, and only four of them refer to industrial research. All are for various amounts of money, totalling $28,720,000. Of that amount $6,000,000 is for industrial research. Is it that the rural communities - farming interests, the wool industry - are not themselves prepared to spend any money on investigation? Does (his properly reflect the industrial research that goes on over the whole scene, in private industry and in government circles? I should like the Minister to enlighten me on that matter, because I read a lot of expert criticism of the Australian scientific research effort, by very prominent people who say that we are dragging behind the rest of the world. Half the time I do not know whether they are saying that the Government is not doing anything about it or that private industry is not doing anything about it. 1 have been through the great research organisation of the Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd., which probably spends as much money on research as is indicated in this document. I am not certain whether a lot of people might be escaping their responsibility to engage in research and might be dependent on government departments to conduct research. People overseas might think that the amount provided for industrial research, as shown in this document, represents the total expenditure on industrial research in Australia, whereas that may not be the true Australia-wide position at all. It might present a completely false picture of real industrial investigation in Australia. I agree with my colleague. Senator Cant, that the primary section of industry is important to Australia, but in the mechanical and nuclear age we are moving into scientific investigation and industrial development may be much more important than primary industry to the Australian community. Primary industry is necessary, but we are not so dependent on it today as we used to be. To take our place in the new world, we must be up with industrial developments.
I think that the title of the Organisation is wrong,’‘for a start. It might have been a very sound title in the early days. The Organisation was set up in the war years, in the Dedman period - 1 believe in 1945 - when nothing had been done about research into primary industry and rural affairs. This was a start. Very little had been done in an industrial sense because of the war. I am just wondering whether the Organisation should give more attention than it does to industrial research. As I say, only four items under Division No. 150 deal at all with matters industrial. All of the rest deal with such matters as agricultural research, Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux and the National Association of Testing Authorities.
I know that this Organisation has investigated matters in relation to the development of- the coal industry or, more truthfully, in relation to’ the relention of the industry and helping it to resist its competitors or to keep up with them, but I always get the impression that it has done this in a small way. For example, it is examining the question of the use of coal in an internal combustion engine. Its effort is not massive enough. I visualise the Organisation as having a little engine somewhere in a shed, operating in a minor sort of way in experimenting with a problem that is really a massive problem. I am wondering whether the fact that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation is engaged in this sort of activity allows the coal industry, for example, to escape its own responsibility to engage in this type of research. I pose these questions to the Minister because they have troubled me for a long while. It could be, of course, that private industry is capable of doing its own industrial research. If that is so, it ought to be said in the interests of truth, because the figures presented probably do not give the real story of scientific and industrial research as applied to general industry in Australia. It could be that the solution is for this Organisation to engage more actively in industrial research or to concentrate completely on broader scientific questions that need investigation, such as those raised by Senator Mulvihill in relation to flora and fauna. All of those things are important in their own way; they are very important.
I get the impression that the C.S.l.R.O. is dealing principally with the investigation of plant diseases and so forth - that it is concerned with what could be more or less minor things in the industrial complex in which we live. I think we should have another look at the whole Organisation, having in mind the fact that it was designed to do a particular job in the early post war years. The real reason for the existence of the Organisation may have changed over the years. I express the view that the Organisation ought to be doing more industrial research and so kill the criticism that appears in the Press week by week to the effect that as a nation we are dragging the chain and, according to documents of the United Nations, are only tenth in the world in order of importance. Perhaps if the real facts were known it would be seen that such statements are not true.
The proposed expenditure for this financial year is $28,720,000. Last year the expenditure amounted to almost $26 million. T know that the Minister could not provide the information now, but perhaps officers of the C.S.l.R.O. could furnish figures to show what the immense investment in the Organisation over the years has meant in the production of wealth. Immediately, the introduction of myxomatosis comes to mind. That has improved the use of land by 50 per .cent., or perhaps 30 per cent. Are figures available to indicate what the huge investment in the C.S.I.R.O. over the last 20 years has meant? Over that period probably an average of S20 million a year has been expended on the Organisation. Is there any way of showing what this has meant to primary production? Again, the activities of the C.S.l.R.O. have led to almost a revolution in the production of wool fabrics and the manufacture of clothing. A type of yarn has been produced which makes the pressing of clothes easier and which has led to the manufacture of woollen goods of improved quality.
Docs the Government get anything back from private industry for its investment? I have always been concerned that, not only should the Government help industry, but that in turn industry should help the taxpayers who have assisted it. I believe that, because of inventions and advances that have been worked out by the C.S.l.R.O., many factories in the metropolitan areas of Sydney are making a lot more money than they used to. Is private industry providing scholarships or subsidising the activities of scholars who are recruited by this Organisation and who have helped many members of private industry to become very wealthy people?
[4.54. - If Senator Ormonde looks at Division No. 150, sub-division 3, he will note that items 10, 12, 13, 14, .15 and 16 are concerned with industrial research. In the explanatory notes which I thought had been distributed to honorable senators and members of the House of Representatives-
– We got the document this morning.
– It should have arrived sooner than that.
– It was because of the dilatory approach of the Government.
– The honorable senator may make funny little jokes if he likes.
– lt is not funny at all. What happened was almost an insult lo the Senate.
– The document that was distributed sets out what is involved in the items to which I. have referred. Item 10 relates to research into the desalting of water by distillation. The Division of Applied Chemistry has applied itself to the synthesis of chemicals of potential industrial and agricultural importance. It tests the properties of materials at very high pressures and temperatures and does other work of that kind which is of advantage to industry. The Division of Chemical Physics works, amongst other things, on the development of scientific instruments. Its work has resulted in the establishment of a scientific instrument making industry in Australia. One instrument which comes to mind is the atomic absorption lamp. That was developed by the C.S.I.R.O. It is now manufactured here and is earning, from memory, export income amounting to Si million a year.
The Division of Protein Chemistry is conducting tests with wool. This is an industrial matter. The Division concerns itself with research into processes that will lead to wool being made more attractive to the consumer - for example, to prevent yellowing after a certain period and to make the product shrink-proof. These are industrial processes through which wool is passed after it leaves a sheep’s back. Item 12 relates to the processing and use of mineral products. The honorable senator referred to coal research. This work is carried on at Ryde in Sydney. The Division of Coal Research is investigating the physical and chemical characteristics of Australian coals and is trying to devise means, either in the treatment of coal or in the design of new furnaces, to eliminate slag and to ensure that the greatest number of thermal units possible are obtained from a given quantity of coal. I speak subject to correction by my advisers, but I understand that this work is undertaken in conjunction with the industry, which provides certain funds, and the Joint Coal Board. If the honorable senator looks at the building programme of the C.S.I.R.O. for this year and next year, he will note that in 1967-68 a new building is to be erected at Ryde at an estimated cost of $1.4 million, lt will be a bit more than a shed. 1 shall not go through all the items. They embrace research into the standards of light and heat management and things of that kind, all of which have much to do with industry. I do not think there is any way in which 1 or anybody else could work out the benefit that has flowed to the Australian economy from the money that has been expended by the C.S.I.R.O. over the years. Senator Ormonde referred to myxomatosis. Any estimate of the benefit that that development has brought to the Australian economy must be just that - an estimate, lt would be impossible to work it out.
– lt is a cost benefit.
– Yes, but it is still an estimate. One could not possibly say that it was worth so many million dollars. The same remark would apply to a great number of other processes and leads which have been taken up and developed. In return for a licence granted to a firm to develop and sell a product which has been laboratory proved. C.S.I.R.O. receives a royalty payment under an agreement. The royalty payment is paid directly to C.S.I.R.O., and equally directly by C.S.I.R.O. to Treasury. I think I have covered all the points raised by Senator Ormonde.
.- I wish to refer to the appropriation for investigations in Division No. 150 - Administrative. I have great pleasure in endorsing the estimates for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. 1 believe the C.S.I.R.O. assists greatly the progress in our primary and secondary industries. It is establishing our industries as world leaders today and research such as that carried out by the Organisation will enable Australia to retain and improve its position as the twelfth trading nation in the world. Research must continue and in future years the emphasis on research expenditure must increase.
The work done by C.S.I.R.O. in relation to particular industries is most significant. 1 could discuss at length the useful results that have been obtained in many areas. Investigations are carried out in respect of animals, horticulture, irrigation, soils, tropical pastures, entomology, forest products, building, food production, coal mining, wood, chemistry and radio physics. I wish to refer to two particular areas in which I have great interest. First, I refer to the work done by the C.S.I.R.O. Division of Forest Products mainly in Victoria. Through the work of the Division over many years, a great improvement has been effected in the usage of Australian timbers that once were wasted. Energetic investigations have been made into the use of offcuts and shorts of timber which previously were thrown away. Great assistance has been given to the paper manufacturing industry in the usage of Australian eucalypts. Research has been conducted into the seasoning of timber for building construction and information on the results obtained has been disseminated rapidly throughout the building industry.
Enormous progress has been made in the preservation of timbers. I refer particularly to some of the pine timbers that previously were cast out. Because of investigations by C.S.I.R.O. and private enterprise organisations, narrow poles are used for fencing and preservation generally has made enor mous strides. To cite an instance of a saving in practical, hard cash, the PostmasterGeneral’s Department claims that it saves over $4 million a year by the use of impregnated poles and generally preservatised timber. This is a most useful work.
I certainly congratulate the building research section of the Organisation. Reference to the display recently held in King’s Hall and some of the excellent publications put out by the Organisation shows that advanced building techniques have been introduced into the community. I congratulate C.S.I.R.O. on its publications, which are handled by a very efficient division. I suppose that nothing is more important to primary industry generally, and in some cases to secondary industry, than that those involved should have available to them and should make use of the immediate advances in scientific research. It is a fault of the people engaged in primary and secondary industries that they do not make themselves fully aware of the publications available through C.S.I.R.O. for the benefit of their industries, lt appears to me to be wise for C.S.I.R.O. to make associations of industry more aware of the publications available to them. The Parliament has legislated in the last few years to stabilise the poultry industry. The C.S.I.R.O. has produced publications with respect to breeding poultry for higher egg production and for food. Poultry has become an important part of our meat industry and the publications are of immense value to the industry. I suggest that lists of the publications available should be directed to the societies involved in these particular industries. I am delighted to see that the proposed appropriation for information and publications has been increased over last year’s appropriation by almost $100,000, to an amount of $826,300. I congratulate the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation on the work it is doing which is of immense importance to the community.
– I direct the attention of the Senate to Division No. 150 - Administrative. At the outset I would like to pay a tribute to the extraordinarily talented men and women of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. We must concede that they are particularly dedicated in (he service they give under extremely difficult conditions provided by the Government. 1 put to the Minister a question requiring a simple answer: Has the administration of C.S.l.R.O. suggested a crash financial programme to pick up, say, within the next five years, the leeway in relation to the appalling conditions under which many people engaged in research must work?
I do not want honorable senators to think that I am generalising, because I am about to give some concrete examples I have witnessed. In Western Australia, a group of dedicated and very talented nien and women were engaged in primary industry research in a building in the grounds of the University of Western Australia. The conditions under which these people worked could he described only as slum conditions. Only when pressure came from the university authorities and there was, more or less, a subsequent threat of the research workers being kicked out, did the Commonwealth Government see fit to embark on the establishment of a new laboratory at Floreat Park for use in research into primary industry.
I shall tell honorable senators of the congested conditions there and of the lack of room for scientific instruments. 1 saw a hal.-, ncc stored high on a shelf on the wall of the old building. When a research scientist wanted to use the balance, he had to climb on a chair or ladder, lift down the balance and put it on a table. He would then do the weighing essential to the particular research project and, when that was finished, he would have to climb up again and put the balance back on the shelf. That was not good for the research officer. Neither was it good for the balance. The place was extraordinarily hot in summer and every room was cold in winter, lt was only under threat of expulsion from the University that the Government acted.
In Brisbane, work is still being done in the animal husbandry research section, I know that the Minister will say: “ We have the project in hand now.” But it is only when pressure is brought to bear on the Federal Government that something happens. There is no end of places where similar conditions, or conditions which are not dissimilar, exist. I am referring to conditions at the places I have seen. Here, we have a home built last century and looking like it, not even properly maintained by the Government. Under pressure from the Queensland Government, it is proposed to move out. There are no proper facilities for the staff. I am referring to general amenities in relation to ordinary living conditions to which the members of the staff are entitled. In regard to their research conditions, the facilities are impossible. They have even made use of a caravan, in addition to the tumbledown house in a residential area. Under pressure from the Queensland Department of Primary Industries, it is proposed to move out, as 1 have said.
If we go to Melbourne we find that there is extraordinary congestion in the research and chemical engineering section. I do not know of any industrial enterprise in which the employees would tolerate such conditions. Here there are congested, narrow passageways. I should say that the fire hazards would be dreadful. If a fire were to break out, not only would valuable equipment and research records be destroyed, but also a number of the personnel inevitably would lose their lives. I ask: Has the Government or have the senior officers of the C.S.l.R.O. proposed embarking on a crash reconstruction programme to provide reasonable and decent facilities commensurate with the extraordinarily competent work that these people do and the real contribution that they have made over the years to primary and secondary industry? Even the Minister cannot estimate the value of that contribution. Apparently, those engaged in primary and secondary industry are not sufficiently grateful for what has been done. Certainly, they have not made a reasonable contribution in relation to the value they have received.
The proposed expenditure of more than $28 million by the C.S.l.R.O. this year represents . 1 4 per cent, of the gross national product. The increase in the gross national product over the years has been due in no small measure to the particularly competent activities of this organisation. In passing, I pay a tribute to the late Sir Earle Page who played no small part in its establishment and subsequent expansion. I further ask the Minister: Has the Government considered the establishment of a national science foundation? Even a small country like Belgium has had such a foundation for nearly 40 years. In this country we have an organisation which is limited in its approach to problems and also limited in its finance. It has no overall national character. It embarks on particular projects. Let me exemplify what I have in mind by referring to the National Science Foundation in Belgium. In that country brilliant students, both graduates and undergraduates, are assessed. Subsequently they lake honours courses and become part and parcel of the National Science Foundation.
The Foundation takes students who have just passed through their courses and those who have obtained honours and places them in the various fields of research, but it does not necessarily earmark them to be employed for a time or for the whole of their lifetime in serving the purpose of the government, lt merely embarks on the project of training them as research scientists The students can elect to serve the government or to enter private enterprise. They make a contribution irrespective of the field they enter. This Government, however, and its immediate predecessor have adopted since 10th December 1949 a parsimonious approach and a scattered approach to these problems. We have the C.S.I.R.O. and the National Health and Medical Research Council, the contribution to which has been particularly parsimonious and paltry over the years. The Government has now elected to contribute S6 million to private industry in research projects. In addition, we have the Robertson Committee which can make grants to university staffs or lo individuals engaged in research but there seems to be no co-ordination of scientific investigation and general research in projects which are of so much value.
The C.S.I.R.O. over the years has proved the value of restarch, particularly in the field of primary industry. That has been evident in the wool industry, the cattle industry and the tobacco industry, and also in the fields of forestry research and secondary industry. In the latter respect I refer to the work of the National Standards Laboratory. There is no end of worthwhile contributions made by the various sections of the C.S.I.R.O. The concrete example in monetary value is there for the Government to see. Yet, the Government -appears to be so paltry in its approach.
Is it that the personnel constituting the Government do not realise the value of research, or is it that the personnel of the C.S.I.R.O. and associated bodies do not fender the requisite advice to the Government? Frankly, I think that they do. I believe that these dedicated and extraordinarily competent people tender advice to the Government, but because of the deficiencies of the Government personnel they do not see the way, clear and unfraid, to advance large sums, although the expenditure of money in that way would come back to the Australian nation and the Australian people not tenfold but a hundredfold.
There is a further matter to which I want to direct the attention of the Minister in relation to Division No. 150. 1 refer to item 11 in sub-division 3, which relates to fisheries and oceanography. There has been a decrease in the proposed expenditure. Last year the appropriation was $714,300 and actual expenditure was $681,565. The estimate this year is $656,700. Australia is an island continent. In fact, it is the largest island in the world. We face tremendous problems. There are the waters of the continental shelf, gradually becoming deeper. We have Japanese coming down here collecting our fish - I will not say plundering our fisheries. We have the Great Barrier Reef which is a unique natural feature. People all over the world tell us that the Great Barrier Reef is cry.’ng aloud for research. This Government has done nothing except that some two years ago it made a grant of £5,000 for the Marine Biological Research Station at. Heron Island, off the Queensland coast and on the fringe of the Great Barrier Reef. The Stare Government, I know, does little more. Here there is scope for marine biological research which, in the eyes of the world, is unique not only because of its utilitarian value but also from the aspects of pure scientific research. We owe it to the world of science to engage in scientific research in connection with this unique natural structure. Do honorable senators know how many staff members there are at the Marine Biological Research Station? There are two officers - the director, who is the sole scientifically qualified person, and a maintenance officer. The Federal Government, with its tremendous revenues, made a grant of £5,000 some two years ago, but only American and British personnel have carried out real investigations of a substantial nature or this particular structure. I pay a tribute to Dr. Endean of. the University of Queenland who, over the years, has carried on a research programme in relation to toxins or poisons associated with marine creatures. He has done a magnificent job with very limited financial and other resources.
Surely the Federal Government must, be condemned in this regard. If we accept the statements of the State Governments at face value and as being consistent with truth, those Governments do not get enough money for various projects. After all, four of the State Governments are of a similar political colour lo this Federal Government, and I would not think they would be condemnatory unless they were speaking something consistent with truth. All of the States say that they do not have sufficient money for various projects associated with marine biological research and investigation. Therefore, the blame must lie with the Federal Government. When we consider this continent and its marine environment, why is it that less than $750,000 is to be spent on a major project this year? f know that the Minister lakes an interest in scientific matters. When he stands up to reply on this occasion I know that, unlike other occasions, he will not be evasive and will come clean.
– The honorable senator knows that I will not be what?
– I am hoping that the Minister will not be evasive. Surely with his maturing as a senior Minister and his promotion lo Cabinet there must come a sense of responsibility. When he was a junior Minister-
– The honorable senator should not talk about the Minister’s age.
– I am not talking about his age. I am talking about the maturity that has come with his promotion to Cabinet. He will now have a greater sense of responsibility in the replies-
-(Senator DrakeBrockman). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
Senator SIM (Western Australia) 15. 22].- First of all, I would like to comment on a remark made by Senator Cant. He was rather critical of the amount of funds lo be made available for soil erosion investigation purposes. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has a division which deals with soils, and I think Senator Cant’s comment highlights one of the Organisation’s problems. It is being constantly requested, with political and other pressures being applied, to undertake research work which should be carried out by other bodies. The State Departments of Agriculture have a major responsibility in the case of soils, and I believe that my State, at least, is accepting this responsibility. This work is not the sole responsibility of the C.S.I.R.O. The Organisation is being called upon to undertake some specific types of research which State Departments find aic beyond their capacities, but it is important to remember that - too often, in my opinion - it is called upon to undertake types of research which should be carried out by other research bodies.
I wish to refer to the staffing position of the C.S.I.R.O. which is set out in its annual report. On page 11, under the heading “ Staff “, there is a comment that 70 per cent, of the Organisation’s staff is still being recruited overseas. Admittedly, onequarter of the people concerned would be returning Australians. I do not know what proporton of the agricultural staff is recruited overseas, but I suspect that it is a fair proportion. I mention this because for a long time it has been known in Australia that we -are facing a serious shortage of agricultural scientists. This is not so much the fault of the C.S.l.R.O., which, generally, has provided more than reasonable conditions and status for its scientists. As far back as 1959, the Institute of Agricultural Science warned Australians of this danger. It put the blame - I think justifiably - at the doors of the State Departments of Agriculture, which employed - I speak from memory - some 44 per cent, of all agricultural scientists in Australia. At that time I think it was easily proved that, from the point of view of status, agricultural science was the Cinderella of the profession. This did not encourage young people to enter a profession which was and is vital to Australia. 1 am happy to say that some improvement has taken place in this status of the profession, although it still does not have the status which its importance warrants.
I think that the C.S.I.R.O. report highlights the shortage of agricultural scientists in Australia. Our universities still are not training nearly enough of these scientists, and there is a shortage of those with the high qualifications which the C.S.I.R.O. very rightly requires. I hope that my words will be of some use in persuading those in authority to give very careful consideration to this profession and to ensure that its status will be raised to the level of that of other professions. The public tends to regard the legal and medical professions as having a far greater status than agricultural science, but 1 believe that agricultural science should be equal in status. A very worrying aspect is that we have to rely so heavily on overseas recruitment for our agricultural and other scientists.
There are two other matters to which 1 would like to refer briefly. At page 15 of the report, under the heading “ Collaboration with Universities “ I note with pleasure that the C.S.I.R.O. has reported great improvement. One worrying matter has been the lack of collaboration between the C.S.I.R.O. and other research organisations in Australia. In the past, this has resulted in some wasteful overlapping and duplication of research. Overlapping in research is often necessary and desirable, provided there is close collaboration between the scientists within the various organisations. This applies not only to universities but also to State Departments of Agriculture. As recently as last Saturday I had the pleasure of visiting the C.S.i.R.O.’s research station in Canberra, and I was very happy to learn of the great improvement that has taken place in this matter of collaboration between the various organisations.
In the main, the fault has never been with the C.S.I.R.O., which, in my experience, has been most anxious to collaborate with other organisations. I think it comes back to the point I mentioned earlier Agricultural science had a lower status than other professions in State departments and sometimes in universities. The conditions for agricultural scientists were not as good as those for members of other professions, and naturally there was some jealousy between sciences. The C.S.I.R.O. is now more happy with the situation. The problem is being overcome, whichI think is very satisfactory. This point is further highlighted by the ever increasing drain on finance to maintain scientists. The annual report of the C.S.I.R.O. in relation to the maintaining of a research scientist mentions that the financing rate has risen by about 7 per cent, per annum. In 1961-62, the annual cost per research scientist averaged $23.7. The figure for the current financial year is $34.2.
Senate Wright. -Of what is that a unit?
– That is the average annual cost to maintain a research scientist. 1 think that this bears out the point that I was making that with this ever increasing cost wasteful duplication and overlapping in research cannot be afforded. The best value must be obtained from every scientist. 1 do not think that we should regard the C.S.I.R.O. as sacred in the way that India regards the cow. The C.S.I.R.O. is a vast organisation.I believe that it has done tremendous work for Australia not only in the field of agriculture but also in the industrial and other fields. However, that fact does not mean that, because of such work, we should not at times be critical of the C.S.I.R.O. if criticism is necessary. 1 do not intend to criticise any aspect of the Organisation here. I merely say that, with regard to a vast organisation particularly when it deals with science which many of us do not really understand, there is always a danger that we shall take for granted what we are told. At all times we have to be prepared to make critical assessments of the work being done in the research field. 1 do pay a genuine tribute to the dedication and the skill of not only the scientists of the CS.I.R.O. but also the scientists of Australia generally. Their contribution to the welfare of this country has been quite tremendous and out of all proportion to the public funds expended in this field.
It is pleasing to find, as Senator Benn will acknowledge, I think, the high regard in which the C.S.I.R.O. is held amongst overseas scientists and to learn of the help that it is giving to less developed countries in regard to both administration and scientific work. This is a very valuable field of activity. For example, I think that Mr. Christian spent six months in India reorganising the science field in that country. The closest collaboration exists between the C.S.I.R.O. and Asian scientists. I cannot speak too warmly of the high regard in which the C.S.l.R.O. and its scientists are held overseas. 1 do urge that every endeavour be made to encourage Australians to enter the profession of agricultural science. We should critically examine the status and conditions which even today we apply to ensure that they are sufficient to encourage our best brains to enter this profession.
.- We are discussing not a department but an organisation which is administered by the Prime Minister’s Department. A difference may exist between an organisation in the Public Service and a department in the Public Service. We are inclined to believe that to be so until we examine the list of officials of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation which is to be found at page 155 of the schedule of salaries and allowances in relation to the estimates. The first position mentioned is that of chairman. Now. 1 am not concerned about the salary applicable to this position. If the officer holding the position of chairman is satisfied with his salary, all is well as far as the Committee is concerned. Then we find that there are eight executive members, one associate member of executive, one executive officer and one secretary. So, the C.S.l.R.O. is an organisation and not a department. I feci sure that this has been tested, lt has been given a trial and has been found to be satisfactory in the light of the work that the Organisation is required to do and has performed over the years.
Senator Ormonde made an interesting point when he was discussing this vote. When mentioning some of the excellent work that was done by the Organisation, he referred to myxomatosis, which was brought into Australia for the purpose of destroying the rabbit pest. This happened so long ago that I am unable to say at the moment whether the C.S.l.R.O. was the organisation responsible for the introduction of myxomatosis. However, my mind does go back to the period when southern Queensland was almost in danger of being overwhelmed by prickly pear. One could stand in towns such as Dalby and Roma and in places along the western and south western railway lines of Queensland and see year by year the prickly pear encroaching on town reserves and taking complete control of the grazing lands. I think that it was an officer of the C.S.l.R.O. who discovered in Argentina the insect Cactoblastis which solved the problem. A station was established at Chinchilla in south western Queensland. Actually, it was a breeding station. Some of the small graziers in the neighbourhood discovered the benefit of the insect. They were able to get a few that flew out of the research station. The graziers tried out the insects on the prickly pear and found that the insects were very successful in destroying it.
As a matter of fact, one farmer came to me and said: “ Buy up all the prickly pear leases that you can lay your hands on in Queensland because in another year or two the prickly pear will be completely destroyed.” I never took up any prickly pear leases, but other people were clever and did so. I end the story that J. have told by saying that prickly pear was completely destroyed in Queensland. Land that was valueless one day became worth at least £20 to £30 an acre a week or a month later. If this achievement goes to the credit of the C.S.l.R.O., then it is a recurring credit balance in respect of the Organisation.
At the present time we have in Queensland, as Senator Heatley can confirm, very rich lands along our rivers known as lantana swamps. Lantana is a pest, loo. I think that efforts are being made at the present time to destroy lantana by an insect that also comes from Argentina. If the C.S.l.R.O. is successful in destroying lantana in Queensland it will add some millions of good agricultural and grazing lands to the State. These are activities that are going on all the time, perhaps without our knowing that they are in progress. I always think that the public relations section of the C.S.l.R.O. is poor and of a low standard. I do not think that the Parliament is sufficiently informed of the work that is being carried out by the Organisation, if, in its reports, it does inform us of its work, then these reports are written in a scientific strain which passes over our heads, f think that C.S.l.R.O. should tell us in simple terms what it is doing and what its work means.
Quite recently I read that it is possible to increase the cattle population of Queensland from 7 million to 52 million head. I sat down and thought about that. I said to myself: “ It just cannot be done.” Then I went to look for the reasons that somebody had for thinking that it could be done. J found that at a place called Woodstock in Queensland people had been experimenting with certain pasture legumes and grasses; that they had been using irrigation facilities there; and that it was possible to do what they said could be done. I leave that subject there because I do not want to encroach on other departments. If honorable senators can visualise Queensland with irrigation facilities all over its cattle producing country with legumes and grasses suitable for the fattening of cattle providing nutritional food for stock, they will see a picture of what Queensland may be like in another 20, 30 or 50 years. Some credit for that will be due to the C.S.I.R.O., because already provision for that type of work is made in these estimates. 1 will make a brief summary of what I have said. 1 said that Senator Ormonde spoke about myxomatosis. I mentioned the cactoblastis and the lantana bug. This country is certainly indebted to the C.S.I.R.O. I remember that when the rabbits were extirpated through the agency of myxomatosis it was stated that Australia profited to the extent of £30 million that year. At that time wool was being sold for about £.1 per lb. Rabbits are not the danger to the wool industry that they were prior to the introduction of myxomatosis. So credit must continue to be given to the C.S.I.R.O.
Senator Ormonde spoke about industrial research. A while ago I said that the public relations activities of the Organisation are not good. They could be improved considerably. The C.S.I.R.O. should be able to give us copies of all of its publications, it could improve its publications. It could tell us more graphically what it proposes to do and how it proposes to do it. I receive its publications. I give them to farmers and small graziers. They are always pleased to receive them and to examine them. They are not of great interest to me, except that I read them while I am flying from Brisbane to Canberra and back again and I want to know what is being done.
Let me get down to something worthwhile. Only recently I read that the irrigation waters going down the Murray River had a salt content. I said to myself: “ This must be a job for somebody in one of the Victorian Government departments or in one of the South Australian Government departments. The C.S.I.R.O. should be called in to match its skill against this salt content problem, because one has only to think for a moment to realise the danger that would exist to important industries in South Australia and Victoria if the salt problem were not mastered effectively.” The Minister may be able to tell me, when he is replying - if he thinks my remarks are worth replying to - what the C.S.I.R.O. is doing about this matter, if it is doing anything at all.
At the moment I am a little lost in regard to the functions of all the officers of the Organisation. It was another department, the Department of National Development, that informed the Parliament through the Press that it had compiled a map of the main fishing grounds in Australian waters. That may have been a function of that Department only. It may not have had the assistance of the C.S.I.R.O. But I know that the Organisation co-operates with other Commonwealth departments and with Slate departments in an effort to solve certain problems. I am wondering what will happen about that fishing map, because the Minister to whom 1 directed a question said that he would submit my question to the appropriate authority and see whether we could have copies of the map. He said that he was personally interested in the matter. However, so far no maps have come along to the Senate and no honorable senator has received a map. As far as 1 can see, we will not receive maps if the matter has to be dealt with exclusively by the Department of National Development. I make that prophecy. I hope that this is a matter in which the C.S.I.R.O. has co-operated.
I give the Organisation full credit for the agricultural research work that it has done. It has done an exceptionally good job. One could say that it is really the farmer in Australia today. It can decide what type of cane should be grown, in Queensland. I recall very well that a huge stick of cane, known as black badilla, was grown in Queensland. It was as thick as my leg. But it did not have the sugar content that the little whip-like stick that is being grown at the present time has. The cane that is grown now is the result of research work carried out by the C.S.I.R.O. and the research stations that are controlled and financed by the Queensland Government. They have also done good work.
Another matter that I want to mention In passing is that we used to have pretty good industries along the beaches in Queensland. They were known as the rutile and zircon mining industries. I think an officer of the C.S.l.R.O. or the Bureau of Mineral Resources discovered a way of recovering those minerals from sand. Because of the method of recovery that was discovered here, these minerals were marketable. But that knowhow was sold or disposed of to the United States of America. The result was that the rutile and zircon mining industries in Queensland closed up for a number of years because the United States of America was able to recover all the rutile and zircon that it required from low grade ores in that country. Now these minerals are coming back on to the market in Australia and more sand deposits are being worked. 1 believe that there is an international exchange of ideas and findings by the scientific bodies in Australia and other countries. The Minister might tell me whether that is so, because so far 1 have not seen any international publications. If a body is functioning with the object of co-ordinating the findings of the C.S.l.R.O. and the scientific bodies of other countries, 1 would be happy to receive publications on its work.
.- I compliment, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation on the work that it. is doing. I refer particularly to Division No. 150, sub-division 3 - Investigations - for which $25i million is ro be appropriated this year. I understand that, in addition, approximately $8 million will come from private contributions. If that is the case, approximately 25 per cent, of the money for investigations is coming from outside sources. That: is a credit to the industries concerned. I wonder whether the Minister could give us a breakdown of those contributions, say, as between primary and secondary industries. 1 refer now to page 16 of the booklet of explanatory notes issued by the Minister, which states -
Some projects, as they reach completion, are terminated; others may continue at a steady state . . increasing in size as promising leads develop.
In the booklet, the Minister refers to several activities which will probably be building up. One is biological control of insect pests. The C.S.l.R.O. is to be complimented on the work it is doing in this connection. References are made in the booklet to sirex wasp and the fruit fly but there are many other pests to which this work could be extended and this will be done.
Reference has been made to pasture and animal research in Queensland and the laboratory at Townsville. The booklet states in this connection - . . it has become clear that NorthernQueensland needs strains of grasses and legumes wilh characteristics different from those selected for Southern Queensland.
The Townsville research station will play an important part in the development of the pastoral industry in the whole of northern Queensland. I commend the Organisation on the work that is being done there and hope that it will proceed with the utmost expedition. Control of the regrowth of shrubs and trees in summer rainfall is also referred to in the explanatory document at page 17. This is a matter of concern to rural areas in many parts of Australia. In the past it has been possible to destroy much of the useless vegetation and shrubs by axes and hard manual labour. In recent times mechanical means have been adopted. But a tremendous problem has arisen in the past 10 to 15 years from the regrowth of all types of eucalypt and other timber and this prevents the full use of the land concerned. If something reasonable can be discovered to control regrowth on pastures and farming areas, it will be a tremendous asset to primary producers.
The reference to weather forecasting in the booklet hardly needs comment. Our whole way of life depends on the weather in various ways and more accurate forecasting by scientific means can be only of benefit to us. The explanatory notes refer to air conditioning as something that might be done if funds are available. Air conditioning is vital to the northern areas of our vast continent. We need to find some economic and practical way of cooling Australian buildings other than the present expensive conventional method of air conditioning. I commend the Minister in charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research (Senator Gorton) and the
Organisation onthe statement that preliminary results have suggested that it might be possible to cool some Australian building for about one tenth of the running costs of conventional air conditioners.
In the explanatory booklet at page 26 there is a reference to the development of a Queensland cattle station including a breeder herd. The booklet states - provision of $217,000 is made under this item for the first year’s expenditure on the development of the new property near Mundubbera
This expenditure is required to get the property under way and the proposed appropriation illustrates the cost these days on such development to primary producers. This property was given to the C.S.I.R.O. by the Queensland Government without charge. It was an expired pastoral selection but although the property was given to the C.S.I.R.O. it is necessary as a preliminary measure to spend$2 17,000. In this expenditure there does not appear to be any provision for plant. This is only the first stage of development.
– I notice that staff houses are to cost$1 5,000 each.
– The details of proposed expenditure do not indicate that to me but there are other items still to come. According to the statement of revenue receipts at page 37 of the booklet and as has been stated by the Minister, these amounts of revenue will no longer be credited to the C.S.I.R.O. but will go to Consolidated Revenue and an appropriate amount will be provided in the vote for the C.S.I.R.O. Estimated receipts this year will he $450,000. Other honorable senators have mentioned the figure of $23,000, relating to the sale of publications. This might seem a lot but the C.S.I.R.O. should do everything it can to disseminate information. It is useless to acquire information unless it can be distributed to those concerned through extension services or other means so that full use can be made of it.
Reference has been made to the provision of$656,700 for fisheries and oceanography. We. as Australians, should have our own fish canneries in the north of Australia. Apparently there is plenty of tuna there suitable for canning, particularly in the
Gulf of Carpenteria and it has been shown that there are adequate quantities of prawns. Australia should make more use of these great natural resources in the oceans adjoining our shores. We should not allow other nations to develop them. I commend the C.S.I.R.O. and hope that its work will be expanded so that it will benefit Australia more and more as the years go by.
.- The proposed vote for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation totals $28,720,000. Under the provision for investigations it is proposed to appropriate $25,608,400 compared with the appropriation of $31,710,200 last year. An adjustment is to be made for amounts received from the Specific Research Trust Fund and other sources. The amount received last year was $8,582,800. However, these expenditure proposals indicate that the Government’s policy on research and science generally is stagnant. When we look at the overall picture and the main challenge to Australia, we find that under the heading of defence $875 million is being cheerfully poured out into a war in which we should not be engaged. The greatest challenge to Australia is the scientific and industrial development of our nation, not only to feed future generations of Australians but also to meet the enormous problem of a coming world food shortage. Under Division No. 150, there is a proposed vote of $2,264,400 for investigation into animal health and reproduction.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
Motion (by Senator McKellar) agreed to-
That further consideration of the proposed expenditure for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and consideration of intervening divisions be postponed until after the consideration of divisions relating the Department of the Interior, Civil Defence and the Australian Capital Territory.
Department of the Interior.
Proposed expenditure, $25,665,000.
Proposed provision, $2,371,000.
Australian Capital Territory
Proposed expenditure, $21,498,700.
Proposed provision, $50,779,000.
Proposed expenditure, $700,000.
– I want to raise some points in relation to the proposed appropriation under Division No. 315 for rents payable by various departments, which this year are expected to amount to $6,340,000. This brings up a very important question. In Adelaide, Commonwealth departments have offices in numerous buildings throughout the city, but the Commonwealth owns a block of land in Currie Street, one of the main streets, which is apparently used for a parking station. I believe that Senator Bishop has repeatedly requested that the Commonwealth building be erected on this land, but there seems to be an agreement to pay rent for portion of the building owned by the “ Advertiser “, the morning newspaper that loyally publishes Government policy, and for offices in buildings owned by insurance companies. There seems to be some agreement whereby the Commonwealth will rent for a period two floors of a multi-story building erected by an insurance company. As 1 have said, Commonwealth departments are scattered all over the city of Adelaide. The Taxation Branch is in the “ Advertiser “ building, Federal members’ rooms are in some other building, and the Department of Social Services is in Gawler Place. There seems to be no co-ordination of building activity.
In last year’s report of the Department of Social Services was a condemnation of the offices it. rents because of their unsatisfactory nature. I went to Mr. Roberton, the former Minister in charge of this Department and requested him to seek some alleviation of the conditions under which (he Department was working. The Trades Hall authorities were proposing to build new offices and if negotiations had been commenced between them and the Department it would have been possible to design a building in which the Commonwealth could rent offices under the same conditions as those on which it was subsidising insurance companies. If this were done in the designing stage, the building would be to the satisfaction of the Department and it might make possible the building of a .new Trades Hall on the site where it was then established. This was right in the area where most recipients of social service benefits congregate. First, it would be a building of the trade union movement and, secondly, it would be right opposite the new market to which those who receive social service benefits find it necessary to go for the purpose of buying cheaper commodities.
I finally got a reply from the Minister to the effect that, as the Department was negotiating for other buildings that would become available in 1968, when the tenancy of the building at present occupied expired, it was thought that the Commonwealth should not at that period negotiate with the Trades Hall authorities. We find from the current report of the Department that during the year it negotiated, but still had not finalised, any agreement for the rental of another building in Adelaide to meet the requirements of the Department of Social Services. While the opportunity for negotiating existed, there seemed to be some reluctance on the part of the Department to negotiate with the trade union movement for premises which seemed to me to be ideal for the purpose. I do not know where the building that the Department hopes to occupy some time in 1968 will be, but every report of the Department stresses the unsatisfactory nature of its present accommodation. I do not know whether today the Trades Hall authorities are interested in discussing the matter at all; I think they have made other arrangements. When proposals were submitted to the Government, because they came from the trade union movement there was a disinclination to discuss the question. In the meantime there has been continuous renting of premises in Adelaide from insurance companies and others who loyally support government policy.
The Department of the Interior has land in Adelaide. Building workers in that city are unemployed. There has been a request from the Premier for some supplementary building activities to provide employment for skilled building workers. I suggest, with all respect, that there should be some proposal for the Commonwealth to house its activities in the State of South Australia in one building to be erected on the property that it now owns in Currie Street.
I should like to refer also to Division No. 318, which relates to the Electoral Branch. The proposed appropriation for salaries and’ payments in the nature of salary is $228,670 more than the expenditure, last year. I find that only $32,500 is to be provided for the purpose of meeting salary increases arising from the basic wage adjustment, which leaves a net increase of $196,170 over last year’s expenditure for purposes other than the payment of salary increases arising from the basic wage adjustment. This year there are in fact 16 employees fewer than there were last year. J ask the Minister why this increased allocation is proposed when it is expected that fewer persons will be employed. While on this question, I ask the Minister to give serious consideration to the matter of allowing polling booths that are not well patronised on election day to remain open. There are many polling booths in outback places throughout Australia which serve a residential population but at which only a dozen, fifteen or twenty votes are cast. Usually the poll is held on a Saturday. Most of the people concerned, who are members of farming communities, go to the central polling booth to record their votes while they are in town for bowls or some other form of recreation. For the isolated IV” who want to go to the local polling booth it is necessary to hire two clerks. But at that polling booth there is no guarantee of the impartial, democratic recording of voles that exists where a polling booth is of sufficient size to justify opposing political parties having scrutineers present.
At some places the officer in charge of the booth has outlived his youthfulness and is able to carry on only with the assistance of clerical staff. I would say that many malpractices occur at country polling booths where only a few votes are cast. Although it is an offence to distribute election material within a certain distance from the entrance to a polling booth, on different occasions such material has been found on the table where the clerk has been marking names off the roll. Probably this occurred because those who were conducting the polling booth had no knowledge of what was right or wrong, because someone asked them if they could leave how-to-vote cards there, and because the booth was not of sufficient importance for the political parties concerned to allocate scrutineers. If scrutineers were allocated to such booths, they would have to wait for 12 hours merely to scrutinise the recording of perhaps 20 votes at the most.
– Where does the dishonesty come in?
– The dishonesty comes in when they hand out Liberal howtovote cards but not Labour cards. There must be dishonesty when the Act is contravened in the handing out of cards of any description within a polling booth.
– The honorable senator said there is dishonesty at the poll. He must be referring to the officers concerned.
– Breaches of the Act do occur.
– At numerous polling booths throughout Australia. Last year I mentioned the case of a man who [ believe was 92 years of age and who took a stroke. He could not hear, and he could not write because he had become paralysed. The business was carried on by his assistant. I subsequently received some correspondence from the Minister in which he said that this would not occur at future elections. The set-up is such that one is entitled to ask whether such arrangements are fair and proper. There can be no justification for establishing these polling booths adjacent to larger towns or cities. The officers concerned tend not to concentrate on their duties.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I wish to refer to the construction of a Commonwealth office block in Adelaide. Probably honorable senators will remember that I have raised this matter on every Estimates debate since I was elected to the Senate. Il seems to me that it is a waste of money for the Commonwealth to pay about $1 million a year to the owners of private office blocks and insurance companies to accommodate 27 different Commonwealth departments. In 1964 I asked how much money was being spent for this purpose and how many departments were involved. The Minister for Works (Senator Gorton), I think, said in reply that 27 different Commonwealth departments were housed in private blocks, including those owned by insurance companies. As I indicated a moment ago, the cost to the Commonwealth is more than $1 million a year. A Commonwealth office block ought to be built.
I raised this matter again with the Minister for Works on 27th September. I reminded him that some time ago I had been told that the provision of an office block was being considered. I asked him whether, having regard to the need to stimulate the building industry in South Australia, he would investigate the matter. The Minister said in reply that the construction of a new Commonwealth Centre was still under consideration, having regard to the overall needs of all capital cities. He continued - 1, :is Minister for Works, am unable to 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, 1 can say as Minister for Works that my Department has not been authorised lo 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 would like the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar), who is in charge of the estimates now before us, to convey to the Minister for the Interior the representations that have been made over the years for the building of a Commonwealth Centre in Adelaide. The building of such a centre is justified, not only from the financial aspect but also because it is necessary to have Commonwealth departments as close as possible for communication purposes. 1 have been told that the Da Costa building was offered to the Commonwealth but was rejected. That is a matter which the Government ought to reconsider. I understand that Mr. Walsh, the Premier of South Australia, has made a submission to the Commonwealth in which he has suggested that the Commonwealth build an office block and that some of the Government departments of South Australia could occupy some of the space available, lt is proposed that some South Australian Government departments be accommodated in the Reserve Bank building. Other departments could be accommodated in any Commonwealth building that was erected. Financially, this would be a good proposition. It seems to me that the Commonwealth ought to take this step rather than to provide the capital for private organisations to embark on the construction of other buildings. Moreover, a considerable amount of time would be saved in communication between departments.
Senator Cavanagh has already given a plug to the Trades Hall in Adelaide. 1 wish to make a point which I hope the Minister for Repatriation will convey to his colleague, the Minister for the Interior. 1 am the President of the Trades Hall Management Committee. Thai organisation represents two bodies - the Trades and Labour Council of South Australia and the Labour Day Committee, which owns the Trades Hall. We have a site on West Terrace on which we intend to build. At the present time the Trades Hall is situated in Victoria Square very close to the central office section of the city. It is available for sale. The Commonwealth Government might well consider buying the present Trades Hall to accommodate some Commonwealth departments or for the site. It would be available at a very reasonable price, I suggest. I ask the Minister to refer these propositions to the Minister for the Interior so that this year the Commonwealth might give positive consideration to the accommodation of its departments in South Australia. The Opposition can see no reason why Commonwealth moneys are frittered away in payments to private landlords who have plenty of chances to recruit tenants in the ordinary commercial world of South Australia. I trust that, as a result of these further representations, the Minister might consider raising these matters with the Minister for the Interior for active consideration by the Government.
Senator WEBSTER (Victoria) [8.2 lj.- I wish to raise two queries in relation to expenditure under Division No. 310 - Administrative. My first query relates to the proposed appropriation of $8,000 for registration of Commonwealth motor vehicles. Would the Minister explain what is covered by that appropriation? My second query relates to the proposed appropriation for Commonwealth elections and referenda in Division No. 318 - Electoral Branch. The appropriation for this year is $1,140,500. Would the Minister explain what is intended by way of referenda in the coming year?
– In relation to the estimates for the Department of the Interior I wish to raise the matter of casual vacancies in the Senate. 1 might best describe the point 1 want to make by telling of my own experience. My remarks are related to Division No. 310 - Administrative. 1 came to the Senate to fill a casual vacancy in 1957. lt is all a matter of history to me now, but what I am about to say concerns four or five honorable senators who are at present filling casual vacancies. In 1957 I served in the Senate for eight or nine months to complete Senator Ashley’s term. I went to a general election in 1958 and was elected to the Senate, lt was not until I was elected to the Senate at a general election that 1 was informed that virtually I had not previously been a member of Parliament, because I had no rights whatsoever to continuity of service for the purposes of a parliamentary pension. It was explained to me that 1 had not first been elected to the Senate in conformity with the Act; that 1 had been selected and nominated by a State Parliament. I was selected first, very democratically, by a ballot within my party.
– By our executive.
– That is being democratically elected. If I remember correctly, Senator Mulvihill seconded my nomination. Then I went to the State Parliament to be nominated by the Premier on behalf of that Parliament. The nom.;nation was approved in the Upper House and I came to the Senate. But, in fact, 1 was only a second class politician, because whoever framed the relevant legislation had included a provision under which I was not a member of Parliament at all. Of course, most Federal politicians are opposed to the Senate, anyway. A majority of them are opposed to the Senate and quite obviously they have applied to me a rule which they would not apply to themselves because, whatever happens, members of the other place have continuous service. I did not. Worse than that - and this also applies to Senator McClelland who was a public servant, as I was - I had to forfeit my right of employment in the Public Service. That condition does not apply to members of the other House.
Although I was re-elected at a general election, in the meantime I had to find a job outside the Public Service. Any school teacher in Australia who leaves his job to contest an election returns lo his job if he is defeated, or if he misses out on part of his term in Parliament. That right was denied to me as a senator. Now, instead of having been in the Senate for nearly nine years, technically I have been here for nearly eight years. Although I spent my early days here listening with amazement to the dissertations of Senator Wright and other honorable senators and thought I was a fully fledged senator, 1 was not.
– The honorable senator had to carry his cross before he wore his crown.
– That is so. I think the situation 1 have described applies to at least four honorable senators who are at present filling casual vacancies. I know that it affected Senator Buttfield of South Australia. I would like the matter cleared up. I think the law Ought to be altered. Honorable senators who are nominated to fill casual vacancies are not told what is to happen in respect of continuity of service. They give up their positions to enter this Parliament, not knowing the true position. They could be farmers, or of any occupation. When considered in respect to a parliamentary pension, I wasted 12 months of my life in this Parliament. At least I should have got my job back in the Public Service, but I did not. I believe that the first 12 months I served in this Parliament should be considered as part of the qualifying period for my pension, but that is not the case.
It seems to me to be totally unfair that for pension purposes my service in this Parliament is considered to be just under eight, years, instead of just under nine years. The system denigrates the Senate, because it could not happen in the other House. The reason is apparent. The majority of members of the Committee who framed the provisions came, I dare say, from the other House, and held the attitude that anything goes for the Senate. At any rate, that has been my experience in Canberra. It has really affected me very seriously and it affects other honorable senators opposite. After they have, been to the people in their home State, they will find that they have not been senators at all. Senator Webster has been having quite a lot to say, and he is not even a real senator. If he is successful at the coming election, he will find that his period of service for pension purposes is broken. I think it is unfair.
The other matter I wish to raise affects the general public. Each year over 650,000 visitors come to this Parliament. Senator Tangney and I have raised this matter previously and we propose to continue raising it. The Clerk is looking at me as though I am exaggerating the number of visitors, but 1 do not think I am. I have been told that about 650,000 visitors come to this Parliament each year. There is no place for them to get a cup of tea here. If you are a member of the public who is not privileged and you do not know your way about the Parliament, there is no place for you to get a cup of tea within three miles of Parliament House. I believe that situation shows contempt for the general public. Senator Wright is looking at me as though to say: “ You do not want to turn this building into refreshment rooms.” I do not suggest that, but there ought to be an area close to Parliament - near the precincts of Parliament House - in which the National Capital Development Commission should provide a refreshment room service for the general public.
It is a rather arduous experience to come all the way to Canberra. Sometimes I think that the Pioneer buses do a lot to provide us with our audiences. After listening to the speeches in the Senate, many of these people must long for a cup of tea, but there is no place here that they can get it. They must go across to Civic Centre. 1 ask the Minister to consider the question of honorable senators rilling casual vacancies and the unfair position in which they are placed in respect of the legislation governing parliamentary pensions.
– Does that come under the Department of the Interior?
– Yes, I think so. I should also like the Minister to consider the matter of the refreshment rooms, to which I have referred. I really think that the Government ought to do something about it. If it wishes to popularise Canberra - and I think that ought to be the Government’s duty - the people who come here should be given some facilities.
– Senator Cavanagh raised the matter of rent, in relation to Division No. 315. I think that the answer I am about to give him also will cover the points made by Senator Bishop regarding the building of a Commonwealth block of offices in Adelaide. I am informed that the needs of Commonwealth departments in Adelaide have been considered and that it is hoped that action will be taken by the Department when the needs of other capital cities are being considered. This matter has not been overlooked. It is under consideration at the present time. Senator Cavanagh also inquired about an increase in the provision for salaries under Division No. 318. I think that the honorable senator made a mistake in this respect. The staff has not been decreased but in fact has been increased by 16. This, together with the marginal increases given under Determination No. 104 and the recent basic wage increase of $2 a week, accounts principally for the increase.
The honorable senator also said that he was concerned about the manning of polling booths that are patronised by only a small number of people. I point out that polling booths are not usually retained unless 25 voters or more vote at them. The question of the retention of polling booths is considered after each election. The honorable senator made a fairly strong charge to the effect that malpractices were occurring at booths of this nature. That might be so in South Australia, but I have yet to see it in New South Wales. He mentioned one instance. It seems to me that his statements were rather of a general nature. If he can bring evidence or quote instances, there is no question that the alleged malpractices will be investigated and, if they are found to exist, will be stopped. The honorable senator must realise that most Commonwealth elections, at any rate, are held in the month of November which is usually a pretty busy time for farming communities. Indeed, some farming people find it very difficult to get to the polling booth before it closes at 8 o’clock. I have been at polling booths for a number of years and have seen the big rush of people at the booths just before they close. If the small country booths were to be closed, this would present an added inconvenience to people who live some distance out of town. I cannot agree that malpractices are occurring. They may occur occasionally - I do not know.
Senator Webster wished to know the reason why the sum of $1,140,500 is shown for “ Commonwealth elections and referenda”. That heading is used whether or not a referendum is being held. The two things are lumped together apparently. In respect of the forthcoming election it should not be taken literally.
– The Government is not going to hold a referendum.
– No. I am stating that the provision is made under that heading whether or not a referendum is to be held. With regard to the matter of registrations, to which Senator Webster referred, the position is that the amount is required for the maintenance of a central registry and includes the cost of registration plates for Commonwealth owned vehicles provided for under this item. With the continuing increase in the Commonwealth fleet of vehicles, additional plates are required. Provision is also made for the introduction of further categories of plates. That is the answer with which I have been provided in reply to the honorable senators query.
Senator Ormonde referred to casual vacancies in the Senate. I must confess that the position as outlined by him was not previously known to me. I think that he has. made a point which is well worth taking up. I remind him, however, that the Senate Elections Bill which we shall have before us shortly will provide us with an opportunity to ventilate further the point he has made. That Bill has already been read a second time in the other place. In regard to the kiosk on which he is so keen, I recall perfectly the pleas he has made in this respect in the past. There is a proposal for a kiosk restaurant within the Parliamentary triangle area. A suitable site is being selected to meet the needs of the public. We hope that an early decision can be made. If the kiosk is built, 1 think that Senator Ormonde should get the first cup of tea.
– I wish to support whatever pleas have been made by other honorable senators for action to be taken to examine and to tidy up the Electoral Act. particularly in regard to Senate elections. 1 think that we all have heard rumours that the position in Western Australia, where there are two casual vacancies to be filled, has revealed what appears to be an anomaly in the Electoral Act and that the Government is giving the matter some consideration. It seems remarkable to me that that position should have existed for so long without anything being done about it. I want to give another instance. After the last general election, Senator Cole sought a recount. When the case was heard before the court the learned judge, with considerable asperity, said that if he granted a recount there was nothing in the Electoral Act to say who was to conduct it. He made it perfectly clear that he was influenced in his mind by the fact that in no circumstances did he want to be the one who would have to conduct it.
If the Government is going to consider the Electoral Act as it affects the Senate, and having regard to the fact that a learned judge made the statement which I have repeated in this chamber, it is surprising that the Government has not felt it necessary to take action to clear up the situation legally. While the Government may hope, and 1 certainly hope, that it will never be connected with a recount again, having regard to the fact that the matter was mentioned 13 months ago, the least the Government could have done was to insert in the Act a provision to make it clear who was to conduct a recount if a judge directed that one was to be held. I suggest that some of the money that is being made available to the Electoral Branch possibly might be used to compile a list of rulings under which the Department operates in regard to contentious points. There was an election in Victoria in, I think, 1958. The figures were close and the candidate from my Party was considering a recount. He went to the Victorian Electoral Officer and said that he proposed to seek a recount on two grounds; first, on the closeness of the voting, and secondly, on the possibility that there might be a slight change if a different lot of random votes were considered. He received two rulings from the Victorian Electoral Officer at that time. The first was that closeness of voting was not, of itself, a reason for a recount, and the second was that exactly the same random votes would have to be considered if there was a recount.
We understood that those were the Department’s rulings. But when my own case arose about 18 months ago. we went to the Victorian Electoral Officer and he informed us exactly the opposite in both instances.
– Was it the same Electoral Officer?
– No, a different Electoral Officer. He said that although we had been told in 1958 that closeness of voting was not a reason for a recount, in 1961 there was going to be a recount because of the closeness of the voting. He also said that there was nothing to indicate that there was anything wrong with the election. Secondly, he said that they would consider a different lot of random votes, although we had received a very clear ruling from the Electoral Officer in 1958 that only the same random votes would be considered. So. in a period of five years, when rulings wore sought on two important questions connected with the Electoral Act, the Electoral Officers gave exactly opposite rulings - rulings which in each case were to the disadvantage of my Party.
I understand that the reason for the change regarding the consideration of a different lot of random votes was that the Department got a ruling some months before that Senate election. But what amazes me is that when the Department, for some reason - it must have been a good reason - sought and obtained a ruling upon a very vital question, that ruling was not made available to the representatives of the parties and the potential candidates. I would like to go into the next election - one never knows, but it could be close and there could be a recount - feeling sure about what the rulings will be. We had two rulings one way and then two rulings another way. I hope that next time we will know what they will be. lt seems to me that there is everything to be said for some of the money being made available to this Department being used to acquaint officers of the various parties and the potential candidates of the rulings the Department will adopt.
I turn now to another aspect of the necessity for uniformity. Let us take my case in Victoria and Senator Cole’s case in Tasmania. Allowing for variations in population, the differences between the crucial votes on which the election depended were exactly the same. In Victoria, because the voting was close, the Electoral Officer said: “ I am going to give a recount.” Although he had told me that up to that stage nobody had asked for a recount and that he was sure the count was right, he said: li I am going to give a recount because the voting is close “. But when the Tasmanian Electoral Officer was asked to give Senator Cole a recount because of the closeness of the voting, he said: “ No. Closeness of voting is not a reason for a recount.”
– What is the Electoral Officer’s definition of the word “ close “?
– I would be most grateful if the honorable senator could find that definition. I have not been able to find it. In exactly similar circumstances, a recount was ordered in Victoria but was refused in Tasmania.
– But the Tasmanian poll had been declared.
– That makes no difference. If the closeness of the voting was a reason for having a recount before the poll was declared in Victoria, it should have been a reason for doing the same thing in Tasmania. I would like to see candidates and parties in possession of an Act which has been tidied up and of rulings which will let them know where they stand. I want to make it clear that it cost my Party £700 to ascertain from the High Court that the ruling given in 1961, which was different from that given in 1958, was the right one. lt cost Senator Cole £400 to have his matter decided. I do not think it is right that candidates should be in the position of not being acquainted with information on which the Electoral Officer intends to make decisions. 1 want to make only one other point regarding the Victorian case. The votes were counted and then a check was made. There were two counts. Then, after it was decided to have a recount, a third check was made. At the end of the second check we were assured by the Electoral Officer that there could not be any errors; that after the original count and the second check everything must be all right. But on the third check 9,000 mistakes were found. What does that mean? After the second check in an ordinary election, the quota is set. If 9,000 errors were found after that third check, surely when people are checking through the votes finally to distribute the preferences they must find a lot of errors. If 9,000 errors were found in the third check in Victoria, a lot of errors must remain. In other elections we have never heard of this, because if they found a lot of errors it would alter the quota and they would have to make another count.
I do not want to be hard. 1 realise that an Electoral Officer has to employ a lot of casual labour and that some of the. casual labourers are probably very casual at times. I can understand that in any repetitious work people get tired. If they are looking at a lot of figures they eventually reach the stage where they are looking at the figures but they do not register. 1 do not want to labour this point too much, but it seems to me that there is something to be said for trying to get a higher standard among the casual labour which is engaged to check votes. In Victoria, after the original count and a check, on the third check 9,000 mistakes were found, including, I was told by my scrutineers, some ballot papers which contained only the figures: “1, 2, 3.” Although there had been a count and a check of the votes, on the third check the scrutineers found ballot papers with only the figures “ 1 , 2, 3 “ on them.
– But did not the honorable senator’s scrutineers object when they saw that the ballot papers contained only the figures: “ 1, 2, 3 “?
– They objected at that stage, but, of course, most of the parties did not have scrutineers for the count and the first check. I suppose the Department could say that it was partly the fault of the parties; they could have had scrutineers then. At any rate, it appears to me that there is something to be said for trying to devise a scheme whereby the Department would not have to rely on casual labour which it appears is not able effectively to do the job.
Returning to my main point, I believe that we have to make a check of the Electoral Act, and anomalies ought to be removed. Secondly, I hope that we will be able to get from the Department rulings on which we can rely. I hope that the same thing will not happen again. In 1958 we got two rulings and in 1961 we relied on those rulings, but it cost us £700 to ascertain that there were then different rulings in operation.
.- -1 think that the Senate would be in agreement with Senator McManus’s plea that the rulings of the Department should be made available to anyone concerned. I do not rise to take part in this interesting Senate election excursion, in which Senator Ormonde declared that he considered he was not a member of the Senate and that he had been a second class Senator. He even accused my friend, Senator Webster, of not being a real senator - whatever that may mean. All of those difficulties would have been solved had our Joint Committee on Constitutional Review faced up to an amendment of section 15 of the Constitution and applied to the question of filling casual vacancies under proportional representation the only valid means of filling them, that is, by having a recount of voles cast at. a full general election. 1 do not wish to embark upon a discussion of that subject because there is an item of much more current interest in regard to Senate elections.
I refer to Division No. 318, subdivision 3, item 04, in which the real nature of the expenditure is blissfully disguised in the expression: “ Other Services, University of Tasmania - Grant for research.” That blessed word. - “ research “. Anybody who can add 2 and 2 now undertakes research. The particular skill referred to in this item produced some five years ago a report on Senate elections. The best contribution that the researcher could make to democratic government in an elected Senate of Australia was that, when the Government and the opposition had equal numbers, the Government might of its own authority add one member for every State to its side and so prevail by lifting itself up by its own bootstrings. That is the sort of thinking that we are appealing to down in Tasmania when the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) nominates a research scholar who has already exhibited the type of thinking of which he is capable. Without any consultation with the Senate, the Minister nominates the scholar and then calls the appropriation in this respect: “ University of Tasmania - Grant for research.” This scholar is now in Tasmania. I forget how many years he has been there. He came from the United States of America and has been doing research of varying kinds. He is engaged now on research in relation to Senate elections. Last year, I invited the Committee to vote the item out of the Appropriation Bill. Senator McKenna, who was then the Leader of the Opposition, declined to join me, but I say that the invitation is still open.
– But Senator McKenna was not sure at that time whether the honorable senator would change his mind.
– That is all right. I am the sort of person who can change his mind and use his judgment in so doing. If I get up on the declaration of the poll, I am not imprisoned by a caucus executive that says: “ You shut your mouth, or explain, or be expelled.” No, I am here entitled to exercise a free judgment and a free voice. But here is the situation: We are dealing with a curious kind of Senate election research scholar in Tasmania. He has already cost the country $10,000 last year.
– I thought the honorable senator had said that it was the year before last?
– I do not wish to overstate my argument deliberately. Here a situation has arisen a second time. Has not the Minister anything better to do with the Government’s money than renew this vote? I am particularly interested in the matter. Perhaps “ interested “ is not the right word. The mysteries of this matter become very intriguing. I have as suspicious a mind as Senator Kennelly has and I suspect that here the Country Party is giving its blessing to a Centre Party in that little State whose aspirations are directed to the Senate. Whether I can credit the Minister for the Interior, when he appointed this research scholar, with foresight, looking forward two years hence, I doubt, but there is the item. I wonder whether this research scholar will come up with some blithe and blissful idea by which the Centre Party might be able to multiply itself and so outweigh Liberal members on the Government side of the Committee.
– That remark is unworthy of the honorable senator.
– Let me pass from thai matter to another non-contentious subject upon which we can all agree to offer no criticism. I refer to Division No. 318, Administrative Expenses - “ Commonwealth elections and referenda.” Now, Senator Webster, with the charm that a real senator displays, invites his colleague, the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior Senator McKellar, to offer some explanation of that item. The Minister told us wilh a blandness that was, if 1 may say so without impertinence, most becoming, that the item is printed and the item is there - referenda. I would like to know quite factually with regard to this item and the appropriation of $1,140,500 how much has been spent in connection with referenda, or referendums. I mean in relation to a financial year because at one time it was said that there was to be a referendum “ next January or February “, and if that is still the intention I would like to be advised betimes so that the necessary case against that referendum may be put in preparation or the last case against that referendum publicised. Then, I would like to know also how much of that vote is for elections other than referenda, past, present or future.
, - Madam, I was interested in the reply given by the Minister. I thank him for the manner in which he tried to answer the queries that I raised. But I ask that the Department of the Interior give more serious consideration to the position of office accommodation in Adelaide for Commonwealth departments. I do not know what the needs are in other States and whether those needs are greater than the needs in Adelaide. However, one department has complained in two successive years of its unsuitable office accommodation in Adelaide. The department says that its office accommodation is not adequate for the public. The department is supplying a service in relation to social services. Numerous members of the public need to attend this department. So, the need is urgent.
Senator Bishop gave figures relating to the cost to the Government of renting office accommodation in Adelaide. On the plain economics of the position it is pertinent to ask: Why has not the Government gone on with its proposal to build Commonwealth offices in Adelaide? The question is more pertinent at this time because I believe that representations are being made by the South Australian Premier to obtain some action to alleviate the acute unemployment position in the building industry in Adelaide at the present time.
Let me pass from this subject. The Minister has said that where fewer than 25 votes are recorded at a polling booth, such a polling booth is closed down. The reason why there is poor polling at a particular booth is that most residents go to some other booth in the area. In view of the transport available in the modern age in which we live, I ask whether the figure of 25 votes should not be raised with respect to polling booths, particularly those that are adjacent to large centres. Is it desirable and economic to employ at least two returning officers, or a deputy returning officer and a clerk, for the purpose of recording 25 votes? Might not the cheaper solution to the problem of electors who cannot attend the central polling booth in a locality be to allow postal voting by these individuals? These are my only comments on the questions that 1 raised in what I said earlier and the Minister’s replies to them. I hope that, if a place is made available in which visitors to Parliament House can have a cup of tea, it will be named the Ormonde Restaurant, because Senator Ormonde has agitated for such a place for a number of years.
– What about Ormonde House?
– lt could be named Ormonde House. The honorable senator deserves all of the prestige that would go with the success of his agitation for this service.
I notice that this year’s appropriation for Commonwealth elections and referenda is about $883,000 in excess of last year’s expenditure. 1 take it that that is the result of the need to hold an election for the House of Representatives this financial year. On the question of expense. I believe that serious consideration should be given to whether it will be possible at some time to bring the elections for the two Houses together again. This would appear to be an unnecessary expenditure by the Common wealth. All political parties find it very difficult at times to pay for election campaigns. I respectfully ask: On what was the $257,487 spent last year? It was not spent on wages, which are covered by subdivision 1 of Division No. 318. I apologise for my earlier mistake. There is an increase of 16 in the number of employees - not a decrease of 16. The amount of $196,170 seems a lot of money for the wages of 16 additional employees. In the Electoral Branch 322 people were employed last year and 338 are to be employed this year. Included in them are divisional returning officers and clerks, of whom 268 were employed last year - a year in which there was no election. I should like to know what divisional returning officers and clerks do in a year in which there is no election. This does not seem to be a cheap method of conducting elections.
Without going into the humour of the grant to the University of Tasmania and whether or not we adopted the report of the research worker, this work was done at the request of the Government and I think it has to be paid for. However, before we vote another $10,000 for this year, we should know at least what research is being done. 1 hope it is not again on the matter of resolving deadlocks in the Senate. So I ask what electoral research is being done at the present time by the University of Tasmania. It is essential that we know that before we decide whether we should vote $10,000 for it.
Under Division No. 319 - Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology - the appropriation for postage, telegrams and telephone services represents an increase of $100,000 over last year’s expenditure. I should like some explanation of that big increase. Another aspect of the work of the Bureau in which I am most interested is freight and cartage, on which $109,470 was spent last year. This year’s appropriation represents an increase of $20,000 on that expenditure. I do not know whether we get the weather, as ordered, by a system of freight, and cartage. I should like the Minister to give explanations of the items that I have mentioned, if he can.
– I wish to refer to two divisions of the estimates for the Department of the
Interior. The first is the item of rent in Division No. 315. The proposed expenditure for this year throughout all States is more than $6 million. I should like to know, if the Minister can tell me, how much of that rent is paid in Western Australia and how many Federal departments are housed in buildings for which rent is paid to private business concerns, including banks. The position in Perth is much the same as that in Adelaide. There is a huge diversity of buildings in which the various Federal departments are housed. One has difficulty in getting from one department to another. In some cases even sections of the same department are separated one from the other by several streets. 1 also refer to the housing of members of the Federal Parliament in Perth. I have complained about this from time to time. We arc accommodated on the second floor of the Commonwealth Bank building, in offices which have no natural lighting or ventilation, but are air conditioned, when the equipment works.
– There is no sound proofing either.
– That is so. One can hear everything that goes on in another office. When we are conducting telephone conversations we have to keep our voices low because if we do not everyone else can hear. One day a Country Party member came to me and said that he could hear everything that was being said when the Leader of the Opposition was over in Perth and two rooms away from him. That was because of the lack of sound proofing. The Country Party member wanted me to let the Leader of the Opposition know about it. 1 do not think that is good enough. Federal departments have been housed in that building and have refused to stay there. We are the last of the original tenants, I think. The only rooms that have natural light are the three offices occupied by Ministers. Almost every private secretary to every member is having eyesight troubles and is obtaining spectacles. I believe that it is time we were given decent rooms in which to work. After all, we are the executives of this Parliament in that State. I believe that every private concern provides for its executives offices that are worthy of the positions that they hold. 1 refer now to the News and Information Bureau. We receive a very good deal in respect of this organisation. For an expenditure of a little more than $2 million we have an excellent service. It is excellent from the point of view of the products that the Bureau provides. A couple of years ago I was overseas and I was besieged with requests for films on Australia. On making application to the New York office of the Bureau, I was able to obtain some excellent films on Australia. They were better than any that I had seen here. There was a very great demand for them in the United States. But I am rather critical of the fact that the films were not being distributed throughout that country as I think they should have been. They were just gathering dust in the New York office of the Bureau instead of doing the rounds of the various States in which there is a very great and appreciative demand for them. 1 should like to know whether, in the overseas countries to which such material is sent, we have sufficient officers to ensure that it is used to the best advantage. These films are among the best films on Australia that I have ever seen. I had the privilege of showing them to university and school audiences, members of chambers of commerce, businessmen and bankers in the United States. They were received with great appreciation. I thank the Department for the work that it has done in that direction. 1 should like to see these films used more extensively throughout Australia. Some of them depict in very fine manner industries and aspects of the country as a whole. Many Australians would appreciate these films. If they cannot be shown in theatres, they could be shown on national and commercial television stations. They would be better than some of the trash we get on television today. If that could be clone, it would be a worth while service of high educational standard and the Government would get far more value for its outlay than it gets in any other department.
– Senator McManus directed questions to me about the Commonwealth Electoral Act. It is probably not news to him that the Act is quite clear that the Chief Electoral Officer will conduct a recount in a Senate election.
The Chief Electoral Officer would only give an opinion and not a legal ruling on any matter. The Act provides reasons for recounts and leaves it to the discretion of the Chief Electoral Officer, as returning officer, as to whether he will grant a recount. Candidates always have the right to challenge elections in a Court of Disputed Returns. Senator McManus said that 9,000 informal ballot papers were found on a recheck. That is only a small percentage of the total votes in a Senate election.
– It is bad on the third count.
– I am not saying that the honorable senator’s qualms about this situation are not justified but 1 can only state the position as it has been outlined to me. As I have said, we will have an electoral bill before us before the Parliament rises and this will give an opportunity to thrash out this question. Senator Wright returned to what I might term a “ hardy annual “ concerning research. Electoral research has been conducted by Mr. George Howatt, M. A., who is a Fulbright scholar. J think he has some pretensions to research ability.
– For how many years has be been a Fulbright scholar?
– Let me finish. He has been conducting this research into various subjects connected with Senate elections. Only one payment has been made. Mr. Howatt has not been paid $10,000 a year over a period of years. This amount was paid in 1965-66. Mr. Howatt was absent on leave for about four months for which he was not paid. Progress reports and findings have been submitted to the Minister for the Interior by Mr. Howatt. I have no information as to how long he has been a Fulbright scholar. This matter was raised two or three years ago.
– He is a parasite. That is all he is.
– Perhaps the honorable senator would like to say that outside the Parliament. In reply to Senator Wright, no amount has been provided specifically for a referendum this financial year. The amount of $1,140,500 is for the conduct of the 1966 House of Representatives elections and elections to fill the five vacancies in the Senate in four States. The amount provided is described in that manner and is shown to be for that purpose. Senator Cavanagh questioned the cost of telegrams. The additional amount of $104,000 for 1965-66 covers the following expenditure: P.M.G. charges for weather transmission including telegrams, increased lease service labour and stationery, $58,000; services to shipping generally and small craft, $13,000; increased transmission charges, World Weather Watch, $10,000; Malagasey report, $7,000; additional telephones and switchboard equipment at new offices, new positions and selected flood warnings sites, $16,000. These account for the increases. All honorable senators will agree that there has been a wide extension of the meteorological information now provided in Australia and I hope we will see further increases. I have no doubt we will because this is most important.
– It would need to be better than it has been in the past.
– It is not 100 per cent, but none of us is. Senator Tangney complained about the offices honorable senators and others have to occupy in Western Australia. I have no doubt from what other honorable senators have said that she has good ground in complaining. I can only undertake, again, to bring this matter before the Minister in the hope that the honorable senator will not have to cope with this position much longer.
The News and Information Bureau has officers in London. New York. Tokyo. The Hague, New Delhi, Karachi, Bangkok, Djakarta, Bonn, Paris, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and San Francisco.
I agree that on the whole the Bureau is doing a very good job. Senator Cavanagh asked why $257,480 was spent last year when there was no election. I think the honorable senator will remember that questions have been asked two or three times about the cost of making preparations for the referendum that did not take place. These preparations included the printing and wrapping of pamphlets which were to have been forwarded to every elector. Much of the expenditure on the printing of forms and other work will not be lost as some of this material can be used at the next election.
– I want to speak about the administrative expenses of the Department of the Interior. First, could not the Government give serious consideration to building a block of flats in Canberra for members of Parliament? This is long overdue. 1 know some members of the Parliament have clone this privately but it is quite difficult and 1 admire them for having tackled the job. lt requires a lot of energy and money, lt is not unusual for such accommodation to be provided for members of parliament in other countries. When you visit other parliaments, you find blocks of flats for members near the parliament or within walking distance. In fact, they should be further away than that in order to make members walk for the exercise.
– What is wrong with the Hotel Kurrajong?
– The Hotel Kurrajong is not a block of flats and members need more privacy than can be got in an hotel. This request is not unreasonable. If we build blocks of flats for public servants who are transferred to Canberra members of the Parliament in both Houses are equally entitled to blocks of flats. They should be two bedroom flats so that the wives can stay with their husbands or the husbands with their wives and friends. I put it to the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) in all seriousness that the Government should take its courage in its hands and build a block of flats for members of Parliament. These flats should be rented to members at a fair rental because we are paid extremely well to come here. I do not mean that we should be provided with cheap flats. The rents should be based on real estate values. If flats are built, we should pay the rental which would apply if we were ordinary citizens of Canberra.
– The Department says that a member of Parliament is not eligible to rent a flat.
– That is true. I believe that if the Government constructed a block of flats strictly for members only there could be no argument about that. Also, 1 should like the Minister to take up the question of George Howatt. 1 have said worse things in another Parliament than calling him a parasite. I do not know how long he has been on the Commonwealth’s payroll. The Minister says that this is only one payment but he was obviously paid $10,000 last year and the Commonwealth is to pay him $10,000 this year. I do not know how many times this item has appeared. If Senator Wright raised the matter previously, it must have been in the Estimates previously. 1 think the Minister should inform us how often this item has appeared and how much in total has been paid. It can be guessed that 1 have not much of an opinion of this man. He came to Australia from America to do research and never went back.
– A wise man.
– He may be.
After all, he is the first of the American invasion. He came out here to study proportional representation in Tasmania. I did not realise until I saw this document that he must have been on the payroll in 1961 to produce this paper. The Government thinks so highly of him that although he made a report in 1961, which was presented to the Senate on 19th May 1964, this has not even been discussed or debated. There still stands on the notice paper a motion by Senator Marriott which reads -
That the Senate take note of the Paper “ Resolving Senate-Mouse Deadlocks in Australia without Endangering the Smaller States - by George Howatt, M.A., 1961 “.
I do not know whether the 1961 refers to the M.A. or to when he did this paper. This man is a parasite. He has not done anything useful. The Government does not think that what he did was useful, because this matter has been on the notice paper for two years and the Government has taken no notice of it. Yet the Government apparently keeps on giving him money. We should know why the Government is giving him money. Why is it to give him $10,000 this year? I want to know for how many years this item has appeared and whether George Howatt has been receiving this money. He is so cockeyed in his opinions. When I first attacked him, he said that there was no place for independents in parliaments. As I have contested two elections with quite adequate success, I feel there is a place for independents, even though all other honorable senators may agree that there is not. Nevertheless, that was his standard attack on me. I forget what the paper was that he did for the Stale Government. 1 would think he just cons his way into somebody’s regard that he is an American out here doing research, and the Government is the sucker who pays him. I would be most interested to hear from the Minister for how many years the grant has been paid.
Senator COHEN (Victoria) L9.23]. - Under the proposed appropriation for the Department of the Interior. I want to raise a matter on which I think the Government is deserving of very grave censure, that is, its failure to make provision in the estimates for adequate fire safety precautions at Phillip House, 119 Phillip Street, Sydney. This matter has been the subject of serious concern by the High Council of Commonwealth Public Service Organisations, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations. I think it is desirable to set out some of the facts about this matter, so that honorable senators will see that it is one of very real importance. Phillip House was built in 1926 and was acquired by the Commonwealth Government in 1947. It comprises a basement, a ground floor and seven upper floors. The occupancy of the building is as follows: basement and ground floor, Trans-Australia Airlines’ passenger terminal and offices; first floor. T.A.A. offices. Bankruptcy Court and Registry; second and third floors, Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, Commonwealth Industrial Court, and the associated Registries; fourth floor, the Court Reporting Branch and the Deputy Crown Solicitor’s accounts section; fifth floor, Deputy Crown Solicitor’s office; sixth floor, Special Federal Court, Clerk of Petty Sessions, and the Attorney-General’s Department administration section; seventh floor, Deputy Crown Solicitor’s office, Public Service Arbitrator’s Court, and conference rooms.
This building has been the subject of adverse comment in the Seventy-fifth Report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee of Public Accounts in relation to another aspect. It is occupied, I am informed, by 300 to 400 Commonwealth officers at the present time but the number of people in the building is considerably increased during sittings of the various courts and commissions and during conferences, and at times it can be as large as 800. The building is serviced by a pair of lifts situated at the southern end and a stair case adjacent to the lift well. These provide the only means of access to and egress from the upper floors. There is no emergency exit or external fire escape, and it is obvious that in the event of a fire in the vicinity of the liftwell the occupants of the building would be trapped inside. The lift well is sheeted with wood and this, of course, destroys the value of the stairway as a safe exit. On each floor corridors can be sealed off from the lift and staircase area by a fireproof door situated near the lifts. Without an alternative escape exit at the northern end of the building, these fireproof doors afford a rather questionable form of protection and on some floors the walls have been broken through and ordinary doors fitted.
The extreme gravity of the position thai I am raising is demonstrated by three incidents that have occurred in recent years. In about I960, in the most serious of these incidents, (he air conditioning unit on the fifth floor exploded, causing considerable damage. In 1962 a fire occurred on the first floor and had it not been checked there could have been serious consequences for the occupants of the upper floors. In the third case a fire proof door on the fifth floor slipped off its rollers during painting operations and sealed the floor off for about an hour. Representations were made to the Government as long ago as 1963 by the Commonwealth Legal and Professional Officers Association and it was then ascertained - 1 emphasise this for the Minister’s consideration - that the provision of a fire escape was the responsibility of the Department of the Interior and that in fact provision had been made in that Department’s draft new works programme for a number of years for the construction of a fire escape, but that sufficient funds had not been provided to enable the work to he done. The item again appeared in the 1964-65 programme and in the 1965-66 programme at an estimated figure of £50,000, but was subsequently deleted. As recently as March of this year the Commonwealth Fire Board was observed to be inspecting this building. In June of this year the High Council of Public Service Associations, the A.C.T.U. and the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations jointly requested the Minister for the Interior to receive a deputation on the matter. The Minister refused that request for the reasons that had been given in response to representations in the past. I refer to the Minister’s letter dated 4th August, because it contains the clearest admission that the fire protection features of this building are unsatisfactory. The Minister said that he was fully aware of the fact. He added -
However, due to a number of factors, nol the least being limitation of funds made available for Works Programmes, it has nol so far been possible to put the work in hand.
He added that he again sought approval for the inclusion of $100,000 in the new works proposals for this financial year for the installation of an automatic sprinkler system and fire escape in Phillip House. He said that the Commonwealth was considering whether it would sell the building, and also the leasing of alternative space for courts. So nothing is being done at this stage, although a promise was made to look at it again at the end of another year. 1 suggest that this is a very dangerous situation and is one which cannot be allowed to remain. It is not a case of the Government denying that the danger exists. The Government clearly admits the dangerous features of (his building.
– Can the honorable senator say whether the Slate law would compel a private proprietor to provide these features?
– I am coming to that. If this building were not owned by the Commonwealth, obviously in the administration of the Slate laws there would have been an insistence that the matter be put right. This matter is taken most seriously by the Commonwealth public servants who have to work in the building. If the building were ever to catch fire, some very important people in this country would be trapped in it.
– Everybody is important.
– I agree with the honorable senator. 1 am simply saying that some people who occupy extremely responsible and high public positions would be caught in that building.
– Does it not affect adjoining owners and the occupants of adjoining places?
– Of course it does. A fire in a building of this kind would be extremely serious. We recently had a very tragic happening in the city of Melbourne when a multi-storey building, the William Booth Memorial Home, caught fire. About 30 lives were lost in tragic circumstances. When compared with Phillip House, that building was safe; it had two stairways and not one. As Senator Wright suggested, if this building had been owned by anybody other than the Commonwealth, action certainly would have been taken by the State authorities to ensure that the matter was put right. Apparently the Commonwealth has taken its responsibility very lightly, lt is no answer at all to say that the Commonwealth is thinking of disposing of the building perhaps next year or in the years to come. It is no answer to say that the work of the courts might be dislocated to some extent bv having the necessary remedial work done. Such answers do not meet the situation when human lives are in danger. It is just not good enough for the Government to adopt this attitude: “ We are looking at the matter. We understand your point, and we sympathise with you. But we have our problems of convenience and lack of funds and they must take precedence.” I suggest that the Government is deserving of very severe censure for its failure to deal with this matter. The matter should be remedied urgently. Provision must be made to have this work done so that this building and the buildings which adjoin it can be safe from the hazards I have referred lo and which have been represented to me by very responsible people.
– lt is rather obvious that Senator Turnbull will not. have to stand for election on 26th November. Otherwise he would not be advocating that the Government build blocks of flats for members of the Parliament. As the honorable senator probably knows, blocks of flats are built for permanent residents in Canberra. The trouble is that sufficient wherewithal cannot be found to keep up the supply of flats to those who need them. For the time being the poor unfortunate members of Parliament, as Senator Turnbull would describe us, will have to put up with hotel accommodation. Personally, I do not think very much hardship attaches to that. I regret to say that I was not correctly advised in regard to Mr. Howatt. Two payments have been made, and a third and final payment is about to be made. 1 deprecate the attack that was made on Mr. Howatt by the honorable senator.
Senator Cohen referred to Phillip House. This fire precaution work is being included in the final List A proposals for this year with a high priority. It is proposed to include them in the 1967-68 capital works programme. Earlier action was withheld as the honorable senator pointed out, pending a decision about the sale of the building. It now seems unlikely that it will be sold for some years. So a decision has been made to proceed with the work as soon as possible.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) read a first time.
[9.38]. - I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to enable the improvements to the national health scheme announced by the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) in his Budget speech to be implemented. The proposals contained in the Bill are threefold - firstly, for an alteration to the definition of “ pensioner “ as at present appearing in the National Health Act, to permit the enrolment in the pensioner medical service of those persons who will newly acquire an entitlement to a pension by virtue of amendments currently proposed to the Social Services Act and the Repatriation Act; secondly, for an increase in the rate of hospital benefit payable to public hospitals for the free treatment of public ward pensioners; and thirdly, for an increase in the special rate of hospital benefit paid to patients with long term or chronic illnesses or with pre-existing ailments, who are contributors to the special accounts set up in registered hospital benefits organisations under the Commonwealth’s sponsorship.
As to the first proposal - the change in the definition of “ pensioner “ - honorable senators will be aware that the present definition of “ pensioner “ in the National Health Act limits enrolment in the pensioner medical service to persons in receipt of a tuberculosis allowance or to persons who are entitled to a pension under the provisions of the Social Services Act or the Repatriation Act as in force on 1st January 1966. The proposed amendments to the Social Services Act and the Repatriation Act that have already been presented to honorable senators will mean that some 5,400 additional persons will become eligible for the first time to receive social services or repatriation service pensions. It is proposed that all these persons will also become eligible for enrolment in the pensioner medical service as soon as the relevant legislation is passed. This will entitle them, and other persons who subsequently become eligible for pensions under these new conditions, to receive free general practitioner medical attention from medical practitioners participating in the service, free public ward treatment in public hospitals and free pharmaceutical benefits. With the addition of these persons, the benefits which I have mentioned will be provided to well over a million members of the Australian community, at a cost in excess of $63 million a year.
These proposals will mean that a greater number of beneficiaries will be brought within the pensioner medical service arrangements. Because of this, the Australian Medical Association has been informed of the proposal and I am confident that doctors participating in the pensioner medical service will willingly provide these new pensioners and their dependants with free general practitioner attention. The Commonwealth, for its part, will reimburse doctors for services to pensioners at the agreed concessional fee. 1 take this opportunity of expressing the Government’s appreciation of the cooperation of members of the medical profession in this matter. This co-operation has been a most significant factor in the success of the pensioner medical service.
In addition to the amendments necessary to extend benefits to the new pensioners I have mentioned, the changed definition of “ pensioner “ contained in the Bill includes provision to permit persons who in future acquire a pension entitlement solely because of any subsequent increase in Me rates of pension to be enrolled automatically in the pensioner medical service. Amendments of the Act in future for this purpose will notbc necessary. The Government wishes to ensure that no unnecessary delay occurs in the provision of benefits to these new pensioners. It is therefore intended that this legislative change will come into effect on the same day as the amendments to the Social Services Act and Repatriation Act commence to operate.
The second major proposal contained in this Bill concerns the provision of hospital treatment for the pensioner section of the community. Under existing arrangements, pensioners and their dependants are entitled to free public ward treatment in public hospitals. In return for this, the Commonwealth has been paying the hospitals concerned $3.60 a day on behalf of each pensioner and dependant who receives free treatment as a public ward patient. The amending Bill now before us proposes an increase in the rate by 40 per cent., to $5 a day. This is in recognition of the increased costs incurred by hospitals in providing pensioners with accommodation and treatment free of charge. It is proposed that the increased rate of benefit will apply to hospital treatment received on and after 1st January 1967. This will permit a period for the necessary administrative arrangements to be finalised. This increased rate will cost the Commonwealth $6.6 million in a full year and it is expected that the additional payments will materially assist public hospitals.
The third proposal also concerns hospital benefits and is directed at what is defined in the National Health Act as the “stan dard rate benefit “. This is the rate of fund benefit which the Commonwealth ensures is the minimum normally payable to insured patients. Registered hospital benefits organisations, in order to maintain financial stability, have rules enabling them to refuse payment of fund benefits on certain claims. These rules relate to chronic illnesses, ailments which were known to have existed before joining the organisation and maximum periods of hospitalisation. The Commonwealth, however, underwrites special accounts maintained by the organisations to ensure that contributors who otherwise would be refused fund benefits under the rules, receive combined hospital benefits totalling, usually, not less than $3.60 a day. This combined benefit is made up of the Commonwealth benefit for insured patients of $2 a day and the standard rate fund benefit of $1.60 a day.
This Bill provides for an increase in the standard rate fund benefit to $3 a day, which will mean that a minimum combined benefit, usually of $5 a day, will be payable. Insured patients will have to be insured for a fund benefit of at least $3 a day in order to be eligible for a standard rate benefit of this amount, otherwise the lower insured rate of benefit will be payable. Since some contributors to the special accounts of organisations are currently contributing for benefits of less than $3 a day, arrangements are being made so that contributors who transfer to a higher table in order to receive the higher standard rate benefit need not serve the waiting period that is usual before increased benefits are payable.
The increased amount of standard rate benefit will cost the Commonwealth a further $2.5 million in a full year. It is proposed that this increased rate of benefit will also apply to hospital treatment received on or after 1st January 1967. This will enable the necessary administrative arrangements to be completed. In addition to the three major proposals which I have mentioned, this Bill contains provisions arising out of the introduction of decimal currency. The opportunity has been taken to convert to decimal currency existing references in the Act to amounts expressed in pounds, shillings and pence. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Dittmer) adjourned.
Consideration resumed (vide page 928).
Department of the Interior.
Proposed provision, $2,371,000.
Australian Capital Territory
Proposed expenditure, $21,498,700.
Proposed provision, $50,779,000.
.- Following my previous remarks, the Minister stated that he believed I was wrong in suggesting it was not clear that the returning officer had to conduct a recount. I refer the Minister to “ Hansard “ volume S29 August to October 1965, pages 410-11, where the official court record is quoted.
– I have no recollection of saying that the honorable senator was wrong.
-I do not mean that the Minister said it in a derogatory sense. The Minister merely said thatI had made a statement to the effect that there was no provision in the Act for the returning officer to conduct a recount ordered by a court. 1 think the Minister said that he understood that in the Act it was clear that the returning officer was the person to conduct a recount. Mr. Justice Menzies of the High Court made it perfectly clear that there was nothing in the Act to say who would conduct a recount. I refer the Minister to pages 410 and 411 of “ Hansard “ of 1 4th September, 1965, where Mr. Justice Menzies is quoted. He said -
If a judge of the High Court cannot find any authority in the Act for the Chief Electoral Officer to conduct a recount that the court orders, I suggest that that is a matter for examination by the Electoral Branch in order to find a remedy.
– The judge said that he cannot compel him, so there is no appeal to the court.
– His Honour asked: “Where is the authority for the court to order anybody to conduct a recount? “ According to Mr. Justice Menzies. there is no authority for the Chief Electoral Officer to conduct a recount.
– So that an appeal to the court is useless.
– As to what Senator Cavanagh has said, I believe that for that reason and other reasons the provisions under which a court may order a recount are entirely useless. In the course of the case it was made perfectly clear that the court would not order a recount unless the person concerned produced the sort of evidence that he expected to find in a recount. Why does a person ask for a recount? He asks for it because he believes -there may be errors. He wants to find those errors in the hope of altering the result. But in the case before the court to my way ofthinkingandI am not a lawyer, though this view appeared to be supported by those who were - it was made perfectly clear that the court would not order a recountunlessyou produced the very evidence for which you were looking.
As I have said, the provisions of the Act which enable the court to order a recount are in my opinion entirely useless. There is no possibility of anybody ever getting through the court a recount in a Senate vote. Therefore I think that those provisions oughtto be looked at because they are meaningless and do not give any redress to a person who is refused a recount by the returning officer. The whole position is so difficult and so uncertain that there is no prospect of getting a result. This means in effect that the granting of a recount is entirely a matter for the discretion of the returning officer. He can decide: “ 1 will give A a recount. I will not give B a recount.” In effect, there is no redress. I say that that is an entirely wrong situation. I have no doubt that returning officers are men of very high principles, but they should not be in the situation where they can reject a request for a recount purely on their own initiative. To my mind it is a very wrong situation when there is almost complete freedom given to the returning officer to give one person a recount and deny it to another. If an aggrieved person, as in the instance I have mentioned, should say: “ I will go to the court” he will find when he goes to the court that the court offers no prospect of obtaining redress because there is nothing to say who shall conduct the recount, lt is made perfectly clear that the court will demand, before granting a recount, that the person concerned shall provide all the evidence that he wanted to acquire by means of the recount.
Senator MURPHY (New South Wales) 9.52]. - I rise to add to the comments which have been made by Senator Cohen regarding the situation in Phillip House in the city of Sydney where a number of Commonwealth offices, courts and commissions are housed. 1 do so because since Senator Cohen mentioned the matter 1 have sent for the report of the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission for the year ended 13th August 1965, which bears on these very premises. In that report the President went to the length of having a special part set aside to deal with accommodation in Sydney. In it he said -
I regret to say that the position in regard to Sydney accommodation still remains unsatisfactory despite the additions mentioned in last year’s report. Members of the Commission and the many people associated with their work who use the Commission’s premises in Sydney have been putting up with most unsatisfactory accommodation ever since the Commission was formed in 1956. This has been a matter of comment in every annual report that I have made since then but with little result. We have done our best to put up with poor conditions thinking that permanent and suitable premises would be provided but now there seems to bc uri admitted indecision as to the future. We have refrained from pressing for improvements to our present premises thinking that the expenditure would bc wasted if shortly we moved into other premises. I must strongly suggest that urgent and successful action is now called for and that if leasehold premises for the Commission is the only solution this should be acknowledged and acted upon al once. Otherwise the present premises should bc reconstituted.
– Which report was that?
– That statement was made in the ninth annual report of the Commission for the year ended 1 3th August 1965, which is the last one to hand. I have been told by the records officer that if there has been a later report it has not yet been made available. The President of the Commission, in referring to alternatives, probably was adverting to the seventh annual report for the year ended 13th August 1963. In that report he said -
This is the seventh annual report of the President of the Commission and I have again to refer, as I have in every annual report which has pre ceded this year’s report, to the very poor accommodation provided in Sydney for the Commission, its members and those who appear before it and transact business with it in such considerable numbers. The provision of additional accommodation on another floor mentioned in the last report as “ proceeding “ is still “ proceeding “ but I have reason to believe it will bc available in the very near future. Nevertheless if new premises cannot he provided within a reasonably short time as part of a general scheme for the accommodation of federal courts and tribunals in a new building I urge thai early consideration be given to the provision of suitable accommodation for the Commission in existing premises which could if necessary be leased.
In the eighth annual report, for the year ended 13th August 1964, which was the report between the two from which 1 have read, the President stated -
The additional accommodation in the existing premises in Sydney which was last year in process of being provided has now been made available and has proved a great advantage.
Apparently, that was the additional floor. He went on -
In addition, following ascertainment of the fact that new premises as part of the CommonwealthState courts project in Sydney will take upwards of five years before becoming available, I have taken up with the Attorney-General’s Department the provision of necessary additional accommodation on other floors of our present building whilst the new premises are awaited and arrangements for this accommodation appear to be proceeding satisfactorily.
As is evident from the annual report for the year ended 13th August 1965, the President’s hopes were not borne out. The arrangements for Federal accommodation for which he was hoping have come to a standstill.
This bears on another matter. At the corner of Phillip Street and King Street in Sydney there is a building which has been taken over by the Commonwealth, lt had been empty for some time. It was supposed to be pulled down in order that the new Federal-State accommodation should be built. But what has happened? Perhaps 18 months ago I noted that a part of the Department of Civil Aviation had moved in there. Some painting up of this empty building actually was in process. So, the intention to pull it down apparently had disappeared. The Commonwealth has this virtually empty building. The accommodation which was to be provided for the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission has not been proceeded with. Meanwhile, the Commission is housed in completely unsatisfactory buildings. It is a disgrace that in every one of the reports from which 1 have read the President of the Commission has had to say that the accommodation in Sydney is unsatisfactory. It is also a disgrace that other Commonwealth activities in the judicial sphere have to be conducted in the places where that is necessary at present.
In Sydney the High Court is housed in old criminal courts which have been borrowed from the State, in apparently temporary accommodation. That is where a great part of the judicial work of the High Court is done, because much of its judicial work emanates from Sydney. Yet it has to be carried on in premises which are borrowed from the State and which consist of one or sometimes two of the former criminal courts of the State. This is quite unsatisfactory. I would like to know why no progress has been made with the Federal-State accommodation, which was promised many years ago, and why the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission has to carry out its business in Sydney under these unsatisfactory conditions. This is the crux of the matter.
Senator Cohen has dealt with the symptoms that appear when buildings are worn out. The Commission should not be carrying on under these conditions. Senator Cohen has demonstrated that the conditions are such that there is a great element of danger, not only to the judges, officers and servants of the Commonwealth, but also to those of the general public who are forced to go into that building. It is not always a matter of their choosing to go there. Often people are summoned and compelled by process of law to go into that building, which, as Senator Cohen has amply demonstrated, is a fire hazard. What is going to be done about it? Year after year the President of the Commission reports that fh£ accommodation is so unsatisfactory that he has to complain about it, but there is no redress and the Commonwealth will not make proper provision for the Commission. In this respect the Estimates are simply not satisfactory. Why is not something being done about this matter? For how many more years is this situation to continue? Reports by the President are presented to this Parliament, but the Government simply ignores them.
.- I shall refer to Division No. 797 - Civil Defence. It will be observed that the total appropriation for this activity is $700,000. If we refer to the Schedule of Salaries and Allowances, we find that 27 persons are employed on civil defence. They consist of 1 Director, 1 Assistant Director, 24 clerks, senior technical officers and research officers, and 1 typist. I do not believe that those 27 officers, who apparently are domiciled at Mount Macedon, constitute the total staff to carry out the Australian civil defence programme. This group of persons has a certain duty to perform in this sphere, but an obligation is placed upon the State Governments to provide also for civil defence. We might say that there is no urgent need in Australia to prepare against nuclear attack, but who can say when a nuclear bomb will be dropped upon Sydney or some other part of Australia? I believe that if any country has the means of waging and entering an atomic war. it must have an adequate civil defence programme.
The picture of the Commonwealth’s civil defence is not clear to me, and I am fairly sure that it is not clear to other honorable senators present in the chamber. No-one will believe that a group of 27 persons could handle civil defence in Australia. As I said earlier, the States have an obligation in this important matter. I. listened with interest ro what Senator Cohen said regarding the insecurity of life in Phillip House in Sydney, but here we are considering a continent with 11 million people whose future will be insecure if there is an outburst of atomic warfare. We cannot look forward with any certainty to the future.
This morning, by way of gossip, I asked a friend what horse would win an important race in Melbourne next Saturday. Without any hesitation, he said he was quite sure that a horse which he named would win the race.
– What was it?
– There is a fee to be paid for an answer to that question. Evidently, there is no chance of the horse being beaten. According to my friend, that race has already been decided.
– I would not believe that.
– He said there was no chance of the horse being beaten. But there is a chance of a bomb falling somewhere in Australia. What is the condition of our civil defence? I know that the Minister has a full reply to make. I know that he will tell me that the State Governments have their own civil defence organisations and that they send people, not necessarily members of the Public Service, to Mount Macedon to attend lectures and courses prepared by the Director there. He will say that those officers return to their respective States and teach others what to do in the event of war being waged upon Australia. One could spend no end of money on civil defence, lt could be overdone and we could reach the point of exaggeration. 1 do not expect that that will happen, but I think that we have to act within the bounds of commonsense. As 1 said before, if we are prepared to support a country that can wage an atomic war, or if we are in a position to wage one ourselves, we must have a reasonable civil defence programme. There is nothing in these estimates to indicate the extent of the Commonwealth’s civil defence programme. I would be happy to hear from the Minister what it is.
– 1 relate my remarks to Division No. 318, subdivision 2, item 06. Senator Cavanagh has already said something about the matter to which I shall refer, which is that the elections for the Senate and the House of Representatives are now held at different times. 1 think the Senate would do well to ponder this matter much further than has been the case already. I noticed that the Minister did not reply to the question asked by Senator Cavanagh. I think that both Houses of the Parliament ought to be informed of the Government’s intentions regarding the synchronisation of elections. lt will be recalled that recently I received from the Minister a reply to certain questions that 1 asked him on this important matter. The figures given are very revealing. I asked: “ What was the cost of the last Senate election? “ The answer was: “$1,042,948.” My second question was: “ What was the cost of the last House of Representatives election? “ The answer was “ $942,496.” The third question was: “ What was the cost when the two elections were held conjointly? “ The answer to that was: “ $866,438.” The final question was: “ What is the estimated cost of the forthcoming House of Representatives election? “ The answer to this was: “ $1,140,500.”
I think that this is a serious matter. We all know that the reason why the two elections are not being held together is political expediency. The taxpayers are entitled to know what it is costing for the Government to have the luxury, in order to suit its own political purposes, of determining that elections for the House of Representatives and the Senate should not be held together so as to secure for itself an electoral advantage, lt appears that this situation is to continue forever. At least, no indication has been given that the position will be corrected in the near future. From what I can see, the Government has no intention of departing from this system, nor has there been any exploration, to my knowledge, of action that could be taken to synchronise two elections again.
The time has come when both Houses of this Parliament have to bend their thoughts towards the question of whether the taxpayers are to be saddled every second year with an expenditure of not less than $1 million simply for the luxury of holding the two elections. The Minister ought to say something about this matter. He should be able to indicate to the Committee that the Government is taking some action to relieve the Australian taxpayers of the unnecessary burden that is being imposed upon them at the present time and which, it appears, will be imposed upon them for some time to come.
Senator Cavanagh rightly raised another question that affects this position. This is the subject of the political parties. Their situation is serious. Everybody knows that political parties and candidates become involved financially in elections. My Party found it difficult enough - and I take it that the Liberal and Country Parties had the same difficulty - to obtain finance when the elections were held together. Now that they are held separately, we find ourselves confronted with a Federal election every second year. The position is rapidly becoming difficult, if not impossible. One can only hope that if the Government does not intend to do anything about the matter, has not given any thought to it, or started any machinery that will synchronise these two elections again, perhaps the expenditure involved and the cost that the Government Parties have to meet, just as my Party and others involved in an election have to meet, will force the Government to take some action to correct the position.
This, I feel, is only a matter of secondary consideration. The important thing is not the impact that this state of affairs has on political parties and individuals but the fact that Australian taxpayers have to pay $1 million unnecessarily every second year. The Minister should reassure the Committee that some action is being taken to hold both elections at the same time.
.- Mr. Chairman, the Committee was interested at. an earlier hour this evening when Senator Ormonde took time to refer to a pie shop that he wished lo have here at Parliament House. 1 wish to draw the attention of the Committee to another small item and to see whether we can give a moments thought to the demands that are being made upon the Budget by the administration of the Australian. Capital Territory. The figures that are involved are $21.4 million for revenue and $50.7 million for capital expenditure, making a total of $72.2 million. You will forgive me, Mr. Chairman, if at this hour of the night I am reminded of a story that my old mentor used to preach to me. It was this: “If you want to get good bread, Reg, live near the bakehouse “. I find, in the glorious environs of this edifice, that all the public servants who prepare this Budget with all their ingenuity provide $72.2 million for the amenities of this place. In spite of this expenditure, money cannot be found for a stairway or a fire escape for Phillip House in Sydney.
– Or for a pie shop.
– Yes, or a pie shop for Senator Ormonde. Everybody was delighted when Senator McCallum, at the head of a Senate committee, began an inquiry into the method of development of the Australian Capital Territory. We are delighted and proud because of the way in which this area has been developed. For myself, I would like to pay a strong tribute to the Commissioner and his Associate Commissioners of the National Capital Development Commission for the inspiring work that has been carried out by them. But as a representative of places a long way from here that have some claim to consideration, though midget in dimension from the point of view of the great people who administer government here, I protest that the expenditure in this place is becoming altogether out of proportion if a proper common sense assessment is made of the demands of the development of Canberra in relation lo the demands of other places, both in New South Wales within a 200 miles radius of here and in Western Australia, Tasmania and the northern parts of Australia.
The expenditure of $72.2 million is an outrageous sum for development as detailed in the accounts to which I. have referred and as indicated in the ninth annual report of the National Capital Development Commission 1965-66. At page 46 of that report, I find a reference to a total expenditure of $35,077,514 which includes payments in respect of education housing and accommodation, water supply, sewerage, stormwater, roads and bridges, miscellaneous and other buildings under the heading of “ Territory works “. 1 think that this expenditure dwarfs by a great measure the considerations in relation to these matters as found in the Budgets of some States within the Commonwealth.
– What about the Opera House?
– The Opera House is really something eccentric. 1 do not wish to let the occasion go by without noticing the candour of the Commission when it refers to total expenditure on uncompleted projects. This amounts to $72,329,734. But the candour comes when the Commission adds in parenthesis that this amount includes fees of $3,778,671. The word “fees” brings to my mind a comforting and warm feeling. But $3,778,671 out of an expenditure of $72,329,734, if I define the significance of the term correctly in the context as architects and engineers fees, is a bit high.
There are two other matters that I wish to mention in relation to the Australian Capital Territory. The first item under the heading of General Services is “ City Omnibus Service - Loss on Operations (for payment to the credit of the Australian Capital Territory Transport Trust Account).” $186,000. The second one, which seems to me to be the same sort of item, is a subsidy of $135,000 for the conveyance of school children. Ten or twelve years ago I was pouring out my lamentations - even then in vain - about the loss of about £50,000 on the Canberra omnibus service. But, if we add these two items together, the amount involved is now $300,000. That is a bit hot. If we had in this Parliament a Public Accounts Committee that would turn its attention from pettifoggingmatters such as whether we dot the “ i’s “ or cross the” t’s “ on some parliamentary paper and conduct a real inquiry into this omnibus service, we would be rendering some service.
– Has the honorable senator read the report that was tabled today?
-I have pigeonholed it. I am waiting for you to stand up and reveal what was in the Committee’s last report on the Canberra Community Hospital, if I may address a real senator in reply to his interjection. Let me make one unprovoking remark in conclusion: Murmuring in the back of my mind is a recollection that somewhere sometime an announcement was made that the people of Canberra would be submitted to the commonplace experience of paying stamp duties and similar levies on company transactions, land transfers and that sort of thing, which ordinary citizens in the unprivileged part of the Commonwealth pay. I thought this was to commence operation this year. May I be reminded of what the announcement was? Has the Government gone cold on this matter? When will I see this taxation start to take its incidence in this very privileged community?
– All I can say to Senator McManus is thatI will bring his observations to the notice of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony). Senator Murphy elaborated on the complaints made by Senator Cohen. All I can do, in the main, is refer him to the answer I gave to Senator Cohen. I do not know why the Government has not been able to obtain other buildings. I believe that the reason it has not built a new building has been lack of finance. Senator Benn spoke about civil defence. He is quite right in saying that the States are responsible for civil defence within their territories. The Commonwealth co-ordinates the efforts that they make. I think I can say without boasting that New South Wales leads the other States in regard to civil defence. It has a good organisation. I believe that the other Slates could well follow the example that has been set there. The aim throughout all of the States has been and is to make steady progress in this field.
Senator Toohey wanted to know what the Government is doing about synchronising Federal elections.I assure him that this matter has been considered. As far as I know, there is no solution to the problem at this juncture. I believe that if we were in a position to hold Senate elections on 26th November - that is, at the same time as the House of Representatives elections - the Government would be much happier, because it would be in a far better position after those elections were held. It would be decidedly to the electoral advantage of the Government to do that, but it just is not possible. I see the point that the honorable senator made. I have a lot of sympathy for it, too.
Senator Wright has mentioned the expenditure on Canberra. We have poured a lot of money into this city of ours. Everybody recognises that. We also recognise that money could be spent on more productive areas throughout the Commonwealth. But I have always maintained the view that Canberra is the capital of Australia and that, if we were to adopt a cheeseparing attitude at this time and spoil the ship for a ha’p’orth of tar. those who come after us would rue that day. A lot of money is being spent on Canberra. But we have a beautiful city. It is bringing down praise from all parts of the world and from people who come here and see it. Only tonight I was speaking to a visitor from overseas who had not seen Canberra for 38 years. He was very eulogistic about this city. We in Australia are surrounded by Asian countries in which face plays a very large part. It is very important that, we have a capital city that is worthy of Australia. That is what is developing here in Canberra.
– People, not buildings, make cities.
– Buildings help to make cities. A lot of people in a lot of tents - something to which the honorable senator has been accustomed and to which
I have been accustomed - is utilitarian but it is not very nice. Buildings do help to make cities. I grant that people also help to make cities. 1 have not the answer to Senator Wright’s question about the expenditure on the Canberra bus service. Apparently he is not doing much good. The expenditure keeps rising all the time. If I can obtain any information on it for him, I certainly will do so. I do not think any other matter was raised-
– Stamp duties.
– The honorable senator is quite right. This matter was mooted. I do not know what has happened to it along the way. If I can obtain some information about it for the honorable senator, I will do so. If he would like an early introduction of stamp duties in Canberra, 1 will see what I can do to oblige him.
.- I return to the subject that 1 raised previously - Phillip House. I made a very specific complaint about it. Senator Murphy supported me and indeed, strengthened the case that I made. He indicated that there were reasons other than the fire hazard why the Government should act with a sense of urgency in respect of this building which houses Trans-Australia Airlines, Commonwealth legal officers and the courts of the Commonwealth industrial tribunals. I raised the matter of the fire hazard. I quoted from a letter written by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) to show that this point was conceded by him and the Commonwealth. I am not blaming the Minister who is in charge of these estimates tonight. This is not his department. He is merely representing another Minister. I tell him quite frankly that I do not regard his answer as satisfactory and I do not think the Commonwealth should be allowed to get away with the answer that he gave to Senator Murphy and me when we raised this matter. The fact is that all that has come from him tonight is the statement that the Government does not propose to dispose of this property, and now has to get round to the provision of proper fire facilities - a fire escape, a sprinkler system and so on.
We are now told that this matter will be included in the works estimates for the
Department of the Interior for 1967-68. We are given no guarantee that those draft estimates will be approved. Since 1964 this matter has been in the draft estimates for the Department of the Interior and has been disallowed by the Government. I want from the Minister a firm undertaking that this is now a commitment of the Government. If that is not given, the answer is just so many meaningless words. For many years the Department of the Interior has been putting this proposal up. I do not know how hard it has fought for it. Frankly, it seems to me that the Minister for the Interior has treated the matter in a very cavalier manner. I do not know whether he has received opposition from other sources in the Government or in the Cabinet, or whether he has merely not pressed the matter wilh sufficient vigour. It is quite unsatisfactory to talk about making provision for this matter in the 1967-68 works estimates. We do not know when the work will be done. We do nol know whether it will ultimately be in the estimates. We are dealing with a fire hazard. If that is the best the Government can do, it should look at ils homework again because I certainly will not be content wilh that answer.
– First, I want to refer lo the matter raised by Senator McManus of an approach to the High Court when a recount is required. I would think that this is a question of an alteration to the Electoral Act rather than a matter for discussion on the Estimates. But I am of the opinion that the Electoral Act should set out the conditions under which a returning officer shall order a recount so that we would not have the mix up we have now. I support Senator McManus in seeking clarification of this provision. I understood from the quotation of a judgment that in the opinion of the Court, whatever happened, the Court had no power to order a recount. Therefore when a recount is demanded, there is no question of an approach to the Court.
As I understood the case in point an application was made by a person in Victoria to prohibit the returning officer from conducting a recount. If the returning officer was acting outside his powers, I would suppose the power would rest in the Court to restrain him from any action contrary to the Electoral Act. I do not know this for certain but I support the statement that there is need for clarity. Any provisions relating to the counting of votes should be expressed clearly in the Act itself so that all candidates and all political parties will know where they are going.
I want to refer again to some matters under Division No. 318 - Electoral Branch. I refer particularly to the item “ Commonwealth elections and referenda, SI. 140,500”. The expenditure on this item last year was $257,487. I asked the reason for this expenditure and I was told that it was for the publication of the issues involved in the referendum which was not held. 1 was told that the expenditure would not be wasted because this material could bc used on some future occasion. That would apply if the issues were the same. As this is printed matter and involves paper, I hope the Minister for the Interior has it insured against the fire hazards in some government buildings. It will mean a waste of $257,487 if there is any delay in holding the referendum.
Another question arises: Under the Act, the cases for and against which were printed at this cost, have to be set out by the parties supporting or opposing the case involved in the referendum. In this case, I believe the document has been prepared and published in the name of the Prime Minister of that day, Sir Robert Menzies, and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). They supported the case for the alteration as both the major political parties supported it. The case against was prepared by Senator Wright and Senator Gair. If we are to preserve the expenditure of $257,487 which according to the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) is not wasted because we can use the material again, what must be done to comply with the Electoral Act? Do we have to restore Sir Robert Menzies to the Prime Ministership of Australia? Do we have to keep Arthur Calwell as Leader of the Opposition? Do we have to continue with Senator Gair and Senator Wright so that we can utilise this document? I think the Minister can give it away as a loss, tie should admit that the country has spent $257,487 uselessly because of the Government’s fear and consequent failure to carry out ils proposal for alterations to the Constitution.
– He had already informed me in answer to a question that they had been destroyed by fire.
– Then they have been resurrected tonight to explain the expenditure of this $257,487. Senator Gair’s interjection is very important. Senator Cohen complained of lack of information. The Minister for Repatriation has the assistance of the heads of the Department of the Interior whose duty it is to supply information on the Estimates on matters that are brought forward. If the Minister has given me a reply tonight on expenditure contrary to the information given in reply, to a question by Senator Gair, there should be some thorough investigation as to whether we are getting correct reports.
– The honorable senator has misunderstood the Minister’s reply. He said the wrappings and some coverings could be used again.
– The Minister’s reply was that the expenditure was on the referendum propaganda of previous years. If he replied that some wrappings and coverings could be used, it is a question of whether the expenditure of $257,487 insofar as it related to the publication of this material last year was a waste of money. No one could gather that from the Minister’s reply to my question.
But the Minister has not replied to the question I raised on salaries and allowances for the Electoral Branch last year under Division No. 318. Actual expenditure last year was $1,093,860. As shown in the schedule at page 185, this is not related to the expenditure of $257,487 I have been complaining about. The schedule shows that there was expenditure exceeding $1 million on 268 Divisional Returning Officers and clerks. I would still like to know why 268 Divisional Returning Officers and clerks were employed last year when no election was held. What did these people do?
Senator MULVIHILL (New South Wales) [10.38J. - I want to relate my remarks principally to Division No. 313 - Real Estate Management and in particular to office services. Before I do that, I want to associate myself with the sentiments expressed by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) about the development of Canberra. I remind Senator McManus that when we cross the two main bridges in Canberra, they do not sag in the middle like a project in Melbourne that he knows well.
– We do not have an Opera House.
– And it did not collapse like your bridge. Having redressed the balance, 1 want to refer to accommodation on the eighth floor of the Commonwealth Bank Building in Sydney. Over the past six or eight months with the renovations going on above the eighth floor, we have had all sorts of excuses and explanations when there was bedlam during the day. First we had a pledge that there would be no more of it or it would be dealt with in the week end. That promise was not kept, lt seems to me that, by paying penalty rates, the work could have been done on Saturdays and Sundays without causing inconvenience. With all due respect to my legal colleagues who have mentioned Phillip House, 1 know that if this sort of thing affected court proceedings, the judge would simply declare the place black and would walk out of their chambers. They would say that nothing would be done until the work was complete.
So far as parliamentarians are concerned, people call in to see them and sometimes there is loss of time, lt would be churlish of members of Parliament to say: “ I cannot hear what you are saying. We will have to adjourn for a day or two.” In relation to the eighth floor of the Commonwealth Bank Building. 1 have a feeling after some of the rather blunt complaints I have made there that the Commonwealth Bank people look on us with a certain amount of repugnance. I should like to know just where this line of demarcation is. I do not think that what has been done lately is good enough. If one goes in between S and 9 o’clock in the morning to get a good start, he is still subject to this barrage of noise. I ant not namby-pamby about this, because I had a fair amount of experience in the boiler shops of the railway workshops. It is not a matter of noise as such. What I am trying to find out is why, for the sake of the few pounds involved for persons in the building trades group, the men are not allowed to work at week-ends, letting parliamentarians work from Monday to Friday, even from 7.30 a.m. to 5. p.m., unhindered by this noise. I also want to establish who gives the promises when one rings up about these things and why the pledges are not kept and an adequate solution provided. While dealing with grievances, I want to refer to the rather outmoded lifts in the Commonwealth Bank building. The operators do their best in the circumstances, but it seems to me that in this go-go age the lifts in the building are not up to standard. They are not fast enough and there is too much stop and go about them. I know there could be answers to these matters but raising them here is the only way in which we can get these explanations.
Finally, to get away from the Martin Place set up, let me mention that on the notice paper of another place is a question dealing with, the boundaries of the Tidbinbilla fauna sanctuary. 1 went on an inspection some little time ago and we got a very lucid address on the expansion of (he Australian Capital Territory. 1 know it is important to maintain this ratio between recreational areas and urban expansion. There is no doubt that by comparison the other capital cities suffer as a result of bad planning from inadequate provision of recreational areas. That aspect is provided for here, but I visualise that in the next decade, as the urban sprawl extends, there will be an attempt to nibble at the Tidbinbilla fauna reserve. This is a question that has been unanswered. Perhaps the Minister can tell me whether there is any clearcut understanding on demarcation with landowners on the Tidbinbilla outer perimeter.
– I remind Senator Cohen that I did say to him, when I answered his question, that the particular work that he asked to be done was being given a high priority. I would not think that this statement had been made earlier, so I think that the honorable senator has gained something there. 1 do not think that Senator Cavanagh could have been listening, when I dealt with preparation for the referendum - the one we did not hold - including printing and wrapping of pamphlets which were to be forwarded to every elector. I. said that much of the printing of forms. &c, was noi lost, as some of this material can be used at the next election. That is what I said, and I repeat it. I did not say that this applied to all of the material. That is all that I can give the honorable senator on that matter.
The expenditure on capital works referred to by Senator Wright is on projects related to population growth and would be required wherever the population growth was occurring in Australia. Reference was made to the school bus service - the subsidy for conveyance of school children that is provided in the Australian Capital Territory. Children pay a standard fare of 2c a journey, whatever the distance travelled. The subsidy is part of the cost of education in the Australian Capital Territory and is in conformity with practices adopted in the States. I might have something on Tidbinbilla at a later hour of the day.
– I want to raise a matter that has to do wilh the Commonwealth Electoral Act. Something ought to be done to change that part of the Act which provides for a maximum payment of £250 as election expenses. Every senator here debases himself when he signs a paper to that effect, because he knows very well that he is just telling a lie.
– lt has been increased to £500.
– If it is £500. equally he is telling a lie. No candidate can get through an election without spending £500. I know the figure has been changed within the last three years, as an honorable senator reminds mc, but the figure is still one that relates to the past, not the present. A more realistic figure ought to he fixed. Possibly £750 would be a fair amount.
– What figure would be commensurate with the honorable senator’s purse?
– The honorable senator is being facetious. I want to help to preserve the honour of senators, not to denigrate it. There ought to be no doubt about it. Our expenditure ought to be covered for taxation purposes and we ought to have a realistic figure. People just laugh at us when we say that we spend only that amount of money.
I want also to discuss weather reports. If the Government is worried about why it is so unpopular in the community today it should look for the reasons. I would say that the weather reports are one reason. I cannot understand how any woman can vote for the Government, which maintains this weather report service to the public. The Minister may be able to explain it to me. He may think that I am wrong, that the reports are not wrong, that they are right more often than they are wrong. Generally speaking, of late years - this may have something to do with nuclear developments or with satellites; I do not know - they are never right. On one of the main days of the Waratah Festival in Sydney last week, there was a report that there would be sunny weather, and, of course, all the young girls in Sydney had an opportunity to become Waratah Princess. They all had to go into Hyde Park in their overcoats, although the weather report forecast a beautiful spring Sydney day. Is the department experimenting or is it not? Has it given up the old system, which appeared to me to be more reliable than the present set up? Weather is a big news feature on all television and radio stations. It is one of the biggest selling points today, but very seldom are the reports right. There have been all sorts of explanations. The Minister might have one. If so, I should like him to give it to me.
I should like to refer now to garages for senators. I know that the Minister will not understand what this is about, because he is a Minister and Ministers’ cars take up the whole of Martin place from Pitt Street to Castlereagh Street, so they have no parking troubles at all in Sydney. Their cars are fitted in nicely, but there is nothing for senators and nothing for members of the House of Representatives. There are areas for parking in the grounds of the State Parliament House, at the back and at the front, but no Federal parliamentarian may enter. We are not allowed. We are in a very indelicate situation on many occasions through not being able to park our cars. I am not expecting the department or the Minister to agree to additional expenditure for the garaging of parliamentarian’s cars. Recently a big garage was completed al Woolloomooloo. I would say that it was only half full of Department of Supply vehicles. There is a Commonwealth building in Hunter Street. There are no garages there for parliamentarians but there are garages for public servants. I always thought that it was a principle of democratic government that the public servant should not be better treated than his master, but he is in this respect.
– In what century is the honorable senator living?
– 1 am ahead of Senator Wright; I am living in this century.
– And the honorable senator still believes that parliamentarians get better treatment than public servants?
– I am sorry. We were at cross purposes. There is a parking area in Hunter Street and one in Elizabeth Street. I often sneak into those places. But I have to sneak in. One is not allowed in there officially. I have felt very embarrassed sometimes when 1 have been told to move on or have been asked what right I have to be there. The officials do not take note of the notices I put on my car. On the last occasion 1 went in there I put up a notice which said: “ Doing business with the Minister for the Interior”. I was told that he was overseas. I replied: “ Well, I am doing business with his deputy “. This is an undignified position for a senator to be placed in. One cannot get a parking spot in Martin Place because of the number of ministerial cars that are parked there. Of course, the Ministers do not eat there. At least Senator McKellar does not do so. Provision ought to be made for senators to park in these official areas, which are used now by members of the public and top public servants. We should not have to use subterfuge to get our cars into these areas. Alternatively, we should be allowed to use part of the Department of Supply garage at Woolloomooloo.
I agree with Senator Murphy and Senator Cohen in their comments about the fire hazard in this terrible building in Phillip Street. Plenty of room for the courts could be found in the Reserve Bank building, which is about 15 storeys high. On the first three floors there is hardly an employee to be found. The courts could well be established in this building, which is not far from the one in which they are accommodated now. There is a great waste of space in bank buildings generally. If somebody did a survey of the bank buildings, particularly in Sydney, they would find a lot of room that could be used.
– They are cleaning out the banks in Sydney at the moment.
– Yes, they are cleaning out the banks in a sense. The private banks are competing with one another to such an extent that they are establishing branches in suburban areas in buildings which do not offer any more security than does the average fruit shop. The banks are going to the other extreme in moving their business out into the suburbs. That is one of the reasons for the great number of robberies in recent times. I repeat that there is a lot of wasted space in buildings in the city of Sydney which could be used to overcome the difficulties referred to by Senator Cohen, Senator Murphy and Senator Wright.
To sum up, I would like the Minister to pass some comment on the three matters 1 have mentioned. I refer first to the provision of garage accommodation. We are not asking for more money to be expended but only for parliamentarians to have the right to park their cars in the areas I have mentioned instead of having to get in by subterfuge. Secondly, will the Minister comment on the Electoral Act? It ought to be brought up to date. Thirdly, I should like to know why the weather reports are so often wrong. They are quite unreliable.
– J wish to return to the subject raised by Senator Wright. He referred to the proposed expenditure of $72 million in the Australian Capital Territory and the activities of the National Capital Development Commission. He said that the Public Acounts Committee ought to be called to account for its failure to exercise some supervision over the activities of the Commission. Today I found in my mail box the S3rd report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts on the activities of the National Capital Development Commission. It is a 1 50 page report. I have not had time to read it thoroughly. I have had time to look at it only sketchily. It seems to be a most revealing document.
– I was referring to such things as losses on the transport service. Does the report deal with that matter? I have not had time to look at it.
– I do not want to misquote the honorable senator. I understood him to say that he was appalled .bat a sum of $72 million had been allocated for development in the Australian Capital Territory. Senator Wright said, quite rightly, that there were other places which were poorer relations and which ought to have been given consideration first.
I believe we should look at the power of the National Capital Development Commission in relation to the unlimited expenditure of money, lt seems that the Public Accounts Committee has examined those powers and has directed several questions to the Attorney-General about them. Although I do not profess to have any legal knowledge and can only place my interpretation on some of the replies that have been given by the Attorney-General’s Department, it seems that those replies establish that the Commission has practically unlimited power to spend money on the development of Canberra.
– Whatever is the amount we appropriate for its purposes, the Commission has the right to decide what it will expend the money on.
– lt seems that it is not inhibited iti any way in the expenditure of the money we appropriate for its purposes. I happen to be a member of the committee which has some connection with the activities of the National Capital Development Commission, ft seems to me that the Commission plans for the development of new areas almost before the previous schedule has been completed. The Woden Valley project, which embraces six or seven suburbs, is almost completed. .Now the committee which has this relationship with the National Capital Development Commission has been advised of the Belconnen project.
– Which committee is that?
– It is the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory. The Commission is proceeding with the development of the Belconnen area, which is another huge part of Canberra. Already initial work has been undertaken which will bring the new suburbs into existence.
– They will accommodate 100,000 people.
– That is so. I am not saying that this development is right or wrong. But I remind honorable senators that in 1955 a select committee of the Senate was appointed to consider the powers and activities of the National Capital Development Commission. That was 1 1 years ago. That select committee recognised that the Commission had wide, unlimited powers. The Parliament should recognise that fact. 1 am not knocking the Commission. I have come into contact with some its officers. The Commission’s staff includes some extraordinarily brilliant men whom we ought to be proud of. But that does not mean that perhaps the time has not come when another select committee of the Senate should consider the activities of the Commission. Such a committee might consider whether Canberra is developing too fast, whether we are pouring too much into the National Capital, whether we ought to put the brakes on for a time, and whether we should consider priorities and not just look at the broad concept of the scheme as it has been put forward from time to time by the Commission’s planners. I sow that thought in the minds of honorable senators. I hope that after honorable senators have had an opportunity more fully to read the report, they might become aware of the need for the appointment of another select committee to examine the activities of the National Capital Development Commission.
.- In line with some of the latter comments of Senator Toohey, I want to express commendation of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. My remarks are related to Division 310 - Administrative. I assume that the appropriation for the Commission covers its complete activities. I recently had an opportunity to visit Papua and New Guinea ^ significant portion of my visit was spnt in seeing the war cemeteries at Bomana, outside Port Moresby, at Lae, and at Bita Paka. some miles outside Rabaul. I would be failing in my duty if I did not place on record my very warm commendation of the efforts of the War Graves Commission in looking after the cemeteries as they do. They are beautifully sited, laid out and maintained, and very much in line with one’s expectations for cemeteries of such significance.
On my return to Australia, I wrote to the Commission expressing my very sincere thanks for the way that the cemeteries have been kept. I have also taken the opportunity on one or two occasions in giving addresses on the subject of my visit to Papua and New Guinea to refer to the manner in which the cemeteries are maintained. I felt 1 should take advantage of the opportunity to place on the record of the Senate my thanks and very warm commendation of the way in which the War Graves Commission has carried out its duties.
– I would like very briefly to raise the question of accounting. My remarks are related to Division No. 310 - Administrative. I direct the Minister’s attention to the Report of the Auditor-General for the year ended 30th June 1966. In referring to the accounting procedures of the Department of the Interior, the AuditorGeneral said in paragraph 93 at page 63 -
A udi i reviews during 1965-66 disclosed unsatisfactory departmental accounting for Miscellaneous Revenue and related sundry debtors in the central accounting section of the Department in the Australian Capital Territory. . . .
Unsatisfactory features disclosed by the Audit examination include inaccurate and inconsistent classification of revenue receipts, lengthy delays in entering items in the debtors accounts. . . .
In reply to Audit representations, the Department has stated that the unsatisfactory position has been contributed to by staffing difficulties and delay beyond the Department’s control in the installation of more efficient accounting machines required lo meet the demands of expanding departmental activities.
The department has demonstrated (hat much lias been done (o correct the shortcomings and a review of (he accounting procedures is in an advanced stage. 1 would like to ask the Minister whether the staffing position and the delay in receiving more efficient accounting machines have been overcome to the satisfaction of the Minister. What is the present position?
– I have been able to obtain some more information on the question asked earlier by Senator Cavanagh. He asked, I think, what is done by the personnel of the Electoral Branch in a non-election year. The Branch employs 268 divisional returning officers and clerks, who represent the majority of the staff employed by the Branch. They are employed in maintaining the paramount electoral rolls. This duty includes the organising of an annual review, a house to house canvass, enforcing compulsory enrolment under the Commonwealth Electoral Act, and making election preparations.
asked whether it was likely that the area of Tidbinbilla fauna reserve would be nibbled away. The answer is: “ No.” lt is more likely to be enlarged. Senator Ormonde wanted to know why the Government did not bring the electoral deposit up to date.
– Not the deposit - the amount that can be spent.
– 1 misunderstood the question. I thought the honorable senator was referring to the deposit. I think we are all in sympathy on that question, and we will see what we can do about it. Senator Ormonde also referred to weather reports. 1 do not agree with him. 1 do not think they are any worse than they were. I think they have improved. The honorable senator commented that one cause of inaccurate forecasts might be atomic explosions. I can remember that one of the reasons given for a wet season during World War I was the firing of the big guns in France at that time. Senator Dittmer is trying to interject. If he will be quite for a moment, I will answer Senator Ormonde’s questions. Senator Ormonde referred to the parking of cars. This is a sore point in Sydney. To be quite candid, I do not know of a solution. Perhaps the Minister can find one.
Senator Devitt referred to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and I agree with his remarks. Senator Wright and Senator Bishop referred to the Public Accounts Committee’s having something to say about the National Capital Development Commission. Senator Toohey pointed out that the Report by the Public Accounts Committee on the National Capital Development Commission was tabled in the Senate just this afternoon. It is quite a lengthy report, containing 137 pages. It was also tabled in the other place this afternoon. Any relevant matters will be the subject of study and report to the Minister for the Interior. As an item of interest, it does not deal with the buses that were referred to earlier.
– That is the particular item to which I wanted attention paid.
-I am sorry to inform Senator Wright that the buses are not mentioned. The projects on which money is spent in the Australian Capital Territory are listed in the civil works programme, where the questions of how much money is to be spent and what power is to be exerted are dealt with. The Minister for the Interior does what the other Ministers do. He fights to get as much money as he can for his Department, it is decided that he will get so much. Having received that amount, he has to cut his coat according to his cloth. The situation is no different, for the Minister for the interior in that respect.
– What about the lifts to the eighth floor of the Commonwealth Bank in Sydney?
– I used to use those lifts, and I know that they are not the best. However, they are better than the ones I use now in the Grace Building.
– I was thinking of the Commonwealth Centre.
– I know. That is the. trouble. I think too many of us want this and that. After all, this is a country which is developing fast. Just because we do not have all the modern conveniences, sometimes we get a little impatient. I do not think the lifts referred to by the honorable senator are too bad.I can think of a lot of lifts that are a good deal worse. The installation of the new accounting machines is now in an advanced stage. There were delays which were beyond the control of the Department. Additional staff was obtained by the relative accounting section and a concentrated effort currently is in train to bringThe work up to date and to rectify the unsatisfactory features referred to by the Auditor-General. This has included a complete review of the classification of accounts and the miscellaneous revenue accounts, and revision and reprinting of the relevant accounting procedures.
Proposed expenditures and proposed provisions noted.
Department of Primary Industry
Proposed expenditure, $35,880,000.
Proposed provision, $3,545,000.
Senator MULVIHILL (New South Wales) expenditure by the Department of Primary Industry, I want to deal with the personnel of the Australian Meat Board.It would appear that there has been a considerable amount of discontent in two particular fields regarding the existing composition of the Board. I understand that there was a time when the Meat Industry Employees Union and also the Metropolitan Abattoirs Association played a prominent part in the work of the Board. Of course, when the composition of the Board was changed, those bodies were excluded. I know that the hour is getting late, but there are one or two principles involved in this matter to which I want to refer. We speak in this enlightened age about better industrial relations. Having regard to the wide ambit of the subjects discussed by the Australian Meat Board, it seems to me that representatives of the Meat Industry Employees Union should have a right equal to that of other elements of the industry to take part in the discussions at the time they arise originally instead of merely being in the queue and being informed of them in a rather backhanded manner.
I wish to mention another matter, of equal importance, regarding the various State abattoirs. I know that the Homebush abattoir in New South Wales plays a very vital role in the meat industry. It may be argued that the grazier and the trade union employee represent two sections of the industry. The major abattoirs in the States have come a long way so far as standards are concerned. I know that a considerable degree of revision has occurred because of the meat trade with the United States of America, and I know also that that country has suggested that certain standards be adopted. While it is conceded that innovations were introduced to placate the American interests, and while I do not question the fact that in some respects this may have produced a higher standard of hygiene, I point out that there are other people in the industry who were equally vigilant in regard to health standards. These people feel that as an association they should have direct representation on the Australian Meat Board.
In my view, the more widely representative bodies such as the Meat Board are, the better. The alternative, of course, is for the Minister for Primary Industry to have a small select group which he would operate.
At least there would not then be the bitterness and discontent that exists at the moment among the members of the Meat Industry Employees Union and their counterparts in the State abattoirs in New South Wales, who feel that they are only just tolerated. I do not know why the Meat Industry Employees Union was ignored or why the State abattoir authorities were ignored. Obviously there are occasions from time to time when these people are expected to achieve as much industrial harmony as possible. The Minister has had some experience of this industry, as has one of his colleagues. They must realise that working conditions for many people have greatly improved. People now work in air conditioned offices. Having this in mind, we must feel some sympathy for the men who work on the meat chain and under the conditions that prevail in the industry.
People frequently talk about promoting industrial harmony. This can often be achieved if the Federal secretary of an organisation, or even the State secretary, can be consulted early enough. This is one reason why I am advocating the presence of these people on the Australian Meat Board. If they were given this representation they could tender timely advice and avoid industrial upheaval resulting from some persons going off at half-cock on the introduction of some innovation. Frequently in such circumstances there is a natural reaction on the part of the union movement to defend itself.
I have had discussions with members of the Metropolitan Meat Industry Board at Homebush in New South Wales. 1 know the members of that Board. They represent various facets of the meat industry in New South Wales and they are proud of the achievements that have been made, for instance in standards. They feel a natural resentment that in the new set-up they have been virtually excluded. The Council of Australian Public Abattoir Authorities represents organisations in the various States and that Council believes that the time is long overdue for this matter to be reviewed. It is an amazing situation, particularly when one considers the position in other industries. In the mining industry, for instance, and in the stevedoring industry, representatives of the various elements can work together under one broad umbrella, but in this case for some reason unknown to me there appears to be a kind of second class membership in the meat industry. I think that if we want to achieve a greater degree of co-operation in the industry we must have representation on the Australian Meat Board of responsible enterprises like the State Abattoirs in New South Wales and its counterparts in other States. It is equally necessary to grant representation to the Meat Industry Employees Union, as the main industrial organisation in the industry.
.- I want to make a few comments with regard to Division No. 380, Sub-division 2, Item 05, “ Fisheries Services “. I believe that in the field of fisheries a very valuable industry to Australia could be built up if there were more co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States with a view to, first, conducting a survey of the extent of fisheries potential around the Australian coast. Some time ago I discussed this question with professional fishermen and it came to light that a few years ago a survey was carried out in South Africa to determine the fishing resources around the South African coast. A figure was arrived at for the density of the fish population, if I may use that term, which did not give great heart to the industry at that time and did not appear to indicate any great ability to establish a sound fishing industry. However, the survey showed that there was a fish population sufficient at least to enable the country to make a decision to commence a fishing industry.
Since (hat time, as a result of further exploitation based upon these surveys, South Africa has built up a very valuable fishing industry. Within the last few years a very cursory attempt has been made to assess the incidence of fish around the Australian coast. Aerial surveys, sightings, soundings and the other methods which have been employed have shown that the incidence of fish around the Australian coast is far greater than the incidence of fish around the South African coast as revealed by the South African survey. This seems to me and to the people engaged in the fishing industry to suggest that if Australia got down to tin tacks about this business, and if there was co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States on the matter, we could build up a very valuable fishing industry.
I would suggest, strongly that this is an area of activity in which more intensive efforts could be made. As a result of the activities that are going on in South Africa, based upon the surveys, fresh fish is readily available for the table. I believe that a great deal of work is being done in producing fish meal fertiliser, fish oil and other things which have proved to be extremely valuable to South African primary industries. I think that the same thing could happen here. I do not know the extent lo which the Commonwealth could become involved in the undertaking. 1 realise that there are certain areas in which the States have the sole responsibility and that there arc other areas in which the Commonwealth quite obviously comes into the picture. This is demonstrated by the fact that there is an item in these estimates covering fisheries services. I am not. too sure of the extent of those services. 1 think it is important that we be told what they are.
I turn now to Division No. 380, subdivision 2, item 04 - Fisheries Newsletter, for which an appropriation of $21,000 is provided this year. That is very much in line with last year’s expenditure. I have seen copies of the Newsletter. I think that honorable senators are supplied with copies. There is quite a demand for the publication among people who are interested in the fishing industry. I would appreciate the Minister giving me details of its circulation.
I pass to subdivision 3, item 03 - Agricultural extension services. I want to deal with these services because I believe that they can effect an improvement in the Tasmanian fruit industry. Tasmania produces for export approximately 8 million cases of fruit, annually. Tasmania is the largest overseas exporting State. Of course, other States engage in a certain amount of export of apples and pears but not nearly to the extent that Tasmania does. In Tasmania, year after year the problem of hail damage to the fruit crop occurs. In the last season - this is not the first time that it has happened - the damage was of such an extent that the State Government had to provide a substantial amount of money to meet the hail insurance payments. A number of orchardists in the Huon area of Tasmania have banded together in an endeavour to purchase overseas a rocket which can be set off when a certain type of cloud appears which could cause hail, with resultant damage to the fruit crop. But this is proving very expensive for relatively few people.
The export income from the fruit crop is between $20 million and $30 million annually. I believe that this is an area in which the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation could carry out very valuable research in the interests of the export industry. The industry in Tasmania, as it is at present, does not have the facilities for research that are available to the C.S.l.R.O. Tasmania being the chief State in the export of fruit, by a long way, many people in the industry there feel that the Commonwealth Government, through the agency of the C.S.l.R.O., should carry out research and endeavour to overcome this annual problem which on occasions causes such a loss to the orchardists and for which the Tasmanian Government faces a tremendous pay out when hail damage occurs. I believe i hat on the average every second year there is a substantial payout because of hail damage to fruit. Being damaged, the fruit is no longer in a condition for sale on the export market, and the home consumption is nowhere near sufficient to absorb the quantity damaged. So there is a resultant loss. The insurance scheme has been in operation for a number of years but all too frequently it is necessary for the Tasmanian Government to pay out a substantial sum of money to meet these insurance costs.
Another matter in which I believe the Department of Primary Industry could play a significant part is in connection with the sale of fruit to Japan. At present the industry feels that it could export to Japan, annually, something like 2 million cases of fruit. That is approximately 25 per cent, of the total export crop. It is felt that if another market besides the traditional British and European markets could be established this would be of considerable value to the industry, because diversification of this kind can mean a great, deal when there is a glut on one particular market. It would certainly relieve some of the pressure on the European market, when fruit is offered at the same time as the Tasmanian crop, if sales could be made to Japan. This would be of great value to the industry. I believe that at present the
Japanese Government has placed a ban on theimportation of Tasmanian fruit on the ground of the incidence of codlin moth. I do not know whether this is the reason but that is the reason generally used as a bar to the export of this fresh fruit from Tasmania to Japan. I believe that here is an area to which the Department of Primary Industry might well give some attention and establish the reason why Tasmania is unable to sell in that area. This is of sufficient importance to warrant the attention of the Department. Although perhaps it is a matter which is local to Tasmania in the main, it could be extremely important in relation to export earnings. The Department might well establish the reason why we are unable to sell our fruit to Japan and then endeavour through the C.S.I.R.O., or some other agency, to overcome the problem.
Finally, there is another matterI want to raise but what one could do about the situation I do not have a clue. I refer to Division 380, subdivision 4 which relates to a bounty of $27 million annually on butter and cheese. The dairying industry, so far as it relates to the production of butter fat. is in a pretty sick condition in many parts of Australia.
-(Senator DrakeBrockman). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Chairman do now leave the Chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative. (The Chairman having reported accordingly) -
Sub-normal Children’s Home, Townsville.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - 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.
– Mr. President, at this late hour I will not hold up the Senate very long. But 1 do wish to raise a question of fairly great importance as far as the Townsville area is concerned. I refer to the case that has been submitted previously to the Government by the Townsville Sub-normal Children’s Association which is more correctly known as the Queensland Sub-normal Children’s Welfare Association (Townsville Branch). This organisation made an application to the Government for financial assistance by way of subsidy. But apparently, from correspondence in my possession, the relevant legislation had been altered on 9th April 1964, four days after the home admitted its first patients, and the amended legislation has been applied in this case. Consequently, the organisation is unable to obtain the financial assistance required.
I wish to quote from some of the documents thatI have with me which set out the case very clearly indeed. The first quotation reads -
The Association’s case was based on the following facts:
The Boarding Establishment was erected before and admitted children on 5th April 1964.
On the 9th April 1964 a Bill to amend “The National Health Act 1953 to 1963 “ was introduced into the House of Representatives.
By this Bill the definition of “ Nursing Home “ in section 4 of the Act was amended to deny benefits to establishments such as the Association’s.
The rights of similar organisations in other states to continue to receive Commonwealth Hospital Benefits were specifically protected in the Act.
Our establishment, which was in operation for four days before the amendment was introduced has not been so protected. Approval as a “ Nursing Home “ had not been received by 9th April 1964 as it was necessary that the establishment be operating before application could be made, and it has been excluded from the benefits.
I want to point out that, in fact, this nursing home had been operating before the Act was amended. Now, it would appear on the surface that the organisation could have been misled by the Government. 1 am not making that accusation. But, admittedly, the organisation received advice from certain quarters which could have been wrong advice.
I wish to quote two further paragraphs from this particular document which is a Press release by the Queensland Sub-normal Children’s Welfare Association (Townsville
Branch) dated 29th September 1966. The document continues -
In various discussions with the Queensland Stale Director of Health and the Commonwealth Director of Health in Queensland, in June .1962 and subsequently over the years to 1964, the Association was advised that upon State approval of the residential as a Convalescent Home, recognition as a Commonwealth nursing home would follow and the benefit of £1 per child per day would automatically ensue.
Wilh these assurances and knowing that as the law stood we were justly entitled to those benefits, the Association went ahead and built the residential home confident that the recurring maintenance expenditure would not financially cripple its objectives. Approval of the establishment as a Convalescent Home by the State was received. Recognition as a nursing home was first denied by the Commonwealth on 17th September 1964.
I ask the Senate to note those dates because it was in April of that year that the application was made.
According to one of these documents, representations were made to the Minister for Health by Senator Heatley and Senator Lawrie, both of whom are Queensland senators. I have not heard either of these honorable senators raise this matter in the Senate. I think that this is regrettable, especially if there is a case that can be put up on behalf of this organisation. The document goes on to state -
The Acting Prime Minister, in his letter, completely disregards the submission by the Branch concerning its rights as a result of the date of commencement of operations. No hospital benefits are received by any Branch of the Queensland Sub-normal Children’s Welfare Association whilst it is freely received by similar establishments which were operating at this particular time elsewhere in the Commonwealth and their right to receive these benefits is specifically protected by the amendment to the Act. Queensland children are being denied admission to establishments which are in receipt of Hospital Benefits in other States. 1 submit that it is appropriate also to study a small section of the history of this matter. 1 do not want to deal with it in great detail, but there are a number of relevant points that must be mentioned if the Government is to reconsider this organisation’s application. These points are set out in the following manner in a letter dated 29th July 1966 from the Association to the Prime Minister -
The Boarding Establishment was erected before, and admitted children on, Sth April 1964.
On the 9lh April 1964 a Bill to amend “The National Health Act 1953 to 1963 “ was introduced into the House of Representatives.
By this Bill the definition of “ Nursing Home “ in section 4 of the Act was amended, to deny benefits to Establishments such as ours.
The final point made was -
Our Establishment, which was in operation by four days, has not so far been deemed lo be so protected.
Approval as a “ Nursing Home “ had noi been received by 9th April 1964 as it was necessary that the establishment be operating before application was made, and il has accordingly been excluded from the benefits. This seems to us most unjust when it is realised that the scattered nature of the population in this northern area makes boarding establishments essential if these children are to be trained effectively, or at all.
The main point to be noted in that paragraph is that many of these children come from country areas. On 7th October last, a Press release was issued over the name of the secretary-manager, Mr. Arthur J. Cummings. I submit that it, too, is relevant to the case I am putting on behalf of this organisation. That Press release states -
The President of the Townsville Branch of the Queensland Sub-Normal Children’s Welfare Association today revealed that they had offered lo repay to the Commonwealth Government 5 18,000 “ building subsidy “ which they had received in 1963-64. He stated that one of the reasons the Prime Minister had given for refusing to grant hospital benefits to the Boarding Establishment in Townsville was that a grant had been made under the Slates Grants (Mental Health Institutions) Act. This $18,000 had been received by the Association and was thought at the time to have been additional building subsidy given by the State towards the completion of the Boarding Establishment. On Sth March, 1965 it was finally made clear to the Association that this money came from Commonwealth funds and it was only then that the receipt of this money was advanced as part of the reason for nol recognising the Boarding Establishment as a “ Nursing Home “.
However, the technicality on which the Government relics in placing this as an argument is still based on an amendment to the National Health Act, 1955 to 1963. lt remains a fact that the children were admitted before the amending Bill was introduced and at that date the Boarding Establishment was eligible for hospital benefits which, from then to now, have continued to be denied to Sub-Normal Children in Townsville.
While repayment of $18,000 does involve a large sum of money for this Branch of the charity, it constitutes less than two months’ expenses at the budgeted rate for 1966-67.
Then, on Saturday. 1st October, the “ Townsville Daily Bulletin “ contained an editorial which expressed the feelings of the local people about this establishment. That editorial reads, in part -
The Federal Government has dealt a severe blow to an organisation doing a great humanitarian job in North Queensland. It has rejected an application by the Townsville branch of the Queensland Sub-Normal Children’s Welfare Association for payment of hospital benefits for the association’s boarding establishment in Townsville.
The association well knew before it built the boarding home that heavy recurring maintenance expenditure would be involved. But, acting on assurances from the State and Commonwealth health authorities the association believed that the boarding home would be recognised by the Commonwealth as a nursing home, and would, therefore, receive a benefit of $2 per child per day.
While the association was proceeding in good faith to build the home, however, the Federal legislative picture was changing. The association’s boarding establishment went into service on April 5, 1964, on which date children were admitted. Four days later, a Bill to amend the National Health Acts was introduced into the Federal Parliament. The purpose of the Bill was to deny benefits to establishments such as the boarding home at Townsville.
Unfortunately for the association at Townsville, approval as a nursing home had not then been received.
As I mentioned a few minutes ago, many months elapsed between the making of the application and the rejection of it. The editorial continued -
For the sake of a few days, the Commonwealth has indulged in hair-splitting of a disgusting type. The association built a facility which is vitally needed to help those many children in the country areas of North and Western Queensland who bear the handicap of mental retardation. Already through its magnificent work at Endeavour Centre, the association has shown that a useful and happy existence can be provided for these children. There is now a grave danger that, denied a source of income which it had reasonably expected to receive, the association may have to send home the country children. This would be a cruel blow to their future and would cause despair and sorrow for their families.
What is worse, disgraceful discrimination resulted from the Government’s action; for the amending legislation specifically protected the existing rights of similar organisations in other States to continue to receive Commonwealth hospital benefits.
This organisation has been compelled to make additional appeals for finance to help its home to remain in operation. Had it not been for government building subsidies, strong financial backing from branches of the organisation in Proserpine, Bowen, Ingham, Tully, Charters Towers, Hughenden and other western towns, and generous private donations including large dona tions from the James Simpson Love estate, the Daniel Cummins estate, service clubs and the’ Sir William Angliss estate, the home may have been in even more serious financial difficulties.
It is significant that other homes are able to receive this type of assistance. I quote the following from the documents supplied by the organisation -
It is known that the receipt of Commonwealth Hospital Benefit Subsidy at the rate of $2 per child per day followed upon Commonwealth recognition for the following -
The Chalet for Children, Stanthorpe, Queensland,
Crowle Home, Sydney,
Sunshine House, Sydney,
Box Hill, Sydney, all of which cater exclusively for the subnormal child; together with -
North Queensland Society for Crippled Children, and
Queensland Bush Children’s Health Scheme.
I summarise by saying that assistance is needed by this organisation. I give the following reasons why I believe that is so: This is a deserving charitable organisation that is providing a worthwhile public service to seriously handicapped children who live in one of the more sparsely populated areas of the Commonwealth. If this assistance can be granted in other States, it seems regrettable that, because of a technicality which on the available evidence appears to be minor, the same assistance cannot be granted to this establishment at Townsville. It appears that the decision is final because, on 19th September 1966, Senator Gorton, writing for the then Acting Prime Minister, Mr. McEwen. said in the last paragraph of a letter to the President of the Townsville Branch of the Queensland Subnormal Children’s Welfare Association -
Careful consideration has been given to your request for Commonwealth benefits in respect of the boarding establishment operated by the Townsville Branch of the Queensland Subnormal Children’s Welfare Association but I must confirm that approval as a nursing home, for the purposes of the National Health Act, cannot be granted to the institution.
I make this appeal on behalf of the Townsville Branch of the Association in the hope that the Government will have another serious look at the matter, take into account all the factors associated with it and, if at all possible, see that this home is included with the other homes that already receive this benefit under the National Health Act.
– Mr. President, I did not know that this matter was to be raised in the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate this evening. Senator Keeffe has correctly given the details. 1 have copies of all the correspondence from which he has quoted. I could not quite hear many of his statements. While I was in Townsville, I was approached by the President and the Secretary of the organisation concerned. I may add that at one stage I was in your company. Sir. You and I were asked to make representations to the various departments concerned in order to assist the organisation in this matter. This we readily agreed to do. You, Sir, then went overseas. Senator Lawrie and I spoke to the Minister for Health, Dr. Forbes, and discussed the matter fully with him. As yet. no decision has been made by the Department of Health. In the meantime, the organisation took matters into its own hands and approached various departments in an attempt to hurry matters along. In my view, this was not the right way to go about things, the organisation having once asked a Minister or a senator to represent it in a particular case.
– It is a fairly competent organisation now but it is battling.
– It is extremely well organised. I have no intention of making it a political football. I shall not stoop to that. We have represented this organisation in approaches to Ministers. Correspondence that Senator Keeffe andI have indicates that matters are still being considered. Despite the urgent reply that was given, matters are still under consideration. They are still open for consideration by the various departments. I suggest to Senator Keeffe that he wait and see the outcome of further study of the matter instead of trying to gain political capital, as he has done tonight, in a way that the people of northern Queensland do not admire. They do not believe that a person should capitalise on matters of this kind, particularly the situation of subnormal children.I believe that further representations should be made. I tell the honorable senator, for his information, that they have been made this afternoon. I hope that something will result from them.
[11.49]. - Mr. President. ihave listened carefully to both Senator Keeffe and Senator Heatley in their discussion of matters concerning the Endeavour Centre subnormal children’s home in Townsville. For many years, I have known of the excellent work that is being done by this home. 1 have visited it on many occasions. I appreciate very much indeed the very great service that has been given to subnormal children by this home in Townsville. I shall have very great pleasure in making further representations to the Minister concerned in relation to this home, which is doing such excellent work in north Queensland.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. I inform Senator Heatley that I had no intention of making political capital. This was a sincere and genuine representation by me on behalf of a worthy organisation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.51 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 October 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1966/19661011_senate_25_s32/>.