26th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 10 a.m., and read prayers.
-I understand that the Minister for Customs and Excise has an answer to a question that I asked a few days ago relating to an article on film censorship which appeared in the current issue of ‘Nation’.
- Senator Mulvihill did ask a question about an article in Nation’ and I promised I would get an answer for him. I now have some information for him, as follows:
The figures used by the writer of the article in Nation’ apparently were taken from the Department of Customs and Excise annual report for 1965-66. This report, on page 102, shows figures, as under, in relation to films: 35 mm films - 914 screening hours
TV films (16 mm) - 6,185 screening hours 16 mm commercial films - 2,409 screening hours 8 mm and 9.5 m commercial films - 83 screening hours
Total screening time - 9,591 hours
Of the films listed, the 35 mm and TV films with a total screening time of 7,699 hours, would have been screened by the Board. The 16, 8 and 9.5 mm commercial films would have been screened almost exclusively by Deputy Censors in the various States.
Deputy Censors appointed under the Regulations have very restrictive powers in relation to censorship functions and can neither reject nor require cuts in films. Apart from the censorship function, which involves bringing doubtful films to the attention of the Board, the work of the Deputy Censors involves classification of the films screened to determine the appropriate rates of duty applicable under the Customs Tariff.
The screening of films by the Board may be undertaken by one or more of the 7 members, but its regular practice in the case of doubtful or problem films, is for at least 3 members to view them.
I would mention that members of the Board attend regular screenings for 5 or more hours each working day.
– On 19th October I asked the Minister for Supply a question relating to industrial capacity in the field of micro electronics in Australia and the offer by the Commonwealth Government of certain assistance to industry if it could develop a capacity to meet defence needs in that field. Has the Minister any further information on this matter?
– I sought the information which the honourable senator requested, and now have a reply for him. Honourable senators will recall that my Department had considered it most important for this capacity to be developed in Australia. On the advice of the electronics industry that the market in the next few years would not support the outlay of company funds to enable all stages of the proposal to be carried out, my Department had invited Australian companies to tender for the provision of the facilities.
The proposal has aroused considerable interest. As the establishment of this capacity is of significance to Australia and therefore of special interest to honourable senators, I will make a further statement when the proposal is developed to the stage of deciding a contractor. The aim is for the successful tenderer to be effective in this work by late 1968.
– My question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. By way of preface I should like to say that I, as a South Australian senator, welcome the decision of the Government to assist the States of South Australia and Victoria in connection with drought problems. Can the Minister give some information about the basis of relief to the States and the obligations of the State governments in regard to the distribution of this relief?
– I cannot give this information off hand. I suggest to the honourable senator that he put his question on notice and I will give the information in detail when I obtain it.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Air. On 3rd October I asked:
The Minister replied:
I do not know whether it is possible to get an answer to the honourable senator’s question but 1 shall convey it to the Minister for Air and, if possible, get an answer for him.
This information is not among the documents which have been tabled. I now ask: Has it been possible to obtain this information? Secondly, will the Minister table - or obtain for us - this information or a copy of the document issued by the Air Board which was an instruction from the Department of Air to the Royal Australian Air Force advising how the accounting of VIP aircraft should be carried out?
- Mr President. 1 think this question relates to some papers which were tabled in the Senate last night. With the permission of the honourable senator, I should like to reply to it. His question is in two parts. I think the first part as to detailed costing of these matters was covered in what I said to the Senate last night.
– I believe, with great respect that it was - the fact that a great deal of work would have to be done and also the fact that it would be an estimate when all was said and done.
As regards the second part of the question, I think this arises from a previous request made by the honourable senator for an Air Board order- ABO E27/6 paragraph 3 (d) - which is a restricted document. A restricted document is one which is classified but has the lowest priority and it could well be argued that even though it is restricted it ought to be made available. But I do not think it is a good practice to table restricted documents, nor in this case does it matter because I gather that the honourable senator does not want the document so much as a reference in it to another letter which has been sent out. This letter sent out is not classified at all. There is no point in tabling it I will give it to the honourable senator and he can do what he likes with it.
– My question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and I ask: Has he seen in today’s Press that the Western Australian Government has decided to implement a course of equal pay for equal work beginning from next year? As this is the fourth or fifth State government to introduce legislation of this kind, will the Minister confer with the leaders of State governments in order to ascertain from them how the Commonwealth Government can implement the same policy at least for its own employees?
– 1 will bring the honourable senator’s remarks to the notice of the responsible Minister.
– My question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it a fact that the Victorian Government is expected to declare that a big part of the new Victorian stamp duty on income is income tax? Will this further complicate financial arrangements between the Commonwealth and the State of Victoria and does it provide new evidence of the highly unsatisfactory position of Commonwealth-State financial relations? Is the likely sequel to this development the withholding by the Commonwealth of a proportion of the regular reimbursement of income tax to Victoria? Since the proposed Victorian stamp duty is to take effect from the beginning of February, I ask whether the Government intends to consult the Victorian Government in order that a proper understanding about this matter can be effected and in the hope that a disruption of that State’s finances might be obviated.
– I think the requests for factual information which are contained here and there in the question must be answered by at least the Department of the Treasury and the Attorney-General’s Department - certainly by those two Departments. I shall endeavour to get answers to those requests. I regard the question about what is likely to happen as relating to a policy matter. Therefore it cannot be answered at question time.
– I ask a question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Because of the apparently humiliating conditions which are being imposed as a condition of Britain’s entry into the European Common Market, will the
Government urge upon the United Kingdom Government the advisability of entering into negotiations with other Commonwealth countries and the United States of America with a view to bringing about closer and more enduring trading relations between those countries as advocated by Sir Alexander Downer and Sir Robert Menzies? Is not it worth the attempt by Commonwealth countries to try at least to moderate the phobia of the United Kingdom Government that the salvation of the nation depends upon joining the European Economic Community?
– I thinkthat the course which would be taken by the British Government in all its trading and other relations would be that course which that Government believed was of the most benefit to the nation which it was elected to rule. We should not forget that that is its right and duty. As to possible alternative methods of trading or alternative areas of common trade, I have no doubt that these matters, which are of importance to all countries, are under discussion by trade Ministers from time to time. But if the British Government believes that it is in the interests of that nation to go into the Common Market, then I do not think that we should attack that Government for that decision, which is entirely within its own responsibility.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. In view of the fact that the hunter who shot buffaloes at the request of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s ‘Four Corners’ team was fined $20 and evidence was given to the effect that his actions resulted from a request by the film team, has the ABC accepted the possibility that it has liability in the matter? Has consideration been given to compensating the hunter for the fine imposed? Will steps be taken to ensure that no similar slaughter of Australian fauna occurs in the name of the public news gathering authority of this country?
– I forebear to make my own personal contribution, becauseI am sure it would follow the line of the honourable senator’s question. For that reason I merely ask that the question be put on notice.I shall refer it to the PostmasterGeneral.
– Subject to any honourable senator having objection in relation to any particular question, I ask for leave to incorporate in Hansard the answers to some questions upon notice.
– There being no objection, that course will be followed.
(Question No. 324)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answer:
(Question No. 333)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following reply: 1.Yes. The Government believes that voluntary efforts by private organisations can play a useful role in supplementing Australia’s growing expenditure on its official programme of economic aid.
(Question No. 335)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following answer:
Reports of significant weather observations, otherwise known as SIGMETS, whichinclude sandstorms and dust storms, are required to be made by reporting stations whenever the conditions occur. These SIGMET reports are available before flight to all aircraft as a special warning of hazardous weather conditions. If the conditions are reported after an aircraft has departed, the reports are transmitted to the aircraft when it establishes radio communication with a flight service unit.
(Question No. 338)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answer:
(Question No. 345)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
Does the 11.6% capital investment of Qantas Airways Ltd entitle it to representation on the Board of Malaysia-Singapore Airways Limited?
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following answer:
Yes. Qantas is entitled to have two directors on the Board of Malaysia-Singapore Airways Limited and it does, in fact, have two.
(Question No. 346)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
With reference to the statement in the nineteenth annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, at page 42, under the heading Political Broadcasts’, that the policy speeches in connection with the Federal general election held on 26th November 1966 were broadcast by all but three of the commercial broadcasting stations without charge, which were the three stations which did not follow the general practice?
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answer:
I should explain that the sentence on page 42 of the nineteenth annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to which the honourable senator refers was intended to convey that the three stations concerned had made some charge for broadcasting time for policy speeches but not necessarily in each case a charge for all the time devoted to this purpose. The actual position in respect of the three stations was as follows:
For the proper perspective in this matter it is necessary to note from the paragraph in question in the Board’s annual report that eight stations did not provide any time for the broadcasting of policy speeches.
(Question No. 364)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
In view of the recent statement by the PostmasterGeneral that tenders will be called soon for a microwave link between Townsville and Mount Isa, can the Postmaster-General give an assurance that provision will be made in this microwave link for ultimate extensions of television relays to other western Queensland centres and to the Northern Territory so that television and improved telephone services can be provided in these areas?
– The Postmaster-
General has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Townsville-MountIsa microwave system referred to in my recent statement will enable the provision of additional telephone circuits and, when appropriate, the relaying of television programmes to places en route as well as directly between Townsville and MountIsa. The link, which is expected to be completed in late 1970, will be designed so that it can be extended to provide additional telephone circuits and a television relay channel to places west of MountIsa in later years.
(Question No. 376)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
In view of the general widespread misunderstanding amongst the public will the Minister take steps to make it generally known that persons travelling on commercial airlines are not automatically insured for $15,000 as implied on air tickets but only portion thereof, if any, depending on a means test principle.
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following answer:
There is no justification for any belief that persons travelling on commercial airlines in Australia are automatically insured for $15,000. The terms of the tickets issued by the airlines do not give rise to any such implication, but, on the contrary, contain no mention of the words ‘insurance’ or insured’. The relevant clause in Ansett-ANA tickets is as follows:
The passenger and his baggage are carried subject only to the liability imposed on the Companies by the Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Act 1959-1962 of the Commonwealth of Australia or the applicable Act (if any) of the Parliament of a State or by these conditions. The liability of the Companies, whether arising out of a contract of carriage to which any of the said Acts applies or not, is limited to a sum not exceeding, in respect of the death of or injury to the passenger, $15,000’.
The revelant clause in the Trans-Australian Airlines is as follows:
The liability of the carrier under this contract is subject in all respects to the provisions of the Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Act 1959 and in particular in respect of death or injury is limited to the sum of $15,000’.
The position is that under the Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Act of the Commonwealth passengers injured or the dependants of passengers killed in an accident involving an aircraft operated by an airline are entitled to recover damages without proof of any fault or negligence on the part of the airline or its employees. The full amount of damages sustained and proved is recoverable, up to a maximum of$1 5,000. In the case of death, the amount recoverable depends on the actual damages proved to have been sustained by the dependants by reason of the death of the passenger. In this connection one relevant matter is the earning capacity of the deceased. In the case of injury the damages are fixed according to the seriousness of the injury sustained and take into account such matters as loss of earnings and medical expenses incurred.
The Commonwealth Act applies to all flights conducted by TAA and all flights conducted by private airlines except intrastate flights. Each of the States, except New South Wales’, has passed an Act applying the same rules to intrastate flights within that State conducted by the private airlines.
This accounts for the difference between the two airline tickets, particularly in the references to legislation. It is understood that the New South Wales Parliament will pass an Act during the current session on the same lines as the Acts in the other States, applying the principles of the Commonwealth Act to intrastate operations in New South Wales by the privately owned airlines.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works, upon notice:
– The Minister for Works has supplied the following answer:
The Minister for Works said, amongst other things:
There are many who think that our chief way of helping should be in giving food to hungry countries. This may be necessary in an emergency, as in India this year, to prevent millions from dying. But as a long term proposition it is really a policy of despair. Giving people food destroys the incentive of the receiving countries to tackle their own agricultural problems, to raise their yields by better methods. The Indians say that they could produce enough food for themselves within two years if they really got on top of their own agriculture. Anything we can do to help them in this way will be of more real help than sending them food.’
Senator ANDERSON: On 3rd October
I ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral: In view of the recent rises in postal rates will the Minister discuss with the PostmasterGeneral the possibility of reducing the cost of certain Christmas greeting cards and other messages of goodwill so that an undue burden will not be placed on pensioners and others on fixed incomes?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply:
It is economically impracticable to separate letterform articles on the basis of their contents in order to afford them various standards of treatment. Consequently, the basic handling costs of all letter-form articles irrespective of contents are identical. In these circumstances, a concessional rate of postage on Christmas cards and other messages of goodwill would have a serious adverse effect on postal revenue and could not be justified.
Motion (by Senator Gorton) - by leave - agreed to:
That leave of absence for one month be granted to Senator Breen on account of family illnesss.
(No. 4) 1967
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henry) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill will make some important amendments to the Income Tax Assessment Act. The main parts of the Bill concern our taxation of interest and dividends going out of Australia to non-residents and income derived by our own residents from investments in overseas companies. The Bill also proposes some important changes in the provisions governing the taxing of distributions made by companies.
I turn firstly to the proposed withholding tax on interest paid to persons who are not residents of Australia. The Bill will implement the Government’s decision to introduce this tax which was announced in a statement by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) on 4th May last. Without going over again in detail the reasons that prompted the Government’s decision, I recall to honourable senators two of the principal factors we considered.
One is that interest paid by companies to non-residents is, at present, subject to Australian tax at a rate of 42.5% of the gross amount unless steps are taken to avoid the tax. I stress the word ‘gross’; no allowance is made for expenses incurred in gaining the interest. The rate is high in itself and generally much higher than other countries see fit to impose. The tax is, in fact, so severe that it induces overseas lenders to avoid it if they can. This leads to the second factor, which is that our law contains provisions which clearly permit arrangements to be made to avoid the special tax. I emphasise that these statutory provisions are quite explicit and people who have taken advantage of them had a perfect right to do so. The position that results from all this is far from satisfactory.
In reviewing the situation, the Government set itself the aim of introducing a withholding tax that would ensure that a reasonable contribution to Australian tax revenue is made by overseas lenders in relation to interest drawn from Australia. We wanted to see a relatively simple method of collection of the tax. At the same time, full regard was had to the effects a withholding tax might have on the availability and cost of overseas capital to Australian borrowers.
It is proposed that the rate of the withholding tax will be 10% of the gross interest, and that it will be a final tax. Interest subject to withholding tax will not, in any circumstances, be taxed on the ordinary assessment basis. The withholding tax on interest will come into operation in respect of interest paid on or after I January 1968. It will usually apply to interest paid by Australian residents to nonresidents, except to the extent that the interest is attributable to a business carried on by the Australian resident outside Australia. It will also apply to interest paid by a non-resident to another non-resident to the extent that the interest is attributable to a business carried on in Australia by the non-resident who pays it. Interest paid by the Commonwealth or a State will generally be within its scope.
Some interest received by non-residents will not, however, be subject to withholding tax and will continue to be taxed on the ordinary assessment basis at the appropriate general rate. In this category is interest derived by a non-resident in carrying on business in Australia through a branch, for example, a non-resident bank. Government loan interest on securities issued before 1 January 1968 and in respect of which the special rebate of 10% of the interest is available will also continue to be taxed by assessment. So too will residents of the external territories.
Certain interest will be exempt from withholding tax and will not be taxed on any other basis. Here I point particularly to cases in which a resident company had negotiated, or was negotiating, a loan before 4 May 1967 on terms which bind it to pay interest free of any deduction. Under the statutory provisions I mentioned earlier, no Australian tax would be payable under the present law in these circumstances and it is not proposed to disturb the basis of these contracts. Also to be exempt from the tax are foreign superannuation funds, charities and similar bodies if the income is exempt from tax in the home country of the particular body. The exemption of interest paid on external Government loans will not be affected by the legislation.
To maintain consistency with the interest withholding tax an amendment is proposed to the dividend withholding tax that has operated since 1960. This is that Australian dividends received by foreign superannuation funds, charities and similar bodies will be exempt from dividend withholding tax only if the dividends are also exempt from tax in the country where the organisation is a resident for tax purposes. I turn now to features of the Bill that are designed to clarify the taxation position of an Australian resident who receives a dividend from an overseas company, but does not receive it as a shareholder in the company. He may, for example, beneficially own shares which are registered in the name of a trustee or some other person.
In general, Australian taxpayer!! are relieved from double tax on foreign dividends by means of a credit system. This means that if a resident shareholder derives dividends from a foreign source he is subject to Australian tax on the dividends but receives a credit against his Australian tax for foreign tax on the dividend for which he is personally liable. On the other hand, other types of foreign income derived by a resident are exempt from Australian tax if they are subject to tax in the country where the income has its source. The amendment proposed will declare in explicit’ terms that Australian residents who beneficially derive foreign dividends, but are not themselves shareholders in the foreign company, are to be taxed on the dividends and allowed credit for foreign tax, in the same way as Australians who have direct holdings in foreign companies.
Other major proposals in. the Bill concern distributions by companies. One deals with distributions made in association with a reduction in paidup capital, another with distributions in the course of what can be described as an informal liquidation of a company.I speak first about distributions in association with a reduction of capital. For more than a quarter of a century our taxation law has, in broad terms, treated as dividends, and therefore as income subject to tax in shareholders’ hands, any distribution made by a company as a going concern, other than a return of paidup capital. A majority decision of the High Court has in recent years, however, interpreted the law to mean that it is not effective to tax amounts paid to shareholders when a company reduces its capital even though those amounts are greatly in excess of actual paidup capital returned. This means that a company can, by concerted action involving some reduction of its capital, pay to shareholders in a taxfree form profits which would be subject to tax in the shareholders’ hands if distributed by way of a conventional dividend.
The Government considers that this situation constitutes a real threat to revenue and to the basic general principles on which the taxation law is based. The position also gives an unwarranted advantage to shareholders in companies in a position to execute this type of plan as against companies not so fortunately placed. The Bill therefore proposes to remedy the technical deficiency in the law. The Bill provides that a distribution made in consequence of a reduction of paidup capital will be subject to tax to the extent that it exceeds the sum of the reduction in nominal paidup capital and any distribution out of share premium account.
As to liquidations, the position is that distributions made by a liquidator in the course of a formal liquidation are taxable in the hands of shareholders to the extent that they are made out of income. Shareholders wishing to wind up a company sometimes do not have it formally liquidated but merely take possession of the company’s tangible assets, collect and retain debts due to it and discharge debts due by it and then treat the company as wound up. Where this is done, distributions made out of income of the company are not taxable although they would be if made in the course of a formal liquidation. The Bill proposes that distributions made in these informal liquidations will in future be taxed in the same way as distributions in an orthodox liquidation.
Other proposed amendments in the Bill are of a relatively minor nature. At present, grants made by the United States Educational Foundation in Australia are specificallyexempt from tax. This organisation has been superseded by the Australian-American Educational Foundation and the Bill will ensure that grants made by the new body will also be exempt from tax.
The final amendment is a matter of machinery. Since 1922 the income tax law has set a limit on the amount to be appropriated for salaries and allowances of members of the Taxation Boards of Review. This has occasioned frequent amendments to the Act and is out of line with more modern legislation on statutory bodies. The Bill will therefore omit the limitation. This action will not, of course, affect the administrative procedure for determining salaries of members of the boards which will continue to be determined by the Governor-General on recommendations by Cabinet.
The Bill is explained in more detail in an explanatory memorandum available to honourable senators andI do not propose to go into any further detail at this stage. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Willesee) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
This Bill makes minor technical amendments to the Income Tax (International Agreements) Act as a consequence of the proposed withholding tax on interest derived by non-residents. The Income Tax (International Agreements) Act gives the force of law to Australia’s double taxation agreements with the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and New Zealand.
In certain provisions the Income Tax (International Agreements) Act refers to the Australian dividend withholding tax by that description. With the introduction of a withholding tax on interest it is proposed that the shorter term ‘withholding tax’ be used to describe the taxes on both dividends and interest. The amendments proposed by this Bill do no more than incorporate into the Income Tax (International Agreements) Act the new name for the withholding tax. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion of Senator Willesee) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time. In speaking on an earlier Bill I outlined the basis on which interest paid to non-residents is to be subject to withholding tax as from 1 January 1968. This Bill will declare the rate of that tax as well as re-declaring the rate of withholding tax on dividends derived by non-residents from Australian companies. No change is proposed in the rate of withholding tax on dividends that has applied since the withholding system became operative on 1 July 1960. The general rate will continue to be 30% of the dividends, but where required by any of Australia’s double taxation agreements with other countries the rate is reduced to 15%. The reduced rate operates in consequence of the agreements themselves and it is not necessary, therefore, to declare it in the Bill.
A rate of 10% is proposed in relation to interest derived by non-residents :hat is liable to withholding tax under the amendments to the law proposed by the associated Income Tax Assessment Bill. I have outlined the main features of the withholding tax system proposed for interest derived from Australia by non-residents and will not go over them again now. I would, however, like to say something about the rate of 10% which was, of course, selected by the Government only after careful consideration of all relevant factors.
On the one band, we are seeking to obtain a reasonable contribution to the Austra’ian revenue out of interest payments flowing from Australia to foreign lenders. On the other hand, it is important that the rate of tax should not be so high that it could adversely affect our prospects of obtaining loan moneys from overseas, or result in interest charges being raised unduly against Australian borrowers. I recall to honourable senators that the rate of 10% proposed is to be calculated on the gross interest derived by non-residents and this, in the Government’s opinion, should satisfactorily achieve the two principal objectives I have mentioned.
Further explanations are given in the explanatory memorandum on the Bill. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Willesee) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
– I move:
This Bill will amend the Pay-roll Tax Assessment Act to exempt wages paid by the AustralianAmerican Educational Foundation. This organisation succeeds the United States Educational Foundation in Australia which was established under an agreement between the Governments of the United States of America and Australia and was commonly known as the Fulbright Agreement. The Fulbright Agreement financed studies and other educational activities of American and Australian citizens.
The Australian-American Educational Foundation has been established in accordance with a later agreement between the United States and Australia and has taken over the activities of the earlier organisation. The wages paid by that organisation were exempt from pay-roll tax and this Bill accords the same treatment to wages paid by the new body. The explanatory memorandum made available to honourable senators explains the position in more detail and I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Willesee) adjourned,
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bit] be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to seek the approval of the Parliament for the signature and acceptance by Australia of the International Grains Arrangement 1967. As honourable senators are aware, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade Kennedy Round of trade negotiations were concluded on 30th June of this year. Australia’s chief interest in the Kennedy Round lay in the negotiations on agricultural commodities that earn the bulk of our export income. In particular the Government attached great importance to the negotiations on wheat. Wheat is this country’s second most important export, earning us about $300m in foreign exchange in normal years. Consequently it was Australia’s objective - over a long series of international talks and negotiations - to obtain better conditions for our wheat in the world’s markets.
As the initiator of the Kennedy Round, the United States had made it clear from the outset that a satisfactory outcome of the negotiations would have to embrace a satisfactory result for agricultural trade as well as for manufactures. So far as wheat was concerned the Kennedy Round provided a unique opportunity for wheat exporting countries to seek greater benefits from a new world arrangement for wheat than had been achieved under earlier wheat agreements. In almost the final hours of the Kennedy Round a general policy agreement was reached on the basic elements of a new arrangement for the international wheat trade. These basic elements were set in a Memorandum of Agreement signed at Geneva on 30th June 1967 by twelve countries, including Australia. It was then necessary to translate the elements of this general policy agreement into a formal international agreement. Negotiations were carried out in Rome from 12th July to 18th August this year at a conference held under the auspices of the International Wheat Council. Fiftythree countries including Australia were represented at that conference. The outcome was the International Grains Arrangement 1967, with which this Bill is concerned. Copies of the new Arrangement have been distributed to honourable senators. It is a technical document and I do not propose at this time to go over its provisions in detail. However, I am circulating for the benefit of honourable senators a statement which comments on the detail of the Arrangement.
The International Grains Arrangement contains two parts, a Wheat Trade Convention and a Food Aid Convention, and these two parts are linked together by a preamble. The Wheat Trade Convention takes the place of the 1962 International Wheat Agreement and continues the orderly marketing arrangements developed under earlier wheat agreements. The Convention maintains the existing administrative and institutional framework and, as in previous wheat agreements, the International Wheat Council will be the administering body. In addition, the Wheat Trade Convention contains a number of new features of importance to Australia.
One important part of international wheat agreements has been concerned with prices of wheat. Under the various wheat agreements a price range has been established with a declared minimum and maximum price. Member countries agree to trade within the price range. That concept has been retained and improved in the new Wheat Trade Convention. The new minimum prices established in the Convention are approximately 19 cents American a bushel higher than under the International Wheat Agreement of 1962. In addition, whereas the old agreement specified a minimum price for only one base wheatCanadian No. 1 Manitoba Northern, one of the highest quality wheats in the world but a wheat which enters world trade in relatively small quantities - the new Arrangement specifies in addition to a base wheat, minimum and maximum prices for several major wheats including a number of United States and Canadian wheats as well as Australian f.a.q. and Argentine Plate wheat. Moreover, in the new Arrangement the base wheat. United States No. 2 Hard Red Winter Wheat Ordinary Protein, is a medium grade wheat’ which figures largely in world trade. The minimum price for this base wheat has been established at SUS1.73 per bushel at the Gulf of Mexico, and the equivalent minimum price for Australian f.a.q. has been set at 5 cents American below this figure.
The fact that in the Wheat Trade Convention there will be several price benchmarks should make the price mechanism of the Arrangement more effective. However, an effective price mechanism could become too rigid if it were not kept under review. An important new Prices Review Committee has been established for the purpose of carrying out, on a continuous basis, a review of market prices in relation to the minimum and maximum prices under the new Wheat Trade Convention. This Committee will have important functions in relation to the action necessary to restore market stability whenever prices are at or near the minimum.
The whole technique of establishing minimum and maximum prices at any point of time has been improved in the new Arrangement. The method of calculating these prices is a technical matter involving allowances for differences in wheat qualities and ocean freights from various geographical basing points. For Australian f.a.q. wheat the United Kingdom will be one of the geographical bases for the calculations of the minimum and maximum prices for our wheat f.o.b Australian ports. This preserves a position recognised in a series of international wheat agreements and a position in keeping with almost a century of international trading in Australian wheat. The Wheat Trade Convention also contains a provision that members shall conduct any concessional transactions in grains in such a way as to avoid harmful interference with normal international commercial trade. This provision is of
1J752/67- S- (65)
obvious interest to Australia exporting a large percentage of its wheat to developing countries, most of which are receiving some wheat on concessional terms of one kind or another.
The Food Aid Convention, the second part of the International Grains Arrangement, incorporates the commitment agreed at Geneva in the Kennedy Round, under which a number of countries, including both importing and exporting countries, agreed that in each of the three years of the Arrangement they would provide developing countries with food aid to a total of 4.5 million metric tons of grains for human consumption. This new programme is an important step forward in the tremendous task of feeding the hungry people of the world. The United States contribution Wil be 42% of the programme or 1.89 million metric tons, the European Economic Community 23% or .1.035 million metric tons and Canada 11% or 495,000 tons. Australia will contribute 5% of the total, or 225,000 tons, the same as the United Kingdom and Japan.
This is the first time that such a provision has been included in an international agreement on wheat. Honourable senators will see in this development tangible recognition of an important principle long advocated by Australia in international consultations. We have maintained that the only equitable way of providing food aid to developing countries is for all affluent countries to contribute their fair share in meeting these food needs. Participating countries may make their contributions in cither grains or cash. The International Grains Arrangement 1967 is to enter into force on 1st July 1968, following ratification by signatory governments. In. the meantime the 1962 International Wheat Agreement will continue. However, the regulatory provisions of the International Wheat Agreement, including those relating to minimum and maximum prices, have been inoperative since 1st August this year. There will therefore be no formal price floor under world wheat prices until the new Grains Arrangement comes into force on 1st July 1968.
The decision to continue the International Wheat Agreement without its regulatory provisions was taken at a meeting of the International Wheat Council in
April this year. At that time the Kennedy Round was approaching a climax and wheat exporting countries, particularly the United States and Canada, made the judgment that to agree to a continuation of the 1962 International Wheat Agreement with its existing low minimum prices could well prejudice the effort exporters were mounting in the Kennedy Round to negotiate a higher minimum. Exporting countries took the view that the minimum prices of the International Wheat Agreement were so low in relation to current market prices and so imprecise in relation to wheats other than the base wheat that they could face up to the risk involved in operating for a period without a price floor in an international agreement. By way of illustration, the current asking price in London for Australian f.a.q. wheat is £Stg 25 15s c.i.f. a ton. It is calculated that on current freight rates Australia could sell below £Stg 23 a ton c.i.f. United Kingdom before the minimum under the 1962 International Wheat Agreement would be reached.
I mentioned earlier that fifty-three countries were represented at the negotiations in Rome which resulted in the new International Grains Arrangement. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was not, however, one of those fifty-three countries. The Rome Conference was held under the auspices of the International Wheat Council. The Soviet Union took the view that the negotiations should have been conducted by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development - the United Nations body set up with the main purpose of examining the special needs of developing countries. However, the Soviet Union was a member of the 1962 International Wheat Agreement. Australia shares the hope, with a number of other countries, that the Soviet Union, the world’s largest wheat producer and potentially a great wheat exporter, will join the Arrangement and accept the disciplines and benefits of membership.
The negotiation of this new Arrangement was a long and difficult process. Throughout the four years of negotiations in the Kennedy Round wheat has been at the centre of the agricultural negotiations. Throughout that time close co-operation has been maintained between the Government and the Australian wheat industry. Representatives from the Australian Wheat Board and the Australian wheat industry were members of the Australian team at all major negotiations and made valuable contributions to the work of Australian delegations.
As I have stated, the International Grains Arrangement is in several respects an improvement on earlier wheat agreements. No one can predict with certainty the likely improvement in actual market prices that will result from an increase of 19c American in the price range. However, during the final negotiations in Geneva, experts from the major wheat exporting and wheat importing countries were of the view that over a reasonable period the average improvement in world wheat prices above what might be otherwise expected could be somewhere between 8c American and 16c . American per bushel. With possible future Australian wheat exports averaging about 300m bushels annually, this would mean increases in foreign exchange earnings for Australia of between $22m and $44m. The 1967 International Grains Arrangement should be of great benefit not only to the Australian wheat producer but to the Australian economy as a whole. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to seek the approval of the Parliament for the signature and acceptance by Australia of the 1967 Protocol to the International Wheat Agreement 1962. I have already explained to honourable senators, during my statement on the new International Grains Arrangement, that it was agreed at a meeting of the International Wheat Council in April this year that the International Wheat Agreement 1962 would be extended for a further year to 31st July 1968 with certain regulatory provisions inoperative, including the provisions on prices. The International Wheat Agreement 1962 would otherwise have expired on 31st July 1967. Australia supported the adoption of the Protocol drawn up by the Council to extend and modify the Agreement and has signed the Protocol. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.
Senator HENTY (Tasmania - Minister for
Supply) - For the information of honourable senators I present the following papers:
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henry) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The main purpose of this Bill is to confer bank status on the Australian Resources Development Bank Ltd. The Bank has now been incorporated in Victoria by the eight major trading banks, with the aim of providing finance to Australian enterprises engaged in large scale developments of Australia’s natural resources.
On occasions in the past it has proved difficult for Australian enterprises to mobilise capital from Australian sources on the scale needed to bring to fruition very large projects. This is not to say that existing institutions have been inactive in this field. We look to them to continue to expand their role in providing and arranging finance for new enterprises, and for the expansion of existing enterprises. But with the new discoveries, particularly mineral discoveries, that require huge sums for their development, it has seemed to the Government timely to see established a new institution, designed to supplement the Australian facilities currently available for this purpose, and capable of mobilising sums that otherwise might require negotiations with a considerable number of lenders. Capital from abroad has contributed, and we hope will continue to contribute, much to the development of Australia. The Government welcomes its productive investment in this country. We are, however, concerned to ensure that Australian ownership of natural resources is not prejudiced by any shortcomings in our financial structure making it difficult to obtain capital in large amounts.
Studies by the Australian trading banks of possible forms of a new institution of this kind were commenced in mid-1965. After discussion with the Reserve Bank, an outline of a proposal was conveyed to the then Treasurer towards the end of the year. In the light of his comments, there was further examination of the nature of the problems involved and of various possible approaches to these problems. Officers of the Reserve Bank and the Treasury worked closely with the trading banks. By mid-1966 the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) was able to inform his colleagues that a scheme had been formulated, having the aim of marshalling finance, both local and overseas, for the development of Australian natural resources on terms that would promote greater Australian participation in largescale projects.
In subsequent months the scheme was elaborated and in March of this year the Treasurer announced that, subject to detailed scrutiny of fully-developed proposals, the Government would meet the banks’ request to legislate to give the new institution the status of a bank. This the trading banks regarded as vital in order to confer on the institution the financial standing and national identity they judged it to require to succeed in raising adequate amounts of money. The Treasurer welcomed the proposals as another important new development in the evolution of the Australian banking system. With the financial strength and integrity of the Australian banking system supporting it, the institution will be able to attract funds from the Australian public and short and medium term funds from some overseas investors, particularly banks and other lenders abroad with established relations with the Australian banks. The new institution will be prepared to refinance developmental loans made by trading banks, singly or in consortia, and to provide finance direct to developmental projects.
Where the Bank re-finances trading bank loans, customers will negotiate with their own banks direct. In turn, the Resources Bank will lend to the trading banks concerned, which will continue to carry whatever risks may be involved. It is envisaged that direct investment by the Bank may take the form of subscription of fixed interest loans, an equity holding or a combination of the two. The Bank may also assist in underwriting equity or loan issues.
The Bank may engage in financing operations in association with other lenders, particularly those financial institutions which undertake long term lending, or assist in organising lending consortia. Usually the Bank’s financial assistance will be available only for new projects or expansion of existing ones; consolidation of existing debts is not envisaged.
To give recognition to its full range of activities, it was decided by the banks that the name first suggested for the new institution - the Australian Bankers’ Development Refinance Corporation - should be altered. As it was to be accorded the status of a bank, it was considered that the name of the institution should include the word bank’. The trading banks therefore settled on the name Australian Resources Development Bank Limited. The structure of the new Bank and the respective contributions of the trading banks and the Reserve Bank have already been made public in statements by the trading banks and the Reserve Bank. The Resources Bank has now been incorporated and recruitment of a small but highly-skilled staff is proceeding.
The trading banks will provide equity capital of $3m and the Reserve Bank an initial loan subscription of $2m. They will also provide further loan funds, subordinate to other borrowings by the Bank. To give the Resources Bank greater flexibility in the management of its funds and in its capacity to lend, there is provision for the trading banks and the Reserve Bank to make available to it temporary bridging finance. As the Bank becomes firmly established, the direct support of the Reserve Bank, essential during the formative stages, will be progressively withdrawn. Borrowings from Australian investors are envisaged by way of transferable deposit certificates with maturities of 3 to 10 years, and by acceptance of deposits generally for 3 to 5 years. Interest rates offered will be those appropriate in prevailing market conditions to the borrowing status of an Australian bank and will, of course, be determined in consultation with the Reserve Bank.
As to borrowings overseas, it is envisaged that the links provided by its banking connections should give the new institution access to some overseas funds unlikely to be attracted to Commonwealth loans. As opportunity offers, it may also prove practicable to place blocks of marketable deposit notes through merchant and investment banks overseas. These would normally be for shorter periods than are offered by the Commonwealth in its regular overseas bond issues. The Bank would, of course, be borrowing as a private institution, most -probably by way of private placement of its securities.
I turn now to the specific provisions of the Bill. Honourable senators will note that the Bill deals with the Papua and New Guinea Development Bank as well as with the Australian Resources Development Bank. The Papua and New Guinea Development Bank was established by Terirtory Ordinance in 1965. To enable it to commence business, the Treasurer issued an exemption under section 11 of the Banking Act, but it was always envisaged that at the first convenient opportunity this Parliament should confer the authority to conduct banking business. Clause 4 of the Bill therefore authorises both banks to carry on banking business. T should explain that this will not result in either bank having to maintain statutory reserve deposits with the Reserve Bank. Clause 5 requires the Resources Bank to supply particulars of any alteration to its memorandum or articles of association. Clause 6 of the Bill is necessary to ensure that trading bank obligations to the Resources Bank, in the form of loans for the purposes of refinancing developmental loans by them, are not regarded as deposit liabilities in calculating the statutory reserve deposits maintained by the trading banks with the Reserve Bank.
Clause 7 of the Bill brings the Papua and New Guinea Bank and the Resources Bank within the power conferred on the Reserve Bank to determine the advance policy to be followed by trading and savings banks. With respect to the Papua and New Guinea Bank, the clause simply replaces one of the conditions of the section 1 1 exemption granted by the Treasurer. I should add that, in its consultations with both the Papua and New Guinea Development Bank and the trading banks on the policies followed in making advances in the Territory, the Reserve Bank has regard to conditions there, rather than to conditions in the Australian economy generally.
Clause 8 of the Bill relates to the collection and publication of appropriate statistical information for both banks. Clause 9 requires the Resources Bank to secure the consent of the Treasurer to any changes in its structure or ownership. Clause 10 extends to the Resources Bank the unclaimed moneys provision of the Banking Act, and Clause 1 1 provides for modification for the Papua and New Guinea Bank of the standard statistical forms. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cohen) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
Senator HENTY (Tasmania- Minister for Supply [11.3] - I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The main purpose of this Bill is to provide some improvements in the furlough entitlement of those who derive their furlough benefits from the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Act 1943-1959 rather than from the furlough provisions in the
Public Service Act 1922-1967. Included in those who will benefit are employees of the Parliamentary departments, temporary employees of the Commonwealth and officers and employees of Commonwealth authorities. The detailed provisions of the Furlough Act, which is administered by the Treasury, vary in some respects from the furlough provisions in the Public Service Act, which are administered by the Public Service Board. The effect of this Bill will be to eliminate virtually all the differences between the two schemes, thus bringing all those employed within the broad sphere of Commonwealth employment under the same conditions for eligibility for furlough.
At the same time, the Government has concluded that, in the interests of economic and efficient administration, the existing division of responsibility between the Public Service Board and the Treasury in the administration of the laws relating to furlough should be eliminated, that there should be a common administering authority and that the Public Service Board would be the more appropriate body to be given this responsibility. The Bill therefore specifies the Public Service Board as the approving authority under the Act for all persons presently covered by the Act, except those employed in the Parliamentary departments, in respect of which there have always been special arrangements, in the administration of the furlough provisions of the Public Service Act, the PublicService Board has delegated the powers provided under those provisions to nominated officers in various departments and, consistently with this, the Bill enables the Board to delegate its powers as approving authority under the Furlough Act to officers in Commonwealth departments to authorities of the Commonwealth, or a member of such an Authority or a person employed by such an Authority.
I turn now to those amendments which are of a beneficial nature. Honourable senators will recall that last year the Public Service Act was amended to provide authority for payment in lieu of furlough where the Public Service Board is satisfied that an officer with at least 10 but less than 15 years continuous service is ceasing duty on account of domestic or other pressing necessity. During the second reading speech at that time, the Minister stated that a complementary amendment, to the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Act was intended when that Act was next before the Parliament, and he indicated also that, in conjunction with the introduction of the new concession in the Public Service Act, an adjustment would be made to the existing scale of pro rata entitlements in order that all officers who in future entered the 10 to 15 years service group would have precisely the same furlough entitlements. The Bill provides for the same concessions in relation to termination of service on account of domestic or other pressing necessity and for the same adjustment in the pro rata scale as was made in the Public Service Act.
The Furlough Act differs from the Public Service Act in respect of furlough benefits in cases of death or retirement because of permanent ill health. Under the latter a benefit is available after 4 years but less than 1.5 years completed service. The Furlough Act presently specifies 8 years as the rninimum qualifying period in these circumstances and the Bill provides for this qualifying period to be reduced to 4 years, thus eliminating the present anomaly. The Furlough Act has always provided that the grant of furlough would affect recreation leave. After considering the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission’s decisions on claims for long service leave in the metal trades and graphic arts industries, which provided that annual leave should remain unaffected by the grant of long service leave, the Government decided to eliminate the provisions which require deductions from recreation leave on account of furlough being granted. The Bill so provides.
The Bill provides for the repeal of the provision under which a period of prior service terminated by age retirement is treated differently from a period of prior service terminated for other reasons. This provision has been found to operate unfairly against permanent officers by comparison with temporary employees and anomalies arise particularly in relation to former permanent officers and members of the permanent forces who, subsequent to their retirement on age grounds, are re-engaged in a temporary capacity or are appointed to a statutory office. The Bill also provides for the repeal of the provision that imposes a limitation on the amount of prior employment in a State or authority of a State which may be counted for furlough purposes, thus bringing the Furlough Act into line with the furlough provisions of the Public Service Act in this respect. This will also eliminate other anomalies that have been found to occur in relation to persons who are appointed to statutory offices under the Commonwealth.
Unless an employee is granted leave of absence for certain specified purposes, any period of absence from duty exceeding 12 months in a continuous period breaks continuity of service for purposes of the Act. Under other provisions an employee who ceases duty due to ill health is not entitled to furlough benefits unless the ill health is permanent or he has completed at least 15 years service. The combined effect of these provisions is that an employee who ceases duty due to ill health which is serious but not’ permanent after, say, 14 years service has no entitlement to furlough. Should his restoration to health take longer than 12 months, upon subsequent re-employment by the Commonwealth he can receive no recognition for furlough purposes of his prior service.
The Government decided that this state of affairs should not be allowed to continue and accordingly the Bill provides that a break of service exceeding 12 months shall not break continuity of service where an employee ceases duty due to ill health and resumes full-time employment with the Commonwealth or an authority of the Commonwealth not more than 12 months after his health becomes sufficiently restored to enable him to engage in full-time employment. I mention here that, through the operation of section 75 (b) of the Public Service Act, this amendment will automatically apply in the case of officers who have been retired on the grounds of ill health and who are subsequently reappointed after an absence of more than 12 months.
While furlough normally accrues after 15 years service, both the Public Service Act and the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Act provide for pro rata benefits to be granted to persons who retire after attaining 60 years of age with 8 but less than 15 years service. This is a reasonable provision for officers under the Public Service Act which prescribes a minimum retiring age of 60 years. However, in certain types of employment, mainly with authorities of the Commonwealth, a compulsory retiring age lower than 60 years is prescribed, and in some cases, when such a compulsory retirement occurs at an age of less than 60 years, it is not always practicable for the employee to complete 15 years service. For example, air hostesses employed by the Australian National Airlines Commission are recruited at not less than 21 years of age but are compulsorily retired from air-crew upon attaining the age of 35 years. The Bill provides for the grant of pro rata furlough on compulsory retirement due to age prior to attaining 60 years of age, subject to completion of a minimum of 8 years service.
In conclusion, I mention that the Bill provides for several other amendments that are of a machinery nature. One of these relates to the definition of salary for furlough purposes. The existing definition, which under the Bill is repealed, has been found to suffer from certain defects which could operate to the detriment of employees. The new section 3C inserted by clause 4 of the Bill will remedy these. During the examination of this question it was found that a similar amendment is required to the provisions of the Public Service Act, and. amending legislation for this purpose will shortly be introduced.
I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Bishop) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator McKellar) read a first time.
– I move:
The Bill is designed to meet certain needs which have become evident as a result of experience with the grant of reestablishment loans to national servicemen. As honourable senators know, included in the re-establishment measures for national servicemen is the provision of reestablishment loans. A re-establishment loan may be made to a national serviceman on discharge where this is necessary to enable him to re-establish himself in a business, profession or occupation, including farming, in which he was engaged immediately prior to call-up or was prevented from entering because of call-up.
As the legislation stands there is no scope for the administering authority to exercise discretion where this may be desirable to meet the needs of national servicemen in accordance with the intention of the Act itself. For example, one national serviceman who had been a share-farmer sought a loan in order that he might establish himself on the land but this could not be granted under the existing provisions because drought conditions had forced him some months before call-up to leave share farming and take up other employment. Clearly the legislation needs to be* administered with some degree of flexibility so that an approving authority may grant a loan in such a deserving case provided, of course, the other conditions are satisfied.
The second matter dealt with in the Bill relates to interest on loans. The Government decided that the first $.100 of a re-establishment loan should be free of interest. However, legal advice now is that the provisions of section 54 of the Act that loans . . . bear interest at such rate as is prescribed’ do not cover that part of the loan which bears no interest. The amendment will enable this to be done. I am sure the amendments will have the support of all honourable senators. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Bishop) adjournment.
Consideration resumed from 25 October (vide page 1689).
Proposed expenditure, $44,638,000.
Proposed provision, $4,643,000.
Proposed expenditure and provision noted.
Proposed expenditure, $27,099,000.
Proposed provision, $832,000.
– I refer to Division No. 470, which relates to administration. 1 take this opportunity to express the very great regret that I personally and other members of all parties in Western Australia feel at the recent death of the Director of Social Services in that State, Mr Humphreys. I have not been able to find earlier a suitable occasion on which to raise this matter. He was a very good administrator and a fine human being who entered upon his task with the very best feelings towards those with whom he came in contact. He always brought a sympathetic understanding to bear on any requests that were put before him. He was an approachable man both for members of Parliament and for members of the public.I feel that the Department has lost a fine servant, the like of whom we would do well to recruit in the future. I express my gratitude for the work that he did in Western Australia over quite a long period.
I refer now to Division No. 470, subdivision 3, item 06, which relates to asistance to the housekeeper service in Queensland.I should like to know why this assistance is given only in Queensland. We have a very fine housekeeper service in Western Australia which I know is always up against it for finance. Has any request for financial assistance come from Western Australia or from States other than Queensland? If such requests have been received, what has happened to them. Expenditure for this purpose in all States is well worth while particularly for mothers on the land and sick mothers who are able to get assistance from the emergency housekeeper service. The Service is doing a fine job and I would hate to think that it could not carry on with the good work because of limitation of funds. The Government is paying only $4,000 to this Service. It is getting a great job at bargain prices.
I turn now to item 02 which relates to grants to eligible organisations in respect of homes for aged persons. This is a hardy annual with me. I have never opposed payments to organisations set up under the Aged Persons Homes Act. I think we have made a great step forward in social progress, a step which has brought a great deal of comfort to quite a number of people. I also think that this is a field in which the use of public moneys could be abused. Can the Minister tell me how many organisations which receive this benefit impose a condition upon entrants to those homes to the effect that they must pay an entrance fee or key money, call it what you like? It is not a deposit, because the people have no equity in the home. I do not think that any organisation which demands payment from the tenants of these homes demands less than $2,000. It could be $1,600 in some homes, but I do not know which.
I have received quite a number of complaints from people who have paid this money about the difficulties they have encountered in the homes, with administrators and others. The money they pay gives them no equity in the homes. In some cases conditions are imposed upon them which are far from congenial. I know it is a big problem to get elderly people to live to gether in complete harmony, but surely when there are numerous complaints about certain organisations there is a need for the Department to investigate.
I have been told repeatedly by the Minister that once the subsidy is paid to the organisation the Government has no further interest in the matter. I think that is a dereliction of duty on the Government’s part. We are paying out vast sums of money. This year we are allocating$11m to these homes. Over the past. 11 or 12 years we have allocated hundreds of millions of dollars to homes for the aged, but the Government says: ‘Once that money is paid that is that’. Well, that is not that, in my book. The Government has a duty to the rest of the community to see that the money is spent wisely to provide the greatest good for the greatest number.
I know of people who have paid this compulsory ingoing donation - I will put it that way - to these organisations, and have been in the homes for only a few weeks before they died. Before another person is given occupancy of that accommodation he must pay an ingoing donation of the same amount. I know that the second donation does not attract Government subsidy, but I think this is an aspect into which the Government should make inquiries. I have had many complaints about homes in Queensland. I shall mention one in particular which I have not previously named in this House. It is Gleneagles. I believe there has been quite a lot of litigation between certain people living in the home and the organisations which control it. Just before last Christmas I produced to the Senate a sample of the mortar which was being used in the construction of the buildings. At the time I said I thought I was getting a Christmas present but when I opened the parcel I found the mortar. The homes are being built with second class material. If the Government is paying money to these organisations it should see that it gets the best value for that money.
Many church organisations do not charge any ingoing fee. That is very good. They are building up an asset for the betterment of the elderly community later on. However, there is one thing which I think was never intended when this legislation was first before the Parliament. If it had been so intended, I do not think very many senators knew it at the time. I refer to the fact that a person does not have to be in receipt of an age pension to obtain the benefit of one of these homes. He must only be of pensionable age. I know of people who have sold their homes at an inflated price and have been able to take advantage of this legislation and go into one of these homes on payment of $1,000. They then take a trip overseas with the balance. I do not blame them if they can get away with it, but I think the first duty of the Department of Social Services is to house the needy. I mentioned last year how the Minister for Health in my own State had said that under this Act only the wealthy and the healthy were advantaged. Howevery. since that statement was made the Act has been amended to provide for hospitalisation within the homes, so that Minister’s statement now has no effect. 1 have an instance of one of these homes in Western Australia which demands a large payment from people entering the home. They think they have some guarantee of permanent tenure but they are told that if they are sick for more than 3 months they must get out. That is the position in the Swan Homes in Western Australia. I have a copy of the newsletter which was sent to tenants of the homes telling them that if they are sick for more than 90 days they must get out, because the Commonwealth Government has said that there must be maximum occupancy of the home. This is causing a great deal of concern to people in that home who, when they go to hospital, do not. know whether they will be there for 9 days or 90 days.
Is there any prospect of the Government conducting an investigation into these homes? Complaints would not be received from so many places in Australia if there were not something that needed investigation and explanation. Everything may be above board, but I think this Parliament should know exactly what is being done with these vast sums which are being expended. They have so much element in them for good, but many things are puzzling the people involved. They think they are getting some equity, which they are not. They think they are getting some guarantee of permanency, which they are not. Having realised on their assets to gain admission to the homes they could find themselves being told to get out, and not having anywhere to go. As I have said, they have no equity as a result of what they have paid for the home.
I agree with the principle of the scheme. I was one of those who heartily supported the idea when it was presented to the Senate, but I have received so many complaints from people in practically every State that I think we must know the truth. That is all I want. I am not condemning the whole scheme out of hand, but I want to know what is being done. The Government is very careful in administering the legislation relating to the gift of £250 to assist young couples to buy their first home. They must produce all kinds of documents before they receive the grant. I should like to s«*a exactly the same meticulous care taken with the expenditure of public funds on aged persons homes.
– The Senate may suspect that Senator Tangney and I have been colluding in some way because she has chosen to mention two subjects that I have marked for reference. I am obliged to her for her insight. I wish only to assist her. As to the housekeeping service in Queensland, I simply ask the Minister to explain why there is special reference to Queensland.
With regard to aged persons homes 1 remind the Senate that last year when the Estimates were before us, not for the first time Senator Tangney spoke in the same fashion that she has spoken today. I then suggested a course which is proper to be followed in the Senate - that she permit perusal of the correspondence she then said she bad and then work to the idea of the establishment of a Senate select committee to examine the structure that is required in this branch of social services. One of my first endeavours after the coming election will be to give Senator Tangney an opportunity to initiate a motion for the establishment of a select committee. i mention that as a matter of courtesy. If she does not take that opportunity I will feel myself duty bound to ask the Senate to examine this subject in the only effective way in which it can be examined; that is, by a select committee. 1 wish briefly to explain my reasons for saying that and to give the Minister an opportunity to satisfy my doubts, perhaps during this debate or at a later stage. I am concerned at present with strong advocacy by very well meaning citizens who have the responsibility for the administration of homes for aged people in Hobart. They have strongly presented the view that the capital structure having created the provision that is made for nursing attention and assistance in the homes, to the extent I think of one-third of the occupants who are certified to be in need of nursing attention and who are in a separate wing, should be extended to include all occupants of the homes. The incongruity appears immediately when we remind ourselves that occupants of such homes may include quite healthy and quite wealthy people. It shows to me only that a fumbling drift is arising out of a scheme that was ill conceived in the first place and that the whole scheme warrants intensive consideration and the creation of a legislative structure that will devote the money that we approve under this heading - it 5s Slim this year - to the purposes that the Parliament determines.
I remind honourable senators that the legislation gives to the Secretary of the Department of Social Services complete discretion for purposes that are unspecified except that they relate to aged persons homes which belong to certain organisations. It is quite obvious that the terms and conditions on which the organisations admit and continue to accommodate their patients are of vital importance and that they should ensure that the proper purposes that Parliament has in mind in catering for those people are carried out. Debates have taken place in the Senate in which the Opposition has moved that specifically named trade unions should be included as organisations to be benefited by this legislation. We have had an almost Gilbert and Sullivan type of dilemma in which the Minister has said that the trade unions are already included in the legislation and the Labor Party has said that their non-inclusion is a matter for vehement debate.
These things ought to be considered and proper statutory definition should be given of the organisations that are to be benefited, and of the terms and conditions upon which the organisations shall admit and continue to accommodate aged persons. After centuries of poor laws in England and abuse of charitable trusts for the poor and the sick, at the end of the last century a supervisory charitable commission was established there to ensure that all charitable trusts and the like were supervised in order to prevent abuses. If a private entrepreneur were to establish a home for aged persons and were then to say, ‘You will pay a donation of from $3,000 to $5,000 to this organisation’, and if in 2 months’ time the person paying the donation, as it is called, died and the entrepreneur said that the donation then entirely belonged to him, I would regard it as a revolting imposition which could never stand scrutiny unless it has a cloak of official approval.
These matters should be investigated. Why? Only because the fundamental purpose of the scheme is laudable and very beneficial. But it is in danger of being honeycombed by abuse which the foresight of the Parliament should forestall. By inquiry the Parliament could ascertain the facts and could apply the appropriate recommendation for a proper legislative structure so that the scheme will not founder. I hope honourable senators will not think it inappropriate that I should make these observations during the debate on the Estimates. In my view they are vital. They are designed to ensure that the parliamentary appropriation is actually fulfilling the purposes that we have in mind and that administrative deficiencies are not providing loopholes for abuses that are white-anting the scheme.
– I wish to refer to two matters under Division No. 470 - Administrative. I have previously referred to them in this chamber but I believe that they ought to be referred to again because of their importance. I refer firstly to the case of a person who applies for an invalid pension and who comes up against the rigid requirement that to qualify he must be declared to be 85% disabled. This means that a medical authority who must indicate to the Department of Social Services whether there is a proper case for a pension has to satisfy himself or herself that there is in fact an 85% impairment of physical ability. I have said before in this chamber that this arbitrary percentage, which imposes on a medical authority the almost impossible task of making such a decision, ought to be changed. In the Social Services Act should be included a provision for a medical authority acting in good faith, as all medical authorities do, to say: ‘Whilst I cannot meet the rigid commitment which the Act prescribes to fix the actual percentage of disability, 1 can say in reason that it is illogical to expect this person to work. As a consequence, he should receive an invalid pension’. I do not think that is an unreasonable assumption; on the contrary, I think it is eminently fair. When I raised this matter in the Senate on a previous occasion, Senator Turnbull, who is a member of the medical profession, interjected and said that he wholeheartedly agreed that no doctor was in a position to say that a person was suffering from a definite prescribed percentage of disability. Because their professional status is at stake, doctors play safe when required to make a decision on these matters, and no-one complains at their so doing. [ want now to read out a letter that 1. sent to the Director of Social Services in South Australia because I feel it will give some indication of just how unjust this requirement of the Social Services Act can be. Before reading it I emphasise that I do not read it with the intention of in any way reproaching the officers of the Department of Social Services in South Australia from whom I have received nothing but unfailing courtesy and assistance every lime 1 have sought their co-operation in any cases that have been brought to my notice. My criticism is directed solely at what I consider to be a grave anomaly in the Act itself. 1 do not propose to mention names, and in reading out the letter 1 shall avoid doing so. On 8th December 1966 I wrote as follows to the Director of Social Services in South Australia:
Mrs . . . interviewed me recently and stated that she had applied for an invalid pension in early September of this year and that the application has been rejected.
Mrs . . . informed me that she suffered from peripheral neuritis in both legs, and had had six operations altogether, but despite this, in her opinion the condition is getting worse. She also suffers from spinal trouble and has had part of one lung removed, and when she interviewed me, was walking with some difficulty with the aid of a stick. . . .
I would be grateful if the Department would reconsider this application and, while not reflecting on medical opinion, il seems to me as a layman, that a woman of Mrs . . . age, 47 years, with the disabilities from which she obviously suffers, 1 would have thought acceptance of her application would have been automatic.
I have not exaggerated the position in any way. 1 have always endeavoured to put the case to the Department as fairly and objectively as possible in any representations I have made, because 1 realise that if one makes extravagant statements in any letters one sends to the Department the officers of the Department, with the experience they possess, will soon be able to undermine anything that cannot be supported by valid claims.
I also got in touch with this person’s own doctor. He admitted to me that, as a medical man, it would be impossible for this woman, with the disabilities from which she suffered, to secure employment. But he also stated that it would be very difficult indeed for him to specify any particular percentage of disability as required by the Social Services Act. 1 feel that this requirement of an arbitrary percentage imposes upon doctors an obligation to be absolutely sure that this woman or any other person who is so incapacitated-
– It does not say that; it requires that he shall certify that in his opinion the person is suffering from a certain disability.
– That is so.
– That is not absolutely sure: it is just a reasonable opinion.
– That is right.
– He has to be sure in his own mind.
– No. He forms an opinion on the balance.
– I agree with Senator Wright that there is a letout in this matter. Bui there is also a requirement by the Department, and that requirement is that there shall be a percentage of disability and the doctor, as medical men will do, plays safe in these matters and says that if there is a requirement of a certain percentage of disability this becomes an arbitrary thing and his judgment is a secondary consideration. I feel that in view of this arbitrary requirement the doctors do play safe and avail themselves as much as they can of the letout that Senator Wright mentions, because in my view they are intimidated to some extent by the requirement prescribed in the Act.
– If is not a letout; they have a misconception of their real duty.
– That may be so. I emphasise that I am not in any way criticising the medical referees or doctors employed by the Department. Nor am I criticising the doctors who are required by the Department to give opinions on these matters but, speaking as a layman and as one who has met the woman concerned I feel it would be impossible for me. to find any work that this woman could do. Indeed, I defy any medical man to find a position anywhere in South Australia where this woman would be accepted by the employer as a person who would meet the requirements for employment in his industry.
– Did the honourable senator receive a reply from the Department?
– Yes. The opinion given there is in conformity with the provisions of the Act. I do not claim that it is not. The reply reads:
On the 9th December 1966 I promised to advise you further regarding your representations on behalf of Mrs . . . whose application for an invalid pension had been disallowed on the grounds that she was not permanently incapacitated for work.
Mrs . . . case was referred to the Commonwealth Medical Officer, at . . . for reconsideration of his previous decision and he has now advised that his previous decision is confirmed-
An appeal from Caesar to Caesar -
As this Department is reliant upon medical opinion to establish the basic eligibility to invalid pension the previous decision to disallow Mrs . . claim must stand in view of the Commonwealth Medical Officer’s confirmation of his decision that she is not permanently incapacitated for work within the meaning of the Social Services Act.
That is quite true, and the decision is in conformity with the provision of the Social Services Act, but my contention is that the requirement laid down in the Act for qualification for an invalid pension is unjust. I repeat that I am only a layman, but when one comes in contact with cases such as this one is able to sense whether people are employable. In my view, as a layman, an injustice is being done in this case and I submit that some flexibility should be allowed in the granting of pensions to people such as this woman who obviously should receive a pension.
– Do I understand from the honourable senator that there has been an opinion from her local doctor as well as the Commonwealth doctor?
– Her own doctor did nol give an opinion on the matter. She was asked by the Department to go to another doctor in a nearby town, which she did.
– Was his opinion confirmed by the Commonwealth doctor?
– Yes. that opinion was confirmed by the Commonwealth doctor. Her own doctor, whose name I will not mention, told me when T rang htm, because I felt so strongly about the matter, that in his opinion it was one of those borderline cases. He also told me that, in its present form, the Act imposes too great a responsibility on the medical profession. I have mentioned this case because, as I said, I feel strongly about it.
Another matter to which I wish to refer briefly is one that I have been raising in the Senate over a good number of years. The Minister representing the Minister for Social Services will recall it. It relates to what I have always felt to be lack of provision of sufficient information to the public as to entitlements generally with respect to pensions. After raising the matter on a previous occasion I asked a question about it and, on 5th September 1967, I received this reply in a letter from the Minister for Housing, who represents here the Minister for Social Services:
You will recall asking me a question on 23rd
August 1967 about the steps the Department of Social Services intends to take in regard to publicity material. 1 enclose a copy of the reply the Hon. 1. McC. Sinclair, M.P., Minister for Social Services, has given me in response to your query.
The reply indicated that in the very near future the Minister for Social Services would make available a revised text of information for the public. It is now almost November and as yet I have seen no sign of the new text. The date of the reply was the 5th September and this was in respect of a question I asked on 23rd August. I hoped that the revised information for the general public about pension entitlements would be available before this Parliament went into recess for the Senate election. We could, perhaps, have assessed it to see whether it bridged the gap which we feel exists between the information given out by the Department and the ignorance, in many cases, of the general public - particularly the ignorance of people entitled to pensions or part pensions - as to their eligibility or otherwise.
I have always been critical - and have stated my criticism over the years - of the failure of the Department sufficiently to inform the public about pension entitlements. I was looking forward to being able to make some reference to the revised information sheets that the Department has in mind before this Parliament went into recess prior to the Senate election. It seems this is not to be. I only hope that the information will be available before long and that it will meet the needs of the community for a clearer understanding of pension entitlements.
[11.57] - Before further questions are asked I would like to answer some of the inquiries about which I have information to hand. I will commence with the last question asked because it is fresh in my mind. Senator Toohey asked again about information on social service benefits and a document giving these details being made available for distribution. I recall his interest in this and the question he asked previously, to which I replied, and for which I also obtained a reply from the Minister for Social Services (Mr Sinclair). I have just been informed that the position has not changed since the honourable senator received that reply. I will bring the honourable senator’s remarks to the attention of the Minister and as soon as I can get further information I will provide it for him.
I will now refer to the first question asked by Senator Tangney about the housekeeper service. Senator Wright also referred to this matter. They asked why there was a separate payment for Queensland. The Queensland payment is set out separately because it is made directly to the organisation concerned, the Queensland Country Women’s Association. In the other States the payment is made to the State governments concerned. I will give the details for these other States. In New South Wales and Victoria instalments of these grants are dispersed through government or local government channels and no difficulties have arisen in these States. In South Australia, initially the then Premier indicated that the State Government would not participate. This situation remained unchanged until December 1963. One or two inquiries have been made since then, particulary one in June 1966 in respect of Meals on Wheels Incorporated, but this has not been followed up by any application for payment of the grant in South Australia. In Western Australia one organisation, the Lady Mitchell Emergency Housekeeper Scheme for the Woman on the Land, has been assisted since 1950-51. From 1954-55 to 1963-64, payments of $1,000 per annum were made to the League of Home Health. I know of, and I express the appreciation of all Western Australians on the land of, the Lady Mitchell Emergency Housekeeper Scheme which, I think, remains as a continuing memorial to Lady Mitchell. I believe it has done a magnificent job. In 1966-67 a new organisation came into being, the Emergency Housekeeper Scheme operated in the metropolitan area by the Council of Social Services of Western Australia Incorporated. In 1966-67 $650 was paid to the Lady Mitchell Scheme and $1,000 was paid to the Council of Social
Services. Senator Wright asked about Tasmania. In previous years the allocation has been shared by the State Social Welfare Department and the Country Women’s Association. However, when it was found that both organisations were recovering almost all of the expenditure -incurred for their housekeeper services, payment of the subsidy was withheld in 1964-65 and resumed in 1965-66.
– Was this paid to the Government or to both organisations?
-Payment was made through the Government.
– So the Country Women’s Association has been cut out?
-No, not as 1 understand the position. The payment was cut out for one year but was resumed in 1965-66.
– On resumption, was the grant payable to the Government and to the Country Women’s Association or only to the Government?
– It was payable through the State Government to both organisations, the Social Welfare Department and the Country Women’s Association. Payment was withheld for 1 year but was then resumed and paid through the State Government to the two organisations. In respect of New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania payment is made to the State Treasury or the State Government concerned. In Queensland, however, the State Government declined to have any part in administering the grant but agreed that the allocation for the State should be shared between two eligible organisations. The Queensland Country Women’s Association and the Red Cross Society of Queensland shared the grant from 1952-53 until 1961 when the Red Cross Society ceased to operate a housekeeper service. The Country Women’s Association is now carrying out the functions of the housekeeper service and is operating very successfully. I think I have covered those two points. f now refer to the remarks made by Senator Tangney and Senator Wright about homes for the aged. T have listened with very great interest to the comments they made in respect of Division No. 470, item 3 - Other Services - Homes for aged persons’ - Grants to eligible organisations under the Aged Persons Homes Act. I appreciate their keen concern about homes for the aged and the work done by church, and charitable and benevolent bodies which are providing a very excellent service and are making homes available for many thousands of aged persons who otherwise would not be living in happy and well cared for circumstances. I am interested in the questions asked by the two honourable senators. Senator Tangney inquired as to how many homes required payments from ingoing residents. I am informed that information available to the Department indicates that about one-third of the aged people entering homes contribute towards the capital cost As the honourable senator indicated, and as she will appreciate, these contributions, together with the Commonwealth subsidies that they attract, are expended on building the homes and therefore the money is not available for repayment in the event of the resident withdrawing.
– Do these people know this? ls it made clear to them before they make the donation? That is the point.
– I understand that this information is made known. This is a matter for the organisation and the person concerned. This has been done by the organisations with which I have had contact. I cannot speak for all organisations throughout Australia. However, there is nothing to prevent an organisation making an ex gratia payment out of other funds - and I stress the words ‘out of other funds’ - to the resident if they wish to do so. This is a matter for arrangement between the resident and the. organisation.
Senator Tangney also asked about the number of pensioners who are admitted to subsidised homes. I recall that we discussed this matter during the estimates debate last year. A recent survey carried out by the Department of Social Services indicated that about three-quarters of the residents of aged persons homes are pensioners. I think we ought to remind ourselves that there are also other aged people needing assistance. It is very proper that they should be receiving assistance in this particular way.
Senator Tangney also referred to the position of persons who become ill in these homes. I point out to her that many organisations provide nursing accommodation for their residents. The Government, in August of last year, gave greater encouragement to this scheme by making a subsidy available for nursing accommodation of up to one-half of the number of residential beds in the home. I personally have seen, as I am sure Senator Tangney has, the splendid work that is being done in this regard. I believe that it has been of tremendous assistance.
– What happens where the home has not any facilities to care for people who are ill for more than 90 days?
– I appreciate the problem, which is a very real one. Again this comes back to the body which is administering the home. This point is causing a great deal of concern. Senator Wright expressed very real concern about loopholes in the Aged Persons Homes Act. I understood him to say that people are not benefiting under the Act to the extent that they should. I assure the honourable senator that the Department of Social Services makes very close inquiries into the nature and status of an organisation before making any grant to it under the Act. This matter is gone into very carefully. All organisations, other than the major religious bodies, are required to enter into a formal agreement with the Director-General of Social Services regarding the continued use of the subsidised home as permanent accommodation for the aged. The honourable senator will recall that the Act provides that the accommodation must be permanent accommodation. Recently an Australiawide survey was carried out by the Department to ascertain the use being made of subsidised accommodation. As a result of this survey the Department has reassured itself that this provision in the Act is being carried out.
I was very interested in the points raised by Senator Wright and Senator Tangney. I know that they were made with a very real appreciation of the work that is being done and with the wish that this excellent work be continued in order to assist the greatest possible number of our senior citizens. I shall be pleased to bring before the notice of the Minister for Social Services the points which both honourable senators have raised.
Senator Toohey referred to the fact that a person who applies for an invalid pension has to be declared to be 85% incapacitated before he is granted a pension. As the honourable senator would understand, 1 can make no comment on the individual case to which he has referred. J appreciate the points which he has raised. They are very real points and I know that the Department will fully consider them. 1 can reply to the honourable senator only in a broad way. The test, which is applied before an invalid pension is granted is broadly based on the doctor’s opinion of the degree to which the applicant is capable of employment. If in the opinion of the Commonwealth medical officer the applicant, because of his incapacity, which must be permanent, would not be capable of earning 15% or more of the average wage for his usual class of work, that person would generally be regarded as being eligible on medical grounds for a pension.
– 1 hope the Minister will not mind my asking her this, but does she not think that this matter ought to be related to the unemployability of the person?
– 1 think that the honourable senator has raised a very good point. I shall be pleased to bring to the notice of the Minister for Social Services the very interesting point which Senator Toohey has raised and I shall endeavour to obtain some information about it.
Senator Dame IVY WEDGWOOD (Victoria) [12.5] - I rise to speak in this debate because I am concerned about the anomalies that exist in relation to the acceptance of certain organisations as being eligible for grants under the Aged Persons Homes Act. Only about a fortnight ago 1 had the opportunity to open the 48th Conference of the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmens Mothers Association. This organisation was formed at the end of the First World War and it has been carried on in Victoria ever since. Its purpose is to look after the dependants of deceased ex-servicemen of any war and to help servicemen. I was quite shocked to hear that this organisation was not eligible for assistance under this Act. 1 understand that it has built several homes. I should like to know why the Department of Social
Services considers that this kind of organisation is not either a charitable or a benevolent organisation, f hope that the organisation has been wrongly informed and that it is under a misapprehension. 1 should have thought that this organisation which consists of mothers of servicemen who work for servicemen, would bc one of the bodies which receive first priority under the aged persons homes scheme.
Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia) [1 2.7J - also want to refer to the item under Division No. 470 which deals with grants to organisations tinder the Aged Persons Homes Act. My first observation is that with the expenditure of an extra sum of $5m on this item we should have completely financed all the homes that were built under this scheme in the last 12 months. The legislation is commendable, but I point out that many times during debates on the estimates for the Department of Social Services a question has been raised concerning the doubtful operations of organisations which receive assistance tinder the Act. Senator Wright asked whether certain organisations were carrying out the intention of the Act - that is, to provide reasonable homes for elderly people.
I would think that the Minister for Housing should take particular note of Senator Wright’s invitation to Senator Tangney to move for the appointment of a select committee to inquire into this question. I do not think that the appointment of such a committee would be necessary if we all were satisfied that the Act made it explicit that it was compulsory for organisations to provide reasonable homes for aged persons who are confronted with great hardship. I should have thought that the Department of Social Services, realising that the appointment of a select committee was possible and noting the continued representations which have been made on this question, would have conducted an inquiry into alleged anomalies and would have brought down a report that contained suggested alterations of the Act to meet the requirements of those honourable senators who over the years have brought these matters to the attention of the Minister.
I rose to refer to the case of a company in South Australia which is known as the Elderly Citizens Homes of South Australia Inc. The company was formed for the purpose of taking advantage of the provision in the Act relating to Commonwealth subsidies to build nursing homes and infirmaries for aged persons. On 26th November 1964 the company received notification of acceptance as an approved organisation under the Act. Since that date it has built over 600 homes in South Australia. The company’s by-laws, which govern its operations, are available to anyone who wishes to see them. One of the by-laws is:
Homes must not be used for temporary accommodation or for the accommodation of persons (other than staff) who are nol aged persons.
So, under this organisation’s charter some of the accommodation could be used fir members of the staff who are not aged persons. Allegations have been made that some of the homes built by this company have been sold to members of the staff.
I have had a discussion with Mr Flaherty, who is the Chairman of the Board of Management. He points rut that the organisation does not operate for the purpose of making profits and that no-one makes a profit from it. He points out the need to have a big organisation to run such a scheme and to run it beneficially. As a result of its activities the organisation hopes to build in the near future some homes that people may enter without paying a deposit. Its first project is to build at: Walkerville in South Australia an infirmary to take care of aged people. This organisation seems to have a commendable and remarkable record of achievement. But what are its methods? A circular headed ‘Elderly Citizens Homes of South Australia Inc. - Details of Donation and Maintenance Rental’ states:
Donations vary slightly, as they are calculated in accordance with land values in each area, but generally they range between £1.200 ($2,400) and £1,500 ($3,000) for standard one-bedroom flats. In some areas two-bedroom flats and one-bedroom with sunroom flats are available. The cost of these is an additional £200 ($400) for the second bedroom, or £250 ($500) for sunroom, and these flats arc most suitable for married couples, two sisters or friends, brother and sister etc., (two or mors persons desiring to occupy one flat have first priority for these). Such larger flats must be occuped by two persons at all times (holidays and sickness excepted).
In the case of a single person wishing to occupy a larger flat, the Commonwealth subsidy only covers one bedroom, therefore the full cost (£600 or $1,200) for the second bedroom or sunroom -would be payable.
Maintenance rentals for the various types of cottage flats are as follows:
Standard one bedroom flats - $2 per week
Standard one bedroom flats with sunroom or second bedroom, where two persons permanently housed -$2.50 per week
Standard one bedroom flats with sunroom or second bedroom, where only one person housed - $2.25 per week
Special larger flats (for three persons etc) - $2.75 per week
The maintenance rental covers completely all rates, taxes, insurance on the building, lawn culling, inside and outside painting, also full maintenance on all appliances included in the flat (A list of which can be found on the enclosed plan).
The page containing the plan also states that floor coverings, curtains and blinds must be provided by the tenant and that the cost of gas and electricity is the responsibility of the tenant. I am not condemning this organisation so much as the system. The Chairman of the Board of Management of this organisation told me that it must obtain all the money that it can because it wants to provide a good service for elderly people. He said that all the money it receives goes into the provision of homes for elderly people. One of the conditions of tenancy of a cottage built by this organisation is payment of a deposit of $3,000. Another is that the tenant is expected to remain in the cottage for at least 3 months in order to give it a try. If after 3 months but before 12 months he finds that he is not suited to the cottage, he may vacate it and the Board will refund the $3,000 that he has paid less an amount representing $3 for each week for which he has occupied the cottage. If he leaves within 3 months he receives no refund at all.
In the case that I took up the occupant of the cottage, who was a widow living on her own, died after being in it for 4 months. She had paid $3,000. A claim was made for recovery of that amount less an amount representing $3 for each week of occupancy. But her death did not represent a vacation of the cottage under the terms of the agreement; so no refund was made. The Chairman of the Board told me of another case in which a couple paid $3,000 for the tenancy of a flat. When the woman died the man, who had arthritis, could not look after himself, so he had to be evicted from the flat. There was no refund in that case either. The organisation justified its attitude by saying (bat it did not have an infirmary in which it could look after him, that he was not under financial stress and that its conditions were essential for its successful operation and to enable it to build the infirmary and nursing home that it desired to build.
Whether the tenant vacates the flat after 4 months or after 12 months, it is reallocated and another deposit of $3,000 is paid.I do not think the Minister who introduced this legislation and other members of the Parliament ever thought in their wildest dreams that such things could happen under a scheme for which they legislated in order to help aged people.
– But it is part of the stipulations of the Department that the organisation shall not refund these payments. I do not think that is proper, but it is part of the stipulations of the Department.
– That is because the payment is supposed to be a- donation.
– No, it is because payment must be made out of funds other than the capital funds of the organisation.
– Under the bylaws of this organisation, all moneys shall be banked in the name of the Elderly Citizens Homes of South Australia Inc. and all moneys shall be used for buying homes, except for the compensation of members of the staff. This organisation does refund money to people who vacate flats after a period of 3 months but before a period of 12 months. It did not ever occur to me that this was a requirement of the Aged Persons Homes Act.
– It is a requirement of the Department; it is not in the Act.
– This matter should be the subject of a thorough inquiry. Although I am sometimes critical of the replies that the Minister gives. I genuinely believe that she is interested in giving service to aged people and is sympathetic to their position.
– I assure the honourable senator thatI am.
-I have never doubted that for a moment. However, I do not believe that she could every justify the action taken in the cases that I have mentioned. In one case, after living in a cottage for 4 months a person was not paid $3,000 less an amount covering the weekly rental because she was unfortunate enough to die in the flat. Had she left the flat she would have received that amount. In the other case there was no refund of the deposit when a man was evicted because he lost his wife and could not care for himself, despite the fact that he had to meet the heavy cost of nursing care in the future.
I refer to another matter under Division No. 470. It relates to the operation of the Social Services Act. Whilst the Act contains restrictions, I believe that the DirectorGeneral of Social Services has power to grant social service benefits notwithstanding the fact that an applicant does not qualify for them. In many cases, such as the one that Senator Toohey mentioned, the Director-General could make more use of this power.
– Is the honourable senator talking about invalid pensions or age pensions?
– I am talking about pensions generally. The case about which I am concerned relates to section 45 (8.) of the Act, which reads:
A pensioner shall not leave Australia without first giving to a Director notice of his intended departure from Australia.
Section 49 (1.) of the Act provides:
A pension shall cease to be payable in respect of any period during which the pensioner is absent from Australia, unless the Director-General is satisfied that the absence is of a temporary nature. . . .
As I interpret the Act, this would not apply to the United Kingdom or New Zealand, with which reciprocal arrangements exist. The Act provides that this payment in any case will not be in respect of a longer period than .12 weeks.
I took up with the Department of Social Services in Adelaide the other day the question of a person who wishes to visit his son, a missionary in Panama. He has not seen his son for some time. If he is not permitted to remain with his son for a period of 12 weeks, he will have to journey on to Great Britain in that period in order to retain his pension rights and for the purpose of obtaining his pension. I think that when a case is legitimate, such as a visit to a member of the family, sympathetic consideration should be given to the matter by the Department under any discretion that the Director may have to extend pension rights in any individual case when the case presented does not represent an attempt to abuse the pension entitlements provided by the Act.
– Although the Minister has replied to the matter raised by Senator Toohey regarding the 85% requirement for disability in order to qualify for an invalid pension, I want to assure her that the concern that Senator Toohey has voiced is shared by honourable senators on this side of the Committee. We too have had instances of this sort. It seems that the Act certainly needs amending with regard to this matter. To say that a pensioner needs to show evidence of an 85% disability before qualifying for the invalid pension seems to me to be a most unrealistic proposal. I cannot imagine what sort of employment anybody with 84% disability would be able to obtain. I think that a great deal more flexibility needs to be introduced into the wording of the Act. For instance, a person with a physical disability obviously would find great difficulty in obtaining employment if his work was of a manual or a physical nature. With a physical disability he may be able quite adequately to perform work of a less strenuous nature or of a mental type. So, a blanket requirement over the whole field of employment seems to be completely illogical. I rise to assure the Minister that the concern evinced by Senator Toohey is widespread among members of the Committee.
I wish to add to the discussion my experience in this field. The case that I have in mind was somewhat happier than that to which Senator Toohey referred in that I was able to get some relief for the person concerned. I am wondering to what extent the item, Compassionate allowances and other payments under special circumstances to be found in Division No. 470 - Administrative, is available in matters of this sort. I feel that if anomalies are created in regard to amending the Act concerning the use of compassionate allowances where the Department feels that this could be applied, this provision could be more widely availed of where people are in obvious need because of disabilities that do not reach the requirement of 85%.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [12.25] - Senator Wedgwood spoke of her concern for an organisation the name of which was, I think, the Mothers of Servicemen.
– No. The organisation is the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmens Mothers Association.
– If the honourable senator will be good enough to give me complete details of this matter, I will be pleased to put them before the Minister for Social Services (Mr Sinclair) to see whether there is some way in which this organisation has been wrongly appreciated. I do not know. As the honourable senator herself will know, the Act provides that a society or other organisation is eligible for assistance under this Act if it is carried on otherwise than for the purpose of profit or gain of its individual members. The Act goes on to deal with various bodies such as religious bodies which are eligible organisations.
– This seems most unusual.
– I will be very pleased, on behalf of the honourable senator, to take this matter up with the Minister for Social Services to see whether there is some way in which this matter can be reviewed.
Senator Cavanagh spoke about subsidised homes being made available to the staff of the organisations concerned. I am informed that provision may be made in these homes for accommodation for whatever staff is reasonably necessary to carry on the operations of the homes. This applies mainly in hostel type homes where full board is provided or where nursing care is given to infirm residents. Homes may not be sold to administrative staff of organisations. Senator Cavanagh also spoke of the position of people who withdraw from homes and seek the repayment of any contribution that they have made towards the cost of building the homes. As I mentioned previously in a reply to Senator Tangney, or Senator Wright, or both honourable senators, when contributions made by residents are expended on the cost of building and maintaining homes, that particular money is no longer available for repayment. If it desires, an organisation may make a refund out of other funds. That is the point that I made earlier. It is for this purpose that contributions may be obtained from subsequent occupants. Tn other words, a donation from the second resident of a home may be used to make a refund to the first resident of that home. This of course is a matter for the local organisation itself.
Senator Prowse spoke again of his very real concern relating to the assessment of qualifications for receipt of invalid pensions. As I have already said on this point, the Commonwealth Medical Officer is required to certify that the applicant is, in his opinion, at least 85% incapacitated for work and that such incapacity is permanent. I remind the Committee, however, that the decision is one for the Department of Social Services. lt is made in the light of all the surrounding facts of the case relating to education, normal type of work, etc. The same affliction may affect different people to different degrees. I think that that is a very important point. For example, a manual labourer would obviously be more seriously incapacitated by the loss of a left arm than would a right-handed clerk. So, each case is fully considered on its own merits. The Department fully considers all these aspects and points when assessing a claimant’s medical eligibility for a pension. The case of each person who applies is looked at very carefully by the Department as an individual case. I have noted the points that the honourable senator has made as well as his concern relating to this matter.
– I refer to Division No. 470 - Administrative, and relate my remarks particularly to the matter touched upon by Senator Prowse concerning compassionate allowances and other payments in special circumstances. I note that the appropriation for 1966-67 was $123,400 and that the expenditure in that year was $124,190. This year the appropriation is only $77,000. I am wondering why this very large decrease has occurred. Quite a number of cases have come to my attention in which this fund has been drawn on, thanks to the compassionate understanding of the officials of this Department who have helped out in times of stress. I hope that their efforts will not be halved this year through nonallocation of sufficient funds.
Secondly, I should like to raise a point on which I require some clarification with regard to homes for the aged. I am sorry to come back again to this subject. We are all quite certain that churches and other bodies which have a continuing existence, which have existed for many years and have always made their concern the matter of housing the aged and ill, will go on, and so will the homes now being built under the law. I am worried about the position in relation to groups of people who have no other interests in common and who suddenly band themselves together to build homes for the aged. It is all right while they live, I suppose, but there is no philanthropic or welfare organisation or church behind them. There is nothing to say that in 20 years time there will still be a group of people behind each of those homes. What will happen to the homes? In whose name is the freehold? I know that there are not many instances in which people have just joined together to form a company to run one of these homes, but it has happened and there are such places in existence.
– And they have had the Commonwealth subsidy?
– Yes. In some cases they have built quite fine facilities for the aged. I am worried about a continuation of the facilities after the original members of the company have disbanded as a result of death or any other factor. The third question that I should like to raise relates to the invalid pension. I have a case in which the wife of an invalid pensioner was receiving the wife’s allowance and then got a job. After she notified the Department the wife’s allowance was stopped. After a short time, when she had earned the allowable income under the legislation, her husband’s pension was discontinued altogether. He is still an invalid and that pension should be his in his own right.
I have been talking for years, and have been more vocal in the past few weeks, on the question of equal pay and opportunity for women. It is strange to me that, when it suits the Government, the Government recognises that a wife has a responsibility to look after her husband which is equal to the responsibility of a husband to look after his wife, and cancels the invalid pension of a husband in the circumstance I have described. We are all agreed that a husband’s salary precludes an invalid wife from getting an invalid pension but this is the first case that has come to my notice in which an invalid pensioner has been deprived of his pension because his wife has gone out to work to keep things going. They could not possibly have existed on the payments that they were receiving. They were buying a home on a contract entered into before the husband’s invalidity. It strikes me as a queer kind of social service provision that a man who is still an invalid and will never work again is deprived of his pension because his wife has the gumption to go out to work to keep the home together.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [12.34] - Senator Cavanagh spoke about absences from Australia in connection with pensions. Australian pensions are financed from Commonwealth revenue and, unlike the pension schemes of many other countries, are non-contributory. The equitable right to receive an Australian pension should therefore cease when the pensioner leaves Australia. However, successive governments have recognised that there are particular circumstances in which it is reasonable that an entitlement should continue during a temporary absence from Australia, hence the provision of section 49 (1.) of the Social Services Act that a pension may be continued during the first 12 weeks of a pensioner’s temporary absence from Australia.
– I take the opportunity to add a comment that I wish to make on aged persons homes. As I indicated to the Minister one body has, through its correspondence with me, stated that the financial burden of carrying on is so great that unless further concessions are granted it will consider abandoning the home and that other boards of management are considering doing likewise. The point is that an incorporated company such as Senator Cavanagh referred to, or a nonincorporated organisation, presents a difficulty as to the ownership of the home. If it is a charitable trust, as the law allows, a court of equity will take control and require some other charity of a like nature to be advantaged by it, but if the organisation is not charitable - and many of these organisations are not; in the strict terms of the law, since the law does not consider a benevolent organisation to be charitable - there is a real difficulty as to what becomes of the property if there is abandonment or if people say: ‘We cannot carry on. We will wind up’. What is to become of the Government money that has gone into the establishment of that home? These are difficulties. This Act is completely devoid of any reasoned basis of a structural legislative foundation and it is in that sense only thatI want the Minister to know that it needs immediate close, legal consideration so that the scheme does not founder for want of a proper legal structure.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [12.37] - AgainI express appreciation of comments by both Senator Wright and Senator Tangney. I understand their very real concern on this important matter. I am sure that there are other people who express fears about the permanence of some organisations. The Department informs me that it endeavours to satisfy itself as far as possible as to the likely permanence of organisations. The continuing work of an organisation is one of the things that comes into early negotiations and discussions. Organisations which derive their eligibility under the heading of charitable or benevolent arc also subject, of course, to supervision by the appropriate State authorities. All charitable organisations must have in their constitutions a suitable dissolution clause making provision for the disposition of their assets in the event of dissolution. There have been some cases in which organisations have ceased to conduct homes and these have been transferred to other organisations with similar objects. 1 hope that this answers the points raised by Senator Wright and Senator Tangney.
Proposed expenditure and provision noted.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) agreed to:
That consideration of intervening Divisions be postponed until after consideration of the proposed expenditure for the Department of the Interior, Prime Minister’s Department, the Parliament, Department of Territories, Department of External Affairs. Department of Trade and Industry, Department of the Treasury, Department of the Navy, Department of the Army and Department of Air.
Department of the Interior
Proposed expenditure, $46,464,000.
Proposed provision, $62,044,000.
Proposed expenditure, $723,000.
Another question from the same honourable senator related to rent and maintenance of overseas residences - Division 321/2/09. The reply is that this item provides for rent of residences occupied by Information Attaches at overseas posts. Appropriate deductions are made from salaries of the officers concerned. It is not a new expense. It was previously provided for as allowances under the salaries vote.
The honourable senator also asked a question relating to the use of motor vehicles - Division 321/2/05. The Minister has replied that provision is made under this item for the running costs of motor vehicles used by News and Information Bureau officers in the various Australian capital cities and overseas posts. The slight increase on last year’s expenditure is due to the provision of one additional vehicle for use by the occupant of the new position of cinematographer and to cover the costs of conversion of six vehicles for use with cameras.
He also asked a question concerning electrical repairs to and maintenance of rented houses. 1 inform him that the provision is approximately the same as last year’s expenditure as the number of houses has not changed significantly. The amount provided covers electrical maintenance of the houses and hired appliances in the houses. Separate provision is made for electrical maintenance of flats. There were 7389 houses, 965 family flats and 1053 bachelor flats at 30th June 1967. The ages of these vary from less than 1 year to over 40 years.
In Brisbane, some Commonwealth-owned buildings occupied by the Department of Works are scheduled for demolition on the commencement of the Commonwealth office extensions. Additional space was also required to meet the expansion requirements of the Department of Works in Brisbane. Here again no other Commonwealthowned space was available and commercial space had to be leased. The total requirement of space for Department of Works, Brisbane, was 45,000 square feet.
Senator Scott also wished to know the reason for the increase in the total appropriation for Division No. 315. The general factors which have contributed towards the increase in rental costs in 1966-67 may be summarised as follows: (i) It has not been possible for Commonwealth office construction to keep pace with the expanded requirements of the Commonwealth Public Service; (ii) Additional functions which some departments have assumed; (iii) In certain cases new leased accommodation which has been available is air-conditioned and rentals are therefore higher; (iv) The movement from sub-standard accommodation to premises of better standard which are usually more expensive; (v) Rises in rates, maintenance and cleaning costs, watching and caretaking which are ordinarily passed on to tenants as components of rent; (vi) Consolidation of elements of departments which are badly fragmented in various leased and Commonwealthowned buildings; (vii) Installation of additional technical and office equipment in some departments.
Senator Cavanagh referred to the appointment of polling places al hospitals. Polling places arc appointed at all large hospitals throughout the Commonwealth, that is hospitals with approximately 50 beds or more.
He also referred to the decrease . in the provision under Division 318. The position is that the appropriation under Division No. 318 for this year is approximately $ 1.255m less than last year’s expenditure. The 1966-67 expenditure includes the amount spent on both the 1966 House of
Representatives election and the 1967 referendums, whereas for this year provision has been made for the Senate elections only. No provision has been made for the cost of a redistribution of electoral boundaries as the Government had not announced its intention to appoint Distribution Commissioners up to the time that these estimates closed.
The Government has considered altering the hours of polling on several occasions but each time it has decided to retain the present hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. This particular matter is constantly under review. Polling places recording less than thirty votes are reviewed after each election with a view to abolition.
– I refer to Division No. 318 - Electoral Branch - sub-division 2, item 06 which relates to an appropriation of $ 1.430m for Commonwealth elections and referenda. Last year the appropriation for this item was $2.430m and expenditure $2.429m. I imagine that the provision last year included the cost incurred in the referendum on the nexus between the two Houses of the Parliament as to number of members. We are asked to vote money for Commonwealth elections and referenda during 1967-68 and 1 am anxious to know what referendum or referenda is or are proposed. I do not stay, of course, to refer to the unhappy, unwarranted expenditure upon the nexus referendum last year. Enough has been said on that and a decision has been reached.
Sub-division 3 bears the unique heading, Other Services’. Last year $10,000 was appropriated as a grant to the University of Tasmania for research, but only $188 was expended. No appropriation of funds is sought this year. 1 think I had the honour to be the only dissentient when the $10,000 was voted last year. On a previous occasion I moved in the Senate to delete this appropriation because I thought the grant was instituted in a most presumptuous and improper manner for a purpose in relation to which the Minister had no reason or justification to require research. If my information is correct, the recipient of the grant just collected his bags and faded away.
I ask the Minister to give an undertaking to the Committee that during next week all correspondence instituting this grant, all correspondence relevant to the study following on the grant and the product, of the grant and the research, if it exists in documentary form, be placed on the table of the Senate. I make that request because I want to direct attention to what 1 think is the unexampled unwisdom of Ministers for the Interior in specifying selected students in university circles to undertake research into the system of Senate voting. Nothing more need be said, because I have voiced my opinion on a previous occasion. You will notice, Mr Temporary Chairman, that with great restraint I have not moved over the last few weeks for the tabling of the papers, but you know how jealous and eager I am to see exercised, as an ordinary function of the Senate, the authority we have to require the tabling of papers. My request will not expire when these estimates are passed. I invite the Minister to inform us in that manner of the correspondence and the product of our expenditure.
Another feature which concerns me is the trend in this Department to occupy new and highly expensive buildings in large cities as office accommodation. My concern is intensified by the fact that recently the Minister, 1 regret without any consultation, so far as I know, with the locally elected representatives, in this Parliament, of the people, decided to sell a big freehold holding that the Commonwealth Government had in our capital city. I know that the Telephone Branch of the Postmaster-
General’s Department has gone into occupation of a new expensive building of three or four floors. I am unable to reconcile these actions with proper economic soundness when I remind myself that as an individual T would urge every one of my progeny, as my father, with what little security he required for the occupancy of his business, did before me, to get freehold and not. be hoist with the petard of the landlord every 5 years when a revision of rental assessment is required.
Having regard to the fact that in the case of a government undertaking building materials and other facilities are exempt from import tax, sales tax and all other taxes, as well as local rates and so on except in relation to services, the payment of rental to a private landlord - 1 point out that such rental includes all those features 1 have mentioned - is a matter which calls for the utmost justification. We should own our own properly.
The expansion of these matters is getting altogether out of hand. To bring all the departments into one centre would be more efficient and to have them housed on government property is surely the most economic way to handle them. To sell freehold land and sporadically to occupy privately owned premises to me seems evidence of an undesirable trend. 1 wish Senator Laught was in the chamber at present. He was good enough to pass to me an answer he received yesterday from a Minister following a request for comment upon the situation in Adelaide. So far as I have understood the answer it emphasises what I have said of the position in Tasmania and what I have seen to be generally true.
I do not expect the Minister to give an unconsidered reply on this matter. I have mentioned it before. I shall mention it again after an’ appropriate interval. In due course, if action is not taken, I will ask the Senate to inquire into the matter for the purpose of assisting the Minister to formulate a proper policy.
– I wish to refer to two matters. If the Minister thinks they overlap subjects already raised perhaps he could blow a whistle and I would stop. I do not believe that they do overlap matters already raised. 1 relate my first query to Division
No. 318 - Electoral Branch. My experience on this matter goes back about 10 years and I may be a little out of date as to policy. I refer to cases where unions seek court controlled ballots. Usually there are two power groups but occasionally a third force may enter an election. Two of the groups could employ stenographers and could compile complete lists of the voting members. A third group may not be so fortunate. Has it any right to ask for a photostat copy of the list of voting members to be supplied to it? 1 have an open mind as to the merits of the legislation in respect of union ballots. I have known of cases where members have caused a union to become involved in considerable and unnecessary litigation over an obscure, minor point. On the other hand I have known of cases when authoritarian tendencies have necessitated action being taken. F wish to bring my knowledge up to date. A candidate for election to office in a union with, say, 20,000 members may have to rely on allies to obtain a list of voting members. Can he apply for a photostat list of the voting members?
My second inquiry relates to Division No. 323 - Australian Capital Territory Services. 1 am curious to know whether the Minister can give me an unequivocal answer as to whether the land within the boundaries of the Tidbinbilla fauna reservation is likely to be untrammelled by mining interests or the like. I support the views expressed in another place about the upper reaches of the Cotter Dam. I have had replies in vague terms from the Minister about that area. It seems that nobody knows what will happen there in the future. Other water conservation projects are available for Canberra’s water supply. At present all sorts of organisations arc meeting to deal with the question of land tenure in the Australian Capital Territory. I am fortified in my views on the upper reaches of the Cotter Dam by the Australian Capital Territory national parks group. I wonder whether the iron curtain could be lifted and the future of that area could bc revealed to us. It could be used for parks and other types of general reservations.
– I will seek the information requested by Senator Mulvihill about the Tidbinbilla fauna reservation and have it conveyed to him. lt is not readily available to me. Nor is information he requested about union ballots. I will get it for him. Senator Mulvihill also asked about the acquisition of land at Tidbinbilla and I will supply that information to him with the other information. 1 appreciate his real interest in the preservation of parklands and the like.
Senator Wright referred to the appropriation for Commonwealth elections and referenda in sub-division 2 of Division No. 318 - Electoral Branch. The appropriation relates to the cost of conduct of Senate elections and outstanding expenses involved with referenda. Senator Wright also referred to the grant for research to the University of Tasmania. Following a petition to the Court of Disputed Returns by a Senate candidate in Victoria in 1964 it was decided that the Commonwealth Government would provide a grant of $10,000 a year for 3 years to the University of Tasmania to enable certain research to be undertaken. The expenditure in this respect for 1966-67 was $188. The research officer submitted his resignation to be effective as from 21st March 1967. He did not complete the project. I gather that he was paid in the financial year 1966-67 only $.188. Senator Wright requested that papers be tabled. I believe that he will not want to proceed on that line now that he knows the story. If required, we will obtain supplementary information from the Minister for the Interior. Expenditure on this project was incurred in previous years. Perhaps the Minister for the Interior could provide information in addition to that which I have given. I will consult the Minister for the Interior about it.
Senator Wright dealt with the selling of land by the Commonwealth in certain cities and the occupation of private buildings by Commonwealth departments. The honourable senator raised this matter with me when we were dealing with the estimates of the Postmaster-General’s Department. I gave him some information at that time, lt is a broad question and I think he tended to oversimplify it. Obviously when the Commonwealth occupies buildings which become redundant it is necessary to move out to other areas. This involves capital expenditure. Senator Wright invited me not to give an answer immediately but at a later stage. I shall get a more complete answer for him from the Minister for the Interior.
– Senator Wright has complained about expenditure on office accommodation for Commonwealth departments. In South Australia there has been agitation for the building of new Commonwealth offices. Federal members have been housed in a new office building in a central locality. The offices provided have the defect of not being soundproof. This has caused some dissatisfaction among Federal members. The offices could not be made soundproof because of the very light weight of the partitions. One energetic Federal member with great sales ability sold to other Federal members the idea of obtaining alternative office accommodation now under construction. I understand that the suggestion has been accepted by the Minister for the Interior. Federal members from South Australia will be shifted to premises where, I have been told in correspondence from the Minister, the acoustics are better.
This will be an expensive move. At present I have the best office in South Australia but I will have to move to another office because the Department’s analysis is that the acoustics in the present accommodation cannot be improved. Acoustic qualities stem from the ability of the materials to absorb sound and prevent it reverberating. Sound waves act. like ocean waves hitting on rocks. Limestone building materials are known to absorb sound.
Sitting suspended from 1.1 to 2 p.m.
Senator TOOHEY (South Australia) [2.0J - I wish to raise very briefly only two matters which I feel should be mentioned and upon which 1 should like some information. I refer to Division No. 315, item 19, which relates to Australian Capital Territory services. The particular matter to which I wish to refer is street lighting. I do not know whether the Minister has noticed it, but the streets between Parliament House and the Hotel Kurrajong are very dimly lighted of an evening. I want to make it clear that I am not raising this mutter from the point of view of convenience of members of Parliament. I raise it because many visitors to Canberra and local residents walk between the Hotel Wellington, Parliament House and the Hotel Canberra, and it seems lo me that the street lighting between those points is totally inadequate. I do not say that the street lighting is inadequate in the new suburbs, but there is room for improvement in the area within the vicinity of Parliament House. 1 do not even suggest that more lights should be installed, although I see no reason why they should not be. I think the first thing that should be done is to increase the wattage of the existing lights. It must be a somewhat frightening experience, particularly for women, to have to walk around the immediate vicinity of Parliament House at night time now. The trees in the area contribute to the darkness and I have often heard people, visitors in particular, say that they have been inhibited from walking around the immediate vicinity of Parliament House at night because of this.
The other matter I wish to raise is that in moving round Canberra from time to time I have noticed a tendency in the newer areas being developed for whole streets of houses of the same design to be erected. There is either no variation or, if there is a variation, it is very slight. To me, this is poor planning. Classic examples of what I mean may be seen along Northbourne Avenue at the very entrance to the city. I refer to the square blocks of flats which look like, and which have often been described as, boxes. They have very little, if any, asthetic value.
Most of the housing authorities throughout Australia, even though they have repetitive designs, do have enough foresight to alternate them. Instead of putting houses of identical design side by side throughout the length of the street they break the monotony by interposing a house of different design in the ratio of one in five.
– Where have you noticed this monotony here?
– One area that comes readily to mind is on the other side of Deakin. T think it is Hughes. There, I have seen whole streets of houses of identical design. There is nothing wrong with the basic design of the Houses. They are all quite nice designs, but there is a monotonous regularity of design. Certainly this monotony is softened in time as trees grow, but nevertheless I feel that it indicates bad planning. I do not say that it occurs to any great extent, but it does happen in some places, and I should like the authority concerned, whether it be the Department of the Interior or the National Capital Development Commission, to make sure that in future planning of housing this monotony of design is avoided.
– Senator Toohey spoke of street lighting. 1 am informed that during 1966-67 the sum of $360,000 was spent on road lighting in the Parliament House, Treasury and Library areas. This may well meet the situation to which the honourable senator refers.
The honourable senator also spoke of lack of break in design in group housing projects. This is something which J. and others have noticed, and 1 agree that in these group housing projects it is always desirable to vary at least the front appearance of the houses. Usually the housing authorities have four or five different designs dispersed through a group. The honourable senator’s remarks will be referred to the Department concerned. At the moment, the housing authorities here have thirty different designs and, where possible, mixtures of design are provided in the various streets.
Senator Mulvihill spoke about the desirability of preserving our flora and fauna areas in their natural stale as far as possible when carrying out housing projects. His suggestions will be borne in mind. The honourable senator also asked about the Commonwealth Electoral Office conducting trade union ballots. The ballot is provided with only one list of members who are eligible to vote at the election. Representatives of candidates can get copies of these lists by either having them typed or photostated at their own expense.
Senator Wright raised one other matter and 1 gave him some information about it this morning. I should like now to elaborate the reply I gave then. It relates to a matter which the honourable senator raised when I was dealing with the estimates for either the Postmaster-General’s Department or the Department of Shipping and Transport. I have a note which says that the land on which there are buildings known as Tregears and Hamiltons was purchased by the Commonwealth in the late 1940s. Subsequently the increased require ments of the Public Service showed that the land in question would only cater for a building of limited size which would not permit the construction of a suitable building for the purposes of a Commonwealth centre. For this reason, the property was sold by public auction. Consideration is at present being given to the selection of a suitable site which will permit the construction of a Commonwealth centre of such size as will accommodate Commonwealth departments.
The Postmaster-General’s Department divisions in Hobart were located in seven different buildings. For the first time, accommodation in a new building, known as City Mutual Building, became available which was capable of housing all the divisions except the Accounts Branch. Approximately 24,000 sq ft was leased and this replaced approximately 10,000 sq ft which was required for other purposes by the PMG. It also replaced approximately 14,000 sq ft of leased accommodation which was relinquished. There is definite rationalisation going on there with the idea of getting consolidation. It follows the pattern in Melbourne where we have a Commonwealth Centre, and in Sydney where, at Chifley Square, we are gradually bringing all the Commonwealth departments together. In Melbourne, we have been able to bring all sections of the Department of Customs and Excise together in the one building, and this is the proper objective to have in mind.
Senator Mulvihill referred to the catchment area above the Cotter Dam. Use of the lands in this area is restricted for the purposes of ensuring the purity and safety of the water supply. No extraneous industrial development will be allowed in the area to which the honourable senator refers, because it is an integral part of the upper catchment areas.
– The Senate will be aware that when dealing with item 06 of Division No. 318 I asked certain specific questions. It would seem that no attempt has been made to answer those questions.
– I gave a reply before the sitting was suspended for lunch.
– A reply to my question about the referendum costs?
– Yes. The reply was incorporated in Hansard.
– 1 am sorry that 1 was out of the chamber for 2 or 3 minutes when the reply was given. I had been in my place in the hope of hearing a reply but I was called to my office. 1 want to reiterate one or two matters about the referendum and also the redistribution which will take place, in my opinion, in the very near future. Perhaps what I have to say will help us a great deal. I have certain figures from Mr Ley, the Chief Electoral Officer. He said that there arc 1 1 ,442,291 people in the Commonwealth and if we divide that figure by the number of members then in each State we would have the following number of members: New South Wales 45; Victoria 34; Queensland 18; South Australia 12; Western Australia 9; Tasmania 5. Under the referendum proposals New South Wales would have had 49 members, Victoria 39, Queensland 20, South Australia 13, Western Australia 10, Tasmania 5, making a total of 1 36.
I crave the indulgence of the Committee for a few moments because this may be the last time 1 will ever speak in this chamber about this matter. Because I have been here a long time and can visualise what would happen to the Senate I think it is very important that 1 should make these points clear. I am going to take up from where 1 finished previously.
Had the quota of a minimum of 85,000 persons for each electorate been written into the Constitution perhaps the result would have been different. It was never intended to write that provision into the Constitution. Let us consider what happens because this has not been written into the Constitution. Very few people in this place realised this but it was noted outside. The sponsors of the nexus proposal never faced up to this question. This principle was not to be written into the Constitution. Nowhere in the new electoral act or in the constitutional amendments is here any proof that the Federal member should represent an approximately equal number of electors in any electorate. The suggested alteration to the Constitution could prevent any Federal Opposition winning a future election. Not a word was mentioned about this but this would undermine the individual rights of every elector. In hard political realities the people were being asked to remove the last political barrier to gerrymandering the electoral boundaries of the House of Representatives. That is a hard statement but I will prove it.
The Constitution requires a proportionate increase in the Senate for any increase in the House of Representatives. This is the constitutional barrier to any Federal gerrymander. This is written into the Constitution and it is the bar to any gerrymander, as it safeguards the approximate number of electors in every electorate. Had the nexus been broken, and with the Commonwealth Electoral Act amended, any clever political operator would have been able to retain his seat for life and by so doing the House of Representatives would represent interests and not people. The people voted to preserve a fair electoral system throughout Australia because they also realised that two great principles were at stake. The first was that after every census there would be a bonus of seats added to the House of Representatives. This bonus of seats could have been distributed to suit the existing Government. The second great principle was that this would have enabled the cleverest, gerrymander provision ever proposed in Australia to be written into the electoral law.
As I said before, no doubt there will be a redistribution of seats in the House of Representatives this year. I mention this fact for a reason. Electoral commissioners will be appointed for each State. The practice to be followed will be similar to previous distributions. Guide lines will be given to the Commissioners by Parliament, as prescribed under the present Act. But as each State will have different personnel to effect the redistribution in that State, it may happen that certain variations will occur as to the divisional boundaries when comparisons are made with other States. The redistribution which should have occurred in 1962 - and this is the important thing - was never held because the Parliament rejected the recommendations of the Electoral commissioners whom it had appointed.
This is the point I want to drive home: The redistribution was never held because Parliament rejected the recommendations made by the commissioners whom it had appointed. Honourable senators should bear that point in mind; a precedent was established. Following that, vital changes were made in the Electoral Act of 1965 which opened the way for territorial representation - in other words, a gerrymander - a gerrymander which could undermine at any future time the independence of the electoral commissioners. Had the referendum been carried all that remained to be done was to subvert the independence of the electoral commissioners. It would be possible to do this by weakening their ability to resist pressures from special interests and by finally removing the principle that the basic norm should be the quota figure. We must watch out not only for what is happening today but also for what is going to happen tomorrow.
The groundwork for arranging boundaries was laid in 1965 but one other ingredient was needed to ensure the success of the gerrymander in the future. A formula was needed which would automatically allow an increase in the House of Representatives at regular intervals so that boundaries couuld be arranged to take care of future eventualities, such as a spill over of electors in country areas or a decline in population in certain government held seats, irrespective of what party held office. Had the nexus between the two Houses of Parliament been broken by the last referendum then, after every census, a bonus of new seats would have been added to the House of Representatives by means of a quota or formula providing for the number of new seats. Any Parliament in the future then could have been able to say, by means of an effectively tamed team of electoral commissioners, how these seats were to be allotted from the point of view of both area and population. I made the point earlier about taming electoral commissioners.
I have heard great speeches within these walls about Communists and their techniques. In fact some honourable senators arc so sensitive that they see the Communist influence in various places. But on this great and important referendum question - and this is the final point I am making - they did not and could not see this influence because they were blinded by their own sense of immediate electoral gain. They could not see that they were being used by the Communist Party in the most astute and clever manner in a psychological war on our political institutions. I would like that point to sink in.
Had the referendum been carried, in one fell swoop we would have handed over to the Communist Party complete control of the whole electoral field of the Commonwealth Parliament for the future. In the near future it is not unlikely that a very strong left wing influence in a party could do just this. This is no idle fancy; it is stark reality. These are the facts. The quota was not to be a guarantee that there would be a certain number of people in any electorate. Under this electoral law, so framed, a party could control every boundary to such an extent that it could never be defeated once it was in power. We hold ourselves up and say that this could never happen here but once the law was so framed it could happen. This was the shrewdest and cleverest thing that I have ever seen done by the Communist Party, and the great parties fell for it.
– 1 wish to refer to Division No. 318 - Electoral Branch - Sub-division 3, Other Services. I am sorry to note that while there was an appropriation in 1966-67 of $10,000 for the University of Tasmania for research, only $188 of that sum was used. I presume it means that there is nothing allocated for research into our electoral system this year. I also presume it means that there will not be any research. Subject to correction, I believe that the appropriation of $10,000 last year was for research to have been conducted by Mr George Howatt who, I think, interviewed many members of Parliament and who, I understood, was to inquire into preferential voting in particular. It is my opinion that close research or examination of our electoral system, particularly relating to the Senate, is long overdue. Every now and again in a sporadic sort of way different governments make a stab at some improvement in our electoral laws. But there is never any indication that a proper examination of them will be made in order to bring them up to date. If is regrettable that, although the Government believed something should be done in this matter, it appears that the whole proposition has been dropped.
Over the next 12 months I think that the Government, through the Electoral Branch, should make arrangements for an immediate examination of a number of matters. First, there ought to be an examination of postal voting. In another place arrangements for postal voting have been referred to as being unsatisfactory. Senator Tangney has referred to unsatisfactory features of postal voting in relation to which I emphatically agree with her. Every honourable senator in this House knows that certain people in certain electorates are experts in postal voting. They know how to fix it. Some of them will take on the job of getting postal votes on the basis of so much money for each vote. I have not the slightest doubt that in quite a number of elections postal votes are fixed by people who are experts in the game and who deliberately set out to manipulate the votes. Therefore I think that the Government should give an instruction to the Electoral Branch to make a further examination of the postal voting system to see whether it cannot be improved. If the Government cannot stop corruption in this area then postal voting ought to be abolished.
– The honorable senator is advocating a decision that was taken by the New South Wales Labor Party.
– It just happens that occasionally the Australian Labor Party is sensible enough to agree with the policy of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. The next matter that I think ought to be examined is what is called donkey voting. I believe there is an urgent need for the Parliament to decide that places on the House of Representatives ballot paper should be drawn for as well as places on the Senate ballot paper. I have devoted some study to this question and it is my opinion that in a Senate election the donkey vote could be worth up to 2% of the total number of votes. After the recent byelections I spoke to people who suggested that that figure should be 4% or 5%. I have never found any evidence to substantiate that, and I do not believe that it is right.
The largest percentage of donkey voting is to be found in a Senate election, because the ballot paper is very long and some people do not know the candidates. There is not so much donkey voting in an ordinary electorate because people generally know something of the candidates. There are, perhaps, only three or four candidates and people have a better knowledge of the candidates. I think that the smallest donkey vote is to be found in a by-election, because in that case the electorate is saturated with, representatives from all parties. Everybody in the electorate is canvassed and he knows who the candidates are. But it is a serious matter when a donkey vote of 2% is to be found in a Senate election, and perhaps I % or a little more in an ordinary election. I think that further examination should be made to see whether we cannot devise a ballot paper which will not be so open to donkey voting. In any case, let us do in a House of Representatives election what is done in a Senate election. Let us draw for positions on the ballot paper and then there will be no more talk about donkey voting.
Another matter that ought to be examined is the position of very old and very sick voters. Quite a few of these people, despite the activities of the postal voting experts, are often worried at election time. Because they have to vote they get concerned. Sometimes they do not vote and they receive cards of inquiry which upset them. I think the legislation should provide that a person over, say, 70 years of age is not compelled to vote.
– What if he wants to vote?
– I am saying that he should not be compelled to vote. Let him vote if he wants to. But he should not be subject to a fine if he does not vote.
– In Holland the head of the family can be deputed to vote proxy for these people.
– I would not agree with that because the political views of the head of the family might differ from those of the elderly person concerned. What would happen in that case would be that the head of a family would get 2, 3 or even 4 votes.
– If he adhered to the wishes of the person concerned it would not be an abuse.
– I have not the same confidence in human nature as the honourable senator has. The next matter to which I wish to refer is preferential voting.
I suppose I could claim to be one who has had more than a passing interest in this matter. If 21 candidates are listed on a ballot paper, why should it be necessary for a voter’ to fill in 21 numbers? We all know how difficult this is for people, particularly those from abroad. We know that a lot of informal votes come from people who come from Iron Curtain countries. When these people get down to No. 20 and No. 21 on the ballot paper and see that these positions happen to be occupied by Communist Party candidates they refuse to vote for these candidates, and so their votes are informal. The Labor Party had a good system for selection ballots. The voters had to vote for one more than the number to be elected. I think that that ought to be done in our elections. It would make counting much easier. I do not see any reason why it should not be done, and I strongly advocate it.
I refer now to polling hours. Polling hours which extend from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. are too long. In these days very few people work on Saturdays. For the life of me I cannot see any reason why the Government cannot cut 2 hours off the voting time. I do not think that anybody would be particularly inconvenienced.
– What about religious groups?
– A couple of years ago provision was made for religious groups. A provision was introduced which enabled special conditions to apply to people of the Jewish faith. Special provision was also made for people in closed religious orders. An amendment on the lines I have suggested would not entail any difficulty at. all.
– What about elections that are held at harvest time in the wheat belt?
– I think that suitable times could be arranged for the wheat belt. I do not think there would be any difficulty. At present there would not be any difficulty in that respect because it does not look as though there will be much wheat for the people to harvest.
– Yes. However, I think that the present polling hours are far too long. Under the present legislation - I am prepared to say this with definiteness - it is almost impossible to get a recount for the Senate unless the returning officer is prepared to grant one. No doubt many honourable senators are under the impression that if the returning officer does not agree to a recount, the candidate can go to some legal tribunal and it will, if sufficient reason is shown, grant a recount. As a result of my experiences I am firmly of the opinion that it is practically impossible to obtain a recount if the returning officer does not want one.
– What about Jack Kane’s case?
– He did not obtain a recount, did he? In my experience, when the judges are approached their attitude is that if a person wants a recount he must produce all the evidence which he is really asking for a recount in order to obtain. A person asks for a recount because he suspects that something is wrong. He wants a recount so that somebody can go through the ballot papers and make sure whether he is right or wrong. But this is what the legal tribunals say to an applicant for a recount: ‘Before you can obtain a recount you must produce all of the evidence into which you really want to inquire’.
All that the legislation says is that all of these matters shall be determined according to the will of the returning officer. There are no provisions as to how he should do things or what factors he should take into consideration. The matter of whether a recount will be made is left purely to his discretion. If he refuses an application for a recount, I suggest that no-one should ever waste his time by applying to the legal tribunals for a recount because they will show by their attitude that they do not want to hear him or to order a recount. The only way in which a person can obtain a recount is by providing all of the evidence that he wants to inquire into.
So I say that the electoral law should be examined again with a view to taking from the returning officer some of his overriding and absolute power and setting down certain provisions on the basis of which he will determine whether there should he a recount.
– The votes are already counted twice.
– Yes, but let me tell the honourable senator about my experience. In my case, when the original count was completed the returning officer said: ‘Now we will go through the ballot papers with a fine-tooth comb and make a second count before we distribute any preferences.’ His officers did that. When they reached the point where it was certain that I would win, the returning officer refused to go any further with that count. He said: Now I will have a recount.’
– I thought the honourable senator said that the recount was being made.
– No. That was the count that is made in every election. When the returning officer suddenly, in the middle of the second count, said: ‘We will have another count’, I asked: ‘Has anybody objected or protested?’ He said: ‘No’. 1 asked him: ‘Why are you going to have another count?’ He replied: ‘Because I have decided to’. I asked: ‘Is there anything wrong with the papers?’ He replied: ‘We have counted these papers twice and we know that there is nothing wrong with them’. At any rate, he ordered the recount.
Although the papers had been counted twice, on the third count his officers discovered 10,000 informal votes, quite a number of which had only the numbers 1. 2 and 3 on them. So, when Senator Lawrie says that since the votes have been counted twice they must be all right, T can inform him that there is something wrong with them if 10,000 informal votes can be found after there have been two counts.
– Were scrutineers present at the first two counts?
– No. As the honourable senator knows, the parties have never had scrutineers present at Senate counts up to date; but some of them might do so in the future. Again I ask why there should be complete discretion in the hands of the returning officer and why it should be impossible to obtain a recount against his will because the courts frown on granting recounts. The courts have indicated that they require all of the evidence before they will give any consideration to an application for a recount. I say that the legislation should contain a provision setting out certain principles.
I recall that in 1958 when we wanted a recount because the numbers were close the returning officer said: ‘Closeness of numbers is no justification for a recount’. But in my case in 1964 the returning officer ordered a recount. When I asked why he did that, he said: ‘The numbers are very close; therefore there has to be a recount’. The positions of Senator Cole and myself were almost exactly the same, taking into account the number of voters in each State. In Victoria the returning officer said: ‘We will have a recount because the numbers are close’. In Tasmania the returning officer said: ‘We will not have a recount. A recount cannot be Obtained just because the numbers are close’. I leave the matter for honourable senators to consider.
-(Senator Drake-Brockman).- Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I have only a brief contribution to make to this debate. I refer to Division No. 313 - Real estate management. 1 raise this matter now because when I raised it during the debate on the estimates for the Department of Supply the Minister for Supply (Senator Henty) told me that it was properly a matter for the Department of the Interior. I refer to the very high price of $334,800 that was paid for a property that was purchased at Coburg in Victoria. The area of the property was 6 acres, 1 rood, 13.3 perches. When this matter was first raised, the Minister said the area was very much larger than that. The figure that was mentioned at first was about 50 acres. If this property were divided into housing allotments the price would work out at $14,000 or $15,000 an allotment. That seems to be an abnormally high price for allotments at Coburg-
– May I interrupt the honourable senator in order to say that I gave an answer on this matter before lunch and he will be able to read it in Hansard.
– I thank the Minister. I raise two other points in relation to this matter. A rumour to the effect that the deal is to be called off is circulating fairly widely. I would like to know whether it is true. Prominent union officials in Victoria have told mc that such action would be part of a proposal by the Government to give away the manufacture of clothing and (o let out to private manufacturers all of the manufacture of. clothing that is now carried out by the Commonwealth Clothing Factory. 1 hope that we can be given answers to those questions.
– Quite clearly Senator Keeffe’s second question has nothing to do with the Department of the Interior. It relates to a matter of policy. The Department of the Interior is merely the agent of the Department of Supply, lt deals only with the buying and selling of property. The answer to that part of the honourable senator’s question has been given already and he will be able to read it in Hansard. I refer now to the point raised by Senator McManus. Before lunch, in answer to Senator Wright, I pointed out in relation to the grant for research at the University of Tasmania that the researcher, Mr Howatt, resigned on 31st March 1967 and therefore the expenditure last year was only $188. That research exercise has been completed and the researcher’s document has been handed to the Commonwealth Electoral Officer. The other matters mentioned by Senator McManus related to matters of policy. He referred to the recent referendum. I am not competent to comment - in fact it would nol be proper for me to do so - on that matter during this debate.
Proposed expenditures and proposed provision noted.
Proposed expenditure - National Service - Rural Occupations - Re-establishment Loans and Vocational Training Scheme, $ 1 7,000 - noted.
Debate resumed from 5 October (vide page 1 191), on motion by Senator Gorton:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Madam Acting Deputy President, the Bill before the Senate is an important Bill. It establishes a body corporate known as the Canberra College of Advanced Education. In short, what the Bil] does is to set up in an area in which the Commonwealth has undoubted constitutional powers to establish its own educational institutions - that is, in the Australian Capital Territory - one of the new type of tertiary education institutions which are being developed following the acceptance of that part of the report that was presented by the Committee of Inquiry into the Future of Tertiary Education in Australia, commonly known as the Martin Committee. The report was presented over 2 years ago. I dare say that the Canberra College will become one of a network of colleges of advanced education all of which, apart from this one, will be carried, on within the State educational systems under colleges and institutes of advanced education.
I say at once that the Opposition supports the principle of the Bill and will vote for the second reading. We think it right and proper that the Commonwealth should be moving to establish these institutions in areas where there is no doubt about its legal competence to do so. We still entertain certain doubts about the ultimate functions of these colleges. There are still in our mind certain uncertainties as to the future development of these colleges. It may be that there is uncertainty even in the mind of the Government. When we debated the report of the Martin Committee and the recommendations of the Government on it, we drew attention to what we described then as the imprecision of the Committee and the Government in the outline of non-university tertiary institutions. Although there was some slightly facetious debate about the meaning of the word ‘imprecision’, what we intended to say was that we were waiting for some definition of the precise role which these colleges might play in the tertiary education system.
I think it is plain that what the Martin Committee had in mind- and, I think, what the Government has in mind - is the development of a system of tertiary education which is an alternative to that provided by universities, more strongly orientated in a vocational direction than some of the courses at any rate provided by existing and established Australian universities. The Opposition does not quarrel with that general proposition. We appreciate and agree that it is desirable to have institutions which provide education at tertiary level and which will better suit some students who either cannot gain admission to a university or would be better suited so far as training for their future is concerned by the sort of education which would be provided at institutes of advanced education or colleges of advanced education as they have come to be called.
Although I do not want to take this occasion to develop this theme in the broad, I think it is fair to say that in some respects at any rate the proposition which seems experimental and which will need to be clarified in the course of the next few years as the system develops, is the extent to which these colleges of advanced education are to be regarded as something different from existing senior technical colleges. In my own State of Victoria, there is a system of technical education which has reached a relatively advanced stage of development. One wonders to what extent these new colleges of advanced education will represent some departure from, some elaboration of, or some difference from existing colleges. I put that to one side because I do want to say that we think it is good that in the national capita] such a college of advanced education is to be established. We believe that, properly guided, it could be a model for such colleges of advanced education in Australia.
The Commonwealth has a unique opportunity here to develop its own education system. I hope that it will do so with the encouragement of the citizens of the Australian Capital Territory. One would want to see the institution develop on a substantial community base. One would want to see it attract support from all sections of the community in the Australian Capital Territory. One would hope that in due course it would be one of the institutions of which people in the ACT, and particularly Canberra, the capital of the nation, would be proud. We would certainly wish to encourage this approach to it. The opportunity is there. It is important that the institution be launched in a way which will give it the greatest chance of developing along those lines into what one might hope to be a model institution and an example to the rest of Australia.
Having said that, I do not wish to deal in detail at this stage with the provisions of the Bill. The Bill provides for the establishment of a governing authority known as the Council of the Canberra College of Advanced Education. It gives specified functions to that Council. It deals with the composition of the Council. It makes provision for the transition from the interim council which has been looking after the affairs of the College to the permanent Council. But there are several matters in this Bill to which the Opposition takes exception and on which I will move amendments on behalf of the Opposition in Committee. These spring from the very wide discretionary powers which are given to the Minister in certain areas of the activity of the College.
I refer firstly to clause 5 of the Bill which specifies the functions of the College. These functions include:
I draw attention to these words:
As we read this Bill, we see that it makes the provision of courses by the College subject to the veto of the Minister. I am not talking about the detailed content of the courses. But the provision of particular courses is subject to the veto of the Minister. One might question whether the language in that clause does not permit it to go even further because the clause refers to ‘the provision of education and training of such kinds’, which is not only ‘in such departments’ but also ‘of such kinds’ as the Council with the approval of the Minister determines or as the Minister requires. It means that the Minister may insist upon the provision of a course which the Council of the College of Advanced Education thinks should not be provided, perhaps for academic reasons which appear to it to be sound. We believe that, consistent with the attitude that we have taken and that the Senate has taken on other occasions, it should not be open to the Minister to say no.
It should not be open to the Minister to say: ‘Do as I tell you in relation to the provision of a particular course.’ What should be established in this Bill is what the Minister claims for it in his second reading speech. He asserts that this College is to be an autonomous institution charged with providing in the Australian Capital Territory courses appropriate for professional and other occupations which by their nature require tertiary education. He then indicates the limitation on that autonomy but without specifying it as a limitation on autonomy. I believe that we have reached the position here where, if the Bill is allowed to pass in the form in which it is now before the Senate, it will rob the institution of the autonomy which it would otherwise possess. These things are important and I shall develop the matter further in the course of moving the amendments.
The same thing applies to clause 25, wherein the Minister, in effect, has a veto in relation to fees. It provides:
Subject to this section, fees are payable to the College, at such rates as. subject to any directions of the Minister . . .
They are the important words:
In other words, here again the Minister may veto a proposal to raise fees or to lower fees or to have no fees at all. He can direct that fees at a particular level be charged in relation to some course in the College or to some other facility or privilege. It may be in relation to sporting facilities or club facilities or something else. The provision does not limit it in any way. Again, we will be suggesting in Committee by moving amendments that these powers are too wide.
There is ample provision in the Bill for the broad interest of the Government, the Parliament and the people to be asserted. Clause 8 of the Bill gives the GovernorGeneral - for practical purposes that means the Minister - power to appoint eight persons to the Council. The Council shall consist of the Principal of the College - that is 1 person; the Vice-Chancellor or the Deputy Vice-Chancellor - that is another 1; 2 members of the teaching staff of the College elected by that teaching staff - that is 4 altogether; 8 persons nominated or appointed by the Governor-General - that is 12; 4 persons appointed by the Council. So 12 persons on the Council, 8 of whom are
Government appointed, can appoint another 4. Of 16 members we could have 12 persons nominated who are acceptable to the Government. Then there is provision for a seventeenth person if the Chairman of the Council as appointed happens to be a person not included in the sixteen. We would suggest that that indicates a substantial measure of interest - we do not suggest anything improper - and control of the affairs of the College by the Council.
There is also provision, as I shall point out later, for a report to the Minister each year within 6 months after 31st December, and for the Minister to lay the report before each House of the Parliament. They are very proper provisions. We have sought them on other occasions in respect of other subject matters before the Parliament and we do not quarrel with them. We say that they do indicate sufficient control by the Parliament and by the Minister and a sufficient assertion of the public interest to make it unnecessary, and we would say completely undesirable, for the Minister to have a veto power over what courses should be provided by the College and for the Minister to have a power of direction as to what courses should be provided by the College.
With these remarks, I have indicated what we shall be pursuing in Committee. Subject to that, the Bill has the support of the Opposition. I say again, as I said in opening, that the Opposition regards this as an important occasion, with the Commonwealth entering into this non-university tertiary education field in its own Territory in an area where it has an opportunity to give its own special character and direction to a tertiary education institution.
– I have listened with a great deal of interest to the remarks of Senator Cohen. I shall carefully examine the amendments that he proposes but at the moment I am not favourable to the point of view that he puts forward, probably because I spent some years as a teacher in the type of school which this Bill proposes to establish in the Australian Capital Territory. When I first began teaching, there was quite a number of these institutions in Victoria which had the kind of autonomy that Senator Cohen desires. Neatly all of them have ceased to have that autonomy, mainly because the problems of staffing organisation and other things proved so much that gradually they came under the control of the State Minister for Education. This college will be of a status to award diplomas. In Victoria we have these institutions of advanced education which award diplomas and they are under the control of the Minister for Education to a far greater degree than this Bill envisages. In my view the Commonwealth Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) will be in the same position as regards this college as the Minister for Education is in regard to colleges in the State of Victoria and probably as the Minister for Education is in regard to colleges in the State of New South Wales and so on. For those reasons, while of course I intend to await Senator Cohen’s amendments and to examine them, I can only say that my own experience as a teacher does not induce me to support them.
– To what sort of institutions does the honourable senator refer when he says he has had experience of them?
– For example, senior technical institutions like the Footscray Technical School and the Caulfield Technical School and others. They are schools which, while they are called technical schools, have also sections dealing with the humanities.
– Would they not be on a parity with primary schools or secondary schools?
– No. These are institutions which confer diplomas. A diploma, as the honourable senator knows, is just one degree lower than a university degree.
– They are constituent members of the Victorian Institute of Colleges, I think.
– These are senior institutions which can confer for example, diplomas in electrical engineering, chemistry and science. They are attended by students who in many instances are adults. They are very senior institutions along the lines on which, it appears to me, this institution is to be conducted. As I say, such institutions in the States are subject to the supervision of or come under the Minister.
– Can the Minister direct a particular course to be provided by them?
– My word he can.
– Has he explicit power to do that?
– In my view he has. Quite a number of institutions had autonomy along the lines the honourable senator has suggested but now, with perhaps the exception of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, they have all gone out of existence as autonomous bodies. They found that the difficulties in the way were too great. Although they still have their councils and so on, in most cases today they come under the control of the Minister.
– Swinburne is not in that category.
– Swinburne might bc another exception, but there certainly would not be too many of them. As I have said, years ago there were quite a number but now, with possibly one or two exceptions, they all come under the control of the Minister.
– in reply - I will not discuss at any length the principles behind this Bill because they have been accepted by the Opposition, although Senator Cohen indicated that he was not quite sure how these new concept colleges would develop. I do not believe anyone is certain and can lay down a blueprint of how these colleges will develop. Indeed, that is one reason why a sum of money was set aside for research into the fields in which they may develop and the courses they may provide. An Australiawide symposium is being held in Hobart to discuss the physical development of colleges and the courses to be conducted in them. No doubt Senator Cohen and other honourable senators have, like myself, a concept in their minds of the way in which these colleges will develop. In many respects this development might be uniform and in other respects it might vary. The future will decide exactly what comes out of this. I agree with Senator Cohen that it might well be that the development of such a college in the Australian Capital Territory could be a model for existing colleges, such as the ones mentioned by Senator McManus, or colleges yet to be established.
– Indeed it should be a model.
– Perhaps it should be a model. I suggest this is one reason why we should have some control over the courses - not the content of courses, I point out - because this will be one of the subjects of discussion by educators generally. In addition, if it is to be a model, and if we are to carry out the suggestions contained in the report of the Murray Committee on tertiary education and try to ensure that these new colleges do not develop into duplicate universities, it will be necessary to ensure that courses to university level duplicating university courses are not financed by Commonwealth funds unless the Parliament directs the Minister to make those funds available.
This proposed college will develop on the broad base of the community in Canberra. Indeed, it is already doing that. I, or whoever takes my portfolio in the future, will be, as Senator McManus said, in the same position vis-a-vis tertiary education in the Australian Capital Territory as a State Minister is in vis-a-vis tertiary education in his own State, except that in nearly all States, if not in all, tertiary technical education has nowhere near the degree of autonomy that this Bill proposes to provide in the Australian Capital Territory. For example, the salaries paid to people in many colleges in Victoria are governed by the Public Service Act and many colleges in that State receive their directions from the Department of Education.
– Who fixes salaries under this Act?
– In effect the colleges would have autonomy to suggest the salaries that should be fixed and it would be a matter for the Parliament, when providing funds, to accept or reject that suggestion. I should imagine that the Minister would come to the Parliament and say, as in the case of universities: These salaries have been suggested. I request the Parliament to provide the money to pay these salaries’.
In the development of tertiary education in the Australian Capital Territory it is necessary to have the capacity to prevent a duplication of courses, to prevent a college governing body, which is autonomous in all other respects, being able to say: ‘We will put in the same kind of arts course or engineering course as the university has put in. We will duplicate the facilities already being provided by public money in another tertiary institution’. I think that veto is necessary, but I point out to the Senate that the provision of courses is at the initiative of this autonomous council. If takes the initiative in recommending the courses to be provided. The representative of the Government would come into this matter on what I would think would be rare occasions to reject that initiative. That action must be public. It must be known to the Parliament. It must not be a secret action. The person exercising that power should be a person in Parliament who is directly answerable to the Parliament. That applies to the prevention of a duplication of courses.
Similarly there is a requirement - I think a legitimate and reasonable requirement - for the Government which is providing funds through the Parliament for courses to say to a college: ‘We wish you to provide this course’. Again, I think it highly unlikely that this power could be abused or would be often used, but it might well be our opinion that there was some deficiency in the total of tertiary education in the Australian Capital Territory and that some course in public administration, for example, which was not available should be made available for the good of the students in this community who wish to attend it. If the Parliament were prepared to provide funds for that course it would appear to me to be perfectly reasonable to require the college to provide that course.
We are almost entering into the Committee stage, so I shall summarise my remarks in this way: With the exception of Western Australia, which has just enacted a law for the establishment of a college of advanced education, taking it out of the control of the Department of Education and the Public Service Board but leaving it under ministerial control, all the colleges that I know of in the States have far less autonomy than is proposed in this Bill. Further if the Government asks the Parliament to provide money, and the Parliament agrees to do so, it is reasonable to expect the college to provide a particular course to meet the needs of the community.
For example, it might be a kindergarten teaching course. There might develop in this community a clear need for such a faculty and there might be a sufficient number of students in the district to support that faculty without their being requiredt o go elsewhere to undertake such a course. In that case it should not be left to the autonomous body to say: ‘In spite of that need we will not provide the course’. I think it would be reasonable to make the funds available to allow that course to be provided.
Similarly, it is necessary to avoid duplication of courses already provided at the Australian National University or at some other university which may be established in this area in the future. This is not really significantly different in end result from what now happens in the universities. The Australian Universities Commission makes recommendations as to the conditions under which finance should be applied. The relevant provision is section 13 (l.)(a) of the Australian Universities Commission Act, which states that the Australian Universities Commission is required to advise on the necessity for financial assistance and the conditions upon which any financial assistance should be granted. In fact the Commission has been taking that into consideration for a long time in making its judgments and recommendations as to whether a faculty should be duplicated when an existing university has unused facilities for a faculty of the same type. The question is brought before the Parliament by the Minister and the Parliament decides whether it will vote the amount recommended or a lesser amount.
I suggest that the real safeguard is that if a Minister should at any time, now or in the future, say to the College of Advanced Education: ‘We do not want you to provide this course’, then that must be a public action and it must be subject to debate in the Parliament to which the Minister must immediately answer. If a Minister says to a college of advanced education, now or in the future: ‘We require you to provide a particular course and we will ask the Parliament to provide money for it’, that also must be a public action and the responsible Minister must be answerable for it in the place where he should answer for it - that is, Parliament.
These decisions will be arrived at after consultation with the advisory committee set up. That is not in the Bill, but it is the position. In any case, it is not ultimately significant. What is of ultimate significance is whether the Senate thinks it reasonable to have those authorities, they being completely public, not able to be suppressed and the subject of reports to the Parliament.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
The functions of the College are:
– I move:
The Opposition believes that there is no need whatever for this power to be given to the Minister. An examination of the general structure of the Canberra College of Advanced Education shows that it is to be governed by a body the composition of which is set out in clause 8 of the Bill. The Minister is to nominate eight of the first twelve persons. Unlike the Australian National University Act, this legislation does not provide for any particular qualifications to be possessed by the nominees of the Minister. The Australian National University Act provides that twelve persons shall be appointed by the Governor-General to the Council of the ANU. They must be persons who in the opinion of the GovernorGeneral by their knowledge and experience can advance the full development of the University.
As I said, there is no similar provision in the Bill now before us. So the Minister or the Executive Council is at large in nominating persons to the Council of the College. I am not suggesting that there is anything improper in the procedure. I am simply saying that the Minister does not have to be satisfied that the persons appointed are persons capable of advancing the full development of the College. The council is to include the Principal and the Vice-Chancellor. It will also include two members of the teaching staff, one of whom will be elected by the senior teaching staff and one by the teaching staff generally. The twelve persons J referred to earlier may select another four persons. In my opinion there is adequate power for the Governor-General, or the Minister, to have complete control over the composition of the Council. We start from that point. We are not dealing wilh a body which is completely independent of ministerial authority or control. We are dealing with a body which largely will owe its existence to ministerial nomination. The persons nominated by the Minister will have an opportunity to nominate another four persons. They will be in a majority of two to one on the Council.
I return now to the provisions of clause 5 of the Bill. The function of the Bill is to establish in the Australian Capital Territory an institution for the purpose of education and training. No mention is made of the provision of courses in particular departments. The Bill states that the institution is for the provision of education and training of such kinds and in such departments and other fields of knowledge or of the application of knowledge as the Council with the approval of the Minister determines. 1 do not know what the term ‘of such kinds’ means. The Minister has been at pains to point out that this power extends not to the content of courses but only to the provision of particular courses. I question that view, because the language is certainly wide enough to include, I suggest, the way in which a subject is presented. Reference is made to education and training of such kinds as the Council with the approval of the Minister determines. It is not limited to the subject matter of courses.
It may be that the College proposes to establish a course of a particular character within a broad field of knowledge, lt may be that there is an aspect of a field of knowledge or a particular area of knowledge which can be taught and which perhaps would be taught in a particular way because it is education and training of a particular kind. As I read the legislation the Minister would have the right to veto that teaching. Why does he need that power? He will have a Council that will be broadly amenable to his influence, suggestions and general authority, because it will be a council which expresses his viewpoint. I do not say that in an improper sense. It is a council which has his confidence. He has appointed most of the members and one would assume that there would be some reciprocal confidence in the Minister, that there would be some genuine desire to recognise the Minister’s authority and his responsibility to the Parliament for the affairs of the college. I do not know why he has to have this power of veto. Whether it is limited to the subject matter of courses or the name of a course I do not think matters a great deal. I cannot see the need for it.
I believe that without this power of veto the college would still be able to carry on effectively and provide courses within the areas determined by the statute, and nobody could say that the Minister would not be an extremely influential person in the development of the college. He would be able to make suggestions, either directly, because he is Minister, or through representatives nominated by him. There would be no difficulty in the Minister saying: T would like to see the college council consider a course on computers’, or some other modern field of knowledge. ‘I notice you have not got one. I would like you to give consideration to this, for 1 would be interested to know what your reaction is.’ I can see nothing wrong with that. I would not regard it as unfair pressure by the Minister or an attempt to use improper influence, particularly as the matter could be raised by persons whom the Minister had nominated, or anybody else.
But when it comes to the crunch, when it comes to the question of saying whether the college can or cannot do something, this is where the difficulty arises. If the college says: ‘We believe that a particular course is desirable and have decided to establish one,’ I do not see why it should be open to the Minister to say that it cannot. I hope 1 am not transgressing, but there are two sides to the penny. I do not see why the Minister should have express power of direction over the college council as to what courses it should provide or what kind of education it should provide in the various fields of science, technology, arts, administration, commerce and other fields of knowledge or the application of knowledge. In fact, 1 can see the opposite. I can see that it is undesirable that a political person, a person who is not an educationist, a person who is a responsible Minister in the Parliament or an important department of state should be the one to make a direction to a college council as to what courses are to be provided. Assuming that the council was resistant, under this Bill the Minister still would have power. There could be a conflict. There could be a clash between the Minister and the college council, and the Minister would have to win, because he would have the power. I do not think he needs that power either to be an effective Minister or to help the college fulfil the role that it is meant to fulfil. I think that this institution could be made autonomous and without our vesting that power in the Minister.
The Minister was at pains in his second reading speech to point out that the Commonwealth Government will bear much the same relationship to the Canberra College of Advanced Education as it does to the Australian National University. I challenge that statement. I do not believe that it is accurate. If it were not for this power of veto and this power of direction I would not be disposed to challenge the statement; but there is a revolutionary difference in the relationship between the Government and the college council according to whether this power of veto is or is not vested in the Minister.
I think I have put the argument as fully as I want to. One could restate it in a dozen ways. But when the Minister says it is to be an autonomous institution, that is not in fact an accurate statement of what is proposed. I would like to see it an autonomous institution. I invite the Senate to support the amendment, for I think the result of supporting it would be to make this college an autonomous institution and I do not believe that the develop ment of the college would suffer in any way. There is an obligation on the council to report to the Minister and there is an obligation on the Minister to lay that report on the table.
With great respect to what the Minister has said in defending the provision during the second reading debate, I do not think it is enough to say that he has to answer to the Parliament. That inevitably means answering to the majority of the Parliament. It means that, the Minister having taken a decision in relation to a particular course, the prospects of overruling that decision or attempting to secure redress against him would not be strong. That is not the kind of protection that the college is entitled to have.
I think the Minister will appreciate that I am not suggesting anything in the nature of improper motive or anything in the nature of improper pressures. I am simply saying that it is in the nature of statutes that if the power is there, it must be there for some reason. If must be there in contemplation of some situation in which there will be a conflict. This Bill expresses the determination that the winner in such a conflict will be the Minister. I think the college ought, to be allowed to develop in the autonomous way that the Bill sets out to provide for. It can do that if we leave out these powers about which we complain and still leave with the Minister plenty of authority to go in and help in guiding the fortunes and progress of the institution.
– First I want to point out to the Senate the large degree of autonomy which is given under this Bill to the council to be appointed. Perhaps as a prelude to that 1 might refer to the fact that there has been much talk about the eight people to be appointed to the council by the Governor-General. This proposal is of no more significance or moment than, or in any way different from, the method of appointing the twelve members who are appointed by the GovernorGeneral to the Council of the Australian National University. These appointees cannot be controlled. Nor should they be controlled.
Let. us look at the autonomy which is given to this college under the Bill. I believe I can say with truth that it is an autonomy which is greater than that given to any other college of its kind in Australia. The college council is given power *o appoint its own committees, to manage and control the affairs and property of the college, to appoint and dismiss staff, to award diplomas and certificates, to determine and organise courses and to control all statutory use of the land leased to it by the Commonwealth Government. These powers cover matters such as the siting of buildings, and the control and parking of traffic. The Council is also empowered to control admissions and enrolments of students and to determine fees subject to ministerial discretion. Here the ministerial discretion refers only to the determining of fees. The council has power to exempt certain classes of students and staff from payment of fees. It is authorised to establish internal organisations of students and staff, it is authorised to make rules under college statutes except in matters of traffic and parking insofar as they may conflict with other laws of the land, and it is allowed to act in the way best suited to promote the objects and interests of the college. There is a wide degree of autonomy here which is greater than that which I think any similar institution has.
I believe that when we set out to make a model of something which is different from a university, a model which is to be looked at and perhaps emulated by the States, when we set out to establish something which is different in kind but equal in stature, there is an obligation on us to ensure that the college is given a degree of autonomy which enables it to develop into an institution different in kind from but of the same importance as a university. We have heard talk of some suggestion that what the Bill does, or might do, is to give some control over the actual contents of a course or the organisation of a course. I am certain that this in fact could not happen. But let us imagine that a completely autonomous council decided that it would like to emulate post-graduate courses which were being carried on at the neighbouring university, when the whole objective of this new concept is not that post-graduate courses should be duplicated. In that sense the honourable senator could say that the content of a course would be prevented but actually it would be the course itself rather than the content.
– This is a rather farfetched example.
– I do not know that it is. The honourable senator may have noticed a discussion that is taking place in Victoria currently about protagonists developing these new colleges into replicas and duplicates of universities and the protagonists of the ideas propounded by the Martin Committe on the Future of Tertiary Education in Australia. So it is nol. so far fetched. If we do desire to try to work out some really significant alternative area of tertiary education there is a need to control complete autonomy so that a particular council does not get carried away with the idea of emulating in any way the sort of courses provided in universities. That is a reserve power which is retained in this Bill.
If that is so - and I finish on that point - I think it must be a matter for the good common sense of the Committee to judge whether, in this distribution of public money, in an attempt to make sure that we do not just set’ up another university, such reserve power is necessary and is to be controlled because the money is to come from the public and is to be subject to report and to debate.
Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) [3.331- The amendment proposed by Senator Cohen to the Canberra College of Advanced Education Bill certainly draws our attention to a matter of significance. I think it is proper that we should examine it and see whether the Bill as proposed goes a little too far. Clause 5, which we are considering at the moment, states:
The functions of the College are -
to conduct, in the Australian Capital Territory, an institution for the provision of education and training of such kinds, and in such departments of science, technology, art, administration, commerce and other fields of knowledge or of the application of knowledge, as the Council, with the approval of the Minister, determines. . . .
There is certainly some reason for uncertainty when one considers the expression education and training of such kinds’ and there is certainly need to consider the words ‘or of the application of knowledge’. It is not an abstract knowledge but applied knowledge, and this has to be approved by the Minister.
We have reached the stage in our debating of the theory of politics in this chamber where we know that the discussion of ministerial powers conveys no personal implication in relation to the present occupants. We discuss ministerial posts as being part of the institution of responsible government. Unless we can provide means whereby one House of the Parliament, particularly the House that is not responsible for maintaining government, can have recourse to and supervision of the acts of a Minister, we are apt to lose control in Parliament of what may be done. Therefore, of course, there is now developing in this House a jealous vigilance in regard to this matter.
I noticed in the first place that the Minister for Education and Science referred to the Australian Universities Commission Act. He referred particularly to section 13 (I.) (a) and said that the Universities Commission vis-a-vis the universities provides something of the same function as the Minister would in relation to this Canberra College of Advanced Education. That is so. But in the university field we established an independent Australian Universities Commission for which I have advocated from time to time a certain status, namely, that its recommendations ought automatically to be granted and that the review that the Parliament exercises over its recommendations should be in regard to the making of new appointments as occasion requires. I have pointed out from time to time that we established the Universities Commission only because political ministerial control would certainly not be acceptable to any university in this country. Therefore we provided an independent Commission of a very special type which would have responsibility for all universities, for their independence, such as would never cause a reaction from the universities on the ground that they were being directed by a political Minister.
Secondly, the Minister referred to the fact that it is necessary, when public money is being expended, that the delegate of the Parliament should have authority to see that wasteful duplication does not occur by the establishment of the same courses in this College as are available at the Australian National University. 1 applaud that point of view. I was enormously pleased when Sir Robert Menzies, after a most patient consideration of the position of the Aus tralian National University and the then Canberra University College, amalgamated the two bodies over a number of years. The argument that the Minister has put forward in this respect is most cogent.
I noticed in the Bill a reference to the fact that there is to be an annual report. I also noticed that it is specifically provided in clause 21 of the Bill that the Council may make statutes. Clause 21 (1.) (3) provides that the statutes may cover ‘the courses of study and instruction of the College and the requirements for the award -of diplomas and certificates. . . .’. When the Bill states that the Council may make statutes, I believe that, from practice, and in order to have any repute at all this Council could establish courses and instruction by no other means than statutes, otherwise it would lose its grading in the eyes of similar institutions altogether.
I notice in clause 22 that a statute made by the Council is to be sealed with the seal of the College, must be approved by the Governor-General, notified in the Gazette’, and upon notification will have the force of law. Sub-clause (4.) of clause 22 states that a copy of the statute shall be laid before each House of the Parliament. I believe that this clause has fallen into the error - I say this subject to correction - of copying a deficiency of the Labor Government’s pattern which excluded those statutes made by the Council, although laid upon our table, from the disallowance power that we have under the Acts Interpretation Act. That, I believe, is a defect in this provision. I have said sufficient to show that there are strong reasons why a proper degree of authority should rest with the delegate of the Parliament in regard to the - scope of the functions of this institution and why that delegate should in some way be made responsible to this Parliament.
I think there is a marked difference between a college of advanced education and a university. I want to go on record as saying that I think the time will soon come when universities will cease to have the illusion of enjoying autonomy. We will have to be very careful not to make inroads, for political purposes, into a university’s economy. Universities depend very largely upon public money, and there is a growing irresponsibility in some fields of university activity that will make it imperative, if we are to be responsible to the people whom we tax, to supervise more closely the duplication of courses and the expenditure which takes place in universities.
I have referred to some of the safeguards. I have referred to the need to prevent duplication. I have also referred to the power to make these courses of instruction by statute and to the necessity for that statute to be laid before the House even though, as I am at present informed, we have not the power to disallow the statute. On the other side, my own view is that it would have been wiser and much more acceptable to the philosophy that I hope prevails in this Parliament to have had language different from fh«:t which is set out in clause 5 (a), which provides that fields of knowledge or of the application of knowledge that can be studied are subject to the approval of the Minister. I should have thought that it would have been preferable if the clause had provided that the college would have those functions and had then stated that the administration of the Act would be under the authority or control of the Minister. 1 want to put to the Senate another matter concerning the application of knowledge which is subject to the approval of the Minister. Let us suppose that it was politically appropriate to indicate that there was an urgent need for northern development in Australia. Let us suppose that the Minister concerned gave his approval to the establishment of fields of knowledge with regard to tropical agriculture, mining and special fields of husbandry in the northern part of Australia. Immediately the question of political bias would be raised. Some States are irritated by the present system of Commonwealth and State financial relations. Let us suppose that a Minister had the very vigorous outlook on this matter of, say, Sir Henry Bolte. I neither disparage his outlook nor applaud it. But let us suppose that that sort of thing was put up as a course of study in the application of political science. Let us suppose again that the political history of Vietnam over the last 20 years were set as a course of study. I think that it would be detrimental for this question to go to the Minister for approval, because a political person would have the authority to approve the kind of education to be given or the application of knowledge.
I shall not take up the Committee’s time any further. But I hope that I have, without any disrespect to anyone, indicated my thinking on this matter. On balance I must say that on this occasion 1 find’ a real distinction between this Bill and the scholarships legislation in which a straight out gift of money was made to individual recipients. Those recipients had no way in which to protect themselves in regard to merit. In that case there was an unlimited discretion in the Minister to establish who was eligible, the terms and conditions on which the scholarships should be. tenable, and the terms and conditions on which they should be terminated. There we had a situation in which Bill Smith, who was 13 years of age, had no influence against the apparatus of government. Here we have a college which will have a council. The courses of instruction will be set by publicised statutes of the Council.
Therefore I find myself in the pleasing situation, if I may say so, of deferring to the Minister’s view supported, as it is, by the experience of Senator McManus. Senator Turnbull seems to derive some mirth from the occasion. I only mention that because the idea current in some localities is that my nature get’s greater satisfaction from intransigence than from agreement, lt gives me pleasure to accept, with deference, the Minister’s view.
– I should like to make one or two comments on some of Senator Wright’s remarks. He drew attention to the words ‘with the approval of the Minister’ or ‘as the Minister requires’. Whether the language is approved or not, it came not directly from the Parliamentary Draftsman but as a result of discussions between the Interim Council of the College, which was set up to develop these things, and myself. Therefore, if there is any blame it should be levelled at the Interim Council and myself. I believe that the reason why the words ‘application of knowledge1 are contained in clause 5 (a) is because this College will be a technological institution. In other words, it will not be merely an institution to provide courses in general science. It will provide courses in the application of science. That is the sense in which those words were meant.
– But you could extend it to the field of political science.
– That is quite true. I am merely endeavouring to show what was in the minds of the members of the Interim Council and myself regarding this matter. I think that what the honourable senator has suggested could be a danger. But I believe that safeguards against it are provided. Just imagine a Minister directing a council, which did not want to do so, to provide a course in political science or something in a political way, knowing that he would be subject to a report if the council did not want to do it and that he would have to account to the Parliament for it. I think that that would be sufficient safeguard against any abuse of the provision.
– Notwithstanding what the Minister has said and what Senator Wright has said after his consideration of the matter, 1 remain unrepentant in the view that I put to the Committee. I believe that an important question has been raised in this debate and that the balance is against the view that the Minister has put and not in favour of it, as Senator Wright suggests. I am troubled by the language of the Minister’s second reading speech. I again invite Senator Wright’s attention to it.
– I believe that the honourable senator’s criticism of those two expressions is justified.
– It just is not so that the Commonwealth Government will be in much the same relationship with the Canberra College of Advanced Education as it is with the Australian National University. There is not a mention of the Minister in the Australian National University Act. I believe that the proposed power of the Minister in relation to the College is a different concept. If that concept is to be dealt with it should not be dealt with on the basis that the College is a similar sort of institution to the Australian National University.
– They are very much the same.
– I would not agree with that. There is a big difference. If the Minis ter tried to do this to the Australian National University today he would have a complete revolution on his hands; he would not get to first base. I do not think he would even want to do it.
– I do not know what the honourable senator means. Is he suggesting that, if the Australian National University came to the Government and said: ‘We want money for a particular course’, the Government would have to provide that money?
– No. That is a matter of appropriation.
– I do not think a university would ever submit a proposal in respect of a particular course. A university submits a proposal for a total appropriation and then appropriates the total amount itself.
– I am not sure that a university might not submit a proposal in respect of a particular course. Things being as they are, it would expect to receive the support of the Department of Education and Science, the Australian Universities Commission, or whoever deals with these matters in order to submit the proposal. But there is a big difference between a university deciding to provide a particular course and it having the money to do that. Any decision that it made about the desirability of establishing a particular course would always be subject to the provision of funds. But there would not be the possibility of a conflict between the Minister and the administration of the university. I think this is dangerous. I do not believe that there is all that much difference between a university and the kind of institution that we are considering. They are said to be alternative tertiary institutions.
For the life of me I do not see why the Minister needs this power. I would hope that the occasions on which there would be some conflict would arise very infrequently. But if such occasions arose the Minister would have sufficient control over the situation by in effect having control of the funds. I have put the case as I want to put it. I am not deterred by what has been said. I wonder whether Senator Wright would indicate whether his attitude extends to the second of the amendments that have been circulated in my name or whether he draws some distinction between the power of veto and the power to direct in this connection.
– I thank Senator Cohen for the compliment of his request. I have considered the distinction between, on the one hand, a positive power in that approval is necessary and, on the other, a positive power of requiring additional courses. For the reasons that I have mentioned,I believe that the distinction is not so substantial as to cause one to vote differently on the two points.
– In view of the intimation from Senator Wright, I ask for leave to put the second of the amendments circulated in my name together with the first. Had any honourable senator expressed different views on the two amendments there would have been some point in voting on them separately. But in view of Senator Wright’s intimation and the fact that no honourable senator has indicated that he has different views on the two amendments, I ask for leave to move the second amendment now so that the two amendments can be voted on together.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
In paragraph (a), leave out ‘or as the Minister requires’.
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Cohen’s amendments) be left out.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator I. A. C. Wood)
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 6 to 24 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 25. (1.) Subject to this section, fees are payable to the College, at such rates as, subject to any directions of the Minister, the Council determines for all courses of study or instruction of the College, for entry to examinations conducted by the College and for such other facilities or privileges of the College as the Council determines or the Minister directs. (2.) A student who has been granted by the College, in accordance with the Statutes, a scholarship or bursary, is exempt from payment of fees to the extent of the exemption applicable under the scholarship or bursary.
- Mr Temporary Chairman,I desire to move the third and fourth amendments circulated in my name. I ask for leave for the amendments to be taken together.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMANThere being no objection, leave is granted. That course will be followed.
– I move;
I think that a good deal of the ground dealt with by these amendments has been covered in the discussion on the earlier clause. This clause deals with fees and makes the Minister the final authority on the question of fees. He has the power to make a contrary direction to or to vary any determination of the Council of the College of Advanced Education, or to direct the payment of fees and the rates at which fees are to be charged for any facilities.
Clause 25 reads: (I.) Subject to this section, fees are payable to the College, at such rates as, subject to any directions of the Minister-
This is the first expression that we wish to omit:
- Mr Temporary Chairman, I will be very brief. My colleague and I will not be supporting the amendment. In my experience in the State of Victoria in dealing with colleges of a similar character, I can say that it is true that the Royal Melbourne Technical College has a degree of autonomy, but I am not sure about the other college mentioned by Senator Cohen. The honourable senator may be right about the Swinburne Technical College. But as for the other colleges which confer diplomas and are of this particular type, the Minister has the right to determine the fees and in fact, unless there has been a recent change, I think for quite a few years the Minister has determined that there should be no fees. I do not know whether this happy situation will exist in Canberra. I think that the question of fees to some extent is bound up with the financing of these institutions. If the Commonwealth Government is to be responsible for the financing of this institution it is only fair that the Minister for Education and Science should have authority in regard to fees.
– Mr Temporary Chairman, I just wish to add my own remarks on this matter. I naturally agree that this matter is tied up entirely with the amount of finance that is to bc made available to this College of Advanced Education. All the rest of the finance, other than fees, presumably will be coming from revenue. There may be some small grants from private legacies or something of that nature. But for all practical purposes, the recurrent expenses of this College will be borne by money contributed through this National Parliament. We could have a Council which would decide that it would charge no fees. Yet there could be a demand which it was necessary to meet and that decision by that Council, if it was not subject to control, would throw on the Parliament the burden of providing a greater amount of money than would otherwise be required or of deciding that some development it thought should take place would not be able to take place.
At the other end of the spectrum I suggest that we could have a Council which decided it would charge very high fees or would increase fees year by year because of some requirement that it felt was necessary to carry out and for which the Parliament could not provide the money. If that were to take place, it would have two effects. One would be that if it continued it would tend to exclude people who could not afford to pay these higher fees from attending the institution - that is those who did not have scholarships - and it would throw an additional burden on the revenue of the Commonwealth because each time the fees were increased for those who did have scholarships - and the number of scholarship holders is growing and growing - then automatically an extra burden would be put upon the Treasury. In those circumstances it seems to me perfectly reasonable that the Minister should not be the final authority, as was suggested, but the interim authority saying what he believes the level of fees should be and that he should be the final authority until Parliament considers the report and makes up its own mind whether the Minister’s decision is right.
-I wish to make a comment with regard to the amendments that have been moved by Senator Cohen. Section 27 of the Australian National University Act provides: (1.) The Council may from time to time make, alter and repeal Statutes with respect to all or any of the fallowing matters:
The Australian National University Act requires the statutes to fix these things. Section 29 of that Act provides: (1.) Fees shall be payable by students of the University except, in the case of any student who is granted any fellowship, scholarship, exhibition, bursary or similar benefit, to the extent to which he is thereby exempted from payment of fees.
A further provision is added which is significant from the point of view of Senator Cohen. The difference between his proposal and the provisions of this section is signficant. Section 29 continues: (2.) The Governor-General may by proclamation, determine that fees shall not be payable by students of the University and, while the Proclamation is in force, fees shall not be so payable.
A proclamation was the medium. Fees generally were the subject. There was no question of ministerial direction as to the level of particular courses. The question was to be decided by university statute. Then we come to the Bill that we are considering, which is a Bill not for a university but for a College of Advanced Education in the Australian Capital Territory, which is to be financed from the public purse. Therefore, of course, the matter of the finance it raises by fees is quite a direct responsibility of the Parliament. I should have though that any supervision the Minister was expected to exercise would be so far as the statutes of the University were concerned. It will be noticed that paragraph (g) of sub-clause (1.) of clause 21 provides for: the granting of exemption from payment of fees to all or any persons employed by the College otherwise than in a part-time capacity.
So far as I have looked at the clause I find no express provision that the question of imposition of fees and fixation of fees is to be the subject of a statute. Clause 25 permits the Minister to give a direction as to the rate at which the Council shall determine fees payable for all courses of study or instruction and for facilities and privileges. It cannot be said that there is any presumption that a college of this sort shall have a Council that shall have autonomous power to fix revenue. The Council must have a degree of responsible autonomy - that is a misused word - with regard to the field of knowledge and instruction, but revenue is a matter much more appropriate to government and, notwithstanding the distinction that I myself have pointed out between the Australian National University and this College, I feel that the amendment should be rejected.
That the amendments (Senator Cohen’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. C. DrakeBrockman)
Majority . . . . 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole.
-I ask the Minister what he suggests is the effect of sub-clause (2.) of clause 26, having regard to sub-clause (1.) which provides:
There are payable to the College such amounts as arc appropriated by the Parliament for the purposes of the College.
Sub-clause (2.) provides:
Moneys payable to the College under the last preceding sub-section shall be paid in such amounts and at such times as the Minister determines.
I notice that there is a similar provision in the Act governing the Institute of Aboriginal Studies to which the Minister directed attention in his second reading speech. I do not know whether it is in any other legislation. Is it a more modern way of expressing the right of the Minister to keep control over the moneys that are appropriated? Clearly, if it were given literal effect it could mean withholding of moneys beyond the period in which they are appropriated by the Parliament.
– The purpose of this provision and the way in which it operates - I think it operates in this way in other fields, but it certainly will operate in this way here - is that Parliament appro priates a sum of money for one year for the college. That sum of money would not be paid to the college at the beginning of the year so that the college could perhaps invest some of it and earn interest. It will be paid over asit is being spent. This is not unusual. The honourable senator is concerned that certain worries in his mind might be substantiated and he can perhaps think of some Minister who would say: Although that sum has been appropriated for you I will not give it to you for 6 months’. Quite clearly that just would not happen.
Remainder of Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Gorton) read a third time.
Consideration resumed (vide page 1733).
Prime Minister’s Department
Proposed expenditure, $22,425,000.
Proposed provision, $778,000.
– I refer to the item in sub-division 4 of Division No. 400 which relates to an appropriation of $840,000 for the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust. I have asked previously in the Senate for information on the progress being made with the establishment of an Australian council for the arts, both performing and written.I now ask that question again.
– The only information I have is an explanation of the appropriation of a certain sum of money. Perhaps this is not directly concerned with the formation of an arts council, which I think is the point raised by the honourable senator. In 1963-64 the Commonwealth approved a basic grant of $400,000 a year to the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust. In 1965-66 an additional special grant of $120,000 was approved to assist the Trust to meet increasing costs. This information does not provide an answer to the question, butI can tell the honourable senator in relation to the creation of a national arts council or a performing arts council - this is a genuine answer - thai this matter is under consideration, it is being discussed, lt has not been pigeon-holed.
– I refer to the appropriations for the Surf Life Saving Association, the Royal Life Saving Society and the Commonwealth Council of the Royal Life Saving Society as referred to in sub-division 4 of Division No. 400. Why have the appropriations remained static? The work of these very important bodies is increasing year by year. I know that a number of lives have been saved through the voluntary efforts of young Australians who give up their leisure time to safeguard life on our beaches. The grant made to them is very small compared with the work they do, (he amount of equipment they need and the time they spend in training members. If they save only one or two lives each year that is worth far more than the sums appropriated. 1 should like the giants to be increased. Costs are rising. Why have the grants to these bodies not risen proportionately?
Item 12 in sub-division 3 of the same division relates to an appropriation of $10,000 to assist Australian composers of music. Last year the appropriation was also $10,000. but none of it was expended. Why? Quite a number of composers, students or muscians must have done work of some value. In the pop field they get plenty out of records, but the ordinary conventional musicians - perhaps ‘squares’ is the more appropriate word these days - do not seem to be getting much of a go. 1 hope that some of the $10,000 being appropriated this year will be spent, because surely in this very prosaic and everyday community we want to encourage music as much as we can. Even though $10,000 is not very much of an incentive, the fact that not one cent of it was spent last year demands some explanation.
– Senator Gorton, who normally handles matters relating to the Prime Minister’s Department, has been called away. I am standing in for him so J will endeavour to answer questions as they arise.
Senator Tangney referred to the appropriation of $10,000 to assist Australian composers of music. The purpose of this provision is to assist the publication of Australian serious music compositions and to promote the work of Australian composers nationally and internationally. Although $10,000 was provided for this function in 1966-67 it was not until the beginning of the year that an advisory board was appointed - it met for the first time last March - to recommend effective methods of assisting the promotion of Australian composers and their work. The Board now has certain projects under consideration for which it proposes to recommend financial aid. It is expected that the total allocation o:* $10,000 will be required during 1967-68.
Reference was made to the Surf Life Saving Association. Last year’s expenditure was $24,000 and this year the appropriation is to be $24,000. This item should be looked at in conjunction with items 07 and 08 which provide for the Royal Life Saving Society and the Commonwealth Council of the Royal Life Saving Society.
– I mentioned the three items.
– I realise that. In 1950 approval was given for a grant of $10,000 to be paid annually to the Surf Life Saving Association. This annual grant was increased to $16,000 in 1958-59 and to $24,000 in 1961-62. Following the establishment of the Commonwealth Council of the Royal Life Saving Society in London approval was given for a grant of £stg500 to be paid to the parent body. The first payment was made in 1959-60 and was independent of funds paid to the Royal Life Saving Society and the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia.
– That it is not enough.
– Having regard to the magnificent’ work done by the surf life saving groups, the honourable senator believes that more substantial aid should be given to them. I have an unofficial association with a surf life saving club as its trustee. Other parliamentarians act in a similar capacity. I am conscious of the magnificent work the clubs do, more particularly as I happen to live adjacent to one of them. Essentially they are amateur bodies which receive assistance from local authorities and from many groups in the commercial sphere of the community.
– That is why they are always pleading a shortage of funds.
– I think if it is looked at across the board it will be seen that they receive a considerable amount of help from various agencies. Their activities come within the States’ administration. The States have sovereignty and the State governments provide help for the clubs. I do not deny that the clubs do magnificent work or that they are always looking for more help. The club I have seen at close hand conducts various fund raising activities which draw its members together. It is part of the life of the community and it illustrates the driving force and team spirit that exist within the clubs. I do not think there is much more I can say on that matter.
– Does the Minister think that if the clubs asked for a bigger grant next year they might receive it?
– The honourable senator will appreciate that that is a question on policy which it would not be proper for me to answer in dealing with the estimates of the Department.
– I refer to the appropriation of $13,690 for annual allowances to be paid to ex-members of Parliament and others or their dependants, in sub-division 3 of Division No. 400 - Administrative. Can the Minister please inform me of the purpose of the appropriation?
– 1 relate my remarks to Division No. 405 - Ministers of State, Leaders of the Opposition and Parliamentary Parties and Staffs and particularly to the expenditure of $62,091 which appears in item 04 of subdivision 2 in respect of the overseas visit of the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) in 1966. The expenditure for the Prime Minister’s overseas visit in 1967 was $35,261. These amounts seem to me to be extraordinarily large. We know that the Prime Minister, busy as he is, does not have time to be overseas for an extensive period. I would think that generally he is abroad at the longest for about 3 weeks. An expenditure of $62,091 seems to be extraordinarily large for an overseas visit of 3 weeks, particularly as the Prime Minister becomes the guest of resident governments in overseas countries. I would think that the overseas visit in 1967 would have been just as important as and would have covered somewhat similar ground to the 1966 visit, yet it cost about half as much.
– He may have travelled economy class in 1967.
– That is all very well. We may hear a little more about this lavish expenditure later on in the day. It seems a very large amount to be spent on an overseas visit. I do not deny that the Prime Minister of Australia should travel in a fashion befitting his office. However, it is interesting to compare that cost with the amount of $1,888 that was spent by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) on an overseas visit in 1967. When Mr Whitlam was Deputy Leader of the Opposition in 1966 his overseas visit cost $3,160. It makes an interesting comparison with expenditures of over $62,000 and over $35,000.
– Senator Lawrie referred to an appropriation of $13,690 for item 08 of sub-division 3 or Division No. 400 - Administrative. The appropriation represents a reduction of $239 from last year’s expenditure. Provision has been made for the payment of special allowances to assist four ex-members of Parliament and eight dependants of deceased ex-members of Parliament. In 1966- 67, twenty-seven fortnightly payments were made in Queensland. These will not recur in 1967-68. I think that in all the circumstances we should not mention names of the persons involved.
Senator Cant referred to the expenditure of $62,091 in respect of the Prime Minister’s travels in 1966. The explanation is that the amount represents the cost of not one trip but four - to South East Asia, Britain and the United States, again in August to Britain and the United States, and to the Philippines. If the honourable senator wants a break-up of the costs I can give it to him. The point is that the cost is for four visits overseas and not one. An additional amount of $6,675 was included in last year’s estimates for these particular tours. The honourable senator referred by way of comparison to a figure of $1,800 for a trip overseas by the Leader of the
Opposition in the House of Representatives. That was not the total cost. The amount shown against the item at the moment is not the final figure. Further accounts came in after the estimates for this year were prepared. The figures relating to them will appear in the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department next year. We see the pattern of this when I point out that to the amount of $62,091 to which the honourable senator referred as being the cost of the Prime Minister’s visits, must be added the sum of $6,675.
– I refer to Division No. 411 which relates to Official Establishments. Yesterday, I received from the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) an answer to a question which I had asked seeking details as to the cost of interior decoration of the Prime Minister’s Lodge. That reply states, in part:
Expenditure at the Prime Minister’s Lodge since March 1966 - that is, expenditure in the 3 financial years 1965-66, 1966-67 and 1967-68- has been as follows:
Then follows a series of figures which total approximately $65,700. Does this mean that the total cost from March 1966 to the present time is $65,7007 Or does that figure include expenditure proposed for the year 1967-68? The answer given to the question is misleading.
– I refer again to Division No. 400, sub-division 4, item 16 which relates to the Australian Conservation Foundation. The Government proposes making grants totalling $60,000 over the next 3 years. I take this opportunity of urging the Government to create a climate in which people are not given the impression that at the end of the third year grants in aid to this Foundation will terminate and that the organisation will have to depend upon its own resources. I do not propose to weary the Senate by detailing all the achievements of this Foundation, but I. do point out that its annual report states that it has a planned programme for research in New South Wales and other States next year. I content myself by emphasising to the Minister that’ many people who have pride in this organisation hope that some action will bc taken to dispel their anxiety as to further grants in aid after the expiration of the 3-year period. If the Founda- tion has to depend upon its own resources its plight could become desperate. It may be that the Government visualises that large organisations such as the Carnegie Foundation of the United States will make donations for research into certain projects, as that body did in connection with the Everglades Forest in Florida, and another important project in Washington. I hope that the Government will continue to make grants to this most deserving organisation, the Australian Conservation Foundation.
I speak about the next matter on a more sombre note. I refer to Division No. 433 which relates to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. 1 appreciate that the Minister’s present advisers in the chamber have no knowledge of this organisation. I realise, too, that in any democracy the dividing line as to where the Parliament has a direct say in security is difficult to define. The United States Senate has a committee comprised of what might be called Government and Opposition members which reviews the overall expenditure connected with these matters. I suggest that a similar system should be set up here. I know it will be difficult, but when leaders of other countries visit this country expense is entailed for other than Commonwealth organisations. For example, the police forces of the various States are put to expense in ensuring proper protection and so on for the distinguished visitors.
This Government has encouraged the establishment of subsidiary bodies such as the Commonwealth Police Force. It has set up another body to deal with illegal immigrants. I have no quarrel with that system, but I suggest that it would be good policy to have the expenditure on all these sections made the responsibility of one overall organisation. I wonder whether the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) has taken a lesson from what happened in connection with Philby in the United Kingdom. I venture the opinion that if a former British Prime Minister had taken notice of Marcus Lipton, a backbencher in the British Parliament, Philby would have been arrested years before he was able to flee to Russia.
I am completely realistic about this matter. We all appreciate that subversion is not confined to any particular ideology or any particular brand of politics. My concern is with overall security, and I suggest that the better system might be to have the one organisation dealing with all matters relating to security. 1 leave the matter there, pointing out that last year the New Zealand equivalent of Brigadier Spry, in a frank discussion during a television interview on security matters, supported what I have suggested here.
– I refer to Division No. 400, sub-division 4, item 09, which relates to the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust. I should like to stress that there is a considerable amount of disquiet felt about the establishment of the proposed new Australian Council. Senator Gorton has indicated that this matter is still under consideration. But the whole trouble is that it has been under consideration for over a year now. I. raised this matter last year. How many more years is the Government going to take to consider it? I know that it took 4 years for the Government to act upon the report of the select committee that was appointed to inquire into broadcasting and television programmes. I hope that it will not take it 4 years to arrive at some solution in connection with the setting up of an Australian council for the arts.
I refer now to item 19 of the same subdivision. It. relates to the Australian Ballet Company, which has a certain amount of money allocated to it for travel overseas. That is all very well for the prestige of Australian ballet in other countries, and I am all for it, but when the Government can find $150,000 in one year and $160,000 in the next year - I suppose this will be done every year - for this purpose, why can it not find $10,000 to send the Australian Ballet Company to Launceston and other provincial cities throughout Australia? The company has been to Launceston, I recall now, but there are similar places that it has not visited. I think that the money that this Parliament allots to the Australian Ballet Company should be devoted to enabling the Australian people to see Australian ballet rather than to sending the company overseas. 1 revert to the provision for the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust. I note that there has been an increase of 25% over the amount provided last year. The disquiet experienced by people interested in this matter arises from the fact that the public does not want to see some of the plays that the Trust puts on. If the Government wants forcibly to educate people to look at these dramas it will have to revise its thinking about the type of plays being staged in order that the public will be educated gradually. Some plays that the people want to see should be staged.
I refer to the question asked by Senator Lawrie. I will not press this point but I think it is rather peculiar that the Minister should say that he does not want to mention who these people are because he does not want to enter into personalities. This is the taxpayers’ money. To whom are we giving this money? It seems peculiar that when a senator asks what this item covers we are told by the Minister that he does not want to go into personalities but that we are giving this money to ex-members of Parliament. I presume they are in difficult circumstances but so are other people. In fact I know that some 700,000 people are receiving pensions and many of them find the pension inadequate. But in the case of parliamentary people who find that their income is inadequate we are told that we should not discuss the matter because it might involve personalities. I am not. pressing this point but I think it is completely wrong that the Minister should take this attitude.
Reverting to the vote for rent and maintenance of Australia House and Canberra House, I recall that this matter was raised last year. Senator Cormack, I think it was, and I took up the attack on this proposition. Nothing has been done since and nothing will be done, I suppose, so I might as well sit down. But if we keep plugging away at the Minister we may get something done. The Government is renting a colossal place in London, Canberra House, when we should buy it. This is happening with our overseas posts. They are covered in the estimates for the Department of External Affairs. We are renting properties when we should be buying them. Senator Cormack, I think, and I agree that that antiquated piece of Victoriana, Australia House, should be pulled down.
– We now have a new building, Canberra House.
– Canberra House is only an adjunct to house the overflow. The principal residence for our representatives in London is still Australia House and it is a shocking piece of architecture. It should be completely demolished and a new modern building erected. This matter was raised last year and I suppose it will be raised again.
– Senator Turnbull made a series of comments about Canberra House and Australia House in London, and the Australian Ballet Company and the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust. He expressed a point of view and I cannot add much to what he said, ft is a number of years since I saw Australia House and I have not yet seen Canberra House so I cannot compare notes with him. Nevertheless, I recall something said in the other place recently and Australia House was highly praised.
– The praise was for the staff but I am talking about the building.
– That may be so. However, the points made by the honourable senator will be noted by representatives of the Prime Minister’s Department. Senator Mulvihill referred to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. He also was expressing a point of view and I cannot add anything to his remarks. The honourable senator did not seek any specific information and is perfectly entitled to express his point of view. The honourable senator also referred to the Australian Conservation Foundation. 1 do have more specific information for him. In 1964-65 the Commonwealth made a grant of $2,000 to the Foundation to assist with its establishment. Iti 1966 approval was given for the Foundation to receive a grant of $20,000 and the first payment was made in 1966-67. This was intended as the first of three such annual grants to enable the Foundation to meet its administrative costs pending a public appeal for $500,000. Approval was also given for contributions to the Foundation to be treated as allowable income tax deductions. The Foundation had asked for $40,600 per annum for 3 years and the tax concession.
asked a question. The answer to the same question was given yesterday and appears in Hansard. His question related to expenditure on the Prime Minister’s Lodge. I do not have much to add to the information given yesterday. The point is that for many years not a great deal of money was spent on the Lodge. The money was spent not only on the Lodge itself but also on the Lodge surroundings.
– A new Lodge is to be built.
– Yes, and we are going to build a new Parliament House but we still have to maintain the present building at a standard worthy of honourable senators and honourable members. The fact is that the money spent on the Lodge was well spent and involved not only the Lodge itself but also the grounds, outbuildings, security buildings and other matters relating to the Lodge. As was stated in the answer given yesterday, the money was spent over a 3-year period and all expenditure has been within the amounts provided in the estimates and approved by Parliament. The work was authorised by the Prime Minister’s Department after consultation with the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt). The figures included expenditure on exterior painting and on the police post in the Lodge grounds.
– The explanation by the Minister about the expenditure on visits abroad by the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) complicates things. If we look at the estimates we see that the expenditure is for the year 1966-67 although the amounts are set out in two groups - one for 1966 and one for 1967. There is an amount of $62,091 for 1966 and another amount of $35,261 for 1967, making a total of $97,352. This was all expended in the year 1966-67. H it is to include the Prime Minister’s trip to Laos, Cambodia, Taiwan and Japan we have to group the two amounts and the total becomes $97,352. This is all for the visits overseas by the Prime Minister. Again I must emphasise that this seems to be an extraordinary amount to be expended by the Prime Minister. I think the Committee is entitled to a better break-up of expenditure of this size than for it to be set out baldly in this way. When a question is asked about it the Minister said that this is not the one trip but for several visits. If it is for several visits the total amount expended during the fiscal year must be considered.
– I think the explanation is that the figure of $62,091 involves four visits. The figure of $35,261 involves three trips and was made up of a New Zealand visit, a South East Asia visit and a visit to Canada, the United States of America and Great Britain. The honourable senator has to appreciate, as I said earlier, that amounts in respect of these trips do not necessarily appear at the one time. I presume that seven separate visits were involved. That is the explanation that I have from the officers of the Prime Minister’s Department.
– Again I refer to Division No. 411, item 04 - Repairs and maintenance, and item 08 - Furniture and fittings. As the Minister indicated in his reply, the expenditure in 1966- 67 was within the appropriation approved by the Parliament. I would like to know where I can find the actual estimate of expenditure associated with the Prime Minister’s Lodge and whether the amounts provided under items 04 and 08 are to be used in connection with the Lodge. If this is not so, is there any way in which 1 can obtain an estimate of what will be spent on the Prime Minister’s Lodge in this financial year, firstly, for repairs and maintenance and, secondly, for furniture and fittings. 1 cannot find any item in the estimates which deals specifically with the Prime Minister’s Lodge.
– The items to which the honourable senator has referred do not relate specifically to the Prime Minister’s Lodge. They refer to Government House, the Lodge, Admiralty House and Kirribilli House. There is no break up of the estimate for expenditure on the Lodge, as requested by the honourable senator.
– Could the Minister obtain a break up for me?
– lt is not available at the present time. I shall see whether I can obtain it.
– I direct the Minister’s attention to Division No. 407 - -High Commissioner’s Office - United Kingdom, for which an appropriation of $2,526,100 is being sought this year. 1 do not know whether 1 am in order in raising this matter, but I want to know whether the Minister is in a position to say whether Sir Alexander Downer was within his mandate in making recent political announcements from London. Sir Alexander Downer has expressed views on the place Australia and Great Britain hold in the community of nations. The question involves Britain’s proposed entry into the European Common Market.
– This is an estimates debate and we are dealing with expenditure. I do not think it is competent for me at this point of time to enter into a discussion about the matter raised by the honourable senator. 1 think that he could raise it at question time or at some other time as provided for by the forms of the House. As I have said, we are dealing with expenditure and I must decline the invitation to respond to the comment.
– I refer to Division No. 433 - Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. The Committee is being presented with the proposed expenditure for the Organisation for the year and is being told to take it or leave it. There is no schedule of salaries and allowances relating to the employees of this Organisation as there is with other departments. Here we have, the bald statement ‘Australian Security Intelligence Organisation - $2.753m’. I do not think that this is good enough for the Australian Parliament. The Parliament should be capable of being trusted with some information concerning the Organisation and its expenditure. We are entitled to a little more than merely being told: ‘Here is the Organisation. You are asked to provide $2 .75m for it in this financial year. As for the rest, you can go and jump in the lake.’
– If we have to jump in the lake it will be the same lake as we have been jumping into ever since the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation was established. Provision for the Organisation has always been shown in this way in the Estimates. I have no information on the Division other than is shown in the Estimates. The Division has always been shown in this way, even before the present Government assumed office. For that reason I cannot make any further comment on the matter.
– I wish to refer to Division No. 405 which relates to Ministers of State, Leaders of the Opposition and parliamentary parties and staffs. I wish to raise a point of principle and to express some personal views on the matter, lt is my view that the provision for the Leaders of the Opposition and the parliamentary parties and staffs should not appear in the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department. The provision for Ministers of State should appear in these estimates because Ministers are part of the executive. Their duties are related to the executive branch of government. The Leaders of the Opposition and the parliamentary parties and their staffs owe their position to Parliament, not to the Executive. They have no duties to the Executive. Their duties are to Parliament alone. Provision for them should appear in the estimates for the Parliament and the expenditure of moneys which are appropriated in respect of those persons ought to be controlled by Parliament, through the Presiding Officers, and not by the Prime Minister. lt is quite inconsistent that the staff and facilities which are made available to the Leaders of the Opposition, and indeed to the leaders of parliamentary parties, should be determined not by the Parliament acting through the Presiding Officers but by the chief of the Executive. I would think that as a matter of principle this situation ought to be altered so that the Parliament may make the provision which it considers proper. It would know what was proper. lt would be able to supervise the provision of facilities and staff for the persons who hold these offices and it would be able to see that that provision was neither extravagant nor niggardly. I ask that on a future occasion consideration be given to this matter. The position should not remain as it is. It is inconsistent with the nature of the offices which are held.
Again on a personal view but arising out of the office which I hold, it is my observation that the provision of facilities by the Prime Minister for the Leaders of the Opposition in the Senate is insufficient.
The provision of staff for the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate is insufficient. It is manifestly inadequate to cope with the increasing demands which are being made as a result of the increased work of the Parliament. I think that this is in Une with what is happening to every member of the Parliament. Because of the increased complexity and variety of work, greater demands are being made on the time and resources of members of Parliament. Whether we will be able to cope with this increased demand by collective research establishments or by the provision of more staff for the various members I do not know. But it seems to me that if the Parliament is to do its work properly some provision ought to be made for these matters.
We have seen examples of extravagant provision on other facilities, but when it comes to essentials which would require the expenditure of only extremely moderate amounts a niggardly approach seems to be adopted. I do not want to go into details, but there have been examples in the case of other persons - not myself - which seem to me to indicate that an extremely niggardly and petty approach is adopted towards the provision of facilities. I should hope that in the future this position will be corrected.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) has raised a question of procedure in relation to the handling of the appropriation under Division No. 405. I listened to him with considerable interest. I cannot say much more than that I will take note of his comments and see that they are duly noted as being the views expressed by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. In developing his point he reflected on the volume and depth of the work that is falling to the lot of, .firstly, parliamentarians and, secondly, on the higher level, leaders and deputy leaders of parliamentary oppositions and Ministers.
We all are conscious of the fact that in this place we have growing pains. All members of the Parliament, including Ministers, have insufficient accommodation. As we know, moves are afoot to meet that situation at least in the long term. I believe that the comments made by the Leader of the Opposition on the division of the fields of endeavour, study and research and the expert advice and assistance that we need might well be noted by those people who at all times attempt to depreciate the volume and nature of the work that parliamentarians generally do. I agree with him that the modern parliamentarian - whether he be in this country or in any other country - because of the world in which we live has to put his mind to a variety of matters which I am afraid many people do not appreciate are his lot and responsibility as a member of parliament.
–]. refer to the appropriation of $2,753,000 for the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation under Division No. 433. Following Senator Tangney’s inquiry, 1 ask the Minister whether this Organisation has not reached the stage where the Parliament should be given an annual report on its activities, as we are in respect of the Taxation Branch, which does confidential work, and police departments. Almost every other department is referred to in the Auditor-General’s Report. 1 suppose there is some reason for security in the case of this Organisation. But its expenditure is now reaching the stage where the Parliament should be given some information about it. No other department can completely ignore the Parliament and not give some breakup of its administrative costs. We need not necessarily be given information on what the staff is doing.
When this Organisation started no-one knew very much about it. People took it for granted that whatever it was doing was in order. That is probably still so. But a substantial amount of public funds is being appropriated for it without the provision of any information on the administration of it. If every other Commonwealth department has to give an account of its receipts and expenditure, this Organisation should have the same responsibility, the Auditor-General should make some remarks about it in his report and the Minister in charge of it should pay some regard to the duty of a department to make an annual report to the Parliament.
– I desire to make a few observations in connection with the estimates for this
Department. I address my remarks particularly to the complaint made by Senator Tangney. Perhaps I should describe it as a request for further information. In dealing with estimates it is important that members of parliament be fully informed on the current appropriation and the expenditure in the previous year. Explanations should be given of any underspending or overspending and reasons for increased appropriation if any. I appreciate the difficulty of Ministers in a bicameral system in which a Minister in this chamber is required to expalin the activities, expenditure and income of a department of which he is not personally in charge. That is why I am inclined to make allowances in this case.
But. there is nothing to stop the permanent head of each department arranging for explanatory notes to be prepared to accompany the estimates and to be distributed to senators and members of the House of Representatives either as his department’s estimates come before each chamber or a day or two before they are likely to come before each chamber. That might sound like an outlandish programme, but it is not. It actually operates. It was introduced when I was in charge of the Government of Queensland because of repeated complaints about the insufficiency of information. The plan was adopted by most of the departments simultaneously and subsequently by the others. There is no particular reason why it could not be adopted in the Commonwealth sphere. Many departments are regular in their administration. Any need for an increased appropriation can be explained by increases in salaries or costs of administration one way or another. Such explanations could be given on one page. For other departments, because of their ramifications, it would be much more difficult to give the explanations. However, there is no reason why it cannot be done. There is no greater safety valve for a member of a government or a government generally than keeping members of the public informed. That is vital.
As I said last night in dealing with a matter to which I will not refer now, there is no reason in the world why the information that was dramatically placed on the table last night could not have been placed there months ago. What is more important than the fact that it is disturbing for members of the public and me to find a reluctance on the part of certain people to supply the elected representatives of the people with information is the fact that the information provided demonstrates without doubt that somebody lied when he said that certain information was not available and was not kept. I am not suggesting for a moment that the lie emanated from the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) or any of his Ministers. I would hate to think that that was so. The fact remains that whoever informed me originally that no passenger lists were kept told a lie. Whether it was done inadvertently or whether it was not the fact remains that J was misinformed. Somebody must have been misled. 1 have had a long and wide experience. 1 have found in my administrative life that there are two important factors that will make the lot of Ministers much easier and much more comfortable. They are consistency in decisions and forthrightness in determinations. If a public man informs the people what he is doing and why he is doing it, and if he can justify his action, then he has nothing to fear. But if he tries to get around the scrum, as it were, to use a football expression, he will get caught foi’ sure. I. always gave my public servants who served with me - and we worked together as a team - this warning: ‘If you have made a mistake, out with it. Tell the truth about it and you will find me at least on side with you. But try to cover it up, and you will find that I am not on side with you.’ That is the spirit that should prompt government in administration. Hiding facts has never paid any dividend yet.
If there is abuse or if there is some weakness in the administration let us get on to it and eradicate the cause. Then we might get. somewhere. I offer my remarks as a suggestion that might appease the requirements of members of this Committee and also members in the other place. We should be provided with short, summary notes to accompany the estimates. If this were done the heads of departments would find the practice very beneficial. They would not find themselves in the embarrassing position of hearing questions to which they have not an immediate answer. The best of them on occasion have to scratch their heads or refer to somebody else who knows more about that particular phase of their departmental activities than they themselves do. None of us can carry all knowledge of a department and departmental activities. The success of a department depends on good teamwork. Whilst efficiency must emanate from the top. the messenger boy is always part of the outfit. He is not likely to be very efficient if the person at the top of the Department is not very efficient. If the head of the department is not punctual, if he is not careful about his work or if he sets a bad example, the messenger boy and the junior clerk will be doing the very same things. All those factors are important in a department.
Now I come to the question of the staffing of the offices of political parties. It is undeniably true that with the ramifications of government, the growth of the Public Service and the growth of population and public demands on departments and all governments, we have a consequential demand for additional staff. I have only been here a few years but, as a result of my observations, 1 do not think that there is any particularly great shortage of staff here. I am talking about the Parliament in particular just at the moment. We must have regard to the fact that the work here is seasonal. There are times no doubt during the session when an honourable senator could do with an additional typist for 24 hours or so to help him over a busy spasm. But generally 1 think that the Leader of the Opposition and the Ministers are pretty adequately provided for. I read recently that the suite and accommodation of the Leader of the Opposition have been undergoing great alterations and extensions.
– You have got to be mod. You have got to be with it, you know.
– I beg your pardon?
– You have got to have modern surroundings.
– I want to keep the thing properly balanced.
– Will the honourable senator indicate to which Leader of the Opposition he is referring?
– I am referring to the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, Mr Whitlam. I have not come up to Senator Murphy yet.
– The honourable senator has not come up to Senator Cohen either.
– Do not get excited. I will get to Senator Cant in good time.
– The honourable senator has only 15 minutes.
– I will get an extension of time because, after all, honourable senators should benefit as a result of what I have to say. I shall summarise my views. There is a tendency to build staff too greatly. There is nothing worse than to have people sitting around doing almost nothing each day. I know - and I defy contradiction on this - that when the former Leader of the Opposition in the other place, the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), went to what we commonly call now the bikini conference at Southport - this was the convention of the Australian Labor Party at Surfers Paradise - he had no fewer than four typists in addition to his Press secretary and private secretary. I have been the Premier of a State. I have attended conventions and conferences. 1 have never had the need for four stenographers. To make matters worse, it filters back inadvertently to me that some of the girls were taken there and were not asked-
– To write a letter. The bikini girls were already there.
– How does the honourable senator know?
– From Press photographs and publicity. It is true I was not there. But Senator Cant was there. Mr Burns was too, was he not? So was Mr Brown, if the honourable senator wants to be funny about it. I am telling the Committee that the former Leader of the Opposition had no fewer than four stenographers with faim. 1 am not a greenhorn in this political game. I know how many secretaries and how many stenographers one needs on such occasions. I know that during the last election campaign for the House of Representatives men on the payroll of the present Leader of the Opposition in another place were down in a particular electorate doing a good deal of public relations jobs-
– What does the honourable senator’s private secretary do in between his job as private secretary and his job as Federal Secretary of the Australian Democratic Labour Party?
– He does work connected with my position as Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. That is all.
– I rise to a point of order. 1 just want to give the speaker an extension of time.
– There is no purpose at the moment in moving that the honourable senator be granted an extension of time. His time has not expired.
– I am very indebted to the honourable senator for his gracious act. I felt that he was absorbing a good deal of this speech and I thought that he would be most sympathetic in the matter. The only other thing that I wish to emphasise is this: Let us not run away with the idea, because we have been appointed to an important position, that we need to build around us a great staff to impress people with the importance of ourselves and our job. I want to know whether this staff building-up is to go on indefinitely and without limit? What is to become of these people during recess? Do not tell me that any senator or any member of the Federal Parliament can provide enough work every day to occupy a staff of three or four stenographers and private secretaries.
– What rank and file senator has that staff?
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– 1 feel bound to point out to the honourable senator that his submission in regard to pre-circulation of explanatory notes on estimates is not original. We have in fact done this during consideration of these Estimates. I did it when I was handling the estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport.
– Only for some departments.
– Yes. Some departments have done it. 1 agree entirely that it is an excellent idea and that it facilitates handling of the estimates by both the Minister and honourable senators. As to the other point that he made about the difficulty of handling estimates in this place, it is true that a Minister has the estimates of four or five departments other than his own to handle and this requires great concentration on his part and great cooperation by the departmental officers. I am afraid that I would not want to comment upon the other matters to which he referred.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
Proposed expenditure, $3,940,000.
– I refer to salaries and payments in the nature of salary under Division No. 101, which relates to the Senate, and Division No. 105, which relates to the Joint House Department. 1 should like an explanation from the Minister as to why there is such a parsimonious approach to those people who work here, not so much in the higher grades as in the lower grades. I refer to attendants and others in similar classifications, whose salaries are determined by the Public Service Board. People outside doing similar work but with less responsibility not involving as much stress receive higher salaries. In 1964 these people in the service of the Parliament received the equivalent of $418 more than people outside who work in positions which are not very much dissimilar but with not so much responsibility. Recently they have been offered $30 less than the people outside are now receiving.
If we take the simple arithmetic of it, the fact that they were $418 ahead and are now $30 behind means that they are suffering a disparity of $448 in comparison with the parity that they enjoyed in 1964. Allowing for the change in values and remunerations awarded by various arbitration courts, the disparity has grown to more than $448. I should like to know why the Government is so parsimonious in relation to members of the staff who are on lower rates of pay. This is a pinchpenny attitude and it is so different from what we might term the casual indifference and moral irresponsibility exercised in relation to expenditure in other sections of government activity. We think in terms of a particular squadron in the Royal Australian Air Force and the way in which money is wasted - anything up to $500,000. It is not all wasted but a large amount of it it is.
If one peruses the records of the activities and functions associated with this particular department one sees that all sort« nf. passengers are carried - sometimes just one on a flight, and this person not a general or a Prime Minister or even a Minister - perhaps a typist. I do not begrudge a typist’s travelling but no-one else seems to be able to do this. It is said that the expenditure last year was $450,000 and that it will be higher this year and higher again next year. There is no provision for depreciation, which, will be at a minimum $1.5m and at a maximum $2m a year. Yet the Government cannot give the people working within the precincts of this Parliament decent remuneration. Many of them are nol even paid overtime until after 8.30 p.m.
This seems to me to be completely irresponsible on the part of the Government and I should like the Minister to give me an explanation of the reason for this parsimonious, pinchpenny attitude to the staff of this Parliament, more particularly :o those who are not amongst the highly paid, and of the reason why in the last 3 years they have lost their parity with people outside engaged in not dissimilar work but carrying less responsibility. I have not known any of the people here to be dishonest. I have always thought that they were honest. I know that they are courteous and efficient. Why is the Public Service Board not giving them an adequate return in relation to their -legitimate demands for the services that they render here and in relation to the parity that they enjoyed previously? Why have members of the staff employed here had to wait so long, following repeated representations, to receive even a comparatively miserable pittance?
– The only comment that I can make in reply to the honourable senator’s reference to salaries, allowances and conditions of the staff of the Parliament is that these are primarily, as he indicated, a matter for consideration in the first instance by the Public
Service Board which makes recommendations to the Government.
– There must be some responsibility on the Government for extending economic justice.
– The responsibility for recommendations, no doubt following submissions by the various organisations within the Public Service, is on the Public Service Board. I cannot contribute anything intelligent beyond that point in reply to the honourable senator’s statement.
– -I refer to Division No. 104, which relates to the Parliamentary Library. We know that before Christmas we shall lose the two principal officers, Mr H. L. White and Mr L. C. Key, who will retire because of effluxion of time. The Library Board and the Presiding Officers have been at great pains over the years to try to build the Library into a service for members. The Schedule of Salaries and Allowances shows that provision is. made for six Legislative Research Specialists. The Library has been trying to recruit these people for at least 10 years, which is a short period, of course, in the life of parliaments. It has been trying to build up its legislative research section, which would be, if it were properly brought into operation, one of the best innovations that could come into this Parliament.
Over the years advertisements for research officers have specified the salaries set down by the Public Service Board. These salaries are not attractive to people with the qualifications necessary to perform the work. The Government is not asking for ordinary librarians to fill these positions; it is asking for people with a good deal of dedication to a particular job. This must necessarily be the case while the Parliament is sitting, having regard to the odd hours that parliamentarians work and the odd hours at which they require assistance from the Library. Not everyone wants to give up his nights of leisure to work and wait upon parliamentarians.
For this reason the Public Service Board must adopt a more liberal attitude towards the appointment of these people. I urge the Minister to bring this matter to the attention of the appropriate authorities - in the first place I think it must be Mr President and Mr Speaker - who should be requested to stress upon the Public Service Board that it is not dealing with people who can expect to lead a normal 9 to 5 life when they take on this occupation. The hours might be from 9 in the morning until 2 o’clock the following morning, during which time they are required to give service to members of Parliament. They are entitled either to overtime for the additional hours they are required to work or to a much higher salary than that advertised.
My particular interest at this time is the projected retirement this year of the Principal Librarian and the Deputy Librarian, both very important officers to this Parliament. I have not heard of any appointments to the vacancies but I have heard that it is proposed to appoint a principal officer who is not a trained librarian. It may be said that a trained librarian is not required in this particular office because it is more in the nature of an administrative office, but the person concerned must be able to administer and direct the work of trained librarians. Unless he is a trained librarian himself he will be under a severe handicap in carrying out his duties.
The Parliamentary Library is rather a small adjunct of the Parliament in which not. very many lines of promotion are available to those who work in it and give us service. It is not proposed to promote any of the staff at present employed in the Parliamentary Library; it is proposed to bring in an outsider to fill the top position. I do not know what is intended in relation to the position of Deputy Librarian. This proposal cuts off one line of promtion for those who have rendered such good service, at least in the years that I have been here. I expect that this good service would have been rendered for many years before then. If it is intended to appoint someone from outside into this high and important position within the Parliament a report on the proposal should be submitted to the Parliament.
As long as I have been coming to Canberra the Parliamentary Library has been open on Saturday mornings from 9 until noon to give service to members of Parliament who may be here over the weekends. I suppose I remain in Canberra over weekends more than do most members of the Parliament, and I had not known the Library to close on a Saturday morning until Saturday, the 30th September this year. That was a long weekend.
It was Labour Day in New South Wales and Canberra slavishly follows New South Wales in that regard as it does in other regards that I will not mention now. Certain members of Parliament remain in Canberra over weekends and like to have available to them on Saturday mornings the services provided by the Library. Other parliamentary services are open not only on Saturday mornings but on Saturday afternoons and on Sundays as well, yet it was thought good enough to close the Parliamentary Library for 3 days on a long weekend without any prior notice to members of Parliament that it would be closed. At least the officers of the Library - those responsible for advising members of Parliament when the Library will be open and when it will be closed - could have had the courtesy to advise the Party Whips so that a notice could have been put on the Party notice boards to the effect that the Library would be closed on Saturday 30th September and Monday 2nd October because of Labour Day weekend in New South Wales.
I hope that the Minister will bring this matter to the attention of the responsible person and see whether the present position can be rectified. If it cannot be rectified and the Library cannot be kept open on Saturday mornings, the members who remain here over weekends and who like to make use of the Library will at least receive notice through their Whips that the Library will be closed.
– I refer to Division No. 101 - The Senate. Let me say at the outset that despite statements made in another place that some people have abandoned the battle for the reform of Parliament, it has not been abandoned in this Senate.
Now I should like to refer to a matter of principle - the lack of provision for a parliamentary drafting officer attached to the Parliament. There is provision in the Attorney-General’s Department for a Parliamentary Draftsman, Assistant Draftsmen - I think there are six carrying various designations - and many other legal officers. It was brought to the notice of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen) and myself very forcefully a few weeks ago that the Parliamentary
Draftsman and his staff under the control of the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) are not parliamentary draftsmen in the sense that senators and members might believe them to be, in that their services are not available to senators and members for the drafting of bills or to provide other assistance except on the unbreakable terms that a copy of whatever drafts might be made by them are made available to the Attorney-General. Any discussions which might be had by those officers with members of Parliament other than the Ministers, as I conceive it, would also be on the basis that the Attorney-General could be informed about them.
On the occasion of the presentation of the Defence Force Protection Bill it was fairly made clear to me by the AttorneyGeneral that he was not concerned about the discussions in that instance. I do not understand him to have said that this would be so on other occasions. Certainly the terms were quite clear, they were that anything which might be provided by those officers would have to be made available, if the Attorney-General wished, to him. That means that there is no confidential relationship whatever. It means that Leaders of the Opposition or members who might want to have drafting done for presentation to their own parties could not do so except on the terms that the Government would be aware of exactly what those people had in mind. Anyone can appreciate that, irrespective of discussions that might be had, drafts of Bills which are at that stage confidential to the members or parties concerned, ought not to be made available to the Government.
I am not complaining of the existence of the system, since it has apparently obtained for some time. I say that it should be recognised that a parliamentary draftsman under the present system is not an officer of the Parliament. He is not here available for senators and members on a confidential basis. That should be understood clearly by everyone. Perhaps Senator Turnbull might be interested in this matter. If anyone wishes to employ the services of a parliamentary draftsman on a confidential basis for the preparation of drafts of Bills, he is not able to have those services on that basis. That means that a legal officer ought to. be available to senators and members of the House of Representatives. Perhaps an officer should bc loaned from the government departments or other sources to act as drafting officer while the Parliament is in session. During that period the officer could give his advice and do his drafting on a basis of confidence between those people for whom he was working and himself.
– As to the matter raised by Senator Cant, I am not quite certain whether he has appreciated that on 19th October the President of the Senate announced the appointment of the National Librarian and the Parliamentary Librarian. Mr White has been appointed as the National Librarian and Mr Fleming has been appointed to the office of Parliamentary Librarian. Both Senator Gorton and Senator Murphy had kind words to say about Mr White’s appointment. 1 will refer to the Presiding Officers the other point about the Library which was raised by Senator Cant.
The question as to pay being sufficient to attract people to positions is not peculiar to this Parliament. It applies throughout the Commonwealth Public Service. In an organisation of that size it is necessary to have relativity between salaries. Senator Murphy has just been referring to legal officers. Legally qualified people join the Attorney-General’s Department who in practice outside the Service could earn greatly enhanced amounts by practising at. the bar or as solicitors. It is a very real problem. As Senator Cant said, there is a degree of dedication in men who take on heavy responsibilities at a monetary disadvantage to themselves in comparison with what they might earn outside the Service. lt is one of the facts of life of which we are all aware.
Senator Murphy referred to the possibility of an officer being seconded to act as an adviser to members wishing to draft Bills. I well recall that when we were dealing with the Narcotic Drugs Bill, the Opposition moved an amendment. During a suspension of the sitting I made available to Senator Murphy an officer of the Attorney-General’s Department to give advice. The matter involved was not terribly important but simply concerned the wording of a proposed amendment. Senator Murphy was enabled then to clear the deck, as it were, so that we were both firing on the one line in respect of the proposed amendment. In the end good resulted and we achieved mutual understanding. 1 have often believed that there is a weakness in the system. A member of the Opposition who may not have a legal background could be called upon to get advice from the Clerks of the Parliament about the. drafting of an amendment. The Leader of the Government could raise a point of order and in turn he would consult the Clerks. The Presiding Officer could be called upon to give a judgment and he may also consult the Clerks, lt is an oddity that I have never been able to get quite clear in my mind. In this place where people want to bring matters out into the open for a dusting the point I have raised could well do with an airing. I have confidence amounting to 100% plus, as we all have, in the officers of this Parliament. I think I speak for everybody here in saying that. Nevertheless, the theoretical situation poses problems which could arise, and I think they have relation to the point raised by Senator Murphy about an officer’s being seconded to give advice to the leaders of .parties on the drafting of amendments which may, and very often do, arise on an ad hoc basis. I am certain that the Presiding Officers of the Parliament will have a good look at this matter.
– I relate my remarks to Division No. 104 - Library. I wish to refer to what I will call the pernicious system of appointment by connivance. I refer particularly to the appointment of the Parliamentary Librarian. Senator Cant has referred to this matter. A non-librarian has been appointed to an expanding Library. I wish to make clear that I do not know the appointee, Mr
Fleming. He may be a man worthy of an even higher appointment, but I attack him on the ground that he is not a librarian, lt is just not understandable, in anyone’s language, except apparently in this Parliament.
The same principle applies to the appointment of doctors to hospitals. No hospital administration would dream of appointing a man because somebody thought he had knowledge. He has to prove his knowledge by having a degree. Equally, the Parliamentary Librarian should prove his knowledge.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended for dinner, I had mentioned what I referred to as the pernicious system of appointment by connivance. I was speaking to Division No. 104, which relates to the Parliamentary Library, and had referred to the fact that a person who is completely unqualified has just been appointed Parliamentary Librarian. I pointed out that in the medical profession if a doctor wanted a job his obtaining a job would depend on what degrees he had. The same conditions should apply to this position.
I know that the appointment was made by the President of this chamber and the Speaker of the other place, and I presume they did it on the advice of somebody. I realise that the Minister was not responsible, but I would like to know from the Minister what justification they had for making this appointment. Here we have a library which is being built up. It has extended its work. It has research facilities which are admirable and which are still in the process of being built up. I understand that it would take from 5 to 10 years for anyone to gain a thorough understanding of the parliamentary side of library work. If there is no-one on the Library staff who is capable of following Mr White, then surely the position should have been advertised. It should have been advertised, anyway. I fail to see how any position of such great importance can be just handed out on a plate to any man who is recommended by the previous occupant of the position.
I have tried to find out the qualifications necessary for this job. When I asked the Librarian himself he was most vague about it all. He said that what we wanted was a man who read the newspapers. That covers a big field. He said we wanted someone who took an active interest in foreign affairs. For Heavens sake, I should say that anyone who has library training would be able to read newspapers and would also take an active interest in foreign affairs. But apparently these are the qualifications necessary to become a Librarian. How can the Government justify such an appointment?
As I said before, I do not know the man concerned. j have never met him. He is probably a man of the greatest integrity and capability, but that is not the point. The point is that he knows nothing about libraries. He is coming into a position that is new to him. He is taking over the Library without knowing a thing about it. I know that Ministers do this kind of thing when they are appointed to administer departments, but they have people to advise them. This man has to make most of the way on his own, and if he is going to be dependent on the advice of his juniors he will not go far. 1 would like to know the justification for not advertising a position such as this and the justification for giving the job to a man who has no qualifications whatsoever.
There is a rather nasty rumour going around that he is tired of being in the Department in which he is at present, and this was a method of moving him to another department. How much truth there is in that I do not know, but obviously if he was in such a senior position in the Department in which he was and had got the qualifications that Mr White says are required - ability to read newspapers and the taking of an interest in foreign affairs - then surely he would be belter in that Department. To me it is nonsensical that his appointment should be approved on the ground that he can read newspapers and takes an interest in foreign affairs. I do not believe there is any justification whatever for this appointment.
– What is the honourable senator quoting when he speaks about ability to read newspapers?
– I tackled Mr White, the present Librarian, about this appointment one day and that is what he gave me. 1 told him what I thought about the necessary qualifications. This position was not advertised. What qualifications was the Government looking for in a Librarian? It was looking for everything but a Librarian. It amounts to just that. This appointment of a non Librarian not only belittles all librarians throughout Australia; it belittles the whole thing. The Government did not even bother to advertise the position. lt was just handed out on a plate to the man to whom the Librarian wanted to give it. 1 do not blame the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the other place. They acted on the recommendation of the present incumbent of the position. They accepted what he said. The whole thing leaves a very nasty taste in the mouths of those members of the public who know about it, and it certainly leaves a dreadful taste in the mouth of anyone who is interested in libraries. This is a retrograde step. I. think the Minister should bc ashamed of the appointment.
– Just before the sitting was suspended for dinner I heard some of the remarks that Senator Turnbull had made about this appointment and I interested myself during the suspension in examining this matter in greater depth than I had in the last week or so. I must confess that as a senator I have been interested in the problem of our Parliamentary Library as distinct from the National Library. I am impelled to rise at this stage by the opening remarks of Senator Turnbull who began with what I thought the rather ungenerous remark that Mr Fleming was appointed by connivance. To say the least, I think that was an unfair and unjust remark.
I remind the honourable senator that we have a Library Committee and I suggest that he should have found out from the members of that Committee just what has been engaging their attention over the past few years. The facts are that in 1956 a paper was presented to this Parliament in the form of a report by the distinguished Clerk of the Senate, Mr Odgers, who examined not only the forms and procedures of the United States Senate but also the forms and procedures of the Library of Congress. I have been assured by our distinguished President (Senator Sir Alister McMulIin) that this report by Mr Odgers is the basic document which the Library Committee has been following ever since Mr Odgers made his report to the Parliament. On page 14, in paragraphs 94, 95, 96 and 97 of that report, Mr Odgers refers to what should constitute a Parliamentary Library. The model he uses is the American Library of Congress. In paragraph 96 he points out that as at 1955 the Legislative Research Service had a staff of 1 52, made up of lawyers, economists, political scientists, historians, librarians, researchers and analysts. The Budget appropriation for that library in that year was $US875,000. We cannot hope to approach the Budget appropriation of the United States Congress for its library, but the interesting observation of our Clerk in reporting on the Parliamentary Library is that what is required in the United States of America is a staff of 152, comprised of lawyers, economists, political scientists, historians, librarians, researchers and analysts. The Congressional Librarian, as such, is only one element in the management of that library.
This pattern has been developing, I think, for the benefit of all honourable senators and honourable members over the last 2 or 3 years. The traditional concept of the Parliamentary Library has been diminishing. It is becoming less and less a library in the traditional sense of a library equipped with novels and records of one sort or another. The historical records, for example, are being moved to the National Library, the new building which has been constructed across the way from Parliament House. The concept of the Parliamentary Library has changed in a dramatic way.
Speaking as a senator who has used tha Library pretty consistently ever since I have had the honour of being a member of tha Parliament, I consider that the greatest reform introduced into this Library was that introduced by the present Parliamentary Library Committee. That reform is aimed at converting this Library from a library of records, as it were, into a library in which there is incorporated a legislative research section. Senator Turnbull has the advantage of being a highly educated man who knows how to use libraries but we have not had the academic advantages that perhaps he has had and therefore we do not know how to use libraries. We require assistance to obtain the information that we want.
As the complexities of government change - as they do with increasing speed - it becomes of paramount importance that the members of the Parliament should be able to inform their minds in order to keep pace with government. Government itself, of course, is a substantial user of reference libraries. In fact there are highly trained researchers within Government departments who are able to use a library far more efficiently than we members of Parliament. I think the Library Committee is entitled to the congratulations of every member of the Parliament because of this major reform that it has introduced. Having said that, I think it becomes obvious that a librarian in the traditional sense is not the type of man we would want to have in the Parliamentary Library. What we want in the Library is a man trained in the collation and assessment of information so that it will be available to members of the Parliament. 1 have some further information for Senator Turnbull. On 19th October the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) made a statement on the appointments of a National Librarian and a Parliamentary Librarian, it is not my intention to read the statement. A copy of it would be made available to Senator Turnbull if he applied to the keeper of the records and papers. But the Prime Minister did provide this information in an attachment to his statement:
Mr Fleming is aged 55 and is a Bachelor of Arts of Melbourne University.
Before and immediately after the war he was a journalist with the Argus and the Courier Mail. Mr Fleming served in the AIF, rising from Private in 1939 to the rank of Lt. Colonel in 1943. He held several appointments, the last being General Staff Officer 1 (Operations, Land Headquarters). He was awarded the O.B.E. and twice mentioned in Despatches.
Mis work with the Commonwealth Public Service since the war has been widely varied. It has included the planning and conduct of research as the first Director of the Joint Intelligence Bureau and later Controller of Joint Service organisations within the Department of Defence until 1958. lt has also covered since substantial negotiation and conference for the Department of Trade, first as Trade Commissioner in Paris and London, then as First Assistant Secretary in charge of the International Trade Relations Division, and since 1966 as Special Commercial Adviser in London.
Mr Fleming has been a member or leader of delegations to SEATO, GATT and United Nations conferences on trade and development.
So it seems to me that Mr Fleming is a man of substantial record. It is also clear that the Presiding Officers of this Parliament, advised and assisted by the members of the Library Committee, are entitled to see that the man who is selected to run the Library, in accordance with the report of the Clerk of Senate, is the best man available within the Australian library sphere. The Parliament is entitled to appoint those persons whom it considers appropriate to serve it.
I wish only to add this concluding note: In the course of the war I came across Mr Fleming when he was a major in Operations and I consider him to be one of the most distinguished and able men I have ever come across. When I heard of his appointment I was relieved to think that Parliament was to be served by such a distinguished man. i do not consider that he has earned the epithets that have been hurled at him by Senator Turnbull tonight.
– I feci that a very important, principle has been raised in the Committee tonight about a very important appointment affecting the Senate itself. Senator Cormack has made a defence of the Parliamentary Library as it is at the moment. I believe he was quite justified in doing so. Mr Harold White, the Parliamentary Librarian, has had a unique experience. He has given long, loyal and devoted service in the Parliamentary Library and, in the course of 40 years he has learned what the Parliament needs. With the assistance of the Library Committee and other advisers, he has lifted the standard to a level that we all appreciate greatly. The accent on research which has recently been developed by the Library, and which has been put into operation by Mr White, is of tremendous value to members of Parliament. It is something completely new. I think most honourable senators are starting to realise the value of that service. It is not yet good enough but it is still a very valuable service. I think that is sufficient recommendation and appreciation of the work that Mr White has done in his long and meritorious career in the Library in assisting this Parliament to function.
But I come down on the side of the criticism made by Senator Turnbull. To put it in what is probably a crude form, I am a believer in horses for courses and I believe that the position of Librarian in this Parliament should be held by a librarian through and through. Being a librarian is a profession. It requires dedication. It is a way of life for people who love literature and erudition; people who are steeped in great literature. They are the people that can give the most - the people who are steeped in this particular avocation to which their lives are dedicated.
I have no argument at all with Senator Cormack about the distinguished gentleman who has been appointed to this post. He has been a journalist and has served in the Australian Imperial Forces. Some very great men have reached the rank of LieutenantColonel. This gentleman was awarded an O.B.E. and was twice mentioned in Despatches. He was a great soldier.
Being Parliamentary Librarian is a very personal job. Honourable senators and honourable members of the House of Representatives look to the occupant of this position to supply them with material at a moment’s notice. He is a man who understands what is needed in the Parliament. This requires many years apprenticeship and service. Familiarity with the Parliament itself is needed. I feel that it is difficult to introduce into the Library new, outside ideas because the Parliament is an exclusive institution. The position requires an understanding of the characteristics that make up a parliament, such as the different educational qualifications of members.
Some members of Parliament have great opportunities and achieve great heights. Others are people like myself who represent the ordinary citizen in the community. The Librarian should have personal contact with members so that he may evaluate what each member needs. It takes a long apprenticeship to achieve this ability. I do not think that this important position should become a sinecure. Senator Turnbull has reminded me that it could, but I sincerely hope that it does not. The new Librarian has a distinguished record of service in other fields and now he will occupy a position of great prestige. It offers everything to which a man can aspire in the public service of this country. It is an important job and I hope that it is not looked on as being one of the plums of office.
I believe that Senator Turnbull has raised an important principle. It is up to the Committee to decide whether a position that has been held by Mr Harold White with great distinction over the years should be filled by someone who, according to the records that we can And, is not a librarian and is not familiar with the Parliament itself. As an aside, I point out that most of the great men- in this parliamentary institution in Canberra are men steeped in the day to day traditions of the Parliament. They understand the human side of Parliament, how it works and where it is going. I do not believe that people can be just plucked out of the ether and brought into this institution because they have a distinguished record outside.
– The honourable senator was plucked out of the ether and put into it.
– Probably with greater merit than in the case of the honourable senator’s selection.
– I am not condemning the electors for choosing the honourable senator.
– That is one of the things about Parliament. But we are dealing with the officers of the Parliament, not with the members of it. The Parliament has a habit of dealing with the extravagances of the people who send us here. But when we get here we look to the experts to help us to guide this nation. As I said when I commenced my speech, I am a great believer in horses for courses. When a librarian is to be appointed we want a person who is a librarian through and through. I felt constrained to contribute to this debate. I believe that the man who has been trained in the tradition of the Parliament and who has achieved, in the process, an ability to go along with the Parliament is the man whom we should appoint to a specialist job in the Parliament.
The proposition that appointment to the position of Parliamentary Librarian could become an avenue of promotion for persons outside the library service is just not good enough for members of the Parliament. We have learned to rely on a man who has grown up with the Parliament. We know that he understands* the needs and requirements of the Parliament. I feel that there has been a departure from the normal practice in this new appointment. I pay due respect to the man who has been appointed as Librarian, but I hope that it will not become the practice to appoint men to this position who have not grown up with the Parliament. This is a new concept of democracy in Australia. We cannot model ourselves on Great Britain, the mother Country, or on America. We have to create Our own traditions. We must know where we are going.
– We must also build up our own services.
– That is right. I believe that apprenticeship is important in this parliamentary institution. I think that the men who learn the hard way, who $6me up through the ranks and who understand the spirit of the Parliament are the ones who will carry on by the sheer weight of experience. They are valuable men. This is a democratic institution. 1 rose merely to say a few words in support of Senator Turnbull. 1 do not think that we should allow, without any protest at all, people to be plucked out of the air and appointed to the position of Parliamentary Librarian. The man who has been appointed is a great man. I do not denigrate his distinguished record. He has excelled in other fields. He has yet to prove himself a librarian. A librarian is a back room boy. He is a humble man. He is a litterateur. He is a man who understands things. Such are the qualifications for which we look in the man who holds the position of Librarian of this Parliament. We do not look necessarily for a man who has been mentioned in despatches for his brave conduct on the field of battle; that seems to be the very antithesis to the quality required in a librarian. A librarian is a constructive man. He is a gentle man as opposed to a military man. I do not think that a military man could be a librarian, unless he-
– Why not?
– A military man is trained to be an aggressor.
– Not necessarily.
– He is. He is trained at Duntroon to be an aggressor. He has to be an aggressor to hold his job. That is the purpose of his training. The only way in which he can get promotion is by being an aggressor. But a librarian is a constructive man, a gentle man, a man of peace. Having risen to support a principle, I say that the new Librarian has shown himself to be a man of parts, a man who has acquitted himself with great distinction in other spheres. The Presiding Officers, the Library Committee and others obviously consider that he has the qualifications for the position.
– I feel constrained to say that in my knowledge some of the most gentle men, the most Christian men and men with the greatest understanding we’re men who when the challenge came in time of war were distinguished by their war service. Senator Cormack referred to the biographical notes of this man who in a time of war gave his all for his country’s cause. It shocks me that his training and experience should be distorted and used as an argument against him in time of peace.
I want to advert to a couple points that were made by Senator Turnbull. He suggested that this appointment was made by connivance. 1 remind him that there has never been any public advertisement or any notice in the Commonwealth ‘Gazette’ before the appointment of a First Division officer has been made. This matter relates to the appointment of a First Division officer. [ think it is deplorable that conversations between people in another atmosphere should be brought into this debate. The alleged conversation between Mr White and Senator Turnbull was so contracted as to be completely out of character with the type of conversation in which Mr White would engage with any honourable senator or honourable member. If conversations between members of Parliament and junior or senior officers of the Parliament are to be brought in here to support an argument, I would say that every officer of the Parliament would be quite at liberty to refuse to talk to any honourable senator or honourable member.
I make the point that this man has had a distinguished career. As Senator Cormack pointed out, the whole pattern and character of the Parliamentary Library is changing and the emphasis is on research. This change is not unique to Australia. It is following the pattern of what is happening in the other countries of the free world, and perhaps in the parliamentary institutions of countries behind the Iron Curtain.
– Those countries do not have parliamentary institutions.
– Whatever their parliamentary institutions are. Nevertheless we all have used the services of the Parliamentary Library. We all are very grateful for the service that it provides to parliamentarians in the research field. The value of the Parliamentary Library is not that we can go in, pick up a book of fiction and read it because a very competent person in the Library is able to obtain it for us at short notice. Its value is that if a member of this Parliament wants information on a point that is germane to a debate he can press a button and a loyal attendant will come to him and take a memorandum to the Parliamentary Library which will be able to give him vital information on the important matters that the Parliament is discussing. If we know that a debate is to come on in a month’s time or a week’s time we can speak to the research officers in the Library who will go to no end of trouble to collate all the pros and cons - not only the facts on one side - that surround the weighty matter that we are to discuss.
The fact is that the Parliamentary Library is moving into a special field of research and special fields such as international law, just as the Parliament is. Its services are available in respect of problems of fiscal policy not only in Australia but also in other countries. The proposed appointee has had a great experience in research and in trade. He has represented Australia as a trade commissioner. He has been to other parts of the world. He knows the background to politics. He has the qualities befitting the job. I need only remind honourable senators that, as is recorded in Hansard of 19th October, he was appointed on the recommendation of the Presiding Officers of the two Houses of this Parliament.
Before the suspension of the sitting for dinner Senator Murphy made a very worthwhile speech about the desirability of having a legal adviser in relation to the drafting of amendment’s As the Parliamentary Library expands as it has been expanding under Mr White and as it will continue to expand under Mr Fleming, it may well be that the research service will develop and that there will be a law section within the research division of the Library. That is part of the long term planning for the research division of the Library which exists to serve us as parliamentarians and to make us more efficient, more capable and more able to speak objectively on all the matters on which we as parliamentarians have to make judgments. When there is a law section in the research division of the Parliamentary Library, no doubt eventually it will have a lawyer who will be able to give ad hoc advice on amendments that members of the Parliament may want to move during the cut and thrust of debate. That will be a natural development of the service that is being provided by the Library. I conclude by expressing my belief that when Mr Fleming comes as our Parliamentary Librarian and a First Division officer he will give magnificent service to this Parliament and to the people of Australia.
– Whenever anyone criticises an appointment this trouble always arises; Government supporters promptly try to swing the argument on to a matter of personalities. No-one in this chamber, least of all I, has tried to denigrate this appointee. Senator Cormack read out yards and yards of stuff. I would not disagree with that at all. All that he did was tell us what a good chap this man is. I have never said that he is not a good chap. AH that I have said is that he is not a librarian.
– Does that matter?
– Yes, it does. Obviously Senator Sim was not in the chamber when I spoke before. In that speech I gave the reasons why the Parliamentary Librarian should be a librarian. We are told that there are so many lawyers, so many assistants and so on but only a few librarians in the Library of Congress. Of course there are different groups of people in it. But the head of that Library is a man who was brought up in libraries and who has absorbed the whole atmosphere of libraries. If I check his dossier I can tell honourable senators for how many years he has been in libraries. He started in libraries in 1927. He has been associated with them ever since. He has been brought up in the atmosphere of libraries and knows everything about them. He is now the head of the Library of Congress. His name is L. Quincy Mumford.
Senator Cormack says that the recommendation was that the Parliamentary Librarian did not have to be a librarian. But the very man who recommended the setting up of the Parliamentary Library is himself a librarian. He knows exactly what is called for. He has been brought up in the library atmosphere.
– The Library of Congress is a library of deposit, whereas our Parliamentary Library is not.
– No, it is not, but it is the library of this Parliament. It is the equivalent of the Library of Congress.
– It is not.
– All right, it is not. If the Parliamentary Library is to be only a legislative reference service, then I point out that Mr Elsbree, who is the head of the legislative reference service of the Library of Congress, has been in library service for many years. Here again wefind that principle of people learning their jobs as apprentices, as Senator O’ Byrne said.
The whole of my attack was made on the basis that the proposed appointee was not a librarian and that the position was not advertised. It is shameful that, because the public servants want to keep jobs among themselves and do not want outsiders to come in and take their jobs away from them, a qualified outsider cannot apply for a position of the importance of this one. Senator Anderson referred to the Parliamentary Librarian being a First Division officer. I do not know what a First Division officer is. I do not know what his salary is, but it is fairly high. If this is a good job, it should be advertised so that we get the best man, not someone who is entitled to the position because he is in the Public Service. I am sure that every honourable senator on the Government side of the chamber agrees that this job–
– The honourable senator should speak for himself.
– All right, Senator Sim would not do this in business. He would not just give a job to the next man in the line.
– I would choose the best man regardless.
– Yes. How do we know who the best man is when we do not advertise the job and when we do not know how many other people would be prepared to apply for it? The appointee is the best man in a limited field; that is all. I ask members of the Government parties not to continue to argue that we are trying to denigrate Mr Fleming.
– That is what the honourable senator started out to do.
– No, I did not. If Senator Cormack reads the Hansard report of my speech he will see that I did not run Mr Fleming down at all. I said that I did not even know him and that I did not know what his qualifications were, except that he was not a librarian. That is the whole point at issue. I asked the Minister what justification there was for appointing a nonlibrarian. The only answer that I received was from Senator Cormack who, of course, may be the next Minister appointed. Finally let me mention the Minister’s reference to my conversation with Mr White, the head of the department with which we are dealing. I presume that I am entitled to speak to the head of the department and ask him what qualifications are necessary for the position, and that if he tells me the qualificationsI am entitled to believe him. That is whatI did.
– If I heard Senator Turn bull correctly, he complained that a point that he made was not answered. I could not undertake to give an answer that would satisfy him completely, but I assure him that an attempt will be made to answer any point that any honourable senator makes.I suppose there will always be a conflict of opinion on the qualifications of somebody who is appointed to a position such as that of Parliamentary Librarian and on whether such a position should be advertised. I think we should all realise that this appointment is, strictly speaking, not an appointment but a recommendation. Certainly it is not a government appointment. The recommendation came from the Presiding Officer of the Senate and the Presiding Officer of the House of Representatives who are the Heads of the Parliamentary Library. I think that it could always be possible to argue against any such recommendation.
There are two Presiding Officers. The recommendation from the two Presiding Officers to the Executive Council was that this appointment should be made. It is a matter of policy on which any sort of argument could take place. I listened to this debate beforeI came into the Committee and I think that it is generally agreed that Mr Fleming is a man who obviously is not to be attacked in any way. His qualifications for a librarianship may be the subject of discussion but certainly are not an appropriate subject for great discussion during the estimates debate in which the Government asks that certain sums of money be appropriated for certain purposes. The question that was asked was how Mr Fleming came to be appointed. The answer is that he was appointed by Executive Council on the recommendation of the two Presiding Officers of the Parliament who are the Heads of the Parliamentary Library.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Department of Territories
Proposed expenditure, $102,133,000.
Proposed provision, $7,075,000.
All Australians who want to enter the Territory of Papua and New Guinea are required to fill in this document. I do not mind whether any non-Australians are involved. I am not worrying about that aspect. I am talking about Australians who want to enter a Territory of the Commonwealth of Australia. Do not forget that Papua is a Territory of Australia. New Guinea may be a trust territory but the two, together, are ruled by Australia. If a person wishes to go to the Northern Territory there is no problem at all. If a person wishes to go to any other Australian Territory there does not seem to be much of a problem. But if a person wishes to go to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea he has to fill in this ridiculous form. I know that the Minister for Education and Science probably has not seen this form. I should have given him a copy of it. The form begins:
A person gives his name. But underneath that statement are the words: (except for any other name hereafter stated I have not been known by any other name than shown above).
In other words, the document requests a person to please put down his aliases as well.
– How does the honourable senator know what we call him.
– I do know, but I cannot mention that in the Committee. Mr Temporary Chairman, the point is: What silly inane person - I suppose there may be some - would promptly put his aliases in the space? If he is trying to sneak into a country, will he reveal this? What is the point of it? That is what I want to know.
The person filling in this document wishes to enter the Territory. So he is asked his wife’s name. If the person wishing to enter the Territory happens to be a female then she is asked her husband’s name, that is, if she is married. What interest is there, in a document to permit entry to the Territory, in asking for the maiden name of the wife of the applicant? The document continues:
What effect has this on a person’s request to enter the Territory? This is just so typically civil service and so typically bureaucratic. But these questions must be answered. I am sorry that Senator Cormack ls not here because I understand that, he blew up about this form when he wanted to go to New Guinea.
Further in the document a person is required to state:
What interest is it to the Department who is accommodating the person entering the Territory? A person may have secret accommodation. He may have booked his accommodation through a travel agency. What does it really matter? Of course, I know the answer. The Department will say that it wants to know where the person is staying. For heaven’s sake, in a place like New Guinea, if the Department does not know where a person is staying it can find that person in any of the towns in 5 minutes. The person requesting the permit is further asked to answer this question:
This, of course, gives the civil service, the bureaucracy, a great kick to know that the person making the request is to travel either by air or by ship. This really withers them up. Then we find the document states:
A person is asked the colour of his eyes. The person has to tell the Department his sex. In filling in the form, I would put down my name as Reginald John David Turnbull. Having given that information, I must tell the Department my sex because it might not understand that that is a male name. I am requested to supply information also as to the colour of my hair and any visible distinguishing marks. Really! I know that the Minister is not responsible for this Department, but I ask him: ‘How ridiculous can things get?’ Do not tell me that this form cannot be done away with because exactly the same answer was given to me about the customs entry form into Australia. This form has now been done away with. I plead with the Minister to get rid of this redundant piece of bureaucracy that prevents Australians entering an Australian Territory.
– This again is a matter rather of policy, but also of interest, 1 suppose, because it is directly connected with the vote of a particular amount of money for a particular appropriation bill. This is the first that I have heard of this form. Even so it occurs to me that there may be some arguments to be advanced in favour of seeking the information. 1 speak having heard for the first time of this form through the remarks made by Senator Turnbull. After all, what is so odd about being required to state on a document the colour of one’s eyes or one’s sex? A person has to do this if he wants to get a passport.
– Why should this be so for entry into an Australian Territory?
– If a form is filled in with the name ‘Robin Smith’ it may be necessary to discover what the sex is because this person could be either male or female and quite often nowadays when one looks at the characteristics of a person one is not quite sure anyway. Some names are now shared in common. It is possible that there is some reasonable explanation for this requirement. The honourable senator suggests that the form invites a person to put his aliases down. I suppose that is one interpretation of this provision. Another interpretation might be in relation to somebody who has changed his or her name by deed poll.
– There is another provision for that.
– Does the honourable senator mean that there is one provision covering aliases and another if a person has changed his or her name by deed poll? I would be interested to know that.
– Yes. Under the heading ‘Change of Name’ the form states:
In case of change of name, other than by marriage, the original name must be stated as well as the applicant’s present name. Documentary evidence of the change of name, such as Deed Poll, should be produced if possible. Where there has been no change of name other than by marriage the word ‘None’ should be inserted here.
– It seems to me that if there has been no change of name at all then the word ‘None’ would be adequate description of the situation that existed since there had been none. 1 think that probably the remarks of the honourable senator ought to be studied by the responsible Minister to see whether on further consideration additional arguments to those that I have been able to adduce could be advanced.
– I wish to referto Division No. 486 - Papua and New Guinea - Miscellaneous Services - and in particular to item 01 - Grant to Administration towards expenses. I also wish to make brief reference to Division No. 481 - Christmas Island, Division No. 482 - Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Division No. 483 - Norfolk Island, and Division No. 484 - Northern Territory Legislative Council. I refer the Committee to the increase in the vote this year for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I think it is some $7m. 1 am particularly curious about the fact that last year the appropriation was $70m, of which $69,783,569 was spent. Last year, it might be recalled action was taken in the House of Assembly to write down one of the votes as a protest against the Government. I asked a question about it at the time but this has been lost in the mists of history and I did not receive an answer as to what happened to the $50,000 by which the vote was written down by the House of Assembly. I point out also that the total vote of $77. 6m, for the Territory is less than half of the increase in the Australian defence vote this year. As responsible Australians we ought to take a fairly hard look at this. The increase in the defence vote is largely devoted to the Vietnam conflict.
– It is protecting Papua and New Guinea.
– It is for the killing of people. I recall that Senator Sim, a prominent member of the Liberal Party, gave us a lot of jokes one evening when we were discussing an appeal against the Public Service Arbitrator’s decision. If he thinks that New Guinea is a great joke, I suggest that he might keep his comments for other occasions than when these votes are being discussed.
– The honourable senator should keep his facts straight.
– My facts are straight.
– They are crooked, as usual.
– I am sorry to have to deviate like this. It is significant that Senator Sim comes in here with statements that he cannot back up and he spends most of his time sitting there, interjecting with statements that are not true. We ought to remember that when the Second World War took place a fair amount of damage was done in that country and consequently the building up of any sort of internal economy is a long range project, so the vote must be the biggest possible that we can afford to give. Might I draw the comparison that we can find twice this amount to kill people in another Asian area but only this sum to help develop Papua and New Guinea as it ought to be developed. At page 9 of the report on the Territory of Papua for 1965-66 the following passage appears:
Other characteristics typical of Papua and other parts of the Western Pacific and Melanesia, are the small size of the political unit and general absence of formal political institutions. Emphasis is placed on the acquisition of material goods, not primarily for personal consumption or the creation of differential living standards, but rather as a means of establishing individual prestige and status within the community through the giving of feasts and the performance of complex sequences of gift exchanges.
The Administration has adopted a general policy of trying to suppress political parties, particularly if they are the type of political party that has not views similar to the views expressed by the Australian Government. The Minister in quite recent months made a formal statement on this matter which received wide publicity and the Administrator who, I believe, does a pretty fair job although he is new to this position, said quite recently that public servants ought not to participate in politics. It is significant that public servants amongst the indigenous people are those who have probably the highest standard of education and consequently they are probably better fitted to lead their people in political movements than are some of the others who are not associated with the Public Service. I hope the Minister might be able to give some explanation of why there is an attempt to suppress political parties in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
The vote is completely inadequate for the establishment of proper health and education services. We must remember that we are operating largely in the coastal areas. In the remoter parts of the Territory, development is not taking place as it ought to be. What is the intention of the Government? Does it hope that in the long term the Territory of Papua and New Guinea will be a firm defence base on which it can operate? Does it hope that this will remain a base for powerful financial interests which will be able to exploit not only the country but also the people? This is going on now, regardless of how the Government might try to blind itself to the situation. A limited number of very large firms are doing very well out of the Territory, particularly in the exploitation of timber, copra, to a lesser degree cocoa and coffee, and now, of course, minerals in some areas. In the notes issued to assist us with our thinking, the Department refers on page 1 to economic development: in agriculture. On the following page it states:
The major agricultural development to commence in 1967-68 will be the oil palm project on the north coast of West New Britain.
If one examines even this document in detail one sees that the indigenous people will not gel what they ought to get out of this project. Peasant farms will be operated in the interests of one or more big companies before this industry is completely developed. Let me refer now to that part of the document which relates to the tea industry. The Department states:
The industry is being developed on the nucleus estate principle of a factory managed by expatriate staff with a large area of planting, surrounded by a number of indigenous small holder blocks or village plantings. Indigenous new planting was 75 acres in 1965-66 and 300 acres in 1966-67, with an expected 800 acres in 1967-68. Ultimately 50% of total plantings will be by indigenes. lt is a great shame that the percentage is not much higher, lt ought to be 90 or 95%, with the pilot, areas being developed by expatriates so that training goes on at the same time. A few weeks ago my Party made a formal protest in the Senate against the wages judgment that had been handed down. My worthy opponent, Senator Sim, thought that this, too, was a big joke. Apparently he has been very happy-
– Why does the honourable senator not speak the truth for a change?
– It is recorded in Hansard. If Senator Sim likes, he can look it up for himself. Obviously he was telling an untruth on that occasion and now he is trying to bail out On it. If he is trying to bail out on it I will show him the public statement. 1 am not interested in the juvenile ramblings of my opponent on the opposite bench. I want to continue with my case because of the limitation as to time. The judgment was handed down by the Public Service Arbitrator on 11th May 1967. I should like to hear from the Minister what are the latest developments in this case because a lot of problems and a lot of worry so far as the indigenous people are concerned are associated with it. The interested expatriates also are very worried about it.
There is a further, I think well founded, rumour current that Norfolk Island is being used by an ex-Liberal member of Parliament, now a fairly big noise in the business world, for the registration of companies. This is a taxation dodge. This rumour is circulating in business circles and it even received a brief mention in two sections of the Press some few weeks ago. ls there any truth in it? If it is just a rumour it should be scotched by the Minister.
Finally I refer to the Northern Territory. Here again there is a whole host of problems. If the Minister for Territories (Mr Barnes) does not face up to these problems within the next 6 months there will be so many problems there that neither this Government nor any other government in the immediate future will be able to surmount them. I hope we receive some healthy news from there. Those are the main points I want to raise. I hope we can get some sort of information on them.
– I direct my remarks to items 26, 36 and 39 in sub-division 4 of Division No. 485, three quite different items but items which stand out in the main because of the difference between expenditure last year and appropriation for this year. I refer first to item 26 which relates to the Berrimah training and accommodation centre, ft will be noticed that although the appropriation last year was $16,000 expenditure was only $12,000. The appropriation for this year is $20,000 which is quite a considerable increase in view of the appropriation and expenditure last year. Can the Minister give some information on this item?
Item 36 relates to an appropriation of $103,000 for payments to trustees of public recreation and other reserves. An interesting position arises here because, of an appropriation of $70,000 last year some $35,000, only one-half, was spent. The appropriation for this year, therefore, is almost three times the amount spent last year. I do not query this appropriation in terms of principle because public recreation and other reserves in an area like the Northern Territory assume a particular kind of importance which probably does not apply so emphatically in other parts of Australia. After all, the Northern Territory is an area which needs to be developed in a particular way and we need to have special concern for, and exercise particular care over, what are described in this document as public recreation and other reserves. I would appreciate the Minister’s response to this question.
Finally I come to an item in which I have a particular interest. Item 39 relates to an appropriation of $13,000 for assistance for the construction and extension of buildings at private schools. There are no comparable figures for last year. This is understandable in a Territory that is developing fairly rapidly and in circumstances which have no precedent to be used as a guide or as a basis for comparison. I am particularly interested in St Phillips College at Alice Springs which, for the purposes of our discussion tonight, I will regard as a private school. I acknowledge the interest that the Commonwealth Government has displayed and the contribution it has already made. I know of a similar school at Darwin, and there may be others in the process of construction and extension. I would be particularly pleased if the Minister could give some information on this item.
– Senator Davidson referred to an appropriation for private schools which has not appeared previously in the Estimates. This results from the application to the Territory of the policy announced by the Australian Government, to apply to its own Territories, of repaying over a period of 20 years loans which are raised by private schools, as well as subsidising the interest payments on those loans. In other words a- scheme of financial assistance has been introduced for the construction of private schools, additions thereto and the provision of furniture. Finance is arranged by school authorities and the Commonwealth repays loans raised, plus interest at a rate not exceeding the long term bond rate, over a period of 20 years. It will be remembered that not so long ago the Australian Government introduced proposals to do this in its own Territories in respect of private schools. This appropriation is a result of that policy decision.
The honourable senator referred also to payments to trustees of public recreation and other reserves. The big increase in appropriation this year is caused mainly by the provision of $74,000 for the construction of a swimming pool at Sylviculture Reserve, Tennant Creek. I understand that provision was made for this swimming pool last year but construction did not go ahead as quickly as was hoped. That is why only about one-half of last year’s appropriation was spent and why the appropriation this year has been increased to such a large extent. The other expenditure covered by this item is $8,000 for the Katherine racecourse and recreation reserve, $11,000 for the East Point reserve, Darwin, $10,000 for Traeger Park at Alice Springs and $800 for furniture and maintenance at the Katherine recreation reserve.
The other item mentioned by the honourable senator relates to the Berrimah training and accommodation centre. This centre was established in 1966-67. Short term accommodation is provided to families moving to Darwin before a house becomes available and for children requiring additional training before commencing normal schooling. Training courses in home management, catering and hygiene will be given to Aboriginals from settlements. These facilties require increased expenditure on services, maintenance and caretaking.
Senator Keeffe referred initially to an appropriation of. I think, $70m and expenditure of $69. 783m. and suggested that that may be as a result of some reduction made in the appropriation by the House of Assembly.
– Part of it.
– Part of it may be as a result of some reduction made by the House of Assembly. This could not be so. A vote of $250,000 was suggested initially to the Papua and New Guinea House of Assembly for a particular purpose - I think it was to do with engaging staff from outside the Territory - and the House reduced that vote by $50,000 as an indication of its view that too much was being spent in that particular direction. However, subsequently in what we would call the Additional Estimates the vote was increased to $260,000 and it was accepted by the House of Assembly. In fact, having accepted it they then went ahead and spent $287,000 partly from Treasurer’s Advance, so the explanation that may appear to be there is in fact not there.
I do not have anything to say to the remarks made by the honourable senator in relation to Cocos Island and other general policy matters other than what appears in the reports that have been presented. One specific question that was raised related to developments in an arbitration case which we debated in the Senate some time ago. There have been no developments. The case has been concluded by arbitration and no further steps have been taken since that time. I think that the known facts are presented in the reports which the honourable senator himself has said are not too bad. They are matters of opinion on policy and not matters to which I can give the honourable senator a specific answer during the debate on the estimates of the Department.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
Department of External Affairs proposed expenditure, $48,924,000.
Proposed provision, $13,110,000.
– The first matter on which I seek information relates to Division No. 165 - Administrative, sub-division 5, in which provision is made for international development and relief. I, and I suppose all other senators, have received a lengthy document concerning more specific aid for children in Vietnam who have become casualties of the war, irrespective of the part of Vietnam in which they live. In sub-division 5 appropriations are made for such organisations as the United Nations Special Fund, the United Nations International Children’s Fund and the United Nations High Commissioner’s Programmes for Refugees. I would like to know whether any of those funds make direct contributions for the children who are casualties in the Vietnam war. I would like the Minister to indicate in his reply whether in any of the funds listed in sub-division 5 provision is made for the cost of bringing Vietnamese children to Australia for plastic surgery.
Item 15 in sub-division 5 provides for $535,000 as a contribution to the Stabilisation Fund, Laos. It is a fairly large sum and I would appreciate advice in more detail about it. I now turn to Division No. 206 where provision is made for our embassy in Yugoslavia. At the moment, as the Minister well knows, our embassy occupies temporary quarters in the MajesticHotel in Belgrade. It is an excellent hotel, but the accommodation is of a temporary nature. There are many reasons why we should have a permanent embassy in Belgrade and I am curious to learn whether the Government is inspecting land in old Belgrade or in new Belgrade. I have noticed that even after the turbulence of recent years in the Congo, the Congolese Government has a fairly substantial embassy in Belgrade. Perhaps the Yugoslav Government has granted a concession of cheap rent, or something of that nature. I wish to know whether our embassy is to be located amongst the new skyscrapers in new Belgrade, and whether in the long term that may be a better proposition.I imagine that officers of the Department of External Affairs are working to a plan. If I call it a 5-year plan I hopeI will not be misunderstood or give any honourable senator a wrong impression. If we do have a 5-year plan for the Department we will work a lot more effectively. I appreciate that the nature of the embassy to be built in Belgrade will be determined by the allotment of land. Can. the Minister indicate whether officers of the Commonwealth Department of Works have visited Belgrade to select a site? Is the embassy to be in old or new Belgrade?
– The answer given to me by the advisers from the Department is that plans for the embassy at Belgrade have not yet been finalised. The Department of External Affairs is negotiating. Officers of the Department of Works have not yet visited Belgrade. 1 do not have information as to whether the embassy is to be in old or new Belgrade, but I will get it for Senator Mulvihill.
The honourable senator also inquired about the provision for the United Nations Internationa] Children’s Fund. The answer to that question and his subsidiary questions is no. The appropriation would not cover any of the matters he suggested. It is for a contribution to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund. The money is expended in Australia on Australian goods and services procured through the Department of Supply for UNICEF projects, particularly in the Pacific area. The appropriation is to provide for a further contribution at the same level as last year’s contribution. Senator Mulvihill also referred, did he not, to item 12 in sub-division 5, which relates to the United Nations High Commissioner’s Programmes for Refugees?
– 1 do not think that that appropriation would cover the matters referred to by the honourable senator. The note of the Department states that the High Commissioner is continuing his programme of legal and material assistance for some non-settled refugees living in Europe, the Far East, Middle East, North Africa and Latin America, and that he also requires funds for assistance to new groups of refugees. It is conceivable that some of the money will go to refugees, but not for the specific matters suggested by the honourable senator. The contribution for the International Red Cross is to provide assistance towards the general work of that organisation.
Senator COTTON (New South Wales) [9.17’j - 1 would like to be able to spend a little time, with your permission, Mr Chairman, in dealing with two sections of the estimates of the Department. Firstly I refer to Divisions Nos 165 to 238. The total expenditure said to have been incurred by the Department for the year ending June 1967 is $49,493,656. I am pleased that we now have a report from the Department. I welcome it very much. At page 63 the report states that expenditure of funds for the Department in the year under review -that is 1966-67- was $51,549,561. There is a difference of about $2m. In due course, not necessarily tonight, I would like to know why there is that difference.
I refer now to Divisions Nos 172 to 238. The various salaries and arrangements, representation allowances and so on are set out in some detail in the Department’s estimates. Details of the various embassies, high commissions and consulates-general are set out at pages 31 to 34 of the Estimates. I have noted that accommodation subsidies are paid to thirty-seven posts. The amounts range between $500 a year and $58,000 a year, the latter figure being in respect of the United States of America. I am led to wonder whether the time has not been reached when serious thought has to be given to our overall representation overseas. If 1 have a later opportunity to speak on this matter I will accept it. I want now to deal more particularly with the report of the Department. It contains a review of the properties occupied by the Department overseas. Of our 57 offices and chanceries we own 9 and lease 48. Of a total of 311 residences, we own 71 and lease 240. Could the Department give us in its report for next year, or at some time convenient to it, some idea of the relative cost of leasing and accommodation subsidies as against what could be the position if we owned property in these various countries? Australia is a stable country and it has to be represented overseas, but I am rather doubtful as to whether a continuation of the present policy of leasing chanceries, offices and residential premises is in our best interests in the long term. 1 notice in the Department’s report reference to a committee on conditions of overseas service. I should like to know from the Minister what this committee. does. What is the scope of its work? How is k constituted? What does it consider? Again, in its comment relating to staffing, the report states:
The rapid expansion of Australian official representation abroad in recent years and the steadily growing involvement of Australia in regional and other international organisations has imposed considerable strain on the Department’s staffing resources. It has been necessary to assign staff overseas at the expense of the home establishment.
Under the heading ‘Recruitment and Training’ the report states:
The recruitment of new staff at the level of External Affairs Officer in training (or Third Secretary) has scarcely kept pace with requirements.
This should be a matter of some concern to honourable senators. It is to me, because I have a great affection and regard for the Department of External Affairs. I think it does extremely important work and I suggest that despite the great demand in the community for graduates of a high level of attainment, we cannot continue a situation in which we are not keeping up with intake requirements as against an expanding demand. On page 62 the report, when dealing with the training scheme, refers to the number of people who are in training to gain various language qualifications. The number in training seems to be rather slender against the needs of Australia with the development of its responsibilities overseas. I suggest that some incentive might be offered to officers to undertake training in languages to qualify for service abroad.
Let me emphasise that I do not make these suggestions by way of criticism of any kind; my intention is to be nothing other than helpful. As I said earlier, I have the greatest regard for the Department. In fact, to some extent I have a personal interest in it in that some relatives of mine are employed by it. But I have had an interest in it since long before they joined it. My interest is stimulated also by the fact that I have been lucky enough to travel a great deal in the last 18 months, my colleagues remind me from time to time. I hope this travel has made me a more effective member of this Senate. I have actually worked and been in over twenty-five of the Australian overseas posts. I have seen the officers at work in them. I have seen the conditions under which they work, the kind of people we are employing and the kind of work they do. If I do nothing else, I should like to pay tribute to the Department on its overseas officers. They are a fine group of Australians. We can all be extremely proud of them. I noticed that they worked very much harder than, I think, many people imagine they do.
I am very glad to have this report from the Department. It is a good one and 1 hope that I shall have time to develop the next step in my case. I cannot see bow Australia can go on under the present system with an increasing demand for representation overseas and with its increasing responsibilities in international affairs. We have very wide responsibilities for a country of our size. Our overseas officers have a great deal of work to do in representing us. Indeed, we can quite justly look upon our overseas posts in much the same way as businesses look upon their branch offices. These posts are in fact branch offices of Australia. They deal with matters relating to external affairs, they handle problems relating to Territories, and sometimes the problems relating to Territories impinge on problems relating to external affairs. We have also problems relating to immigration, the development of trade and of defence and so on. These are expanding continually and I suggest that the time has arrived when we should make a detailed and critical study of our overseas representation.
A study of the type I suggest was carried out in England in the year 1962-63 by the Committee on Representational Services Overseas, under the chairmanship of Lord Plowden. This Committee was appointed by the then Prime Minister. Three of that Committee’s recommendations have some bearing on the Australian position. I refer to page 145 of the Committee’s report, on which this paragraph appears:
Our need for efficient overseas representational services is likely to increase rather than decrease. Their tasks will grow wider in scope and become more complex and exacting. They will need a total operational staff of at least the same size as at present, plus a margin of 10%. Some bound to their possible expansion must, however, be set. There will always be scope for changes in direction and emphasis within a scale of activity which, in aggregate, ought not greatly to exceed that at present undertaken.
I emphasise that this relates to. the position in the United Kingdom. Another paragraph reads:
The present cost of these Services is not unreasonable. There is no way of laying down an optimum cost; much of the expenditure abroad is outside our direct control. The highest proportion of the expenditure is on staffing; major reductions in expenditure could not be achieved without a comparable reduction in total activity. The real test is the efficiency of the Services.
I suggest that applies equally to Australia. A third paragraph reads:
A unified Service should be created to take in the duties, personnel and posts of the present Foreign Service, Commonwealth Service and
Trade Commission Service. Separate Foreign and Commonwealth Relations Offices in Whitehall would be retained.
I do not suggest that we should take action immediately, but I cannot imagine that we oan continue to have the fractionalisation in our representation overseas that we have at the present time. I do not think the present system is in our best interests. I imagine, too, that it costs more than it ought to cost, and that we do not get good, overall control. As our overseas representation is growing rapidly in most countries I think we ought to be sinking our own roots, that we should be getting ourselves a piece of solid freehold, that we ought to be establishing property and looking upon our overseas representation as a permanent establishment in those countries rather than as something based in Australia.
I realise that this presents a nightmare to many of those who have to shoulder the responsibility of unravelling problems concerning various departments, maintenance of lines of communication and all the rest of it. Then, too, we have to consider ‘he personal ambitions of various people but we must think of this problem of overseas posts in the total sense. I am concerned about our present system under which we maintain so many offices in so many different premises. Our overseas representation seems to have developed on a rather ad hoc basis. I do not think that is in our best interests, t think that if we are going to be represented in a country we ought to make it clear that we intend to establish a post there. Australia’s representations should not be housed in hostel type accommodation, rather like Arabs in a tent.
As I said earlier, I am concerned only with promoting the good image of our overseas representation. I pay tribute again to the officers of the Department of External Affairs whom 1 met while overseas. They were really first class Australians doing a tremendous job.
– I wish to refer briefly to Division No. 125, which relates to Administration and to deal to some extent with the points raised by Senator Cotton. One of the things that always disturbs me when dealing with the estimates of the Department of External Affairs is that we are confronted with a host of matters affecting the various embassies and consulates in other parts of the world. I will use our embassy in the Republic of Italy as an example. We know how much it costs for travelling and subsistence, office requisites, postage and telegrams, for rent and maintenance, for maintenance of the Ambassador’s residence, motor vehicles, and furniture and fittings. But what we do not know - and this matter has been raised by Senator Cotton - is what type of accommodation there is for the Ambassador in Italy, for instance. Is it suitable? Is it what we would be proud to permit our Ambassador to live in? Whilst we know the cost of motor vehicle maintenance and running expenses, we have not the faintest conception of how many vehicles the Ambassador for Italy has at his disposal or what his staff has at their disposal. We have no conception of the type of vehicles. This long list of proposed votes in the estimates, in my opinion, does not permit us to arrive at any proper conclusion on the conditions under which our embassies and consulates in other countries of the world are working.
Would it be to much to ask, when we are dealing with the Estimates next year, for a summary to be given as to what type of accommodation ambassadors have and the conditions under which they are working in various countries? Is the accommodation rented? Does it consist of hotel suites? What vehicles are there at the disposal of our representatives? Are they vehicles of which this country could be proud? Are they adequate to meet the needs of the ambassadors and their staffs or the consuls and their staffs?
We have to consider the old saying: Out of sight, out of mind. When dealing with departments in Australia we can ascertain, through inquiry, any disabilities the department may be suffering. But when we are dealing with embassies in far flung centres of the world the only opportunity that we have, as parliamentarians, of finding out the conditions under which the people representing us are working, is when a member of the Parliament returns after a tour of some countries after being a delegate to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, or the Inter-Parliamentary Union or as a representative for Australia at the United Nations. They give us some information. Quite frankly, that is the only source of detailed information that we have, apart from the bald outline given each year in these estimates. We should have a far more detailed knowledge of these things. I hope that before the estimates are presented in 1968 some consideration will be given to compiling a document which will enable us adequately to assess the conditions under which our representatives are working in the various countries.
– Most of the remarks that have been made so far in this debate, I think the Committee will agree, relate to matters of policy which have been brought up for discussion. Therefore, they arc not matters for which I can give direct explanations as to how much money is being expended on them. I will ask the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) to examine the comments made by Senator Cotton. In a sense they were parallel to the comments made by Senator Toohey. It may well be that it would be a waste of public money - I do not say that it would be - to try to compile a document including photographs and descriptions of all the ambassadorial residences that we have throughout the world. On the other hand, any honourable senator or member of the Parliament who is interested in this matter could, without question, go to the Department of External Affairs before the Estimates debate and ask for photographs and descriptions of any particular embassy. The Department has those things. It might result in a saving of money and it might be more convenient if that were done. I do not say that this course will be followed. I will bring this matter to the attention of the Minister for External Affairs.
As Senator Cotton is aware, we do own many of our ambassadorial posts overseas. We own the one in the United States of America, the one in the United Kingdom, the one in New Delhi and the one in Japan. These are only examples that come to my mind. The names of the other posts we own slip from my mind at the moment. But we do own a number of them and that number is increasing. I do not think the Parliament would wish to appropriate sufficient money to buy in 1 year or in 2 years all the remaining posts. I think it is clear, however, that the Government’s policy has been gradually to build, as in Indonesia, or buy, as in Japan, posts for our ambassadors and have the freehold of which the honourable senator spoke. These being matters relating to a general approach all I can do is to ask the Minister for External Affairs to read the comment made by both honourable senators.
– 1 invite the attention of the Committee to Division No. 169 - Antarctic Division, and particularly to the hire of ships and aircraft for which the appropriation this year is $573,400. This is a very large amount. I should like to know how much of it refers to the hire of ships. If it docs, what are the ships? I should also like to know how much is to be used for the hire of aircraft and what type of aircraft is hired.
I have been very interested in this problem ever since 1 have been a senator. I remember that in 1951 or 1952 the late Senator George McLeay showed me some plans for a ship which had been designed on behalf of the Australian Government for use in the Antarctic. The Government did not go ahead with the plans to have the ship built and used in this area. As a consequence I think I could rightly assume that beween $300,000 and $400,000 a year has been paid for the hire of a ship or ships, mainly Danish ships, for the two voyages made each year either to Macquarie Island or the Antarctic. 1 suggest to the Minister that this is bad economically and that we should have our own ship for these voyages. As is well known, some very brave Australians spend a year at the two or three bases that we have in the Antarctic and at Macquarie Island doing very valuable scientific work. This work, which relates to cosmic rays and meteorology, 1 understand, is of very great importance. It seems a great pity that about $500,000 a year is spent on the hire of ships and aircraft to service these very brave Australians working in that area.
I believe the Government- was unwise in not going ahead with plans to build its own ship. If it had done so it would have had men trained in the navigation and use of ships in that area. At the present time, because we charter these vessels, I take it that we have very few Australians trained to operate in these areas for which Australia is responsible. The Australian territory is, I believe, the largest section of the Antarctic and Australians have been operating there for over 50 years. Some very distinguished Australians have been there. The late Sir Douglas Mawson did a tremendous geological survey of Antarctica. I believe that there are minerals in Antarctica which one day will be of tremendous importance to Australia. But we have no means of our own of going there. We hire these Danish ships year after year. We pay, as is set out in the estimates, more than §500,000 a year for the hire of ships and aircraft. Only a portion of that sum would relate to the hire of aircraft.
We have no asset of our own. If the Danes did not let us have the ships in a particular year 1 do not know how we would get there. If the ships were blocked in the Suez Canal or if anything like that were to happen we would be in a real fix. I believe that the Government’s policy needs to be looked at again, lt was looked at in 1951 but for some reason or other the question of the building of such a ship was not proceeded with. I think now is the time for the Government to have another look at this policy of hiring a ship to go to Antarctica. A ship of our own would go down during the summer season. I suggest that in the winter season very important use could be made of this ship in the form of an oceanographic survey. I believe that there is a tremendous wealth of fish in the oceans to the south of Australia and that if we had a ship which was capable of going to Antarctica in the summer we could use it in the winter for carrying out important oceanographic surveys. A properly equipped ship capable of sailing in the seas to the south of Australia could bring a tremendous amount of meteorological information to us.
J therefore believe that the Department of Externa] Affairs ought to bc encouraged to have another look at the hiring of ships and aircraft to make sure that it would not be to the benefit of Australia for us to have our own ships and our own aircraft. 1 understand that in the United Kingdom a section of the Royal Navy is specially trained to work in Arctic waters. I believe that the waters around Antarctica, despite the treaty that has been negotiated, could be of strategic value to Australia. I therefore think that the more we know about this area the better it will be for us. Wc would get to know this area better if we owned our own ships instead of having to hire ships from the Danes and aircraft at a cost of $573,000. I ask the Minister whether he will be good enough to explain to me why this item of hire goes on year after year and why the Government has not thought it desirable to acquire ships and aircraft and to train mcn to go into these important parts of the world, particularly as Australia has a responsibility to know more about these areas.
– In reply to the request made by Senator Laught for certain facts, I can tell him that approximately $420,000 is thi cost of the hire of ships. When we add the victualling costs - they would have to be added irrespective of whether it was our own ship or not - the cost comes to approximately $500,000. The rest of the money relates to the hire of aircraft.
In response to the other questions which the honourable senator has raised, I do not think I can do other than to say that 1 take a completely different view from that expressed by him. 1 think it would be most unwise at (his point of time for Australia to expend the large amount of capital that would bc required to get a ship of the particular type which is required to go down to Antarctica and to return again. Indeed, if we did expend money we would need to expend a large sum, not for one ship but for two ships. They would have to be built in such a way as to withstand the stream of ice and other stresses. They would be far more expensive than would ships which are required for oceanographic work and the other kinds of work which the honourable senator suggests might be done in the off season.
Many studies of the relative economies in this matter have been made. I may be wrong but I am convinced that the amount of money involved in hiring a vessel - this covers the vessel, the crew, refit, the amortisation and the initial capital cost that is paid by someone else - in the long run would be less than that which wc would be required to expend if wc decided to build either here or elsewhere, to man on a year round basis and to refit ships of our own. There may be other subsidiary advantages in having ships of our own, as the honourable senator properly said, but there can be no resolution to this matter except by a study of figures. These figures have been studied. I remember that when 1 was in charge of this division of the Department of External Affairs a very careful survey was carried out. lt left me, at any rate, with the strong view that what the Government is doing is the wise thing.
– I should like to discuss a couple of matters arising from the international development and relief funds which are referred to in sub-division 5 of Division No. 165. 1 refer particularly to the South Pacific aid programme. I notice that last year $200,000 was allocated for this purpose, of which $167,006 was spent. This year $420,000 is being allocated from Australian funds for an atd programme in the various Pacific islands. A few months ago 1 was very fortunate to be a member of a parliamentary delegation which visited the South Pacific. We were able to see the results of the expenditure. 1 was very proud to find a number of technical schools and agricultural schools being established and also some assistance being provided in the health services.
But 1 wondered whether instead of investing in very expensive equipment for some of the technical schools it would not bc better to show the natives how to use much simpler equipment on their own holdings. The view is held that quite a number of lads who would be able to receive assistance as a result of this very extensive technical education would not be able to get employment afterwards in their own areas and that they would have to emigrate elsewhere in order to be employed on the lines for which they have been educated. I should like to see the opportunity given to us in this Parliament to discuss these matters at times other than when we are dealing with the Estimates. I doubt whether during the rest of the year 1% of us would know the extent of the Commonwealth assistance provided in this field. I should like to see an opportunity given to the Senate to discuss the work that is done by the various agencies to which the Australian Government contributes.
For instance, there is a great need for health services in Tonga. Yesterday I asked a question about the provision in hospitals of special accommodation for teenagers. I realise how far we in Australia are ahead of some of these Pacific areas in regards to health programmes. On Tonga I was amazed to find in hospital wards men, women and children all cheek to jowl, with dying men next to little girls and babies being born at one end of the ward and babies dying of malnutrition at the other end. One just could not envisage such conditions here in Australia. There is a great need for us to give more assistance in the health field, particularly in health education. The people of these islands are very grateful for what Australia has done. We who are blessed with so much owe a duty to these people to help to raise their standard of living, not by sending expensive equipment that may never be used but by providing them with ordinary tools that they can use quite easily and by helping them in a more practical way with their health and education problems.
I would like the Minister to tell me whether the Senate could not have more adequate time to deal with these matters in order to inform honourable senators of what is being done. We do not know what is being done until we receive the Estimates, and then we are told not to speak for long so that, we can all get away for the election campaign. The Estimates are rushed through and we have not time to give our full attention to them. I do not believe that that is the way to deal with these matters. They are very important, particularly because the role of Australia in the Pacific area is becoming more important every day. We can do much to raise the status of Australia as a Pacific nation, not by raising troops for war but by raising troops for peace and by spending money in the way I have indicated. Such expenditure is paying very big dividends.
In all the places in the South Pacific area to which I was privileged to travel and in which I was privileged to see what is being done I found that Australia’s reputation was very high. I travelled to Fiji, Western Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, the New Hebrides and the Headquarters of the South Pacific Commission in New Caledonia. Everywhere I found that what Australia is doing is appreciated very much. It is appreciated very much by the people of the area, but not by honourable senators because we do not know enough about it. I would like honourable senators to have an opportunity to debate these matters at some other time. They are matters with which honourable senators could deal quite adequately on a non-party basis. We are united in our belief that the best way to further the cause of peace, particularly in the Pacific area, is by continuing the help that we are giving to these Pacific islands, which really do need all the help that we can give them.
– Here again an honourable senator has raised a matter of policy but of some importance. 1 do not know at what stage of a parliamentary session the Senate could set aside time to discuss the multitude of matters that appear in the various items in these estimates, without spending a whole year on each division. But it is clear that if one member of the Parliament could persuade a large enough group of members to support a proposal for a debate on a particular matter, such a debate could be arranged. I am talking of a non-party debate. Of course, if one parly wanted such a debate it could initiate one.
Senator Tangney mentioned some policy matters on which I can express agreement with her and others on which I can express disagreement with her. For example, I do not believe that we are paying a debt to anybody in the Pacific area. I. do not believe that we owe anybody in that area anything. What we give the people of that area is given as a gift. That is the way I look at the matter. Senator Tangney may look at it in a different way.
– I do not think we owe a debt to the people of the Pacific area in particular, but I think we do owe a debt to humanity in general.
– I do not know that I have borrowed anything from humanity in general. From my point of view, what we give is assistance. I must admit that I believe that that is quite enough for the Australian taxpayers to be asked to supply to that part of the world.
On the other hand, although the all-wise Department of External Affairs is in charge of the expenditure of this money, I have in my mind some queries as to whether all the results that could have been gained from this expenditure have been gained. I am not too sure whether Senator Tangney has been to Tonga. I was there not so long ago. I am not at all sure where all the money that was spent on a very large tourist hotel there came from. I have a suspicion that a considerable amount of it might have come from Australia. If that is so, that is not the sort of assistance that I believe we should contribute.
Senator Tangney put her finger on one real problem, namely, that a good deal of expansion of technical education is occurring on Tonga and other Pacific islands with Australian assistance and, although I do not object to the provision of expensive equipment and buildings and good instructors - they are necessary - I wonder where the people will work after they have received this technical training. Nobody seems to have bothered about that. The best of them will obtain employment. But they will be only a few. On an island with an economy such as these islands have, the others would have to emigrate. These matters could well be the subject of questions along the lines ot whether we get the best out of whatever it is that we contribute. Other than that, I believe that we are giving enough and that we are giving it as a gift and nol as repayment of a debt.
– I direct my remarks to Division No. 165. The comments that. I wish to make have been prefaced by Senator Cotton and Senator Tangney.
– Then do not repeat them.
– I will not repeat the preface. I was particularly interested in some of the comments that the Minister made. Undoubtedly they will be canvassed in this chamber on many occasions in the future. I am very proud of the contribution that Australia makes. I am quite certain that the Government does not do enough to make known within Australia - I cannot speak of overseas - the great volume of assistance that we give, to international organisations and international development and relief. Whilst members of the Opposition attack the Government from time to time for not achieving what is supposed to be the aim - a contribution of 1 % of national income to international aid - I do not believe that overall the Government is given sufficient credit for what it has done in the provision of aid to less fortunate countries.
– I was not trying to discredit the Government in any way.
– No, I realise that. I give Senator Tangney full credit for that.
– She was speaking only of the appropriations in respect of the South Pacific area, was she not?
– That is so.
– Yes. I am taking my mind further afield than that. One point that attracted my attention was the contribution to disaster relief under Division No. 165. Last year we contributed about $10.5m for disaster relief. I note that this year we are being asked to appropriate a nominal amount. I imagine that should the necessity arise funds will be found to enable Australia to contribute additional money to disaster relief.
There is something that the Australian taxpayers wish to know. I have raised the matter once in this chamber at question time and also on another occasion, without any specific comment being made by the Minister concerned. Perhaps the departmental officers who are now present can give us some information on it. Last year we made contributions to disaster relief in South Korea, Hong Kong, Laos, Malaysia, Burma, Western Samoa and Indonesia. We also contributed to the International Refugee Campaign and International Social Service of Japan. In addition we contributed emergency food aid to India. In the last financial year, $9,479,126 was spent on emergency food aid to India.
Another matter on which I would like to speak is the cost of transporting private donations of food and medicine to certain countries.. As I understand the position, at the present time the Government is not allocating any funds for this purpose. The point that I raise is that it would bc as well if some report could be given to the Australian taxpayers regarding the followup measures that are taken by the Department or by the appropriate authority to verify that value is gained for the aid that we have contributed. Let me take one instance. I refer to the contribution for emergency food aid to India which last year was $9,479,126. I would be very pleased to have a statement as to how this Administration has followed the matter through to ascertain the effect that was gained from the contribution. This could relate, in my view, to a number of the items that I have mentioned. I think the taxpayer is due to have a statement on these items because Australia certainly is providing substantial assistance to some countries.
I think we should be provided with an economic report relating to our contributions to international organisations. I know from the way Senator Fitzgerald is trying to interject that he is keen to know what has happened in relation to the items of $250,000, $500,000 and (lim which Australia contributes to various organisations, We should see that the organisations do not build up into big bureaucratic bodies that merely employ labour. We should sec also that we are gaining for the world in general some benefit as far as the distribution of information and services is concerned. I reiterate that in relation to contributions to certain countries for relief purposes and contributions to international organisations, it might be as well to put on record the way in which our contributions are used. I hope that the Minister will comment on this question so that we can see that efficiency and improved conditions are gained through these contributions.
I have one query in my mind. I raise this because within the last 6 months I have been studying the work of the Department of External Affairs, particularly in relation to its attempts to pursue an idea that Australia would give some stock to India. The proposition was put forward by the Department that Australia would give 150 bulls to India. This scheme was commenced by the Department. The communications that I have had and the information that I have received regarding this matter do not at this time give great credit to those whom I would have expected to handle this matter efficiently. Contracts were called so that the animals could be shipped to India. After the contracts were called, the plan was dropped because it was suggested that it would be better, mind you, if the bulls were flown to India. The decision has now been taken that the bulls will be flown to India in lots of thirty. I cannot fathom the wisdom associated with this decision, but that is the proposition put forward. In the whole of this matter I do not think that we are obtaining the efficiency that we should.
May I endorse one of the points made by Senator Cotton in relation to Australia purchasing buildings or posts for our representatives overseas. I am delighted to hear the Minister say that we are progressively acquiring these buildings overseas. I would like the Minister to point out and perhaps to express to me the reasons for the decision which was taken last year - and which I raised during the debate on these estimates - to pay some $750,000 per annum in rent for our quarters in London. I am looking at this on a capital basis. If this amount were capitalised over a few years we would own the property concerned instead of paying enormous sums in rent. I see from my inquiries as a member of the Public Accounts Committee and by looking at this expenditure in these estimates that Australia is finding large sums to maintain its overseas posts.
– I wish to raise a matter on the estimates for the Department of External Affairs. I relate my remarks to Division No. 1 65 - Administrative. I wish to raise a question that affects some Australians who have contracted to work for American companies as civilian employees in Vietnam. This question might affect Australians who contract to work in the future as civilian employees for American companies in Vietnam. After I have recited some of the facts concerning a particular case that has been brought to my attention, I will seek to find out from the Minister whether the Australian Government has considered the employment as civilians of Australians by American companies in Vietnam and, if not, whether it is possible to take up with the American authorities the question of whether Australians employed in such a capacity might be paid the same rates and given the same conditions as American citizens performing a similar type of activity enjoy.
– What is our interest in this matter?
– It might not be the honourable senator’s interest, but surely it is the interest of the Department if we are interested in getting Australians to undertake work in Vietnam. I will cite this matter to show that the Australian Government under the auspices of the Department of External Affairs should be protecting the interests of the Australian citizens employed in such a capacity. I am sure that when Senator Webster has heard some of the facts that 1 am about to enumerate he will agree with me.
It was brought to my attention recently by a gentleman who had contracted to work for an American company that in April 1966 he had answered an advertisement in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ for Australian personnel to be employed in Vietnam. This gentleman applied for the position. He was subsequently interviewed. He was approved to occupy the position of an administrator at a salary of $US403 a month, plus a living allowance of $US120 a month and an allowance of $US20 a month in lieu of PX privileges. He went to Vietnam and took up his duties in May 1966. He mentions that the American officer who first interviewed him pointed out that he was the first Australian employed by the company. The American officer was rather surprised that Australians were not paid salaries and living allowances comparable with those paid to Americans who were receiving more than double the amount paid to Australians who were performing similar work. He mentioned that the American company - and, I assume, acting under the auspices of the American authorities - placed nationals into three different categories. The Vietnamese were classified as first, nationals. Americans were classified as second nationals. All other foreigners - and this includes Australians - were classified as third nationals. The Americans filled all supervisory positions. The third nationals worked mainly as foremen although this gentleman was appointed as an administator. The Vietnamese actually did all the physical work.
When this gentleman arrived in Saigon, because of his knowledge of English he was offered a job in the personnel office. He was offered the job, he was informed, because most of the third state nationals do not have an adequate grasp of the English language. Accordingly, after some time he was assigned to a base at Phan Rang. There, in turn, the manager expressed some surprise that Australians were classed as third state nationals. The manager said that, because of this gentleman’s Australian qualifications, he would like to appoint him as his personal assistant, a position which should have been allocated only to an American who would receive $US950 a month, but for which the Australian was entitled to an amount of only $US520 a month. He worked in this position for 8 months with the complete approval of the project manager and various area managers supervising. At . the suggestion of the manager he attended a 2 weeks course, which was conducted by the company on production control and work management. After his experience and having completed the course he. had acquired a fair understanding of the work involved but he was told at the conclusion of the course that although he had a very good knowledge of the situation he could not take a position similar to that offered because he was merely a third state national.
At the time he left Vietnam in July of this year, the living allowance paid to him as a third slate national was SUSI55 a month, whilst an American performing the same sort of work who, I suggest, would not live at a higher rate than an Australian, was receiving SUS250 a month. It docs seem to suggest that this is a matter which should come within the purview of the Department of External Affairs and it is something that the Australian authorities should take up wilh the American authorities to ensure that if Australians are asked to serve in a civilian capacity in Vietnam with American companies, performing the same sort of work as Americans, they should- be entitled to receive the same rate of pay, living allowance and conditions. I bring the matter to the notice of the Minister and the Department, to see whether, in the future interests of Australians, anything can be done in this matter. I now ask for leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted: progress reported.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Gorton) read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to set up a special statutory Tribunal to deal with industrial disputes involving pilots, navigators and flight engineers in the airlines industry. I emphasise two features of what I have just said. The Bill sets up a special Tribunal and that special Tribunal is a statutory tribunal.
We are providing that industrial disputes affecting flight crew - 1 use that phrase to comprehend the three classes of flight crew - be handled by a special Tribunal, because experience has shown that industrial problems concerning flight crew are unique. And we are providing for a statutory Tribunal with ancillary provisions, because alt the effort put into establishing lasting and effective non-statutory machinery to govern the industry relationships of pilots has proved unavailing.
I must use a few words to explain this last point. Originally the pilots had an association registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. When the then Pilots Association found that the Arbitration Court, as it then was, and later the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, were unprepared to award what they sought, the Association was replaced by the Pilots Federation, a body outside the arbitration system. For years, relationships between the Pilots Association and later the Federation and the airlines were in a pretty constant state of ferment. While many factors contributed to this unfortunate situation, one of them was the disposition of the pilots body to exploit to the full their unique bargaining position, irrespective of the consequences for the industry and the public. The years between 1956 and 1964 were littered with industrial skirmishings, disputes and arguments, strikes and regulation strikes, and proceedings in the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, the Commonwealth Industrial Court, and the High Court. The pilots bodies steadfastly refused to submit their claims to arbitration; they relied on their bargaining strength and exercised it to the full.
By 1964 the situation had become chaotic and the future of the industry was in jeopardy. There simply had to be some orderly arrangements for dealing with disputes between the airlines and their pilots. It was urged on the Government that it should bring down legislation to deal with airlines-pilots relations. The Government, however, took the view that an effort should be made to get a voluntary agreement between the airline operators and the Pilots Federation which would set down agreed means of settling industrial problems. The Department of Labour and National Service was instructed to explore the possibility of achieving this. To our great satisfaction, and to the pleasure of the parties, an agreement was ultimately hammered out. The Agreement on Industrial Relationships Procedures was signed by Qantas Airways Ltd, Trans-Australia Airlines, AnsettANA, MacRobertson-Miller Airlines and East West Airlines and the Australian Federation of Air Pilots, and it was to operate for 3 years from September 1965.
The procedures called for direct negotiation between the parties and if these negotiations were unsuccessful, mediation by an independent mediator: If mediation should be unsuccessful various possibilities were open - further mediation, an inquiry into the matters in dispute by an independent person appointed for the purpose, or a conference of the parties to be convened by the Secretary to the Department. It was agreed that the parties would not have recourse to action outside the agreement until the procedures provided by it had been exhausted. The Federation undertook to suspend the right to strike or to impose any other limitation upon work while a matter was under negotiation or inquiry in accordance with the procedures, and until the expiry of a period of 7 days after conclusion of the conference action to which I have referred.
I emphasise that this agreement was voluntarily entered into and, indeed, reflected in its essentials the previously expressed wishes of the Federation. In these circumstances it was not unreasonable to assume that there would be no further trouble of any consequence between the Pilots Federation and the airlines. These hopes were short lived. In mid-1966 when the procedures were employed in the negotion of a new contract between the Pilots Federation and the domestic airline operators, agreement was reached - under, I add, threat of immediate strike action - which gave substantial salary increases and improved conditions for domestic pilots. Then the Federation became involved in a dispute with Qantas. Within a short span of time - in breach of the procedures agreement - the Qantas pilots went on strike. In short, the Federation repudiated, in a little more than a year, the agreement it had negotiated and signed.
I have no need to go into the details of the Qantas strike. It was a sorry affair. I do, however, wish to remind honourable senators of one of the terms of settlement. I refer to the term which provided that four listed matters and negotiations for a new contract between Qantas and the Federation were to be handled by a committee consisting of equal numbers of representatives of Qantas and the Federation with an independent neutral chairman to be appointed by agreement of the parties, and failing that by the Minister for Labour and National Service. It was also provided that on any matter before the committee with equal numbers present from both sides, the majority decision was to prevail, but otherwise the decision of the Chairman was to prevail; in other words, he would arbitrate. I am glad to say that, under the chairmanship of Sir Leslie Melville, agreement was recently reached between Qantas and the Federation but not without threats by the latter’s representatives of direct action and of walk out from the conferences when matters were raised of which those representatives disapproved.
Now, of course, it is gratifying that an agreement has been reached. I am not interested here in its terms. All I hope is that the agreement fs honoured. I have to put it that way because, despite the agreement reached last July between the domestic airlines and the Pilots Federation - which gave considerable increases in salaries to the pilots and gave them the
North American type agreement they wanted - at this very moment, both TAA and Ansett-ANA are once more being confronted by the Federation. To try to get its way, the Federation is prepared to disrupt operations by restricting the hours the pilots will fly. It was of no consequence to the Federation that, once again, the public would be the sufferer.
So now I am presenting this legislation. Wc hoped in 1965, when the voluntary Procedures Agreement was signed, that the need for special legislation had passed. We hoped that, with the new contract to operate from last July between the domestic operators and the Federation, there would be peace in the domestic airlines. Whether there will be peace remains to be seen. We hope that the Qantas agreement will be honoured. We could approach this legislation as providing an insurance policy for the future. But it is rather more than that. The fact of the matter is that currently there is no machinery for handling the industrial relationships of the pilots and the airlines.
Before I go on to explain the Bill, I want to point out that under the 1965 Procedures Agreement, to which the Federation was a party, the steps were negotiation, mediation, inquiry and conference. In the case of the terms of settlement of the Qantas strike, to which the Federation was also party, the steps were negotiation, mediation and arbitration, that is, essentially the same as the normal processes under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. I make these points because they bear very directly on the provisions of this Bill. Put. another way, the Bill is framed to provide for these very processes of conciliation, mediation and arbitration to which the Federation earlier agreed.
The Bill before us provides for a new Part IIIa within the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1966 which will provide orderly means for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes involving pilots, navigators and flight engineers. 1 mentioned navigators and flight engineers. We all know that pilots, navigators and flight engineers necessarily represent a close working group on the flight deck of an aircraft. They are members of a team. They share a number of common conditions of employment. They are subject to the provisions of the Air Navigation Act and the regulations and orders made under that Act. In this situation one cannot conceive that one set of arrangements for dealing with industrial issues should apply to pilots and another or others to their colleagues.
But there is another cogent reason. As I have already indicated, the Pilots Federation by its own decision placed itself outside the jurisdiction of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The Australasian Airline Navigators Association likewise is not, and never has been, registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act - in its case, because it has insufficient members to qualify for registration. Its members are employed with Qantas. Until, recently, there have been no formal arrangements for dealing with the industrial relationships between Qantas and the navigators. However quite recently, with the aid of the Department of Labour and National Service, the parties entered into an agreement covering procedures for the handling of their relationships - procedures which, unlike those provided by the 1965 pilots Procedures Agreement, allow for arbitration where the processes of negotiation and conciliation are unsuccessful.
I understand that these .procedures have not yet been availed of. It was, however, accepted by both parties that in the event of legislation to provide the means for dealing with matters in dispute between them, the procedures would lapse, except that insofar as there were matters in process at the time legislation was passed, the parties could agree to carry on in accordance with the provisions of the Agreement. On the other hand, flight engineers belong to the Australasian Airline Flight Engineers Association, which is registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The attitude of this Association is quite clear. Its attitude is that flight engineers’ conditions should be related to those of pilots. For the reasons I have mentioned, it is obvious that each of these three classes of flight crew should be covered by the same machinery otherwise inconsistencies of treatment could develop which, in themselves, would provide grounds for further unrest.
Now it has for years been the consistent policy of governments of the Commonwealth, of our persuasion or of the Opposition’s, to set their face against constituting special tribunals in the industrial field. Since the war there has only been one exception - the Coal Industry Tribunal. There was very special justification for the then Labor Government making an exception in that case. And we believe there is very special justification for our making an exception in this case.
Many of the problems associated with the employment of pilots, navigators and flight engineers are inextricably interrelated, complex and unique. The rapid growth of the industry and the important part it now plays in our national life are to a very large extent post-war phenomena. As everyone knows, operating aircraft is a highly technical business and characterised by rapid technological change. The introduction of a new aircraft type can have a profound effect on airline operations and on the previously existing conditions of employment. Flight crew officers are trained in highly specialised skills peculiar to the industry with virtually no counterpart in other industries.
In a nutshell, I do not think anyone would dispute that flight crew and their conditions of employment differ appreciably from just about all, if not all, other classes of employees ordinarily dealt with by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. In passing, one of the reasons advanced by the pilots for removing themselves from the Commission, and refusing to return to it, is that they believed that the processes of the Commission and its personnel were not well-suited to deal with pilot and airline problems.
So the Bill provides for the setting up of a special Tribunal - the Flight Crew Officers Industrial Tribunal. The Tribunal will consist of a person appointed by the Governor-General for a term not exceeding 5 years. The appointee will be eligible for reappointment. This is not a novel provision. Appointment to the Coal Industry Tribunal and the office of Public Service Arbitrator are for a fixed limited term, in both cases not exceeding 7 years. The appointee will not be required to act full-time but only from time to time as occasion arises. In the performance of his duties and functions he will have the same protection and immunity as a judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court.
The proposed new office will be a most important one. Whoever is appointed must become really knowledgeable in the indus try’s background, its technology and operational problems. These problems involve many disciplines. The right man may be found in industry, commerce, the professions or the academic field. He need not necessarily be a lawyer.
There is provision for the Minister to appoint a person to act as the Tribunal when the person constituting the Tribunal is not available, or there is a vacancy in the office, or an appointment is requested by the Tribunal in the interests of expedition. If circumstances make it desirable, either the permanent or temporary appointee may be a member of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.
Everyone interested in the exercise of the Commonwealth’s constitutional powers will find interest in this Bill, the powers and functions it confers on the Tribunal and the ancillary provisions. The Bill relies on what I might call the Commonwealth’s proprietary power. To all intents and purposes it owns TAA and Qantas. The Bill also relies on the conciliation and arbitration head of power and the overseas and interstate trade and commerce heads of power. I shall not go into these fascinating problems. Conceivably in some cases the powers and functions of the Tribunal and the ancillary provisions will ‘have limits on their perimeters, that is, where only the conciliation and arbitration head of power can be relied on.
The Tribunal is authorised to act of its own motion, on the application of a party to, or a party interested in, the matter or dispute, or the Minister. If, therefore, the Tribunal considers it desirable to do so, it will be able to take hold of a matter at any time and before the parties may have adopted inflexible attitudes and negotiations have become emotionally charged. Of course, this is a power to be exercised with discretion. Generally the parties should be left to deal with their own problems in their own way, to the extent that this is consistent with the maintenance of industrial peace.
One virtue in including these provisions in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act is that it facilitates the conferring on the Tribunal of those powers and functions exercisable by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission that are relevant to his task. No provision is made for an appeal from a decision of the Tribunal or for references of questions to the Commission from the Tribunal. This flows from what I have said already.
Now I turn to some special provisions - provisions required in this particular case. Some of them spring from the fact that there is no registered organisation, no body corporate, representing the pilots and the navigators. They also have the quality of insurance against the pilots resorting to the tactics they employed in the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in 1961 when they took the line that, having no registered organisation, each pilot had to be dealt with individually. By so doing, they virtually frustrated the efforts of the Commission to deal with a Qantas dispute. As well, there are some provisions in keeping with the conciliation process that we would like to be given a high place by the Tribunal as he functions in future.
Under the first head, there are provisions enabling the Tribunal to make representative orders. Adequate provision is included to protect the position of any flight crew member who can establish a separate interest. Next, there is power to declare a body. This is a second insurance provision. Just as the representative order provisions are designed to cope with the tactics 1 mentioned a moment ago, so the provisions about declared bodies take account of the fact that neither the pilots nor the navigators associations are registered organisations, and could be replaced by other unincorporated bodies in an effort to escape responsibilities under the new system. In quite different vein are the provisions set out in proposed new section 88za.
We place great store on the airlines and the flight crew trying to work out together their industrial relationships. If ever there were a case for those concerned getting together to discuss and negotiate their differences, this is it. That is why we strove so hard to get a voluntary agreement for the conduct of pilots’ and navigators’ affairs. But when I speak of discussions and negotiations I mean just that - sophisticated and sensible negotiations; not stand and deliver attitudes. It would be a sorry day if the airlines or flight crew saw this new legislation as a justification for desisting from the process of discussion and negotia tion which the Government has been trying to encourage. The provision we are making has much in common with the procedures set out in the abortive voluntary procedures agreement relating to the pilots, in the terms of settlement of the Qantas dispute and in the recent procedures agreement negotiated between Qantas and the navigators.
Under proposed section 88za the Tribunal will be able to appoint a conciliation committee upon request by an organisation or person directly concerned, if it considers that the appointment of a committee is reasonably likely to lead to a settlement of the industrial question. A committee will consist of the Tribunal as chairman, and an equal number of representatives from both sides. Its function will be to endeavour, by discussion and negotiation, to formulate terms for the settlement of the industrial question. If the representative members agree unanimously on the terms of settlement, the Chairman may certify the agreement. It will then be deemed to bc an award of the Tribunal. If the Chairman is satisfied that further proceedings of the committee are not likely to produce an agreement, he may terminate the proceedings and. as the Tribunal, determine the matter in dispute.
One is familiar with the argument thai so long as provision exists for arbitration, no real effort will be made to negotiate. This argument has no substance. In areas of industry to which our arbitration system applies, it is no uncommon thing to find agreements arrived at in processes of discussion and negotiation. Indeed, agreement was reached in the recent pilots-Qantas discussions under the chairmanship of Sir Leslie Melville, despite the fact that the parties knew very well that he had the power to arbitrate. Everything, of course, depends on the genuineness of the will to agree, to find compromises if needs be, to respect the attitude of the other side, and to behave in a sophisticated and intelligent fashion. We hope to see these provisions for conciliation committees much availed of in future, with arbitration seen as the course of last resort - for resort only when there are genuinely held irreconcilable differences. For such situations, there must be arbitration, that is the method for ultimate resolving of industrial disputes that the Australian public believe in, and to which all political parties are committed.
The only other provision dealing with flight crew about which I need to comment is that in proposed section 88zc. There is nothing unusual about this provision in principle. 1 mention it only to emphasise that the Tribunal will not be able to make an award that cuts across the Air Navigation Act or Regulations or the powers of the Director-General of Civil viation thereunder.
Two matters are dealt with in the Bill which are nol directed to airlines-flight crew relationships. One provision substitutes for the specific statement of the salaries of lay - not presidential - commissioners and conciliators under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act what might be described as the standard provision found in many of our statutes for determining the salaries of statutory office holders. No alteration is proposed in the salary provisions respecting presidential members of the Commission who are treated in the same way as judges and whose salaries should very properly be specified in legislation.
The other provision alters the long title of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. With the introduction of Divisions 2 to 5 in Part 111 of the Act, the present long title ceased to be aptly descriptive. The new Part IIIA, for which this Bill provides, makes the need for change even more necessary. But this Bill is basically concerned with airlines - flight crew industrial problems. We have tried in this Bill to make a constructive approach to the solution of these. For the future, there will be effective machinery for producing sensible solutions where now, at least as to pilots and navigators, there is none. In the Qantas strike last year the public call was for arbitration, but no machinery for arbitration was available. For the future there will be. We believe the Australian public has the conviction that co-operation and discussion should be the keynotes of the relationships between the airlines and their flight crews. I trust that this conviction will not, in future, come under strain. 1 commend this Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Bishop) adjourned.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - The President has received a letter from the Prime Minister appointing Mr Nixon to be a member of the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House to take the place of Mr Anthony following recent ministerial changes.
Consideration resumed from 28 September (vide page 1000), on motion by Senator Henty:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 17 October (vide page 1310), on motton by Senator Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Authority is being sought in this Bill to borrow an amount of up to $300m. It is not certain that borrowings to that amount will be necessary and the Government does not provide any guarantee of the amount that it will be necessary to borrow. It has set a ceiling at $300m. The purpose of the borrowings is for defence expenditure. They will be applied to finance expenditure from the loan fund on defence services. The Opposition does not oppose the Bill. We believe this to be the normal procedure for financing these matters. We wish the Bill a speedy passage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 17 October (vide page 1312), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill relates to financial grants to the States for this year and the succeeding 2 years to accelerate the measurement of the flow of rivers and the investigation and measurement of underground water resources. The legislation is the result of the recommendation made by the Australian Water Resources Council, which was adopted by the Commonwealth and State governments 3 years ago, that there should be an accelerated programme of surface and underground water investigations. Provision is made in the measure for grants to the Slates to assist them in their stream gauging work and their underground water investigations.It also contains a number of machinery provisions of the kind normally incorporated in a measure of financial assistance to the States. The Opposition does not oppose the Bill. We feel that it will assist in expediting investigations into both surface and underground water resources of the Commonwealth.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 19 October (vide page 1412), on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This measure proposes to extend the operation of the States Grants (Mental Health Institutions) Act 1964 for a further period of 3 years from 1st July 1967 to 30th June 1970. Under the States Grants (Mental Health. Institutions) Act 1964, capital assistance grants have been provided to the States in respect of mental health institutions on the basis of $1 from the Commonwealth for each $2 expended by the States for the 3-year period 1st July 1964 to 30th June 1967. The 1964 Act, which is being extended by this Bill, applies in respect of mental health institutions which are defined as being institutions carried on exclusively or principally for the care and treatment of mentally ill or mentally defective persons which are conducted by or are in receipt of maintenance grants from a State. The Commonwealth has decided to extend the scheme for a further period of 3 years to enable the States to complete plans already under way. The Bill also provides for Commonwealth assistance to end on 30th June 1970 except where a State may still not have exhausted all of the assistance to which it was entitled under the States Grants (Mental Institutions) Act 1955.
The Opposition supports the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 19th October (vide page 1414), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition has considered this Bill along with other measures relating to compensation and the provision of other allowances. While we think there is need for an overhaul and adjustment of all the conditions pertaining to superannuation we have decided at this stage, for the purposes of enabling the proposed increased payments to be made expeditiously, not to offer any opposition to the Bill. Accordingly, I announce that the Opposition agrees to the measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma; progress reported.
Debate resumed from 19 October (vide page 1415), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill seeks to amend the Air Navigation (Charges) Act 1952-1966 for the purpose of securing an increase in revenue from the various operators and owners of aircraft who make use of aerodromes and other aviation facilities provided, maintained and operated by the Commonwealth. It seeks to increase the charges applicable to alt domestic and international airlines and to charter, aerial work and private operators. It also seeks to insert two additional route factors in the table of flights.
The Bill also proposes to make retrospective to 1st January 1966 aircraft weights determined by the Director-General of Civil Aviation for the purpose of calculating air navigation charges and which were notified in the Commonwealth ‘Gazette’ of 1st June 1967. The existing legislation does not allow for retrospective application of the determination by the DirectorGeneral and it is proposed to correct this situation so that the result contemplated by Parliament and the undertakings given to the airlines can be achieved. The airlines were assured that any relevant reductions in charges would apply from 1st January 1966 but difficulties arose in determining weights which would be reasonable in all cases. The Bill also provides for the refunding of excess collections of air navigation charges arising from delayed notification of lower weights. The amounts involved are slightly more than $300,000. Allowance for refunding this sum has been made in estimating revenue for the current year. The Opposition does not oppose this measure and believes that it should be passed without delay.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 19 October (vide page 1497), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a firsttime.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– I move:
This is the first of three tariff Bills I propose to introduce. This Bill deals with matters introduced into the Parliament originally on 22nd February, 1 4th March, 16th March, 4th April, 13th April and 20th April, and which were consolidated into a Tariff Proposal introduced on 2nd May last. The Bill also includes the matter introduced on 10th and 18th May by Tariff Proposal.
The tariff changes in the main implement the Government’s decision following recommendations by the Tariff Board in respect of air cooled engines not exceeding 10 brake horsepower, augers and bits, cycle saddles, drums, electrical capacitors, glass fibre yarns, fabrics, etc.. and plastic corrugated plates, sheet or strip; and following recommendations by the Special Advisory Authority in respect of synthetic resin monofilaments for brushware, man-made fibres and yarns, tyre cord and tyre cord fabric, domestic tableware, soda ash and hogskin leather. A summary of all the amendments is at present being circulated to honourable senators for their information.
I shall now set out the background and facts associated with each of these reports. The Tariff Board report on air cooled engines mainly concerned lawnmower engines but also covered air cooled petrol engines under 10 brake horsepower.
In view of the divergent views and majority and minority recommendations by the Board contained in this report the Government made its own assessment of the level of protection which should be accorded to this industry, and under which it should be expected to meet import competition and consolidate and develop. The majority recommendation was for increased protection at rates of 75% ad valorem or if higher $13 per engine (General) with the Preferential rate at the minimum level in accordance with commitments. The minority recommendation was for ad valorem duties of 55% (General) and 35% (Preferential) which represents a decrease in the existing duties.
The Government decided that protection should be given in the following ways: Firstly, where the value of an engine exceeds $20 - at a rate of 65% of its value (General Tariff) and 321% (Preferential Tariff). Secondly, where the value of an engine is $20 or less - at a rate of $13 per engine (General Tariff) and $13 per engine reduced by 32i% of the value of the engine (Preferential Tariff).
The Government in reaching this decision took particular note of the undertaking given by the industry during the inquiry, that it would not take advantage of any increase in protection to raise prices, but that it sought the protection to enable it to expand its market, consolidate its position, and would anticipate price reductions as this occurs. On augers and bits the Board found that local industry has established efficient manufacture of a wide and generally adequate range of these goods.
Most of the goods covered by this report are subject to protective duties. The Board considered these duties adequate. However, it found that a major part of the local industry had been unable to obtain a satisfactory level of profit and the Board considered that this had been due to its failure to achieve broad market penetration owing to the restriction of the area of protection. No change was proposed, therefore, in the present protective levels of duties, but as recommended by the Board, they would apply to all products of the type made locally or which are competitive with the Australian products. Duties on boring or drilling bits of the machine tool type are increased from 7i% ad valorem (General) and Free (Preferential) to 35% ad valorem (General) and 27i% ad valorem (Preferential).
On cycle saddles the Board found that since 1963 the local manufacturer of cycle saddles had expanded production. This resulted in reduced costs, stable prices, increased sales together with reasonable profits. The Board considered that the company had achieved relative stability and was worthy of continued assistance so long as it could operate within the existing level of protection. Accordingly, the Board recommended no change in duties on saddles for motor cycles and adult bicycles which are the main lines of production. However, the Board recommended an extension of assist ance to cover the local manufacturer’s entire range of production of cycle saddles. Saddles for children’s bicycles and wheeled toys have been made dutiable at ad valorem rates of 40% (General) and 30% (Preferential). These rates involved some increases and some reductions in the previous duties but the Board believed that any consequent reduction in protection would be offset by the extension of the range of goods protected.
Concerning drums, the Board last reported on this Australian industry in 1963. Since then, the principal local manufacturer has reorganised his operations and has improved his marketing in the southern States. The Tariff Board considered that the local drum industry had good prospects of success in the medium and high priced section of the market under a reasonable level of assistance. The Board recommended that the duties be increased by 10% ad valorem to 40% ad valorem General Tariff and 30% ad valorem Preferential Tariff.
I refer now to the Tariff Board Report on electrical capacitors. The duties on power factor correction capacitors at the time of the Board’s inquiry were 50% ad valorem (General) and 22i% ad valorem (Preferential). Other capacitors covered by the report were dutiable at ad valorem rates of 100% (General) and 90% (Preferential). This level of protection was imposed following reports by the Board in 1962. With power factor correction capacitors, the Board found that electricity supply authorities have been changing from the large size capacitors made locally to imported banks of small units. This has been made possible by technological advances. The local industry’s price disability is now high, but the Board considered that if production were geared to the new type unit, the disability would be reduced.
Capacitors are an important cost element for electricity supply authorities. The Tariff Board considered that there was no justification for recommending duties of the order requested which could detrimentally affect the cost structure of electricity distribution in Australia. The Board concluded that duties of 45% ad valorem (General) and 27±% ad valorem (Preferential) should provide a reasonable level of assistance to efficient local manufacture of the new type capacitor and recommended these rates for power factor correction capacitors generally. These duties are in line with the tariff treatment accorded similar electrical equipment.
In 1962, a high level of protection was accorded other capacitors in order to give the industry an opportunity to reorganise production and reduce costs. In its latest report the Board pointed out there was still scope for cost economies. However, in the Board’s opinion, the local industry has been given ample opportunity to rationalise and consolidate its position behind a high level of protection. The Board considered local manufacturers should be now given an opportunity to demonstrate whether they are economically viable under a reasonable level of assistance. It recommended that the duties of 100% (General) and 90% (Preferential) be reduced to the rates recommended for power factor correction capacitors.
On glass fibre, yarns, and fabrics the Board found that the industry overall had expanded rapidly since its last review in 1962. It is now well established in most areas and generally, production costs have been reduced. However, local selling prices of a number of lines have been forced down through reductions in overseas prices and there are areas where the Board considered that profitability was less than satisfactory. On glass fibre rovings the Board considered that the local industry could improve its competitive position by producing its raw materials locally.
The Board considered the industry to be worthy of continued assistance. It recommended that the duties on glass fibre cords, cordage and braids be increased by 10% to 40% ad valorem general, and 30% ad valorem, preferential. The same level of assistance was recommended by the Board for certain glass fibre fabrics which at the time were subject to temporary duties. This represented a reduction of 5% in the combined level of the existing normal and temporary duties.
On glass fibre rovings, chopped strand and chopped strand mat, the Board recommended a specific minimum rate of 12c per lb as an alternative to the existing ad valorem rates of 30%, general, and 20%, preferential. These rates were also recommended for sliver. The Board suggested that the duties on rovings, chopped strand, chopped strand mat and sliver should be reviewed after three years. The Board considered that there should be no change in the existing level of protection on other goods covered by the report, including glass fibre wool, yarns and insect screening.
The remaining Tariff Board report in this Bill concerns plastic corrugated plates, sheets or strip. The inquiry covered all types of plastic corrugated plates, sheet, and strip, but representations were made only on polyvinyl products. No sustained request for protection was made on other types of plastic corrugated plates, sheets or strip and the Board recommended no change in the existing duties on these products. Most corrugated polyvinyl chloride sheets were dutiable at rates of 40% ad valorem, general, and 25% ad valorem, preferential. The Tariff Board found that the only local firm operated efficiently and had the capacity to meet local demand with material of good quality. Further, it was considered an important outlet for local polyvinyl chloride resin products. However, similar imported products are considerably cheaper than the local product. This is due, in part, to smaller production runs but mainly to the higher Australian cost of polyvinyl chloride resin.
The Board concluded that the industry was worthy of assistance provided it could achieve capacity or near capacity production and recommended that the dirty rates for corrugated polyvinyl chloride sheets be 14c per lb, general, and 14c per lb less 15% ad valorem, preferential. The ad valorem equivalents of the general rate are in the vicinity of 70% to 80% on the cheapest imported sheet but considerably less on the better quality grades which are more comparable to the local product. The goods covered in this report are also covered by a current general inquiry into the plastics industry. The Board has said that it may review the recommendations made in the present report in the light of the evidence presented at a later inquiry.
I turn now to the Special Advisory Authority reports. These tariff changes were introduced into the Parliament on 22nd February, 14th March, 4th April, 13th April and 18th May 1967. The first of these concerns the temporary duties which arise from recommendations by the Authority in respect of synthetic resin monofilaments for brushware. The Special Advisory Authority found that urgent action was necessary to protect the local industry against imports. The Authority reported that the local manufacturers of certain poly-propylene, polystyrene and polyvinyl chloride monofilaments used in brushware manufacture were at a considerable price disadvantage compared with monofilaments made overseas. This price disadvantage had resulted in an appreciable increase in imports.
To provide urgent protection against increasing imports, the Special Advisory Authority recommended temporary ad valorem duties of 32i%, general, and 30%, preferential, on poly-propylene monofilaments, exceeding 1 millimetre crosssectional dimension, for use in the manufacture of brushware. The temporary duties are in addition to the existing ad valorem duties of 71%, general, and freepreferential. On poly-styrene and polyvinyl chloride monofils, not exceeding 1 millimetre cross-sectional dimension, used in brushware manufacture, the temporary duties imposed were at the rate of 20%, general, and 171%, preferential. These were in addition to the existing ordinary duties of 15%, general, and 71%, preferential.
The temporary duties recommended by the Special Advisory Authority on certain man-made staple fibre, tow, yarns, tyre cord and tyre cord fabric followed from a reference to the Authority made necessary by the rejection by the Government in March last of the Tariff Board’s report on man-made fibres and yarns. The Special Advisory Authority found that urgent action was necessary to protect the local industry against imports. He found that prices of imported products had been progressively reduced to the detriment of local industry.
To provide protection against imports, the Authority recommended varying temporary duties for the goods under reference. In the case of nylon staple fibre, tow and raw nylon yarns, the Special Advisory Authority found that recently overseas prices had been reduced substantially and there was more than a possibility that further reductions could be made in the near future. Consequently, he recommended additional temporary sliding scale duties to take account of this possibility.
The Authority considered that urgent action was necessary to protect the local industry producing earthenware domestic tableware against imports. He found that the local industry was directing its efforts to making low-priced lines. In this area imports of comparable goods had been increasing and had caused a significant drop in sales of the local products. To provide urgent protection for the Australian manufacturers’ range of products, the Special Advisory Authority recommended temporary duties based on the weight of the product subject to a reduction based on the value of the product. On dinner sets or services, utility sets or services, flat plates and deep plates the temporary duty imposed was 15c per lb less 100% of the free on board price. On tea sets or services, coffee sets or services, cups and saucers the temporary duly imposed was 30c per lb less 100% of the free on board price.
Turning to soda ash, the Special Advisory Authority found that unless some support value was determined, supplies of soda ash could be obtained in the near future at prices and at freight rates which would be disruptive to the Australian industry. He considered that a temporary duty based on an appropriate support value should be determined for bulk shipments of soda ash. Accordingly, the Authority recommended temporary duties of 90% of the amount by which the landed duty paid price of the goods is less than $60 per ton.
Next the Special Advisory Authority considered that urgent action was necessary to protect the local industry producing sheepskin leather against increasing imports of hogskin leather. He found that, although hogskin leather is not produced in Australia, imported hogskin leather which can be substituted for sheepskin leather in the manufacture of linings for boots and shoes, was causing detriment to the local industry. To provide urgent protection against increasing imports of hogskin leather for use as linings in footwear and to take account of minor price variations, the Special Advisory Authority recommended a temporary duty of 6c per sq ft on hogskin leather having a free on board price not exceeding
Also included in the Bill are matters concerning firstly, the Government’s decision to extend the scope of Australia’s system of tariff preferences for selected products of less-developed countries; secondly, the completion of international negotiations which will enable certain fertilisers to be admitted duty free in accordance with the recommendations of the Tariff Board in its report on industrial chemicals and synthetic resins; and thirdly, administrative changes concerning containers and changes to restore duty situations at 30th June 1965, the Brussels changeover date.
Honourable senators will recall that last year the Government introduced a system of preferential duties for a range of manufactured and semi-manufactured products of export interest to less-developed countries. The purpose was to assist those countries in a positive way to overcome their trade and development problems. The Government has extended quite substantially the range of products covered by the system. Brief descriptions of the goods concerned, the level of the quotas and the preferential rates of duty proposed arc set out in the summary to those schedules.
As a further measure of assistance to the less-developed countries the annual quota for preferential entry of hand-made carpets has been increased from $lm to $2m. An administrative amendment is proposed to item 12 of the second schedule to the Customs Tariff 1966-1967 to make that item subject to by-law prescription. It has been traditional for Australia for many years to accord free entry to outside packages in which goods have ordinarily been imported. These packages have in the past been mainly disposable types. However, with the advent of containersation and the continued use and reuse of these bulk containers it is desirable that different procedures be adopted.
Containers and pallets of the reusable type are currently under examination at international level and it is most likely that an international convention governing the import and export of these goods will
– The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) has outlined the details of the Bill, which deals with proposals that were introduced in the Parliament during the earlier part of this year and which have been recommended by both the Tariff Board and the Special Advisory Authority. The Tariff Board recommendations relate to aircooled engines, augers and bits, cycle saddles, drums, electrical capacitors, glass fibre yarns and fabrics, and plastic corrugated plates, sheet or strip. The Special Advisory Authority has made recommendations relating to synthetic resin monofilaments for brushware, man-made fibres and yarns, tyre cord and tyre cord fabric, domestic tableware, soda ash and hogskin leather. Those recommendations have been adopted and incorporated in this legislation. The details that have been given by the Minister show the justification for this legislation. We believe that these changes in the main implement decisions that have been made and are all part of the general tariff policy of the Government. We do not oppose the measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This is the second of the three tariff Bills I am introducing. This Bill is of administrative origin and no changes in the level of duties are involved. It is a measure that will simplify the work of customs agents and importers as well as departmental officers. The Bill presents in consolidated form, in the new Fifth Schedule now proposed to be added to the principal Act, the special preferential rates of duty that Australia accords to certain countries. This in itself is a useful consolidation but in addition this change means there will now be more than 500 fewer tariff classifications required to be used by importers. As Australia’s international commitments increase, as undoubtedly they will, the new form of presentation will enable the changes to be made without unnecessarily complicating the Australian Tariff. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
– As the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) has said, this Bill is of administrative origin and no changes in the level of duties are involved. Its purpose is just to simplify the administrative work of customs agents and importers and to streamline departmental work. We do not oppose it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
– I move:
This is the last of the three tariff Bills to come before the Senate. It deals with changes introduced into Parliament as Tariff Proposals on 17th August 1967. A summary of all the amendments contained in the Bill is being circulated to honourable senators. The changes previously introduced as tariff proposals stem mainly from Tariff Board reports on alumina,unwrought aluminium and aluminium products, and aluminium powders, flakes, pastes and etc; and reports by the Special Advisory Authority on certain man-made fibres, staple, tow, waste and yarns, and sodium dichromate and chromic acid. I shall now deal with each of these reports, and I deal first with the aluminium industry.
The Board found that the aluminium industry, including bauxite mining and the production of alumina, has an impressive record of growth in recent years and is already making a useful contribution to the national income and export earnings, and that this contribution is expected to increase substantially in the near future. It is becoming an important basic industry whose price disadvantages, modest at current levels of output, should be negligible when operating at capacity. In all, the Board considers that the local aluminium industry is economic and efficient and worthy of assistance.
In respect of unwrought aluminium and aluminium alloys, the Board found that a continuation of import restrictions was the only means whereby effective protection could be given to the local industry. Assistance in this manner will enable the industry to complete its current development plans and consolidate its position in the market. Subject to developments in the industry being along the lines foreseen by the Board, the restrictions will, as recommended, be terminated on 31st December 1971.
I turn now to other aluminium products covered by the reports. The Board found that the local industry producing aluminium wire and aluminium semi-fabrications, for example, bars, rods and tubes, is in a reasonable position and does not have a high price disadvantage when compared with imports. Ad valorem duties of 30% general and 20% preferential were recommended by the Board. These are approximately equal to the existing rates. In respect of aluminium products, the local industry constitutes an important outlet for locally produced aluminium. The industry has, in general, been operating profitably and warrants continued protection. The Board recommended ad valorem duties of 35% general and 25% preferential for products other than diecastings. It considered that for these products the rates recommended would adequately protect economic and efficient local manufacture. The new rates generally represent an overall reduction in the level of protection. The duty rates on most aluminium diecastings are generally as high as or higher than this level. This sector of the local industry is significant in terms of production, employment and funds employed, and the Board concluded that the present level of duties should be maintained to protect the local industry.
Aluminium powders, flakes and pastes were, prior to the adoption of the Board’s report, admissible free of duty. However, production of these products is proposed for the near future. This would, in the Board’s opinion, contribute to the development and diversification of the aluminium industry. The Board considered that the proposed industry would warrant protection if the duty requirements were reasonable. Evidence before the Board indicated that ad valorem duties of 30% general and 20% preferential would be adequate. The Government has accepted these recommendations by the Tariff Board.
On polyester raw yarns, other than high tenacity yarns, the Special Advisory Authority found that urgent action was necessary to protect the Australian industry against low price imports. A temporary duty of 15c per pound was recommended in addition to the existing duties of 12j-% ad valorem general and free preferential. On the most important deniers of raw yarns, the temporary duty is equivalent to approximately 15% ad valorem. A further sliding scale temporary duty was also recommended by the Authority to take account of possible future reductions in the price of the overseas product. However, on current free on board prices, these sliding scale duties would not apply. The Special Advisory Authority recommended similar action in respect of polyester staple fibre and tow. These goods are normally admitted free of duty. The temporary duty recommended was 35% ad valorem. On high tenacity industrial yarns of man made fibres and man made fibre waste, the Authority recommended that urgent action was not necessary to protect the local industry.
The final report by the Special Advisory Authority concerns sodium dichromate and chromic acid. The Authority recommended temporary duties of $35 per ton on sodium dichromate and $80 per ton on chromic acid. These duties are in addition to the normal ad valorem duties of 25% general and 15% preferential. Basend on current prices of goods from Germany and Japan, the main exporting countries of these goods to Australia, the temporary duties represent an ad valorem equivalent of approximately 20% for both products.
The Authority found that imports had adversely affected sales and profits of the local manufacturer to such an extent that he considered temporary protection was required. The recommendations of the Special Advisory Authority have been adopted and in accordance with statute these commodities have been referred to the Tariff Board for inquiry and report. The temporary duties will operate pending report by the Tariff Board.
There are several other changes included in this Bill. Extensions have been made to the list of hand-made traditional products of cottage industries that may be admitted free of duty and without quota limitation from less developed countries. This is complementary to the changes to the system of preferences for less-developed countries which 1 referred to earlier this day when tabling the Customs Tariff Bill (No. 3) 1967. The remaining changes are of administrative origin and continue, in the main, existing duty situations or restore duty situations at 30th June 1.965, the Brussels changeover date. 1 commend the Bill to honourable senators.
– As the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) has said, this is the last of the three Tariff Bills to come before the Senate, lt relates to the changes introduced as Tariff Proposals on 17th August 1967. The Bill concerns the Tariff Board reports on alumina, unwrought aluminium and aluminium products as well as aluminium powders, flakes and pastes. This has been a long range policy dating back for many years for the protection of the aluminium industry. This assists the industry to complete its current development plans and to consolidate its position on the market. Of course, I support the Bill because of the importance of the aluminium industry to Tasmania.
Aluminium is one of the wonder metals. Aluminium as a metal is playing an increasingly important part in the industrial and economic life not only of Australia but also of the world. Australia is most fortunate in that it has discovered the magnificent fields of bauxite in the north of
Queensland. The great thing about the aluminium industry is that the secondary stage of the industry has been establishedin Australia, it is one of the brightest stars on our horizon at the present time. This is one industry that is being saved for Australia. In other industries our raw resources are being exported overseas. This Bill provides for bauxite to be treated in Australia and to pass through the various stages until it is aluminium. Smaller industries are developing to turn this aluminium into the finished product in Australia.
I believe that the development promoted by this Bill should be followed in all our processes in relation to the basic ores, with which Australia is so wonderfully endowed, in order to create work not only for the miners in the quarries but also for the most skilled of our artisans. The Bill deals also with the reports of the Special Advisory Authority in relation to man-made fibres, staple fibre and tow as well as yarns. The final report of the Special Advisory Authority concerns sodium dichromate and chromic acid. These goods have been carefully considered by the Special Advisory Authority and the Opposition considers that the recommendations on these matters should be applied and implemented by the legislation. The Opposition does not oppose the measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
BA NKRUPTCY ( VA LIDATfON) BILL 1967
Debate resumed from 20 October (vide page 1512), on motion by Senator Gorton:
Thatthe Bill be now read a second time.
– We do not oppose this Bill, which validates two sequestration orders which were made by a judge who purported to exercise the bankruptcy jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory although at that time he had not been appointed into the bankruptcy jurisdiction. For the education, ifI might call it that, of honourable senators, it seems to me that this Bill is not necessary at all. However, it does not do any harm to pass it. In the remaining minutes I might indicate that the doctrine of the law is that if a person exercises any public office and has the reputation of exercising that office then the acts that he does are completely valid even though he was not really appointed to exercise the office at all. In New Zealand a person exercised a criminal jurisdiction and tried a man for a capital offence, even though objection was taken before the trial that he was nota judge; and even though it was established after the man’s conviction that the person who acted as judge had no authority whatever to act as judge, but had the reputation of a judge and had acted at’ other trials, on appeal it was held that the conviction was completely valid, and the man was executed although he had been tried before a person who had never had the authority and had been so found subsequently not to have the authority. As I say, it appears that it is not really necessary to pass the Bill, but the Government’ has introduced it and we do not oppose it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without’ amendment or debate.
Senate adjourned at 11.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 October 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1967/19671026_senate_26_s36/>.