26th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 2.15 p.m., and read prayers.
– The tragic event of yesterday will be too fresh in the minds of honourable senators for me to need to elaborate upon it in any way. Senator Douglas Clive Hannaford was born in January 1903 at Riverton, South Australia. He lived most of his life as a sheep and cereals farmer in the Riverton district, about 60 miles north of Adelaide. He came from an old South Australian family. His father was a member of the Legislative Council of South Australia for very many years - considerably more than 20 years. His activities in the Riverton district before he became a senator were extensive. He was a member of the Riverton District Council from 1936- to 1950, being Chairman for part of that time. He was also Chairman of the Riverton District High School Council and Coordinator of Civil Defence for the district during the war years. He was a life member of the Agricultural Bureau of South Australia.
The late Senator Hannaford was VicePresident of the Liberal and Country League in South Australia from 1946 to 1949, in which year he was elected as a Libera] senator for South Australia. Senator Hannaford was continuously a senator from the time he took his seat in February 1950 until his death. His positions during his term included membership of the Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications from February 1950 until August 1965; the Printing Committee from February 1950 until February 1960; and the House Committee from March 1960 until August 1965. He was also a member of the Senate Select Committee on the Development of Canberra from 1954 until 1 955. He was a member of the Australian delegation to the Fourteenth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York in 1959.
As a man of rural background Senator Clive Hannaford was always a nature lover and be enjoyed walking in Canberra during breaks in the sittings of Parliament. He resigned in February 1967 from the Liberal Party after 40 years membership because he came to disagree with Australia’s military participation in Vietnam. He had for some months prior to his resignation been coming to this conclusion. His resignation was a free act of integrity resulting from the dictates of conscience and had never been required of him by his Party. After his resignation he continued to show the same personal goodwill towards his former colleagues as he had always shown and this was reciprocated. On virtually all issues except Vietnam he continued to support the Government and to work quietly and unobtrusively for the interests of his State and what he considered to be the good of Australia.
We had known for some time that Senator Hannaford was ill and that he had previously suffered attacks similar to that which yesterday resulted in his death. He had intended to retire from the Senate at the expiration of his term on 30th June 1968. However, this was not to be and he died before he could enjoy the retirement he so richly deserved. Very many of us in this House, and particularly those of us who came to this place on the same date as Senator Clive Hannaford came here, will share a feeling that we have lost not only a colleague but a friend. He leaves a widow and four children and to them we extend our sympathy. Mr President, I move:
That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the death of Senator Douglas Clive Hannaford, senator for the State of South Australia, places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service, and tenders its sympathy to his widow and members of his family in their bereavement.
– I support the motion proposed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate. We knew Senator Hannaford to be a quiet man of integrity and of friendly personality. We respected him for his adherence to his own moral principles, which were based not on any religion but on a deep humanitarianism. He really believed in peace on earth and goodwill to all men. We admired him because he fought for what he believed in and he admired those who did likewise, even though he disagreed with them. If he hated anything it was hypocrisy and intolerance. He did not strive for respectability. When he knew that he was desperately ill he did not spare himself but determined to expend his life not by way of sacrifice but to do whatever he could as one man in public life to oppose what he considered was the immoral, unjust and illegal war in which Australia was engaging in Vietnam. If there were more people like Senator Hannaford, the world would be a better place. I wish that his integrity will serve as an example and an inspiration, not only to members of my Party here and elsewhere but to all men in public life. We all mourn him. I am sorry that he died. 1 am glad he died like he did, fighting for what he believed in.
– On behalf of the Australian Country Party I should like to support the motion proposed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate and supported by the Leader of the Opposition. We were all shocked at the suddenness of the passing of our colleague yesterday. It is my belief, Mr President, that the late Senator Hannaford chose to ignore the risk to his life of actions aggravating his heart condition, in his desire to support a cause in which he sincerely believed. For this we must all respect him. I join the preceding speakers in expressing our deep sympathy with his widow and his family.
– My colleague, Senator McManus, and I desire to support the motion proposed by the Leader of the Government and supported by the Leader of the Opposition, and by the Minister for Repatriation for the Australian Country Party. Of course, we all were shocked yesterday at the suddenness of Senator Hannaford’s death and we very readily, of course convey to his sorrowing widow and family our deepest condolences and sincere sympathy in their great loss.
– As a senator from South Australia, I should like to be associated with the motion before the Senate this afternoon. I want immediately to join in expressions of sympathy to Mrs Hannaford and her family. Like other South Australian senators I knew Senator Hannaford for some considerable time and was associated with him when he was a member of the Liberal and Country League in South Australia as well as when he was in the Senate. In common with all those with experience in political organisations, we shared in various activities and in an exchange of opinions and views. I want to place on record my own indebtedness to the experience of having known Senator Hannaford, whether our views agreed or whether they were in conflict. As the Minister said earlier, Senator Hannaford’s rural background gave him an appreciation of nature. This led further to his appreciation of the worlds of music and art. I want finally to refer to his public life which found expression in local government, in community affairs and here within the National Parliament. Like others, I regret that he was unable to complete his term but T place on record this appreciation of the public duty which he carried out.
– 1 should like to be associated with this motion of condolence. Although Senator Hannaford had been active in public life in South Australia for many years, I came to know him personally only about 7 years ago when I was contesting a ballot for the Senate. For the past 12 months Senator Hannaford and I were most closely associated in our activities. He and I were the only two politicians who were members of the executive of the South Australian Vietnam Protest Committee and indeed the only politicians associated with that Committee. During that time I found that he would not spare himself in a cause which he believed to be right. He did think that his attitude in relation to Vietnam was the correct one.
There is another reason why I want to associate myself with this motion. In recent weeks Professor Mirsky, an American who had been in Vietnam, visited Adelaide and called at my office. We invited Senator Hannaford to join us and we had a long talk about the Vietnam question. An indication of Senator Hannaford’s changed attitude was his statement that he now accepted me - a member of an opposing political party for many years - as one of his friends and hoped that I accepted him as one of my friends. I did not reply to that statement because I thought that was not the occasion for mutual admiration. However, I say now that I deeply miss one of the greatest friends 1 have made in my political career.
As one passes through life certain personalities become vivid in the memory, either for their good or for their evil. Senator Hannaford thought he was doing right. He had a Jove of nature, the arts and the other things which have been mentioned, and he also had a keen love of humanity. It was that love of humanity which made him adopt the attitude he adopted, believing that it was wrong to sacrifice Australian lives in the Vietnam conflict. Although we believe that some of his activities may have contributed to his passing, I think that the campaign he waged over the past 12 months was one of the most satisfying things in Senator Hannaford’s life. I think he died with the knowledge that he was doing what he believed to be right and that he was fighting for a worthy cause. He made many sacrifices for the advancement of that cause.
While we all have lost a colleague, 1 can say that although we were not of the same political party or held the same political outlook I have Jost a great friend with the passing of Senator Hannaford.
– 1 desire to associate myself with the motion proposed by the Leader of the Government and I think I can speak on behalf of all South Australian senators who have not spoken today. I came to know Senator Hannaford very well, not only because of our parliamentary activities in the Senate but also because we had mutual friends. My office in Adelaide adjoined his and on many occasions we would discuss matters, particularly the subject which I believe brought about his unfortunate and untimely death. There must be great quality in a man who decides to act according to his beliefs. Most of us recognise this in ordinary life. Despite his ill health, Senator Hannaford decided to act according to his conscientious beliefs, and although on many occasions his friends, including myself, warned him about the possible effects on his health of embarking on this public support of the things in which he dearly believed, he persisted. He was a very efficient parliamentarian; a very kindly man. I am sure that honourable senators of all political affiliations will share the loss that we have sustained.
– I desire to associate myself with the motion of condolence to the widow and family of the late Senator Hannaford. Since the 1949 elections I have been extremely closely associated with the late senator in this chamber and as a friend. I found him a person of very fine character. He was a person of forthright views, which he was always prepared to express and stand by. I know that when he took a stand in this chamber against his then Party, the Liberal Party, he did not do it lightly. I know that doing these things greatly disturbed him. One of his first stands against his Party was in relation to the Ipec matter. Then there was his stand on Vietnam, which I know greatly disturbed him and eventually brought about the break with his Party. Recently he joined with some other honourable senators in opposing the proposal to enlarge the House of Representatives.
Whenever he was opposed to his colleagues on this side he was never vindictive; he never displayed spleen or nasty feelings. He acted always in the highest traditions and with the highest standards. Throughout the years I knew him, he was a very fine public spirited man, imbued with an ideal of serving the nation and particularly his State in the way he felt they should be served. Whilst some of us may not always have agreed with his views, as the Leader of the Government and the Leader of the Opposition have said, we must admire his sincerity and the purpose he pursued. It may well be that the pursuing of such a purpose brought about his end sooner than would otherwise have been the case. As a friend I constantly pleaded with him to be careful lest the pursuit of his purpose affected his health.
I associate myself with this tribute to a person who has been a very fine citizen of Australia, an excellent senator, a man of purpose and character and one who when he was a friend was not a fair weather friend but a staunch friend, as I have the pleasure of remembering.
– I, too, wish to associate myself with the motion of condolence. When I entered this Parliament the first man to befriend me was Senator Hannaford. In the last few months our friendship deepened. We had a lot in common. Senator Hannaford did not die of a coronary; he died because he had a political conscience. This is something which should shame everybody in this chamber, especially his former colleagues. I know that he was extremely hurt by the attitude of his former colleagues. Being in this frame of mind, the barbs put into him, not by all of his Former colleagues but by some of them, mortally wounded him. Finally he died because he believed in something. He knew that he had no right to attend the meeting at the weekend. We argued about it but he felt that he had to do this thing. 1 think he would be happy to know - in my opinion - that the excitement of speaking at the meeting so affected him that it resulted in his death. I am- awfully conscience stricken that I was not here to assist him in his last moments. We used to joke about it and 1 had always promised him that I would be here, but owing to certain transport arrangements I just could not be here.
Senator Hannaford was a man whom we should all look up to, and 1 think it lies heavily on the consciences of people that they treated him as they did. Some were absolutely bitter to him and some were despicable to him. Yet he said: ‘They cannot help it; they see a point of view that I do not see’. He was not a red ragger; he was not a university type of person: he was not a Red or a Commo. He was an ordinary Australian. But he believed that we have been brainwashed and he was prepared to say so, not for political purposes but because he knew that here was something that the Government was utilising and that it was grossly unfair. That was the main reason why he attacked the Defence Force Protection Bill, because he knew that the Bill was not introduced for any sound reason but merely for political purposes. I think we should all look up to Clive Hannaford and try to emulate him a little more. He was a great politician. 1 support the motion.
– I was one- of the last to speak to the late Senator Hannaford before he entered the chamber on the occasion on which he suffered his fatal collapse. He was one of the first Government senators whom I met when I was first elected to the Parliament and I came to know him very well. 1 always found him to be a very conservative man, both in his views and in his behaviour. But despite what I believe was a very strong conservatism and despite his many years of association with the Party to which he had belonged and which he had served so creditably for so many years, he felt so strongly about Australia taking part in the war in Vietnam that he found himself compelled in conscience to resign from his Party, to risk breaking all his many long associations and also to risk considerable ignomy, but my impression was that his former colleagues in the Parliament, although there possibly were some exceptions, behaved towards him in a very decent and humane manner and respected his convictions, despite his resignation from their Party. He continued to support the Government on most matters which came before the Parliament because he believed in the basic assumptions of the Liberal Party. Tt was only on this question of foreign policy and some related matters that he differed with the Liberal Party.
Senator Hannaford expressed in the Senate views which were shared by a great many people, including members of the Parliament, but which for various reasons they feel constrained not to express. He was probably the only representative in the Federal Parliament who was in a position to speak for a great many of his fellow countrymen in precisely the way in which he wished to speak. For this reason I feel a considerable debt of gratitude to him and I feel that a very valuable contribution to Australian life has been lost by his death. But Senator Hannaford died fighting and I do not think there is very much more that any man can ask.
Senator MATTNER (South Australia)As one who perhaps has known Senator Hannaford more intimately than most people 1 wish to convey to his wife and family our sincere regrets. Every man lives his life and performs his task as he sees fit. It is not for us to question what our fellow man does. Sometimes I have been questioned. These are the wounds that one receives as he goes through life and all I would say is that as each and every one lives his life his actions are matters for his own conscience. I wish to be associated with the expressions of sympathy to Senator Hannaford’s widow and children.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honourable senators standing in their places.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Is Mr Alan Ashbolt the head of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s Special Projects Division? What is the nature of the projects in which he is engaged? Does his statement’ in today’s Australian’ that he and others in the ABC would be happy to shoot Australian Democratic Labor Party senators indicate the standard of political objectivity of himself and his associates? Does this explain the political discrimination in projects, ABC and otherwise, with which Mr Ashbolt has been associated?
– It is my understanding that Mr Ashbolt is Director of the Special Projects Division, as indicated by the honourable senator. I did see in the Press this morning the comment to which he refers. 1 got the clear impression that it was a rather corny attempt at humour which failed completely and which was taken out of context to some extent. 1 am quite certain that the gentleman concerned did not mean the remark in the sense in which it seems to have been interpreted. 1 do not know the full depth of his activities and his association with the Australian Broadcasting Commission, but I shall certainly refer the honourable senator’s question to the Postmaster-General for his consideration.
– 1 address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. Will the Minister give consideration to making a public announcement about whether the Government is prepared to support the principles of the proposal for a systematic review of tariffs as contained in the annual report of the Tariff Board?
– I did notice in the Tariff Board’s annual report the proposal to which the honourable senator refers. I shall certainly refer the matter to the Minister for Trade and Industry and ask him to give consideration to the honourable senator’s question.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. It relates to the standardisation of rail gauges. In answer to questions yesterday about standardisation of rail gauges in South Australia, did the Minister state that the Prime Minister had advised the South Australian Premier that, until final agreement is reached between the governments involved on all outstanding details of the Port Pirie to Broken Hill section, to make decisions as to future work is not practicable? What practicable reasons are there for not finalising with the State Government authorities the engineering and other associated plans for the completion of the Adelaide link and the subsequent conversion of the South Australian railway system?
– Quite clearly I will need to refer the question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport to get an accurate answer. But I should imagine that there arc all manner of possibilities in any negotiations between governments, and these have to be worked out with precision before a final decision can be reached. I shall refer the honourable senator’s question to the Minister and 1 hope to get a quick reply for him.
– ls the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Air able to supply information about last Friday’s Fill fighter-bomber crash in Texas? Is this the third Fill crash?
– I cannot hear what the honourable senator is saying.
– Is there anything to indicate that the difficulties encountered could be overcome in order to meet the delivery date of the 24 aircraft which Australia has ordered?
– I heard only portion of the question. It is interesting to note that, in spite of the criticism of the Fill aircraft-
– Senator Poke asked a question about the crash on Friday last in Texas. The Minister answered that, question yesterday.
– I did not hear today’s question. Senator Poke asked me about the crash of the Fill aircraft. I answered that question yesterday.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister for Education and Science. Is it correct, as stated by the Tasmanian Minister for Education in an address to the Australian Council of State School Organisations, that the first and only worthwhile grant by the Commonwealth for education in Tasmania was the unmatched grant of $1.5m towards the construction of the new teachers training college at Launceston? Is it correct to say that Tasmania does not share adequately in Commonwealth disbursements for education purposes?
– The honourable senator has asked me a question based on a newspaper report which attributed certain words to Mr Neilson. Honourable senator must remember that the newspaper report may not necessarily contain the words that Mr Neilson used. The statement attributed to Mr Neilson is not correct. It would not be correct to say that the first significant grant was the unmatched grant of $1.5m to build a teachers training college at Launceston. The quite magnificent technical school in- Hobart, which is in the process of construction, has been built entirely with Commonwealth money. Throughout the length and breadth of Tasmania the unmatched grant for technical facilities has been applied to technical schools in such a way that the amount expended for capital purposes in relation to technical schools has quadrupled since the Commonwealth entered the field. The same applies to science blocks, the accelerated rate of development at the Hobart university and the college, of advanced education in that State. It would not be true to say that Tas mania had not participated adequately - if indeed anybody has said that - because the Senate will remember that the division of unmatched capital grants between the States has been in proportion to the population of each State. In fact, Commonwealth financial assistance for. education has had more impact in Tasmania than in other States and has helped Tasmanian education perhaps more than it has helped the other States so far.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether the Treasurer was reported correctly as having said in the United States that he believed that Australia had almost reached the limit of its physical resources in Vietnam. If the answer to this question is in the affirmative, does that indicate an official denunciation of the Prime Minister’s often expressed declaration that Australia will go all the way with LBJ? Does the Treasurer’s statement indicate that the Government has come to realise, and is now ready to concede, that the Vietnam war is unwinnable-
– Order! I ask the honourable senator to ask his question and not to make a long statement.
– I will ask my question. If that is the case, what positive steps are being taken by the Australian Government to effect the de-escalation and conclusion of the fighting?
– That was a rather long and involved question, as I think honourable senators will agree. In one part the honourable senator made play of a statement made by the Prime Minister iti the United States some time ago - not with reference to the Vietnam war - to the effect that he felt that he could go ‘all the way with LBJ’. This was a political slogan that was being used in the United States at that time and which was reciprocated in this country when President Johnson came here. An attempt to build up something out of that sort of thing is really of little service.
I do not know whether the Treasurer was reported correctly. I have not asked him. I have not seen a copy of the report. His views on whether any greater proportion of
Australia’s resources could wisely be diverted to purposes other than development, growth and improvement may well have been reported correctly, but I cannot give the honourable senator a complete answer on that point. In other respects the Australian Government believes that it is necessary for us to do as much as we can within the limits of our resources to ensure that the aggression that is taking place in South Vietnam from North Vietnam does not succeed, because we believe that if it does succeed it will be repeated elsewhere and the world will be at the risk of the kind of conflict that it ran into in the Second World War because aggression was not stopped at the beginning, as we hope it will be in this instance.
– The Minister does not really believe that.
– Yes, 1 do.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate noted the statement of Mr J. Boundy, the General Secretary of the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce, to the effect that Australian petrol prices were the second highest in the world and that the ridiculously large number of service stations pointed to the excessive profits made in petrol sales by oil companies? Would it be possible to have prepared for the benefit of honourable senators a statement setting out the comparative prices of petrol as charged in various countries in order that the Senate may decide whether appropriate action should be taken to effect a reduction in the price of petrol to Australian motorists?
– There are two parts to the honourable senator’s question. I do not see any particular reason - there may be one and I would have to inquire to find out - as to why a statement of comparative petrol prices could not be presented to senators should they want it. The second part of the question suggests that if such a comparison was presented there would be a need to take action, but of course this does not follow at all. It depends on very many other circumstances. If information about the rates at which petrol is sold in various countries is needed it may be possible to provide it. It depends on how much effort is required by the department concerned. I do not know which department would provide that information.
– Will the Minister for Supply explain an item which appeared in the last Commonwealth ‘Gazette’, showing that an estimated sum of $55,000 is to be spent this year on taxis for the Weapons Research Establishment at Salisbury? Is he able to say which Adelaide taxi firm is likely to reap the benefit of this great bonanza? Is it not possible to effect more economical arrangements for the personnel of the WRE and so reduce this astronomical burden on the Australian taxpayers?
– I do not have at my fingertips the details requested by the honourable senator. I understand that there has been a change in the method of conveying personnel in that area of South Australia. I would like to look up the details and give them to the honourable senator tomorrow.
– I address to the Minister representing the Treasurer a question relating to the proposed extension of the benefits of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund as announced in the last Budget. This is a matter of the utmost importance to national servicemen and their relatives. I ask: Is the Minister in a position to give the Senate information as to whether the proposed legislation will be retrospective in application?
– The honourable senator has asked me before about this matter. I sought the advice of the Treasurer upon his return from overseas and I am happy to inform the honourable senator that the answer is Yes. I understand that the legislation will be retrospective and will operate from the first day of national service training.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Health aware of a new experiment in public hospitalisation which is to be put into operation next year at the Fremantle Hospital in Western
Australia, to provide special accommodation for teenagers who are too old for treatment in children’s hospitals and too young for treatment in adult wards of general hospitals? Docs not the Minister consider that this is a procedure which could be followed on a national basis? If so, will she arrange to have the matter brought before the next meeting of State and Federal Ministers for Health?
– I am very interested in the matter referred to by Senator Tangney. 1 have read something of the experiment. I shall be pleased to bring the honourable senator’s suggestion to the attention of my colleague, the Minister for Health.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs investigate the circumstances surrounding the action of the Mexican Government in declining to issue a visa to Australian professional golfer Alan Murray to enable him to compete in the Canada Cup tournament next month, allegedly because he would be contravening that country’s treasury regulations, notwithstanding the fact that other overseas competitors would also be taking their golf earnings out of that country?
– I shall ask the Department of External Affairs whether it has any information on this matter and convey the results to the honourable senator.
– Does the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior recall that some months ago he informed me that premises in Collins and Argyle Streets, Hobart, owned by the Department of the Interior, had been disposed of? Can the Minister advise whether or not his Department has commenced investigations into the possibility of purchasing an alternative site for the building of Commonwealth Offices in Hobart? If the answer to the second part of the question is in the negative, will the Minister give reasons why Hobart’s requirements are being neglected?
– I have not an answer to the honourable senator’s question. I shall endeavour to get one for him from the Minister for the Interior.
– Order! Once again 1 direct the attention of honourable senators to long questions which it is impossible for a Minister representing a Minister in another place to answer without notice. If honourable senators would put these questions on the notice paper the preparation of answers would be facilitated and, of course, it would obviate the unfortunate business of Ministers having to ask that questions be put on the notice paper. (Senator Keeffe having addressed a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Territories)
– Order! That question will go on the notice paper. Apparently I am not making myself clear to honourable senators. If they would read the rules for guidance in asking questions which appear on the back of the form used for putting questions on the notice paper they would be better informed and would not put me in the embarrassing position of having to direct that questions be placed on the notice paper.
– I refer to the answer given by the Minister representing the Treasurer in relation to the extension of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund. Will the Minister make clear whether he indicated to the Senate that the benefits would be extended to national servicemen from their first day of entry or that the benefits would relate to the introduction of national service training in Australia?
– The second suggestion that the honourable senator makes is the correct one.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate seen a report in the Hobart ‘Mercury* of 24th October 1967, in which the Minister for Education in Tasmania, Mr Neilson, stated that the Federal Government must spend more on education and that he felt some disappointment that the Commonwealth had not been sufficiently active? Mr Neilson also went on to state that the only worthwhile contribution that the Commonwealth had made in Tasmania was $1.5m towards a new teachers college in Launceston. Did the Minister also notice that the Tasmanian Government spent $23m on education in the State and that the Commonwealth Government spent only $586,000 during the last financial year? Does the Minister agree that the statement by the Tasmanian Minister for Education emphasises the necessity for a national inquiry into education?
– 1 did see the statement to which the honourable senator refers. I think that when the Minister for Education in Tasmania said that he would like the Commonwealth Government to enter more into the field , of education he was referring to some statement by another Minister for Education who apparently thought that the Commonwealth Government was entering too much into the field of education. The Tasmanian Minister apparently had a different view. It did not appear to me to be a statement criticising the Commonwealth Government for entering the field or for its level of contribution. It seemed rather to be expressing the hope that still more contributions might be made. I have already answered a question as to whether the contribution of SI. 5m was the first worthwhile contribution. Clearly, this is not true. Indeed, the figure of $586,000 mentioned by the honourable senator as being the only Commonwealth expenditure in Tasmania in some year which he docs not state would also in my belief be completely untrue.
– In other words, the Tasmanian Minister for Education is telling a lie?
– No. He may well be mistaken; he may well have been misreported; the honourable senator may well have misread. However, because this question has been asked twice and I have not the details of expenditure at my fingertips, I ask that it be put on the notice paper so that the factual detailed expenditure can be presented to the honourable senator.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Is the Government concerned that some $100m has already been expended on the importation of computers? In view of the fact that no industry in Australia is manufacturing computers and that the cost of importing computers is expected within the foreseeable future to reach $265m, will the Government take steps to stimulate the interest of Australian industrialists in the establishment of an Australian computer manufacturing industry?
– I think we are all anxious to see Australian industries develop and for that reason we give every assistance that we can. The honourable senator mentioned the importation of $l00m worth of computers. I should think that the benefits gained would be worth many millions of dollars more than the cost of the machines. Australia is a small country and we have to learn to develop as we go along. No doubt Australian industry will learn to manufacture these machines. They are most intricate but wc have been gaining tremendous experience of their use. Let me mention only one aspect. Many young Australians attached to the Department of Supply are working in the tracking stations and have had a first class opportunity to learn how to operate computers. Australian technology as a whole will benefit from that. Whether a manufacturing industry is developed in Australia depends largely upon whether manufacturers believe there is sufficient profit for them to commence operations in this competitive field. 1 believe that private industry will seize the opportunity to manufacture computers as soon as it believes there is an opportunity for itself and for Australia as a whole to benefit.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for External
Affairs seen a report of a statement made earlier this month at the United Nations General Assembly by the delegate for Ceylon to the effect that the Conservative Prime Minister of Ceylon, Mr Senanayake, is convinced, after discussions with leading officials of the Government of North Vietnam, that North Vietnam would be prepared to negotiate a peaceful settlement of the war in Vietnam? Will the Australian Government make some approaches to the Government of Ceylon to ascertain the full purport of Mr Senanayake’s opinion so that perhaps the Australian Government can further explore the possibility which he apparently has suggested to his colleagues in the Ceylon Government?
– I cannot undertake that the Australian Government will approach Mr Senanayake or some other third party to ascertain the opinions or the views of the Government of Hanoi. If there is substance in the suggestion that the Government of Hanoi would be prepared to enter into peace talks, it seems to me that that suggestion should properly come from the Government of Hanoi, particularly in response to the requests which have been made to it by the United States Government.
– I ask the Minister for Supply a question. Are negotiations now proceeding to terminate the deal for the purchase of land at Coburg in Victoria for the construction of a new Commonwealth clothing factory? If so, is this an indication that the Commonwealth intends to have all future clothing contracts carried out by private manufacturers?
– I did not hear clearly the first part of the question. Did the honourable senator ask whether the purchase of the land at Coburg had been completed?
– No. Are negotiations now proceeding to terminate the deal?
– As far as I am aware the land has been purchased for the factory at Coburg.
– On 21st September this year Senator Mulvihill asked me a question without notice about the feasibility of Australia acquiring an aerial infra-red scanner for use in aircraft. The Australian forest services, the Weapons Research Establishment and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation are very interested in the application of infra-red scanners to forest fire detection in Australia, both from aircraft and from fire towers. Experiments with trial scanners for use from fire towers have been successful in Western Australia. The Fire Research Section of the Forestry and Timber Bureau is collaborating with the Weapons Research Establishment to develop a scanner suitable for aircraft, based on designs developed by the Weapons Research Institute. I hope that more experiments with this instrument will be conducted in the field during the coming Australian summer. In addition, all forest services and State fire fighting organisations are following American developments. Our fire fighting services expect two types of assistance from the scanners. Firstly, it is possible to see a fire edge through smoke when it cannot be detected by human eyesight. Secondly, the scanners may detect small fires 01 hot spots after events such as lightning storms when the fires cannot be seen by eye. Both functions might be carried out from aircraft and from fire towers.
– When the Senate suspended so suddenly yesterday I was replying to questions on notice asked by Senator Turnbull in relation to VIP aircraft. The questions were: (Question No. 63)
For each application - (a) Who ware the applicants; (b) At which airport did they embark; (c) What were their ports of call; (d) At which airport was the VIP aircraft stationed at the time of application; (e) How many passengers were carried; and (f) How many crew members were on each flight? (Question No. 93)
For each application:
For each application:
For each application:
For each application:
AM the questions, the only difference between them being in respect of the dates to which each refers, are covered in the one answer which is as follows:
Assuming the questions seek information as to applications leading to the use of aircraft, and counting each user separately, even though is some cases two or more users travel together, the answers for the period from 1st January 1967 to 30th September 1967 are set out below. There are two further points of explanation. First, it is not always clear whether an application for a multiple journey should be treatedas a single application or a plural application reflecting tha number of segments of the journey. The general standard adopted has been to regard such applications as single applications. This means that a flight may be from Sydney to Canberra in which case it would count as one use; or from Sydney to various points around Australia, in which case it would also count as one use. But the details of flights will bc before the Senate. The second is that the number of flights is nol identical with the number of users, since, as indicated above, each user is counted separately, even though travelling in the one flight with other users. The basic information from which the figures have been compiled is being tabled.
The reply to the first part of each question is that the number of applications was 485.
The applications and the number of applications, made by each applicant were: Governor-General 79, Prime Minister 81, Mr McMahon 54. Mr McEwen 40, Senator Gorton 19, Mr Sinclair 19, Mr Howson 17, Mr Fraser 16, Mr Hulme 11, Mr Bury 9, Mr Fairhall 8, Mr Fairbairn 8, Mr Adermann 6, Dr Forbes 6, Mr Barnes 5, Mr Anthony 4, Senator Anderson 4, Mr Hasluck 3, Senator Henty 3, Senator McKellar 3, Mr Bowen 3, Mr Freeth 1, Mr Snedden 1, Dame Annabelle Rankin 1, Mr Chipp 0, Mr Swartz 0, Mr Kelly 0, Leader of the Opposition 8, Deputy Leader of the Opposition 1, VIP official visitors from overseas 41, Service chiefs 28, Others 6.
The VIP official visitors from overseas referred to above were: H.R.H. Duke of Edinburgh, H.R.H. Princess Alexandra, Prime Minister of South Vietnam, Defence Minister of Singapore, British Secretary of State for Commonwealth. Affairs, Foreign Minister of Israel, Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, Governor of the National Bank of Cambodia, Secretary General of the Commonwealth Secretariat, Commander in Chief of the United States Continental Army (Europe), Parliamentary Delegation from Ceylon, New Zealand Chief of General Staff, Pakistan Parliamentary Delegation, British Under-Secretary of State for Defence (R.A.F.), and British Minister of Defence for Equipment.
The use attributed to Service chiefs shown above would cover occasions when senior Service officers other than Service chiefs would have used aircraft for a special purpose such as, for instance, to visit the scene of an aircraft accident
The classification ‘others’ includes: Sir Robert Menzies 2, Special flight for Tasmanian members of Parliament 1, the Administrator of New Guinea 2, Western Australian State Ministers and officials (North West Cape) 1.
The answers to (b) and (c) of each question would be very detailed. They are available from the papers being tabled.
All aircraft of No. 34 Squadron are stationed at the R.A.A.F. Base, Fairbairn. On occasion, it is possible to use aircraft which happen to be more conveniently available at the time of application.
No detailed records have been kept of who travelled with an applicant on a particular flight. In general, the wives of applicants, the staff of
Ministers and the Leader of the Opposition, and departmental officials connected with the official party are permitted to travel In all cases, prior approval for all passengers to be carried has to be obtained from either the Governor-General in respect of his own flights, or the Prime Minister or Minister for Air in respect of flights other than those for the Governor-General and his staff. On occasion, if space is available, service personnel have also been carried if duly authorised in advance to travel.
The normal crew members required for No. 34 Squadron aircraft are: Viscount 4, Metropolitan 4, HS748 4, Mystere 3. The BAC111 which is not yet in service, will require a crew of four. It can therefore be assumed that on each flight the number of crew members is either 3 or 4. although on occasion, use may be made of a flight to carry a trainee in addition to the normal crew.
(Question No. 71)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Is it a fact that when Ministers and departmental officers use official cars, the charge is entered against the Department concerned? If so, why cannot a charge be made against the Departments concerned when Ministers and departmental officers use VIP planes?
– The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
It is a fact that when departmental officers use official cars the charge is entered against (he Department concerned. But in the case of Ministers, funds for car travel are provided in the votes of the Department of the Interior and no recovery is made from individual Departments. Concerning the use of VIP planes, it would presumably be possible for a charge to be made against the individual Departments, but the Government’s judgment is that the sensible course is not to do so but to provide the Prime Minister’s Department with funds to cover the operating costs of VIP aircraft just as the Department of the Interior is provided with funds for Ministerial car travel.
(Question No. 121)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
In relation to the Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane areas, in which the Commonwealth uses large buildings to accommodate its public service, will the Minister take, as examples, four buildings which the Commonwealth owns and four buildings of which the Commonwealth is tenant, in each of the areas, and advise the Senate of the average annual cost per square foot to the Commonwealth for office accommodation space in each type of building, specifying the precise building taken as an example?
– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answer:
Notwithstanding careful analyses of rental components it has been found to be extremely difficult to make valid direct cost comparisons between Commonwealth-owned and leased office accommodation in different buildings, mainly because of differences in age, design and the facilities provided. There are also difficulties in making cost comparisons due to the fact that in the oldertype Commonwealth buildings, full details of costs of alterations and additions made over a wide span of years are not always known and some of the original costs bear little relationship to present day values. As a consequence it has not been possible to select in each of the Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane areas, four large Commonwealthowned office buildings and four buildings which the Commonwealth leases that can be reasonably validly compared on the basis of average annual cost per square foot.
Within these limitations it has been considered appropriate to select only those modern airconditioned office buildings which have been erected by the Commonwealth in recent years and those leased buildings which have been erected in the same period and which offer some scope for comparison with Commonwealth buildings. As the Commonwealth does not own a modern office building in Adelaide the selected buildings have been confined to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, and together with the average annual cost per square foot in each case are listed below:
Commonwealth office accommodation is a matter which the Government has under continuous review, as it is aware of the increasing accommodation needs brought about by the expanded requirements of the Public Service in recent years. While it is inevitable that there will always be a substantial requirement for leased office accommodation, the Government is cognisant of the advantages of constructing its own office buildings, having regard to other capital works priorities.
(Question No. 249)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air, upon notice:
– The Minister has supplied the following answer:
(Question No. 304)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Army has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 317)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
How much per head of population has the Commonwealth Government contributed towards the finances of each of the States during each of the years 1964-65, 1965-66 and 1966-67, and what amount will be contributed for the year 1967-68?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer:
(Question No. 342)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 349)
asked the Minister rep resenting the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
Is it a fact, as reported in the ‘Australian’ on 27th September, that the Foreign Minister of Italy, Professor Fanfani, has put to the Australian Government a plan proposing that the United Nations Security Council should call on the co-Chairmen of the Geneva Conference on Vietnam, Britain and Russia, to reconvene the Conference; if so, what is the Government’s attitude to the proposal.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
During the visit to Australia by the President of the Republic of Italy and the Foreign Minister the opportunity was taken to have a wide-ranging discussion on Vietnam and the possibilities of settlement. There was some exploration of various procedures that might be open, now or in the future, for seeking a settlement. Neither Government is at present committed to any particular proposal.
The following extract from the communique issued at the conclusion of the state visit to Australia by the President of Italy covered the discussions between the Government and the Italian Foreign Minister, Professor Fanfani, on Vietnam:
Developments in Vietnam were the subject on an exchange of views, particular attention being given to the present situation in South Vietnam. The importance of early progress towards any possible negotiations for a just and peaceful solution was also considered. It was agreed that such a solution might be sought on the basis of the Geneva Agreement and with the possible assistance, direct or indirect, of the United Nations.
(Question No. 353)
Senator ORMONDE (through Senator
O’Byrne), asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air, upon notice:
What VIP aircraft have been purchased each year since 1949?
What was the date of the purchase and the price paid for each aircraft?
In respect of those aircraft which nave been sold or otherwise disposed of, what was (a) the date of purchase, (b) the date of disposal, (c) the name of the purchaser, (d) the purchase price, and (e) the flying hours registered at the lime of disposal?
– The Minister for Air has supplied the following answers: 1. (a) 2 Metropolitan aircraft in 1956
The BAC111 aircraft were ordered in June 1966. The fly away cost of the two aircraft is $7.488m and the estimated total project cost, including support, is $1 1.200m.
(Question No. 354)
Senator ORMONDE (through Senator
O’Byrne) asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air, upon notice:
What personnel are responsible for the operation, care and maintenance of VIP aircraft?
– The Minister for Air has supplied the following answer:
The aircraft of No. 34 Squadron are operated, cared for, and maintained by members of the per manent Air Force except that major overhauls and major repairs are done by civilian contractors.
(Question No. 355)
Senator ORMONDE (through Senator
O’Byrne) asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air, upon notice:
Which members of (a) The House of Representatives, (b) the Senate, (c) the Public Service, and (d) the armed forces, are entitled to use VIP aircraft?
When, by whom and in what circumstances have VIP aircraft been used over each of the last 5 years, and what cost was attributed to each flight?
What has been the total expenditure on the purchase and use of the VIP aircraft over each of the last 5 years?
– The Minister for Air has supplied the following answers:
The only persons entitled to use VIP aircraft, as of right, are members of the Royal Family, the Governor-General, and the Prime Minister. All other persons who wish to use the aircraft for VIP travel must make application to the Minister for Air. However, in the categories nominated in the question, the following are generally considered to have VIP status:
Although the above categories of persons are regarded as having VIP status, this does not entitle them to a VIP aircraft as a right and the question whether they should be provided with an aircraft resides within the discretion of the Prime Minister and the Minister for Air. The Prime Minister and the Minister for Air also have the power to approve travel by VIP aircraft by other persons of like importance and authority if they consider such travel justified. Where the Minister for Air entertained some doubt as to an application, he would consult with the Prime Minister and together they would decide on behalf of the Government whether an aircraft should be provided.
The Treasury examined the costs attributable to VIP operations for the year 1967-68 in respect of which the Prime Minister will be making an announcement. The Treasury did not examine the costs attributable to VIP operations in preceding years.
(Question No. 356)
Senator ORMONDE (through Senator
O’Byrne) asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air, upon notice:
– The Minister for Air has supplied the following answers: 1.No VIP aircraft were ordered in 1966-67, nor is there any provision for orders in 1967-68.
(Question No. 357)
Senator ORMONDE (through Senator
O’Byrne) asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air, upon notice:
– The Minister for Air has supplied the following answers:
(Question No. 361)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
Furniture and fittings . . 30,572
New works 26,107
Repairs and maintenance . . 9,021
All expenditure has been within the amounts provided in the Estimates and approved by Parliament. The work has been authorised by the Prime Minister’s Department in consultation with the Prime Minister. The figures include expenditure on exterior painting and on the police post in the Lodge grounds.
(Question No. 363)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
Has the Government given consideration tothe problems presented by the reported desire of certain American and Japanese banks to establish banks or to extend their banking operations in Australia? If so, what is the Government’s attitude to the proposals?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer:
This subject has been reviewed by the Government on a number of occasions, the outcome each time being reaffirmation of its firmly established policy of not permitting overseas banks to conduct banking business in Australia.
(Question No. 369)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
Mas the Government of Western Australia made any request to the Commonwealth for financial assistance for the deepening of Geraldton harbour? If so, what consideration has been given to this request?
– The Treasurer has informed me that he is unaware of any request from the Western Australian Government for Commonwealth financial assistance for this purpose.
(Question No. 377)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
To which eastern European countries did Australia export 1,527 tons of meat, referred to at page 31 of the thirty-second annual report of the Australian Meat Board, under the heading ‘Other European Countries’?
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows: 1,027 tons of beef and veal to Bulgaria; 500 tons of beef and veal to Yugoslavia.
– On 3rd October, Senator Poyser asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, the following question without notice:
Can the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs inform the Senate whether a radio news report of this morning was accurate when it stated that the President of the Vietnam Assembly had resigned because he would not allow history to blame him for the decisions of the Assembly which declared the recent elections in Vietnam valid except in relation to eight comparatively minor breaches of the law relating to the poll?
I said that I would obtain information for the honourable senator.
I am now able to confirm that the Chairman of the Provisional Legislative Assembly of Vietnam did resign after the Assembly had validated the results of the presidential elections on 2nd October. The vote in the Assembly was 58 in favour, 43 against, with 2 abstentions and 4 invalid ballots, and 10 members were absent. The former Chairman of the Assembly was Mr Phan Khac Suu, himself an unsuccessful candidate for the presidency. During the campaign and afterwards, Mr Suu was closely associated with the efforts of another defeated candidate, Mr Truong Dinh Dzu, to discredit the elections and have them invalidated. It is relevant that, in addition to upholding seven quite minor complaints, the Assembly found that the votes, totalling approximately 1.45 million, which had been cast at 2,724 of the 8,594 polling booths in the country, had been subject to technical irregularity. By their votes, the majority in the Assembly affirmed that these irregularities were not such as to have affected the overall result.
As one member of the Special Committee pointed out to the Assembly, a tally of the votes cast at these booths showed that Dzu, the runner-up, in fact had received more of the alleged irregular votes than Thieu. The relevant figures are:
– How is a regular vote ascertained?
– These were the votes that the Assembly said were subject to technical irregularity but were not to be discarded. This shows that Thieu had not depended on irregular votes for victory and, indeed, that rejection of irregular votes would cause Dzu to slip behind the preliminary third and fourth candidates - Suu with 513,000 votes in the preliminary tally and Huong with 474,000 votes. Moreover the remaining irregular votes, totalling 427,000, were shared between the nine other candidates and thus would not have affected the result.
– Pursuant to the motion passed by the Senate requesting the tabling of papers giving details of the operations of the VIP flight, which is No. 34 Transport Squadron, I lay on the table of the Senate the following paper:
List of accepted VIP tasks extracted from No. 34 Squadron records.
I ask for leave to make a statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The information provided in these papers gives the date of travel of all flights during the period requested by the Senate, with the exception of flights last September which can be compiled, the VIPs engaging the aircraft, the person who authorised the flight, the port of embarkation, the ports of call, where the aircraft was stationed when the flight took place, the journey undertaken, the number of passengers and the number of crew.
The Senate could be said to have asked for more information than that. The information tabled does not show who the passengers were; it shows only the number of passengers. But if the Senate wished to have the names of the passengers, they could be provided after a little more dissection. Nor does the information tabled provide the time of takeoff or the duration of the flight. Again, should the Senate require that information, it could be provided. What could not be mct is a request for the cost of each individual flight, because these flights are not costed individually.
Report of Public Works Committee Senator BRANSON (Western Australia) - In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1933-1966, I present the report of the Public Works Committee relating to the following proposed work:
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:
– I wishto inform the Senate that the Minister for Air, Mr Howson, left Australia last Saturday to attend a meeting of the General Council of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association at Kampala, Uganda, and to take part in the conference deliberations which follow the meeting of the Council. It is expected that he will be away until about Friday, 3rd November. During his absence the Minister for Civil Aviation, Mr Swartz, will act as Minister for Air.
– by leave - Discussions on the constitutional future of the island of Nauru have been proceeding between representatives of the Nauruan people and of the three governments - of Britain, New Zealand and Australia - which are at present responsible, under United Nations trusteeship, for the administration of the island. My colleagues, the Minister for Territories (Mr Barnes) and the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) have represented the Australian Government in these talks. The British and New Zealand governments have been represented by their high commissions. The Nauruan people have been represented by delegates of the Nauru Local Government Council headed by Head Chief Hammer DeRoburt, O.B.E.
The conclusions reached in those discussions are recorded in a joint statement subscribed to by the representatives who took part in the talks. The text of the statement is:
Discussions between representatives of the Nauruan people and representatives of the Governments of Australia, Britain and New Zealand en the constitutional future of Nauru were recently resumed.
At the earlier discussions held in June this year proposals by the Nauruan delegation seeking the agreement of the partner governments to Nauru becoming an independent state on 31st January 1968 were considered. At that time the Governments agreed that it was appropriate that basic changes should be made in the government of Nauru but they put forward for consideration alternative arrangements under which Australia would exercise responsibilities for external affairs and defence but which would otherwise give the Nauruans full autonomy.
At the resumed talks the Nauruan delegation said that they remained grateful to the partner Governments for the careful thought that had been given to the problems of the political future for Nauru but that the particular proposals suggested by the partner Governments presented substantial difficulties from the Nauruan point of view. The Nauruan delegation envisaged that Nauru should in the future maintain close links with all three partner governments. They proposed that the relationship with Australia would remain a closer one than that with any other country. The Nauruans would wish to maintain a Nauruan Office in Australia as a main channel of communication with the outside world and would be happy to see an Australian office established in Nauru if this were desired. They hoped that Australia would agree that the High Court of Australia should hear appeals from the Supreme Court of Nauru and that Nauruan students could continue to come to Australia.
The position of the Nauruan delegation was, however, that the nature of the future links between Nauru and the three countries which were now the Administering Authority should be determined by agreement after independence had been attained. The primary objective of the Nauruan delegation was the attainment for Nauru of full and unfettered sovereignty.
The partner Governments responded that they would respect the views put forward by the Nauruan Delegation. The partner Governments were therefore agreeable to meet the request of the Nauruan delegation for full and unqualified independence.
The date on which Nauru will become independent requires consideration in the light of the steps that arc necessary to enable the change to be made. The partner Governments have agreed to take the necessary steps to seek from the present United Nations General Assembly a resolution for the termination of the trusteeship agreement upon independence being achieved. The Australian Government has agreed that the passage of legislation by the Parliament should be sought during the current Parliamentary session so that Australian law will cease to apply in Nauru upon a date to be proclaimed, this being the date agreed upon for independence.
The Nauruan delegation is now engaged in examining in detail with a working party of officials the arrangements required to enable a constitution to be drafted for discussion by the
Nauruan people and the many other administrative steps that need to be taken to prepare the way for a smooth transition from trusteeship to independence. In the light of progress made a date for independence will be agreed upon.
The Nauruan delegation and the partner Governments will make every effort to adhere to the date of 31st January 1968 if this is found to be practicable. At the same time both the Nauruan delegation and the partner Governments place importance on proper consideration being given to the drawing up of the constitution as well as ensuring that the essential administrative requirements to enable the Nauruan people to take over their own government are met.
The partner Governments have undertaken to co-operate with the Nauruan representatives to the fullest possible extent and to provide all possible assistance that may be needed and sought by the Nauruan representatives towards the achievemen of their objectives.’
The agreement that has been reached is an historic one and is of far reaching importance to the Nauruan people. The choice of full independence is theirs. We wish them well. If after independence the Nauruan Government wishes to continue close links with Australia, as forecast by the Nauruan delegation at these talks, the Australian Government will be ready to. respond and to consider sympathetically any requests that may be made for assistance. It is expected that the Bill referred to in the joint statement will be introduced in the House of Representatives in the near future.
I present the following paper:
Nauru - Ministerial Statement, 25 October 1967- and move:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
– by leave - This statement, which concerns No. 34 Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force, is made on behalf of the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt). When the personal pronoun’I’is used, it refers to the right honourable gentleman.
The House will recall that when making a statement recently on the VIP flight I said that I would examine the feasibility of some realistic dissection of costs so that more information could be given to the
Parliament, and I expressed the view that the Treasury would be the most appropriate body with the necessary expertise and objectivity to conduct such an examination. I immediately followed this assurance given to the House by asking my colleagues, the Minister for Air (Mr Howson) and the Acting Treasurer (Mr Bury), to have examined the possibility of establishing a realistic basis for the assessment of costs attributable to VIP nights and the financial policy implications of the recovery of such costs by the Department of Air from other departments. in the light of the Treasury examination I now make the following comment. In doing so, I remind honourable members that No. 34 Squadron is an integral part of the Royal Australian Air Force and must be there in time of war to provide transport and communications services. Currently the flights made are mainly for the purpose of VIP transport, for training, for air tests, for ferrying, and for squadron support. But in a time of emergency, there would be both a national and a defence requirement for fast, secure and independent transport and communication, for example, for the carriage of Service chiefs, for other direct Service purposes and for the carriage of persons directly connected with the defence side of government. This, of course, carries with it the need for air crew trained for these services. It has been regarded as the function of the Air Force to provide and conduct this Squadron, its operations clearly would, in an emergency, be integrated with other RAAF transport arrangements.
In other words, No. 34 Squadron has, prospectively, a full defence role, in direct terms and in other ways directly related to the national defence effort. Having regard to this, the capital costs of the Squadron and certain other charges may be considered properly attributable to defence appropriations. This is not to deny that VIP transport requirements have not been allowed for in the re-equipment programme or that certain fitting out with VIP transport purposes in mind has taken place. But neither is it to deny the defence support capability. Accordingly, the Treasury, in its findings, has based its calculations for the costing of VIP flights on an extra cost basis.
The Treasury has agreed, with the Department of Air, that these costs comprise aircraft flying costs, aircraft handling at civil airports and catering. The aircraft flying costs in turn comprise fuel and oil, tyres, oxygen, spares and servicing by contractors. This basis means that certain items are eliminated from the costing on the ground that they would be incurred in any event - that is to say, as a consequence of defence policy provision against a time of emergency. These items include amortisation and interest on the cost of capital facilities, including aircraft, the pay and allowances and upkeep of crews and other Squadron personnel, and support provided by Base Squadron, Fairbairn, and other RAAF formations.
On this basis, the Treasury has been able to indicate the cost of VIP flights for the year 1967-68 - that is the current financial year. Its estimate is an amount of approximately $450,000. The actual amount could be somewhat higher this year and will certainly be higher next year when the more modern aircraft are fully in operation. On the other hand, there will be gains in efficiency and considerable saving of time in the air on many flights for Ministers, their staffs and other users. The 1967-68 estimate provides for travel by senior Service officers to be regarded as a proper charge to the defence appropriations and not to VIP flights. Travel by the Minister for Defence and Service Ministers, however, is in this calculation being attributed to VIP flights even though their travel is in part directly associated with defence and .Service assignments.
I now move to the question of charging out of costs. As a general rule, it is not the policy for one department to recover from another department costs of carrying out functions for which it is responsible, except in respect of services provided to or by business undertakings such as the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. This rule has, I understand, the general support of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts. The Treasury suggests that this policy should be adhered to except in special circumstances. It goes on to say, however, that if recovery is to be made, it would think that the costs should not be recovered from every department involved but rather that they should be met from a separate appropriation item of the Prime Minister’s Department. This strikes me as being both practical and sensible. My own Department is the most appropriate in view of certain of its central responsibilities, and also since it is responsible for costs relating to visits of Government guests from abroad and for the travel costs of the Governor-General. The Government has decided to adopt this procedure. These costs therefore will be charged to the Prime Minister’s Department. Payments from the Prime Minister’s Department will thereafter be credited to the relevant appropriations of the Department of Air. This will have the effect of reducing defence expenditure by the amount of the payments by the Prime Minister’s Department, it is proposed to institute this procedure in 1967-68 with funds initially provided to the Prime Minister’s Department from the Treasurer’s Advance pending additional estimates.
Except for Service purposes, any use of VIP aircraft must be approved by the Governor-General in respect of his own use of them and that of his staff, and myself or the Minister for Air in respect of all other use. Similarly passengers must be approved within the same group, that is by the Governor-General for those in aircraft occupied by him and by myself or the Minister for Air in relation to all other passengers.
A number of questions which have been asked in the Senate are also being answered today. This information will be available to members of the House of Representatives in Hansard. Some of the detail sought was so extensive that it did not seem appropriate to handle it in a detailed way. Consequently, the details will be tabled in the Senate, and I propose to table them here together with the questions and answers which relate to them.
Parliament is entitled to facts, if they can be procured, which will enable members to form a judgment as to the purposes served by the flight and the manner in which it is being conducted. My concern all along has been to ensure that the Parliament was not given a misleading picture because of the type and range of questions. This prompted me to make my first statement to the House which I have now supplemented. I wish to add some further comments.
I have stressed more than once that responsibility for the conduct of the VIP flight rests with the Minister for Air and myself. I hope this has not been overlooked by its critics. I am no more sensitive to Press and public criticism than most public men. After all, I experience it on most of the 7 days each week for 52 weeks of the year. I do not claim to be a modern Gulliver, but usually 1 manage to shrug these criticisms off as Gulliver did the darts of the Lilliputians. But there are some forms of criticism to which I do react quite strongly. These are criticisms of an unfair kind which undermine the status and authority of Parliament, and which belittle - whether thoughtlessly or cruelly - decent, conscientious men who serve in the Parliament and in the Ministry.
I have flown the best part of 250,000 miles since I became Prime Minister. I do not fly for the fun of it. Some of it is uncomfortable, most of it is tiring, and altogether it can be quite exhausting. The best part of any flight for me is the walk out of the plane down the aircraft steps. But the VIP flight has enabled me to keep many more official commitments with organisations and people all around Australia. 1 have been able to see a great deal more of the 3 million square miles of this continent and of the many projects contributing so much to our development. In the recent week of parliamentary recess, socalled, I was able to keep official commitments in four capitals. No less importantly, it has enabled me, as it has many of my colleagues, to devote time more efficiently to the business of the Cabinet and my Department.
All this has somehow been conjured up by some as something improper, inappropriate or unreasonable. There are always to be found those who seize on any opportunity to demean members of this Parliament. There have been attempts to paint a picture of Australian Ministers enjoying VIP flight privileges not matched anywhere else in the world. This, of course, is absurd. I recall being flown in a British Government aircraft from Northern Ireland to London 15 years ago. When I attended the Finance Ministers meeting at Accra in Ghana in 1963, my opposite number from Canada arrived in a four-engined aircraft provided by his Government. During my years as Treasurer, 1 was flown by the then Secretary of the United States Treasury, Mr Douglas Dillon, in the four-engined aircraft provided for his official use. In my travels as Prime Minister I have been provided with this courtesy several times. This has become a matter of course in many other countries. My colleague, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) has told me that Mr Paul Martin, his opposite number in Canada, wishing to speak to him in Ottawa, sent a Jetstar aircraft to collect him, and arranged for him to be returned by the same aircraft after talks had concluded.
As I have said previously, the VIP flight is an adjunct of modern, efficient government. Nobody questions the use by the Department of Civil Aviation of its fleet of 17 aircraft. The VIP flight consisted of 9 aircraft in 1958. It is still a flight of 9 aircraft. When replacements were decided upon in 1965, we acted on the best technical service advice available to us to get aircraft as nearly comparable as could be obtained to those which had become obsolescent and to serve the same purposes - that is as an adjunct of modern government. This fact seems to have been overlooked by those senators who question my use of these aircraft in an election campaign. The business of the Australian Government does not cease because an election is proceeding. The aircraft is a flying office in which my staff and I carry on our work as best we can. It assists me to return to my Department the more speedily even while an election campaign is in progress. I am sure that most Australians will see the uses of the flight sensibly in their proper setting, if the facts are not distorted for them. I present the following paper:
Costing of VIP Flights - Statement by the Prime Minister, dated 24th October 1967 - and move:
That the Senate take note of the paper and the paper relating to VIP Flights, tabled pursuant to Order of the Senate of Sth October 1967.
– As the Leader of the Government (Senator Gorton) indicated, there are certain matters which are not dealt with in the answers to the questions or in the papers which have been tabled by him which were referred to in the resolution of the Senate. I would think that honourable senators will be concerned to ensure that the resolution of the Senate is complied with. The Leader of the Government has graciously suggested that this matter may, perhaps, be debated more conveniently this evening, and I agree with that. In order, therefore, that that may be done after honourable senators have had a chance to consider the documents which have been tabled and the answers which have been given, I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - The President has received the following letter from Senator Breen:
I have been very concerned about my nonattendance at the meetings of the Senate Select Committee on the Metric System of Weights and Measures. As Senator Marriott and Senator Benn are overseas, it must be difficult on occasions for the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Laught, to obtain a quorum. I think, therefore, that it is desirable that I should resign. I do so with regret as I consider it an honour to be chosen by our members to be a member of the Committee. Would you please be kind enough to inform Senator Laught and convey to him my regret?
Motion (by Senator Gorton) - by leave - agreed to:
That Senator Breen be discharged from attendance on the Senate Select Committee on the Metric System of Weights and Measures.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator McKellar) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The basic purpose of this Bill is to obtain the approval of Parliament to a Supplemental Agreement made between the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments to amend the Sugar Agreement 1962 which regulates the production and marketing of Australian sugar. The Supplemental Agreement includes provision for the increase, applied from 19th June 1967 by arrangement between the two Governments, of the maximum wholesale prices specified in the Agreement and for extension of the current Agreement by one year to 31st August 1968. It also includes the several other amendments which had been made between the two Governments previously, but which have not been submitted piecemeal to Parliament for approval because of their relatively minor nature.
The Bill ls evidence of the Commonwealth’s concern for the welfare of the sugar industry and at the same time its concern to protect the Australian consumer of sugar. We have recognised the severity of the financial difficulties plaguing the sugar industry since 1965 - and in some sectors even earlier - as we have shown by providing repayable grants of approximately $20m in respect of the 1966 season and up to SI 5m in respect of the 1967 season, to mention the most spectacular forms of our support. On the other hand, we have maintained a regular and full supply of sugar for Australian consumers at prices which were unchanged from May 1960 until 1.9th June last, during which period - although not in recent years - the price obtainable on overseas markets had at times greatly exceeded that applying on the home market. I hasten to add that the sugar industry did not at any time seek to divert sugar from the home market to more profitable outlets.
The Australian consumer has been protected from a higher price until only 3 months ago, even though the earnings of the sugar industry have been extremely depressed for several years. Queensland producers who account for 95% of Australian production earned an average $86.58 per ton of No. I Pool raw sugar in the 1965 season - the lowest return for 10 seasons - but in 1966 earned only an average $77.13 per ton which was the lowest return since 1951. The 1966 returns were of course brought up to approximately $86 per ton by loan moneys arranged by the Commonwealth. In the 1967 season it will be only through the increase in the home market price and further financial assistance from the Commonwealth that the industry’s average return can again be kept up to $86 per ton.
The Government feels, as our actions have shown, that it is essential to preserve the sugar industry. This is Australia’s fifth largest rural industry and ranks very high among our earners of the foreign exchange which is vital for the continued development of Australia. It is an efficient producer and is the second ranking exporter among the sugar industries of the world. Sugar provides the basis for settlement and development of a very large sector of our north eastern coastal region, and in many districts is the only industry which can maintain the local population. Altogether about 30,000 Australians are employed in the production of sugar, and many more depend indirectly on the industry for part of their livelihood.
After a thoroughgoing analysis of prospects by experts the industry undertook an expansion of production at the end of 1963 when export prices were at their highest for 40 years. Unfortunately many other sugar producing countries did likewise and although world consumption of sugar has increased by almost 18% in the 3 years since 1963 there has been a surplus of sugar on world markets. Price quotations for raw sugar c.i.f. United Kingdom fell consequently from £stg105 per ton in November 1963 to £stg21 per ton in February 1965, which is far below the cost of production in any country. After fluctuating around that level until May 1966 prices declined steadily to £stg!2 5s per ton in January 1967 which was probably their lowest level ever in real terms. Although prices improved moderately after mid January the average of this year’s quotations to date is less than £stg20 per ton and at 20th October the quotation was only £stg19 10s per ton. This depression of prices on the world free market has coincided with our increasing dependence on that market. In the 1 963 season approximately 36% of our production was sold on the world free market the remainder being sold on the home market and in the United States of America and the United Kingdom under reasonably remunerative arrangements. However in 1966 we had to sell 50% of our sugar on the world free market at the depressed prices I have described.
The Commonwealth Government has made strenuous efforts over a period of several years to improve export marketing conditions for Australian sugar. In particular we have been striving for negotiation of a new International Sugar Agreement which is generally considered to be the best means of improving the world free market price and bringing order and stability into the international sugar trade. I am happy to be able to say that the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development has now convened a meeting of experts at Geneva from 23rd October to 1st November to examine the main features of a draft agreement prepared by a joint secretariat representing UNCTAD, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, and the International Sugar Council. These experts have been drawn from twenty-two countries including Australia. Moreover, tentative arrangements have been made for a full conference of all countries interested to be convened on 17th April of next year for negotiations on a new agreement.
The Commonwealth Government has also worked hard in recent years - notably in the Kennedy Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade discussions - to achieve an arrangement with Japan which would provide for more satisfactory prices on our sales of sugar to that country, which in terms of quantity is our largest outlet for this commodity. Unfortunately neither Australia nor any other country has been able to conclude such an arrangement. However our relationships with Japan on sugar will continue under discussion.
We have also moved to protect our industry’s exports under the British Commonwealth Sugar Agreement to the United Kingdom and other preferential markets in the event of the United Kingdom succeeding in joining the European Economic Community. The Minister for Social Services (Mr Sinclair), as Minister assisting the Minister for Trade and Industry, went to London for this purpose in June when he represented the Australian Government at a conference between the United Kingdom Government and Governments of the countries whose sugar industries are exporting members of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. The Minister stressed the importance for Australian sugar producers of continuation of this Agreement.
When the sugar industry earlier this year sought, with the support of the Queensland Government, permission to increase the price of sugar sold in Australia the Commonwealth had well in mind the interests of all parties concerned. As I have said above, it was well aware of the difficulties besetting the sugar industry but on the other hand it had very much in mind the interests of Australian consumers - the public, those many manufacturing industries which use sugar, and the suppliers to those industries. When applying for a price increase the sugar industry put forward full details of its position including in particular information on costs of production of Taw and refined sugar. The decision to increase the price specified under the CommonwealthQueensland Sugar Agreement was taken only after a very close examination of the industry’s case and of all relevant matters. lt was considered that the increase in price was appropriate in all the circumstances.
At the same time as they agreed upon the price increase, the two Governments agreed to extend the Sugar Agreement for 1 year until 31st August 1968. This course was appropriate to allow sufficient time for the comprehensive re-negotiation of the terms of the Agreement - as over many years this and preceding Agreements have covered terms approximating 5 years - and to provide ample time for Parliament to debate such a comprehensive new Agreement.
Up to now I have been speaking particularly about the increase in the home market price. The Supplemental Agreement also provides for variation in some respects of the arrangements by which the Fruit Industry Sugar Concession Committee and the Export Sugar Committee administer rebates of part of the price of sugar contained in certain fruit products manufactured in Australia and in products exported. The former rebate facilitates the support of a minimum price system for Australian fresh fruit while the latter is designed to provide exporters with sugar at a price broadly equivalent to import parity. Clause 5 of the Supplemental Agreement seeks Parliament’s approval for an arrangement, which has operated as from 1st October 1962 by agreement between the two Governments, whereby additional funds have been made available to the Fruit Industry’ Sugar Concession Committee. The relevant clause of the Sugar Agreement 1962 has been redrafted and extended accordingly.
These additional funds were found to be necessary because of an unexpected steep increase in production of products eligible for the rebate of $10 per ton paid by the Committee on the price of Australian refined cane sugar in certain fruit products manufactured in Australia. The additional funds provided for the Committee under this arrangement amounted to $204,249 in respect of its operations in the year ended 31st August 1966.
Clause 6 (a) of the Supplemental Agreement would allow the Fruit Industry Sugar Concession Committee to pay the $10 rebate mentioned to manufacturers of approved fruit products in advance of their having completed payment to growers for all the fresh fruit which they have processed. The $10 rebate is intended to help fruit growers by providing an incentive for manufacturers to pay not less than the prices determined by the Committee as reasonable for the fresh fruit. The 1962 Agreement provided - as had preceding agreements - that all Australian fresh fruit processed by a manufacturer must be paid for at not less than Committee prices, if any. before he ls eligible for the $10 rebate. However in recent seasons circumstances beyond the control of manufacturers - for instance, serious export marketing difficulties - have resulted in long delays in payment to fruit growers by some fundamentally sound manufacturers, and so have led to the Committee having to withhold rebate moneys which could have notably helped full payment of growers. This situation is expected to occur again sometimes and the provision included in the Supplemental Agreement would help the Committee to overcome the problem where it considers advance payment of rebate is justifiable and prudent. The arrangement includes provision for repayment of moneys advanced to a manufacturer whose fruit purchases are not paid for in full within a set time.
Clause 6 (b) of the Supplemental Agreement refers to an arrangement brought into operation by the two Governments on 14th March 1963 in order to reinforce the incentive for manufacturers to pay for fresh fruit at least the prices declared by the Fruit Industry Sugar Concession Committee. The $10 rebate payable under the
Sugar Agreement as I have mentioned previously was the only rebate to which the 1962 Agreement attached a condition requiring payment for fresh fruit. In relation to products containing only a small proportion of sugar this rebate provides only a small incentive to pay Committee prices for fruit. However the additional rebate payable on sugar in the approved fruit products when exported has in recent years, generally, been much more than $10 per ton of sugar. For instance the rate for October is $107 per ton. Manufacturers tempted to pay less than Committee prices for fresh fruit despite loss of the $10 rebate per ton of sugar are restrained by the knowledge that they would lose the far greater rebate on exports.
I may point out at this juncture that the cost of the rebate system is taken into account when the two governments negotiate a sugar agreement. The arrangements made in a sugar agreement must bc considered as a whole and are then seen :o constitute a system offering advantages, and involving responsibilities, for each party and so affording a position of net advantage for each party to which each signifies acceptance. In this way it may be clearly understood that the rebate system is not a burden unjustly placed on the sugar industry but instead is a responsibility undertaken by the sugar industry as part of an arrangement which is advantageous overall.
The provisions made in Clause 8 of the Supplemental Agreement were necessary to allow alteration, because of the June increase in price of sugar, of the rates of rebate applicable to sugar in exported products under option arrangements. The option system provides that an exporter may choose to apply for as much as 12 months ahead the rate of rebate applicable to one particular month. An option holder is thus, as is highly desirable, in a position to offer goods for future delivery overseas on the basis of known cost for their sugar content.
The Sugar Agreement Bill 1967 follows a long series of Commonwealth statutes under which the Commonwealth has fostered the development of the sugar industry and at the same time has ensured full and stable supplies of sugar at reasonable prices for Australian consumers. I commend this Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Dittmer) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) read a first time.
[4.25] - f move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is, firstly, to authorise the provision of hearing aids for pensioners and their dependants, one of the important social service measures foreshadowed by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) in his Budget speech and, secondly, to revise the First Schedule of the National Health Act, which sets out the medical services in respect of which Commonwealth medical benefits are payable and fixes the amount of Commonwealth medical benefit payable for each service.
It is proposed that the provision of hearing aids for pensioners and their dependants will be arranged by an extension of the hearing aid service conducted by the Commonwealth Acoustic Laboratories, which is a branch of the Department of Health. The Commonwealth Acoustic Laboratories at present supply hearing aids on a loan basis to deaf school children, pre-school children, repatriation cases where the deafness is attributable to war service, serving members of the Defence Services, and certain recipients of social service benefits undergoing rehabilitation training and treatment. It is this service that is being extended to persons who are in receipt of an age pension, an invalid pension, a widow’s pension, a Service pension, a tuberculosis allowance or a sheltered employment allowance. Dependants of all of these pensioners will also be entitled to the new service.
As under the existing service, the Laboratories will give audiological examinations to pensioners and dependants who have hearing difficulties and, where the examination shows that the pensioner’s hearing will be improved with the assistance of an aid, will provide him with the aid most suited to his needs. The provision of these aids by the Commonwealth will be of tremendous benefit, both physically and financially, to the individuals concerned and will enable them to play a more valuable role as members of the community. lt will be of interest to the Senate to have a brief account of the activities el the Commonwealth Acoustic Laboratories, lt is a unique institution which has achieved outstanding success in its field. The functions of the Laboratories include scientific investigations and research into the physical, physiological and psychological aspects of acoustics. These have been of real benefit to industry, the Armed Forces, the Department of Civil Aviation and other organisations in advising on noise levels and acoustic problems. Considerable ultrasonic research is undertaken, mainly connected with medical problems in the field of otology, obstetrics and gynaecology, ophthalmology, neurology, dentistry, radiology, breast cancer and cardiology. The Laboratories’ investigations into hearing aids and their application to the needs of individuals led to the design by the Laboratories of hearing aid instruments of extremely high technical efficiency. These became known as Calaids. At the present time, the models in use are the Calaid T and the Calaid E. The Calaid T is a powerful unit carried on the body and the Calaid E is a miniature type of instrument in the form of an earmould. In all, over 20,000 of these aids have been manufactured and made available to children with hearing defects, under section 9a of the National Health Act, and to ex-servicemen whose deafness is attributable to war service, to serving members of defence forces and to pensioners who are undergoing rehabilitation training under the auspices of the Department of Social Services.
The Laboratories do not undertake the actual production of the hearing aids. The parts for the aids are purchased from industry and they are assembled to the Laboratories’ specifications by private firms, ft is the Government’s hope that the Australian content of the aids will progressively increase as firms become interested in tendering for the supply of parts at present imported.
I turn now to specific details of the. scheme that this Bill will authorise. As a general principle, it is intended that the first step that a pensioner should take towards securing a Commonwealth hearing aid is to consult his own doctor. For this consultation pensioners will be able to use their medical service entitlement cards. When the doctor’s examination suggests that the pensioner may benefit from the use of a hearing aid the doctor will refer him to the Commonwealth Acoustic Laboratories which will undertake a detailed examination of the pensioner’s hearing needs. The Laboratories’ examination will comprise a personal examination by one of the Laboratories’ highly trained audiological psychologists to ascertain the nature of the disability, whether a hearing aid will be of assistance and if so, the type of aid most suitable to the pensioner’s needs. The Calaid E cannot be made as powerful as the Calaid T due to problems of auditory feedback, so that it is only fitted where a lesser degree of deafness exists. Each aid is personally fitted and adjusted to give the wearer the greatest assistance possible.
One of the great benefits of the Laboratories’ service is the personal care taken with each individual. The psychological examination alone can be of immense value in re-establishing an individual’s confidence in the face of any disability he may have and so help him to return to a normal life. Of course, the job is not finished once an aid is fitted. Hearing aids are highly sensitive instruments and must be adjusted regularly, usually in step with the wearer’s deteriorating hearing. The effort involved in repairing or replacing damaged aids is also significant.
It is planned to implement the scheme progressively over a 3 year period. It is estimated that in this 3 year period approximately 100,000 pensioners and dependants will be tested and some 36,000 aids fitted, lt is hoped to make a start on the actual provision of the aids before the end of this financial year. Before the scheme commences suitable publicity will be arranged to ensure that all pensioners are made aware of the procedure to be followed if they wish to have tests made of their hearing to ascertain whether an aid will assist them.
The Bill provides for the hearing aids supplied by the Commonwealth Acoustic Laboratories to remain the property of the Commonwealth and be recoverable, for example, when a pensioner is issued with a different, instrument to replace an old one.
Old aids so recovered can be made fully effective for re-issue by reconstruction and reconditioning. Although the aids will remain the property of the Commonwealth, it is felt to be desirable that pensioners accept some measure of responsibility for the valuable instruments which will be made available to them. The Bill, therefore, provides for each pensioner receiving an aid to pay a hiring charge of $10. The Bill also provides for the aids issued to pensioners to be fully maintained by the Acoustic Laboratories without cost to the pensioners to whom they have been issued. This maintenance will be on a regular basis and will include the repair of any damage of a kind that can be managed by the servicing technicians. Where an aid is damaged beyond repair or is lost and has to be replaced, a further $10 hiring fee will be charged. The Bill provides that a further fee will not be charged where, for any reason, the Laboratories decide a new aid should be issued to replace an old aid which is recovered. This will occur in a variety of circumstances, for example, where a user’s hearing deteriorates and a more powerful aid is required. It is proposed that pensioners will obtain their own replacement batteries which are readily available through normal commercial sources.
The clauses of the Bill to which I have referred are simple in content, but the advantages that will flow to pensioners from the scheme it authorises are of great value and will add considerably to the generous health benefits already provided by the Government to pensioners.
As 1 stated earlier, this Bill also includes a revision of the Medical Benefits Schedule of the National Health Act. The revision of this Schedule is undertaken periodically to enable anomalies that have developed to be corrected, to include benefit amounts for new medical procedures and generally to ensure that the Schedule is consistent with the medical and surgical procedures of the day. The Schedule was last revised in 1964. An example of new procedures that have come under notice since the present Schedule was compiled is radio-isotope studies, items 1900 to 1946 of the new Schedule. Of course, patients have not been deprived of benefits for any of these new items because they did not appear in the
Schedule. Section 15a of the National Health Act provides that the Minister for Health, by determination, may fix an appropriate benefit for medical services not specified in the Schedule and this machinery is used when necessary.
The revised Schedule will incorporate determinations made under section 15a since the present Schedule was enacted in 1964. This necessitates some renumbering of items in the Schedule. Advantage has therefore been taken of the opportunity to revise the numbering in the Schedule. This will assist the administration of the scheme and facilitate the inclusion of new services as circumstances require. The overall financial effect of the changes to the Schedule is negligible. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Dittmer) adjourned.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - The President has received a letter from the leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Gorton) appointing Senator Sim to fill the vacancy on the Select Committee on the Metric System of Weights and Measures caused by the resignation of Senator Breen.
– I move:
I ask for leave to have incorporated in Hansard the regulations which are sought to be disallowed and Regulation 61 of the Export (Meat) Regulations which is sought to be amended by the Regulations sought to be disallowed.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- There being no objection, leave is granted, subject to the incorporations being technically practicable.
AMENDMENTS OF THE EXPORT (MEAT) REGULATIONS
After regulation 61 of the Export (Meat) Regulations the following regulation is inserted: “61a. - (1.) This regulation applies to a person who is an employee of a registered establishment and works in rooms or areas in which the slaughtering and dressing of animals for export is performed or meat, meat products or edible offal intended for export are prepared, packed or stored. “(2.) A person to whom this regulation applies-
Penalty: One hundred dollars.”.
Regulation proposed to be amended:
– (I.) A person at an export establishment shall not -
Penalty: Fifty pounds.
I shall indicate to the Senate the nature of the Regulation which is sought to be disallowed. It is one which first of all repeals certain previous Regulations under the Export (Meat) Regulations which are contained in sub-regulation (2.) of Regulation 61. Sub-regulation (2.) contains provisions about the sanitary handling of meat at abattoirs. Broadly, Regulation 61 (2.) used to provide that a person handling meat at an export establishment:
Then there were certain other similar provisions. The Regulation which has been substituted by Regulations contained in Statutory Rules 1967 No. 113 alter that in a way which we do not think is satisfactory. Although no doubt the Regulations have been made with good intentions, subregulation (1.) provides:
This regulation applies to a person who Ls an employee of a registered establishment and works in rooms or areas in which the slaughtering and dressing of animals for export is performed or meat, meat products or edible offal intended for export are prepared, packed or stored.
Then it goes on to say in the Regulation:
A person to whom this regulation applies -
shall not commence work at the registered establishment on any day unless he is wearing clean outer clothes . . .
There is nothing wrong with the substance of the Regulation so far as it deals with the wearing of overalls. In fact, we completely agree with it.
The Regulation goes on to say certain other things about not using scabbards or sheaths unless they are in effect clean and not liable torust. We approve of that also. The burden of our complaint is. first, that the previous Regulation extended to a person handling meat at the export establishment. The Government, which is responsible for the alterations and the Regulations, has made amendments designed to overcome some possible ambiguity about the extent of the expression ‘handling of meat’. We have no real quarrel with that, although we think that it was a simple enough matter to have extended the expression ‘handling of meat’ so that there would be no doubt about whether the dressing, killing and so on was covered by the expression. But in altering the expression and restricting it to ‘an employee of a registered establishment’, that is, a person who ‘works in rooms or areas in which the slaughtering and dressing of animals for export is performed’, whether the Government realises it or not it has seriously restricted the Regulation. It no longer applies to any person who would be handling the meat in the extended way that the Government wanted; it is restricted to employees.
In recent times those concerned with various parts of industry have had it well and truly borne in on them that everyone who works is not necessarily an employee.
One of the greatest problems in the industrial field recently has been the spread of work done by people who are not strictly employees. This has become so serious a matter that amendments to the Industrial Arbitration Act had to be introduced in New South Wales at the request of about a dozen trade unions to provide that all sorts of persons had to be, for the purposes of various awards, deemed to be employees because they were not in fact employees. There are instances of this referred to even in documents which deal with abattoirs. If t may refer to the report of the Advisory Council of the Australian Capital Territory on the proposal to sell or lease the Canberra Abattoir, there is a reference there to employees and also to others. At page 10 of the report the Council said:
The present arrangement of each operator having to either employ or hire his own slaughtermen is by modern standards inefficient and mitigates against the widest possible use of the facility. There is little doubt that the most efficient method of operation is a fully serviced works where the controlling authority employs all the staff, makes appropriate charges and provides unrestricted slaughtering facilities for all who wish to use them.
That is only one example of what I have informed the Senate is a real distinction between persons who might be working at the establishment and handling the meat and those who are strictly employees at the registered establishment. I should like to know what the reason was for altering the expression so as to restrict it to employees, giving it this limiting effect when dealing with a sanitary regulation, where one would think that the first consideration would be the health of the people. If it has been by inadvertence it can easily be corrected. If it has been deliberate, I am sure the Senate would like to know the reason why there has been this limitation to the employees.
The next objection that we have to the regulation is that it does not go far enough. Accepting the proposition that the regulation is a good one so far as it applies to those working in connection with meat - we raise no objection whatsoever to the requirement that the persons working in connection with meat shall wear clean clothes and not at any time wear unhygienic material or carry dirty scabbards - we consider that, as a practical matter, the obligation should be placed upon the owner or occupier of the abattoir. ‘Owner or occupier’ is the expression used in the regulations, and I use it deliberately, rather than ‘employer’ because, as I said a little while ago, there may bc a distinction - for instance in relation to the Canberra Abattoir. Experience shows that unless an obligation is placed upon the actual operator the hygiene provisions may not be observed.
If anyone in this Senate thinks that the precautions taken in abattoirs throughout this country are satisfactory and hygienic, one need only refer to the Canberra Abattoir which is concerned with this particular regulation because there is material throughout the regulation which suggests that the Canberra Abattoir is supposed to fit in with the requirements of the Export (Meat) Regulations. Although one might wonder why it is envisaged that meat would be exported from the Canberra Abattoir, nevertheless the Minister has indicated that it is expected to comply with these requirements. For the information of honourable senators who may not be aware of it, the Advisory Council said this of the facilities at the Canberra Abattoir in its report of 24th July 1967:
Council finds that the facilities at the Canberra Abattoir are far below the standards which the Commonwealth requires for export purposes; would not he accepted by New South Wales for purposes of domestic slaughtering; and are totally inadequate for Canberra purposes.
The report points to a number of aspects of the Abattoir which came under notice when the councillors inspected the undertaking after killing had been concluded and during the course of slaughtering. As to these, the Council reported:
The slaughter floor, which should be constructed of impervious material, has deteriorated and is badly pitted. This could have been improved at very little cost but has been allowed to deteriorate to a point where the bacteria content could be dangerous.
The present boiler capacity is not sufficient to provide hot water and steam essential to maintain hygienic conditions . . .
Facilities for the sterilisation of equipment used in slaughtering are inadequate and. the use of cheese cloth for cleaning caracasses is unhygienic.
There has been no apparent attempt by the Department of Health to insist that- suitable hygienic protective clothing be worn by slaughtermen. The lack of special garments for slaughtermen and any provision for laundering is unhygienic.
The free movement of slaughtermen over areas of the slaughter floor where the carcasses of beef are laid is unhygienic and totally unacceptable.
No bacteria counts arc taken on the slaughter floor despite its pitted and crude condition.
There is no efficient effluent disposal system. The facilities for post mortem inspection are inadequate.
Other matters are referred to and they all show that even in the capital of the nation itself there can be inadequate supervision as well as failure to institute and enforce a proper system of hygiene. If this can occur in the nation’s capital where export meat regulations are expected to be observed, then it could certainly take place in other parts of Australia. We take the view that the regulations ought to be made as stringent as possible. The only way to ensure proper compliance is to insist that the obligation be placed on the employer and not the employee. The obligation should be on the person or corporation which is responsible for the operation of the abattoir to supply the clothing required by the regulations and to see that it is regularly laundered. Our way of achieving this result is to move to disallow the regulations in their present form. This is the only way open to us. It is not open to us to amend a regulation. By asking that the regulations be disallowed we are inviting the Government to bring in proper regulations ensuring that requirements in respect of hygiene are imposed on all persons handling meat and not just on employees. The new regulations should also place an obligation on the operator to see that the clothing is provided and laundered.
This is a matter which has caused the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union great concern for some years. My colleagues, Senator McClelland and other members of the Senate, have taken a great interest in it. For some time now the Union has been attempting to do something about these regulations but without a great deal of success. The secretary of the Union wrote on 25th May 1966 to Senator McClelland in these terms:
Since early 1963 I have been endeavouring to get the Department of Primary Industry active on the question of the wearing of clean clothing by operatives in meat export establishments and that the employer should supply and launder such clothing free of cost to the employee. 1 think Senator McClelland will deal with this in more detail, but the answer by the Department was to the effect that it would move on the regulation as soon as possible, at least to overcome possible doubts about the handling of meat. It said that ‘an amendment will be introduced as soon as possible’.
– That was the Minister.
– That was the Minister, Mr Adermann. That statement was made on 17th July 1966. Despite the importance of this matter which affects the health of the people, these simple regulations were not made until August of this year - some 14 months later. But the matters which concern the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union are not adequately covered and we ask nhat the regulations be disallowed in order that new ones may be brought in in proper form. If they are disallowed, there will be no technical difficulty in enabling regulations to be made in proper terms, as 1 have indicated.
If the Government is opposed to this, I would like to hear in plain terms why it would resist making regulations which would extend the obligation to observe certain standards of hygiene in regard to clothing of all persons working in connection with meat and which would require the operator to supply and launder the clothing required. I therefore ask the Senate to support this motion to disallow the regulations.
– In the Senate a number of questions have been asked and answers given regarding the regulations that are under discussion. Some of the ground that has been covered in the past has been covered again this afternoon by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy). It seemed to me that most of the complaints made by the honourable senator related to the abattoir at Canberra. I do not know why the honourable senator cited the Canberra abattoir as an example. No meat is exported from this abattoir; it does not come within the ambit of the Export (Meat) Regulations. In one sense the honourable senator is trying to extend these regulations to all slaughterhouses aDd abattoirs. If the regulations were so extended the Canberra abattoir would come under them. But at the present time it does not come under the regulations; it has never been registered for export purposes. The statutory rules referred to apply only to those abattoirs and slaughterhouses that are slaughtering and handling meat for export. If the honourable senator’s complaints are justified - I am not in a position to know whether they are or not, because 1 have not inspected the Canberra abattoir - the matters complained of could bc rectified by other means. Why should these regulations be disallowed? Approximately 130 or 140 abattoirs are exporting meat. Two or three years ago - perhaps earlier - a representative from the United States of America came here and laid down conditions which had a far reaching effect and which caused quite a lot of consternation among the abattoirs that had export licences. If my memory serves me correctly, as a consequence of the requirements that were laid down then quite a number of these abattoirs lost their licences temporarily. I do not know whether they lost their licences permanently. A lot of abattoirs had to put their premises in order before they were allowed to export meat. To do that cost a lot of money and caused a lot of dislocation. In the main, great benefit has accrued in the improved quality of meat exported from Australia and provided for local consumption.
I point out to the Leader of the Opposition that at the present time strong pressures are being brought to bear in the United States to restrict Australian trade. Bearing that in mind, it would be very foolish indeed to disallow these regulations. Such action would be seized upon by those who are endeavouring to bring about those restrictions in the United States.
– -Thomas Playfair Pty Ltd will not play ball with the unions. Only a minority of the companies will be affected.
– Only a minority of the companies will be affected? Objection has been raised to placing the onus on the operator, which was the word used by Senator Murphy, or the owner. The onus is placed on the owner or the operator, as the case may be, to see that his employees carry out the terms of the regulations.
– The Minister has not read the regulation in question. The onus is on the employee.
– The obligation is on the employer to see that the employee carries out the terms of the regulations. Admittedly the employee is subject to a fine.
What is the alternative? I cannot go along with the argument advanced by other honourable senators that a casual employee could obtain a position without knowing the conditions relating to his employment and quite inadvertently lay himself open to a fine for not carrying out the terms of regulations. Who would lay a complaint against him? His employer would not lay a complaint against him. His employer would say: ‘If you are not suitably dressed you will have to get suitably dressed.’ That would be the obvious thing to say. If an inspection were made, surely it would be made by one whose duty it was to make an inspection. Would an inspector say to this fellow: ‘You are up for $100’, or whatever the fine might be? Would it not be reasonable to assume that the inspector would go along to the man’s foreman and lay a complaint to the foreman? I understand that that is the general practice. ( believe that that fear can be ruled out.
– Who is obliged to provide the clothes?
– I am coming to that. The operator or the owner is subject to a fine if his employees are not clothed in the manner laid down in the regulations. What is the result of that? If the onus to see that the employee is properly clothed is removed from the employee and the employer has to clothe him and be subject to a fine, as certain as night follows day the employee would not be concerned about the condition of his clothes. The employee would say: ‘That is good enough. I do not have to worry anyway.’ If the employee was incorrectly clothed and therefore did not comply with the regulations and the employer decided to dispense wilh the man’s services, what would happen then? Everyone knows what would happen. Inevitably if the employer attempted to discharge the man he would have a strike on his hands. That is as sure as night follows day. In my view it is quite clear that the onus should be placed on the employee to comply with these regulations. 1 cannot accept the fact that the employee would accept employment not knowing the conditions under which he was employed.
I point out to honourable senators that W. Angliss & Co. (Aust.) Pty Ltd, Thomas Borthwick and Sons (A/asia) Ltd, 1. A.
Field Pty Ltd, and Swift Australian Co. (Pty) Ltd made this offer to the union when seeking a variation of the relevant award.
That where the employer requires an employee to wear a special type of clothing and does not supply and launder such clothing the employee Shall be paid 10c per day for each day he is required to wear such clothing, subject to these conditions (hat (a) the clothing is specially laundered each day by the employee; (b) the clothing is kept in a reasonable state of repair by the employee and, if the clothing is supplied by the employer, the employee may retain the allowance until the clothing issued has been paid for in full and if the services of the employee are terminated before the clothing is paid for in full and the clothing is not returned to the employer in reasonable order and condition, the employer may deduct the balance of the money outstanding on the clothing supplied from any money duc to the employee. lt was stated that the allowance of 10c per day had been fixed on the basis of the cost of the clothing and would average not more than $10 per year. The allowance was fixed on a basis not necessarily intended to cover the total cost of the buying and laundering of clothing but to cover the difference between buying and laundering the employee’s own clothing and the special type of clothing. A number of employees have already signed the agreement; but the unions have tried to prevent them signing because they want the whole lot for nothing.
Opposition senators - Hear, hear!
– The attitude of honourable senators opposite is to take all that they can get and give as little as they can in return. That is a wrong attitude to adopt. They should be concerned to see that employees are employed at a reasonable rate and that in return they do a decent day’s work. There has to be give and take in employment. The New South Wales branch of the Meat Industry Employees Union has signed a written agreement with the Riverstone Meat Co. embodying this clause and the employees of the Angliss organisation in South Australia have also signed. That is the position in a nutshell. The information that I have is that the employees are quite satisfied with the arrangement that I have just mentioned. Therefore, for the life of me I cannot understand why an attempt should be made to stir up trouble in this industry, particularly when that will tend to give people who want to see Australian exports to the United States restricted something to argue about. I say to honourable senators opposite: ‘For goodness sake, think of Australia for once and forget about these petty things’.
I do not know that I need to cover many other points. Senator Murphy said that he agreed wholeheartedly with the need for clean clothes and scabbards. Then he asked why the provision in relation to persons handling meat has been altered. Let us look at this question. How many persons other than employees would handle meat in a meat export establishment?
– If there were only one, this point would not be any less important.
– Although there may be only one, members of the Opposition want to bring under the regulations the 130 or 140 establishments which have hundreds or even thousands of employees. The one person who is not an employee might be me, for instance. If I visited a meat export establishment and touched meat when I was not wearing proper clothing, according to honourable senators opposite I would be contravening the regulations. That simply does not make sense. No matter what regulations, ordinances or Acts are introduced, there will always be someone who is not covered. That is inescapable.
I believe that these regulations are very sensible. I again ask honourable senators opposite to look at this, matter from the overall viewpoint of Australia and not from the viewpoint of a few unions or union representatives who are objecting to these regulations and suggesting that the employees should not be responsible in any way, firstly, for the type of clothing and, secondly, for the cleanliness of clothing. In my view, if any fine is to be imposed it should be imposed on the man who is not prepared to see that the clothing he wears is kept in the condition laid down in the regulations. I suggest that we should look at this matter in that light, without trying to cause the employees in this industry to become disgruntled and disaffected, which inevitably will lead to the disruption of our meat export trade. I am not suggesting that that is the reason for this motion to disallow the regulations. But I ask honourable senators opposite to adopt a bigger attitude than that in regard to these regulations.
– By the introduction of the amending regulations the Government is attempting to sheet home to the workers engaged in the meat industry generally the responsibility for cleanliness in Australian meat export establishments and to impose on them the financial burden involved. It is completely absolving the meat companies from any public or statutory obligation to face up to their responsibility in this regard. By these regulations the Government is indicating that it is not prepared to accept the responsibility itself. As the Senate well knows, the matter of hygiene in Australian meat export establishments first arose as a result of the visit of a Dr Pals of the United States Department of Agriculture to Australia in about 1963. After inspecting killing establishments in this country, he returned to the United States and made certain recommendations. As a result of those recommendations being forwarded to the Australian authorities, the Australian Government decided to bring down amendments to the Export (Meat) Regulations. These were first made on 21st December 1963.
The American authorities, the Australian operators and . the Department of Primary Industry were not the only ones who were concerned about the situation. As Senator Murphy has pointed out, for a considerable number of years the Australasian Meat industry Employees Union has been waging a campaign to improve the standard of hygiene in the interests of everybody connected with meat export establishments. On 12th November 1964 the Federal Secretary of the Union, Mr Fred Hall, wrote to Mr Tinney, the Chief Veterinary Officer in the Department of Primary Industry. He referred to advice that he had received regarding a meeting of the Meat Industry Advisory Committee on which, incidentally, the Union was represented at that time but not now. As early as November 1964 Mr Hall pointed out to the Department that one specific item that he would like placed on the agenda was the question of clothing and the supply of it, with reference to the Export (Meat) Regulations.
On 27th November 1964 a memorandum was issued by the Department of Primary Industry, to all meat export establishments. Among other things, it set out regulation 61 (2) of the then existing Export (Meat) Regulations and went on to say that in order to effect compliance with that regulation it had been decided that overalls - that is, outer clothing - for meat works operatives should be manufactured from a washable material the fibre of which would not cause contamination of meat. I point out that whereas the original regulation 61 said that a person at a meat export establishment must not do certain things, the new regulation refers not to ‘a person* but to ‘an employee’. The old regulation said that a person, whoever he was, ‘shall wear clean washable overalls as top wear outer garments’. I emphasise ‘overalls’. The new regulation says that an employee shall wear, while working at the registered establishment, clean outer clothes made of a certain type of material.
I suggest that this regulation has been framed as a deliberate attempt by the Department and the meat operators to get around the provisions of an award made in New South Wales. In October 1965 Mr Justice Cook of the New South Wales Industrial Commission gave judgment on a dispute that had arisen between the Meat Industry Employees Union and the River-‘ stone Meat Co. Pty Ltd concerning clothing worn by slaughtermen. In his judgment he pointed out that the dispute concerned the meaning of sub-clause (if) of clause 12 - special clothing - of Part A - general conditions applying to all employees - contained in the Meat Industry Employees (Riverstone Meat Co. Pty Ltd) Award. That sub-clause reads as follows:
Where, by direction of the Company or by reason of the provisions of any statute, regulation or bylaw made pursuant thereto, an employee is required to wear a special type of clothing or a cap for the performance of his work, such clothing or cap shall be supplied by the Company free of cost to the employee.
Regulation 61 (2) provides that a person handling meat at an export meat works shall wear clean washable clothes as top wear outer garments. His Honour said in his judgment, among other things:
It is however unnecessary for the determination of this dispute to pronounce finally on the application of the regulations having regard to what took place on the occasion of the visit of the Chief Veterinary Officer to the works of the company and his view of what would be a sufficient compliance with the regulations.
The Chief Veterinary Officer of the Department apparently was expressing his view of what would have been satisfactory compliance with a regulation passed by this Parliament. His Honour continued:
So far as I could ascertain from the discussion which took place before me, it seems that the only consideration given by that officer was that a few mcn on the slaughtering floor who had been observed wearing woollen garments - either sweaters or pullovers - as outer garments should not continue to do so.
I suggest that the regulation we are now discussing has deliberately omitted the word overalls’ and has substituted the words clean outer clothes’ to get around the judgment to which I have referred. As a result of my representations in June 1966 to the Minister for Primary Industry - then Mr Adermann - on behalf of the Meat Industry Employees Union, in May 1966, the Minister wrote to me on 17th July 1966. I had referred him to the judgment of Mr Justice Cook of the New South Wales Industrial Commission and had pointed out that there seemed to be ambiguity in the regulations as they existed at that time. The Minister wrote, referring to regulation 61 (2) (a):
The intention of the regulation is to ensure that all employees engaged in operations in rooms or areas in which the slaughtering and dressing of animals for export takes place or in which meat, meat products or edible ofFal intended for export are prepared, packed or stored, should be dressed in clean clothing and the regulation has been so interpreted.
That is fair enough. It removed some of the ambiguity resulting from the previous award determination. The Minister went on to say that the amendment would be introduced as soon as possible. I remind the Senate that the letter was written in July 1966. It took the Department until August 1967 to prepare this regulation. It seems to have had no sense of urgency about the matter but there is urgency now. The Minister’s letter of 17th July 1966 continued:
You mentioned that the union’s proposals were that clothing worn by persons employed in meat export establishments should be supplied by employers who should also provide a laundering service. I am not in a position to comment on these proposals which I feel are matters between employers and the union.
Notwithstanding that statement in the Minister’s letter of 17th July 1966 the Government has now introduced this regulation which imposes on employees a condition that they wear certain types of clothing. The matter has been considered for a lengthy period. It took the Department about 4 years to remove the ambiguity that arose from the judgment of Mr Justice Cook. The regulation has been brought before us only today.
If the regulations are to be enforced in the interests of hygiene, as they have now been framed they will be quite unsatisfactory. An obligation is placed on employees to provide and to wear certain clothing. An obligation is placed on departmental officers to insist that the employees provide and wear that clothing. However, it is obvious that no obligation at all is placed on the employers. While this situation continues and the men in the export meat industry are required by regulation to provide a special type of clothing - a form of outer garment to wear in the performance of their duties - and to ensure that it is cleaned and laundered according to a certain standard, naturally in an industry of that nature there will be for some people a high standard and for others a poor standard. If effective hygiene is to be introduced in the establishment of meat export companies an obligation should be placed on employers not only to provide the special clothing but also to launder it.
We of the Labor movement appreciate that the meat industry is at present passing through a very critical period, but we also believe that we should insist on certain standards of hygiene in meat establishments. The Labor Party wants these standards; the Meat Industry Employees Union wants them; and the Australian Council of Trade Unions wants them. But we certainly object to regulations being framed deliberately to throw added responsibility on to employees engaged in the industry and apparently to circumvent the provisions of awards relating to the supply of clothing. I suggest that is the purpose of the regulation now being discussed.
As long ago as 1963 the Australian Meat Board dealt wish this matter in a number of sections of its annual report for that year. In relation to marketing surveys of meat export areas it said: the conference resolved: That the representatives of this conference undertake to do everything possible to ensure the continued development of the meat industry and expansion of home and export markets both in the interests of the meat industry itself, and for the overall good of the Commonwealth. It is therefore believed thoi it is the responsibility of alt those associated, both directly and indirectly, with the industry, to do all in their power to ensure that the well-being of the industry as a whole should bc the first consideration at all times. This conference therefore affirms that this principle should always be observed when the industry is confronted with problems affecting the whole or sectional interests.
The problem I have outlined concerns all sections of the industry generally but the regulation has been designed to affect only one section of the industry. I support the remarks of Senator Murphy. For the reasons advanced by him and by myself I believe that the Senate should reject the regulation now under discussion.
– lt is, of course, proper that the Senate should concern itself with the propriety of regulations. The Senate has always in the last 30 or 40 years made it its special province to scrutinise subordinate legislation by way of regulations, and the Parliament as a whole relies on us in a special degree to perform that function. It is not an unimportant function, because to allow regulations to go unsupervised would be to allow the Parliament to be undermined. Therefore, the narrowness of application of the present regulation is no argument against the motion that has been moved. Nevertheless, I submit that the Senate is bound to use its authority in regard to regulations responsibly. If it extended an atmosphere of irresponsibility into its exercise of this authority, it would do great damage to the function of the Senate in this, its special province.
I am here to say today that this is a motion for disallowance of a regulation which I submit should be rejected. I submit that it has been made quite clear from what has fallen from Senator McClelland that Mr justice Cook’s judgment of October 1965 shows that under the award that operates in these meat establishments, where by the direction of the company or by reason of the provisions of any statute, regulation or by-law made pursuant thereto, an employee is required to wear a special style of clothing or a cap in the performance of his work, such clothing or cap shall be supplied by the company free of cost to the employee. I would have thought that those words make it doubly clear that where any regulation places an obligation upon an employee to wear any special type of clothing or cap in the performance of his work that clothing or cap shall be supplied free of cost by the employer to enable the employee to comply with the regulation.
– The Playfair meal company has not got that message. It has not interpreted the provision in that way. unfortunately. Otherwise we would not be raising this issue.
– All that I wish to say in reply to the interjection is that nobody in the industrial field, in my view, would take a responsible viewpoint thai would deny the propriety of this provision. In any trade today it is universally acknowledged that if an industrial law requires a workman to use special gloves or overalls or clothing for the purpose of his work, those items are supplied in reasonable quantity. Sometimes you get abuse of it and therefore industrial arbitrators say ‘not more than two a year’. But that requirement of the industrial law is one of the provisions that the employer is automatically required to make so as to enable the employee to discharge his obligations.
– How does the honourable senator explain the change in words?
– I am coming to that - one step at a time always so far as I am concerned, and quite patiently. I am making the point that in the industrial sphere, as Mr Justice Cook has provided in this award, it is automatically accepted that if an employee is required by regulations to provide a special class of overall or clothing then the employee accepts it today as part of the industrial cost. I have read twice this provision that shows that it is specifically the law in regard to the slaughtering industry in New South Wales. If it were not the situation, I would argue that the proper place to get a remedy for the situation that Labor senators quite properly are anxious to see - that is to say. that an unjust burden of providing special clothing is not placed upon an employee - would bc the industrial court. But the industrial court has here made the appropriate provision, long before this regulation came into effect.
The next field to which the Senate should have regard, as Senator McClelland conceded, is the hygiene of our meat industry. particularly with regard to its exports, because other countries have laid down standards of hygiene which we sec in relation to our American trade and which have had the enormous benefit of making some of our establishments improve their conditions and raise their standards. We in this country rejoice, too, for our own population in establishing improving conditions of hygiene in places where meat is being prepared. Those people who are interested in the hygiene of these establishments say that an employee should wear clean outer clothing and should wear for his head covering a cap, and in special circumstances he should not wear a material like hessian that can be peculiarly impregnated with the offscourings of meat and become unhygienic very readily.
The old regulations for the meat industry provided that a person handling meat al an export establishment - that is the expression used - (a) shall wear clean washable overalls as top wear outer garments; (b) shall cause to be kept in a dressing room at the establishment any of his clothing which is at the establishment but is not being worn; and (c) shall not wear overalls made of hessian as top wear outer garments except when he is handling in a room in which meat is kept under refrigeration, meat that is contained in a wrapping. The expression ‘a person handling meat at an export establishment’ gave rise to great disputation, and the question was whether a slaughterman was a person handling meat. This question gave rise to doubt and difference and was much discussed in this judgment of Mr Justice Cook.
There being a State regulation protecting the employee in respect of the cost of the material, the federal Department has simply staled: ‘A dispute or doubt having arisen with regard to it, we will clarify the matter’. So the regulation that the Opposition seeks to have disallowed was made. In substitution for the provision that 1 have just read, the new regulation provides that it applies to a person who is an employee of a registered establishment and works in rooms or areas in which the slaughtering and dressing of animals for export is performed, or meat products or edible offal intended for export are prepared, packed or stored. Of course, the reference there to export is because our constitutional power gives us authority to legislate only for interstate trade or overseas trade. We have never taken jurisdiction with regard to interstate trade in meat and so we therefore specifically apply the regulation to export establishments.
What we say is that the person who is required to clothe himself in clean outside clothing is no longer described as a person handling meat at an export establishment but as a person who is an employee of the establishment and works in rooms or areas in which the slaughtering and dressing of animals for export is performed or meat products or edible offal intended for export are prepared, packed or stored. That is a very clear definition of the persons who are obliged to comply with the provisions of the regulations which I will take the time to state briefly.
Leaving out certain words the provisions are, firstly, that a person to whom the regulations apply shall not commence work unless he is wearing clean outer clothes made of material which is capable of being effectively cleaned and the fibres of which are not likely to cause contamination, and he shall continue to wear those outer clothes while working on that day; secondly, that he shall wear, while working at the establishment, a clean covering over his head; thirdly, that he shall not wear outer clothes made of hessian except when he is handling, in a room in which meat is kept under refrigeration, meat that is contained in a wrapping; and fourthly, that he shall cause to be kept in a dressing room at the establishment any of the clothing which is at the establishment and not being worn. 1 should have thought that those provisions would have caused the employee to feel pride in the cleanliness and appropriateness of his outfit. The only possible objection which could be made by anyone who had the hygiene of the industry at heart would be that the provision of this clothing imposed an unjust economic burden upon the employee for the purpose of relieving the employer of the burden.
Senator McClelland said ; I think without a basts for his suggestion - that the new regulations are designed to give the employer a loophole to bypass his industrial obligation. That is not so. The industrial provision imposing this obligation states that where, by reason of any regulation, an employee is required to wear a special style of clothing in the performance of his work, that clothing shall be provided free of cost to the employee and wholly at the expense of the employer.
I have analysed this matter in deference to the argument submitted by the Opposition because on many occasions I have often argued in support of the Senate’s authority relating to regulations and I have often moved for the disallowance of regulations. I have faced those occasions with greater confidence because in the Regulations and Ordinances Committee we often have the advantage of discussion and consultation with members of the Opposition. But on this occasion the Opposition has proposed a motion of a political nature, not a motion based on a vote taken by the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. T have taken some pleasure in analysing the situation.
– The honourable senator is making a poor job of it.
– I will be prepared to listen to Senator Cavanagh’s reply. Summarising my proposal I submit that I have shown that the new regulations which are being attacked go no further than the proper requirements of hygiene. They are proper provisions relating to the cleanliness of clothing and headgear that is to be worn by an employee. I have pointed out that under Mr Justice Cook’s judgment the employee who is required by this regulation to wear outer clothing appropriate to hygiene is protected by the provision to the effect that such clothing shall be provided by the employer completely free of cost to the employee.
– The Playfairs are ignoring that interpretation. That is the basis of our objection.
– If they are ignoring it I have no doubt that there is a multitude of arbitration tribunals to which the honourable senator can go immediately to have the matter decided. Having said that, as poor an advocate as I am in the eyes of Senator Cavanagh, I say no more.
-I suggest that Senator Wright entered this debate somewhat hurriedly and arrived at his conclusions very quickly. He does not usually deal with issues in that way. I believe his conclusions are wrong. Senator McClelland referred to the judgment of Mr Justice Cook of the New South Wales industrial Commission. His Honour arrived at that decision because he believed that existing regulation 61 (2) did not provide for a special type of garment to be worn. However he said that if a special type of garment had to be worn he would come down in favour of the union. That is a broad interpretation of his decision. The proposed new regulation provides that a special type of outer garment must be worn in abattoirs. As Senator McClelland pointed out, the word ‘overalls’ has been changed to clothing’. New regulation 61a (2) refers to material ‘the fibres of which are not likely to cause contamination’.
– A cotton singlet.
– Of course. 1 agree with Senator Wright that it is common industrial practice for special types of clothing to be worn in certain industries - the food trade, for example - and for special safety equipment to be worn in other industries and that that equipment is supplied by the employer. The provision is policed by the State authorities and the employer is responsible if it is not observed.
In this case the Commonwealth Government is setting out to improve the standards of hygiene in the meat export trade. We applaud that. We have no objection to it. It is a good thing. But in doing that surely the Government must have regard, for example, for what happens in outside industry which must provide appropriate equipment for reasons of hygiene and safety. That is common practice. The best employers in outside industry - in fact the best employers in this industry - already provide overalls. In my own State there has been difficulty with only one employer. A dispute has arisen between that employer and the Union about the provision of free overalls for the employees - suitable clothing in terms of both the old and the proposed regulations - plus free laundering. This is a fairly evident pattern in industry but the Government, by its attitude on this occasion, is only strengthening the hands of the employer who will not come to the party with the Union.
Senator McClelland has referred to an application to the New South Wales Industrial Commission. I have been told by the Secretary of the South Australian branch of the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union that it has had an application before the federal court and that the court has refused to grant the application because of the employer’s opposition. When standards are provided - building standards, dressing room standards, lunch room standards, even standards for clothing to be worn by slaughtermen and employees in this industry - surely it is common sense to go further and say: ‘Yes, we agree that the standards should be observed even if they are not contained in a regulation’. The Government should set the standard that it requires and recommend that standard to the employers, but h has not done this. When questioned in the Senate about this matter Senator McKellar has said that it is a matter for the union and the arbitration tribunals. He has rejected Senator McClelland’s arguments, saying: ‘A fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay.’ On 5th October last in answer to a question Senator McKellar said:
As to the relationship of this requirement to the conditions of employment of the men, this is a matter between the employees and their employers. The men have access to appropriate arbitration tribunals.
In answer to a question which I asked he said: lt is not a matter for the Commonwealth; nor is it an appropriate subject for Commonwealth regulations.
I suggest that the Government is wrong in allowing a situation to develop in which various standards of clothing are accepted. This is at a time when the Government is trying to fix proper standards in exporting establishments. As regards a slaughterman’s scabbard the Government fixes the kind of material from which it should be made. I suggest that in all the circumstances the Government has acted wrongly. The Government should require the employer to provide suitable clothing and to have it laundered.
Senator Murphy has pointed out that the obligation now rests on the employee. With his wide experience in arbitration matters Senator Murphy has pointed out that there is a number of different legal interpretations of an employee. In some cases the work is done by sub-contract. Is the director of an enterprise doing the sub-contracting work an employee? Is he free to walk through these establishments without the equipment which the Government thinks a slaughterman should have? The existing regulations refer to persons. The new regulation refers only to an employee.
– It applies to a person handling meat.
– In the Sixth Schedule of the present Regulations there are strict provisions relating to the passage of air between work rooms and sanitary blocks. Is it all right for a person to walk through these places but not to have a passage of air? The Sixth Schedule prescribes that a dining room and adequate wash basins and sanitary conveniences shall be provided. Clause 1 3 of the Schedule provides:
The premises shall be so constructed as to prevent air passing directly between a room for the slaughter or dressing of animals or the treatment or storage of meat and -
a room containing sanitary conveniences.
I submit that the regulations are faulty to the extent that the Government wants them to be. Senator Murphy said that they are faulty in respect of the definition of an employee. They are faulty also as regards restrictions on people passing through an establishment.
The Opposition is not just advancing a claim on behalf of a union which want9 something from the arbitration court. Our arguments have been soundly based. Tha union has said that there are common standards relating to the provision of safety gear. If the Government were to recommend to the courts that the employers provide this gear, we might have to reconsider our attitude in the matter. Nobody tells a bricklayer what sort of trowel he must use. If the employer wants the bricklayer to vise a particular type of trowel, the employer should supply it.
The Minister has said that it is the responsibility of the employee to supply the clothing. All I can say is that the Minister is not in step with the times. I have visited most of the important industrial plants overseas. There employers provide clothing for their employees. Employees working in abattoirs and other food processing factories are supplied with the best equipment and provided with clothing which is laundered for them. In South Australia only one organisation exporting meat has refused to come to the party. Having regard to the Government’s attitude I predict that it will become more difficult to get these people to accept the standards which should apply.
– I oppose the motion to disallow the regulation. I do not want to go over all of the ground covered by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) and by Senator Wright but I want to refer to some of the arguments advanced by the Opposition. It is nonsense to claim that the Department of Primary Industry is not insisting on a high standard of hygiene in abattoirs in this country. The Department recognises the importance of hygiene to the industry and to the economy of Australia. This is why the regulation has been brought down. The employer is under a statutory obligation to conduct his establishment in an hygienic manner. Regulation 28 gives the Secretary of the Department of Primary Industry power to cancel the registration of an export establishment that does not comply with the Regulations. This is evidence of the Department’s recognition of the importance of maintaining a reasonable standard of hygiene in abattoirs. Many abattoirs have attained this standard. It is nonsense for the Opposition to say that they are not required to do so.
Why has the regulation been brought down? It has been brought down to protect the meat industry. Anybody who knows anything about the meat industry is aware of the threat to the industry posed by restrictions on imports into certain countries, particularly America.
– Why does the new regulation provide greater protection than is provided under the existing regulation?
– I accept the advice of departmental officers that the new regulation is necessary. In preparing the new regulation the Department took into consideration the requirements of overseas countries in respect of hygiene standards which should be observed in meat works producing meat for those markets. In this regard the Department has obligations to the Governments of the United Kingdom, the United States of America and member nations of the
European Economic Community to ensure that practice in Australia is in close conformity with that specified in the laws of those countries. These requirements were taken into consideration by the Government in bringing down this regulation.
At a time when we are trying to hold our markets in the United States and when we are diversifying our other primary industries, such as dairying, wheat and wool, this diversification in the meat industry is necessary. We are trying to build up other overseas markets. To do this we must ensure that the abattoirs, the exporters and the employees meet all the requirements laid down so that a minimum of meat is rejected by overseas countries. 1 shall not waste the time of the Senate by citing figures to show how important this industry is to our economy. The figures that I have here are convincing proof that having built up this industry we must see that it is maintained and improved.
– We agree with that.
– Then that is ali right. 1 wonder sometimes whether honourable senators opposite do agree with these things when they bring these pinpricking matters before the Senate. They can only serve to bring about trouble within the industry. There is a need to build up this industry, but it is necessary also to be cognisant of the requirements of countries to which we export, lt is because of the requirements of other countries that these Regulations have been amended. At present we have in Australia Americans who are buying meat for their troops in Vietnam. I. have been told that they are insisting on this high level of hygiene and so we must comply with their requirements.
I propose to refer now to what has been said about the Regulations and the requirements of employees in the meat industry. Senator McKellar has provided us with information to show that employers are either providing uniforms or are paying employees 10c a day to enable them to purchase the uniforms and launder them. After a certain time the employees own them. J have made a number of inquiries and have ascertained that generally speaking the employees, as Senator McKellar has said, find this arrangement entirely acceptable. Being aware of this situation, I wonder why the Opposition should bring up this matter.
– The honourable senator has not listened to the argument. We have said that free overalls and laundering are provided in many other establishments.
– That does not matter; this arrangement amounts to the same thing.
– lt does not.
– lt is the same thing. I have been told on very good authority that most employees are happy about this arrangement because they can make a slight profit over a year by looking after their uniforms hi a proper manner. I think that under this arrangement the employees are being treated justly.
– Would the honourable senator like to launder overalls every day for 10c a day?
– 1 am not suggesting that J would, but is there any other way in which the employees would have them ready for work next morning?
– This has to be done by 90% of the employees.
– 1 do not know about (hat. I believe that this is a just way of treating them. The Senate has been told that the New South Wales sections of many establishments are prepared to sign an agreement in these terms, which is an indication of their satisfaction. I am disturbed that the resolution to disallow a regulation such as this should be brought up by the Opposition when honourable senators opposite must know what great damage it could do. If they start a strike at present we could lose a valuable market. Why is the Opposition trying to do this? At a time when the Senate is attempting to get on with the nation’s business we have attempts like this to disallow the regulations which in themselves may seem to be of little importance but which are of great importance to the export meat industry and the economy as a whole. The regulations must be allowed to continue in force. I hope that the Senate will be very conscious of the fact that by attempting to disallow a regulation like this irreparable harm can be done to the meat industry.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Let me say at the outset that I cannot agree with some of the arguments that have been presented up to this stage. Firstly, I do not agree that this is solely an industrial matter. Various speakers have referred to a decision by Mr Justice Cook of the New South Wales Industrial Commission that the clothing should be paid for by the employer in those cases where he insists that a particular type of clothing be worn or where there is some statutory obligation requiring that a particular type of clothing be worn. Senator McClelland has expressed some doubt about whether that decision applies to the regulations we are now discussing. He is wondering whether the regulations to which we are taking objection are an attempt by the Government to get round Mr Justice Cook’s judgment. If they are, then 1 have no doubt that the position can be rectified by application to the relevant industrial authority.
The important point here is that the employer is not the one who is required to provide the clothing. The Minister has referred to an agreement under which certain employers pay ar. extra 10c a day to employees who are required to wear a special type of clothing. This 10c is to cover the additional cost of the special clothing and the cost of laundering. I submit that the fact that some employers have found it necessary to enter into an agreement about this matter is conclusive proof that not all employers are bound by Mr Justice Cook’s decision. Senator Bishop has referred to a case in which the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission refused the employees of a certain South Australian firm any clothing allowance. It is obvious to me the employers about whom the Minister was speaking arc respondents to a Federal award which has no provision for clothing, so the employers have to make an alternative offer to the employees. These regulations make no mention of insistence by the employer; they impose a mandatory obligation upon the employee.
I do not think that the question of who pays for the clothing is a matter for this Parliament. Parliament insists upon a standard of hygiene but to my mind the question of payment for clothing is one for the unions and the employers. If they cannot agree upon the matter, then I submit it should be taken to arbitration. ,
– That was not what the honourable senator said when he tried to interfere in a similar matter in New Guinea. He wanted Parliament to take the responsibility then.
– The Minister has a better memory than 1 have. What I am saying now is applicable to this case. The Minister should not attempt to bring in side issues by referring to something that I may have said on some other occasion. Anyone is allowed to deviate on occasions. For the purposes of my argument in this debate, let us take the case of a business that is established for the purpose of preparing meat for export. The company formed to carry out these operations has for its objective the earning of profit. Although the Commonwealth and the community may gain some benefit, the primary purpose of establishing the company is to make a profit. If the management of that company insists that the employees engaged in the operation of dressing meat for export shall wear a certain standard of clothing, then the responsibility for the cost of that clothing should rest with the company. The regulation under discussion provides that the employee who does not wear the prescribed clothing shall be subject to a penalty of $100 whereas the employer who permits the employee to breach the requirement attracts no penalty.
– Is the honourable senator arguing that the employee should have no responsibility at all?
– 1 am arguing that the employee has a responsibility to attend for work and to meet the requirements of the employer. If he does not meet the requirements of the employer, then the employer has a perfect right to dismiss him. That is a fundamental principle of any normal industrial relationship. My argument is that if an employee commits a breach of any statutory requirement then the responsibility should rest also with the employer who allows the breach to be committed. That is the law in other industries. As the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) has pointed out, the old regulation refers to ‘a person handling meat’. The regulation to which we object refers only to an employee. It requires that any person who comes under the definition of ‘an employee’ must wear a suitable type of outer clothing otherwise he will be subject to a penalty. But if other persons who do not come within the definition of an employee’ perform the same operation, they attract no penalty. What of the manager of a company engaged in boning meat? Should he not have to comply with the same standards of hygiene as the employee? Why should he be exempt? I agree with all that Senator Bull said earlier about this aspect. We believe that there should be a high standard of hygiene, but that objective is being defeated by the regulations under discussion in that they permit certain people to work in meat works without complying with certain hygiene requirements. The law now provides that no person shall smoke, spit or chew tobacco while engaged on this work. It also provides that a person who has dressed or handled a diseased carcass, or any diseased meat shall not handle any other carcass or meat. The same embargo applies to a person who b suffering from an infectious disease, a person who has used a sanitary convenience without washing his hands afterwards, and a person wearing a bandage, stall or medicated dressing on his hand or arm. But, apart from that, any person who does not come under the definition of ‘employee’, can engage in the handling of meat without being required to wear the clothing prescribed in the regulations under discussion. Can anyone justify that position?
Let me go a little further. Senator Wright would seem to have misinterpreted what I said previously. On no occasion have I said that Senator Wright was not a good advocate. I should be glad to have him act as my advocate before any tribunal at any time. What I said was that, for some reason which did not appear clear to me, Senator Wright apparently had not analysed these regulations. The Government seeks to omit sub-regulation (2.) of regulation 61 and to insert after regulation 61 a new regulation 61a. New regulation 61a provides: (I.) This regulation applies to a person who is an employee of a registered establishment and works in rooms or areas in which the slaughtering and dressing of animals for export is performed or meat, meat products or edible offal intended for export are prepared, packed or stored.
Before anyone comes within this regulation he has to be an employee of a registered establishment and be has to work in rooms or areas where the slaughtering or dressing of meat is performed. Everyone has heard of employees who work for an employer or who work in an establishment; but what is an employee of a registered establishment? I would say that the interpretation of this provision would be a legal man’s nightmare. The regulation applies to an employee of a registered establishment but only an employee who works in rooms or areas in which the slaughtering and dressing of animals for export is performed. Subregulation (2.) provides:
A person to whom this regulation applies - (a) shall not commence work at the registered establishment-
Regulation 20 defines a registered establishment - on any day unless he is wearing clean outer clothes . . .
The employee does not necessarily have to work in the rooms. If he does not wear the clothes he cannot commence work at the establishment. Before a chain starts operating he might have some duties to perform in the yard; he might have to stoke a boiler or something like that. Let me read the sub-regulation again: (2.) A person to whom this regulation applies - (a) shall not commence work at the registered establishment on any day unless he is wearing clean outer clothes made of material which is capable of being effectively cleaned and the fibres of which are not likely to cause contamination of carcasses or of meat and shall, subject to the next succeeding sub-regulation, continue to wear those outer clothes while working on that day at the registered establishment;
In other words, he cannot start work at the establishment no matter whether he is handling meat or not I repeat that he cannot even commence work in the place. He has a let-out in the next provison which states:
That provision is completely new; it was not contained in the old regulation. He must wear the clothing continuously throughout the day, but he may take the headwear off if he is working out in the yard where he is not associated with the preparation of meat. Sub-regulation (2.) (c) states that he: shall not wear outer clothes made of hessian except when he is handling, in a room in which meat is kept under refrigeration, meat that is contained in a wrapping.
Paragraph (d) provides that he: shall cause to be kept in a dressing room at the establishment any of his clothing which is at the establishment but is not being worn.
What do the words ‘any of his clothes’ mean? Obviously this means that he has to keep in a dressing room at the establishment the normal street clothing which he wears to work. Why is there need for this clothing to be kept in a dressing room at the establishment? It is not the factory clothing that is supplied by the employer; it is the employee’s clothing. He is under the threat of a fine of $100 if on changing he throws his shirt out over a log to dry, or for some other reason. Honourable senators will see how tyrannical this provision would be if it were enforced. Sub-regulation (3.) provides:
Where a person to whom this regulation applies is informed by the officer in charge that the condition of the outer clothes or of the head covering of that person is such as is likely to cause contamination of carcasses or of meat, the person shall remove his outer clothes or head covering and replace them with clean outer clothes or a head covering complying with paragraphs (a) and (b), as the case requires, of the last preceding sub-regulation.
Sub-regulation (4.) states:
A person to whom this paragraph applies shall not use a scabbard or other sheath. . . .
I do not know why the word ‘paragraph’ is used when referring to a sub-regulation. As I said, the interpretation of this regulation would be a legal man’s nightmare. The whole question is who should be responsible to see that hygiene, which everyone agrees is essential, should be enforced in a particular factory. There have been suggestions that the attitude of the Opposition would cause industrial strife or unrest. Obviously the attitude of the Opposition would prevent industrial strife. We can see what the position would be with the employment of intermittent labour in a rush season. The employer could direct someone to a certain task by saying: ‘You go in there and start boning meat.’ Then someone might discover that the employee did not have the required uniform. The employer who sent him into the particular room would be innocent of any offence, but the employee who went in there under duress and who was compelled for economic reasons to accept the employment would be liable to a penalty of $100. Is this reasonable or fair? We are not trying to disallow the regulation for the purpose of defeating the Government. The Opposition and the Government want to achieve the same purpose - that is greater hygiene. We say that the method we suggest is the better method. We say further that our suggestion is more capable of enforcement.
How would Australia appear in the eyes of American importers of our meat if 100 convictions were recorded against people for defying health regulations? A double penalty on the employer would be better. The employer’s responsibility should be to see that no-one works in the establishment unless he is suitably attired for such work. The penalty could include de-registration of the establishment and expulsion from this particular line of business. This is one of the few acts that throws responsibility on the employee. As I was told earlier today, not only the employee in an engineering shop wears safety glasses; everyone who enters the shop wears them. We say that if the Government wants hygiene, if it is realistic about this question, then it will withdraw these regulations and submit regulations that will guarantee cleanliness without penalising the employee and without allowing to go free those directly responsible for any breach that may occur.
– As Chairman of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, I. point out to the Senate that the arguments being advanced in connection with the regulations that are under dispute at the moment do not come within the scope of the four requirements for the investigation of a regulation or ordinance by the Committee. Consequently, I make it clear that although these regulations were mentioned at the Committee meeting no action was taken by the Committee because they do not conflict with any of the four points on the basis of which the Committee was set up by the Senate some years ago and on which it has been acting since that time.
I believe that these regulations are probably worrying members of the Opposition unduly. My interpretation is that they do not specify that an employee working at an export meat works must have any special type of wearing apparel. What they mean is that whatever clothes he wears must be clean in the interests of cleanliness in the handling of meat products. It is vitally important that there be cleanliness in the handling of goods, particularly meat. The Opposition’s argument is that because some special type of clothing has to be worn the employer should be responsible for providing it. The regulations throw the responsibility on the employee. He must make sure that his clothing is clean when he is working on meat packing. Whilst the regulations might seem hard on a very cursory reading of them, when wc really consider them we see that they do not entail the expenditure of money on any special clothing. I believe that it is a wise precaution to throw the responsibility on the employee.
– The regulations do entail special clothing.
– My interpretation is that they do not. By throwing the responsibility on the employee wc provide a greater safeguard in respect of the wearing of clean clothing. We know what human nature is. When the employer is made responsible and is subject to a fine if an employee does not wear clean clothing, it is quite possible for an employee, lacking any responsibility in the matter, not to observe the requirements of cleanliness. If a fine is imposed it do** not fall back on him; it falls back on the employer.
– That is not so.
– It would be so in thai case. In this case the regulations put the responsibility on the employee. I am not saying that if it were on the employer the employee would not show any real responsibility or have any incentive to keep his clothes clean.
– We do not oppose that. We are asking for the responsibility to be on both.
– This is the point that I am trying to make: Human nature being what it is, if the employee is made responsible for seeing that he wears clean clothes when he is working on meat packing, then he is charged with a duty and if he fails to carry out that duty he may be charged and fined. 1 believe that throwing the responsibility on him will make him more careful. If the position is otherwise, no matter what the employer does, if an employee does not carry out an instruction to wear clean clothes the employer cannot do much about it, but he may be fined. However, when an employee knows that he will be fined if he contravenes these regulations he will be more careful and more keen to observe them than he would be if the responsibility were taken from him and put on the employer.
– That assumes that the employer has no other punitive measures to take against the employee.
– No, it does not. In regard to the purpose of these regulations, Senator Toohey, as a former member of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, would know the value-
– I am not arguing that aspect.
– No. Of course, Senator Cavanagh is currently a member of the Committee.
– I am not arguing that aspect either.
– No. Those two honourable senators know as well as 1 do that the purpose of these regulations is to ensure that nobody goes to work in a meat packing establishment-
– No, it is not. It is only to ensure that an employee does not; anyone else can.
– The purpose is to make sure that, as a result of putting the responsibility on the employee, no infringement will occur. Senator Toohey said that if an employee infringed by wearing clothes that were not hygienic the employer could be fined. But the purpose of these regulations
– No, I did not. I said that the employer had other means at his disposal.
– He would have other means at his disposal; but the purpose of these regulations is to ensure that no case of an employee wearing unhygienic clothes will occur. I believe that putting the respon sibility on the employee will provide a greater safeguard for continuing cleanliness of clothes in relation to the handling of meat than would be provided if the responsibility were put on the employer. Although Senator Cavanagh says that the regulations require the wearing of special clothing, my interpretation is that they do not.
– The honourable senator has not read the regulations.
– Yes, 1 have. I read them when Senator Cavanagh brought this matter before the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, of which he is a member and of which I am Chairman.
– Then the honourable senator has a poor memory.
– I have a fairly good memory.
– What docs this mean-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! Senator Wood has the call.
– That is the interpretation that I put on these regulations. Tn those circumstances I cannot see any reason for disallowing them.
– My remarks will be very brief. There is a very good saying to this effect: First things first. The Senate is within 2 weeks of rising for an election campaign. We have to consider fifty Bills of varying degrees of importance and we are only half way through the Estimates debate. So within a period of 2 weeks we have to pass fifty Bills and Estimates involving millions of dollars for such purposes as the defence of Australia. At the beginning of that period of 2 weeks, following the principle of putting first things first the Senate considers that the matter of paramount importance is this: Who will wash the dirty overalls of workers in a meat works?
– The honourable senator says that it is unimportant, does he?
– It may be important for the workers, but I say emphatically that it is not a matter for the National Parliament to decide. Why do we have industrial tribunals? What is wrong with the leadership of the meat workers union? I know that union after union has settled this issue satisfactorily through the industrial tribunals. So what is wrong with the leaders of the meat workers when they believe that the only way in which they can settle this issue is by bringing it before the National Parliament?
I say emphatically that, particularly at a time such as this, this Parliament should be considering bigger issues than this one of washing overalls. I conclude by saying that this issue should never have come before the Parliament. It should never have been a matter for regulation. It should have been settled in the industrial tribunals of this country or by negotiation between the employers and the employees, if that were possible. If it could not have been settled before an industrial tribunal then it could have been settled here. The regulation should have provided only that overalls or suitable clothing should be worn. It would then be a matter for an industrial tribunal to determine the other matters. As a protest against the work of this Parliament being held up as it has been for about 3 hours I do not propose to support the attack upon the regulation. It is a matter that should be dealt with by an industrial tribunal outside this Parliament.
Senator MULVIHILL (New South Wales) [S.3 1) - I support the motion proposed by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy). When Senator McManus said that he doubted whether this Parliament was the correct venue for a discussion of this matter I think he ignored the fact that in many parliaments of the world, including the parliaments of the United Kingdom and the United States of America, trade unions, in common with other bodies, are entitled to use political and industrial avenues to redress their grievances. When all is said and done, it is hardly relevant to say that we are getting very close to the Senate election. This matter was brought into the open at this time by the impending proclamation of a regulation. Members of the Labor Party have agitated over a long period in respect of aspects Of the meat industry. When the industry was entering a period of reorganisation we argued about many of the new techniques brought about by suggestions from buyers from the United States. We believe in conciliation. If summit talks had been held between the meat workers and their employers a collision course would have been avoided. In using the term collision course’ I do not want to give honourable senators opposite the impression that the union has introduced embargoes or strikes. The meat workers are simply utilising political avenues in an attempt to gain industrial justice. They are not holding a gun at the heads of employers.
Taking a broad view, if this debate has done nothing else it has brought out into the open the issues at stake. I listened with interest to the remarks of Senator Bull. He knows the meat industry intimately, as do some honourable senators on this side of the chamber. We have not said that all employers are guilty. On the contrary we have pointed the finger at a minority of employers. Any employer who is prepared to give his employees a fair go should not be penalised along with a maverick employer who does not want to be a party to negotiations. We are just as concerned as are Government supporters about employment prospects and the economics of the industry. The United States buyers have insisted upon certain health standards which the industry taas managed to meet, at some cost. I would be interested to know how the costs of providing and laundering protective clothing would compare with the costs of providing the overall standards insisted upon by the United States buyers in the abattoirs where meat is processed for export.
The Opposition reduces this debate to the essential point that if the regulation is to be proclaimed, surely avenues could be explored to ensure that the minority of employers who are not playing the game are made to give their employees a fair go.
I interjected when Senator Wright was speaking to refer to the Playfair organisation in New South Wales. To use Senator Bishop’s words, that is the employer who would not come to the party. It is as simple as that. Senator Wright argued - and I think Senator McManus had the same idea at the back of his mind - that trade unions can get almost overnight service before the arbitration tribunals. Candidly, that would be so if stoppages were called. If that situation were to arise I can imagine what would be said by Senator McKellar and other Government supporters. They would claim that the union was irresponsible. The meat workers are playing a temperate role because they appreciate that only a minority of the employers in the industry are not coming to the party. We suggest that somewhere along the line, through legal or political avenues, steps should be taken to ensure that the onus is not placed right on the employees and that pressure is applied to the small minority of employers who will not co-operate to introduce a normal industrial improvement. It is recognised in many industries that the cost of providing and laundering protective clothing can be met by employers.
I can give honourable senators a classic illustration of the advantages of conciliation by referring to the bitter warfare that was conducted on the waterfront over the years. The Woodward inquiry has been held anil the journals of the ship owners and of the Waterside Workers Federation refer to summit talks that have been conducted as part of that inquiry. Positive moves are being made to handle the advent of containerisation right down the line. At the moment we are discussing protective clothing for meat workers, lt could be something else, lt could be the inside surfaces of freezing chambers. One Labor senator has referred in this chamber to the detailed demands made by the United States buyers of meat for the United States Army in Vietnam. They want this and that. They may come up with another bright idea that something else has to be done and it could involve changes all along the line in the abattoirs. The manager would then say: ‘We are going to do lt this way’.
My idea is that industrial harmony results from the parties meeting around a table in advance of trouble and placing their cards on the table. That lesson has been learned on the waterfront, and the meat industry must learn the same lesson. I do not like harping on this question. Senator McKellar is aware that Senator McClelland and other Labor senators have hammered the idea of partnership in industry. We have not advocated that the employees should take over the industry. Government supporters have said that this is a matter for an industrial tribunal. Senator Cavanagh has put the view that the meat industry employees are to become victims of a regulation and that their situation is tied to export requirements. The standards applying to meat for export should be hammered out at top level.
I think members of the Opposition have made it crystal clear by their criticism that they are pin-pointing the minority of employers involved. We want harmony in the meat industry. My information on this matter has come from Mr Taylor, the New South Wales Secretary of the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union. He clocks as much mileage in his travels about New South Wales as honourable senators clock in their travels. I can assure honourable senators that a job as union secretary is not a sinecure. The Labor Party makes no apology for using the Senate as an avenue to gain redress for union members. This practice exists in parliaments all over the world. The meat industry employees have not gone out on strike and have not placed an embargo on the products of any establishments. We are using constitutional means. With due deference to Senator McManus, I point out that proclamation of the regulation could be delayed for a couple of weeks and in that time the powers that be could call an early conference, even if only at the New South Wales level. Justice could be dispensed universally. I repeat that 1 would be very interested to learn how the cost of providing and laundering protective clothing for the meat workers would compare with the cost of the innovations in abattoirs necessary for the export trade. A long range view should be taken. We of the Opposition have endeavoured to put the view that the labourer is worthy of his hire. On this issue the amount involved to give justice to the meat workers is infinitesimal.
– I wish to speak briefly on this matter. 1 am a member of the Regulations and Ordiances Committee. As Senator Wood has explained, this matter came before the Committee but was not within its terms of reference. Therefore it took no further action. Agreements on protective clothing have been made with a substantial number of employees in the meat industry. Apparently it is only in respect of a minority of employees that the Opposition seeks to have the regulation disallowed. I would like to correct a statement made by Senator Cavanagh to the effect that the cleanliness of clothing in the meat industry does not apply to persons other than employees. In the last 3 or 4 weeks 1 have visited two meat works in which 1 spent a considerable time. I. and the other visitors had to wear white overalls even though we were only passing through the meatworks.
– That was before the introduction of the new regulation. It was in the time of the old regulation.
– lt was in the last 3 weeks.
– The position will be different next week.
– The owners of the meatworks are aware of the penalties that apply if foreign matter such as small pieces of clothing material or hairs are found on meat prepared for export. A whole consignment of meat could be condemned or herd up and a meat operator could lose his export licence. For those reasons the operators of the meat works have to be particular. In normal industrial relations a provision of this sort is not unusual. In respect of many jobs awards make allowances for industrial clothing. Particular types of work in some industries are harder on clothing than are other jobs. In this instance the employers are supplying the clothing. 1 cannot see what the objection is to the regulations. For that reason and with these few remarks .1 oppose the motion to disallow the regulations.
– in reply - The motion before the Senate is an important one and this is the proper way to have the matter dealt with, because it concerns the health standards which should prevail in the community. It has to be dealt with in this way because health standards in abattoirs are dealt with by way of regulation. The only action that we can take is the action that has been taken here to move for the disallowance of regulations in order that they may be replaced by regulations which are more extensive and provide a better standard than the amending ones.
The amendment to the regulations to which wc object would in some ways reduce the obligations fct that only employees would be affected, only employees would be subject to a fine, and other persons who were not employees and who might come in contact with the meat would not be subject to a fine. That is a serious defect in the regulations. Also, we consider that the obligation should be on the employer to supply the clothing, to see that it is laundered, and to be responsible for the carrying out of the obligation to wear the clothing. This is very common in regulations dealing with health throughout industry. If one looks al the building regulations of the various States and at any number of other regulations, one sees that almost always the obligation is placed on the employer or the person carrying out the work to see to it that the standards are observed. We suggest here that the same rule should be observed. Instead the obligation is being placed on the employee alone. We are not objecting to the obligation being placed on the employee but we are saying that since the health of the community is at stake - this is not a mere industrial matter between employer and employee - any person coming in contact with meat in abattoirs should be subject to the obligation to wear the clothing and be liable to a fine if he does not. We say that that should apply also to the operators of the abattoirs, those who own or occupy the abattoirs.
We think that this is a course which the Senate ought to have accepted readily, especially in the light of the fact, as I have indicated, that here in the national capital itself - to choose only an example - we have had revealed to us by the Advisory Council that reasonable health standards are not being observed in the abattoir. A shocking condition of lack of hygiene was revealed in the Advisory Council’s report, and I am not satisfied that all proper health standards are being observed in the meat industry of Australia. I think that the standards under the meat export regulations ought to be high and that no lower standards ought to be applied to the meat that is made available to the community in Australia. It seems pretty obvious that this is not the position. We of the Opposition are pressing for the health standards of the community in this matter to be improved. That is the purpose of this motion. If it is not supported it ought to be supported. I am sure that the people of Australia would support any move to insist on the highest standards of hygiene in dealing with meat which is to be consumed either by them or by people elsewhere.
Question put -
That the motion (Senator Murphy’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Senator Gorton) agreed to:
That intervening business be postponed until after consideration of the order of the day for the resumption of the debate on the Royal Australian Air Force VIP Flight.
Debate resumed (vide page 1638).
-I table the following papers whichI think will be of interest to the Senate:
Royal Australian Air Force No. 34 Squadron -
Flight Authorisation Books (3)
Passenger Manifests (13). 1 ask for leave to make a statement in connection therewith.
– Order! There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The Senate will recall that this afternoon in tabling in this chamber certain information relating to the VIP flightI pointed out that although that information dealt with most of the questions which had been asked - that is to say, who engaged the flights, where the flights went, the number of passengers and matters of that kind - it might be said that it did not contribute all that the Senate motion had asked for in that the motion had requested details as to passengers rather than numbers of passengers carried, and also details of times. The Senate will recall thatI said that should the Senate wish it this other information would be provided, and I understood the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) to indicate that he thought the Senate would like to have the additional information. As a result of that, and because he represents a considerable section of the population, I have tabled the actual passenger manifests. The Senate has already been give information as to the number of passengers carried. These manifests give the names of the passengers carried within the period from August 1966 to October 1967.
The other information which I mentioned at the time and which the Leader of the Opposition said he thought the Senate would like to have related to the times of departure and the duration of particular flights. I have tabled the flight authorisation books which give the times of departure and the duration of particular flights for the period March 1966 to 14th October 1967. These flight authorisation books record not only VIP flights but also all the other flights undertaken by No. 34 Squadron. The whole of the information required by the Senate is in the books I have tabled. It is up to the Senate to decide whether it would like those books to remain tabled or for the Department of Air or No. 34 Squadron to provide extracts from them. The only information I am unable to table, and which I mentioned earlier when other information was tabled, relates to the cost of each flight. This could be worked out on a basis which would first have to be decided. The flights are not costed individually and it would take, I am told some 100 man hours or man days, I am not sure which, to work out the cost of each flight on an agreed basis. That is the only remaining information as to the expenditure of public money for which this House of the Parliament asked and which has not been supplied to it.
– What the Leader of the Government has done in the last few minutes comes as a surprise to the Opposition. I do not know about other honourable senators but we did not know that the Government would table this additional information and we certainly have not had an opportunity to peruse it. It was my intention - I had communicated this to certain senators - to propose a motion to ensure that there was compliance with the order made by the Senate on 5th October. That seemed to be the appropriate course for us to take. Let me indicate the nature of that motion. It proposed that:
that, unless a resolution is passed not later than 31st October 1967 declaring that the Senate is satisfied that the Order of the Senate of the 5th October 1967 has been sufficiently complied with:
It is the wish of all honourable senators, I think, that the order which was made by the Senate on 5th October be complied with. It is also the wish of all honourable senators, I think, that a reasonable course be taken by all in this matter. We desire to see a compliance in the sense that whatever is in existence and in the possession of the Government shall be tabled. It seems extraordinary to us that we have had to wait for many months for the information to be supplied, although it has been stated elsewhere by the Prime Minister (Mr
Harold Holt) on several occasions that he would supply whatever information was available. The Prime Minister said in another place:
Parliament is entitled to facts, if they can be procured, which will enable members to form a judgment as to the purposes served by the flight and the manner in which it is being conducted. My concern all along has been not to deprive the Parliament of information but to ensure that the Parliament was not given a misleading picture because of the type and range of questions.
It seems that at every stage information which was sought by the Senate but not supplied was in fact available to the Government. The information sought has now been tabled without notice and we would like an opportunity to consider the matter for some time.
The terms of the motion which 1 had proposed to move, and which I had hoped would be carried by the Senate, would have given the Government a reasonable opportunity to comply with the Senate’s request. It provided also that if that request were not complied with the Senate should take appropriate steps to investigate whether the information which was sought and not supplied was available and, if not, that the Senate should take any necessary consequential steps. It would not be right to leave it to someone other than the Senate itself - even the Clerk of the Senate - to determine whether there had been sufficient compliance. It seemed to us appropriate that at some stage the Senate itself would have to determine that question so that, in the interests of Government and other honourable senators, if it were decided that there was sufficient compliance with the order of the Senate we would so resolve. If not, the Senate could decide to take further steps. I welcome the tabling of these documents. Perhaps the opportunity might be given to us to consider this material in order to avoid proceeding with the course I had otherwise anticipated.
Senator GORTON (Victoria- Leader of the Government) - by leave - The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) has told us what he proposed to ask the Senate to do if the information had not been provided. But the information has now been provided and if it is found satisfactory he will have no reason for asking the Senate to do what he had proposed to ask it to do. Being always eager to meet the wishes of the representatives of the other section of the public, I think it is perfectly reasonable that they should be given an opportunity to peruse the information that has been tabled in order to see whether it provides, as I believe it does, the answers to all the questions that have been asked except those relating to individual costs-
– Does the information include a record of the applications and the reasons for the flights?
– It shows in detail where every flight started and where it went. That is all that the Department of Air - the department asked to provide the records - can be expected to provide. The Department has provided all the records of these matters.
Let us not at this stage, by interjection and statements in reply, go further into the matter. I think it is reasonable for the Leader of the Opposition to be allowed time to peruse the information supplied and to decide whether, in his view, it meets the requirements of the Senate. In my view it does, but this is a matter for subsequent discussion. I think the material I have supplied provides all the information available as to the expenditure of public funds voted by this Parliament. If we are to provide time for these documents to be perused and for the Leader of the Opposition to decide the course he will pursue, I think we should debate the statement by the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) and the papers (hat I have tabled tonight concurrently. This was the agreement. In the meantime we should go on with other business.
– Perhaps we could have the debate tomorrow.
– I do not know how long the Leader of the Opposition will need to examine these papers. I would not. like to put him under any constraint to agree to have the debate tomorrow. What we are doing is providing the Senate with the information which the Senate sought. We are giving the Opposition an opportunity to examine the information, which we think is all the information which the Senate sought. After the documents have been examined the Leader of the Opposition may approach me seeking an opportunity to debate them. He has not yet found me and will not find me seeking in any way to prevent the Senate debating this matter. I therefore propose that we adjourn the debate on VIP flights and return to the debate on the Canberra Community Hospital Ordinance.
– by leave - I was one of those who sought information many months ago regarding the use of VIP aircraft. I asked a question about the use of a VIP aircraft to transport the former Leader of the Parliamentary Labor Party in another place and members of the Federal Executive of the Australian Labor Party to Perth. I am very unhappy with the reply that I received to that question after a delay of many months. I was informed that it was not possible for the Minister to supply me with the names of passengers who were transported on that aircraft on that occasion. Since then many questions have been asked by honourable senators relating to the use of VIP aircraft. For some unknown reason the responsible Minister has stubbornly resisted our attempts to have the information supplied.
In the course of a speech that I made on this matter recently, I said that I was satisfied that there would not have been any fuss or bother about VIP aircraft if the questions asked from time to time by honourable senators had been answered. I said also that I was not one who believed that the Governor-General, the Prime Minister and Ministers of the Crown should travel the length and breadth of this vast continent as swagmen. I said that they were entitled to use the best and most expeditious means of transport available them to discharge their duties. I am still of that belief, but I am equally firm in my objection to the misuse of these aircraft. I believe that I express the feelings of the general public when I say that a Minister is not entitled to use a VIP aircraft if a commercial aircraft is available. The use in those circumstances of VIP aircraft is an unwarranted expenditure and the country cannot stand for that.
I want to be fair: I feel that the resolution of the Senate of 5th October last has been substantially complied with. I agree that some time might be given to honourable senators to examine the documents that have been tabled this evening by the Leader of the Government (Senator Gorton). He has taken a very wise and commonsense attitude in this matter compared with the attitude adopted so far by other members of the Government. Surely they must have realised that they could not go on forever resisting the Senate on this matter of major public importance. After examining the documents that have been tabled we will determine whether all the information sought by the Senate has been supplied. We will be in a position to determine whether anything has been withheld. Provided any further information that we need can be supplied without undue difficulty I think the Senate will be fair enough to concede that the resolution has been complied with.
The thing that amazes me - it must amaze anybody who is interested in this matter - is the Government’s reluctance to supply this information earlier. Why on earth has the Government been so stupidly stubborn on this matter? Why has it brought upon itself criticism, ridicule and embarrassment merely because it did not want to supply us with information to which we were entilled? I was informed that passenger lists were not kept.. Tonight the Leader of the Government in the Senate has tabled books containing lists of passengers who have used these planes.
– The books are destroyed periodically. These are all that we have.
– If the* are destroyed periodically, I hope that the ones in which I am interested have not been destroyed. 1 do not think that this matter needs to be drawn out any further, provided of course that the information is contained in the documents which have been tabled. It is not a matter for the election, provided that the information is available to us. I can only sympathise with the Government in its stupidity. Any government with any wisdom or with any common political sense would have thrown this material on the table of the Senate and said: ‘Sort it out for yourself.
– But the honourable senator will still be supporting the Government.
– Only because I cannot trust the ALP.
– But the honourable senator will be supporting the Government.
– The security of this country is paramount.
– Now his deputy is telling him what to say.
– How can 1 support a Party that walked out on a vote on increased postal charges, that would refuse to vote on a matter that its members condemned and debated on numerous occasions? When it came to the vital vote members of the Australian Labor Party did not have the courage to vote against the Government on this issue. How can I now vote with the Opposition? I have been asked to state my reasons for supporting the Government at an election. Could I support a party which voted against an amendment moved by my colleague, Senator McManus, asking that the Budget be withdrawn and redrafted to contain provision for an increase in pensions for the aged, invalid, widowed and ex-servicemen and also to remove references to increased rates and charges by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department? The Opposition voted against that amendment when if had an opportunity to defeat the Government and to force the Government to go to the people for an election for both Houses.
– What about wheat to China? Where does the honourable senator stand on that?
– The honourable senator should be careful; the cock will be crowing tonight. The Oppostion let down the pensioners about whom its members cry crocodile tears, but then it expects support from us. I cannot support a party which would give this country away. Yet Opposition senators ask me why I support the Government rather than a party whose foreign policy is not in the best interests of Australia, a policy that would destroy the Australian-American alliance, a policy that is opposed to the development, security and defence of this country. I had not intended to make this statement, but I was provoked by the garrulous senator from Victoria on my right, an honourable senator who is usually on the left.
– Let the honourable senator show us his medals for bravery. He had great loyalty. He had an opportunity to go to two wars but did not go.
– The honourable senator fought the war on his own. Let me get back to the VIP aircraft. Members of the Labor Party arc to some extent embarrassed about discussing this subject because their leader and the former leader have enjoyed many trips on VIP aircraft, lt is significant, as I said earlier., that when this matter was raised in the other place there was no discussion on it at all. The matter was bypassed and put to bed because of the embarrassment of the Leader of the Australian Labor Party. lt was left to the Senate to raise the matter, just as it was left to the Senate to raise the matter of postal charges and to follow mc in the protest. But in this place the Australian Labor Party finally walked out because the majority of the caucus was not prepared to support Senator Keeffe who wanted to fight on in the matter. The majority of them surrendered and said that they were not prepared to pursue their protest further. And so they left the working people, whom they are supposed to represent, to the mercy of this tax gathering Government. I feel that the Leader of the Government in the Senate has done the right thing on the matter of VIP aircraft. The material that He has supplied should substantially answer our requirements.
– We have not seen it yet.
– The honourable senator is a bit premature. We will have an opportunity to examine the material and to determine whether it meets our requirements.
– I ask for leave to ask the Leader of the Government a few questions to clarify the position in regard to the future of this matter.
– Order! Does the honourable senator wish to make a statement?
– Order! Is leave granted?
Honourable senators ; No.
– Order! Leave is not granted.
Motion (by Senator Gorton) agreed to:
That the motion for the postponement of intervening business until after the consideration of the order of the day relating to the Royal Australian Air Force VIP Flight be rescinded.
– I move:
That that part of section 6 of the Canberra Community Hospital Ordinance (No. 2) 1967 that comprises proposed sections 7, 8 and 9 of the Canberra Community Hospital Ordinance 1938- 1967, be disallowed.
A tremendous amount of business has to be transacted by the Senate. Nearly thirty bills and the estimates for several departments involving hundreds of millions of dollars are to be discussed. Here we have a government that has adopted all sorts of subterfuges. Its leader lacks adroitness in handling affairs. We had an example of this tonight. The question of VIP aircraft has been under consideration for months. Early in the session 1 asked about depreciation rates and suggested that at a minimum depreciation would amount to $500,000 and at a maximum it would amount to $lm. It turns out now that the price of these aircraft has been increased from $11. 6m to $21. 2m and that the depreciation will be $2m each year as a maximum and about $1 .5m as a minimum.
I do not propose to traverse in the time available to me the history of the Board of Management of the Canberra Community Hospital. I did that only a few weeks ago when a not dissimilar ordinance was introduced by the Government. At that time it was withdrawn because of the Opposition’s antagonism to the complete unfairness associated with the ordinance. But what do we now have? I do not know whether this is just a snide approach in another way in an attempt to achieve what the Government sought to achieve by the original ordinance. At that time it was proposed that the elected board of the hospital would be replaced with an appointed board of five to manage the hospital. Now we find that three are to be appointed and two are to be elected by the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council. We suggested, and it was conceded by many, that the management of a hospital today is a particularly specialised type of endeavour which renders a particularly specialised service to the community and calls for a high degree of skill and qualifications in its management. We are not quarrelling with the Government which has provided directly in the estimates $2.9m to assist the community hospital. We agree that the Government has a right to a majority of the representation on the Board. I remind the Senate that Canberra has a minimum of democratic representation. Why, it is not so long since its elected representative to the Parliament was given the right to vote on all matters pertaining to the Commonwealth. The Advisory Council has no real authority. Indeed, none of the various bodies established in the Australian Capital Territory has any real authority. The Government controls virtually everything. Therefore, it would not be ill advised to grant the community some measure of democratic representation on the Hospital Board of Management. At least it would give the community some cause to take pride in one enterprise within this city.
The Government has now seen fit to provide that two members of the Board shall be elected by the full Advisory Council and that the Minister for Health shall appoint the remaining three. We argue that the two elected representatives should be elected by the general community; that they should submit themselves as candidates for election to the Board of Management. Failing that, we feel that they should be elected by the eight elected representatives on the Advisory Council. It was intimated to us - we thought reliably - that the eight elected members of the Advisory Council would have authority to elect the two members to represent the Council. But we find that by adopting a snide approach, the Government has arranged that the two elected members of the Board of Management shall be elected by the full Advisory Council of twelve members, four of whom are appointed by the Government. It is only a matter of simple mathematics to arrive at how the Government can take advantage of the situation. The four Government nominees could select from the eight elected members of the Advisory Council the two members whom they wanted to be on the Board of Management of the hospital. That would mean a line up of six members of the Council. If one of the remaining six had no interest in this matter, the result would be the election of the two members selected by the Government nominees and so, in effect, the Government would have all five members of the Board. The whole thing is ridiculous. The mechanism is so open that anyone can see through it. I am not a suspicious type, as everyone knows, but I can easily see how, if I were the Minister, I could achieve my original objective as visualised in the original ordinance - five Government nominees on the Hospital Board of Management. I would go about it in the way in which I have outlined, and that is the way in which I think the Minister might think of doing it.
We seek disallowance of this ordinance because we do not think it is fair; because we think it leaves the way open to snide practices and because we think it is not in the best interests of democratic representation. As I have said Canberra has a minimum of democratic representation at present. We believe strongly that the two elected members of the Hospital Board of Management should be elected directly by the people of the ACT. This could be done at the time of Advisory Council elections and so need not be expensive. Such an election would, I am sure, produce candidates who were interested in hospital management. Certainly it would give the people of Canberra an opportunity to say who should represent them on the Board of their Community Hospital. Failing a democratic election of that type, we submit that at least the Government should agree to the two Advisory Council representatives on the Board of Management being elected by the eight elected members of the Advisory Council. For those reasons, I ask that the Senate agree to the. motion.
[8.24] - -As honourable senators know, I represent the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) in this chamber and he has asked me to inform the Senate that the amending ordinance which is the subject of this motion had regard to the tenor of the debate in this, chamber when the earlier ordinance was being discussed and also to the resolution of the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council on 4th September of this year. That resolution, which is recorded in the Hansard of the Senate proceedings of Sth September 1 967, included a statement that the Council’s opinion was that the Canberra Community Hospital Board of Management should include elected representatives of the citizens of Canberra, preferably. elected directly to the Board, or alternatively appointed from the elected members of the Advisory Council.
Following the tabling of the amending ordinance now before us on 26th September, the Advisory Council was invited to elect two representatives to the new Board and at its first meeting following its recent election the Council did just this. It elected Messrs Pead and Leedman to be its representatives on the Hospital Board of Management. Listening’ to Senator Dittmer, one would be led to believe that there was something different about this method of election but I assure the Senate that it follows the practice adopted in all other cases where the Council elects representatives to other bodies, including the Advisory Board on Tourism, the Electricity Authority, the Road Safety Council and the National Fitness Advisory Committee. There was no suggestion either at or prior to the Advisory Council’s meeting that any different method should be adopted. This is the method that has always been used.
Senator Dittmer referred to the Government’s nominees on the Advisory Council. The Minister for Health, the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) and the Minister for Works (Mr Kelly) all have representation on the Council but not one of them has given any direction as to how his representative or representatives should or should not vote on this or any other matter. Likewise, the nominated members do not vote to any prearranged pattern. It appears that the Advisory Council now wishes to choose its representative to the Hospital Board of Management on the vote of the elected members of the Council only. I say to honourable senators that this would be a departure from the existing practice whereby all representatives of the Council on outside bodies are elected by the whole Council, lt would not be appropriate for the Canberra Community Hospital Ordinance to be amended to make the proposed procedure mandatory without at the same time considering corresponding amendments to the other legislation involved. However the Minister for Health has informed me that he is prepared to bring this matter to the attention of the Minister for the Interior who has the basic responsibility for the working arrangements and administration of the ACT Advisory Council. ft should be remembered that the Advisory Council has been functioning since 1930 and has always comprised elected and nominated members having equal rights in regard to all matters pertaining to Advisory Council meetings. Now we have a change in the voting procedures being recommended. This would involve a major change in the long established rules and practices of the Council and therefore it cannot be accepted without full consideration of the whole of the operations of the Council. It would not be right to alter the method of constituting one particular body. Again I remind the Senate that the present practice has been in operation for over 30 years. However I can assure the Senate that the Minister for Health has told me that he is prepared to bring the matter to the attention of the Minister for the Interior who, of course, has the basic responsibility for the working arrangements and administration of the ACT Advisory Council. I believe that past actions have resulted in the introduction of this ordinance, as was indicated by the debate and indeed the statement made by the Council on the dates that I mentioned.
Senator DEVITT (Tasmania) (9. 30] - I wish to address a few remarks to this particular matter. However much the Government may attempt to justify the present situation, the history of this ordinance should be looked at first and foremost. I refer first to section (6.) of the original Canberra Community Hospital Ordinance 1938-1966, under which the Canberra Community Hospital Board consisted of 8 members, of whom 3 were appointed by the Minister and 5 were elected or appointed in the prescribed manner. This matter of representation on the Board came to the notice of the Senate when Ordinance No. 28 of 1967, which was subsequently repealed, was promulgated. That Ordinance sought, in proposed Part II, section 2, to reconstitute the Board so that it would consist of a chairman and four other members who were to be appointed by the Minister for the Interior. There was direct movement away from a board which consisted, in the main, of elected representatives of the people to a board which was to be wholly appointed by the Minister. Because of certain aspects of the matter which were brought to the attention of the then Minister for the Interior, Mr Anthony, as a result of the presentation of that Ordinance to the Senate, a further ordinance was promulgated which sought to repeal Ordinance No. 28 of 1967. The new ordinance was Ordinance No. 31 of 1967. An attempt was made to meet some of the objections of the people who had lost their right to elect members to the Canberra Community Hospital Management Board, that being the name given to the Board in proposed section 7. Proposed section 7 reads: (1.) The Board shall consist of 5 members. (2.) Two members shall be persons who are elected as members of the Board by the members of the Advisory Council from persons who are elected members of that that Council. (3.) The remaining members shall, be persons appointed by the Minister to be members of the Board.
The Advisory Council referred to therein is the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council. Whereas originally a majority of the members of the Board were elected, the Minister sought to appoint a board wholly on his own initiative and without consultation with the people through either the Advisory Council or any other channel. Then finally the position has been reached where, under this latest Ordinance, the Advisory Council may now elect 2 representatives and the Minister will appoint 3.
Now we come to a consideration of the method of electing the representatives of the Advisory Council to the Hospital Management Board. Senator Dittmer has, 1 believe, quite rightly pointed out that the Advisory Council consists of 12 members, 8 of whom are elected by a proper electoral process and 4 are appointed by the Minister. The suggestion now advanced is that the election of the 2 representatives from the Advisory Council to the Hospital Management Board should be on the vote of the 8 elected members of the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council. Surely no real objection could be raised to this. By a direct process of election and by a direct implementation of the processes of democracy the Advisory Council could appoint to the Hospital Management Board two people who had been elected to the Council by the people. Surely that proposition is reasonable.
Surely the Minister, conscious of the mood of the people in the Australian Capital Territory at the present time in relation to their right to govern and to determine their own affairs, will attempt to meet the wishes of the people in this respect. Frankly I can see no reasonable grounds for objecting to such an election. I believe that the Minister could be persuaded that this is a reasonable proposition. I believe that any Minister, conscious of his obligations to the people in this area, would say that this was a reasonable proposition and would give the people an elective system.
Everyone is aware of the problems which have arisen in different spheres in the Australian Capital Territory on previous occasions. Last Wednesday night the Senate debated a matter arising directly from a feeling of frustration on the part of a member of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory, which stemmed from what appeared to that person and to other members of the Committee to be a disinclination on the part of the Minister for the Interior to recognise the right of the people in this area to express their own views about matters which affected their daily lives. During the course of that debate I pointed out that once an attempt is made to take away from the people the right to control their own affairs and to determine their own destiny within the framework of the Constitution they will react.
I believe, as I said earlier, that the proposition outlined to the Senate by Senator Dittmer on behalf of the Opposition is a reasonable and a proper one and is one to which the Minister could raise no reasonable objection. I earnestly suggest to the Senate that that proposition is designed to give continuity of a democratic process in that the people of the Australian Capital Territory may elect members of the Advisory Council and from those members the Council may elect two to the Canberra Community Hospital Management Board. I do not want to prolong this debate, but I am bound to put these matters to the Senate as there appears to be an absence of a complete and full realisation of what democracy means. I suggest that the two members to be elected by the Advisory Council to the Canberra Community Hospital Management Board should be elected by the eight members who have been elected initially by the people and should not have to run the gauntlet of being elected by all twelve members of the Advisory Council, eight of whom, as I have said, are elected and four of whom are nominated by the Minister.
– I wish to speak on a couple of aspects of this matter. The first is one about which Senator Dittmer spoke, namely, the four government appointees to the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council having the right to join with the’ elected members of the Council in selecting representatives to serve on the Canberra Community Hospital Board of Management. The point that Senator Dittmer brought forward has real worth. In the city of Canberra, because of its special features, it is desirable that wherever possible the selection of people who are not government nominees be made by the people who themselves are not government nominees on the Advisory Council.
The Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin), who represents the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes), has given a quite lucid explanation, lt is unfortunate that so many appointments by the Advisory Council are made in a similar way to that proposed in the ordinance that we are considering. Therefore it appears to me that it is difficult to make a distinction in relation to the Hospital Board. At first .1 had it in mind to do that, but I did not realise that this procedure permeated Advisory Council appointments to various boards. A change in the method adopted by the Advisory Council in making appointments may be necessary. I should like to see the Minister for Health give consideration to this matter with a view to changing the present setup so that non-government appointees to boards are selected by nongovernment appointees on the Advisory Council. I make that recommendation. I am not prepared to support this motion for disallowance of part of this ordinance now in view of the situation of which I have become aware. This afternoon the Minister very kindly made available an officer of his Department, with whom I conversed very fully on this matter. But the principle involved goes deeper than just appointments to the Hospital Board. Thought will have to be given to changing the method of selection of members of boards.
The other point that .1 make is thai the Hospital Board should have more than five members. A hospital of the size of the Canberra Community Hospital should have a larger board than that. Normally, in relation to matters of ordinary importance I favour having small committees in the interests of effectiveness. But for an institution of the size oil the Canberra Community Hospital it may well be necessary to have more than five members on the Board. On this Board there are government appointees and non-government appointees. An enlargement of the Board would give more Canberra people an opportunity to serve in a community organisation. As one who has had a long and wide experience in local government, I believe that the more people serve in their community organisations the more community and civic pride is built up in the area concerned. Because of the peculiar situation in the city of Canberra, where there is so much government intrusion because the government provides the money, there is proportionately less opportunity for people to serve in community organisations. An increase in the size of the Hospital Board by the addition of more non-government members would develop service in community organisations by the people of Canberra.
I look upon this as a very important possible development. There is no doubt that moves are being made for the provision of some form of local government in the city of Canberra. This may well come over a period. There has been agitation for it for some time. Reports have been made on this subject. Some people have a desire for local government. Should it come about, the more Canberra people were used to working in community organisations the better would be the foundation on which the people of Canberra would take over the running of the administration of their city because more people would be prepared for it. Therefore, I believe that this matter is important.
I strongly urge the Minister for Health to give consideration to the point that was made by Senator Dittmer in relation to nongovernment members of the Advisory Council selecting non-government members of boards such as the Hospital Board, and also to the question of making the Board larger in order to give more Canberra people the. opportunity to serve in community organisations. A board oil five for such an important institution does not give very much scope. If one or two people are away on holidays or if somebody is ill, not many members are left to ensure that there will be a worthwhile board to operate in an- emergency. We have to think of that situation. I make those suggestions. I have tried to speak constructively. Normally I would have supported the motion moved by Senator Dittmer, but in view of the explanation given by the Minister for Housing - namely, that this principle permeates all of the appointments made by the Advisory Council - I believe that it is now a matter of suggesting that consideration be given to altering the whole procedure in respect of all appointments made by the Advisory Council.
– in reply - I said that I would not traverse the history of this matter because some years ago we went to considerable pains to traverse the history of various boards over a period of 30 years. The Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) omitted to mention that, irrespective of the numbers of members of the Canberra Community Hospital Board at various times, on a great number of occasions the majority of the members were elected members. Then came the original ordinance which proposed a radical alteration, namely, that all members would be appointed by the Minister for Health. I suggest to the Minister for Housing that in the light of the discussion that has taken. place tonight she might ask the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) to be a little reasonable. Although it might be against the interests of my Party, I suggest that the Government do something to make itself a bit popular with the people. It seems to be extraordinarily unpopular at present. It seems to be doing all the wrong things. It seems to be lacking the adroitness that characterised it in previous years. It has just gone from one blunder to another because of a lack of skill or adroitness. Here is a chance for it to start to rectify its mistakes.
I agree with Senator Wood when he says that it is wrong for the four Government appointees to. the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council to take part in the election of representatives on the Hospital Board. and other boards to which the Minister referred and to which representatives are elected by the full Advisory Council. Why should we perpetuate that error? Here we have a chance to start on the right path. In the process of time the Government can rectify the other mistakes that it has made. Surely we do not intend to perpetuate an error because it happens to have been made in the past. There is no need for the Government to continue along the path of wrong doing forever, is there? Surely it can make a start now by having the elected members of the Hospital Board elected by the eight elected members of the Advisory Council. I know that it would be awkward to have a full election for members of the Hospital Board because the Advisory Council elections have just been held. But for the balance of the term of 3 years the eight elected members of the Advisory Council could elect the two elected members of the Hospital Board, or whatever the number of elected members is to be. The number of members of the Board may remain at five, with two being elected members; or it may be increased to seven, as we suggested. It would not be inadvisable to have a larger number. 1 do not disagree with that suggestion at all. I realise the multiplicity of tasks that the board of a hospital of the size of the Canberra Community Hospital - it is increasing in size comparatively rapidly - must perform. Surely for the present the Government could let the eight elected members of the Advisory Council elect two representatives to the Hospital Board of five members.
As recently as last Monday night the Advisory Council suggested that the two representatives should be elected by the eight elected members . of the . Advisory Council. I do not know that there was any disagreement with that suggestion. None was reported in the Press. If the Minister for Health is a member of a democratic government surely he must pay tribute to the democratic processes in which we take so much pride. We boast about our democratic processes in this country. Yet we have the very antithesis of those processes in our own capital city. The Minister appears to be adamant, probably under direction from the Government. Surely it is not tpo late now for the Minister representing the Minister for Health to make representations to him which will encourage the people to think better of the Government than they are at present. I suggest that the Minister make such representations to her colleague.
That the motion for disallowance (Senator Dittmer’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Consideration resumed from 20 October (vide page 1604).
Department of Immigration
Proposed expenditure, $44,638,000. Proposed provision, $4,643,000.
Senator DAVIDSON (South Australia) [9.5 1 1 - I wish to refer to Division No. 270 - Administrative, and particularly to the appropriations in sub-division 2 for publicity and the education of migrants in the English language. These two items relate to basic elements of our immigration programme. They relate in part to our programme to recruit migrants and in part to their care after their arrival here. The total provision for Division No. 270 is over $4.5m and exceeds slightly last year’s expenditure. Some disappointment has been caused because of a reduction of last year’s migration target due to circumstances in the United Kingdom and Continental countries which have militated against an increase in the number of migrants this year. Those countries are the principal sources of migrants to this country. Probably the dominant factor in the reduction of the overall appropriation for sub-division 4 of Division No. 270 is the drop from an expenditure last year of about $21. 5m to a provision of about $18. 5m for the costs of assisted passages of United Kingdom migrants. However, the provision for general and special assisted schemes in item 02 of sub-division 4 has been increased to about’ $4m from an expenditure of about $1 .7m last year. I would be pleased if the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin), who represents the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) in this chamber, could for the record give in her reply an indication of the reasons for this substantial increase.
I refer now to the appropriation of about $l.4m for publicity in sub-division 2 of Division No. 270. Last year the expenditure on publicity was slightly in excess of $lm. I wish to know whether publicity is directed to any particular section of the migrant community in European countries, or countries of origin of migrants, who might be persuaded or encouraged to migrate to Australia and become settlers here. Is publicity being directed particularly to the younger sections of the community? I base my inquiry on one of many gallup polls conducted in the United Kingdom. A few weeks ago it revealed that a considerable number of young people in the United Kingdom are interested in migrating to Australia.
– I am riot quite sure what her age is. If she comes within the bracket of age groups to which I have referred, if she could develop a lively interest in Australia, and if she could be persuaded to migrate to Australia and give an indication that she would become a settler in Australia, she would undoubtedly bring a very desirable section of the younger people of the United Kingdom with her. I hope that she, or anybody else for that matter, would be persuaded if the publicity which is covered under this item could be directed at what I call in very general terms the younger section of the community. I know that there are some problems, such as education, including university education, in relation to the migration of younger people. But young married people, people in their mid-twenties, are at a stage of life when certain drawbacks do not enter into the question in the same way as they would with persons 10 or 15 years older. Tt may well be that their sense of adventure could be appealed to so that they would consider this matter very earnestly.
Our manpower needs are growing. Almost every debate that we have in the Senate yields information that at some point or other in industry, in development, or in some other facet of our national life there is a need for people. We not only need a work force. We also need a community of people having what I will describe as a superior education, who will come into our professional, academic and commercial life so that we can develop not only a lively community but a total community covering the whole range of: activity of life and the professions. If we accept the fact that we have a need for moTe settlers - I think the Australian community in its heart accepts this need - the community should be prepared to pay more for our migration programme. We should be able to create a climate of readiness to integrate the people here and of a desire on the part of the Australian community for more people here.
I have referred to the provision for publicity and for education in subdivision 2 of Division No. 270. In item 08. which relates to education, there is a decline in the proposed appropriation. It is true that the decline is small but it serves to underline in my mind the matter of education. When we talk of education we refer not only to education in the English language, although this item in the estimates does refer to this matter in particular. It means also education in Australian ways. It might be worth giving some consideration to the education not only of migrants but also of Australian citizens. It is all very well for all kinds of people to stand in their places and say that we need more migrants and should do more to attract them. This is being done, as evidenced by the Turkish, Italian and Netherlands immigration agreements of recent times. On the other hand, the Australian community now more than ever needs to be alerted to its important role not only in attracting migrants but also in keeping them here and integrating them.
I referred earlier to a report from the United Kingdom on young people. I guess many honourable senators have seen a recent report that advertisements in the Netherlands have drawn quite a fantastic response in inquiries by welders, fitters, electricians and other similar people. The advertisements were inserted by the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and offered very considerable improvements on the wages that these people received in their homeland. Whyalla in South Australia was involved. The significant fact, is that the inquiries have not come from depressed areas of the Netherlands where there is unemployment but rather from areas in which there is good employment. Therefore the people responding are persons who are skilled in their various vocations and will be able to be placed in good jobs. These are just a few comments on these rather delayed estimates which are now before the Committee. I hope that the Minister will take note of some of them and provide answers to the questions.
– I have one point to raise. It relates to Division No. 287, which covers the migration office at Hong Kong. I want to refer to the question of the migration of Chinese to Australia. In this case 1 am pleading that there is a rule for the poor but not for the rich. One finds quite often that, say. cafe proprietors can obtain the services of Chinese who come into Australia for a period of 5 years. They are working class people and they enter under a provisional licence, or whatever it is. At the end of 5 years they can become naturalised. On the other hand, I have a case in point of a millionaire from Hong Kong who wishes to migrate to Australia but cannot get in because the Department’s policy is that we do not want such people just because of their money; they have to be able to show that they will export. On the one hand, the Department does not adopt that attitude with the working man; he can get in here. On the other hand, a man who makes his capital work is not allowed to come here.
I have this case in hand. The authorities are still talking about it but the policy seems to be wrong. This man is prepared to come here and take over a factory, even build a factory, and start exporting, but he cannot get in to do it. All that we can do is to give him a tourist visa. He can come in as a tourist. If he wants to stay on, apparently his wife cannot stay on. The whole policy seems a bit muddled. If the Minister can get an answer as to why a man is not allowed in just because he is wealthy, I should like to hear it.
[10.8] - I should like to answer first a few points raised by Senator Davidson. He referred to the small decline in the vote for the education of migrants in the English language and he wanted to know the reason. The provision covers reimbursements to State departments of education, the costs of shipboard education, the preparation and printing of textbooks and the supply of educational aids. The decrease in 1967-68 is duc mainly to the elimination of the following non-recurring items which involved expenditure in 1966-67: Firstly, arrears due to State departments of education and, secondly, the cost of the ‘Walter and Connie’ television series. The honourable senator commented also on migration from the United Kingdom, under item 01 of subdivision 4 of Division No. 270. I am informed that in connection with the United Kingdom every effort will be made to achieve a programme of at least 60,000 in 1967-68 but funds are sought for only 55,000 at this stage. The decrease of $3,063,463 reflects a reduction from 71,000 in. 1966-67 to 55,000 in 1967-68. Senator Davidson referred also to the provision for publicity in item 06 of subdivision 2 of Division No. 270. I am particularly interested in the honourable senator’s comments concerning younger people coming to Australia and I will be pleased to convey them to the Minister for Immigration. I will obtain details relating to the increase in the appropriation for publicity.
The reduction of $3,063,463 in the appropriation relating to the assisted passage agreement between the United Kingdom and Australia, as referred to in Division No. 270, subdivision 4, item 01, reflects the reduction in intake from 71,000 in 1966-67 to 55,000 for 1967-68.
When we were dealing with these estimates earlier Senator Tangney directed my attention to that section of Division No. 270, subdivision 2, which relates to the repatriation and deportation of migrants and asked for a break up of the expenditure in 1966-67. The expenditure of approximately $160,000 in 1966-67 covers expenditure of $74,000 in relation to repatriation and $86,000 in relation to deportation.
asked whether there was any specific provision for the recognition of Italian trade skills in the migration agreement between Australia and Italy. This matter is covered by Article 8 of the Migration and Settlement Agreement completed recently between the Australian and Italian Governments. The final paragraph states:
The Australian Government recognises the concern of the Italian Government that Italian workers who migrate to Australia arc able to use their vocational qualifications to the best advantage, and agrees to use its best offices to advance the acceptance of Italian qualifications in Australia within the framework of Australian legislation and practice.
Senator Turnbull tonight raised a matter relating to the case of a person from Hong Kong of which he has some personal knowledge. As this is a particular case 1 cannot give him any information at the moment but if I can obtain any information I will let him have it.
– I direct my remarks to Division No. 283 - Migration Office - Republic of France. I notice that the appropriation has been increased substantially from $74,000 last year to $95,000 this year. The schedule relating to salaries and allowances, as appearing on page 234 of the Bill, seems to indicate that this increase will be taken up mostly in the payment of increased salaries and allowances. Has our staff establishment at this migration office been increased? Is this expenditure related to any other migration programme in continental
Europe? On the face of it, the increase is quite substantial.
Turning to Division No. 284 which relates to our migration office in the Federal Republic of Germany, I notice that the appropriation for last year and the appropriation for this year are almost identical. For quite a long time we have enjoyed a substantial level of migration from the Federal Republic of Germany. A considerable number of German migrants have come to Australia. Does the fact that these appropriations are almost identical indicate that our promotion programme in the coming year is not to be as lively as it has been in the past, or are the circumstances in Germany such that we cannot expect any great increase in migration from that country and the appropriation for 1967-68 is designed merely to take care of the present situation?
The appropriation for Division No. 288 - Migration Office - ‘Republic of Italy, has dropped from $724,000 last year to $680,000 this year. Does this take account of the new agreement about which a great deal has been said in recent weeks or will that be taken care of in a subsequent Budget? I lay great stress on the agreement with Italy and the value of Italian migration to Australia. I have been interested in the Minister’s replies to questions asked earlier relating to recognition of Italian skills. I hope that as time goes on professional groups within the Australian community will find ways and means of extending their recognition to the professional accomplishments of persons from continental countries - I am referring to Italy in particular - so that our migration programme can extend over a wider range. I would appreciate information on the matters I have raised.
– I am prompted to intervene again briefly in this discussion because the Minister has not answered an important question I asked about the professional status of veterinary surgeons and others. I had New South Wales in mind and I pointed out that to the best of my knowledge New South Wales legislation until this year gave veterinary surgeons with degrees from European universities an opportunity to undergo a refresher course. Can the Minister supply me with an answer now?
– It will be noticed that the appropriation for the migration office in France is $95,700 and that the appropriation for the migration office in the Federal Republic of Germany is $605,600. Why is the appropriation for the office in Germany about six times greater than the appropriation for the office in France?
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [10.18] - I have a little more information for Senator Turnbull. The policy governing the admission of non-Europeans was reviewed fully and changes were announced by the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) in March last year. I will see that the honourable senator receives a copy of that statement.
Senator Davidson raised some matters relating to publicity. A number of measures designed to take the fullest advantage of the interest shown by young British people in migration to Australia are at present under consideration. That interest is obvious and the Department is endeavouring to increase it.
Senator Mulvihill has asked about the attitude of the Commonwealth and the States on the question of recognition of the professional qualifications of migrants. This is a most complex problem. It is rendered even more difficult by the multiplicity of registration authorities. Practically all of them obtain their authority from State legislation except in the Territories under Commonwealth jurisdiction. The other evening Senator Mulvihill made special mention of the conditions under which veterinary surgeons may practise in New South Wales. It is true that as from March this year veterinary surgeons with overseas qualifications will no longer be able to obtain registration at one comprehensive examination. They are now required to pass through the third, fourth and fifth years of a veterinary science course. However, Commonwealth authorities, particularly the Department of Immigration and the Department of Labour and National Service, are constantly in touch with the appropriate State authorities concerning the recognition of the professional qualifications of migrants. The stress is on widening the recognition without lowering standards. Recently a letter was sent by the Acting
Prime Minister to all State Premiers on this subject. Currently the Department of Immigration is surveying the registration requirements of the various State boards. The results will be discussed with the State authorities concerned.
Senator Davidson referred to the increase in the vote concerning France from $74,534 to $95,700 and asked whether there was any increase in staff. Yes, there has been an increase in staff. There is considerable interest among various nationalities in France in our special passage assistance programme- It has been necessary to increase staff to cope with the additional numbers involved.
Senator TURNBULL (Tasmania) (10.22] - I have read the document. I have even discussed it with an official of the Department of Immigration. It is clear that wealth is not a reason for migrating to Australia. This is ridiculous. If a man can work here with his hands he can work with his capital. There people from Hong Kong are British subjects. The Government is discriminating against British subjects even though they hold only Hong Kong passports. The Government need not worry about these people having lots of little Chinese; they are both more than 65 years of age, but they would be happy to come to this country. There is no problem about their having children, although their son may produce some children. But he does not want to come here without his wife. These people are not allowed to come here even though they are prepared to build a factory and start their own export business. You cannot expect thom to break up their home. You cannot expect the son to leave his wife and three children and come here for 5 years. You should not ask anybody to do that. But this is just what the Government does when it seeks to prevent somebody from entering the country. I cannot see why Chinese who are British subjects should not be allowed to come here with wealth even if that is the only asset they have.
_LI am interested in the matter raised by Senator Turnbull. The attitude recently adopted by the Department of Immigration was that Australia would accept those whose assistance we need for the development of the country. If we needed a migrant’s assistance for a period of 5 years he was entitled to naturalisation. Senator Turnbull has referred to a man who wants to bring his wealth to this country but who cannot bring his wife. He could export his wealth. There is nothing to stop him doing that if there are business prospects in Australia. But obviously he wants to bc able to supervise his investment. The Government’s attitude is that a desire to invest money in this country is not sufficient reason for being allowed to migrate to Australia. This applies also to those who do not have wealth but only love and affection: It is still no justification for their seeking to come to Australia. I know of a Chinese who has been in Australia for 10 or 12 years. Through lack of education or failure to mix with- Australians - he was employed in a Chinese cafe - he has not sufficiently mastered the English language to become naturalised. Because we do not need the skills of his wife he is not permitted to bring her hare.
The Government’s policy is that these people may come here only if they can contribute to our development. If they assist us in our development for :a period of 5 years they are entitled to naturalisation irrespective of their nationality. This policy was a relaxation of the rigid policy formerly adhered to by the Government. I fail to see why a person with money to invest in this country should receive any special consideration. There, is no shortage of investment money in Australia; we can get it from America and other sources. Some review should be made of the case to which I referred of the man whose sons are naturalised Australians but who himself cannot obtain naturalisation because of his inability to master the English language and who has been forced to leave his wife in Hong Kong. There should be some relaxation of policy in these individual cases. We should consider how much we require wealth for the development of Australia and whether persons with wealth wishing to migrate should be given special consideration. With all duc respect to Senator Turnbull, I do not think he has made out a case for allowing a particular person in Hong Kong to migrate to this country just because he has money to invest here. Many other factors must . be taken into consideration.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [10.28] - Senator Wright asked why the vote in respect of Germany was six times as great as the vote in respect of France. The reason is that the funded German assisted programme for 1967-68 is 3,000 compared with 2,932 in 1966-67. However, we are trying to achieve a figure of 3,500. We do not have a migration agreement with France. Migrants from France come under the special passage assistance programme and much of the administration costs in relation to France are found in the vote for the Department of External Affairs. The Department of. Immigration meets all of the costs in relation to Germany.
Referring to Senator Turnbull’s comment, I point out that wealth alone is not a test for entry to Australia, nor is it a disqualifying factor. A number of tests must be met by anybody wishing to come to this country. Senator Turnbull has referred to an individual case on which I cannot give any information.
Senator Davidson referred to the reduction in the vote for migration from Italy and asked whether this took into account the new agreement or whether this will be taken care of in a later appropriation. The reduction is due mainly to the provision for 12 months expenditure in 1967-68 whereas, due to an accounting change, it was necessary to provide for 13 months expenditure in 1966-67. Any increase arising from the recent migration settlement agreement between Australia and Italy will be provided for in additional estimates. Senator Davidson referred also to the Migration Office in the Federal Republic of Germany which comes under Division No. 284. He mentioned that the appropriation for 1966-67 is much the same as the estimate for 1967-68. He asked whether this was an indication that the promotion campaign might not be as lively as it has been. These estimates provide for a total assisted programme of 81,000 migrants. However, the target set for 1967-68 is 92,000 assisted migrants and, if efforts to attract a higher number are successful the additional funds which will be necessary will be sought .’n additional estimates.
– I refer to the Migration Office in the Federal Republic of Germany. I am amazed at the very large amount of $36,200 which is estimated for postage, telegrams, telephones and cablegrams whereas the same item in regard to Great Britain involves an estimate of only $4,500. I should imagine that in Great Britain there would be much greater activity in the administration involving greater expenditure on these items. I was in Germany and I did not gain the impression that postal charges were very much greater than they were in other countries that I visited. I should like some explanation of this very high allocation for these services in the Federal Republic of Germany.
I refer also to the Migration Office in Lebanon, for which the estimate is $140,000, and the Migration Office in Malta for which we have an estimate of $67,300. I should like the Minister to tell me haw many migrants have come to Australia in the last 12 months from Lebanon and how many have come from Malta. I have had a great deal to do with Maltese migrants in Western Australia, ranging from boys who came out here after the last war as orphans and whose welfare I have watched over until now they are steady, respectable married men with families, to others who have come out to Australia in only the last few years. I have found migrants from Malta to be very happy in Australia and successful as settlers. I have met very few Lebanese. I am wondering what difference in numbers would warrant this doubling of expenditure between the Migration Office in Lebanon and the Migration Office in Malta.
– I should like the Minister to investigate the case of a former Hungarian who is now a naturalised Australian citizen. He is employed as a telephone technician by the Postmaster-General’s Department in Melbourne. His name is Szinger and his Christian name is Tidor. He is 27 years of age. His case was reported in the Adelaide ‘Advertiser’ on 30th September 1967. He said that after coming to Australia in 1956 following the revolution in Hungary he intended to stay in Australia and to become naturalised. He saved enough money to go back to Budapest. While in
Budapest he arranged with the Government of Hungary to release his wife so that she could come to Australia with him. His wife’s name is Irma. Because his savings had been depleted he applied to the Australian Government for assistance to bring his wife to Australia, but his application was refused. It seems to me that in a situation in which we face a reduction in immigration to Australia some consideration ought to be given to special cases such as this one.
The Minister for Immigration has asid that nowadays the glamour of a trip to Australia, particularly from the United Kingdom and other places in Europe, has been reduced. This applies particularly to areas from which most of our migrants have come. This has been brought about by the prosperous conditions which now exist in Europe. It seems to me that the Government should review its attitude in these special cases. In this case a young man had decided to settle in Australia. He has a permanent job as a technician in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. He saved enough money to go back to Hungary and arrange to bring his wife out to Australia. But he has to borrow $600 to bring his wife to this country. If the Minister cannot provide an answer tonight, will she investigate the case and inform me whether there has been a change of policy in regard to the application by Mr Szinger?
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [10.36] - I should like to answer one or two questions before I find that I have too many on hand at the one time. Senator Tangney referred to Division 284 in respect of the Migration Office in the Federal Republic of Germany and made particular reference to the large amount of postage, telegrams, telephones and cablegrams. She contrasted this estimate of $36,200 with the estimate for Great Britain which is only $4,500. My reply to the honourable senator is that in Great Britain most of the costs of communication are included in votes for the Prime Minister’s Department whereas in Germany the costs are borne by the Department of Immigration. The honourable senator referred also to the expenditure estimated for various overseas offices under the control of the Department of Immigration. I point out that these costs exclude the costs of staff and facilities shared with other departments which, in accordance with common service arrangements, are borne by those departments. In relation to the United Kingdom, the votes for the Prime Minister’s Department bear the salaries of all locally engaged staff, in addition to the cost of rent and maintenance of office premises and transport. Some countries of immigration provide free facilities for interviewing and selecting migrants, and promotional facilites also are provded free of cost to the Australian Government. In some cases migrant services are provided by the Inter-Governmental Committee for European Migration. These services do not feature in expenditure in the various Migrant Offices. ICEM is compensated by payments under Division 270, subdivision 4, Item 04.
The honourable senator asked some questions about the vote of $140,000 for Lebanon and the vote of $67,300 for Malta. She asked how many Lebanese and Maltese migrants have come to Australia in the last 12 months. In 1966-67 migrants who arrived in Australia and whose last place of residence was Lebanon numbered 1,800, whereas the number from Malta was 1,513. In Malta some costs are borne by votes for the Department of External Affairs. It should be mentioned also that the migration office in Lebanon handles migrants also from some surrounding countries.
Senator Bishop referred to a migrant from Hungary. I inform the honourable senator that there is no assisted migration scheme operating in eastern European countries, which would include Hungary, which I believe was the country to which he referred.
Senator BISHOP (South Australia) 10.39-1 understand quite clearly that there is no agreement operating in eastern European countries, but I suggested to the Minister that here was a special case which might be investigated. I asked to have the matter considered as it had been publicised in the Press. This man had to borrow a large sum of money to bring his wife to Australia at a time when we are seeking the maximum number of migrants. Here is a case of a good man with good credentials who ought to be assisted, quite apart from any agreements which Australia may have with any other nation.
I shall be pleased to bring this matter to the attention of the Minister for Immigration.
– I draw attention to item 01 of subdivision 3 of Division No. 270. It relates to the appropriation of $5.028m for hostel accommodation and associated services for migrants. This figure represents the Commonwealth’s contribution to Commonwealth Hostels Ltd. It will be remembered that some 12 months ago there was a great dca! of agitation about living conditions in migrant hostels. I, together with Senator Mulvihill, Senator Poyser and others took some interest in the matter and that was when I gained my first experience of the conditions under which migrants are expected to live in Australia. I readily admit that the Department of Immigration has done an excellent job but something is radically wrong when we find that, 20 years after the war, migrants arc still living in what was regarded as only emergency housing during the war years. I refer to the Nissen huts at the migrant hostel at Heathcote Road.
The Government and the Minister for Housing say there is no crisis in housing. In my book, there is definitely a crisis in the housing of migrants. 1 repeat that I do not blame the Department of Immigration. The fault lies in the fact that the Government does not seem to consider the position to be urgent. Commonwealth Hostels Ltd would be only too happy to improve conditions if it had the money with which te do it. I do not think $5m is enough to allocate for the housing of migrants. 1 visited the Heathcote Road hostel on a Sunday when it was raining and it was as well that I did because up till then I did not believe that in a country like Australia people could be living under conditions such as 1 saw there. The area was something like the old Molonglo settlement. It was nothing more than a hutment area. I saw families of four or five living in a hut 20 feet long. They could not even stand up in all parts of the hut because, as honourable senators will know, the roof of the Nissen hut curves down to form the walls. The inmates could not even hang pictures on the walls. There is a stretch of only about 2 feet across the hut where the height is sufficient for people to stand up in comfort.
– But they could get round quite easily on all fours.
– Yes. It was wet underfoot inside the huts. Indeed it could not be anything else because the walls were let into the ground. There was no drainage whatsoever. Perhaps the most horrible sight of all was the kiddies lining up at the toilets and shower rooms which were situated from 30 to 50 feet away from the huts. It is to be remembered that we have families living in these hostels and we all agree that children are the best types of migrants. These kiddies are required to rush out in the morning, line up and take their turn at the showers and toilets. The amount of tinea powder used there must be terrific because the area is really greasy. 1 emphasise again that I am not blaming the Department. I have spoken to the officers and they have informed me that they know how bad the conditions are. We are bringing to this country young British families, and it is about the British migrants that I am concerned at the moment. These people have been accustomed to home life in England yet when they come here they are expected to stay in accommodation such as I have described for 2 or 3 years. The conditions there do not create the right environment for bringing up children. I was greatly horrified at the whole setup. I repeat that I have had the whole matter explained to me by the officers of the Department. I appreciate their difficulties. It has been explained that this is emergency housing. In my view, the emergency has lasted for far too long. I ask the Government to help Commonwealth Hostels Ltd by doubling its financial provision so that it can really move along and do something.
The Heathcote Road hostel is in an isolated area some distance from Liverpool and there, is no public transport available. Apparently the Government considers that migrants do not need transport; that they can walk. I see a grave danger here for the young girls who have to walk from where they live to Liverpool, which entails crossing a paddock which is probably 2 miles wide. If they want amusement they must go to Liverpool because there is none available to them in the hostel area. They have no organised entertainment whatsoever at the hostel. Again, there is the question of morals. I was out there during the daylight hours. The shower rooms for the women are away from the huts. They are constructed of galvanised iron and I understand that children look through peepholes while the women are having showers. This is a disgraceful state of affairs. The Department says it has not the money to effect improvements but something must be done even if only in the interests of health. Drainage is also urgently needed. As I have said, another important consideration is morals. How can these people be expected to rear families decently in conditions such as those? It should not be expected of them in a country like Australia.
In the City of Sydney there are many blocks of .flats still unoccupied. The Minister will claim of course that this is an indication that the housing problem is solved. That may be so, but I suggest that the Government should engage upon a crash programme of improving housing for the migrants. It should investigate the plight of families in hutment areas. Many of the people about whom I speak work in the professions. I know of two migrants there who hold university degrees. They are still squelching about in the mud out there and may be doing so for a good while yet. I have been constructive in my criticism. I am not criticising Commonwealth Hostels Ltd. That organisation is doing all that it can under the circumstances. My complaint is that the Government is not doing enough. It would seem that the Government has become accustomed to these conditions. There is grave danger that the migrants also will become accustomed to them and that the children who are growing up there will forget what it is like to live in a villa or a little cottage. I do not think half of them will ever see a cottage unless something is done to ensure a quicker movement of people into and out of these places.
I appreciate the difficulties involved. Some of the migrants probably have settled down to hostel life and do not want to move out of this temporary accommodation, but the Government should take action to see that they are put out before they have time to settle down. It is a disgrace that migrants should be housed for 2 or 3 years in the type of emergency accommodation that I saw at Heathcote Road. No-one should be living in Nissen huts in Australia at this time in our history. The Government ought to embark upon a crash programme of perhaps buying into established areas. There are still huge buildings in the City of Sydney unoccupied. I should imagine that some of the beautiful buildings in the western suburbs of Sydney which are now unoccupied could be converted into satisfactory accommodation perhaps more cheaply than the Government could erect new buildings in the outer suburbs. I leave the matter there and ask that the Minister give it serious consideration. Is it possible to speed up the turnover of inmates of. hostels to ensure that no occupant is there for more than 12 months and that they are moved to better accommodation? Is it possible to double the amount of money made available to Commonwealth Hostels Ltd in one big effort to rid the Department of Immigration of the one big blot on Australia’s immigration policy?
– I, too, should like to refer to hostel accommodation. Is the cost of the new type of accommodation being built at Bull Creek, in Western Australia, included in the estimate of $5,028,000? It is an excellent type of accommodation and answers the criticisms that have been raised by Senator Ormonde. I would like to pay a tribute to the residents of the Graylands Hostel. That hostel is situated not very far from where I live, and so I have knowledge of it. Many people have lived there for long periods because they have been unable to obtain other accommodation. There is a wonderful community spirit among them. Recently I mentioned two cases of hardship in which there had been family bereavements. In one case the mother of a large family of small children had died, and in the other case the father had died. The residents of that hostel banded together on both occasions and raised money to help the families out of their immediate difficulties. The women formed . groups to assist in minding the children and to do everything they possibly could to help the two families in their time of great distress. I have found on many occasions, none of which has been quite so tragic as those two, a simple spirit of comradeship among the people who have lived in that hostel. 1 was very pleased last year when the hostel received a prize for being one of the best hostels in Australia. The conditions at one time were very adverse, but the management and the residents have co-operated to remove quite a number of the difficulties and the hostel has become quite a good example of what people can do when they have only the will to make good.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [10.53] - I am conscious of Senator Ormonde’s very real concern for migrants who come to this country. The honourable senator has shown a keen sense of interest and sympathy. He would be interested to know of improvements to migrant hostels. Since 1952 approximately $9m has been spent on improvements to dining rooms, kitchens, toilet and ablution buildings, laundries, residents’ accommodation, recreation halls, child minding centres and hostel surrounds. The present and future plans for new hostels include one to be built at Randwick, which is to cost $4,100,000. Tenders are to be called in January 1968. Another hostel, at Springvale, is to cost $4,250,000. Tenders are to be called in March 1968. Each will provide accommodation for 1,000 people and will replace some of the existing hostel accommodation. These hostels will be of brick construction and modern design and will provide toilets and wash basins for individual families.
In relation to extensions, within the past 12 months modern accommodation blocks with beds for over 700 persons have been added to hostels. At Wacol, in Queensland 200 beds have been provided; at Nunawading in Victoria, 200 beds; at Altona in Victoria, 35 beds; and at Graylands in Western Australia, 265 beds. The total cost was approximately $841,000. New accommodation for 100 persons and a dining room annexe are to be commenced at Graylands this financial year. In 1967-68 a major programme to replace existing hostel accommodation on sites of secure tenure with modern brick structures incorporating private facilities has been commenced. Hostels to benefit first from this programme are as follows: Villawood in
New South Wales, 500 beds; East Hills in New South Wales, 150 beds; Maribyrnong in Victoria, 500 beds;- Altona in Victoria, 50 beds; and Wacol in Queensland, 150 beds. These works are estimated to cost $2,710,000, of which $1,670,000 will be spent in 1967-68. For hostels located on sites not owned by the Commonwealth but which will continue in use for some considerable time a programme of improvements was commenced in this financial year. This programme provides for improvements to toilet, ablution and laundry facilities, the installation of individual wash basins, the construction of covered ways between living quarters and communal facilities, and the enlargement of main bedrooms. This programme of progressive and continuous improvements in migrant accommodation will be supplemented by an experiment with self contained migrant flats. This is a matter which is of interest to all Australians. I remind honourable senators that 100 migrant flats will be constructed in New South Wales, 100 in Victoria, 50 in Tasmania and 50 in Western Australia. Negotiations for available land and the building of these flats are in progress at this moment.
Senator Tangney spoke of a new concept of accommodation at Bull Creek and asked whether this was included in the item to which she referred. An amount of $633,000, being the Commonwealth’s contribution to the Bull Creek hostel, is included in the sum of $750,000 provided in Division No. 921 in. Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1967-68. Honourable senators may be interested to know that an amount of $1,479,000 was spent in 1966-67 on hostel improvements and that the amount provided for 1967-68 is $3,885,000. I do not know whether honourable senators are aware that Commonwealth Hostels Limited has an accommodation advisory service which is available to all residents of its migrant hostels. I am informed by a number of people that this service is rendering a very excellent service. It is staffed by sympathetic people - officers with long experience in the real estate field - who are in close touch with sources of finance and well qualified to relieve a newcomer of some of his worries and to guide him away from the pitfalls. The figures relating to this service, I believe, speak for themselves.
Since it was established 62 weeks ago the service has directly helped 2,732 migrant families staying at hostels in Australia, or a total of 12,531 persons, to find homes either to rent or to buy. Honourable senators might regard those statistics as being rather cold, hard figures that do not tell the whole story; but the officers of the advisory service are frequently very encouraged and heartened by the expressions of thanks that they receive from the newcomers whom they have been able to assist.
One of the effects of the advisory service has been to reduce quite strikingly the time spent by migrant families in temporary hostel accommodation. The average time spent in such accommodation in 1965-66 was 37 weeks per family, compared with only 28.6 weeks in 1966-67. That is of great importance and has been of very real assistance to those families who have been able to move out from the hostels much more rapidly than previously. I hope that some of the information that I have given to Senator Ormonde will show that there is a continuing effort to assist people who have come to Australia to settle.
– My final query is iri relation to the decline in the appropriation for the Inter-governmental Committee for European migration from $195,865 in 1966-67 to $166,000 for 1967-68. The Committee has a chief of mission in Canberra. I imagine that because of the kind of community with which the Committee deals the decline is due to a reduction in the number of people it is handling.
My particular inquiry tonight springs from one of the journals distributed by the Committee. It is known as ‘International Migration*. It refers to the resettlement of handicapped refugees. I would be appreciative if the Minister could give some indication, firstly, of why there is a reduction in the appropriation for this item and, secondly, of whether any resettlement of handicapped refugees or similar people has taken place in Australia in recent times. The Committeee deals with people who would have difficulty, split families, overage people, problem groups and various other people who sometimes are described as being employment risks. If the Minister could give some facts on that matter, they would be enlightening.
Before I sit down I wish to comment on the matters that the Minister has raised in relation to migrant hostels. I express my appreciation of the provision of improved accommodation, particularly at Wacol which I had the opportunity to see recently. I share the Department’s concern that hostel accommodation is not as good as we would like it to be. But, having had the opportunity to inspect the Wacol hostel, I say that it is encouraging to note that an improvement is manifest.
I refer now to the contribution to good neighbour councils under Division No. 270. These councils are concerned with the integration and assimilation of migrants. They are playing their part in the provision of. migrant assistance services and information services such as that established by the Commonwealth Banking Corporation. I hope that the additional appropriation will be of particular use in attracting and integrating more migrants. Finally I draw attention to my original inquiry about ICEM.
– I refer to the Italian migration programme. I ask the Minister whether the Department has officers in Italy at places other than Rome. I am thinking of Messina, Naples, Genoa and Milan. My reason for asking this question is that when people go to Italy they realise that there are almost five different communities of people. When I was in Italy it struck me that Rome was the wrong place for us to have our immigration officers. The Romans arc a people unto themselves. The people of Genoa do not think they are Italians at all. The people of Messina have another view of what an Italian is.
Does Australia have a fairly representative inflow of Italian migrants from those five centres? Milan would probably provide the best type of migrant that we could get. It is in the industrial part of Italy. Does the Department have separate offices in those areas, or do officers from the Rome office work in those areas directly or through representatives advertising for migrants? When I was in Italy I gained the impression that all the effort was concentrated in Rome. Of course, the migration agreement had not been renewed at that stage. Could the Minister give me any information on that matter?
– What is the position today in regard to child migrants? Immediately after the Second World War child migrants came from England and other parts of the Commonwealth in large numbers. Are any large bodies of child migrants coming to Australia these days?
– I address myself to the appropriation for hostel accommodation and associated services for migrants. I believe that the matters that the Minister mentioned in relation to the Department’s investment in new hostel accommodation would come under that item. She mentioned the development of large, flat type hostel accommodation in New South Wales and at Springvale in Victoria. As a member of the Public Accounts Committee, I have had the benefit of being involved in an investigation of the Department of Immigration which is still continuing, and of viewing the hostel accommodation offered by the Department in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.
As a private individual looking at the general basis upon which we bring people to this country and seek to integrate them into the community as quickly as possible, I find that there is very little argument against the type of hostel accommodation that is provided. Undoubtedly anybody who wished to raise an argument on this matter could say that he would like the standard to be higher, but the standard can be raised to the point where people will not move out of the hostels. A point has to be found between the two standards. I believe that in the various States the Department has made an excellent attempt to ensure that the hostel accommodation is acceptable to most of- the migrants who come to this country.
When I heard the announcement some months ago of the Government’s decision to build, as I understand the proposal, multistoreyed flat type accommodation in two very large units - one at Springvale in Victoria and the other in New South Wales - I was somewhat concerned. At question time I asked whether consideration had been given to the Government giving a lead in the matter of decentralisation. This is a very important matter on which I hope the Minister will give some of the thinking of the Government. I cannot speak on behalf of New South Wales, but in relation to Victoria I believe that the Government was wise to seek a new type of accommodation for incoming migrants. Perhaps the new policy is wise in that it gets away from the hostel type accommodation and provides flat type accommodation. But I wonder what throughts are behind the Department’s policy and the Government’s attitude when I hear the Minister say that one group of these units will house 1,000 individuals. In the Springvale area there is a great industrial potential. These units will act as a staging point for migrants for some time. That seems reasonable. But there’ will not be a continuing value in investment in this type of accommodation.
Under this item we are being asked to appropriate $5,028,000 as a contribution to Commonwealth Hostels Ltd - which I imagine will own these units - for hostel accommodation and associated services for migrants. I have looked at the designs for these units. They seem to be quite up to date designs. The planning seems to be well advanced. Because Springvale is so far away from where the migrants will arrive in Australia a fairly large expense will be involved in transporting them to the centre. I suppose that because the migrants will be gathered at one centre administration costs will be a little less than they otherwise would be. I suggest that that is wise. But what will be the future use of the units that are built now? Will they be able to be used for other purposes? It would appear to me that the Department should have considered building groups of 20 or 30 flats in major rural towns in Victoria. There it Could assist the realisation of the potential Of incoming migrants prior to their arrival in Australia. Perhaps they could be located in blocks of flat units in towns such as Portland, Hamilton, Shepparton, Warracknabeal or Wangaratta. I could name 20 or 30 country centres where a number of migrant families could be located and drawn very quickly into the community. If they decided to leave the area the units could be again occupied, perhaps by local workers. There seems to be a greater future associated with an attempt to decentralise migrant accommodation for which an. appropriation of about $4m is sought, lt could form part of a decentralisation effort by the Commonwealth if migrant families were located in rural Victorian towns instead of being added to the metropolitan population.
The Minister may say that the flat units are simply to be used to stage migrants. That may be so. My information is that migrants stay at hostels for a little longer than we would wish them to stay. 1 think the Commonwealth could give a lead in this matter, lt might be possible to offer the flat units through financial encouragement for purchase by migrants, lt may be possible to establish in rural areas housing units, which are currently a popular way of life. Greater distribution of the population would be encouraged and it seems preferable to a plan to spend $4m on one particular site where about 1,000 migrants will bc housed on their arrival from overseas. I ask the Minister for an explanation of the reasons behind the Government’s decision to build the project at Springvale.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [11.13] - Senator Davidson referred to the appropriation of $166,000 in subdivision 2 of Division No. 270- Administrative, for our contribution to the administrative budget of the Inter-governmental Committee for European migration. He referred particularly to the office costs of that organisation. ICEM comprises thirty member governments, including the Australian Government. It was formed in 1952 to facilitate the orderly movement of migrants to countries offering opportunities for permanent resettlement. The assistance given to member governments comprises mainly the arrangement of transport, financial aid and the provision of technical services. A reduction in the appropriation for 1967-68 - I think this is the point of the honourable senator’s question - is due to a sum in credit with ICEM which it is expected will be carried forward from 1966-67.
Senator Davidson also asked about the rehabilitation of handicapped people. I am endeavouring to get that information for him. He referred to the excellent work done by Good Neighbour Councils throughout the community. I also appreciate the good work done by Good Neighbour Councils throughout Australia. I constantly meet members of the Councils, who are doing much to help newcomers to Australia. I think most Australians appreciate the work they are doing. Senator Ormonde asked whether offices are to be established in Italy, other than the office in Rome. He referred to Messina, Naples and Genoa. Approval has been given for the opening of more branch offices in Italy and the necessary administrative arrangements are presently in hand.
– The Department has anticipated me.
– Yes, it is on the job. Senator Tangney asked about child migration. Only about 300 or 400 child migrants are arriving in Australia annually, including youths sponsored by the Big Brother movement. The authorities in Britain no longer regard migration as a solution to the problems of children entrusted to their care. Very few child migrants are now available.
Senator Webster referred to the proposed centre for migrants at Springvale. This project was investigated and considered by the Public Works Committee which made a recommendation upon it. The Committee would have investigated all the relevant matters and on its recommendation tenders are being called for. They are to be lodged by next March. The honourable senator also referred to the new experimental system of flat accommodation for migrant families for a period of not longer than six months. I understood the honourable senator to ask where the big blocks of flats are to be built. That is my understanding of his question. I could not quite hear all that he said. As I said earlier, 100 flats are to be built in New South Wales, 100 in Victoria, 50 in Tasmania and 50 in Western Australia. It is intended that not more than 24 flats will be built on one site. It is clear that large blocks of 100 flats will not be built.
– Neither of the Minister’s answers has had very much to do with the questions 1 asked, but it would take much longer to go through them again.
– 1 do not wish to disagree with the honourable senator but I understood him to ask about the cost of the Springvale project.
– The Minister can read my questions in Hansard tomorrow.
– I have informed the honourable senator that the Springvale project was considered by the Public Works Committee. He asked about the number of flats to be built in blocks for migrant families. Is not that what the honourable senator asked?
– I referred to the possibility of building them in country areas.
– Yes, I have a note of that and I am about to reply to that query. As I have informed the honourable senator, the flats are to be occupied for a period of 6 months. It is an experiment. It has already been said by myself, and I would think by the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury), that if it is considered that flats should be built in a country area, as the need develops that will be investigated. I have further information to give in reply to the comments that I understood Senator Webster to make about accommodation for migrants in country areas. As has been agreed, to date one of the difficulties standing in the way of bringing greater numbers of migrants to settle in country areas has been the problem of providing satisfactory accommodation in those areas. It has been thought that generally hostel accommodation would not be a practical answer because the numbers involved are few.
The Government has therefore decided to provide means - this has been well publicised but I again inform honourable senators of it - whereby migrant families brought to Australia under Commonwealth nomination and willing to go to country centres will be accommodated in approved boarding houses, hostels, and private accommodation on the basis of full board and lodging. Migrants will be called upon to pay only an amount equivalent to the tariff payable at a Commonwealth hostel. The
Commonwealth will pay the balance of the actual cost of accommodation charges. The appropriate maximum subsidy will apply. The scheme will be administered by the Department of Labour and National Service. I understand that the regional directors of that Department have already commenced discussions with local authorities in country centres with a view to deciding upon the towns in which the new arrangements are to apply. These, of course, will be areas where there is employment for the migrants to obtain. This will overcome a great many of the problems.
– I refer to the provision- for publicity in item 06 of subdivision 2 of Division No. 270. 1 should like a breakdown of this item. By this I mean the type and the method of publicity used, particularly in the United Kingdom. From time to time I have been approached by persons from the United Kingdom - I daresay other senators also have been approached - with complaints that the information received in the United Kingdom has been misleading. These complaints come particularly from married couples. Wives who are’ tradeswomen or have professional qualifications were told that employment would be easy for them to obtain and they have been disappointed because this is not the case. Is the information given to intending migrants in the form of a pamphlet or a booklet? If so, are any specimens of this type of publicity available so that honourable senators and members may examine them and be able to tell these people whether or not they have been misled? I have never seen any publicity of the type used overseas. I was wondering if we could obtain some specimens, have a look at them and refute some of the complaints that these people are making.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [11.23] - Senator Drury very rightly inquires about publicity. One of the most important factors in making people interested in coming to this country is the kind of publicity they see which probably attracts them for the first time. Having got that far, it is very important that there should be full publicity to give them a complete idea of the kind of life they will be living here, the manner in which their requirements will be met, the availability of schools, the work opportunities for young people, and so on. I have seen some of the publicity and been tremendously impressed by it. [ was especially, interested because someone I know very well has been active in the past in doing some of this publicity. I thought it was excellent, very easy to understand, very well set out, and an attractive booklet. I suggest that it is quite easy for the honourable senator to see the full range of the Department’s booklets. In view of the honourable senator’s interest, this will be arranged. He will then be able to make any suggestions and to judge whether the booklets cover the matters that he thinks should be covered. I have been very impressed by the specimens that I have seen and I believe that this publicity is doing an excellent job.
– I want to direct a very brief question to the Minister. As the provision of an answer may take some time, and as, for obvious reasons, it might be thought better to reply to me in writing rather than verbally, I shall quite appreciate it if the Minister suggests that this be done. May we be given a rundown of the attitude to migration to Australia in the individual Iron Curtain countries?
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [1 1.26] - Senator Davidson asked a question about handicapped refugees. I am informed that during the recent visit overseas of the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) he announced at Geneva that Australia would continue to adopt a sympathetic attitude to the admission of handicapped refugees. 1 have noted the question asked by Senator McManus and shall be pleased to get what information I can get concerning it.
– The Minister has been very generous in handling all of our questions. I think that she has quite outdone her male colleagues. I should like to know why the migration office in Dublin has been closed. I hope that there is nothing sinister in that or that we are not trying to change the blood lines in Australia. I note that there is an office in Ulster.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [11.27] - I understand that we did not close an office in Dublin but that the migration work is done by the Embassy. However, we are considering the appointment of a migration officer there.
– I should like to comment on the reply given by the Minister in relation to country housing for migrants. I am afraid that in the towns where the accommodation suggested is available there will not be employment and that in the towns in which there is adequate employment the type of accommodation required will not be available. But there is an urgent need for small blocks of flats in areas where there is employment. I hope that the Government will not be disappointed if its suggested scheme is not a success and that it will go ahead with the idea of building small blocks of flats for migrants in country towns where there is employment.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [11.28] - The Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) are very conscious of this problem and have been giving it very great attention. The flats that we discussed earlier which are being built are an experiment to house migrant families for 6 months. These are small units and there are not more than twenty-four flats to a block. Also, as has already been stated by the Minister for Immigration and the Minister for Labour and National Service, after these first blocks are built the building of further blocks will be considered Where and when they are required.
– It is well known to the Minister both as Minister for Housing and in her capacity as representing the Minister for Immigration that many migrants are being brought to Australia without sufficient housing accommodation being available for them. There is quite considerable development in the northern part of Western Australia.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Temporary Chairman do now leave the chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative. (The Temporary Chairman having reported accordingly)
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.31 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 October 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1967/19671025_senate_26_s36/>.