26th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIlin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the attention of the Minister been drawn to a statement by Mr R. C. Sprigg, a geologist oceanographer, which appeared in the Adelaide ‘Sunday Mail’ of last Sunday and in which Mr Sprigg said that unless Australia acted immediately it would lose enormous fishing grounds to the Russians, Japanese and Koreans? Will the Minister consult with those concerned with the fishing industry with a view to establishing an Australian fishing fleet using mother ships with the existing small vessels to explore the Australian fishing potential and to prevent the development of the situation to which Mr Sprigg referred?
– My attention was not drawn to the article mentioned by the honourable senator. I will convey the suggestion that he has made to the Minister for Primary Industry.
– Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate advise whether the Loder Committee report has been declared a secret document for defence and security reasons? Will he advise also the cost of the report to the Australian taxpayer under the following headings: fees and expenses, if any, paid to Sir Louis Loder, fees and expenses paid to other members of the Committee, travelling and accommodation expenses, salaries and expenses paid to public servants assisting with the report, and printing expenses?
- Senator Keeffe asked me a question on this matter recently. I supplied him with an answer in writing. That is the only answer that I, as the representative in this chamber of the Minister for National Development within whose authority this matter comes, can make at the moment. The honourable senator has this reply in writing, and I am sure that it is satisfactory to him.
– My question is to the Minister for Customs and Excise and refers to an article in yesterday’s issue of the ‘Canberra Times’ which relates to what the article calls the book piracy emanating from some Asian countries. Can the Minister say whether this book piracy is becoming a menace to the Australian publishing industry and, if it is, what steps are being taken to deal with the matter?
– I have seen the article to which the honourable senator refers. In fact, I have a copy of it with me. When I saw the article, I initiated some inquiries in my Department. The facts are that no recent representations have been made to me that the pirating by Asian publishers of copyright works is causing injury to the Australian publishing industry. Provision does exist under the Copyright Act whereby imported infringements of copyrights registered in Australia may be dealt with as prohibited imports. This provision requires the owner to give notice in writing to the Comptroller-General of Customs and Excise that he objects to the importation of such goods and to indemnify the Comptroller-General for the reimbursement of expenses and damages incurred by the Department of Customs and Excise in respect of detention and of any proceedings for forfeiture of the goods. It will be appreciated that once the goods enter Australia in the normal way any question of problems associated with them after they move out of the control of customs would be entirely beyond the jurisdiction of my Department.
– I direct to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport a question which could also concern the Minister in Charge of Tourist Activities. In view of the statement in the official Commonwealth Railways report of February last that passenger rail traffic to Canberra was not commensurate with the rise in the population of Canberra to nearly 100,000 and that it might be necessary to look at the question of some improvement in the existing train service by providing extra rolling stock, I ask: Has this matter of replacing antiquated services and rolling stock with services worthy of Australia’s national capital been examined yet? When can we expect some action?
– Quite clearly I shall need to refer the question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport to obtain an answer.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. In view of his reply yesterday lo Question No. 26, and recent Press statements on the use of electronic homing devices by smuggling rings, will the Minister take steps to control such devices, which in the main would be used for criminal or snooping purposes? In Question No. 26 I asked the Minister to comment on concern expressed by Judge Selby at the activities of private detectives and inquiry agents in the use of various listening devices to ‘bug’ homes and offices.
– As I understand the question, two matters are involved. First there is a reference to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald’ this morning, and perhaps I could deal with that immediately. I have seen the article and I have sought information from my Department. This indicates that there is no evidence that the electronic homing devices mentioned in the article have been used on the Australian coastline. However, the Department is aware of the need to keep pace with, and indeed remain ahead of, any Smuggling activity. Recently we have significantly increased our investigation and preventive forces, and only yesterday tenders closed for the construction of four high-powered launches which will be used in our anti-smuggling efforts. We hope to take delivery of them later this year.
While I am dealing with the matter in some generality I point out that some time ago I indicated that consideration was being given to increasing penalties. I inform Senator Mulvihill and the Senate that I expect to introduce during this session legislation to increase penalties for offences under the Customs Act. Many of the penalties provided in the Act have not been altered since 1901, and the existing penalties generally are obviously no longer a deterrent to persons to commit offences. The provisions to increase penalties will include much heavier penalties for offences involving narcotic drugs. The illicit importation of such drugs is a matter of very serious concern. As to the second part of the honourable senator’s question, I need to examine its implications and will endeavour to give the honourable senator a supplementary answer in due course.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I preface my question by referring to an answer I received in the Senate last week to a question on the problem of shipping from north western Tasmania. My question now is: Is the Minister aware that despite his assurances of one week ago, the position relating to shipping from north western Tasmania is now worse than before? What does the Minister propose now to do lo meet this situation?
– What I propose to do is to refer the question asked by the honorable senator to the Minister for Shipping and Transport and get a reply to his statement that in his view the position of shipping from Tasmania has not improved as it was expected it would.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. Is it a fact that the control of Woomera airport and all flight operations will be transferred from Royal Australian Air Force command to Department of Civil Aviation administration? If so, is it likely that existing charter services will be replaced by regular passenger flights? Will the canteen services organisation continue as a booking office for the airline or airlines operating services to and from Woomera?
– There are some elements of the question on which I would need to get further information, but I am in a position to say that negotiations are under way betwen the Department of Supply, the Department of Air and the Department of Civil Aviation for the existing RAAF control facilities and fire services at Woomera to be taken over by the Department of Civil
Aviation. The situation at the moment is that no positive date has been agreed upon.
– I again draw the attention of honourable senators to the fact that they are asking involved questions without notice which Ministers cannot possibly answer and that thereby they are doing a great disservice to the Senate. I ask them to put the questions on the notice paper. If they do not, I myself will put the questions on the notice paper for them.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration read a report in yesterday’s ‘Australian* which conveyed the impression that in marriages contracted between Australians and Asians the parties involved in the marriage are subject to a cloak and dagger scrutiny which appears to be an invasion of normal citizens’ domestic privacy? Does the Minister consider that this is the prevailing situation in such marriages?
– 1 am quite certain that the Minister for Immigration will have read the article. I shall discuss the honourable senator’s question with him and get a reply.
– Is the Minister representing the Treasurer aware of recently published reports that the Government has purchased electronic data processing equipment to the value of $4m for use, as I understand it, by the Bureau of Census and Statistics? Has this equipment been purchased without calling for tenders?
– I am not aware that any department has called for electronic data processing equipment in the circumstances referred to by the honourable senator. I am aware that the Government has purchased a considerable amount of such equipment, but I do not have details of those purchases. The honourable senator did not make very clear which department is stated in the article to have purchased the equipment. I suggest that he place his question on the notice paper and we will examine it.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs: Is the United States of America, with the knowledge of the Australian Government, using in Vietnam bombs with nuclear warheads for underground explosions in blowing up tunnels occupied by the Vietcong?
– I have not heard of any bombs or other materials with atomic warheads being used in Vietnam. I doubt very much whether there is anything in the suggestion.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service whether the Government has received the final report of Mr Woodward Q.C. with regard to his inquiry into the stevedoring industry. When will that report be made available to senators?
– All I can do is ask the Minister to whom the report will initially be made prior to it being placed before the Government whether he will make it available to honourable senators. I will have to ask the Minister in order to answer the honourable senator’s question.
– The Minister has not received the report?
– I have not
– My question is directed to you, Mr President. Bearing in mind your general remarks about involved questions being placed on the notice paper, has your attention been drawn to the number of questions place.d on the notice paper as long ago as last February? Will you, Sir, use your good offices and influence in an endeavour to expedite answers to questions placed on the Senate notice paper?
- Senator McClelland, thank goodness the President of the Senate does not have to be responsible for the way in which questions are answered. I hope the position will never arise when the rights of Ministers are interfered with. They will answer questions in their own way.
(Question No. 27)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answers to the honourable senator’s question -
I and 2. My attention has been drawn to the Press report quoting Mr. Orr’s statement. The Press statement made by my colleague, the Minister for Defence, on 11 December 1966, set out in full the background and proposed functions of the project and there can be no grounds whatsoever for any assertion that the people of Alice Springs have been deceived as to the establishment or operation of the facility.
The Minister for Defence has made it clear that the Governments of Australia and the United States have agreed to establish a joint United States-Australian defence space research facility in the vicinity of Alice Springs. The location, some 12 miles south west of the township, was chosen for the convenience of those employed on the project, and for easier servicing of its requirements. The facility will include its own air conditioned laboratories to house electronic equipment and a variety of research projects will be carried out at the facility, the results obtained being available equally to both countries.
It should be noted further that no launching or firing operations will be conducted from the site. There is nothing about the operation or location of the station to support any suggestion that the installation would be singled out for special attention in time of war.
– I move:
That the Senate records its sincere regret at the death of the honourable Sir Donald Burns Sangster, K.C.V.O., Prime Minister of Jamaica, places on record its admiration for his devotion to and achievements on behalf of the people of his country, and for his unceasing, helpful and positive interest in Commonwealth affairs, expresses to the people of Jamaica its profound regret at the loss they have suffered, and tenders its deep sympathy to his relatives.
Sir Donald Burns Sangster became Prime Minister of Jamaica following the elections in that country earlier this year. He had been Acting Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs since 1965. He was a solicitor by profession and had been active in politics for many years. Sir Donald became Deputy Leader of the Jamaican Labour Party in 1950 and played a leading role in his country’s political development, which culminated in independence in 1962. He held at various times appointments as Minister of Finance, Minister of Social Welfare, Leader of the House of Representatives and Deputy Prime Minister. He was Chairman of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in 1964. I believe that the Commonwealth of Nations as a whole has lost a very worthy citizen, Mr President.
– Mr President, on behalf of the Opposition I second the motion. We in this Parliament have associations - some close and some tenuous - with the other parliaments of the Commonwealth of Nations. It is good that we maintain these associations, because it is important for us to understand and accept the differences which exist between us in the conduct of Parliament and the conduct of elections. Sir Donald Sangster was obviously a very dynamic man, and he lived and prospered in a very exciting country. The election that he won in February of this year was characterised by the usual stone throwing, bomb throwing and shooting. It was reported that by the use of armoured trucks and of helicopters flying over Kingston on election day matters were conducted fairly peacefully.
This is indicative of the atmosphere in which Donald Sangster grew up and in which he helped to bring this country to independence. He was a democrat and a great parliamentarian. His Party - the Jamaican Labour Party - has brought to Jamaica a period of prosperity that has been unexcelled for many years. He presided at the proceedings of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference in 1964 and his wit and humour were evident to all the delegates. He was a friendly man who engendered harmony and goodwill among the delegates who came from the various parliaments of the Commonwealth of Nations. We regret that death out short his period of office. To have been Acting Prime Minister for several years and then to die so soon after becoming Prime Minister is a great misfortune and must be so regarded by the people of Jamaica. We of the Opposition join with the Government in this motion of regret and condolence.
– My colleague, Senator McManus, and I desire to be identified with the motion of condolence on the death of Sir Donald Sangster, the Prime Minister of Jamaica. It is true, as the previous speakers have stated, that this man had been identified with the political life of his country advantageously for many years. I am sure that the people of Jamaica really appreciate his contributions to any improvements that have been effected to their living standards and the general conditions of the country. His loss will prove a great one, I am sure, to those people whose interests he had so closely at heart.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honourable senators standing in their places.
– by leave - This is a statement made initially by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) in another place, and in it the personal pronoun T refers to him. The statement is as follows:
I am taking this early opportunity of reporting on the visit I paid to Japan from 28th March to 8th April. During the first six days of my visit I was the guest of the Japanese Government and was mainly engaged in official discussions on matters of common interest to our two countries. I wish to acknowledge with deep appreciation the hospitality and the many courtesies received from my hosts.
The main business was done in discussions at the Japanese Foreign Office, on two successive days, with Mr. Takeo Miki, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan. The talks ranged widely over many international political questions of common concern to both countries, such as China, Vietnam, other Asian questions, and policies in the United Nations. There was a close correspondence in the analyses we made of current events and we found much common ground. I believe that we laid a foundation of understanding on which to build even closer friendship and co-operation. I should like to quote from the agreed communique issued after these talks:
The two Foreign Ministers were gratified to note that the friendly and co-operative relations between Australia and Japan were being strengthened and developed in all areas of contact.
In the course of these talks, the two Foreign Ministers recognised the rapid growth of a sense of solidarity and of a forward-looking spirit in the Asia-Pacific region. The Ministers spoke of the importance of dealing with common problems on an Asia-Pacific scale and recognised the close relationship between economic progress and political stability. They acknowledged common obligations resting on economically advanced countries to help developing countries raise the living standard of their people. It was agreed that both governments should make further efforts to promote active co-operation in the Asia-Pacific region.
Both Mr Miki and I recognised the importance of these consultations at Ministerial level and, while we did not propose any formal machinery for consultation, we agreed that we should keep closely in touch with each other on matters of mutual interest. I am sure that the personal relationship we have established will mean that each of us will feel free at any time to open further discussions with the other. I expressed the hope that the Japanese Foreign Minister will have an early opportunity to visit Australia; and, in any case, we will be meeting again in the course of attendance at international conferences.
I also called on the Prime Minister, Mr Sato, and had discussions with him on several current international situations. For myself, the discussions gave me additional information and a clearer appreciation of Japanese points of view and policies and I believe that I was able to present clearly the interests and outlook of the Australian Government.
Following my official visit to the Japanese Government I remained in Tokyo to lead the Australian Delegation to the Twentythird Session of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East and had the honour to be elected one of the ViceChairmen of the Commission. Australia has been a member of ECAFE since its foundation in 1947; and in 1963 we were accepted as a regional member. It is a reflection of the great changes that have taken place in this region that when ECAFE was formed its membership was only ten, of whom four were regional members, whereas today its membership is twenty-nine nations, of whom twenty-four are regional members. Many of the new members emerged as independent nations with the ending of the colonial era in Asia. Over the past two decades there has been a steady increase in economic co-operation and. not only have we been able to develop the structures and the procedures for such co-operation within the frame-work of ECAFE, but the interest in co-operating has grown and many new areas for co-operation have been discovered. Indeed, part of the problem of ECAFE today is one of co-ordination and of establishing priorities between the many projects in its comprehensive programmes.
Perhaps the major achievement of ECAFE to date has been the establishment of the Asian Development Bank but, in addition, it has promoted the establishment of other permanent committees or institutions in nearly all phases of economic cooperation. Australia believes that the annual meeting of the Commission should become the major forum at the Ministerial level for directing the course this work should take. As the ECAFE Conference will not come to a conclusion until the end of the present week I will not attempt a summary of all the business dealt with in the current session but direct the attention of the House to two or three matters which seem to us to be most worthy of attention.
ECAFE, of course, deals only with economic problems and not with political problems. At the Tokyo meeting, political problems were not discussed. Nevertheless we need to recognise in this Parliament that, underlying all of the problems of cooperation between nations and the advancement of the welfare of peoples in Asia, there are still basic problems of security and political stability. It is still necessary to remove fear from many of the independent countries of Asia before they can give their whole attention to the great tasks of political, social and economic advancement. In many countries in the immediate present there is need for political stability so that economic and social changes can be made. Perhaps the real lesson to be learnt is that political, social and economic changes have to go hand in hand or they will not go at all.
We believe that the choice of political systems and the making of arrangements regarding the form of government are matters for the people of each country themselves. Protection of the freedom of choice of newly independent countries is one of the issues of foreign affairs in many parts of Asia today. In some countries this issue presents itself as the question whether the ending of colonialism shall be succeeded by the new Communist imperialism, whether the tutelage of the colonial powers of the past shall be replaced by the stern and rigid guidance of the Communist neighbour in the present. In dealing with questions of security - and in essence this is the removal of fear and the preservation of the freedom of political choice - the aid of non-Asian powers is required and, happily is being given.
Turning to the economic problems which are the business of ECAFE, we find the same need for assistance and a similar readiness to give it. There is a continuing need for external economic aid but let us remember that in the region itself there are countries that are giving aid to others, notably countries like Japan and Australia and, more strikingly, the Republic of China on Taiwan, whose own progress has been so remarkable that it is now able to help its neighbours. The principal item on the ECAFE agenda each year is the review of the economy of Asia. This year’s review gives a varied picture, in parts deeply disturbing because hopes have not been realised and in other parts inspiring because of the way difficulties have been faced and progress made. I shall attempt only to comment on two or three of the more important topics.
The most critical and most urgent problem for most of Asia is the problem of food. This great productive region oi the world has become a net importer of grain. If this region of rapidly growing population should not be able to feed itself there will be starvation and death for millions of people. Further, there is also the economic fact that the development of the economies of every one of these countries will be limited to the extent that they have to use a higher proportion of their foreign exchange to purchase basic foodstuffs from outside the continent. The real solution does not lie in the importation of basic foodstuffs but in the improvement of Asian agriculture. This is now recognised and is receiving increased attention in the forefront of the policies of most Asian countries themselves and of many of the countries which are giving them economic assistance.
The second great problem of the independent countries of Asia might be described as that of trade. This is a doublefronted problem. On the one hand it is a problem of economic production and, on the other, it is a problem of access to markets. These countries have prominent in their thoughts the need to be able to produce more and to have a chance to sell .1.
I would not like to give the impression that the independent countries of Asia are benighted, impoverished or without resources and capacity. Indeed over recent years there have been some remarkable demonstrations in countries like South Korea and the Republic of China of the way in which production can be increased and trade extended. In several other countries the management of the nations’ economies shows resolution as well as capacity to grapple with their economic problems. By and large I see independent Asia today as an advancing and progressive region looking towards the future with greater hope. There is a forward movement in spite of the retarding effects of various elements not wholly under their control. The ultimate claim of the independent countries of Asia is not for assistance but for co-operation with countries which are more advanced at present than they are and for a widening opportunity to pay their own way. Indeed the problems many of them face are identical with the problems with which we are closely familiar in Australia in the development of our own resources and our need for access to overseas markets.
It is this similarity that has brought something of a fellow-feeling between Australia and many of its Asian neighbours and some respect on the part of our Asian neighbours for the capacity we have shown in making material advances. With proper modesty one can say that the advice and counsel of Australia are valued as the advice and counsel of a friendly nation that is essentially practical and co-operative in its approach to common problems because it is able to draw on its own experience of facing the same difficulties of economic development with which many Asian countries are now grappling.
There is a third immediate problem which is a consequence of the economic assistance that has been needed by, and given to, Asian countries. Although Australia has always given its assistance in the form of non-repayable grants, a great deal of the assistance given by other countries has been in the form of long term credits or soft loans. The repayment of these loans and the meeting of the interest on them is now placing a burden on many of the countries which arc still in need of outside assistance, so that out of every additional unit of assistance they receive from overseas they now have to set aside a portion for meeting their obligations in respect of the assistance previously enjoyed rather than apply the whole of the new aid to development purposes. We recognise this as being in part a problem of the rate of development and the choice of the forms of development.
In due course 1 hope to be able to table in the House papers relating to the work of the ECAFE conference, but for the present I wish to add only one further comment. It is encouraging to see that Australia has gained recognition within ECAFE as a helpful and practical neighbour. Australia has to its credit two acts of policy which have commended themselves to developing countries in Asia. One is the decision to introduce a system of tariff preferences :o less-developed countries, covering manufactured and semi-maufactured goods within the limits of specialised annual quotas, coupled with the removal of tariffs on a number of handicraft products without restriction as to quantity. At the recent conference several countries referred with appreciation to the pioneering lead we had given in this direction. Secondly, it is recognised with appreciation that such assistance as we give to the developing countries, principally under the Colombo Plan, has been given as a non-repayable gift and has been applied effectively to projects selected in agreement with the receiving country.
ECAFE has been invited to hold its annual conference in Australia next year, and the Government looks forward to having with us in Canberra for the conference the representatives of twenty-nine member countries and of nineteen or twenty other states, as well as the observers from a number of international organisations and nongovernmental organisations. It will be one of the largest official conferences yet organised in our country.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) read a first time.
[11.41]- I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) announced on the 8th November last year that the Government would liberalise the means test on age, invalid and widows pensions and would provide a special allowance for disabled persons employed in sheltered workshops. The Bill before the Senate provides the legislative measures to give effect to these promises. In addition it includes a number of other items of lesser importance which the Government has considered appropriate to include in this Bill. I will refer to these latter measures in detail later.
The means test extension in the Bill raises by $156 the amount of means as assessed that will permit the payment of a full pension. This will mean that a single age or invalid pensioner whose property apart from his home, furniture and personal effects is less than $420 in value may have income of up to $10 a week and still receive a maximum standard rate pension of $13 a week; some pension will remain payable until his income reaches $23 a week. On the other hand if he has no income he may have assets to the value of $5,600 and still receive a pension at the maximum rate; some pension will remain payable until his assets reach $12,360 in value. For married pensioner couples the combined value of whose property is $840 or less the income limit that will permit payment of a full pension is $17 a week and the upper income limit for such a couple is $40.50 a week. If the couple have no income - and here I should like to remind honourable senators that all income from property is exempt for means test purposes - some pension will remain payable until the combined value of their property reaches $21,880.
Mr President, as in the case of age and invalid pensions the means test on widows pensions will be similarly eased. The effect of the amendment on widows pensions will mean that a widow with one child may receive a full pension, including mother’s allowance and child’s alowance - a total of $18.50 a week - and in addition have income of up to $13 a week giving her a total income of $31.50 a week. She may also have assets, apart from her home, up to $4,500 in value. There are, of course, various combinations of income and property in between the upper and lower limits I have mentioned which will permit the payment of a full or part pension.
The liberalisation in the means test which I have just outlined represents a continuation of the Government’s policy of progressively extending the means test as circumstances permit. Every person who is now receiving a reduced pension on account of means - and there are some 100,000 of these - will, under this Bill, receive increases of up to $156 a year. In addition many persons now excluded from pension, whether by income or property, will be brought into the pension field for the first time. The Repatriation Act provides that the rate of a service pension shall be the same as the rate of age or invalid pension that would be payable under the Social Services Act. Service pensioners will, therefore, receive the benefit of this liberalisation of the means test.
I mentioned earlier that there were some items of lesser importance which the Government has considered appropriate to include in this Bill. These are:
Mr Deputy President, I shall now examine each of these measures in detail.
Where a woman qualifies for a widow’s pension following the death of her husband payment is made from the date of the husband’s death provided the claim is lodged within three months of that date. No such period of grace for the lodgment of a claim is allowed, however, where a woman becomes qualified to receive a widow’s pension by reason of her husband’s admission to a mental hospital; in these cases the pension commences from the date of lodgment of the claim. Honourable senators, I am sure, will agree that the completion and lodgment of a claim for pension is something which a woman could not reasonably be expected to attend to immediately her husband is admitted to a mental hospital. The husband’s illness may well come with little or no warning and in such a way that his wife may take some time to adjust to her changed domestic circumstances. The Government considers that a period of grace should be allowed for the lodgment of the claim and the period of three months proposed in the Bill will make the position uniform with the time allowed for a woman to apply for a widow’s pension following the death of her husband.
The valuable opportunities available to the physically handicapped in the community from the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service will be well known to honourable senators. Generally speaking the benefits of this service are provided free of charge to invalid and widow pensioners and to persons in receipt of unemployment and sickness benefit. This free service is also available to boys and girls of fourteen or fifteen years who, without treatment or training, would be likely to qualify for an invalid pension at age sixteen. Disabled persons not eligible for the ‘free’ service may pay for rehabilitation or may be sponsored by Governmental or private organisations. There are some persons, however, who are unable to meet these costs and under the existing legislation there is no authority to abate the charges. It is now proposed that authority be given to fix charges in accordance with a person’s ability to pay.
Mr Deputy President, another amendment proposed in the Bill concerns the provision of books, equipment, appliances and tools of trade to persons undergoing’ rehabilitation. Under the existing legislation these items may be provided by the Commonwealth to a cost not exceeding S80 in the aggregate. In cases where more than one year’s training is required this amount has proved to be inadequate and it is proposed to extend this by permitting the amount of up to $80 to be spent in each year of training. Moreover, whereas at present the costs of books, equipment, appliances and tools of trade provided by the Commonwealth are recoverable from the rehabilitee when he commences employment, in future recovery will only be sought in respect of those items provided to assist the person to engage in employment. He will be allowed to retain those appliances, etc., which are supplied to assist him in his treatment and training. Rehabilitees may also be provided with surgical aids and appliances to assist them engage in a suitable vocation. There are, however, other necessary aids, some of which have been developed in recent years, which cannot now be provided. The Bill widens the present provision to permit these aids to be supplied. The opportunity is also being taken to make a machinery amendment to clarify the provisions of the Act dealing with the recovery of rehabilitation costs in cases where compensation or damages is or are payable.
In the operation of the means test on pensions the income of a person does not include any amount, other than an annuity, received by way of benefit from a friendly society. A somewhat similar situation exists in relation to payments from a trade union. The exclusion from income of these payments dates from the inception of age and invalid pensions in 1909-10 and was intended to cover comparatively small sums of sick pay and age benefits to members who had made small contributions over a period of years. The provision that an annuity would not be exempted as income was introduced in 1959 when it came to notice that some friendly societies were about to enter into the business of selling annuities on an ordinary commercial basis.
Another development has now occurred whereby some friendly societies are proposing to pay reasonably large ‘pensions’ to contributors who retire from employment on the grounds of ill health or physical or mental incapacity. In view of the special concessions afforded friendly society payments it may be possible under the law as it now stands for the means test to be circumvented insofar as these income payments are concerned.
I should like to make it clear to honourable senators that the Government has no wish to withdraw the existing concession insofar as it applies to the traditional payments made by friendly societies. And it does not intend doing so. The Government considers, however, that these larger ‘pension’ payments should not receive more favourable treatment because they are financed through friendly societies or trade unions than if they were financed by insurance companies or other financial institutions. The amendment in this Bill, therefore, aims at preserving the status quo. It takes away nothing, but at the same time it prevents exceptional and unreasonable treatment being given to a particular type of income payment.
Mr President, I now come to the second of the two .main provisions of the Bill. I refer to the introduction of a special allowance for disabled persons employed in sheltered workshops. Honourable Senators will recall that it was this Government which first gave practical recognition to the needs of sheltered workshops by introducing in 1963 a new form of welfare assistance to enable the Commonwealth to make grants to religious, benevolent and other approved welfare organisations. This assistance was to enable the organisation to provide accommodation for disabled persons working in sheltered workshops so that they could be near their place of employment.
It is in furtherance of the Government’s progressive policies that it has now been decided to introduce a special allowance for employees in sheltered workshops and to provide capital and other assistance towards the establishment and expansion of sheltered workshops. These latter measures will be the subject of a separate Bill. The sheltered employment allowance, as it will be called, will be payable to a disabled person employed in a sheltered workshop who would be qualified to receive an invalid pension if he were not employed in the sheltered workshop. Any pension or benefit being paid under the Social Services Act will, in general, be suspended and the allowance will be paid in lieu of that pension or allowance. The rate of the allowance will be the same as invalid pension plus allowances and will be subject to the same means test with the important exception that special treatment will be accorded earnings derived from employment in the sheltered workshop.
For an unmarried person half the amount of any earnings above $10 a week will be disregarded in calculating the rate of allowance payable. For a married person half the amount of earnings between $17 and $25 a week will be disregarded. The practical effect of this will mean that some sheltered employment allowance will be payable until earnings reach $36 a week in the case of an unmarried person or $47 a week for a married person whose spouse is not in receipt of a pension. Blind persons employed in sheltered workshops will be eligible for the allowance, free of any means test provisions. The additional allowances payable for children after the first, and any other allowances, will, as at present, be subject to the means test.
As far as practicable it is desirable that the sheltered employment allowance be paid at the same time as employees receive their wages from the sheltered workshops. So that the mechanics of payment can be worked out with eligible organisations provision has been made in the Bill for the Director-General of Social Services to be given the authority to do this.
I mentioned earlier that the allowance is to be known as a sheltered employment allowance. Honourable senators will also note that the Bill contains no specific mention of a sheltered workshop. This is necessary because the term ‘workshop’ is too narrow and would not be appropriate for some of the enterprises the Government has in mind. For example, the Government does not wish to exclude employment in rural industries. However, the places where such productive activities are carried out are not generally regarded as ‘workshops’. The approach in the Bill has, therefore, been through the nature of the employment provided and the type of persons who are employed.
Mr. President, this completes the outline of the provisions of the Bill, but I am sure honourable senators would wish to know something of the costs involved. Quite apart from this Bill, expenditure on social services for 1966-67 is estimated to rise by some $63,6 million over the expenditure for the previous year, bringing total expenditure on social services in the year to $757.8 million. The cost of the proposals contained in this Bill will approximate $13.5 million in a full year and $2.5 million for the remainder of the current year.
To conform with the usual practice it is proposed that the increases in the pension resulting from the means test extension provided by the Bill will come into operation on the paydays following the Royal Assent. To enable the necessary administrative machinery to be prepared the new Part VIIa of the Social Services Act relating to the sheltered employment allowance will come into operation on a date to be proclaimed. The other amendments will operate from the date of the Royal Assent. Mr. President, I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Toohey) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 6 April (vide page 592), on motion by Senator Gorton:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition does not oppose the passage of the Bill. As the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) said in his second reading speech, this Bill seeks authority for the Government to double the amount of money annually available from the Commonwealth to provide science laboratories and equipment in independent secondary schools throughout the Commonwealth. It is contemplated that the amount of $2,668,000 which is to be made available over the relevant period shall be increased to $5,336,000. As I have said, the Opposition does not oppose the Bill, but we in the Australian Labor Party have always had certain reservations about this scheme because of the political circumstances in which it was conceived and because it has received Government support in isolation and not as a part of a broad national approach to science education.
The scheme was pulled out of the hat by the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, on the eve of the 1963 election. We said at the time and have held the view since that its motivation was, in the first instance, political. To begin with, it was the first manifestation of interest by the Commonwealth in areas of education other than the tertiary or the strictly university sphere. Prior to the introduction of these measures in 1964, following the 1963 election, the Commonwealth, through the then Prime Minister, had rejected pleas to bring the Commonwealth into a more direct responsibility for financing education in areas other than the university sphere. As I have said, on many occasions that plea was put by the Opposition and just as frequently it was rejected. Indeed, at one stage the then Prime Minister held the view that the whole question of financial assistance to nonGovernment schools was outside the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth. He said that in another place on, I believe, more than one occasion.
I think that by 1963 it was well established that section 96 of the Commonwealth Constitution was the gateway to progress as far as Commonwealth financial interest in a whole range of national activities was concerned. Our complaint about the scheme in 1963 - and it remains one of our reservations today - was that it did not come about as a part of a broad Government plan for
Commonwealth financial responsibility in the areas of secondary, technical and primary education - to accept an overall responsibility. The scheme came into operation as a vote catcher in the 1963 election. It has remained something in isolation and not part of the broad pattern emerging from the Commonwealth.
– Does the honourable senator deny that the assistance substantially contributes to the educational field?
– I do not say that. There is no doubt that the scheme has conferred some benefits on those schools to which grants have been made. I think it would be quite wrong to say that nobody has benefited from the scheme. It is a good thing to assist science laboratories. Whether the organisation and the availability should be on the basis of the present scheme is perhaps open to debate. I do not particularly want to canvass that issue. I am simply saying that the fact that it has brought benefits to a substantial number of schools and children still leaves unanswered a number of important questions relating to the broad field of education.
– Does the honourable senator not think that often it is more effective to adopt particular projects than to try to implement a general, universal plan?
– It is a matter of debate. Libraries might have been selected for assistance. One can think of a number of areas about which it could have been said: ‘This is an area in which we can do something to help.’ Moves might then be made in that way. But I do not believe that the scheme was ever part of any real idea that the Commonwealth was to enter educational fields other than the tertiary field. I believe that the scheme was conceived at short notice in a political situation. I have made the point. I do not want to keep on hammering it because I want to deal with wider questions which are left unanswered. It is very difficult to-
– Surely the honourable senator can be asked a question.
– Senator Wright would like to turn this debate into a seminar and I do not propose to assist in that way. I do not want to stray from courtesy in dealing with a matter which we have always dealt with courteously. I do not want to venture outside the realms of courtesy. Assistance to science blocks is a very broad field, lt is very interesting to see Senator Wright leaving the chamber after his interjections. Science is approached by this Government in a very haphazard and piecemeal way. The Opposition believes that the Government must address itself to the nation’s particular needs in the field of science education. To find the best way of fulfilling those needs it must have a total picture and a total plan. The plan is deficient in relation to science education if it makes no provision for science teaching.
It is hard to see any indication that the Government has accepted the responsibility of assisting in science teaching. I thought it was a fatal error by the Government to reject the recommendations of the Martin Committee relating to teacher training. I think that the rejection of those proposals has held back progress in education at all levels. It is axiomatic that if there are deficiencies in the teaching system or in the number and quality of teachers, there are deficiencies in the system of education.
The second broad criticism we have offered of this scheme is that it does not seek to operate in the areas of greatest need. One of the strongest criticisms that have been made from time to time by people in the educational field is that some of the money - I do not say all of the money - is going to shcools which would in any event have built science laboratories without financial assistance from the Commonwealth.
– Some schools have not yet used the grants made to them.
– That is so. Our criticism is that the scheme emerged primarily not as something to improve science education, but for the broad political reasons I have indicated. The Australian Labor Party believes that the whole development of a national science policy which we have advocated on many occasions, and the achievement of progress, depend upon adequate science education at every level. Progress depends upon more and better trained science teachers and upon more graduates, especially those with higher degrees, because science is becoming an increasingly sophisticated area of human knowledge and experience. We have put that kind of notion in the forefront of our thinking about education. We want inquiries conducted into the whole range of educational problems. We want to provide a sound basis for the establishment of concerted national education policies. Of course, the training of teachers and the teaching of science at school are integral parts of the planning that we think must be undertaken.
Wherever one looks in the education system of this country, substantial problems are to be met. lt might be said that they are appalling problems. There are problems created by overcrowded schools and shortages of qualified teachers, facilities and accommodation. Areas of controversy exist where it is said that financial assistance and scholarship schemes of one sort or another do not touch the areas of greatest need. There is basic neglect of teacher training. We look at all these things and say that what we need is a national approach to education. I think it is a good thing that the Ministry of Education and Science has been created by the Government. I hope that the Minister will accept the challenge of a very important responsibility to develop an overall national approach to educational problems.
I am not suggesting that the whole of the administration of education should be taken away from the States and given to the Commonwealth. I am not suggesting at this stage that there should be any more centralisation of planning of education systems. I am suggesting that the provision of education at a satisfactory level which will ensure equality of opportunity to all students, wherever they come from and whatever kind of schools they attend, involves big thinking by the Commonwealth. We have to be resourceful and think big about the way to improve our education system. More and more that will be the responsibility of the Commonwealth. In a society in which the Commonwealth has become the ascendant partner in the Federation, the Commonwealth Government is necessarily involved in the acceptance of the major responsibility to provide finance for education. It must never be allowed to become a political football in the financial wrangling between the Commonwealth and the States. Nowhere have the effects of such wrangling been more disastrous than in the field of education.
In the Senate last week we discussed the consequences of the deadlock between the Commonwealth and the States over the provision of grants for post-graduate research. 1 believe that such matters have to be kept in mind when assessing the importance of any particular scheme. I do not want to belittle the scheme to provide financial assistance for science laboratories. I am saying that we will watch developments with interest. It must not be assumed that this is the only area in which the Commonwealth should demonstrate a financial interest in the provision of facilities. It should not be taken as satisfying the real needs of the community - the children and the young people - for adequate education, including science education at all levels. I have indicated the points to which the Opposition wishes to draw attention and what we believe to be the important considerations in our approach to this Bill. We do not oppose the Bill.
– Mr Deputy President, I want to put on record some of the real problems of education in non-State schools.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Order! Before the honourable senator goes any further, I remind him that this Bill relates only to science laboratories. There is on the business paper another measure that relates to advanced education.
– 1 understand that, Sir. I find it a little difficult to separate the two aspects of education, but I shall do my best. Senator Cohen has pointed out that there are certain political implications in this science laboratories legislation. I agree with him that, no matter how charitable one wants to be in one’s attitude towards the Government, it is extremely difficult to escape the conclusion that some political motive was behind the introduction of the original legislation. The most surprised people of all when it was introduced were the rank and file members of the Government Parties. It is impossible to exaggerate their surprise at this master stroke of Sir Robert Gordon Menzies, the former Prime Minister. I believe that the Australian Labor Party particularly has suffered as a result of that master stroke, because members of the Government Parties claim the credit for this legislation and get the benefit of any votes influenced by it.
In order to understand the political implications of this legislation providing for handouts, as I describe them, to all schools, both State and non-State, for science blocks, one has only to look at what has happened. I have yet to hear of any Minister attending the opening of a new science block at a State school. Science blocks at such schools have just been quietly tacked on to the rear of existing school buildings and no opening ceremony has been held. However, if a new science block were to be opened at a big Catholic college, for example, and Cardinal Gilroy or a bishop were to be present, a Minister in this Government would attend also. Probably even the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) would attend if he could get there, because such an occasion would provide excellent publicity for the Government, while a State school science block opening would have little political significance.
I believe that generally speaking the legislation providing for assistance for the provision of science laboratories at schools has been a good thing for non-State schools, and I welcome it and give the Government credit for formulating the scheme. However, there was no great preparation for it. The non-State schools were >as shocked as were rank and file members of the Government Parties when the original legislation was introduced. Representatives of those schools were not asked whether this was the sort of aid that they wanted or whether they had teachers in sufficient numbers to give adequate science instruction. They were not told at how many or at which schools science laboratories would be provided. Most of these schools, of course, have not enough teachers to enable them to give adequate instruction in science. The big problem in education in non-State schools in this country is the provision of enough teachers. It is of no use to construct buildings if sufficient teachers are not available. The Government apparently has a plan to provide enough teachers at some stage. It proposes to provide assistance for certain colleges in each State. However, it is calculated that the additional 10% of teachers that non-State schools require will not be available until 1971 or 1972. But the prob lem is much more urgent than these calculations suggest.
This Government does not seem to understand the real needs of non-State schools. There is in New South Wales an organisation which is known as the New South Wales Association for Educational Freedom. It has distributed a questionnaire to all independent schools in Australia. I would like to read some comments on the answers given to the questionnaire. These comments have nothing to do with science blocks at schools, but relate to the basic problem in education at Catholic schools. The comments are in these terms:
In 1936 the average enrolment in Catholic primary schools was 189; in 1966, 202. In 1970 it will be 237. The overall rise is 15%. The inference from this, and the percentage of schools having makeshift classrooms, is that the school building programme is unable to cope with existing needs.
This is confirmed by an authority on education whose findings are outlined as follows:
This is indirectly confirmed by figures extracted by Rev. D. F. Bourke, . . . which show that in 1958 27% of Catholic children were educated in the State schools. In 1963 this percentage increased to 32%.
The Government expresses the view that non-State schools have a right to exist. However, if the present trend continues they are likely to go out of existence whatever may be done about science blocks. These comments add:
In other words, nearly one Catholic child In three is presently being educated in a State school. These figures also mean that the number of Catholic children in State schools is increasing at about the rate of 1% per year . . . There is nothing to show that this rate of increase will not continue.
The problems of Catholic schools go far beyond the scope of this Bill. It should be possible to have a crash programme in education. We hear a lot of talk about crash programmes for other things. Why can we not have one for education? Teachers are wanted now, particularly to staff science blocks, the construction of which the Government is helping to finance.
This brings me back to the point that one cannot escape the conclusion that the Government had some political reasons for introducing legislation of this kind. It has not even thought of providing teachers so that the new science blocks can be put to use. Catholic schools, I would say, have never been citadels of science teaching. They have always been more concerned with the humanities, even in secondary education. They are less well prepared than any of the State schools would be to take advantage of this legislation, though even State school teachers have told me that science blocks have been provided at schools at which they are not wanted. I have been shown evidence to support this claim. The Government’s legislation authorising financial assistance for the provision of science laboratories in secondary schools has been in my view carelessly conceived. I do not want to challenge the manner in which it is being policed but I suggest that a good deal of reorganisation is needed and better liaison with education authorities is required to ensure that the funds provided are properly used. In many country towns, particularly in New South Wales, sufficient teachers are not available to staff schools, and the Government could be said to be wasting its money by providing assistance for the construction of science laboratories at such places at this stage. It is extremely difficult for schools to catch up with their teacher needs, because pupil numbers are growing all the time. The process of trying to catch up with needs seems to be never ending.
I rose particularly to point out the great problems that exist in what I may describe as Catholic education. Have a look at the situation in Sydney. What I am saying involves science blocks. Today Catholic education in Sydney is controlled by a commission. All of the old relationships of school to teacher and headmaster to teacher have changed. In Sydney there are about 1300 lay teachers. The number has increased tremendously in recent times. This means, of course, that we have almost a new education department, with 1300 employees answerable to the commission. The authorities have had to do this by sheer force of circumstances. There are questions of wages. These teachers have to be paid the same rates as teachers at other schools. There are questions of arbitration rights and union rights. All these things which were not involved before are involved in the new system.
I remind the Minister that the problem is very much wider than is envisaged by the science block legislation, which takes a very, very narrow aproach to the great problem of non-State education all over Australia. I am particularly interested in the matter. I will believe that all governments are sincere about helping non-State education when I know that the schools that have a responsibility to teach the children of the workers are getting a fair deal. There are still workers in this country - people on the basic wage. When they are starting to get some justice, when political parties are fighting for them, and when we hear less about higher education, I will say that governments are genuinely interested in real education. What chance has a Catholic father, who as a matter of conscience sends his children to a Catholic school and wants to send them to a Catholic secondary school?
I know such a man. He has an income of £25 a week and three boys to whom he wants to give the best education. If he is lucky and his boys win scholarships, that will help. It will cost him £40 a term for each of his boys. That is over £300 a year, for a man on £25 a week. How can he give his children education? He cannot do it; it is impossible. These children will remain uneducated in a secondary sense. They will certainly not get near the universities. There is great discrimination in the present education system. Schools, not out in the backblocks but 100 miles from Sydney, and attended by up to 300 children, are still unsewered. There are such schools all over New South Wales. I know there are problems, but when 1 see money being spent on improvements in that direction I will say that governments are genuine.
– There are a lot of those in Sydney still.
– 1 am not saying that there are not. I am not being too critical. There are problems involved. Not so long ago I said to a teacher in a primary school: What is to happen to your 300 children?’ He replied: ‘We do not know. Certainly none of them is going on to higher education.’ I think that education should be distributed amongst the children of the workers. Those who are not fortunate - bright children whose parents are poor - have to be looked after. Governments do not do enough for them. 1 do not want to be led into discussing technical education. I know that the Government has views on this and that it is trying to do things, but there are children in the modern world who are not getting the education that they should be getting. There was a time when children got through to the top by dint of struggle and the costs of education were not so high. The cost of education is one of the great problems of the Catholic education system today. Heretofore, by and large at any rate, it has been able to finance its schools because the costs were not so high. But this Government’s science block legislation is increasing the costs tremendously. Education is getting scientific and costly. This is reflected in the general situation. The Government must go much further than it has gone in the science block legislation to meet the problem.
The Government must look at the new organisation of non-State education throughout Australia and go further than it is going now. If it agrees that the private school system should exist - I agree that it should - the Government should do something about helping it to exist by increasing its contribution.
– The Australian Labor Party was opposed to it from 1957 till last year, when it altered its platform. Formerly it was opposed to any direct government aid.
– Mr Acting Deputy President, I say at the outset that I realise that the Government is extremely anxious to confine this debate within the narrowest limits. Some, not including myself, have imputed improper motives in relation to this attitude. I, realising the impartiality that you so constantly show, as exhibited just now in the case of Senator Ormonde, whom you allowed to cover the broad field of education, know that you will see that this debate fulfils the purpose that it should fulfil and that reasonable latitude will be extended to each speaker on the field of education in this debate.
– Is the honourable senator telling the Chair what to do?
– Not at all. Far be it from me to do that. Here is a Bill that relates to the provision of money for the building of science laboratories and the provision of equipment in what are termed independent or denominational schools. But we cannot just separate that matter - much as the Government would like to do this for its own particular and paltry purposes - from the broad field of education, because if money is to be spent in this field, it is quite evident that the Government will, as it has done constantly over the years since this scheme was first announced, deny money to the other fields of education which are just as legitimately entitled as science to the provision of money by a Federal government with a sense of national responsibility.
I put a question to the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton). Would he have been in a position to know what prompted the then leader of the Government to suggest the provision of money for the specific purpose of science, and why was no tribute paid to any other field of secondary education? As many have suggested - far be it from me to think that this was the motive that prompted or stimulated the Government - was it an endeavour to gain votes in the 1963 election? I think that the Government would have been more likely to take an interest in education because of a proper appreciation of the role it would play in serving the basic rights of children, adolescents and adults, and serving the national interest. I should think that that would be the purpose that would spur the Government on. I should like to have an answer from the Government.
– That is what it is all right. The honourable senator is quite right.
– I should be pleased to have it confirmed. No one except myself believes it. The Government appears to have a sort of hit and miss policy on education. But I do give the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, full credit for the interest he took in 1957 in university education. Now we have the financial provision for science laboratories in the fields of State and non-State education. Recently, too, money was provided for technical education.
Some few thousand scholarships have been granted in the field of secondary education. But it seems to me that the Government has no underlying philosophical approach to its national responsibility in the field of education even though over the years it has shown a realisation of the fact that the States have failed in this field. The States have admitted that they have failed. As recently as last week we had a debate in which it was clearly demonstrated that the States could not meet what might be looked upon as their responsibility in the field of university research with the result that a number of men and women have been denied an opportunity of engaging in worthwhile research which could have made a major contribution to the economic welfare of this country and the betterment of its citizens.
This Government has apparently abhorred any idea that it should take an interest in primary education. We are now making provision for science laboratories and equipment, but we never hear of any proposal to take action in connection with the teaching of languages. There are very few schools in Australia that have the modern aids which are regarded in other countries as being essential for the teaching of languages. Again, a very large percentage of our mathematics teachers are not qualified to teach mathematics. Over the years, no provision has been made to provide facilities for the training of teachers of mathematics. There is no proposal for Commonwealth Government assistance in connection with such subjects as geography and history, both of which are essential if we are to have a better appreciation of the interests and rights of other people and if we are to be guided by the lessons of the past. As yet, there has been no suggestion of any interest by this Government in these matters. But, suddenly, just prior to a general election, we find this Government taking an interest in science laboratories. Although as I have said, I think it was a worthy motive that prompted the former Prime Minister to take the action that he did at the time, we can hardly condemn those who may doubt the propriety of the motive that stimulated him.
– They have nastier minds than you have.
– They may be better judges than I am in the political field. They have been over the course for quite a long time. They have been over many dry gullies in the political field and therefore probably have a better appreciation of the motives that prompt contestants who enter the political arena.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Cormack) - Order! The honourable senator must address the Chair.
– I am sorry. I shall do so. I intended my remarks to be addressed through you. If the Government is going to proceed with its present policy, is it going to say: ‘We might have a look at things next year. At some time in the far distant future we might even have a look at the needs in primary education’ ? Now that the Government has somewhat belatedly adopted the ideas promulgated by Labor, perhaps it is not unreasonable to hope that in the not too distant future it might be stimulated to take some note of the suggestion made by the leaders and members of the Labor Party in this chamber and in another place that there should be a full inquiry into Australia’s needs in the fields of primary, secondary and technical education. It is certainly not an unreasonable demand. However, it is not a characteristic of the present Minister to answer questions that I address to him in the course of a speech. Perhaps they are not worthy ot notice. He certainly takes some time when he does give me information. Perhaps he regards me as being incapable of absorbing the information he provides.
Government supporters will ask: ‘Where is additional money to come from? ‘ I point out that the Government’s revenue is increasing every year. The gross national income is increasing each year. More revenue comes to the Crown each year. That is inevitable. It comes in by way of increased income tax, increased wages tax, by way of sales tax, and by way of customs and excise duties. If that amount is not sufficient, I do not think it is beyond the responsibility of the Government to accept the burden of imposing increased taxation on the people to meet this legitimate and worthy demand that it provide education for all on an equal basis.
It is the proud boast of Australia that we regard everyone as born equal. We know that because of economic limitations, environmental circumstances, and so on, people are not, of necessity, born equal but they should be afforded equal opportunity for education. Surely they should be afforded the facilities and amenities necessary for them to develop to the maximum the talents with which they are endowed. That is not being done even in the field of science, although a better contribution is being made in that case.
When you have overcrowded schools, unsatisfactory accommodation, and improperly trained teachers, how can you have equality of opportunity? The Government must accept this basic humanitarian responsibility of providing facilities and amenities for the training of children, adolescents and adults in all fields of primary, secondary, technical and tertiaty education. Apart from the humanitarian reason, the Government has a responsibility to train people so that they may make the greatest contribution in improving the economic state of the Commonwealth. If these citizens are trained properly, if th>;y are educated to develop to the maximum the talents with which they are endowed, they will of necessity, with rare exception, make a greater contribution to the economic development of this country. Any Government that claims to be national must accept responsibility in this field.
It is of no use the Government’s claiming that education is the responsibility of the States. We know that in the past the States have accepted full responsibility, ineffective and incomplete though it may have been; but, over the years, with the increases in costs - and more particularly since the Commonwealth Government has assumed almost complete control of the finances of this country - the States have failed to meet the rightful demands of the citizens of this country. The Commonwealth Government must now accept in full its responsibility to provide the facilities that are required in this field.
There have been many discussions and arguments as to how best this can be done. The Government has one way. It is providing money on a somewhat hit or miss basis, and without making any inquiry as a preliminary to the making of these grants. It has made no inquiry as to whether the method it has employed has been the most desirable way or as to whether it is more essential to meet the demand in one field of education than in another. It has just come along and said: ‘We will do this’. Why? Government members may know why, but the public certainly does not know. It is not unusual for the Government to be rather secretive about things, whether they be in the field of foreign affairs or in any other field. Cabinet Ministers and other members of the Ministry are not always particularly open with the people. They are not always open even with members of the Opposition. Surely in the field now under review, a field so worthy, so interesting and so much the responsibility of all, the Government should be frank and tell the public the basis of its judgment and what purpose its decision is designed to serve. When we realise how far we lag behind other modern nations in relation to the percentage of our gross national income that we spend on education, we must come to the conclusion that this Government, after eighteen years in office, should be ashamed of itself. It should go into contemplation, chastise itself mentally and resolve to do much better in the future. We have been tolerant with the Government and 1 am sure the people would be appreciative if it approached this great and fundamental problem in the proper way.
All parties agree that there shall bc in Australia a dual system of education, one sponsored by the States and the other sponsored by certain organisations. For want of a better word let us refer to the nonState schools as independent. Each child attending these schools, whether for primary or secondary education, is entitled to opportunities equal to those available to children in State schools, together with the provision of adequate facilities and amenities. How best can this be done? Has the Government ever considered it? The Government has never called into conference the parents and citizens organisations; nor, so far as the public knows, has it ever consulted headmasters or representatives of the teaching profession. So we just do not know where we are going. Are we to have one group of children three-quarters educated, another group one-half educated, another group onequarter educated and many having no particular education at all?
We now have a Minister for Education and Science. All credit is due to him for his ability and capacity for work. Everyone knows what a tremendous job he can do and how, if he accepts the responsibility associated with the portfolio which he was honoured to receive from the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt), he can leave his name on the pages of Australian history. Or will he merely carry on as he did when he was Minister assisting the Prime Minister in matters of education? Now be has a department of his own and is a member of Cabinet. He had a first class education. He derived benefit from that education and has made a contribution in his own limited way to the welfare of Australia. However, unless he provides facilities adequate to the development of the talents of children we will have different degrees of educational qualification in different sections of the community. When will the Government accept that there must be a dual system of education? The Government must accept the responsibility of providing equal opportunities for all children, because the State governments have failed to do so. The Government should ensure that there is an efficient system of education available to all children. My own view is that ultimately independent schools will be assisted on the basis of a per capita grant for the children attending them. This is essential particularly in the field of primary education. At present we are all concentrating on secondary education and we hear much talk of technology and science.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended I was dealing reasonably, logically, cold-bloodedly and without bitterness or hatred with the extraordinarily callous and almost completely irresponsible attitude of this Government to education. The blame does not lie only with the present Government. Its predecessors are equally to blame for their attitudes and actions in relation to the education needs of this country and the meeting of those needs. The Government, whatever was the motive that prompted it - as I have said repeatedly on all issues, I would be the last to impute unworthy or improper motives to the Government - has seen certain weaknesses in the Australian education system and has met those needs. But it has failed to see the big holes in the ship of education and has done nothing to plug them.
The needs of the children of this country must be met not only as an acceptance of a basic humanitarian responsibility but also in an endeavour to make a contribution to increased efficiency in the conduct of the economic affairs of this nation. Now that the Government has followed a suggestion which was made many years ago and repeated on many subsequent occasions and established a portfolio of education, which includes science as well as many other facets of education, surely it is not too late for the intelligent gentleman whom the Minister has selected to accept responsibility for this section of governmental responsibility to set about gathering information in an orderly way, not only in recognition of the rights of children but in acceptance of a national responsibility to meet the education needs of the children of this country, including those who are mentally retarded as well as those whom we consider normal.
The Government has done little in the field of education, other than in respect of tertiary education and university education in particular. Here we have conflicts between the State governments and the Federal Government. This Federal Government has no real sense of national responsibility. Perhaps that is not its fault. Perhaps it just does not realise how essential it is, when a State fails in this field, for the Commonwealth to accept education as a national responsibility. 1 know that educated people, including skilled tradesmen, professional men and others, in their own way can make a contribution to the econnomic welfare of a State; but in the overall picture they make a contribution to the nation, as well as to their own satisfaction and happiness.
Surely it is not too late for the present Minister to act along these lines. I know that he was somewhat hamstrung previously, when he was in a comparatively junior position, assisting the then Prime Minister. I realise what a dominant personality that gentleman was. His mental makeup was such that if a person crossed his path there was no possible chance of that person attaining a prominent position in the Government parties. The Minister, in his present position, is not as hamstrung as he was previously. Now that he is a senior Minister, with his educational background, he could make a real and substantial contribution to the educational uplifting of the children and adolescents of Australia. I suggest that he should not limit himself to contributions for the provision of science laboratories and equipment and to taking an interest only in institutes of technology, universities and scholarships at the secondary level. I suggest that he approach the matter of education with a sense of fundamental responsibility and a realisation that it has a pyramidal structure. The base of it is primary education-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! I suggest that the honourable senator confine himself to the subject matter of the Bill.
– With all due respect to you, Sir, and in great humility, I submit that this Bill makes provision for the expenditure of certain money on a particular facet of education-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! I suggest that the honourable senator address his remarks to that matter.
– I am quarrelling with the matter of distribution of Government funds-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! I ask the honourable senator to confine his arguments to the subject matter of the Bill.
– That is what I am doing. I am trying to-
– The honourable senator should watch out. The Acting Deputy President might be after him.
– We will argue this matter with decency and courtesy. As honourable senators know, that is the way I always argue. When I am reprimanded, I accept the reprimand.
– There is no need to crawl.
– I do crave the indulgence of the Chair on occasions, but I do not crawl.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! The honourable senator has exhausted the indulgence of the Chair.
– Thank you for the reminder, Sir. If the Government provides science laboratories and equipment, it is only wasting the people’s money unless the children are adequately trained and properly taught to think logically and to absorb information. If that is npt done, there is complete irresponsibility in the distribution of this money. The children will not be adequately trained unless they are taught properly at the primary level. When they leave primary school they move to the secondary level which includes subjects other than science.
Perhaps members of the Government parties do not realise that there are subjects other than science, such as languages, mathematics, history and geography. But perhaps it is not too late for them to learn. If they want any information, I am certain that members of the Opposition, including the Democratic Labor Party senators and the distinguished independent senator from Tasmania, would be only too pleased to provide the necessary information on which a sound, efficient structure could be built, recognising the basic humanitarian rights of every child in this country and making a real contribution to increased efficiency in the economy.
Under this Bill money is being provided for a specific purpose. Irrespective of what anyone else may think, I do not think we can deal with one facet of education which absorbs so much money from the Consolidated Revenue Fund to the exclusion of the many other facets of education. This is not a question of the importance of science and technology. Incidentally, it is very difficult to draw a distinction between science and technology. There is definitely an overlapping between them. Although we all recognise the increasing importance of these two fields, man will not live by them alone. I realise, as every other honourable senator does or should, if he takes an interest in these matters, that scientific advances have made a substantial contribution to the improvement in the welfare of the people. Just as they have improved the facilities for construction, the scientists of the world have increased the facilities for destruction. The nations of the world will not survive through improved scientific facilities alone.
Mr Deputy President, as you have just taken the Chair, let me say to you that I am just pointing out to the Senate that scientists have made substantial contributions to the welfare of people not only in this country but also in the other nations of the world. They have developed extraordinary improvements that have contributed to the wellbeing of the people of the world. But, equally, they have made contributions to improve methods of destruction. Scientists will not be able to control these improved methods. History has not shown that scientists have been able to do this. After all, we can learn from the lessons of history through the years. These lessons point the way to us for the future. Very few things occur in the present that have not parallels in history although we might say that they are altered in some respects by the environmental circumstances of the time.
Up to the present time scientists have not shown that they will be able to control these improvements. This is because of their limited approach to their own particular fields. All credit to the scientists for their accomplishments in the past and all credit to them also if they are able to co-ordinate the methods and improvements that they have devised and if they are able to control the instruments of destruction. But it will be left to the other sections of the community - the philosophers and the sociologists - to point the way to peace in the world. What is the use of improving scientific apparatus, what is the purpose of providing more scientific laboratories, if ultimately this means that through using these laboratories and by utilising this equipment men become better or more efficient scientists, go to the universities te become research scholars, and devise better or, should I say, worse methods of destruction? Surely the aim of man is not the destruction of his fellow man.
Consequently, I think you, Sir, as an intelligent, reasonable nationally responsible being would agree with me that the Government has a responsibility to pay heed to the needs of the other fields of educational endeavour. It is not too late now - late as the hour may be - for the Government to appoint a committee to inquire into all of the facets of education. This committee could inquire into whether the foundational approach in relation to primary education is sufficient to show that it does justice to the talents of a child so that through the process of time, whether the child is a boy or a girl, the child through training will make an efficient and substantial contribution not only to its own contentment and increased efficiency but also to the betterment of Australia.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Order! I suggest that the honourable senator come back to discussing the Bill.
– I am building it up again to-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order!
– Well, I do not know, Sir. Other people can get away, not with murder, but with political crimes, and they stand up-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order!
– That is no reflection on you, Sir. I am reflecting, perhaps, on myself for my own limitations.
– A little soliloquy.
– The honourable senator will be thrown out.
– I will not get thrown out. That remark is a reflection on your authority, Sir.
– Does the honourable senator reckon that the Deputy President cannot throw him out?
– I recognise the authority of the Chair. I always have. I have always had a sense of responsibility in relation to my principles. In any case, let us face this issue. Although I know that this money meets immediate needs, I ask: What is the use of spending this money? As someone suggested, the spending of the money may have served some improper or unworthy political motives. But this expenditure represents a waste of public money unless children can be sent to’ utilise the facilities and unless the buildings are kept adequately equipped. But the children who utilise the facilities must be able to absorb mentally to the full the training which the facilities and amenities make possible. I want to make it quite clear now that I am not opposing the spending of money on the provision of these science buildings and equipment. What I do say is that when this money is spent a sense of proportion must be exercised.
Everyone, except perhaps members of the Government, realises that there are other educational needs that could and should be met by the national Government. Everyone realises the means by which these needs can be met. The Government apparently is quite determined to adopt this hit or miss approach to the educational needs of this nation. The Government does not seem to be ashamed of the fact that, despite these millions of dollars that are spent on scientific facilities, Australia still lags well behind the other modern nations of the world. How often have we heard Government members and particularly Ministers boast that Australia is among the twelve great trading nations of the world? Although the boast is justified, the situation is accidental in relation to the efforts of the Government. It really is due to the virility of the people of this country and more particularly because for a long period Australia has enjoyed a succession of good seasons and, in many cases, high prices for its products. Yet, regarding education, amongst these twelve great trading nations of the world Australia is the nation most in need of adequate facilities for education in all fields including science and technology. But the Government does little about this.
Some millions of dollars are given to the Universities. A few million dollars are provided for scientific laboratories and equipment. But no real effort is made to understand, to comprehend or to grasp the thistle of the educational needs of this country. Incidentally, when I used the word ‘thistle’ I was not reflecting on the honour that was conferred on the previous Australian Prime Minister. Now that Senator Gorton holds the newly created position of Minister for Education and Science, surely he realises that he has a national responsibility. I cannot emphasise the benefits of the educational background that he has, the talent with which he absorbed these advantages and which he has put to so little use.
The Minister for Education and Science has the opportunity now to utilise his talents to the benefit of our educational facilities and to make a real contribution to the national history of Australia. He cannot do this unless he faces his responsibility in all fields of education. This includes primary and secondary education as well as scientific, technological and tertiary education. Only when the Minister faces his responsibility can a real contribution be made. Only then can the basic human right of every child irrespective of the circumstances in which it is born be recognised-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! I have pointed out already to the previous speaker that the Bill now before the Senate deals with science laboratories and not advanced education. We will come to that subject later. I require the honourable senator to return to the subject of this Bill.
– I am going to. I was on it. I have been on it all the time.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! I nsk the honourable senator to get on with it.
– The position is this: there has been a complete sense of irresponsibility, whether through ignorance or callous disregard, respecting the educational needs of Australia and even as affecting scientific needs. This Government has not met the needs and deficiencies associated with the administration of education by the States. How futile it is when the Government makes its frequent statements that education is a State responsibility. How often and in how many fields has the Commonwealth Government come in and utilised the provisions of section 96 of the Commonwealth Constitution to make a contribution, having determined the basis on which the money to be provided is to be distributed. It is no use the Government saying that it has no responsibility regarding education. It has a national responsibility. The Government claims that it is the national Government. The Government makes further national contributions as it grows older. But as I have said, each child has the basic human right to the best facilities available irrespective of the circumstances in which it is born. Irrespective of its sex, a child is entitled to the best educational facilities and amenities through which it can develop its natural talents to the maximum. This Government has accepted no responsibility in relation to this matter. What is the use of providing $5m or $10m for independent schools or $15m for State schools for science facilities when the children who are to use them are not adequately trained.
Even in the field covered by the Bill there are not enough teachers. In some cases science laboratories that had been built could not be used because teachers were not available. Surely the Government’s responsibility goes beyond simply providing $5m for buildings? It has responsibility not only to the children who might be taught in these buildings, but also to the taxpayers, because the Government is distributing money from Consolidated Revenue and should accept overall responsibility for education. All political parties in Australia recognise that there should be a dual system of education. The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights states that the education of their children is the responsibility of the parents. That is only partly true. It does not say that education is the financial responsibility of the parents. As a child grows and eventually makes his contribution to the community he becomes subject to the control of the nation. He - or for that matter she - can be called up for service both inside the country and overseas. At this point the authority of the parents disappears. So the nation has a responsibility for the education and upbringing of the child.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! I again ask the honourable senator to connect his remarks to the Bill.
– That is what I am doing. Might I, as I am about to conclude, summarise my thoughts. The point is that the Government or the nation takes authority over a person irrespective of whether that person as a child attended a science laboratory. It is no use the Government claiming that children are the responsibility of the parents. I know the parents are responsible up to a point, but the Government can interfere in its own way and assert authority over the future of the child. That authority is taken from the parents. If the Government does that, it has equal responsibility for and authority to provide for the child’s education and upbringing. Peculiarly enough, that is not the philosophy of the Liberal Party. The Australian Country Party, which is associated with the soil, is somewhat more tolerant.
I plead with the Minister for Education and Science to look upon education as an overall problem and not merely a matter of the provision of a few million dollars for science laboratories. I plead with the Minister to do so with a realisation that while the parents have to determine the form of education for their children the Government has the responsibility to provide facilities for the education of the children and the development of their talents to the maximum. This responsibility the Government has failed to bear. I am in sympathy with the Minister. I know the intolerance of his associates. I know that the Minister’s sense of responsibility and his knowledge of education will prompt him to do something for education which will leave his name on the pages of history. This was not so with the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, who, apart from his contribution to university education, has left but footprints on the quicksands of time.
– At the outset of his remarks Senator Dittmer rhetorically asked the question: Where did the Government get this idea of a sectional grant for science blocks? I would have thought that Senator Ormonde, as a member of the New South Wales Executive of the Australian Labor Party for a number of years, could very easily have told him. This idea originated at a conference of the New South Wales Branch of the ALP. It decided that the New South Wales Government, which was then a Labor Government, should put it into effect. But, as happened the other day when the New South Wales Branch of the ALP was disciplined for wanting to ban the Communist inspired Peace Council, so when the New South Wales branch decided that finance should be made available for science blocks the Federal Executive of the ALP moved in and stopped it. That is how this plan originated.
What happened was that, having stopped the New South Wales Branch of the ALP from implementing this very desirable reform, and having contributed thereby to the defeat of the New South Wales Labour Government, the ALP Federal body not so long afterwards turned over in bed and decided it was not merely going to permit sectional grants but was in favour of practically every form of aid, if one likes to call it that, for independent schools. I prefer to call it justice.
It has been suggested that the Government of Sir Robert Menzies took over this idea purely for vote catching purposes. I would think that possibly when Sir Robert Menzies saw this proposal which the New South Wales Labor Government was not allowed to carry out, and examined it, he felt there was a good deal of merit in it. Having looked at it he decided to implement it in the Federal sphere. If he thereby won votes he was entitled to have the votes, because apparently he was doing something to which the majority of the people of Australia had no objection and were prepared to support.
I do not attack the Government on the ground that it made a sectional approach by looking first at science blocks. I think that in looking at science blocks it found a field in which there was an urgent need for action. When you are building a house the kitchen is the most expensive room. In the same way, in a secondary school the most expensive rooms are the science rooms. I taught for twenty years in State high and technical colleges and was appalled by the poor type of science rooms even at schools which were considered to be in the front rank. In State high schools and technical schools where I taught the facilities for science teaching were a disgrace. But the Government came along, looked at the question and decided to take action, and I am prepared to give it credit for that. The situation was bad in State high schools and secondary schools, but it was even worse in independent schools. They had very little money and the facilities for science teaching were extremely poor or almost non-existent except in the case of a few of the wealthier ones. Therefore, there was an urgent need for something to be done about science blocks in schools of both types.
I am not worried about who should or should not get the credit for it. All I say is that in a country such as Australia, where we have a developing economy and there will be an urgent need for trained scientists and technicians, surely the obvious thing to do was to take action to improve the standards of science teaching in our schools. I believe that at the rate at which the Government is proceeding it is quite possible that the lag in science blocks may well have been caught up within the next few years. But I hope that the Government will not wait until that time before it looks at some of the other subjects.
I agree entirely with Senator Ormonde when he says that one of the most urgent problems with which we have to deal once we settle the science blocks issue is the question of teacher training. Teacher training in this country has been neglected to a large degree. There is a very urgent need for something to be done for the establishment of more State teacher training schools and of more schools in which teachers can be trained for the independent schools also, bearing in mind that we propose to maintain both systems that are in operation.
I understand that there is some difference of opinion among independent schools regarding the question of teacher training. For example, the Catholic Church in New South Wales, which is the body that runs most of the independent schools, appears to accept the Government’s proposal that a certain number of positions in the governmental institutions be available for the training of their teachers, whereas in Victoria they prefer to erect their own teacher training establishment. But whatever is decided on, once this lag in science blocks has been overtaken, there is an urgent need for action in teacher training.
I am not one of those who believe that the reform which has taken place in the thinking of all political parties regarding justice for independent schools is solely motivated by the feeling that there are votes in it. It is a fact that whereas not so many years ago no political party in Australia supported justice for independent schools, today every political party supports it to some degree or another. I am going to say - and- 1 will challenge anybody to deny it - that the fact that every political party in this country today supports to some degree justice for independent schools is due to the existence of the Australian Democratic Labor Party, because until the DLP was in existence, the attitude to this question in political circles was that it was dynamite and it ought not to be raised. But when the DLP came into existence it said that it was not prepared to adopt the attitude that this was the sort of question which would raise sectarian feelings and therefore should be pushed under the carpet.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! I suggest that the honourable senator link his remarks with the Bill-
– I am linking them in this way: I am referring to the manner in which public feeling was changed so that money could be made available for science blocks.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - As long as the honourable senator comes back to the Bill he will be in order.
– I would point out, therefore, that when the DLP came into existence it made this question an item of its policy. It said that the Australian people could be trusted to make a fair minded decision on it without sectarian feeling being introduced. It was not until that stage that the other political parties changed their feelings on this matter and money was made available for such facilities as science blocks. My attitude is that when any government makes money available for science blocks or for other facilities in independent schools, that government is not doing anything that will harm the State system.
The fact that the State system has carried on for many years and that no money has been made available to independent schools has been due to the self-sacrifice of many parents who were prepared to pay fees to private schools because they conscientiously believed that their children should have a certain type of education. But of late years the rise of costs, particularly for things such as science blocks, has been so great that those parents have found it impossible to meet the increased charges in independent schools. They were called on to pay their share of the taxes for State schools and because of increasing costs for science teaching and so on they had to pay higher fees in the independent schools. When they were contributing to improve standards generally in State schools they had to pay a lot more money for their own schools because a condition of existence for an independent school is that it has to have the same standards as those operating under the State system.
The result was that these people were unable to carry on and there came into existence that drift into State schools of children who normally would have gone to an independent school. Senator Ormonde referred to the extent of this drift. In the last year or two, each year 1 % more of children who normally might have gone to schools conducted by independent bodies have gone to governmental schools. Every child who does that involves the Government in increased expenditure, which means that there is less money available for State institutions. According to the figures quoted, it costs $330 per year for each child in a State secondary school and $220 per year for each child in a State primary school. For every child who, by the inability of his parents to send him to an independent school or by the fact that the independent schools cannot carry on, is forced to go to a governmental school, an increased amount is required to be provided by the Government for the education of that child.
Whatever we think of the justice of the matter - and many people say that it is an injustice - it is excellent economics for a government to say: ‘We will give a small subvention or a small amount of aid to independent schools and by keeping them going in that way we are going to save ourselves the very considerable sum of money which would be involved if that child went to a government school.’ There is no doubt in my mind that that fact influenced this Government when it made money available for interest payments on independent schools erected in Canberra. By doing that the Government, for example, had erected for it an independent girls* high school which cost £500,000. All that the Government contributed towards the cost was the payment of interest for the building. The Government did very well out of it. It always does very well when it makes a contribution to keep an independent school going, whether by contributing to the erection of science blocks or in any other way.
When I read in the newspapers, as I did this morning, about an organisation which represents State school committees protesting over something that is being done by the Victorian Government, I would simply suggest that the aid that is provided for independent schools there will not harm the State school system. All it means is that the State system is being saved millions of pounds which are available for expenditure on children in State schools. If children in the independent schools were forced into the State schools, that money would no longer be available for the State school children. As I have said before, whatever honourable senators may think about aid or justice for schools, governments save money on it; they do well out of it, and out of the willingness of parents of children in independent schools to make a considerable sacrifice for something in which they believe.
I am prepared to pay tribute to the Government for what it has done to provide finance for science blocks. I hope it will go even further, particularly in the direction of teacher training. I do not Relieve that the Government should be criticised or attacked for its assistance. If votes are won by the scheme, it is equally open for any other party to look for votes in the same way.
– We would not do that.
– Why was your policy changed at the ‘Bikini Conference’?
– The DLP influenced us.
– Senator Cavanagh has hit the nail on the head by his interjection, which is one more recognition of the way in which the policy of the Democratic Labor Party is inducing once more the Australian Labor Party to believe in justice.
– I think the honourable senator is kidding himself.
– For what Party over the years did the overwhelming majority of people with children in independent schools vote?
– How would the honourable senator know?
– Senator Dittmer knows what Party they voted for. For years nothing was done to help children in independent schools because the Australian Labor Party said: ‘Why should we do anything for them? They vote for us anyway.’ And the Liberal Party said - rightly and justly: ‘Why should we look after them when they vote for the Australian Labor Party? Let Labor help them.’ From 1951 to 1957 in New South Wales the policy of the Australian Labor Party was complete aid for independent schools. The ALP used to boast that in the New South Wales Labor Cabinet, three-quarters of its members came from independent schools, and half of Caucus came from independent schools. Even with the Party’s policy of full aid for independent schools, what did it do in New South Wales? Not one thing.
– How much did we do compared with-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! I suggest that Senator McManus come back to the Bill.
– I do not agree with the sniping at the Government because it is prepared to recognise, even if it is only in a slight way, the justice of the claims of parents of children in independent schools. I regret only that the Labor Party for which the majority of such parents voted - 95% of them, for fifty years - did not do anything for them when it had the opportunity. I repeat that I am very pleased indeed that action has been taken in this Bill to make money available for science blocks. Science is the costliest subject to be attended to in the conduct of a secondary school of any type today. Therefore the Government’s action in recognising the need to do something in developing Australia, with so great a call for scientifically and technically trained people, is commended by me. If it has won votes as a result, it was equally open to other people to win votes if they were prepared to be equally fair minded. I am delighted that this legislation shows, as so many other things show, how the policies first enunciated by the Democratic Labor Party are accepted as the years go by by other parties in the community.
– I exercise my right to enter this debate because of an interjection I made during the speech of Senator McManus. It may be recorded in Hansard. I was very amused at the honourable senator’s claim that the whole thinking of the Australian population was changed by the small and insignificant voice of the Australian Demogratic Labor Party. It was so humorous that when the honourable senator asked why the Australian Labor Party changed its policy, I said: ‘Because the DLP influenced us’. As Senator Dittmer commented, it was said sarcastically. Senator McManus very quickly moved to reply to the interjection for the purpose of having it recorded in Hansard. He refused to listen to any further interjection of mine when I sought to correct the impression that I believed that the Democratic Labor Party influenced the Australian Labor Party to change its attitude towards aid to independent schools. I do not want it thought that I rate the DLP as having such a great influence. Senator McManus may, if he wishes, salve his conscience by saying that he agrees that the DLP was the force behind the change in ALP policy. I have entered this debate only for the purpose of getting the record straight.
– lt has been interesting to note during the debate the attitudes taken by honourable senators on both sides of the chamber, and the political attacks that have been made by some previous speakers in this debate. I think it is true to say that all honourable senators would congratulate the Government for the wonderful stand taken by it and previous governments in relation to the promotion of expenditure for science blocks. Surely the point behind the legislation is that in Australia we recognise the need to increase expenditure for science and research. It is obvious that the basic point at which government aid must start is as a contribution towards school facilities. The Commonwealth Government is allocating expenditure for this purpose and in that move I think we can all take great pride and pleasure. I link my remarks with some of the attacks made on the Government the other night by the Opposition for its expenditure on research.
As members of Parliament we are providing expenditure in this area of a type not applied to any other area of government. We are willing to take notice of the field of education over a three-year period and to say to various State institutions including universities, with which we are not dealing in this legislation, that we are prepared to let them plan for a three-year period. That policy is not adopted in relation to any other field. I think it is worthy of note that the policy of Commonwealth aid for education has the approval of all members of this Parliament. It is a wonderful encouragement.
In this legislation $29,717,400 is being made available for a three-year period. This amount is being made available to Government and independent schools. The Government’s policy of aid is not directed solely towards independent schools, and it is not made to score a political point. The main contribution will be to government schools. Of the amount of $9,905,800 which is to be allocated annually, $7,237,800 is to be provided to government run schools and $2,668,000 is to be provided to independent schools. The Government believes that if it contributes on the basis on which it believes it can contribute over a period, it will be only a short time before it is clear of its obligation with respect to science teaching facilities. So we have this proposal that the grant to independent schools bc increased from $2,668,000 to $5,336,000 - double the original figure. I endorse this proposal fully.
I believe that the importance of this move is demonstrated by many of the debates that have occurred in the Senate over the past week. May I mention just one, which took place last evening, when we were discussing customs tariffs. Members representing all sections of the Senate took part in that debate, either criticising or, in some instances, endorsing the Government’s proposals. Generally the arguments were related to the protection of Australian industries. The reason why our industries need protection is that at present we have not in this country sufficient scientific knowledge to enable us to take advantage of increases in production, improved methods of production and the like, which are so necessary to the wellbeing of our economy. I point out, Madam Acting Deputy President, that Australia expends some 0.6% of its gross national product on science and research. I imagine that it is most difficult to arrive at this assessment, but that is the figure that the experts give. The United States of America, on the other hand, devotes some 2.7% of its gross national product to science and research, the United Kingdom about 2.4%, the Netherlands 1 .5% and France 1 % .
– What is the figure for Australia?
– It is 0.6%. But there is a reason why we are not in the high bracket to which the United Kingdom and the United States belong. They are spending enormous sums on defence and on research in the fields of atomic energy and satellites. We are not expending a great deal on the last two fields. However, if an attempt were made properly to equate our expenditure on science and research with that of those two countries in the present context, the figures would show, I believe, that we in Australia are contributing particularly well.
I refer to and congratulate the Government on its proposal, which was announced in the policy speech for the last Federal general election, that some $30m would be devoted to assisting industry in its research programmes. This is the kind of imaginative policy for which the present Government is noted. This policy has produced ideas that have been of great benefit to the community. I suggest that the next generation will benefit not only from the improvements in education made possible by measures such as the one we are now discussing but also from the encouragement given to large industrial concerns to devote some of their profits, and in general a greater proportion of their expenditure, to the promotion of research, especially in their own particular field” of industry.
– The honourable senator is now talking good sense.
– I generally do in these matters. This Government is by no means overshadowed by those who belong to other sections of politics in its support for imaginative legislation. I congratulate the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) who deals with these matters and who is in charge of this measure. I am completely confident that any measures taken by the Government in the field of education in the ensuing years will be in very good hands.
– in reply - Madam Acting Deputy President, first I express my gratification at the fact that the Opposition is not opposing this measure. I wish to add, not by way of complaint but purely in the interests of accuracy, that I have never known Opposition speakers to take quite so long in stating their support for a measure.
– I bet that the Minister cannot reply to Senator Dittmer’s arguments.
– Time does not permit me to do that. However, I took a note of one thing which he said and to which I shall reply. He stated that after new science blocks had been constructed at some schools it had been found that no science teachers were available to use the new facilities. This I consider to be completely and utterly untrue. I know of no instance in which this has occurred, and I bet that he does not, either. I can assure the Senate that the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Standards for Science Facilities in Independent Schools, which recommends the size of science block to be provided in relation to the requirements of a school, before making a recommendation always considers carefully the number of science periods taught at the school and the number of science teachers there. That is the only matter raised by Senator Dittmer with which I intend to deal.
I took some notes also of points made by other speakers. Senator Cohen stated that this field of science facilities at secondary schools was entered in isolation. We must realise right at the beginning that that statement is completely inaccurate. At the time when $10m a year was set aside for unmatched grants for science teaching facilities in secondary schools $10m a year was set aside for the provision of buildings and equipment in sub-tertiary technical schools. Some people may ask why these fields were entered. Surely it is obvious to honourable senators that in the world in which we live today and in the world of the future for which we must prepare we shall need more and more an understanding of the application of scientific principles and technology to primary and secondary industry and to communications, and we shall depend more and more on the discovery of new knowledge in all the fields in which we are involved in this modern world. Therefore, the imparting of scientific and technical knowledge is a significant field of activity. Though not perhaps the most important field of all, it is highly important to us all. As Senator McManus has pointed out, these are the fields in which capital expenditure is greatest. These are the fields that are most expensive. I suggest that what I have said is sufficient to indicate why these two fields were the ones that were entered and why assistance was provided in meeting capital expenditure in them.
Senator Ormonde made what appeared to me to be two points. One stemmed from a sort of impassioned plea that sewerage was needed before science blocks in schools.
– Oh, now!
– If the honourable member reads the Hansard report of his speech he will see that he made that point.
– Yes, I know.
– I cannot go along with the honourable senator on that issue. The things that we are attempting are the most significant things that can be done, I believe. Senator Ormonde also said that we never hear of a new science block being opened at a State school. I ask him now whether that is not what he said.
– Not in that way.
– For his information, I point out that I was asked by the Western Australian Government to open a new science block at a State school at Applecross, in Perth, and I did so. I also opened the first State school science block built by the Queensland Government. Next week I am to open in South Australia, at the request of the State Government, not a science block, I admit, but its equivalent in one way, in the form of a big technical school. So 1 suggest (hat Senator Ormonde should be a little more careful to check the facts before making statements such as he has made.
Senator Cohen, in effect, said that it was not of much use to help in relation to this aspect of education unless we helped in relation to all aspects. That proposition I reject out of hand. What we are doing has obvious advantages, and the thousands of school children who are now benefiting from the assistance that we have given are gaining those advantages. Education covers a wide area, but anyone who would argue that we ought not to assist in one part of that area unless we were able to assist in all parts would prevent us from entering any area. After all, we have to deal with problems related not only to education but also to the allocation of the resources of the community over many fields concerned with a wide variety of requirements.
Senator Cohen complained that we had rejected the Martin Committee’s recommendations on teacher training. 1 took a note of that complaint because teacher training has been mentioned by other speakers. I am not sure just what recommendations Senator Cohen was referring to. Some of them, such as the placing of teacher training colleges under autonomous boards of government, we could not either accept or reject, that being completely a matter for the States. But we did do something for which apparently Senator Cohen blames us. We rejected a recommendation of the Martin Committee that over three years some $4m or $5m should be made available in capital to build teacher training colleges, and in its place we put our own proposition that over those three years should be provided not $4m or $5m but $24m for capital for the construction of teacher training colleges. I cannot really see that anyone interested in the advancement of teacher training can complain about that. There will be before this Senate quite shortly a Bill asking the Senate to make this into law.
I do not wish to canvass the grounds very much more. To sum up: this will provide a fair share of the Government grants in the secondary fields to independent schools. It will put us in a position where, as I believe, in three or four years all children at secondary schools will have proper science teaching laboratories and proper science teaching equipment. At the same time, steps are being taken to provide capital to train teachers and also at the same time teachers are being trained by Commonwealth assistance through the universities because - do not forget - we are talking of secondary schools. In the case of Victoria, in particular, the new secondary teachers college being built there will have, as a result of a decision by the Victorian Government, more space for the training of science teachers, and by agreement with the University of Melbourne the science qualification received there will be accepted and acknowledged by that University. At the same time as this is being done, so in the technical field, both sub-tertiary and tertiary, steps are being taken to provide better education for the children of Australia. That is the reason for passing this Bill and that is the reason why I am gratified that the Opposition is not opposing it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 1 1 April (vide page 661), on motion by Senator Gorton:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Mr President, here is a simple Bill and do not let any of us complicate it. It is just a question of altering the distribution of moneys in the field of tertiary and technical education. There seems to be some lack of efficiency here; whether it was not the fault of the Government, perhaps, should have been made quite clear. Here we have a change in the distribution of money in relation to institutes of tertiary education - institutes of technology as they are termed - to be established in Brisbane, Toowoomba and Rockhampton. It seems, again, a haphazard sort of approach.
The Commonwealth Government decided, following repeated representations, to come into this field of tertiary education at long last. Belated as its approach might have been, it is entitled to a small measure of commendation for realising its responsibility. But in relation to the tremendous importance of the function to be. served the amounts of money to be made available seem comparatively paltry. There are private homes - not only in the capital cities but even in country towns and rural areas - on which more money is spent than is being provided in particular cases by the national Government for the establishment of institutes of technology. Surely these amounts are, as any reasonable person would realise, totally inadequate.
Again, the Government came in without previously preparing the field. The national Government is responsible to the taxpayers, because it is distributing under a particular section of the Constitution moneys from Consolidated Revenue, to see that adequate preparation is made and that this money is utilised in the most effective way. If it is for a particular purpose in relation to technological education, the facilities should be available to the students when these institutes are opened. By and large throughout Australia these institutes open not completely unprepared but not adequately equipped either by way of effective or efficient staff or in relation to equipment. I know that some of the blame should be shared by the States for embarking on this important programme when they were not adequately prepared to meet the needs of this educational demand. But surely it should have been the responsibility of the national Government in co-operation with the States to see that everything was efficient and likely to be really effective in the provision of adequate training facilities. This has not been done. I want to make it quite clear on behalf of my Party that we do not oppose the granting of this money, however inadequate it may be or however miserable and parsimonious may be the attitude of the Government to this important educational problem. We do not oppose the granting of any money to provide education in any sphere, whether it be primary, secondary, technical, tertiary or otherwise. But any person with any sense of responsibility, any person with even the slightest iota of sanity realises that these things cannot be done without adequate and effective inquiry. Apparently this Government does not deem it necessary to embark upon inquiries as to what amount is likely to be needed or what service should be provided in a particular field of education. Apparently it feels that there is no need to inquire as to what are the rights of students who intend to attend these institutes or whether the students who could pursue a particular form of education are financially able to do so.
We realise that there are certain classes of students who will be able to attend these important institutes of technology, and there are certain classes who will not be able to attend. In speaking of those who will not be able to attend, I do not refer to the men and women who are not qualified academically to attend; I refer more particularly to those whose parents cannot afford to send them there. Another class embraces those who are not likely to succeed at a university even though they may have fulfilled the requirements for admission to faculties there. Then there are those who are left because of their personal choice to go to these institutes.
Has the Government given any consideration to the rights of those who cannot afford to attend those institutes? I know that a limited number of scholarships is made available, but is the number adequate not only to meet the needs of the nation but to meet the rights of the students who elect to attend these places? I suggest that the Government has given very little, if any, consideration to this important aspect. We must all attribute proper motives even to our opponents, and we on this side have always elected to do that. Irrespective of how irresponsible or how ineffective or how inefficient the efforts of the Government may be, irrespective of how callous the Government’s disregard of the people’s needs may be, we have never suggested that the Goverment has been spurred on or stimulated by improper motives. At least, that has been my attitude. I always extend to the Government the benefit of the doubt. Every criminal, political or otherwise, is entitled to the benefit of the doubt. But here again we have this haphazard approach.
We do not condemn the provision of money for the building of science laboratories, nor do we deny to the Government the right to provide equipment. Never have we said no to the provision of scholarships in the fields of secondary and tertiary education. But we do say that the Government has a responsibility. Did the Government ever seek from the Queensland Government reasons to establish justification for seeking this alteration in the formula for the distribution of these moneys? Have circumstances changed there? Has the cost of proposed undertakings differed from the estimates submitted by the Queensland Government’s officers? Has this Government ever asked the Queensland Government how the estimates were made? Or has the Government made a completely superficial approach to the problem? Is the Government seized of the fact that it has a responsibility to look into fundamentals?
If a State government is going to use money provided by the Commonwealth
Government then I believe that the State government has a responsibility to supply all necessary details to the national Government. But, more important than that, the Commonwealth Government has a responsibility to those who pay direct taxes, and more particularly those who pay indirect taxes, although they can ill afford to do so, to investigate fully the case submitted by the State Government in order that it might know exactly why a change has been requested and why it should agree to make a change. But this Government has been only cursory in its examination of the problem.
This is a simple Bill and the Government has a responsibility to pursue all these things to their ultimate conclusion. When it makes money available to the States on an altered formula, it should see that it is provided with clear-cut logical reasons to justify the alteration of the formula. I do not think that the Government has done this through its Minister. If the Minister has made full inquiries, if he is convinced in his own mind, he has not made this clear to those who are entitled to know it. I refer more particularly to the people generally and to honourable senators on this side of the chamber in particular. Again we have this constant pernicious approach by the Government. One might almost call it a nefarious approach, but that would be a contemptuous or offensive word.
It is certainly an unworthy approach to attempt to limit discussion by limiting the title of a bill. If the Government were confident in its approach, if it were fully seized of its responsibility to the people I believe it would be only too anxious to have the fullest, the widest, the most complete discussion on any subject it puts before this chamber. Even if the Minister rises to his feet and says: ‘My predecessors in government limited the titles of bills for the purpose of limiting discussion,’ I still think it is a pernicious practice, unworthy of any government that has the confidence of the people. If, for example, a subject as wide as education or health comes before this chamber or the other place, why should there be any limit to the discussion, particularly on the second reading of a bill? I can quite understand the limitation of discussion to particular clauses when a bill is being considered in Committee, but when the subject under consideration affects the lives of a greater or lesser number of people in this country, whether they be children, adolescents or adults, there can be no justification, moral, political or otherwise for limiting the discussion.
I agree that discussion should be limited if it is taken outside the field under consideration, but the Chair is vested with authority to see that one does not transgress beyond the subject under discussion. Over the years, this Government and its predecessors apparently have regarded it as important that the titles of bills should be specifically limited to prevent our dealing with injustices inflicted on the people and to prevent our making worthwhile suggestions to the Government in relation to a particular field of human endeavour. I will not say that it is beyond my comprehension why the Government does that. I know it is done because the Government Is politically inefficient, has a don’t care attitude and lacks a sense of fundamental reasoning. The only pride that the Government can take is taken through the agencies associated with it. I refer particularly to the media of mass communications and the political forces which are on occasions allied with the Government.
– The honourable senator is only joking.
– Not at all. That is a realism. I know this does not pass the Minister’s comprehension, because he is too decent and believes in the truth. Government members can take pride in obtaining a majority of votes, but it is beyond me how they can rest content, with a clear conscience, knowing that they have deluded the people and frustrated their aspirations and have denied this country the justifiable economic advancement and development to which it is entitled.
We are dealing now with a short Bill which has a short title. The Minister delivered a short second reading speech and was almost cavalier in his attitude. The Minister for Education and Science, who has been honoured by the people, through the Prime Minister, in being appointed to the important position he now holds, has treated not only members of the Opposition but also the public with contempt.
– This is a dictatorship.
– In his usual pithy way my friend has referred to this as dictatorship. I do not agree with him. I do not think these senior members of the Government know how to be efficient dictators. I do not think they aspire to be dictators. I think they aspire only to remain in office for as long as they can, however destructive this might be to Australia’s interests and the rights of Australian citizens.
I appeal to the Minister that in future, when he has a simple Bill like this to present to the Parliament, a Bill which relates merely to an alteration in the allocation of funds for three institutes of technology, he at least take the trouble to provide us with basic information. Why is the allocation of funds being changed? He told us that the estimates have been altered, but there is no reason why the estimates should have been altered. Have conditions in Rockhampton, Toowoomba, or Brisbane changed? Was there a variation in the tenders of contractors? Did the men working in these buildings in Toowoomba or Rockhampton receive higher rates of pay than the workers in Brisbane received? Was the remuneration paid to the teachers in these institutes different?
The Minister has not said one word about those things. He came into the chamber and made a simple bald statement in the contemptuous way which is characteristic of him in the Parliament but so different from his affable, hospitable manner outside. He said, in effect: The Opposition can take it or leave it’. It is a shame that a Minister so well groomed, so well trained and with such a good educational background, does not bring into this chamber the extraordinary good manners, affability and courtesy which are so characteristic of him outside.
I plead with him to treat members of the Oppostion better than he has and to regard the people of this country as having a basic right to the fullest knowledge that is available and that can be obtained if he would only make the effort. The people have that basic democratic right, and the Government has a basic democratic responsibility to make available the fullest information so that a considered judgment can be made.
Does this Government feel that if the people of Australia were placed in possession of all the facts they would reject out of hand this unholy alliance of the Liberal and Country Parties? Does the Government fear that it would lose office if the people were placed in possession of all the facts? Surely if Government members were true democrats at heart they would not deny the rights of the people. Surely they would have nothing to fear if they upheld their ideals, if they were convinced that what they did was right and if they used their best endeavours and their talents for the good of this country. 1 say to the Minister: ‘Do not be cavalier; do not be contemptuous when you come into this chamber with any Bill. That is beneath you’. I know that other Ministers of limited talents, but not necessarily lacking in energy or conscience, may treat the Senate to only the briefest statements, but they are not masters of their particular fields of political endeavour. That does not apply to the Minister for Education and Science. That attitude is unbecoming to the dignity of this chamber and makes no real contribution to democratic discussion.
– I support this Bill. As the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) has pointed out, the Bill is designed merely to alter the allocation of funds as between the three colleges mentioned. No additional funds are involved. The change has been made at the request of the Queensland Government. Senator Dittmer said that we were not told the reason for the change. I suggest that the Minister stated very clearly that the change was being made because costs have risen since the estimates were prepared some years ago. Senator Dittmer levelled a lot of destructive criticism at. us. He said that we had deluded the people. The honourable senator, who led the debate for the Opposition, apparently wants to delay the operations of these colleges of advanced education. He suggested . that a committee of inquiry should be set up. As we all know, this would only delay things. The Commonwealth Government, in conjunction with the Queensland Government, has got these colleges into operation. The colleges at Toowoomba and Rockhampton were opened this year. I might mention in passing that the party to which the honour able senator belonged, which was in office in Queensland for so long, did not agree that these colleges should be constructed. Now in addition to the colleges at Toowoomba and Rockhampton we have a university at Townsville and a pastoral college at Longreach.
– There was no Commonwealth aid in those days.
– No. Another point to be made about these institutes of technology, particularly the Capricornia and Darling Downs colleges, is that they have been erected in areas which are already educational centres. Because this education is available in their local areas pupils do not have to pay board for living away from home.
I should like to see, in the two colleges outside Brisbane, more courses suitable for careers on the land. Many boys and girls in those areas come from families which are on the land and would like an education which would be useful to them in the future. Now that these two colleges have been established, they may be used as the basis for university colleges similar to the one at. Townsville, which I believe will come into existence in the not too distant future, as development proceeds. This will assist decentralisation in Queensland. I am very pleased to see that these colleges are now established facts and going concerns. They are a credit to the two governments concerned.
Senator Dittmer criticised the title of the Bill and said that it limited discussion. I would hate to see wide open discussion. The Minister mentioned that the currency of the principal Act ended on 31st December 1966, but it has been extended. The Act gave the Minister power to extend it. The provisions of this Bill will not limit or hold back in any way the construction of the college in Brisbane. As has been mentioned, part of the money for that college will come out of the next allocation. I congratulate the Minister, the Commonwealth Government and the -Queensland Government on the work they have done in getting these three colleges of advanced education started in Queensland.
– I take the unusual step - for me, anyway - of saying quite sincerely that I congratulate Senator Dittmer on making one point in his speech on this Bill. He said one thing with which I can agree. I do not think I have heard him do that for quite a long time. The one thing which he said, which can be proved to be correct and with which I agree is that this is a very simple Bill. It certainly did not give or should not have given the opportunity to traverse the field that he attempted to traverse in his speech. The simplicity of the Bill was demonstrated by the remarks made by my colleague, Senator Lawrie. Basically, it was explained to us by the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton).
I do not know any more about this matter than what I have learnt from the Minister’s speech and the Bill itself. Principally that is that the Queensland Education Department saw the opportunity to proceed a little more quickly than it had planned to proceed with the Rockhampton and Toowoomba colleges. Because of the need for these units in those areas, the Department took advantage of the opportunity to proceed more quickly. Then it did the normal thing, the thing that would be expected of anybody. It approached the Minister, from whom the funds for the colleges come, and said: “This is the situation: we can do this work a little more quickly than we planned to do it. We are quite prepared to take out of the next allocation the final amount for the Brisbane college and put it into the Rockhampton and Toowoomba colleges. Will you permit this change?’ Of course, the Minister, being a reasonable man, agreed.
There is no variation in the quantum of money. The only variation is that the Queensland Government is anxious to bring these facilities to Rockhampton and Toowoomba a little more quickly than it planned. Naturally, it has received the co-operation of the Minister in doing that. It will finish up with the same amount of money that it would have received otherwise, as far as the Brisbane college is concerned. That is why I say that this is a simple Bill. To use the debate on it as a forum for traversing again the field that an honourable senator traversed a little earlier is sheer irresponsibility.
– That is incorrect. The honourable senator will not get away with that.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order!
– Whilst I say that it is sheer irresponsibility, I also say that it is characteristic of the honourable senator.
– in reply - I wish to reply to a few of the points made during this debate. I am very sorry that my good friend, Senator Dittmer, should regard me as cavalier, particularly in relation to the tide of this Bill. There is a long standing but perhaps old fashioned idea that the title of a Bill should explain what the Bill does. What this Bill does is amend the Schedule to the States Grants (Advanced Education) Act 1965. That is why its title is:
A Bill for an Act to amend the Schedule to the States Grants (Advanced Education) Act 1965.
The Bill was not given that title out of malice aforethought in order to prevent Senator Dittmer embarking on any flights of fancy to which he might be attracted.
Again we heard the suggestion that the whole matter of assistance to colleges of advanced education was approached in a haphazard way, without any proper planning, without any idea of what was required and without any seeking to find out what was required. However, I am sure that Senator Dittmer, on reflection, will remember that the Government appointed the Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education, under the chairmanship of Sir Leslie Martin, which brought in a report which was presented to the Parliament in 1964. Does the honourable senator remember? In that report the Committee propounded the way in which these colleges should be established. It selected certain colleges for which it recommended certain sums of money. The Toowoomba and Rockhampton colleges were two of those. So if this was done haphazardly, it was done haphazardly by that Committee.
The honourable senator will also remember that subsequently a quite distinguished committee was appointed to advise the Commonwealth on the establishment of these colleges of advanced education. It brought in a report, which was presented to the Parliament, after it had discussed with all the State Education Departments their needs and plans and after it had formed its own views. This Parliament adopted that report and the financial recommendations contained in it, which brought the amount of money being spent in this field from $20m in the last triennium to $90m in the next - a pretty considerable rise. So there was no haphazard approach.
– Were these institutes, when they were established, in a position to cater for the rights and needs of the students–
– To which institutes is the honourable senator referring?
– The Minister is not going to pin me down. I am speaking about the overall picture. Were the institutes of technology–
– I am prepared to answer a question, but not to listen to a speech.
– The Minister is handling the money–
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order!
– I am handling the Bill. The next point that Senator Dittmer raised in the course of his speech was whether the Commonwealth Government went along and asked the Queensland Government whether it wanted to make this alteration. He said that the answer was no, and he was quite right. The Commonwealth did not approach the Queensland Government; the Queensland Government came along and asked us to make the alteration. After all, these colleges are set up under a Queensland Act. The Queensland Government is the constructing authority. It was the body that was in a position to make the approach.
The second reading speech covers every other point that the honourable senator made, with one possible exception. If he wants information on what colleges in Brisbane will not be held back as a result of the Bill that is now before us but will be paid for from money that we have already appropriated for the current triennium, he can obtain it. The Bill being as simple as its title implies, I will leave it at that.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 4 April (vide page 476), on motion by Senator Gorton:
That the Bills be now read a second time.
– Mr Deputy President, many great things have come out of Vienna including the great musical works of world famous composers and the great discoveries of famous medical men. But in the Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities Bill 1967 we are dealing with the contribution which was made in Vienna to international law touching the intimate relations of governments with other governments through the medium of their representatives. The Conference at Vienna known as the Vienna Conference on Diplomatic Intercourse and Immunities arose as the result of a resolution of the United Nations. I refer to General Assembly Resolution 1450 (XIV) which expressed the desire of the General Assembly that an international conference of plenipotentiaries be convened to consider the question of diplomatic intercourse and immunities.
The resolution requested that all States members of the United Nations, States members of the specialised agencies and States parties to the Statute of the International Court of Justice attend the conference. Eighty-one such States attended. The Conference was not restricted to States because the specialised agencies and intergovernmental organisations were represented also at the Vienna Conference by means of observers.
The Conference considered in great detail the customary law which had applied through the ages dealing with diplomatic immunities and diplomatic relations. From that Conference emerged the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities. The Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities Bill seeks to apply some of the provisions of that Convention to Australia and to give those provisions the force of law. To do that it has been necessary to amend the Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities Act and associated Acts. Therefore we have these six Bills now before the Senate.
The Conference at Vienna discussed the various ways in which the immunity of diplomats should be regarded. The immumity for diplomats had been considered throughout the ages to arise first of all from a sort of extension of the personality of the sovereign of the country which was sending the diplomat. So, an ambassador from Great Britain was treated in Germany as being the alternate personality of the actual sovereign of Great Britain. He was present as the sovereign’s own direct and personal representative. He was to be treated for most purposes as if he were the sovereign himself visiting the host country. So there was one basis upon which the immunity was to be granted. The immunity was there to be given because it was a recognition of the inviolability of the sovereign of the sending country. It was regarded as being necessary for proper respect and dignity to be given to the sovereign of the sending country. Therefore there was an extremely wide immunity surrounding the diplomat. He was not liable to be arrested. He was not liable to be dealt with by the courts of the host country in any way at all. His own person was immune and the persons of his servants and those surrounding him were all treated in the same way as the sovereign would be if he were there himself.
The next basis upon which the immunity has been regarded is the basis of extraterritoriality as if the mission, the embassy or premises occupied by the diplomat in the host country were a piece of the sending country. This is something like the notion of the warship that carried the sovereign with it. It was regarded as if it was a little piece of the sending country detached and floating around in the host country. We see this still applying in the modern day where we have sanctuary applying to the embassy. This has been availed of in Europe and elsewhere in times of turmoil in the host country and for various other purposes. In recent times a doctrine has arisen that the immunity should be regarded as one of necessity. In order that the functions of the diplomat shall be able to be performed properly, it was necessary that some immunity surround him and surround the premises and the goods of the diplomat. That third doctrine which seems to be prevailing is that of functional necessity. It carries with it the notion that the immunity should be limited and defined by the necessities of the case, we no longer look upon the matter as though this were magic or dignity surrounding a sending sovereign, but we must consider how far it is necessary that a diplomat or his associates and servants should be immune, so that the proper functions of diplomacy and its associated functions may be performed in modern times.
So we have some changes. We have perhaps a tendency to extend some of the immunities and a tendency to contract some of them. The contractions seem to be of those associated not with the principal diplomat but with his staff, who have ancillary functions. The main Bill - the Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities Bill - therefore provides in its main part, which is clause 7, that subject to the proposed section:
The provisions of Articles 1, 22 to 24 (inclusive) and 27 to 40 (inclusive) of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations shall have the force of law in Australia and every Territory of the Commonwealth.
These articles deal with very many important matters indeed. Article 22 provides that:
The premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents of the receiving State may not enter them except with the consent of the head of mission.
This is in line with the old notion of extraterritoriality, and it also accords with the modern conception of functional necessity. How can a modern diplomat properly fulfil his functions unless he has complete control over the premises of his own mission, so that papers may be kept secret, conferences may be held and all other confidential activities may be conducted in secrecy and without fear that at any time the premises may be invaded? We see that articles such as this are necessary, because we have witnessed in modern times the breach of such customary law of nations. In many countries the premises of diplomatic missions have been invaded. The host countries have failed in their duty to protect the missions. This is, of course, a great contravention of the comity which should properly exist between nations. The host country has a duty to ensure that its officials do not invade the premises of the sending country. It also has a duty, obviously, to see that its citizens are not permitted to do so, either by organised or unorganised action. No civilised man would regard with anything but disapproval the conduct of countries which have repeatedly permitted this article to be breached. The obligation is set out in precise terms in the second part of article 22 of the Convention:
The receiving State is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity.
The premises of the mission, their furnishings and other property thereon and the means of transport of the mission shall be immune from search, requisition, attachment or execution.
The adjacent articles provide for exemption from all kinds of dues and taxes so far as the mission itself is concerned, and extend the inviolability of the premises to the archives and documents of the mission. Article 27 and subsequent articles deal with matters such as freedom of communication between the diplomatic mission and the sending country. The principal provision is:
The receiving Stats shall permit and protect free communication on the part of the mission for all official purposes. lt provides that communication by all appropriate means may be indulged in by the sending state with its own mission. There is a provision however for qualification of this right in the case of wireless transmitters, because article 27 provides:
However, the mission may install and use a wireless transmitter only with the consent of the receiving State.
As the Minister will be aware, this matter gave rise to great controversy at the Vienna Convention Conference. While many matters were quite clear as to the immunities and rights of a mission, the various countries assembled at the conference were able to resolve only with difficulty the question of wireless transmitters, because considerations of security, including perhaps spying, are related to the use of wireless communication.
The traditional privilege that the diplomatic bag shall not be opened or detained was carried on, and by this Bill we will give this the force of law in this country
The immunities of the diplomat so far as the courts of the host country are concerned are again carried over by this Convention, and will be confirmed here by the Bill. However, there are some changes so far as minor officials are concerned. It is not necessary to deal with these matters in detail, because they follow from what I indicated was the modern doctrine of functional necessity. Following the older doctrine of the dignity of the sovereign, it was felt once that complete immunity surrounded the servants, even to the lowest domestic servant or the chauffeur. Anyone at all on the establishment of the diplomat was regarded as completely protected by this immunity. This notion no longer obtains, and because of the proliferation of embassies and the extension of diplomatic immunity to the officials of the specialised agencies of the United Nations, limitation was placed on the classes of persons who could claim diplomatic immunity. Otherwise in other countries there would be a great number of people who would be effectively outside the ordinary law of the host countries.
We approve of the Bill. It is encouraging to see that the Government is taking some comparatively prompt action to give force of law to an international convention of this character. If we criticise the Government for its conduct in this respect, it is almost always a criticism that the Government has failed to act. It has a tendency to go to international bodies, to take part in the discussion of those bodies, perhaps to sign a convention and sometimes to ratify it, but then to fail to take action to carry out the obligations which it has assumed internationally. On many other occasions lists have been given of conventions upon which we have really failed to act nationally even though we have taken part in bringing them into being internationally. No criticism can be levelled in this instance. Although the whole of the Convention has not been adopted by this Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities Bill, some parts of it are dealt with in the other Bills which are associated with this Bill. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) has indicated that even these Bills do not set out the whole of the action which the Government intends to take in order to give effect in Australia to the Vienna Convention.
Mr President, the Income Tax Assessment Bill, the Pay-roll Tax Assessment Bill and the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Bill give effect to the various parts of the Vienna Convention which deal with those matters. Broadly, the heads of diplomatic missions in Australia and certain members of their staffs are exempted from Australian tax on income derived from Australian sources or gained here. It is provided that they shall be exempt from Australian tax on official remuneration and income from Australian sources. Similarly, there is exemption from the pay-roll tax provisions because it would be quite inconsistent with the notion of a diplomatic mission and the immunities which would properly surround it if the Australian community were to require such a mission to pay pay-roll tax. That would be an invasion of the relations which exist between the mission and its own staff. Our community should not be concerned at all with such matters, and in accordance with the Convention we have properly excluded those people from the operation of our revenue laws. Similarly, there are exemptions which, not only observe the minimum provisions of the Vienna Convention, but which, in some respects, go further than the Convention requires in the direction of giving immunity to those on the staffs of the missions.
The Bill is an extremely important one because we are dealing with the community of nations. Nations must send representatives to carry out their activities properly. We recognise that by joining in such a Convention, not only do we give protection to the officials who are sent here from other countries, but we induce other countries to act similarly towards our officials who are sent there to carry out these important tasks. Therefore, we have pleasure in joining with the Government in commending the Bill to honourable senators.
– I too intend to confine my remarks to the principal Bill without dealing with the ancillary Bills. To quite a large degree my comments will overlap some of those that have b°en made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy). First of all, I believe that this is an extremely important Bill because quite frequently the application of diplomatic privileges and immunities can be a matter of considerable delicacy. Because of the delicacy of it, I am very glad that at this stage we are ratifying the Vienna Convention. The Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) in his second reading speech referred to the fact that fifty-seven countries, I think, had accepted this Convention. He also referred to certain nations, specifically Britain, Canada, and the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics.
For my part, I am interested to know whether all of the countries which are represented diplomatically in Australia have themselves become signatories to this Convention. To the best of my knowledge, there are approximately forty-four diplomatic missions in Australia. I have tried to check the number in the latest diplomatic list. If forty-four countries are represented in Australia and if fifty-seven countries signed the Convention, it is logical to expect that the countries which are represented here have signed it. By way of a comparison, I had a look at the reports of the three conventions which were referred to by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) in answer to a question yesterday and in a recent Press report. Whilst these conventions deal with almost identical subjects, in the broad, it was rather curious that fiftytwo countries have signed one convention, fifty-five have signed the second, and fortynine have signed the third. I mention that merely to show that there is no real conformity in this matter. I think that it would be desirable for the Minister to arrange for the list of signatories to be made available to anybody who cared to see it.
Of course, matters of very grave importance are included in this Convention. There are matters which are, superficially anyway, comparatively minor. I suppose that in the broad one can say that the matters which deal with traffic offences would come within the latter category of being relatively minor. On the other hand, they can make a great contribution towards establishing or damaging good will. I have had some administrative experience in this particular matter. One country which was represented in Queensland was most persistent in ignoring minor traffic laws. We found it extremely difficult to lodge final responsibility with those people who were, in fact, to blame. It would be one officer on one occasion and on another occasion it would be a different officer. I have found from the Minister’s speech that it is quite legitimate and quite natural when such things happen and become too persistent for the matter to be referred to the Department of External affairs so that an individual may be declared non persona grata. But this becomes a little difficult when the problem continues to arise from one embassy but in respect of different individuals. It also becomes a little more difficult because there is a considerable reluctance on the part of many people - and I think this would apply to the police departments in most States - to take the final step which can be so very damaging to an individual or individuals. From this point of view I think it would be helpful if we were aware of the countries which are signatories to the Convention.
I move from that because I do not want to take too much time on this subject and come now to what I believe is an extremely important matter. I refer to the section which deals with articles 22 to 30 and 36. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate referred to this aspect in a little more detail than I intend to do. In the last few years on quite a number of occasions embassies have not been treated with the respect due to them as set out in the articles. Hence it becomes quite a responsibility for the receiving state to see that that sort of thing does not occur, or does not continue to occur. I return to the point I have already made twice: I think it would be advantageous and helpful if we were to know the names of the states which are signatories to the Convention.
On the next point to which I wish to refer I am seeking clarification. 1 have no doubt that there is a very simple explanation but I have not been able to discern it in my reading of the articles or of the Minister’s second reading speech. The Minister pointed out in his speech that there is complete immunity for certain senior officers of a mission - a head of mission is one, and I think that the first, second and third secretaries are also specifically mentioned. They are immune from civil and criminal jurisdictions in the country in which they are serving, not only in respect of their official acts but also in respect of their personal acts. I do not think that any honourable senator would attempt to quarrel with that provision.
I come now to the section dealing’ with the administrative and technical staff of a diplomatic mission - the typists, clerks and so on - in other words, the technical people. They have complete immunity for their official acts but in relation to their nonofficial acts they have no immunity in respect of civil jurisdiction. I do not disagree with that provision. I think it is perfectly desirable that such people should have a considerable responsibility in relation to their nonofficial acts. Although members of the technical staff have no immunity in respect of the civil jurisdiction, they are given immunity in respect of the criminal jurisdiction of the receiving state. This seems to be a little illogical. If in their unofficial acts they have no immunity in respect of the civil law, why have they immunity from the criminal law? I have no doubt that there is a very simple answer. I am interested in this aspect but I have not been able to find the answer. I am quite sure that the Minister will very quickly put me right.
The next point to which I wish to refer is the question of civil claims. The Minister dealt with the settlement of claims in his second reading speech where he said:
Moreover, the Vienna Conference passed an important resolution which recommends that governments waive the immunity of members of diplomatic missions in respect of civil claims when this can be done without impeding the performance of the functions of the mission. The resolution also recommends that, should a mission not waive immunity, the sending state should use its best endeavours to bring about a just settlement of the claim.
I do not think any honourable senator would disagree with that provision. However, quite considerable disadvantage could be placed on a resident of a country because as the provision is worded, he would not receive any recompense for damage he suffered through a member of a diplomatic mission, notwithstanding the fact that the mission would use its best endeavours. The Minister went on to say:
I do not want to leave the impression that I am of the opinion that claims to diplomatic immunity may never cause inconvenience or hardship . . .
I assume that that means inconvenience or hardship to a resident of the receiving country who is injured. I hope that a way will be found to remove any doubt about the settlement of claims made by residents injured in those circumstances. I am sure that in most countries, including Australia, every effort would be made to see that an individual suffering personal injury received recompense. We regard that as important in our Australian law and I think we should regard it as important in its application :o this legislation.
The only other point to which I wish to refer is the provision for immunity from customs and excise for diplomatic missions. I am in favour of its inclusion. We should recognise of course that this is not a ‘perk’, if I might use that word, for the members of missions. It is a concession to the sending state. I have had the opportunity on several occasions of seeing the work that is done by our overseas officers. I think the Department of External Affairs has every reason to be proud of the way its officers advance the image of Australia and help people outside Australia to recognise not only the work that Australia is doing in the international field, but also our products and their quality. We all know that senior officers, and especially heads of missions, have to attend a great number of social functions. Indeed, I do not know how on earth they put up with this day after day and week after week. But they do, and they do it with great distinction, and I have a great deal of sympathy for them. They receive hospitality and they must give it in the same degree. At functions given by senior officers of Australian missions overseas citizens of the countries where the missions are situated have an opportunity to sample Australia’s wares. It is interesting to note, as I have noted on several occasions, that they are favourably impressed by Australia’s products, which they have been enabled to sample purely by the hospitality offered to them by the mission. It is important that we do all we can to make this possible.
I have mentioned only two or three aspects of these measures. I hope I have made it clear that I am delighted that a Convention that has already been signed is now being ratified by the Parliament. It is obvious that this action has the support of all. The Leader of the Opposition has signified the Opposition’s support and all on the Government side of the Parliament are agreed that the Convention ought to be ratified. I am proud to have had an oppor tunity to state my support of the action that is being taken.
– Ma-dam Acting Deputy President, I support the previous speakers in the broad approach that they have adopted towards the measures now before us. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) discussed in extremely lucid fashion the events that have led to the introduction of this legislation. Like Senator Morris, I shall confine my observations to several of the many aspects of these measures. The first stems from a passage in the second reading speech made by the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton), which appears at page 472 of Hansard. It is in these terms:
Australia cannot expect that its overseas missions and their staffs should receive more generous treatment than that which Australia is prepared to concede to overseas diplomatic missions and their staffs in Australia.
One of the important developments in recent times has been the general conceding of the right of self expression - the right of those opposed to a foreign government to convey to its representatives in another country their views on a matter having relation to both countries. This process is fraught with considerable dangers, of course. Reading the history of the events that led to World War II, I was always intrigued by the combinations of people such as Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee and Greenwood who joined together in expressing concern at the march of Adolf Hitler. When in those days approaches v/ere made to the German Embassy in London, we heard complaints about opponents of a foreign government intruding on the legitimate presence of that government’s representatives in London, and the like. We know that in post-war Australia from time to time objections, complaints and demonstrations have occurred with respect ot a variety of issues. These have involved the Governments of Holland, the United States of America, Greece, Spain and Portugal. There has been a complete turn of the wheel in the attitude towards this sort of thing. In recent years organisations such as the Baltic Freedom Group and Lithuanian groups in this country have objected to the actions of governments in other countries, and there have even been mild demonstrations outside this Parliament.
I say at the outset that I certainly do not deny the right of complaint or objection. This legislation, if it does nothing else, will, 1 am sure, define the rights of representatives of a foreign power in Australia and probably the rights of representatives of Australia in other countries with respect to groups or individuals who may have legitimate complaints. The passage in the Minister’s second reading speech that I have quoted makes me a little apprehensive about what may happen if some elements in the Australian community want to go beyond the carrying of banners, shouting and the like in future demonstrations and protests. In the United Kingdom, under the Macmillan Government, the Home Government and the present Labour Government, Scotland Yard has always seemed able to adopt a consistent attitude. There were demonstrations up to a point when Bulganin and Khrushchev visited London and also when Queen Frederika of Greece was there, but the Government, through Scotland Yard, appeared to keep those demonstrations within bounds. Perhaps I could put the issue this way: If one has a dog that has rabies, one destroys it even though one may be an animal lover. But how should we deal with a person who has political rabies? How far should we go, bearing in mind the democratic right of free speech to which we adhere? I pose that question for the Minister. On one occasion when I asked him a rather ambiguous question I noticed a gleam in his eye. 1 think he knew what I was getting al.
The legislation now before us has a specific purpose. The passage from the second reading speech that I have read relates to reciprocal treatment, including the protection of the staffs of diplomatic missions. I think that both the Minister and the relevant Commonwealth authorities know that there are in the Australian community people who have already indulged in dynamiting activities. Fortunately, noone has been hurt, except one of those who practised them. What are we to do about this sort of thing? Are we to allow it to happen in this city or elsewhere? I sincerely hope that the Department of External Affairs, which will be responsible for the operation of this legislation, will not be sold a pup by other Federal authorities that should move in very quietly and emulate Scotland Yard. When B. and K., at one extreme, and Queen Frederika of Greece, at the other extreme, visited London, passions were inflamed, but matters did not get to the dynamiting stage. I stress the activities of the Croatian group in Australia because of a series of incidents which have occurred in recent years and in which banners carrying slogans have been waved. But direct violence has not occurred in this country as it has in West German cities and in the United States where residences of members of staffs of Yugoslavian embassies and consulates have been attacked. However, I believe that we should take those events in other countries as a warning. I sincerely hope that the authorities in Canberra will avoid similar occurrences in Australia and will display the good sense that has characterised the governments of the United Kingdom and some other countries where fairly solid minorities, some representing the far left and some representing the far right, have voiced their objections to numerous rulers of other countries. This good sense of which I speak is, I believe, a sign of diplomatic maturity. I am sure that senior Ministers agree with me that in the Australian community people should have the right to express their views, even though sometimes we find that those views are repugnant to us.
In the light of the passage from the second reading speech that 1 have read, I believe that in the implementation of the legislation now before us the Department of External Affairs will receive the full co-operation of other instrumentalities and departments, which there is no need for me to name. I believe that this sort of cooperation will enable us to avoid unfortunate incidents in Canberra and other cities. I sincerely trust that we shall see no extremes of violence in this country. I acknowledge that I have strong views on these matters. Let us suppose that a foreign embassy in Australia acts as host to one of its countrymen who visits Australia on matters connected with trade, for example. A person who wishes to have a member of his family allowed to leave that country and united with relatives here or who strongly opposes the government of the country concerned may decide to picket the embassy and to carry a banner bearing slogans. This may be harmless enough, but that person may decide to hurl a few rather unsavoury epithets at every person who enters or leaves the embassy. Such conduct would amount to complete prostitution of the right of free speech. As a matter of fact, when Mr Lesic was out here I spoke to him and asked what his objective was and I got a tirade of abuse. I found that senior police officers in New South Wales and I were all regarded as more or less receiving monetary assistance from European countries. When people get as mentally sick as that they are dangerous. This brings me back to what I said earlier. What do we do with people who suffer from political rabies? Let us not forget that what happened in Sydney could happen in Canberra. Anybody can toss a stick of gelignite. It may be somebody’s son, daughter, mother or wife who escapes death but loses an arm or leg. I believe that this sort of thing should be nipped in the bud.
I repeat that we have had certain warnings in some of the capital cities and I believe that the situation has to be faced. When we recall the history of the coal miners in Pennsylvania we remember that certain people started protests with dynamite. Let us not have any illusions. Some of those early coal mine owners were very ruthless and as far as I am concerned or as far as the trade union movement is concerned, they more or less asked for retaliation. If it ended only with demolishing a few trucks of coal, it might be all right, but when human life is at stake that is another matter. I feel that the Government should give more than nominal attention to the concept of this legislation and other governments departments will have to be right on the ball.
The other matter to which I want to refer relates to the taxation field. I rely on you, Madam Acting Deputy President, to guide me on this. I notice that on page 475 of Hansard there is a reference to taxation generally. I should like to ask the Minister a question in order to obtain clarification. Assuming that there are reciprocal agreements, what is the situation when an Australian national, born of foreign or nonBritish stock, is in Europe and obtains employment at an Australian embassy? Is he subject to the income tax laws of the country he is in, notwithstanding that he has British citizenship? Is he subject to the pay ment of income tax in that country on the wages that he receives? If he is, are his wages tax free in Australia? What is the broad position? Conversely, what is the position of the staffs of foreign embassies in Australia? If, in the first instance, our people are subject to taxation by the government of a European country, does the situation operate in reverse in Australia?
– It has been interesting to follow the debate on the Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities Bill - first, the speech of the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton), then the explanation by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) of the basis upon which it is put, and then a few practical matters to which Senator Morris referred. With great respect to Senator Mulvihill, I say that it seems to me that what he was directing our attention to was the potential of anarchists which may or may not be directed against sovereigns or diplomats, and the particular relevance that it had to this Bill was that sovereigns, or diplomats representing sovereigns, are more likely than are ordinary people to attract an expression of national dislike. 1 am conscious that, in that brief reference, I have done less than justice to what Senator Mulvihill said. I just mention it as a viewpoint that occurred to me during his remarks.
We are engaged in the process of incorporating in the law of Australia in relation to diplomatic privileges and immunities certain provisions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 which, we are told, was the product of the International Law Commission. It represented the fusion of the thinking of jurists and members of governments. A great many nations there assembled were able to codify for the purposes of that Convention what were thought to be the proper rules to govern the municipal law of the various member countries of that Convention on this subject at the present time.
I think that Great Britain has now adopted the Vienna Convention but up to 1961, 1962 or 1963 she managed to get along simply by formulating appropriate rules on this subject from time to time in the process of the common law, with one exception which arose out of a political incident in Queen Anne’s reign, when the representative of Peter the Great was set upon rather rudely, and to expiate the wrath of the Russian monarch of that day-
– Were they red guards?
– I do not think so. The Bear was appeased by the passage through the British Parliament of a Bill which declared in effect that diplomats were entitled to privileges. The point is that our home grown system of common law evolved out of this structure a department of law that did accord to diplomatic representatives immunities during their term of office. The reasoning for that was put before us. I thought quite interestingly, by Senator Murphy. I want to make just one comment with regard to this matter. I feel that I should offer an explanation to my colleagues on this side of the chamber who have worked with me in studying this Bill. I say that because we had a committee within the party and we had the good offices of the Minister’s advisers and perhaps took too little time in the consideration of the Bill. But I suppose it underlines the viewpoint of the Germans who think that public matters should be discussed twice, once in a speech when sober and again in a speech when drunk. Out of the two, perhaps, a more robust understanding comes.
The viewpoint that I want to put just for the purpose of consideration is this: These diplomatic immunities and the very word ‘privileges’ echo a time when we were dealing with monarchs, emperors, kings and princes and all of their regalia. I was reading just recently a book which in a phrase draws the dividing line between the world of princes and the world of people during about the first twenty years of this century. It was given real definition, I expect, by the First World War. After speaking of the Kaiser, Prince Henry and so forth - this follows what Senator Mulvihill had to say in some respects - the writer continues:
The world such men and their monarchs lived in was crumbling while they danced and played on their yachts, in their palaces, at their balls and banquets, and strutted at their glittering parades. The power game had been wonderful and exhilarating, the sabre rattling, the displays of might, the chastisement of lesser peoples. The game was up. Austin mobilised to punish Serbia. Russia mobilised to aid Serbia and to protect herself against Austria. Germany mobilised to aid Austria.
Then the first world catastrophe occurred and I believe the world swung into a greater realisation that, in the nations, the people were governed by their representative governments, not by princes, kings or emperors. I beg you to hear me say that some of these privileges and immunities derive from the idea that they are appropriate to the exalted prestige of their excellencies and their majesties, all on the scale of regal thought. At that time, as between kings and their citizens, it was the common thought that a right of action did not lie with a citizen against his government for wrong doing.
In the Australian States, we accepted the viewpoint that the citizen had a right of action against his own government- in the nineties. This Commonwealth accepted that viewpoint by provisions in the Constitution which were implemented by the Judiciary Act passed in the first two or three years of the existence of the Commonwealth. When I tell honourable senators that Great Britain has enacted that viewpoint as late as within the last two decades, they will appreciate how. with conservation, governments have grudged giving to their citizens a right of action for governmental wrong doing.
After adopting that viewpoint, we have grown to the idea that we should, in a spirit of social service and of the welfare state, expand the scope of action that citizens may bring against their governments. Politicians today seem to be obsessed by the idea that it is necessary to compete in the fields of those benefits that they can offer for votes. In England, in the last few years, we have had a demonstration of this on a level that I will not describe because I do not wish to be provocative. However, there passed into legislation a broad compensatory scheme to give a right of action before a board, appealable to the courts, I think, for victims of crimes on the basis that the government of the country, representing the society of the country, has an obligation to compensate the victim of crime who suffers injury by personal violence.
This has been transplanted into New South Wales and I mention it because mention has been made of it in my own State. I hope that what I can say will arrest any rabid idea to accelerate the notion. But I am not here to discuss that today. It will be seen that there is implicit in the idea the thought that, having given an individual right of action against the Government by a citizen, the scope can be broadened to give him, not only an individual right of action for wrong doing, but an individual right to obtain compensation from his country’s Treasury if he falls victim of a crime.
– But third party insurance would be the nominal defendant.
– There it is not a matter of access to the public’s money. There is access to a pool subscribed by people who are compelled by law to pay premiums. Senator Cavanagh anticipates the reference that I was going to make with regard to another scheme. Whereas reckless driving is a crime, negligent driving is not. A man whose injury is due to his own negligent driving gets no compensation under the third party insurance scheme, but the victim of reckless driving does. Take the case of a country that has a terrible disaster such as a bush fire which may be due in some degree to weakness of administration or inefficiency of machinery provided by the State for the purpose of protecting the community against such a disaster. Is there any remedy by way of compensation as a right to the subject in such a case?
The point I make in relation to this Bill is that one of the reasons - and I should think the real reason - for legislation of this sort is the necessity, despite the hot line between Washington and Moscow, still to have diplomatic representation in one another’s countries for effective communication between countries. Whatever we say of the advantages of reciprocal visits between nations as fostering friendship, it should undoubtedly be recognised that the establishment of diplomatic missions in various countries is one of the direct means of promoting friendship between governments. They have business to transact and therefore these diplomatic missions are necessary.
If we want our Australian Embassy in Moscow to be secure and safe, it is an obvious balance of justice that we accord security and safety to the Soviet Embassy here. Or if we want our Embassy in Indonesia to be safe, we give reciprocal security and safety here. The interest that this country has in this according to embassies that are accredited here this privilege and immunity is that we bargain with the other States that our embassies there will have immunity and privilege. But once we say in this country that there shall be complete immunity from criminal law for the heads of the Russian or Indonesian or German mission in this country we expose our citizens to injury at their instance without any recompense in our courts for that injury. If we buy immunity for our officials in the countries to which they are accredited on those terms, I suggest it is an interesting view that the time has come when the Government that gives immunity to diplomats in this way and so denies its own citizens recourse to Australian courts to get recovery should give serious thought to the position. Suppose a diplomatic car speeds throught the north of Brisbane tonight and injures XY and normally, XY would be entitled to $20,000 compensation for negligence. By this Bill, XY is rendered without remedy.
– Not entirely.
– I suggest that my learned and esteemed friend consider the matter before interrupting.
– If he sticks to the brigalow and keeps off international law it will be better for him.
– I did not say that. As I have said, the plaintiff who in ordinary circumstances would have a right of action for $20,000 is left without remedy. I put that viewpoint notwithstanding the suggestion to the contrary by Senator Morris, because the Minister in his second reading speech has explained that the real effect of this Bill is to deprive the Australian citizen who suffers wrongdoing at the instance of -a diplomat of a right of action in our courts. Undoubtedly the Government is concerned to gain security for our diplomats abroad by granting corresponding immunity to foreign diplomats in Australia, but in doing this our citizens are automatically denied a right of action. We have moved on from the days of emperors, kings and monarchs and are now living in a modern age in which countries, not sovereigns, exchange representatives. The Australian people’s representatives in Indonesia, for example, must be safeguarded so that they can discharge their functions in Australia’s interests, but iri granting corresponding safeguards to Indonesia’s representatives in Australia we may well deny an Australian citizen a right of action against a foreign diplomat. I believe that the government which denies its own citizen a right of action against a foreign diplomat should automatically accept liability for the injury suffered by that citizen.
I believe that although the granting of immunity to foreign diplomats in Australia is essential to the security of our diplomats abroad we should consider at an early stage compensating our own citizens who are denied a right to compensation because of the immunity granted to a foreign diplomat. Following Senator Morris’s thoughtful observation a few moments ago it is appropriate that I direct attention to the following portion of the Ministers second reading speech:
As I shall mention again later, this-
That is to say, diplomatic privilege - does not mean that diplomatic agents are not required to respect the laws of the receiving state. They are so required.
That is ambiguous and may be misunderstood. It goes too far. There is no legal obligation on diplomatic agents to respect these laws.
– They are expected to do so.
– That is the point, but in this Parliament, which exists only for the purpose of making laws -
– They are required, as well as expected, to do so.
– But in what sense are they required? I suggest it should indicate that it is desired that they respect the laws of the receiving state. Certain diplomatic sanctions can be applied if a diplomat does not conform to the laws of the receiving state, but the application of those sanctions depends upon a person being able to influence a government to action. Most citizens, and some members of Parliament, are badly handicapped in that respect, and it is only when a person has access to the courts of law of the country that he feels on an equal basis of independence.
– Article 32 deals with that aspect.
– I think it is dealt with much better, from Senator Morris’s viewpoint, in article 9, which gives the receiving state an absolute right to declare any member of a foreign mission to be persona non grata. The article goes on in this way:
In any such case, the sending State shall, as appropriate, either recall the person concerned or terminate his functions with the mission.
That is an expression of the diplomatic sanction which is available but, having regard to the courtesies which are exhibited among diplomats, one does not often find a country lightly naming a member of a diplomatic mission as persona non grata, and if a private individual is involved he has the task of moving a government to action to get even that far. If I am lying on the broad of my back with two broken legs which will not permit me to return to my job on the railways it is not much consolation to me to know that the offending diplomat has been sent home, particularly when I know that if I had been run down by Senator Morris north of Brisbane 1 would have received $20,000 from the court.
As the Minister said in his second reading speech, this Bill consolidates the law and, as I understand it, affords no immunity or privilege to diplomatic missions beyond the scope of the Bill. I suggest that it purports to be an exhaustive statement of the Australian law on this subject from this time forward. I notice that the Minister said that the Convention to which this Bill gives expression makes ‘some significant changes, indeed some significant reductions, in the scope of diplomatic privileges and immunities’. In the first place, the head of a mission is given complete immunity in respect of civil or criminal acts within the receiving country. Secondly, full immunity is conferred on the diplomatic staffs of a mission; that is to say, the ambassador, the minister, the high commissioner and the charge d’affaires and members of the diplomatic staff of that mission.
The Minister then dealt with administrative and technical staff. As Senator Morris said in the course of his speech, they have immunity only in respect of their official acts; in respect of non-official acts they have no immunity from the civil jurisdiction, but they are given immunity from the criminal jurisdiction.
– I suppose the reason is that, for the full efficacy of the idea that the mission itself should be unimpeded in performing its functions, high ranking members of it cannot be subjected to the criminal law.
– They cannot be in gaol awaiting trial, for instance.
– As Senator Murphy appropriately remarks, one of the procedures for the enforcement of the criminal law is arrest. We have habeas corpus and that sort of thing; but a person would be constrained in his liberty simply on presentation of the charge. Service staff of a mission are accorded complete immunity only in relation to their official acts, and private servants only such immunity as is accorded by the receiving State. The Minister also said that the Convention reduces the extent to which members of diplomatic missions are entitled to privileges under the customs law. I wish to refer to taxation as a separate matter.
I shall now make one or two brief comments on particular articles of the Convention. I will not go into detail as would be appropriate in Committee. I will merely indicate a few of the essential points of this Convention, as I see them. Article 3 refers to the functions of a diplomatic mission. The idea behind describing the functions is that from this definition people will know what acts are within the scope of the official duties of a diplomat. It is reassuring to note the sub-paragraph (d) of paragraph 1 of this article states:
I emphasise the words ‘lawful means’. 1 have referred to article 9 which states that the receiving state is entitled to declare a diplomat persona non grata without having to explain its decision, and thereupon the sending country is obliged - not by law, but by the terms of this Convention, because we have no law that binds that country vis-a-vis this country - to recall that diplomat.
It is important to notice that under article 22 the premises of the mission are inviolable; that agents of the receiving state may not enter them. As Senator Murphy said, no doubt the receiving state has not only that obligation but also an obligation to enforce its own law against anarchists and unlawful intruders, such as the people who intruded into the British embassy in Indonesia, to prevent its own citizens unlawfully entering an embassy, although they are not agents. Paragraph 3 of that article states that the premises of the mission and their belongings are immune from search, requisition, attachment or execution.
Article 27 relates to the freedom of communication and is very important, lt says that the receiving state shall permit and protect free communication on the part of the mission for ali official purposes. I notice that one of the points mentioned brings this subject into line with modern usage. Paragraph 7 refers to a ‘diplomatic courier’. That is an old term of the days when it took about six weeks for news of the Battle of Trafalgar to get to London. I should think that the word ‘courier’ was more appropriate at that time than it is today. Under paragraph 7 the captain of an aircraft can be used to carry a diplomatic bag and immunity can still be retained for that bag.
The other provisions that I mentioned by reference to the Minister’s second reading speech are in article 33 and the following articles. They give detailed definitions of immunities from the right of action. In the Minister’s second reading speech we are told that it is possible for the sending country to waive these immunities. We are told that that is becoming more or less accepted as the appropriate thing to do in the case of non-official actions. Of course, that depends upon exhortation and advice and not upon law. We are also told that there is now a growing disposition on the part of countries whose diplomats infringe the law of the country in which they are stationed to pay or to go to arbitration and to settle disputes in that way, and so accept some measure of responsibility. But that is a modified responsibility and does not give a complete remedy to the injured citizen.
I said that I had reserved the matter of taxation for separate reference. It may be referred to in other articles, but it is referred to in articles 23, 34 and 36. The broad substance of those articles has been stated both in the Minister’s second reading speech and in Senator Murphy’s speech. It is interesting to note that article 23 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations provides:
I have read article 23 because I would be obliged if, during the Committee stages of the Bills, that expression could be eludicated.
I referred also to article 34 which provides:
A diplomatic agent shall be exempt from all dues and taxes, personal or real, national, regional or municipal, except:
indirect taxes of a kind which are normally incorporated in the price of goods or services:
dues and taxes on private immovable property situated in the territory of the receiving State, unless he holds it on behalf of the sending State for the purposes of the mission.
Article 34 goes on to deal with estate and succession duties and dues and taxes on private income having its source in the receiving State. It refers also to capital taxes on investments made in commercial undertakings in the receiving state. It refers also to charges levied for specific services rendered and registration and court or record fees. I find it very interesting to see that income that is receivable in the receiving stale from commercial undertakings arising from interests there has been exempted from immunity for income tax.
– That is excepted.
– Yes. There is no immunity for income that is derived from investments in commercial undertakings in the receiving states. Article 36 of the Vienna Convention provides:
The importance of that phrase ought to be considered: permit entry of and grant exemption from all customs duties, taxes and related charges other than charges for storage, cartage and similar services, on.
That provision is confined to the diplomatic agent and his family.
We have been told the extent to which we are giving exemption for income tax and customs duty purposes. We have been told that there has been evidence of not infrequent abuses of customs duty immunity in Australia. That is why the law has been tightened up. In relation to motor cars, for instance, it has been customary to require an undertaking that a motor car imported into Australia should not be sold in Australia within two years. Hitherto, there has been no real remedy for a breach of that undertaking or the repetitive abuse of it. Now provision is being made whereby the immunity can be withdrawn if there are instances where that undertaking has been breached.
The only other thing to which I wish to refer in the taxation field is the instance where the Minister has told us that we are extending the privilege of diplomatic representatives so as to give them, it seems to me, a corresponding advantage with regard to excise with that which they enjoy regarding customs duty: I suppose that this is to induce the Berliners not always to call for Berlin beer but to sample good Cascade’ beer and so promote local sales rather than give advantages to imports. In this regard, I refer honourable senators to the speech delivered by the Minister for Education and Science when introducing these Bills. The Minister said:
The Government proposes that excise concessions should be granted on the same basis as customs concessions.
We also propose to give exemption from sales tax in respect of these things that diplomats are now obtaining direct from bond.
Mr Acting Deputy President,I would be most obliged if the Minister would give to me some information as to the origin of the immunity that diplomats enjoy respecting taxation. I have not had time to conduct any research into the subject. It does seem to me that the question of immunity from taxation is one which ought to be considered in practical terras in modern times when commercial dealings are conducted so much more rapidly than was the case fifty years ago and the proliferation of new states throughout the world will lead to the establishment of many more embassies in various countries. I offer the suggestion with great deference that the taxation that citizens of the receiving country pay would not really impede the efficacy of the mission. Let me take an illustration. I have been furnished with the figures of the number of diplomats and their staffs that were estimated to be in Australia in March of this year. These figures interest me. They show that the number of diplomatic agents was 278; administrative and technical staff was 243; service staff was 59; and private servants 89. This makes a total of 669. We, of course, have not been paid the compliment of having as many diplomatic missions here as one finds in some European countries. I mention that simply because of the multiplication of personnel involved in this in relation to the need for the efficient functioning of a mission to have this immunity from taxation.
In conclusion, may I be permitted to express the gratitude that I feel to the Minister for External Affairs, the right honourable Paul Hasluck, for having had these Bills prepared in quite good time after the agreement on the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. I also express my thanks to him for the considerable care with which he furnished information in notes. His advisers were good enough to confer with my colleagues and myself to explain these Bills. It is a source of great satisfaction to- us to have a full discussion on a measure of this sort in its passage through the Parliament. I support the Bill.
– In reply - I think the points touched upon in the second reading debate by various speakers might be better answered one by one as the Bill goes through the committee stage. That seems to me a tidier and more simple procedure. However, Senator Morris asked whether a list could be provided of countries which have diplomatic representation in Australia. I have that list and also an indication of the countries which have ratified the convention we propose to ratify. With the concurrence of honourable senators, I incorporate this list in Hansard.
Those countries marked with an asterisk were, on 13th April 1967, parties to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
asked, a question with which Senator Wright dealt, in a way. Senator Mulvihill asked what would happen if Yugoslavia set up an embassy in Canberra and a member of a minority group from Yugoslavia broke the law by throwing something at the embassy or damaging the property or assaulting the personnel. The honourable senator asked what we would propose to do about such an incident. I am not sure what the honourable senator had in mind as to what we could do to prevent some individual attacking any embassy at any time. It does happen. I am glad to say it happens more often overseas than it does in Australia. When the nationals of one country get exasperated with another sometimes action is taken by a demented individual, such as the man who shot President Kennedy. That type of aberration cannot be prevented; but certainly all the protection normally expected would be provided by the Australian Government if it were requested or if the Australian Government knew from information in its possession that protection was required.
Senator Mulvihill also asked a question on taxation. I did not understand the question, but officers of the Taxation
Branch sitting near me understood it. The answer they have provided is that an Australian citizen abroad who is employed at an Australian diplomatic post would be exempt from tax abroad if the laws of the foreign country so provided. If, however, he was taxed abroad on the income he earned that income would not be subject again to income tax in Australia. In the converse situation, a foreign national here who took employment in his own country’s diplomatic post would be exempt from income tax on bis remuneration in Australia unless he were permanently resident in Australia. I do not know whether that answers the point raised by the honourable senator.
Senator Wright mentioned the question of just what immunities diplomats and their staff would have, and just what sanctions there are against a misuse of the immunities they have. I should like to say at the beginning that I do not accept the proposition put before us by Senator Wright that these diplomatic immunities stem from some time when there were emperors, kings or princes in various parts of the world. I believe they stem from the necessity to see that envoys of a country are not subject to pressure by a law whether justified or not because it could be pretended to be justified. This happened in, for example, the time of the French Directory. Diplomatic representation is not confined, nor has it ever been confined, to representations between crowned heads. There certainly has been representation between crowned heads, but the basic fact is that it is representation between the head of one country whoever it might be and the head of another country. This applies whether it is Queen Elizabeth the Second as head of the United Kingdom and President Johnson, or between some other persons as heads of state. The essential thing is the need to ensure that the envoys of some country with whom the head of another country might be displeased and on whom the head of state might wish to exert pressure, shall be free from being attacked, imprisoned, mulcted or in any way damaged. To ensure that he is free from such action it is necessary to ensure that he is free from it altogether.
– The functional necessity theory.
– I said the practice originated in times when kings were more plentiful than democrats.
– Nevertheless tha question now is to what stage we will have proceeded by ratifying this Convention. We will have proceeded to a stage where ordinary employees of an embassy are not free from having civil action brought against them but are free from having criminal action brought against them. Senator Morris found this a little surprising and asked for the reasons. I would say they stem from the same reasons I have just propounded to the Senate as to why diplomats needed in the past, and need in the present, the protection of an envoy. In the case of a criminal act it would almost certainly be the State which would bring an action against somebody for having committed the offence. The matter of a State being able to bring an action in such cases quite clearly could be used to harass or exert pressure on staffs. On the other hand it is not necessary to go further and prevent a civil person from taking action if he believes he has been damaged in some way.
So what is conferred on the heads of mission and accredited diplomats is complete immunity, as is the case now, both from civil action and from criminal action. As Senator Wright pointed out, this is the law. But it is not in fact as bald as it might appear because there is provision for quite significant sanctions against the law being broken. It is spelt out in the Convention that diplomats are expected, and I think required, to respect the laws of the country in which they live. Article 41 of the Convention states:
Without prejudice to their privileges and immunities, it is the duty of all persons enjoying such privileges and immunities .to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State.
– But we have not adopted that or given it the force of law by this Bill.
– It is the approach that is generally made.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 28 February (vide page 124), on the following paper presented by Senator Gorton:
University Research Expenditure - Ministerial Statement. and on motion by Senator Murphy:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
– Mr Presi dent. I do not wish to do more than ask that this motion be passed by the Senate, because on Thursday night of last week considerable discussion was had by the Senate on the subject matter of the statement. Honourable senators may recall that a motion was moved by me and the debate had not concluded at the time of the adjournment of the Senate. It still appears on the notice paper as order of the day No. 7. It reads:
That the Senate expresses its concern at the failure to make such arrangements as would ensure adequate finance for post-graduate research in the universities.
The statement of which I moved that the Senate take note is the statement which was, to a considerable extent, the foundation statement for the motion which I moved last Thursday night. If we were to discuss the motion relating to order of the day No. 1 it would mean that the Senate would unnecessarily be going across the same ground as is incorporated in the motion which I moved last Thursday night. Therefore, I do not propose to say anything further on this matter.
– I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) that it would be far more satisfactory for the Senate simply to take note of the particular paper which I have presented. I hope and trust that at a later stage we will be able to continue the discussion that we have had in a wider field and which I enjoyed very much.
Debate resumed from 2 March (vide 232), on the following paper presented by Senator McKellar:
No.5 War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal - Report and on motion by Senator Bishop:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
– The Opposition has studied the annual report of the No. 5 War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal for the period ended 3 1st January 1967. It is in fact the second report of this special and temporary Tribunal which was set up by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) as a means of overcoming the backlag in determining appeals. First I want to indicate that we have a few points to make about the report. We have no objection to the report, nor have we any objection to the fact that the Tribunal has now completed its task. The Tribunal was established in October 1965 as a result of a debate on repatriation that took place in this chamber.
Arising from questions concerning delays in determining appeals, the Minister indicated that he would consider what action he should take. He said that he would probably make a statement in Adelaide at the national congress of the Returned Services League. He made such a statement on 25th October 1965. At this congress he recognised the fact that representations had been made to him by exservicemen’s organisations and members of Parliament concerning delays in the hearing of appeals. For the purpose of the record I shall read what the Minister said to the national congress in Adelaide. He stated:
Entitlement Appeal Tribunals: A most important area within the repatriation system is the operation of the Entitlement Appeal Tribunals - the independent statutory bodies which provide the final avenue of approach for those seeking acceptance of their disabilities as war-caused. The work of the Tribunal is a matter of considerable importance to me and I know that the League has been greatly interested over the years in the capacity of the present system to deal expeditiously with the flow of appeals to the Tribunals.
I have been giving close attention to this matter in recent times particularly in relation to the time which can elapse between the lodging of an appeal and its final disposal.
Bank-up Cases: The present four Tribunals have been able to cope satisfactorily with current workload, but there are some difficulties in making an impression on the bank-up of cases. This, of course, arises from the need to balance a fair hearing with reasonable speed in determining claims.
He went on to point out that he had decided to set up a temporary War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal, that a Chairman had been secured and that it was anticipated that this Tribunal would operate for twelve months with the express purpose of trying to overcome the delay in the hearing of appeals. During debates in the Senate submissions have been made to the Minister concerning this delay in the hearing of appeals, and no doubt representations have been made by the Returned Services League. From my own inquiries I have found that the purpose for which the Tribunal was established has been fulfilled.
I want to quickly refer to one or two points which were made by the Tribunal, and I shall come to some general conclusions. The Tribunal refers to the fact that this is its final report. At page 2 it sets out some figures which I think we ought to consider. I only mention them as a matter of consideration. In the past, when dealing with repatriation matters generally but particularly with the question of appeals, we have found that a great number of applications are lodged and a great number of appeals are disallowed. I am not arguing now about the merits of the applications or whether or not disallowance was justified, but I think that we might consider this point. On page 2 of the Tribunal’s report it is stated that 267 appeals were successful and 2,011 were disallowed. Only 46 appeals were heard but not determined by the end of the period. As I have mentioned, this is the second report.
It is fair to say that the Tribunal did its work fairly efficiently and satisfactorily disposed of almost all of the outstanding cases. I think that the large number of disallowed cases always attracts the interest of honourable senators in debates in this chamber. It is a matter that ought to be looked at in the light of the general conditions of repatriation to see how it might appear if other evidence were advanced. I would like to refer quickly to some figures which have been presented by the Returned Services League. I have taken out some figures from the 50th annual report which refer to cases which have been heard. From 1st January 1965 to 31st December 1965 2,623 applications were received from veterans of World War I. There were 357 applications allowed and 2,137 were disallowed. There were 8,381 applications received from veterans of World War II and the veterans from later operations. There were 1,429 applications allowed and 6,278 were dis allowed. The figures for total applications, which I have got from all sources available, show that at the end of December 1965, 979 applications were pending from World War I veterans. There had been 70,724 applications received, of which 10,274 had been allowed and 55,259 disallowed. In respect of the veterans of World War II and for those who had served in later operations, 3,133 applications were pending. I admit that this tribunal did a lot to clear up the list of pending cases. The general figures interest me and I shall cite them. Of 80,292 applications received, 12,468 were allowed and 60,484 were disallowed. The Opposition recognises that the Tribunal has done a very good job.
This seems to me to be a good opportunity to refer to an aspect of the Government’s work in the repatriation sphere which has always interested me. I wish to repeat what has been said before by the Minister and by honourable senators on this side of the chamber about people who do not record their sickness or disabilities during their service. In September 1966 when we were discussing important repatriation matters we exchanged views on the need for servicemen to have proper records. In the absence of proper records servicemen have relied in repatriation applications upon diaries, as the Minister has said. In other cases they have tried to find witnesses who have not been available. In this connection I wish to read the Hansard report of 21st September 1966 of a speech I made on repatriation matters. At page 605 it states:
But great dissatisfaction has arisen from that section over the years. I lake up the point that Senator Wright made earlier in relation to the statement by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar). I echo the Minister’s advice to ex-servicemen. There is no question that the best advice to ex-servicemen is that they should attend before a doctor, at a first aid post or a medical sector with any complaint. If the ex-serviceman concerned leaves the Army or any other branch of the Services without anything on his record, it will be difficult to prove that he suffered disabilities as a result of war service.
The Minister said in the same debate:
I should like to emphasise - I hope honourable senators will emphasise this to the young chaps who are going away today, because they could not be given better advice on repatriation - that servicemen, before they are discharged from the Service in which they are serving, should make sure that they have a really good medical check-up.
One of the troubles over the years has been that too many men have been anxious to get out of the Service - this is only natural - and have said: There is nothing wrong with mc: I am all right.’ They omitted to mention things which at that stage were perhaps only minor complaints . . .
I think the remarks I have quoted might properly be associated with the comments of the Opposition in relation to an important repatriation tribunal. The Opposition has no reason to argue that the special tribunal should be continued, having discharged the job for which it was especially set up.
– 1 think it is a good idea that notice should be taken of as many reports of repatriation tribunals as is possible. They are tabled from time to time in the Senate and it is certainly of some encouragement to the people who go to a lot of trouble to compile the reports when they are referred to in the Senate. Of course so many reports are tabled that it would be very difficult indeed to hold debates on all of them, but clearly it is a good idea that debates should be held on some of them or at least some notice taken of as many reports as possible.
I wish to thank Senator Bishop for his remarks about the report that has been tabled. He was factual and fair and his comments in the main were quite helpful. He was correct in outlining the position that led to the formation of No. 5 War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal. When tabling the report I said that the objective in setting up this tribunal had been achieved because the list of about 2,500 outstanding appeals has now been cut clown. Had the tribunal not been formed, the lag would have continued, with delays ranging from about eight weeks to fourteen weeks or longer.
Inevitable delays occur in hearing appeals, one reason being that a tribunal should not be sent to a centre to hear about half a dozen cases. A lot of time and expense is involved in travelling and it is necessary to have a sufficient number of cases to justify the cost of sending an appeal tribunal to a city. The files necessary for the use of the tribunal before it makes its decisions must also be sent for presentation to the tribunal. Files of appeal cases may not all be in the one place. Some might be in a capital city but others might be at a hospital. Some files might be wilh a Repatriation Board for examination in connection with other appeals. All these factors cause delays and it is not possible for appeals to be heard in the course of a week, or even three weeks. Now that the great number of outstanding appeals has been cut down, it means that undue delays will not occur as happened before the formation of No. 5 War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal.
We were fortunate indeed in obtaining men willing to act on that tribunal and they did a very good job. I have expressed my thanks to them. One of the tribunal members has been given another position with the Repatriation Commission and I am sure that he will discharge his duties there very well indeed. I am pleased that Senator Bishop referred to the remarks I made in September last year and to the advice I gave to the men who are at present in the Services. I refer particularly to my comments relating to their discharge from the Services. I repeated that advice to the young chaps I saw in Vietnam and in the other areas I visited. We could not give them better advice. I hope that .ill honourable senators will take every opportunity to repeat that advice to servicemen.
Senator Bishop also referred to the fact that only a comparatively small number of appeals were allowed. Quite regularly a number of appeals are disallowed, but the honourable senator should remember that when an applicant comes before an Entitlement Appeal Tribunal, he previously would have had an opportunity to present his case before a Repatriation Board in his State. If his application were then accepted, he would not proceed to an Entitlement Appeal Tribunal. When an application is rejected by a Repatriation Board, an applicant may appeal to the Repatriation Commission, which might accept it or reject it. If it is again rejected, the applicant may proceed to an Entitlement Appeal Tribunal. So it is quite obvious that if every applicant first took his case to an Entitlement Appeal Tribunal, it would not be an appeal tribunal but an entitlement tribunal. An application is heard by an entitlement appeal tribunal only after it has been heard and rejected by the other bodies. So I think that, the other two bodies having considered each application first, it is fairly logical to expect that a considerable number of appeals will be disallowed.
We also come up against a question that is as old as repatriation itself, for it has been argued throughout the fifty years or more during which we have granted repatriation benefits. I refer to the question pf the benefit of the doubt being given to the applicant. In many instances it is only natural that an applicant will be disappointed after his appeal has been rejected and that he will feel that he has not been given the benefit of the doubt. I emphasise that if a reasonable doubt exists an entitlement appeal tribunal must give the benefit of that doubt to the applicant and decide in his favour. This is continually done. I believe that were these decisions made strictly in accordance with the provisions of the law many fewer appeals would be decided in favour of the applicants, Mr Deputy President. This is why, in so many of the letters that I send out in relation to this subject, I state that cases have been considered and decided according to substantial justice. The words ‘substantial justice’ are used deliberately. I believe that if we relied simply on the law as it stands many fewer of these appeals would be successful.
– I believe that the Minister is fooling himself.
– I know that the honourable senator and I do not agree on this matter.
– The Minister is asked to alter the law.
– That would not be in the interests of applicants.
– A lot more would receive the benefit of the doubt.
– I acknowledge that that is the honourable senator’s opinion, but it is not mine or that of the Returned Services League of Australia and other ex-servicemen’s organisations. They much prefer to have matters as they are in circumstances in which cases are not decided strictly according to legal requirements, for this means that the serviceman gets a much better go than he would otherwise receive.
– How could these cases be decided except according to legal requirements?
– I thought I had answered that question when I said that these cases are decided according to substantial justice. If they were to be decided strictly according to the law, the decision would be unfavourable to the applicant in many more instances.
– We ask only for a right of appeal on this question to be allowed by the law.
– I did not hear the honourable senator say that. I know that he has heard me express my views time and again and that he does not agree with them. It is his prerogative to disagree with me. However, I am firmly convinced that the present system of appeal affords the applicant a very fair opportunity to succeed in an application, and many ex-servicemen have asked for this system to continue. I know that many applicants are deserving of assistance and need it, but, as the Repatriation Act stands, despite the provision relating to the benefit of the doubt, we cannot grant that assistance.
– Why does the Government not amend the Act?
– Only this morning I had the privilege of addressing the South East Asian and South West Pacific Veterans Conference, which is attended by representatives of some ten nations. The visiting delegates were very interested to learn of the repatriation benefits that we in Australia provide. I was in the company of some of the delegates again this evening and one of them expressed his amazement at the fact that we are able to do as mud as we are doing to provide repatriation pensions and other benefits, including hospitalisation, though we are such a young country. I remind honourable senators that we in Australia pay repatriation pensions to more people than the United Kingdom does. There is no provision there for the benefit of the doubt to be exercised in favour of the ex-serviceman, and I believe that this is the main reason why we grant pensions and repatriation benefits to more people than receive them in the United Kingdom. We certainly have no wish to alter this situation, and I believe that what we are doing is what we should be doing.
I would like to remind honourable senators also, since some criticism has been directed at me by way of interjection, that our repatriation benefits have been increased every year since they came into existence. This is a circumstance in which, I believe, we can take a great deal of pride. I know that all the organisations that represent our ex-servicemen - there are many such bodies, not only in New South Wales but also in all the other States - annually request additional benefits. I believe that on the whole their requests are moderate. Naturally, those who head these organisations have to try to get the best possible deal for the men whom they represent. I recognise this and I realise that even if a request is acceded to today it will not be long before they are making additional requests. This is only human, since they have to try to get the best possible deal for the men whom they represent, just as a union advocate has to try to get the best possible deal for the members of his union. That is his job. It is one of the facts of life, and we have to recognise it as such. However, in spite of the criticism that is directed at us from time to time we have no doubt that the Australian repatriation system is equal to any. What is more, we are not satisfied with the system that we have. We hope to improve it, though perhaps not as rapidly as we would like, and certainly not as rapidly as the organisations representing ex-servicemen would like. But wc have large commitments throughout Australia and we have only a limited number of people to tax. Let us remember that we cannot provide the benefits that are asked lor unless we have sufficient money. I hope that in the next Budget we shall be able to improve on the provision that we were able to make in the last Budget. When that Budget was being considered, there was considerable discussion of repatriation benefits. I have no doubt that when the next Budget is being considered later this year we shall have much more discussion of the subject and I am confident that the forthcoming Budget will improve on the provision that we were able to make for repatriation in the current financial year.
The report of the No. 5 War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal for the year ended 31st January 1967 states that the Tribunal’s work could not have been as successful as it was had it not been helped by the RSL and kindred organisations. We are very grateful indeed for the co-operation that we received from these organisations. As I have told their representatives repeatedly, without that co-operation the Repatriation Department could not do as good a job as it is doing. There is one respect in particular in which the exservicemen’s organisations can help us. Sometimes an advocate appearing before a tribunal on behalf of an applicant feels that he can sense the feeling of the members of the tribunal. He may be right or he may bc wrong. However, if he believes he can sense that his client will not be successful, he can ask for a postponement. This only means extra delay in the hearing of the application, and I have commented on this fact to representatives of ex-servicemen’s organisations. Another cause of delay is that an applicant may not be able to attend on the day set down for hearing. Something may crop up and it may be found at a late stage that he is not able to appear. This happens repeatedly, and it is another cause of delay. In spite of delays such as these, however, I believe that the average waiting time for the hearing of applications has been cut to reasonable proportions. This has been due largely to the appointment of the No. 5 Tribunal, which has now been terminated. The other tribunals are at present dealing with approximately the same number of cases as the No. 5 Tribunal dealt with - something like 2,500 a year each, or a total of about 10,000 a year. They cannot go through them very quickly because, as we all recognise due and careful consideration must be given to each application.
I do not know how many honourable senators have had the opportunity to see tribunals work. Those who have will know that in most cases there is a very thick file giving details of what happened to the man or woman ever since he or she came into the armed Services. Honourable senators will remember that only the year before last for the first time we introduced an intermediate rate pension, which split the difference between the 100% rate, which was then £6, and the rate applicable to totally and permanently incapacitated persons, which was £14 5s. This meant that those persons who were given an entitlement to the intermediate rate received £10 a week. Since last year this amount has risen and it is now, of course, converted to dollars. I was somewhat surprised to see that the number of persons granted the intermediate rate was not nearly as great as I had expected. I have not had any figures on this aspect for some time. The numbers have certainly risen since I received the last lot of figures, but even so we have not nearly as many persons receiving the intermediate rate as we expected.
I should like to refresh the memories of honourable senators on this matter. A person on the intermediate rate may be able to work two or three days a week but cannot perform a full week’s work. We are quite happy if he or she earns, in addition to the pension of £10 a week, another £10 or $20 a week. That is quite all right by us. The purpose is to assist those persons who can work portion of a week but not a whole week. I wanted to take this opportunity to bring these facts before the Senate on this occasion. Once again I express my thanks to Senator Bishop for the manner in which he has discussed the report.
– Some of us did not get the Minister clearly-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Order!
– … in relation to his statement about onus of proof.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order!
– The organisations do not accept that statement.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order!
– That is all right. I have said what I wanted to say.
– I am forced into this debate by the expressed belief of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) in the sanctity of the tribunals and the great work they are doing. I do not want to discuss in this debate whether the benefits should be greater or smaller. That is a question for consideration when we are discussing the Repatriation Act. I do not want to comment on how our system compares with the systems of other countries. In the absence of any opposition, let us say that we have one of the best repatriation acts in the world.
I rise tonight to deal with the question of benefit of the doubt, which the Minister is convinced is being given to exservicemen. While one is dealing with heads of departments, one would possibly get that impression, but when one is trying to prepare and present a case for those who go before the tribunals he gets quite a contrary impression of how this principle works in the interests of the applicant.
It has been said by various authorities in this Parliament that the doubt must exist in the minds of the members of the tribunal. I think there is logic in that. One cannot run round till he gets a doctor who is favourable to him and then put up the argument that this doctor’s evidence must create a doubt. The tribunal has the right to decide which evidence it will accept. But I had a case in which five doctors said that the applicant was unable to work because of a war caused disability, but on going to the War Pensions Assessment Appeal Tribunal I found that the manner in which the Commissioner had applied himself to the reports of the five doctors was not a basis upon which the tribunal worked. The Appeals Tribunal comprises a solicitor, who sees that the appeal and the hearing are kept within the ambit of the Act, and two doctors who are specialists in the type of Injury which the applicant claims is the cause of his disability. This expert committee there and then makes an examination, despite the previous evidence, and decides whether or not the appeal is justified. Unless a doubt is raised in the minds of the examining doctors who are members of the tribunal there is no question of a doubt arising. The fact that one can produce the opinions of five doctors which are contrary to the opinions of the two doctors on the tribunal does not create a doubt. Although two of the five qualified medical practitioners who supported the appellant were specialists in the particular field, their evidence was rejected by the tribunal on the basis of the examination made by the two doctors who were members of the tribunal. There was then no doubt in the minds of members of the tribunal and there was no question of a doubt arising in that case.
I am at a disadvantage tonight because it was not my intention to take part in this debate. I could have supplied much documentary evidence on this question. When this matter was last debated in the Senate we asked that there be a final appeal to law whereby the whole of the evidence could be sifted in accordance with law to determine whether the application was in accordance with the terms of the Act and whether the evidence that was produced established that the applicant had a claim. This would also allow a court to determine whether there might be a doubt in the case. In the present circumstances, although we know the whole of a man’s war experience and we have the evidence of doctors who have examined him, all of this is disregarded because the doctors who are members of the tribunal are of a different opinion from the other doctors. No doubt is created in their minds and therefore the applicant loses his entitlement to a pension.
There are many hundreds, possibly thousands, of persons throughout Australia who believe that they have not received a fair go from the Repatriation Department because their disabilities have not been acknowledged to be war caused. We ask only that these persons be given the opportunity, which is given to any citizen who has a claim under any other Act, to have recourse to law, where he can have an examination made of his case. It can then be decided whether he has made out his claim or whether he has established a doubt. The matter should not be left as it is at present, when many applicants are deprived of entitlements which could be established if they could appeal to a final legal tribunal.
– I am sorry that Senator Cavanagh was perhaps caught unawares.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wedgwood) - Order! The Minister has already spoken and cannot speak again in this debate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 8 March (vide page 321), on the following paper presented by Senator Gorton;
Tenth Annual Report of the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission for the year ended 13 August 1966. and on the motion by Senator Cavanagh:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
– My purpose in moving this motion is to give the Senate an opportunity to examine the document that has been presented - the tenth annual report of the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I regret any advantage that I took over the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) a few moments ago in the previous debate, but I was moved to take part in that debate only by his remarks.
I am heartened by the remarks of the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) that it is his opinion that the annual report should be debated in the Senate because it contains some very important information. This report would possibly be as important as any document that comes before the Senate. The operations of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission affect the lives, the destiny and the welfare of large sections of our community. The report under consideration is the last one of the decade since the separation of the judiciary from the conciliation and arbitration system. Recognising this fact, the President of the Commission has included in it the annual reports for the nine immediately preceding years, with the result that we have in the one document the annual reports for each of the first ten years of operation of this new conciliation and arbitration setup. This enables us to trace the history of happenings within those ten years.
It is interesting to note that in its report for 1957, the first annual report by the Commission, the President mentions the lack of suitable accommodation in its Sydney offices. This complaint is contained in nine successive annual reports. Fortunately, in his report for 1966 the President says that he expects that in the latter half of 1967 alternative accommodation will be available in Sydney. The fact that he has complained for nine years about unsuitable accommodation would seem to indicate that the Government does not attach to the Commission the importance that I claim it should attach. This is a very important body and it should not be necessary to have to complain for nine years before the accommodation position is rectified. Apparently the new accommodation which is being provided in Sydney would not be satisfactory as permanent accommodation although much better than the present accommodation. Let us hope, therefore, that greater effort will be made to provide proper accommodation in the future.
In its first report, the Commission boastfully pointed out how it had caught up with its work. After that, there has been a gradual increase in the backlog of cases awaiting hearing until finally, in the report for 1966, we note that 335 applications are not yet finalised. This would indicate that the arbitration system is not working effectively, and it is important to the economy of the country, the welfare of the workers and the benefit of the employers that the system should work effectively.
The report under consideration points out that there is a lag of thirty months in the publication and reporting of decisions of the Commission. Although some roneoed copies of decisions are supplied, the publication of printed copies is a year behind the decisions. This, as the Commission says, is not good enough. This difficulty would appear to be due to lack of staff. On page 15 of his report, the President states:
These problems have arisen largely from the substantial year by year increase in the work of the Commission. Increases in the output of decisions have not been paralleled by the provision of servicing resources in the Registry. Following discussion on these matters with me the Registrar recently introduced regular overtime and adopted temporary measures to try to effect a quick improvement. I am informed that as a result of these palliatives we will, by early next year, have deleted at least six months from our back-log both of C.A.R.’s and printed pamphlets. However, 1 am satisfied that long term improvements will require more radical remedies and may involve staffing increases and possibly some changes in organisation within the Registry, as well as more expeditious drafting of orders by members of the Commission.
He points out that with the introduction of overtime, which is a costly procedure, we should be able to get reports and decisions of the Commission six months earlier. Instead of being thirty months behind, they will in future be only two years behind. This is not good enough for an important body such as this to the decisions of which the community looks for the proper regulation of industry. This information is needed to supply precedents in connection with cases pending before the court. We find, too, that in addition to a shortage of staff for the issue of reports and decisions there is a shortage of commissioners. On page 16 of his report the President states:
The three Conciliators arc kept extremely busy on responsible duties and consideration should be given to the question of an additional appointment. On 12 August 1966 the Minister for Labour and National Service announced Mr Conciliator Wilson’s appointment in an acting capacity as Assistant to the Public Service Arbitrator. Although it was anticipated that the Conciliator would still bc able to perforin a significant proportion of his normal duties as a Conciliator, his absences are keenly felt and should they continue, would make greater the need for an additional appointment. In this regard there is also the need for help in Sydney by the Commissioner concerned in the metal trades industry, a matter with which 1 deal later in this Report.
At the bottom of page 17, and continuing on page 1 8, the President states:
The Commissioners have had a particularly heavy burden of work and responsibility over the year and the appointment of an additional Commissioner is needed. This would not only help in the speedy treatment of disputes as they are notified but would also allow arrangements being made for a Commissioner to be regularly available to deal with sudden disputes in the metal trades industry particularly in Sydney, when the Commissioner concerned with that industry is engaged as he so often is, in lengthier hearings or hearings in other capital cities or towns. At present we are having difficulty in having a Commissioner and a Conciliator readily available in Sydney when. Mr Commissioner Winter is unavailable. This has led to delays in dealing with notifications of disputes in the metal trades in that city which I would hope to avoid.
The President of the Commission has said that delays are occurring in the important metal trades in Sydney which should be avoided, but they can only be avoided by the appointment of an additional commissioner. I ask the Minister to take note of this report and to recommend the appointment so that the present delays, which may result in strike action, can be avoided.
In discussing this report 1 want to emphasise the matter of over award payments. The report before us is the third submitted by the Commission. In its two previous reports it showed some concern about disputes as a result of over award payments. Because many of these disputes have not had interstate application but have been confined to only one industry in a particular locality the Commission has had no legal power to consider them, so the practice of settling them by private arbitration has been adopted. The Commission, in its two previous reports, has sought some direction as to the action which should be taken. In the 1965 report the President said that some investigation was necessary into this question of over award payments, and that until such investigation was conducted or some legislative direction was given the Commission would be unable to exercise any jurisdiction in these disputes. The report indicates that the Commission has acted as mediator in many disputes but the President believes that as no legal enforcement is possible they must be handled with an individual sense of justice.
As the President points out, over award payments are today an accepted principle of industrial relations. They are a demand for something in excess of the minimum rates of pay prescribed by the award. They are not really something to be frowned upon. I think that Mr Justice Kirby’s remarks at the conclusion of the report have a great bearing on the way in which we should approach this question. He said:
No matter how right the activities of the Commission may be in terms of pure logic, unless its work is seen by the community to fulfil a proper function and unless its results are manifestly acceptable to current thought, its efforts can be in vain in terms of achieving the objectives of the legislation. Because of this, the President of the Commission has a public relations function to discharge in addition to his other duties under the Act. In this context I am very happy to acknowledge that throughout the year under report I have been made welcome at many functions and meetings both of unions and employers’ organisations as well as at learned societies.
The President there acknowledges that he has a public function to perform other than merely sitting in arbitration. The Commission’s decisions must be manifestly accepted by the public. The Commission acknowledges that it is faced with a bigger question than arbitrating on a dispute when proper notification is given and when the Commission is constitutionally able to function.
The Commission points out that it has been unable to arbitrate on the question of over award payments. The President states that several questions must be considered. Firstly, do over award payments, which are justified, permit a disproportionate amount of the national wealth to go to certain individuals? I hope someone will convey these remarks to the Minister if he does not wake up before I have completed my address.
– What is the basis of the honourable senator’s suggestion that legislation is needed to guide the Commission in this field?
– Part of the process of wage adjustment is handled by the Commission only if the parties to the dispute agree to that course. According to the Commission, wage adjustments are the cause of some strikes and the resultant application of the penal provision of the Act. The Commission has a responsibility to maintain industrial peace if it can. It believes that if it had power to deal with over award payments it could save the the community much of the disruption which follows a strike - I indicate here that strikes in relation to this matter have increased in the last year - and avoid the anguish and hostility that follow the application of the penal provisions because strike action has been taken to obtain over award payments.
As the Commission points out, while it may be comparatively easy or comparatively just to demand and obtain over award payment in the more profitable industries, is it right that persons engaged in the less profitable industries should suffer? If a person belongs to one of the stronger unions, possibly only on the basis of numbers he may be able to obtain an over award payment, but is this a reason why that man and his colleagues should reap a disproportionate part of the national wealth? It may be that a particular worker belongs to a trade in which he cannot be replaced by another worker and that at a particular time demand for labour in that trade may be greater than the supply. Is that tradesman entitled to claim an over award payment because of the fortunate position in which he finds himself?
On the question whether this is one of the causes of strikes the President has this to say on page 18 of the report: 1 am aware that when the figures for man days lost in the present calendar year-
That is 1966 - are assembled they are likely to show a very substantial rise. I shall be forgiven, I hope, for pointing out that the increase has occurred almost entirely in areas where the Commission does no! function.
At the bottom of that page he said: lt has long been obvious that arbitration for minimum payments and bargaining for overaward payments must co-exist in this community. As far back as 1915 the then President of the Court, Mr Justice Higgins, recognised this. However, in the Higgins days their extent caused no significant problems in their effect on the economy generally, on the prescription of minimum rates by the arbitration tribunals or on the amount of industrial disharmony and disruption occurring in the bargaining area itself. Half a century later the position is vastly different in all three respects, particularly the last. lt is that last respect which has caused the most concern to the Commission, in regard to which the Commission seeks some direction and which is recognised as one of the methods of achieving wage justice. Whilst the basic wage is determined on the basis of what the economy can pay, if certain industries or industry as a whole can pay more the workers have a just right to share in that additional capacity. The President stated in his report that many aspects of this matter needed consideration. On page 13 he said:
I am indebted to the Industrial Registrar tor having undertaken this task of analysis the results of which convince me that the need for research in the over-award payment area applies to material which is in the possession of the Commission itself. I acknowledge this because I have in previous reports indicated my concern at the lack of research in this area. I am consulting with the Registrar as to methods by which the Commission itself can undertake useful research on its own material. This does not lessen the need for research by the organised employers and the organised unions and by economists both practising and academic but a start on the part of the Commission might well encourage the others concerned in this held. It is appreciated that this may require a more sophisticated analysis and presentation of information about the Commission’s work. The effort, I am sure, will bc well worth while if it assists the continuing debate in the community as to how best we can achieve the objects of the Act.
From that we see that the Commission, in administering the Act, has more responsibilities than to adjudicate on disputes. It has to have public confidence and a spirit of fairness, the fact that in recent years workers have been able to receive overaward payments indicates that the Commission’s decisions are not giving justice or what industry can pay and is prepared to pay.
– What is the limiting factor that inhibits the Commission in acting in that field?
– The limiting factor is the area of the individual dispute. Unless an interstate dispute can be created it is doubtful whether the Commission has any authority. I know that there has been a very liberal interpretation of the term interstate dispute’. The honourable senator will recall the statement that I quoted to the effect that the number of strikes in the area outside the Commission’s control is greater than the number in the area within its control. When there is a demand for over-award payments by the men employed at the Jones iron foundry in South Australia and they stop work, it is very questionable whether the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission can arbitrate on that dispute. It would appear from the report that the Commission would use its good offices in an attempt to settle the dispute.
Of course, the Commission has raised the pertinent question of what should be the guide lines for it in the field of over award payments, which is a new field of wage fixation of which the Commission is only now taking proper cognisance. As I read earlier, in 1915 Mr Justice Higgins recognised that it existed, but it was not important. However, in post-war years it has become important because of the shortage of manpower, the demands that can be made because of the strength of the unions, the strikes that occur and the disharmony and disruption in industry. The report from which I have quoted said that the amount of time lost through strikes in 1966 would be greater than that in previous years.
– If a dispute is not an interstate one, but purely an intrastate one, what is the deficiency in the State processes that prevents the State system operating?
– To answer that question I would have to make an examination of the various State industrial laws.
– Take South Australia. The honourable senator mentioned an industry in that State.
– In South Australia one could almost be hanged, drawn and quartered because the penal powers under its industrial law are more stringent than those under Commonwealth industrial law. Whereas under Commonwealth law a strike is illegal if a bans clause has been included in the award, the State industrial code not only makes striking illegal but makes taking action in the nature of a strike illegal, and the organisation or idividual concerned can be fined up to $1,000.
But the fact is that the States are becoming less and less active in policing thenawards. The employers are more concerned with their organisations which, immediately there is a strike, look to see whether any redress can be Obtained through the Commonwealth Commission. The unions do that to some extent, too. Whether the State court will be approached is a secondary consideration. I believe that the State court would have power to deal with these questions if they arose.
– Would the honourable senator say that every year there is a movement towards the Commonwealth Commission and away from the State courts?
– -Yes, every year there is a movement towards the Commonwealth Commission. Most cases would not be reported to the State courts. What is more important is the desire of the Commission, which regards itself as the standard wage fixing authority today, to have oversight of all methods of wage fixation and not to let one system of wage fixation operate without its supervision.
– Is the honourable senator saying that the trade union movement, particularly that section of it which has been successful in over-award payments disputes, wants the Commission to gain control of this field?
– No, I am not saying that. What I am suggesting is that the unions that have been successful with strike action set the example that more strike action must be taken to achieve greater results. If, because of strike action, an industry can afford to pay higher wages, I want to know why the workers are not paid without taking strike action.
These are complex matters which are causing the Commission concern. The Commission has suggested an inquiry. If the Commission makes its own limited inquiry, it may prompt the trade union organisation to make its own inquiry. It may prompt employers to make their own inquiry. It may prompt economists - as the Commission says, whether practical or academic - to make their inquiries. The practice of over award payments would suggest that the Commission has not provided a wage in excess of what industry is capable of paying. I do not suppose that the Commission could ever provide a wage that a particular industry could pay as the Commission more and more every day ls establishing a certain standard.
Therefore, with regard to these industries where an employee can command additional payment - in other words, an over award payment - I pose mis question: what are the conditions under which it is reasonable to expect a particular employer to pay over award wages in a particular industry? If it is found that a percentage of employers can pay a certain wage, ls it right that those employers should pay that additional wage and other employers not pay that wage possibly because they have not a profitable balance sheet? Is there any way of equalising this situation? Is there any way of obtaining better wage justice for employees? At the present time, the Commission determines a minimum wage. It seems to be married to the determination of a minimum wage. But is it right that certain employees should demand and obtain additional pay by strike action? Could this not be avoided by persuasion from the Commission that industry should pay a particular wage. This would be better than employees losing work by striking.
– The honourable senator seems to complain that if the Commission adopts the standard of a minimum wage there is no limit on the figure that it can fix as the minimum wage.
– The Commission fixes the minimum wage on the evidence put before it.
– There is a figure on which the Commission can decide as a minimum wage. Most members of the Commission before appointment to the Commission were members of the legal profession. I suppose that having adopted certain standards they are bound by the justice and the substantial merit of the case put before them, insofar as fixing a living award wage and a standard margin wage. The members of the Commission have before them a mass of evidence as to the state of the economy indicating what the ability of industry to pay is. Although I frequently disagree with the decisions handed down by the Commission, let us presume that on the evidence presented to it the Commission fixes a just wage on the maximum ability of industry to pay. The Commission finds then that a section of the work force - and it is becoming a greater section of the work force each year - by action other than briefing someone to appear before the Commission obtains a wage in excess of the minimum standard wage fixed by the Commission.
– Is not this so called criterion - the ability of industry to pay - the concept that the Commission has adopted? The Commission is free to change the criterion or to adopt other criteria, is it not?
– The Commission allegedly adopted the criterion of the ability of industry to pay on the basis that this provided greater justice to the employee than by fixing the bare living wage which would strip the family unit down to the bare necessities. The Commission considered the profits made by, and the development of, industry and decided that employees should share in the prosperity of the country generally. So, the Commission adopted the standard of the ability of industry to pay. The Commission fixes the wage on the basis of its finding as to the ability of industry to pay. This minimum wage would appear to be all that a worker in a poor industry without a strong union backing him can receive from his employer. But the craftsman in short supply in a large industry, with a strong union backing him, is receiving in fact a wage over and above the minimum wage prescribed for his particular craft by the Commission. The Commission is concerned at this over award payment because many times the worker is achieving this payment by strike action which disrupts the industrial life of the community.
This state of affairs could be avoided if the Commission had power to settle the dispute without depriving the employee of what he may be entitled to receive in his particular industry. This situation has grown and the Commission suggests that it represents a complex question that calls for an inquiry within its limited powers. Last year in its report, the Commission asked for a complete investigation into this matter. This year the Commission proposes that it make an investigation of the matter in the hope that this will inspire the trade unions, employer organisations and economists to carry out an investigation also.
I am suggesting that we should look into this matter in view of the fact that it is causing such concern to the Commission, in view of the fact that over award payments are causing a loss of man hours and in view of the fact that over award payments are recognised as legitimate payments. I suggest that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) should give very serious consideration to the matter and determine whether or not a committee should be appointed along the lines suggested by the Commission and the various other factions to examine this question. The Minister should determine whether a thorough inquiry should be held into the question of over award payments, how they should be implemented and what jurisdiction the Commission should have over them.
There is much more in this report that I could condemn. Because the subject of over award payments is an important and somewhat novel question, I decided to dwell exclusively on it in my speech. As I said in my opening remarks, the action taken to initiate a debate on this report is only the forerunner of many more moves by the Opposition to debate annual reports. This will promote discussion on reports which, the Minister for Repatriation said, would otherwise go unnoticed.
– I am quite interested in the tenth annual report of the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, Sir Richard Kirby, for the year ended 13th August 1966. I listended with considerable interest to what Senator Cavanagh had to say regarding the report. I hope that the honourable senator will not mind me saying this, or think that I am being presumptuous in saying it, but in the broad I think he has given a very fair analysis of the contents of the report. He certainly has said things with which I disagree, but I think that he had considerable reason for saying them because of the contents of the report itself. For that reason, I am happy to congratulate Senator Cavanagh on his speech. The honourable senator began by saying that there is great significance in this report because it represents the completion of the first ten years of operation of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission under the new process whereby there is a division between the Commonwealth Industrial Court and the Commission. Senator Cavanagh has pointed out that in many places this division has been successful in a number of ways.
Senator Cavanagh dealt at some length with the question of over award payments. I think this is desirable because the problem is a growing one. I agree with him that it is a problem we must recognise and face. We must realise that the situation has changed every year. Nearly sixty-five years ago arbitration was introduced into Australia but the processes have changed year by year and inevitably a different attitude must be adopted. I will discuss the question of over award payments later, because I think it is very important. Sir Richard Kirby makes a statement at page 18 of the report which is a good introduction to a consideration of the report. In the second paragraph at that page he states:
The first-stated chief object of the Act is the promotion of goodwill in industry and it is obvious enough that the Commission would not be promoting goodwill in industry nor performing the role expected of it if it were to devote its energies merely to settling disputes which are in the nature of litigation.
It is in that context that he introduces the discussion on over award payments. I am afraid that I shall have to repeat some of the extracts read by Senator Cavanagh from the report because I think additions must be made to some of his statements. Everything I have to say comes back to the one question of over award payments, and that is the main point with which I want to deal. But before I come to that I want to deal with a matter to which Senator Cavanagh referred, and that is the delay in the publication and reporting of decisions of the Commission. The President of the Commission states at page 14:
In my last Report I mentioned the concern of the Commission that its decisions should be made known to parties, organisations, bodies and persons interested as soon as possible.
Later in the third paragraph on page 14 Sir Richard states in the same context:
On the other hand the publication of other material Ls not as up to date as I would like. In recent years the publication of the Commonwealth Arbitration Report has been running nearly thirty months behind whilst even some of the printed pamphlets have slipped back to about a year after the giving of decisions.
I return now to the first paragraph, because I think this qualifies what he stated in the third paragraph in speaking about the report. The first paragraph on page 14 ends:
In this connection I was able to announce the introduction, as from March 1965, of a comprehensive service for roneoed copies of all awards and orders.
I emphasise the words ‘comprehensive service’. These extracts show that the consolidated report is certainly delayed far too long; but recognising the problem Sir Richard Kirby and his Commission have made a great contribution towards nullifying the bad effects of this delay by introducing a system of roneoed reports issued almost immediately after a decision is reached. The various organisations who require this information are getting it and getting it very promptly. Although they are not getting it in the most acceptable form the point is that they are getting it.
I remember that we had almost identical problems in Queensland. In 1959, if my memory serves me aright, we introduced a system of sending out roneoed reports immediately after decisions were given. I was most gratified to note the ready acceptance of these documents. Many persons said: ‘This is one of the best things that has happened. At least we have the thing on record. We can wait now for the final printed copy because we keep the roneoed copy and have no doubt about the decision.’ So while I think it is valid for Senator Cavanagh to point to this delay we should also recognise that positive evidence exists that efforts have been made to overcome the delay. There is also positive evidence that these efforts have been valued very highly.
– The ‘Industrial Information Bulletins’ fill the gap. This is only byplay.
– I leave it to Senator Cant to make his contribution when he is ready. I am making these comments from my experience. I know how acceptable these earlier reports were. I revert now to over award payments. At page 18 of the report Sir Richard Kirby had this to say:
The facts and figures show that more and more matters are being settled by conciliation both by members of the Commission and the three Conciliators. This is not only a good thing in itself but reflects the policy of the Act.
These comments are all in the section where the President of the Commission is dealing with over award payments. He continues:
Strikes arc more numerous than we would like but the long drawn out strike so often a feature of industrial life in collective bargaining countries is not a feature of our system but is now a rare phenomenon. This is no doubt part of the reason why, in recent years, Australia’s record of production lost through strikes has been comparing favourably with many other countries by contrast with earlier times.
I would not like it to bc thought that I believe industrial peace can be measured in statistical terms, or that international comparisons can readily be made. Nevertheless we may I think take some comfort without complacency in the record during the first decade of the Commission’s existence. I am aware that when the figures for man days lost during the present calendar year arc assembled, they are likely to show a very substantial rise.
Then here is the answer to the point raised by Senator Wright:
I shall be forgiven, I hope, for pointing out that the increase has occurred almost entirely in areas where the Commission does not function.
As I read the report, the President is referring there to the area which comes within the ambit of over award payments. He continues:
In this general context the over award payment area is, I believe, the most important from the point of view of the Commission and its members. Figures relating to the business of the Commission and the earlier discussions of these indicate that parties to awards do use the processes of the Act to obtain assistance from the Commission
And this is the point I want to make: about over award payments in a significant number of cases. However, I feel I should make it more widely appreciated that members are available to help employers and employees seeking assistance in over award negotiations.
So he is inviting the employers and the unions to come and seek the assistance of the Commission which is readily available and which is always willingly given on this matter of over award payments. I shall leave that section for a moment but I shall return to it.
– Would the fact that they are not doing so in some cases be a reason for delay in reaching a conclusion?
– That is conceivable. I would not deny that. Now that Senator McClelland has interjected, I would point out that I completely agree with Senator Cavanagh when he said that if Sir Richard Kirby says quite definitely in this report that he feels there is a need for the appointment of another Commissioner, it is imperative that he should be given this staff. We al] agree that this is an important field in industrial relationships and in national productivity. However, I shall return to the section with which I was dealing previously because there is another aspect that I think we should note in it. On page 12 Sir Richard Kirby deals with an analysis of notifications concerning over award payments. He says:
In view of the importance in ray thinking of tha area of over-award payments, I have had an analysis made of the treatment of the 109 notifications brought to virtual finality by individual members.
I shall skip a little bit and come on to the second paragraph, which states:
Hie 145 notifications to single members concerning over-awards were out of a total of 862 concerning all subject matters.
So honourable senators can see that quite a number of these cases are in fact referred to the Commission. It continues:
Thus nearly 17% of the total concerned over-award payments.
Now let us take a very careful note of the next paragraph which reads:
Approximately 80% of those concerning overawards and brought to finality were lodged by organisations of employers, about 15% by individual employers and about 5% by unions.
This is a very significant point. I believe that unions are not taking as much advantage as they can of what obviously is available to them. I think that they probably will do so. I must return to the section that I quoted a little earlier. It states:
However, I feel I should make it more widely appreciated that members are available to help employers and employees seeking assistance in over-award negotiations.
Figures are given on page 12 which show that approximately 80% of notifications concerning over award payments were brought by organisations of employers, about 15% by individual employers and only 5% by unions. I hope that in the spirit in which this matter is being debated on both sides of the chamber we will take very careful note of this point. I hope that in particular honourable senators who are connected with trade unions will take note of it so that a greater number of unions will take advantage of this procedure.
There is another feature which is holding up this work on over award payments. It is not being delayed only, as Senator McClelland suggested, because of the need for the appointment of another Commissioner. It is also being delayed because, as the President says - I do not know this of my own knowledge - that there is insufficient staff to carry out research work. I think we all agree that in this type of work the research section is of vital importance. The figures that I have quoted have been drawn up by one of the President’s officers. The President says:
I am indebted to the Industrial Registrar for having undertaken the task of analysis the results of which convince me that the need for research for the over-award payment area applies to material which is in the possession of the Commission itself.
– On what page is that?
– I am quoting from page 13, the third paragraph. It continues: 1 acknowledge this because I have in previous reports indicated my concern at the lack of research in this area, I am consulting with the Registrar as to methods by which the Commission itself can undertake useful research on its own material. This does not lessen the need for research by the organised employers and the organised unions and by economists both practising and academic but a start on the part of the Commission might well encourage the others concerned in this field. It is appreciated that this may require a more sophisticated analysis and presentation of information about the Commission’s work. The effort, I am sure, will be well worth while if it assists the continuing debate in the community as to how best we can achieve the objects of the Act.
I repeat that the President has given, in the second paragraph on page 18, a very brief summary of what he believes to be the most important aspect of the work under this Act.
Now I shall return to the other section from which I was quoting on page 19.
Senator Cavanagh quoted to the end of page 18. Honourable senators will recall that he quoted the section on page 18 which states:
As far back as 1915 the then President of the Court, Mr Justice Higgins, recognised this-
That is, the question of over award payments. It continues:
However, in the Higgins days their extent caused no significant problems . . .
That part was quoted, but this quotation follows and I think it is very relevant to the quotation which Senator Cavanagh read:
The maintenance of full or near full employment and a particular shortage of skilled labour in a setting of general national expansion have played their part in this changed position which poses serious problems for the Commission and those concerned with industrial relations.
Nevertheless the problems and difficulties should not obscure the fact that there is no real incompatibility in the mutual existence of a system for prescribing minimum rates by arbitration tribunals and of bargaining .on occasion about over-award payments. It should not be assumed on the one hand that every claim for over-award payments should be conceded nor on the other that bitterness with its tendency to encourage strikes or the use of penal sanctions should be tolerated in this area any more than in the area of minimum award rate prescription.
I think that these quotations illustrate that Sir Richard Kirby is approaching this problem, as I would expect him to, with a fair and judicial mind - a mind which is truly seeking to find the best industrial machinery that we in Australia can get. I think it is remarkably interesting to read the things that he has said. I have said that this is a fairly comprehensive subject. I am quoting many sections of the report because I believe that when I have an opportunity to quote the words of such an outstanding authority as Sir Richard Kirby I would be presumptuous to try to paraphrase his comments. I hope that I will be excused for using his words. At page 19 of the report he said, and I think this answers another question raised by Senator Wright:
It is sometimes said that once this Commission has performed the function .of the prescription of minimum rates and conditions of employment for an industry or industries . . . h should have nothing to do with particular cases of bargaining about over awards. I do not accept this view. In my thinking the working of the Act and achievement of its chief objects, particularly that of promoting goodwill in industry, and the emphasis the Act gives to conciliation require the Commission to play a role in this area. The importance of this role is not diminished by the fact that service is not forced, but given when sought, and may be in the nature of a good office rather than an arbitration.
– What does all that add up to?
– In the paragraph I have read Sir Richard Kirby recognises that over award payments are a feature of our economy today, and must be recognised as such. He says that the Commission is ready and willing to help employers and employees with this problem but it is one in which it cannot give itself authority to operate.
– It does not have the authority under the Act.
– It can create a dispute about anything.
– I do not think that is quite a relevant comment. I suppose that technically the Commission can do so, but I do not believe that it does.
– It has to be an interstate dispute. Disputes about over award payments generally are not interstate in character.
– I do not think that is quite relevant to the point I am discussing. The point I am trying to make is that the President of the Commission says that the Commission is willing and anxious to help in this problem.
– He has said that he does not have enough time to devote to the basic wage case.
– That is right. Apropos of my suggestion, he is asking for further appointments.
– I concede that these things should be recognised and remedied, but. that does not alter the fact that Senator Cavanagh raised and stressed very emphatically the question of over award payments. I believe that he certainly knows what he is talking about in this field and that it is right for me to add my comments to his comments, which I thought were very pertinent. At page 20 of the report the President said:
Once again I stress that there is a national interest involved in many cases of over award negotiations and if the organised employers and the organised unions consider that they can be helped by the Commission to fulfil their functions to their members on a national basis, I am sure that we on our part can help.
He then referred to the ‘have nots’ among both employers and the unions. In the next paragraph he said:
Nevertheless J still recognise what I said in my report for 1964: ‘Perhaps disparities are to some extent inevitable between those employed in particularly prosperous industries or undertakings and those not so well placed. They may in some cases even be desirable on economic grounds’.
I do not propose to canvass whether it is desirable that there should be variations in the different industries. The President of the Commission recognises that there are variations and that is the point I want to make. He went on to say:
I consider that the objects of the Act have been achieved to quite a significant extent when one considers the problems which have occurred because of the success which has followed the successful implementation of the policy of full employment required by all sections of our community. In my opinion the extent to which the objects of the Act are achieved should increase as the years go on.
I have quoted the very carefully considered opinions of the President of the Commission. I have always maintained that in Australia we are very fortunate in that we have had industrial and conciliation machinery built up over a long time. Mistakes have occurred, but year by year there has been improvement. I believe that the system adopted in Australia is infinitely preferable to the system in operation in the United States of America. I spent some time examining industrial problems and discussing them with various people in industry in America. They concede that our system is better than theirs.
Of course our arbitration system is not perfect. No system is perfect, but it would be a very sad day for the Australian economy and for our employers and employees if we were to turn our backs on arbitration principles. We must try to be modern enough to recognise that conditions change year by year. If we try to keep our arbitration system functioning on the basis of what it was twenty or thirty years ago we will not make a contribution to improving industrial conditions.
I join with Senator Cavanagh and Senator McClelland in a plea that where an organisation such as the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission is doing the work that it is doing, and its President pleads for more staff in both the research and arbitration sections, we must do everything we can to give him the machinery and the implements to do the job as he sees it. I believe that he sees it for a progressive Australia.
– Mr Acting Deputy Chairman, I shall not detain lie Senate long, because most of the matters that I wanted to discuss have already been dealt with. This applies particularly to over award payments. I am not an economist. My knowledge of economic matters is very poor. However, it strikes me that if an industry can make over award payments the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, in its assessment of the ability of industry to pay, has very much under-estimated that ability.
– In respect of the industry concerned.
– The wage system is based on an overall picture of industry. I intended to ask the honourable senator to develop that aspect this evening if he had time, because it is beyond me to understand how the Commission, without its own research and public relations organisations - I have been talking about the need for public relations ever since I became a member of the Senate - can do what is required of it. The President. Sir Richard Kirby, has now said that the Commission ought to have a research service. I know that Senator Wright and probably most other honourable senators agree. How does the Commission, without its own research organisation, estimate the ability of industry to pay? The Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, for example, is one of the biggest enterprises in the country. What facilities has the Commission to enable it to decide whether that undertaking is efficient and what wages it can afford to pay? The Commission has not the required facilities. The solution of this problem is not easy. I value Senator Wright’s opinions and I ask him to give us a dissertation on this matter, and particularly on the proposition that if industry can make over award payments the Commission must have under-estimated the ability of industry to pay when it fixed the overall wage.
I believe that we ought to congratulate the Conciliation and Arbitration Commis sion on the ten reports that have been presented by its President over the years. I believe that the latest report, however, gives only a poor description of the Commission’s work.
– Is it not rather sketchy?
– It certainly is. Surely the Commission, being charged as it is with responsibility for examining the Australian economy, ought to be able to produce a better report than this. Sir Richard Kirby, in this report, expresses sound views, but they need to be supported. I think it is important for the Commission to have a public relations service to enable students and members of parliament to obtain information in more elaborate form than is available in the reports presented annually by the President of the Commission. Furthermore, the reports of hearings before the Commission are not readily available because one would have to be a millionaire to buy them. However, reports of hearings before the Commission should be produced in cheaper form for the use of students, university authorities, and politicians especially, because we also need some education. I hope that Senator Wright will give some attention to this aspect of the subject and that he will try to explain to me, for my special edification, what the phrase ‘ability to pay’ really means.
Sir Richard Kirby, at page 6 of his report, dealt with the maritime industry and the stevedoring industry, and stated.
In both these industries with which Mr Justice Gallagher continues to deal, the position from the point of view of industrial stoppages has been satisfactory.
Disputes which from time to lime occurred in the maritime industry were in most cases confined to particular vessels and were brought by the processes of conciliation or arbitration to quick determination. There was thus no serious disruption of shipping.
He went on to mention the suspension of waterside workers and other matters, and his observations lead me to pose the question: What has been the cost to this nation of the misunderstandings on the waterfront over the years? Since I first became a member of the Senate we have spent many nights discussing the Communist threat on the waterfront and the many factors that have inflamed relations in the industry. I give this Government credit for having built on the Chifley Labor Government’s legislation and perfected it. We now have a record of continuous and uninterrupted work on the waterfront. I believe that the history of this improvement should be written for posterity. There has been a revolution in industrial relations on the waterfront, just as there has been in the coal industry. There has been an extraordinary change in attitudes among industrial workers. It is interesting to note that the modern striker is the white collar worker and that we now have industrial peace generally in heavy industry. No doubt this Government is entitled to some of the credit for this as it has been able to provide the industrial machinery that has made it possible.
I want to voice one criticism relating to the Department of Labour and National Service. As honourable senators probably know, a group of trouble shooters is associated with that Department. They are supposed to have been engaged over the years in scenting out industrial troubles. That was generally supposed to be their job. During the times when supplies of coal were desperately short, these trouble shooters were quite successful in clearing the way for industrial tribunals to undertake hearings related to the mining industry and to ascertain the attitudes of unions and employers. In those days the pressure for industrial peace was usually put on the employers, because they had to give. They had the wherewithal and had to give, and the unions were struggling for a better deal for the men. To that extent the Department had considerable success. Sir Harry Bland, who was then plain Mr Harry Bland, was particularly successful in this respect. However, the Department may now need to change its tactics, for it is dealing with white collar workers and they may not be so easy to deal with as were industrial workers in the days of great shortages of coal and steel.
Recently in Sydney there was a strike by traffic officers employed by Trans Australia Airlines and Ansett-ANA. The Federated Clerks Union of Australia, which is involved also in the dispute over the handling of container cargoes on the wharves, was involved in the strike of airline employees, as was the Department of Labour and National Service. I take the word of Mr Riordan, the Federal Secretary of the Union, that the Department almost wrecked any chance of a settlement in the dispute with the airlines as a result of interference by departmental officers flitting about in the shadows on the fringes. In my view, the trouble should have been left to the employees and the employers to settle without Government interference. Ansett-ANA was about ready to settle with the Union, but the Department stiffened the attitude of TAA and induced it to resist the proposed terms of settlement. As a consequence the strike continued for another two days unnecessarily. I repeat that both the Union and Ansett-ANA had been ready to settle. I believe that in certain circumstances the Department can do more harm than good by becoming a third party in an industrial dispute.
– But it takes the view that it can do more good than harm.
– I do not think it does more good than harm. It certainly did not in the instance that I have mentioned. Its interference, however, achieved quite different results, as I mentioned, in years gone by when industrial pressures were greater and there was great urgency for the settlement of industrial disputes. The urgency is not so great today. Furthermore, white collar workers are not perhaps as skilled in some aspects of industrial relations and they probably are not as patient with government departments as were industrial workers in earlier years. In thinking of the role that may be played by the Department of Labour and National Service, we must remember that when mine workers or wharf labourers go on strike they hold the community to ranson. But a strike or stoppage of work by white collar workers would not be so urgent a matter. I believe that the Department ought to be alterted to the need for it to be more careful in intervening in industrial disputes. It must remember that there are two sets of workers - industrial workers and what we know as white collar workers. The white collar workers comprise the new proletariat and it may be necessary for us to work out new schemes of industrial relations to provide for the different circumstances that exist today.
As I said earlier, I hope that Senator Wright will speak in this debate. I shall sit down soon so that he will have an opportunity to do so. I congratulate the Commission on its Report but suggest that it should be much more extensive. Sir Richard Kirby says that it has been his object to bring the conciliators and the judges together. That was not the original purpose of conciliation. The original idea of the Australian Labor Party was to keep the unions and the disputes out of the court as long as possible and to deal directly with conciliators. Men who understood industry were generally appointed as conciliators. I am not certain that the Judge’s views are correct in relation to bringing them closer to the court. I cannot imagine that they will not thereby come under the influence of the court and that was not the purpose of the original Act. There may have been changes in administration since about which I do not know anything but that was not the original purpose. I would think it would be a pretty dangerous experiment and would weaken the influence of the conciliators if they were brought too close to the operations of the Court.
– 1 would regret it if I felt that the invitation of the suave and persuasive senator who has just resumed his scat was the sole reason for my rising to speak in this debate. Strange as it may seem, I have a feeling that my intervention in the debate is even welcome on this side of the chamber on this occasion. Be that as it may, so far I have gone through life in such a manner as not to submit completely to compliments or even compliments in reverse. I rise merely because this is a subject to which I have devoted quite some time and thought over the last twenty years. It is a matter of great gratification, I feel, that the Opposition in the Senate is accepting an opportunity to utilise private members time on a Thursday night for the discussion of various reports that make their impact on our public life, and this is one of the important fields of our public interest.
We are discussing the tenth report of the Chief Judge of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The first thing that I wish to say, I hope not uncharitably, is that there is a complaint in the report that insufficient facilities are available to print the Commission’s records of judgments. Yet we have this report and occasion is taken to attach to it the nine previous reports. To print this surplusage in repetition is only to subtract from the time of printing that would be available to print some Commonwealth Arbitration Reports.
– How many pages of the Commonwealth Arbitration Reports would that fill?
– I. do not suggest that this is an important matter, but one multiplies through the departments the waste of time and money that is exhibited by the reprinting of nine reports, and I guarantee that if one went through the Commonwealth Public Service as a whole and the services of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in particular one would get a residue of 30% of wasted effort that could be put to a useful purpose. The idea that my colleague puts forward that roneoed reports would be a good idea shows a failure to recognise the duplication of expense and the inconvenience that are involved in taking the time to roneo reports which should be printed and issued. We have the same business with the statutes of this Parliament. They are in arrears by about eighteen months or two years. Such is the amount of the output of the parliamentary machine that the people who have to obey the laws have not access to them within eighteen months or two years unless they send for special copies.
– The honourable senator does not justify that?
– I certainly do not. I deprecate it. I think that a little attention to economies in all these departments would prove that they have the capability, if onlythere is a bit of purpose to work, to get these things out on time and economise on printing. Let us remind ourselves that we had issued to us during the last session a booklet on how to write letters and how to compose phrases. What piffle! Talk about a waste.
– A new Australian might not think it a waste to be shown how to write letters.
– I did not know that there were many new Australians in this Parliament. The booklet I am talking to was addressed to the service of members of this Parliament.
– It ought to be called Warning Against Gobbledegook’.
– I thank the honourable senator; I adopt the remark completely. I feel that this report is disappointing. I feel that it is sketchy and superficial. I feel that it is self laudatory and does not touch upon the real principles that this Commission should follow. I notice that the Chief Judge tells us that publicity has been given to recent suggestions that debates in the Commission should be of the seminar type and that in his view it is essential that great issues before the Commission should be debated in public. Then he adds for the thoughful consideration of some people:
I have no hesitation in reporting that the Com mission is well able to control its own procedures and practices . . .
Notwithstanding that very definite proposition from the Chief Judge of the Commission, I would still suggest that the field of economics that is fundamental to the proper functioning of the Commission is not an appropriate field for debate by means of examination and cross-examination of witnesses before a public tribunal.
– But the Commission has largely departed from that.
– Yes, because it cannot any longer get people of probity and integrity who value their professional status to submit themselves to this type of hacking about in public.
– The honourable senator is a bit behind the times, is he not? That was some years ago.
– The . final protest was three years ago and it has disappeared. The Commission proceeds of its own motion now. All I am saying is that, notwithstanding the definite statement of the Chief Judge, we have to give consideration to whether or not these public debates before the Commission should be made the main means of conveying judgments and persuasion to the Commission. I am not pronouncing any point of view but I still believe that a body of men of varied experience, of whom the law would provide the essential nucleus but with experienced men representing both sides of thought in industry would by consultation produce an award or assessment that would probably serve industry better than the process employed at the present time.
– Do you not get that in the Commissioners as distinct from the President and Deputy President?
– I do not feel that that is a proper representation of what I am putting forward. Senator Murphy suggests that when you have three judges with one conciliation commissioner you have three lawyers and one industrial union secretary and that gives you a proper injection of lay experience into the legal tribunal. I envisage much more than that. I envisage a body of nine or eleven people, three of whom would be judges and the rest of whom would be representatives from both sides of industry who had shown by their activities a proper balanced approach to responsibility in life.
I come now to the statement by the President that the Commission is well able to control its own procedures. We would do well to remind ourselves that great public disquiet was expressed as to the selection the President made of the personnel to sit upon the tribunal which heard the 1966 basic wage case. I am not entering into any criticism of the President as to the personnel he selected, but 1 remind the Senate that he devotes no less than two pages of his report to a discussion of this matter. One of the factors that he advanced for the particular selection that he made was that great demands were made upon his own time and he was not therefore as free as he would like to be to discharge the administrative duties associated with his office as President of the Commission, or to do the arbitral work that he was required to do as a judge of the court. I believe that the composition of the Commission that is hearing the present basic wage application does not inspire the full degree of confidence that it should.
I know there are arguments on both sides of industry. I merely make the unprovoking remark that I do not believe there is full confidence only as a preliminary to the suggestion that there should be a definite composition of judges for a decision so vital and so wide in its ambit as the basic wage decision. There is a provision that if a constitutional question arises before the High Court that Court shall sit with the whole number of judges on the bench. It should be prescribed by statute that if a basic wage application is before the Arbitration Commission the whole ot the judges shall sit and hear the application. There would then be no thought of manipulation of personnel. There is no doubt that that which bedevils a court more than anything else is appointment ad hoc in accordance with the suggestion we had last night relating to temporary appointments for the furnishing of Tariff Board reports. Another example is the ad hoc courts that the Labor Party would have. 1 remind honourable senators opposite of the court of claims that was specially set up under the nationalisation of banking legislation to assess compensation in fulfilling the policy that the Labor Party was advocating all over the country. At that time, the Labor Party was confident that it was just going to overwhelm us; but it failed. At that time, one of the things that the Labor Party employed to its discredit was a court of claims which it set up to assess compensation under the nationalisation of banking legislation. It is fundamental to full confidence in this Commission that there be no opportunity to make selections which other people might construe as manipulations of the personnel of the court.
– What the honourable senator has said about the High Court is wrong. I think he is realising that as he is speaking.
– It is not the first thing F. have said that is wrong. I have not done so deliberately but always fortified by the confident thought that there are those within the chamber who are able and at all times willing to correct me.
The next thing I would like to say about this institution is that there has been a revolution in the functions of this agency in the last ten or fifteen years. Pre-war, the Arbitration Commission sat for the purpose of settling disputes that may occur in an industry. Today it certainly considers, in form, a dispute that has been created, but the assumption on which the case is presented these days is that the Commission will determine a wage for the whole of the industrial structure of the Commonwealth. That is to say, the Commission is not operating within an industry but is operating to control industry.
asked what was the criterion which the Commission took as its guide. It used to be guided by the needs of the average man; and we had great contention as to whether the average man produced and maintained one, two or three children. Since the war, the needs test has been displaced by a criterion that is blissfully called the ‘capacity of industry to pay’. A moment’s critical thought will show that this cannot be a definite criterion to guide the Commission. Any person who listens to this tribunal assessing the capacity of industry to pay in the process of fixing a basic wage would feel that he was back in this chamber or in the House or Representatives discussing the budget of the nation.
The budget of the nation today is based mainly not on defence matters and not on the old style essentially Government matters such as police and the administration of the law; the Budget today is based, in the welfare state, upon the Government’s assessment of the capacity of industry to yield to the public exchequer that which is required to service the needs of the people. So the Commission is quantifying not the basic wage for the individual worker; it is quantifying the social entitlement of the electors collectively, and it is doing that by reference to the capacity of industry to pay. That is all that the Arbitration Commission has employed in arriving at its judgment. Until there are a variety of factors which all members of the Commission agree should be considered, we will continue to have debates.
Mr Justice Wright, in the last basic wage decision, eschewed the idea that the national interest and the effect upon the economy were important guides in arriving at a judgment on the appropriate figure for the basic wage. All I am saying is that the term ‘capacity of industry to pay’ is meaningless from the point of view of offering a guide to the Commission which annually determines on a national scale the economic factor in industry which governs the rate of progress of industry.
When that body operates alongside parliamentary government we have an important agency whose activities must be watched. I will mention two cases of the assessments of this tribunal which fixes the basic wage plus the margins - the substructure upon which average wages mould themselves and become the wages cost in industry. I will deal in a moment with over award payments. When the Treasurer of this country walks into the House of Representatives with his Budget, as he does two or three months after the Commission has announced its award, the greatest factor influencing that Budget is the award made by the Commission.
– The honourable senator would not say the greatest factor, would he?
– Yes, 1 would. I am happy to hear a new voice in the chamber indicating that honourable senators are taking an interest in the debate. It is not possible to give any assured answer on this matter; I simply make that comment. 1 believe the Budget is determined to a large degree by the assessments made by the Commission. The formula relating to tax reimbursements - the chief contribution made to State Treasuries - is governed by population plus average wages plus a betterment factor. That formula was written into the agreements made between the Commonwealth and the States in 1959 and 1965. Average wages which are based upon the sub-structure, the product of the Commission, is the main factor. The Tariff Board tells us what a great influence the wage structure has in industry. That is sufficient to indicate to us the importance of this Commission from the point of view of impact upon our economy.
The President of the Commission, in his report, refers at various places to over award payments. Senator Morris directed attention to some of those references with a degree of approval that I cannot attain. Where is the difficulty in the Commission entering the field of over award payments? What is the obstacle in the Act to the Commission dealing adequately with that subject? If the difficulty arises from the intrastate character of a dispute, I can understand it. In Tasmania - a diminutive State from the industrial aspect - we have a system whereby if a dispute arises the chairman of the industrial board or his deputy goes to the area concerned - recently it was the Savage River - and in the course of a day or even half a day the dispute will be heard, both parties will know that the matter is being genuinely considered and the men will be back at work the next day. I cannot imagine that the authorities in South Australia are wanting in ingenuity to formulate their intrastate industrial machinery to take care of any pocket disputes such as occur these days within a State.
As to interstate disputes in relation to over award payments, where is the obstacle? Suppose there is a basic wage of £16 a week and a margin appropriate to the industry of £6 a week. The minimum wage awarded by the Commission for that industry is £22 a week. I, as an official of an organisation, say that I want £30 a week for my members and I point to the fact that across the road is an industry paying £28 a week, £6 over the award. There is no limitation upon this tribunal as to the wage to be fixed for the purpose of settling a dispute. Therefore I cannot understand this inhibition. The fact is that on occasions even arbitration commissions have to face realities and if they were to fix minimum wages at such an amount as would destroy the goose out of which everyone is plucking the golden feathers, both the worker and the employer would be in a whirl. It is only reality that brings responsibility in an approach to over award payments.
We often hear the Commission repeat the statement, in effect: ‘We are willing to conciliate in these disputes despite the fact that we have not time to sit on the basic wage case’. That moves me to no enthusiasm. The Commission is well advised to keep a minimum wage structure. Indeed, how otherwise could it operate? Let it make a basic wage, not of £16 a week but of £26 a week. Then an employer who pays less than £26 a week would be contravening the law. To date the Commission has maintained a wage structure which has advanced the basic wage from 129 shillings in 1949 to 308 shillings in 1964. I believe it has yielded a fair and increasing share of the productivity of industry to the hands that work within industry. It has not exhibited the degree of irresponsibility which would ruin our industries.
Rather than the present unreal, theoretical, tinkering approach to the problem of over award payments we should have a soundly based basic minimum payment. In addition and contrary to the claims made by many honourable senators opposite, the wage earner would not have his wage fixed for him. A minimum sub-structure wage would be fixed and he would be free to bargain with his employer for the addition of that which the industry had the capacity to yield. Surely we have not reached the stage where the overburden of that substructure is so great that it generates disputes which this tribunal is called upon to settle.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Senator ANDERSON (New South Wales - Pursuant to statute, I present a Special Advisory Authority report on the following subject:
Staple fibre, tow, yarns, tyre cord and tyre cord fabric, of certain man-made fibres.
– At question time today Senator Wright asked me, as the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, whether the Government had received the report of the National Stevedoring Industry Conference. Subsequently, my colleague made a statement that he had received that report today. He has indicated to me by letter that he will make a copy of the report available to any member of the Parliament who wishes to receive one.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.31 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 April 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1967/19670413_senate_26_s33/>.