26th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In order to let the people of New South Wales know what is happening, will the Government make a frank statement to the Senate on the programme of work for Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport covering delays that have occurred, the reason for the delays, what has been done to overcome them, and the anticipated date of completion? Will the Government also explain why, despite the assurance of the Leader of the Government when he was Minister for Civil Aviation, the work at the airport has fallen behind that at Tullamarine?
– The matter, of course, falls within the purview of my colleague the Minister for Civil Aviation and I shall refer the question to him. At the same time we might see how the access roads - the speedways to the airport - are getting along.
– Yes, we would like that.
– This is all part and parcel of making Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport the number one airport in Australia, as it has always been regarded and as far as I am concerned, as it always will be regarded. I shall get a report from the Minister for the honourable senator.
– 1 direct to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry a question which follows upon a question asked by Senator Wright on Tuesday. If the action of the New South Wales Government in relation to the importation of Tasmanian cement does not infringe section 92 of the Constitution - certainly it infringes the spirit - what action other than action under this section can be taken to permit interstate trade and commerce between New South Wales and Tasmania to be absolutely free? Is it not correct that for years New South Wales so exceeded its quota of margarine, production of which is supposed to be allocated on the basis of need in each State, that large quantities were shipped to Tasmania? Can this position be looked at?
– At this stage I can only cite a Press comment by the AttorneyGeneral that he felt that section 92 of the Constitution might not have been infringed by the action taken by the New South Wales Government. There is quite a trade, of. course, between New South Wales and Tasmania. If one government takes action of this type, I should think, in view of past experience, that there would surely be some counter action that the other government could take in relation to cement. 1 think that, as the honourable senator says, such action would infringe the spirit of the Constitution. I well recall a time when the State of Victoria found that Tasmanian potatoes had a disease, which I think was corky scab, and would not allow Tasmanian potatoes into Victoria - not of course because they were competing with Victorian potatoes. The Tasmanian Premier of that day found that Victorian flour, which was flowing freely into Tasmania, was infested with a weevil or some such thing and so tha Tasmanians imposed a quarantine prohibition on the importation of Victorian flour. It was not very long before the corky scab disappeared and the weevil disappeared and there was no further trouble. Flour flowed one way and potatoes the other way in the normal circumstances of trade. The present situation is the sort of thing that develops when the spirit of section 92 is broken. I hope that all the governments concerned will look into this matter.
– I wish to draw the attention of honourable senators to the presence in the gallery of a delegation from the Parliament of Pakistan. I am sure all honourable senators join with me in extending a very warm welcome to our distinguished guests.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has the Minister seen the detailed report in this morning’s ‘Canberra Times’ alleging a sharp increase in sales of the drug LSD and a growing Canberra drug market? Did the Minister state in the Senate on Wednesday, 31st August, that there was no evidence of LSD being used illegally in the Australian Capital Territory? Will the Minister undertake that the Government will order an urgent inquiry into these reports and will he tell the Senate at the first opportunity whether his statement last week was correct or, to use the words of an alleged Canberra drug pedlar, as reported in this morning’s ‘Canberra Times’, a big laugh’?
– This is a matter which I should refer to the Minister for Health as it comes within his jurisdiction. I stated to the Senate, on the day the honourable senator mentioned, that legislation was being prepared at the present time with respect to the position in the Australian Capital Territory. When the legislation to deal with this situation is passed it will be for the Minister for Health to act under the legislation approved by the Parliament.
(Senator Scott having addressed a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate)
– I rise to order. This question is a reflection upon the action which the Senate took and it deals with a matter which is pending in the Senate. I ask that the question be ruled out of order.
– The point of order is upheld. The question is out of order.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs whether the Government has any information about the alleged protest by Australian unionists which caused Peking Radio on 12th August to announce:
The organ of the Australian Communist Party (M-L) Vanguard has called on the Australian working people to strongly protest against the fascist suppression of Chinese patriots by the British imperialists in Hong Kong. It denounced the continued British fascist terror against the working people of Hong Kong.
Leaders of over twenty Australian trade unions have jointly refuted the British authorities in Hong Kong, denouncing their brutal suppression of Chinese workers, journalists and students there.
If the Government has any information on this alleged protest, will it make the information available, including the names of officials and unions who sent the protest?
– The basis for this report in Hong Kong from Peking Radio is a petition sent to the Governor of Hong Kong - and apparently repeated to the Peking authorities since it received immediate publicity over Peking Radio. The petition was drawn up along the lines suggested by the honourable senator. In other words these Australians, claiming to be representatives of unions - and for all I know being representatives of unions in some cases - called on the British Government to stop its Fascist acts etc., etc. The petition to the Governor was signed. The Minister for External Affairs would have a copy of the petition and of the signatures. I will certainly ask him to make this available to all honourable senators and for the information of Australians generally.
– Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell me - and if he cannot would he obtain the information for me before the Senate election - the cost to the Australian taxpayers of fares and travel allowances for senators, Ministers, party leaders and staff, as well as the detailed cost to open Parliament House for the one day when Senator Murphy recalled the Senate on 20th June?
– I am sure the honourable senator would not expect me to have all those details in my mind, but I shall certainly do my best to secure them for him.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that the restrictions on the use of River Murray water, imposed this week by the River Murray Commission, mean that South Australia will receive the barest minimum of water for summer needs? In these circumstances and in view of requests by the South Australian Premier to the Prime Minister for talks between the States concerned and the Prime Minister regarding the Chowilla Dam and adequate water supplies to South Australia, will the Minister discuss with the Prime Minister this water crisis and the subject of an early talk with the State Premiers as suggested by the South Australian Premier?
– The amount ot water which comes down the Murray River is governed by an agreement between the Governments of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and the Commonwealth, with the Minister for National Development sitting in on the relevant conference. The conference carefully examined the situation in relation to the River Murray and the agreement between the States as to how much water comes down. I think the Commission would be the first to call for any discussions on any matter which had arisen subsequently. I believe that what is happening at the moment is merely the carrying out of the existing agreement between the States. The Commission is a very competent body and keeps this whole matter well under review and control.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation able to convey to the Senate the considered view of the Department of Civil Aviation as to whether or not the airfield at Fishermen’s Bend, Victoria, should be retained for future Civil Aviation purposes?
– The honourable senator asked a question on this matter some days ago. I understand that some information is available, but it has not been conveyed to me to give to the honourable senator. I was under the impression that this information had something to do with the Department of Supply’s position in relation to the matter. I will pursue the matter during the day and attempt to obtain the information for the honourable senator.
(Senator Branson having addressed a question to the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party)
– The question is out of order.
– I ask the Minister for Repatriation whether he has yet seen or had a conversation with the Minister for Air in regard to the questions about VIP aircraft I have placed on the notice paper. If so, has the Minister for Air indicated whether he will ever reply to them?
– The answer to both questions is no.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: In view of the recent statement by the Government that an investigation is currently being carried out in relation to problems associated with Aboriginals, will the Minister ensure that a proper inquiry is instituted into the alleged bashings and other inhuman treatment of eight persons at the Hopevale mission in north Queensland during tha last 18 months?
– I undertake to refer the honourable senator’s question to the Prime Minister, as I think the matter comes under his charge. I will see whether 1 can get a reply for the honourable senator.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Did the Minister note the attack made on named conciliation commissioners in the Senate on Tuesday night last? Will the Minister give the Senate information concerning the individuals named?
– I have read the Hansard report of last Tuesday night’s proceedings in which individual conciliation commissioners were mentioned by name by Senator Mulvihill, two of them in derogatory terms and one of them being praised. I think perhaps the Senate should know that Mr Murray Stewart, one of the commissioners mentioned in derogatory terms - he was accused of being too fond of drinking whisky - retired from the bench in about 1953. To the best of my knowledge, he has been dead for the last 10 years.
– Is the Minister sure?
– It might be 9 years. Would it make all that much difference? If I were not sure, I would not get a medical opinion from the honourable senator. The second commissioner mentioned in a derogatory way is Mr Portus. He was accused of being sleepy on occasions. He is a young man, winner of the Distinguished Flying Cross in the last war, and as I understand it, his recreations are coaching for tennis and rugby football. The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission is generally a little disturbed at the attack on the two people. Commissioner Findlay, the man mentioned in favourable terms, is equally disturbed at what he regards as the invidious distinction of being picked out for praiseworthy mention. He believes that this may well be taken to reflect on his colleagues.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate seen a report in today’s Melbourne ‘Sun NewsPictorial’ of an attack made by three members of the Liberal Party on the Government for trading with Communist China? The Liberal members claimed that such action was treachery. Was the Government’s action defended by the leader of the first Australian trade delegation to Peking in 1961, who claimed that the alternative to trade with China was a subsidy to wheat growers? Is the Government supporting trade with an alleged enemy, who is supplying munitions to forces for use against Australian forces, in order to avoid the alternative of paying a subsidy?
– The Government’s policy on .trading with China has been well thrashed out in this chamber, as the honourable senator knows.
– In the Government party room yesterday.
– No, in this chamber. An excellent statement by the Prime Minister himself was reported in the Press only this morning. It states the policy that has been followed by this Government for 15 years now. I am interested in Senator Cavanagh’s question because in all of the questions that he has asked he has never denied - in fact he has always agreed - that the Opposition’s policy is to continue trading with China.
– We have never denied that.
– No; members of the Opposition have always accepted that. The Government’s policy on this matter is clear and unequivocal. 1 refer Senator Cavanagh to the policy announcement contained in the statement made by the Prime Minister in the House of Representatives on this very subject. In that statement he slated the policy and defended it in an excellent manner.
– On 16th August I asked Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin, in her capacity of Minister representing the Minister for Health, the following question:
Wilh regard to the great rise in the incidence of venereal disease in the community, particularly among teenagers, and also the rise in the number of illegitimate births in the same age group, will the Minister consider the calling of a conference with State Ministers for Health and State Ministers for Education in order to study these two social problems with a view to finding a solution?
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply:
Measures for the control of venereal diseases in Australia and questions relating to ex-nuptial births, except in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, are the responsibility of the appropriate authorities in the States. The Commonwealth has maintained an active interest in the problems of venereal diseases and was represented on a Federal Co-ordinating Committee on this matter. The Committee’s report was published in the ‘Medical Journal of Australia’ in March 1967. (‘Medical Journal of Australia’, Supplement Vol. 1, No. 3, 4th March 1967, p. 17.). A copy of the report will be sent to the honourable senator.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. If he cannot answer now, will he ascertain from the Minister for Shipping and Transport the present position of negotiations in relation to the route of the standard gauge railway from the border between South Australia and New South Wales to Broken Hill? Does the Minister hope that a decision will be reached so that there will be no delay beyond the published date in the completion of the standardisation of the railway between Western Australia and New South Wales?
– T will obtain from the Minister for Shipping and Transport the information sought by the honourable senator and have it supplied to him.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Has the Cambodian Ambassador to Australia been recalled or threatened with recall on the instructions of the Prime Minister of Cambodia? Is this action in protest against Australia’s support for South Vietnam, which makes territorial claims against Cambodia? If not, what is the reason for it?
– There was one part of the question that 1 did not hear clearly. Did the honourable senator suggest that the Cambodian Ambassador to Australia had been recalled at the request of the Cambodian Prime Minister?
– I am not aware whether the Cambodian Ambassador to Australia has or has not been recalled. Of course, it is quite a common practice for ambassadors from all countries to go back to their countries and then to return to Australia. Whether the Cambodian Ambassador has done that I do not know. In any case in which that was done it would be done at the request of the government that accredited the ambassador to Australia. As to the second part of the question, the Cambodian Government has made it perfectly clear, and is still making it perfectly clear, that its official attitude in relation to North Vietnam and South Vietnam is one of neutrality.
– My question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs arises out of that asked by
Senator Cavanagh but 1 am asking it only in an effort to obtain further information. Is it a fact that the Government of Cambodia is attempting to exercise pressure on a great number of nations in order to obtain unilateral acknowledgment of boundary claims which have not been admitted by other slates?
– I should like to have more details of the subject matter of that question before I could give it the answer to which 1 think the Senate is entitled. I suggest that it be placed on the notice paper.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. When senators receive complaints from reputable trade unionists about the personal shortcomings of some conciliation commissioners, does the Minister not think it their duty to raise those matters for the purpose of ensuring that the high standard maintained by the majority of conciliation commissioners is adopted by the minority to whom I have referred?
– If someone were engaged, particularly in appearances before these commissioners and the courts, if that is the correct word, in which they operate and could give a fully documented and properly prepared story of incompetence or some other dereliction, I should think that might well be taken, and should be taken, in the first instance, to Chief Judge Kirby. However, in the particular instances to which reference has been made I think it unfortunate that a slur should have been cast on the name of a man who retired so long ago and who has been dead for some considerable time.
– I was the recipient of the offence.
– Yes, but I still think it was an unfortunate thing to happen. It can do no good, can it? I also think that before the names of people in such a position are brought to notice in this Senate in a derogatory way, complaints should be based on far more than mere gossip, in one case, and in the other case, an allegation that the speaker saw the commissioner concerned sleeping at dinner at some restaurant. To me, this is certainly not enough to cause names to be mentioned in this place in the way they were mentioned.
(Question No. 103)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
Are volunteers for Army service rejected unless they have reached 4th class standard in arithmetic? If so, as Australia needs volunteers, will the Minister consider whether volunteers could be given refresher courses in primary education by the Army before a final rejection decision?
– The Minister for the Army has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s questions:
The normal minimum standard of education achievement for enlistment in the Australian Regular Army is the equivalent of that attained by a Grade 4 student in Victorian primary schools. Arithmetical knowledge itself is not a factor in the selection of recruits. Tests administered to an applicant are designed to show whether he has an acceptable standard of literacy and intelligence which would enable him to be trained for useful employment in the Army. The level of acceptance is the minimum which lengthy operational and administrative experience has shown to be practicable.
Applicants rejected on educational - literacy - grounds have had the normal opportunity to reach the required standard, that is the ability to read and write at the level of a Grade 4 child in the Victorian primary school system. Their failure to do so is the result of their inability to profit from education. In the case of an applicant of reasonable intellectual ability and stable personality, whose educational shortcomings appeared to be due to restricted educational opportunity, the applicant may be enlisted if it seems likely that he could achieve the necessary level during his period of recruit training, provided he signs an undertaking to attend educational classes during that period. Educational assistance beyond this period would represent a major commitment and could not properly be undertaken by the Army.
Some major attempts to correct educational deficiencies within the British Army have not, despite their extreme cost, proved effective. Recent literature on a similar major scheme introduced in the United States of America would indicate that it involves extreme cost and the acceptance of a high wastage rate.
The present standard is related to the applicant’s ability to perform the fundamental duties of a soldier and, as such, represents an irreducible minimum consistent with the survival of the individual and the efficiency of sub-units.
(Question No. 231)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works, upon notice:
What are the details of the renovations of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation Nutrition Laboratories in South Australia for which $130,000 is sought in the 1967-68 Civil Works Programme?
– The Minister for Works has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Existing laboratories are to be upgraded to modern standards, with minimum structural alterations. All plumbing and electrical work to be renewed and floors to be covered with vinyl tiles. False ceilings to be provided where required. Bench and cupboard fittings to be replaced with standard units. Provision is being made to air condition the area accommodating the ‘Rat Colony’. This area to be air conditioned from a plant room proposed within the existing roof structure. Re-use is to be made of existing room air conditioners in specific rooms. The remaining areas are to be provided with exhaust fans.
(Question No. 232)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works, upon notice:
– The Minister for Works has supplied the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 233)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works, upon notice:
– The Minister for Works has supplied the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 234)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works, upon notice:
– The Minister for Works has supplied the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 235)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works, upon notice:
What are the details of the proposed extension to the existing office and laboratory building at Mount Gambier in South Australia for the Department of National Development for which $71,000 is sought in the 1967-68 civil works programme?
– The Minister for Works has supplied the following answer:
A 2,700 sq ft extension to existing laboratory building is proposed. It is to provide additional research facilities including genetical radioisotope, general chemical and spectrochemical laboratories and constant temperature darkroom. Construction proposed is similar to existing building, with walls of Mount Gambier stone, concrete floor slab and galvanised steel roof.
(Question No. 236)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works, upon notice:
What are the full details of the undermentioned proposed new works for the Postmaster-General’s Department in South Australia: $163,000 for erection of telephone exchange, trunk line equipment and service depot building at Ceduna; $120,000 for installation of air-conditioning equipment in Accounts Branch, Adelaide; $72,000 for installation of lift in Mail Exchange, Adelaide; $80,000 for erection of engineering depot at Mount Gambier; $77,000 for alterations to telephone exchange building at Paradise; $82,000 for erection of telephone exchange at Bordertown; $85,000 for alterations to telephone exchange building at Blackwood; $40,000 for erection of post office and telephone exchange at Robe; $315,000 for construction of access roads, radio telephone repeaters at Ceduna-Eucla; $69,000, for alterations to telephone exchange building in North Adelaide; $60,000 for erection of radio telephone building at Whyalla; $72,000 for erection of radio telephone building at Kongwirra; $140,000 for erection of telephone exchange at St Mary’s; $180,000 for alterations to telephone exchange building at Woodville; $74,000 for erection of post office at Clare; and $195,000 for erection of telephone exchange at Morphea Vale.
– The Minister for Works has furnished the following information:
(Question No. 237)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works, upon notice:
What are the full details of the news, film and production facilities centre at Collinswood in South Australia for Commonwealth broadcasting and television services for which $193,000 is sought in the 1967-68 civil works programme?
– The Minister for Works has supplied the following answer:
A three storey building of 12,800 square feet will provide for interview theatre, processing and film library, camera store, film editing, conference room, production facilities, etc., which will be fully air conditioned. Construction will be in concrete frame with cream brick external walls with precast concrete infill panels between exposed concrete columns, reinforced concrete floors, galvanised steel roof decking.
There is a link between this building and the existing OB garage offices at second floor level by means of an enclosed bridge.
(Question No. 267)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Army has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 268)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Army has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s questions:
As at 26 July 1967-
3,980, including 2,145 Pacific Islanders.
20,607, including 88 Pacific Islanders.
(Question No. 288)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
What quantity of kangaroo meat was exported during 1966 and the first six months of 1967, in both weight and value?
– The Minister for Primary Industry has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: 10,011,404 lb of kangaroo meat valued at $A1, 539,723 was exported during 1966 and 1,974,410 lb valued at $A295,538 was exported during the first six months of 1967.
– 1 have the answer to a question asked this morning by Senator McManus. The honourable senator asked whether I could provide him with the names of those persons who signed the petition to the Governor of Hong Kong protesting against alleged British Fascist acts. I now lay on the table of the Senate the names of the signatories to the petition.
– Today in the House of Representatives the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) made a statement in relation to the trade agreement with Romania which I now propose to make to the Senate on his behalf. It will be understood that when I use the first person personal pronoun I refer to my colleague. The statement is as follows:
I table a copy of the trade agreement between Australia and Romania signed by me on behalf of the Government on 18 May in Bucharest. In a formal sense, this agreement merely confirms the reciprocal most favoured nation tariff treatment which has, in fact, applied between the two countries in the past. In centrally planned economies, however, the tariff does not have the same influence in determining the source of imports as it has in countries such as Australia where commercial considerations determine where purchases are made. Foreign trade in countries with centrally controlled economies is conducted through a few government trading organisations and the policy of these organisations, generally speaking, has been to purchase their import requirements from countries with which they have trade agreements in preference to other sources. Because of this practice, the agreement does more than confirm the present tariff situation. The establishment of a formal trade agreement relationship permits, and indeed encourages, the purchasing authorities in Romania to look to Australia as a source of increased imports. This is the practical consequence of the agreement.
During my visit to Bucharest, Romanian Ministers explained their policy of expanding and improving their trading relations with the West. Already 50% of Romania’s foreign trade is with non-Socialist countries. The Ministers explained to me that the rapid development of the manufacturing sector of the Romanian economy in recent years has greatly increased the demand for imported industrial equipment and raw materials. Romania’s ability to meet this increased demand for imports is, of course, conditioned by its earnings from exports.
This Agreement is a further step in the Government’s policy of diversifying export outlets. In particular it extends the trade links with countries with centrally controlled economies which Australia has established in the last 2 years by signing similar trade agreements with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Poland and Bulgaria. I look forward to increased commercial contact between such countries and Australia flowing from this series of trade agreements.
At this stage I can inform the House that the Polish Minister for Foreign Trade has accepted an invitation to visit Australia next month and that the Deputy Prime Minister of Bulgaria has also accepted an invitation to visit us later this year. At an appropriate time I hope it will be possible for a Romanian Minister also to visit this country. 1 regard such visits as valuable in giving practical expression to our mutual desire to expand trade,
At present purchases from Australia by the group of eastern European countries and the Soviet Union consist mainly of wool and wheat. These countries together have a population total of 350m people and with their rising incomes and living standards represent a valuable potential market for Australia. This provides us with an opportunity to diversify our markets and increase our exports. These countries could become purchasers of our iron ore and pellets, coal, wool and wool tops, wheat, hides and skins, and foodstuffs such as fresh, canned and dried fruits, meat, dairy products, as well as other items of export interest to Australia.
These markets, based as they are on a relatively few large central importing organisations, pose a number of problems which are new to many Australian exporters and importers. Commercial success will depend largely upon our traders establishing contact with these organisations. The Department of Trade and Industry will be ready to assist businessmen in their endeavours to increase trade with eastern European countries and the Soviet Union. With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate in Hansard the document entitled ‘Trade Agreement between the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia “ and the Government of the Socialist Republic of Romania’.
The Government of the Commonwealth of Australia and the Government of the Socialist Republic of Romania,
Desiring to develop trade between their two countries to their mutual benefit,
Have agreed as follows:
The provisions of this Agreement shall not limit the right of either Contracting Party to apply prohibitions or restrictions of any kind which are directed:
AH payments arising from trade between the two countries shall bc effected in convertible currency.
The provisions of Articles I and II of this Agreement shall not apply to:
The Contracting Parties agree to consult together at any time, at the request of either, on any matter affecting the operation of this Agreement.
This Agreement shall come into force on the clay of its signature and shall remain in force for a period of four years from that day. Thereafter it shall remain in force until the expiration of ninety days from the date on which one of the Contracting Parties receives from the other Contracting Party written notice of its intention to terminate it.
In witness whereof, the undersigned, being duly authorised by their respective Governments, have signed this Agreement.
Done at Bucharest this eighteenth day of May, 1967, in two originals in the English language, both of which shall be equally authentic.
For the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia,
For the Government of the Socialist Republic of Romania,
– I present the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works relating to the following proposed work:
Reconstruction of Sutherland Wharf at Cockatoo Island Dockyard, New South Wales.
I ask for leave to make a short statement
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The summary of recommendations and conclusions of the Committee is as follows:
– by leave - I move:
That the date for the presentation of the report of the Senate Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes be extended until 30th June 1968.
I think the Senate is entitled to some explanation from me in support of this motion. The date now set for the presentation of the report, 31st December 1967, means, in essence, that the report has to be presented to the Senate by the time that the Senate rises at the conclusion of the spring session. As the Committee has proceeded on its business, it has become evident that the subject matter of the inquiry is so complex that the Committee sees no reasonable opportunity of completing its work unless it is granted an extension of time. I want to say also, on behalf of my colleagues on the Committee, that although claims are made from time to time that members of Parliament do not work very hard, this Committee has spent the whole of the winter recess examining approximately 120 witnesses in respect of this complex subject of cargo handling. The number of sitting days is 25. There is an additional reason for extending this time, I suggest. If honourable senators think for a moment they will realise the vast constitutional problems involved in containerisation, touching as it does upon the concurrent powers of the Commonwealth and the States. I ask the Senate to agree to the extension of this time.
– I second the motion moved by Senator Cormack and say that 1 agree with him completely. The members of the Committee consider it impossible to make a report at this stage. What the honourable senator has said is correct. Not only are broad sections of the community affected by containerisation, but many involved issues have arisen and have only so far been touched upon by the Committee. Without canvassing the matter I can say that all the members of the Committee are satisfied that they are doing a very useful job. They feel, however, that at this stage they are not in a position to give an interim or a final report on any phases of the Committee’s work. Because of the workings of the Committee new considerations have been introduced to many interests that were not aware of the container system and its effect on the security of their own enterprises. The Senate should note that because of the work of the Committee and of the Chairman new investigations have been made of the system, and those have resulted definitely in a lot of information being gained and in particular interests sizing up their position in relation to the system. I want to say finally, because I know this is not the occasion to talk much about this great issue, that most of the members of the Committee have in view - and I support them - that we should set a target, if we can, for an interim report before the Senate rises this year. I hope the Committee’s work will flow consecutively so that the members will be able to reach the set target.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
Senator ANDERSON (New South
Wales - Minister for Customs and Excise) [11.52]- I move:
Mr President, the Government is proposing in this Bill to amend the Post and Telegraph Rates Act to provide for increases in certain basic postage and telegram charges. The Senate has, of course, dealt with this matter on two earlier occasions and rejected the Government’s proposals. The Government in two debates in this House has demonstrated the necessity for the increases and is concerned about the consequences of continued delay in the introduction of the new rates. It is therefore proposed that the new charges take effect from 1st October this year.
This Bill, of course, does not deal with all of the changes the Government proposes to make in Post Office charges. A range of increases in telecommunication and postal charges was to have been implemented by regulations, but the Senate having at a special sitting disallowed those regulations the Government must either wait six months before presenting them again or, as it has felt compelled to do introduce legislation in their place. In addition to this Bill, I will therefore shortly be introducing further legislation dealing with those rates previously the subject of regulations. It is the Government’s intention that the full range of new charges be open to debate during consideration of this first Bill. I have circulated statements showing in detail the proposed adjustments covered by both Bills.
When these matters were last before the Senate I stressed that, although the Post Office has obligations of service to the community, it is also a national business and should pay its way. The Government views as a business investment the substantial capital funds provided from annual Budgets for the expansion of the Post Office’s service, and expects the Post Office, like any other business, to earn sufficient revenue from the sale of its services to at least cover its costs, including interest on capital.
At this point I might digress and say something about a decision the Government has taken to create a Post Office Trust Account and which was intimated to this
House by Senator Henty on 15th August. Appropriate legislation to enable the introduction of this new financial arrangement as from 1st July 1968, will be brought down in due course. It will, however, enable honourable senators to view the Post Office tariffs and finances in better perspective if I outline briefly the changes the Government has in mind and the main reasons for them.
The Post Office is continually involved in making business judgments and decisions, it must react quickly to variations in demand for its services, and it is subject to the added discipline of planning its expenditure with an eye to the revenue and the net financial out-turn it will yield, as well as to the service rendered to the community.
While the Government and the Post Office management recognise all this and expect the Post Office to conduct its affairs on a business basis, it nevertheless still operates within the same financial machinery as any other department of State. The Post Office is required to pay all of its revenue into the Consolidated Revenue Fund, and it must draw all of the funds it needs for operating and capital purposes from annual parliamentary appropriations. These financial arrangements are not suited to the operations of a business undertaking and in fact detract from the ability of the Post Office to operate efficiently on a business basis. They also pose difficulties, rather than assist, in bringing about effective Parliamentary control and public understanding of the Post Office’s finances. The new financial arrangements will do much to remove these difficulties and will provide for the Post Office to operate its own trading account into which all its revenues will be paid and from which all expenses, both capital and operating, will be met. Because of the likely levels of capital investment required, particularly in the telecommunications area, the revenues of the Post Office will not be sufficient to meet all its needs in any year. It will be dependent therefore upon Parliament for its cash requirements over and above its revenues, and requests for additional funds, or net borrowings, will be dealt with through the normal Budget procedures and the Estimates debate.
To give a better appreciation of its operations and prospects, a White Paper will be submitted by the Postmaster-General (Mr
Hulme) to Parliament during the Budget session each year outlining information on Post Office affairs generally, including estimates of its commercial results for the year, the proposed capital programme, and the method of financing it. There will still be presented an annual report, together with financial statements and the report thereon of the Auditor-General. The Post Office will thus still be subject to parliamentary and ministerial control and the Parliament should be in a position to be much better informed than under the present system. It is against this background of the Post Office being regarded as a business enterprise and the Government’s intention to give it business-type financial arrangements, that the measures I am now bringing before the Senate should be considered. When these matters were before the Senate recently, I outlined in some detail the nature and scope of the proposed new charges, and I do not intend to go into the same detail again. Since the matter was last dealt with, however, several changes have been made in the proposals, and I will, of course, deal with them fully.
There have been no overall increases in postage rates since the basic rate of 5d was introduced in 1959. In fact, the only significant change has been the reduction in the basic rate to 4c at the time of the changeover to decimal currency 18 months ago; this has so far cost the postal service almost $lm in lower revenue. Although there have been continual improvements in efficiency and productivity, in recent years it has not been possible to absorb the increases in wage rates which have been granted to postal staff. Losses on postal operations have therefore occurred and are increasing rapidly.
The postal service was able to maintain a break-even financial position over the 5 year period from 1959-60 to 1963-64, averaging a profit of about $0.9m. In 1964-65, however, a loss of $2. 6m was incurred and this was followed in 1965-66 by a loss of $ 10.3m. The loss incurred in 1966-67 was $23.6m and in the current financial year, with current postal tariffs and allowing for a continuation of recent cost trends, might exceed $30m. Over the last two years, the extra wages payable as a result of variations to awards totalled more than $12m compared with an increase of only $7m in postal revenue in the same period. Awards have already added almost $6m to postal service costs this financial year, the recent national wage decision alone adding $2m. It is clear that new increased postal rates are essential to help meet these rising costs. lt is at times suggested that Australian postage rates are high compared with those in other countries, but this, of course, is not so. The Senate might be interested to know that the United States Congress is currently considering a proposal for a basic postage rate equivalent to 5.7c Australian. The letter rate in the Common Market countries is equivalent to 7c Australian. Criticism of our proposed Se rate can, therefore, hardly be sustained. The proposed changes in postal rates and conditions are set out in the statements which I have circulated. The most important single change is the one I have already referred to, namely, an increase in the basic postage rate from 4c to 5c.
As I have already said, I do not intend to repeat detailed explanations of the various postal rate proposals I gave the Senate previously, for no alterations have been made to the increases submitted in earlier Bills, except in respect of postage discounts. Large users who reduce Post Office handling costs by presorting their mail and by meeting certain other posting conditions concerning make-up and transmission will be eligible for discounts of up to 25%. The discount allowed will vary according to the size of the consignment and the amount of presorting by the customer.
Two variations have been made in the discount conditions previously submitted. Firstly, the minimum quantity of mail which must be posted to be eligible for a 5% discount has been reduced from 5,000 to 2,500. This change will allow many smaller firms to participate in the scheme. Secondly, postings in large envelopes, as well as those in small and medium size standard envelopes, will also be eligible for discounts. The inclusion of postcodes in the addresses on discount mail will be a requirement from 1st October 1968.
A variation has also been made in the postage discount which it is proposed to apply to the householder mail service, by which articles addressed to The House holder’ or similar title are delivered to each point in a designated area. At present a flat 30% discount applies. The original proposal was that this rate be increased to 40%, but the Government now proposes a 40% discount on articles up to 2 oz in weight and 60% on articles over 2 oz. A survey suggests that this will not lead to a loss of revenue. On the contrary, the increased business that will result is expected to increase it.
A substantial concession is being retained for registered Australian publications, but as from 1st October 1968 senders will be required to prepare bulk mailings in a manner designed to reduce postal handling costs. From that date it will be a condition of eligibility for this concession that individually addressed copies of registered publications, posted in bulk, be presorted by the sender into a number of separations and enclosed in envelopes or wrappers bearing a ‘postage paid’ imprint. The extent of the presorting required will depend on the volume and distribution pattern of each newspaper and periodical, and it is intended that the presorting arrangements for each will be determined after consultation with the sender.
I would draw the attention of the Senate to the revised date of effect of new size limits for enveloped mail eligible for conveyance by air free of airmail fees within Australia and its Territories under Operation Post Haste. This will be effective from 1st October this year. Full details are set out in the statements which I have circulated. As a consequence of increases in domestic postage rates, it will be necessary to apply increases of the same order to several international rates for surface mail. The price for aerogrammes will also be increased from 9c to 10c. Changes in international rates will be effected by Executive action as authorised by the Post and Telegraph Act.
The variations in postal charges which 1 have outlined, together with those which will be dealt with in detail in a further Bill and some miscellaneous charges which will be covered by administrative action, will, if introduced on 1st October 1967, bring in additional earnings of approximately $22m in 1967-68 and $30m in the first full year. It will be appreciated that the additional earnings of $22m in 1967-68 will not now be sufficient to offset the predicted loss, at current tariffs, of at least $30m. Had the new tariffs operated from 1st July last the postal service could well have broken even during 1967-68. Even with the tariff adjustments it is estimated that a loss exceeding$10m will be incurred in J 968-69. The Department is continuing to explore all means of arresting the loss trend in the postal service, but because it is a labour intensive enterprise these efforts are largely nullified by the continued wage increases granted to Post Office employees along with other members of the community.
The telecommunication tariff proposals in this Bill cover only increases in telegram rates. Telephone call fees and trunk rates, together with some adjustment of charges for miscellaneous telecommunication facilities and services, will be dealt with in connection with the further Bill I have already mentioned. Apart from a minor adjustment in 1964, it is 11 years since telegram rates have been altered. The telegram service is operating at a loss and it is proposed to increase rates by 20%. The new charges for ordinary rate messages will be 36c for the first twelve words and 3c for each additional word, compared with the current rates of 30c for the first twelve words and 5c for each additional two words. Urgent telegrams will continue to be charged for at double the ordinary rate. The revised rates will bring in additional revenues of about $600,000 this year and $lm in a full year, but the telegram service will continue to operate at a loss.
Every business, whether it be a public enterprise like the Post Office or of some other kind, has no choice but to review its charges from time to time having regard to its trading position. The Government would be irresponsible if it allowed the Post Office to move progressively into heavy losses without taking corrective action, and this Bill does no more than seek to ensure that users of Post Office services meet rising costs. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Postal, Telephone, Telegraph and Picturegram Regulations in order to vary the charges for certain Post Office services. Provision is made also for the introduction of a special mail despatch service. In addition, the opportunity is being taken to convert to decimal currency equivalents, where necessary, money amounts specified in these Regulations.
The changes are the same as those which were the subject of regulations recently disallowed in the Senate. Under the provisions of the Acts Interpretation Act, the Government may not present them in the same form within a period of 6 months from the date of disallowance. It is for this reason that the Government is introducing this legislation. The legislation which will be introduced later concerning the proposed Post Office Trust Account will contain provisions relating to the method of fixing tariffs in the future.
The amended postal charges covered by this Bill relate to miscellaneous facilities and services and are the same as those previously proposed for introduction on 1st July last. They are set out in full in the statements circulated, and the Senate will observe that they include reference to a new special mail despatch service intended to operate from 1st October this year. This service is designed for highly urgent mail between the business areas of capital cities. It will allow mail posted at. specified locations after normal mail closing time to be available for collection or delivery early the following morning in all but the most distant capital cities. The statements also give details of increased commission on money orders, fees on some postal orders and charges for philatelic services.
With regard to telecommunication services, it will be appreciated that telecommunication costs in recent years have been affected significantly by higher wage rates and by the capital charges associated with expenditure on new facilities. The current trend in the operating results of telecommunication services gives a clear indication of the extent of these increased costs. Taken together, telephone and telegraph services showed a profit of §10.2m in 1965-66, most of the expenditure and revenues being associated with telephone facilities. Higher wage rates and other increased costs reduced the profit to $2.1m in 1966-67 and, unless telecommunication charges are increased, a loss of some millions of dollars will be inevitable this year.
The growing needs of the business community and the public generally for telecommunication services leads to a heavy demand by the Post Office for capital, and it is also for this reason that increases in some telecommunication tariffs are inevitable. About 95% of the proposed Budget appropriation of $240m for Post Office capital works in 1967-68 will be spent on telecommunication facilities.
Demand for telephone services rose by about 12% last financial year and. with local telephone calls and trunk traffic increasing steeply, the capital needs for telecommunications will almost certainly show a sharp rise in future years. Apart from connecting new services, the major emphasis is on providing improved facilities and services to the existing 2,200,000 subscribers within the network who derive increasing benefit from this continued development. The telecommunication tariff proposals in this Bill cover increases in telephone call fees and trunk rates together with some adjustment of charges for miscellaneous telecommunication facilities and services, some of which will be dealt with by administrative action. All of these proposed adjustments are detailed in the statements which have been distributed.
With regard to telephone charges, the local call fee ls to be increased from 34c to 4c, with corresponding adjustments in trunk call fees. This is the first increase in call charges for 8 years, apart from a few minor variations in trunk call fees at the time of introduction of decimal currency.
Trunk rates provide for uniform 3-minute rates for ali trunk calls from subscribers services, irrespective of whether they are booked through an operator or subscriberdialled; there is no change in the principle that with STD calls you pay only for the time you speak. The adjustments in charges for miscellaneous telecommunications facilities, which include a reduction in the rates for the longer distance private telegraph lines, will increase overall earnings in this area by about 20%.
Overall, increased telecommunication tariffs, including those covered by the earlier Bill, will bring in additional earnings of about $26m in 1967-68 and S34m in a full year. However, in 1967-68 additional cash receipts will be only $14m because of the 6-monthly billing cycle for most accounts. In my speech on the previous Bill 1 have already dealt at some length with the financial position of the postal service and I will not take up the time of the Senate by repeating these details.
I am sure that honourable senators will agree that, in the light of the information already placed before them, any further delay in the introduction of new charges would have a serious effect on Post Office operations. It is proposed, therefore, that the increased charges covered by this Bill should take effect from 1st October this year. These increases in a full year are expected to bring in additional earnings of about $34m - $4m postal, $30m telecommunications. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 6 September (vide page 589), on motion by Senator Gorton: That the Bill be now read a second time.
Senator DAVIDSON (South Australia [12.15] - In the couple of minutes towards the close of the debate last night I was introducing my few remarks in relation to this Bill which was the subject of debate for most of yesterday. I had made the observation that it was an unusual Bill because it had been designed to deal with an unusual situation. Indeed, this could well reflect what the Minister said in his second reading speech to the effect that the Bill was designed to meet a new development. In qualifying his statement in relation to a new development the Minister made the point - this has been fairly widely reflected in one way and another - that noone denies the right of any section of the community to protest, demonstrate, criticise or make any comment upon our established procedures, upon Government legislation or indeed upon statements made by leaders of the community.
I wonder whether this situation has not arisen in part out of that very trend whereby it has been fashionable for some considerable time for sections of the community to engage in various forms of satire, criticism and some quite destructive comments which have been designed to amuse those who may listen or watch. All told, we have developed around us an aura of circumstances in which people have demonstrated, protested and criticised. They have held up many things in our society not only to criticism but also to public ridicule and even for the benefit of public entertainment or amusement.
We accept this and take part in it. Perhaps our habits as members of Parliament have contributed towards it because most of us enjoy the cut and thrust and exchange and counter-exchange of debate. In any public protests or in publications which protest against a certain set of circumstances within the community, it naturally follows that some members of the community object. Some members of the community are displeased by them, but there will always be a section of the community which objects to something someone says or does, and there will always be a section of the community which is irritated, annoyed or displeased by what a Government or authority does or what a Minister may say.
If this is so, we should recognise that it is probably part of the price we pay for our freedom of expression. If, on the one hand, we support - we do so willingly - programmes which encourage education and if we sponsor programmes designed to provide greater opportunities for a larger number of people in their formative years, we must also be prepared, on the other hand, to accept some of the responsibility of adjusting to the results which flow from programmes of that kind. One of the results which sometimes flows is a moment of what I will call immature opinion which, 1 suggest, has followed from a period of acceptance by the community of the processes of demonstration, criticism and satire. This has resulted in an expression of immature opinion which has led to what the Minister called this new development of an organisation within our Australian society announcing that it was taking steps to send funds to the National Liberation Front.
I mention this because out of this wealth of criticism, satire, demonstration and other associated factors certain judgments grow. Judgments by certain small sections of our community - younger people, in the main - are influenced by many factors. They are influenced by pressure groups, pressure opinions, political loyalties and by other associations that they may have. So we have reached the situation in which, since 1965, this group within Australia has been organised to express opposition to the present Government’s actions in Vietnam. This is nothing new. Groups of people have always been able to organise themselves in opposition to the policy of the prevailing government. This present development is a continuation and extension of this kind of thing. I suppose it is true to say that subject to interfering with public order and safety this is part of our Australian right.
But today we are faced with the situation where this has taken a new turn and there is a new extension. Organisations within the Australian community have indicated publicly that funds will be collected for dispatch to the National Liberation Front in Vietnam. Also, there has been evidence that some funds have been collected for use by the enemy in unspecified ways. Because this action deliberately sets out without any apology whatsoever to assist the forces against whom our Australian soldiers are engaged in combat, this legislation is introduced.
This legislation arises from a number of factors in a number of ways. The freedom and right to criticise Government policy, I suggest, have been abused to the extent that a deliberate threat exists to the lives of our servicemen. The thing that gives us greatest concern is that this threat comes from within our own territory. The point which has not been extended perhaps to a great degree is the fairly simple and obvious one that if one group can do this and get away with it others can do the same thing. As this kind of thing develops, it is calculated to sow the seeds of disloyalty to authority within our own country. Eventually it can lead to the incitement of movements of rebellion and also very cleverly it can be calculated to divert public attention from the lawful pursuits of the community. It is very clearly related to anti-national movements that have emerged in other countries and which have found their expression in the pattern of international Communism.
Another reason why it is urgent is that this matter shall receive the support of the Senate is that it is essential that our Australian servicemen who carry the Australian flag in Vietnam must have no doubts whatsoever in their minds as to the solidarity of the home front. Nothing destroys the morale of these soldiers quicker than for them to know that there are sections of the Australian community who are sabotaging their effort and. assisting their enemies and about whom the Government is not doing anything at all. So, the Government has moved in quickly in this instance to take steps not only for the protection of our servicemen but also for the furthering of our own responsibilities as far as this area is concerned.
I draw attention also to the fact that the Minister has assured the Senate that the existing powers are not sufficient. He described them as inappropriate and said that the administration provided under the Crimes Act is not sufficient in this case. So, for many reasons this Bill is justified. The terms that are set out in it are justified. I join with those who have been working for its complete and urgent endorsement. If it is necessary to do this, what of the circumstances surrounding the actions in which our Australians are engaged? What is the enemy like for whom these funds are intended? I do not propose at this stage to recount so much of that which has been said about the Vietnam war. I have expressed myself on this matter on other occasions. There are other opportunities on the notice paper by which we will be able to extend reference to the situation in Vietnam.
May I say, Sir, that this legislation is a contemporary measure. It has arisen at this point of time not only becuse of the long standing engagement in which our people are involved but also because of the contemporary dangers which have arisen. Therefore I think it is pertinent to quote a couple of facts that exist in the Vietnam area at this time and against a background of which this action by groups within our community has been taken.
The Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck), speaking in another place only a few days ago, brought the Parliament up to date with the situation in Vietnam at this time. The Minister said that the military outlook in Vietnam has shown steady and continued improvement. He went on to say:
This improvement has occurred in the face of an increasing build up of North Vietnamese regular forces to a point where there are now more than 50,000 North Vietnamese regular troops fighting in South Vietnam. In addition, there has been a heavy build-up of North Vietnamese forces in and just north of the Demilitarised Zone, posing a threat to the northern provinces . . .
The Minister went on to record that the infiltration of military supplies into South Vietnam had continued at a high rate. Making a further point, the Minister stated:
Communist terrorist activity against civilians has not lessened.
The Minister for External Affairs pointed that out emphatically. He continues:
The Vietcong has initiated a systematic campaign of terror designed to destroy the Revolutionary Development Programme.
Already in this calendar year alone over 1,700 civilians, many of them Revolutionary Development personnel, have been murdered by the Vietcong.
He stated further:
Over 3,000 have been wounded and 2,000 captured.
I think it is pertinent to emphasise here that this is the kind of organisation that these funds are designed to help. This campaign of terror deliberately designed to eliminate the men and women who provide leadership and assistance to the people in the countryside is surely one of the most tragic and difficult aspects of this whole situation.
I turn in furtherance of my remarks to no less a journal than the London ‘Times’. I refer to one of its reports from Saigon published a few days ago. In the issue of 1 September, it is stated that on the date of the despatch of the report the Vietcong had captured a further 65 civilians in a dawn raid on a village. The day before the Vietcong had captured 39 civilians in a raid on another village. A spokesman said that over 200 civilians had been killed, injured or kidnapped in the 24 hours preceding the despatch of this report. This is the kind of situation in which our forces are engaged. This is the kind of programme that this group within our community is planning to help. So, this legislation has been introduced very wisely, very properly and very urgently so that our forces which are defending freedom and fighting for Australia in these areas can be assured of support on the home front.
There is only one other observation that I want to make in relation to the Bill. This follows up something that I referred to last night towards the close of my few remarks relating to clause 3 in which reference is made to the Australian Red Cross Society and also to bodies that for the time being may be specified by proclamation. There has been a fairly extended public reference to other organisations. These have included the Division of Inter-Church Aid, Refugee and World Service of the Australian Council of Churches. I make my references deliberately here because I have been closely related with the Division of Inter-Church Aid in South Australia. Indeed, I have taken the opportunity to see some of its work in overseas countries. For many years it has been strongly connected with a wide range of humanitarian services particularly as relates to refugees. Similarly, I have enjoyed co-operation with the Roman Catholic organisation of this nature. These organisations have many supporters throughout Australia and, for my part, the Division of Inter-Church Aid has for many years rendered outstanding humanitarian service. It is not the same as every other international organisation by reason of its establishment. Almost of necessity ft embarks upon a programme of churches helping churches. This means that it is an inter-denominational organisation. Not only is it an inter-denominational organisation but also, involved in all that, it is an international organisation, which means that it has a wide range of ramifications, associations and administrations. 1 have mentioned several times, and so have others, that the Bill now before us was prepared in urgent circumstances. In preparing a measure of this kind, which is related to the complexities of international tension and strife, an involved government such as the Australian Government needs to be quite satisfied with every phase of its movements and activities. Provision is made in the Bill for an organisation to submit to the Attorney-General a copy of its constitution and a list of the whole range of its activities. 1 am sure that the present Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) will look at them with a great deal of sympathy. Indeed, from my conversations with him I have gained that impression. I hope that the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton), who represents the AttorneyGeneral in this place, when replying in this debate will give further indication that these matters will be considered sympathetically. 1 was interested, as we all were, in Senator Wilkinson’s reference last night to a certain organisation and the work that it does. May I say with respect that, whilst the Government makes grants in aid for international work, if my information is correct - 1 think it is - it does not make a straight out grant to the Division of InterChurch Aid, Refugee and World Service of the Australian Council of Churches. If it did, surely it would be obliged also to make grants to a whole range of international humanitarian organisations. It does make a grant - 1 think the amount allowed for the current year is $18,000 - to the Australian Council for Overseas Aid. The Division of Inter-Church Aid is one of a number of organisations within the Australian Council for Overseas Aid. There is quite a long list of such organisations. The Council includes not only the church organisations to which I have referred but also Service groups and a lot of others which are involved in one way or another in giving aid, whether it be on a group to group basis, through international organisations, or on a place to place basis. The grant of $18,000 that I have mentioned will be used almost exclusively for the purposes of administration in Australia. The only direct grant to organisations within the Australian Council for Overseas Aid is to the organisation known as the Overseas Service Bureau.
Even though there are particular channels through which we exercise our own responsibility in relation to overseas aid and humanitarian work, and even though we would like to see the organisations with which we are associated referred to in the Bill, in the circumstances in which this legislation has been introduced and in which it is intended to operate I think it was wise for the Government to delineate the Red Cross and the Red Cross alone. The Red Cross is different from other organisations in many ways. It has had a century of service, it is well known, and it is well experienced in rendering humanitarian service amidst all the complexities and difficulties associated with a major war such as the Second World War or the action in which we are now engaged. The Red Cross has performed its work efficiently and diplomatically. Its constitution has been known for a long time and its record is public knowledge. Although the operations of other organisations such as the ones I have mentioned have been limited, their humanitarian service is freely available to all. The fact that they will not be specified in the legislation does not lessen the value of their work. As I said earlier, they will be at liberty to present their constitution and their case to the Attorney-General, who I am sure will review them very sympathetically and favourably.
It is not only for personal reasons that I have expressed my admiration particularly for the work of Inter-Church Aid. More than one member of the Government parties have been associated with the administration of the organisation at either the State or the national level. I hope the Minister for Education and Science, who is in charge of the Bill in this place, will agree that the absence of specific reference to such organisations in the measure is no reflection upon them. If any such inference were to be drawn it would undoubtedly affect the success of those organisations and the public contributions that are made each year. As I have indicated, the Division of Inter-Church Aid, Refugee and World
Service, the Roman Catholic organisation and the Society of Friends are the only three organisations that I can recall having been mentioned in debates in the Parliament, but there are others within the Australian Council for Overseas Aid that may well have a claim to recognition. I hope that the Attorney-General will give them every consideration if they make a submission to him.
The last clause of the Bill indicates that the measure is to be repealed upon the cessation of operations in Vietnam. All of us no doubt hope that that will be soon. I express the hope that the continued efforts to negotiate that have been made will soon find acceptance and that there will soon be an adequate, proper and just settlement of this very difficult situation. This Bill is an assurance to the men who fight for us and who carry the flag of freedom that their work is appreciated by a strong and united Australian community and that expressions of dissent, which are only natural in a community such as ours, will meet wilh the necessary discipline. 1 commend the Bill to the Senate; 1 hope that it has a speedy passage.
– I rise to support the attitude that has been outlined by the Australian Labor Party. I listened very closely to the previous speaker, Senator Davidson. Although he did not get quite as excited as did other senators on the Government side, I am afraid that he did not contribute very much to the case. Senator Wheeldon explained Labor’s attitude very clearly yesterday. He said that the Government had introduced this measure as a political gimmick. May I add to his comment by saying that the Government has revealed a set of double standards. It was forced into a situation where it liecame panic stricken and had to do something about the matter.
Speakers on both sides of the Senate have touched upon the background to the conflict in Vietnam. I think it is appropriate that I should quote a series of paragraphs from a leaflet that has been published by the International Committee of Conscience on Vietnam. Incidentally, this is a democratic organisation and it is not associated with the Communist Party, as some members of the Government have alleged in the past. The pamphlet states:
No generation has had shown to it more clearly than ours the interdependence of all men. No matter what the reasons we advance for the killing we do - in Vietnam or elsewhere - they are our brothers whom we kill. More than our brothers - they are ourselves and our children, for as surely as we do not find other ways than war for solving our human problems, we destroy the future for ourselves and for them.
We who sign this statement are impelled to speak by the tragedy of Vietnam, and by the failure of governments to end that terrible conflict. Yet we think not only of Vietnam, but of all our apprehensive world torn by contending ideologies and ambitions, of which Vietnam is the present symbol. We, who in various ways have assumed the terrible responsibility of articulating the human conscience, must speak, or, literally, we should expect the very stones to cry out.
Continuation of the Vietnam war will not prove which side is right and which wrong. It will only increasingly force both sides to commit such atrocities as will mock all their claims. It will draw both sides farther and farther into a maelstrom of destruction in which mankind as a whole may finally be engulfed.
That expresses very adequately in a few words the feeling of a great section of the world today in relation to the conflict in Vietnam. I was surprised at some of the attitudes adopted by preceding speakers. Senator Sim is one I call to mind. Yesterday he produced a booklet, published in recent times, setting out some of the reasons why this country should not be involved in this conflict. Then he said that the foreword to it was written by the Rev. Alan Walker, and he tossed it across with a great air of contempt. This is an attitude that has been developing amongst Government supporters. Recently when we had a vigil for peace outside this Parliament House, conducted in a dignified and orderly manner, several Government supporters stood on the parapet of the monument and continued to tell funny stories in very loud voices while the vigil for peace was going on. The culminating point came when a member of one of the Government parties seized the microphone and prayed for the success of the Government’s actions in Vietnam. In other words, he prayed that people would be killed. This was an unchristian attitude, an undemocratic attitude and a disgusting spectacle. I have not heard one Government supporter raise his voice in protest at this disgusting attitude of one of his colleagues.
Yesterday we saw the Leader of the Australian Country Party obviously trying to rally support for the Government’s very sanctimonious approach to this problem. He was crawling around the Country Party benches trying to persuade some of the older members of that Party in this chamber to give him some support. On the other hand he was being needled continuously by Senator Webster - who, I am sorry, to note, is not here at the moment - and the situation reached a culmination last night when the Minister had to hit back and tell the honourable senator to quiet, or else.
I think it was Senator Lillico who said yesterday that the free world has nothing to fear from this legislation or from other attitudes of the Government but only from itself. I do not know what he was quoting. I am sure that they were not his words, but I can find no reference from which he took them. Again, this was an indication of a sanctimonious attitude to a very important problem.
Perhaps we might look at the early part of what has led to the introduction of this legislation. As I said a few moments ago, it was a panic measure. The Government was frightened by a section of the Press. It thought an election might be impending, but even if this were not so the Capricornia by-election was confronting it, with a Senate election at a later date. Therefore it had to adopt an air of respectability and convince the voting public that it was still very, very much anti-Communist. Whilst on the one hand the Government adopts this attitude towards the collection of some funds which, it has been clearly stated, will be used for civilian aid, on the other hand it has a second standard, whereby it is delighted to sell to China tinplate, iron, minerals, tallow, anything at all - I shall enlarge on this at a later stage of my contribution - because out of these it is making the good old Australian quid and it will not offend those who pay the party funds to keep it in government. Of course, the Government already had power to take action if it wanted to do so. Why was it afraid to take action under the power that it already had?
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended I was endeavouring to point out that the Government had adopted two standards. One standard relates to the matters covered by this Bill and the other standard is applied to trade with mainland China and other countries. I said before, and I emphasise now, that one of the factors motivating the Government is that it has the job in front of it of convincing the electors who will vote in the forthcoming Senate election and the Capricornia by-election that the Government parties should be kept in office. So the Government is again dragging out the old bogy of Communism and is looking for Communists under every tree and under every bed. It. must be somewhat disconcerting when Government members examine the area under their beds at night and find not another Communist hiding there but a nest of cobwebs and, perhaps, a bed chamber or two. Regardless of the tactics adopted by the Government parties on this occasion, there is no danger whatsoever of them winning the Federal seat of Capricornia in my State.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) - Order! I think that the honourable senator is roaming a bit wide of the provisions of the Bill.
– May I explain, Mr Acting Deputy President, that I believe that this Bill was introduced partly for political purposes. However, I bow to your ruling. As I may not touch on that subject I want to refer to the second set of standards adopted by the Government. Only recently the Press exposed the amount of steel, tinplate and similar materials which are being exported to mainland China. Such goods, to the value of $4.1m, were exported to that country in the past 12 months. This matter was fairly well ventilated in a discussion that took place in this chamber and in the other place, but there are some points which have not been clearly explained. It appears that the Government’s attitude to this trade is that the steel was being used in the manufacture of toys. The material that was not being used for toys was being used for guttering on bouses. That which was not used for either of those purposes was being used for roofing. Even the most gullible member of the community would not imagine that material of this type would be used wholly for the purposes stated. I do not think that even Government supporters believe this story. In the debate that ensued at that time, I think the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) mentioned the amount of steel that was going to Japan and which, in turn, was probably being processed-
– The honourable senator is wrong again. I did not make that statement.
– I am not wrong. The Minister made that statement at that time when he was trying to tear to shreds the Opposition’s argument on this matter; while he was trying to bolster his ego and trying to justify his moral outlook on this matter. In fact he implied that this trade was quite legal; that there was nothing legally or morally wrong with selling to mainland China steel which could be used in the manufacture of weapons of war with which to kill Australian soldiers. I maintain that is the attitude which was adopted by the Minister at that time. The great bulk of these exports, whether they go by way of Japan or elsewhere, can be used in the manufacture of weapons of war. This is what annoys most Australians: That the Government has one set of rules for itself, and a second set of rules for those who bolster the Government and for those who keep it in power.
– Can the honourable senator prove that any of that steel which was shipped to Red China was used for war purposes?
– I do not have to prove it. It was a Government statement. Let us be clear about this matter of trade: The Labor Party has no complaint about trading with any country. What it does complain about is that’ the Government adopts two sets of moral standards. One set is for the public when the Government is looking for votes. The other relates to trading overseas when it is looking for cash. The Government does not care if its exports are responsible at any time for the loss of Australian lives. But there is one thing for sure; that no son of a Liberal Party member or a Country Party member of this Parliament is likely to be killed in action because the Government protects them and ensures that they do not get into the front line.
– That is a lie.
– Mr Acting Deputy President, J ask for the withdrawal of the word lie. My statement was not a lie.
– I withdraw the word lie but the statement is not correct. The son of the Minister for Defence is in Vietnam at the present time, lt is unworthy of the honourable senator to make such a statement.
– May 1 suggest to Senator McKellar that he tell us and the public whether the son of the Minister for Defence is in an infantry unit or not?
– He is in Vietnam taking his’ chance, the same as everybody else.
– There are jobs in Vietnam for the protected individuals of this country so that they do not have to face the bullets and the Minister knows this.
– 1 do not know it.
– 1 reiterate my statement. I have no intention of withdrawing it because it is true.
– lt is not true.
– I now turn to another aspect. This Government has a policy which is geared to resist the implementation of peace. By negotiations, particularly with the United States of America, the Government has been able to build up a number of industries in which very great profits are being made as a result of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam war. This is another story that cannot be denied. At the screening of the film the other night I did not see any members of the Liberal Party or Country Party present. 1 refer to a film which was banned, a film entitled The War Game’. That film showed in stark reality some of the things that can happen as a result of war. Referring to the elections which have just been held in South Vietnam, J think it is significant that this Government sent as observers people who would come back and report that it was a fair election. Those people would not be game to say that it was not fair in any way because their jobs would be in jeopardy. So far as the American Government is concerned, it did allow on the delegation of observers some people who were opposed to the attitude of that Government to the Vietnam conflict. They would have been able to tell the truth on their return. Rut in order to bolster Air Vice-Marshal Ky, and everything associated with that so-called democratic leader, this Government would not take this particular risk.
Since the election in South Vietnam there have been numerous complaints that it was rigged. There have been numerous complaints about voters obtaining more than one ballot paper. Some figures quoted in the Press recently would indicate that about 34% of the Vietnamese people installed this new team in power in that country. This is supposed to be the democracy that our soldiers are fighting for in Vietnam. I have said before in this chamber, and so have my colleagues, that the Government still does not know who invited it to participate in this war. But the Government seeks every opportunity to publicise the war. The Government has sought the present opportunity - the debate on this Bill - to publicise its attitude as willingly as it has sought every other opportunity to obtain cheap publicity in order to try to justify its attitude to the Vietnam war.
It is significant also that the Government spends a terrific amount of the taxpayers money to publish books and pamphlets such as the one I have here. But it will not allow money from the same source to publish books and pamphlets giving the directly opposite view. The Government copies this attitude from LBJ because he does the same sort of thing. There is no guarantee that the American Government would give an opportunity to anyone to publish the opposite side of the story. Circulars, which are distributed to all honourable senators at regular intervals, set out, under various headings, and apparently based on information received from Saigon, the number killed, the number wounded, the number abducted and the number of defectors, among the Vietcong. I heard a member of the Liberal Party - I will not mention his name because obviously he would be expelled from the Party if I did - say that he did nol believe the figure that was published; that this information is a cheap form of propaganda. Then a Minister in another place said the other night that this particular pamphlet was untrue because it was a shock to the system. Incidentally, one of the people associated with the compilation of news in Vietnam lost his life in very suspicious circumstances in South Vietnam. I refer to the late Bernard Falls, who was a small ‘1’ liberal on the American scene and who had the courage to put the other side of the picture for the benefit of Americans and others.
Summarising, I would say that the Government, is not really concerned with the mechanics or the policy aspects of the Bill but sees the Bill as another opportunity to pick up a handful of votes in order to try to obtain control of this chamber. It is trying to pick up a few additional votes in a forlorn hope of winning the by-election in Capricornia in the State I represent. However, if that proposition is not true, then the alternative is that the Government could have used existing laws to do what the Bill is to do. It has been said in some quarters that in order to use existing laws Australia might have to be officially at war with the National Liberation Front or North Vietnam. But whilst honourable senators opposite tell us that Australia is not at war, they are still prepared to sell the lives of Australian conscripts as often as they can - and the lives of as many of them as they can.
– Conscripts again.
– The dictionary defines the word ‘conscripts’ as meaning the kind of servicemen of whom we are speaking. The Government attempts to violate the dictionary meaning of the word to bolster itself up, and for no other reason. Honourable senators opposite are afraid of the word- Even the average young fellow called up under the conscription law is not ashamed of the word. Members on the Government side of the Parliament are the only people ashamed of the word conscript’.
– The honourable senator would be frightened to say that outside the House to a returned serviceman from Vietnam.
– I am making a statement, and it is true.
– The honourable senator would not make it outside the House.
– Senator Marriott’s interjection is as silly as most of the interjections he makes, and I will ignore it. Our attitude is that we support the Bill in its present form but still think that the Government is using it as a political gimmick in order to further ils political fortunes.
– I did not intend to take part in this debate today, but in view of the remarks that have been made by Senator Keeffe in relation to sons of Liberal senators of this Parliament being kept out of Vietnam I have decided to speak in the debate. The statement made by Senator Keeffe was a very nasty one. He accused the Government of making laws in respect to Vietnam, sending Australians to fight in Vietnam under those laws while at the same time withholding the sons of its own members from participating in such service.
– I did not say that. 1 said the front line.
– What Senator Keeffe said is despicable. I have recounted what he said. I challenge the honourable senator to bring forward proof that any member of the Government, being a senator or a member of the House of Representatives, has helped withhold his son from participation in the call-up or from service in the war in Vietnam. A person making a charge of this nature surely would not make it unless he had proof. I ask the honourable senator to produce that proof. The other charge that the honourable senator made was that the Government sold about $4.1m worth of steel to Communist China and that steel was being used in the manufacture of armaments to kill Australia’s sons fighting in Vietnam.
– I said it could be.
– The honourable senator did nol say it could be; he said it was.
– Senator Scott, is completely distorting the statements that I made. Neither of the alternatives he is using is correct.
– That is what the honourable senator said, and I have to correct him. Honourable senators on this side do not have an opportunity to put the facts on the line except by refuting statements such as those made by Senator
Keeffe. We, as supporters of the Government, are terribly hurt that an honourable senator could make the accusations that Senator Keeffe has made. I have dealt with the first accusation and I intend to deal with the second. In actual fact Senator Keeffe did say that $4.1m worth of steel was going to Communist China and was used in the manufacture of armaments to kill Australia’s sons fighting in Vietnam. I ask any member of the Opposition to bring proof that any part of this steel that was sent to Communist China was used for the manufacture of armaments.
– -Surely the proof, is with honourable senators opposite.
– The honourable senator’s colleague, Senator Keeffe, made the accusation. The Government has said what the steel was used for, and everyone knows of those uses. But honourable senators opposite do not believe the explanations. Senator Keeffe is supporting the Communists in South Vietnam and the Communist cause. The reason for this legislation is to prevent funds raised by organisations within Australia getting into hands of the Vietcong or the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam. 1 understand that some honourable senators opposite on occasion took the opportunity to lecture members of the Labor clubs in various universities throughout Australia in an endeavour to incite the members of those clubs to raise funds on behalf of the National Liberation Front. The reason for this legislation is to stop the raising of such funds. I believe that Senator Keeffe should be more careful in the statements he makes, and if he does make statements he should have the proof at hand that what he is saying is correct. In my opinion the statements made by Senator Keeffe are so far from the truth that they are unbelieveable.
– I intend to oppose the second reading of this Bill. This might cause some surprise to honourable senators.
– Not at all.
– I did not think Senator Sim would bc surprised. I might say that 1 have surprised even myself. When the legislation was first brought down-
– Senator Hannaford did not surprise me.
– If Senator Cavanagh does not mind, I would like to continue my remarks without interjection or interruption. I want to repeat that my opposing the second reading of this Bill might cause some surprise to honourable senators. To a certain extent I am myself surprised. Only after long consideration and after listening to the debate in the Senate on this measure - which is a high sounding piece of legislation - I have decided to oppose the second reading of the Bill. Originally I intended to support the measure because I thought it was worth while, but after listening to the debate I have come to the conclusion that if it is the last thing I do in the Parliament I must stand in my place in the Senate and protest against this proposed legislation. It could mean that I completely alienate myself from my former Party colleagues. I do not think it will, but if so, I cannot help it. In the interests of truth and sincerity as I see them I feel compelled to act in this way.
I want to exclude certain honourable senators from any caustic remarks I may make about the debate, but in general terms a very low standard of debate has been set by Government supporters. The course of the debate has shown quite clearly to me that the measure has been used as a whipping post for the purpose of a political attack on the Labor Opposition and those people, including myself, who think similarly in regard to the Vietnam conflict. I include also many thousands of people - I have written in my notes ‘thousands’, but I could say millions. I refer to private individuals who disagree with the Holt Government’s policies in regard to Australia and its enemy in the fighting in Vietnam. I have always understood that for a country to go to war it should be united, or as near to united as possible. It should be on the basis of a bipartisan policy. But what do we have today? Approximately half the population of Australia vote for Labor and are opposed to the war in Vietnam. Yet the Government goes ahead with its policy of following LBJ all the way.
– Not all the way.
– The Government follows LBJ all the way in certain respects, but in other respects - very notably that of trade wilh China - it does not go all the way. The Government has never clearly demonstrated that the Bill is necessary. When it has been pointed out that there are legislative and administrative means and the required powers to deal with the situation which was brought to a head by a few misguided youths we are told that those measures are inappropriate to meet the situation. If it is a treasonable Communist conspiracy - as the Democratic Labor Party and certain Government supporters have said it is during the course of this debate - what is wrong with invoking the Crimes Act? That was the original suggestion in Senator McManus’s motion. Is the Crimes Act not invoked because there has not been a declaration of war against the National Liberation Front of Vietnam, the Vietcong, or the North Vietnamese? Would a prosecution under the Crimes Act in those circumstances be sustained in the courts? 1 think the Government must have some doubts that a prosecution under the Crimes Act - having in mind that there has not been a declaration of war against the bodies I have named - would be sustained in the courts. Can it be denied that the Government under its administrative power exercised through the Reserve Bank could effectively stop the flow of funds to any destination outside Australia if it felt disposed to do so? That is particularly true if the funds are giving aid and comfort to an enemy. The answers to those two points have never been made clear.
For political and unworthy purposes the Government is using a steamroller to crack a nut and the real purpose of the Bill is to discredit those people who disagree with the Government’s policy on Vietnam. I do not subscribe to the actions of the youths in universities. So far as I can see their activities can be described properly as an essay in juvenilia. I think that was the term used by the Melbourne ‘Age’ when the collection of funds for the National Liberation Front first came to the notice of the Press. I think the Democratic Labor Party can take a certain amount of pride in the fact that it has been able to galvanise the Government into action.
– Does the honourable senator not want this action taken?
– At the behest of the Democratic Labor Party senators - the two honourable senators who sit in front of me - and some immature souls in the Government’s ranks, including Senator Branson, the Government has brought down this legislation to clamp down on what it has described as a sinister Communist conspiracy which, it claims, lies behind the actions of a few university youths.
– Francis lame’s, for instance.
– I say to my honourable friend in front of me that I happen to know Mr Francis James personally. He is a personal friend of mine. I know him to be a man of honourable war service and one who has the courage of his convictions. He would do no harm to this country or our soldiers under any circumstances.
– Would the honourable senator regard him as a juvenile? That is the point.
– I am not talking about him as a juvenile. I am talking about university students. I do not regard myself as a juvenile, but I have a very different point of view from Senator Gair’s. That is not the distinction to be drawn. I want to repeat what I have said so that I may get the record straight. The actions of the university students - not Mr James - have been described as a sinister Communist conspiracy. That is not the term that is used by thousands of thinking people to describe the actions of these young people. They may be irresponsible, but in the main, I think they can well be described as young idealists who would be the last -to do injury to their fighting men. In order to emphasise the repugnance to them of the Government’s policy on Vietnam, they embark, somewhat unwisely I admit, on actions which to say the least are radical and are not calculated to assist their cause.
I will oppose the motion for the second reading of the Bill. It may be that I will not have an opportunity to vote on the measure. Probably I will be the only senator to express himself outright in opposition to the measure. In my opinion the principles of the measure are not necessarily the most important factor; more important is the need for the measure. I do not blame the Labor Opposition for not opposing this legislation. It would bring joy to the Government if it could be said that Labor was against giving protection to our righting mcn in Vietnam. Forever and a day it would be used in election campaigns against Labor. Even if it were the very negation of the truth we know that it would be used. If the Labor Party voted against this Bill it would be shouted from the housetops, on the hustings and everywhere else that the Labor Party opposed protecting our men against this sort of thing.
– That is the only reason for the existence of the Bill.
– That is exactly the point that I was about to make. That is why the Government has brought down this Bill, instead of taking action uni-.r the Crimes Act or using Financial measures through the Reserve Bank to stop this sort of thing. That is why I am adopting the attitude that I am adopting to this Bill. My sympathy is very strongly with members of the Opposition and their case. This Bill was brought down to flay the Opposition; but in the course of this debate is has not been the Opposition who has taken a hiding; it has been the Government.
I do not propose to take up very much more time. 1 wanted to say these few words on this measure. I believe that it is important. I also believe that it is important that the world know where I stand on this matter. I represent a vast section of people in the community, despite what the Government may say. Apart from Senator Turnbull, I am the only non-Labor man in the Parliament who disagrees with Government policy on Vietnam. I want those people to know that 1 am fighting for their cause, however limited my capabilities may be. I pay a tribute to Senator Wheeldon for his speech.
– I know that Senator Sim has no regard for Senator Wheeldon, but if they were put against each other in a debate Senator Wheeldon would lose Senator Sim cold. We also heard a very fine speech from my friend Senator Willesee. I was not in the chamber when I heard him speaking. I was walking home. But I had my little radio and I heard what he said. 1 believe that there was a certain amount of commotion at the time. Fortunately, that was excluded from the broadcast. I agree with every word that both
Senator Wheeldon and Senator Willesee said.
Let us consider these two gentlemen. Senator Wheeldon is supposed to be very much to the left of the Labor Party. That has always been his reputation. He has an extraordinary capacity for political debate. Whether he is to the left or to the right does not. matter to me. Let us take it as a fact that he is a little to the left. That cannot be said of Senator Willesee- He has always been described by the Press and members of the Government parties as a right winger. So in the Labor Party’s contribution to the debate on this Bill, one man in the person of Senator Wheeldon spoke forthrightly against the principles of the legislation and his opposite number, so to speak, in the person of Senator Willesee made a rattling good speech on the same matter and spoke as effectively as he did. That indicates to me pretty clearly that they are as one on this issue, and I am with them on it.
The main feature of this debate is that the purpose of the Bill - namely, to give protection to our soldiers - has been almost disregarded by members of the Government parties in their efforts to denigrate members of the Labor Opposition and the other people who are opposed to the war in Vietnam, including me. That is why I say that the Government’s attitude rings hollow in my ears, f cannot support legislation which is not genuine or dinkum, to use an Australian term. I believe that in this instance I am justified in opposing the motion for the second reading of the Bill. 1 give anybody who thinks slightly differently but not altogether differently from me the opportunity to enable me to exercise my vote. I will not have that opportunity if I am (he only one who wants to vote against the motion. But if someone is willing to join me I will call for a division and vote again this legislation in order to make my position perfectly clear.
Senator ORMONDE (New South Wales) 2.50] - I wish to say a few words in summing up this debate. The Government is in a dilemma. Normally questions that involve Communism are clear cut for the Government when they involve the waterside workers, the miners, the Communist Party, the anti-war element or the peace organisations. But In this instance the Government is in trouble with its own people. It is in trouble with its own people because the people are confused. If the war in Vietnam was a normal war we would have no troubles such as those with which this Bill is concerned, because everybody would be behind the war. We did not have these troubles during the First World War or the Second World War. But we have them now because there is no real war. There are 5,000 or 6,000 Australian soldiers in Vietnam; but in Australia it is business as usual.
Members of the Government parties charged members of the Labor Party with lowering the morale of the soldiers. But possibly we do not lower their morale as much as the Government does when it announces the expenditure of $10m on VIP aircraft or when it allows business as usual in Australia.
– Whitlam makes good use of the VIP aircraft.
– All right. All I am saying is that it is business as usual for Senator Gair and business as usual for me; but it is not business as usual for the conscript. I hope I will not be attacked for using that word, because it is the correct word to use. The Government attacks us for using the term ‘conscript’, although it uses the term itself. What is the difference between a volunteer and a conscript? Do not let us become all emotional about this. A conscript is one who has to go to war. The national servicemen have to go to war. They did not go of their own free choice. They would not have gone of their own free choice. They went as a result of a selective type of conscription which is just about the most immoral thing of which I have ever heard. If anything reduces the morale of our soldiers, surely that does. I do not think honourable senators opposite should say too much about national service soldiers being referred to as conscripts, because, with duc respect, that is what they are. They did not volunteer. This is a democracy. The Government could not get enough volunteer soldiers to go to the war in Vietnam. I remember Senator Sir Shane Paltridge explaining all of this. He did not run away from the word ‘conscript’. Of course he did not. He introduced the relevant Bill in this chamber. He admitted that it was conscription. Most people know that.
Let me get back to the Government’s dilemma. The issue with which this Bill deals is not a clear cut issue for the Government because the war is not a clear cut issue. The rebellion is really among the Government’s own supporters in the colleges and universities. People should not be misled by the name ‘Labor clubs’. I wish these bodies were called ‘Liberal clubs’. Labor’ is the type of word that cannot be copyrighted. Calling them ‘Labor clubs’ is part of a campaign to smear the Labor Party. For quite a while the story was getting around that they were associated with the Labor Party.
I compliment the Government when I say that it had no intention of bringing in a Bill such as this one until the Democratic Labor Party beat it to the propaganda advantages. The DLP came into this business against the wishes of the man who often speaks for it, namely. Mr B. A. Santamaria, the President of the National Civic Council. I have a reference to Mr Santamaria chiding the Government and the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt). This report states:
The President of the National Civil Council, Mr. B. A. Santamaria, said last night the Holt Government should not try to make political capital out of a students” campaign to aid the National Liberation Front.
A Government which has always shown less seriousness even than Dr Evatt . . . should stick to the issues.
He believes that the Government should be careful of what it is doing. So it should because the Government now is entering into an atmosphere of disputation and argument about whether this is a just war. All over the world there is a revolt by youth. In Australia we are very fortunate. The Government calls these young interlectuals the lunatic fringe of the universities. I think that is unjust. They are not the lunatic fringe. They genuinely believe that this is not a real war. If it were a real war they would be in it like any other decent Australian boy. They know there is something phoney about this war. Everyone’ knows there is something phoney about it.
– Who called them tha lunatic fringe?
– Plenty of people in the Senate have called them that.
– And Whitlam said much the same.
– All right. The term has been used ad nauseam. Have honourable senators ever heard of the King’s School at Parramatta? It is the most fashionable school in Australia. The other day students of the school issued a booklet. I remind the Senate that the Chairman of the Council of the King’s School is the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney. Would he have anything to do with these boys, either for or against them, if he were satisfied in his own mind that this was a just war in the religious sense of the word? Of course he would not. The boys at this school are dressed permanently in military
Uniform. They are in uniform from the time they enter the school until they leave and go to university. A group of these boys have flooded this country with literature against the Vietnam war. Are they not doing more harm to the morale of our soldiers than some student who might throw two bob into the ring for civilian aid in North Vietnam? Of course they would be if news of what is going on reached the soldiers per medium of the newspapers. Will the authorities deal with them? Of course they will not.
I do not want to mention names but I must say that associated with the publication of this booklet is the Reverend S. W. Kurrle who is the headmaster. He is not a member of the lunatic fringe at the King’s School. Then there are Messrs D. N. Mortlock, M. F. Murray and J. W. de B. Persse, all of whom are teachers and professors at the school. They are not lunatics but they have produced this document. They are probably friends of the Government. They are probably Liberals. From what I have seen in Parramatta I should imagine that Labor would not get too many votes from the King’s School. The fathers of the boys are graziers. They are not wharf labourers or coal miners. It would be a simple matter if the Government were fighting the Communist Party. But it is not. It is virtually fighting its own people - people who have a conscience like Senator Hannaford.
– I have no conscience. The Government does not believe that.
– -The Government might not believe it but it is true. God help the world if we cannot act on a matter of conscience. There is no limit to this legislation as far as the DLP is concerned. The Government could not go far enough to suit the DLP because the DLP has a one track mind on this. That Party believes that it is better to be dead than Red and it will go to any lengths and argue any point to create a situation in which it can gain votes. I am not saying that members of the DLP might not genuinely believe that there is a threat of Communism. Of course there is a threat of Communism.
– Would the honourable senator rather be Red than dead?
– No, I would not, but at least one can do something if one is alive. I want to continue my reference to the King’s School. If honourable senators on the Government side read the pamphlet they would say: ‘What is all the clap trap about? The school with the highest social standard of any school in this country is preaching against the Vietnam war.’ Possibly Senator Gorton would say: ‘We will not touch people who merely oppose the war. We will deal only with people who take up collections to aid the enemy.’ That is a complete exaggeration because none of the young people at the universities has sought or attempted to aid the enemy in a military sense.
I hope I have cleared up that aspect of the matter. I know that the Government’s principal spokesmen here say: ‘We are not trying to involve the Labor Party in this’. Of course they are not, but most of the rank and file speakers are trying to involve the Labor Party and they spend most of their time in that way because we in the Labor Party are in an unfortunate position. During the last great war the people had to get rid of the Liberal Party - it was called the United Australia Party then - because it could not handle the war situation and the Labor Party had to come in and do the job. However, between wars we seldom get any foothold in the patriotic field. I see Senator McKellar grinning. He and his colleagues believe that they have a monopoly of patriotism, and that is not really true. We are probably the most patriotic Party in the country.
I know that we have attempted to make capital - rightly so because we engage in debate - out of exporting steel to China. Surely no honourable senator on the Government side would seriously suggest that by exporting wheat, wool and steel to China the Government is not doing at least as much to lower the morale of our soldiers in Vietnam as are the kids from the universities.
– Does the honourable senator support or oppose the Bill?
– This is one of the situations in which I do not have to declare that. I am probably the last speaker for our side of the chamber.
– The honourable senator will have to declare.
– I am in favour of the Bill for the same reason as the Government is in favour of the Bill. I think it is a gimmick Bill. The Government thought the idea was not worth bothering about until Senator Gair, a very shrewd politician, very quickly saw the value of it. Despite what Bob Santamaria said about no attempt being made to exploit the Labor Party’s situation, as soon as Senator Gair moved the Government moved. The Government does not really want this power now and probably will not use it when the Bill is passed. If the Government prosecutes the boys from Monash University, surely it must prosecute Dr J. A. L. Matheson who is the boss of the university. He is a big man. He has announced publicly that if the Government touches the boys it will have to touch him because he has said that the boys will not be punished by the university senate, there is a challenge to the Government. Will the Government throw him behind bars?
– They are aiding and abetting.
– Of course. The Government will have to deal with Dr Matheson if it deals with the boys. I do not think the Government will do much about this.
I think most honourable senators on the Government side must be ashamed of having taken part in this debate because most of the material which has come from them has been sheer exaggerated propaganda. It is having no effect on the public because a great deal of this material was afloat during the Corio by-election and it did not stop an 11% swing against the Government there. The Communist smear is old hat now. The Government must find some other method of defeating the Labor Party. The people will not believe the Government about these things now because there is so much material in relation to the Vietnam war which cannot be believed. That is what the situation lacks today - patriotism. There is no threat to this country. The Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) over the last 6 months to 12 months has said: ‘Yes, there is a threat from China.’ One night I heard him say that the threat was within 5 years and another night he said it was within 20 years. What the Prime Minister says depends on what sort of a dinner he has attended. That governs the length of time which will elapse before there will be a threat from China. The facts of history are that Air Vice-Marshal Ky himself said that if China dared to move towards Vietnam the North Vietnamese and the South Vietnamese would unite to throw out the aggressors. Did he not say that? He is the Government’s man. He has just been elected Vice-President of South Vietnam. That election sets problems for the Government also. Actually the Government has wasted 4 days of the time of this Parliament in trying to work out a plan to discipline kids who throw two bob into the ring for aid for the Vietcong.
– It is nothing compared with the day wasted regarding the postal charges.
– It is so silly. I think that the Government must not have considered the matter very well. Senator Gair will not receive any more support from the Government for causing it this embarrassment. The honourable senator may have done this, but the Government did not deserve it. The honourable senator pushed the Government into a position in which it did not wish to be. I ask honourable senators to look at the title of the Bill. What an extraordinary title for a Bill to have. It is so silly. I cannot recall the title-
– It is the ‘Defence Force Protection Bill’.
– I thank Senator Mckenna. He is always my aid. This matter is serious in the sense that we are such an unintelligent democracy, at the parliamentary level at any rate, that we waste time in the National Parliament discussing how we are to deal with this supposed problem. Thank God that our young people in Australia are merely selling raffle tickets. What would the situation be if they were in other countries? Honourable senators know what is going on amongst the youth of China, the United States of America and anywhere else they like to name. The young are fighting. But our youths are merely selling raffle tickets. They will be fined $1,000 if they are caught doing this. It is Sill y, isn’t it? This Government has become involved in the situation. I will be charitable enough to say that in the few minutes the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton), a man of capacity and brains, will rise in the Senate and support this Bill on behalf of the Government. I am certain that he would have liked to hand it over to one of the lesser lights.
– Senator McKellar?
– No, Senator Webster, I should think. I say that with respect.
– I accept that.
– The Government has been forced into this situation. The Australian Labor Party is quite clear where it stands on it. I make this statement straight away. For obvious propaganda reasons we have to support this legislation. The Government is waiting for us to oppose it so that it can use our opposition against us. There is so little in the Bill.
– What a confession.
– It does not matter because I believe that the Bill is a stillborn child. This Government could not possibly do anything to make the Bill live. Let me refer to Cambodia in this context. We are battling to keep on side with Cambodia. Cambodia has announced that if anyone has any money to send over, it should be sent to Cambodia and it will pass the money on. How is the Government to police this legislation if the senates of our universities do not do something about it? Are students involved to be rejected?
I think the boys concerned have been foolish. But I do not think they have been any more foolish than this Government for introducing this measure.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin’ - Last night Senator Webster was ordered, on the motion of Senator Willesee, to lay upon the Table documents from Communist China quoted from in debate. Senator Webster laid on the Table his speech notes. I have examined these notes and find that there are no documents from Communist China. I am satisfied that Senator Webster did not quote from any such documents and that the Order of the Senate was one with which he could not comply. There was, I feel, a misunderstanding in connection with last night’s proceedings and I hope that that misunderstanding is now resolved.
– Thank you very much, Sir.
- Mr President, when the students of political science are reading the reports of these debates and see the matter in true perspective, and when the heat surrounding this matter has died down, they may wish to know the reason for the introduction of this legislation into the Parliament. I think that our friend, Senator Hannaford, did see the debate in true perspective. But, for the purposes of the record, I wish to quote what was said by the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) in his second reading speech when introducing the Bill. The Minister said:
The purpose of this Bill is to protect our defence forces fighting in or near Vietnam. The protection sought is not against enemy forces in Vietnam . . .
They have shown in no uncertain manner and with great skill and character that they can protect themselves in that direction -
No, Mr President, a lot of hoo-ha has been spoken about bullets bearing the name of a university club crashing through the bodies of Australian troops. The picture has been drawn on a very wide canvas. Nowhere during this debate has a reference been made to two statements issued by university people who were concerned with activities that have provided the reason for this legislation. For the purpose of the historians who may read this debate, 1 wish to make reference to a statement made by the University of Melbourne Labor Club on 20th August 1967. It was authorised by D. Kirsner c/o Melbourne University Union for the Melbourne University Labor Club. He said:
In view of recent controversy, we wish to clearly state the position of the Melbourne University Labour Club with regard to its fund for the sending of medical supplies to the National Liberation Front of south Vietnam. We feel that there has been much misunderstanding of our position including Federal Parliament and the press.
The Melbourne University Labour Club has always regarded the participation of foreign troops, Australian and American, in the Vietnam conflict as immoral, and has consistently opposed the sending of Australian regular troops and conscripts there.
We believe the war in Vietnam is basically a civil war, the presence of Australian and American troops having transformed it into a war of foreign intervention, thus preventing the resolution of national problems by the Vietnamese people themselves.
Vietnam is the most ravaged country in history. The U.S.A. has wrought untold death, suffering and destruction by the indiscriminate use of napalm and bombing, especially in the threequarters of south Vietnam under the administration of the NLF. Unhappily, the U.S.A. has been aided in this by the Australian Government.
The Melbourne University Labor Club has never even considered the sending of weapons, funds or any other material aid except medical supplies to the National Liberation Front.
We believe that it is the Governments of the U.S.A. and Australia that arc responsible not only for the deaths of Vietnamese but for the deaths of their own soldiers. We do not want our name added to the list of those responsible for these deaths and will have no pari in the killing of Australian soldiers fighting in Vietnam, often against their own will.
We have a moral duty to repair, even in small part, the damage to life caused by the Governments of the U.S.A. and Australia and are sending medical, non-military aid only to the NLF.
This is a declaration by the very people who are responsible - or irresponsible - for this debate here.
A further contribution was made by K. Jepson of 7 Jasmine Street, Caulfield, of the Monash University. He said:
In the light of recent misrepresentation and confusion concerning the nature of its funds the Committee for Aid to the NLF wishes to clarify its position.
The Committee for Aid to the NLF has two funds. One is fur medical aid to the people in the areas under the administration of the NLF and the other is for civil aid - that will not be used for military purposes.
The Committee once again reaffirms that its aid to South Vietnam will not be military aid that could be used against Australian troops that have been forced to be party to the aggressive role played by the American military machine against the Vietnamese people. No member of the Committee has ever said that the money sent will be used to buy arms as was wrongly reported in various newspapers and wrongly quoted in the Senate.
The Committee feels that the American and Australian military involvement in Vietnam is immoral. We believe that the NLF is fighting for a just cause in the context of Vietnam today - with over half a million troops attempting to impose American will on the Vietnamese people. Further, the Committee feels that the NLF is the most viable political force in South Vietnam and that the people under its administration deserve the aid of Australians to restore their society, which has suffered, and will continue to suffer, because of American military activities.
This debate has followed a pattern which has included Press statements and distortions of the actual purpose behind these two university organisations in wanting to send some kind of aid to the National Liberation Front. In his second reading speech, the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen), after pointing out that the legislation was designed to protect our troops, said:
There is an exception in clause 3, sub-clause (3.), which provides that it is not an offence to contribute money or goods to the Australian Red Cross or for that body to transmit funds or send goods to the International Red Cross, lt is not intended to prevent those with genuinely humanitarian motives from giving effect to their feelings of compassion. This channel will still bc open to them. The Government has decided that there may be a case for placing other specified bodies in the same position as the Australian Red Cross is placed. Provision is made in the Bill for proclaiming such bodies.
All we have done has been to enter into a semantic discussion as to where compassion comes from and what is the quality of compassion. Apparently if compassion comes from the International Red Cross or the Australian Red Cross it is respectable, but if it comes from somebody else then it is a criminal offence. I think that we have really got ourselves caught up in this legislation and in this debate. The Government seems to think that it has scored a political point. 1 sometimes wonder to what lengths the Government will go in order to score a political point. In seeking to impose the tremendous penalties set out in the Bill and in classifying humanitarianism as treason the Government has transgressed some of the basic qualities of a democratic society.
I have had some pretty tough experiences under war conditions. I saw streets full of the charred bodies of British people during the blitz on London. I have also seen simple, decent people mangled and burnt in Berlin. Having had these personal experiences, I have compassion for ali people who are involved in war. This compassion has been burned into my soul. But for the purposes of politics I am now supposed to pick out the people for whom I may have compassion and those for whom I may not.
Just over 20 years ago we were supposed to hate and to loathe the Japanese because they were arch villains, they constituted the yellow peril, and they would do all sorts of things to the wives and children of this country if they came here. The same attitude was adopted to the Germans and the Italians. I can recall the Churchillian phrases that were used to describe the Italians. If I were to go back through the history of the last 100 years or so I could name ten or twelve different races who have been both our friends and our enemies. But it seems that once a war is over you make your enemies your friends and you make your friends your enemies. Today the Japanese are one of our best customers; they are getting a lot of admiration. In the name of Christianity we have forgiven the Germans for the terrible atrocities that they committed and we are trading with them again. During the last war the International Red Cross had compassion on both sides. That organisation fed me when I weighed only 7 stone after having passed through a long period of starvation in a prison camp. I have great respect for the International Red Cross. It would have been a great pity if provision had not been made in the Bill for the International Red Cross to go to any country irrespective of whether it was our temporary enemy or our temporary friend. As Senator Hannaford has said, we have used a sledge hammer to crush an ant.
This debate has revolved around certain actions of university students as reported or distorted in the Press, without any reference being made to what was in the minds of the students. As time goes by and as Hansard is taken out of fusty old corners for reference by political science students, perhaps my little contribution will lead them to realise that the debate has been much ado about nothing.
– in reply - I am not sure what anybody who reads the Hansard report of this debate in 20 years time in dusty old corners will think. But 1 believe that such persons would be astonished at the fact that speaker after speaker on the Opposition side said that he supported the Bill, which presumably means that he supported the need for it, and then spent the rest of his time indicating that he did not like it and really did not want it to be passed. I have seen only one member of the Senate rise and make a speech in opposition to the measure. His was the most straightforward speech I heard in opposition to the Bill.
I should like to remind the Senate of the circumstances which led to this legislation being introduced and which I gathered, or hoped, had led members of the Opposition, as they told us in passing, to support it. We have had, and we still have, troops engaged in hostilities in Vietnam. Many people in Australia, as well as members of the Opposition, oppose their presence there. Such people have complete freedom to express dissent, short of taking violent action. Their right has not been interfered with. But we reached the situation where funds were being collected. Action was taken which went beyond mere dissent and beyond seeking to persuade the people to do something different from what the Government was doing. Action was taken to collect money to assist the troops, and those who controlled those troops, against which our Australian forces were engaged. It was action which went beyond the provision of medical supplies.
– You have not any positive evidence that that was the case, that they were to send other than medical supplies.
– ^Senator O’Byrne asks me whether there is any positive evidence of this. The statement issued by those who ‘began to collect this money at Monash University was that some of it would be collected to send medical supplies and some of it would be collected for unspecified purposes, and there is no question that that is so. Unspecified purposes means unspecified purposes. It means that these funds could be used for any purpose. The people engaged in doing this were insignificant in numbers and of small account in themselves, but it still remains true that if they could with legal impunity collect money for this purpose any Australian citizen could with legal impunity collect money for this purpose. It is true that if they, through their collections, could get an insignificant amount of money - it may be $100 or SI 50- and they could do that legally, those who were capable of collecting more money could collect large sums of money legally, to be used legally for unspecified assistance to forces against which our troops were engaged.
This is a principle which is impossible of acceptance by a government and, I would think, impossible of acceptance by a responsible opposition. Indeed, officially, it appears that the Opposition does find it impossible of acceptance. In the course of supporting this measure the Opposition has spent much time in endeavouring to cast doubts on the necessity for it. I thought that I had explained to some extent why it is necessary to make illegal collection of funds by Australians in Australia to assist the enemies of our troops. Senator Hannaford says: ‘Why not use the Crimes Act to prevent that?’ Of course, the Crimes Act could be used to prevent it provided we were to use not what Senator O’Byrne complains of - a sledge hammer to crack a nut - but a 500-ton steamroller to crack a nut. The use of the Crimes Act would involve very serious charges indeed, carrying very, very great penalties against people engaged in this activity. The object of the Government is to prevent the activity from happening and to have legal sanctions against it, not to seek to imprison for life or for long terms of years those persons engaged in it.
On a previous occasion, in somewhat similar but slightly different circumstances, a Labor Government could have taken action under the Crimes Act against what it thought were treasonable activities in relation to the Woomera Rocket Range, but did not because this would have been to make too great a thing of it. Too great a penalty was provided, and too heavy charges would have had to be laid, under the Crimes Act. That Government therefore brought in legislation to impose penalties of the kind that are imposed in this Bill. So in this case, for the reason that the Crimes Act provides penalties that are too severe for this particular activity, this Bill has been brought in to make the actions illegal and to provide penalties that are less severe.
It has been suggested that it was not really necessary to make the activities illegal because administrative action could prevent the transmission of funds to the North Vietnamese, the Vietcong or any other body. This is just not true. Certainly the collection of funds inside Australia purporting to be for the assistance of the enemy could not be stopped by administrative action unless the action were illegal. The collection could without any doubt go on, and administrative action to prevent the transmission of funds so collected could only be partially effective. Certainly administrative action could be taken to seek to prevent the transmission of funds through the banking system, but the Bill quite specifically provides that it is illegal either to send or to take funds so collected for the purpose of assistance to forces engaged against Australian troops.
In spite of all the time that has been spent on completely extraneous mutters in this debate, the issue comes down to these points: Action was being initiated to collect funds in Australia for unspecified purposes for the assistance of enemies of our troops. That needed to be made illegal. This Bill makes it illegal. If this Bill had not been brought in to make it illegal the funds could have continued to be collected and administrative action would not have been enough to prevent them from being transmitted. The Bill will make it illegal for them to be transmitted through any channel. I just do not know, after listening to the debate, whether or not those are the arguments which have led the Opposition to support the Bill. It may be, as Senator Ormonde said, that the argument that persuaded the Opposition to support the Bill was that it would be bad propaganda if they did not.
– One of the arguments.
– It is one of the reasons. I would have hoped that the arguments put forward simply now by ma would have been enough to get any Australian to support this Bill. In saying that, I do not denigrate the beliefs genuinely held by Senator Hannaford. I find it impossible to understand how anyone can hold them, but I believe that they are quite genuinely held. His attitude is well known and the actions he has taken as a result of his altitude are well known. To come back to what Senator O’Byrne said, it will indeed be an interesting exercise for political scientists of the future to read that in a debate on a Bill designed to ensure that Australians did not actively harm Australian troops, speaker after speaker on the Opposition side said: ‘I support this’, and then spent half an hour or more each saying that the Bill should not have been brought in, that it was not needed and that the purposes for bringing it in were wrong, or expressing some other arguments which, but for the opening sentence, all who heard would imagine were directed against the passage and acceptance of the Bill. That is all that I wish to say at the moment.
– I claim the privilege under standing order 410 of making a personal explanation in relation to statements made by Senator Scott. He said that I had said that tinplate was going to mainland China to be manufactured into munitions to be used in Vietnam. I said that this could have been the case. Secondly, he took me to task because I issued a challenge to honourable senators opposite to prove that sons of Liberal or Country Party members were serving in Vietnam. I said that, but not in the way that he said I said it. He challenged me to disprove it. The statement made was perfectly clear and the onus is on the Government to prove that I am wrong.
– The question is, That the Bill be now read a second time’.
Those in favour say Aye.
Honourable Senators ; Aye.
– To the contrary. No.
– The Ayes have it.
-I hear only one voice calling for a division.
– Mr President, I refer you to Standing Order 168 which states:
A Division cannot be called for, unless more than one voice has been given for the Ayes and likewise for the Noes:
Provided that in such case the one Senator calling for the Division shall be entitled to have his vote recorded in the Journals.
I desireto have my vote recorded in the Journals as being opposed to this legislation.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIlin) - The honourable senator’s vote will be recorded.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Prohibited acts).
- Mr Chairman, I want to draw attention to the provisions of clause 3 (3.). This sub-clause exempts from unlawfulness gifts made to the Australian Red Cross Society and, through it, to the International Committee of the Red Cross. I am sure that the Government is aware of the very strong representations being made in a number of quarters for the inclusion of other relief organisations in the purview of this exemption. A great deal of publicity has been given to representations made on behalf of such organisations as the Australian Council of Churches. 1 understand that this organisation sent a telegram to the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) last weekend appealing to him to exempt from the provisions of this Bill all voluntary aid organisations now working in Vietnam. Amongst such bodies working in Vietnam are the Australian Inter-Church Aid, the Australian Catholic Relief, the Save the Children fund, the Young Mens Christian Association, and Project Concern.
There are two special reasons why they seek this exemption urgently. The first reason is that they believe that they are on all fours with the International Red Cross. They are solely relief organisations and there is no basis for not including them in the exemptions set out in this Bill. The second suggestion is that specific exemption of the Red Cross makes other organisations subject to some suspicion that they are not as clear and as clean as the Red Cross in matters of this kind. 1 would like to know from the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) what the Government intends to do about these representations? lt is obvious that this Bill was drawn in a hurry, but there was time to include the Red Cross as the only organisation exempted under clause 3 (3.). I think all honourable senators would like to hear a statement of the Government’s intention. This Bill passed through the other place before coming to the Senate. If the Government has particular organisations in mind 1 think we should hear about them. Perhaps the Government proposes to move its own amendment.
– I wish to speak on this clause. I apologise for my approach to this question but 1 have a keen desire to see that there in no infringement in this Bill of the civil liberties of the individual. Of course, I am not capable of determining whether any legal infringement arises and must rely upon the advice of the legal minds in this chamber. In this regard J have the greatest respect for the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen). They would give an honest opinion of whether there could be some infringement of legal rights. I also respect the opinion of Senator Wright. I believe he holds this question dear. It occurs to me that there are a number of things which could be offences. Clause 3 (1.) states:
A person -
who sends or takes money or other financial assistance or goods to; or
It occurs to me that many hundreds of people contribute to any fund. or gives money or goods to a person;
The Bill goes on to refer to the bodies or organisations which would receive such money, goods or other assistance. The words ‘with a view to’ which are used in this clause are different from the way in which they are used usually in other legislation. Clause .10 of the Bill refers to offences set out in the Crimes Act. and section 5 of that Act uses the words directly or indirectly’ and ‘knowingly’. So far as contributions are concerned, it would be easy to determine whether a person contributed money knowingly to some cause. But the usual phraseology is not used in this legislation. It contains the words with a view to’. I do not know whether or not this allows a wider legal definition than ‘knowingly’ did something or ‘directly or indirectly’ contributed. It may bc that these words will lead to a narrower definition. J want to know whether these words would make it more difficult or easier to obtain a successful prosecution against some person who gave money to a fund organised to assist North Vietnam. I would like help from any honourable senator who can provide it. 1 mentioned the Leader of the Opposition, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Senator Wright earlier but I acknowledge the capabilities of the Minister for Education and Science. Although he is not a legal man 1 think he is quite capable of giving a legal opinion on this matter, particularly with the assistance of the advisers from the Attorney-General’s Department. What 1 am seeking is the legal interpretation of the meaning of the words ‘with a view to’.
Having contributed such goods or money as set out at the beginning of clause 3 (I.), it has to be established that the financial assistance is, or goods are, to be sent to or taken to certain organisations which are set out in paragraphs (c), (d), (e), (f), (g), and (h). The words in sub-clause (1 .) (b) are difficult to understand. They refer to a person who contributes goods or money with the view to those goods or that money being sent to or taken to certain organisations. This is different from the words of sub-clause (l.)(a), which refers to a person who sends or takes money or other financial assistance or goods to a certain organisation. Obviously persons will be in breach of this legislation if they send money or goods to the three organisations named. If the assistance is not sent directly, does it have to be established that contributions are made with the view to their being made available for the assistance of those organisations? What does this imply?
I refer now to sub-clause (l.)(f). If money or goods are collected or given it is an offence also if the money or goods are sent to or taken to ‘a body established outside Australia. . . .’. Honourable senators will notice that paragraphs (c), (d) and (e) of sub-clause (I.) name certain countries and organisations specifically. Sub-clause (l.)(c) refers to the government of the country known as ‘the Democratic Republic of Vietnam’, and the ‘Communist Party of North Vietnam’. People are prevented from giving money to assist them and money cannot be given directly to them. I will come back to what I asked in regard to that part of the Act relating to ‘assistance*. If I give money to an organisation that is championing the North Vietnamese cause, am I in breach of the words ‘giving money or goods being made available for the assistance of? Paragraph (f) refers to:
A body established outside Australia, a class of persons resident outside Australia or a person resident outside Australia for the time being specified by Proclamation. . . .
Honourable senators will realise that those bodies are not mentioned in (c), (d) or (e). Paragraph (f) continues: , . a class of persons resident outside Australia or a person resident outside Australia for the time being specified by Proclamation as a body or class of persons. . . .
Again I do not know to whom this class of persons relates.
. in relation to which, or a person in relation to whom, this paragraph applies, being a body, class of persons or person -
The Communist Party of North Vietnam and the National Liberation Front are the bodies referred to in (d) and (e). The Bill is aimed at preventing people in Australia assisting either of those bodies. The assistance could be for propaganda purposes, and as such could defeat the safeguard provision and the right to criticise. Paragraph (f) continues:
If I contribute to an organisation outside Australia I cannot say whether such organisation is likely to be opposed at some time in the future to our forces engaged in Vietnam. That portion of paragraph (f) is of particular importance in relation to the question I raised last night. Under Clause 8. such a class of person is likely to be considered as likely to be opposed to the Australian forces simply by the Minister’s issuing a proclamation that a particular organisation outside Australia is likely to be opposed to the Australian forces. The defendant in the case has to prove that what is stated in the proclamation is wrong. Therefore guilt is established, and it is impossible to prove that someone in the future may not be opposed to the Australian forces. Surely that clause goes beyond the intention ‘of the Bill, which is to protect our forces. 1 commit an offence if I contribute money to persons ‘engaged in guerrilla activities under the direction of, or in the interests of, the Government of North Vietnam’ or of a body, class of persons or person referred in the Bill. To be in breach of the law I need not contribute money to persons engaged in guerrilla activities against South Vietnam or against the Australian forces in Vietnam. Guerrilla activities anywhere come under this measure provided that such activities are under the direction at North Vietnam. Surely the Government’s intention was not. in meeting the request of Senator McManus, that the liberty of the individual should be restricted and that he could not contribute, if he so desired, to guerrilla activities on some other ground which he thought was legitimate but which activities were by guerrillas under the control of North Vietnam. Tn February the Minister mentioned that forces in Cambodia, which were directed from and educated in, Hanoi were carrying out guerrilla activities. This clause extends beyond the protection of Australian forces. I asked a question this morning about a difference between Cambodia and other countries, including South Vietnam, as to territorial rights. If a war over territory breaks out between those countries with which Australia is not concerned, the Act will prevent people from contributing or assisting, because of the wording of this clause. The clause goes far beyond the purpose of the Bill, and I think the Minister should give some explanation. Clause 3 (2.) states’:
A person who -
incites, urges, aids or encourages; or
prints or publishes a writing that incites, urges, aids or encourages, the doing of anything made unlawful by the last preceding sub-section. . . . is guilty of an offence. We cannot urge, aid or encourage anyone to do an act which would be unlawful. If I saw someone collecting money for North Vietnam or for a body which might become opposed to Australian forces in the future, I cannot say ‘Good on you, mate’, though in doing so I had no intention other than to express admiration for his courage. If I do, I am guilty under clause 3 (2.). A person does not have to have an intent. I do not have to say those words to encourage him to go further with his collection. I only have to say ‘Good on you, mate’ in admiration of his courage. I do not have to have an intention to enhance his campaign for contributions. Perhaps if I obtained copies of Senator Hannaford’s speech today and circulated them to people who were collecting contributions for North Vietnam I could be in breach of clause 3 (2.). If my intention in distributing copies of Senator Hannaford’s speech were to emulate the courageous attitude that Senator Hannaford took in the Senate today, and I had no intention of urging or encouraging anyone, I am still not exempted from any penalty under clause 3 (2.). Surely this provision is too harsh. Surely some intent must be established regarding the urging of someone to collect for those bodies mentioned in the legislation. I think Senator Cohen has questioned clause 3 (3.)-
-(Senator DrakeBrockman) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I will answer such points as I have understood to be raised, and the debate will be thrown open again to anybody who wishes to take part in it. Senator Cohen directed his attention to clause 3 (3.) and asked whether the International Red Cross and the Australian Red Cross were the channels through which humanitarian aid could flow at the moment. The International Red Cross Society, the longer established society, or the League of Red Cross Societies - because there are two - it will be generally agreed, is the most well known. The International Red Cross Society is the longest established world-wide channel of humanitarian assistance on all matters. When an earthquake, a tidal wave or whatever it may be takes place, the International Red Cross has that international recognition and is the appropriate channel. That seemed the appropriate channel to name. However, the Bill makes it possible for other bodies to take action themselves instead of using the International Red Cross as a channel. I can tell the honourable senator only what the Bill provides; that a group or association can apply. The application will then be examined and it is possible for that group or association under the Bill to be brought in by proclamation. Having regard to the long-standing and world-wide recognition of the Red Cross, I think it would be quite wrong to suggest that by naming that body it necessarily would be disclaiming any other particular body.
Senator Cavanagh raised a number of points. If 1 miss any of them in answering 1 am sure he will raise them again. I will answer them not necessarily in the order in which he raised them. He asked about a person who incites, urges, aids or encourages, being declared to have acted unlawfully under this legislation. He suggests that if he said ‘Good on you’ to somebody acting in a way that is made unlawful by this legislation, and lent that person support, he would be guilty. He would not be guilty of any crime until he had been charged and found guilty by whichever court may be engaged in examining the charge. That applies to any alleged offence. A person is not guilty until a charge has been laid, evidence has been brought and he has been found to be guilty of an offence. I am afraid that it is necessary to ensure that the encouragement of unlawful acts is an offence if it is proved to be an offence.
asked about clause 3 (1.) (f). He said that the provision in subclause (f) (ii) makes it an offence to collect money or goods with a view to the money or goods being made available for the assistance of a person, persons or body of persons specified by proclamation, being a body or class of persons opposed or likely to be opposed to any part of the defence force. He asked how he or any other person would know that a group was likely to be opposed to the defence force of Australia.
The only way that he would know that the group was likely to be opposed to the Australian defence force would be if a proclamation first said that it was likely to be opposed. Until a proclamation states that a group is opposed or is likely to be opposed, and names it, the honourable senator or anybody else need have no worry about contributing to that group because there would be no offence until the proclamation was made.
asked what is meant by the words ‘with a view to’. Perhaps those people with more legal knowledge than 1 can give the honourable senator a more satisfactory answer than mine. They are not unusual words in legislation. They occur at least twice - possibly more often - in (he Crimes Act. The interpretation of whether a person, gave money with a view lo that money going to point X, or gave it not having a clue that it would go to point X. would be a matter for decision by a judge, jury, or whoever was trying the case. I speak subject to legal correction at a later date, but I think that would be the interpretation. One reference in the Crimes Act which may assist the honourable senator is Part III, section 33. It states:
Any person who-
being a judge or magistrate not acting judicially, or being a Commonwealth officer employed in a capacity not judicial for the prosecution or detention or punishment of offenders, corruptly asks, receives, or obtains, or agrees or attempts to receive or obtain, any properly or benefit of any kind for himself or any other person, on account of anything already done or omitted to be done, or to be afterwards done or omitted to be done, by him, with a view to corrupt or improper interference wilh the due administration . . .
That is an instance of the use of the words with a view to’ in other legislation. Senator Cavanagh asked about classes of persons. One example of a body of persons is members of Parliament. You can take a group or class of persons and specify them. Senator Cavanagh also asked whether it was not a wrong thing to do to prevent the collection of money for transmission to persons engaged in guerilla activity in the interests of the Government of North Vietnam. He pointed out that possibly he would want to support guerillas engaged in the interests of North Vietnam who were not directly engaged against our troops. I believe it is quite necessary to have in legislation a prohibition of the collection of money or goods for guerillas engaged in the interests of the North Vietnamese Government. Wherever those persons were so engaged, in the present circumstances the Government should seek to prevent assistance going to them.
– 1 thank the Minister for his explanations, but I do not think that they completely clear up the points I raised. J accept his view of the use of the words ‘with a view to’ only because I do not know enough to dispute it. I still say that in the Crimes Act the term ‘knowingly’ is mostly used. The Minister replied to my question on clause 3(2.) by saying that I would not be guilty until I was found guilty by a court. That is elementary and everyone knows it. The point I make is that I can be charged with an offence. If I were to say Good on you, mate’, or to distribute copies of Senator Hannaford’s speech and incite anyone, a court would have to find me guilty. But I may so act without any intention of urging anybody to make collections for Vietnam. It may not be an intention to display a political viewpoint. I may distribute copies of Senator Hannaford’s speech simply because I admire his courage and I may say ‘Good on you, mate’ to a chap in the street for the same reason. I can admire his courage without any intention of urging him to make further collections, but I could be charged. Of course, I agree with the Minister that it is for a court to decide whether I am guilty. But surely we cannot support legislation under which a person who is quite innocent of intent can be charged because of some remarks he makes or because he distributes a publication.
A public meeting to discuss Vietnam might incite someone in the audience to collect for the Vietcong. A public meeting condemning the actions of the Australian or American governments may incite someone to collect for the Vietcong, although it was never our intention to address the audience for that purpose. Our intention may have been to put before the audience a political position as we see it. But if our words had or would have the effect of encouraging people in the audience to go on to action that would bring them in breach of clause 3, we could be charged with an offence and we would have to plead guilty. I believe that it is a great
Infringement of the rights of the individual to restrict him in this way. It would be different if a person went out with the direct intention of encouraging someone to commit an offence under this or any other legislation. Perhaps the punishment would be justified in that case. But in this case the punishment can be imposed without the intention being proved.
I refer now to the question of persons engaged in guerilla activities under the direction of, or in the interests of, the Government of North Vietnam. The Minister simply says: ‘I think it is proper that any person engaged in guerilla activities at the direction of the Government of North Vietnam, or anyone assisting such a person, should be regarded as committing an offence’. That may be so. But we are dealing with specific legislation designed to stop assistance going to the opponents of the Australian forces. This clause goes far beyond what we were told was the intention of the Bill. Now it will be an offence for anyone to send assistance to guerillas who might operate in Cambodia. In a ministerial statement in February it was said that guerillas in Cambodia were trained by, and possibly directed from, Hanoi. They are not a threat to the Australian forces. They are not involved in the conflict between North Vietnam and South Vietnam.
They may be political infiltrators into Cambodia. They may be engaged in the dispute over the territorial boundary between Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. But what has that to do with Australia? If we are saying in this legislation that we are taking sides on that issue, let us say that we have extended our range of influence. But if this legislation is designed only to protect our forces because someone at the Monash University is collecting money, let us restrict it to that alone. Clause 8 is a roping-in clause. The original intention was that the legislation should apply to persons collecting money to aid persons engaged in guerilla activities under the direction of, or in the interests of, the Government of North Vietnam in an invasion of South Vietnam or in the present conflict in South Vietnam. But that has been widened. Wherever the activities occur, the persons aiding the persons engaged in them can be roped in under this clause.
The Minister has replied to my question about it being an offence to aid a person opposed or likely to be opposed to our forces. Persons likely to be opposed to our forces will be stated in a proclamation. So from time to time the Attorney-General will be able to stop the collection of funds for any force operating in or near Vietnam. Honourable senators will remember the controversy between Senator Wright and Senator Murphy about a Minister being able to make an instrument in writing and whether provisions to that effect took things out of the hands of the Parliament and left them in the hands of the Minister who was given power to make an instrument in writing.
– There was no controversy between Senator Wright and me. It was a controversy between us on the one hand and the Minister concerned on the other.
– That is correct. I thank Senator Murphy for correcting me. Honourable senators will remember that both Senators Wright and Senator Murphy were upholding the right of the Parliament to decide questions. This legislation can be extended in the future to cover anyone who is likely to be opposed to our forces. That will be done by a decision of the Minister. He can decide that in the future someone is likely to be opposed to our forces.
– By proclamation.
– By proclamation, but not by regulation. The making of a regulation would permit discussion in this Parliament on a motion to disallow it, if that were thought necessary. But one man can decide to extend this legislation in the future by a proclamation covering certain organisations or certain classes of persons.
– It can be done only by the Governor-General acting on the advice of the Executive Council.
– The Bill says that it can bc done not by a declaration by the Governor-General but by a proclamation by the Minister. Whether or not it is done by the Executive Council, the ambit of this legislation can be extended far beyond what we now envisage,, without a decision of this Parliament. I submit that this question has been a source of controversy in this chamber in days gone by. When power is taken from the Parliament on such a vital question as this - a question of war; a question of life and death; a question of somebody being imprisoned for 2 years or being fined $2,000- there is a need for reconsideration of the matter or for a better explanation to be given by the Minister of the operation of this provision, particularly when the very fact of the proclamation is evidence in a court that the force referred to is likely to be opposed to Australian defence forces. I seek from the Minister further explanations of the matters to which I have referred.
– Let me refer to the three points that were raised by Senator Cavanagh. The first one was this: If he gives encouragement, can he be charged with giving encouragement? The answer to that is quite simply yes. If we seek by law to prevent people giving encouragement, it must be an offence to give encouragement. It would be quite ridiculous to bring in a law saying that it was an offence to give encouragement after a certain point or after a certain degree. It is an offence to give encouragement. If the man who gave encouragement was charged, went through the due processes of law and was found guilty, he would be guilty of giving encouragement.
But he does not have to be charged. In fact, in the circumstances posed by Senator Cavanagh - where he did not have any intention of giving any encouragement; he merely said ‘Good on you, mate’ as he walked past, not because he was in favour of what the chap was saying but because he liked the chap - what would have to happen before he could be brought before a court for that would be that the Attorney-General would have to think that it was something that should be subjected to the judicial processes. Then it would have to go through the judicial processes. The offence of encouraging is created. It is a matter of whether one believes in these circumstances that it should be an offence or that it should not be an offence. We believe that it should be.
The next worry that Senator Cavanagh had was that he could be charged with inciting, encouraging or aiding the contribution of money or goods to forces opposed to Australian forces, such as the National Liberation Front or the North Vietnamese-
– Mr Chairman, I ask that the Minister rephrase what he has just said because it is going on the record. He said that Senator Cavanagh said that he was afraid that he might be charged.
– I think that is what Senator Cavanagh did say.
– He said that one might bc charged or some person might be charged.
– I think that is what I did say. I think I asked whether I could be charged if I did a certain thing.
– That was the statement that was made. I was taking the particular case. But I will change my wording. Senator Cavanagh said that a person might be charged - I will rephrase it that way - if he incited someone to make a speech saying that he did not believe in operations in Vietnam, that he was in favour of North Vietnam and that he was in favour of the National Liberation Front. The honourable senator said that if a person made that kind of political speech it might be evidence which could lead to him being charged with directly inciting the collection of money or the offences which are created in the Bill for particular purposes. That is clearly not so.
The next question was whether persons engaged in guerilla activities should be more closely defined. It would be absolutely absurd and ridiculous to bring in an Act for the protection of Australian forces and to say: ‘This Act makes it unlawful to provide goods, money or assistance to guerillas who are operating directly in front of Australian forces or, for that matter, who are operating in South Vietnam, but it is all right to provide that assistance if those guerilla forces are operating in North Vietnam or just over the border of South Vietnam.’ They move around. They may be anywhere. It is a matter of whether one believes that it is necessary to protect Australian forces against forces of the enemy whether they are directly engaged at the same time or whether they are hovering around the flanks, hiding in the jungles or wherever they may be.
Is it suggested, for example, that it is quite all right to give assistance in the way of uniforms, arms or anything else to a guerilla band just over the border in Cambodia but you must take those uniforms, arms or anything else from the guerilla band when it crosses the border into South Vietnam? Guerilla activity is not confined to those small areas. Using the same argument, it could be satisfactory to provide arms, money or assistance of all kinds to the regular forces of North Vietnam so long as they happened to be in North Vietnam or in the demilitarised zone at the time but not in South Vietnam.
The object of this is to prevent assistance going to forces engaged against Australian troops or likely to be engaged against Australian troops whether they be regular forces or guerillas. It is perfectly true that the Government, acting through a proclamation from the Executive Council and the Governor-General, will be able to proclaim under this Act the groups of persons outside Australia who are the enemies of Australian troops or likely to be the enemies of Australian troops. If opposition is expressed to that, I believe it is necessary that the Government should have this power.
We all know that one of the great methods of operation of Communist fronts and Communist forces is constantly to change their name and constantly to get different groups of people. If we are to be able to ensure that groups of persons engaged in hostilities against our troops or assisting troops engaged in hostilities against our troops are known, it is necessary from time to time to proclaim them, and that will be evidence. It may be contraverted by contrary evidence, but it will be prima facie evidence. We believe that is necessary for the proper operation of this Bill.
– I intervene not to raise again a matter I raised originally in view of the important points mentioned by Senator Cavanagh, but to return to the first question I raised as to the possibility of other bodies being exempted under clause 3 (3.) of the Bill. 1 regret that 1 am not satisfied with what the Minister had to say about it. I did not suggest there was any case against exempting the Red Cross. Nothing I said was meant to suggest that exemption of the Red Cross should be challenged in any way. What I did say was that I understood other bodies were upset about the specific exemption of the Red Cross without a similar exemption for themselves because they claim that their organisations may become suspect in some way or some doubt be created, particularly in the minds of potential donors to these relief and charitable organisations, that they may be doing something that is unlawful if they donate to a body other than the Red Cross.
I understand that the Australian Council of Churches, a very representative organisation, has asked the Government to exempt all voluntary aid organisations now working in North Vietnam from the provisions of the Bill. I understand also that this proposal has the support of church leaders. The organisations concerned are the Society of Friends, the World Council of Churches and the other bodies I mentioned in my first remarks. What is the Government’s intention in relation to those other bodies? Obviously they should not be left long in doubt as to whether they are to suspend operations or whether they are lawful recipients of the generosity of people who want to contribute to relief work in Vietnam or elsewhere.
I would have thought that the Government had had an opportunity to consider these representations. The Minister should give some indication of the Government’s attitude. We have not moved specifically by way of amendment because we are not ourselves investigating bodies. Surely these are matters for the Government to consider. I have not the slightest doubt that a number of those who have put themselves forward for this purpose would meet any test that the Government wanted to apply to them.
– I understood quite clearly the first point the honourable senator made. I did not suggest that he denigrated the Australian Red Cross. I merely endeavoured to show how important the Australian Red Cross was in order to answer the fears that other bodies might have that the naming of the Australian Red Cross in some way cast doubts on them. I was merely seeking to answer that point. As to the second point, I cannot give any assurance at this time as to which body would be made, by proclamation, a suitable recipient for a purpose of this kind. If I did, it might suffer the same sort of trouble that Senator Cohen said the first one suffered because J. might omit some bodies and thereby be open to a charge that I had cast doubts. All I can say is that the Bill gives authority for the list to be added to, and the Government will examine applications made to it.
– The Minister did not reply to one point I raised in relation to what is meant by a person who contributes money with a view to money or other financial assistance being made available for the assistance of the three organisations mentioned - the Communist Parly, the National Liberation Front and the Government of North Vietnam. Can we get any clarity on the phrase being made available for the assistance of? As I pointed out, it is not the giving of money or goods, but assistance in some other way. How far does this extend in, say, a propaganda campaign in this or some other country in support of one of the three organisations? What does ‘assistance’ as used in that context imply?
– I am advised by my legal advisers that it must, be money or other financial assistance or goods, but the point Senator Cavanagh raised was whether the money which had been collected was sent to some other country to finance a propaganda campaign which favoured the Vietcong and therefore could be claimed to be assistance to the Vietcong. 1 think that is the point the honourable senator was raising. I am not sure whether or not it could be covered.
– That could be clone here.
– Yes, it probably could.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 (Certain acts done in good faith not lawful).
– Mr Chairman, clause 4 provides:
The last proceeding section does not make it unlawful for a person -
merely to endeavour to show in good faith . . .
merely to incite in good faith another person . . . 1 ask the Minister whether he can give the Committee any idea as to what ‘in good faith’ means?
– Mr Chairman, I am not surprised that Senator Cavanagh asked this question because 1 suppose that once a week I hear the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) using the words ‘in good faith’, and I am not sure how they apply to the situation. What I understand the words to mean, what I understand the legal definition of them to be, is honestly, without any ulterior motive and genuinely.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 agreed to.
Clause 6. (1.) Subject to this section, an offence against sub-section (I.) of section 3 of this Act may be prosecuted either summarily or upon indictment, but an offender is not liable to be punished more than once in respect of the same offence. (2.) Proceedings in respect of an offence against sub-section (I.) of section 3 of this Act shall not be heard and determined summarily except with the consent of the defendant. (3.) Subject to this section, an offence under sub-section (2.) of section 3 of this Act is punishable upon summary conviction and not otherwise.
- Mr Chairman, I have circulated already iwo amendments, one to sub-clause (2.) of clause 6, and the other to sub-clause (3.) of clause 6. Before moving those amendments, 1 intimate that 1 desire to move an amendment to sub-clause (!.) of clause 6.
– Has the honourable senator circulated that amendment?
– I have given notice of it to the Clerk. It is in the same terms as the proposed amendment to clause 6 (2.). I suggest that my three amendments be taken together. This will allow me to explain their effect. I think they will probably stand or fall together.
– What is the honourable senator’s amendment regarding clause 6(1.)?
– My amendment seek* to leave out the words ‘sub-section (I.) of so that the clause would read: (1.) Subject to this section, an offence against section 3 of this Act may be prosecuted either summarily or upon indictment, but an offender is not liable to be punished more than once in respect of the same offence.
Then, if the Committee were agreeable to my next amendment, the words ‘subsection (1.) of would be left out of clause 6 (2.). That clause would then read: (2.) Proceedings in respect of an offence against section 3 of this Act shall not be heard and determined summarily except with the consent of the defendant.
If those two amendments were carried, it would be inevitable that my proposed amendment to clause 6 (3.) would be carried also because an inconsistent position would be created if my first and second amendments were carried and my third amendment was not. Sub-clause (3.) of clause 6 provides:
Subject to this section, an offence against subsection (2.) of section 3 of this Act is punishable upon summary conviction and not otherwise.
The provisions of that sub-clause would be contradicted by the new form of subclauses (1.) and (2.) if my proposed amendments were carried. If my first two amendments were not carried, there would be no point in pressing my third amendment because it could not effectuate the purpose that I have in mind. I suggest that my amendments be taken together.
-(Senator Drake-Brockman).- Is the honourable senator referring to his circulated amendments only?
– No. I refer to my three amendments. I think the position is quite clear about them.
– There being no objection, that course will be followed. The honourable senator may move his three amendments together.
– I now move:
In order to understand what we say about this clause, it is necessary to look at clause 3 which sets out the offences that are created by the Bill. Broadly these are the offences found in sub-clause (1.) which relates to a person who sends or takes money or other financial assistance or goods or contributes money or goods or funds for the particular purpose that is prohibited by the Bill. All of these prohibited acts are set out in clause 3 (1.). Conviction for such an offence is punishable:
Sub-clause (2.) creates a different offence in relation to a person who incites, urges, aids or encourages or who prints or publishes a writing that incites, urges, aids or encourages action which is connected with the doing of anything made unlawful by the provisions of clause 3 (1.). A person found guilty of this offence is punishable by a fine not exceeding $500, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or by both.
I turn now to clause 6. When this Bil] was introduced in another place, clause 6 was in a somewhat different form. Subclause (1.) was in its present form but the present sub-clause (3.) was the original subclause (2.). A new sub-clause (2.) was introduced which makes offences punishable under sub-clause (1.) indictable except with the consent of the defendant.
My purpose in putting forward the amendments - and I think the Minister will concede that if they are carried they will effectuate my purpose - is to have persons who are prosecuted under sub-clause (2.) treated for the purposes of the right of trial by jury in exactly the same way as people who are prosecuted under sub-clause (1.). As I understand the position the Minister in another place, regarding an offence under sub-clause (1.), conceded the point in respect of indictable offences but would not concede in regard to the lesser offence of inciting or encouraging unlawful acts on the basis that the maximum term of imprisonment was a term not exceeding six months. The position of the Opposition is perfectly clear. Every one of these offences is a serious offence whether the maximum period of imprisonment is six months, twelve months or two years.
Only a week or two ago, this Committee of the Senate carried an amendment to a provision in the Wireless Telegraphy Bill where the maximum period of imprisonment was six months. I note with some surprise that when this matter was being discussed in another place last week the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) apparently had forgotten that circumstance because he indicated quite clearly in discussing the. Wireless Telegraphy Bill and also the Narcotic Drugs Bill that those measures dealt with crimes for which there was a sentence of imprisonment of 12 months. Tn fact, that was a mistaken view of the Wireless Telegraphy Act which specifically by section 9 of the principal act provides 6 months imprisonment for the maximum offence. I am quite clear that that matter would not have been before the Attorney-General when he made this statement.
These are serious offences; they are political offences. They involve very nice questions of judgment as to whether or not a person falls on one side or other of the law, particularly when it comes to judging his intention. We believe that if a man says: ‘I want this charge to be heard by a jury of my peers, by twelve of my fellow citizens’, then he should be allowed to have it dealt with in that way. Of course, if he is tried before a jury under clause 3 (1.), he faces the prospect of a heavier penalty. I cannot see any way in which this Bill differs from the Wireless Telegraphy Bill. In that case the Senate agreed to an amendment, the maximum period of the penalty being the same as is provided for in the Bill now before us.
– To what clause in the Wireless Telegraphy Bill is the honourable senator referring?
– I am referring to section 9 of the principal Act. When new offences were created by the amending Bill, we moved to have the Act amended. To our way of thinking this measure is on all fours with that legislation. We are not content with a half way house in this matter. We believe that the position was not accurately stated in another place by the Attorney-General.
We cannot see any reason why a man should not be in a position to say: This is a serious matter for me. I can be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of six months. I prefer to have my case dealt with by a jury and to accept its verdict.’ On several occasions in recent months the Senate has successfully asserted that a man is entitled to trial by a jury. The right to trial by jury should be guarded very preciously when a man’s basic loyalty is in issue. The offences that are created by this legislation are not treason or treachery, for which offences much heavier penalties are provided in the Crimes Act. Nevertheless they are serious offences; a man’s attitude to his own country may be called into question and there is an aroma of treason even if there is not an offence of treason. To take from a man who is charged with such an offence his right to be tried by his peers is a dreadful responsibility. I repeat that several times recently in the Senate we have fought to retain this right and that in the end the Government has accepted the amendments that the Senate has made.
I ask the Committee to support the amendments that I have moved today. If they are accepted, the effect will be that all offences under clause 3 will not be heard and determined summarily except with the consent of the defendant. If the defendant said that he was prepared to be tried before a magistrate, then that would be his prerogative. But he should not be forced against his will to submit to trial before a magistrate when the opportunity to be tried before a jury is available to him.
– The Australian Democratic Party supported the Opposition on two earlier occasions when a matter of this nature was raised. We will not be supporting the Opposition on this occasion, because we think that its own authorities are against it. Senator Cohen strongly suggested that in the trial of an offence of this nature there was an element of special seriousness. He said, in effect: Here you are calling into question a man’s attitude to his country. Therefore he should not be obliged to be tried summarily. On the contrary, it should be open to him to have the matter proceeded with by way of indictment.’
Similar legislation, the Approved Defence Projects Protection Act, was introduced by the late Dr Evatt on behalf of the Chifley Government in 1947. I find that, although the offence prescribed in that legislation had a certain political aspect and that a man’s attitude to his country might be called into question, the Act provides:
The punishment for an offence against this section shall be -
if the offence is prosecuted summarily - a fine of not more than Five hundred pounds or imprisonment for not more than six months; and
if the offence is prosecuted upon indictment - a fine of not more than Five thousand pounds or imprisonment for not more than twelve months, or both.
I accept the authority of the Chifley Government and of Dr Evatt in saying that there is no reason why in the case of this milder offence provision should not be made for summary trial. I have a prejudice in favour of the sort of thing that was done by Labor in those earlier days. 1 have looked at the debate on the Narcotic drugs Bill. So many tributes have been paid to the consistency of the Democratic Labor Party that I did not want to do anything to damage its reputation. On that occasion a different situation obtained. Senator Murphy appeared to lay down very definitely that summary trial might be acceptable if the penalty was not more than 12 months. Having suggested that provision should be made for trial upon indictment, he said:
If what I have suggested cannot be done, I ask alternatively: Why does not the Government provide in any event that the penalty should not exceed one year?
The Bill now before us does not provide for a penalty, upon summary conviction, of more than one year.
– That is a different point.
– 1 can well appreciate that the honourable senator would say it was a different point.
– It is a different point.
– I do not think so. Further on Senator Murphy said:
I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me to be quite definite that Senator Murphy wanted to make the limit 12 months. It appears to me that he was suggesting that, if the period of imprisonment was not more than 12 months, then a summary trial would be all right.
– I will endeavour to correct that impression.
– I repeat that the Opposition’s own authorities are against it on this occasion. I am impressed by the fact that the legislation introduced by Dr Evatt on behalf of the Chifley Government provided that certain offences could be dealt with summarily, and by the point made quite strongly by Senator Murphy in regard to a period of imprisonment of 12 months. In those circumstances we will not be supporting the Opposition; we will be supporting the Government.
– I regret that Senator McManus and his colleague do not see fit to support us on this occasion, because in my opinion consistency would demand that they should support us. In relation to the suggestion made about what Senator Murphy said on another occasion, I have no doubt that he is perfectly capable of explaining his own position and that he will do so; but my recollection of the matter is that what Senator Murphy was saying was that if power is given to a magistrate to imprison a man it should never involve a longer term than 12 months. If the provision offends against that principle it is undesirable. A magistrate should not have power to imprison for longer than 12 months. But that is a separate question altogether from whether or not a man in a particular position should have the right to be tried by jury.
One matter has nothing to do with the other. One is a question of the maximum penalty that it should be proper for a magistrate to have power to impose, and a line seemed to be drawn by my Leader on that occasion at 12 months. This has nothing to do with the present question which is: Is this the kind of offence for which a man should be entitled to have a jury if he wants one? If he is prepared to be dealt with summarily, of course, nobody would quarrel with that. My amendment, if it were carried, would still allow him to be dealt with summarily if he wanted to be. It would not then be objectionable, because the magistrate could not imprison him for a period of longer than 12 months. But it would be objectionable, in our view, if he wanted trial by jury and were not allowed to have it.
The other point raised by Senator McManus is as to what was in the Approved Defence Projects Protection Act 1947. I have not a copy of the Act with me but I assume that there is in it no excepting provision giving a person the right of trial by jury. All I want to say on the matter is that even if the honourable senator’s point is correct we are dealing with this matter in the light of a series of amendments which this Senate has carried in recent times. Notwithstanding that that Act had a specific defence objective, namely, the protection of the Woomera project, what seemed appropriate to the Chifley Government to deal with the situation in 1947 may or may not be appropriate here today. If what we are saying is right as a matter of principle, it should not be overruled because of what was done in a different situation back in 1947. I am sorry that Senator McManus and his colleague will not be supporting the amendment, because they ought to see this as falling within the same principle that they have been ready to support in recent times in the Senate.
– The Government will oppose the amendment and ask the Senate not to accept it. I think it is true to say that for a long time a decision has been arrived at as to whether an offence ought to be dealt with summarily or ought to be required to go before a jury, by a consideration of the penalty that may be imposed, the idea being that if the penalty is sufficiently low it is reasonable for the offence to be dealt with summarily but if the penalty is high then it is reasonable for an offender to be able to choose whether to be dealt with summarily or on indictment. I think that acceptance of the principle is written into the Acts Interpetation Act, which spells it out in Sections 42 and 43. Section 42 states:
Offences against any Act which are punishable by imprisonment for a period exceeding six months shall, unless the contrary intention appears, be indictable offences.
That is to say, if an offence is created against an act and the penalty for that offence is imprisonment for more than 6 months, normally a man charged with that offence and therefore liable to a penalty of imprisonment for more than 6 months shall have the right to be tried on indictment. Section 43 states:
Offences against any Act which -
are punishable by imprisonment, but not for a period exceeding six months. . . . shall, unless the contrary intention appears, be punishable on summary conviction.
In other words, the normal approach, unless there is some reason for changing it, is that if the term of imprisonment is less than 6 months obviously this is the sort of offence that is punishable on summary conviction. There is nothing unusual in this. We believe that that principle ought to be applied in the case of this Bill. Certainly a man can have a choice as to whether to be tried summarily or on indictment in relation to an offence for which imprisonment for a long period is involved. An offence for which imprisonment for 6 months is the maximum punishment that can be awarded should properly be triable summarily.
– I rise to support the motion that has been put by Senator Cohen. I should like to answer what was put by Senator McManus. He referred to what had been said earlier by me on the Narcotics Drugs Bill when it was passing through the Senate. There I used the reference to a limit of 12 months in precisely the way that has been explained by Senator Cohen. In other words, there ought to be certain conditions upon a summary trial, that is, trial by a magistrate. One is that under no circumstances should a magistrate be able to impose a term of imprisonment of more than 12 months. Twelve months was the upper limit. If Senator McManus will reflect upon the matter he will recall that I at no stage suggested that that should be the only condition.
In fact, we went on to put other alternatives. In that Bill, and in other Bills since, other restrictions and conditions have been accepted by the Senate and indeed by the House of Representatives. Another condition is that where a matter is triable on indictment with some limitation on the term of imprisonment and also triable summarily the defendant should not be deprived, without his consent, of his right to trial by jury. I think if Senator McManus reflects he will recall that this was the basis, and he should not approach the matter on the ground that because 12 months was mentioned that is the end of the matter and that in any circumstances where a penalty of less than 12 months imprisonment is provided a defendant should be able to be denied trial by jury.
The honourable senator referred to the Approved Defence Projects Protection Act 1947. That was an act dealing with a boycott of work on undertakings, and it was really aimed, if one looks at the question of boycott, at industrial action in relation to some defence project. The attitude was that because industrial disputation was surrounding it, that should not be allowed to prevent the project from proceeding. That is of an entirely different character from the offences that we are creating by this Bill which are, as Senator McManus and other honourable senators have said, in the nature of treason or treachery or sedition. If one turns to the Crimes Act, where such offences are dealt with, one finds that section 7a states: (1.) If any person -
The penalty provided is a fine of £100 or imprisonment for 12 months, or both. Under the section which was read by Senator Gorton, that offence is deemed to be indictable. The relevant section of the Acts Interpretation Act provides:
Offences against any Act which are punishable by imprisonment for a period exceeding six months shall, unless the contrary intention appears, be indictable offences.
It is clear from the operative words used in the present Bill that if a person were proceeded against under the Crimes Act in relation to the matters of inciting, urging, aiding, or encouraging, or printing or publishing a writing, that would be indictable and the person charged would be entitled to trial by jury.
– Wait a minute. Would the honourable senator explain that again?
– There is a provision of 12 months imprisonment under the Crimes Act and I am saying that the same words are used in this Bill. The operative words are inciting, urging, aiding, or en couraging, or printing or publishing a writing that incites, aids, urges or encourages. This wording has been taken from that very section of the Crimes Act. The operative words have been copied. Yet they have been translated so that it appears in this Bill as a summary offence where a man would be deprived of trial by jury although under section 7a of the Crimes Act he would get trial by jury.
– Dr Evatt thought differently when he presented the Approved Defence Projects Protection Bill in 1947.
– As has already been explained, Senator McManus, the Approved Defence Projects Protection Act did not deal with sedition, treachery or treason; it dealt with industrial disputation which was holding up the construction of defence projects.
– If the honourable senator read Dr Evatt’s speech on that occasion he would find that Dr Evatt took the point that the Bill was dealing with sedition and the possibility of treason.
– Senator McManus should turn to the kind of matters which he considers this Bill to cover. Certain honourable senators present, including Senator McManus, have put to the Senate that the offences set out in this Bill are extremely serious. They are political offences. They are in the nature of sedition, treachery and treason. Is a man whom it is alleged has committed these serious offences to be deprived of trial by jury in Australia? Does it really matter whether the penalty is 3 months, 6 months, 9 months or 15 months? Is he to be deprived of his right to be tried before a jury? Let us not turn back the books to find something that was said in 1913 or 1947, or turn to the national security regulations. Many of the provisions of those regulations were a disgrace despite the fact that they were brought in by a Labor government. I am not going to defend the provisions that exist in some of those regulations. I am not going to say that a particular party which was in power always believed in tender regard for civil liberties. Mistakes have been made. It is upon us, in 1967, to see that mistakes are nol made or that they are not repeated. This Bil! deals with a political offence. Is the Senate to say that a man can be tried for a political offence of the nature of treason, sedition or treachery and not be entitled to be tried before a jury? It is encumbent upon every senator regardless of the side of the House he or she is on, to consider this.
This is not simply a party political matter. A Bill is being considered in this chamber. Is it going to be passed on terms stating that men in this country are to be denied trial by jury in such circumstances? This Bill does not have the protections which would be available in the case of a charge of sedition. Section 24d of the Crimes Act provides:
Any person who writes, prints, utters or publishes any seditious words shall be guilty of an indictable offence.
Imprisonment for 3 years is provided. Subsection (2.) of that section states:
A person cannot be convicted of any of the offences defined in this or the preceding section upon the uncorroborated testimony of one witness.
We do not have even that protection in this Bill. Will the Senate allow citizens to be deprived of this great protection when they are charged with offences of this nature? I ask the Committee to support what Senator Cohen has put forward and to ensure today that we do not establish the precedent that men may be tried for what is, in the eyes of the community, a most serious offence, which has the characteristics of treason, or sedition or treachery, without being entitled to a verdict from their fellow men.
– I want to comment briefly on some of the points raised by the Leader of the Opposition. I think the Senate should know - whether or not it is apposite to the present circumstances - that in 1947 the Approved Defence Projects Protection Act to which Senator Murphy referred was described as ‘an Act to provide for the protection of approved defence projects and other purposes’. Any attempt to hold that Act up as something concerned only with industrial action is clearly improper and inaccurate. The Act was designed to provide for the protection of approved defence projects. It created offences and, as has been normal with Acts, if it created an offence which was punishable summarily by 6 months imprisonment or if the penalty was liable to be more than that then there was to be an indictment.
We are dealing in this Bill with people who, whatever interpretation one may individually put on their actions - and those interpretations would vary considerably, I have no doubt - are charged with inciting, or urging, or encouraging the collection of money which would go to people proclaimed to be the enemies of our troops. That is what they would be charged with. The significant fact is that the upper penalty which is provided for an action brought summarily against an offender under that section is 6 months imprisonment. I would have thought that it would be accepted by lawyers that there should be courts of summary jurisdiction to deal with matters which do not carry high penalties. Certainly it has been so in the whole legal fabric of this country for as long as I have been able to read anything about it. This Bill provides for an upper penalty of 6 months and as it is an offence having that limit of penalty we believe it is properly triable in the summary court.
– When I made the point earlier that in 1947 the Chifley Government had provided for summary trial in a similar Act, the Leader of the Opposition said that measure related purely to an industrial matter and that it did not have a political content or a content relating to sabotage. I would like to read the closing words of Dr Evatt when he introduced the Approved Defence Projects Protection Bill in 1947. He said:
I commend the bill to the favourable consideration of the House and submit that, as a Parliament, we must register our conviction that when a defence project is fully embarked upon by the Government we cannot permit the boycott to be used as a political weapon to stop its progress. There is a great distinction between a strike, to which the honourable member for Richmond . . . referred, and a boycott. A strike is an action by workers to improve their industrial conditions; a boycott of the character contemplated by this bill constitutes a misuse of industrial power, not for the purpose of improving the conditions of workers but for a political or international purpose contrary to the defence policy of the Government and the Parliament.
I say that the Bill, in the words of Dr Evatt, was for the purpose of dealing with actions of a ‘political or international purpose contrary to the defence policy of the Government and the Parliament’. Is not that what this present Bill is for also? Therefore, from what Dr Evatt said, I am confirmed in my opinion that if it was good enough for the Chifley Government to make that provision in its Bill in 1947 I will support a similar provision in the present Bill in 1967.
– The Government is in an interesting position on this occasion, and so is Senator McManus, but for different reasons. When the Bill was first introduced into another place nobody had under it a right to trial by jury, not even the man who was charged with the more serious offence. As far as the Government was concerned - and I will not speak about Senator McManus in this connection - nobody would have had a right to trial by jury, had not the Opposition made it plain that it would move an amendment on the matter and had not the lesson of what the Senate has been doing for the last few months rung loud and clear in the ears of the Government. When the amendments moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) were put in another place the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) indicated that he was proposing to move an amendment - which is now sub-clause (2.) of the Bill. That concession was made because the Government appreciated the force of the argument that a serious offence was involved and that a man should have the right to a trial by jury. What was the reason for drawing the line? When the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) is asked to explain this he is in a very difficult position. All that he can fall back on is the severity of penalty - 6 months or the 12 months.
– The higher penalties.
– As though that were the answer to it. Senator McManus went to a great deal of trouble to impress on the Senate how serious these offences are; so did the Minister in his reply to Senator Murphy. The Minister became hot under the collar and told the Senate that these were serious offences and that the only thing not so serious about them was the maximum penalty of 6 months. That statement is not good enough for the Opposition. It does not matter whether the penalty is 3 months, 6 months or 12 months, the Government has made a concession which indicates that it appreciates the force of the argument, and the Government wants to save some thing for itself as though winning half an argument is a virtue. The Opposition will not go along with that attitude at all. Honourable senators can argue until they are black and blue in the face, but nothing emerges from the Minister to defend the present clause as a matter of principle. What is being asserted here is a principle, the right to trial by jury. Why did the Government originally give nobody charged under this Bill the right to a trial by jury? Honourable senators opposite are silent on this question. Senator McManus dealt with an entirely different point. He believed he could pin down members of the Opposition and depart from the principle which he has supported on, I think, three different occasions in the Senate in recent months, by invoking some legislation of the Chifley Government and what Dr Evatt said in 1 947.
– And because of the difference in penalties.
– There is no suggestion that Dr Evatt was exercised about this difference in penalties or that anybody raised the matter of trial by jury in the debate.
– The Acts Interpretation Act deals with it.
– I am talking about the political reality. Dr Evatt was introducing the Bill at the time. I dare say that if he had had drawn to his attention the fact that there was not provision for a trial by jury for anyone who wanted it-
– The late Maurice Blackburn drew it to the attention of Dr Evatt in the debate.
– That would not surprise me.
– In what year?
– In 1947.
– I am indebted to Senator McManus. I am not surprised that the late Maurice Blackburn drew the attention of Dr Evatt to it. The point 1 make is this: It is no good departing from principles which have recently been established on the ground that we ought to be bound by something that a Labor Government did in 1947 in an entirely different situation. We ought to be free to exercise our own judgment as to the correct principle. Again and again honourable senators have stood up and been counted on this issue of trial by jury. It is really not to the point for Senator McManus to attempt to evade his clear responsibility in this matter by invoking the 1947 legislation. The matter is one of principle with us and no real argument has been advanced either by the Minister or by the Deputy Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party (Senator McManus) to cause us to think that in some way what we are fighting for has been eroded either in practice or in principle. The Opposition insists upon the amendments put forward.
– I apologise for having said that the late Maurice Blackburn drew the omission to the attention of Dr Evatt. It was Mrs Blackburn his wife, who was a member at that time.
Question put -
That the amendments (Senator Cohen’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. C. Drake-Brockman .)
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I wish to voice a protest about the powers authorised by this clause in relation to an arrest and proceedings in court. Subclause (5.) states:
The last preceding sub-section does not prevent the discharge of an accused person if proceedings are not continued within a reasonable time.
I will not take time to read the preceding sub-section. Proceedings cannot commence until an authorisation is furnished by the Attorney-General. Although consent has not been given, a person may be charged with an offence against this legislation. He may be arrested or a warrant may be issued and executed. He may remain in custody or he may be released on bail. Proceedings cannot commence until a certificate is supplied by the Attorney-General. A person can be arrested, charged and held in custody. Whether the proceedings will ever be commenced is a matter for the AttorneyGeneral. Sub-clause (4.) states, in part: but no further step in proceedings of a kind referred to in the last preceding sub-section shall be taken in relation to the offence until such a consent has been obtained.
I have read sub-clause (5.). So the position is that a person may be arrested, and held in custody or released on bail. He may be held in custody and proceedings may never be commenced because consent is not given by the Attorney-General. He may decide not to proceed with the case but there is still power to hold a person in custody. He may be discharged, but not necessarily, Subclause (4.) does not prevent the discharge of an accused person if proceedings are not continued within a reasonable time. That suggests that the sub-clause does prevent an accused person’s discharge if proceedings are instituted within a reasonable time. What is a reasonable time? Could the Minister assist us by giving a definition of what is considered under this legislation to be a reasonable time?
This is most repressive legislation. In some countries people can be held in custody without trial. That is true of this legislation. In some countries a person may be held in custody without a charge being laid. Under this legislation a person can be arrested and charged but no proceedings can be commenced without the consent of the Attorney-General and it is not mandatory to release the accused person. The sub-clause does prevent his discharge within a reasonable time if consent for proceedings to commence is not forthcoming. At least I can raise my voice in protest as a member of a Parliament that is to pass such legislation. While we can recognise legislation authorising arrest and perhaps charging - although I doubt that - there should be a stipulated time in which proceedings must be commenced, or at least consent given by the Attorney-General for a trial to commence.
– This is no sudden innovation. The procedure has been included in one law since 1914 and was re-enacted in the Crimes (Aircraft) Act as late as 1963. It provides that a prosecution cannot be brought except with the Consent of the Attorney-General, but some preliminary steps towards a prosecution can be carried out. A person can be arrested and on his arrest must, in accordance with the requirements of the legislation, be as quickly as possible brought before a justice, either to be remanded in custody , or released on bail pending the decision -of the Attorney-General to give consent to the initiation of the actual prosecution.
Senator COHEN (Victoria) (5.23] - In -relation to the point raised by Senator Cavanagh, section 24ac of the Crimes Act makes a somewhat similar provision. It is -not in identical language to the provision in clause 6 of this legislation. However, the language of sub-clause (5.) of clause 6 is expressed negatively when one compares it with the language of the comparable clause in the Crimes Act. Sub-clause (5.) of clause 6 of this legislation provides:
The last preceding sub-section does not prevent the discharge of an accused person if proceedings are not continued within a reasonable time.
There is no direction to discharge an accused person. The sub-clause more or less states that there is nothing to stop his being discharged if he is not charged within a reasonable time. The language of the comparable provision in the Crimes Act is that he shall be discharged if proceedings are not continued within a reasonable time. I wonder why the language is different. Assuming that the substance of the provisions were consistent, why did the Government think it necessary on this occasion not to deal with the matter of a direction for an accused person’s discharge?
– Senator Cohen referred to section 24ac of the Crimes Act. I do not see much difference between the initial words of sub-section (2.) of that section, which reads:
Notwithstanding that consent has not been obtained as provided by the last preceding subsection
– Only the last part is different.
– The last sentence of the clause in this Bill is different from the last sentence of section 24ac of the Crimes Act. On the other hand section 85 of the Crimes Act, which has been in operation since 1914 and which is the one to which I referred earlier, is in almost precisely the same language. Sub-section (2.) of that section reads:
Nothing in this section shall prevent the discharging of the accused if proceedings are not continued with a reasonable time.
– But the model for the rest of the clause seems to have been section 24ac. rather than section 85.
– The model for some of the clause was one section and model for the rest of it was the other section. Some legal advice has been given to me rather hurriedly. I am not sure that 1 understand it, but I will attempt to present it to Senator Cohen, who may then probe the matter further if he wants to do so. It is that in any of these cases the application of the law would be that of the law of each State as applied to the discharge of the accused.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 7 agreed to.
Clause 8 (Evidence).
– The Opposition opposes this clause. I propose to put our case quite briefly. This clause operates in the pattern of the averment provisions of other legislation. It provides that a proclamation made for the purposes of paragraph (f) of sub-section (1.) of section 3 shall be evidence in a prosecution in a court that the body, class of persons or person specified in the proclamation was at the time of the making of the proclamation and at all times while the proclamation remained unrevoked, in the case of a body, a body established outside Australia, or, in the case of a class of persons or person, a class of persons or person resident outside Australia, and so on.
I wish to refer to a number of the provivisions. Firstly there is provision that the proclamation itself shall be evidence. Apparently this is a second draft of this clause. This clause, in its original form, was much less precise than it is now. It was in much broader terms. Notwithstanding that, we do not go along with the averment provisions. Where matters are susceptible of proof in a court they should be proved in the ordinary way. A person charged with an offence of this kind should not be faced with a proclamation that proves the case against him without the need to call witnesses.
As was pointed out in another place, there is a settled practice that where matters beyond our shores have to be established in a court the certificate of the Minister for External Affairs is sufficient to prove those facts, although they can be challenged and rebutted in the normal way by other oral evidence. The view of the Opposition is that that traditional method of proof should not be discarded in this way. It is not suggested that only by some provision such as this can these offences be adequately prevented. It is merely a matter of choosing this particular method of proving a case. In other words, the prosecution does not have to prove the case. It just alleges it. It just avers it. It just makes a proclamation and that passes for evidence. The whole burden of producing material which would disturb that evidence therefore rests on the accused person.
I know that sub-clause (5.) of this clause says that the section does not lessen or affect any burden of proof falling on a person or prevent or affect judicial notice being taken of a matter or prevent the use of other means of proof of a matter. We take exception to this method of proving a case, as we have done on other occasions in respect of similar types of legislation, such as the Crimes Bill. Sub-clause (2.) of this clause deals with the averment of the prosecutor being evidence of the matters averred. It states: the averment of the prosecutor contained in the indictment, information or complaint that-
[5.32J - 1 believe that the clause as it stands gives far more protection to any person charged with an offence than would the course suggested by Senator Cohen. What this clause says is that it is possible to aver not that an individual in Australia has done something but that at a particular time a body existed in South Vietnam; that is to say, that at a particular time the National Liberation Front or the Vietcong existed. If that is averred, that is taken to be evidence that the National Liberation Front or the Vietcong did exist at that time. It is evidence that the persons named or described in the averment were engaged in guerilla activities if that is averred.
The effect of this clause is that the three things that can be averred - they are averred about the existence overseas of certain people or certain activities - are known to the person charged with an offence at the time when he is charged with that offence. He sees that these things have been averred. Once they have been averred in this way, that is not conclusive evidence. The court does not regard it as conclusive evidence and it is not presented as conclusive evidence. It is presented as evidence of the truth of the things averred. The defendant has a prior chance to see what is averred, to prepare his defence and to attempt to disprove what is brought before the court by way of averment.
The course suggested by Senator Cohen is the production of a certificate by the Minister for External Affairs that such and such a thing is so, as happens in the United Kingdom. The first difference is that that certificate is conclusive evidence in the court when the Minister for External Affairs or the Foreign Secretary produces it. Secondly, it is possible and not at all out of the ordinary for such a certificate to be produced in court when the trial is going on and without the person who is being charged having knowledge of its existence or what it says or having a chance to examine it and to attempt to disprove it, as he has in the case of an averment. So I believe that the procedure provided for in this Bill gives a better protection.
I refer now to the second question raised by Senator Chohen. He said that he thought it might be a little difficult to prove some of these matters by evidentiary processes in Australian courts of law. It would be. I believe that anybody would agree that it would be quite impossible to produce all the documents that would be required in a court of law in Australia to prove that a body existed at a given point of time, perhaps even in Australia. It would be clearly impossible to go into the jungles of Vietnam and obtain evidentiary proof that the people of the second battalion of the fifth guerilla force were operating in a particular area at a particular time. That is why provision is made for averment.
– I agree with the Minister that the scope of the sub-clause relating to the proclamation is narrower than it was in the Bill originally presented in another place because the Minister’s own amendment has limited the matter to some extent, but we maintain our objection to clause 8 (3.) which provides:
The last preceding sub-section-
That is the sub-section which makes it possible to aver these things: applies to a matter averred although -
In other words, once there is an averment - a proclamation placing evidence before the court - for practical purposes the onus of disproving or rebutting that averment rests upon the accused person. I understand that the burden of proof would rest ultimately on the Crown, but the onus of producing material to displace or compete with the averment rests upon the defendant. There is an averment.
– It would be prima facie evidence.
– If nothing else happened. If the prosecutor tendered a proclamation and averment and everyone else in the court sat mute, the defendant could and would be convicted.
– That would be the only evidence presented.
– There is a difference between the ultimate burden of proof and the tactical burden of proof. I appreciate that. Certainly the defendant would have the job ahead of him to launch a case. A case could be launched by the prosecution by proclamation and averment and the defendant would have to shuffle to his feet - a procedure set out in sections of this kind to which we have always objected - or someone on his behalf would have to produce material which would at least compete with the evidence that was tendered by way of proclamation or averment. If he managed to get into the act and presented some material for the court to consider, and if it were substantial enough to be considered alongside the evidence which was the subject of the averment, I agree that the Crown would ultimately cai ry the burden of proving its case. An averment stands even though there is evidence rebutting it. An averment can be preferred to positive evidence rebutting it.
– I think we are in general agreement but the position may be clearer after I conclude my remarks than it is at present, although I will not guarantee it. Yes, it is perfectly true that if an averment is made as to the very limited number of things which can be averred under the Bill, then that is prima facie evidence that the thing averred is true. As I pointed out, the things that are averred are very limited. You cannot aver that someone has committed a crime or that someone has done something. You can only aver that a body existed at a certain time and that persons were engaged in guerilla activities at a particular time. The things spelled out in the Act are the only things which can be averred as matters of fact in relation to things which existed overseas at a particular time. That being averred, it is prima facie evidence that the body so named did exist, and it is up to the defendant to produce evidence that it did not exist if he thinks it did not exist. Then either evidence can be accepted.
I rose because Senator Cohen used the words: ‘He can then be convicted’. But he is not convicted because a body existed. He must have taken some action to help a body so described, and it is in relation to the taking of that action that he is charged and defends himself. There is no possibility of an averment that he took some particular action. It has to be proved to the court that he took the particular action with which he is charged.
– Has the Minister considered what can be averred and accepted as evidence? The last few words of clause 8 (1 .) refer to- a body, class of persons or person . . . referred to in whichever of sub-paragraphs (0 and (ii) of that paragraph is applicable.
Sub-paragraph (ii) of paragraph (f) of clause 3 refers to a class of person opposed or likely to be opposed to any part of the defence force operating in or near Vietnam We find that a proclamation or averment is evidence that such and such a body is a class of person opposed or likely to be opposed to our forces in or near Vietnam. Of course it is sufficient evidence for conviction unless it is disproved by the defendant.
– It is accepted evidence but the point I am making is this: How can the accused ever prove that such a body is not likely to be opposed to Australian forces in or near Vietnam? This is an impossible burden to place upon an accused person. In the absence of evidence by the accused the evidence in the averment is accepted.
Senator GORTON (Victoria - Minister
Bill makes it clear that a proclamation of a body as a body likely to be opposed to Australian forces is evidence that that body is so likely to be opposed to Australian forces. If someone then collects money or goods to send to that body after it has been so proclaimed, action has to be taken in a court to prove that that person has collected those goods and money to send to a group of persons who have been proclaimed by the Government to be opposed or likely to be opposed to Australian forces. If that is proved in a court of law the court will then decide what should be done.
– Suppose someone has been collectting and sending contributions to an organisation in Great Britain for some 12 months and suddenly there is a proclamation that that organisation in Great Britain is likely to be opposed to Australian forces in Vietnam - not that it is opposed but that it is likely to be opposed. It is an easy matter to prove. The complainant must prove that a person did collect money, that he did send money and that he did incite someone else to collect money.
– After the body had been proclaimed.
– Yes. Unless the evidence of the accused is brought forward, the prosecution does not have to prove that that body is likely to be opposed to Australian forces.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
Motion (by Senator Henty) proposed:
That Government business now take precedence of general business.
– Mr Deputy President, normally we would object to this motion because we regard General Business as a very important part of the proceedings of the Senate. It is the one occasion when the Opposition is able to bring forward business which it desires to be considered by the Senate. There are a number of matters that the Opposition wants to be considered by the Senate. As honourable senators will observe, a number of important motions are on the notice paper. But this evening a Bill for an Act relating to child endowment has to be considered by the Senate. Payments under that Bill would not operate on the due date unless that Bill were passed by the Senate this evening. We of the Opposition do not want to delay the payments; nor does the Government want to delay them. It is necessary therefore that General Business give way to Government Business in order that this purpose be achieved.
I should say that it is a bad principle that the Bill should operate in this way. We have struck this situation in previous years. I am not blaming the Government for introducing the precedent. My history may or may not be right, but I think the precedent may have been introduced by the Australian Labor Party. It is wrong that the payment of social service or other benefits should depend on the passage of legislation of this type. That means that there is always the argument that the legislation must be rushed through and perhaps not considered properly, otherwise people will be denied or the payment of their benefits will be delayed. The proper procedure, we concede, is that the legislation should be made to operate as from a fixed date. Then it would not matter if a few days or few weeks were taken by the Parliament to consider the matter. The payment would be backdated to the fixed date. Consideration by Parliament of such legislation should never be against the element of urgency that people will be injured if the legislation is not passed through the Parliament without proper consideration. But on this occasion there is no real contention as to the provisions of the Bill. In the general interest, although in other circumstances there would be vigorous opposition from this side to the proposal, we are agreeable to the motion.
– in reply - Mr Deputy President I thank the Leader of the Opposition and the Senate for accepting this motion. It has been moved, as the Leader of the Opposition has said, to enable legislation concerning child endowment to be passed and payment made. Honourable senators on both sides of the Senate would wish this. I thank the Opposition for its co-operation in this matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– by leave - Mr Deputy President, this ministerial statement is being made in another place by the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt). Honourable senators will understand that when the personal pronoun T is used, it refers to the Prime Minister and not to myself. With the concurrence of honourable senators, I incorporate the statement in Hansard. It reads:
I wish to inform the House of certain decisions that the Commonwealth Government has taken in respect of Aboriginals following the referendum in May of this year and subsequent discussions with the States. Before doing so, may I briefly remind honourable members of the two changes that have been made in the Constitution and the reasons for them?
Section 127 of the Constitution has been repealed. This section provided that, in reckoning the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth or of a State or other part of the Commonwealth, Aboriginal natives should not be counted. The framers of the Constitution had, as their principal reason for including this section of the Constitution, the practical difficulty of counting the Aboriginal population at that time. In 1900 this was a very substantial problem. Today, however, the facilities for including Aborigines in a census are greater and the need for the section no longer exists. This was the first change.
The second change has been the deletion of the words ‘other than the Aboriginal race in any State’ from paragraph (xxvi) of section 51. Section 51 (xxvi) of the Constitution formerly read:
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order and good Government of the Commonwealth with respect to: - (sub-paragraph (xxvi)) The people of any race, other than the Aboriginal race in any State, for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws.’
This part of the Constitution had been framed as a protection for Aboriginals but a belief had developed that it was discriminatory and, while the Government considered this to be erroneous, the belief persisted.
It was felt therefore that the words in question should be removed and this has now been done. One effect of omitting these words has been to confer upon the Commonwealth a power to make special laws for the people of the Aboriginal race in any State if the Parliament considers it desirable or necessary. This is a concurrent legislative power. In other words, it is now possible for the Commonwealth Parliament to legislate, but it does not mean that the States automatically lose their existing powers. There has been, and is, no intention on the part of the Commonwealth that authority should be, as it were, wrested from the States.
The public voted overwhelmingly in support of these changes and the Government took steps to recognise the implications of that vote. In my second reading speech
On the Constitution Alteration (Aboriginals) Bill 1967 on 1st March of this year, I said that, if proposals relating to Aboriginals were approved, the Government ‘would regard it as desirable to hold discussions with the States to secure the widest measure Of agreement with respect of Aboriginal advancement*.
Commonwealth and State Ministers directly concerned with Aboriginal affairs met in Perth on 21st July for their normal biennial meeting and a wide-ranging discussion took place on policy and administrative matters relating to Aboriginals. There was a general agreement among the States on their relationship with the Commonwealth in these matters and there will be further consultations in the future. A report on the meeting recently held will be made to the House by my colleague the Minister for Territories.
I would stress at this point that, while the Commonwealth Parliament is now in a position to make laws and to prevail should a conflict arise with the States, the Commonwealth does not seek to intrude unnecessarily in this field, or into areas of activity currently being dealt with by the States. There is a big variation in circumstances and needs of Aboriginals in the different States. For this reason, administration has to be on a regional - or State - basis if it is to be effective. This is the only practical way of ensuring that Aboriginals receive direct attention and assistance.
The Government believes that the needs of Aboriginals should continue to be kept in their true perspective as predominantly social problems and not magnified or misrepresented to suggest that the problems are racial. The Government also believes that it is not right to say that the Commonwealth and the States have done little in the past for Aboriginals. A great deal has been done by Australian Governments in recent years and I will say more on this point later.
The prime function of the Commonwealth, in the light of these changes to the Constitution, will be to carry out a policy co-ordinating role. The Commonwealth will not assume the responsibility for administration which is largely with the States, except in those areas like the Northern Territory where we already have a direct commitment.
There will be significant advantages in policy co-ordination and this should facilitate the sharing of experience by the Commonwealth and the States in the interests of our aboriginal citizens. It will also allow us to keep the Aboriginal question properly in its perspective in our international relationships.
To achieve this objective, the Government proposes to establish an Office of Aboriginal Affairs in Canberra. Its task will be to co-ordinate policy and to provide the machinery necessary for joint consultations as the need arises with the States and with relevant Commonwealth Departments.
The new office will draw on the experience of the Department of Territories and have its assistance in any administrative support that may be needed. The office itself, however, will come within the Prime Minister’s Department. It will thus come under my own administration and have a central status as the Commonwealth agency co-ordinating policy affecting Aboriginals. This arrangement will facilitate communication between the Premiers of the States and myself on Aboriginal matters, and further it will provide a special avenue of communication with the Government by Aboriginals themselves or by organisations representing them.
The Commonwealth will make appropriate financial provision required by the policies and particular decisions adopted in the future by the Commonwealth either on its own initiative or arising out of Commonwealth and State consultation. We will also continue the present practice of making financial provision for Aboriginal advancement through its Departments of Territories and Interior where our direct responsibilities are concerned and to the States in the general context of Commonwealth-State financial arrangements. Through the Department of Health we will conduct special health surveys and campaigns among Aboriginals, as we have in the past, in cooperation with the States. We will continue to finance the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies through the Department of Education and Science. The Office of Aboriginal Affairs will be able to exercise a valuable co-ordinating role in all these matters. These Government activities, Commonwealth and State, have been strongly and effectively supported by Church missions and by many voluntary organisations throughout Australia. This devoted work, I am confident, will continue.
The Commonwealth has already done much in its own right to advance the welfare of the Aboriginals as members of the Australian community. I pay tribute to the States for what they have done in their own fields. At the same time, I commend to your notice the work and results achieved by our own Department of Territories which, for a number of years now, has accepted tasks beyond the normal limits of hs responsibilities in Aboriginal welfare.
The Government long ago established a policy of assimilation as the proper policy for Aboriginals. At a Conference of Ministers in 1965, the definition of assimilation was revised to read as follows:
The policy of assimilation seeks that all persons of aboriginal descent will choose (I emphasise the words ‘will choose’) to attain a similar manner and standard of living to that of other Australians and live as members of a single Australian community - enjoying the same rights and privileges, accepting the same responsibility and influenced by the same hopes and loyalties as other Australians. Any special measures taken are regarded as temporary measures, not based on race, but intended to meet their need for special care and assistance, and to make the transition from one stage to another in such a way as will be favourable to their social, economic and political advantage.
The word ‘assimilation’ is often misunderstood. There is nothing mandatory or arbitrary about it and it does not mean interbreeding with the avowed objective of eventually eliminating the Aboriginal physical features or Aboriginal culture. It may be that this will happen but it is a matter of individual decision and not of policy.
Assimilation means that the Aboriginals can be similar to other citizens, not, of course, in looks, but with regard to all the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship. Our aim is to help the Aboriginals to become an integral part of our Australian community life.
The Aboriginal population in Australia is increasing and some forecasts suggest that the number might double by the end of the century. The Aboriginal population in Australia is now a little over 130,000. It is made up of 44,600 full-blooded Aboriginals, 77,300 part-Aboriginals and 8,000 Torres Strait Islanders.
There is, as honourable members know, the widest range of social levels in our Aboriginal population. There are nomads, a few only now, living an utterly primitive life remote from civilisation. There are others at all stages of advancement between this and full participation in the life of the wider Australian community as full / assimilated citizens. It is wrong perhaps to put a money value on what we are doing for Aboriginals but at least some figures will give evidence that what we are doing is increasing in scale. Last year the Commonwealth and the States spent $21m specifically on Aboriginal advancement and this year the figure will be higher. In 1944, Australian Governments were spending just under $500,000, so there has been a very big and important increase in expenditure.
The Commonwealth has already provided $4,500,000 for Aboriginal advancement this year - a 27% increase on expenditure last year. There are other less visible areas of Government assistance to Aboriginals because, as citizens, they benefit in the normal way like other Australians from the Services provided by various Government Departments.
In the last few years the Commonwealth, State and Northern Territory legislatures have been active in progressively removing all discriminatory legislation from the relevant sets of Commonwealth and State
Parliaments and, therefore, direct benefits are not as readily identifiable as they were in the past
It is sometimes thought that the bulk of the problems arising in connection with Aboriginals will disappear provided money is made available on a large scale. This approach does not sufficiently recognise the fact that many of the problems are psychological and social in character and that the expenditure of money that is not directed to solutions based on assured practical foundations will not resolve, but may accentuate, some of the problems.
Assimilation as we have defined it is two-way, requiring adjustments in outlook and a sympathetic understanding on the part of citizens both of European and Aboriginal race in the community. In the legal and formal sense none of the opportunities open to Australians generally are closed to Aboriginals. What is needed in many cases is help which will equip the Aboriginals, by education and in every possible way, and in their outlook, to avail themselves of these opportunities.
To attain our goal, patience, persistence and understanding are essential. What we are doing will not mean that Aboriginals, as citizens, will lose their identity, thenpride of race and their culture. It will mean that, through successive generations, cultural adjustments will take place - as they do in every society the world over - and that the Aboriginals will grow, without any enforced transition, into the national environment in which they live.
– by leave - Mr Deputy President, the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) has stated the intentions of the Government regarding the Commonwealth’s participation in Aboriginal affairs. He mentioned the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers responsible for Aboriginal welfare held in Perth on 21st July under the chairmanship of the Honourable E. H. M. Lewis, MLA, Minister for Education and Native Welfare in Western Australia. With the concurrence of honourable senators, I incorporate in Hansard a statement giving in some detail an account of the proceedings of the conference. The statement reads:
A conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers responsible for Aboriginal affairs was held in Perth on 21st July under the chairmanship of the Honourable E. H. M. Lewis, MLA, Minister for Native Welfare in Western Australia. A list of those present is attached to this statement.
The Perth conference had before it the Prime Minister’s statement in the second reading speech on the Constitution (Aboriginals) Alteration Bill that if the referendum were successful, the Commonwealth would regard it as desirable to hold discussions with the States to secure the widest measure of agreement with respect to Aboriginal advancement. The State Ministers formulated a common approach by the States for consideration by the Commonwealth. This reads as follows:
The conference at Perth made a review of Aboriginal affairs throughout Australia. Some of the progress noted by those participating in the Perth conference was as follows: Legislative changes to remove discriminatory and protective provisions applicable to Aborigines by reasons of their race are virtually complete. In 1966-67 Australian Governments spent almost $15,000,000 directly on Aboriginal welfare. When another $5,000,000 or $6,000,000 is added to allow for the costs incurred by Service Departments in relation to Aborigines, it appears that some $21,000,000 annually is being expended on Aboriginal advancement. Efforts are continuing to expand and train welfare staffs. Throughout Australia there is now 1 full-time member of Government and mission staffs to every 70 Aborigines and part-Aborigines. Special housing programmes are being extended, both by construction by welfare authorities and an increasing number through normal community housing schemes. Aboriginal and part-Aboriginal children are responding to encouragement to stay at school longer. Greater emphasis is being placed on vocational training and employment opportunities and on advice and assistance in family living where required to help them to make the difficult transition from ‘fringe dwelling’ to life as part of the community.
More staff, more money, new institutions and programmes can only go part of the way towards resolving all the varied problems in this field. Acceptance of Aborigines and part-Aborigines on the part of the community and personal encouragement to them are needed. Response by the Aboriginal people themselves is another essential element of real progress.
The efforts of all three, the Aboriginal people, the community and Governments need to be welded together if we are to have a satisfactory result. Ministers at the Perth conference considered that there were hopeful signs in respect of all three elements. They believed that it was not realistic to think that the social changes involved could be made in a short space of time. Continued and accelerated progress was the requirement and is in prospect.
No change was made at the Perth conference to the common objective of assimilation accepted by all Australian Governments since 1951. The policy of assimilation seeks that all persons of Aboriginal descent will choose to attain a similar manner and standard of living to that of other Australians and live as members of a single Australian community - enjoying the same rights and privileges, accepting the same responsibilities and influenced by the same hopes and loyalties as other Australians. The conference went a considerable distance in formulating agreed policy statements in a number of fields. These are covered under the main headings below.
Training and Employment: Conference recognised the key importance of adequate training and employment opportunities for the advancement of Aborigines and supported special programmes to these ends where existing programmes had not been fully effective. Ministers considered that advancement in other fields needs to be matched by the economic advancement of Aborigines. In remote areas real problems are being encountered in providing suitable or enough employment opportunities for Aborigines and it is not easy for the Aborigines to move or adjust to areas of greater opportunity. It was agreed that more work is needed to assess employment potentials and stimulate employment opportunities.
Conference supported equality under awards and equality of wages and employment conditions for Aboriginals and would regard it as proper for welfare administrations where necessary to take an active role in assisting Aboriginals to obtain those conditions. In many cases there will be a need for the welfare administration to advise young people on job opportunities, assist them in obtaining proper placement and keep in touch with them when they have been placed. It was agreed that employment conditions appropriate to normal industry should not necessarily apply to areas where Aboriginals are in a training or relief situation.
Business Undertakings: Conference recognised that the advancement of Aboriginals should be considered not only in terms of their becoming wage and salary earners in the community but also in their taking up avenues of self-employment or business undertakings. These developments should be fostered wherever possible. Conference drew attention to the value of the continuing development of individual business and corporate enterprises conducted by Aboriginals and affirmed that the further development of such projects would continue to be encouraged by advice and financial assistance where appropriate. As well as special arrangements, such enterprises have access to the normal banking and financial arrangements and where applicable, incentives for industrial development.
Land Matters: Ministers noted that considerable attention had been devoted to the question of ‘land rights’ for Aboriginals during the referendum campaign. A major concern appeared to be that Aboriginals should have the opportunity to own or lease land on reserves and they should be given assistance to establish themselves on the land. To make more effective use of Reserve lands South Australia has recently established an Aboriginal Lands Trust consisting wholly of Aboriginal members ‘to sell, lease, mortgage or otherwise deal with’ lands vested in it. Legislation providing for the lease of land in Aboriginal reserves to Aboriginals, Aboriginal co-operative societies and predominantly Aboriginal companies and the creation of an Aboriginal Reserves Land Board with an Aboriginal majority is currently being considered by the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory. Aboriginals in the Northern Territory can already obtain leases on Reserves or elsewhere by the normal processes or leases outside reserves of up to 160 acres. In the legislation referred to it is proposed that the latter provision be retained but without limitation of area.
In Queensland any Aboriginal can own or hold land in his own right or obtain leases in Aboriginal Reserves. Many do. In Western Australia assistance is provided to suitable applicants in establishing farms. Two applications have been granted in respect of reserves set aside for land settlement. Conference recognised that in some States and the Northern Territory Aboriginal reserve land constitutes a resource for advancing Aboriginals and supported measures to make effective use of this resource. The actual measures to be taken would vary according to local land law and potential usage, and the views of the local legislature and. the Aboriginal people. Such proposals should not, however, restrict other developments, e.g., by mining, forestry or other industries which could be of considerable direct and indirect benefit to the Aboriginals by providing them with employment opportunities, the opportunity to benefit from improved community facilities and to participate in wider community affairs.
Advancement of Women: In many Aboriginal communities which are still traditionally oriented in varying degrees women have an inferior status resulting from systems of marriage promise, marriage at puberty and polygamous unions. Other factors which may retard their well being and social advancement are early childbearing and frequent births together with lack of or inability to make use of infant welfare services. Even when traditional influences have been largely put aside, Aboriginal women still face difficulties because of educational and social handicaps in following careers or adjusting to a modern home environment. Remedial measures include education, social training especially in home management, participation in community social activities and, where sought by the individual person or family concerned, the availability of family planning advice and facilities. Conference supported balanced programmes for advancing the status of Aboriginal women to be formulated within the framework of overall programmes.
Aboriginal Culture: Traditional Aboriginal culture was inextricably bound up with religion, kinship and areas of ritual or sacred significance. Much of it has inevitably been lost or set aside by necessary adjustments to a new or settled way of life. Conference recognised the value to Aboriginals and to the enrichment of Australian cultural life of encouraging pride and participation in elements of traditional Aboriginal culture in such forms as legend, music, dance and art.
It is not the policy of welfare administrations to seek to destroy such cultural elements, but to encourage them, in promoting the advancement of Aboriginals in the general community.
Consultation with Aboriginals: Ministers noted that there appeared to be some misconception that Aboriginal affairs administrations tend to act without consulting Aboriginals and part-Aboriginals or without regard for their views. Conference reaffirmed that Aboriginals and part-Aboriginals should be consulted at all levels in formulating and carrying out policies for their advancement. The need for and value of such consultation has been recognised for some time past and a number of measures taken to obtain it. For example in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. Aboriginals are members of the welfare boards. The Aboriginal Lands Trust in South Australia is wholly composed of Aboriginals. In Queensland and South Australia, councils have been established by law for the management of Aboriginal affairs in particular areas. In all States and the Northern Territory Aboriginals participate in councils and committees concerned with advising on and managing Aboriginal affairs at various levels.
Entry on to Reserves: Conference agreed that in the interests of the Aboriginal people in those States and the Northern Territory where there are still congregations of Aboriginals on reserves a form of permit system should be retained until such time as their communities through their own councils can handle this matter or until such time as permits arc no longer necessary. Conference noted the increasing burden being placed on Aboriginal communities in remote areas by research work and by the demands of commercial TV and film units and suggested that while the permit system is retained the views of Aboriginal communities should be sought. The conference noted developments in a number of other fields:
Education: Greatly intensified efforts have been made in recent years to provide full educational opportunities for Aboriginals. Increasing provision is being made for preschools and adult education. Special note was made of the increasing number of Aboriginals and part-Aboriginals progressing to secondary education and staying at school longer. Authoritative figures to document this progress are not available because more and more Aboriginal children are merging with the general educational stream and are not counted separately. Where necessary special schools have been established to ensure that Aboriginals have equal opportunities. All administrations have programmes for financial assistance, scholarships or bursaries for this purpose. It was clear to Ministers that no Aboriginal or part-Aboriginal child had to forgo educational opportunities because of his family’s financial position.
Housing: Ministers drew attention to factors apart from finance which were important in the resolution of Aboriginal housing problems. These include the capacity of the Aboriginals themselves to manage a new housing situation and the acceptance of Aboriginal housing by the community. Precipitate action to locate Aboriginals in houses for which they are not suited or in areas where undue social stresses can occur might, do damage to longterm programmes. Many part-Aboriginals and Aboriginals can be provided for by normal Housing Commission programmes, or by normal home-financing schemes. Although sometimes unavoidable, it is generally undesirable that they should be grouped in houses which are designated as Aboriginal housing. For those unaccustomed to the concept of modern’ housing or its use. transitional-type housing is needed to enable progression from stage to stage. In both cases it is necessary to provide suitable housing adapted to the Aboriginals stage of development and capacity to pay. For both Aboriginals and part-Aboriginals special assistance from welfare authorities and agencies is frequently necessary to enable them to adjust satisfactorily to a new environment. This could involve ensuring that they understand their new obligations and supporting them when in difficulties. Conference noted that considerable expenditure on housing for Aboriginals and part-Aboriginals by Aboriginal welfare authorities totalling $6,294,000 in the last 5 years and that in addition, houses allotted to Aboriginals by the various State and Territory housing authorities were in excess of 1 .000.
Social Services: Conference noted the considerable advance made in recent years in paying pensions direct to Aboriginals rather than through some other person or authority on behalf of the pensioner. The process was almost complete in South Australia and Queensland and there was a distinct trend towards direct payment in other areas. Pensioners in New South Wales and Victoria have received their pensions direct since 1960. The position is kept under review by the Department of Social Services with the object of hastening the transition to direct payment wherever practicable.
Publicity: Conference noted the considerable amount of publicity material including films prepared and distributed by the Commonwealth and in particular the new publication ‘The Australian Aboriginals’ which gives a concise account of the efforts of governments and progress achieved in Aboriginal advancement throughout Australia. Conference expressed appreciation to the Department of Territories for the preparation of this material and acknowledged the value of its impact in Australia and overseas.
Missions and Voluntary Organisations: Conference acknowledged the considerable contribution of Christian missions to Aboriginal advancement over the years. It reaffirmed its recognition of the assistance which can be given by voluntary organisations which have a record of genuine interest in promoting Aboriginal advancement. It looked forward to continued cooperation from such organisations in the advancement of Aboriginals and partAboriginals and in adding to the community’s understanding of these matters.
Training of Staff: Ministers noted that the one-year course for patrol officers at the Australian School of Pacific Administration was successful in training field officers and that South Australia had participated in the course and expressed its appreciation of the opportunity to do so. Conference took note of plans to extend the course to 2 years to provide further training in case and group work.
Central Australian Reserves: Ministers noted that it was proposed to include Aboriginal observers at future meetings of the Central Reserves Committee composed of representatives from Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. They noted that the Committee considered there was a need for research into’ the migratory trends of Aboriginals in the central reserves area.
To those who work in this very difficult field it has been apparent for some time now that one of their major tasks is to inform the public better of what is being done and attempted in Aboriginal affairs. This statement will be one of the ways of doing this. It is part of this process of informing the public that Governments should be credited with what they have done. This Conference has also made a valuable contribution in encouraging a review of what further remains to be done.
When we direct our minds to future programmes we must constantly have before us that the well-being and interests of individuals and families are at stake. There is at the present time a great desire for dramatic, immediate solutions to the remaining problems. Much more has been achieved than is realised. The situation now is incomparably better than it was 10, or 15 years ago, in terms of money and resources being employed and in terms of opportunities open to the Aboriginal people. Of course success is achieved when Aboriginal people live in the community, without attracting any notice as a ‘problem’. Thus the successes, and there are many, are not seen. The remaining problems are: Little real hope lies in dramatic, immediate solutions. Social and human problems are involved that require time as well as money, staff and effort. Certainly much more needs to be done to help the Aboriginal people, both by governments and by sympathetic, practical help from community organisations and individuals. We can be confident that this will be forthcoming.
The Commonwealth and State representation at the conference was as follows:
Victoria: The Hon. E. R. Meagher, M.B.E., E.D., M.L.A., Minister of Housing and Minister in Charge of Aboriginal Affairs.
Consideration resumed (vide page 646).
Clause 8 (Evidence).
– When the sitting was suspended 1 had raised the question of the powers contained in clause 8 regarding the averment by the prosecutor and the proclamation being evidence before a court. The Minister for Education and Science (Sentator Gorton) replied to my question that it was not conclusive evidence and would not be applicable if certain things happened. I pointed out to the Senate that sub-clause (1 . ) (f) (ii) made it an offence to give assistance to an organisation which is: opposed or likely to be opposed to any part of the Defence Force in operations in or near Vietnam.
I recognise by the subsequent wording of clause 8 that: despite the fact that the Minister has declared by proclamation that a certain organisation is one likely to be an enemy of our forces in Vietnam, this is evidence but that there is some evidence in rebuttal that has to be judged on its merits. The point I am making is the impossibility of a defendant to contest the point whether some organisation to which he has contributed funds in England is likely to be an enemy of the Australian forces at some time in the future. The organisation might become or might be likely to become an enemy because of the proclamation of the Minister. Whether in fact the organisation will ever become an enemy is the point in question and whether this fact can be contested by the accused is another thing altogether. In the absence of any such evidence in rebuttal through the inability of the accused to produce that evidence, the only evidence is that which must beaccepted according to the provisions of clause 8. That is the proclamation that this organisation is likely to be an enemy. Therefore the conviction must succeed in the circumstances.
I rise again because the Minister said that it was not conclusive evidence. I think he should take into consideration the practical impossibility of an accused person contesting any such declaration because no one can bring proof that someone in the future will not be an enemy of Australian forces in or near Vietnam. I think the clause should provide greater protection. As Senator Cohen has said, it should be the responsibility of the complainant in the cause to prove the case according to the normal laws of proof and to prove also that someone in accordance with the provisions of clause 3 (I.) (f) (ii) is likely to be an enemy. This requires stronger proof than a proclamation from the Minister.
– In reply to Senator Cavanagh let me say that he refers to the responsibility of the Minister to proclaim who are the enemies of Australian troops in the field or who are likely to be their enemies. This is to be proclaimed by the Government which has a responsibility under the Crimes Act in one way and a responsibility under this Bill in another way.
If anybody, in the face of a proclamation by a government that a certain body is likely to be an enemy of Australian troops, still persists to provide assistance in the form of goods and can by the normal processes of law be proved to have provided that assistance, then in my view it is not unreasonable for that person to have to show that this body is not likely to be an enemy.
That the clause stand as printed.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. C. Drake-Brockman)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 9 (Imprints on publications).
– Will the Minister for Education and Science tell me what sections in other legislation are identical with this clause?
– I do not know whether the clauses I shall mention are identical, but they have precisely the same effect. I refer to section 30fa and section 85c of the Crimes Act 1914-1960.
– Are we to take it that these are the only sections which can be said to be substantially similar to the clause which is now before us?
– The representatives of the Attorney-General’s Department who are beside me say that these are examples. They believe that there are a number of other examples of which they have not any cognisance at the moment.
– This is rather curious. As honourable senators will have observed, many of the provisions of this Bill have been taken from the Crimes Act. They have been followed ipissima verba. Yet when one looks at the provisions of the Crimes Act which are said to be relied upon one finds that, in relation to the clause we are now considering, the words are quite different. Section 30fa of the Crimes Act provides: (1.) The imprint appearing upon any book, periodical, pamphlet, handbill, poster or newspaper shall, in any proceedings under this Part, be prima facie evidence that the book, periodical, pamphlet, handbill, poster or newspaper was printed or published by or on behalf of, or in the interests of, the person or body of persons specified in the imprint.
A similar provision appears in section 85c of the Crimes Act, but it is restricted to Part V. It states: (1.) The imprint appearing upon a book, periodical, pamphlet, handbill, poster or newspaper is, in a prosecution for an offence against this
Part, evidence that the book, periodical, pamphlet, handbill, poster or newspaper was printed or published by the person specified in the imprint.
It will be noted that in those two parts of the Crimes Act the provisions were restricted to publications such as books, periodicals, pamphlets and handbills. In the clause we are now considering the term used is ‘any writing’. There is no mention of a book, newspaper or that kind of thing. If a newspaper which is being circulated, or a book which is being printed, or a periodical, pamphlet or handbill which is being distributed bears the name of a publisher or printer, it is fair enough to say that there are laws which cover the printing and publication thereof. It is fair enough to say that it will be presumed that the law will be observed in respect of registration of people who undertake the printing or publication of such things. That is not the position here. Without any explanation there is a change to cover any writing at all. Clause 9 reads: in proceedings for an offence against this Act, an imprint appearing upon any writing is evidence that the writing was printed or published by the person specified in the imprint.
This means that the Government is departing altogether from the principle that when something like a book, or a periodical, or a newspaper, or a handbill that is handed out, has an imprint on it showing the name of the printer or the name of the publisher it is fair enough to say that this will bc evidence that the person named is responsible for it. The Government now moves to cover any writing at all. It may be a typed letter with the name of any person upon it. The letter need not even be signed, but may have a name at the bottom without an address. For the first time, so far as the advisers of the Minister are able to show, this will be evidence that the person whose name appears on it actually issued it, because that is what publication means. We could have a piece of paper with typewriting on it and the name ‘V. Gair.’ That would be evidence that V. Gair issued it. Is that what the law is to be in this country? Is there to be this shift? If the writing has the name of a body corporate such as a trade union on it, even though it is not a publication of the trade union, the ordinary newspaper or book that is issued by it, but just a simple piece of paper, this will be evidence against the trade union.
We would ask the Committee to take the view that this is an extraordinary extension. Even under the Crimes Act in respect of books, periodicals and pamphlets, this provision is permitted only in certain parts. In relation to offences such as are dealt with in this Act - inciting, urging, aiding or encouraging, or printing or publishing any writing which incites to, urges, aids or encourages the commission of offences - the Crimes Act docs not have a provision that a piece of paper with a name on it will be evidence against a person. The fact that there is a book or periodical is not even evidence against him. This provision does not apply to that part of the Crimes Act. The Minister referred to several provisions in several parts, but not those in Part II, which is the one that contains reference to offences similar to the ones referred to in this Bill. 1 seek from the Minister some explanation of why there has been a departure to the extent that a provision in respect of books and periodicals, which was carefully contained to several parts of the Crimes Act and nol extended to other parts, is intended to be utilised at all, and why the normal form which has been used in respect of those restricted parts has been departed from and the provision extended to any writing at all.
To those who concerned themselves with the Approved Defence Projects Protection Act of 1947 I say that there was in that Act a provision that dealt wtih speeches and writings. This was in section 4, which read: (I.) - Any person who -
without reasonable cause or excuse . .
There was in that Act no provision such as the one that is in this Bill. If Senator McManus and Senator Gair are to maintain the consistency which they say they maintain, and if they want to follow what was done in the Approved Defence Projects Protection Act, they will vote against the inclusion of a provision in the terms of clause 9, which goes far beyond anything to which the Minister has been able to refer in relation to any matter such as this.
– This is probably one of the most extraordinary objections that I have ever heard raised to a proposition in this chamber. Lei us see just what it is that the objection is concerned with. Let me first refer io clause 9(2.) which reads:
For the purposes of the last preceding subsection, the word ‘imprint’ means a statement of the name of the printer or publisher of the writing, whether with or without a statement of the address of that person or a description of the place where the writing was printed or published.
If on the bottom of some printed or written matter is the name of the person who authorised it or who is alleged to be responsible for it. that is to be considered to be the name of the person who issued it. There is no difference between that proposition and the proposition which has for years been in various parts of the Crimes Act. The relevant provision in the Crimes Act reads:
For the purposes of this section, ‘imprint’ means a statement of the name and address of ‘he printer or of the publisher of the book, periodical, pamphlet, handbill, poster or newspaper with or without a description of the place where it is printed.
Where docs the real objection of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) lie? The objection is that in the Bill the word ‘writing’ is used to cover all forms of printing or writing and in the other Act, which he does not attack, the word ‘writing’ is not used. The words used are: ‘book, periodical, pamphlet, handbill, poster or newspaper.’
– Would the Minister agree that ‘writing’ is an extension of that provision?
– Of course. The honourable senator surely would not agree that if it is quite wrong for something to appear in a book, pamphlet, handbill, periodical or newspaper it can be right for it to appear in something else. That is the whole point of this discussion. Senator Murphy in fact would have, I think, no real objection if the Bill said it was wrong for this to appear in a book, periodical, handbill, poster or newspaper. But there is something quite bad about it, according to him, if it covers matter in something other than a book, periodical, handbill, poster or newspaper. Quite frankly, I think that is utter nonsense. If it is wrong for it to appear in all of this vast number of descriptions of printed matter it ought to be wrong for it to appear at all. If it is not wrong for it to appear at all it is not wrong for it to appear in books, periodicals, handbills, posters and other things of that nature. Really, this is one of the most unsubstantiated objections I have ever heard raised in this chamber.
– The Committee should understand clearly what the issue is here. The law provides in the special restrictions in the Crimes Act that the name of the printer and publisher must appear on publications such as books, periodicals, newspapers and handbills. We have Acts of Parliament which say that these must be there. They are registered people and the names must be there. The law goes on to state in those other sections that the information is only for very restricted purposes, and that it is reasonable to say that if a name does appear the law has been observed. When the printer’s name is there, or when the publisher’s name is there, the law has been observed and he is the man responsible.
In this Bill this principle is extended to deal wilh cases where there is no requirement for the name of the printer or the publisher to be on the article. It is not there in writing because of compliance with law. It could be one piece of typed paper. If the name is on that paper, even if it is only typed, that will be sufficient evidence against that person. The name does not even have to be a signature. It may be just a typed name on a piece of paper.
– This makes a frameup very easy.
– Is that what this Senate is going to make the law in Australia? Are we to make this departure from this principle without any explanation at all? That principle has been kept fairly restricted. It was not allowed to be used under the Crimes Act for the same types of offences set out here. The Government is not going to extend this principle of using this as evidence in relation to books and periodicals and so forth; but without a word of explanation it wants to say that if there is a typed sheet of paper, or paper on which there is handwriting, and there is on the bottom of it the words ‘published by so and so’ - it does not matter that there is no legal requirement to put those words there at ali - that is to be evidence that the man did the encouraging or inciting which is on the paper. The name on the paper could belong to anyone at all. This is to be used as evidence against that person in a court of law. Is this what the law is to be in Australia?
– Of course it is. lt is the law now.
– It is not the law in Australia. It is law only under restricted parts of the Act. It is not the law under the inciting and urging provisions of the Crimes Act.
– Yes it is.
– It is not the law under Part Ja of the Crimes Act. 1 asked the Minister to refer to this today. He referred to Part II a and Part VII of the Crimes Act. I defy the Minister and his advisers to show the Committee this now. If they have this information they ought to show the Committee where there has ever been a provision such as this; that in any writing at all, irrespective of whether there is a legal obligation to put the name of the publisher or printer under that writing - that if there appears on the paper such words as ‘published by so and so’ - that will be evidence against that man. I do not mean a signature; just any statement to say that the article was published by that man. I defy the Minister and his advisers to say that will bc sufficient evidence to convict the man in a court of law. In the absence of a proper explanation by the Minister, I ask the Committee to reject this clause. We have often seen how people come into this place and say that it is all Tight to do something because it was done in 1947, 1956 or in 1967 in the Defence Force Protection Act.
– I do not know what the Leader of the Opposition thinks a handbill is. It is just a printed bill, whether it be printed with the use of a linotype or a typewriter. It is a handbill. He made great play of the fact that there could be a typed sheet of paper with somebody’s imprint on the bottom of it where there is a requirement under the law for that imprint to be included. A handbill may or may not have to have that imprint on the bottom, by law. But if there is no requirement and no person’s name is included as being responsible for that handbill, obviously no action can be taken against anybody. But under the existing law, as I pointed out to the Leader of the Opposition, if there is a handbill typed and distributed, somebody’s imprint or name has to be placed on the bottom of it as being responsible for it. Then, under the existing law, that is taken as evidence that that person is responsible for the writing. It is prima facie evidence that he is responsible for it.
– Why did the Government not follow that principle?
– Just a minute. I did not interrupt the Leader of the Opposition. He is a Queen’s Counsel and I am not. He should not interrupt me when I am answering him about a question of law - although I am not doing that. This is evidence to indicate that somebody can produce evidence contrary to that, and that is the law as it stands at the moment. If it is the law as it stands at the moment, then what is this great objection being made by the Leader of the Opposition; that the law does not confine this to newspapers, to periodicals and to handbills, but says that for anything published in that way and which has an imprint on the bottom of it, somebody has responsibility? That is prima facie evidence as the law stands at the moment and it applies to handbills of that kind. But it is rebuttable by other evidence. What is the great objection to this?
– Anyone could be framed.
– At the present moment the law is that if, in the case of a newspaper - which is printed by means of a linotype machine, I suppose, or some other printing machine - there is stated at the bottom that the publication is authorised by somebody, that is to be taken as evidence that it was authorised by that man. If a handbill is put out, and it is printed on a machine, typed on a typewriter, or duplicated, and if at the bottom of it there are the words ‘authorised by somebody’ that is to be taken as prima facie evidence that the document was authorised by that person. The Leader of the Opposition spoke of a typewritten statement. A handbill is a typewritten statement. There is no doubt about that. Now, because any published matter of this kind is to be encompassed
– What about a statement on a wall?
– Matter painted on a wall could hardly be described as a handbill or published matter. Of course, it could not. The Opposition says that there is some great departure and that there is some great difficulty with this clause. The fact of the matter is that it is reasonable. The law, as it has stood since 1914 or so, states that it is reasonable that somebody who purports to sign an article in a newspaper ought to be responsible for it. Somebody who purports to sign an article which is printed as a handbill will be responsible for that. Somebody who purports to be responsible for all the other types of printed documents spelt out in this Bill ought to be responsible by law. That is reasonable. It is also only reasonable for this to bc taken as prima facie evidence for any published material. It does not mean that it is more evidence now than it was before. This evidence is still rebuttable.
It does not make it easier for a frame-up, as some honourable senator said. Of course, it does not. Under the law as it stands at the moment a handbill can be typed and published and, if one wanted to do so, one could put anybody’s name on it without his approval and without his acceptance of the responsibility. This evidence would not necessarily stand up to challenge. There are many such cases. There were unity tickets, for example, when the Labor Party members and Communists stood together. It was claimed that this was not authorised by somebody and the parties concerned have been able to make that claim. The whole point about this clause is the suggestion that it is very wrong for this to be applied to all published material but it is all right for it to be done in respect to a lot of material. I do not think the argument will hold water.
– It is very disturbing to hear the Minister say that those who purport to publish periodicals, pamphlets and so on shall be responsible. That is not what the law is or should bc. The law is and should be that it is those who do publish who should be responsible. That is the position we are driving at. I ask the Minister - but he will not face up to this - to explain why the Government is not satisfied even with the restricted provision in the Crimes Act in two restricted Parts. Even governments in previous times would not allow the provision as to books and periodicals to be used generally. They would not allow it to be used in the ordinary inciting offences. But here the Government has abandoned the words used in the Crimes Act. I want to know why the Government is not satisfied with the provisions of section 30fa of the Crimes Act which state:
The imprint appearing upon any book, periodical, pamphlet, handbill, poster or newspaper shall …
Why has the clause gone beyond that? That was enough for two parts. Yet the clause has gone beyond that. Anything at all, not even a handbill, not something that is handed out to anyone, but any document at all is included in the clause. The Government has abandoned all the traditional methods of proof in providing that paper with a name on it is sufficient evidence that that person has actually been responsible for the document. I repeat, under this a piece of paper with a man’s name on it, published by him, is enough evidence to convict that man in a court of law. The principle behind those restricted provisions in the Crimes Act was that the publisher was under a legal obligation to have his name on the document. That provision was fair enough, but only in restricted places. The Government has gone beyond that and said: ‘Irrespective of any legal obligation to have the publisher’s name on the document, any piece of paper with “Published by So-and-So” on it, is sufficient to convict the nian whose name appears on it.’ That man can be convicted irrespective of whether he has anything to do with the document. The Opposition says that the Government has given no satisfactory answer as to why the words of sections 30fa and 85 of the Crimes Act were departed from and why words have been used in the present Bill when Acts such as the 1947 Act did not contain such words.
Senator GORTON (Victoria - Minister for Education and Science) T8.42] - In the context of the legal bounds in which honourable senators arc arguing this matter, Senator Murphy must know that what he has just said is completely without any validity. The fact that a piece of paper or a document has on it an imprint which states that somebody was responsible for printing it, is not enough to convict that person in a court of law. I repeat, it is not enough to convict a person in a court of law, as the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy) attempted to tell the Senate it was. All it is under the Crimes Act and all it would be under the present Bill is prima facie evidence, the initial evidence to show that this is a beginning point, that the man whose name is printed at the bottom of the paper is responsible - and that is said by a lawyer as sufficient to convict him in a court of law. Senator Murphy must know that all that that means is that when the man comes before the court this evidence may be adduced against htm. The mere acceptance of that imprint cannot be said to be - and it is very wrong for Senator Murphy to pretend to the Senate that it is - enought to convict him in a court of law.
– I ask that the Minister withdraw the statement that I pretended anything to the Senate.
– I will not withdraw that statement.
– There is no substance in the point of order. Senator Murphy may rebut the statement when the Minister has finished.
– I think it is extremely wrong to say to the Senate that that evidence is enough to convict a man in a court of law. To come back to the real basis of the Bill, the law as it stands is that if somebody publishes a handbill, a periodical, *a newspaper or one of a number of other kinds of printed or published matter, the imprint which appears at the bottom of that publication purporting to show that the person described in that imprint is responsible for the publication, iti prima facie evidence only; not convicting evidence, not conclusive evidence, but something from which an argument can start. The Government is asked by the Leader of the Opposition: ‘Why does the Government seek to include all kinds of publications or writings?’ I ask the Leader of the Opposition why we should not: why should we not include all kinds of publications or writings in the same way in which present law includes handbills and all the other descriptions of published matter? The Government is not including that provision to convict and put a person in gaol. The Government is merely applying a principle, the same principle that is applied in the provisions that I have described to the Senate. When something of this kind is published in a number of ways, as a starting point the imprint is sufficient to indicate prima facie, and rebuttably, that the imprint describes the person responsible.
– The question is not whether any writing should come within the scope of the Act, because apparently any kind of writing would. The matter for concern is one of proving that a person was responsible for the writing. There are ordinary ways of proving that a person is responsible. There are also special ways, and special advantages given, in the case of books, periodicals, pamphlets and so on. These should never be extended to any ordinary piece of paper. The Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) has not been able to advance any example in any statute or legislation to parallel this. I have invited him to, and he has his advisers there. The matter was raised in the other House. The honourable senator has not advanced as an example one single piece of legislation similar to this. That is the first answer that I give. The Minister said that what I said was not correct. He has his advisers there. I would ask him to consider this and to simply answer yes or no: Is it sufficient evidence to convict a person if the proclamation is made beforehand, the averments referred to in section 8 are there and one piece of paper has a person’s name on it in the statement ‘published by so-and-so,’ as referred to in section 9, and the paper is an encouragement to do something referred to in section 3? Or what other evidence is necessary to convict a person? Does the Minister say that if such evidence were before a court a man cannot be convicted on it?
– Senator Murphy ask:d mc was that enough to convict a person by itself. The answer is, no.
– Would the Minister say what other evidence would be necessary?
– A person can be convicted on all kinds of evidence produced by both sides. Of course, if a proclamation had been made that a certain group of people were opposed to Australian forces, and of course if an averment were made that particular people were in fact engaged against Australian forces at a certain time, and of course if somebody were claimed to have collected money to. assist those people and something had been published with his name on the bottom as =tn imprint, and he produced no evidence whatever, not even a denial of the fact that he had published that paper or that he had collected that money or that he had sent it to the people who were proclaimed - in other words, if by sheer and utter silence he admitted the truth of everything that was stated - of course a court would be likely to come to the conclusion that he was guilty. But if he were to go to t.. mere trouble of denying any one of these statements made against him then those statements would not be enough to convict him.
– I asked the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) for a straight answer to the question. The Minister has his advisers there. There are some lawyers amongst honourable senators in this chamber. If those honourable senators use their knowledge of the law and their honesty, they will know what that answer amounts to. That answer was yes.
– That answer was no.
– Other honourable senators are present who are aware of the significance of the Minister’s answer, and the answer amounted to yes, with the Minister’s gloss on it. The Minister says: Of course there was sufficient evidence to convict him’. That is exactly what I said. The Minister is saying that if an accused person denied the charge it might happen that he would be acquitted. I asked: ‘Would there be sufficient evidence to convict him on that?’ There is no doubt at all that the answer to that question is yes. This should not be permitted. The issue is not whether a person might be able by adducing other evidence to acquit himself. The issue is whether this would be sufficient evidence to convict a person: The proclamation, an averment and any piece of paper with the inciting or encouraging words printed on it and having at the bottom of it ‘Published by’ and then a name, even without any evidence that the person of that name had actually published the document. Because of the departures from the form that has been traditionally used, and the absence of any explanation whatever for the departures, I ask the Senate to reject the clause.
– Paraphrasing what the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate has said, including what I think is a misrepresentation of what I have said, this is the situation: The evidence, he claimed, was sufficient to convict a person of some offence. Being a lawyer with a legal background and claiming that this evidence was sufficient to convict the person, a court hearing everything would decide that on this evidence the person was guilty. That is completely unable to be upheld by the honourable senator. The only way in which a succession of evidence of the kind he suggested could be held by a court to be sufficient to convict a man would be if that man did not deny any of the things which were averred against him. In other words, if he admitted either overtly or covertly that the things alleged against him were true, it would be the admission either overt or covert which was the major point, and not the things alleged against him.
Senator WOOD (Queensland) [8.53J- I have listened with very great interest to the debate on clause 9. Senator Murphy has pointed out certain possibilities under this clause. He has made a definite claim that a person can be found guilty if his name appears on a piece of paper, or handbill, or whatever we might term it. The Minister has said that this can be taken as only prima facie evidence, but clause 9 states, in part: (1.) In proceedings for an offence against this ‘ Act, an imprint appearing upon any writing is evidence that the writing was printed or published by the person specified in the imprint.
That indicates to me as a layman that it Is not just prima facie evidence but is taken as definite evidence that because a person’s name appears as an imprint, he is liable to be found guilty. This is an important Bill as it concerns the lives and liberties of citizens. I am deeply concerned at the way in which the debate has taken place. It may bc that in trying to close one loophole we will make the net so tight that people who may be innocent could be trapped by this legislation. It seems to me that the terms of the clause are quite definite and I cannot sec the escape that the Minister provides when he speaks of it as being simply prima facie evidence. I would appreciate a further explanation.
– The matter is prima facie evidence purely. In other words, a court regards an imprint appearing as something which is not conclusive but just a starting point.
– And something which requires an answer.
– That is the point. It is something which requires an answer. A man, organisation or whatever it might be may have his or ils name imprinted on a document. Of course, if that man did not deny that he had agreed to his name appearing, or that he had attached his name to the document, the evidence that his name was there and that he appeared in court and did not deny it was printed with his permission would be enough. If the name of a man or organisation appears at the bottom of some printing and that is regarded as prima facie evidence that requires an answer, and a man agrees that he had printed the sheet or had approved of its being published with his name on it, a court is required to decide whether his denial and the statement that he made constitute evidence which overrides or answers sufficiently the initial fact of his name appearing on the publication.
I draw the honourable senator’s attention to clause 8 (4.), which states:
Evidence given in support or rebuttal of a matter averred in accordance with this section shall be considered on its merits, and the credibility and probative value of the evidence is neither increased nor diminished by reason of this section.
This is the way in which in any court at any time something is inferred to be prima facie evidence. In other words, if it requires an answer and the person accused provides an answer, it is up to the court to judge.
– Does that apply to clause 9?
– I am sorry that I cannot supply an answer that the honourable senator would like as quickly as I would want to supply it. I am convinced by my legal advisers, but if the honourable senator will excuse me for a moment I shall consult them again. The officers of the Attorney-General’s Department have informed me that as to clause 9 it has been alleged by the Opposition that an imprint plus an averment about a particular body would be enough to prevent a probative discussion in a court. But you cannot do that under clause 9 because clause 8 (4.) applies to ‘evidence given in support or rebuttal of a matter averred’. One of these things, a matter averred in accordance with section 8, ‘shall be considered on its merits and the credibility and probative value of the evidence is neither increased nor diminished by reason of this section.’ If under clause 9 somebody printed a sheet and at the bottom of it there appeared a name, or whatever it was, there would still be no offence unless what was printed was something urging encouragement in support of goods to be given to a particular stated body which was opposed to our troops overseas. The evidence that that was a particular body opposed to our troops overseas would be made by the averment. The averment made must be subject to proof in court under clause 8 (4.).
– If, after listening to what Senator Gorton has just said, Senator Wood is not convinced that this clause should be thrown out, I will be amazed. Let me refer to some of the things that Senator Gorton said. He said that the averment would have to be proved in court. Does Senator Wood know what happens with that averment? It is written on the information and it does not have to be proved at all. The averment is just something that is written down. It stands as evidence without any proof at all. So we can simply reject that part of Senator Gorton’s speech. The purpose of an averment is to dispense with proof, not to provide it. The mere statement of these matters against a man is proof.
asked a very simple question. It was: Does the provision in sub clause (4.) of clause 8 about evidence in rebuttal and so forth apply to clause 9? The answer is simply that it does not. It is quite clear that it does not. Clause 9 provides for a simple statement on a piece of paper to be evidence against a man. The Minister keeps on talking about the man who does this. The man about whom we are concerned is the one who does not do it. Simply because a piece of paper appears with his name on it or with the name of an organisation or body corporate - it might be a trade union - on the bottom of it, that is sufficient. It need not even be the trade union’s newspaper or a pamphlet issued by it. It can be any piece of paper at all with the name of the trade union on it. One scrap of paper with words indicating that it was published by the trade union is enough evidence. A person could be convicted on a proclamation, a statement in the information that was issued against him - just a simple statement; not a statement proved by the prosecutor - plus a piece of paper. There are lawyers on the Government side of the chamber as well as on this side. Not one of them will stand up and say that what I say is untrue.
Maybe such a person will not be convicted. Many a court might refuse to convict. The court might say: ‘We will not be satisfied with that’. But I have said - I say it again - that a person could be convicted on that evidence. That is enough evidence. A court could accept the position that the proclamation that was made, the statement by the prosecutor and a piece of paper with the man’s name on it, although not signed by him and not proved to have been issued by him was enough evidence to convict a citizen. Does Senator Wood want that to be the law in Australia? That is what he will be agreeing to if he agrees to this clause.
– Once again I have listened to the Minister and Senator Murphy. The Minister does an excellent job in these matters; but, not being a legal man, he has his advisers. I know that it is difficult for him to give information as quickly as he could give it if he were a legal man. I listened to what he had to say. I can see that there are difficulties in the application of subclause (4.) of clause 8 in relation to clause 9. I have heard Senator Murphy speak again on this matter. Whilst I am in favour of this legislation - I voted for it - I believe that we want safeguards to protect people who might be brought into the net. I am not prepared to support this clause because I have a feeling that some innocent person might be dragged in under it. On my reading of the clause, it seems definite that what I have referred to is the way in which proceedings would have to be taken against a person.
– Nobody can convince anybody on this matter. All that I can say in answer to Senator Wood is that if somebody published or was alleged to have published a document urging the collection of funds to help troops opposed to ours or urging the collection of goods to be sent to help troops opposed to ours, and if he were brought before a court because his name was printed on the bottom of a document saying: ‘Give bullets for the Vietcong’ of ‘Give goods for the Vietcong’, all that he would be facing would be a charge that his name appeared below the request for goods, bullets or assistance of whatever kind it might be to be given to troops opposed to ours. He would have to stand up and deny that he had in fact signed the document or that his name appeared on it. Then the court would decide on the evidence whether that was so or not. He would be in no different position from somebody who is brought before a court because somebody else gave his name and address wrongly when that somebody else was pulled up by a policeman.
– He is in no different position from somebody who is in court because somebody was pulled up in the street by a policeman and, when asked: What is your name and address?’, gave a wrong name and address, which were written down and then the person living at that address and with that name was called into court. Such a person would have to deny it and the court would have to decide whether in fact he had or had not done what was alleged against him.
– It is not nonsense. 1 do not believe that Senator Murphy’s legal knowledge is any greater than that of the Attorney-General’s Department. I also do not believe that he is giving a genuine example of legal knowledge when he says that what I have said is nonsense. One man would be in no different position from the other. It would be a matter for the court to decide. On the other hand, if somebody is able to publish documents requesting that assistance be given to troops opposing ours and to print his name on the bottom of those documents and if that imprint is not to be allowed to be evidence of any kind - if it is not allowed to be brought forward at all as evidence - then this legislation will be weakened very greatly.
– Once again I have listened to the Minister. No doubt he has given us the intention of the Government in this matter, which is that certain things shall be taken into consideration. This is a matter of the intention and the interpretation. Speaking as a layman, I am quite confident that what the Minister has said is what he intends the legislation to be and what the Government intends it to be. But what would be a judge’s interpretation of this clause as it is printed? As far as I can see there is no let-out. It says:
In proceedings for an offence against this Act, an imprint appearing upon any writing is evidence that the writing was printed or published by the person specified in the imprint.
– It is not conclusive evidence. It is just evidence. It is just the opening of the matter.
– The point that I am trying to make is that, the way the clause is printed, it appears to me to be a straight out invitation to the judicial mind to accept a person as being responsible for that imprint.
– 1 think it would help the Committee to realise that if clause 9 were not in the Bill the onus would be on the Crown to prove that A printed the document in question even though A’s name might be on it. This clause relieves the Crown of the onus of that proof and makes it prima facie evidence that the person whose name appears on the writing actually did the writing. The onus then moves to that person to prove that he did not do the writing. The court would listen to his denial and would make a decision on whether it was genuine. As I see it, this is a normal clause which relieves the prosecution of the necessity to prove something that would be almost impossible to prove because no-one would actually have seen the person write, type, roneo or print the document. It is reasonable that the Crown should have the right conferred by clause 9 to regard the fact that A’s name is on the writing as prima facie proof that A actually did the writing.
I see nothing irregular in this. It is very similar to the position relating to proof in a matter of unlawful possession. In a case of unlawful possession the police prove that a person had something in his possession and the onus is then on that person to prove that he obtained the article lawfully. In the matter under discussion, the prosecution has to prove only that the writing is there and that it contains the name of the alleged writer. The onus is then on that person to prove that he did not write it. I think the clause should stand. It should be supported by the Committee.
– I want the position to be stated clearly in layman’s language. I sympathise with Senator Laught who sees this clause as a normal one. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) has pointed out that it is not a normal clause and that it does not follow normal procedure. The normal clause would be designed to prohibit printing firms, and those who produce periodicals or newspapers, from supporting those who would commit an offence under the Crimes Act, and would take the facilities for printing from those firms. Under the Crimes Act, the Crown bears the onus to prove that a letter has been written by a certain person.
In the Bill now before us any letter bearing a person’s name as the writer is evidence against that person. The accused person goes into the witness box and says on oath: ‘I did not write that document. I have not seen it before. I had nothing to do with it’. The judge then has a responsibility to weigh up the evidence and then make a decision on the probabilities of the evidence before him. In this instance the writing bearing the accused’s name will be produced and accepted as evidence that the accused person did in fact write it. But if the accused denies that he had anything to do with the writing what evidence does the judge accept? That is the sole question to be decided.
Suppose a typewritten document soliciting support for the Vietcong or the North Vietnam Communist Party bore the name - I say this in no derogatory way but only for purposes of illustration - of a member of the Party to which Senator Gair and Senator McManus belong. Obviously it would be easy to prove that someone else had written the document and signed it with the name of a member of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. In such a case I think the court would accept the evidence of the accused and, despite the provisions of clause 9, there would be no conviction. Now let us suppose that a document is distributed bearing the name of the president of the Monash University Labor Club. What weight would be given to the sworn evidence of the president of the Monash University Labor Club? The document could contain statements typical of his statements and activities over a period preceding the publication of the document in question. On the probabilities, I think it would be reasonable for a judge to accept the evidence before him, in accordance with clause 9, rather than the sworn evidence of the president of the Monash University Labor Club.
I am sure all honourable senators can see how the provisions of this clause can be used to frame someone. When I refer to a frame-up I want to make it clear that I am not directing my remarks to any government agency. I am merely pointing out how, in view of the political hostilities which exist at the rank and file level, a person can issue a publication - this has happened previously - supporting the known attitude of another person and then sign that person’s name to it. That would be accepted as evidence by the court and the only thing in rebuttal of that evidence would be the statement of the accused that he did not write the document, even though its statements were in keeping with his usual trend of thought and activity.
This Bill is peculiar in that clause 8 and not clause 9 relates to consideration based on merit and credibility. This could leave in the mind of the judiciary a question whether evidence presented in accordance with the provisions of clause 8 should not be regarded as stronger evidence than that presented in accordance with the provisions of clause 9. There is always the possibility that someone may be framed. It is important to remember that while the Crimes Act sought to achieve certain things - to take away from those who would be in breach of the Crimes Act the right of publication by normal printing houses - the Bill before us leaves open the possibility of a frameup. Under the Crimes Act proof of evidence is required whereas no such proof is required under this Bill. All that is necessary is for a person to go into the witness box and state how he came to be in possession of the document. That will be evidence that on the probabilities the person whose name is on the paper was the writer. Evidence in the witness box is given on oath and is subject to cross-examination and I think lawyers agree that it is impossible to tell lies under crossexamination and convince a judge. I think we owe a debt to Senator Murphy for showing us so clearly the dangers inherent in this clause.
One comes back to this point: Something is published and somebody’s name appears as authorising or publishing it. If it were noi to be considered that such was prima facie evidence or initial evidence that required an answer, there would be no evidence to be answered that could be brought forward. But the fact that this is to be taken as initial evidence and as something indicating that the person who purported to publish it published it requires that it should be answered. The person answering it can raise the matter before the judge and jury - whoever it may be - tell his story and say that in fact he did not publish it. It is left to the court - the judge and jury - or the magistrate to decide whether that person is telling the truth or whether he is not. But if it were not a starting point or an initial indication of evidence requiring an answer, there would be no evidence that could require an answer. That would be the finish of the matter. It is as simple as that.
– It may be of interest to the Committee to know since the question of prima facie has arisen that it is rather curious that under the section which was referred to by the Minister when I asked him where else this provision or anything like this appeared-
– Does that provision appear in any other Act?
– This is exactly what appears in section 30fa of the Crimes Act. It does not appear in this Bill. Section 30fa of the Crimes Act provides: (I.) The imprint appearing upon any book, periodical, pamphlet, handbill, poster or newspaper shall, in any proceedings under this Part, be prima facie evidence that the book, periodical, pamphlet, handbill, poster or newspaper was printed or published by or on behalf of, or in the interests of, the person or body of persons specified in the imprint.
Although this provision is included in the Crimes Act it has been omitted from the clause that we are considering. Not only that but as Senator Wood himself has pointed out the special provisions which have been included in clause 8 have not been repeated in clause 9. No reference to them appears.
Perhaps it will be helpful if I use the illustration Senator McKenna has kindly given to me to assist in the matter. Suppose a person who is charged with an offence under this Act is on his way to court. He is knocked down or loses his memory. The prosecution can produce in court against him a proclamation, an averment and a piece of paper - not a handbill or anything else, but just an ordinary piece of paper - containing some encouragement to send moneys to Vietnam, with his name on the bottom of that piece of paper. That will be enough evidence to convict him. Noone in the Senate with legal knowledge will deny that that would be enough evidence to convict him.
– Does the honourable Senator believe that?
– I give the instance of a man who is knocked down or a person who for some reason cannot give evidence. The question is: Would there be enough evidence to convict him? There would be. Let us take this further to the illustration provided by a body corporate, say a trade union. Now, that could be-
– But that would be-
– If Senator Mattner will bear with me I will explain my point by taking the case of a body corporate such as a trade union. It is a legal entity that has no existence apart from a legal fiction. It can be proceeded against under clause 7 of this Bill. Suppose a piece of paper had on it the name of a trade union or the body corporate. The body mentioned on the paper could not go into the witness box. Officers could state that they had nothing to do with it but there would be enough evidence to convict the body corporate because its name appeared on the document. Only if an officer said: ‘I had nothing to do with it’, might he exculpate himself. But there would be enough evidence in law to convict that body corporate. That is not the way in which the law should be administered. The traditional methods should be followed regarding serious offences. This is se« out in section 7 of the Crimes Act where a similar thing is stated. Why is there this enormous departure from section 7a? We have gone further by taking out the words ‘prima facie’. This is a provision cf its own kind. I have asked the Minister to produce, and he has not produced, any similar clause. I ask the Committee not to approve this clause.
– Mr Chairman, the first point that I want to make is that in Acts which have been passed already by this Parliament and which have been in operation for over 50 years, it has been accepted - and 1 quote section 85c of the Crimes Act - that the imprint appearing upon a book, periodical, pamphlet, handbill, poster or newspaper is, in a prosecution for an offence, evidence that the book, periodical, pamphlet, handbill, poster or newspaper was printed or published by the person specified in the imprint. If the worry in this case is whether it should or should not be regarded as evidence, if that is the difficulty, and if this is regarded as some new intrusion or some new sort of enactment which has not been proposed before, I point out to Senator Wood that this provision already appears in our Acts and states that this is to be regarded as evidence in the section of the Crimes Act to which I have referred. This is the way in which it has been stated since 1914. No objections have previously been taken to it on any occasion.
We are talking now about whether the imprint is to be regarded as evidence. At this point, this is all that we are talking about. If there is some worry that the use of the words ‘to be regarded as evidence’ means that it is to be construed and regarded as conclusive evidence, 1 can point out only that it has never been regarded as conclusive evidence. In fact, unless it is stated to be conclusive evidence, it is to be taken only as prima facie evidence, subject to rebuttal. We had one instance in the course of this debate earlier when I pointed out that under the law of the United Kingdom if the Minister in charge of Foreign Affairs made a certificate, for example, that a particular group of persons were the enemy of the Crown, then that was conclusive evidence. That was not subject to argument. It was not subject to rebuttal. The court has to take it. It is described as conclusive evidence. But unless it is described as conclusive evidence, it is merely prima facie evidence which needs to be rebutted and replied to as a starting point. So, it is perfectly clear that the provision in the Bill that the imprint is to be regarded as evidence that the name of the person imprinted is responsible for the matter printed is not a new conception. It has applied since 1914, and it has not-
– Where has it applied since 1914?
– In the Crimes Act.
– Will the Minister tell me where?
– It is in section 85c and the other sections-
– Does the Minister say it has been there since 1914?
– The Crimes Act is from 1914 to 1960. Does the Leader of the Opposition wish to say that it has been there for the last 20 years to 25 years only? Let us not have this quibbling.
– The Minister should look at section-
– I am not going to be diverted from the fact that this appears in the Crimes Act 1914-1960 on two occasions. This provision is printed in Acts and has never been questioned or regarded as being improper. It is stated in those Acts that evidence of an imprint is to be regarded as evidence that the person so described is responsible for it. That is perfectly clear and is not arguable. Nor can it be argued that this is conclusive evidence. Unless it is described as being conclusive evidence, it is prima facie evidence.
By implication the Leader of the Opposition himself made this quite clear. If he had been able to make out a case saying that it was not prima facie evidence but was conclusive evidence, he would have said that it would not be enough for somebody to come along in full possession of his senses and deny the evidence of the imprint and to rebut it. We would have said that, but he did not. What he did was to proceed along the by-ways and say that it might bc possible for somebody to be knocked over, to lose his memory and therefore not be able to deny that allegation. By that very argument the honourable senator has admitted that, if anybody was able to deny this prima facie evidence and that denial was of equal strength according to the judgment of the Court, then it would be set against the prima facie evidence provided. I believe that even the honourable senator would admit - he might not do so on the floor of this chamber - that, if it were proved that a man had been run over and had lost his memory and therefore could not deny, there would be no possible chance of a conviction being recorded against him. The only way in which the clause differs from me normal practice Is that it uses the words ‘any writing’ instead of referring to handbills, newspapers, pamphlets, posters and so on. Considering the protection that we need to give to our forces, I think that is a provision that we can well accent
– The intricate and involved legal attack that has been made upon this clause is about as specious as was a similar attack that was made a fortnight ago when I brought forward a matter of urgency. On that occasion members of the Australian Labor Party worked themselves into a state of great indignation because they said my action would prejudice the trial of certain students. Then, having made an issue of it foi three hours, they said that the students had not committed any offence and could not be tried because the Vietcong had not been proclaimed. I did not mind that, fi was a typical bit of legal trickery.
I am not impressed any more now than 1 was then by the argument that some great legal right is being withdrawn from people if a document with their name on it is produced and if they are told that they must prove that they did not authorise it. This sort of thing has been done for years in legal proceedings. Sometimes people are caught in a hotel after hours and they give wrong names. Have those named not to come forward and give evidence that they were not there? If this clause is knocked out, it will be a bonanza for the subversive people in the community and for the Communist Party. They will be placed in the position, when such documents are produced and they are challenged, of being able to say: T have nothing to say’. If this clause is knocked out I hope people will realise that the subversive elements in the community will have a bonanza. The only other thing I want to say is this: Let us have consistency. What happens in the Australian Labor Party when a man’s name appears on a unity ticket?
– I thought the honourable senator was going to ask that.
– Senator Ormonde knows as well as I do that the Australian Labor Party officials do not sit back and leave that man in the position where he can say: T have nothing to say’. What happens? He has to come forward and produce a sworn declaration to the effect that he had nothing to do witu it.
– Do not look at me. I did not interject.
- Senator Keeffe would be too shrewd to make an interjection like that. When the ALP has to deal with a case like that it does exactly what the Government is now proposing. What the Opposition is saying is this: ‘Do not do what we do; do as we say.’
– For the last time I will say that the position is exactly as Senator McManus has put it. He has really said to the Parliament: ‘Set up the standards for the criminal law relating to the most serious offences on the same basis as you would for an ordinary voluntary association.’ He is really saying that we ought to have the same provisions in the criminal law of the Commonwealth as we have for dealing with domestic matters such as those that are met with in a political party. Apparently that is the standard that the Australian Democratic Labor Party would set. I repeat that he suggests that we should adopt the same standard for the criminal laws of the Commonwealth as is adopted by a political party where people produce a bit of a document and decide things on hearsay. Of course this is the way in which political parties and domestic bodies operate. But that is not the way in which the criminal law of the Commonwealth should operate. The Attorney-General and the Minister for Education and Science have said that the Government lifted section 7 from the Crimes Act but that instead of making provision for twelve months imprisonment they provided for six months imprisonment and that instead of providing for trial by jury they provided for a summary trial before a magistrate because the period of imprisonment was only six months. But if a charge were brought under section 7 of the Crimes Act, they could not prove the charge by producing a writing; they would have to prove it in the regular way. Why should this great departure be permitted in the legislation now before us and why should the matter be dealt with, as Senator McManus has suggested, as in a unity ticket case?
J direct Senator Wood’s attention to the fact that the matters to which he adverted have never been satisfactorily explained. I have before me section 30fa of the Crimes Act, which the Minister has constantly avoided. That deals with the imprint upon books and periodicals and provides that it shall be prima facie evidence. The principal point at issue is that provision is made in clause 9 that writing with a person’s name on it, not his signature, may be used in evidence against him.
– There seems to be some concern, which I do not think is well based, about what clause 9 means. That being so, I move:
The clause will then read: (I.) In proceedings for an offence against this Act, an imprint appearing upon any writing is prima facie evidence that the writing was printed or published by the person specified in the imprint.
I do not think I need to say any more about it.
– It will now be a starting point for that purpose.
– Is the Minister prepared to go further and delete the clause or reduce it to the form of section 30fa of the Crimes Act?
– The answer is no. 1 believe that the insertion of the words ‘prima facie’ will provide a delineation of the requirements that have been put before me.
Amendment agreed to.
– Is the Minister prepared to go further and put this clause in the form of section 30fa, to which he himself referred? I think the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) referred to section 30fa of the Crimes Act as the timehonoured provision. Is the Minister prepared to amend the clause to the form used in that section?
– Then the Opposition will oppose the clause.
That the clause, as amended, be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. C. Drake-Brockman)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clauses 10 and 1 1 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Gorton) read a third time.
Senator DAVIDSON (South Australia)I present the third report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
Debate resumed from 31 August (vide page 409), on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This is one of several Bills in relation to social services foreshadowed in the Budget Speech of the Treasurer (Mr McMahon). He said:
We propose to give additional assistance to larger families by increasing child endowment for children under 16 years by 25c to $1.75 a week for the fourth child in the family, by 50c to $2 a Week for a fifth child and so on, with a further 25c being added for each successive addition to the number of children. A family including nine children under 16 years, for example, will under this proposal receive an additional $5.25 weekly.
I do not know whether this will appeal to a great number of people, because some tremendous opposition was expressed generally in this field. The present Bill is limited in its scope to child endowment, but I wish to state quite emphatically and in the strongest terms possible our complete disgust at the Government’s attitude towards its responsibility for social services. The Treasurer himself pointed out the great advantages that had accrued to the nation’s economy in the preceding 12 months. I think that the recipients of social service payments have every reason to feel aggrieved with the provisions of this Bill. The Treasurer said in his Budget speech:
For 1966-67 as a whole, gross national product rose by 9%. After making full allowance for price increases, there was an increase of between 5 and 6% in national production in real terms. This achievement was close to the best of recent years.
One might have expected, therefore, that some assistance would be given to people who are receiving social service benefits. Speaking of the Budget, the Treasurer said:
It provides for total expenditure in 1967-68 of$6,483,000 . . .
On these figures, expenditures will be $56 1 m or 9.5% greater than those of last year . . .
I repeat: Is it any wonder that 750,000 pensioners throughout Australia have been riled and upset about the treatment given to them on this occasion?
The Australian Labor Party does not oppose this Bill, but sincerely regrets that it does not go far enough. Its provisions will benefit approximately 240,000 families out of nearly 1,700,000 which receive child endowment. This means that less than one family in seven have more than three children, or that one family in seven will get a little help from this legislation. Families which have only one, two or three children will not benefit. As I mentioned previously, 1,700,000 families fall into this category. For the fourth child the endowment will be increased from $1.50 to $1.75 a week. For the fifth child it will be increased to $2 a week; for the sixth child it will be increased to $2.25 a week; and for each additional child a further 25c will be added. Unfortunately, the present rate of 50c for the first child, which was fixed in 1950, has not changed. The rate of $1 for the second child was fixed in 1948 and has not changed. For the third child the amount paid is $1.50 and that was fixed in 1964.
Let us look at the basic wage today because it is our guide when deciding how payments should be adjusted. The basic wage today is $33.80. During the course of my speech I will refer to some matters that have been adjusted over a period and what the basic wage was at that particular time. Even the small increases in respect of the fourth, fifth and subsequent children still leave endowment payments out of proportion with the basic wage or the cost of living at the time that they were fixed.
The Australian Labor Party pioneered practically every form of social service legislation. It is relevant for us to look through lnc booklet issued by the Commonwealth Department of Social Services and to examine the various forms of social service payments. They are the maternity allowance, unemployment and sickness benefit, widows pension, invalid pension, wife’s allowance, child’s allowance, funeral benefits and rehabilitation, all of which were introduced by the Labor Party. I can assure you, Mr President, that the Party is not particularly happy about what is being done in respect of social services at the present time. The booklet states that child endowment was introduced by the Menzies Government in 1941.
The history of child endowment is very important and interesting. It began over 40 years ago in the Parliament of New South Wales. The basic wage at that time was 4 guineas a week. The Chief Secretary in the Lang Government was Mr J. M. Baddeley and he introduced the Family Endowment Bill, on 8th February 1927. The Finance (Family Endowment Tax) Bill was introduced 10 days later. The introduction of the Family Endowment Bill was opposed. Permission had to be received for it to be introduced in the State legislature. In turn, the second and third reading of the Bill were opposed. The purpose of the Bill was to grant endowment for each child under the age of 14 years at the rate of 5s per week when the combined income of the mother, husband and other children did not exceed £364 per annum. The Bill also dealt with the establishment of a family endowment fund and for the contribution thereto by employers at a rate to be fixed by the Parliament. The Bill also contained machinery clauses similar to those of the Widows’ Pensions Act to enable claims to be investigated and payments made.
This was done by a Labor government in 1927 when child endowment for the first child was 5s a week. Sir Thomas Bavin was the leader of the Nationalist or Conservative Party at that time, which was the forerunner of the present Liberal Party. He opposed most vigorously, the introduction of the Bill, the second reading, the Committee stage and the third reading. He said: This is the last straw. Industry cannot stand the strain.’ The Tories today begrudge the giving of help to the needy. If it were not for the Labor Party and the trade union movement the ordinary person would receive very little advantage and would have hardly the right to live. This is the reason for the existence of the Labor Party.
In 1927 the Commonwealth Government led by Mr Stanley Melbourne Bruce appointed a royal commission to investigate child endowment or family allowances. The first item in the submission made by the royal commission related to the general question of the introduction of a system of child endowment or family allowances in Australia with particular reference to social and economic facts. The institution of such a system was recommended. The commission consisted of five members and they presented their findings to the Governor-General in a report dated 15th December 1928. Amongst the names beneath the minority report of the commission was that of John Curtin, who, on 17th November 1928, became a member for the House of Representatives. John Curtin and a Mrs. F. M. Muscio signed the minority report, which stated:
May it please Your Excellency:
We dissent from the finding of the majority of the Commission that no consideration be given to the payment of allowances to dependent children until the Commonwealth has absolute control over the whole field of industry and wage regulation . . .
Mr Curtin made this magnificent minority report which in effect supported the work that had been done by the New South Wales Government under the leadership of J. T. Lang. On 28th September 1946 a bill to authorise the holding of a referendum on social services was introduced by a man who was later the leader of the Australian Labor Party in the Senate, Senator McKenna, under the Chifley Government. The referendum to give to the Commonwealth Parliament the power to legislate on a wider range of social services was held on 28th September 1946. The vote in favour was 2,297,934 and the vote against was 1,927,148 - a majority of just over 370,000 votes in favour. That referendum victory gave to the Commonwealth Parliament the right to introduce legislation similar to the legislation before us. The original legislation, it. can be argued, came into this Parliament in 1941. I am quite cognisant of the circumstances under which it was introduced. The facts were that the Prime Minister of the day, Mr Menzies, brought down an Appropriation Bill containing social service provisions and its constitutional validity was questioned at the time. It was only after the legislation in 1946 gave to the Commonwealth Parliament power in respect of social services that this legislation was really validated. The Government Parties now in office never favoured social service legislation. It has been argued that they did. But the facts are that 55% of the voters of Australia voted for this Parliament to have social services power as against the 90.77% of the voters who voted to give the Parliament power in relation to Aboriginals. There would be no form of Commonwealth social service legislation today had it not been for the desires of the Labor Party which, back in 1946, was responsible for this particular work. I am very pleased and proud to say that the gentleman who was responsible for the introduction of that legislation, Senator McKenna, is still a member of the Senate.
A lot has been said about the fall in the birth rate. I can assure honourable senators that the Australian Labor Party, like all Australians, is very concerned and is aware of the circumstances operating in this particular field. We say that the Australian-born child is the best migrant. A Labor government would provide all the assistance possible for the family, as we would provide all the assistance possible for the migrant. Although a huge sum has been spent on migration, the Australian-born child is still the best migrant for Australia. Labor has supported migration, and will support it, and was responsible for starting the programme. By way of comparison, the estimates this year provide $49,681,600 for immigration. To bring a migrant child to this community, taking into consideration housing, education and making all the necessary facilities available, the estimated cost is $5,000. We say without qualification and without any form or apology that more should be done to help the Australianborn. In helping the Australian-born we are doing something to benefit the family generally. The Government has not gone far enough with this particular form of legislation. Labor is pledged to increase all forms of social service, including child endowment and maternity allowance, in which there has been no increase since Labor left office 18 years ago, in 1949. It is no good talking about what this Go vernment has done in the past 18 years. We have not been in power for 18 years. I can assure the people of Australia that if Labor had been occupying the Treasury bench the people would have been better off in this particular field. I have no hesitation in making that statement. Labor is pledged to the free dental treatment of all children and to an increase in allowances for widows and deserted wives. Labor’s policy in the field of social service which has just been announced is this:
We go on finally to say, among a number of numerous other points in the field of social service:
On the question of improved social services we say:
That in view of the rapid deterioration in value of current social services and financial allowances, Conference demands-
This was the Conference in Adelaide this year - the provision of adequate government allowances for widows and children, aged and invalid pensioners,, and the introduction of marriage allowances, motherhood endowment and provision for all children with the objective of improving the status of family life and guaranteeing adequate incomes and conditions for all persons outside the workforce and those not in regular employment.
These are the pledges of the Australian Labor Party. This is what we are here to do for the people of Australia and this is what we will accomplish when elected to the government of the Commonwealth.
We are not opposing this form of legislation to assist those families that I have mentioned, but we are most disgusted that the Government could feel satisfied, with the huge expenditure operating at the present moment, to give such a miserable pittance in the field of social services where 750,000 people are in desperate need who could have shared in this great prosperity that the Government is talking about at the present moment.
Senator Dame IVY WEDGWOOD (Victoria) [10.9] - I do not desire to delay the passage of the Bill. As it is confined to child endowment I would not have said anything about social services generally, but under the circumstances I must reply to some of the statements made by Senator Fitzgerald. He said that Labor had pioneered practically every social service. That statement is not correct. During the time that Labor was in office over the war years it was responsible for some good social service legislation. But when one looks at social services in Australia over a broad spectrum one realises that non-Labor governments introduced age pensions, invalid pensions, maternity allowances, child endowment and pensioner medical and pharmaceutical services. These are the very big services that touch the lives of so many people. While I would give credit to Labor for any social services for which it was responsible, I must say that the majority of social services enjoyed by people today were provided by non-Labor governments. In recent years most of them have been provided by a Liberal and Country Party Government. 1 had not intended to refer to the history of child endowment, but as Senator Fitzgerald referred to the introduction of child endowment in New South Wales so many years ago, I would like to remind him of the circumstances surrounding the introduction of Commonwealth child endowment in 1941 when the legislation was sponsored by the present Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt). It was agreed to endow every child after the first child under 16 years in a family. That system operated until after the 1949 election. There are very few honourable senators in the chamber at present - perhaps Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin and Senator Willesee are the only ones - who remember what happened in 1950. One of the first legislative measures introduced after the election to office of the Menzies Government was a Bill to extend child endowment to the first or only child under 16 years in a family. What happened on that occasion? So far as my memory serves me the Bill was introduced in about the middle of March 1950. If ever legislation was bandied backwards and forwards from one House to another, that was it. At first the Opposition opposed the payment of endowment to the first child. It raised every legal and technical argument it could muster.
– Was the payment not amended to 10s?
– It was, but the amendment was not accepted. If the honourable senator cares to refer to the Hansard reports of the debates of that time he will find that at first the Opposition objected to endowing the first child. Subsequently it moved an amendment that the rate of 5s a child should be increased to 10s. The honourable senator probably will recall that in the early hours of the morning of 22nd or 23rd June, just when the House was to rise for the recess, because public opinion was against the Labor Party - which had a majority in the Senate - it agreed to the endowment of the first child at a rate of 5s per week. It was a very interesting experience and the debates of the time make quite interesting reading for anyone who cares to go back over them.
Now I will deal with child endowment as child endowment. I do not believe that anybody is convinced that the payment of child endowment has any effect whatsoever on the birthrate. It was never intended that it should. Child endowment redistributes income from those people who have no family responsibilities to those who have. By increasing the rates of child endowment I believe the Government is doing the correct thing. Not only has an increase been granted for the fourth and subsequent children, but the Government has also made the increases cumulative. In other words, it is not just a case of putting on 25c for each child; it is a cumulative 25c. In that way the Government seeks to spread the money available for child endowment over the families whose need is greatest.
I might pause at this point to say that I am one of those who have doubts as to whether child endowment should be paid without a means test. Many families could well do without child endowment, while on the other hand to many other families endowment plus other assistance is vitally necessary. I would like to make a plea for the children who in my mind probably suffer the greatest hardships of all. I refer to the children of invalid pensioners. I know of many instances where young men and women have been invalided by one cause or another and now find it impossible to exist on the money coming into their homes. I have compiled some figures to illustrate my meaning. A wage earner who becomes an invalid is entitled to the standard rate of pension of $26 a fortnight, with a wife’s allowance of $12, making a total income for the couple of $38 a fortnight or $19 a week. If they have three children, the family fortnightly income will be the invalid’s pension of $26, plus the wife’s allowance of $12, plus $9 for the three children; that is S3 a fortnight for each child. Child endowment would bring in $6 a fortnight to make a total fortnightly income of $53, or $26.50 a week. So they would receive a weekly income of about $6 a week below the basic wage.
There is no chance whatsoever of many of these people earning any money. An invalid is debarred from earning continuously; the wife of a confirmed invalid has no opportunity whatever to go out and earn. Even if she could, her earnings would be affected by the means test. I suggest that a woman with an invalid husband and children under the age of 16 years could not possibly leave her home, and she cannot live on the money she receives. When one thinks of invalidism one thinks of something that may be a life sentence or something with which people will have to contend for the first of their lives. Many look forward particularly while their children are young, to a life with charity as the only means of bridging the economic gap for them.
I can quote to the Senate the case of a young woman who is completely paralysed as a result of poliomyelitis. Her husband deserted her, leaving her with a baby about 4 months old. She has brought up her baby with the care of visiting nurses from the Royal District Nursing Service and people who take meals in to her. The child is now a toddler, lt knows no place other than the room in which its mother is confined to bed all the time. Soon that child will have to go to school. That woman cannot live on the invalid pension and look after her little child.
I congratulate the Government on the increases that have been made in child endowment. I believe they will be of real assistance to a great number of people. I do not believe that Senator Fitzgerald was completely fair when he said that their effect would be limited. The numbers of children and families who will benefit from the increases were given in the second reading speech. I point out to Senator
Fitzgerald in particular that the increases in child endowment are accompanied by extra taxation concessions for the family man. They will help him in that he will be entitled to increased taxation deductions in respect of his wife and children. Linking those two measures together; I believe that in the Budget the Government has made further provision for families and particularly for children.
But the Government might have a look at the position of the children of invalid pensioners, realising, as it must, that in many cases there will never be the opportunity for their circumstances to improve. Perhaps there could be some way of allowing invalids to earn more and, as is done by the Repatriation Department, asking them to go before a board to see whether they are able to work continuously. Perhaps malingering would be encouraged if special allowances were given and anomalous situations would be created if people on the invalid pension were allowed to earn an unlimited amount of money. But 1 suggest that there is a hard core of need among the cases that I have mentioned tonight. So, I congratulate the Government or. what it has done as regards child endowment in this Bill. I congratulate it on the social services that it has provided for the people of Australia. I look forward to it filling in, in the future, the gaps where I believe more could be done for very deserving people.
– This Bill, which provides for a paltry increase in child endowment, merits greater consideration than it is likely to receive at this hour of the night. It is deserving of better treatment. For too long has child endowment received very scant consideration from the Government. However, I do not propose to limit what I have to say on this Bill because of the lateness of the hour. I intend to take this opportunity to speak on this important matter, because 1 believe that the private member’s Bill that I have on the notice paper of the Senate for the second time is not likely to receive much favourable consideration from the Government.
I say this by way of protest: Although I have been here for only a few years, I am becoming a little tired of being told that a certain piece of legislation has to be put through this chamber in a very limited time in order to enable increased payments to be made.I do not believe that that is a valid reason for rushing important legislation through this chamber. 1 do not know why this Bill could not contain a provision making the payment of child endowment increases payable as from 1st September or any other given date. That would overcome this objectionable practice of hurrying legislation through late at night or in the early hours of the morning in order to permit increases to be paid. However, that practice is somewhat characteristic of the Government’s treatment of child endowment over the years.
I listened to the speech made by Senator Dame Ivy Wedgwood on this Bill. I am sorry that she has left the chamber. She certainly made a very good speech in support of child endowment. But she did not tell us why over the years the Government has failed to make adequate increases in child endowment so as to maintain its relativity to the basic wage. I say very deliberately that it would seem to me that the Government has adopted a deliberate policy of allowing social service payments to decline in feal value until they reach a point where they no longer fulfil their original purpose. Child endowment payments are a case in point.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon.
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the negative.
– Successive governments in this country have lost sight of the genesis of child endowment. It would do them good to refresh their memory on child endowment, to read its history, the reasons for the family allowance, the report of the deliberations that took place from the time the first Harvester award was introduced and the attention that was given to ways and means of introducing a family allowance to compensate those with greater responsibilities than others. There are some excellent works to be found on the history of child endowment but 1 am afraid they are forgotten. The yardstick of successive governments has not been the justice of the claim of the family man but whether the Government can afford an increase although at the same time large sums of money are expended on things that may be regarded as unnecessary when compared with the claims of the family man.
This Budget is dull in relation to social services. The paltry increase in child endowment can be classified as only a small spark in an otherwise very dull and neglectful Budget so far as pensioners and other recipients of social service benefits are concerned.
– It is a fairly big spark in terms of money, is it not?
-I have no intention of becoming entangled with Senator Webster. We had a performance last night which could be repeated with more disastrous results for him than he suffered then. I will show him very clearly how the value of child endowment has been permitted to deteriorate over the years and I will prove to him, as I have said a couple of times, that the increase is paltry. Irrespective of whether it is a large sum in the aggregate, as Senator Webster would have me know, it is as nothing when compared with the $21. 6m that is being spent on seven VIP planes, and when compared with a lot of other expenditure in the sphere of government which could be devoted with greater advantage and justice to other fields.
I acknowledge that child endowment payments were never intended to meet the complete cost of raising a child. Rather were they intended as a form of assistance, as Mr John Curtin pointed out in 1941 when he said:
We ought not to regard it as economically inevitable that there must be hardship if there are 2, 3 or more children in a family.
These payments are intended to offset partially the economic liabilities incurred by parents having 2, 3, 4 or more children. It is obvious that many young parents do find it tough going when they have the needs of a young family to attend to. As one of a large family in the days before child endowment, I know just how difficult it was for my mother - she was no exception because the families of those days invariably were large - to make ends meet. The mothers and the women of those days were better treasurers than we have in governments today. They were able to balance budgets by thrift and industry. By the time they fed, clothed, educated and brought up their families decently they did a lot more than was done by some people who received the Victoria Cross. Their courage, their fortitude, their determination and their spirit of self-sacrifice was illuminating and inspiring. For that reason I, and the Party to which I belong, aim at trying to alleviate the drudgery that the family man and his wife inevitably encounter because of the inadequacy of wages and the family allowance which is known as child endowment.
The present Government has adopted a seemingly deliberate policy of allowing the real value of child endowment payments to decrease steadily as the years go by. The Australian Democratic Labor Party has long been concerned with the needs of the young family. That is what prompted the introduction of my private member’s Bill in May 1966. That Bill was allowed to wither, not on the vine but on the notice paper of this Senate because the Government did not want any discussion on child endowment and the Opposition was equally determined to prevent a discussion or to allow the initiative to be taken by a member of the DLP.
The Government’s concern to avoid a discussion on this matter was displayed, first of all, by placing an obstruction to the preparation of the Bill by the Parliamentary Draftsman whose assistance was sought in the drafting of the Bill. This officer who is responsible to the Attorney-General - at that time it was Mr Snedden - referred my request to the Attorney-General who duly informed me that the Parliamentary Draftsman was heavily committed in the preparation of government legislation. However there are other means of having Bills drafted and 1 adopted them. I obtained assistance from other quarters and when I sought leave to introduce the Bill the Australian Labor Party, to everyone’s surprise, voted against my application for leave. So 1 encountered obstacles and obstruction from both the
Government and the ALP, but eventually the Bill got on the notice paper where it languished undebated until the end of the last Parliament when it and all unfinished business was wiped from the notice paper. However, I took an early opportunity in this session to put it on the notice paper again together with a Bill dealing with financial justice for independent schools. Being a realist, I understand that the Government will not be anxious to have that matter discussed here, either. But opportunities will offer. I certainly will avail myself of them.
Let us look at the child endowment payments that have been made up to the introduction of this Bill. Let us consider the family with four or five children and compare the payments it has received over the years with the changes in the basic wage. If honourable senators do this, they will quickly come to the conclusion that the increases embodied in this legislation, which I have described as paltry, should be much larger. In 1949, the total amount of child endowment received for a four-child family was $3. This represented 25% of the then basic wage. The payment to the four-child family was allowed steadily to deteriorate in real value until 1963 when it reached 12% of the then basic wage. Tn 1964, the total payment was increased from $3.50 to $4.50 and the percentage of the then basic wage that this represented became 14.6%. Yet we are told that successive governments have done all that they can to assist the family man.
These figures are indisputable - undeniable. They prove positively that the Government has not been very concerned about the plight of the family man. The Government grants an increase of 25c and calls this a family man’s budget. The additional 25c to be paid for the fourth child will only raise the amount to 13.7% of the present basic wage. This compares most unfavourably with the 1949 high of 25%. The new fivechild family payment of $6.75 is slightly more realistic and will raise the value of the 1964 amount, when there was an increase, to 19.5% of the basic wage. However, this still compares unfavourably with the 1948 high when the child endowment payments for a family of five children represented 34% of the then basic wage.
One thing that gratifies me in this legislation is the acceptance by the Government of the principle enunciated by the Australian
Democratic Labor Party of graduated child endowment payments which recognise that those who are most in need of some financial aid and who most welcome child endowment payments are the families with four or more children. The existing child endowment of $3, $4.50 and $6 to threefour and five-child families have not been altered since 1964. But wage increases have not stopped over that period. In 1964, the salaries of parliamentarians were raised. Public servants received and have continued to receive handsome increases. But the family allowance or child endowment payment was not raised. Prices have increased. The cost of maintaining a child and sending it to school has increased considerably since 1964.
An evaluation of these payments in relation to changes in the Commonwealth basic wage proves that their real value has declined considerably. The following figures prove this point: In 1941, when child endowment was first increased, the 3-child payment of 10s per week - that is 5s each for the second and third children - represented 11.5% of the then basic wage. In 1 945, when the payment for the second child and subsequent children was increased to 10s, the percentage rose to 16.8% of the then basic wage. The decision in 1950 to pay 5s per week for the first child held the relevant percentage of 15.4% of the then basic wage. Between 1950 and 1967 - the years of the Menzies-Holt Liberal-Country Party Government - the real payment for the 3-child family fell until it represented no more than 8.7% of the basic wage. Is that a very proud record for a Government that claims that it has the interests and welfare of the family man at heart? Of course it is not. It is a record of which any Government that claims to be humanitarian in character and outlook should not be very proud, but should be ashamed.
The 4-child family payment has fallen from 25% in 1948 to 13% today, almost a 50% decrease in real value. The 5-child family payment has fallen from 33% in 1948 to 17% today, almost a 50% decrease in real value. These figures, Mr Acting Deputy President, illustrate the arrogant disregard of the Federal Government of the just claims of the family man. The Bill that I intended to submit to the Senate had, I believe, a more realistic approach to the question. It contained provisions to raise endowment for the third child from $1.50 to $3, to pay $3.50 for the fourth child and to pay $4 for the fifth and subsequent children. If the Government had any realistic approach to this matter these proposals would have been incorporated in this Bill
– Has the honourable senator any idea of what it would cost?
– Yes, but I am not discussing the total cost: I am discussing the merits and the justice of the thing. If the cost of every undertaking in which the Government engages were taken into consideration, I might be inclined to halt at costs. When child endowment was introduced, governments knew that it would cost something. They spend a lot of money on migration. At a time when it is reported that the birthrate in this country is falling at an alarming rate the Government closes its eyes to the possibility that an increase in child endowment might give some impetus to the birthrate. Senator Wedgwood says that child endowment has no bearing on the birthrate. To some degree I agree with her. We know that it is the poor people and the struggling people who have families. Generally speaking, the rich are too self centred and will not be inconvenienced by having children. Children who would interfere with their social life. There is an old song to the effect that the rich get rich and the poor have families. There is a bit of truth in those words. In spite of what Senator Wedgwood has said, I venture to suggest that a lot of people have been caused to restrict their families because of the economic stress under which they live. If some of the economic stress had been removed, if they could have seen more daylight economically, if they could have maintained another child without adding to their poverty, these people would have been glad to increase their families. We need population. I believe that child endowment would have contributed to an increase in population if we had been more generous.
Other features of this matter are worth consideration. One is an extension of the allowance that is paid in respect of children between 16 and 21 years of age who are pursuing university studies or other studies and who are not in employment or in receipt of an income. The allowance terminates at the agc of 21 years, which in some cases is long before the student has completed his studies. Not all of these children are the sons and daughters of rich people who are able to meet the expense of letting them continue their studies. The allowance is greatly appreciated by a large number of people, but those people are embarrassed immediately the young man or the young woman reaches 21 years of age. Such people have to find ways and means of making up what is lost when the allowance terminates. It is to be greatly regretted that the Government has not been more generous in providing this form of social service. The cost of boots, clothing and other items has risen, but the value of child endowment has been deteriorating year after year.
I do not propose to monopolise the limited time that is available to the Senate. It is limited by reason of the fact that we all aim to leave here at a reasonable hour, having been here since l’l o’clock this morning. We all are required to catch early planes tomorrow morning to travel back to our various States. As I said at the outset, it was scarcely fair to bring on such an important measure as this at a time when many honourable senators are reluctant to speak and when many have already been required to leave.
I shall conclude by submitting to the Minister a recommendation for the introduction of a family benefits scheme which will provide for the capitalisation of child endowment. This scheme is not my own; it is one that has been operating in New Zealand since 1958. Under the provisions of Family Benefits (Home Ownership) Act 1958 family benefits may be capitalised and paid in advance to assist parents in the purchase of home properties, with additions or alterations to existing homes, or in the repayment of mortgages and other obligations on family homes. In outline, the measure provides for the capitalisation of the family benefit in respect of one or more children from the age of 1 year up to the age of 16 years, provided that the total of the advance or advances in the case of any one family is not less than £200 or more than £1,000. The Act came into force in April 19$9. During the year ended on 31st March 1961, 11,442 applications for capitalisation were approved in respect of the benefits of 21,176 children The aggregate capitalised value of the benefits involved was £7,234,836. In my opinion that is an excellent Act. It should aid families considerably. New Zealand has a very proud record in the field of social services. We can go back to the days of the Savage Government, when, if my memory is correct, New Zealand led Australia in every field of social service. Australia has copied many social service features from New Zealand.
I submit very respectfully and hopefully, if not confidently, that the Government should give consideration to the introduction of similar legislation. I think it is very propitious that the Minister for Housing should be handling the Bill in this place. I know of her keen interest in housing and of her desire to assist the family man in acquiring a home, in helping with mortgages, and in helping him with his bill for repairs. I support the Bill because it gives at least something to the family, but I express my grave disappointment that the increases are not greater, because the family man merits more than has been done up to now to assist him to maintain him and his wife and those others dependent upon him on a reasonable standard of living. We do not want people to be asking, as they do, what encouragement they get to have families and why they should disadvantage themselves as against married people who limit their families to one or two children. This attitude is indisputably reacting against this young country which is, and has been, crying out for population. I remember a much publicised statement of the late William Morris Hughes. I think he was the first to say: ‘Populate or perish’. This is as true today as it was when he said it many years ago. This country is crying out for population and whilst an increase in child endowment is not the entire solution of the problem it would make a worthwhile contribution to improving the birthrate of this country in which we all, I am sure, take a very earnest interest - a country which we desire to see progress, develop and grow up to become a greater influence for good in world affairs than it probably is today.
– I do not intend at this time of the evening to go into a lengthy discourse. I would rather content myself with a rapid fire summary on one or two aspects that may not have been completely dealt with. The first point relates to utterances by Senator Fitzgerald and rebuttals by Senator Dame Ivy Wedgwood. I think that this conflict could be effectively resolved in Senator Fitzgerald’s favour by a perusal of an article in the Melbourne ‘Age’ of 30th August 1967 by Mr Peter Westcott, Master of Arts and Senior English Master of Geelong Grammar School. Honourable senators will see that I am not relying on the London School of Economics. He referred to conditions at the time of Bismarck and the creation of the Social Democratic Party in Germany. Obviously the ruling party at that time had to take the initiative in relation to early social services. That pattern has been followed in Australia. As Senator Fitzgerald pointed out, the action by the early Labour government in the States in the 1920s created the atmosphere. There is no need to belabour that point.
I want to make a point also in relation to the purchasing power of child endowment. Even on the scale suggested by Senator Gair, or that which is embodied in the Australian Labor Party’s federal policy, the value of child endowment would be rapidly eroded unless these scales were matched by other assistance. The speech of the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) was like an appreciation of current economic conditions. The teenage market today is based on the fact that goods are not as durable as they used to be. If we apply this fact to simple home economics and consider the shorter lifetime of footwear and other wearing apparel it is clear that even the increases that are visualised will be more than submerged. In the early post-war years there was greater stability because of food subsidies. In this age the addition of a few. cents to the price of milk and other commodities plays havoc with the home budget of families.
As far as the legislation is concerned we welcome any improvement, but unless there is supplementary action it does not mean so much. This is borne out in every field. The principle is universal in its application. Conditions vary in various industries. Take the position of a breadwinner with only two children. In an industry in which there is no overtime he is employed on a 40-hour week. In another industry where there is weekend work his income is so much greater. The breadwinner in an industry in which there is no overtime is in an infinitely worse position than a man who is on what might be described an excessive overtime but which may be necessary in big cities such as Wollongong and Newcastle. As has been emphasised by other speakers, the treadmill is there. I am able to look back objectively because I have no direct involvement. We can see the pattern in golf clubs, cricket clubs and other similar organisations. People wilh family responsibilities have to practise considerable self denial even in the year 1967. This brings me back to my basic criticism. Whatever may be offered in the way of increases, unless there is action to give better value, longer life and greater durability to goods, the family units will suffer.
The Minister referred to the fact that expenditure from the National Welfare Fund runs at the rate of over $t,000m a year. I certainly do not intend to canvass the idea that with a continuation! of the Chifley Government’s conception of the National Welfare Fund an infusion of finance every year would be needed. The present Government more or less froze the fund at a certain stage. Every time one picks up a lovely brochure one reads of a big mineral find in some part of the continent. It amazes me and the average Australian that royalties from minerals and natural gas are not going into the National Welfare Fund. The test of a nation’s greatness is not on a balance sheet. Its greatness is reflected in its overall social services expenditure and how this goes out to the community. That is the test that I apply. I certainly do not blame the Department of Social Services. I give credit for its achievements in one or two fields. I know its officers are always most accessible within the ambit of the Act. The guilty men are in the Treasury. I believe that the hand of the Treasury is in every department. Perhaps it is not an evil hand, but it is a narrow, reactionary hand. Our National Welfare Fund should be more or less supported by our national development. If this thesis had been pursued from the time when the Government virtually froze the National Welfare Fund at a certain sum, and if money had continued to flow in during the bountiful years of good seasons when we had good prices overseas and great internal mining and other development, the Department of Social Services would have had a bigger cake lo cut up. If people say that this is more or less fantasy I can do no more than cite a statement made by President Kennedy at the time when he assumed office and addressed some of the people who were to be his subordinates at the White House. He said:
We need men who can dream of things that never were and ask: ‘Why not’?’ 1 commend that thought to the Government.
– Like other speakers, I do not want to keep the Senate any longer than necessary. I regret, with Senator Gair, that this Bill had to be brought on at such short notice and be rushed through with little time for debate, lt seems a pity that a Bill of such importance to the people of Australia should be debated only for an hour or so. It deals with child endowment and, together with other social service Bills which will follow in due course, was introduced in accordance with promises made by the Government in the Budget.
The Australian Labor Party acknowledges that this legislation will raise the rates of child endowment payments to people with large families. We agree that this should bc done, but we feel that endowment rates could have been raised to a higher level than promised in the Budget. For the life of me, 1 do not see why the Government could not raise the whole range of child endowment payments. This would not have cost the country a great deal of money. We are spending money in order to bring people from other countries to Australia. I am not against the immigration scheme but it is costing Australia large sums of money. If people in Australia were encouraged to have larger families, this would help this country not only from a national viewpoint but from a safety viewpoint as well.
Like Senator Gair I feel that people are restricting the size of their families because of economic circumstances. Until we can remedy those circumstances I think that generally families will not be large. As the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) has said in her second reading speech, there are a number of large families in Australia and she has quoted the amount that these increases in child endowment will cost the country. I believe it would not cost a great deal more had increased endowment been paid to people with fewer children.
As we all know, the child endowment scheme was instituted in 1941 by the Menzies Government. It was introduced during war time and I feel that this was one of the forces which influenced the Government in making the decision. Like the Defence Force Protection Bill which we have just passed, the child endowment Bill was forced on the Government 26 years ago. The reason, I think, is to be found in a decision of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court which said that it could not, in its determinations, distinguish between men with dependants and people who had no dependants. It was because of this issue that the Government decided to introduce endowment in order to supplement the basic wage. Theoretically there are many ways in which any community or any family may be provided with the material means necessary to sustain it. In Australia the normal means available to the workers is a minimum or basic wage. This would be supplemented by child endowment. Originally the basic wage was viewed as a social wage to meet the modest needs of a man, a wife and three children. Following the basic wage inquiry case in 1934 the Commonwealth Arbitration Court veered away from this concept of the basic wage as being a social wage. Henceforth it was to be an economic wage, the highest rate which the Court deemed that industry was able to pay. At the same time the Full Court would still say, as it did in the munition workers case:
We do not think it can be denied that the adult male worker has a right as a matter of justice to a family living wage. However, by 1941, the Chief Judge considered that, on the basis of needs only, the basic wage which was then operative was no more than sufficient to provide frugal comfort for a family unit of three and a meagre existence for a family unit of four; while if there were more than two children a family which received only the basic wage would experience hardship and real suffering. The Court had said that, in determining the basic wage, it could not differentiate between wage earners according to their dependants. So in 1941 the Court suggested that, to remove this disparity as between the income of the wage earner without dependants and that of a wage earner with dependants, the legislature consider bridging the gap by some form of child endowment. As I said previously, the government of the day was forced to take this action by the Court because if it had not done so it would have meanta much greater increase in the basic wage.
I feel that this present increase in child endowment is like a small drop in the ocean so far as families are concerned and that the Government could have been more generous, particularly with respect to large families. I also think that small families should have been considered. The Labor Party agrees to the passage of this Bill although it disagrees with the proposed increases. We feel that the Bill should be given a speedy passage through the Senate.
[11.17] - in reply - Firstly, I would like to thank honourable senators for their support for this legislation and for assisting its passage through the Senate tonight. As a result of this legislation, some 400,000 children will be endowed at increased rates. I know that all honourable senators appreciate the importance of this. Child endowment, of course, is a payment which is of direct assistance to the child. I think this point is of very great importance. When speaking of these matters which concern the family. I think we must all remind ourselves of the assistance which has been given by this Government to the families of Australia.
I remind the Senate, too, of the provisions made available by the homes savings grant scheme which is a matter for my own Department. But also, in connection with children, there have been such things as tax deduction for educational purposes, hospital, medical and pharmaceutical benefits, free milk for school children and for preschool children, the Commonwealth scholarship scheme, assistance by way of payments to student children and endowments which have been available since 1964, the assistance paid towards university education, and grants for the construction of science laboratories. All these things are of importance to children and the families of Australia. So this Bill is not just one thing in isolation. It is a matter which will be of benefit to the children and families of this country.
I have noted the comments made during this debate by the various speakers. Senator Dame Ivy Wedgwood spoke of the children of invalid pensioners. Her comments have been noted for the information of the Minister for Social Services (Mr Sinclair). I have also noted Senator Gair’s recommendation about the introduction of what he called the family benefits scheme for the capitalisation of child endowment in connection wit housing purchases as is done in New Zealand. This matter has received some attention already. I would remind the Senate that child endowment is primarily for assisting the child, and this must be kept in mind always. While thereis something to be said in favour ofthe suggestion that Senator Gair put forward, there are disabilities to which very great consideration would have to be given by a responsible government before any such scheme could be introduced. Therefore, I am quite certain that the Minister for Social Services (Mr Sinclair), seeing Senator Gair’s recommendation or having it brought to his notice, will look at these matters and consider them. I can say nothing further in that regard. But I do say that I believe this legislation is an important step which shows the very real appreciation by this Government of the need for care for families and, once more, a recognition of the importance of the family group in Australia. I thank those honourable senators who have spoken for their support of this legislation and for assisting its passage through the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the amendment made by the Senate to this Bill.
(Question No. 260)
asked the Minister repre senting the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable senator’s questions are as follows:
(Question No. 275)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
Will the Postmaster-General give an assurance that existing customers of the telephone service of his Department, who are required to provide their own finance to upgrade private lines to meet departmental requirements, will not be deprived of an existing telephone service due to their inability to finance the capital cost of the work?
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
If there is any way in which a satisfactory service to an exchange can be continued without the need for considerable expense to the subscriber being involved, the Department does not require that extensive up-grading of the private section be undertaken. However, the line plant connecting services to automatic exchanges is required to be of a reasonably high standard and, if the private construction does not meet this standard before the new exchange is brought into operation, it is not practicable for the subscriber to be connected.
(Question No. 277)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
Will the Government consider including the postcode in all telephone directories for the convenience of the public?
– The answer to honourable senator’s question is as follows:
A list of postcodes has beenincluded in the 1967 issue of the Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania telephone directories. A similar list will appear in the next issue of country sectional directories.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) agreed to:
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Tuesday, 19 September, at 3 p.m.
Senate adjourned at 11.23 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 7 September 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1967/19670907_senate_26_s35/>.