25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– lt is with deep regret Hint I have to inform the Senate of the death of Senator Charles Waller Sandford. As honorable senators may know already, Senator Sandford was taken ill when travelling by air between Hong Kong and Brisbane on his way home from the Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference at Teheran, where he had been a member of the Australian delegation. He was admitted to hospital in Brisbane, where he died on Saturday, 22nd October.
Charles Walter Sandford was first elected to (he Senate for Victoria in the general election of 1946 and held his seat until June 1956, A year later he was appointed senator for Victoria to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Senator Devlin. In the election of 1958, he was elected to the long casual vacancy caused by the resignation of Senator Spicer, and he was elected again in the election of 196.1.
Senator Sandford played a full part in parliamentary life. He was a member of various committees of the Senate from .1947 onwards. He was Temporary Chairman of Committees from February 1964. In 1951 he wits a member of the delegation representing this Parliament at the inauguration of the Legislative Council of Papua and New Guinea. In 1959 he was a member of the Australian delegation to the InterParliamentary Union Conference in Warsaw.
Senator Sandford served with the 2nd Field Artillery Brigade in the First World War from 19th August 1914 to 27th February 1919. He was a member of the landing party at Gallipoli. His lifelong interest in the welfare of service pensioners and in repatriation affairs undoubtedly stemmed from this experience in Army service. The Senate will recall the attention he devoted to parliamentary affairs affecting service pensioners and repatriation benefits generally. He was a widower and is survived by a son and a daughter. We have indeed lost a senator whom we all held in the highest regard over the years he was with us in the Senate. I move -
That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the death of Charles Walter Sandford, Senator for the State of Victoria, places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service, and tenders ils sincere sympathy to the members of his family in their bereavement.
– The Australian Labour Party has sustained a very serious loss. When Senator Charles Walter Sandford died, we lost a man who gave a life time of devotion and service to the beliefs and ideals he held, lt is not only his Party that suffers. The State of Victoria, which he represented almost continuously since 1947, is also a loser, lt can be said with confidence that the ideals that brought Charlie Sandford into the Australian Labour Party never wavered. Over those years he was a champion of the common man, of the less fortunate and the under-privileged. Holding his beliefs, he became outstanding in working for those people in the second most densely populated State in Australia and in helping them to overcome their everyday problems.
In this field of endeavour and work he had few equals. As a Gallipoli veteran, he was one of the men who implanted the name of Anzac not only in the hearts of Australians and New Zealanders but in the mind of every person who pauses to discuss the subject of battle. The almost unnoticeable statistic in the “Commonwealth Pas liamentary Handbook “, which was mentioned by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty), gives mute testimony to his devotion to Australia as a soldier. He enlisted on 19th August .1914 and was not discharged until 27th April 1919. I never discussed this aspect with Charlie in the very many conversations 1 had with him, but if one were to borrow his verbiage one would say that he was there from go to whoa.
The mateship of those years left an indelible mark on Charlie. As Senator Henty has pointed out. he had a genuine feeling for returned soldiers, and his many utterances in this Parliament on the subject of repatriation were very firm and undoubtedly sincere. I remember him when
I first came into this Parliament: he was much younger then. He used to talk with a verve and dash all of his own. lt could be described as a cheeky style. One applies the term “ cheeky “ to people who are not so tall. But from his place in this Senate he was a very forceful speaker in those days and needled in a most tantalising manner his political opponents. He did so frequently, but never in all of those times did I see any sign of viciousness, any sign of taking a personal advantage, or any sign of being nasty in any manner. When the inevitable counter attack came on his offending head, he used to enjoy taking it as much as he had enjoyed giving it.
In my view, he never recovered from his wife’s death. There was an obvious devotion between the two which had endured over the years, and although this is not as uncommon as some modern writers would have us believe, it was personified in this union. His devotion to his family and his grandchildren was marked. I remember his telling me some years ago that his family had left home and he said, wilh obvious pride: “ We are now Darby and Joan.” Although that is a very commonplace remark, he said it with such fidelity and devotion as to make it easy for me to recall when I talk about him today. His family and friends can look back over a lifetime in which a very humble, sincere man - a devoted family man - gave outstanding service to his country in the field of war and in politics and in the interests of the little man, which made him a person good to meet in any circumstances. To his son Jack, to his daughter, Mrs. Grenfell, their spouses and their children, the Australian Labour Party conveys its sincerest sympathies, and trusts that they will take solace from the fact that he has been a good mate of us all. and that we are sharing their sorrow with them.
– The Australian Country Party associates itself with the condolence motion. This is a sad occasion and to the family of the late Senator Sandford I wish, on behalf of the Country Party, to offer our deepest sympathy. Charlie Sandford was a worthy protagonist as spokesman of the Australian Labour Party on repatriation matters. He spoke on repatriation with a deep appreciation of the needs of exservice men and women. I recall that last year he led the debate for the Opposition on the Repatriation Bill that was then before the Senate and, though he and I fought hard politically, we still remained very good friends. His own war record speaks for itself. Mention has already been made of the details by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty) and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Willesee). Sufficient it is for me to say that he served his country with distinction on the battlefield and later, in civilian life, in this Parliament. I join with previous speakers who have said that he spoke from deep convictions and with an intimate knowledge of matters affecting servicemen and exservicemen. I agree that at no time did he introduce personalities into debate. He was a sincere debater and at all times presented the Opposition’s case with sincerity and an honest desire to assist. We all mourn his passing.
– The Leader of the Australian Democratic Labour Party (Senator Gair) has suggested that 1 should speak on behalf of our Party because Senator Sandford came from Victoria and I knew him well. In fact, I knew Charlie Sandford, as he was generally called, for more than 40 years. 1 knew him when he was a young married man living in the suburb in which I lived, and later I knew him when we were in the same Party. On many occasions we spoke from the same platform. I gave him some assistance when he first stood for selection. I was very pleased when he achieved selection because I felt he would represent very worthily the principles for which he stood. After he had been elected to Parliament we were next door neighbours for some 10 or 12 years, and we found him and Mrs. Sandford kindly and friendly neighbours with whom we were always happy to be associated. He was very close to his wife and 1 have no doubt that, as other honorable senators have said, her loss two years ago was a great blow to him from which he never recovered. I offer to his children to whom he was a devoted father and his grandchildren, to whom he was a very devoted grandfather, the sympathy of my Party
– I join with previous speakers, not only on my own behalf but on behalf of my colleagues from Victoria, in the tribute which has been paid to Senator Sandford. We came from the same Stale and were members of the same Party. Like Senator McManus, some of us knew Charlie for 40 or 50 years. I know of no man who gave as much service in a particular field as Charlie did. If you were to ask me who was the best man to approach departmental officers to have righted (he wrongs that constituents felt they had suffered, 1 would say that no man knew his way around departments better than Charlie did. I would say so with admiration because our main purpose in life is to help people over a stile. In my mind no-one did this better than our late colleague. I am pleased by the tributes which have been paid to him this afternoon and. as I have said, on my own behalf and on behalf of my colleagues from Victoria, I join with other honorable senators in tendering our deepest sympathy to his son and daughter and their respective families.
– T should like to be associated with this motion of condolence to the relatives of the late Senator Sandford. Like Senator McManus, I lived for many years in the same suburb as Senator Sandford where he and his late wife enjoyed at ail times the respect of all citizens no matter what their political views may have been. He was, as others have said, a warm, kindly man with a great love for his home and his family. On many occasions I had the opportunity to talk to him. I was always very impressed by the strong tie that existed between him and his family. After his wife died, he deteriorated noticeably in every way. I would say that Charles Sandford probably died of a broken heart. Those of us who had the pleasure of knowing him over the years feel the better for thai association. ] also offer to his children my very sincere sympathy.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– I suggest that, as a mark of respect, the sitting of the Senate be suspended until 8 p.m.
– J am sure that that suggestion meets with the approval of the Senate.
Sitting suspended from 3.16 to 8 p.m.
– I inform the Senate that pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution I have this day forwarded a letter to the Governor of Victoria notifying a vacancy in the representation of that State, caused by the death of Senator C. W. Sandford.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for La’bour and National Service: Will the Government take measures to protect the equity of national servicemen in respect of hire purchase transactions in motor vehicles, tractors and similar goods which have a high natural depreciation rate during the two years of compulsory national service, particularly if such goods were new when purchased? Is not this a disability or disadvantage which a national serviceman should not have to bear? ls the Minister aware that some sellers now have a practice of buying back goods of the type to which I have referred at such a depreciated figure as to occasion national servicemen heavy financial loss?
– I am not aware of the practice referred to by the honorable senator in the last part of his question. I would be glad if he could bring any information he has as to this practice, together with evidence of it, which I will then pass on to the Minister for Labour and National Service. As to the honorable senator’s first two questions, I shall have to consult with the Minister for Labour and National Service to get answers for him.
– I preface my question, which I address to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, by reminding him that I raised this matter during the debate on the estimates of the Postmaster-General’s Department. It may have escaped the notice of the Minister. Will the Minister seek to influence television stations on the north coast of New South Wales - particularly in the Coffs Harbour region - to include in newscasts details of power cessation, as is the practice with radio newscasts?
– I recall the question that the honorable senator asked. On reflection, I think I said that I would refer the matter to the Postmaster-General.
– That does not appear in “ Hansard “.
– In those circumstances, I now say that I will faithfully refer the matter to the Postmaster-General.
– In addressing my question to the Minister for Housing, I draw her attention to the latest figures for building approvals released by the Commonwealth Statistician. Will the Minister inform the Senate of the reason for the alarming decline in the housing industry? Could she give reasons for the decline in the number of building approvals in New South Wales, which show a decline of about 3 per cent, for September from the figures for September of last year, in which month thu building approvals showed a decline of 16 per cent, from the number of approvals in September of the previous year? This trend has occurred in a period when the population of Australia has expanded by approximately 2 per cent, a year. Will the Minister inform the Senate of the reasons for the overall decline in the numbers of building approvals throughout Australia for September, as compared with September of last year and the year before? Why have Government measures failed to cope wilh this trend?
– Senator Murphy’s question interests me very much, because I think it was Senator Murphy - -it was certainly an honorable senator opposite - who asked me some time ago whether I thought the satisfactory rate of approximately 115,000 building commencements a year would be reached.
– I did not say that it was satisfactory.
– I understood that that was what the honorable senator said. Let me suggest to Senator Murphy now that the figures which have just been released for September of this year - 10,431. approvals - are satisfactory ones and if projected over a 12-month period give a rate of approximately 1 15.000 commencements per annum. 1 think that the honorable senator knows very well that the housing situation in Australia is important and that it will always be a consideration of this Government to ensure that there is this continuing upward trend.
Senator HEATLEY__ I wish to direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. In view of the number of inquiries from overseas countries regarding restrictions on their import of stud cattle from Australia, will the Minister advise what steps his Department has taken to promote the export of these cattle now that many countries arc prevented from importing from Great Britain because of quarantine regulations?
– Restrictions by overseas countries on the importation of cattle from Australia operate mainly on the basis of diseases which occur in Australia and may or may not occur in the importing country. The latter prescribes the condition under which cattle may be imported. The Minister for Health is responsible for health certification of cattle exported. I know that his officers are active in ensuring that animal health authorities in importing countries are aware of the position here so that unnecessary barriers associated with animal health are as far as practicable eliminated. There has been significant overseas interest in purchasing Australian cattle. Developing countries, particularly in South America, are endeavouring to build up their herds. Finance is often available to them through the World Bank and similar institutions. The Department of Primary Industry is in close contact with the Department of Trade and Industry. Inquirers have been placed in contact with the exporters or their agents. Numbers of prospective purchasers have visited Australia and, where circumstances warrant it, have been assisted with their tour programmes. The Trade Commissioner Service is active in prospective market areas in publicising the high standard of Australian stock, and in emphasising our comparative freedom from disease in cattle.
– I ask a question of the Minister for Supply who is Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it a fact that American manufacturers retain residual rights over such equipment as Tartar missiles, inertial navigation units and various complex electronic items for use by or contemplated for Australian defence services and that future developments in these fields will be outside Australian control although they will be a charge on the Australian economy? If this is so, what actions are proposed by the Government to ensure Australian participation in these developments?
– If the honorable senator puts his question on the notice paper or gives me until tomorrow to make the necessary inquiries, I may be able to give him an answer then. 1 do not have the technical details at my fingertips now, and I should like to have the chance tomorrow to reply to his question.
– 1 ask the Minister for Repatriation: ls it a fact that the Government is currently considering an overseas service insurance scheme directed to insure all Australian servicemen posted for operational duty overseas against death or serious injury? Knowing the interest of many honorable senators in this matter, the Minister will be aware that they would give the Government their full support on this measure.
– 1 think this question arises from a statement 1 made in an address to the National Congress of the Returned Services League in Perth yesterday. The position is that this is a matter of policy. The Government is considering an insurance scheme. What the outcome of that consideration will be is a matter to be decided by the Government.
– Has the
Minister representing the Minister for the Army seen a report published last week that another Australian soldier has been killed and four others have been wounded in operations in Vietnam? Can the Minister state what attitude is adopted by the Army in providing reinforcements for Australian battalions that have suffered casualties? Does the Army replace conscript casualties with conscript reinforcements and casualities amongst regular soldiers with regular reinforcements, or does it endeavour to replace all casualties with regular soldiers who have volunteered for overseas service?
– This matter is strictly one for the Minister for the Army himself. J do not think that he would be prepared al this point of time to disclose what the nature of the reinforcements would be. 1 am at a loss to understand why members of the Opposition seem to query the active participation of Australian forces in Vietnam. Only on Sunday last I visited the Hollywood Hospital in Perth. One of the soldiers I saw there was from Vietnam and another from Borneo. The soldier who had returned from Borneo was a national serviceman. He informed me that he wished to get back to Borneo as soon as possible to be with his mates. The soldier from Vietnam, who was only 19 years of age, was a volunteer. He did not know what his future was. For the life of me, I just cannot ascertain why these questions are asked in the manner in which they are asked.
Senator McClelland, in particular, queries, first, the training of our Australian Army personnel and then he queries the punishment that is handed out to them. Once again 1 remind him thai the training of Australian men has brought into active being a type of soldier who has evoked the admiration of the world, if the honorable senator has not received sufficient satisfaction from the answer that 1 have just given, [ suggest that he approach the Minister for the Army himself.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Housing. I refer again to building approvals for New South Wales, ls the Minister aware that in August 1964 building approvals for that
Stare totalled 4,354; that in August 1965 they totalled 3,916, a considerable drop; and that in August of this year they totalled 3,731, a further drop? ls she aware that in September 1964 they totalled 4,304; that in September 1965 they totalled 3,607, a considerable drop; and that in September of this year they totalled 3,496? Will the Minister state how those figures, which reflect the position generally in New South
Wales, disclose an improvement in the housing position? In those two months there has been an extremely serious decline.
– That is less than for last year.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Does the Government condone the use of napalm and phosphorus bombs, which have caused much suffering to non-combatants in Vietnam? If not, will the Government condemn the use of such methods of inflicting suffering on innocent civilians?
– In the Philippines at the present time representatives of Australia, other nations of the Western world, and Asian countries are meeting in an effort to bring about, peace in Vietnam. The Government’s whole intention and desire is to bring about peace and the wellbeing of the people of Asia. But when there is aggression it must be stopped by all lawful means.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. Last Thursday I asked a series of questions relating to a university college in the Riverina. The Minister said that the Government - and I presume he included himself - had not received from Dr. Merrylees the statement relating to the university college to which I referred. 1 do not wish to embarrass the Minister, but I ask him whether he has now received a copy of the leaflet entitled “ A Critical Discussion of the Relevant Sections of the Third Report of the Australian Universities Commission and Senator Gorton’s Statement thereon “. As far as I know, a copy of the leaflet has been sent to all honorable senators.
– The honorable senator is referring to what he describes as a question which he asked last week and in which he made various assumptions, all of them wrong. One assumption was that the suggestion emanated from me that there should be established in the Riverina a university college giving two year courses. Another assumption was that .1 had given an undertaking that that proposition would be proceeded with. There was a third assumption which 1 have forgotten, but all of the assumptions were wrong. I pointed out to him. as he will be able to see from reference to “ Hansard “, that 1 had received from Dr. Merrylees an expression of pleasure at this Government’s indication that it would examine the whole position and the recommendation as put forward by the New South Wales Government. 1 have received the leaflet to which the honorable senator has referred, but I cannot quite sec what it has to do with his original question.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Housing, ls not it a fact that the figures relating to building approvals for the whole of Australia show a decline from 1.1,395 in September 1964 to 10,571 in September 1965, a drop of 7.2 per cent, in a period in which the population increased by 2 per cent., and a further decline to 10,431 in September 1966, or are we to assume that the Statistician is wrong?
– The honorable senator seems to have only a few figures fixed in his mind and to be constantly repeating them. I am quite certain that if I had the figures in front of me I would be able to read them to the honorable senator. I repeat that the figure of 10,431 for September of this year is a satisfactory one and if projected over a 12 months period would give a rate of approximately 115,000 commencements per annum. We have every reason to believe that the upward trend will continue.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Will the Minister draw the attention of the Minister for Health to a sub-editorial in the “Australian Financial Review “ of 25th October on hospital and medical benefit funds, which concludes by saying: “ Self praise by governments and fund administrators is mere hyprocrisy in the service of Hippocrates”? Will the Minister also direct his colleague’s attention to limitations of hospital and medical benefits which have become all the more serious since hospital charges in most States have been raised in recent State Budgets? Does the Minister agree that a limiting period for payment of benefits of 84 days or 12 weeks in any year falls far short of the requirements of many insurers, through no fault of their own? In view of the control that the Commonwealth Government exercises through the National Health Act. will the Minister for Health have a review made of these limitations to give the full cover of hospital benefit insurance to people who are denied it when they need it most?
– The honorable senators question is lengthy and it would be best if I submitted it to the Minister so that he can supply an answer.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Will the Minister inform the Senate whether radar units situated at Darwin are working continuously? If this is not the case, is it the intention of the Government to tighten up the overall defence system of Australia, including the introduction of continuous operation of radar systems wherever they may be installed in Australia?
– I will ask the Minister for Defence to give an answer to the honorable senator. 1 understand he has suggested that all radar units round the coast should be working 24 hours a day.
– If they are in the defence system.
-I assume that any radar unit is in the defence system. I will ask the Minister to answer the question. Although I should like to answer it myself, I will leave it to him.
Reports on Hums.
– I present the report by the Tariff Board on the following subject -
Industrial chemicals and synthetic resins. 1 also present the report by the Tariff Board on -
Agricultural tractors (interim report).
(Question No. 1018.)
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister has supplied the following answer to the honorable Senator’s questions -
The recently erected sign at the entranceto Hobart Airport is temporary only and was erected to enablethe most appropriate position, size of loitering, type of illumination to be determined. It will be removed shortly and replaced with a permanent sign and associated garden which is now being planned.
(Question No. 1002.)
Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
Is it standard procedureto require trainee national servicemen, returning interstate on leave to their homes, to pay the travel cost involved; if so, will the Government review this procedure, with a view to providing travel vouchers to cover long or interstate trips?
– The Minister for the Army has provided the following answer to the honorable senator’s question -
National servicemen proceeding to their homes on recreation leave have their fares paid by the Army once a year. Members of the Army are normally required to take their annual recreation leave in one period each year and this is covered by the free travel provision. No provision exists for the payment of such fares during the various short periods of “ stand down “ or local leave which occur during the training period, nor would it be reasonable to expect the Army to accept the fare commitment in such circumstances. However, under certain conditions for periods of short leave, the Army pays travelling costs in excess of 75 cents to take the member to the nearest large town, if within 100 miles of his place of duty. National servicemen enjoy the same leave travel conditions as the volunteer members ofthe Regular Army.
(Question No. 939.)
asked the Minister re presenting the Prime Minister, upon notice
– The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answer to the honorable senators question - 1 and 2. The Government has had various proposals put before it suggesting action in relation to the encouragement of the arts in Australia, and the issues involved are being considered. When the consideration is complete,I intend to make an appropriate announcement.
(Question No. 1062.)
asked the Minister for
Repatriation, upon notice -
Will an unnaturalised conscript returning from Vietnam be entitled to all the benefits under the Repatriation Act and will he also be entitled to apply for assistance in purchasing a war service home?
– The following is the answer to the honorable senator’s question -
Yes. Repatriation benefits in relation to Vietnam service are provided under the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act. I am advised that the answer to the second part of the question is also yes.
(Question No. 1058.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
What is the latest information on the likely approximate dates of completion of the international terminals at Tullamarine and Sydney (Kingsford Smith)?
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question -
The approximate date of completion of the international terminal at Tullamarine Airport is the latter part of 1968, and for the completion of the international terminal at Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport is about the middle of 1969. Work on both projects is going on concurrently, with considerable filling of the Sydney site necessary before the actual terminal building can be commenced. The domestic parts of the terminal building at Tullaarine are scheduled for completion in the latter part of 1969.
(Question No. 1056.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– Whilst the answersto the honorable senators questions could be more appropriately undertaken by the local governing authorities concerned, the Minister for the Navy has supplied the following remarks -
Historically, when a ship was adopted bya town whose name it bore, the building of the ship was paid for by the town and the majority of the crew came from that town. This practice died out in the nineteenth century and has never had application in the Royal Australian Navy.
During World War II many ships of the Royal Australian Navy, bore the names of Australian towns. Some of these were unofficially “adopted “ by the town providing comforts and amenities for the crews. In some cases, the ship’s bell was presented by the town concerned.
At present there are six ships serving in the Royal Australian Navy which bear the names of Australian cities. The honour of “ freedom of entry lo the city “ was conferred recently by the cities of Perth, Hobart and Parramatta on their namesake ships. Additionally the cities of Perth and Hobart have made presentations lo their respective ships. The City of Brisbane has already presented a plaque lo H.M.A.S. “ Brisbane.”
(Question No. 955.)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows -
As at 30th June 1966 the total number of Government-sponsored Asian students was 1,508.
Of the 4.030 Asian students recorded above 553 were doing postgraduate work for either a diploma or a higher degree. In addition there were five Asian students, not shown in the above figures, who were sponsored by their own governments.
The figures for both total full time enrolments and total enrolments include students enrolled in bachelor degree, post-graduate and sub-graduate diploma courses, and certificate courses. Figures for students in higher degree courses have not been included because they are not available in this farm. In the figures given for total enrolments in fields of study, external and part-lime students were counted equally with full-time students.
Source: Enrolment figures for Asian students arc taken from Commonwealth Office of Education surveys.
Total enrolments in fields of study are taken from “ University Statistics 1965, Part I - Students”, published by Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics.
As at 31st March 1966 the numbers of nonEuropean* private students attending -
Secondary high schools (including private colleges)- 3,538.
Technical colleges - 1 ,200.
As at 30th June 1966 the total number of Government-sponsored Asian students attending -
Secondary schools - 44.
Technical colleges - 87.
(Question No. 979.)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answer to the honorable senator’s questions - 1 and 2. The total strength of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam was approximately 617.000 in August 1966. The maintenance of order in areas under the control of the Government of the Republic of Vietnam is the responsibility of the NationalPolice Force, whose strength was approximately 55,000 in August 1966. The Armed Forces may be required to assist the National Police in the event of armed attacks by Vietcong forces.
(Question No. 953.)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows -
Table 1 . Number of students passing the matriculation examinations of Victoria and Tasmania.
Source: Commonwealth Office of Education. The numbers of students passing the matriculationlevel examinations of the other States are given in Table 2. It is estimated that some 70 per cent, of successful candidates in these examinations qualify to matriculate.
Table 2. Number of students passing the matriculationlevel public examinations of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.
The numbers of students passing matriculationkid public examinations in the Australian Capital Territory and the Territory of Papua-New Guinea are included in the figures for New South Wales. Students passing matriculation-level public examinations in the Northern Territory are included in the South Australian figure.
There are no separate quotas for the Territories. Provision for the Australian Capital Territory and the Territory of Papua-New Guinea is made in the New South Wales quota. The Northern Territory is provided for in the South Australian quota.
– On 12th October, Senator Lillico asked me the following question without notice -
Will the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral indicate to the Senate the practicability of a telephone dialling system lo operate between the larger centres in Tasmania and the mainland Slates, similar to thai which operates between this city and Sydney and Melbourne? If it is proposed lo extend this system in Australia because of frequent long delays, will Tasmania be given high priority?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply -
The initial circuits from a large capacity microwave radio trunk system installed between Launceston and Melbourne are now being tested under actual traffic conditions and will be brought into service officially within the next two to three weeks.
From 14th November, these new circuits will enable Launceston subscribers whose telephone numbers are prefixed by 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 and 31 to dial their own calls to Melbourne direct in the same way as those subscribers can now dial their calls to Hobart, Deloraine and Devonport.
Extension of subscriber-trunk-dialling facilities to the mainland from Hobart subscribers is dependent on provision of another microwave system between Hobart and Launceston and on installation of an automatic trunk exchange at Hobart. It is expected that the service will be available to Hobart subscribers in 1968.
– On 25th August, Senator Lillico asked me the following question without notice -
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply -
For some time, delays of up to an hour and a half have occurred in connecting telephone calls from places in the North-West of Tasmania lo the mainland. This has been caused by growth of traffic and a shortage of circuits to the mainland.
The Post Office has installed a multi-channel microwave radio trunk system between Launceston and Melbourne and the first circuits of this system are now being tested under actual traffic conditions. They will be brought into service officially within the next two to three weeks.
The new circuits will enable a much improved service to bc given on calls not only from Launceston lo the mainland but also on calls to the mainland from other places in Tasmania, including the North-West area.
– On 13 th October, Senator Hendrickson asked me the following question without notice. -
Is the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral aware that so few telephonist’s are provided to handle trunk bookings, telegrams and local inquiries nl. the General Post Office, Melbourne. lim t telephone users frequently have to wail long periods before their calls can be answered? Will he examine the shortage of staff in this branch and supply additional telephonists so thai Mie public can be given the service which I am sure the branch would wish lo give?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply -
Trunk line booking positions arc stalled to provide 90 per cent, of callers to be answered within 20 seconds, with the remainder receiving an answer in a little longer time. Similarly, on phonograms the answering lime is within 15 seconds and. for trunk and directory enquiries, the time is within .10 seconds. Naturally, at times of peak traffic when a large number of calls arrive simultaneously, some will be delayed more than is normal.
Continuing checks are made on the speed of answer on these positions and tests in Melbourne over iiic last three months have shown thai calls generally are being answered within the prescribed limits.
Staffing al the Melbourne Trunk Exchange has been at full strength for some time and much the same position obtains in the Melbourne PhonoCram Section. In both cases, training classes are arranged in advance to meet expected fluctuations in the traffic and staffing levels which occur from time to lime.
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply -
When the present method of listing exchanges under telephone districts was introduced in I960, the basic principle was for telephone subscribers to be grouped according to community of interest. As traffic studies showed that’ the bulk of trunk calls from Nelson was to the Mount Gambier area, action was taken to include Nelson in the South Australian directory.
Unfortunately, where boundaries are necessary, it is not practicable to suit all subscribers and plans arc based on catering for all reasonable requirements. However, details of subscribers’ numbers in other directories are always readily avail able from the Department’s ‘Telephone Numbers’ positions to assist subscribers who wish to call numbers nol listed in their own directory. In addition. ‘For Sale’ copies of other directories are available through Postmasters at a nominal charge.
The question of listings for subscribers with services connecting to border exchange such as Nelson is currently being examined in conjunction with a general review of directory presentation methods and you may be assured that improvements will be introduced wherever practicable.
(Question No. 1023.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows -
(Question No. 1055.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
Are commercial aircraft which remain overnight at provincial and country airports guarded sufficiently to prevent any possibility of mechanical sabotage?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows -
A guard is not usually employed at provincial and country airports to prevent unauthorized persons from interfering with commercial aircraft which remain there overnight.
Aircraft left overnight are locket) and where possible they are parked where they can be kept under sonic scrutiny.
Each day before an aircraft is flown, daily and pre-flight inspections are conducted as a check on the airworthiness of the aircraft.
– by leave - It gives me great pleasureto be able to inform honorable senators that, onthe basis of the data provided to him by the Superannuation Board, the Commonwealth Actuary has now completed his recalculation of the surplus in the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund as at 30th June 1962, as required by the Superannuation Act 1965, and that the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) has determined the arrangements for the final distribution among the eligible pensioners and contributors. Honorable senators will recall that an interim payment of approximately $2 million was made to pensioners in December 1965. Former contributors to the Provident Account have already received $380,000 and over $1 million has been credited to the accounts of those who are still contributing to the Provident Account. Consequent upon the reduction in rates of contribution earlier this year, excess contributions totalling over $12 million have also been refunded. The final distribution of surplus that is now to be made to pensioners and contributors, including interest to 10th November 1966, will amount to approximately$25 million of which pensioners will receive about $4.5 million and contributors $20.5 million. Thus, the total amount that will have been distributed will exceed $40 million.
I think I should recall at this stage the prodigious task which we foresaw in this recalculation and distribution of the surplus in the Superannuation Fund as at 30th June 1962. The difficulties in making the complex actuarial calculations were increased by lack of sufficient qualified staff. The actuarial problems and the administrative task of equitably distributing this amount exceeding $40 million among some 140,000 persons have,I believe, no precedent. The accomplishment of the task reflects the greatest credit upon all who have contributed to it.
The President of the Superannuation Board has now reported to the Treasurer that the mailing of cheques for pensioners will commence this afternoon and will be completed by the end of this week. The payments to eligible contributors will again be made through their departments and will also include interest calculated to 10th November 1966. The Superannuation Board expects to authorise most of these payments and those to pensioners who were contributors at 30th June 1962, by 14th November. Some payments for contributors or pensioners at 30th June 1962 who have died will take a little longer to finalise as it will be necessary for the Superannuation Board to establish the potential beneficiaries. The Board will communicate with them as soon as possible but any who might not have received advice by the end of this year should write to the President of the Superannuation Board in case their present whereabouts are unknown to him.
Assent to following bills reported -
Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1966-67.
Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1966-67.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator McKellar) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a secondtime.
The Canned Fruits Export Charges Act 1926-1965 imposes charges on certain varieties of canned fruits exported for the purpose of providing funds for the administration and activities of the Australian Canned Fruits Board. The purpose of this present Bill is threefold. First, in order to simplify the present requirement that the exporter pay the charge on or before the entry of the canned fruit for export, the proposed amendment will permit payment covering all exports in each month to be made by one remittance within 30 days after the expiration of the month of export. This is designed t-o save administrative costs for both the exporter and the collecting authorities by replacing a requirement which demands a series of payments of charge as each shipment is decided on by one which permits a single transaction after all shipments for the month have been made.
Secondly, it is proposed to vary the method of expression of the maximum rate of charge that the Act imposes. The present maximum rate of charge was imposed in 1965 at one fourth of a penny per 30 ounces of canned fruit exported. With the conversion to decimal currency, the rate became two-tenths of a cent per 30 ounces. An operative rate less than this maximum may be and is prescribed by regulations under the Act, and neither the maximum rate nor the operative rate as now expressed lends itself to application to the export cartons most in use without involving calculations lo decimal places of a cent. The expression of the rate as in the Schedule to the Bill will mean that for almost all the export cartons now in use the charge per carton will be an exact number of cents without decimal places. The new form of expression does result in a nominal rise in the maximum rate, but this would easily bc outweighed by the administrative advantages accruing from the simpler calculations. Furthermore, the maximum rate does not apply while the regulations prescribe the lower operative rate.
Finally, the present method of expression of the rate of charge as two-tenths of a cent per 30 ounces has led to differing interpretations. The expression can be variously interpreted for example as relating to volume fill of the can or to its actual net contents. The new form of expression of the rate and the definition of “ pack “ now to be included will eliminate this ambiguity. The proposed amendments have the support of the industry. 1 commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator McKellar) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The general purpose of this Bill is twofold: First, to modify the method of ascertainment of average return as presently prescribed in the Dried Vine Fruits Stabilisation Act 1964; and secondly, to provide a new procedure for bounty payments under the Act which will simplify its administration and also fit the industry financing pattern. The Dried Vine Fruits Stabilisation Act 1964 and two associated Acts - the Dried Vine Fruits Contributory Charges Act 1964 and the Dried Vine Fruits Contibutory Charges (Collection) Act 1964 - implemented a scheme for the stabilisation of returns to growers of currants, sultanas and raisins for a period of five years commencing with the 1964 season.
In its simplest terms, the scheme is as follows: Three varietal stabilisation funds are established by the legislation. The Act which this Bill seeks to amend provides for a guaranteed price per ton for specified quantities of each variety in each season of the plan. This guaranteed price is the calculated cost of production per ton for the season less SIO. The Act also prescribes a method whereby in each season an “ average return per lon of fruit received for Packing “ is calculated. If in a season the calculated “ average return “ is below the calculated “ guaranteed price “ a bounty per ton - in normal circumstances, the difference between the two figures - is payable lo growers of the variety in question. On the other hand, if in a season the calculated “ average return “ exceeds the cost of production by more than $10 the excess, up to a maximum of $20, is levied on growers as a contributory charge under the complementary legislation. Charge is paid into, and bounty is paid from, the appropriate varietal Fund.
It will be evident from the foregoing that the calculated average return is a key figure in the administration of the scheme, and the Bill now before the Senate deals first with the method of ascertainment of this figure as it is prescribed in section 7 (2.) of the Act. Honorable senators will appreciate that the requirements of the Act as originally brought down necessarily preceded the practical application of the prescribed method of ascertainment, and it. is in the light of experience in attempting to apply the method to the first season of the scheme - 1964 - that these modifications are proposed. Their essential purpose is to bring what was of necessity a method of ascertainment devised in theory before the event - even though only after close collaboration between the industry and the Department of Primary Industry - into line wilh the realities of th£ industry as subsequently disclosed by the application of the scheme.
By way of preliminary to dealing wilh the proposed amendment I should like to say very briefly what the method of ascertainment is. A grower delivers his fruit to a packing house for processing and packing and the product is then passed on to agents for sale. Until sale, the grower retains an equity in the fruit. To establish the growers return for the fruit, therefore, it is necessary after (he packed fruit has been sold to ascertain sale proceeds and to deduct from them agents’ and packing house costs. The resultant figure for all the fruit of a season sold, divided by the corresponding tonnage delivered for packing for the season, is the average return. This briefly is how the determination under the Act is derived.
The present method of ascertainment requires the Minister to take into account all the fruit of a season that has been sold. Experience has shown that at least in the present situation of the industry, such a requirement is impractical. There is a considerable diversity of accounting practices and procedures in the industry which makes it virtually impossible to determine satisfactorily on a total industry basis many of the costs which are vital to the average return calculation. There is, however, a large segment of the industry handling a substantial quantity of fruit in which accounting practices and procedures do fit into the pattern required for the calculation. What this Bill proposes is that an alternative method of ascertainment be written into the Act which is based on a sample of the fruit of a season. This sample will relate to fruit passing through establishments which do in fact meet the requirements of the stabilisation accounting. The precise content of the sample will be decided in each season in close consultation with the industry authorities to ensure that sufficient fruit is included to enable a fair ascertainment. The present method based on ali the fruit sold will also be retained against the time that changes within the industry may make ils application a practical possibility. In all other respects the two methods of ascertainment will be identical.
The Bill will also modify the method of ascertainment in another relatively minor respect designed to simplify the complex arithmetical calculations involved. Experience has shown that providing for the starting point of the determination at proceeds of the original sales was both unnecessary and unrealistic, and that the determination could with safety be commenced at that point where agents account back to the packing houses for fruit sold.
The Bill also provides for a new procedure of payment to growers of bounty and refunds of contributory charge. The method of payment provided in the present section 9 has some administrative disadvantages. It had always been envisaged that the Commonwealth, subject to safeguards regarding the handling of the moneys, would use a central industry authority as the machinery for the distribution of payments under the Act to individual growers. Since the Act came into operation, such an authority, namely the company specified in the Bill, has been established. Section 9 as presently worded, however, would require each individual grower to authorise the company to collect bounty on his behalf before the Commonwealth could pay the total moneys to the company for distribution. Such a requirement is unnecessarily cumbersome, and the new section proposed by the Bill will eliminate this need. 1 should like to point out, nevertheless, that this does not imply that the Government will in all future circumstances work only through the presently specified company. Should, in the future, similar organisations be established with the industry for this purpose, the Government will certainly consider their inclusion also in the Act to operate on behalf of the Commonwealth. Honorable senators will note that safeguards regarding the handling of moneys until they reach the growers are provided in the new section.
The new section will also recognise that a traditional industry practice relating to industry financing methods will apply to moneys paid under the Act. This is the practice where, by specific arrangement between the parties, packing houses make loans or advancesto growers and subsequently recoup such debts from the proceeds of sale of the growers’ fruit as those proceeds are received back from agents. The section will recognise that where such specific arrangements exist moneys paid under the Act may be treated as proceeds of sale. I would emphasise that this only applies where an arrangement exists. In the absence of such an arrangement moneys under the Act must be paid to the grower.
In conclusion, I should like to report very briefly on the operation of the scheme to date. The 1964 season’s returns to growers were satisfactory, and a contributory charge on all three varieties was collected and paid into the Funds. 1. will be happy to give details on request. The Funds have therefore got away to a healthy start. Only one variety from the 1965 season - currants - has at this stage been completely sold and the finalisation of the stabilisation accounts for this variety is imminent.It is clear at this stage that a contributory charge will be payable Sultanas and raisins from the 1965 season have not yet been completely sold. The amendments proposed by the present Bill have resulted from the closest consultation and discussion with representatives of the central industry organisation - the Australian Dried Fruits Association - and have their support. 1 commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator Toohey) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a firsttime.
– I move -
ThattheBill be now read a secondtime.
I present to the Senate the first of two Bills dealing with extradition. These Bills represent the first move by the Common wealth Parliament to legislate comprehensively on this subject. As matters stand, the law that is still in force in Australia is that contained in Imperial legislation of the 19th century. Except for a short Act of a machinery nature, first enacted in 1903, the Commonwealth Parliament has not hitherto legislated in this field.
The Bill now before the Senate is concerned with extradition between Commonwealth countries. Its introduction follows two conferences between Commonwealth Law Ministers. The first discussions look place in Canberra in September 1965 when Commonwealth Law Ministers were here at the invitation of the Australian Government following the Commonwealth and Empire Law Conference in Sydney. Law Ministers then recommended to their Governments that a special conference should be convened in 1966 to complete a scheme of extradition arrangements between Commonwealth countries. The second conference, which the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Snedden) attended, was held in London in April of this year. The Bill is designedto give effect to the scheme worked out in detail in London and takes the place of the Imperial Act known as the Fugitive Offenders Act 1881. That Act is no longer adequate for two main reasons.
The first is that the operation of the Fugitive Offenders Act is confined to countries that are parts of Her Majesty’s dominions. The Act has therefore ceased to be applicable to countries which, although forming part of the Commonwealth, have the status of republics. The case of the kidnapper and murderer Bradley provides an illustration of the problem. As it happened, Bradley was apprehended at Colombo and Ceylon being part of Her Majesty’s dominions, he was extraditable to Australia under the Fugitive Offenders Act. If he had managed to get as far as India the Fugitive Offenders Act would not have been available.
Amendment of the Act so as to make it applicable to republics would at best have been only a stop-gap solution - and this leads me to the further reason for newlegislation. The Fugitive Offenders Act was suitable for the days in which it was passed when all the present countries of the Commonwealth were British possessions, when they owed allegiance to the one Sovereign and were therefore all part of Her Majesty’s dominions and when they had virtually the one system of law and justice. The old Act therefore, unlike the legislation applying to extradition with foreign countries, did not have to make any special provision in respect of political offences. As I shall shortly describe, the London scheme docs make provision in this regard.
There are two interests which must be satisfied by a proper scheme of extradition. There is, first, the interest that the peoples of all countries have in ensuring that acts that are universally considered as crimes should not go unpunished. On the other hand, it is necessary to ensure that there are adequate safeguards to protect the interest of the person whose surrender is sought. A request for surrender, for example, that is made for ulterior reasons clearly ought not to be acceded to. The scheme worked out in London a few months ago takes due account of both interests. For the convenience of honorable senators the scheme has been reprinted as it was agreed upon in London and arrangements have been made for copies to be distributed to all honorable senators.
The London scheme is not in the form of a treaty or other international agreement. The scheme differs in this respect from the system of extradition operating between Australia and foreign countries, which is based on the existence of formal treaties with the countries concerned, lt was at first contemplated that a multilateral extradition convention would be concluded at London, but this idea was abandoned in favour of the less formal method embodied in the scheme, lt seemed unnecessary for Commonwealth countries to impose formal legal obligations on each other, lt seemed also that some countries might be ready to proceed before others and that this course would be facilitated if the arrangements did not take the form of a formal agreement. The expectation of course is that all Commonwealth countries will give effect to the scheme. Australia is, 1 believe, first in the field.
The procedures for the surrender of fugitive offenders as between Commonwealth countries will be essentially the same as those that apply with foreign countries, and they are substantially the same as the procedures that have been in operation for nearly a century under the Imperial Extradition and Fugitive Offenders Acts. The procedure provisions are to be found in Part II of the Bill. J shall refer to them briefly. Where a requisition by a country is made for the surrender of a fugitive in Australia, the Attorney-General will give a notice to a magistrate informing him of the requisition and authorising him to issue a warrant of arrest. The fugitive on arrest will be brought before a magistrate. The magistrate may - if sufficient evidence is produced as would, if the offence had been committed in the particular Australian Slate or Territory, justify the committal of the fugitive to prison - commit him to prison to await his surrender to the overseas country. A warrant may then, after the expiration of 15 days, be issued for the return of the fugitive to the overseas country. The right of a fugitive to apply for a writ of habeas corpus is preserved by providing a statutory delay of .15 days.
The changes introduced by this Bill ate not changes in procedure, but relate to qualifications on surrender. There are three main changes, dealing, respectively, with surrender for political reasons, with what is known as “ speciality “, and with double criminality. I shall deal with each of these briefly, lt is a fundamental principle of extradition law that a person shall not be surrendered for a political offence. There was no provision in the Fugitive Offenders Act restricting rendition on that ground because when this imperial act was drafted it was considered that all offences throughout the Queen’s dominions were offences against the Queen’s peace. This view is no longer appropriate, lt was agreed at the London conference that it was desirable that there should be some restriction on the surrender of fugitives, even to Commonwealth countries. This was put in the scheme and is expressed in clause 10 (1.) of the Bill, which provides that a person is not liable to be surrendered to a declared Commonwealth country if the offence concerned is, or is by reason of the circumstances in which it is alleged to have been committed, an offence of a political character.
There are two further restrictions in clause 10 on the surrender of persons. One is that a person who is in custody or on bail in Australia in respect of an offence that is alleged to have been committed in Australia or is serving a sentence for a conviction in Australia, is not liable to be surrendered until he has been discharged from custody or gaol. The other is that a person is not liable to be surrendered in respect of an offence if he has already been acquitted, pardoned or punished for that offence.
Clause 11 also deals with political situations. The London conference agreed that provisions along the lines of Article 3.2 of the European Convention on Extradition 1957 should be included in the scheme. That Article gives protection from surrender to a person who would suffer because of his race, religion, nationality or political opinions although the request for his surrender is made in respect of an ordinary offence. The conference also retained a provision along the lines of section 10 of the Fugitive Offenders Act, which gives protection on the grounds of triviality, passage of time, or the charge not being made in good faith in the interests of justice. These provisions, which are contained in clauses 1 1 and 1 6, together with clause 10, provide such powerful safeguards that they remove any apprehension that might otherwise be felt about the return of Australian citizens to a requesting country.
I shall refer now to the speciality rule, which is the subject of clauses 11 (3.) and 22. The rule hitherto in foreign extradition - but not in the Fugitive Offenders Act - has been that the requesting country must bind itself by treaty or by legislation that a person extradited will not be dealt with for offences other than the extradition offence charged. Because of the clear interest that the States have in the subject of extradition, there were a number of discussions on this subject in the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General. In those discussions, the States expressed their concern about the adoption of the speciality rule in this form. They do not want to be in the position that a man returned to Australia for martslaughter, for example, cannot be convicted of dangerous driving, which is not an extradition offence, if the jury fails to agree on the major charge. To meet the Stales’ position, it was felt that our legislation, both for foreign and Commonwealth extradition, should permit trial on any charge proved by the facts on which the extradition was grounded but that, in order to provide a safeguard a prima facie case should have to be made out on the extradition offence before there could be any extradition at all. The London conference adopted this view, but it went further and authorised trial for a different extradition offence, provided the offence is of the same nature as the extradition offence originally charged and provided that the requested country consents.
The third innovation introduced is the principle of double criminality. The rule is that not only must the offence concerned be an offence against the law of the declared Commonwealth country seeking extradition, but the act or omission constituting that offence must be such that it would constitute an offence against the law of the part of Australia where the fugitive is found. This is stipulated in the definition of “ extradition crime “.
I wish to mention now the question of the death penalty, which is dealt wilh in annex 2 to the scheme. The European Convention on Extradition and the United Kingdom’s postwar treaties give discretion to a requested country to withhold extradition for a capital offence to a country that has the death penalty. The United Kingdom delegates at the London conference argued for the adoption in the scheme of this discretion pointing to their postwar treaties and to their legislation abolishing the death penalty. Other countries strongly took the contrary attitude, arguing that penally was a matter solely for the country in which the offender is tried. In Australia, while the death penalty is retained in some States and in the Territories, we would not want extradition to be refused to us on this account. On Australia’s initiative, a compromise was secured. This is set out in annex 2 to the scheme. Instead of having an absolute right to refuse extradition, the requested country must first consider the likelihood of the death penalty being suffered in the particular case, and must balance against that the circumstances of the case and the likelihood that the offender, if not returned, would be immune from punishment. Our own legislation does not refer to the death penalty at all, because we will not be seeking to refuse extradition on that ground.
Part II of the Fugitive Offenders Act provided a simplified form of return of offenders as between groups of British possessions. Australia, Norfolk Island, Papua, New Guinea, Nauru, New Zealand, Western Samoa, Fiji, Gilbert and Ellice Islands and the British Solomon Islands were a group of British possessions to which Part II applied. PartIII preserves the existing extradition procedures with, and applies specifically to, these same places, with the exception of Western Samoa which is now an independent member of the Commonwealth.
There is no list of extradition crimes in the Fugitive Offenders Act but there is in this Bill, in the First Schedule. The Bill uses a distinction in terms, referring to “ extradition crime “ in relation to offences against the law of declared Commonwealth countries and to “ extraditable crime “ in the case of offences against the laws of Australia and its States and Territories. For a crime to be an “extradition crime “ or an “ extraditable crime “ it must have a maximum penalty of death or imprisonment for notless than 12 months. The list of offences isa list of descriptions of offences rather than offences themselves because of the difference in nomenclature of offences in the various Australian States and Territories. Rather than have an extremely long list of specific offences using the names by which the offences are called in the various States and Territories, the offences have been described in general terms.I commend the Billto the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wheeldon) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
Senator ANDERSON (New South
Wales - Minister for Customs and Excise) [8.59.]-I move-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
I present to the Senate the second of the two Bills dealing with extradition, the Extradition (Foreign States) Bill. Our law on foreign extradition at present is contained in Imperial Acts known as the Extradition
Acts, 1870 to 1935, which apply to all the Queen’s dominions, including Australia. In pursuance of these Acts, treaties were entered into by the United Kingdom with a large number of foreign countries and these treaties were made applicable to Australia. The Extradition Act 1903 was a short Act passed by (he Commonwealth Parliament to vest the powers exercisable under the Imperial acts in appropriate persons in Australia.
In view of Australia’s present status it is now obviously not appropriate for Britain to negotiate further extradition treaties on behalf of Australia. Australia, as a sovereign nation, can and does negotiate its own treaties. Comprehensive legislation is however needed to give effectto extradition treaties that are entered into by Australia. This is the principal reason for this Bill. Its contents are similar to the provisions of the Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Bill, which I have just introduced, but there are some essential differences that make separate Bills necessary. I shall refer briefly to the main differences.
The first difference is that the context of the Foreign States Bill is a treaty context, whereas the Commonwealth Countries Bill depends upon what will in effect be reciprocal legislation. In the case of foreign countries, there will be a treaty obligation to extradite, but the legislation leaves an ultimate statutory discretion in the Executive, whereas under the Commonwealth Countries Bill there is a statutory obligation to extradite if all conditions are fulfilled. The ‘ speciality ‘ rule is in both Bills, but in the Commonwealth Countries Bill it is modified to the extent that the surrendering country may consent to a fugitive being tried for another offence.
Australia’s present cover in foreign extradition is far from complete. We have extradition arrangements at present with 40 foreign countries, but there are over 50 countries with which we have no such arrangements. It is not proposed that at present Australia would want to have extradition arrangements with every country, but some extensions are very necessary and indeed treaty negotiations have already been commenced with a number of countries.
All existing treaty arrangements with foreign countries are preserved by the Bill and the Act will apply in relation to those countries. Power is taken to apply the Act, by means of regulations, to new treaties made in conformity with the Act, including supplementary treaties with countries with which we already have treaties. The regulations may also provide that where a treaty is entered into with a foreign country, the Act applies subject to such limitations, conditions, exceptions or qualifications as are necessary and desirable to give effect to a treaty.
At the time when the first Law Ministers’ Conference was held, consideration was being given to the preparation of a new Extradition Bill. One of the problems then was the question of the introduction of a provision that would require that surrender should be made only where the Australian Government was satisfied that the request for extradition had been made in good faith. We have now introduced such a provision and it is to be found in clause 14. This is based on Article 3.2 of the European Convention on Extradition to which I referred in my speech on the earlier Bill.
The procedure for surrendering a fugitive to a foreign country is exactly similar to that for surrender to a Commonwealth country and there is no purpose in my repeating it. I commend this Bill to the. Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wheeldon) adjourned.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Mention has been made in the Senate from time to time of the discussions that have taken place in the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State AttorneysGeneral, which resulted in the preparation of a uniform Maintenance Bill in Australia. The States and Territories are now in the process of introducing legislation based on the model Bill and, indeed, al) States except Tasmania have already done so.
As one of a number of methods of enforcing maintenance orders, the model Bill included provisions for the attachment of earnings of employees. These provisions follow, with some comparatively minor alterations, the scheme for attachment of earnings in the Third Schedule to the Matrimonial Causes Act 1959-1965. 1 shall explain briefly the nature and effect of an attachment of earnings order.
Maintenance orders are generally made against husbands or ex-husbands for the support of wives (or ex-wives, as the case may be) and children - although it is now possible for a husband or an exhusband in certain circumstances to obtain a maintenance order against his wife or exwife. When the court makes a maintenance order, it endeavours to make an order that is reasonable in the circumstances, having regard in particular to the financial means of the parties. If the husband fails to comply with the maintenance order, the wife may take proceedings for its enforcement, and the usual method of enforcement employed was proceedings for committal to gaol. The attachment of earnings procedure is these days considered a more suitable method of enforcement where the husband is in regular employment.
An attachment of earnings order made by a court is directed to the employer of the person who is liable to make payments under the maintenance order. The order sets out an amount which the employer must deduct from his employee’s earnings on each pay day, and pay for the benefit of the person entitled to receive payment of maintenance. The attachment of earnings order also specifies what are called ‘ protected earnings ‘, this being an amount of earnings below which the actual pay received by the employee personally shall not be allowed to fall as the result of the operation of an attachment of carnings order. An attachment of earnings order continues to operate so long as the employee remains with the same employer, or until it is discharged or ceases to operate for one reason or another.
The State legislation, which deals with private employers in the State, also binds the Crown in right of the State as an employer. The State law, however, cannot give a Slate court power to make an attachment of earnings order against the COIn.monwealth as an employer. Many Commonwealth employees reside in the various Slides, and this lack of power «n the Stale courts left a serious gap in tha legislative scheme. This Bill is designed to close this gap, The Bill adopts the very simple expedient of merely declaring that provisions in a State or Territory law relating lo attachment of earnings shall apply in respect of the Commonwealth ?.s an employer, as if the reference to an employer in the State or Territory law included a reference to the Commonwealth. Commonwealth authorities, such as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the Australian National Airlines Commission, arc also covered by the Bill.
An example of how the proposed legislalion can operate may nol be out of place. Let us suppose a wife residing in Sydney has a maintenance order against her husband, who is employed by a Commonwealth Department in Adelaide. The wife may apply to a court in Sydney for an attachment of earnings order as a means of enforcing her maintenance order. The Court in Sydney may make an attachment of earnings order directed to the Commonwealth Department in Adelaide, which pays the husband. The Department will thereupon deduct the stipulated amount from the husband’s salary and send it to Sydney for the benefit of the wife.
A case may arise where the Commonwealth as employer may have directed to it two or more attachment of earnings orders in repect of the same employee. This may happen, for instance, where he has divorced his first wife and is separated from his second wife. The Bill provides for a system of priorities in such a case. The attachment of earnings order coming into force first in point of time will have priority over an order coming into force later in time. This is to bc the case whether the attachment of earnings order is made under the Third Schedule lo the Commonwealth Matrimonial Causes Act 1959-1965, or under a State Maintenance Act as complemented by this Bill.
Finally, as this Bill adopts the State law in that law’s present form, it is necessary for the Commonwealth to retain control of the position should the State law change, at some future time. Provision is made for the making of reguations, if necessary, to exclude or modify the operation of the State law as applied to Commonwealth employees. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
– The Opposition has decided not to oppose this Bill. The Bill is to enable the enforcement against Commonwealth public servants of State or Territory maintenance orders by execution against earnings payable by the Commonwealth or a Commonwealth authority to such public servants. It is an exercise of power under Section 51 of the Constitution, placitum (xxiv), which empowers the Parliament to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to the service and execution throughout the Commonwealth of civil and criminal processes and the judgments of the courts of the Slates. In this instance, it is providing for the execution throughout the Commonwealth, per medium of the Commonwealth and its authorities, of civil processes and the judgments of the courts of the States. I say civil processes “ although sometimes these processes may be regarded as criminal - and certainly to those against whom they are being enforced they often appear to be such.
In the Bill there are some curious matters. IS Territory “ is defined so as to exclude the Territory of Papua and New Guinea and all other Territories outside Australia except Norfolk Island. That means, as I conceive it, that this Bill will not apply to enable enforcement against the earnings of Commonwealth officers in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, Nauru, or such other places. Similarly, it seems as if it will not apply lo enable the enforcement of orders made in those places in respect of such officers. Clause 5 of the Bill makes the provision in the Bill exclusive, that is, so far as attachment of earnings by way of enforcement of a maintenance order is concerned. They are attachable either under these provisions or not at all, because Clause 5 states -
Except as provided by this Act, moneys payable by the Commonwealth or a Commonwealth authority are not subject to attachment, by way of enforcement of a maintenance order, under an attachment of earnings order.
Clause 6 brings into operation the Jaws of the State or Territory in a curious way. because the extent of the operation of the Bill will depend upon the provisions of the particular State law. Sometimes there may be differences between the State laws, and perhaps a State or Territory might seek to make differences. The definition of “ employer “ and the relationship under which enforcement can take place will depend upon the State law. It may be that some curious problems will arise such as when one has earnings on some kind of commission or under contract. The relationship might not be one which is ordinarily regarded as that of employer to employee, yet if that is so provided under the State law it seems that if a similar relationship exists between the Commonwealth and such a person his earnings would be open to attachment under these provisions. That, no doubt, is the reason why there is provision in clause S for excluding or modifying the operation or effect of a State law. If it were thought, either now or in the future, that the definitions in the State laws were such as to make tenuous the connection between the person and the Commonwealth, then the Commonwealth Government could take action by way of subordinate legislation to exclude enforcement in those cases. In clause 6 also appears an exertion of the Commonwealth’s power under section 71 of the Constitution, which provides -
The judicial power of the Commonwealth shall be vested in a Federal Supreme Court, lo be called the High Court, of Australia, and in such other federal courts as the Parliament creates, and in such other courts as it invests wilh federal jurisdiction.
Here in clause 6 is an investiture of federal jurisdiction.
– In which sub-clause?
– Sub-clause (2.), which perhaps I should read for those who may study the record, provides -
The operation, by virtue of this Act, of any of these provisions of a law of a State or Territory, or the jurisdiction of a court for the purposes of any of those provisions as applying by virtue of this Act, is not subject to any limitation depending on the locality of persons, things, Acts or events within the State or Territory that is expressed or implied in the law of the State or Territory.
What is happening here is that the Commonwealth is moving in and, really, under clause 6 (1.) there is a substantive invest ment of jurisdiction. In sub-clause (2.) this is dealt with in a procedural way and the normal limits of jurisdiction of the State courts are removed. So, clearly, this Commonwealth is investing those courts wilh its own jurisdiction, which is a jurisdiction in substance so far as the enforcement is concerned, and it is a jurisdiction which is free of the procedural limitations normally applying to such a court.
There are other provisions which have been mentioned by the Minister and which deal wit’h priorities when there are several orders. These seem lo be commonsense machinery provisions. The Opposition regards this Bill as an attempt by the Commonwealth to use ils power of providing for the execution of judgments and orders of the State courts and Territorial courts throughout the Commonwealth. It is not to be regarded as some extraordinary measure. The Parliament has been somewhat lax over the years in not providing for effective enforcement of Stale orders. We dealt with this matter in the Senate some years ago in relation to service and execution of process generally and it is good that the Government has seen fit at least to use its endeavours to produce what we hope will be satisfactory machinery in relation to some portion of the maintenance field, ft is quite a restricted Bill, but it has a useful aim and we do not oppose it.
.- I agree wilh Senator Murphy that the Bill is a useful measure. It endeavours lo supply a link between the State jurisdiction in which a maintenance order is made and the Federal sphere in which the money can be attached. But it is odd, I think, that we should have this particular approach to the enforceability of these orders. It should be recognised that the States have the authority and responsibility for laws with regard to maintenance of wives other than in the divorce jurisdiction, and with regard to the maintenance of deserted children other than in the divorce jurisdiction. But the Commonwealth has given authority for the maintenance of wives and children in the divorce jurisdiction.
I suppose that it is a recognition of State rights concerning maintenance of wives and children that they should make the order and then the Commonwealth should give enforceability with regard to it. We should be grateful that that step is being provided by this Bill. The Commonwealth, of course, still bears a heavy sum in widows’ pensions in its social services vote, for wives whose husbands desert them and against whom no recovery is made. So far as I know, the Commonwealth has adamantly refused to take power in aid of the Department of Social Services to recover from husbands money paid for their wives. So too, I believe, has the Commonwealth sternly and obstinately presented a blind eye to records in other departments which might help to discover the whereabouts of deserting husbands. All of that, I think, is a blindfold attitude on the part of the Commonwealth in the administration of a recovery process incidental to social services for deserted wives, to whom the Commonwealth pays widows pensions, and their children. 1 was very pleased to note that the Minister, in his second reading speech, said that the attachment of earnings from the employer of a husband is a much more appropriate means of enforcement than is committal to prison, lt is odd that that has remained in some States if not the only, then the paramount means of enforcement. One would heartily agree wilh and emphasise the fact that an order for enforcement by attachment of earnings is much more appropriate and effective than is committal to prison.
In the Committee stage I will seek to raise one or two matters. 1 am at a loss to know why clause 5 is in ils present form. This is a Bill, the purpose of which is to ensure and affirm the enforceability of State orders against earnings accruing from the Commonwealth and Commonwealth authorities; yet the clause commences with an arrogant and superfluous assertion of a technical unenforceability, lt stales -
Except as provided by this Act, moneys payable by the Commonwealth or a Commonwealth authority arc not subject to attachment, by way of enforcement of n maintenance order, under an attachment of earnings order.
According to clause 3, an attachment of earnings order means -
Whether clause 5 seeks to make doubly sure that the only area of enforceability against Commonwealth moneys accruing to a defaulting husband shall be restricted simply to earnings that come to him in the character of an employee, 1 do not know.
But 1 should like to know what prompts us to be so careful to impose that restriction on what is a facultative Bill.
According to clause 8, to which the Minister referred in his second reading speech, enforceability accorded under this Bill is to be accorded only to known State laws and therefore, to cope with the possibility of an alteration in State laws we should take power by regulation to modify or exclude the application of any new State laws lo the Commonwealth. J am not impressed by that argument. I should have thought any variation in State law would have to be done by Stale statute, and if it is appropriate for a State, by statute, to alter its law it would be time enough for. us to consider, by statute, the degree to which that law was to be applied here. I want the Senate to note in particular that it is only to that extent that regulations are being authorised, lt is in particular according to clause 8 - . . for excluding or modifying the operation or effect of any provisions of a law of a State or Territory in their application by virtue of this Act- that is to say past, present or future laws of a State - including exempting from the application of any such provisions moneys of prescribed classes.
I mention thai because 1 shall be interested to know what classification is anticipated and which are to be the exempted classes.
– in reply - I thank the Senate for its indication that it will give this Bill a speedy passage. Senator Wright has indicated matters that he will raise in the Committee stage. By that time 1 hope to be in a better position to answer his questions. 1 am sure all honorable senators are aware of my limitations in dealing with a lawyers bill of this nature.
– I am concerned about clause 6 (3.) which states -
The provisions that apply by force of this Act have effect in respect of the attachment of moneys notwithstanding any law that, but for this Act, would prevent the attachment of those moneys.
Will the Minister tell me to what that applies? What law is there which, but for this Act, would prevent the attachment of moneys? in other words, 1 am concerned about any enactment that we might be cutting across. Is there protection in relation to any particular body of persons? It may bc that there is some provision in the enactments which protects, say, Justices of the High Court, f do not know whether they arc to come within the provisions of this Bill.
– .1 think it is in relation to repatriation pensions.
– That may be so, or there may be officers of diplomatic missions who might be embarrassed by this kind of thing. This may be a good provision but 1 should like to know its area of operation. How far does this enactment extend? The area of operation is rather curious. It is dealt with in clause 6 (1.). The relationship dealt with in this Bill is one of the Commonwealth as employer to some person as an employee, lt is not the ordinary relationShip of an employer to an employee. It is the relationship as defined in State law. Can the Minister indicate how far the State law extends or how far it is intended, if the regulations are used, to allow this relationship lo extend? I conceive, for instance, that under some State law there may be a statutory definition of “ employer “ and the relationship of employment which may extend to cover earnings, say, under some building contract so that there may be a sub-contractor with the Commonwealth who is receiving payments under contract or subcontract. Would that kind of relationship bc covered by regulations under this Bill so that notional earnings would be attachable?
[9.301. - My advice is that the purpose of sub-clause (3.) is to override - that is the operative word - any other Commonwealth law that has the effect of preventing the attachment of moneys which may be earnings, as defined in State or Territory legislation, payable by the Commonwealth, a Commonwealth authority or any other person. 1 believe that Senator Wright put. his finger on the point when he referred to pensions under the Superannuation Act. the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act and so on, which under normal circumstances are not attachable. I am relying strictly on the advice that I have received, as I have to do. It is that the purpose of sub-clause (3.) is to override any other Commonwealth law that has the effect of preventing attachment.
– I understand that; but I am asking what the sub-clause applies to. It must have some present application. Everybody understands that it overrides any other Commonwealth law. We want to know just what is being overridden.
– Any other Commonwealth law.
– But what acts in particular would prevent the attachment of moneys? Which moneys, now protected presumably by specific provisions of some acts, will not now be protected? There must be some particular protective provisions which are being swept away. Surely the Minister’s advisers are able to indicate what those provisions are.
– I do not think Senator Murphy listened to what I said. My advice is that this sub-clause overrides any other Commonwealth law. That is a very wide statement. The Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act comes to mind as one such law. The Superannuation Act comes to mind as another one. I can only repeat that the advice that I have received is that, in fact, this sub-clause overrides any other Commonwealth law.
.- I would have thought that this question would have been anticipated, lt would have been useful if some study had been made by the people who prepared this Bill so that, we would know just what field of supremacy is being given by this sub-clause. 1 am all in favour of the general view that old and perhaps outdated immunity from attachment should disappear. Certain officers have been protected, in their independence, by provisions tha.t attachment laws shall not operate to attach their emoluments. Senator Murphy raised this matter first in relation to Mie area of the earnings of an employee. I should like the Minister to give us some elucidation of that point. F can envisage a situation in which the Department of Works is building a school and a painter has a sub-contract under which he earns $1,000. That sum would not be earnings in the ordinary sense of an employee’s earnings from an employer. We want to know whether we are to expect that attachment could apply to such a sum.
Secondly, we have protected officers and their payments because of the independence of their offices and also to prevent poverty of the payee. Let us take the case of a high ranking officer in the Army or that of the Auditor-General - an office the independence of which has to be safeguarded very strongly. I want to know whether the intention is that the earnings of the holder of that office are to be subject lo attachment. I will not raise any claim against that; but i want to have the fullest measure of understanding that I can obtain as to the meaning of this sub-clause, so that it shall not go per curiam.
– The honorable senator referred to servicemen. They are excluded from the provisions of this Bill.
– Because they arc dealt with under different procedures - within the framework of the Services, I understand.
– Well, let. us know what that legislation is. I will come to the meaning of “ Commonwealth authority “ in another context in a few minutes. 1 do not want to confuse that issue with this one. I did not want to refer to that until I had supplemented the presentation of these two questions by Senator Murphy, ‘l am aware that there has been endless litigation in another field of law, namely, on whether a police officer, for instance, is a servant, and whether an Army officer is a servant. ls the view taken that such officers are employees under this legislation? I thought we would have been able to have read to us a note from the Attorney-General’s Department saying that the various classifications of people in receipt of what might be called general earnings are such and such, and those who will retain immunity from attachment are such and such. If there are any such classifications. 1 believe that the wish of the Committee would be to know them. I, for one. am all for enabling the deserted wife and the deserted child to receive the proper amount of maintenance. I do not hold very strongly to the theory that an Admiral of the Fleet has his in dependence diminished and his spirit diverted from his duty by the fact that his pay is attached. But I want to know what is going on.
– Senator Wright referred to servicemen. In fact, there are two associated bills. 1 have yet to read the second reading speech in respect of the second bill. In the normal course of events, I would have read the two second reading speeches and the debates on the bills would have been adjourned until the next day of sitting.
– Is the other bill to which the Minister is referring the Matrimonial Causes Bill?
– Yes. If I may anticipate the debate on that Bill, with your indulgence, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I point out that one passage of the second reading speech on that Bill states -
The pay of servicemen is not salary or wages, and is therefore not covered in the definition of “ earnings “, but the opportunity has been taken to write this into the Schedule. The Services have their own schemes for making deductions from pay to meet maintenance orders.
That relates to the question that Senator Wright was asking and is the point that I tried to make ‘by way of interjection. Servicemen do not come within the provisions of the Bill that is now before us.
.- Will the Minister deal with the question that 1 raised in relation to a painter who is a contractor for the Department of Works? He is not an employee-
– No, he is not an employee; so this Bill is not applicable to him.
– What consideration has been given, to such a case? Is it to be claimed that maintenance cannot attach to a sum payable under a contract of that character?
– If it is so dealt with under the State law.
– My advisers tell me - 1 readily recognise this with my own limited knowledge of the world - that a contractor can work for a short time or a long time and under a variety of conditions. He is on his own. Clearly, he is not covered by this legislation. 1 cannot comment on what other motives were in the minds of the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) or his Department in presenting this Bill. Clearly, the answer to the question that Senator Wright raised is “ No “.
– So this ill do does not cover all contingencies?
– That is right. Senator Murphy recognised a[ w when he said thai the Bill had some very severe limitations. He said that it was good and that it would enable certain things to be done, but that it had certain limitations.
.- I express the hope that consideration will be given at an early date to extending the ambit of the Bill. I see no reason whatever to confine attachment in favour of deserted wives and children simply to earnings of employees so narrowly considered. Why cannot the remedy be made available against any moneys owing by the Commonwealth or a Commonwealth authority to a defaulting husband? That is the practice in the civil debts jurisdiction. 1 anticipate that the State law has not yet reached the stage of going beyond earnings. All this difficulty arises from the fact that the Government will not deal with a wider field, lt allows the legislation to be confined simply to a small area in which common agreement is reached at a conference with six State Attorneys-General who are all jealous of their rights. 1 pass now to direct the Minister’s attention to the definition of a Commonwealth authority in the Bill. The Bill states -
Commonwealth authority” means a body corporate (not being an incorporated company, society or association) incorporated for a public purpose by or under a law of the Commonwealth or of a Territory;
Why does it state “ incorporated for a public purpose ”’! 1 suppose that, in one sense, Commonwealth Hostels Ltd. is a corporalion incorporated for a public purpose, but it is in no way different from any other hotel company, or from a boarding house company. I doubt whether some judges would consider that it is incorporated for a public purpose. Can the Minister tell me the intention here? ls the Commonwealth to be the defendant in all cases where there is not an incorporated authority? I am prompted to say that the other day, by reason of the practical exigencies of professional life, 1 had to notice that there is a type of person midway between a corporate authority and an individual person. I had to consider an Adelaide committee which was a juristic person, but not a corporation for the purpose of the National Security Regulations. I do not wish to pursue that point.
Why are these words in parenthesis included - “ not being an incorporated company, society or association “? Why does not the term “ Commonwealth authority “ mean a body corporate or an individual acting on behalf of the Commonwealth, or a body corporate incorporated by or under the law of the Commonwealth? Why does the legislation relate only to a body which is incorporated for a public purpose? Why does it not apply to a person as well as to a body corporate?
Senator ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Customs and Excise) 19.45]. - Senator Wright cited the case of Commonwealth Hostels Ltd. Commonwealth Hostels Ltd. is covered by State laws, and in that sense it is not a Commonwealth authority. Quite clearly it is covered by State laws. My notes state that the policy of the Bill is that in addition to employees of Commonwealth Departments employees of Commonwealth authorities such as Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation or the Australian National Airlines Commission shall be subject to its provisions. The definition excludes incorporated companies - such as Commonwealth Hostels Ltd. - societies or associations from the ambit of the Bill. They would be subject to State or Territory laws on the subject of attachment of earnings. The stated policy is a means of avoiding sometimes difficult decisions as to whether a particular body incorporated for a public purpose has or has not the shield of the Crown so as to be considered part of the Commonwealth. 1 have to rely on my notes for my information.
.- ( wish that I might have had an opportunity to discuss this matter before we assembled formally in the Senate. The reference to a shield of the Crown mystifies me. 1 know that ii was considered for 50 years or more to be relevant to the question of liability of the Crown, but the High Court has said that when dealing with the immunity of the Crown, it is not a question of whether the body concerned represents the Crown; it is a question of an Act of Parliament that gives immunity from lime to time. However, I do not see what relevance that point has to the definition in the Bill, ls there still to be Crown immunity under the doctrine that is commonly referred to as the shield of the Crown? 1 thought that the object of this Bill was to make earnings that accrued from the Commonwealth - the sovereign Commonwealth - or any instrumentality of the Commonwealth, available under an attachment of earnings order. Why does the Government wish to limit it to the Commonwealth and any instrument of the Commonwealth that otherwise could not have an attachment of earnings order directed to it? 1 stale very seriously thai the definition of a Commonwealth authority in the Bill will vex many people. It means a body corporate, not being an incorporated company. We generally know what is intended by the word “ company “, but the two terms are in my vocabulary considered to be synonymous. An incorporated company is a body corporate, but a body corporate is nol an incorporated company. I take it thai the word ‘’ incorporated “ applies to an association or society, so that the meaning is ‘* a body corporate, not being an incorporated company, an incorporated society or an incorporated association “. Why are the words in parenthesis there to exclude from the definition of a Commonwealth authority a person against whom an attachment of earnings order is enforceable?
– lt is very difficult for me to join issue with Senator Wright on these matters. With reference to the shield of the Crown, I said that the stated policy is to avoid situations which could involve the sort of argument advanced by Senator Wright. The definition of a “ Commonwealth authority “ is a wide one. An incorporated company would be dealt with under State laws, as distinct from the Commonwealth. I am sorry that I am not in a position to add much to what I have already said.
.- I would like to add a few words before Senator Murphy makes his contribution. Why could not the definition be: “ A body corporate or unincorporated, and if incorporated, incorporated by or under the law of the Commonwealth “? Why cannot ii be so expressed, so as to make it clear that no person unincorporated, if a Commonwealth authority, shall escape, and that no body corporate, incorporated under Commonwealth law, shall escape simply because it might be held not lo be incorporated for a public purpose?
– I should like to assist the Minister but I am afraid that I cannot. While we approve of the general aim of this legislation it must be admitted that there are some needless obscurities. One of these is the matter to which Senator Wright has pointed. There will be a lot of trouble about the definition of Commonwealth authority and, I think, especially when this is conjoint with the provision under clause 5 which makes this Bill an exclusive one. lt is either under this Bill or not at all. They are, as Senator Wright has said, bodies which are not individuals, not bodies corporate, but legal entities.
– Will the honorable senator give me an example of one of those?
– One was the famous case in Great Britain that highlighted this matter. This was the case of Bonsor v. The Musicians Union, in which the House of Lords stated that this was so. To give the Minister an example, I refer to bodies such as the Greyhound Racing Control Board in New South Wales which is a body that might have certain officers. This body is liable to sue and to be sued. Yet, there is nothing that says that it is a corporate body. We might have - 1 concede that we would have under Federal law - marketing boards set up by the Commonwealth but with representatives from producers and so forth that might be liable to be sued and that can sue. These bodies might fall into that limbo where they are not actually bodies corporate, yet are bodies acting on behalf of the Commonwealth. They are in a sense agents for the Commonwealth.
– At this point, 1 should like the honorable senator to give me an example of one such body bearing in mind that it has to be a Commonwealth body.
– I am afraid that the Minister is putting the boot on the wrong foot. I am here to be informed by the Minister’s officers. So far, 1 have asked for information on clause 6 (3.). 1 have been given no real information at all. 1 must say that this is a matter for serious complaint. The provisions of this Bill, which is a machinery measure, are of extremely serious importance to deserted wives and children seeking to enforce these orders. I must join Senator Wright in his complaint. Already, these wives and children have suffered all sorts of troubles under the Stale acts. It is an impenetratable jungle of legal difficulty. That these wives and children have been pui through this is a disgrace to civilised society.
– Hear, hear!
– 1 do not like to see introduced into the Act further obscurities. Undoubtedly, there will be a lot of trouble over some of the provisions in this Bill. If I may suggest a reason why this has been so. it is because of the refusal of this Government to face up to the position that it should use more extensively its powers under section 51 of the Constitution. I referred in my speech on the motion for the second reading of the Bill to the Service and Execution of Process Bill which was before the Senate some three years ago. There, me Government failed to use the powers that it had to provide itself for enforcement over the Commonwealth of Slate and Territorial orders and judgments. Here again, why this put and take kind of provision is in this Bill is because the Commonwealth is declining to do that. Instead, the Commonwealth wishes to retain as far as possible reciprocal enforcement by the States.
A clean piece of legislation could be introduced by the Commonwealth. This would remove the necessity for distinguishing between Commonwealth authorities and other bodies. One could provide for the enforcement outside of the States of State orders and judgments and provide for their simple enforcement against those in the employment of the Commonwealth. One could remove all the necessity for the fine and sometimes not so fine distinctions which appear in this Bill. I predict that there will be a great number of headaches not only for those who are vested with ibc administration of this Bill but also for wives and children who will be the beneficiaries of the orders.
.- Senator Murphy mentioned the case of Bonsor v. The Musicians Union. Quite clearly, I suppose, the Commonwealth has not anything in the nature of a trade union under its authority. But Senator Murphy’s reference does remind me that the organisations that are registered under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act are incorporated for the purposes of the Act. They are only incorporated for the limited purposes of that Act. Now, 1. ask the Minister whether or not there are bodies corporate, incorporated for a public purpose by or under a law of the Commonwealth. I happened today to be ferreting through shipbuilding legislation. I found that subsidies are payable by the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission by devious means regarding buying and selling. Of course, I will not go into that mailer now. The Australian Shipbuilding Board, I was told, is not an incorporated body. I just give those examples because the Minister asked for two examples. They are two examples that have come to me on the spur of the moment.
What I. cannot understand is the necessity for this complexity in the simple conception of this Bill. Why can it not be that a Commonwealth authority is a body corporate or unincorporated, that is, under the law of the Commonwealth or the State? Why exclude from this Bill anybody and why refer lo a public purpose?
Might I just make mention of what was said before to illustrate the importance of (his, following on what Senator Murphy has said. The importance of it is emphasised by the provisions in clause 5 of the Bill. 1 cannot see any possible purpose parallel with the general purposes of this Bill that is served by clause 5 except to say: “ Everybody take notice. You have no right to attach these orders except such as we give you under this Bill.” But the Bill simply does not say “ earnings of employees front the Commonwealth and Commonwealth authorities are not attachable except under this Bill.” What clause 5 provides is this -
Except as provided by this Act, moneys payable by the Commonwealth or a Commonwealth authority are not subject to attachment, by way e/ enforcement of a maintenance order, under an attachment of earnings order.
I point to the width of the expression “ moneys payable “. It is not earnings payable but moneys payable. That is the width of the area to which protection is given.
If the area to which application is given in the definition of Commonwealth authority is limited, two strangleholds are put on the Bill. A deserted wife and deserted child will have to incur the expense of legal argument to obtain weekly maintenance in order to show what is a Commonwealth authority and then to show that the moneys that she wants to get are strictly earnings and not moneys which under clause 5 of this Bill are called “ moneys payable “. I do not speak with any definiteness. The limitation may come because of the ambit of a State attachment of earnings order. I cannot see why the Government is restricting the definition of a Commonwealth authority, why any immunity is expressed in. clause 5, and why the immunity expressed in that clause is not confined to earnings payable but is made to extend to any moneys payable. The Minister said earlier that moneys payable to a painter if he has a contract are not attachable, but moneys payable to a painter if he is employed on a daily, weekly or monthly basis are attachable. That is nonsense.
– f should have thought that the distinction between a salary earner or a wage earner on the one hand and a contractor on the other hand would have been fairly apparent, but seemingly in the legal sense that Senator Wright suggests it is not apparent.
– It is apparent as a legal distinction, but why should we deny a wife access to one but not to the other?
– The honorable senator is seeking to have incorporated in the Bill something that is not intended and which is not part of the normal procedure relating to attachment for maintenance. The honorable senator is suggesting that an attachment order should apply to any person who has a contract or has money. That may be so, but this Bill relates to attachment of earnings. The word “ earnings “ is used in the sense of regular earnings.
– Does it not depend upon what the Stale law says? If the State law says they are earnings, then they are. If it says they are not earnings, then they are not.
– That may be so. However, I think I should confine myself to the note I have before me. The clause provides that moneys payable by the Commonwealth or a Commonwealth authority may not be subject to an attachment of earnings order except as provided by the Bill. I have here an extended note which states that the purpose of the clause is to put it clearly beyond doubt that no State law can operate to enable an attachment of earnings order to be made against the Commonwealth. This legislation is to be the sole authority under which the earnings of public servants are to be liable to attachment.
– Why is it desired to put that beyond doubt? Why would an order have been made, if there was any doubt?
– That is a legal nicety. I should think that when a person drafts a Bill, he endeavours to make the provisions clear and to put the matter beyond doubt. I should have thought that that would have been fundamental to the drafting of any Bill. What I said was merely a reference in that sense.
.- In respect of what classes of moneys is the making of regulations to be authorised for the purpose of exempting those classes from the application of the provisions of the Act? I refer to clause 8 (a). As a matter of general principle. I. am averse to anybody, even the Parliament, discriminating between different classes of persons and making one subject to the payment of maintenance and another not subject. There may be occasions when making such provision by way of statute is justifiable. But when it comes lo the making of regulations, there needs to be added justification.
– The only information I can give to tine honorable senator is that this power is intended to be a safeguard to the Commonwealth against an attachment of earnings order made by a State. I shall pass on, for what it is worth, the example that has been given to me. If the States were to say that they intended to legislate for the making of attachment orders in respect of servicemen, quite clearly the Commonwealth would not countenance such a move. I understand that the regulation making power has been included in the Bill so that the Commonwealth, if it does not agree with the provisions of the States, may preserve its position.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a third time.
. -I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The main purpose of this Bill is to amend the Third Schedule to the Matrimonial Causes Act, which deals with attachment of earnings as a means of enforcement of maintenance orders made in proceedings under that Act. In my second reading speech on the Maintenance Orders (Commonwealth Officers) Bill, I explained the nature and effect of attachment of earnings orders. I referred to the fact that, in the course of including provisions regarding attachment of earnings in the model Maintenance Bill, some minor but desirable alterations were made. It was thought that these alterations should be incorporated in the Third Schedule to the Matrimonial Causes Act. As the amendments are numerous, it was found preferable to re-make the whole of the Third Schedule than amend it. A paper setting out the principal amendments to the present Schedule has been circulated. I shall refer to one or two of the more important amendments.
An alteration has been made to the earnings which may be attached. Workmen’s compensation payments were originally excluded, but are now to be liable to attachment. Certain servicemen’s pensions, not previously excluded from attachment, are excluded by this Bill. At present, life insurance premiums are among items deducted from gross earnings in calculating net earnings for the purposes of attachment. Under the Bill, only life insurance premiums payable under a superannuation or retirement benefit scheme will be taken into account. Payments made to medical and hospital benefit schemes may also be taken into account when calculating net earnings. The pay of servicemen is not salary or wages, and is therefore not covered in the definition of earnings; but the opportunity has been taken to write this into the Schedule. The Services have their own schemes for making deductions from pay to meet maintenance orders.
An employer may have two or more orders directed to him in respect of the one employee. A new provision has been inserted dealing with priorities in such a case. This provision takes into account the possibility of one or more of these orders being made under State law, and sets out how priorities are to be determined. The Maintenance Orders (Commonwealth Officers) Bill 1966 has similar provisions regarding priorities, and the Bill under consideration has been drafted to interlock these complementary provisions. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a secondtime.
– - I had intendedto speak to the motion for the second reading. However, it is possible for me to make the position of the Opposition clear at this stage. Substantially, the Bill is designed to amend the Third Schedule of the Matrimonial Causes Act. The Third Schedule is given force by section 106 of the principal Act, which reads -
An order under this Act for the payment of maintenance may be enforced in accordance with the Third Schedule to this Act and the provisions of that Schedule have effect in relation to the enforcement of such orders.
The Opposition is giving this Bill the same benign treatment as it afforded the measure which has just been passed by the Senate. It is, in effect, a companion Bill to the Maintenance Orders (Commonwealth Officers) Bill 1966, in respect of which the Opposition’s view was explained by Senator Murphy. In substance it arises out of discussions that have been held by the Standing
Committee of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General on the subject of uniform maintenance laws in Australia. Apparently in the course of those discussions and in the course of preparation of uniform legislation for the enforcement of maintenance orders, some weaknesses in the Schedule have been shown up and the present legislation is designed to give effect to the necessary amendments.
In that sense the Bill is a useful measure which introduces some desirable amendments of the enforceability provisions in the Third Schedule. The Minister has circulated a paper setting out some of the principal amendments to the Schedule. It is not my intention to canvass those amendments in particular. We are agreeable to the measure being passed. I may desire to address some further remarks at a later stage of the Committee debate if any questions are raised by other honorable senators.
.- Let us contrast the definition of “ employer “ in this Bill with the meaning of “ Commonwealth authority “ for which I unsuccessfully sought elucidation on the previous Bill. Here we have an illustration of the very point that I advanced. Why confine it to a corporate body? The Schedule provides - “ employer “, in relation to a defendant, means a person (including the Crown in right of the Commonwealth or a State, the Administration of a Territory to which this Act applies and any authority of the Commonwealth-
The term “ Commonwealth authority “ was the expression that bedevilled the previous Bill- of a State or of a Territory to which this Act applies) by whom, as a principal and not as a servant or agent, earnings are payable or are likely to become payable to the defendant.
Why could not we have had a similar definition to that, referring to a person from whom earnings accrue and in respect of whom earnings are attachable, in the other Bill? I notice that the definition of earnings includes any moneys payable to the defendant -
Does that include an annuity payable to a public servant after retirement? The definition continues -
The Schedule then goes on to set out what it does not include. It excludes payments to which immunity still continues, of which we sought a list in connection with the other Bill. They are: Pay or allowances as a member of the Defence Force or any moneys payable under the Social Services Act, the Repatriation Act and the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act. It does not seem to me that this Bill and the previous Bill are going side by side at all. It seems that if the provisions contained in this Bill were included in the previous Bill we would have a clear expression of purpose.
– I want to ask a question. Will the Minister explain, if he can, the basis of principle for drawing a distinction between certain moneys which are to be regarded as earnings and certain moneys which are not. The definition of earnings in the Schedule provides in part -
I take it that that is sufficiently broad to include weekly workers’ compensation payments. In fact, the explanatory note which has been circulated by the Minister refers to them. What is the reason for including payments of that kind in earnings and yet excluding payments under such legislation as the Social Services Act and the Repatriation Act? I have not appreciated what the difference in principle is. I know that the Minister has said: “ This is included and that is not included,” but I have not appreciated the basis of the distinction in principle.
– Senator Wright has come back to his original proposition. He has said that in this Bill we talk of employer and of earnings - those terms are spelt out in some detail - and that he cannot draw a distinction between those terms and the term “ contractor “. I would suggest that there is a complete difference between a person who receives earnings and a contractor. A contractor earns a living incidentally. The moneys connected with a contract involve all manner of things. 1 can see the point that Senator Wright is making. He is saying that by definition it is very difficult to put the matter in watertight compartments. It is more difficult for me than it is for the honorable senator who is a lawyer. But at the same time I think I can see the distinction that is drawn.
The word “ employer “ has a particular implication for me right away. Similarly, the word “ earnings “ has an implication for me. I think that when reading the definitions we have to bear in mind the generally accepted meanings of these words. I still say that it is not possible to draft legislation which would incorporate all the people whom Senator Wright wishes to incorporate in these Bills. This is a fact of life. The Bill does not include certain people. Obviously, the Government has decided not to include them. 1 cannot help the honorable senator any further.
asked why a distinction is drawn between certain workers compensations payments and payments under the Social Services Act and the Repatriation Act. Quite clearly, workers compensation payments are not analogous to social service or repatriation payments. Workers compensation payments connote provision for wives and families, and earning capacity. There are other elements in relation to social service and repatriation payments. I am afraid that I cannot go much beyond that. I return to the first point I made. The Committee is considering whether or not this Bill should be drawn in such a way as to have a wider application. I can only say that it is not the intention of the Bill to do that. The definitions have been drawn in such a way as to make the intention clear in a legal sense.
– They have not succeeded.
– That is the opinion of an eminent lawyer, but time will show whether it is correct. If Senator Murphy is shown to be correct and difficulties arise in this respect, no doubt the parliamentary processes will be used to remove the difficulties. I can only present the Bill as it is. It is intended to deal with matrimonial matters in a prescribed way. I have no authority nor am I competent to argue about an enlargement of the provisions of the Bill.
.- I should like the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) to make something clear to me. I stated that, as I understood, the new definition of “ earnings “ included payments of workers’ compensation. I do not say that it was a considered view, but I understood Senator Wright to be taking issue with me on that point.
– lt would never have occurred to me that workers’ compensation would be included.
– On the face of it, that would never have occurred to me except for the explanatory notes on the principal amendments that have been circulated. They seem to suggest - indeed they say specifically - that in the schedule which is being amended (b) (iv) reads - pension payable to the defendant in respect of injury, disablement or disability.
The Minister’s note suggested that that is what is commonly called workers’ compensation, and that it is now made explicit. All 1 want to know is whether I was correct in reading the note and the new schedule together and deducing that the new schedule is wide enough to cover workers’ compensation.
– The second reading speech makes that quite clear. It states that workmen’s compensation payments were originally excluded but are now to be liable to attachment.
– Where were they excluded and where are they now included? That is what I want to know.
– I am told that if the honorable senator looks at the Third Schedule, he will see that they were excluded under (b) (iv). They are now included under (b) (ii).
– That refers to “ periodical payments “. In other words, what I was suggesting was correct.
– The words in (b) (ii) are - periodical payments in respect of or by way of compensation for the loss, abolition or relinquishment, or any diminution in the emoluments, of any office or employment.
– What the Minister is saying is that that is wide enough to cover workers’ compensation. If I may say so, that is a very odd way of covering it. I could think of about five ways that would more clearly indicate that it was intended to cover workers’ compensation.
– The intention is quite clear. It is spelt out in the second reading speech.
– lt is in the second reading speech, but no court would be interested to look at the speech to learn what the Act meant. Indeed, it would not be allowed to do so.
.- When I made my interjection, I was unembarrassed by trie speech of the Minister and I was still concentrating exclusively on the text of the Schedule. I express my amazement that anybody has an understanding that the words can be taken to include workers’ compensation. The Schedule states - “ earnings “, in relation to a defendant, means any moneys payable to the defendant -
by way of pension, including -
This is the first time I have ever heard workers’ compensation so described, if, in fact, those terms apply to workers’ compensation. I do ask that the Bill be considered very carefully by the technical advisers of the Crown if those words are to be relied upon as including workers’ compensation.
– Quite clearly they are.
– Quite unclearly.
– Here again I am in conflict with my legal friends. Personally, I read this precisely in the terms of the Bill.
To my knowledge, periodical payments are made by way of compensation. They are payments for loss, abolition, relinquishment or diminution of earnings. I would say that everybody in this place who is not a lawyer would have a general understanding that all these things apply to compensation. I do not know whether honorable senators are arguing on a legal technicality, but in my opinion the matter is quite clear.
– Workers’ compensation is usually awarded for injury arising out of employment.
– It also provides for periodical payments and covers diminution, loss and abolition of emoluments. I would think that these are things which come within the general understanding of the purpose of workers’ compensation. However, I am in good company because I have the Parliamentary draftsman with me.
– The Minister has not heard it called a pension before.
– No, but I know it is a payment and I have sufficient experience of life to know how it applies.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill substantially completes the revision of the Statute law of the Commonwealth made necessary as a consequence of the adoption by Australia of the system of decimal currency. The Currency Act 1965, which came into operation on C Day - 1 4th February 1966 - requires references in Acts to amounts of money in £.s.d. currency to be read as references to the equivalent amounts in decimal currency. The Currency Act 1965, however, does not effect a textual alteration of the£.s.d. references. The purpose of the Bill is to amend each reference to its decimal currency equivalent so that, when Acts are reprinted, money references can be expressed in decimal currency terms. Honorable senators will recall that, towards the end of last year, the Parliament passed a number of Bills which amended references in Acts to amounts of money that did not convert into convenient decimal currency amounts. During the current year, the opportunity has been taken to include in a number of amending Acts the amendments relating to decimal currency required to be made to the principal Acts amended.
The Bill converts each reference to an amount of money into its exact decimal currency equivalent; no substantive alteration is made to any amount. For example, the general rate of tax of1s. 3d. per gallon of diesel fuel imposed by the Diesel Fuel Tax Acts is amended by the Bill to its exact equivalent - 12½ cents. Honorable senators will notice that 1st December 1966 has been fixed as the main date for the commencement of the Act. This date has been chosen because it is expected that the Bills currently before the Parliament that are amended by this Bill will be assented to before that date. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Willesee) adjourned.
Consideration of House of Representatives’ message (vide page 1214).
Clause 5. (1.) After section55 of the Principal Act the following Part is inserted: -
” (6.) Notwithstanding anything contained in the preceding provisions of this section, a law of a Territory may restrict entitlement to practise as a barrister or solicitor in the Territory to persons who have been admitted so to practise by the Supreme Court of the Territory and, where a law of a Territory contains such a restriction, subsections (1.) to (4.), inclusive, of this section do not apply in relation to practice in the Territory. “ (7.) Nothing in this section applies in relation to practice in a federal court.
Senate’s amendment -
Leave out sub-section (6.) of proposed section 55d.
House of Representatives’ amendment -
Omit sub-sections (6.) and (7.) of proposed section 55d, insert the following sub-sections: - “‘(6.) Where-
a law of a Territory contains provisions of the kind referred to in the last preceding sub-section; and
under those provisions, any person referred to in sub-section (1.) of this section who duly applies to the Supreme Court of that Territory to be admitted to practise as a barrister and solicitor in that Territory and satisfies that Court that he is of good fame and character is entitled, notwithstanding that he may reside or practise in a State or in another Territory -
to be admitted to practise as a barrister and solicitor in the first-mentioned Territory; and
upon being so admitted, to practise in that Territory, subject only to the same conditions and requirements as apply to other persons admitted to practise in that Territory. sub-sections (1.) to (4.), inclusive, of this section do not apply in relation to practice in that Territory. “’ (7.) Nothing in this section applies in relation to practice in a federal court or to practice in the Territory of Papua, the Territory of New Guinea or the Territory of Nauru.’ “.
– I move -
That the Committee does not insist upon the amendment disagreed to by the House of Representatives, and agrees to the amendment made by the House in place thereof.
In view of the technicality of the amendments, I think that I should make some reference to the history of this matter. The Judiciary Bill was required so that Territory practitioners as well as State practitioners would have a right to practise in the High Court and other Federal courts. Solicitors in the Australian Capital Territory who relied on Victorian admission were unable to get Victorian practising certificates once they ceased to practice in Victoria. Although Territory legislation could directly permit practice in the Territory, it could not permit practice in the High Court. There the absence of a Stale practising certificate was fatal, because the Chief Justice ruled that a solicitor without a practising certificate was not “entitled to practise” within the meaning of section 49 of the Judiciary Act.
After discussion with the Chief Justice, the Bill cured this position by allowing Territory practitioners to rely, in federal courts, directly on their Territory right to practise. The opportunity was taken in the Bill to try to prepare the ground for the profession in the Territories to be established on a permanent basis as had been done many years ago in the States, lt was thought that the identity and status of the profession in a Territory should be marked by local admission thereby establishing the direct court-practitioner relationship familiar in the States. There was never any intention to have a closed shop in the Territories. The Bill was designed to permit reciprocity of admission between States and Territories to be required by Territory law. However, the Bill as drawn, if its use were carried to an end point, could have been used to introduce a closed shop. The Senate’s rejection of this is accepted in the House of Representatives amendments which 1 shall now explain.
One of the consequences of the present sub-section (I.) of section 49 of the Judiciary Act is that any person entitled to practise as a barrister or solicitor or both in any State has, subject to complying with sub-section (2.) of that section, the right to practise in any court of a Territory. Under sub-section (I.) of the new section 55D proposed to be inserted by the Judiciary Bill 1966, one of the consequences would be that the present right would be somewhat extended, that is to say, any person whose name is on the roll of barristers, of solicitors, of barristers and solicitors, or of legal practitioners of a Supreme Court would be entitled to practise as a barrister and solicitor in any Territory.
However, the policy expressed in the Bill as originally passed by the House of Repre sentatives is thai it should be possible for each Territory to attain the position of having its own system of admission of barristers and solicitors and of requiring admission in that Territory as a condition of practising in that Territory. This was achieved in the Bill by sub-section (5.) providing that nothing in the section would prevent a Territory law setting up a system of admission of barristers and solicitors. Sub-section (6.) provided expressly that the law of a Territory might restrict entitlement to practise as a barrister or solicitor in the Territory to persons who had been admitted to practice by the Supreme Court of the Territory and that, where the law of the Territory contained such a restriction, sub-section (1.) would not apply.
The Senate amendment deleted the proposed sub-section (6.). If the Bill became law as amended by the Senate, it would not be possible for the law of a Territory to require a barrister or solicitor of a State to be admitted in that Territory as a condition of practice in that Territory. A proposal that can be put forward without basic inconsistency with the Senate’s view is that local admission be provided for, while at the same time assuring to State practitioners the right of admission. The right of admission would not be affected by any lack of reciprocity from the States, and it would be specifically provided that residence or practice outside the Territory would be immaterial. Interstate practitioners once admitted in a Territory would be no worse off than local practitioners, but they would be no better off, and they would have to comply with local rules. In the States, admission does not guarantee the right to practise as a solicitor, because there are requirements as to trust accounts and so on. The position should be the same in a Territory so long as there is no discrimination against person who practise or reside outside the Territory. This proposal was arrived at by the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) after considering the views of the Law Council of Australia, the Law Society of the Australian Capital Territory, the Law Society of New South Wales, and the Law School of the Australian National University.
The Attorney-General moved, therefore, and the House of Representatives adopted. amendments on the Senate amendment which give effect to the proposal I mentioned and enable the law of a Territory to require admission in the Territory as a condition of practice in the Territory, but at the same time ensure that the right of a State practitioner to practise in the Territory pursuant to sub-section (1.) of section 55d is only capable of being displaced by a Territory law which expressly entitles any of the persons mentioned in sub-section (1.), including a barrister or solicitor of a State, to be admitted in the Territory and, upon being so admitted, to practise in that Territory subject only to the same conditions and requirements as would apply to other persons admitted to practice in that Territory.
Since the Judiciary Bill was first introduced, the Attorney-General has had the opportunity of receiving representations concerning the position in regard to the Territories of Papua and New Guinea and of Nauru. It is felt that there is not the same necessity for the proposed provisions to apply in regard to Papua and New Guinea and to Nauru and that, on the other hand, in the peculiar circumstances of these Territories, there are strong reasons why the local legislatures should be able to make exclusive provisions in regard to legal practice. It is proposed, therefore, by an amendment to the original proposed subsection (7.) of section 55d to ensure that the provisions of section 55d would not apply at all in respect of those Territories, leaving the legislatures of those Territories completely free to deal exclusively with matters relating to legal practice within those Territories. I think I should say that the present laws of those Territories give practitioners of the States a right of admission comparable to that guaranteed to them in other Territories by the House of Representatives amendments. I commend the House of Representatives amendments to the Senate.
– The Opposition is willing to accept the amendment proposed by the Government. The Senate will recall that on 26th April this yearI, on behalf of the Opposition, moved an amendment to this Bill which was carried by the Senate. Senators Gair, McManus, Turnbull,
Withers and Wright supported the Opposition. The amendment had the effect of deleting an obnoxious part of the Bill. The obnoxious clause would in substance permit the making of a law of a Territory which would enable the exclusion from the Territory of legal practitioners registered outside the Territory.
Such a law would be objectionable for a number of reasons. It would deprive the citizens of the Territory of the right of competent legal assistance from outside the Territory. It also would offend against the basic feature of our Constitution, that is, that we are one Commonwealth. In its general tenor and in certain specific sections, such as sections 90, 92 and 117, our citizens are guaranteed that no barriers, physical or legal, are to be placed about any part of the States. It is the duty of this Parliamentto see that no such barrier is placed around any such Territory within the Commonwealth. We have done so. The Senate has deleted the offending provision and the House of Representatives does not seek to replace it. The House has sent us instead a proposal which ensures that no Territorial law - that is, regulation or other law - of the type to which the Senate was opposed can be passed. That appears clearly from the proposal which was sent forward. For the sake of those who may read this I shall refer to it in detail. It is in these terms -
a law of a Territory contains provisions of thekind referred to in the last preceding sub-section.
That last preceding sub-section provides for the admission by the Supreme Court of the Territory of persons to practice as barristers or solicitors, or as both, in the Territory and for the suspension or discontinuance of their entitlement to practice -
That is, people whose name is on the roll of barristers and solicitors of the High Court or whose name is on the roll of barristers, of solicitors, of barristers and solicitors or of legal practitioners of the Supreme Court of a State or Territory - who duly applies to the Supreme Court of that Territory to be admitted to practise as a barrister and solicitor in that Territory and satisfies that Court that he is of good fame and character is entitled, notwithstanding that he may reside or practise in a State or in another Territory -
If those conditions are satisfied, then the provisions of sub-sections (1.) to (4.) do not apply, if those conditions are not satisfied, the provisions of sub-sections (1.) to (4.) will apply. That will mean in substance that those persons registered in the courts of the States or Territories or on the roll of the High Court are at liberty to practice without any necessity to be admitted.
This meets the requirements of the Senate so far as preventing a closed shop arising in the Territories is concerned. It is important, however, to observe that this Bill does not entitle practitioners registered elsewhere - that is, in some other Territory or State - to practise in a Territory. It entitles them to be admitted to practise. We would expect that the provisions for admission would be simple, expeditious and inexpensive. Any procedure which involved delay or expense would not be regarded as being in accordance with the wishes, certainly of the Opposition and, as I conceive it, of the Senate. This is a provision which will enable persons in a Territory to have control of those who practise in that Territory. That is a proposition which has never been opposed by the Opposition. We take the view that there should be provision for the discipline of practitioners who may be entitled to practise in the Supreme Court of a Territory, irrespective of whether they are admitted by that Territory, and that there should be proper control over those who engage in legal practise.
If the right to be admitted to practise is administered reasonably and fairly and not with any undue delay, formality or expense, the whole of what I put on the earlier occasion is met. It would be expected that the provisions as to formality and so on would be met in a fair administration of this enactment, so we do not see any need to oppose what has been put forward by the Government. We have established something which is far more important than the right of legal practitioners to practise in any Territory. There is the right of persons to be able to secure the competent legal assistancethey may want even if it comes from outside the Territory. But far more important is the principle that we have seen established by this rejection by the Senate and the acceptance in principle by the House of Representatives. That principle is that barriers are not to be placed around the Territories; that the idea of the indissoluble Commonwealth is to be carried into effect; and that we will not put around the Territories physical barriers or legal barriers in relation to the practise of any profession or the conduct of any industry, let alone in matters of commerce. So it is with great pleasure that J, on behalf of the Opposition, welcome what has been done by the Government on this matter. The wishes of the Senate have been met. The further small steps simply call for fair administration.
However, a new matter is introduced, namely, Papua and New Guinea. From other measures that have been passing through this Parliament, it is clear that the ground is being laid for the complete severing of that Territory from the Commonwealth of Australia. The link in the form of the legal profession has been cut. Nothing in this Bill relates to practice in that Territory. These provisions, which will prevent a closed shop in other Territories, have no application in that Territory. It seems that the Territory of Papua and New Guinea will have to make its own provision in respect of people who will be entitled to practise there. Some action by the Territory and perhaps some arrangement between the Territory and the Commonwealth might well be called for if the citizens of the Territory are to be safeguarded properly during the emergence of a legal profession of sufficient numbers, which will take some time.
.- It is just six months since this chamber passed an amendment to the Bill which is now being considered and which has been returned to us from the House of Representatives. I rise to express the pleasure that I have in respect of the consultations that have been afforded by the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) to those who are interested in this matter. He has had consultations with the legal bodies concerned, which have a responsibility for the good conduct and efficiency of the profession in various fields. Honorable senators will remember that our amendment was simply designed to ensure that the legal profession, in the Australian Capital Territory, in the main, but in other mainland Territories also, should not be so constituted as to create a closed shop. 1 understood from what Senator Anderson said in introducing this message from the House of Representatives that it was acknowledged that that could have been done under the original Bill. The House of Representatives has been good enough to insert in the Bill a preferable form of expression of our purpose. The House of Representatives amendment enables the legal profession in the Australian Capital Territory to be constituted on the usual relationship between the court and the members of the profession, which I regard as essential to the discipline and good conduct of the profession; that is to say, a system of admission according to conditions and rules that will, no doubt, be laid down by the supreme court of the relevant Territory. Everybody expects that those rules and conditions will be proper, lt is very important that we should enable the profession to be constituted in that way, particularly on the barrister side as well as on the solicitor side.
It is almost an invariable condition of practice today in Australia that solicitors should maintain a trust fund to indemnify people who suffer loss through dishonesty of solicitors. I regard it as important - particularly in the Australian Capital Territory - that the profession should collaborate to ensure that protection of that type is established because, in the nature of things, in a growing centralised community, migratory units of the profession may be found who should be subject to the sort of provisions that I have mentioned.
Since the Bill has been amended, I have taken advantage of consultation with representatives of the legal profession in the A.C.T. I wish to express my gratitude to the President of the Solicitors’ Association and the President of the Bar Council in the A.C.T. for the courtesy and views they offered. By the acceptance of the House of
Representatives’ amendment, any practitioner of another court or of the High Court, of good fame, shall be admitted to the Supreme Court of a mainland Territory on the same terms and conditions as practitioners within those Territories. That is the substantial purpose of our deliberations. I am most grateful that the two Houses together, after six months’ consideration, are able to accept a provision that defines a common purpose to that effect. ] note, Mr. President, that delay of that consideration has led to the adoption of an entirely new provision which recognises that the professions in the external Territories of Australia are sui generis, with requirements of their own. In that I quite agree, although I still have the disquiet 1 expressed with regard to Papua and New Guinea in respect of the type of legislature that this Parliament saw fit to authorise there a few years ago. Before this week is over, this Parliament will be asked to accelerate and expand legislative and executive control. At this juncture, another view may be possible. 1 regard the judiciary system and legal administration of Papua and New Guinea as having their own special characteristics appropriate to the Territory, lt is proper that the people there should constitute their profession entirely on conditions that seem good to them. I have very much pleasure in acknowledging the acceptance by the House of Representatives of the substance” of our amendment, and the fact that the two Houses are able to agree upon this matter.
Senator ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Customs and Excise) [10.59J. - I think Senator Wright has answered the points raised by Senator Murphy. I wish to add only one point which is in fact spelt out in the amendment. Acceptance is based on a practitioner being of good fame. He is to be admitted to practice as a barrister in the Territory and upon being so admitted, he is subject only to the same conditions and requirements as applied to other persons admitted to practice in that Territory. I think that this is quite clear and, like Senator Murphy and Senator Wright, I am delighted that the two Houses have, hi a joint effort, arrived at an acceptable form of legislation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 19th October (vide page 1204), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the Bill be now rend a second time.
.- The purpose of this Bill is to appropriate a sum of money and to pay it to the States of New South Wales and Queensland to help them financially because of the drought that has existed in both those States for a long period. Money obviously has been required from the Commonwealth to relieve the distress that has been caused by the drought. The amount provided in this Bill is comparatively small, totalling $10,750,000, but it is not repayable. In other words the Commonwealth Government is, through this legislation, granting to two States a greater sum of money than those States would normally obtain under the lax reimbursement formula. However, tax reimbursement is not specifically related to drought relief. If we sought to be particular in discussing this Bill we would want to know that there had actually been a drought in New South Wales and Queensland, but we have had ample evidence placed before us in the last 12 months that the drought has raged for at least two years.
The second reading speech of the Minister for Supply (Senator Henty) is an example of fogginess. It was a small second reading speech and apparently whoever wrote it was not clear about what has been done in the past, because he referred to sums that have been paid and he mentioned the total sum that will be paid to the States this year. A few sentences would have cleared the issue. It was not necessary for the Minister to engage in a foggy second reading speech to enlighten the Senate as to what the proposals of the Government are.
The Minister did state definitely that in 1965-66 a total of $21,700,000 was paid to New South Wales and Queensland and that for the current financial year a sum of $35,000,000 will be made available. Of that $35 million, the amount of $10,750,000 mentioned in this appropriation bill will be a part. I could leave the matter at that and say before I sit down that the Opposition does not oppose the measure, but I propose to say something about the drought.
Listening to debates, one wonders whether honorable senators are really aware of the effects of the drought upon Queensland and New South Wales. Of course, the general economy of the Commonwealth has been seriously affected as a direct result of the drought. 1 heard it said not so long ago that the Commonwealth should set about building a new and permanent Parliament House. I wholeheartedly agree with that statement, but I would add “ in another 10 years or 15 years”. Let us get over this terrible drought first. Queensland will not get over its drought troubles for another four or five years at least. It is impossible for Queensland to do so. In the circumstances it is no good talking about commencing the construction of edifices that are not actually required.
The drought was a very serious one. The drought experienced in Queensland in 1965 was one of the most severe, widespread and devastating ever recorded. In western areas from Bedourie to Urandangie it was a continuation of severe drought conditions in 1964 and in the far south west was the culmination of many years of drought and semi drought conditions. Fortunately, planting rains suitable for winter cereals were received and reasonably satisfactory harvests were made. At the beginning of July 1965 almost the entire area south of the 20th parallel and west of the Great Dividing Range was drought stricken and in the pastoral regions only the Gulf, Peninsula and limited southern areas had favorable conditions. Stock losses were very heavy. Estimates show a reduction of half a million cattle in the 12 months preceding 31st March 1966. Approximately 5,620,000 sheep perished also. Other short term effects of the drought were the premature slaughter of many animals including dairy cattle, for salvage value, and heavy losses of new born calves and lambs. Dairy production suffered severely. Decreases compared with production in the previous year - itself partly a drought year - were: Butter 5 per cent and cheese 8 per cent.
There is no doubt that the drought had a serious effect on the incomes of many primary producers in Queensland and consequently, the revenues of the Commonwealth and the States suffered. It is well known that the drought is still occuring in Queensland. It so happens that a few years ago legislation was introduced in Queensland regarding this situation. It was called “ The Drought Relief to Primary Producers Acts, 1940 to 1961.” It is kept up to date. It was found essential to have this act to deal with drought relief.
There was also established in 1965 a drought relief scheme for the benefit of dairy farmers and cane growers. It was found necessary greatly to extend that scheme so that other primary producers could obtain relief loans. 1 wish to quote from a report. 1 know something about Queensland procedures and 1 am able to quote the following from a report published in that State -
Dairy farmers have been able to obtain fodder for their stock up to a maximum value of $2,000 but. if they desired, they were permitted to use $600 of that amount for the purchase of seed, fertiliser and fuel for planting fodder crops. Cane growers received loans of up to $2000 for the planting of crops for harvest in 1966 and 1967 and up to $1000 for sustenance. These loans are interest free until 1st July 1967, from which date outstanding balances will attract interest at the rate of 3i per cent, per annum. Repayments will bc made by assignment of a percentage of dairy and cane returns.
The report continues -
Other primary producers (mostly graziers) have been granted loans of up to $6,000 to meet living and working expenses, and up to $10,000 is available to stockowners towards the cost of restocking their properties when seasonal conditions improve.
Perhaps there was never a worse picture painted of the effects of the drought than that painted in the quotations I have made from that report.
Let me now mention the funds that were made available for drought relief. From this information the Senate will be able to deduce the situation that exists in a general way in Queensland. In 1940 the total amount advanced under the Drought Relief to Primary Producers Act was $54,409. In 1946 the amount advanced was $755,412; in 1951, §523,355; in 1957, §736,024; in 1960, 5169,695 and in 1964, $85,600. In 1965, when Queensland went head first into the drought, the amount advanced increased to $3,047,697. The amounts I have just mentioned were advanced by the Queensland Agricultural Bank for the purpose of drought relief. If the farming community is not in receipt of income the finances of the State are seriously affected. An appropriation bill of the kind we are debating to make grants available to the States of New South Wales and Queensland and so increase the funds available for general purposes is necessary. As I said a while ago, the Bill is not opposed.
– in reply. - I am very grateful to the Opposition for its assistance in having the Bill dealt with speedily at the second reading stage. Obviously, all honorable senators are heartily behind the measures that have been adopted, not only by this Government but also by the Queensland Government and the New South Wales Government, to render assistance to those who ‘have been unfortunate enough to require that assistance. The aid that has been provided on this occasion is unparalleled. It shows that at long last the Governments- of the two States I have mentioned and the Commonwealth Government have realised the importance of primary industry to the Australian economy.
Senator Benn said that it will take quite a number of years, particularly for graziers, to overcome the effects of the drought. That is quite true. Fortunately, some people in Queensland and in New South Wales look like getting out of their difficulties reasonably quickly. I refer in particular to the grain growers, lt seems that in New South Wales there will be a record wheat crop. But the grazier and the meat producer will not be in this happy position. 1 hope that the Bill will be accorded a speedy passage through the Committee stage, too.
Question resloved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 19th October (vide page 1204), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition does not oppose the Bill. However, there are a couple of comments that 1 should like to make, lt is proposed that electric fans and air conditioners of a type ordinarily used for household purposes be taxed at a rate of 2i per cent, in common with the majority of household appliances. It is proposed also to give effect to the intention of section 29 of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies Act 1964 by relieving vendors of liability for tax on goods purchased by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, thereby ensuring that the Institute does not have to bear sales tax on its purchases.
The proposals contained in the Bill have been raised on many occasions in both houses by the Australian Labour Party. We have been critical of the delay in giving effect to them. According to the notes that have been distributed, this legislation will result in a loss of revenue of $1 million in a full year. 1 suggest that this loss of revenue will not be quite as great as the Government expects it to be, because the sales tax concession will enable more householders to purchase additional fans and instal air conditioning equipment. There is only one other matter that perhaps I should mention. I do not know whether everyone is aware of this, but people living in remote areas pay sales tax on articles of this kind in accordance with their landed cost. Freight charges are added to the actual cost of an article and sales tax is then assessed on the total. This is something that should be looked at in the future.
Those are the only remarks that I. have to make about this measure. The people of the northern areas of this country will appreciate the concession that has been extended. If the Government anticipates a substantial loss of revenue from the reduction of these sales tax rates, then may I remind it that additional sales will probably more than make up for this loss eventually.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 19th October (vide page 1205), on motion by Senator McKellar-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- On 26th November next there will be held a general election of members of the House or Representatives, and at that election there will be chosen senators to hold the places of senators who have died or resigned until the expiration of the terms for which they were elected. The untimely passing this week of our esteemed colleague, Senator Sandford, has brought home to us that it is an extremely important measure that we now have before us. There will be elections lo fill casual vacancies in four States. There will be one vacancy to be filled in Queensland, one in New South Wales and two in Western Australia. We had thought that there would be one in Victoria but the position now is that there will be two.
The Government has in recent times been looking at the legislation and it has been discovered - whether it has been discovered for the first time or whether force of the discovery has just been brought home 1 do not know - that the present Senate Elections Act deals only with senators who are elected to fill casual vacancies at an election of senators. Section 4 of the Senate Elections Act says -
When at an election of Senators for a State to fill periodical vacancies one or more Senators are to be elected to fill casual vacancies the provisions of this Act shall apply.
Section 5 of the Senate Elections Act says -
The election of Senators to fill the periodical vacancies and of Senators to fill the casual vacancies shall bc conducted as one election of Senators.
The elections for the Senate and the House of Representatives have been held on most occasions simultaneously over the years. But the harmony was thrown out in 1963 when the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, decided that a general election should be held for the House of Representatives in that year - one year prematurely. As a consequence, a Senate election had to be held in 1964 and a Senate election will have to be held before 30lh June 1968.
The present BMI which the Government has introduced is designed to deal with the situation we have this year when there is not an election for casual vacancies at an election of senators for a State, but an election to fill Senate casual vacancies at a general election for the House of
Representatives. Clause 5 (2.) of the Bill provides -
Where there arc two or more casual vacancies in the places of Senators for a State, the elections to till those vacancies shall be conducted as one election.
Sub-clause (1.) provides -
This Act applies when one or more Senators for a State arc, at a general election of Members of the Mouse of Representatives, to be elected to fill casual vacancies.
The Opposition supports this measure which is timely and which will deal with a situation which has been exposed in recent times and on which obviously it was necessary to move.
I do not propose to deal in detail with the provisions of the Bill. The primary provisions are set out in clauses 5, 6 and 7. The Bil! provides for what is to happen in the event of there just being sufficient nominations to rill vacancies, lt deals with a situation where there arc simultaneous elections to fill a short term casual vacancy and a long term casual vacancy within the meaning of the present Act. You even have the situation where if you had a long term vacancy and a short term vacancy and two nominations, you would need to have an election in order to determine which of those elected would take the long term vacancy and which would take the short term vacancy. These are proper provisions and they will, 1 think, adequately meet the situation that has been thrown up by the elections for the House of Representatives and the Senate being thrown out of plumb.
As has been explained by the Minister, clause 7 of the Bill provides for a conditional resignation where there is a senator who is a candidate and who seeks election for a term longer than the one for which he has previously been elected or appointed. I think that the Bill deals adequately with that situation. We support the Bill. We think it is unfortunate that in recent times the Government has seen fit to throw out of gear the elections for the Senate and the House of Representatives. At some time, perhaps in the not too distant future, the dates of the elections for the Senate and the House of Representatives will, we hope, be brought together. Of course, that cannot be achieved by this measure. This Bill deals - and we think properly - with a situation that has arisen.
.- I regret that in this Bill we have one more instance of the habit of the Government in dealing with changes in the Commonwealth Electoral Act piecemeal instead of doing what ought to be done - making an examination of the Act as a whole.
– 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, my reason for speaking on the motion for the adjournment is to draw the attention of the Government to the plight of the Aborigines of the Northern Territory. There are a number of problems and I want to refer to some of them in detail as an example of what is confronting these people today. It is obvious that unless the Opposition, union representatives and some other interested parties speak up on behalf of these people it is unlikely that the Government will take much notice at this time, because this is a vital and controversial question arising on the eve of a Federal election. Like other controversial questions at this time it is likely to be swept beneath the political carpet.
The position of these people has been further confused by the decision earlier this year to pay wages at the full award rate progressively over a period. One of the problems is that the pastoralists and others resent this very much. Consequently, some terms have been inserted in the agreement that will allow people to be classified as slow workers and so on, so that in fact they will not be paid the full rate. The position has been further aggravated by a notice appearing in the Northern Territory Government Gazette for 21st October. I want to refer to the definition of wards but first I will give some of the wage rates that will be paid as from 1st November this year. It is significant that the Gazette makes no reference to the ultimate payment of the full rates. The Gazette notice specifies the wages payable to be -
subject to paragraph (b) ofthis notice, in the case of an adult ward, the amount specified opposite the name of the industry or calling -
in the case of a ward who is not an adult -
I will quote in a moment some of the wages to be paid for various callings under this order. There appears to be a lot of confusion as to who can be properly described as a ward. It is significant that the people employed in the pastoral industry seem to be generally classified as wards. In the agricultural industry the adult male rate is $6.90 per week and for females it is $4.35. There are rates set out for females employed as domestics, and in the fishing industry, the pastoral industry and in industries not otherwise specified in the Gazette. The rate for females in all these cases is $4.35 a week. The following weekly rates apply for males in the various industries: Building industry, $14.65; domestics, $6.90; droving, with plant and stock, $27.50; droving, with plant only, $14.50; fishing, $12.05; mining, surface work, $6.90; mining, underground, $17.20; municipal, $10.80; pastoral $14.50; pearling, $12.05; timber, $6.90; transport, $6.90; and other industries and callings, $6.90. There is no suggestion in the scale that the wage rate will be increased in accordance with statements that were made earlier this year.
The worst cases of exploitation of the Aborigines are in the pastoral industry. The North Australian Workers Union has sug gested that a royal commission into all the problems associated with the welfare of Aborigines would probably be the answer. This was supported in a Press statement yesterday by the endorsed Australian Labour Party candidate for the Northern Territory. If a royal commission were appointed, no doubt some of the revelations would shock Australia.
The figures given in the “ Gazette “ would appear to be the full wages, but in fact some of these rates are subject to deductions for keep and these lower the rates. A comparison between the rates I have quoted and the male adult basic wage for the Territory yields some fantastic results. The Lord only knows the male rate is low enough at $34.70 for. say, a surface worker in the mining industry. That is the pay an adult male would receive, but the rate for an Aboriginal is $6.90. The difference there is quite large.
It is difficult to ascertain the total number of Aborigines living in the Territory because no proper census is taken. There are estimated to be between 14,000 and 16,000 although the International Statistics of Population show that the number could be much higher. In 1961, when half castes and full bloods were included, the number was believed to be 19,704. However, we will not quarrel about the exact number of Aborigines. The fact is that these people are human beings, even if their skin is not as white as ours. They are entitled to be treated as human beings and to be paid a wage which will enable them to keep themselves and their families in dignity. I am further informed by the Union that of these people who have to live and work in the Territory, only 200 adults in fact receive the award wage or higher.
I want to refer to a number of problems associated with the Aborigines and I shall give a few examples which are only a cross section of the problems. I shall put these cases in the form of questions with a request that the Government answer them and state what it intends to do before the Federal election. A government school has been built at Wave Hill. I understand it cost in the vicinity of $60,000 but to date there is no teacher for the school. We have another example of a person who has been declared to be a citizen of Australia. He has been employed by various branches of the
Department of Territories including the Forestry and Welfare Branches but has not been paid the full award rate in spite of the fact that he has been declared a citizen. The excuse of the Administration was that he was not an employee; yet when this matter was raised with one branch of the Department, the officers obviously became upset and sacked him even though they said he was not an employee. The armed forces at Darwin have numerous employees in various categories. Segregation is quite commonly practised. So far as I can ascertain, not one of these people, male or female, is receiving the ordinary adult wage. Yet they must have some status because they need lo have a leave pass in order lo move in this area. I should like to mention also a matter lo which I referred earlier, lt is significant that all wards appear to bp employed on pastoral properties, ls this to protect the pastoralists? I. shall have something more to say about this in a few moments. Pastoralists are by no means on the breadline. Figures can be produced to show that the pastoral industry would nol become bankrupt if employees in the industry were paid a decent wage.
According to the agricultural economist, J. H. Kelly, who recently wrote a fairly well documented book, if adequately improved and managed the Wave Hill property, the area of one of the recent disputes or one of the continuing disputes, would safely carry 50.000 head of cattle, turning off al the rate of 9,000 head annually and worth a total of approximately $450,000 if sold at $50 per head. Again, according to Mr. Kelly, in 1963 Vestey’s pastoral superintendent stated that Wave Hill could then turn off 8,000 head of cattle annually. Consequently, it is reasonable to assume that with proper management a turn-off of 9.000 head per year would not be impossible. Much has been made of the accommodation problem on pastoral properties. I refer again to statements about the property at Wave Hill. I believe it is only fair that it should be known that some of the so-called better class huts in this area which are occupied by pensioners were built by money taken from their pensions.
J think it would be appropriate for the Government to ascertain from the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Sinclair) who obtains the child endowment, maternity allowances, age pensions and unemployment and sickness benefits when the Department pays these amount in bulk cheques to station owners and managers. In a statement which I have here a Mr. Morris admits that some of the things to which I have referred do occur. If all this money is eventually paid in some way to the Aborigines, I suppose that although the practice of sending the benefits to the station owners or managers cannot be condoned, at least no dishonesty is involved. However, I want to be sure that the people to whom the payments are supposed to be made in fact ultimately receive the payments. There are further allegations which state that in at least one case a mission station collects the total wages of about 12 employees of the Department of Works who receive the full basic wage. Perhaps it is true that the mission is saving the money for these people, but there must come a time in our society - 1 feel that the time should be now - when these people are treated as proper members of the community and are enttiled to all the benefits that we expect and that we enjoy.
I refer now to another person, Charlie Walalugari of Elliott, who was disabled in 1946 and has an arm which he is not able use. He was formerly a stockman. Although the arm was seriously disabled, so far he has nol been paid any compensation or pension. People interested in his case have tried to obtain some payment for him. On the first occasion when representations were made on his behalf they were told that he was not old enough to obtain a pension. A search of the records in one area revealed that he was born in 1955, despite the fact that he had been injured in 1946. When this was queried a further search of records revealed that he was allegedly born in 1916. However, there are plenty of reliable witnesses who know him well and claim that he was born well over 60 years ago.
Another person, Mary Renner, also of. Elliott, has been unable to obtain a pension of any sort, although in this case there are plenty of reliable witnesses who can say that she also has reached the age at which she is entitled to a pension under the Act. A person named Reggie Goodjohnno was killed in an accident late in 1964 while employed at Newcastle Waters. His wife Shirley, whose tribal name is Bilowani, has as yet received no compensation or pension. There have been cases in the past in which, according to the laws of our society, pensions have been refused because couples allegedly have not been legally married. There is evidence that this couple was legally married at Roper River in accordance with the conventions that we .ourselves recognise, but to date, this woman has received no justice at all. I am not critical of the public service of the Territory, which consists in the main of first class people trying to do a job in very difficult circumstances, but it seems of more than passing significance that some of them - perhaps these are a minority - who appear to be sympathetic to the requirements of the Aborigines and who are very dedicated public servants endeavouring to carry out a very efficient job, are given two or three additional jobs so that they frequently become loaded down with work and frustration.
Another outstanding example that was brought to me in a message from the Territory today is that it is apparently common practice in many areas for pastoralists to charge $2 for 4 oz. plugs of tobacco, when the same type and quantity can be bought in Darwin for 90 cents. It is true that because of the jiggery pokery that goes on many of these people are not able to assess correctly for themselves the value of the goods that they are sold. Because of recent trouble, particularly in the pastoral industry, some of them have been wakened up - if I may use that expression - to some of the things that have been going on, and they find now, belatedly, that prices they were paying in the past for goods were exorbitant. They know that prices in excess of the ordinary retail prices were charged by the people who employed them. Many pastoralists, of course, make . the excuse that Aborigines have no interest in their work and at all times have to be supervised; that they are lazy and that they do not want to carry out a normal job. This is not true. There are plenty of Aborigines who are able to do a job very adequately, often without any supervision at all. There are just as many people in the community with pale skins who are lazy and who do not like doing a hard day’s work, but we hear no criticism of them.
A further complaint put to me by two or three people at least in recent days is that the drinking habits of the Aborigines are to be deplored. If an Aboriginal drinks to excess, he has counterparts in the white community who also drink to excess. Excessive drinking in this civilised day and age is looked upon moTe as a social disease than as something that ought to be condemned. So it is possible that these people suffer from the same problems as do other sections of the community. If a man is expected to rear a wife and family on an average wage of $3 or $4 a week - there are plenty of instances of this - obviously he is not able to provide for them adequately and somewhere along the line he will feel frustrated. He has to bear upon his shoulders all the problems associated with inadequate wages and salaries and inadequate housing. Finally, but by no means unimportantly, exploitation by bad whites of the native women in many centres is still occurring. The average male worker is worried by all these problems, and the responsibility is squarely on our shoulders to see that the problems are eliminated as soon as possible.
As recently as last week social service payments were refused to 38 Gurindji tribesmen who had been sacked by Vesteys at Wave Hill. They went on strike late in August in an effort to get wage justice and social justice for themselves and their families. They were subsequently sacked. There has been a fair bit of backing and filling, according to press reports, as to whether these people are being properly deprived of social service payments.
A further form of intimidation is practised by the Department against those who register for employment. They are told they can get work somewhere in the pastoral industry at starvation wages. Of course, these people have some sense of social responsibility to themselves and their families. They refuse to take work at starvation wages and they are then deprived of social services. Let me quote the following extract from the North Australian Workers’ Union “ Newsletter “ -
The Aborigines who are on strike are quite adamant that they will not return (o work until such time as the Management sees fit to pay them all full wages. This, one can understand, because you might as well sit down and starve like gentlemen, as work like a slave.
The Government has an obligation to bring social and economic equality lo Aborigines. This problem is very real in the Northern Territory. It is also very real in North Queensland and in Western Australia. Probably the most shabby exploitation is taking place in the pastoral industry in those three areas.
Recently we have seen a series of articles in the “ Australian “ and other newspapers, written by Christopher Forsyth. The following, which appeared in the “ Australian “ of 18th October last, is worth recording in “ Hansard “-
Before I left Wave Hill settlement, Mr. Ligniar asked mc to deliver this message, which was translated from his rough English with the help of Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey. It reveals how the Gurindjis are thinking. “ Fellow Citizen of Australia. We, the people of the Gurindji tribe, referred to in the Press recently as ‘ The Wave Hill Strikers ‘, wish to object to the use of this name with its political associations. “ We are grateful to the unions which have helped us, but the issue on which we are protesting is neither purely economic nor political but moral. “ We addressed you as fellow citizens, but our citizenship has not brought us the opportunity to live a decent life as co-citizens of our white Australian countrymen. “ Our award wage is $4.85 a week plus keep and housing; certain standards have been laid down regarding the food and housing given to us, but the Government has no power at present to enforce these, so our housing consists of a few shells of iron slung together in a kind of dog kennel. “ There is no sanitation, no provision for bathing or washing, no beds, no tables, no possibility of decency. Our food is beef and bread and not too much of that. “ Our hours during the cattle season are sunrise to sunset, seven day a week, but overtime is something we have only heard about. “’ You look forward with certainty to your pay envelope weekly or fortnightly, but we have no regular pay days, which makes it very difficult for us to reckon our pay. “ We are unfortunately not very good at arithmetic, but this is not surprising as our fathers didn’t receive any pay at all, so they didn’t have any means of teaching us how to reckon money. “For 85 years oar people have accepted these conditions and worse, but on August 22, 1966, the Gurindji tribe decided to cease to live like dogs and claim our simple right as human beings to a sense of pride and decency and an Australian ‘ fair go ‘. “ So please do not call us ‘ strikers ‘; we are people in search of our heritage; will you please help us to find it?”
We, in our capacity as represenatives of the people of this country, have a greater responsibility than others to see that these people find their heritage. I know that in a recent court case a certain representative of the pastoralists said that the stockmen would career off to catch a goanna instead of doing their work. I would say that this was essential because, having regard to the rations they were receiving, they would starve if they did not do so.
Our friend Mr. Morris, who has been actively associated with the pastoral industry for many years, wrote an article appearing in a recent issue of the “ Northern Territory News “ which, in an indirect way, admits that many of these accusations are correct. I will read only a couple of paragraphs to illustrate the point. They are in these terms -
In the cattle industry of North Australia it is common for both white and native employees to treat their employer as a banker. Most of their requirements are purchased on credit; cash is drawn when it is required. In the case of natives this is usually before walkabout or before a race meeting, or similar functions. It is easy to present these practices as objectionable to people who are not familiar wilh the accepted usage of the industry. White employees, of course, know exactly how they stand; individual accounts are kept for each Aboriginal and these are checked regularly by welfare officers. Not all Aborigines understand fully the basis on which they are paid.
It is significant that a large number of pastoralists in particular, and other employers in general, have taken full advantage of Aborigines who do not understand fully the basis on which they are paid.
The Government stands condemned. Perhaps a royal commission into all aspects of government administration in the Territory, as suggested by the North Australian Workers Union, is the only course remaining open. There are 278 properties in the Territory. I do not say by any means that the managers of those properties are all bad. There are some very good employers among them, but it is significant that the worst offenders are managers who operate for absentee landlords. They are the people who demand their pound of flesh; they are the people who demand the highest profits; they are the people who are the worst employers.
The onus is on the Minister who administers this Department to do his job. I feel that he has failed miserably in this task. I hope the Minister representing him in this chamber (Senator Gorton) will inform him of what I have said to this effect. If anything goes wrong in the overall administration of a department the blame obviously must come back to the Minister, but that is not happening in this case. The people concerned are not receiving justice and on their behalf, and on behalf of every decent thinking Australian, I make this appeal to the Government to do something immediately about this very urgent matter.
– 1 wish to direct the attention of the Senate to a matter which is causing considerable concern to the trade union movement, particularly in Western Australia. 1 refer to the treatment which certain employers engaged in various construction activities in the north of Western Australia are giving to their employees. The particular matter which is concerning the trade unions relates to indentured labour. A number of companies at present operating in the north of Western Australia and in the Northern Territory are recruiting labour overseas and bringing their new employees to Australia on the basis of contracts which are designed to evade the industrial laws and awards prevailing in this country. Many of the construction sites where these men are employed are far from the centres of trade union activity. It is seldom that the men at these places see a trade union organiser. Accordingly, it is very difficult for unions to police awards. In some instances, there is no relevant award. What is most serious is that in a number of instances, the persons employed have no understanding of Australian law or Australian industrial conditions. Indeed, many of them do not even understand the English language.
I have particulars of a number of individual cases that have been provided to me by trade unions in Western Australia. I shall not refer to them in any great detail. There is one rather typical example that I shall mention. It relates to a dispute that has been in progress in recent months in Darwin between the Western Australian State Committee of the Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society of Australia, which covers boilermakers and blacksmiths employed in the Northern Territory, and a company named Vogliotti and La Pura. The dispute arose from the fact that some boilermakers and welders had been brought out from Greece and had been working for $1.25 and less an hour for all hours work, inclusive of overtime hours. They received no overtime rate, no sick leave, no annual leave and no other fringe benefits. In the circumstances existing in Darwin, where the cost of living is very high, this was felt extraordinarily harshly. In fact, most of these workers were paying some $30 a week and more for normal accommodation.
I would like to refer to two employment contracts. One is a draft contract that has been used by Western Contracting Pty. Ltd., a United States company operating in the north of Western Australia. I would like to read two clauses from this draft contract. Clause 4, which relates to the terms of employment, provides -
The period of service hereunder shall be at the sole election of the Contractor who MAY TERMINATE THE SAME AT ANY TIME AT WILL, excepting only that after twelve (12) months continuous employment from the dale of leaving the Point of Hire, the Employee may terminate his employment hereunder by giving the Contractor written notice specifying the date upon which he desires to terminate his employment, which dale shall not be less than thirty (30) days after the date of delivery of such notice to the Contractor.
This means that the employer can terminate the contract at any time. The employee cannot, within the first year of his employment, terminate the contract, but after he has completed one year’s employment he may terminate the contract on 30 days’ notice. The clause continues -
If the contract between the Contractor and the Client is terminated, it is agreed that all provisions of this agreement are automatically cancelled and the Contractor will be responsible only for Employee’s transportation to the point of origin via the most economical and expeditious means of transportation as well as wages while returning.
The contractor is liable to nothing else. Clause 7 deals with compensation and sickness benefits and states -
Compensation benefits shall be paid in accordance with and subject to the limitations of the Workers’ Compensation Act or any similar legislation in the Australian State or Territory in question as the sole remedy of the Employee for any illness or injury, however caused, arising out of, or in the course of employment under this Agreement.
This is clearly meant to deprive the worker of the right to take civil action for damages. I think it could well be argued that this contract has no validity. The men brought to Western Australia from overseas by this company would have a very slender knowledge of the law. I imagine that a great many of them would not know their rights under the ordinary law of the country and would not know that this contract is not really binding on them. The clause goes on -
To the extent permitted by law, the Employee waives any statutory or other right to sick pay, provided that the Contractor shall pay the Employee at the above-mentioned straight hourly time rate for time lost because of illness or accident for a maximum of eight (8) hours per day for a maximum of five (5) scheduled working days in any year. Such periods of five (5) days shall be pro-rated for any fraction of a calendar year.
And so the contract goes on.
I come now to what I believe is an even more glaring example of this sort of thing. 1 have a translation of a contract that was entered into in Italy between an Italian company - Electric Power Transmission Pty. Ltd. - which has an office in Sydney and is also working in Western Australia - and Mr. Elio Tavola, an electrician.
– Are these matters of State industrial conditions?
– Not necessarily. If the honorable senator will hear me through, I will explain what I am endeavouring to put forward. The contract between Electric Power Transmission Pty. Ltd. and Mr. Tavola says -
Electric Power Transmission Pty. Ltd Society with office in Sydney, Australia, hereinafter referred to briefly as the “ Society “, is prepared to engage Mr. Elio Tavola in the capacity of electrician for the construction works in the Hamersley zone in the State of Western Australia, at the following conditions:
Mr. Elio Tavola pledges himself to perform commendably his activities exclusively in favour of the Society for a period that will be considered necessary by the Society to the limit of eighteen months from the date of arrival in Australia.
The date of departure shall be established by the Society and the voyage will be made by air or by sea - economy class (to the Society’s discretion). The Society will provide to the payment of Mr. Elio Tavola transfer expenses from Italy to Australia and it will reserve the same treatment in his favour for the return voyage provided that, according to the exclusive judgment of the Society, Mr. Elio Tavola has commendably performed his activities for the whole of the period referred to in paragraph 1.
Payment will be settled on the basis established by ruling employment contracts in the Hamersley zone in the State of Western Australia.
These contracts provide a total of sixty working hours weekly - excepting reductions for unforeseen causes - at the rates and conditions as per attached list.
The conditions in the attached list provide overtime payment on the basis of time and a half for the first four hours after the eight daily hours worked and double time for successive hours; time and a half for the first four hours and double time for successive hours on Saturday; and double time for hours worked on Sunday and other holidays. The translation of the contract continues -
That seems to be quite meaningless. It goes on -
The foregoing will take effect even in the case that Mr. Elio Tavola should consider it convenient to interrupt, for any reason whatsoever, the employment relation established in paragraph 1.
I refer to these matters because there has been considerable discussion of northern development in this Parliament, in the Parliament of Western Australia and possibly in other State Parliaments. 1 do not think it is good enough for either this Government or the Western Australian Government to say that certain projects are being undertaken in the undeveloped parts of the north of Australia unless at the same time those Governments are taking steps to see that proper Australian working conditions are provided for the people who are working in those areas. It will be an impossible situation if we build up the economy on the basis of cheap, virtually slave labour, which is almost all that can be said of the terms of that Electric Power Transmission Pty. Ltd. contract.
Prosperity is meaningless if it is not shared by the great mass of the people. At the present time South Africa is enjoying what we are told is a boom. There is tremendous construction and building expansion on the Rand and in other parts of South Africa. But, of course, that means nothing to the great majority of the African people of South Africa because they do not share in it. It will be equally bad if the people who are helping to develop the north of this country do not share in the prosperity that they have helped to create. As Senator Wright pointed out by way of interjection, a number of these matters are covered by State industrial law. Some are covered by Commonwealth industrial law. The fact remains that in many instances these workers, having come to Australia from other countries, are not familiar with our laws. As they work in places remote from centres of trade union activity, the trade unions are not able to police working conditions. I make a plea, at the request of a substantial section of the trade union movement in Western Australia’, that the Federal Government, before permitting contracts, of the kind to which I have referred, to be entered into, will take care to see that the foreign companies which it is permitting to undertake developmental work of the kind mentioned, do not bring into the country cheap indentured labour, resulting in the undermining of the working conditions of Australians and the establishing virtually of a slave labour economy in the north of this Commonwealth.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 12.11 a.m. (Wednesday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 October 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1966/19661025_senate_25_s32/>.