26th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 10 a.m., and rend prayers.
– Will the Minister representing the Treasurer ask the Treasurer to give consideration, when devising the next taxation proposals, to the redrawing of boundaries for the purposes of zone allowances? Will he suggest to the Treasurer that he consider whether the allowances for zones A and B should be made more realistic because today, as a result of the inflation that has taken place over a number of years, they are quite unrealistic and mean practically nothing to the people?
– Each year the Treasurer takes into account representations that are made for alterations to zone allowances for taxation purposes. 1 shall refer the question to the Treasurer. I know that he will include this matter in any review of taxation when we are dealing with the Budget next year.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Territories. What prawning operational areas have been granted to the South Sea Fishing Co. Pty Ltd, and by which authority was the licence granted? Does any New Guinea authority exert any control over hygiene with respect to the processing of prawns on board the South Sea Fishing Company’s mother ship, the Papuan Prince’, which vessel, I am advised, is registered in Port Moresby?
– The Minister for Territories has supplied the following information:
Vessels of the South Sea Fishing Co. Pty Ltd are licensed to fish anywhere in the territorial waters of Papua and New Guinea except off the south coast of Papua westward from East Cape. The licensing authority is the Director, Department of Agriculture, Stock and Fisheries, Papua and New Guinea Administration. There is no restriction on fishing outside territorial waters. The Papua and New Guinea Administration has full powers of inspection over the processing of prawns. Processing facilities on the ‘Papuan Prince’ are inspected from time to time. The catch is inspected before export.
– Does the Minister for Supply recall that recently I raised with him the purchase of 30mm ammunition to the value of $519,000 this financial year from France for Australian Mirage fighters and that he informed me that the Australian Government was negotiating with the French authorities for a licence to manufacture this ammunition in Australia? Bearing in mind that Australia manufactures only about 3.8% of the Royal Australian Air Force’s ammunition requirements, ] ask the Minister what stage the negotiations have now reached. What action, if any, has been taken by his Department to tool up for the manufacture of such ammunition?
– I recall the honourable senator’s question. As 1 informed him, the manufacture of ammunition in Australia has been under consideration by the RAAF and the Department of Supply. We have now received from the French the details of the licence and we are at present negotiating to a conclusion a licence to manufacture this ammunition in Australia. As this is now under detailed consideration by the Government I think the honourable senator will understand if 1 do not reply further at this stage. As soon as the negotiations are completed 1 will make a statement in the Senate on the matter.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for National Development seen a report in yesterday’s edition of the ‘Australian’ relating to the discovery of another deposit of phosphatic rock at Yelvertoft Station about 60 miles north of Mount Isa? As this discovery is much closer to the Gulf of Carpentaria than previous finds in that area, will the Minister obtain for the Senate all information that is available about this valuable new discovery and the possibility of using a port on the Gulf of Carpentaria for its development?
– I noticed the report to which the honourable senator has referred and I discussed this matter with the Minister for National Development in another place. Quite rightly in the early stages of any such discovery the Government is reluctant to make a statement on the size and quality of a deposit, these things not having yet been tested. The Government believes that this should rather be left to the company concerned. The Minister has advised me that he had no definite information about the discovery. Previous discoveries had indicated the potential of this area. International Minerals and Chemicals Corporation, the company which made the statement, is a large reputable organisation and there is no reason to doubt its statement that it has discovered large deposits of medium grade phosphate rock. The fact that the discovery is closer to the Gulf of Carpentaria than the earlier discovery near Duchess must make the possibility of using a port on the Gulf more attractive. But the grade reported for the ore is inferior to the grade reported for the earlier discovery. It is far too early to judge whether the mining of the deposit would be economically feasible. As the president of the company has said in his reported statement, the company is continuing its exploration to investigate the deposits and the economic feasibility of a mining operation. Release of further information on the discovery will be a matter for the company or the Queensland Government.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. In view of the serious curtailment of flights throughout Australia affecting so many people, what action has the Government taken to settle the dispute between Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett-ANA and the Australian Federation of Air Pilots? Is there any truth in the statement that the Government has instructed the domestic airline operators not to negotiate with the Federation pending the passing of legislation setting up the Flight Crew Officers Industrial Tribunal?
– In view of the industrial situation which has emerged in this matter and the inconvenience which we all acknowledge has been caused, I think the question should go on the notice paper so that the Minister for Civil Aviation, having all the facts available to him, can give a proper and considered reply.
– Has the Minister for Repatriation noted the wording of a circular distributed by the Victorian Branch of the Returned Services League under the signature of the Victorian State President to the effect that last year the Government adopted tactics to stifle all debate by introducing amendments to the Repatriation Act as a money Bill? Has the Minister taken the opportunity to make clear to the RSL. particularly to the President, that the introduction of a money Bill into either House of the Australian Parliament in no way stifles debate?
– The answer I gave to a question on, 1 think, Tuesday would fit this question fairly well. I have not seen the circular mentioned but I understand that the substance of it is as outlined by the honourable senator. When addressing the RSL on Monday of this week I made it clear that a statement made by the Leader of the Opposition in another place in an earlier debate, to the effect that the introduction of the Repatriation Bill this year as a money Bill meant that, debate could not take place, was incorrect. I pointed out that debate did take place in both Houses. I repeat that debate on the first reading of a money Bill is unrestricted. 1 can assume only that the President of the Victorian Branch of the RSL is ignorant of the facts. The facts are as I have stated them.
– I ask the Minister for Repatriation: Is it not a fact that there is restriction on amendments to a money Bill and therefore restriction on debate? Everybody knows that the practical effect of declaring these measures, to be money Bills is to prevent amendments being moved to deal with the matters sought to be raised by the RSL.
– The allegation was made first by the Leader of the Opposition in another place that because the repatriation legislation was a money Bill it was not possible to have a full debate on it. I have given a direct denial to that allegation and I repeat that denial. Senator Murphy is correct in what he says about amendments, but this does not mean that debate cannot take place. Requests can be made in respect of a money Bill, as Senator Murphy is well aware.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. In view of the turbulence in the Middle East in the last few days will the Minister indicate what Australia’s role is. in seeking an early mediation in the crisis, mindful of the effect on the Australian economy of the continued closure of the Suez Canal?
– I think we need to bc careful in our assessment of Australia’s position in the world generally and not to get the notion that although we are a nation which, through the United Nations and its organisations, takes a part, in the work of the nations of the world, we are of sufficient size or significance to attempt to solve matters of enormous weight. We could begin to look a little silly if we said: ‘There is turbulence in the Middle East which is disturbing the United Nations, Russia and the United States. We will fix it up.’ However, I assure the honourable senator that in view of the significance to Australia of the Suez Canal we will seize any opportunity that is presented to us to do what we can in the matter. I am suggesting that we should not seek to thrust ourselves forward to do a task which might be beyond us.
– 1 am not aware of the resolution referred to by the honourable senator. 1 do not know whether it would be proper to prohibit the disposal of a personal possession, which is what an award for valour would be. It would be in the possession of the man who won it or in the possession of his widow or family. The question has been asked without notice and 1 answer if without having considered it fully. There may be some danger in attempting to prevent the disposal of a personal possession. However, these things are clearly part of Australia’s history. It would be better if they could be kept in this country and I would suggest that the relevant authority should see what can be done to keep these awards in Australia.
– Is the Minister representing the Treasurer aware that for more than 15 years I have been asking the Government to consider an investigation into the possibility of establishing a national disaster fund to assist those States suffering from floods, droughts or bushfires? In view of the fact that over the past few years practically every part of the Commonwealth has; suffered extensively from such disasters, will the Minister again bring my suggestion before the Treasurer? Such a fund, apart altogether from Commonwealth grants to States for relief and scientific investigations to prevent the recurrence of such disasters or to minimise their effects, would guarantee to individual persons involved some security in such circumstances.
– I am well aware of the honourable senator’s continued references to and requests for the establishment of a national disaster fund. I assure her that the Government has taken cognisance of her requests and has investigated the situation from time to time. However, it believes that it is better to follow the practice that it has adopted, a course with which I fully agree. Knowing full well that national disasters will occur from time to time in various parts of the Commonwealth, the Government believes that the better course is to allow the State Government concerned to make a request to the Commonwealth for funds to meet the situation. The State Government is the authority on the spot. It is far more aware of the details of a disaster which occurs within its boundaries and is much more familiar with the effects of such disaster on individual persons. The State Government is able to assess the total damage and individual damage. Any requests from the States to the Commonwealth have, after conference between Commonwealth and State Treasuries, been met. I believe that a continuation of this system by which the States apply for relief would be more effective than the result to be achieved by establishing a disaster fund.
– In directing my question to the Minister for Housing I refer to the homes savings grant legislation through which we have achieved such a high percentage of home ownership in Australia. Has the Minister information on how much has been paid by the Federal Government in each of the States under this scheme and can she give the Senate any indication of how many young couples in each of the States have received a tax-free grant to assist them in the purchase of their own homes since the homes savings grant scheme began?
– I shall be very pleased to state these figures for the honourable senator because I think they not only are very interesting but also show that the legislation is doing a great deal to assist young people in the purchase of their homes. Since the inception of the scheme $40,997,481 has been paid to 92,499 couples. The honourable senator has asked for a breakup of these figures between States. I think he will find this information very interesting. In New South Wales 33,090 grants have been made amounting to $14,861,952. In Victoria, the honourable senator’s own State, 29,093 grants have been made to a total value of $13,151,585. In Queensland there have been 12,157 grants which have totalled $5,211,755. In South Australia 9,249 grants have been made, amounting to $3,981,995. Apparently, Mr President, honourable senators opposite are not interested in hearing these figures. Many young Australians are anxious to hear them and are interested in having all this information.
– Order! Honourable senators must not carry on conversations while a reply is being given.
– I rise to order. The Minister has criticised honourable senators, but the voices of protest were obviously raised against abuse of the period allowed for questions without notice. The information is no doubt interesting, but this is a flagrant abuse of the period allowed for questions without notice. I ask you, Mr President, to direct that in future the period for questions without notice be not abused in this manner.
– On the point of order, Mr President. I remember well that your ruling was that questions involving matters of detail should go on the notice paper. I think that inherent in your ruling - indeed I believe you have so stated - was the suggestion that this should be so unless senators gave previous advice which would enable detailed information to be gathered and given in reply to questions.
– This is not a question without notice; it is a question on notice.
– Mr President, you have suggested that if a question relating to a particular department was directed to the Minister concerned that Minister would probably have the information available. That is a valid point. Your comments about long questions related to Ministers who represented Ministers in another place. The question which has just been directed to the Minister for Housing is of great interest and importance to a great number of young people in Australia. The question was addressed directly to the Minister who is in charge of the Department of Housing.
– Order! Senator Henty’s interpretation of my ruling is quite correct. When a Minister who sits in the Senate is asked a question which affects his or her Department, obviously that Minister should be in a position to give the desired information. As is well known, a Minister acquaints himself with the facts about matters that may crop up in respect of his Department before he comes into the chamber and puts himself in a position to give a full answer. The. asking of long and extensive questions of Ministers who represent Ministers in another place is altogether different. It is reasonable to assume that a Minister will have information relating to his own Department. The way in which a Minister replies to a question has nothing to do with me; it is completely a matter for the Minister concerned.
– In South Australia 9,249 grants amounts ing to $3,981,995 have been made; in Western Australia 5,567 grants amounting to $2,352,740; in Tasmania 2,523 grants amounting to $1,071,248; and in the Australian Capital Territory 820 grants totalling $366,322. I gave the totals of these amounts earlier. I am quite certain that all honourable senators will be pleased that young Australians have received this assistance.
– Can the Minister for Housing inform the Senate of the average increase in the cost of homes in all States since the homes savings grant scheme was first initiated in 1963?
– I cannot give the average cost in all Slates. However I can say that I think the increase in the number of approvals shows that the housing situation is satisfactory in most areas. There are areas like South Australia which are still giving us concern. I believe the Opposition is very well aware that this matter is one which is constantly under consideration by the Government. The Government’s interest in housing is shown by its activity in the homes savings grant field.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Health inform the Parliament whether appropriate action has been taken to provide sufficient stocks of vaccine to counter the spread of the whooping cough epidemic among children in the Terirtory of Papua and New Guinea?
– This is a question which will have to be directed to my colleague the Minister for Health. I will get the information for the honourable senator and advise him as soon as I can.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Housing. Seeing that the Minister has been able to retain in her memory the number of applications that, have been granted under the homes savings grant scheme, can she now provide me with the number of applications which to date have been rejected in each of the States?
– I have never said I retained all these figures in my head. However, I imagine that the honourable senator would agree that a Minister who was interested in her Department would keep a running list of the num ber of couples assisted and a record of the amount of grants made. This information, I believe, is the kind of information in which the Senate is always interested. The honourable senator has asked about the number of applications for grants that have been rejected. I am not quite certain if I have that figure. 1 have a figure which would interest all honourable senators who took part in the debate on the Homes Savings Grant Bill recently. 1 believe that all honourable senators would be interested to know that since the amendments have been enacted the previously rejected applications now approved number 896 and the grants involved total $378,809.28, which isa worthwhile contribution. Previous partial grants which are now increased grants number 22 and the total involved is $3,348.67. Applications which would have been rejected but are now approved total 904 and the grants involved total $365,157.72. Applicants who would have received a partial grant but who have now received an increased grant number 705, and the grants involved total $55,014.05. These figures indicate a very worthwhile contribution on the part of the Government. It seems rather a pity that any suggestion to the contrary should be made.
– I ask the Minister for Housing whether any recent survey has shown that hundreds of thousands of Australians are still housed in sub-standard conditions and whether any breakup of figures could be given with regard to the States, not necessarily now but in the near future. Is there any plan in mind to provide adequate housing for widows with children or any scheme that could be subsidised by the Commonwealth Government?
– Senator Tangney, with very real sympathy and understanding, has always been concerned about persons who are living in substandard conditions. Unfortunately, certain people still do not have the standard of housing that the Government would wish them to have. I do want to say that the number of houses and flats commenced in Australia in 1966-67 shows a very marked improvement. Commencements in 1966-67 were 7% above the 1965-66 level. That is a very important figure. It shows the continuing work that is being done to house the people of Australia to the best possible standards. Senator Tangney also mentioned widows. The honourable senator would be interested to know that since the provisions of the Act were amended by the Homes Savings Grant Bill, which she helped to pass through the Senate, the number of widowed persons assisted is thirteen. This, I think, is another step forward under this new legislation. Widowed persons are included after 28th November 1966 by the new amendments.
– Could the Minister for Housing give me details of the number of houses that were built wilh Commonwealth financial assistance in each of the Slates during the year 1966-67?
– No, 1 could not give the honourable senator that figure offhand, but I could obtain it for him by Tuesday or by some other time next week.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. Last week the Minister said that he would endeavour to obtain for the Senate the breakdown of the subsidy paid to Ansett-ANA and TransAustralia Airlines for the developmental or unprofitable routes throughout Australia. Can the Minister state when that information will be available?
– No, I cannot tell the honourable senator when the information will be available. I have sought the information from the Department. When it is made available 1 will convey it to the honourable senator and to other honourable senators who may be interested.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Housing. Since the recent Budget showed a $13m reduction in war service homes expenditure, can the Minister state whether an equivalent sum has been allocated for other forms of housing during this financial year?
– These are two different matters. They are not comparable at all. But I would like to say that the continuing number of houses being built, the continuing number of approvals, and the amount of money that is being made available by private bodies for housing all indicate a continuing increase in the number of houses available. The honourable senator referred to the repayment of war service homes loans. I would like to reply to this because there have been some rather erroneous comments about the amount of money that has been paid out in war service homes loans compared with repayments. The amount of $45.5m that will be made available this year is the amount which will be required to satisfy the expected applications. If this amount is insufficient the Government has said that it will review the matter and assist by making further money available. It is implied that more money is being paid back than is being paid out. I say to the honourable senator that the estimated receipts by way of interest and repayment of capital amounting to $68.9m have been in respect of loans made over the last 50 years. Up to June last an amount of approximately $878m in war service homes loans was still outstanding. Therefore, in replying to this question T have taken the opportunity to refer to the comments made earlier, which were not correct, concerning this amount of money.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. I refer to the terms under which individuals may join a hospital or medical benefits insurance fund and thereby attract to themselves Commonwealth Government financial assistance. I ask: Are there circumstances in which a hospital or medical benefits fund association may transfer a contributor from one schedule of benefits to which both parties have contracted to another schedule which attracts lesser benefits, without the approval of the contributor?
– Senator Webster spoke to me earlier about this matter and I obtained some information for him. The honourable senator referred to the action of the Hospital Benefits Association of Victoria in transferring a member from one table to another without reference to the member. The
Minister for Health states that a contributor should be informed that he is being transferred from one schedule of benefits to another. It appears that the contributor in question had a blue book, which means that he was in the ordinary account. He claimed benefits, the Hospital Benefits Association paid the claim and returned two books, one a blue book which was cancelled and the other a red book, which was newly issued to the contributor. This indicates that the Hospital Benefits Association had transferred this contributor from the ordinary account to the special account for one of the following reasons: Maximum benefits had been paid; the claim was in respect of a chronic illness; or the claim was in respect of a pre-existing condition. The Association’s standard practice is to advise contributors when they are transferred from the ordinary account to the special account and to notify them of the reasons for the transfer.
– I ask the Minister for Housing a question. Is the Minister aware that the increase in the number of houses under construction in the year thai she previously mentioned, as distinct from other years when there has not been an increase, is associated with the increase in gross national income and in population? Is she also aware that there is an insufficiently rapid approach to the elimination of slums and other sub-standard dwellings because the States claim that they have not sufficient money to carry out this work?
– As the honourable senator knows, the last matter to which he referred is a State matter. By means of the money that is made available under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, the States are doing work in that regard. One can go to many of the States and see the very fine buildings that have been erected in former slum areas under that Agreement. In the earlier part of his question the honourable senator rather queried the figure that I gave, although it is an excellent one.
– I did not query it; I said that it was coincidental with other factors.
– Let me remind him that the number of commencements in 1966-67 - namely, 1 14,804 - was 7% higher than the number in the previous year. Surely that shows the continuing development and the very splendid work that is being done! Of course we are not completely satisfied with everything that is done, but in the work that is done in the housing field by governments and private enterprise we see continuing development, which I believe represents a great achievement.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Housing. I remind her that some time ago I asked her for details of the number of second war service homes loans granted in cases in which owners of home units have been forced to vacate the units because of failing health. Can she now supply the Parliament with that information? If she cannot, will the information be available before the end of the current sessional period?
– I did not hear the beginning of the question clearly. I think I am correct in saying that, the honourable senator asked me for information about cases in which second assistance is made available to ex-service people who because of failing health have to vacate home units. Did the honourable senator say ‘home units’?
– The honourable senator asked whether I could give the actual number of such cases. I cannot do that at the moment, but I will see what information I can obtain for him.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Is there any reason why, in order to ensure more equal treatment for all candidates in the forthcoming Senate election, the Postmaster-General could not arrange for a television session along the lines of the session called ‘The Candidates’ - that session was televised in an earlier House of Representatives election campaign - in which all candidates would have an opportunity to present their point of view to the electors?
– Recently I supplied an answer in which figures on times allocated by the Australian Broadcasting Commission were given. That answer is in Hansard. The performance of candidates in election campaigns is entirely a matter for the candidates and the political parties. The facilities of commercial television and broadcasting are available to both the candidates and the parties if they care to pay for those facilities.
– Why should not independents be given free time, as everybody else is?
– If independents are prepared to buy time, they are entitled to it. In reply to the other part of the question I remind the honourable senator that this matter was raised during the debate on the estimates for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. It was canvassed fairly fully. Subsequently, as late as a few days ago,I gave an answer on behalf of the Postmaster-General,It is in Hansard, too.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. What is the amount that a candidate is permitted to spend on advertising in a Senate election campaign? How much time would that make available on the commercial television stations of Australia?
– My answer to that question is that 1 do not know, but I will tryto obtain the information from the Minister for the Interior.
(Question No. 254)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: 1, 2 and 3. The maximum rates of contributions to medical benefits funds in 1953, and in each subsequent year when variations occurred, are set out in respect of each State in the following table.The table also shows the maximum fund and Commonwealth medical benefits, and the average general practitioner medical fees, for the same years. The amounts shown are weekly contributions at the family rate.
(Question No. 261)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister upon notice:
Relative to a statement by Mr Francis James that money for relief in North Vietnam has been sent to the Catholic Archbishop of Hanoi: (a) Did the latest issue of the Melbourne Catholic paper ‘Tribune’ say that the Archbishop is a virtual prisoner, unable to leave Hanoi to visit his parishes and, further, that the Catholic member of a delegation of churchmen visiting Hanoi to discuss relief was unable to see the Archbishop, although the Archbishop’s home was around the corner from the delegation’s hotel? (b) In such circumstances, how can the Archbishop distribute relief?
– The Prime Minister has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 312)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The total cost of the one day sitting when the Senate was recalled on 20th June was approximately $12,100.
(Question No. 339)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
When was the quarantine station at Townsville last used for quarantine purposes?
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply:
(Question No. 340)
Yes, I have seen reports of a statement to that effect by the Victorian Minister of Health.
No consideration has been given to the Commonwealth and States conducting such a joint publicity campaign. At appropriate intervals my Department issues publicity material for distribution to the public through medical practitioners and pharmacists. However, the main activity in this direction comes from the medical and hospital benefits funds, which conduct extensive and continuous publicity campaigns designed to attract new members.
The medical and hospital benefits schemes have been widely accepted. At 30th June 1967 approximately 76% of the population was covered by medical insurance and 80% was covered by hospital insurance. A large section of the remainder of the population is covered by services provided free to members of the armed forces, social service pensioners and repatriation pensioners.
(Question No. 347)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: 1. (a) 294. (b)(i) 27; (ii) 4 plus 2 in process of engagement.
-I now provide an answer to a question without notice asked by Senator Ridley in relation to a contract for $55,000 for hire of taxis in South Australia. Senator Ridley related the expenditure to the Weapons Research Establishment at Salisbury. In fact the contract, which was with St George’s Taxi Service Limited of Adelaide, was for the provision of emergency hire passenger cars in the Adelaide metropolitan area for all Commonwealth departments and authorities which required transport, to supplement the Commonwealth fleet of vehicles.
-I present the following report of the Public Accounts Committee:
Ninety-third Report - Expenditure from Advance to the Treasurer.
I seek leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– In approaching its inquiry into the Consolidated Revenue Fund results for 1966-67, your Committee retained the principle endorsed in recent years of conducting a single inquiry but presenting two separate reports to the Parliament. This ninety-third report relates to the 26 items under inquiry, in respect of which expenditure was incurred from the Advance to the Treasurer. In assessing the expenditure results of departments, your Committee is mindful of the fact that new and changed functions of government bring new problems. Funds must be provided for new and expanding services as Australia expands and technological changes occur. As a consequence, those responsible for assessing financial needs are perpetually confronted by new concepts, new horizons of administration and new challenges to their ingenuity and skill. In this process your Committee has a significant part to play by examining the bases on which estimates are formulated and by comparing these estimates with the actual expenditure that has occurred. On many occasions your Committee has been able, through this process, to provide helpful guidance and positive assistance to departments in the realistic formulation of their estimates.
During our inquiry this year a number of cases were detected in which, due to clerical errors that had occurred, amounts had been charged to the Advance to the Treasurer without warrant authority. Errors of this nature and the failure to detect them indicate a pressing need for improved supervision of clerical work in the finance areas of the departments concerned.
The evidence taken during the inquiry reflected also a clear need for the central offices of departments to obtain from their regional offices and overseas posts, adequate supporting detail to enable reliable judgments to be made regarding expenditure levels in those offices and posts and the validity of draft estimates which they have prepared for inclusion in the Budget and Additional Estimates.
The inquiry also highlighted a need for closer liaison between accounts and finance organisations in departments where these functions operate independently. Your
Committee believes that unless a close relationship exists and adequate and prompt communication is maintained between these organisations the estimates prepared by the departments concerned must contain large areas of uncertainty.
A further unsatisfactory feature revealed in evidence was that in which estimating officers failed, through oversight, to include known requirements in either the original or the Additional Estimates. I commend the report to honourable senators.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– by leave - I have a statement on the constitutional development of Papua and New Guinea which has already been made by the Minister for Territories (Mr Barnes) in another place. With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate the statement in Hansard:
I wish to tell the House about proposed changes in the constitutional arrangements for Papua and New Guinea arising out of further recommendations of the select committee of the Territory House of Assembly on Constitutional development. The Committee was appointed in May 1965 and has presented three report’s. The first informed the House of Assembly of progress then made. I referred to this first report in a statement to the House on 31st March 1966. The second report recommended that the composition of the House of Assembly be altered so that the membership would be increased to 94, the number of open electorates to be increased by 25 and the 10 seats now reserved for nonindigenous candidates to be replaced by 15 new seats restricted to candidates with specified minimum educational qualifications. This report was circulated in the House of Representatives on 20th October 1966. The proposals were accepted by the Commonwealth Government and were put before the Commonwealth Parliament in the form of amendments to the Papua and New Guinea Act which were adopted by the Parliament.
The Committee has now presented its third report to the House of Assembly. This report was unanimously adopted by the House of Assembly on 6th June 1967. The report deals with increased participation by elected members in executive government and copies have been distributed. The recommendations in the report are based upon the proposition, which is stated in paragraph 7, that until the people of the Territory determine their own political and constitutional future the duty and responsibility of administering the Territory rests with the Administrator acting on behalf of the Australian Government. Subject to this, the report recommends that the Administrator’s Council to be renamed the Administrator’s Executive Council, should be the principal instrument of policy of the executive government of the Territory.
It is not suggested that formal powers of
I he new Council should be enlarged. At present the Administrator is required to consult with his Council where this is required by ordinance and he is authorised to consult with his Council in his discretion in other cases. The Administrator is not in either case required to act in accordance with the advice given to him but where a matter is referred to the Council under an ordinance he is required to table reasons in the House of Assembly where the advice given is not accepted. Quite independently of the report of the select committee and following constitutional discussions held in Canberra in April last year, the Administrator has been consulting the Administrator’s Council increasingly. The select committee’s recommendations therefore accord with developments which are now proceeding.
The report recommends that in general membership of the Council should be related to participation in the executive government. The new Council would comprise the Administrator, three official members and seven holders of ministerial office; the Administrator would also have a discretionary power to nominate an additional elected member who is not the holder of a ministerial office. Members of the Council would not publicly oppose policies approved by the Council. The Committee proposes that the seven elected members of the Administrator’s Executive Council holding ministerial office should each be res ponsible, with the departmental head, for departmental policy and for the overall activities of one of the departments of the Administration. The holders of these ministerial offices, whom the select committee considered should be called ‘Ministers’, would represent the department in the House of Assembly by answering questions, introducing legislation concerning the department and by giving the departmental view on resolutions and motions affecting the department. In the event of a disagreement between the Minister and the departmental head the matter would be referred to the Administrator for decision.
For departments not represented by Ministers the committee considered that a form of junior ministerial office should be created to enable additional elected members to work with the departmental head and to undertake specified work of a ministerial nature. In essence these officers will replace the present parliamentary under-secretaries. The committees considered that the responsibility for nominating the members of the House of Assembly to hold ministerial or junior ministerial office for appointment by the Minister for Territories, should be shared by the House of Assembly and the Administrator. For this purpose it is suggested that a standing committee of five elected members of the House of Assembly should be established which would consult the Administrator and agree upon the list of nominated appointees with him. The Committee would then submit these nominations to the House of Assembly for approval. This procedure would operate also for the termination of appointments and for the filling of casual vacancies.
The other principal recommendations of the report concern the Territory budget. The Committee studied possible methods of giving elected members control over locally raised revenue. It considered the possibility of the House of Assembly becoming responsible for the preparation of a separate budget based on revenue raised in the Territory. It also considered the alternative of members of the House and the Administration being jointly responsible for the formulation of a single budget based upon both internal revenue and the Australian grant. The Committee concluded that a single budget would best serve the ‘ordered development of the Territory at this stage’, with the Administrator’s Executive Council having the ‘final responsibility within the Territory for advising the Administrator on budget policy and planning’. Holders of ministerial offices also should participate more fully in detailed departmental planning and through this would play a greater part in preparing departmental budget estimates. In addition, there would be a budget standing committee comprising five elected members not appointed to office. Members of the House would be able to channel budget proposals through this committee which would refer them to the Administrator’s Executive Council or to the Minister concerned. The Committee would have no executive authority but would make recommendations.
The Government accepts the scheme of administration proposed by the Select Committee, lt considers the proposed arrangements appropriate for the present stage of development of the Territory. The changes in the form of executive government represent an important step towards selfgovernment. All the recommendations of the Select Committee are acceptable to the Government with a single exception which is a matter of terminology, not of substance. Since the proposed ministerial officers will not be exercising the full executive responsibility and authority which is the universal characteristic of those who elsewhere are designated ministers, the Government’s view is that it would be misleading to call them ministers’. The adoption of the term could in practice have an effect on the working of the constitutional arrangements so that they would tend to operate in a way contrary to the intentions expressed in the Select Committee’s report, in particular at paragraph 7. It is therefore proposed that instead of the expression ‘minister’ the term ministerial member’ be used. The use of this term is not intended to imply and will not involve any reduction in the responsibility and duties which the Select Committee considered to be appropriate for these ministerial offices. For the same reasons, it is proposed that the term ‘assistant ministerial member’ be adopted instead of ‘assistant minister’.
As I have pointed out previously, the basic policy of the Government towards political development in Papua and New
Guinea is self-determination. This means that if they wish to do so the people of the Terirtory are free to terminate their present Territory status. On the other hand, they are free to remain an Australian Territory for as long as they choose. The Government believes that the pace and nature of the changes which should be made at any time should accord with the wishes of the majority of the people of the Territory and that the scheme of government now proposed by the Select Committee does accord with the people’s wishes. The Government has made it clear that it will not be slow to make changes for which there is widespread support. On the other hand, it will not impose changes which the majority of the people do not want. The need for balanced development in each of the political, economic and social spheres is widely recognised in Papua and New Guinea.
Because of the time taken in holding elections, the new House of Assembly will not meet until May or June 1968. Amendments to the Papua and New Guinea Act will be necessary to give effect to the Government’s acceptance of the Select Committee’s recommendations and it is intended to introduce a Bill during the autumn session for this purpose. I present the following papers:
Papua and New Guinea - Constitutional Development - -Ministeral Statement 26 October 1967. House of Assembly - Select Committee - Final Report. and move:
That the Senate take note of the papers.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned.
– by leave - I have a statement on the situation in Vietnam which was made yesterday by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) in another place. With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate the statement in Hansard:
I wish to report briefly to Parliament on my visit to North America. The primary purpose of my visit was to lead the Australian delegation to the General Assembly of the United Nations, and, during the 2 weeks I was in New York, I had the opportunity of having discussions with the Ministers and representatives of many other nations, as well as with the President of the General Assembly, the President of the Security Council and the SecretaryGeneral. I also paid a visit to Washington, where I had discussions with the President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defence and other advisers of the United States Government, and with a group of members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. I had the honour to be received on the floor of the Senate and to hear a complimentary speech delivered by Senator Lausche on the value of the close relationships between the United States and Australia. Later I visited Ottawa for discussions with the Canadian Minister for External Affairs.
As the United Nations General Assembly is still in session I will not attempt at this stage to review the items on its agenda, for most of these items are either still under discussion or awaiting discussion.
I believe, however, that Parliament should have from me as early as possible the assessment I made on the situation in Asia from the discussions I had. f will speak mainly of Vietnam. The point I made firmly to the General Assembly was that what Australia is doing in Vietnam is done by its own decision to support South Vietnam, both because of the principles at issue and because of the Australian view of the needs of both regional and global security and peace. The principles which we were seeking to maintain there, in resisting aggression, were the same we had upheld in two world wars in Europe. I asked the free nations of Europe: Were we right to stand up for those principles in Europe but wrong to stand up for them in Asia? Or are force, subversion, terror and direct assaults on liberty to be recognised when they threaten a community that has settled down to the stability of a long-protected security but not to be seen when they disturb a struggling people who are still beset by fear? I tried to emphasise again what has been a constant theme in Australian foreign policy for some years, that the danger in Asia is a danger for the whole world, and especially for all smaller nations, and that the opportunity that is rising in Asia is a chance for good for the whole world.
As the result of my discussions in Washington and New York, many of them held at the highest level of confidence, 1 am able to report to the House on the improved military outlook in Vietnam. Honourable members will be aware that allied strategy in Vietnam has three elements - the ground and air campaign in South Vietnam; the Revolutionary Development, or nation building programme; and the. air operations against North Vietnam.
A careful assessment of the facts leads to the clear conclusion that the military situation in South Vietnam is moving steadily in our favour.
The main units of the enemy in the demilitarised zone and in the parts of Vietnam near the Cambodian border still present a threat. Vietcong terrorism continues with an average of 230 South Vietnamese civilians assassinated and 300 kidnapped in each month of this year. Largescale Communist infiltration and forced recruitment go on. But, on the other hand, the combat power of the free world grows steadily greater. A vast logistic base for its operations has now been substantially completed. Enemy main units are being contained with ever greater losses. The proportion of population under enemy control steadily declines. Enemy loss rates are about 50% greater than they were a year ago.
It is worth bearing in mind also that the full weight of the allied military effort in Vietnam is only now beginning to be felt. In 1965-66 the allies were engaged mainly in building up their forces and in harassing operations to keep the enemy off balance. In 1965 there was only 1 deep water port, now there are 6. There were only 3 airstrips capable of accommodating jets, now there are 8. It is only in the last 12 months that the allied forces have been applying strong pressure on the ground, and that military campaigns of real significance have taken place.
Let me make a review zone by zone, moving from the north towards the south. In Tactical Corps Zone I, the North Vietnamese, operating from within and above the demilitarised zone, are able to deploy major combat forces and logistical support but whenever they have attempted to launch large-scale attacks from this area they have been defeated with heavy losses. For the first time in many years commercial and military traffic can traverse the 235 miles of highway from the demilitarised zone to the border of Second Corps Zone. 51% of the population of the First Corps zone is now under the Saigon Government’s protection and influence compared with 35% a year ago.
In Second Corps Zone no North Vietnamese division or regiment has launched a successful operation since the middle of 1965 and enemy losses since then have been ten times those of friendly forces; 90% of the important highways are now open; not one was in 1965. The proportion of population under Viet Cong control has now fallen from 50% to 11%.
In Third Corps Zone a large part of the Viet Cong infrastructure is intact and Vietcong hard core elements continue to press their terror campaign, but the situation is becoming steadily better. The number of enemy killed, captured and defecting has risen from 900 a month in 1966 to over 2.000 a month this year. Those responding to the ‘Open Arms’ appeal are coming in at 21 times the rate of last year. Over 60,000 acres of jungle have been cleared and nearly 1,000 miles of roads have been built or upgraded to carry heavy military loads, facilitating the deployment of allied mechanised forces to areas previously remote. Fourteen new or upgraded airfields provide new combat and supply mobility.
In Fourth Corps, where the burden is carried almost exclusively by South Vietnamese forces, the incidence of activities initiated by the Vietcong has dropped to approximately 70% of the 1965 average. Already this year the number of Vietcong who have rallied to the Saigon Government is twice last year’s total. The security of land and water routes has improved.
One outstanding element in all this improvement is the growing effectiveness of the South Vietnamese forces.
For the Revolutionary Development Programme, foundations are being laid on which the work will proceed with increasing success as the military and economic situation improves. Already 29,000 cadres have been trained, nearly half of the target of 60,000 cadres to work in 1,000 teams. One sign of the success of this work is the persistent efforts of the enemy to disrupt it, but a substantial proportion of the South Vietnamese forces are now assigned to give security support.
The air operations over North Vietnam are carefully limited to military targets and war-supporting installations and activities and most of the effort is directed against the flow of men and supplies into South Vietnam. As a result of this activity approximately half of the country’s warsupporting industry has been destroyed; many of the country’s military complexes have been attacked and a heavy toll taken of trucks, rolling stock, boats and barges. Repair, reconstruction and dispersal programmes are consuming increasing human and material resources which would otherwise contribute to the Communists’ combat capability in South Vietnam. Between 500,000 and 600,000 men have been diverted to such activities. The reduced flow of supplies limits the number of units which can be supported in the South and also the level or their activity. The North Vietnamese war effort, like any way effort is a product not just of arms and supplies, whose importation we can only partially curtail under the restraints that limit our bombing, but also of manpower, morale and a functioning economy. These are all showing the effects of the bombing.
Where then do we stand? North Vietnam is paying a tremendous price for its aggression, with nothing to show in return. South Vietnam, despite continuing suffering and trials, is making progress on all fronts - military, political and economic. The war is by no means over but it is not at a stalemate. The immense build up in strength and the logistic preparation give today a capacity to increase pressure at all points. We are steadily winning the war.
What does winning it mean? I discussed this with our allies. As on previous occasions I was able to review the many and various attempts that have been made by the allies both publicly and in private to bring about a cessation of hostilities, or discussions that might lead to either a cessation of hostilities or to peace talks, or even that might bring an initial response from Hanoi that could encourage and justify further moves towards such ends. Australia has kept closely in touch with the various efforts made and has been ready at all times to help advance them. The sad but stark fact is that up to the present there has been no response from
Hanoi. North Vietnam still appears determined to try to force a military solution. Apparently it has not yet realised that it cannot do so and unfortunately it is probably being encouraged in its illusion by the demonstrations and declarations by minority groups in the allied countries who, for one reason or another, call for what may seem to them to be peace but what is in effect an unconditional surrender by the allies to North Vietnam. Hostilities are being prolonged by every action or word that encourages Hanoi to believe that eventually the allies will grow tired, give up and go home. Hostilities will be shortened if we can convey to Hanoi in unmistakably clear terms that they will not be allowed to impose their will by military force; that the only solution is a political solution; and that our purpose is not to destroy them or to impose a rule on them by force but to move towards a negotiated settlement. It is a sad paradox today that the placards hoisted in the name of peace are encouraging the continuation of the war.
In popular discussion in North America, and in debates in the General Assembly, as well as in Australia the question of the air operations against the North has become prominent. Hanoi wants the bombing to stop because it is a form of military activity that is successful against them. One can understand that. It would help them to reach their purpose of gaining a military solution in South Vietnam if the bombing did stop. There are some of those who say ‘Stop the bombing’ who seem to be serving the same purpose. They either want Hanoi to succeed or, more probably, they do not think that it is important enough that we should stop them from winning. They either favour Hanoi or, more likely, they misread or cannot recognise the great issues of peace and security that are at stake in Asia.
There are others, however, who link a cessation of bombing with a hope of negotiation. ‘Stop the bombing and Hanoi will talk.’ Bombing can be used as an inducement to negotiate, not by doing it but by not doing it. Surely those who say that bombing should cease in order to bring about talks ought to be able to point to some indication that the cessation will in fact lead to a process of peaceful settlement. At present there is no such indication. Some have expressed hopes; some have made reports about what they have heard. I have myself explored the grounds on which such hopes and reports were based, discussing them both with the leaders of the allies and with the neutralist or non-aligned spokesmen who have uttered them. All the resources available to my Department have been used to ensure that we do not overlook any significant word or gesture. As at the present moment I know of nothing that would support the hope that Hanoi would respond to a cessation of bombing by a readiness to have discussions and. indeed, the signs show rather that Hanoi would regard a cessation of bombing as a military gain for itself.
Hanoi is the only authority that can say with certainty what would happen if bombing stopped. South Vietnam and its allies have declared their readiness to enter into negotiations without conditions, or to discuss the conditions in which negotiations might be opened. The Government of the United States has offered to stop the bombing as a first step towards negotiations, provided that some reciprocal gesture is made or some reciprocal restraint observed by the other side. We will continue patiently on that course. But we would be false to the cause we are upholding and to those who are dying for it if we carelessly discarded an effective military activity. Back here at home a pause may soothe the feelings of those who abhor suffering; up there in Vietnam it means more munitions, more men, more weapons and a restored military advantage to the enemy to endanger our own soldiers and to augment terror and assassination in the countryside.
Under the shield of improved security in South Vietnam progress towards representative government continues to be made. The process of forming a constitutional government was carried another stage this week with the elections on 22nd October for the Lower House. A total of 1 , 1.72 candidates ran for 137 seats and the number of voters who went to the poll was approximately 4.3 million, or 74% of the enrolment. The Republic now has a bicameral legislature and an elected President and Vice President and the Cabinet is in process of formation. We will all watch with close attention and sympathy the way in which the new government grapples with the immense tasks of establishing a constitutional government. South Vietnam, a wartorn country, is attempting one of the greatest political advances that has been planned in any of the former colonial territories of Asia - and perhaps of the world - since they gained their independence. This is surely something that should attract the support and goodwill of all who espouse freedom.
The Prime Minister has asked me to represent Australia at the inauguration of the President and the celebration of national day in Saigon next week and I trust that I can carry with me, without a single dissentient, the good wishes of all members of this Parliament to the Government and the people of this infant republic in their establishment of democratic rule in their country. The people whom we are supporting are declaring by their ballots their faith in their own future.
While overseas, in Washington, Ottawa and at the United Nations Headquarters I was able to discuss many other aspects of current affairs with which Australia is closely concerned, both to explain the Australian view and to gain information and to improve the Government’s understanding of other viewpoints. I will not traverse all these matters on this occasion for I believe that I should concentrate in this statement on the issue in which as a nation we are most vitally engaged; the issue that confronts the Australian people today with the need to make an immediate choice between policies; and an issue which the Government at least believes is of vital importance to the present and future security and welfare of Australia itself. I present the following paper:
Vietnam - Ministerial Statement, 27th October 1967: and move:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
– I move:
The main purpose of this Bill is to authorise the payment in 1967-68 of special grants totalling $35,407,000 to Western Australia and Tasmania. The payment of this amount has been recommended by the Commonwealth Grants Commission in its thirty-fourth report, which has already been tabled. In accordance with the usual practice the Bill also authorises the payment of advances to Western Australia and Tasmania in the early months of 1968-69 pending the receipt of the Commission’s recommendations for that year and the enactment of new legislation. The Commission’s recommendations continue to be based on the principle of ‘financial need’ under which special grants are designed to enable the claimant States to provide government services of a similar standard to those of the standard States, provided they made comparable efforts in raising revenue and controlling expenditure.
As in recent years, the Commission has taken New South Wales and Victoria as the standard States for purposes of these comparisons. However, the Commission has announced in its report that, as from 1968-69, it will base its recommendations on a standard derived from the experience of all four non-claimant States. The Commission continues to recommend grants in two parts. One part is an advance payment based on the Commission’s preliminary estimate of the claimant State’s financial needs for the current year, and is subject to final adjustment 2 years later when the Commission has examined the audited budget results of the States for that year. The other part is an adjustment of the special grant paid 2 years earlier, and is known as the ‘completion payment’. Thus, the total of the completion payment recommended for payment in 1967-68 and the advance payment actually made in 1965-66 constitutes the ‘final’ grant in respect of 1965-66.
The following table which, with the concurrence of the Senate I incorporate in Hansard, shows the composition of tha grants recommended for payment in .1967-68, and the composition of the grants paid in 1965-66 and 1966-67:
The completion payments recommended in respect of 1965-66 yield final grants for that year of $21,018,000 for Western Australia and $17,289,000 for Tasmania. The final grant of $21m for Western Australia is about $0.5m higher than the final grant for 1964-65. This is a relatively small increase, which leaves the State with a small final budget surplus of $18,000 for 1965-66. The continued rapid growth in Western Australia’s economy is leading to a considerable increase in the State’s own budgetary revenue and to a reduction in the State’s dependence on special grants. Tasmania, on the other hand, is left with a final budget defioit of $1,132,000 for 1965-66 despite the fact that its final grant for the year is nearly $2.5m greater than in 1964-65. It appears that Tasmania’s dependence on the special grant is continuing to increase.
The Commission has decided that favourable adjustments which are earned in a year, but which are not reflected in the special grant for that year, should normally be eligible to be brought to account in a subsequent year. As a result of this change, which was supported by the Commonwealth Treasury, the final grants recommended for 1965-66 are somewhat higher than they would otherwise have been. In the case of Western Australia the amount involved is $481,000, while the benefit to Tasmania is $318,000. The advance payments recommended for 1967-68 are based on estimates by the Commission of changes in the budgetary position of the claimant States relative to the budgetary position of the randard States. At this stage such estimates are necessarily very tentative; they are subject to adjustment in 2 years time when the Commission has examined the audited budget results of the States for 1967-68.
I indicated earlier than the Commission has decided that, as from 1968-69, it will use a standard derived from the experience of all four non-claimant States. Prior to 1959-60 the Grants Commission had used a standard derived from all non-claimant States - then New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. However, when South Australia ceased to be a claimant State in 1959-60 the Commission decided to adopt a standard derived from the experience of only New South Wales and Victoria. The Commission justified the adoption of a twoState standard mainly on the grounds that, in its view, the 1959 financial assistance grants arrangements classified the States into three broad categories - non-claimant States, New South Wales and Victoria; intermediate’ States, Queensland and South Australia; and claimant States, Western Australia and Tasmania.
At the June 1965 Premiers’ Conference, the Commonwealth made it clear that, while it envisaged that Western Australia and Tasmania would continue to be eligible to receive special grants; it expected that each of the other four States would agree to remain ‘non-claimant’ for the period of the new financial assistance grants arrangements. The Commonwealth had indicated previously that it doubted that a two-State standard was appropriate and the Commission has now decided that, for its purposes, the States should be regarded- as falling into only two groups, namely, four non-claimant and two claimant States.
The Government agrees with the Commission’s decision to adopt a four-State standard. On page 58 of the Commission’s report it is stated that ‘there is no reason in principle why a standard based on two States . . . would necessarily be more favourable for the claimant States than a four-State standard’. Nevertheless, the Commission has postponed its introduction until 1968-69 in order to allow the claimant States time to make any necessary adjustments to their policies in the light of possible differences which may be revealed by further detailed calculations. The recommendations of the Grants Commission havebeen adopted by Parliament in each year since the Commission’s inception, and the Government considers that they should again be adopted on this occasion. Accordingly, I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Tangney) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Gorton) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time. There arc two main reasons for this short measure to amend the Public Service Act 1922-1967. The first was mentioned a little while ago when the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Bill 1967 was being introduced. It is to ensure that allowances may, subject to prescribed conditions, be included in payments for periods of, or payments in lieu of, furlough. If desired, the matter can be explained further in the Committee stage of consideration of the Bill.
While the Public Service Act is before the Senate the opportunity is also being taken to remove a limitation placed on the Public Service Board as to the length of the periods of leave which it may grant to officers of the Commonwealth Service to permit them to perform services for prescribed international organisations or with certain governments. At present, leave for this purpose cannot be granted for a period exceeding 3 years. This limitation is reasonable in the majority of cases, but occasions do arise where, in the public interest, it is desirable that a longer period of leave be granted. For instance, the organisation or government concerned may indicate that a project for which the services of an officer were made available, originally expected to take less than 3 years, requires a further period for its completion. Under the proposed amendment, clause 4, there will be a discretion for the Board to approve of a period, or successive periods, of leave exceeding 3 years if it considers it to be in the public interest to do so. Cases which arise will be treated on their individual merits.
This is an appropriate occasion to mention the very real contributions which have been made by officers of the Commonwealth Service granted leave under this particular provision. In addition to instances where officers have held senior positions in organisations such as the Colombo Plan Bureau, the South Pacific Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency, people with qualifications in such varied fields as engineering, the law, medicine, education, economics and various technical specialties have performed with distinction in assignments with international organisations or with the governments of a number of countries. These cases are, of course, additional to the provision of the services of experts from outside the Commonwealth Service under the various international aid schemes in which Australia participates. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.
Consideration resumed from 26 October (vide page 1 785).
Department of External Affairs
Proposed expenditure, $48,924,000. ‘
Proposed provision, $13,1 10,000.
.- I have one brief question. I notice that in the appropriation there is a reference under Embassies to the embassy in Taiwan. I notice also in the diplomatic list from the Department of External Affairs that there is a reference to the embassy in the Republic of China. These are matters which are taken very seriously by the embassies of countries overseas. I would be sorry to think that there might be anything in this which might suggest that our recognition is of Taiwan whilst the Taiwan authorities claim the title of Republic of China.I therefore ask the Minister whether our Ambassador is to the Republic of China, as I think he should be, or whether be is, as is stated here, an ambassador merely to Taiwan.
– Our representative is accredited as Ambassador to the Republic of China. I cannot say why the reference is to Taiwan in the estimates, but our official accreditation is to the Republic of China.
– Then the reference in the estimates is an error?
– I think it must be.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
Department of Trade and Industry - proposed expenditure, $18,288,000, and proposed provision, $1 1,000, noted.
Department of the Treasury
Proposed expenditure, $347,346,000.
Proposed provision,$ 12,147,000.
Advance to the Treasurer
Proposed expenditure, $20,000,000.
Proposed provision, $20,000,000.
– I want to relate my remarks in a broad sense to Division No. 570 - Administrative - and to deal with the policy followed by the Commonwealth Bank in relation to advertising. I refer to a small advertisement which contains the slogan ‘Get with the strength. Bank Commonwealth. It’s the biggest’. I do not question for one minute the sentiments expressed in the slogan. However, I do question the evaluation of the newspapers in which the Bank advertises.I refer to the rather dubious Sydney publication ‘Century’. If honourable senators contacted the audit authorities I think they would find that its circulation is not worthy of being assessed. As a political newspaper, I would equate it with the’ Tom Thumb’ or the ‘Kings Cross Whisper’. I have agitated for a number of foreign language news papers to be included in the schedule of publications in which advertisements are inserted but I have been told that for various reasons they do not make the grade. I know that in the advertising world we can argue that certain newspapers meet the needs of certain sections of the community. To me it does not matter much whether a newspaper seeking an advertisement is a Labor, Liberal or Country Party organ. I have no objection to this because, whether these newspapers be large or small, they have proved themselves. On the other hand, we are told that for various reasons certain foreign language newspapers do not make the grade.
It baffles me how this insignificant newspaper, the ‘Century’, is always getting handouts. If we follow its history we find that on occasions it has been very close to treason. I am not talking about current times. 1 am talking about the time when this country was at war and when the Honourable J. A. Beasley was the Minister for Supply. This newspaper acted in the way I have mentioned, particularly when a vessel in Newcastle had difficulty in coming down the slipway. The paper gloated over this. That is the sort of newspaper it is. Associated with it were people such as Alfred Cornwallis Pattison. well known in Sydney business circles, and Mr Lang, about whom the less said the better. These are people who became disgruntled and sour. It is ‘beyond my comprehension that decent papers which make a contribution to the community do not get advertisements. I repeat that (his paper is the ‘Tom Thumb’ or ‘Kings Cross Whisper’ of political newspapers. Yet, it gets handouts. I think it is time that the Government asked the advertising section of the Commonwealth Bank: ‘Do you pander to the newspapers that are the nearest equivalent to Dr Goebells’ paper in Germany, which was part of the gutter press? Why do you deny advertisements to newspapers that have tried to make this country a better place to live in?’
– The honourable senator refers to a matter which comes within the commercial judgment of the Commonwealth Bank. The Commonwealth Bank is a commercial undertaking which is in competition with other banks in Australia. I have formed no opinion about the judgment of the Bank. I wouldprefer any judgment that has to be made to be made by the Commonwealth Bank as a commercial judgment and for there not to be political direction from a political parly or a government. The honourable senator might think that the judgment of the Bank in this matter is wrong. No doubt his remarks will be read by the Bank in due course and will be taken into account when it makes its next commercial judgment. 1 think it should be left to the Bank to make commercial judgments as to what it will do.
– 1 want to make my point perfectly clear. 1 do not believe in generalities. I did seek advertisements for :i Yugoslav-Australian journal. The Department of Immigration recognises the principle when it sends out material relating to citizenship conventions and that sort of thing. But apparently the journal I have mentioned does not make the grade when if comes to the type of advertisement that appears in the publication ‘Century’. I just want to put this point straight for the record.
Proposed expenditures and proposed provisions noted.
Debate resumed from 28 September (vide page 1001), on motion by Senator Henry:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill has one purpose - to amend the Act to provide for the exemption from sales tax of motor vehicle seat belts. The exemption of seat belts from sales tax is a very important move, because it will encourage not only the manufacturers of motor vehicles but. also the general public to install seat belts in their vehicles. During the time that 1 was a member of the Senate Select Committee on Road Safety the Committee was presented with figures to prove the efficacy of seat belts in vehicles. People should realise how much safer they are when they have seat belts properly adjusted in a car. This applies particularly to the driver and passengers in the front seat; they seem to suffer the highest casualty rate. Serious injury is suffered when they are thrown forward in an accident. A driver may suffer injury to his chest from the steering wheel. Serious injury is often suffered by people who are thrown through a windscreen. It has been proven on many occasions that people who have used seat belts have avoided the shocking mutilation that often takes place.
The Opposition believes that this is a timely measure and that the exemption from sales tax of seat belts could give people an incentive to install them. I hope that the motor industry generally will adopt the policy of installing seat belts in cars. I believe that the industry should give serious consideration to installing seat belts for passengers in the back seats of motor cars. Injuries suffered by passengers in the back seat which would otherwise be severe might well be minor ones if seat belts were fitted. After all, most drivers believe that an accident will not happen to them. Among famous last words are: ‘I had the right of way.’ In a photo finish, who was in the right or wrong does not matter if serious injury has been sustained. The result of the accident is the final yardstick.
We support the move to exempt seat belts from sales tax and we hope that the Australian vehicle manufacturing industry, and overseas organisations who are exporting vehicles to this country, will take advantage of the exemption and make the seat belt as essential a component of a motor vehicle as a windscreen or any other important component. We hope that the exemption will open up a new era in road safety. So many very nasty injuries are sustained because people do not install and use seat belts.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 3 October (vide page 1076), on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I support this Bill, which deals with the question of raising and expending moneys for the purpose of housing under the Loan (Housing) Act. All honourable senators would agree that housing is one of the most important social problems of the day. A recent survey conducted in Victoria, I think by the Brotherhood of St Laurence, revealed that approximately 100,000 families in Victoria were inadequately housed. The same situation would apply in the other States. Those of us who spend so much time in Canberra cannot have other than a superficial knowledge of the housing needs in some of the less fortunate parts of the Commonwealth, where many houses which were built, in some cases, over a century ago, should in the normal state of affairs be condemned and replaced by modern houses. Such replacement has been carried out to a great extent in some of the capital cities, but. a great deal remains to be done.
In my own State of Western Australia the total advance to be made under this Bill is $1.1,345,000 out of the $l29m that will be allocated. Although the housing problem in Western Australia is by no means solved we have gone a long way in that State towards its solution. Earlier today I asked the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) a question about the housing of widows. I would like to compliment the Western Australian State Government authorities, the former State Labor Government and the present Liberal Government, on the work that they have done for the housing of widows and spinsters who are in the latter stages of their working lives. These people are now able to obtain accommodation in very good flats erected by the State Housing Commission. The erection of such flats is a step in the right direction.
A great deal remains to be done for the younger widows with children, many of whom have been left with only the equity in the house that was being purchased at the time of the husband’s death. They still have to pay rates, taxes and other service charges on the property and are finding it very difficult to do so out of their pensions. Under these circumstances many whom 1 know have had to sell their homes at a disadvantageous price and then try to find other accommodation. This is a very big burden on widows with children. There is no special section of the Department of
Housing to deal with these very special problems. A widow with children has a double burden; she has to be both mother and father to her children, she has to be the breadwinner and try to keep a roof over their heads. She does not want to see the family relegated to living in substandard conditions and not having what they would have had if her husband were still there. 1 would be very grateful if anything could be done for these widows. I realise that the Minister has this problem as close to her heart as I have. Even though it does not come within the actual ambit of the Bill it could do so if a section were inserted to provide specifically for the housing of widows, particularly those with children.
The housing of the aged has already been taken care of to some degree. The housing of young married couples also has been looked after. The widows are a section of the community which, because of the very fact that they have no big organisation to represent them, does not have a very great impact on public opinion. The widows do not have time to be involved in forming public opinion, anyhow. They are not organised on a national basis, except in a very small way. I would say that they are the lost legion in relation to housing. So I now raise a very special plea on behalf of the widows. T ask the Government to try to find some solution to their housing problems. They do not want large, modern houses with a lot of cement and glass; they just want a comfortable house where they can raise their children. I also ask the Government to try to meet some of the other problems that confront widows in tha dual capacity of being both father and mother to their children.
It is stated that the home building trend recently has been running at a satisfactory level and that the commencement of new houses last year was 7% above the level of 1965-66 and only 2% below the record level of 1964-65. I do not believe that these comparative percentages alone show the true position. 1 would like to know how the population in the community has grown during that same period. In Canberra we see very beautiful homes being erected with all modern conveniences and there are parks, gardens and other amenities. This is because Canberra is a planned city.
Other people in Australia are looking enviously at Canberra and wish for similar development. There is very little planning done by the States in the way of housing development. I know, of course, that there is some planning.
But the greatest factor that we have to recognise is the high price of land upon which houses are to be erected. Who would have dreamed even 5 or 6 years ago that a young married couple would have to pay anything up to $10,000 for a block of land, unless they wanted to get one at the socalled reasonable price of $6,000 or $7,000 which would be so remote from the city. When we take into account the amount that they would have to pay for fares to get to work over the years such a block would be very expensive indeed. Ten years ago a home and land costing $5,000 or $6,000 was regarded as something beyond the ability of a young man on the basic wage or little more. It meant that there was a lifetime of debt ahead of him. These days, by the time he has paid for the land he will be on the age pension, and he will not have commenced to pay for his house. He may be entitled to benefit under the aged persons homes legislation at that stage. 1 do not know how young couples are expected to pay such a huge amount for land.
I think the high cost of building a house is the reason for some of the social problems which confront us in other fields. If young couples cannot get blocks of land at a reasonable price and houses at a reasonable price they have to go to live with relatives, and I know the difficulties of two women in one kitchen. That might seem a very small thing to honourable senators but when it is happening day after day it can become one of the irritants which ultimately leads to friction and a breakup of a marriage in the early years. It is interesting to compare the divorce rate after years of marriage in this context. In one of the documents we have been given I read that the divorce rate rose in the fifth or sixth year of marriage. It is during, that time that this friction with regard to housing becomes most acute. At first, while the love light is still in their eyes, it might be all right for them to live in a room and to put up with all kinds of inconveniences. But after a couple of years the picture is not quite so attractive.
We have to provide more in the way of housing for our young people, and of course we are trying to do so by means of another Act. We have to provide more money for general housing and we have to try to meet this problem of the high cost of land. This is something that has to be tackled on a Commonwealth wide scale. The State Governments are absolutely at their wits end to know what to do about it. There are people in every community in every part of the world who will make money if they can out of the difficulties and the needs of other people. The land speculators are doing such a big disservice to the community that I would make it almost a criminal offence to push up the price of land for the purpose of making personal profits. Land speculation is not helping the housing of the community.
– Put the brake on Hooker.
– That is right. One matter in which the States can take a leaf from the Canberra book is the requirement that blocks of land will not be released without an agreement that they shall be built upon within a certain time and that if they are not built upon within that time they may be repossessed. That should be done because people hang on to blocks of land until the need has become urgent and the prices of the blocks are inflated beyond all reason. Nobody disagrees with a person receiving a reasonable return on an outlay. But a reasonable return on an outlay is not something in the vicinity of 200%, 300% or 400% profit, as with land prices today. Therefore, while this money is being made available to the States for housing, 1 am afraid that the people most in need will not be able to take advantage of the loan that will be available through the State governments because of the high cost of land. Even in those areas where State governments are putting into effect district housing schemes, which are very good, the rents are increasing all the time. Because of the high cost of land, government housing authorities are being forced further and further out - 20 or 30 miles from the cities - in order to get land upon which to build at an economic price houses which they can let at an economic rental to young “people.
As I said earlier, the high cost of transport is something which also has to be borne in mind. I am all for decentralisation. But at the same time we have to be practical and realise that the bulk of the people want to live within reasonable distance of the places where they work. I would like to see a complete survey made of all land that is being held without any prospect of it being made available for housing. In this way plans could be made for the development of land at a reasonable price so that houses might be made available to young people at a reasonable price. There would be no need for conscription or anything else if people had homes of their own, because they would have a stake in the country; they would have security and something to work and fight for. But they have not got that if they have to live in a room in a slum area. We know from surveys how many thousands of our fellow citizens are in that category today. They live in houses without a bathroom, houses without sewerage and houses which in the normal course of events would have been destroyed or condemned some time ago.
Honourable senators will remember that a couple of months ago I raised in the Senate - perhaps a little facetiously - the matter of the wealthy Victorian man who left an amount of $20 a week for the adequate housing and feeding of his dog. I suppose that his dog would get a very nice kennel, a few vitamin tablets and the best gravy beef for $20 a week. At the present time many people would envy the conditions under which that dog is being maintained. Many of the houses in which they are forced to live would not be regarded as being good enough for a dog kennel. I have seen some of them. I have been looking around in my own State for a house for a migrant family. I have told the Senate this story before. I was bitten by a dog at one place and I sprained my ankle in another because the floor was in bad condition. The places I inspected were to be let at terrific rentals and people were being taken advantage of by landlords because they wanted to get a roof over their heads. In one place I found that I could not open any windows or shut any doors, and that the water had to be taken from a point about 50 feet from the kitchen door because none of the pipes were properly connected. This house had been condemned but because of the lack of housing it had been given a coat of paint - very cheap paint, I might say - so that it looked all right from the outside, and it was being offered for rental at $30 a week. That is a ridiculous situation.
I am sure that no member of my party would begrudge the Government making money available to the States for housing, no matter how great the amount might be. The States are trying to do a good job in the housing field. In Western Australia we have quite a number of suburbs that owe their origin to the activities of the State Housing Commission. We have special flats for widows and for single women. We have given a lead to the other States in this field. Some of these flats have been in existence for some years. They were the brainchild of a Labor Minister, Mr Graham, after whom one of the blocks of flats has been named.
I do not like bringing politics into this matter, but a very fine Labor woman, Miss Talbot, made it her life’s work to see that adequate housing at cheap rates was provided for single women by the State Housing Commission. Already two blocks of flats for single women have been erected. One of them has been named in memory of her. She died before what she had worked for was accomplished. But the work goes on. The need for housing is a matter of which members of the community must be made fully aware. We have a social responsibility to see that adequate housing is provided for all members of the community. Therefore, although these advances could be larger, we welcome them. I know that the State housing authorities will put them to the very best use. I hope that the land sharks will not get any of the money.
– I will not speak for very long in this debate. I wish to add a few words to what Senator Tangney has said. Last Sunday I attended a conference of the Aboriginal Welfare Council of Western Australia. I was impressed by the sentiments expressed at that conference in regard to housing. I appreciate that this Bill only gives authority to borrow; it does not lay down the way in which the money has to be spent by the various States. Now that members of the Aboriginal and balf-caste community are counted as Australian citizens, 5n the future they will make more insistent demands for better homes. I was impressed by the calibre of the people who attended this conference. Many of them need and could make proper use of adequate housing, but they are forced to live under very difficult conditions.
My only reason for speaking in this debate is to point out that in the coming years there will be greater demands by the States in the field of housing in order to take into account the requests that will be made by the coloured people in our community for housing to meet their own requirements. That point should be borne in mind in the future when we are allocating housing funds to the various States. 1 make this plea on behalf of the Aboriginal community in Australia.
[1 1 .44] - in reply - First of all I thank Senator Tangney and Senator Wilkinson for their support of this legislation and for assisting its passage today. There are one or two points to which I wish to reply and on which I wish to make some comments that I believe will be of interest to the Senate. Let me reply firstly to Senator Tangney. I know of her very real concern for the housing of needy people, aged people and widows with children. I have always had a very great concern for those people, too. Senator Tangney referred to what has already been done by the States in this field. She mentioned some of the very fine units that have been built. But, as she very rightly says, there is still more to be done in this field. The State governments, which are responsible for this matter, by means of the money made available to them under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, have already built a number of units. I have not seen all of them, but I have seen some which are very good. I know the great benefit that they are giving to the people who are occupying them.
Senator Tangney spoke of the housing needed for widows and deserted wives with dependent children. This is also a responsibility of the States. By means of advances similar to the ones that we are discussing today, the States have provided rental cottages for these people. More moderately priced rental accommodation is required to house lower income families. The moneys that are advanced to the States under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement are repayable over 53 years at concessional rates of interest. These advances are enabling more and more families to borrow money in order to own their own homes and are enabling the States to add to their stock of low rental accommodation, which is very necessary and vital to the care of these people.
Senator Tangney also mentioned migrant accommodation. Although I have spoken of this within the last two days when speaking in this chamber on another matter, I mention the experimental self-contained flats that the Government is bringing into use. They are to be offered to some migrant families for 6 months after their arrival in Australia, while they look for adequate permanent housing. I believe that these flats will be of very great advantage. They will be furnished. Their standard will be comparable with that of similar accommodation provided by the State housing authorities.
Although it will be a little while yet before the first of these flats is available, I acknowledge the assistance that I am receiving from State Ministers for Housing and their officers in acquiring suitable sites and designing and building these flats on behalf of the Commonwealth. Flats will be built in Western Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. They will not be enormous blocks of units, lt is proposed that there will not be more than about 24 flats on each site. There will be 100 in New South Wales, 100 in Victoria, 50 in Tasmania and 50 in Western Australia. I believe that these flats will play a very worthwhile role in assisting migrants when they first come to Australia.
Senator Tangney also spoke about homes savings grants. Honourable senators will know that earlier this morning I gave a number of very impresisve figures on these grants. I will give the total figures again. Since the inception of the scheme the amount paid has been $40,997,481 and it has been paid to 92,499 couples. I think every honourable senator realises that under this scheme the Government is giving excellent assistance to young people in the purchase of their own homes. I ask for the assistance of honourable senators in this matter, ft is tremendously important that our young people know the conditions of these grants and what are acceptable savings, so that they may receive the maximum grant. We want our young Australians to receive the maximum possible benefit.
– Does the Department still put out the publicity?
– Yes. We will also be publishing a new booklet very shortly, lt will give details of the amendments that have come into operation since 28th November last. Under those amendments the grant has been extended to widows with dependent children. The booklet will give information which I believe is tremendously important. I say this to the young people of Australia: ‘Do go to the offices of my Department which have been established in all States; do make full inquiries; and do ensure that you are aware of all the conditions’. We want to see that eligible people under the age of 36 years receive the full benefit of this scheme by receiving the maximum grant.
Senator Tangney also spoke about the percentage of building constructions to population growth. At least, that was my understanding of her remarks. My Department views this situation in the light of census figures as they are released. At the time of the 1961 census there were 3.49 persons to each dwelling. Preliminary estimates made by my Department of the 1966 census figures are that the number of persons to each dwelling has decreased to 3.42. Figures indicate that between the 1961 census and the 1966 census there was a marked improvement in every State in the adequacy of dwellings in relation to population. It seems likely that the rate of house and flat construction during 1966-67 has been sufficient to continue the improvement in the adequacy of dwellings. Throughout Australia - and 1 think this is a factor in which Senator Tangney will be most interested - one new dwelling has been completed for every 1.87 additional persons. This varies between 1.59 in Queensland and 2.57 in Western Australia. 1 think this information may be of assistance: certainly these are worthwhile figures.
Senator Wilkinson spoke about housing for Aboriginals. Of course. I know that he understands that this is a State matter which is being constantly brought to the attention of State Ministers. In my own State of Queensland I have seen some excellent dwellings which have been built for and which are being used by Aboriginals. This matter is of interest to us all. 1 should like, for a moment, to dwell on the overall picture of housing because this is one of the most important matters in our community. We believe in the importance of the home; we believe in the importance of the family unit; we believe in the importance of good housing conditions for our people. Because of this, and because we believe in home ownership - and remember, Australia has one of the highest home ownership figures of any country - we are constantly watching housing figures and, indeed, watching with interest the development and growth in the housing field. With the completion of 112,000 new dwellings in each of the past 3 financial years there is no doubt that generally the Government’s housing policies have been successful in meeting the increasing housing needs of our growing population and of raising the standards of accommodation for more and more people. We are producing more and better equipped cottages for families, and more flats to meet the needs of elderly persons, single people and some young marrieds who seek this kind of accommodation. More accommodation is being made available to meet the needs of certain aged persons. In this regard I refer to the work being done by State Ministers under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. Although my Department is not directly concerned, I pay tribute to those church and charitable bodies which are assisting to meet some of the needs of our elderly citizens.
I mentioned earlier that census figures indicate that in every State the average number of persons in a cottage or flat has fallen since the 1961 census. This, of course, means that there has been an improvement in the adequacy of dwellings in relation to the needs of the population. There is little doubt that the level of house and flat completions in the .12 months following the census has been sufficient to continue this improvement. Fewer people now live in shared houses, and fewer live in substandard accommodation. We are, of course, aware of the areas where there is a need. I can assure honourable senators that this matter will be constantly before us and we shall be giving our attention to it at all times. The home building industry continues to be in a relatively buoyant position in all States except South Australia where, I think due to some over-optimism among builders a year or two ago, there is an over-supply of some types of homes in certain areas. I believe there is still some slackening in the rate of home building in South Australia. We are looking to a continuing gradual increase generally in the number of dwellings commenced during the financial year. This improvement is expected to occur in the private sector. Governments will spend slightly more on dwelling construction this year than last year but a higher proportion of their expenditure may be on dwellings under construction at the beginning of the year.
All honourable senators are interested in the availability of housing finance, because this is a matter with which this Bill is primarily concerned. As it is estimated that some 90% of those people who build or buy new homes borrow for the purpose of so doing, the availability of sufficient housing finance to permit of a slightly increasing rate of new building construction is a matter of very special concern to the Government, to home seekers and to the home building industry. Preliminary figures in the Reserve Bank’s latest annual report reveal that the number of loans approved by major lending institutions for new dwellings rose from 48,900 in 1965-66 to 50,500 in 1966-67 and that the funds committed for these loans increased during the same period from $333m to $355m. This is quite apart from some $357m committed by these institutions for loans to persons wishing to buy previously occupied homes. These, I believe, are very satisfactory figures. In addition, the Government spent no less than $160m on housing during the past financial year. The major institutional providers of housing finance are the savings banks, and during the first 9 months of 1966-67 their new loans approved for housing were relatively constant at just under $90m each quarter. In the June quarter of this year the volume of new approvals rose by nearly $10m to $99m. These figures are important in the overall picture of housing finance.
I do not wish to take much more time, but I appreciate what has been said by my colleagues on both sides of the chamber and 1 appreciate the sympathy and interest of members from both sides in the problems of those who need housing accommodation.I can assure the Senate that my Department and I are aware and conscious of these problems. We will continue to work in assisting in all fields of housing. It has been a great pleasure to see that young Australians, through the provision of homes savings grants, are indeed benefiting. I say to those honourable senators who supported amendments made earlier this year to the homes savings grant legislation that I believe that by supporting those amendments they have assisted a great many more young Australians who otherwise could not have received the benefit.
I am conscious of the matters that Senator Tangney brought forward, including the need for low rental housing for widows, deserted wives and elderly persons. I can assure her that State Ministers are extremely concerned about this subject. Money which is made available under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement is being used to assist these persons as well as in housing families. I thank honourable senators for their support and interest.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I do not want to impose on the Minister because she has had a very big morning on housing. It was probably Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin’s finest hour. I thought she stood up to the questions very well. Even those on my side of the chamber who were putting her through the grill would say: ‘Well done’. But I do think that the Minister takes too much credit for the Commonwealth in regard to housing and does not mention the States often enough. The Commonwealth is supplying the basic funds, I dare say; but the States are doing the work and I do not think that they get enough credit for what has happened in relation to housing. They certainly do not get very much credit in this chamber, although they provide the work force and provide the houses.
I want to come to a more specific matter. Generally speaking the housing programme, with few exceptions, is going pretty well but it does not seem to deal specifically wilh migrants. It appears to me that responsibility for housing migrants has been separated to another department altogether and has been given to people not necessarily experienced in housing. For instance, the Minister talked this morning about units such as cottages - the type of place that the average Australian married couple wants. But on the migration side the talk is about providing a thousand-units or multiple unit blocks - huge barracks.
– It is only temporary accommodation, is it not?
– I do not know about its being temporary. Ten years is pretty permanent, I think, in the lives of most people. I do not know what department is providing it. For example, do the housing commissions and the Commonwealth Department of Housing keep in constant touch with the Department of Immigration? Does that Department or Commonwealth Hostels Ltd discuss the matter with the Department of Housing to get ils experience as to the best way of accommodating migrants who are coming to the country at the rate of about 200,000 a year? 1 should think that it ought to be possible to work out a plan whereby these people would be able to move more quickly into smaller type cottage accommodation. A section of this accommodation should De put aside for the migrant population. There should be an authority concerned with migrant housing alone. I do not refer to hostel accommodation; the Government is ahead in providing that. I do not think that that ought to be the final thing. There ought to be some scheme whereby migrants can move quickly into homes. There ought to be as much accent on this as there is on normal housing throughout the community.
The Government is doing a job in relation to housing generally, although we on this side of the chamber criticise. There must be criticism. We have to hunt things along. I think the Minister would be the first to admit that it is necessary to apply pressure at times. I should like her to tell me whether there is liaison between the people who are looking after the housing needs of migrants and those who are looking after the general housing needs of the people. These two activities ought to be connected. It ought to be possible to say: There is a heavy intake of migrants this month, or in these 3 months. We have some Housing Commission places in a certain area that ought to be made available more readily to migrants’.
I have always thought that the $500 provided under the Homes Savings Grant Act upon certain conditions to young people who want homes is not enough. I do not want to be cynical about this but I have always thought that too much is said about the grant. I do not think the fact that a couple are to have a grant of $500 influences them to move into a house which may cost $12,000 or $.14,000. They would probably go into the home without the grant. They would have made some attempt to get a home. I do not want to throw cold water on the scheme but I do not think that the provision is large enough. It does not make a big enough impact on eliminating the gap between what a person has and what he needs for a deposit on a home. The grant should be much more generous. It might be possible to provide money partly as a gift and partly as a loan. lt must be tremendously hard for young people to get enough money together to buy a block of land. Senator Tangney referred earlier to the price that young people have to pay for land. The Government apparently cannot do anything about pegging the price of land. These prices are a real barrier to people who are trying to get homes. The Government should concentrate on helping people to buy land. It ought to be the easiest thing in the world for the Government to use its power to do this. Very close to the best suburban areas there are acres and acres of land that nobody wants and nobody uses and which could be taken over by the Government. If the Government can move into suburban areas without hesitation to take over blocks of land for naval or military establishments, it should be able to take over land for housing purposes. Some of the best land around Sydney Harbour has been taken up by the Commonwealth for defence establishments.
– And for customs administration purposes.
– Yes. The Government does it regularly. Beautiful areas around Sydney could be taken over by the Government and sold to young people at reasonable prices. That would be a much more effective way of interesting young people in buying homes than merely to make them a gift of $500. I know that this grant gets them interested in saving. It is a big thing in a young person’s life if he can begin to save early and bank portion of his income. Many modern young people do not save at all. If the Government has done nothing else it has helped to interest young people in savings accounts, but I think it could be more generous in that regard. Especially it should consider taking over land and making it available more cheaply to prospective home owners. The Government could easily put its mind to this; it has not done so yet. Just as it put its mind to helping money to flow out to the building industry for home building, it could do something about taking control of our real estate agents and land developers. What can be done for the big developers is nobody’s business. The Government has not started to think of taking over big areas of land for prospective home owners.
– And adjacent land for playing fields.
– Yes. That should be included. I put these two propositions to the Minister. I congratulate her for what she did this morning. All that we do here is to seek information. If Senator Webster gets a bit ahead of us and wants to have information supplied in his own way that is all right.
– It is fairly obvious that the expenditure of almost $123m proposed by this Bill is not nearly enough to meet the housing needs of the community or to enable us to maintain a situation even equal to that which existed last year. Although this amount is 2% more than was made available by similar legislation last year an examination of the average cost of housing in Australia indicates that this has risen by 6.2% in Australia generally and 6.12% in Victoria, so while this amount appears to be a little higher than that allocated last year, obviously it will build fewer homes.
We make great play of the high rate of home ownership in Australia but the people are not really attaining this goal without a lot of trials and tribulations. In reality they are finding it harder to purchase the land and to bridge the deposit gap. When they do receive finance they have to pay off the loan for the rest of their lives. Indeed, in some cases repayments continue after the life of the breadwinner has ceased. To talk glibly of 75% home ownership in Australia is not realistic although it is true statistically. But when we look at the way in which homes are financed and see how people are committed in the matter of repayments, the story is entirely different.
I have here a table showing the monthly repayments on a loan of $8,000 obtained from various lending institutions, together with the interest rates charged on that loan. This table is based on New South Wales lending institutions. A loan of $8,000 obtained from a co-operative terminating society at 5i% interest for the maximum period of 31 years incurs monthly instalments of $45.56. Total repayments to the society will amount to $16,950, which is more than twice the amount of the original loan. When we consider that most people who obtain such loans have paid more than $2,000 f6r the block of land on which the home is built, we can see that many of them are in an absolutely intolerable position. They may never reach the goal we so glibly talk about.
The New South Wales Housing Commission charges 5% interest on a loan of $8,000 for the maximum period of 45 years. Persons who obtain such a loan repay it at the rate of $34.48 monthly. By the time they have paid for the home it has cost them $18,619 which is about 2i times the amount of the original loan. A loan of $8,000 may be obtained from a permanent building society at 7% interest for either 20 years or a maximum of 25 years. Monthly repayments amount to $63 and the total repayment is $15,120, almost twice the amount of the original loan. So the pattern goes on. The real problem facing us in this nation is not that people desire to own their own homes; it is the exorbitant interest rates that are charged by all lending institutions on money advanced for the purchase of a home.
– And the people never own them.
– There are thousands of examples, and that is not an exaggeration. Widows in the community struggle to pay for homes for which they committed themselves 20 or 30 years previously when the breadwinner was alive. In Victoria they are forced to appeal to the local government authorities for rebates in municipal rates because they cannot afford to meet those rates and the repayments on their homes and live in any kind of dignity. All the Victorian authorities are prepared to do is to allow rebates on municipal rates on the basis that the unpaid rates become a charge against the estate when the widow dies so, instead of the widows being relieved of the responsibility of meeting these commitments while they are alive, they in fact pay even after death.
Let me turn to the $500 homes savings grant to which the Minister and Senator Ormonde referred. A survey has revealed that in 1965, the first year in which the impact of the grant was felt in the building industry, there was a record increase of 8.38% in the cost of a home in Victoria. On a national basis the increase in cost was 7.64%. This means that the whole of the $500 - £250 as it was then - was completely absorbed by the industry. In reality the young couples who needed this money had it taken out of their hands by the building industry the moment they received it. The assistance to young people, which on paper appears to be wonderful, was really taken advantage of by the building industry. Young people endeavouring to purchase a home really get nothing.
Those are some of the problems we are facing in Australia. Within the next 10 or 12 years about 2 million homes will be required to take up the slack and just allow us to break even. We have heard that there are 250,000 houses in this nation which are unfit for human habitation. Very little is made available at either the State or Federal level to replace those 250,000 homes by others that are habitable.
Another unsavoury feature of the position - at least in my State of Victoria - is that we are building up into the sky instead of building homes in which families can be brought up properly. We are putting families into 10 and 12 storey buildings and I am sure that in 25 or 30 years they will be like the Harlem slums of New York, tenements that we will be ashamed of simply because we are not prepared now to follow the tradition of putting a home on a block of land.
This is a tremendous problem for all associated with housing. I realise that the reason we are building into the sky and not extending into suburbia is that services such as roads, footpaths, sewerage, water supply and so on are required for cottages. We are adopting a very short range plan because the environment of a multi-storey block of flats is not the environment in which I would want to bring up my family, and I am certain that it is not the environment in which most people in the community would want to bring up their families.
We must have a national plan which, instead of providing housing in bulk in the form of flats rising into the sky, will provide Australians everywhere with a suburban home which brings with it a feeling of pride. In addition, we must implement a plan so that migrants coming to this country will not have to remain in those horrible hostels for up to 2 years before they have any opportunity to move into a home of their own. When these people leave the hostels they are forced to pay a high price for a home due to exorbitant rates of interest, or else pay an unduly high rental. The high cost of housing and exorbitant rates of interest contribute to our failure to achieve the natural population growth that we desire. Young people going into a home today or wishing to purchase one can do so only if they live under a two wage economy. The young wife, no matter how much she may want to start a family, is forced to work for 6 or 8 years in order to establish the home before she can think about having a family. Married women are forced to go to work these days not only because land and houses are so expensive but also because it is very costly to furnish a home. So when we talk about the great housing projects, that we have in this country we must realise that we are going at only half pace.
The needs in the field of housing are urgent. Until they are realised and until we grasp the nettle we will continue to see grants made by the Commonwealth and the States that are far lower than the amounts required to keep up with demand. We must look at the problem realistically and plan for the future. We need a national plan to make this a country in which people really own the homes which we boast they own. It is obvious from the figures that have been given and from persona] contact with people that many people never attain the goal which one would believe has been attained by reading Press statements and listening today to the Minister. All these matters affecting housing must be looked at closely.
[12.22] -Senator Poyser referred to the amount of money that is being provided under this Bill. I remind the honourable senator that the States themselves decide how much is to be provided under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement out of the total Loan Council borrowing programme. The amount provided under the Agreement has to fit in with their other commitments, such as education and other matters. One thing which the honourable senator omitted to mention - perhaps he has not thought about this - is that under the Agreement money is provided to building societies through the Home Builders Account at a concessional rate of interest. This is of great assistance to people seeking to own a home. It is good also to remind ourselves that the States are able to sell housing commission homes on very generous terms because of the favourable conditions under which money is advanced by the Commonwealth to the States. This also helps prospective home owners.
Senator Ormonde spoke of the work being done by the States, I thought I had already expressed my appreciation of the work being done by State authorities and State Ministers for Housing, who are dedicated in their work, as are their officers. All of these people are doing a great job. The honourable senator referred to the housing of migrants. I thought that we had covered this matter in the debate on the estimates for the Department of Immigration. Migrant hostels are designed as temporary accommodation, as are the experimental migrant flats which the Government is building. The matter of migrants living in hostels obtaining permanent housing is constantly kept in mind.
In the discussion on the estimates I referred to the advisory service provided for migrants to assist them to obtain housing. I have endeavoured to inform the Senate of the continuing improvement in the overall housing picture. More and more houses are becoming available to all sections of the community, including migrants. We want to see the upward trend in housing maintained in order to assist those people who seek houses.
Senator Ormonde referred to the homes savings grant scheme. He agreed that the scheme was beneficial in many ways but he wondered whether many young people were receiving assistance under it. I assure him that he would be very impressed by the thousands of letters which I and my Department receive from young people who have benefited from the tax free gift of $500.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) read a third time.
Department of the Navy
Proposed expenditure, $193,132,000.
– I wish to raise some criticisms about certain aspects of the administration of the Department of the Navy. I refer to Division No. 668, items 02, 06, 07, 09 and 13. Referring to item 02, last year the amount expended fell short of the amount appropriated. Why is the same amount sought to be appropriated this year as was appropriated last year, notwithstanding that last year’s appropriation was underspent? Item 06 concerns special training fees in relation to naval aviation and other personnel. The amount sought to be appropriated this year is considerably less than the amount appropriated or spent last year. Perhaps there is a good reason for this. The appropriation for medical and dental services for this year as shown in item 07 is almost identical with the actual expenditure for this purpose last year. I should like the Minister to tell me how this amount was allocated and to give me some idea of how it is generally spent. I refer next to compensation payable for damage to property and personal injury which is item 09. Last year the amount appropriated was $300,000 and the actual expenditure was $273,806, but this year the estimate is for $45,000. Perhaps there is a valid reason for this reduction, but I should like to know the reason.
I should like some detail also on the preentry expenses for recruits. As I have said, there is no doubt a perfectly logical reason for all these things, but no detail has been supplied. Not only I but possibly many Australians would like to know the reason for some of the proposed expenditure. Division No. 672 which relates to ships, aircraft, machinery and plant, repair and other charges this year shows an increase. Can the Minister tell me whether the proposed re-fitting of HMAS ‘Duchess’ is included in that figure. The re-fitting of Duchess’ is to cost almost $lm and would have some effect on the size of the vote. Division No. 688 provides for advances to States under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. Last year the appropriation for this Division was $900,000, of which $889,590 was spent. The estimate for this year is considerably lower. I realise that this is a matter which comes within the administration of the Department of Housing although the proposed expenditure is included in the vote for the Department of the Navy. If for this reason the Minister cannot supply me with the information that I seek I shall understand the technical difficulties involved. I make the same request in respect of the acquisition of sites and buildings which comes under the control of the Department of the Interior.
I refer next to page 18 of the 1967 Defence Report which sets out details and some statistics in relation to the Navy. I have said in this chamber on previous occasions that it is unfortunate that out Navy is not much more than a glorified fishing fleet. I must repeat that criticism on this occasion. We have seen substantiation for my remarks since last time we discussed the estimates. Some time ago a former Prime Minister said that HMAS ‘Melbourne’ was to be refitted. In the early part of this year we were told that the refitting was getting closer and would occur probably in 1968. The Australian Navy has only one aircraft carrier which is used as an aircraft carrier. The Australian Labor Party said as far back as 1961, and reiterated in 1963 in its policy speech, that Australia needed a second aircraft carrier of world standard. I think if honourable senators were to talk to most members of the Navy they would find that it is generally agreed that we urgently need a second aircraft carrier for our Navy. I do not propose to go through the whole of the defence report or all references to the Navy, but I draw the attention of the Committee to page 18 which shows that we have a total of 15 vessels which are in action and which can be described as the Australian fleet.
Page 19 of the report has the headings Delivery in 1967-68’, ‘The Future’ and The Fleet Air Arm’. In the section dealing with the future is a reference to nine patrol boats which are to be built. I ask the Minister whether it is proposed that all these patrol boats shall be stationed at either Sydney or Melbourne after they have been launched or whether some will be stationed at other major ports. If it is proposed to decentralise our defence forces I put in a plea on behalf of my home port of Townsville and ask that one of the patrol boats be stationed there. We were told some time ago that the patrol boats would be stationed at various ports and even as far away as New Guinea, but we have heard very little of this suggestion since then. Another matter which calls for some explanation is the situation with supply ships. The fact that it was necessary for the Government to commandeer private vessels to take supplies to Vietnam shows that we need supply ships. I suspect that private vessels have been commandeered by the Government merely to stir up industrial trouble. I hope that the shortage of supply vessels has been considered by the Government and that something will be done to obtain additional vessels so that they will be available if ever we are faced with a war of aggression against Australia. We must have a navy which is real in every sense of the word. We need enough aircraft carriers to be able to defend our country. We must have enough supply ships to support our troops and we need also support ships to protect our major vessels.
I refer now to page 212 of the Report of the Auditor-General for the year ended 30th June 1967. We see at that page a tremendous indictment of the administration of the Navy contained in the words of the Auditor-General. I propose to refresh the memory of Government supporters by quoting the last paragraph on that page. The Auditor-General said:
The original overall estimate of cost of the first two ships was $US90,000,000-
That is a reference to the Charles F. Adams class destroyers - and comprised ship costs $US78,600,000, ammunition cost $US8, 160,000 and shore based spares to the extent of $US3,240,000. The original estimate of cost of the third ship was $US37,632,000 (exclusive of the cost of ammunition and shore based spares).
I ask honourable senators to listen to these words which appear in the AuditorGeneral’s Report as he is charged with the responsibility of seeing that the taxpayers’ money is not squandered. The report continues:
Expenditure on the project in 1966-67, including expenditure on the third ship not provided for in the estimate of $1)^37,632,000, amounted to $15,765,656, of which $15,342,576 was charged to the appropriation and $423,080 was incurred under the credit arrangements referred to at paragraph 208. Total expenditure to 30 June 1967 amounted to $69,159,300.
During the year, my officers examined in Australia and in the United States of America various aspects of expenditure on the project. Subsequently, the Department’s comments were sought on a number of matters, including the increases from $US3,240,000 to $US9,1 36,350 which had occurred in the original provision for shore based spares for the first two destroyers; the reasons for extraordinary increases in the unit cost estimates of certain spares; inadequacies in the follow-up of delivery to Australia of spares supplied through the United States Navy; seemingly high charges levied by the freight forwarding contractor in the United States of America for services rendered; and delays in the examination in the Australian Consul-General’s Office, New York, of billings received from the United States Government in respect of spares delivered for dispatch by the freight forwarder to Australia.
At page 214 the report of the AuditorGeneral refers to patrol vessels in these terms:
The contractual agreements provided for delivery of the twenty vessels over the period August 1966 to November 1967. However, no deliveries have been made and three only vessels had been launched at the date of preparation of this Report.
The Government has been telling us continuously that the defence preparedness of Australia leaves nothing to be desired. I suggest that there has been scandalous, in fact criminal neglect, in the administration of this section of the defence forces. The Government has squandered the Australian taxpayers’ money by entering into an open ended contract to purchase these vessels and spares from America. We have criticised the Government in the past for this and we have said quite clearly, with plenty of evidence to back us, that this type of vessel could have been built in Australian shipyards. This would have given Australian tradesmen a permanent job over a number of years and would have created or built up another local industry. We should also look at the tremendous amounts of money that have been paid. There is no guarantee, of course, that the Government will scale this down in the future, unless the AuditorGeneral has frightened the wits out of some people who are responsible for this scandalous misuse of or carelessness in the handling of public funds.
As I indicated earlier, the contractual agreement provided for the construction and delivery of twenty patrol vessels over the period from August 1966 to November 1967. At 30th June this year, when this report would have been completed, only three vessels had been launched. By November 1967 the twentieth vessel should have been in the water. When will we get the other seventeen patrol vessels? Another one or two of these vessels could have been launched since 30th June 1967. But, when will we get the balance of the vessels? Or was the planning of a contract for the construction of the patrol vessels a sop to the Australian public when the last election was in the offing? Another election is in the offing, and the Government will have to answer to the Australian people for its neglect of the naval forces of this country in the same way as it will have to answer for its neglect of the Army and Air Force.
– On behalf of the Government I discount any suggestion that any of these matters are tied up with the Senate election which is about to be held. The first questions asked by Senator Keeffe related to Division No. 668. I think he referred to about six items in this Division. The main reasons for the net difference of $37,358 between the appropriation for this year and expenditure in 1966-67 include, firstly, the reduced numbers under training - this involves a reduction of $310,379 in item 06 - and, secondly, a reduction of $228,806 in the provision for compensation under item 09. I think honourable senators will be aware that we had to make substantial payments in 1966-67 arising from the Voyager’ disaster. There is an increase of $246,963 in item 03 due to the provision for increased supplies of office requisites and machines mainly to meet the expanding use of computers. Provision is made for additional expenditure in item 04 for increased postal charges. Provision is made this year in item 01 for additional expenditure amounting to $96,971 for travelling expenses. There is a net increase of $32,053 in other items of this division to meet increased activities.
The next question related to repairs. I was asked whether the ‘Duchess’ was included. The answer is yes. Ship refitting costs increased from $5,351,181 to $7,100,000. The reason for refitting HMAS ‘Sydney’ and HMAS ‘Vampire’ by contract was pressure of other work on the dockyards. Provision for an extended refit of HMAS ‘Melbourne’ has been made in Division No. 675. The increased cost of other refitting work is the result of increases in wages. I think that answers the honourable senator’s questions.
The subject of patrol boats has been raised. It is true that a number of these boats, as mentioned by Senator Keeffe, were ordered. I think the first question he asked was where they will be employed. They will be based at the capital cities and Darwin, and possibly one or two of them will be in New Guinea. The honourable senator also suggested that we did not have sufficient supply ships and charter ships for the purpose of meeting trouble. I do not think I need reply to that, because that is not the position at all. Before speaking about the Auditor-General’s report I want to reply to Senator Keeffe’s statements about purchasing these ships from overseas shipyards and not building them here. We cannot build these ships here in the time in which we can procure them elsewhere. The contract for twenty patrol vessels was supposed to be fulfilled by November 1 967. 1 think that was what the honourable senator said. However, because of technical problems in the early stages of construction, these boats being of a new design, the delivery schedule has slipped. We have about five of the boats at the moment, and it is expected that the remainder will be delivered by April 1969.
I would now like to deal with matters raised in the Auditor-General’s report. It is a fairly lengthy report, but I am sure that honourable senators would like to know the details. The Auditor-General has drawn attention to certain matters concerning the purchase of base spares for the first two guided missile destroyers. The order for the first two destroyers was placed on 26th October 1961, based on a letter of offer dated 11th August 1961 from the United States Navy. This agreement provided as a package deal for the construction and outfitting of the two ships and the supply of shore based spares at an estimated total cost of $US90m ($A80.634m). It was clearly understood that Australia would be charged the actual costs to the United States Navy of all materials and services supplied. The various provisions making up the $US90m were not fixed as the United States Navy wished to retain flexibility within the overall total to enable the estimates to be varied as assessments of requirements were refined. One of these provisions was ‘shore based spares to the extent of $US3.24m. It will be noted from this wording that the contract acknowledged that a full range of base spares would not necessarily be provided within the package deal. This was because :t that time the first ship of the class had only recently been commissioned by the United States Navy and specific experience data was not available to the United States Navy even in relation to its own requirements for base spares. Before a realistic assessment could be made of the Royal Australian Navy’s requirements it was necessary to obtain detailed listings and costings from the United States Navy. These had then to be translated to Royal Australian Navy requirements to take account of basic differences in the two logistic support systems arising from, among other things, the great differences in the number of ships of the class in each Navy, and the availability of ‘in country’ back up support.
From the beginning it was evident that the assessment of base spares would be a long job. These ships are of the most complex type, carrying sophisticated technical equipments of new or radically modernised design. Their introduction into service in the RAN involves the addition of some 75,000 individual items to the RAN stores inventory. It was confidently expected at an early stage that savings on construction costs would be available, should the detailed listings and assessments then in progress show that a wider range of base spares would be advisable.
As the task of assessment of RAN requirements proceeded, in conjunction with the United States Navy authorities, the allowance within the package deal for these spares was, after review and approval by the appropriate Australian authorities, progressively increased to provide more adequate support in depth for the operation and maintenance of this new class of warship. On this matter of control, it was decided at the outset that we should not go to the very considerable expense of maintaining in the United States for some 7 years a large RAN mission to oversee and Supervise all the details of this major undertaking. Instead, the practice that has been followed for many years for Navy contracts in Britain was adopted. The United States Navy was made responsible for all contractual arrangements, inspections and overseeing, so that all contracts associated with this project have been afforded the same safeguards as those applying to the United States Navy under the Armed Service Procurement Regulations in that country. From the initial stages of the construction programme Australian interests have been watched by a small technical liaison staff of four officers who were attached to the section of the US Navy concerned with the construction of the ships and were located at the shipbuilder’s premises. Additionally a stores liaison officer was attached to the staff of the Australian Naval Attache in Washington to oversee the supply of base spares. As this programme developed a further three stores liaison personnel were attached to the staff of the Australian Naval Attache for these duties. The progressive extension of the range and quantity of base spares to be provided, in the light of US Navy operating experience, was considered to be a good insurance against the possibility of wasteful hold-ups, and loss of operational availability of these valuable ships. The increased provision has been found within the overall sum of $US90m in the original package deal.
I now deal with the reasons for extraordinary increases in the unit cost estimates of certain spares. The pricing details shown on the USN provisioning recommendations are not price quotations but rather estimates and, over the range of articles, comprise standard issuing rates according to the USN computer system, including obsolete prices recorded for items which have not been purchased by USN for a period of years and a professional officer’s estimate for items for which there is no previous price history. For items which have been supplied from USN stock-holdings the pricing arrangement is payment at USN standard prices ruling at the time of issue. When the RAN order cannot be supplied from stock the USN arranges procurement. In some instances the procurement quantity is the single RAN requirement and in others the RAN requirement can be combined with USN needs for economical quantity procurement. Apart from cases where incorrect price estimates have been given at the outset as a result of clerical and/or machine errors, extraordinary increases in prices are not unusual in USA for small quantity production as compared with large quantity orders placed in earlier years for the US Services main programme requirements. In the case of unusual increases in cost estimates, the policy is to seek technical officers’ opinion as to the reasonableness of the estimates. Where technical opinion cannot be given because of the absence of necessary data, further information is sought from the USN. As indicated in the AuditorGeneral’s report some sections of the Supply Division were not following this practice consistently, but the necessary corrective measures have now been taken.
I could add quite a lot more information in connection with this, but 1 believe that I have said enough to show the reason for the Auditor-General’s report on this particular aspect.
– There are two matters upon which I require some information. The first relates to Division No. 670 - General Stores - HMA Ships, Fleet Auxiliaries and Naval Establishments. For medical and dental stores in 1966-67 the sum of $176,000 was allocated and only $44,865 was spent. There is no allocation at all this year. Does the fact that these stores are no longer required mean there is perfect health, including dental health, in the Navy?
The second matter is much more important. I do not know whether it comes under Division No. 675, Division No. 681 or Division No. 685, so I shall refer to the three divisions. This subject is a hardy annual of mine, which has nearly attained its majority. About 18 years ago I first started to press in the Senate for the provision of a naval dockyard in Western Australia. I have in my hand photostat copies of questions which I have asked during that long period on the necessity for a naval dockyard on the west coast of Western Australia. The necessity for such a dockyard has been more than borne out by the recent developments in the Far East and the advice given by various naval authorities throughout the years. In 1913 the first attempt was made to develop a naval base south of Fremantle, when Admiral Henderson reported that Cockburn Sound was an excellent place for such an establishment. Work was begun and carried on for a few years. A grand official opening of the original work was held. Lord Forrest, I think it was, said that this was a milestone in Australian history. Everyone said a great deal about the terrific importance of that occasion. Yet within a few short years the whole work was abandoned. The story of the last World War could have been very different had that work been carried through.
Under Division No. 672 - Ships, Aircraft, Machinery and Plant - Repair and Other Charges - there is a huge repair bill of $9,264,000. Under Division No. 681 - Machinery and Plant for Naval Dockyards and Establishments - the sum of $2,312,000 is allocated. Under Division No. 685 - Defence Research and Development - only $350,000 is appropriated this year. I have been fobbed off in the Senate over the years by many Ministers in regard to this matter. Unfortunately three of those Ministers have passed away - Senator Spooner, Senator Paltridge and Mr Townley from the other place. I think they became sick of me and decided to get out because I had been trying for so long to wear them down. I would be sorry if my efforts had had such consequences, but the security of this nation is very important.
The most recent reply to my request for the establishment of a naval dockyard at
Cockburn Sound said that investigations were being carried out at the present time in Cockburn Sound. But all the material needed for decision on this has been available for 54 years. About 54 years ago the decision was made that Cockburn Sound was an excellent site for a Naval Dockyards establishment. John Batman once said: “This is an excellent place for a village.’ That is where Melbourne is today. In the same way Admiral Henderson said: This is an excellent place for a dockyard.’
– It is closer to the area where Australia’s danger is supposed to lie.
– Yes. The west coast is very close to the trouble spots of South East Asia, from which we are told that so many dangers to the people of this country could come that the young men of this country are being conscripted to go to Vietnam to fight off the peril. The west coast is close to the big trade routes of the Indian Ocean.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2 p.m.
Debate resumed from 25th October 1967 (vide page 1669), on motion (by Senator Gorton):
That the Senate take note of the paper and the paper relating to VIP flights, tabled pursuant to order of the Senate of 5 October 1967.
– This is a motion by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Gorton) to take note of the paper which contains a statement of the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) on VIP flights and also to take note of the papers relating to VIP flights which were tabled pursuant to the order of the Senate of 5th October 1967.
Responsible government means that the Government is responsible for its administration to each House of the Parliament. For that purpose each House has an undoubted authority to require the Government to answer questions and to supply records bearing upon that administration. Each House is entitled to full and truthful disclosure by the Government. To deny this is to repudiate responsible government; to depart from it is to break down responsible government. From early March till this week the Government has obstructed the Senate by failure to answer questions on VIP aircraft, although it is apparent now that the information sought was in the possession of the Government. That was an inexcusable failure on the part of the Minister for Air (Mr Howson). Time after time the failure to answer was raised in the Senate and the lack of response by the Minister for Air was contemptuous of the Parliament. It led to the incident on 26th September last when there was a clear indication by those who represent the majority of members of the Senate that if the Minister for Air would not answer the questions voluntarily the Senate would take whatever steps were available to have questions answered. Next evening I gave notice of motion in the Senate in the following terms:
That there be laid on the table of the Senate all accounts and papers relating to the use of VIP aircraft by Ministers and other members of Parliament during the period of 1st January 1967 to 27th September 1967, in particular all accounts and papers containing records of:
applicants and application,
airport of embarkation and of call,
times and distances of flights, including waiting times, in connection with flights and any flights necessary to fulfil engagements,
the cost of and incidental to each flight,
the Department or service to which the flight was charged.
As I recall, it was agreed that the motion would be dealt with on the next evening, 28th September. Before it was dealt with it was announced that the Prime Minister would make a statement on VIP aircraft the following week, and it was agreed, therefore, that the debate on my motion would wait until after the Prime Minister had made his statement. The Prime Minister’s statement was made in the House of Representatives on 4th October and was repeated in the Senate on 5th October. It contained the following expression:
But I have no wish to deny to the public or to the Parliament information which should be reasonably available to them. It has never been my practice to do so.
On 5th October the Senate debated a motion to take note of the Prime Minister’s statement and ultimately resolved that the Senate take note of the statement with dissatisfaction and therefore: that there will be laid on the table of the Senate all accounts and papers relating to the use of VIP aircraft by Ministers and other members of Parliament during the period of 1st July 1966 to5th October 1967, in particular all accounts and papers containing records of -
And so on, in accordance with the notice which I had previously given and which I have read out. At that stage there is no doubt that this was a burning public issue. A resolution expressing dissatisfaction with a statement of the Prime Minister was unprecedented. It was the strongest intimation that the Senate was not satisfied that there had been full disclosure and that it required to see for itself the accounts and papers. On 19th October it was said by the Leader of the Government that the questions which had been asked by the various senators would be answered on the following Tuesday, 24th October. The Prime Minister made a statement in the House of Representatives in which he said:
A number of questions which have been asked in the Senate are also being answered today. This information will be available to members of the House of Representatives in Hansard. Some of the details sought were so extensive that it did not seem appropriate to handle it in that way. Consequently, the details will be tabled in the Senate, and I propose to table them here, together with the questions and answers which relate to them.
The Prime Minister went on to say:
Parliament is entitled to facts, if they can be procured, which will enable members to form a judgment as to the purposes served by the flight and the manner in which it is being conducted. My concern all along has been … to ensure that the Parliament was not given a misleading picture because of the type and range of questions put to Ministers. This prompted me to make my first statement to the House, which I have now supplemented.
Honourable senators will note that the Prime Minister referred to the questions which were answered in the Senate and the details to be tabled in the Senate, and proposed tabling them in the House of Representatives. In fact the papers were tabled in the House of Representatives. The answers to the questions asked in the Senate were in the course of being answered on the Tuesday when they were interrupted by the death of Senator Hannaford. Therefore, those answers to the questions were not tabled in the House of Representatives that day but the questions were available and in fact where read by me on that Tuesday. The answers were subsequently given in the Senate on the next day, 25th October, after question time, and the documents were tabled.
The clear and inescapable implication in the Prime Minister’s statement was that all the material that the Government had in answer to the questions asked in the Senate and the order of the Senate for the tabling of the papers was being supplied. The documents tabled did not show the times of flight; especially, they did not show the details of the passengers who went on the flights. Indeed, the Senate had been led to believe for some considerable time that no record of the names of passengers was kept. As far back as May 1966 Senator Gair had been informed that no record was kept of the passengers on a particular flight. I quote the following from an answer given to him:
Particulars of passengers carried are not available.
That was taken by honourable senators to mean that no record of the passengers was kept. The Government allowed the Senate to continue with the impression that that was the position. In order to demonstrate that, I refer to a question asked by Senator McManus on 26th September. His question was: 1 address a question to the Minister representing (he Minister for Air. Does the position that was stated by the Minister for Air some time ago in answer to a question asked by Senator Gair - namely, that no record at all is kept of the persons who use VIP aircraft - still obtain? If that is the position. how is it possible for the Commonwealth Auditor-General to ensure that VIP aircraft are used only for authorised purposes?
Senator McKellar replied that he was not in a position to answer the question, but Senator McManus was in no way corrected then or later. The Senate was left with the impression that no records of the passengers were kept. No endeavour was mads to correct that impression.
Let us look at the answer to the questions that was given on 25th October after question time, as reported at page 1627 of Hansard. The answer stated:
No detailed records have been kept of who trave’led with an applicant on a particular flight.
It went on to say that in general wives, staffs and departmental officers are allowed to travel. I will repeat the relevant part of the answer:
No detailed records have been kept of who travelled with an applicant on a particular flight.
The Senate will understand that, with great deliberation and after the matter had been considered at the highest level, the Government tabled documents and provided answers which not only implied but expressly stated that no detailed records of the passengers were kept. No doubt the Government thought that it was safe and that the Opposition and those who co-operated with the Opposition - members of the Democratic Labor Party, Senator Turnbull and others - would pursue the issue no further.
The Prime Minister had made two statements. He must have known the facts. He must have known that detailed records of who had travelled had been kept. Yet in his statement he referred to the very answers that contained the statement we now know to be untrue and said that they would be tabled in the House of Repre.senatatives. After the documents had been tabled in the Senate and the Prime Minister’s statement had been read, the Leader of the Government moved that the Senate take note of them. I spoke briefly and then asked for leave to continue my remarks. At my request the debate was adjourned until a later hour on the day. That happended on Wednesday.
During Wednesday afternoon it became public property that the Australian Labor Party had decided that in the Senate it would take whatever steps were necessary to ascertain whether the Government had the information of VIP aircraft sought by the Senate and also would take whatever steps were necessary to insist on the tabling of the information required by the Senate resolution and the questions asked in the Senate. It also became widely known that I intended - in fact I still intended that evening - to move a motion to the effect that unless the Senate resolution was complied with a summons be issued for the attendance of the Secretary of the Department of Air at the Bar of the Senate to be examined on the matters of the VIP aircraft, the questions asked and the order of the Senate, and to produce all relevant documents. It became known that it was probable such a motion would be carried.
– How could the honourable senator’s intention be known?
– Because it was made known to persons not only on this side of the chamber but even on the Government side. The game was then up. It was obvious that no longer could the Government withhold the information from the Senate and that if necessary the Secretary of the Department of Air would be asked to attend and then the answers would come forth. This was after the Government had produced in the Senate the documents which were all it claimed it had and had produced answers which we now know to be untrue.
Immediately before the resumption of the debate that evening, Senator Gorton tabled in the Senate documents which showed that at all times the Government had details of the passengers and that the answer given by the Minister for Air earlier that day was untrue. The documents are in the chamber now. Any honourable senator can see by an examination of them that the answer given by the Minister for Air, the answer produced here by the Leader of the Government, the answer referred to by the Prime Minister in his statement to the House of Representatives, was manifestly untrue. The irresistible conclusion is that the answers that had been referred to, adopted by the Prime Minister in his statement in the House of Representatives and produced here were an endeavour to deceive both Houses of the Parliament.
– And the nation.
– And the nation. I thank Senator Turnbull for his interjection. The Houses of the Parliament and the nation would have been deceived but for the determination of the Senate to proceed, by whatever means were available to it, to insist upon the production of the accounts and papers.
This is the worst attemptI know of to deceive the Parliament. It transcends in importance the other question of whether there has been abuse of the facilities. There is enough in the material now before the Senate to indicate that there has been abuse of the facilities and that the guide lines that had been suggested by the Prime Minister as covering the use of the aircraft have not been observed. Indeed, I think that if honourable senators were to go through the documents they would find some of the material sickening in the light of what has been said about the restrictions upon the use of aircraft. The matter of whether the flights have been used as a taxi service and the question of the conflict between the answers of the Minister for Air on the ordering of the aircraft and the statement of the Prime Minister that none had been ordered during the term of his Government are minor matters compared with the important issue, which is the credibility of the Government.
Parliament can no longer trust the Government in its answers to Parliament. This is the heaviest of all blows against parliamentary democracy. The Government has not only withheld information, it has lied to the Senate. The only conclusion is that but for the determination of the Senate to proceed to obtain the information for itself, the Government would have continued to withhold the information from the Senate and would have continued to deceive the Senate. It is fortunate for the nation that the Government has been exposed in its endeavour to deceive the Parliament. It is fortunate that the nation has had an opportunity to judge, in this issue, the credibility of the Government. The Government was persisting, even after the matter had reached the highest level, with an endeavour to deceive the members of Parliament and the nation. I would say, in the words of Sir Walter Scott:
O, what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive!
This has been a victory for Parliament. It has been a victory for the Senate which has insisted upon the responsibility of government to Parliament. It has been a victory due, undoubtedly, to the co-operation of the Opposition with other members in this chamber, including some members on the Government side who placed the authority and integrity of Parliament above party political matters. It has demonstrated the unfitness of the Government and its lack of credibility in what has been a disgraceful episode.
– I am glad to have this opportunity of participating in the debate because I am due to leave Canberra at about 3 p.m. for an engagement that I cannot postpone.
– Will the Minister be using a VIP aircraft?
– No. As the
Minister representing the Minister for Air (Mr Howson) I thought that I should take part in the debate. I have never yet run away from any trouble that I may have been faced with. I do not always win, but I try. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Gorton) made every possible effort to see that the resolution passed by the Senate was put into effect. Indeed, he made it clear that he wanted every opportunity given to the Opposition to study the documents that he tabled and to prepare for the debate that would ensue. If my recollection is correct, he said, in tabling the documents, that he believed there was some additional information that he might be able to acquire. I, and the other Ministers here, know to what lengths he went to try to get that additional information and to keep faith with the Senate. This is in keeping with the attitude that I have always adopted in the Senate. I am proud of the work the Senate does and, in my view, any resolution passed by the Senate should prevail, irrespective of what happens elsewhere.
The Government has been accused of misleading Parliament and the nation. If there has been any mistake, it has been an honest mistake. As Minister representing the Minister for Air I have, at no time, attempted to hide any information or to keep information in my possession from the Senate. I make that clear. I am not trying to get out from under, but I assure the Senate that there was no misleading the Senate or withholding information from the Senate. The Government did keep faith with the Senate and accepted the resolution that was passed by the Senate. I hope the situation will never be otherwise. I felt that the tabling of the documents and the voluminous answers that were provided to questions - and admittedly they were late - would have been sufficient to satisfy all reasonable members of the Senate that what had been done was done in good faith. In my view there was no abuse as alleged by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy).
– The Minister was denied the information.
– I have alreadystated my position. I dare say that the honourable senator will have an opportunity of discussing this later. I have not much time and I would like to express my views. We have had supplied to us a list of all Ministers who have used planes of No. 34 Transport Squadron. No information was withheld concerning the use of these aircraft and I am quite sure that the public has accepted the explanation given. We have also had answers to the questions concerning the Ministers who have used the aircraft and the number of times they have done so. In some instances I think the answers have not been altogether fair to those Ministers. The Minister for the Army (Mr Malcolm Fraser) expressed concern to me. He is shown as having used these aircraft sixteen times. On one occasion he had a plane to take him to New Guinea on official duty. While there he made several trips in New Guinea in carrying out his duties, but each of those trips has been shown as a separate trip. This is one reason why I say that although the information probably had to be shown in that way, it was not quite fair to the Minister. It is a source of wonderment to me that some Ministers have not used these aircraft more often in view of the exacting nature of their duties and the large distances they have to cover.
I was asked by one honourable senator how many times I had used these aircraft and I answered about three. Fortunately, I found, on examining the list, that my answer was correct. It is nice to be right sometimes.
– We are not blaming the Minister. He was just supplying information.
– I am just trying to give the Senate the position as clearly as I can. I hope that honourable senators will give me the opportunity. We have had a lot of discussions about the cost of the aircraft. As I pointed out earlier, this cost is spread over quite a considerable number of years. An attempt was made to make capital out of the cost. We have shown that the cost was justified. I say again that Australia today is an important nation and must accept the responsibilities of an important nation and act as such. Had the old fleet not been obsolete we could have been faced with a different set of circumstances. I repeat that it was; obsolete. What were we to -do? Were we once again to buy secondhand aircraft of old vintage or were we to procure modern aircraft? I say once again that the action of the Government in this -connection was the right one, and I will not deviate from that. This matter has not been raised here but I am quite certain in my own mind that members of the Opposition, perhaps with one exception, think that the use of these aircraft has been justified. I believe that it has been. Also, in my view the Prime Minister has been quite generous - I am not condemning him for it - to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and his Deputy. I am not suggesting that he should not have been generous.
This is a pattern that should be looked at overall. After all, the Prime Minister is doing his utmost to do a very good job as Prime Minister of this country. In my view, he is doing a good job, and anything that he can do to further this aim is always done. Another factor, which I have mentioned before, is the saving of time for senior Ministers. This is important. Senior Ministers have to work very much harder than junior Ministers - it is expected of them - and very much harder indeed than backbenchers. In view of the job that they have to do, I believe that the facilities that are available to them should be utilised. If No. 34 Squadron were not available for this purpose, surely other Royal Australian Air Force transport would have to be called upon. The need to use alternative RAAF transport should, in the minds of fairminded people, be offset against the use of aircraft of No. 34 Squadron.
– It is not the use that people complain about; it is the misuse.
– I touched on this. No doubt the honourable senator will have an opportunity later to put his views. Just have a look at some of the other matters. This is the information that the Opposition asked the Government to provide: The applicants and applications; the airports of embarkation and of call; the times and distances of flight, including waiting times’, in connection with flights and any flights necessary to fulfil engagements; passengers; crew members; the cost of and incidental to each flight; the department or Service to which the flight was charged. I think that all of those particulars have, in the main, been provided in great detail, with the exception of the cost of each individual flight. The Leader of the Government in the Senate has already mentioned that this information can be supplied but that it will involve very many hours and an enormous amount of work. If the Senate wants it, it can be procured. I put it to the Senate that all reasonable senators and, I am quite sure, the public are satisfied. Is the Government to be condemned for not supplying this particular piece of information?
– Why was the Minister not supplied with it?
– I made mention of this early in the piece.
– We condemn the Government for being so slow and for misleading, and telling lies about it.
– I did not tell the Senate lies and I do not believe that lies were told to me. I gave the information that became available to me as quickly as I got it. I should like to refer to a question that was asked of me. Perhaps I was a bit brusque in answering it when I said the answer was no. The circumstances’ were that Senator Turnbull asked me whether I had seen the Minister for Air in connection with a question that he had asked and whether I knew when the answer would be supplied. I said: ‘Mr President, the answer to the question is No’. I may have been a bit brusque, but that was the correct answer. I did not try to stifle the truth. It was a fair, factual answer.
– The Minister had been needled.
– I did not catch that remark. The Government has kept faith with the Senate. I repeat that in the main it was due to the efforts of the Leader of the Government in this place that additional information was supplied. Instead of being satisfied with the answers that were provided in the documents’ that were tabled he went further afield to see if he could not get additional information.
– He was forced to do so.
– He was not forced at all. He believed that the will of the Senate should prevail and that he should do this.
– Before I really get onto the subject I should like to say that we are wasting our time if Ministers are to say that we on this side oppose the existence of the VIP flight. There is no such thought, I believe, in the head of anybody on this side of the chamber. The second thing is that the integrity of the Ministers in this chamber is not questioned at all. We have the highest regard for the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Gorton) and the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar), who have had to bear the brunt of this unfortunate incident. I am only sorry that these Ministers have been put into this invidious position by their Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) and Minister for Air (Mr Howson). In another place it was said that I went to school with the Prime Minister and that we shared the same dormitory. I do not know what that has to do with VIP aircraft. Against the background of that experience, the Prime Minister said he knew that I raised this question because of the forthcoming Senate elections.
– He reckons that the honourable senator is 4 years older than he is and was in the same class.
– That shows how poor the Prime Minister’s arithmetic is. The point about this is that I started to raise the matter of the VIP flight last year and I started to ask questions this year. The time of the election is solely in the hands of the Prime Minister. If he chooses to delay the answers till now and to have the election shortly, that is his problem, not mine. In fact, if there is a fault it lies with the Prime Minister himself. Recalling childhood again, I can remember going to the Melbourne show and being fascinated by a wizard who had three thimbles and a pea. He juggled his hands around and one never knew where the pea was. Today there is no wizard at a show. The manipulator has become the Prime Minister and the pea has become the truth. We now find that the Prime Minister of Australia is manipulating the truth. He also condones the action of the Minister for Air in stating deliberate untruths. In any other Parliament of the Commonwealth he would resign. He would be asked to resign. The motion that we are discussing today should not be a motion to take note of the paper. It should be a motion of no confidence in the Government or the Minister. I think members of the Government realise that. They are very lucky indeed that we are not debating a motion of no confidence in the Minister.
– Why does the honourable senator not move it?
– I will, if I have time. The point is that we have been deliberately misled for only one purpose - a political purpose - because the Prime Minister felt that if this was shown to be an abuse it would react against the Government. I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air for particulars of the applications that had been received for the use of VIP aircraft from 1st January 1967 to 19th May 1967, when I gave up because I became fed up with asking. I also asked how many passengers were carried on those aircraft between those dates. A few hours before the papers were tabled he replied:
No detailed records have been kept of who travelled with an applicant on a particular flight.
– A lie.
– A deliberate lie.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Order!
– Well, it was a distortion of the truth. Let us face facts, it was a lie. The point is that I asked only for the number of applications and when the Government knew that the Opposition intended to propose a motion demanding the information papers were tabled which showed not only the number of applications but also the names of the people concerned. This is the most discreditable thing that could happen to a Minister yet he is still in the Government. It is discreditable to the Ministry that it allows him to be in the Government. I am sorry that the Minister for Repatriation has fallen into another of the traps laid by the Minister for Air. In trying to raise some extenuating circumstances the Minister for the Army (Mr Malcolm Fraser) pointed out that his flight through New Guinea was counted as three, four or five trips because he went to different places, but that is not what the Minister for Air said in reply to my question. He said:
First, it is not always clear whether an application for a multiple journey should be treated as a single application or a plural application reflecting the number of segments of the journey. The general standard adopted has been to regard such applications as single applications.
So even if the Minister did a multiple trip through New Guinea - I am not criticising his use of the plane in New Guinea - it was one trip so the numbers shown against his name are correct. They seem to be the only things correct in this document. 1 return to the Prime Minister’s speech in which he said:
Parliament is entitled to facts. . . . My concern all along has been to ensure that the Parliament wm not given a misleading picture because of the type and range of questions.
How can we believe that? We ate entitled to the facts and the Government gives us false facts. How can anyone ever trust the Prime Minister again when he makes a statement to the effect that he does not want to mislead us and then he promptly misleads us.
– Do you think he is a real thimble and pea man?
– I am sure that he is in regard to this matter. We hear all this talk about meaningful expenditure. Meaningful to whom? Strictly for the Government, that is all, because how can the Government dissect the figures in the way it has been done and expect us to accept them? How can anyone say that the cost of a pilot’s services in flying a VIP aircraft from Canberra to Rockhampton is a Defence Department responsibility because he is on a training flight? How many pilots train on these flights, when one comes to analyse the position? Very few indeed. It certainly gives the pilots more hours but in many cases they do not need the hours. There must be a pilot for each VIP flight. I know that Ministers think they are God and try to emulate that other act of walking on water. Now they are flying through the air without a pilot.
– Raise the level. How low can you go?
– The Government is saying that Ministers are flying through the air without a pilot. It claims that that segment of the cost is not applicable to VIP flights. On the one hand the Prime Minister says that it- is an integral part of the structure of Government, and on the other he says that this is an integral part of the Defence Department. What kind of defence system have we if we have to rely on VIP flights for the training of our pilots? We cannot accept the $450,000 which has been mentioned as a genuine attempt to estimate the cost because the whole thing is so politically loaded in favour of the Government. The Prime Minister’s statement is a complete waste of time. To talk about a meaningful amount is absurd. It should not even have been presented to the Parliament.
I have been trying to look at these documents. It is very difficult. I know some of the things in them are ludicrous. Many of the people travelling on those planes are not, according to the Prime Minister’s own statement, entitled to do so. If one searches through the documents one will find that a person - I understand that he is a member of the Department of Air - and two secretaries travelled from Perth to Canberra. Why were they entitled to that?
– Who is Mr Paddington?
– No one seems to know for sure. I think he has something to do with the Department of Air and that he has use of this plane. He is not the head of a department and the secretaries are not heads of departments. When I raised this question with a member of the Government I was told: ‘At least they are filling up the planes coming back’. Why can they not be filled also with members of Parliament? Why does the Government not sell seats on the planes, or does it insist on my slogan. ‘Go free, fly VIP’? The Government is competing with the commercial airlines.
– And you get pie in the sky.
– It is true that there aTe some amusing things in the papers. One finds a plane flying with a single passenger, which seems to be rather wasteful. Then we find the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) trying to defend himself. I do not know what he thinks Australians are, but no Minister is so enmeshed in his work that he cannot raise his head from his desk for 5 minutes; he has to jump into a VIP plane and carry on his work every time he flies to Sydney and back. That is nonsense. One is not airborne on that trip for more than 40 minutes. If the Minister cannot afford 40 minutes and make it up at some other time of the day there is something wrong. He could use that time during a flight in a commercial aircraft and he would save the Government expense.
I do not want to labour this whole matter but I want to raise another point in relation to this document that I have finally tracked down and which turns out not to be a restricted document. Incidentally, the Leader of the Government told me that I could do as I liked with it. This document concerns only VIP rationing. One of the things I wanted to find out was the cost of rationing and I could not get an answer to one question I asked. Here was a meaningful cost in one aspect of VIP flights which could have been taken out immediately because the document I have ensures that accounts for rations on the food account must be put on separate tally sheets. Every time food is required for a VIP plane a note is made on a docket and that docket is charged to the account at base. The total costs of all food and drinks consumed on these VIP flights for the last 5 or even 20 years can be ascertained quite simply. They must be there because the accountant at base must have them. This document shows that he does have them, or else someone is disregarding orders. In one section the document provides:
Whenever VIP rations are purchased, other than against a period contract, the Catering Officer, Base Fairbairn, is to-
Then the document lists certain things that must be done. It goes on:
The supplier is not to be made aware of the reason for the purchase of VIP rations.
I do not know why. Let me add a touch of hilarity to this document which seems to be taking up a considerable amount of the time of a Royal Australian Air Force officer to compile. In regard to entitlements the document states:
VIP rations are to be provided only for those flights or parts of flights where a VTP is carried as a passenger . . . Cigarettes are to be included in VIP rations only for members of the
Royal Family, the Governor-General, the Prime Minister and persons of equivalent rank.
The question is: Who are the persons of equivalent rank? The next sentence in the document reads:
Toilet requisites are to be included in VIP rations only for members of the Royal Family and the Governor-General.
I knew that the Prime Minister was a very erudite man. I knew that he searched for knowledge. I have just realised why one always sees him going aboard a VIP aircraft armed with newspapers. Here you have a document which encourages class distinction. The poor Prime Minister and his fellow passengers are limited as to their activities. I plead with the Leader of the Government to take up this matter with the Department of Air in an effort to see that in future the Prime Minister is entitled to toilet requisites.
That is all I want to say about this document, except that it took a lot of trouble to get to it, but everything has been a lot of trouble in this very sorry debate. As far as I am concerned the debate on the VIP aircraft is finished. My initial strong objection - I said this a year ago - was to placing the cost for the operation of these aircraft under the vote for the Defence Services. The vote for defence is so small that every penny of that vote should be spent on defence. My second point was that there might be misuse of these aircraft. I think the Prime Minister has capitulated on both counts. I suppose there still will be misuse of the aircraft, unless, as has been suggested, a parliamentary committee is appointed to check on their use. But at least the charges are to be taken out of the defence vote and put where they belong, in the vote for the Prime Minister’s Department.
I would say one thing more, and that is with reference to the use of the two BACIII aircraft as ambulances. I am told that these aircraft will not go the distance required. I do not care whether they go the distance; what is important is the principle. Ministers are prepared to fly in two luxury BACIII aircraft but they are not prepared to allow the aircraft to be used for the transport of wounded servicemen. I do not care what type of aircraft is used. The Government says that these aircraft cannot fly from Vietnam to Australia in one hop. I referred to the BAC1 11 only as an example. Government supporters do not see the argument in this light. The Government is happy for Ministers to use BACIII aircraft but it will not allow wounded servicemen to be brought back from Vietnam in them. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar), who represents the Minister for Air (Mr Howson) has said that there is nothing wrong with Hercules aircraft. What an absurd statement. The Minister for Repatriation says that he knows this to be a fact because he has been told by the Minister for Air. But the Minister for Air lies to us. If he lies to us he will lie to the Minister for Repatriation. The doctors who travel with the wounded servicemen do not agree with the Minister. They say that something should be done to improve the type of aircraft used for this purpose. This is what I ask the Government’ to do. It should see that something is done. It should do something to improve the situation rather than continue to allow wounded servicemen to be brought back in Hercules aircraft. It is all very well to say that the Hercules can do the flight in one hop; so can other aircraft, and the Government could buy other aircraft. I do not want to go deeply into the purchase of the BACIII. I have made my point. I have shown that there has been misuse of VIP aircraft. I have achieved my objective of getting the cost of operating these aircraft away from the defence vote. If there is any guts left in Ministers they will see that the wounded are brought back to Australia in decent aircraft before they themselves use the ministerial BACIII.
– We had a debate in the Senate on 5th October. The debate started immediately after question time and continued until 1 1 .20 p.m. It was a full and frank debate on the operation of 34 Squadron - the VIP flight. In that debate fifteen honourable senators participated. Every effort was made to squeeze the last political mile out of the debate. One got the impression today, listening to Senator Turnbull, that having squeezed the last political mile out of the debate he was beginning to go backwards.
This afternoon the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) spoke for about 25 minutes. He dealt with the history of this matter. This took up most of his time. Two points in his argument merit attention. On Wednesday last several questions were answered about VIP flights. On Wednesday night the Leader of the Government (Senator Gorton) tabled certain papers. Senator Murphy seemed to build his case this afternoon around the allegation that those papers were tabled on Wednesday night only because there was a rumour abroad that if they were not tabled certain action would be taken. I remind the Senate - happily we have the Hansard record before us - that on Wednesday afternoon Senator Gorton made a statement on this matter and tabled certain information. He said that if the Senate wished to have the names of passengers they could be provided after a little more dissection. Senator Gorton was frank and said that there was some limitation to the information contained in the papers that he was tabling. Replying to Senator Gorton on Wednesday evening Senator Murphy said that all honourable senators would be concerned to ensure that the resolution of the Senate had been complied with.
Senator Gorton, in accordance with the wishes of the Senate, tabled some papers on Wednesday afternoon. He said that if further information was required he would make an effort to get it. On Wednesday evening Senator Gorton tabled further information that he had been able to obtain in accordance with the resolution passed by the Senate. I do not think Senator Murphy should see something sinister in what Senator Gorton did and claim that the subsequent information was tabled only because he had made it known that he would launch an attack on the Government that night. Senator Murphy’s allegation is inconsistent with the whole pattern of what has happened.
The other point raised by Senator Murphy related to the information which Senator McKellar said was a mistake. I am prepared to accept Senator McKellar’s word that this information was a mistake. It is not conceivable, despite what Senator Murphy has said, that any attempt would be made to withhold information. In fact, about twelve questions on this subject were answered and the Prime Minister’s statement on the subject was read to the Senate. A perusal of the documents that have been tabled will show that names are not recorded in the flight authorisation book.
The flight authorisation book contains almost all the relevant information, but it does not give names. It refers only to numbers. It may well be that the method of compilation of this document is the reason why the information is not available. But the details did become available when subsequent documents were presented on Wednesday night. It may well be that what I have said is the explanation for the information not being available.
I believe that Senator Murphy in stating his case today recognised that this matter has been given quite an airing. The subject was fully debated some days ago and during the week answers have been supplied to ten or twelve questions on the matter. A statement on the subject has been read and tabled. The Senate sought information and it has been given that information. I do not believe that the matter needs to be taken any further. I feel that the general public accepts the principle of the VIP flight. There is nothing new or original about it. I am confident that the community accepts that we have No. 34 Squadron with nine aircraft, the same as we have had a VIP flight since the middle 1950s. I believe that it is accepted also that we had VIP flights even before this Government came into office. We must accept that in the official world of Australia, a country which is bigger than Europe, we must have a VIP flight in the interests of efficiency and good government.
– We acknowledge that.
– Even though the honourable senator says that he acknowledges that, in a climate where honourable senators tend to deal with points in isolation and try to play them up there is also a tendency to forget the points that I have been bringing forward. The whole story of the VIP flight as expressed in answers to questions, used as it is not only by representatives of the Government but by the Leader of the Opposition and heads of State, by Vice-Regal representatives, by Royalty and by those people who come to Australia as important visitors, is one of efficiency in government. It would be a sorry day if we were inhibited in the proper use of this VIP squadron by anything which may happen in the debates in this place. The Senate has been provided with information1 which it was properly entitled to seek.
– I want to go on record at the beginning of my remarks as saying that I am one who is not opposed to the proper use of VIP aircraft. I believe that modern systems of government require that heads of government and Leaders of the Opposition shall use fast modern transport. It is not good enough that people of this importance should be sitting around airports waiting for commercial aircraft. But if commercial aircraft are available they should be used. There is no room within the Austalian community for the abuse of the use of VIP aircraft. I believe that the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) has abused the use of VIP aircraft by using them as a taxi service between Canberra and Sydney and between Sydney and Canberra. A perusal of the papers which Senator Gorton tabled under duress in this place will reveal that. But the papers reveal many other things also. I shall refer to them in a few moments.
This debate arises out of an amendment to a motion which I moved on 5th October. It is true the papers were tabled. It is true also that if the Opposition had not had the numbers the papers would not have been tabled. The statements that were made prior to the papers being tabled is ample proof of this. The statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) early in the month contains many prevarications as became evident in the statement made on the 24th of this month. But it goes very much deeper than that. I accuse Senator McKellar of nothing because he has merely carried out instructions from a Minister whom he represents in this place. Senator McKellar told the Senate that generally no detailed records had been kept of who travelled with an applicant on a particular flight, and then went on to mention the wives of applicants. I have no quarrel about that. Two Ministers have spoken in this debate, but not even to this time have we been told the reason why the information was withheld from the Senate.
Clearly the Prime Minister is the main offender in this, notwithstanding that Squadron 34 comes within the administration of the Minister for Air (Mr Howson). The two authoritative statement’s which have been made to the Parliament were made by the Prime Minister. He is the man who accepts the responsibility and he accepts the responsibility for the approval of the use of VIP aircraft, an approval which is given in conjunction with the Minister for Air. But we all know that the Minister for Air is eighteenth on the list of Ministers, that seventeen other Ministers are senior to him. I cannot imagine the Minister for Air refusing senior Ministers the use of VIP aircraft. In reply to a series of questions asked by Senator Ormonde the Minister for Air stated the categories of people who were entitled to use VIP aircraft. I propose to quote as much of the answer as I consider relevant. The Minister replied:
The only persons entitled to use VIP aircraft, as of right, are members of the Royal Family, the Governor-General, and the Prime Minister. All other persons who wish to use the aircraft for VIP travel must make application to the Minister for Air. However, in the categories nominated in the question, the following are generally considered to have VIP status:
Ministers of the Crown;
The Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate;
The Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition;
Chiefs of Staff and Commanders in Chief:
Officers of the rank of air vice-marshal and above, and equivalent ranks in the other services.
Although the above categories of persons are regarded as having VIP status, this does not entitle them to a VIP aircraft as a right and the question whether they should be provided with an aircraft resides within the discretion of the Prime Minister and the Minister for Air. The Prime Minister and the Minister for Air also have the power to approve travel by VIP aircraft by other persons of like importance and authority if they consider such travel justified.
Those are the people who, in the Government’s judgment, are entitled to use VIP aircraft. I want to make one further statement before I refer to some of the people who use VIP aircraft. A few weeks ago in the Parliament the Prime Minister, when questioned about the use of VIP aircraft by his family, said that his family had used the aircraft only once without accompanying him. He said that the aircraft was proceeding to a certain point to pick up some Ministers. He argued that if his family did not use the aircraft it would have flown empty. That was fair enough, and I am not complaining about it. However, if the Prune Minister wanted them to have this privilege, why did he not include it in the categories that I have just read? He especially excluded them from the use of VIP aircraft.
I now wish to refer to the document which gives details of VIP flights. I have searched only part of the document. However, I find that on 6th March 1967 on a flight from Canberra to Mangalore - honourable senators should not forget that the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen), who is the Leader of the Country Party, has a farm in this area - a VIP aircraft was used by Mr Carew. Who is this man? Is he a member of the Government? Is he one of the VIPs to which the Prime Minister has referred? Of course he is not. He is an official of the County Party in New South Wales. Yet this man is allowed to use a VIP aircraft to visit the Deputy Prime Minister on his farm at Mangalore. On 17th April 1967, on a flight from Essendon to Canberra, Miss H. Craig is listed as having used a VIP aircraft by herself. Who is Miss Craig? Is she part of this Parliament? Of course she is not. She is the secretary to Sir Robert Menzies, the former Prime Minister of Australia, and has no connection with the Parliament at all.
The Prime Minister did not include Mrs Holt as one of the persons who was entitled to use VIP aircraft. If he had done so I am positive that the Senate would have accepted the fact. On 18th July Mrs Holt and Miss Gesoke flew from Essendon to Canberra. In this case a VIP aircraft was used to transport two people.
– What are the seating capacities of those planes?
– It would probably be a Viscount with a seating capacity of sixtyfive. This document also shows that on 14th July 1967 Miss Hausler flew from Essendon to Canberra in a VIP aircraft. Who is she? Is she connected with this Parliament? She is a typist who works at Government House and is not connected with this Parliament in any way at all. Yet she was able to get a VIP aircraft to travel from Essendon to Canberra.
– Was the aircraft returning empty?
– The aircraft are stationed in Canberra. If the honourable senator reads the statement he will find that in the main VIP aircraft are stationed at
Fairbairn airport. The Governor-General, of course, has an absolute right to use VIP aircraft. However, I wonder whether Paddy, the cook, has the right to use the service. On 9th May 1967 we find that the first cook Paddy, second cook Leo, kitchenman George, footman Noel, footman Peter W, footman Peter F, housemaid Hazel, housemaid Flora and housemaid Cecily made a VIP flight from Canberra to Sydney.
– What were they going there for?
– The honourable senator can take his pick as to what they were going there for. Another instance of the abuse of VIP aircraft took place on 15th May when Miss Craig used a VIP aircraft from Canberra to Essendon. Again, she was the only passenger on board. On 1st August on a flight from Darwin to Gladstone a Miss Burns, whoever she may be, is listed as having flown in a VIP aircraft. I think this person was a typist or stenographer. Miss Burns must be a pretty popular person because on 3rd August 1967 she flew from Canberra to I do not know where; it was impossible for me to decipher the destination of the aircraft. These documents are the most sloppy I have ever seen. However, as I said, she went from Canberra to somewhere. The aircraft had Miss Burns and Miss Hamilton - another typist or stenographer - as passengers. On 13th August 1967 a VIP aircraft was used by Miss De Lacey and Miss Greenwood to travel from Townsville to Innisfail. Recently, in September, Miss Wright and Miss Greenwood again were able to get a VIP aircraft from Dampier to Learmonth in the north-west of Western Australia.
– Who were they?
– They were a couple of stenographers, I suppose. I do not know who they are. They certainly are not included in the list that the Prime Minister has said were entitled to use VIP aircraft. I come back to the Prime Minister’s statement that h’s family had used a VIP aircraft on only one occasion when he was not with them. On 27th February Mr and Mrs A. Holt. Mrs C. Holt, Miss S. Holt and Miss M. Hinton flew from Canberra to Essendon. The Prime Minister was quite entitled to defend his family in any way that he thought they should be defended, but he should have at least told the Senate and the other House the truth. I accuse him of not telling the truth, and I call for his resignation. Senator Gorton is the only one on the Government side who has come clean in this particular dispute, and I give him full credit for it. No-one else, least of all the Prime Minister and the Minister for Air, has told the truth. I mentioned one occasion when Mrs Holt used the aircraft without the Prime Minister. That was on 18th July. On 5th July Mrs Holt, Mrs Wright, Mr Clark - the talking horse - and Mr Folger flew from Canberra to Whyalla, Essendon and back to Canberra. Again the Prime Minister did not accompany his wife, Even if Mrs Holt was not the one officially using the aircraft on that occasion, even if it was the American Ambassador, I do not know whether his name is contained in the official list-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) - Order! The honourable senator was not referring to the American Ambassador as a talking horse was he? No reflection must be cast on the American Ambassador.
– Reference to the papers will show that the aircraft was booked out to Mrs Holt. On 11th September a VIP aircraft on a flight from Essendon to Sydney contained Mrs Holt, A. Holt, M. Holt and Master Holt. I remind the Senate that every hour on the hour a flight goes from Essendon to Sydney and every hour on the hour a flight returns from Sydney to Essendon. That group of people returned on the same day - Mrs Holt, Mrs Holt junior, Mrs Holt junior and Master Holt. But does this complete the scandal that has been going on in relation to the use of VIP aircraft?
– Does the honourable senator now intend to tell the Senate the key use?
– If Senator Sim used as much energy to examine documents as he does to open his mouth at the wrong time he would be better informed. A VIP aircraft flew seven Pressmen from Perth to Port Hedland on 14th September. On 16th September it flew eleven Pressmen from Learmonth to Perth. On 17th September it flew seven Pressmen from Perth to Canberra; the Prime Minister’s public relations officers. I noticed in the Melbourne ‘Herald’ last night that the Press said that it used the aircraft and paid for the flight. If the flight was paid for I would like to see the receipt tabled to know whether the Press made a factual statement or not. The Press is not entitled to make statements ‘that it is not prepared to prove. I believe that I have shown the complete abuse in the use of VIP aircraft. Nobody in this Senate is complaining about the use of VIP aircraft by persons who are entitled to use them.
The Prime Minister tried to justify a VIP flight in his statement on 24th October 1967. He said:
In the light of the Treasury examination I now make the following comment. In doing so, I remind honourable members that No. 34 Squadron - the so-called VIP flight - is an integral part of the Royal Australian Air Force and must be there in time of war to provide transport and communication services.
And even though the Government will not declare war, we are at war. I now refer to an answer given to Senator McClelland on 25th October. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) who represents the Minister for Air here, said:
All charters of aircraft for movement of Australian servicemen to and from overseas locations are arranged through Qantas Airways Ltd. Since late 1965, the Department of Air has been responsible for arranging these charters. If Qantas is unable to provide the required airlift, then that company sub-contracts the task to other airlines. Over the last 3 financial years, sub-contracts have been arranged with Trans-Australia Airlines, Ansett-ANA, the British Overseas Airways Corporation and British Eagle International.
The Government has a VIP flight to provide transport, yet it spends these sums of money on charter craft for the armed services. Senator McKellar continued:
During the last 3 financial years, the amounts paid to Qantas for Army charters were: 1964- 65 - $103,840 (including British Eagle International $17,000) 1965- 66- $1,909,060 (including TAA - $27,320 and Ansett-ANA- $54,640) 1966- 67- $210,000 (including British Eagle Intern national - $44,250) .
Yet the Prime Minister has the audacity to inform the Senate, through the Minister, that the VIP flight is kept to provide transport services. It is necessary for the pilots of No. 34 Squadron to continue to fly around the country to log their required number of hours flying time. It is necessary to provide training flights. But it is apparently not necessary to provide transport into war zones when Australia is at war. Despite the convulsions of the Ministers in trying to find excuses for the Government in connection with VIP aircraft, the Government stands condemned for its refusal over a long period to provide the information asked for by honourable senators on this side of the House. I cannot emphasise too strongly that if the numbers had not been on this side the information would not have been supplied.
– ‘Let him who is without sin cast the first stone’ is a very old, sound and divine injunction. How happy members of the Government and the official Opposition would be today if they were in the position that the Democratic Labor Party is in, of being able to say on this matter that it is without sin. After all, we are the only political party entitled to throw stones. I was one of the early inquirers on the misuse of VIP aircraft. Unfortunately the information that I sought is not even now available after the tabling of all these documents because it went back to November 1965 and my question was in May of the following year. However, even though I could not get the information I sought officially, I have obtained it privately, and with a few titbits.
After having participated in and listened with great interest to the debates that have occurred so often on this matter, .1 believe that the public, which is the jury in this case, unquestionably will find the Government guilty of having misused and having permitted others to misuse a service about which the public has no complaint provided it is used for legitimate and justifiable reasons. The DLP has declared its stand on this matter. I have said repeatedly that our attitude to it is a commonsense one. Senator Cant agreed with my statement in this connection. But we are just as strongly opposed to the misuse of VIP aircraft. We are opposed to the use of VIP planes for party political organisational purposes. I say that the use of VIP aircraft during an election campaign is for party political organisational purposes.
These aircraft are there for the use of the Governor-General, the Prime Minister and his Ministers to enable them to get around this vast continent’ expeditiously. 1 have all sympathy for Ministers who are expected to be in Perth one day and Brisbane the next day or two days later. I hope that I am a realist in connection with these matters. But a hurried perusal of the documents that have been presented will show that the Government has been guilty of misuse and of permitting others to misuse these aircraft. The jury - the public - will find that the Government has been guilty of a grievous offence in withholding information from the Senate, for giving misleading information to the Senate, and for supplying the information called for by this Senate only under pressure by the Senate. That is a record of which no Government could justifiably be proud.
I sympathise with Senator Anderson in his feeble apologia today. I do not know why his leader allowed him to stand up and expose himself to ridicule by what he said. Why was not he big enough to say, as 1 am sure Senator Gorton is big enough to say: if 1 had had my way you would have had from the beginning the information that you sought’. I think that Senator Gorton would be big enough to say that if it were not for his sense of loyalty to those who have been doing the wrong thing and who have been embarrassing themselves in the false belief that the Senate is innocuous and powerless to get this information. It is strange that the Government did not give an instruction for the destruction of all the documents. Then it would have been in a position to say truthfully: ‘There are none available’. However, the Government did not do that. lt could easily have had a convenient fire.
This debate, and the discussion which has developed to a sorry degree, has been brought about by the action of the Government and its failure to do the right thing in reply to questions. I am confident that the debate will have a very good effect. If it does not, then there is something wrong with the mentality of those who are running the country today. It should have the effect of bringing about some economy in this matter and greater evidence of justification for the use of the aircraft than heretofore. There will be greater scrutiny of people who join these aircraft than has been the case up to now. Overall, I am sure that there will be greater satisfaction on the part of members of the Senate, parliamentarians generally and the public, who do not countenance and object very strongly to the misuse of these facilities that they provide in the interests of good government.
A hurried perusal of these documents will show that on the whole the Ministers have been reasonably good. But there are Ministers whose regular travel between Sydney and Canberra cannot be justified The excuse is given that they are dealing with classified papers. What classified papers could a person deal with in a 40-minute trip from Sydney to Canberra? In any case, classified papers are not the only things that a Minister has to deal with. I am speaking about a particular Minister at the moment who has made a practice of travelling between Sydney and Canberra when there is a very good service provided by both airlines between the two cities. There is no justification whatever, for that any more than there is justification for an aircraft to be put at the disposal of a former secretary of an ex-Prime Minister. I do not know the lady concerned, but that does not matter. It cannot be justified any more than a lot of other services can be justified.
I hesitate to get on to this preserve, but let us be frank. Why would the GovernorGeneral want to take all his staff with him in these aircraft? Even the dog attendant and everybody else goes with him in the aircraft. He takes the cook and the footman and everybody else. I might be unrealistic here and it might be very necessary, but I cannot understand why all this has to go on. I suppose that if the dog attendant was on annual leave they would have to take the dog and the kennel, too. Let us be realistic about all this.
– It is not like Sandy the dog that I was talking about.
– The honourable senator would lose him if he had anything to do with it.
– I would put a DLP label on him and call him ‘Jack Kane’.
– There we have a man with an obsession. Such people break out like that. I condemn without reservation the conduct of the Government and some members of the Government in this connection. Particularly do I condemn the people who authorise the use of these aircraft. Equally do I condemn members of the Australian Labor Party for their misuse of these aircraft.
– Don’t be ridiculous! Which backbencher has had a trip on a VIP aircraft?
– I suggest that the honourable senator should not prompt me. I have here some names against which I have put question marks. I did not intend to use those names, but the honourable senator should not prompt me too much.
– You will not blackmail people in this chamber. Don’t run away with that idea.
– Don’t get excited.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull)- Order!
– I said that I missed getting particulars of a VIP trip from Essendon to Perth from the documents, but in fact I got them elsewhere. I come now to a trip on 10th June from Essendon to Adelaide. That is not a long way. Who was on that aircraft? There was a man named Whitlam. There was also a fellow named Freudenberg.
– Who is he?
– I do not know. I tried to find out. I am told that he is a Press agent. There was also a man named Cullen, who is a rubber-down or something, and another fellow named Menadue. There were also three young ladies - a Miss Stuart, a Miss Summerhayes and a Miss Kuznik
– They are not bad either.
– I would expect an interjection like that from the old man who is living on memory. When I saw this list of passengers I said: ‘Surely those three stenographers would not be required’. Someone who has a more intimate association with Mr Whitlam than I have, proffered the explanation that they are not all stenographers. I asked him: ‘What are they?’ He replied: ‘One is a stenographer; the second is a beautician and manicurist; and the third is a chiropodist’. Also included on this list is a man named Wyndham. What office does he occupy? Where does he come from? On whose authority does he travel on these aircraft? Let us find out. Of course, he is the Federal Secretary of the ALP.
– A very honourable title.
– I am not talking about the man’s character, reputation or anything else. The honourable senator should not rush in on these points. I am saying that Mr Wyndham had no right to be on that aircraft. He had no more right than the people about whom Senator Cant spoke. That is why I say that the major political groups are equally guilty and that the only variance is in degree.
– When did the honourable senator say Mr Wyndham travelled on an aircraft with Mr Whitlam?
– On 10th June.
– I think the honourable senator is mistaken.
– All right.
– Who authorised the flight?
– As I said earlier, and as Senator O’Byrne would know if he had listened to me, I blame the Government for authorising these flights.
– In fairness I suggest that the honourable senator may be mistaken about Mr Wyndham.
– I invite Senator Murphy to have a look at this document.
– Do not let us have any excuses. Let me sum this matter up. As I have said, members of the Government have been found guilty of the misuse of these aircraft and of permitting other people to misuse them. They have also been guilty of the serious offence of withholding information when it has been sought. Members of the ALP have shared in the fruits of this business. Let me wrap the matter up by saying this to the Government and the ALP: ‘Let this not occur again. You have been found out’.
– I say definitely and emphatically that Mr Wyndham did not travel on that flight.
– His name is on the list. Senator Murphy - That is a message that I have just received from Mr Wyndham.
– He got the message quickly, did he not? His name is on the manifest and I accept the manifest. It would be just as reliable, I should imagine, as the manifest that Senator Cant read from.
– He got his from the papers.
– I got mine from the papers, too. The information is in the documents. Senator Murphy has just perused the information. Senator Hendrickson need not apologise. He can give it, but he cannot take it. The members of the Democratic Labor Party are the only members who can stand here and say: ‘We are without sin on this matter’. I say to other honourable senators: ‘Tidy up your house’. Let us get on.
– Did Hartley go to Perth?
– Of course he did.
– If the honourable senator had a motor car with an empty seat in it, would he give a bloke a lift? I do not think he would.
– The honourable senator is trying to justify himself. I am content with those few remarks. I think that the resolution of 5th October has been substantially satisfied. It is a pity that we have had to go through this tedious course of discussion and pressure on the Government to get information that should have been forthcoming without difficulty. It might be a lesson to the Government that it pays no dividends to withhold information, because there are always means of getting it. It is to the advantage of governments and individuals to be in the open. I remember that Shakespeare said: ‘This above all, to thine ownself be true’. If a person is out in the open he can face any challenge that might be forthcoming.
– The latter part of this debate has been concerned with whether or not certain people should or should not travel in these VIP aircraft. The debate did not start out that way, but this is how it has tended to develop and I think there has been very little profit in it. All the information as to who was an applicant for an aircraft has been laid before the Senate, and I have not heard one member from either side point to an applicant for an aircraft and say: ‘That person has no right to make an application’. I did hear suggestions - implications - from Senator Cant which were completely and utterly unfair. He did not say that so-and-so applied for an aircraft and that Miss Hauser travelled in that aircraft; he said: ‘We see that a Miss Hauser travelled on a certain date from here to there’. The manifest shows this. It also shows that the applicant for that aircraft was the Governor-General, Lord Casey. Miss Hauser is, in fact, on his staff. This sort of presentation was quite unfair and these implications cannot do other than lower the status of the debate.
I believe that with the volume of information supplied to the Parliament, had there been anything which could properly be attacked by members who would, in pursuance of their duty, seek to attack the Government, or had there been anything about which the Government, in pursuance of its own duty, could have attacked the Opposition, it would have been brought out. But it has not been brought out in this debate. We heard some discussion as to whether Mr Wyndham did or did not travel with Mr Whitlam on one of his trips on the aircraft.
– He did not.
– I do not think it matters whether he did or whether he did not. I am prepared to accept the fact that the Mr Wyndham appearing on the manifest was a different Mr Wyndham, but it would not matter if it were not so. That is the point I am making.
– He is coming here with a statutory declaration.
– He does not have to do that. Was not the Leader of the Opposition listening to what I said? I think that the honourable senator must have been moving about. I said that I was prepared to accept that it was not Mr Wyndham. I said that it did not matter. I would have no objection if it were Mr Wyndham - that is the point that I was seeking to make - because he is in a sense on the staff of the
Leader of the Opposition. He is an adviser of the Leader of the Opposition, as Mr Menadue was. The staffs of Ministers travel with them, and quite properly. Therefore, I see nothing wrong with this. I see nothing being brought out which shows an incorrect use of these planes.
– What about the typists?
– What is wrong with typists who are on the staffs of Ministers travelling with them? The honourable senator has attempted to put implications before the Senate. I think he is the only one who has done so in this debate.
– I went into the documents.
– The suggestion is that typists had applied for and had been given planes for themselves. I was able to pick up only one of the examples that Senator Cant gave; it related to Miss Hauser. She did not apply for a plane for herself. She is on the staff of the Governor-General and was travelling with the GovernorGeneral.
– They were not with the Governor-General. The manifest does not show that. They were on their own.
– Bring that out later. I have been able to pick out only one - in relation to Miss Hauser.
– I gave the dates. The Minister should look at my speech.
– I will look at the honourable senator’s speech. This is not the basic matter at issue here. I think it is reasonable to say that, all the information having been provided, it is as clear as crystal that these aeroplanes are not being abused. Indeed, with all the information that has been supplied to the Press over this period of time for sheer analysis, if there were examples of abuse they have brought them out. But this is not the major point here. What the Leader of the Opposition said when he was initiating this debate was that an attempt had been made to deceive this House of the Parliament. Free accusations of lying - which are unparliamentary but were thrown about with great abandon - were made by Senator Turnbull.
Let us examine once again the course of these events. Let us remember first of all that no request for information, no demand for information was made by the Senate until 5th October. It was only then that we had a House of the Parliament demanding information. Within a fortnight or 15 days - I do not remember, but it was approximately that time - a statement and some information were brought into this chamber. On the occasion of the tabling of the information I told the Senate that it provided answers to a lot of the questions that had been asked. It provided answers as to who were applicants for planes, where they travelled .to, the type of aeroplane and the number of crew. But there were one or two matters which it did not answer. It did not supply the times of take-off and the duration of flight. It did not supply the passenger manifests, although it supplied the number of passengers. This information was presented Ito the Senate in my speech, and I tabled the document.
I said that the Senate may wish to have this additional information and that if it did the information could be obtained but it might take a little while. Then the Leader of the Opposition rose and said in a short speech, after which he asked for leave to continue his remarks at a later stage, that he thought the Senate would wish to have this extra information to comply with the requirements in the Senate’s motion. As a result, this extra information was provided. That was in the period between 5th October and the time when the final information was given. I did feel that inherent in the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition was the suggestion that the only reason why I brought in this extra information and tabled it was that it became, as he said, public knowledge that during Wednesday afternoon he was to propose certain motions. It may have become public knowledge during Wednesday afternoon but I was not informed by the Leader of the Opposition that he intended to move these motions. The point is that before it could have become public knowledge or indeed before I would have imagined it would even have been thought of by the Leader of the Opposition, I had told the Senate when I tabled the initial information that there was this extra information should the Senate wish to have it. That is my answer to the suggestion.
– That is true.
– That is true.
– Then why did the Minister present the reply of the Minister for Air, which was a lie, and not table the documents on the Wednesday afternoon?
– I hope to answer the honourable senator’s speech point by point without interruptions. I believe I have answered his implications and suggestions that the only reason these were tabled was because he intended to move these motions. I repeat that I had tabled the initial information and had said that additional information was available and would be supplied.
I have been asked why, in a reply to a question asked by Senator Turnbull, the Minister for Air said that there were no detailed passenger manifests. It has been said that because this was not so, it was a lie to say it. Why was it necessarily a lie? Why could it not have been a genuine mistake? Why could this not have happened? Senator Turnbull asked a number of specific questions: Who were the applicants for the planes? Where did the flights go? How many were in the crew? Who were the passengers? I have no doubt in my own mind that the Air Force was asked to obtain replies to those questions. Whether it was before or after the Senate required the information is beside the point. I have no doubt in my own mind that the information was secured from the flight authorisation books kept by No. 34 Squadron. If one looks at the information about whether certain flights were VIP flights and the dissections which have been made, I have no doubt >in my mind that that information was gathered from these books; and in the books are no details of passengers, they show only numbers. That being so, I have no doubt that there should have been a further check where the manifests are held. I think it quite possible, and I believe it to be so, that the information was gathered from these books. They do not contain the manifests and that was the reason for the statement to which the honourable senator has referred.
I cannot prove that but I believe it to be the way in which this statement came before the Parliament. When the manifests were discovered and after I had made further examinations of them myself, they were presented to the Parliament. The indication that they were available was made before any motion on the lines suggested by the Leader of the Opposition was moved. The case made by the Leader of the Opposition that <there has been an attempt to deceive the Parliament has not been sustained.
– Does the Minister claim that the Minister for Air did not know of the existence of those passenger lists?
– I believe that the Minister for Air, acting as a Minister would, asked the Squadron to prepare an answer for him and someone prepared that answer. If the Leader of the Opposition does not believe that, it is because he does not want to believe it. It would be to his political advantage not to believe it. That is his business, but I present that view to the House. That is the case the Leader of the Opposition made that I believe should be answered and that I believe I have answered. For the rest, I believe the debate degenerated into attempts to make some political capital out of the matter. It was far removed from questions of principle and far removed from the way in which the Leader of the Opposition presented his speech.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– by leave - I have a message from Mr Cyril Wyndham, the Federal Secretary of the Australian Labor Party. He says, as I indicated by interjection, not only that he did not travel on the flight on which it was suggested he travelled, but also that he has a TransAustralia Airlines voucher to show that on 10th June he travelled by TAA aircraft from Canberra to Adelaide to Sydney. I would like to refer to one other matter so that there will be no misapprehension about it. Perhaps Senator Gair was simply being facetious when he gave the names of the persons who travelled with Mr Whitlam on some occasions, but these persons were, as I understand the position, members of the secretarial staff of Mr Whitlam and holding official positions. I take it that the Senate will regard Senator Gair’s descriptions of them as being merely facetious.
Consideration resumed (vide page 1836).
Department of the Navy
Proposed expenditure $193,132,000.
– I refer to Division No. 668 - Administrative Expenses and General Services - and particularly to item 13, Recruits - Pre-entry expenses. It has been my experience that volunteers are frequently not given information about why they are rejected for service. I have knowledge of two cases which I think I should mention. These concern Army recruits who were rejected. I refer to the volunteer section of the Army.
-(Senator Drake-Brockman).- Order! The Senate is discussing the estimates for the Department of the Navy.
– I know. I am just giving this as an example. I am working up to the Department of the Navy. In the cases I was referring to the Minister for the Army gave me an explanation why certain recruits were rejected. It was of interest to me and also to the parents of the boys concerned, and I was very thankful for the information. But in the Department of the Navy this does not happen. I have heard of several boys who tried to enter the Navy and were not accepted. I have made investigations and I have found that apparently it is quite easy for the Department to tell a recruit that his educational qualifications are not good enough, or that he does not look like the fighting type, or that there is some physical, educational or other reason for rejecting him. But when a recruit is rejected because of his health condition the Department does not always explain what is wrong with his health. The Department apparently adopts the view that this is a personal matter. Generally speaking it does not tell the recruits anything when they are rejected on health grounds. This is particularly so if a recruit is not considered to have the right mental temperament or if he has some neurotic condition.
I am wondering whether there is not some way by which the parents of the boys concerned can be given the information. These boys are usually about 18 years of age and their parents would certainly be interested to know not only that the boys were rejected on health grounds, but also and more particularly the specific health defects for which they were rejected. That information is not supplied. As I said earlier, the Minister for the Army was kind enough to supply me with some information personally because he knew I had a personal interest in the recruit. But what about all the boys who are rejected for health reasons and in whom nobody has a personal interest and who have nobody to make contact with Ministers for them? I think it could be very unfair. At least the parents should know the condition of health of boys around 20 years of age. If, for some psychological reasons, it might be not a good idea to tell the boy concerned, his parents should be told, otherwise it might start him wondering what is the cause of his neurosis. He may be in need of specialist treatment. He may be in need of all sorts of help for his state of health. The point I make is that it is not the practice of the Department to make known to the rejected recruit, or to his parents, the condition of health which caused him to be rejected. I ask the Minister to make some inquiries into this matter with a view to seeing whether the position can possibly be rectified.
– Before the sitting was suspended for lunch I was discussing the possibility of the early establishment of a naval base at Cockburn Sound or somewhere else on the west coast of Western Australia. That reminded me of a reply that was given to me in the Senate a week or so ago by Senator Gorton who told me that investigations had been going on with regard to this proposed naval base at Cockburn Sound for some considerable time. I am just wondering in what part of the estimates the cost of this investigation can be found. The necessity for such a base has been known for over half a century.
– Order! To which Division is the honourable senator referring?
– The one about which I was speaking this morning. It is
Division No. 670 - General Stores - H.M.A. Ships, Fleet Auxiliaries and Naval Establishments
– I am wondering how much it is costing and how much longer investigations are going to continue. I think 54 years is quite a long time for any investigations to go on. There have been intermittent cessations of these investigations, but the fact is that over the last 10 or 15 years there has been so much industrial development in the area as well as the development of the channels into Cockburn Sound leading to Kwinana and other industrial plants in that area that a good deal of this material should be quite readily available.
Formerly when I asked a question with regard to the basing in Western Australia of supply ships, Senator Gorton, who was then Minister for the Navy, told me that there was no possibility of getting a base in Western Australia, as the ships working in the Indian Ocean and the waters north of Western Australia could be replenished from ships based in the eastern States. We Western Australians are not very happy with that state of affairs. I think in the intervening time a great deal has happened which has made the importance of the west coast apparent to everyone. For example, at North West Cape we have the United States Naval communications station. Vast fields of mineral deposits have also been found in the north which could lead to tremendous development in this part of Australia. I emphasise that all this is happening within a couple of hours flying time and a few hours sailing time of some of the areas of South East Asia which could ultimately become trouble spots. As we have the places in Western Australia where facilities could be established, we feel that we would be recreant to our trust if we did not do something about it. I have mentioned before that there are other places which are suitable if it is found that Cockburn Sound is not the best place for the base. There are Albany in the south and Geraldton, perhaps, in the north. I feel strongly about Fremantle, Albany or Esperance because such facilities could be built there. This matter should not be put off from day to day. We know that the British are withdrawing from Singapore and that this withdrawal will pose a threat to security in that area. When I originally raised this matter, the Minister said that no action by the British to withdraw was likely to be taken yet. But it is now about to happen and I feel that something should be done about building a naval base in the west.
I notice that Division No. 672 deals with ships, aircraft, machinery and plant - repairs and other charges, and that these things are estimated to cost more than $9m this financial year. Any work on our naval vessels requiring a dry dock has to be undertaken far from the shores of Western Australia. In some cases it has to be done far from Australian shores. Any extension of naval facilities on the west coast would be a great asset not only to the Royal Australian Navy in times of war but also for the whole of Australia in times of peace. I do not think we should keep our sights always on the possibility of war. We should look forward to a time when the clouds of war will have lifted and plan ahead for years of peace. A naval dockyard and other facilities for servicing ships on the west coast could be used equally as well for either contingency. I ask once again that the Minister do something along these lines. I do not know how much time is left to me to put this request but so long as I am here and am able to do so I am going to keep at the Minister in an effort to have this very necessary part of our naval establishment built on the western coast of Australia.
– I have some information for Senator Tangney. The Department of Works has let a contract with the firm of Maunsell and Partners, consulting engineers of Melbourne, to prepare a feasibility study of a naval support facility in Western Australia on the basis of a detailed statement of requirements prepared by the Royal Australian Navy. The consultants are currently engaged on this task. As originally announced by the Prime Minister (Mr
Harold Holt), the result of this investigation will be the essential basis for further consideration by the Government. I give no further indication of what the decision will be. As was previously announced by the Prime Minister, while the investigation is primarily directed to Navy requirements, the Government will take fully into account the possible needs of allied navies and their use of the proposed facilities, including, in particular, the possible needs of the Royal Navy.
In reply to the comments by Senator Ormonde, all I can do is to say that I will ask the Minister for the Navy (Mr Chipp) to look at his suggestion that people who are medically examined and are not fit enough to be accepted into the Navy be provided with a medical report. I will let the Minister for the Navy give him the reasons for this action.
– When I spoke earlier on these estimates I referred to Division No. 668 - Advances to States under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement in particular, as well as mentioning matters covered under several other Divisions. The Minister who was handling these estimates before lunch completely evaded the issue. I am sorry he is not in the chamber at present but what I am saying is true. He evaded the issue on a number of matters which I raised. I want to make some observations about this and also to refer once again to the remarks of the Auditor-General.
– Which division is the honourable senator referring to now?
– I referred to Division No. 668 and Division No. 672 in particular and then to Division No. 688 and Division No. 689. The latter two divisions come under the control of the Department of Housing. Yesterday when we were debating the estimates for another department, in reply to a question I asked a Minister said: You will find the answer in Hansard. I answered your question earlier today.’ I am sick and tired of asking questions which are avoided by a Minister, side tracked or otherwise disposed of without the information requested being given. That is precisely what happened to me before lunch today on a number of issues I raised. Firstly, the Minister for Repatriation (Senator
McKellar) gave information about item 04 in Division No. 668 - Administrative Expenses and General Services. I had not asked a question about that item. It deals with postage, telegrams and telephone services. The Minister went into a long harangue about increased postal charges as from 1st October. I suggest that the Minister did not know what he was talking about. When the estimates were compiled the increased postal charges had not become part of the law of this country.
Then the Minister referred to Division No. 675 - Naval Construction. I had not asked a question about that matter either. I have been critical in the past of the fact that HMAS ‘Melbourne’ had been floating around as a rust bucket for a number of years. A refit had not been carried out although it had been promised by a previous Minister for the Navy and a previous Prime Minister. I did not ask about HMAS ‘Melbourne’ today, yet the Minister gave me an explanation about it. He avoided a number of questions that I did ask. Today, on the VIP aircraft issue, we have debated the mismanagement of, and indeed the dishonest use of hundreds of thousands of dollars of the taxpayers’ money. In the case of the Navy, not hundreds of thousands of dollars are involved, but millions of dollars of the taxpayers’ money. It has gone down the drain through involvement in open ended contracts. That is precisely what has happened.
I turn now to what the Auditor-General said in his report for the year ended 30th June 1967:
In replying to Audit observations with regard to the increase of $US5,896,350 in the provision for shore based spares for the first two destroyers, the Department stated that there was no contractual commitment whereby a full range of shore based spares would necessarily be provided, through the United States Navy, within the overall estimated cost of $US90m for the two completed ships;
The ships referred to are Charles F. Adams class destroyers. The Auditor-General continued: it was recognised at an early stage that the original provision for such spares to the extent of $US3,240,0O0 was inadequate and approvals had been obtained subsequently for the funding of progressive increases in the provision for shore based spares to a total of SUS9,136,350 by utilising savings in relation to ship construction costs, etc. as declared by the United States Navy.
I have quoted only briefly from the report but what I have quoted is a complete indictment of the Navy for its mismanagement of the purchase of the Charles F. Adams class destroyers and of other matters. If any member of the public would like to learn of the matters in greater detail I recommend that he read the AuditorGeneral’s report. It is a condemnation of the action of the Government It is no wonder that the previous Minister for the Navy was sacked if what I have quoted is an indication of the way he entered into contracts.
I wish to refer to two or three comments made by the Minister. Firstly, he said that we could not build the Charles F. Adams type of destroyer in Australia. What is wrong with Australian tradesmen? What is wrong with Australian engineers? What is wrong with Australian ship designers? Are they incapable of doing these things? Of course they are not, and the Government knows very well that they are not incapable. The point is that the Government is going all the way with LBJ and must put all these contracts into American hands. Because of the Government’s political obligations to the United States it has no other way around the problem.
The Minister then referred to the patrol boats. I had referred to the AuditorGeneral’s report in which he said that only 3 vessels had been launched and no deliveries had been made even though the delivery dates were supposed to have fallen between August 1966 and November 1967. November is now only a few days away. The Minister now says that there are five patrol boats. A fair inference is that five of the vessels have been delivered. The AuditorGeneral’s report is only 2 or 3 months old end from the statements in it I assume that none of the patrol boats has yet been delivered. The Minister says that there are technical problems. I ask: What are the technical problems? Are we ever to be told? Is this information to be suppressed by the Government because it is afraid to bring it out for public inspection?
I would suggest that my humble advice might be considered in the future when departments are entering into contracts. I know that the Government will get a roasting when we come to consider the estimates for the Department of Air, because of the mismanagement of contracts. Why cannot these contracts be entered into on a proper business footing so that the Government has a reasonable idea - within a much smaller sum, at any rate, than is the case here - of what it is buying, when the delivery date will be, what spares will cost and their availability.
The Minister read out a long story regarding this matter. It was obvious that the Department was prepared for a political assault of this nature, if one likes to describe it that way. It knew that it would have to justify the fact that millions of dollars which could have been spent elsewhere are going down the financial drain. I hope that some further investigation of the reasons for this expenditure has been made. I hope that we will be told what the technical reasons were that held up delivery of these patrol boats. I think the Minister said that the delivery date for the last of these boats was April 1969. Delivery will be almost 2 years late. Let us suppose that we needed these boats for defence purposes. For 2 years the country could burn before it got delivery of the patrol boats. I hope that the Minister will tell us what the technical difficulties were that held up delivery of these boats. I hope that he will be able to assure us that the Government will not continue with open-ended contracts that can escalate in terms of cost until this country becomes bankrupt or until we have not a Navy either to defend us or to assist another country to which we might be properly tied by defence pacts.
– First of all, Senator Keeffe complained that the Charles F. Adams destroyers are not being built in Australia. Then he complained about the late delivery of twenty patrol boats that are being built in Australia. I think that ‘his first complaint answers the second one. The shells of the Charles F. Adams destroyers could have been built in Australia but we would have had to import the most sophisticated and up to date machinery which is included in these vessels. The vessels could not have been completed in Australia in time, and time is the essence of the contract.
Senator Keeffe then referred to the delivery of twenty patrol boats. I think he should realise that the two contracts for the construction of these twenty craft were placed in Queensland. One contract was with the Brisbane firm of Evans Deakin & Co. Pty Ltd and the other was with Walkers Ltd of Maryborough. As I told the Senate sonic 4 or 5 weeks ago, I went to inspect the construction of these boats when I travelled in a VII’ aircraft to Brisbane.
– Is this the one that broke down as a result of which the Minister had to come back by a commercial flight?
– Yes. That is the one about which I told the Senate. One of the reasons why I went to Brisbane was to see these particular vessels being constructed. lt is a new type of vessel. Once the prototype for a new vessel is finished further vessels roll off the assembly line. From November 1967 to April 1969 is a period of 18 months. Technical difficulties were encountered with the manufacture of these vessels. I am sure that the honourable senator would agree that at the time when the contracts were placed with the two Queensland yards it was better to place them there than anywhere else in Australia. As 1 remember the position, the work was needed there at that time.
One of the minor contractors experienced difficulties of a technical nature. This held the project up for the period to which he referred. I was assured - I point out that I was there and that I inspected the project - that a prototype had been completed and that the vessels would roll off the line. I feel confident that this will be so. I could not help underlining one point that has been made. Firstly he said that the Charles F. Adams class destroyers, which are the most sophisticated destroyers, should have been made in Australia. When the supply of patrol boats was held up for 12 months because Austraiian shipyards could not do the work, the Government is blamed for the delay. The honourable senator cannot have it both ways. As I have pointed out, I think that the shipyards in Queensland were entitled to bc awarded this contract. The delay of 12 months occurred because of the technical difficulties to which I have referred. I think that answers the question raised by the honourable senator.
– Mr Chairman, I do not know exactly to which Division I should relate
13752/67 - S1 - (731
my remarks. I think they apply to Division No. 668 - Administrative Expenses and General Services. I wish to deal with advertising. A great deal of advertising is undertaken to obtain new recruits for the Navy. Despite a most extensive campaign in the Press and on radio and television I find that the number of personnel in the Navy now compared with the number of 12 months ago has risen by 388 men - 63 officers and 325 ratings. I should like to know how many of these ratings are included in the intake of junior ratings at HMAS ‘Leeuwin* in Western Australia. Are those junior ratings included in these figures? If not, where do these figures appear?
I find also that only 5 officers and 103 ratings have been recruited into the women’s section of the Navy during the past 1 2 months. I should like to know the cost of this extensive advertising campaign and whether the expenditure has been commensurate with the results achieved.
Referring to item 15 of Division No. 668. 1 should like to know whether the Committee can be provided with a better breakdown of the expenditure in relation to what is described here as incidental and other expenditure. The appropriation for 1966-67 was $405,000 while the actual expenditure was $401,585. The appropriation for this financial year is $365,000. Is this just for incidentals? Is it pin money? I should like to know exactly how that amount is made up. Surely the item could be broken down. This would be much better than lumping the components together. Surely $1,000 is not being provided each day for petty cash, although this is how it works out?
I wish to refer to the remarks about the former Minister for the Navy. Mr Chancy. 1 wish to make some personal remarks in this regard. I do not think that his demotion from the position of Minister for the Navy was due to inefficiency on his part; I think it was due to geography. The former Minister for the Navy comes from a State which was already very well represented in the Ministry at the time when the first Holt Ministry was formed. Knowing the honourable member for Perth personally, I am aware that he devoted a great deal of time and energy to his job. It was very unfortunate that in the first few weeks in which he undertook his new duties the terrible disaster involving HMAS ‘Voyager’ occurred. He got off to a bad start in his portfolio. Despite that, he worked very hard, I know, particularly regarding junior recruits and other aspects of his job relating to Western Australia. I think he lost his portfolio because Western Australia had more representatives in the Ministry proportionately than other States had. So the former Minister was expendable. 1 wish to refer now to the school which has been built at HMAS ‘Leeuwin’ for the training of junior seamen. This has been a great success. I do not know the exact number of students who are at present in residence there. The school began as an experiment. It was started in quite inadequate buildings which are now being enlarged to a size that is more in keeping with the work done there. I think the school was brought to Western Australia only as a sop to us when so many other defence forces were being withdrawn. But it has succeeded, and I would like to say to all those young men who come to the school from other States that they are doing a fine job for their State. I know many of them have been taken into the homes of peoples in Western Australia for week-ends and holidays. They are very good, typical young members of the community and we are very happy to meet them. They are a tonic and contrast sharply with the long hair brigade we see elsewhere. I thank the Navy for establishing this school in the West; it is doing a very fine job.
I refer now to the shipbuilding programme. I cannot understand why more ships for the Navy are not built in Australia. 1 had the very great honour 23 years ago to launch a ship from the shipyard at Maryborough in Queensland. It was a frigate called ‘Shoalhaven’ and was a very fine ship of its class. It won the Duke of Gloucester cup for efficiency. I took it as a sort of personal insult when it was sold to Japan. I was very proud of that ship. Surely in the intervening 23 years the techniques of shipbuilding have not been lost by our work force. I am sure the employees of Walkers Ltd. at Maryborough have not lost the technique. The experience gained in Australian shipyards over the past two decades should enable them to build at least some of the ships required by the Navy.
– I can give Senator Tangney the recruiting details that she seeks. In the quarter from 1st July 1967 to 30th September 1967 the number of volunteers increased by 200. The increase for the whole of last year was about 1,000 and it is projected that we will have about another 800 added to the strength by 30th June 1968. The honourable senator asked for a break up of the amounts allocated for incidental and other expenditures. 1 can give her the general headings. They are dockyard training, payment of ships funds, civil recruitment advertising, payments to other departments for rent, etc., Royal Australian Navy Reserve, repairs to office equipment, funeral expenses, allotment commission, public relations, naval displays, intelligence expenses and ambulance hire. They all come into the amount to which the honourable senator referred. The total strength at 1st July 1966 was 14,714 and at 1st July 1967 was 15,893. The increase over last year is about 1,100.
– I have just one question to ask. lt related to Division No. 670. Why does the Flinders naval establishment not produce a report similar to the report for the Royal Military College at Duntroon? Why is it that the Army gives us a detailed report on its college but we do not get a similar report from the Navy?
– There is a report from the Royal Australian Naval College. A copy is in the Library.
– We do not get it direct.
– 1 do not know whether it is sent here direct, but the report is available in the Library.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Department of the Army
Proposed expenditure, $366,102,000.
– Mr Chairman, under Division No. 730 - Administrative expenses and general services - I wish to bring to the notice of the Government a matter that I attempted to raise during consideration of the estimates for the Department of Defence. Al that time, L was told that it came within the ambit of the estimates for the Department of the Army. 1 wish to bring to the notice of the Minister for Supply (Senator Henty) the situation that exists in relation to the Services Canteens Trust Fund. I have perused very closely the annual report of the Fund for 1966. As it points out, this is a World War II fund and the only income that it has caine from World War II sources. The report points out that, pursuant to the provisions of the Services Trust Funds Act, benefits from the Fund are confined to those who served in World War II and the occupation forces in Japan and their dependants. No benefits accrue in relation to ex-servicemen who served in the Korean campaign, the Malayan campaign or the present Vietnam campaign. The report indicates that last year 205,248 people received benefit in one form or another. These were ex-servicemen and women and their dependants, widows, orphans and afflicted children, who received educational and welfare assistance and the like.
When one turns to the financial statement, Mr Chairman, one sees that the financial situation of the Fund is very serious. At 31st December 1966, the sums that had been transferred to it totalled $11,053,986. At the same date, income that had been received totalled $6,549,161. Total expenditure to that date was $11,016,676. The total income of the Fund in 1966 consisted of interest on the General Fund and the Education Fund, which amounted to $391,665. Expenditure last year amounted to $912,554. So it is obvious that great financial problems confront the trustees. The report points out that since 31st December 1965 the capital fund has been reduced by $520,585. Throughout the report, one can see indications that the trustees are very much concerned about the Fund’s solvency and the possible effects of the present situation on ex-servicemen, widows and orphans who are beneficiaries, particularly widows and orphans. At a number of places in this report it is pointed out that because of shortage of funds the assistance that is now given to these unfortunate people will probably have to be reduced considerably in the very near future.
The trustees of the Fund are a very honourable group of citizens. The chairman is Mr E. Harding, a Military Medal winner. I understand that recently he wrote to the Government proposing discussions about the situation which has developed and which will probably necessitate a drastic reduction in benefits to World War II widows for the education of their children. Mr Harding has pointed out to the Government that the matter is so urgent that it cannot be dealt with effectively by letter, and that there is a necessity for a deputation from the trustees to be received by the Government, so that the Government may be made fully aware of the serious situation of the Fund. 1 understand that the Fund is provided for in an Act which is administered for the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) by the Minister for the Army (Mr Malcolm Fraser). If this Fund is to survive it certainly must have some financial assistance. I am told that at one stage the trustees did arrange for an interview with the Minister for Defence. They arranged for a luncheon which he would attend and at which they could discuss the matter with him. Unfortunately the Minister was detained and turned up very late. I want to know whether the Minister appointed to administer the Fund is the Minister for the Army or the Minister for Defence. If it is the Minister for Defence will the Minister for the Army make sure that this matter is brought to the notice of the Minister for Defence so that the work performed by these trustees in the interests of exservicemen and their widows and orphans will not go in vain, the Fund will be better able to continue in a condition of solvency and the benefits provided from the fund will remain at their existing level.
– I know that Senator McClelland has for a long time been keenly interested in this Services Canteens Trust Fund and the benefits flowing from it. If I had not been aware of his interest I might have pointed out to him that this matter has nothing to do with the estimates because it is not controlled by a department al all; it is controlled by an outside trust.
– It is administered by a Minister.
– Parliament does not appropriate any money at all for this Fund.
The Fund was established with the undistributed canteen profits from World War II, which amounted originally to about Slim. The intention was to use up all the surplus in providing educational and general benefits for dependants of World War II servicmen. A Trust was set up to disburse this Fund. I am advised that the present commitments of the education fund will be exhausted by 1977 and of the general assistance fund by 1987. However, the matter of extending the Fund’s activities beyond those dates is at present being examined by the Department of Defence. But. no appropriation is involved, and 1 remind the honourable senator that, we are dealing with appropriations covered by the estimates.
– It saves my speaking on the adjournment motion.
– That is quite true. Because I knew of the honourable senator’s keen interest in this matter I thought I would let him run on and then give him an answer so that he would be satisfied.
– My first submission is concerned with the amount provided for Citizen Military Forces and cadets in Division No. 698. 1 also want to refer to Division No. 706- Arms and Equipment - Repairs and Maintenance.
I want to take the Senate back to an occasion 12 months ago when I made a plea on behalf of the people of Sydney for the Commonwealth Government to get moving and reach an agreement with the New South Wales Government on the release of the Georges Heights section of the Sydney Harbour foreshore for use as parkland. I do not think anyone would contend that in the year 1.967 we need to use cannons with a range of 3 miles, having in mind the modern weapons that are now available, lt amazes, me that the negotiations for the release of this land have been so protracted. On 2 1st September I was told in answer to a question I had directed to the Minister that legal problems still had to be resolved. That information was preceded by an answer the week before from the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) that - to use the Minister’s words - ‘the matter has not yet reached finalisation but it is approaching finalisation.’ 1 confess 1 am mystified. - If we were conducting negotiations with a foreign power and somebody had to fly 12,000 or 15,000 miles to take part in those negotiations and our country’s honour was at stake I could appreciate that no-one would want to budge an inch on this issue. But, as I think my colleague, Senator Ormonde, will agree, the people of Sydney should not be regarded as enemy aliens.
If cost is a factor then there may be an exercise to be carried out by the Department of the Treasury or the Department: of the Army or the Department of the Interior. But what the average Sydneysider sees is an area of land that the Army says is surplus to requirements, and yet for some reason lengthy negotiations are being carried on and nobody can tell just what legal complexities are holding the matter up. lt is not a case in which a complicated matter of an allocation under the uniform taxation system is involved. What will be required is merely a book entry. Some amount will be charged by one government department to another government, department. Being a pragmatic Socialist all I am interested in is ensuring that the people of Sydney obtain the use of this parkland. The more harbour foreshore they can get the better.
I had a dig at one of the Minister’s colleagues recently - and I was supported by Senator Ormonde- concerning the encroachment of the Department of Customs and Excise on the Sydney Harbour foreshore. All I am trying to ensure now is that what we lose on the swings we gain on the roundabouts. I repeat that it is beyond my comprehension why this rearguard action is being fought, and 1 know the people of Sydney are completely fed up with it. I do not know exactly which Commonwealth department is fighting this rearguard action. If it is not the Department of the Army then it is the Department of the Interior. But we are dealing at the moment with the Department which is in occupancy of the Georges Heights area. It is time we received a quick answer. Never mind this weird phraseology: ‘It has not yet reached finalisation but it is approaching finalisation.’ We have another week’s sitting before we go into recess, and it seems to me that it would be a very nice Christmas present for the people of Sydney to be told that the bastion had been stormed and that these Georges
Heights foreshores will be available for recreational purposes.
I now want to refer to an item which appears on page 41 of the Report on the Royal Military College of Australia for 1966. Under the heading Trophies’ there is a reference to the inter-company tug of war. Like myself many other honourable senators may have nostalgic memories of participating in these events. 1 arn rather concerned to find on the following two pages of this report references to sports colours having been granted for a variety of sports, but none for tug of war. I think the Minister appreciates team spirit, whether it be in the Cabinet or on the sporting field. 1 cannot understand why the successful tug of war team should not be given sports colours as have been given for other sports. I was recently looking through a London athletic carnival brochure and I saw references to tug of war contests between Services teams and various industrial teams. Teams from Guinness’s brewery, Vickers and other industrial enterprises vied with teams from the Royal Artillery, the Royal Air Force and other sections of the Services. 1 think we should encourage any sport that involves learn spirit, and I cannot see why there has been [his apparent discrimination between those who are successful in the tug of war event and those who succeed in other sporting contests. I know that some people arc inclined to say that members of tug of war teams are weak in the head and strong in the back, but I should hate to think that members of the Duntroon College tug of war team could be so categorised.
The final matter J want to deal with concerns Army compensation. I shall simply give the Minister a reference number and ask him to follow this matter up for me. J refer to a Mr. J. W. Buctmann, Farrell’s Lane, Cranebrook, via Penrith. His regimental number is 2257726. The reference number is 66/EV/501, section 3. I mention this matter to the Minister because of the tremendous lag that occurs in finalising claims made under the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act by those Citizen Military Force boys who have the misfortune to sustain injury on the 88th or 89th day of their training. In this particular case to which I refer, .1 do not question the compensation paid. The major part of the claim has been met; but the boy in question sustained a back injury as a result of which he finds that he cannot use public transport. The pain in his back is so great that he finds it necessary to travel by taxi from near Penrith to Victoria Barracks but there seems to be some difference of opinion as to whether he is, in fact, unable to use public transport. Perhaps the Minister will have a look at the matter and see just what the position is.
– The honourable senator will realise that we have not got with us details of individual cases, but we will take note of the case he has mentioned. As to the property in Sydney which he mentioned, I understand that the matter has been before the Government and is approaching finalisation. I can only say to the honourable senator that ‘approaching realisation’ might not satisfy him.
– What about Duntroon Military College and the tug of war?
– I was interested to know that they still had a tug of war these days. We will take the matter up with the Minister for only he can consider these points.
– I remind the Minister that he should remember, when he is considering releasing places such as Middle Head and George’s Heights on Sydney Harbour which are the areas mentioned by Senator Mulvihill, that these areas were reserved for military use back in the days when all the guns were pointed out towards Sydney Heads because it was thought that invaders were going to move into Australia through the Heads.
– The yellow peril.
– That is right. I,t reminds me of a certain religious sect which thought that their modern Christ, Krishnamurti, was going to come in through Sydney Heads, walking across the sea. They constructed an amphitheatre on a site opposite the Heads. But they got tired of waiting for the miracle to occur and have torn the amphitheatre down. The land has now been put to public use. But the Department of the Army still has guns pointing out through the Heads and still uses for military purposes an area which ought to be turned over to the people of Sydney and put to such good use for parklands or housing which is badly needed. It is one of the most beautiful parts of the harbour and it ought not to be left as it is. Really, it is in ill use. Our soldiers could just as easily be trained out on the flat country at the back where there is also plenty of hilly terrain. Why the Army should continue to hold this area just because it has had it for 100 years since the days when they used to fight with cotton guns - those guns are still there - I cannot understand. The Army should realise just as the religious sect to which I have referred finally did, that what it is waiting for is not going to happen - that nobody is going to invade Australia through the Heads. The religious sect got rid of its land, but the Army is still carrying on in the same old way. I suggest it is a complete waste of public money to allow this land to be used in the way it is. It is a beautiful part of the Harbour and it ought to be handed over to the people of Sydney - but not to the developers.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Department of Air
Proposed expenditure, $297,71], 000.
– I refer, firstly, to Division No. 736, item 10, which relates to training of personnel at other than Royal Australian Air Force establishments. I wonder whether the Minister could give me some details as to the training of RAAF personnel that would warrant an expenditure of $880,000. Where is the training carried out, and to what type of training does it relate?
I refer, also, to item 12, which relates to research and development. It is a matter of some disappointment to me that, in a service of this kind, using highly sophisticated equipment, which entails a substantial expenditure of money in this branch of the service, there can be devoted to the area of research and development the sum of only $19,000. I should think that, in view of our experience in recent years, this would be an area in which the expenditure of a substantial sum of money would be completely warranted. As I see the position - and this view is fairly widely held throughout the country - we have to get to a stage of greater independence as a nation in the provision of our defence equipment - our hardware, as it is called. I can recall that about 18 months ago the aeronautics development section of the Department produced a design for an aircraft which would be eminently suited to Australian conditions for training purposes. This was some lime prior to the Government’s decision to order the Italian Macchi trainer. The development of the design, configuration and so on of the aircraft was carried out by personnel in the research area of the service who were capable, competent and very keen to give Australia a level of independence in this field. I believe the aircraft has been tested for aerodynamics and so on, and was regarded by the people concerned as being quite capable of production in Australia.
There were some heartburnings when the Government decided to attach this development section to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. 1 believe that one of the leading technicians, whose name I cannot recall- at the moment, in this section left the Department. We lost his services. He went overseas. I think he went to Canada, lt is a matter for considerable regret that this should have happened. Now we find, if we can relate this to the figure provided for research, that little encouragement is given to people to engage in research activities. I think that until we reach the stage where we can have far greater independence from overseas countries in the ordering of our very costly defence equipment, we are going to be in the hands of overseas entrepreneurs so far as the provision of equipment for the three branches of our defence Services is concerned. I should like some observations from the Minister as to why this figure appears to be so low particularly since it is well known in Australia - it must be well known to the Department - that experimental work of the type I have just mentioned is apparently not encouraged.
I turn my attention now to Division No. 742, item 02, which relates to guided missiles, armaments, bombs and explosive stores. I take it that this relates to bullets and the general range of explosives and so on. I refer to an answer which was given to my colleague, Senator McClelland, on 26th September concerning the purchase of certain types of equipment for Australian aircraft. Senator McClelland had asked this question of the Minister representing the Minister for Air, Senator McKellar:
What types of ammunition were delivered by the Department of Supply to the Department of Air in the last financial year and what was the total value?
Has any of the ammunition been rejected by the Department of Air ammunition officers . . .
The answer supplied by the Minister stated that no ammunition had been rejected as unfit for service. The significant thing about the question was that although the Department of Supply supplied to the Department of Air its .22 rimfire cartridges, supplies of 30 mm cartridges for the Mirage aircraft had to be imported from the United Kingdom and Prance. We had to obtain 9 mm ammunition from Belgium and certain other types of ammunition, shotgun cartridges, 7.62 mm cartridges and 40 mm cartridges from the United States of America. The total value of ammunition supplied to the Department of Air in the last financial year was in the vicinity of $645,000 but only 3.8% of the ammunition was produced in Australia. The local production was worth about $25,000. This illustrates clearly the point 1 have been trying to make. Australia rs capable of manufacturing .22 rimfire cartridges and surely it ought to be capable - and I think it is capable - of manufacturing the 30 mm ammunition for die Mirage fighter. 1 think the Minister for Supply (Senator Henty) stated recently m the Senate that Australia was still waiting on some sort of authorisation or licence from France to manufacture 30 mm ammunition in Australia for our Mirage fighters. We have had these aircraft for some time but apparently the Government is still negotiating for the necessary licence to enable us to manufacture the ammunition that they use. ls this good enough in this day and age? In the recent war between Israel and the United Arab Republic there was a great deal of concern among the Israelis because of the problem of obtaining 30 mm ammunition for their Mirage fighters. Apparently this was because of some feeling in France at the time about the war. Apparently the French were not happy to see the Israelis using these Mirages against the United Arab Republic. It is conceivable that a simitar situation could arise if
Australia became involved in the war with a country with which France was on friendly terms.
– What about Vietnam?
– That is one example. We could well find ourselves in such a position. This illustrates the point I made earlier about our dependence on overseas supplies. The Government puts itself forward as being very conscious of the need to provide a defence complex but I would have thought that it would sort out this elementary problem of ammunition long before this. Why should we have to get a special licence from France to manufacture the ammunition used by our front line fighter aircraft? These are questions that the people of Australia are asking. I hope that the Minister will be able to give a clear exposition of this matter.
I am also concerned about the fact that the Mirage squadrons are not equipped with the full range of radar support which is necessary to enable them to carry out their role properly. I believe that the Royal Australian Air Force is using some sort of transportable radar equipment which is completely inadequate for the role that the Mirage is designed to play. I wonder why this is so. The Government talks about the fly-away cost and total equipment cost of * these aircraft. I wonder why, bearing in mind the tremendous cost of this type of equipment to Australia, the Government has not gone ahead and fully equipped these aircraft so that they will be able to perform the role for which they ostensibly were purchased? That is another question that I should like the Minister to answer. Why has this radar equipment not been purchased and - when are we likely to get the equipment? It has been reported to us from time to time that Australia must have these highly sophisticated aircraft. I am not arguing about this contention at the moment but if we are to have them why have we not got the full range of equipment required to enable us to use them properly?
-(Senator Drake-Brockman).- Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– The honourable senator’s remarks related really to matters coming within the control of the Department of
Supply and not to the Department of Defence. If I had reminded him of that fact he would not have been able to cover the ground that he did but I felt that he was entitled to do so. The honourable senator referred to the sum to be spent by the Department of Air on research and development. The money is required to pay for work contracted by the Aeronautical Research Laboratories in the Department of Supply, lt is for fatigue research in various aircraft. The honourable senator suggested that the sum devoted to research was low. If he studies the estimates for the Department of Supply he will find the major research and development, work included in them. The Aeronautical Research Laboratories, the Defence Standards Laboratories and the Weapons Research Establishment are all within the sphere of operations of the Department of Supply. In those areas an enormous sum, millions of dollars, is expended on research. We have already dealt with the Department of Supply and therefore 1 do not. propose to cover those matters again.
The honourable senator referred to the money allocated for the training oil personnel at other than Royal Australian Air Force establishments. He asked what type of training is covered in this item, lt is chiefly pilot training, payments for technical colleges, institutes and universities, aero clubs, the RAAF academy and other miscellaneous items. The total amount allocated is $880,000.
Senator Devitt also spoke about the development of a training aircraft at the Government Aircraft Factory at Fishermen’s Bend by the research and development section there. A close evaluation of this aircraft was made by the Department and finally the officers concerned decided in favour of the Macchi trainer as against the Australian aircraft. The RAAF made this decision and after all it will have to use the aircraft. The RAAF decided that the Macchi trainer was the most suitable for its needs. We are manufacturing the Macchi trainer in Australia. The only point is that it was not designed in Australia. The first of these aircraft was delivered to the RAAF about 3 weeks ago. A handing over ceremony was held at Avalon at the time. Again I point out thai this is a matter which comes within the sphere of the Department of Supply.
The honourable senator referred to radar equipment for the Mirage fighters. I point out. to him that the RAAF chose this aircraft and decided what it wanted in it. Officers in the RAAF are more competent than I, and more competent than the honourable senator, to say what type of equipment they want in these aircraft. They have the type of equipment that they asked for and the type of aircraft they asked for. Again I point out that largely the Mirage is manufactured in Australia. I am not prepared to say that another type of radar, the one used by the French, is more suited to Australian conditions. This is a decision for the people who are to use the aircraft. The RAAF is the client department and the Department of Supply provides equipment according to the specifications of Che client department. The Department of Air specified this equipment and that is what it received. I should like to put the honourable senator’s mind at rest about allocation of $19,000 for research and development under Division No. 736 - Administrative expenses and general services. If that was the total amount to be spent on research the honourable senator would be quite entitled to raise this matter. I can assure him that millions of dollars are appropriated for this purpose in the estimates of the Department.
– With due deference to the Minister, while it is the business of the Department of Supply only to purchase and provide such equipment as explosives and bullets, the subjects of the function and efficiency of aircraft are very closely related. The aircraft would be of very little use without the equipment.
– But at the moment we are dealing with the appropriation of money for the purchase of the equipment.
– That is right. I refer to Division No. 744 - Aircraft and Associated Initial Equipment - Purchase and Manufacture. I wish to refer particularly to the Fill fighter bombers which are currently on order from the United States of America to replace the Canberra bombers which have been in service for a great number of years.
– The Fill is the bargain basement model, is it not?
– I do not know. I do not think anybody knows. 1 do not think anybody in Australia can answer that at present. From what I have heard, very few people in the United States could answer that question. We decided in about 1963 to equip the Royal Australian Air Force with a more modern fighter bomber. This was quite proper, since the aircraft to be replaced in the RAAF were obsolescent. However, it is interesting to note that the Canberra bombers are still playing quite a useful role in the Vietnam theatre of war. In fact, opinions have been given that these aircraft are probably much more functional for the type of war being fought in Vietnam than the Fill aircraft will be. My concern with the FI 1 1 is that we have no» been able to arrive at its cost, lt is begging the question to say that the fly away cost of an Fill is $5.95m. Fly away where? Fly away to do what? 1 think we have to face the fact that if it is necessary to buy support equipment with aircraft for the RAAF, surely the cost of that support must be part of the total cost of the provision of the aircraft.
The Auditor-General made some observations on the FI II deal at page 223 of his report for the year ended 30th June 1967. He said:
Initially, the estimated cost of the aircraft, together with associated equipment, 1 year’s initial spares and spare paris, training devices and training services was approximately $US125m
That is given as the cost of 24 aircraft; in other words, about $US5m each. I am rather deeply concerned that the Fill, despite all the glowing references made to its capability, is still not measuring up to requirements. Initially we ordered the FI 1 1A aircraft, formerly known as the TFX. The United States manufacturer is experimenting with the FI M B for naval use. Presumably because of modifications requested by the RAAF to be incorporated in the aircraft, we are now negotiating for the FU1C model. The initial estimated cost of the aircraft and all the equipment - one year’s spares, spare parts, training devices and training services - was about $US125m In the absence of information to the contrary I must regard that figure as the fly away cost of the aircraft. The AuditorGeneral continued:
In December 1965, the United States Air Force advised a revised cost estimate of $US205,330,000. The United States Government agreed to assist in financing the purchase by means of credit facilities arranged by Australia under the authority of the Loan (Defence) Act 1966 . . .
By this time $US80m had been added to the cost of the aircraft. There is no reference to whether it is the fly away or flyany where-else cost. The purchase price of SUS 1.25m had been increased to $US205m, or about $US9m each. A little further on in the Auditor-General’s report the interesting term ‘fly away’ appeared. The report stated:
According to departmental records, the current estimate as advised by the United States Air Force, $US237,750,000, comprises $US142,800,000 the ceiling price agreed for the 24 basic FI IIA aircraft in flyaway condition . . .
I hope the Minister can explain all this to me because I am in a state of complete and utter confusion as to the meaning of the terms ‘initial cost’ and ‘fly away cost’. The Auditor-General continued: subject to escalation in costs of material and labour from a base date of 5 April 1965 and the costs of major engineering changes made to the aircraft; $US10,558,000 for configuration changes required by the Royal Australian Air Force; and $US84,392,000 for the supporting equipment and services.
L suggest in all sincerity that to say that $5. 95m is the base figure and to refer to the fly away condition of the aircraft is to do nothing more or less than to attempt to fool the people into believing that it is the final cost of the aircraft when in fact it has not yet been completely tried out. By this stage we have reached the figure of almost §US10m for each Fill aircraft. The Auditor-General went on:
At the date of preparation of this Report, the estimated cost of the project has not been finally determined pending completion of the assessment of Australian requirements of supporting equipment and services. 1 repeat my earlier observation to Senator Toohey that nobody in Australia, and apparently nobody in the United States, can tell us what we are to pay for the FI 1 1 aircraft. We are buying only twenty-four of them. This is a remarkably few aircraft to cost such a substantial sum. I believe that the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) recently said that any further escalation of the cost of the aircraft would have to be met by special financial arrangements with the United Stales Government. In this field of governmental expenditure I believe we have seen the greatest bungling ever known in this country. Nobody can say with assurance that the aircraft will fill a particular role. I mentioned previously that the Canberra bomber appears to be doing an admirable job in Vietnam in the role it is playing. 1 recall that the Minister for Air (Mr Howson) was recently very indefinite when asked to be specific about whether the F111A, or F111B, or F111C, or whatever letter we may reach, would be capable of effective service in an area such as Vietnam. I think it is clear that a panic decision was made in 1963 to purchase these aircraft. We bought it because the Government was in a bit of a hole, lt had made no clear decision as to what the future was going to be so far as the purchase of a bomber to replace the Canberra was concerned. No doubt the decision was urged on by the generosity of the United States in offering pro tern the B47 bomber which, incidentally, we found was not capable of operating properly from more than one air base in Australia.
The Government decided that it had better do something about it. It had the prospect of buying the TSR2 in Great Britain or the TFX in the United States. The Minister was in the United States at the time and, based upon information supplied to him, he decided that he had better take a chance and order the United States aircraft. The Minister himself on occasions has ridiculed the Australian Labor Party for suggesting that it might have been better to buy the TSR2, the British aircraft, than the TFX. 1 can recall Mr Healey, the British Secretary of State for Defence, saying that on the basis of the orders which it appeared would be forthcoming for the TSR2, Britain could not build a bomber at a price which would make it an economic, proposition for a country to buy. The figure was quite a substantial one and in fairness I must say it was substantially higher than the present figure which is available at this stage, anyway, for the FI MA. But had the British people been able to sell a sufficient number of this aircraft it might have been a very much different story.
I can recall also recently that the United States Government made a pretty tough decision regarding the purchase of some naval ships in Great Britain because Britain had made other arrangements so far as the FINA aircraft was concerned. This is the type of bargaining that goes on. I suppose that it is the type of thing that goes on when you get into this level of big business. But our decision certainly did not help Great Britain. We gave Britain no encouragement to go on with the TSR2 aircraft. However, I do not want to harp on that matter. ‘We have made our decision. We have made our bid. We have to rely on it. But in this day and age, 4 years after we have placed an order for a particular type of aircraft, we still do know the price of the aircraft.
I hope that the Minister can give me a clear explanation of what ‘fly away’ means. Most aircraft of which I am aware fly away. 1 want to know what the cost of this aircraft will be when we get it in Australia and whether it will serve a useful role here. 1 also want to know whether we are not just trying to be up with the Jones and whether we would not have been better off to buy a type of aircraft which was more suitable to Australian conditions so that we would have been able to have a far greater number of pilots trained to fly less sophisticated aircraft.
– Something like the aircraft in the Israeli airforce?
– That resulted from a realistic attitude on their part. Obviously we are all the way. We have to be up with the Jones. We have to get the most modern equipment in the world. The Fil l may be the right type of equipment for Australia but nobody is able to explain this satisfactorily to anyone. I think that perhaps now might be the time for. the Minister to give us a complete explanation of this’ matter. I want to know the type of service which this aircraft will be able to provide and whether we can be sure that an aircraft which has not passed its test yet is a suitable aircraft for Australia. I think that there is a tremendous amount of conjecture as to what this aircraft will do. I am aware of the fact that when the Minister was in the United States he said it was a good aircraft. But 1 have heard recent reports saying that the new changes in the configuration of this aircraft which have been brought about by changes for Australia’s requirements mean that its operational range and performance have been changed. In fact, the type of aircraft which we will ultimately receive is not the type, except in name, that we ordered in the first place. I would hope that the Minister might be able to give a more satisfactory explanation to the Senate and to the people of Australia as to what is going on regarding the re-equipping of the Royal Australian Air Force.
– The first point that I wish to take up is Senator Devitt’s reference to the purchase of the Fill being a bungle. 1 point out to him that the Government through the Department of Air, got in early and placed an order for twenty-four aircraft so that we would have twenty-four of the most modern aircraft in the world. They will be great fighting units. The honourable senator said that this was a bungle. I ask him what sort of a bungle it would have been if by some mischance his Party had got into power after the general election at which it said that it would buy the TSR2 which is not being manufactured at all. His party would have had to turn to the only other type of aircraft that was available in the world. It would have had to get in the line and it would have received delivery of the aircraft some years afterwards. The judgment of the Royal Australian Air Force evaluation team at that time was good. 1 believe that the judgment of our RAAF evaluation team is always good, lt chose the Fill in preference to the TSR2. The honourable senator mentioned those two types of aircraft. His Party, before an election, said that it would buy the TSR2. If the party had stuck to that decision it would not have got the aircraft because it has not been manufactured and it will not be manufactured.
Senator Devitt also said that the order of twenty-four aircraft from Australia would have made the British go on with the manufacture of the TSR2. I am sorry to say that the honourable senator does not know what he is talking about. I do not wish to be rude, but that is a fact. His Party pledged itself to buy the TSR2. If it had formed a government after the election and if it had placed an order for the TSR2, as it said it would, it would have been faced with the greatest bungle of all times. It would have had to come in on the line years after other nations had placed their orders for the Fill and it would have been so far behind that the aircraft might not have been delivered for 10 years. I wanted to make the point to refute Senator Devitt’s suggestion that the purchase of the FI 1 1 was a bungle. Senator Devitt asked a question regarding Division No. 744. The firm fly away cost per unit is $US5.95m.
– That is not right.
– If the honourable senator will wait a minute and let me tell the story I will give him the facts of life. If he waits I will make everything clear to him. The firm fly away cost per unit is $US5.95m, to which is to be added the cost of the modifications special to the RAAF requirements. Senator Devitt pointed out that we had ordered the FI IIA aircraft. The Americans are also manufacturing the FI I IB, which is a modified type for the United States Navy. 1 understand that some difficulties have been encountered with that aircraft. I do not know what the difficulties are because we are not interested in that aircraft. We have not bought it. That is not our business. That is a matter between the United States Navy and the suppliers.
The F111C aircraft is the FI IIA aircraft with extended wing tips for increased range and with strengthening of the undercarriage. If the honourable senator knows anything at all about the design of aircraft - whether they be civil, military or any other type - he would know that a prototype is the first one that is manufactured and immediately that first design is manufactured it is modified and improved. This is what is happening to the FI IIA aircraft. The F111C aircraft, as I have said, is a modified model of the Fill with extended wing tips for range and strengthening of the undercarriage. We will not know what the support costs are until our RAAF team which is now in the United States completes an assessment of the requirements.
Senator Devitt asks me to give him a definition of the term ‘fly away cost’ as used by the RAAF. The fly away cost means the cost of an aircraft fully fitted with all its equipment and fuelled ready to fly. There would be no spares included in this cost. Test equipment, ground handling equipment and other equipment to service the aircraft are additional to the fly away cost. So ‘fly away cost’ means the cost of the aircraft fully fitted with all its equipment and fuelled ready to fly. That ls a pretty simple explanation for the honourable senator. I have made it simple because I thought it would be easier for the honourable senator to assimilate.
The honourable senator says that we have no Arm knowledge yet as to what the final cost will be. This is perfectly correct. It is because of the continued improvements and modifications that are being made. But when we are ready for the delivery of these aircraft and when they are ready to be delivered to Australia, we will know what the situation is. Let me say one thing to the honourable senator regarding whatever aircraft we had bought at the time we placed this order: The honourable senator knows very well that at the time there was a threat to Australia. If we had made the bungle of buying the TSR2 as honourable senators opposite would have made because they committed themselves to this aircraft, we would never have known the cost because of the continuing design improvement and development improvement that go on. But I will say this: The aircraft will be one of the most magnificent purchases ever made in the history of Australia. These twenty-four aircraft with the aircraft that we have commissioned at the present time represent an air force of which a small nation such as Australia with a population of approximately 11 million people can be well proud. These aircraft will be something to be reckoned with in air warfare if Australia is ever tackled in the future.
- Mr Chairman, 1 wish that I had the same enthusiasm as the Minister has for something that we have not seen yet and of which we do not know the final cost. But I wish le make this observation - apparently it has not occurred to the Minister - that Britain did not go on with the manufacture of the TSR2 anyway.
– Britain bought the FI 1 1. I forgot to say that.
– That is right. Britain did not go on with the TSR2. But a country such as Australia, knowing the record of Britain in the production of service aircraft, might have helped Britain out of a pretty serious problem at that time. Be that as it may, the development of the aircraft was not continued. The Minister is now suggesting that a Labor government presumably would still have kept its order there. 1 would nol think that such would be the case at all. I would think that a Labor government would be able to give to the people of Australia a better accounting than the Government has done at the present time.
The Minister talks about this wonderful aircraft, what it is going to do and so on. I do not think that anybody knows about or can enthuse about something that still belongs to the future. We can wax eloquent and we can become enthusiastic about this beautiful looking thing that sweeps its wings back. That is not the whole story, of course. This project is still going through its birth pains. I sincerely hope for the sake of Australia that this aircraft will fly and perform the services which the Minister has said it will. I hope that if the situation ever arises in which these aircraft can be used the amount of money that we have spent on them will be proved to be justified. My final observation is that, in view of the fact that experimentation is still going on and is still adding substantially to the cost of this aircraft. I merely express the rather pious hope, or the forlorn hope al the moment, that the thing will fly away.
– Mr Chairman, in answer to the honourable senator let me say that the Minister for Air (Mr Howson) has flown this aircraft. The Chief of the Air Staff has flown it. The aircraft will fly all right, brother; there is no need to worry about that. J am enthusiastic about this aircraft because 1 back the judgment of the evaluation staff of the Royal Australian Air Force. I will back the judgment of that staff because it has proved to be very good in alt things.
– My brief comment is related to Division No. 736 - Administrative Expenses and General Services. Actually this is in the form of a question which I asked regarding one of the other arms of the Services. I asked the Minister whether the Point Cook AitForce Academy produces a report similar to the one produced by the Royal Military College, Duntroon. Before the Minister answers my question may I say respectfully that the answer that he gave to me in relation to the Navy was not quite true. The Minister said that there was a copy of the report of the Flinders Naval Depot College in the Parliamentary Library. What is in the Library is a history of that naval depot produced in 1952. I am seeking the annual report setting out the year by year achievements. As I have said, members of this Parliament who have visited the training establishments have been impressed by their efficiency. All we ask is that the Navy and the RAAF emulate the example set by Duntroon and produce annual reports. 1 repeat that the answer given by the Minister to my earlier query whs not correct. The Parliamentary Library has a history of the Flinders Naval Depot but whatI want is an annual report such as the one produced by Duntroon.
– Mr Chairman, Senator Mulvihill raises a very interesting point. I understand from what my officers tell us - I rely on what they tell me - that there is an annual report for the section of the Navy to which he referred. There is an annual report also for the Point Cook establishment. But those annual reports are not distributed in Government circles. I think this is a matter that we should look at. If people are interested in these reports then they are entitled to see them. Senators and honourable members in another place are entitled to have these documents to see what is going on in the establishments. I will raise this matter with the Ministers concerned, following the honourable senator’s question.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henry) read a first time.
Senator HENTY (Tasmania - Minister for
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to appropriate the amounts required for expenditure in 1967-68 from the Consolidated Revenue Fund other than those amounts provided by special appropriations and the Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1967-68. The amounts sought for each department are shown in detail in the second schedule to the Bill, the sum of these amounts being $2,395,182,000. This Bill seeks an appropriation of $1,394,987,000, the balance of $1,000,195,000 having already been granted under the Supply Act (No. 1) 1967-68. The expenditure proposals of the Government were outlined in the Budget speech and the details included in the schedule to this Bill have already been examined under the procedure whereby the Senate in Committee has ‘taken note’ of the amounts included in the document ‘Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the Service of the Year Ending 30 June 1968’. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
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 provide for expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund in 1967-68 on:
Details of the amounts sought by each department are shown in the Second Schedule to the Bill, the sum of these amounts being $601.559m. An appropriation of £366.461m is sought in this Bill, the balance of $235.098m having already been granted under the Supply Act (No. 2) 1967-68.
The main points regarding the proposed expenditure were dealt with in the Budget speech. The Schedule to the Bill is the same as that contained in the document ‘Particulars of Proposed Provision of Certain Expenditure in respect of the Year Ending 30 June 1968’ which has already been examined in detail by the Senate in Committee. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 18 October (vide page 1384), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
SenatorO’BYRNE (Tasmania) [5.46]- This Bill varies the rates of excise duty on canned fruits, It gives legislative effect to duties on canned fruits that were imposed by Excise Tariff Proposals No. 1 on 16th March 1967. The duty has been recommended by the Australian Canned Fruits Board and meets with the concurrence of the canned fruits industry. The funds raised by this duty enable the sale of canned fruits to be promoted on overseas markets. The Canned Fruits Export Marketing Act provides that money raised by this duty is to be used, as the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) said in his second reading speech, ‘to encourage, assist and promote the exportation of canned fruits from Australia and the consumption and sale outside Australia’.
The increase in the production of canned Fruits has been spectacular. It may be of interest to honourable senators to know that production increased from 7.3 million cartons in 1963 to an estimated 10.5 million cartons in . 1967. This must be encourag ing to the fruit growers in the irrigation areas. The industry is making a substantial contribution to many facets of Australian life. Quite reasonable communities are being established around the fruit growing areas and employment is being found for quite a number of people in the canning factories. The industry also helps to keep people in the country areas and so assists decentralisation. All these factors can be attributed to the present rather buoyant state of the industry.
It is necessary for the industry to advertise in other countries to induce people there to buy Australian canned fruits. The efficacy of the Board’s sales promotion programme is shown by the results that have been achieved. The Board has also developed major markets on the continent of Europe, particularly in Germany, to which it exported about 800,000 cartons in 1966. Sales to Canada have grown considerably over the last 4 years, rising from a nominal figure in 1963 to 700,000 cartons last year. So it seems that promotional work can increase the demand for our fruit. The Board, in its annual report for 1966, assessing the market position in Britain at the end of the year, stated:
As far as Australian canned fruits are concerned, discussions with importers indicate that stocks in trade hands generally are no more than sufficient to cover requirements until the arrival of 1967 supplies.
So there is a growing demand for Australian canned fruit and its popularity is increasing. Quite justifiably, the Board remarked: . . this satisfactory trade stock position is attributable to the success of the Australian promotional campaigns and the Board has every confidence that these activities will achieve the same continuous movement of the goods through the shops in the coming year.
This is proof that the funds raised by the excise with which we are concerned in the consideration of this measure are being used in a way that is paying dividends for this country. The Board made special reference to the vigorous expansion of markets in Western Europe by Australian exporters in 1965. It then stated:
This was helpful in placing the increased output of that year, and it is pleasing to record that further progress was made during 1966 when shipments to that area rose by 74,000 cartons to 1,150,000.
That is a spectacular figure which shows that our promotional campaign on the Continent is having good results. We must exercise vigilance in ensuring that supplies of our fruit continue to flow to this market and we must counter the competition from South Africa. Another matter that is causing grave concern is the possibility of a reduction in Commonwealth preferences if the United Kingdom enters the European Common Market. The Board mentioned the possibility of a cut of up to 50% in existing preferences and stated: . . a reduction of that magnitude would certainly result in some loss of trade and probably a considerable drop in realisations. lt added that it was making representations on this vital matter in appropriate government quarters and was viewing the outcome of the Kennedy Round negotiations with some trepidation. The activities of the Board reflect great credit on its efficiency. We can confidently expect the application of the proceeds of the excise raised under the terms of this measure to bring more security to the canned fruits industry. We believe that making the proceeds of this excise available to assist in developing markets is a sensible way to encourage the industry to use its own initiative. Those in the industry know its needs and know how to present the product in the best form to those who might buy it. The publicity slogan that has been adopted is that the goods are not sold until they are in the shopper’s basket. I hope that the highest possible standards will be maintained. I notice that the industry has adopted regular packs instead of allowing giant or king size descriptions which allow misleading advertising. It is giving value to the buyer. I would like to see other industries adopt the same principle. I understand that some of the States are taking measures to prevent dishonest advertising. We can be assured that the Australian Canned Fruits Board is delivering the goods and acting as a good ambassador for Australia. The quality of the fruit marketed and the manner in which it is presented to the customer are on a high plane. The Opposition does not oppose the measure.
– in reply - Madam Acting Deputy President, we all are indebted to Senator O’Byrne for the manner in which he discussed the Bill and I thank the Opposition for its cooperation in ensuring it a speedy passage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Sitting suspended from 5.59 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 20 October (vide page 1515), on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin:
That the Bill be now read a second- time.
– The Opposition does not oppose this Bill. We are pleased to see that after some years of agitation something that we have constantly advocated has at last been accepted by the Government and the subsidy under the Aged Persons Homes Act is now available to local governing bodies. lt was regrettable that earlier in the year we were unable to persuade the Government to include trade unions among the organisations specifically listed as approved bodies, but I understand that this matter has been rectified in that any application from a trade union organisation will be judged on its merits. This hurdle also seems to have been overcome.
Yesterday I spoke at length on this subject, but even since then I have received letters from various people, including one letter from Victoria, directing attention to the operations of some of these institutions. It appears that payments required of persons entering these homes have increased considerably since 1963. In many cases the home units have paid for themselves two or three times over, but persons coming into them are still being asked to pay, and at a higher rate than was paid by the first inmates. We all approved of this legislation as it was originally framed. We all realise that a great deal has been done to house the elderly people of our community, but we think that there are certain features of this legislation - good and all as it was in intent, and good as it has been in many aspects of its operation - that need tightening up.
First, the Commonwealth Government exercises no control over the expenditure of funds provided by it after it has paid the subsidy. A Minister in another place stated only last week that it is not the intention of the Government to interfere with the running of a home once the subsidy has been paid. We do not want to interfere with the running of the homes but we do think the Government should know something about the conditions imposed by various bodies who are getting this subsidy. There should be some authority that the people who make payments to these organisations may approach if they are dissatisfied. If dissatisfaction exists anywhere along the line there will be criticism of the scheme which, in its original form and intent, was quite praiseworthy.
I spoke yesterday about people going into a particular group of homes in Western Australia, and I have before me some photostat copies of literature sent to the people living in these homes. When they made their original payments and entered these homes they were told, amongst other things:
Occupants may absent themselves for holidays.
Mini medical treatment forun restricted periods, provided any rent which is payable is forwarded on the due date.
Even after they make their original pay- ment they are still responsible for rent, which covers certain services in and about these homes. That is quite all right. But about 12 months ago another circular was sent to all residents saying:
ABSENCE FROM HOME
Sickness or Extended Holidays
This circular is to be accepted by all residents as formal and binding advice that in terms of our responsibility to the Commonwealth Government
I would like the Senate to take particular notice of that. It distinctly states that there is a responsibility to the Commonwealth Government. Where this responsibility is stipulated I do not know. The circular continues: - who makes possible the housing all residents enjoy, we are under necessity to maintain a full occupation rate. There are more people on our wailing list than there are present residents.
More people, evidently, with$1. 600 to pay to go in. The circular went on:
We are accordingly limited to allowing no more than 90 days absence for illness or hospitalisation, when we are compelled to reclaim the flat concerned for re-letting.
Here we have one assurance given to tenants that they may have unrestricted leave from the home in case of illness, and later a warning that they may be ill for only 90 days. I suppose they do not want to be ill for any longer, but the choice is not always in their hands. The circular continued:
It is requested accordingly that the Board be advised in writing whenever:
A resident is in hospital for a period exceeding 14 days - with name and address of hospital.
A resident intends leaving his or her flat for any extended holiday in excess of 3 months, with a local address to which communications as may be necessary can be sent.
The resident does not automatically have to leave the flat if he is going on an extended holiday, but he does if he is ill for more than a certain length of time. If a person is going on a holiday lasting more than 90 days he is probably going out of the State or overseas. Here is a discrimination between those who are ill for more than 90 days and those who are going on holidays for more than 90 days. This is a discrimination that was never intended by those who framed the legislation. We are told that the organisation running these homes finds it necessary to impose these conditions because there is a responsibiltyto the Commonwealth Government. Who expressed that responsibility on the part of the Commonwealth Government? Is it just that somebody has read into the Act words that are not there? I feel quite certain that everybody would like to see these homes for the aged occupied every day, but when there is sickness this is not always possible. This is one aspect of the operation of this scheme into which I would like the Minister to inquire.
I want to refer now to a newsletter distributed to residents by the same organisation. It speaks about divan beds which have to be bought from the organisation. They cost$20 each, but when a resident leaves for any reason he must leave the bed behind. He does not get his $20 back, and the bed can be sold to the next’ incoming tenant.
This does not seem to me lo be honest. Surely to goodness if a person pays for a divan bed it becomes his. If a resident lays wall to wall carpeting it is regarded as a fixture and must be left there, but the incoming tenant is charged extra for the Moor covering which has cost the organisation running these homes nothing at alt.
I do not want to appear to be knocking something that was really worth while in its original conception. I am bringing these anomalies to the attention of the Minister because I have had a few letters on the operation of this scheme and I know that some tenants feel very badly about it. In many cases they have realised on all their assets to get the money to go into a home, but if they become ill they are told: ‘We are going to re-lcl your unit’. They worry about whether they will be able to get back into their units when they do get better, and this militates against their recovery. Therefore, I would like some information on this mutter from the Minister. Although it is said that there is no need to pay ali the money at once, these people were told that if they did pay they could get into the house 6 months earlier. That is quite :ill right, but what about the people who have not got any money to pay? In later years it may be much easier for people to save money to enter these homes because of higher wages than obtain at present. There are quite a number of people to whom $1,000 is an unheard of fortune. They have hud to work for low wages and, especially if they have had to rear families, they have nol had the opportunity to save. These are the people about whom we must concern ourselves.
I was pleased when the Minister told me of the approximate number of homes to enter which no payment is required. Quite a number of these homes, particularly the church homes, were in existence before the scheme under consideration came into operation at all. The institutions which established these have been very happy that they can now get some assistance to extend their homes.
Let me reiterate that I am not knocking the churches or any of those societies which really are doing a good job for the aged but. apparently because there are inconsistencies in the way in which some of these homes arc managed, because dissatisfaction is felt about some of them, there is need to tighten- up the rules and regulations to make certain that there is no criticism of the Government for the way in which the funds are being expended. Therefore I suggest that, perhaps early next year, the Senate should give consideration to the appointment of a committee to inquire into this matter. I emphasise again that 1 am not trying to knock this work. I have been to some of these homes that have been established and they are doing a very fine job. But we do want more of them. 1 am glad that the Bill before us will enable local governing bodies to come into this field but I do regret the restriction that prevents them from becoming eligible for the grant in respect of moneys that have been received from the Commonwealth or State Governments. Perhaps the local authorities so affected could transfer capital from some of their other assets in order to build homes for aged people and in this way qualify for assistance. I am pleased that country towns which come under shire councils can take part in the scheme. Up to the present, where the State Government has carried the full burden of housing the aged the homes have been centralised in the metropolitan area which meant that some aged people accommodated in them have had to come a long way. from distant parts of the State. In some of these cases, husbands have been separated from their wives in the autumn of their lives. The enabling of country shire councils to lake part in this scheme is a big step forward for it will enable couples lo remain together and live in some dignity in the last years of their lives. T am pleased this is being done for it will enable these aged people in rural districts to remain in their own milieu, amongst their relatives and friends.
But there is still n lot to be done. Many abuses are creeping in. 1 do not know whether all the allegations that have been placed before me are true but I think 90% of the community would have the impression that those homes for the aged which do exist are provided mainly for the housing of pensioners. That is nol so. One does not have to be in receipt of a pension to enjoy the benefit of this legislation. All persons of pensionable age are eligible. 1 have heard - I have it in writing also but have nol been able to verify the allegation - that people are still going out to business from these homes for the aged. I have been informed that some people have sold family homes of considerably greater value than the accommodation into which they move, They have paid a contribution - it is nicely put - to these various organisations and are still going out to business from these homes for the aged. I may be wrong, but 1 do not think that was one of the purposes of the original Bill. We are told that the new provision extends to widows who are of pensionable age, but of course, many of them have not the money available to pay the contribution.
Then there is the difficulty relating to those cases in which a husband and wife may have paid for a double flat and in which, when, one of the partners dies, the surviving partner is moved out of the accommodation. All these things have to be tightened up. 1 think we want to streamline the legislation. As it stands, the way is left open for abuses. I am sure that 1 could not possibly have had as many complaints as 1 have received about these things if there was not a grain of truth in them somewhere. What f have before me is only portion of the correspondence that I have had on this matter.
As I have said, I realise that quite a lot is being done to house the aged. But there is still a very great number who have to be housed. I understand that 26,000 people are already housed under this scheme. I understand, too, that this represents only about 2% of the total number of pensioners in Australia, lt is clear, therefore, that there is still a very big job to be done. This means the expenditure of more and more public funds and I do think there should be some control over those funds. It is not sufficient just to hand out large subsidies and let that be an end of the matter.
Those churches and other organisations which are continuing this work do not come within the category of those I have criticised. My main worry still is about those companies which are being incorporated just for the purpose of building homes for the aged. I am wondering whether they have a genuine purpose. I am concerned about just how long .the premises they erect are going to be kept available for their original intention. We are told that the buildings are to be used only for the pur pose of housing the aged. But how can we enforce this? We want to see all these things in black and white. It is not sufficient just to say that something does not conform with the Act when we bring these matters before the Parliament. We want to know what the Act does provide. We also want to see to it that the Act is observed.
We were all very thrilled when this legislation came before the House originally. We all welcomed it and supported it; but we did not realise the pitfalls that there could be in the scheme. I am sure also that, the Minister did not realise them. I would hate to see the work curtailed in any way because it has been a boon to quite a number of people.
But we still have the problem of the people who have no money and cannot be accommodated in many of these homes for the aged. Those people who have reached the last days of their lives want to live out those days in dignity and comfort and I should like to see more being spent by the various organisations on housing those who cannot afford to pay the premiums which are at present being requested from so many organisations for the housing of the aged. I should like to know the types of organisation that do not require a premium for admission to their homes. I was told on a previous occasion that the Government does not interfere in the running of these homes. That is quite all right so long as everything is going well and so long as there are no complaints, but I still think that when public moneys are involved we should be quite certain that they are being spent to the best advantage. We find that all types of building materials are used to construct these homes and we must ensure that they are not jerry built for the sake of a quick turnover for some unscrupulous builders. Human nature being what it is, we will always find people who like to make a quick penny if then can.
I shall not repeat what I have said on several occasions, but on two or three big projects built with assistance provided under this legislation there were all kinds of abuses. There has been shoddy building; there have been occupants using the homes as business addresses. There are people who have had difficulty with the managements of the homes or with other tenants and have found themselves stuck and unable to move out because they had no money. There arc problems In getting people to live together. People are not always compatible. We are not all angels. All types of difficulties can crop up when people live in close proximity, sometimes much too close.
I do not think we should build big groups of cottages for these people. I do not think it is fair that old people should have to live in an old peoples world. They are still citizens of this community and they like to mingle with young people also. When I was overseas some years ago .1 visited an excellent housing scheme in the north of England, lt was not the type of scheme dealt with in this legislation. It was a home in which orphan children and aged people were living together. Each group reacted on the other. I saw an old gentleman talking to a small lad, telling him great stories of adventure and so on. It was lovely to see this family life, with young people and elderly people living together. I think that if we continue to build these villages and set older people apart we are looking for trouble. We need smaller homes for the aged, set in the ordinary community. It is true that many elderly people have interests in common but they also want to mix with other people.
The Opposition gives its blessing to this Bill. We are grateful for what is being done under this legislation and for the help it has given to many people in the past ten years. We hope the work will be improved and extended. The criticisms I have voiced tonight are not far reaching and do not relate to many homes for the aged. Those homes are providing for the tenants the facilities that we desired when the legislation was originally presented to the Parliament.
– I listened with Interest to what Senator Tangney said about the homes for the aged. 1 support this Bill. I think it is an important part of our social services. The Government has done a lot for aged people and this Bill will extend this work. At the same time, with all due respect, I am of the same frame of mind’ as Senator Tangney in that I am rather dubious whether what is being done under this legislation is what was originally intended, and whether the legislation is being used to the fullest extent. I will only speak briefly on this matter. During the last eighteen months I have had discussions with officers of the Department of Social Services about the aged persons homes and I have been assured that certain things are being revised. All honourable senators, I am sure, have received personal representations and correspondence about key money and other immoral acts which are being investigated. I think steps are being taken so that these things will be eliminated in the future. I have been given to understand in discussions with departmental officers that this is so, and I have no reason to doubt what they said.
It is not the Department which is at fault, nor is it the church organisations or the other well known organisations which have built aged persons homes in great faith and have conducted them in the most scrupulous manner. .1 think the trouble has been caused by two or three bodies which were not sufficiently organised originally to construct and subsequently control and conduct the homes. I would say that 95% of the people in these homes to whom I have spoken are perfectly happy. Only a very small percentage have had any complaint. But at the same time, because of the principles behind this Act, I think it is the duty ofthe Government to ensure that this 5% is not being used by unscrupulous operators.
I only rose tonight to say that I support Senator Tangney’s doubts about some of the organisers of the homes but from the investigations 1 have made I think that the Department has the matter in hand. I have complete faith in what the Department is doing.
– I doubt whether there is any member of the Parliament who does not endorse the sentiment behind legislation of this type, lt is excellent legislation. The Government has’ seen fit to appropriate (lim to grant subsidies for the establishment of homes for aged persons. But I agree with Senator Tangney, who expressed some doubt as to whether the principle behind the Aged Persons Homes Act is being observed. I doubt whether the people whom it was intended to assist with this legislation are getting the benefit. I say this because some charitable organisations which construct these homes ask for ‘donations’ - I believe that is the polite word - from intending occupants and the donation can be paid only by people in a certain state of affluence. The result is that these homes are becoming homes for the wealthy and not for the needy.
As I have said before in this chamber, many people find as they get older that their families leave them. The children marry and go away and the family home is too big for an elderly couple to manage. So they decide to sell the home and move to a smaller more manageable cottage. They go into the type of homes provided under this legislation. Other occupants are people who have lived in country areas all their lives, have been able to save a few dollars and have moved to metropolitan areas because of the amenities that are provided in them. 1 have no doubt that some of the occupants of these homes still carry on in business, as Senator Tangney said. This can happen because there is no means test attached to living in these homes, apart from the key money that has to be paid.
I do not think that this was the intention of the persons who conceived the orginal legislation. The intention of the legislation was to provide homes for needy people through charitable, religious and other organisations. I. am pleased that local government, bodies have now been allowed to enter into the scheme. Charitable organisations collect money only from donors. That money then attracts a subsidy on the basis of $2 for $1 and homes are built with that money. In 1962 the Government brought down regulations but they are not being carried out. The regulations specifically stated that a donation was not acceptable from a person if it was offered on the condition that he would get accommodation in the homes run by an organisation and that a person who made a donation and was not satisfied with a home could not claim a refund of the donation or any portion of it. In simple terms, no occupant of a home had a lien on a donation that he had made to an organisation. 1 do not know of anyone living in these homes who is dissatisfied with the accommodation provided. Most of the elderly people who live in them are very grateful for the accommodation. But they are not all satisfied with the way that the homes are conducted. Senator
Tangney referred to aged persons homes in Western Australia. I propose to nameSwan Cottage Homes Incorporated. I am not much concerned that I may be thought to be a knocker. I am prepared to knock to protect elderly people, some of whom have reached their second childhood and are not capable of protecting themselves. Swan Cottage Homes accept various classes of tenants. Some people entered the homes by paying a donation of $1,200 for a single unit or $1,600 for a double unit. They were particularly invited to pay an extra $400 to be free of maintenance charges. Part of the contract that they signed - the agreement that they entered into with Swan Cottage Homes - said that if they paid an extra $400 they would be free of maintenance charges for the period that they were in the homes.
I have here part of a circular issued bv Swan Cottage Homes. I was unable to get a copy of the agreement because the person who came to see me wished to take the agreement to a solicitor for legal advice on its validity. Part of the circular states:
A rebated rent scheme reduces the waiting time, if applicants are in a position to help themselves and the organisation from their savings. Rent free accommodation is offered for: double unit £1,000, single unit £800. Rent of 10s per week h payable when the maximum contribution is double unit £800, single unit £600. Should it be possible to accept contributions lower than these amounts then the rental is fixed by graduation between 10s and the maximum rental value. The Board of Management is responsible for all rates, taxes, repairs and gardening. Occupants must pay for gas and electricity in (Ite usual way.
Those terms form part of the agreement made by 123 persons resident in Swan Cottage Homes. Each paid the extra $400 and the total subscribed was $49,200. Now the Board of Swan Cottage Homes wants to start charging rent to those people. I have a copy of another circular that was distributed. It is dated 5th July 1967. I propose to read only one paragraph, which states:
All residents would not wish to see any reduction in the standard of gardening, cleanliness and maintenance and consequently the Board of Management has with natural reluctance decided that a ‘nominal’ general increase should be applied to every unit. The figure has been fixed at 50c per week for a bed-sitting room unit and 75c per week for a separate bed room unit. This means those residents at present paying a maintenance charge of any amount will be required to add the increase per week as indicated . . .
No complaint has been made by the people to whom that passage was directed because these people had not paid the extra 5400. They paid the minimum entrance fee and contracted to pay rent of $1 a week lo cover maintenance, gardening and other things. But the circular continues: and those subject at present to no payment will become liable each fortnight to provide the 50c or 75c per week. The increases will apply as from 7th August next. The Secretary will provide Maintenance Charge Cards for those not in possession of one and existing cards will be altered when presented.
I repeat that 123 people paid a total of $49,200 on the complete understanding, as set out in a written agreement, that for the duration of their occupancy of the flats they would not. have to pay any maintenance charges. Now they are being asked to pay 50c a week for a single unit and 75c a week for a double unit. Those people who refuse to pay - us is their entitlement because of the terms of the agreement - are being coerced and threatened with eviction from the homes they occupy. I have another circular here, which supports what I have said. It states:
We offer independent living conditions. This is not an institution. There is no matron.
At: present there is a matron, and the person who runs these homes happens to have a brother-in-law-
– ls there a warden?
– He is a warden. He is round about the place all the time. The circular continues:
The Board simply provides a modern home without maintenance worries. All residents must therefore realise that they must live with their neighbours as people must in any street elsewhere.
But this is the sting in the tail - part of the pressure that is being put upon these elderly people:
As the demand for accommodation is increasing no difficulty will bc faced in providing for the withdrawal of any discontented resident who may prefer to seek alternative housing. 1 have bundles of correspondence with me here and there are more in my room from various residents complaining abour the Chairman of this organisation. I refer to Mr Richard Cleaver, M.P. This man has his brother-in-law policing the place all the time. If he goes to talk to anyone he has
Mr Walter with him so that there is evidence-
– I raise a point of order. I think this personal attack is quite unnecessary.
– Under what standing order?
– The words are offensive to me and also to Mr Cleaver. We are discussing an excellent Bill.
– 1 do not know how these words can be offensive to the Minister. lt is pretty offensive to the elderly residents of Swan Cottage Homes that they are being threatened with eviction.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Tangney) - Order! 1 do not think that the honourable senator has yet reached the stage of actually being offensive to the Minister. However, I would draw his attention to the fact that he is not permitted to pass offensive remarks about any member of another place.
– I do not think it is offensive to say that Mr Cleaver runs a charitable organisation. I underline the word charitable’. When these people go into the homes there are divans in the homes. But they are not provided by Swan Cottage Homes. They arc provided by the Western Australian Charities Board which raises money by running a lottery in the State. These people are asked to pay $20 for the divans, but they must be screwed to the floor so that they can never be removed. After having paid $20 for the divans they never become the property of the people in the homes. These people put down wall to wall carpets. But if they put the carpets under quarter round moulding they arc there for ever. The people can never remove the carpets. They belong to Swan Cottage Homes. If these people want to buy an awning - whether it be canvas or some other type - to put on their balconies or over their windows, the awnings have to be of a uniform design. The people are asked to leave them there when they vacate the premises. Recently, several of these people banded together and constructed some car ports. They were informed by the Board that after 24 months the car ports would become the property of Swan
Cottage Homes. If these people do not agree to these arrangements they are told that there are plenty of people to take their place; that the organisation has no difficulty in letting the accommodation to someone else.
I know one women who has a nice flat on a corner. It has a double window. She appreciates it very much. She is an elderly woman and she sits in the sun. But because she refused to pay this maintenance charge she was told that she might have to shift into a flat around the corner. The pleasure which this elderly lady received from sitting in the sun was to be taken away from her in order to coerce her to pay charges that she is not legally bound to pay.
– Did the honourable senator say that Mr Cleaver is the Chairman of this company?
– Yes. As I said earlier, several of these people have sought legal advice from various legal authorities to ascertain whether they are liable to pay this charge that is being imposed upon them. One lady happened to consult the firm of Henshaw and Wheeldon.
– Who is the Wheeldon?
– He is a registered barrister, the same as Sir Robert Menzies is. This lady was threatened because she had the audacity to go to a firm of solicitors one of whose principals was a member of this Senate. This lady received a threat that she would be put out of the home because she had the audacity to ask for legal assistance concerning her agreement.
– Did the Chairman of the company do this?
– Of course, he did. I do not wish to go through all the correspondence that I have before me. Senator Tangney referred to shoddy building. It is well known to everyone who has visited these flats, as they are called, that the whole of the sanitary services in block 2 had to be changed within 6 months of their being occupied because of shoddy workmanship and shoddy materials. This increases the maintenance costs which these people have to pay. These flats, of course, are provided with hot water systems. The first sixteen flats had hot water systems installed which were not satisfactory. 1 do not propose to read the whole of this letter, but in part it states:
The first was known as the low pressure unit and this necessitates a little more patience than the high pressure unit. It is generally recognised if (he water is turned on not too fast the hot water when it becomes available, is quite hot enough and plentiful enough. If the pressure is turned on heavily the water passing through too quickly reduces the heat.
Our suppliers have indicated that if we were in a position to convert or change over the sixteen heaters of the first sixteen flats, this could be done for a charge of £15 17s 9d per unit. You will appreciate of course that this represents a cost of some £250, and if we can see no alternative in these circumstances, but to suggest that where conversion is required for greater efficiency, we would authorise the work to be done and make suitable arrangements, but the tenant would need to be responsible for the cost.
These people have only just paid from between $1,200 and $1,600 for a single unit and from between $1,600 and $2,000 for a double unit in order to enter these homes. Now they are being asked to pay an extra £15 17s 9d for a shoddy appliance that has been installed in the units. This is the sort of thing that is occurring constantly at these homes.
I do not wish to take this matter any further at this stage. I have made the points that I wish to emphasise. The point that I want to impress upon the Minister is that these elderly people are not in a condition to withstand the continual pressure tactics that are being used against them. They are entitled to whatever protection members of the Senate and members in another place are able to give them. They are entitled to the collective protection of the Parliament.
I noticed during the discussion of the estimates for the Department of Social Services that Senator Wright invited Senator Tangney to move for the appointment of a select committee to inquire into this scheme. In view of the information that has come to my hand, I would welcome a move by either Senator Tangney or Senator Wright for the appointment of a select committee to inquire into this scheme. Frankly, I think that what is going on in Swan Cottage Homes Inc. is a scandal. It is not good enough, when someone mentions these matters, for the chairman of the board to get a women’s committee which is favourable to him and to Swan Cottage Homes to go on television and say that they have never heard of the things about which I speak. Yet the things about which I speak are contained in the document circulated over the signature of the chairman. They are not fabrications of my mind. These are things that he puts out. These threats are being made constantly to the elderly people.
Senator Tangney has referred to the fact that a direction has been given by the management of Swan Cottage Homes that an occupant of a cottage who is in hospital for more than 90 days must surrender the cottage. For the information of Senator Tangney, I point out that this instruction has been withdrawn, but that as soon as a resident of Swan Cottage Homes complains about one of these coercive instructions the instruction is withdrawn and reissued in another form. The direction in relation to 90 days absence still operates if the patient’s doctor considers that the patient may not return to residence in the village. This is the let-out. It is not mandatory now to give up the flat It is done on some doctor’s advice. But these coercive instructions are being sent out constantly and as some complaints come from the newspapers or public organisations about them, they are withdrawn and watered down. The residents of the village are told they are not to consult anyone else about the conditions that operate in the village hut that they are to go to the board, consult the board and express any dissatisfaction they feet to the board. The board does not want anyone brought into the matter who may have a medium for expressing the discontent of these people.
This discontent does not relate to the accommodation. The people are quite satisfied with the accommodation. None of them would ever be completely satisfied, I suppose, but they are as satisfied as people can be with the accommodation. But many of these people - the number is growing every day - are dissatisfied with the conditions under which they have to live. They object to this continual coercion. I urge the Government to do something about this matter. I have said before in the Senate that public money is being put into this scheme, and, therefore, the Commonwealth Government should have some control over that money. The very least the Commonwealth Government can do is appoint to that board a trustee or a representative of the Government. Some public man or public servant could be appointed to the board as a trustee to see that the scheme is carried out as it was intended to ‘ie carried out, to see that the funds that the Commonwealth makes available are not frittered away and wasted, and to see that people are not getting a rake off out of this sort of scheme. Some of the money comes from the Commonwealth and some comes from the taxpayers. Not only this money but also the people whom the Government pretends to assist should be protected.
– I support this Bill. I congratulate the Government on bringing forward again a measure to enable local authorities throughout Australia to participate in this wonderful scheme of providing homes for aged people. I listened to Senator Cant’s remarks with a great degree of interest. The honourable senator criticised Mr Cleaver, the member for Swan in another place, for the part that he and, I think the honourable senator said, his brother-in-law have played in the development and running of Swan Cottage Homes Inc. I am rather amused at this criticism. Going to and from work every day I pass the Swan Cottage Homes. I think that this is an edifice that does great honour to Mr Cleaver for his wonderful work in having this area developed for our aged people in Western Australia. Mr Cleaver has spent a great deal of time on this project. Not only has he procured the block of land but also he has arranged for the finance to be given so that the buildings can be erected on the land. The Swan Cottage Homes are a great credit to Mr Clever. He has spent a lot of time on the project.
When one drives past this area one sees a number of well built cottages. I have friends living in them. They are completely satisfied. As a member of the Senate I have visited this project on more than one occasion, gone through the homes and talked to the people living in them. They are completely happy. The facts of the situation are that a person, when he is getting old and has not sufficient money to provide a home for himself can, with a limited amount of money, buy into the Swan Cottage Homes. The cottage so purchased is there for the convenience of the person for as long as he is alive. When he dies or goes to hospital, what happens? The building reverts to the Swan Cottage Homes and goes to another person.
I can understand Senator Cant criticising Mr Cleaver. I think this is a political stunt. Election time is drawing near. I did not like the way that the honourable senator attacked Mr Cleaver. I remember an election not so long ago when a large majority of people living in Swan Cottage Homes were so satisfied with the treatment meted out by Swan Cottage Homes and were so proud of the person who had enabled them to live there that over 90% voted for Mr Cleaver.
– How does the honourable senator know that?
– I know this because I call on and talk to these people. Mr Cleaver is a friend of most of those living there. Senator Cant has criticised a member of Parliament who has devoted so much of his time to the development of these homes to which aged people can go in their last few years of life to live in safety and comfort, to meet people of their ilk and mix with and enjoy the company of those people. What do the residents do in the evenings? After they have their meal, they go to a television room, if they wish to do so. A recreation room, a lounge room and a reading room are also available. This is all provided by Swan Cottage Homes for the elderly people who reside there.
– It is provided by the people themselves.
– Two-thirds of the money comes from the Commonwealth Government, but we should give credit to the people who run the Homes. There is nothing to stop Senator Cant from doing as Mr Cleaver has done. If he does so, I will be the first to congratulate him. But I take exception when one person attacks another, makes nasty comments and suggests that Mr Cleaver and his brother-in-law are running the Homes for their own benefit. They are running the homes for the benefit of the aged people living there and I think Mr Cleaver deserves credit for the work he has done.
This Bill is in the same form as the original Bill, which was withdrawn because of the action of the Opposition. The original Bill was opposed by the Australian Labor
Party, because, I understand, it wanted trade unions to have the opportunity to obtain the benefits of the legislation. However, it succeeded in preventing local authorities throughout Australia from constructing and running homes for aged persons. If this Bill is passed, a shire council may obtain from the Commonwealth $2 for every $1 it contributes to the construction of homes for the aged. I congratulate the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) and the Government for the excellent job they are doing in providing for the care of aged people.
[9.3] - in reply - I thank the honourable senators who have spoken in support of the Bill. I appreciate their assistance in giving this Bill a speedy passage. I am conscious of the fact that all honourable senators who have spoken are really concerned to ensure that aged persons receive adequate care and that they appreciate the work that has been done. The provision of homes for aged persons is a great achievement. Since 1954 subsidies exceeding $70m have been approved and have enabled accommodation to be provided for more than 26,600 aged persons. As all honourable senators know - I am sure they are interested in this work - we can go into area after area, whether it be metropolitan or rural, in various parts of Australia and see the excellent care given to senior citizens in homes for the aged that have been provided with the assistance of the Commonwealth.
Senator Tangney and Senator Cant referred to some aspects of this legislation and I should like to reply briefly to them. Both honourable senators claimed that most people who gained entry to these homes were affluent people who could afford to pay donations and were not: pensioners. Donations have been paid by only 36% of the residents and 76% are pensioners. Senator Cant said that rent was being charged in some homes and mentioned Swan Cottage Homes Inc. Senator Tangney referred to the administration generally of the homes. The general Tunning of the homes and the decision to charge rent arc matters within the responsibility of the organisations that established the homes. They are not matters for the Government or the Department of Social Services. The Commonwealth has consistently followed a policy of not interfering in the internal problems of the homes. Management is a matter for the organisations themselves.
Senator Tangney and Senator Cant both claimed that some residents of the homes had full time employment. I have been informed that the Department always advises organisations that accommodation should not be given to people who are in full time employment and this is clearly stated on the application form. Both honourable senators said that some residents had to buy divan beds and wall to wall carpet that had been left by outgoing tenants. This would be a local rule of the organisation, because these are items of furniture that the Commonwealth does not subsidise. The Commonwealth provides money for the buildings and docs not subsidise the purchase of furniture for the homes.
The Bill extends the scope of the aged persons homes scheme to municipal councils. Senator Tangney mentioned the eligibility of trade unions. As I said when we debated the previous Bill, these bodies may be accepted as eligible organisations under section 5 (1.) (b) (iv) of the Act, just as many other organisations have been. The Country Women’s Association, friendly societies and other organisations have been accepted under that section. Senator Tangney said that residents who had become ill were required to vacate their units after 90 days. This is not a requirement of the Commonwealth Government; it is purely a local rule of the organisation and is a matter for arrangement within the administration of the organisation.
– The circular states that this is the result of an agreement with the Commonwealth.
– This is the information 1 have been given by the Department of Social Services. 1 will be pleased to bring the matter before my colleague, the Minister for Social Services (Mr Sinclair), if the honourable senator feels that the reply 1 have given is not correct.
– I will give the circular to the Minister.
– 1 will be pleased to bring the matter to the notice of the Minister for Social Services. Senator Heatley spoke about the internal administration of homes. He expressed his appreciation of the assistance he has received from the Department. The Department and the Minister have always been eager to ensure that the legislation does provide accommodation for our senior citizens, that everything possible is clone to provide care for the aged and generally that people in the sunset years of their lives receive all that they need. Once this Bill is passed, the scope of the scheme will be widened and more people will receive the benefits of this very important social service legislation. I thank honourable senators for their comments and for their support of the legislation. 1 know that every honourable senator is very pleased to support any legislation that helps our senior citizens in their declining years.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 26 October (vide page 1702), on motion by Senator Henty:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - There being no objection, that course will be followed.
– Mr Deputy President, it was wise of the Minister for Supply (Senator Henty) to suggest that the International Grains Arrangement Bill and the International Wheat Agreement’ (Extension) Bill be debated together. Without question, they are interrelated. The measure relating to the Protocol to the International Wheat Agreement 1962 requires little, if any, explanation. I want to say at the outset that the
Opposition has no objection to either of these Bills. We believe that a tremendous step forward has been made in the International Grains Arrangement 1967. The Minister, in his second reading speech on the International Grains Arrangement Bill, pointed out that wheat is one of our most important export commodities. Over the years, and particularly since 1949, arrangements for orderly marketing have been made by amicable agreement between producing and purchasing countries. Australia, though it has been one of the smaller suppliers to the world’s markets, has played a considerable part in the agreements that have been entered into over the years, and this stands toour credit. In 1962. it was considered that the International Wheat Agreement should be subject to some alterations, but these were a little difficult to achieve at that time. So a Protocol was signed, enabling the existing Agreement to be extended until a new arrangement could be effected. It was not until 30th June of this year that the International Grains Arrangement was brought into existence. Australia immediately expressed its willingness to participate.
The new Arrangement makes some significant changes in the previous arrangements. It is based on two international Conventions. The first is the Wheat Trade Convention, which, in the normal way, establishes methods of sale, price arrangements and conditions of sale with respect to wheat. In this instance, the change is that there has been a departure from the base grade on which all previous arrangements had been founded. A number of base grades have now been introduced. Included among these is the Australian f.a.q. grade. The second improvement in the new Arrangement is the provision for a prices review committee, which will function continuously and from time to time will review the world market and supply situation. This is a well worth while step forward. The second international Convention is the Food Aid Convention, which is a completely new development. It is designed to assist countries that are in particular need of wheat by facilitating assistance by countries that have surpluses. Australia readily agreed to participate in this Convention and has undertaken to contribute 5% of the estimated requirements under the programme.
The new International Grains Arrangement is well worth while. It will take the place of the International Wheat Agreement 1962 up to 1971, after 3 1st July 1968, the date to which the International Wheat Agreement is to be extended by the Protocol. This extension will allow continuation of the present system until the new Arrangement comes into force on 1st July next year after ratification by the various contracting countries. 1 have much pleasure in supporting these Bills on behalf of the Opposition. We believe that the new Arrangement will be good for the Australian wheat industry and that the Food Aid Convention will be good for the needy countries.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 26th October (vide page 1703), 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 18 October (vide page 1381), on motion by Senator Henty:
That the Bill be now read a first time.
– As there are two cognate Bills on the notice paper, Mr Deputy President, the Income Tax (Partnerships and Trusts) Bill 1967 and the Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 3) 1967, I suggest that we debate those Bills concurrently with the Bill with which we are now primarily concerned, but that the questions on the three Bills be put separately at the end of the debate.
– There being no objection, that course will be followed.
-I thank the Senate for accepting my suggestion. I shall move an amendment in connection with the Income Tax Bill and then turn my attention to all three of the Bills. I move:
At end of motion add: ‘, but as the existing structure of lax rates und concessions has failed to keep pace with the distortion of the economy and the tax system caused by inflation, the Senate is of opinion that a comprehensive examination of taxation methods, both direct and indirect, should be commenced immediately with a view to the earliest possible introduction of legislation which will be consistent wilh present day economic conditions’. 1 think the amendment is self-explanatory. When we find on the notice paper seven Bills on the subject of taxation and covering a very wide range of the tax structure we realise the difficulties that surround the subject of taxation in Australia today. Two methods of approach to the complex problem of taxation legislation generally suggest themselves. First, I believe it is time this Parliament moved towards the American system. When complicated bills of this kind come before the United States Congress a procedure is adopted which we might readily emulate. When this Senate finds itself confronted wilh legislation of this kind which requires close study and intense concentration, and when a large body of expert opinion is available, both in the Taxation Branch and amongst other people handling taxation matters and affected by taxation, both direct and indirect, we could well adopt the United States system of handing the proposed legislation over to a specialised committee of the Parliament which would report back within a matter of weeks, when the substantive debate could take place, honourable senators having the assistance of the committee’s report.
This is .not precisely what 1 am moving tonight. My amendment proposes that we have a general look at the whole matter of taxation. I make my other suggestion in passing in the hope that some day it will not fall on completely barren ground, and that we might find some way of giving this Parliament the benefit of the great body of expert opinion that exists outside these four walls.
The first Bill before us, the Income Tax Bill, fixes rates of taxation, which have been amended this year. The second Bill deals with income tax as it relates to partnerships and trusts. The rates of tax operating in this field were last amended in 1964. The rates are not being amended in this legislation. The very fact that there has been no change in the rates since 1964 suggests that those rates might well bear examination. Then there is the Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 3), and next week we will have to deal with other bills having to do with taxation.
When we look at the range of taxation I suppose we can say that it falls loosely into three categories. There is Commonwealth taxation, direct and indirect. Then there are State taxes, which have had to be increased because of Commonwealth policy, particularly as it was expressed in the Budget before the last. Thirdly there are the various types of local taxes, such as municipal rates, water rates and so on. We have recently heard - whether it has been only an ominous rumbling or an attempt to put pressure on the Commonwealth one cannot say - that some form of poll tax will be introduced. God forbid! 1 thought that this kind of tax would never appear in Australia and was peculiar to other parts of the world.
– The Deep South, for instance.
– Yes, the Deep South, or to some extent to our north. But in any case we suggest it is high time the whole of the complexities of our taxation system were thoroughly examined. In our fairly recent history we have seen the changes in the taxation system because of the tremendous pressures of war time, then the reduction that occurred after the war period, the fluctuations over the last few years, and now the great pressures that are being placed on the Australian economy in all sorts of ways.
To give some idea of what I mean, but without going into too much detail, I shall refer to what has been done in Canada where a royal commission investigated the taxation position and made a report. I shall outline to the Senate some of the matters which our sister dominion decided were worthy of examination. The report of the Commissioner set out the terms of examination. It stated:
The Commissioner shall consider and report upon:
the distribution of burdens among taxpayers resulting from existing rates, exemptions, reliefs and allowances provided in the personal :;nd corporation income taxes, estate taxes and sales and excise taxes, taking into account also the jurisdiction and practices of the provinces and municipalities;
While the reference there is to provinces, in this country we would, of course, refer to Slates. But that paragraph shows the continuing difficulty that is experienced in Australia or In any kind of federation. It is high time that this matter was carefully looked at from the point of view not only of the effect of these various taxes and other imposts but also of the relationship between the Commonwealth and the States. The report went on:
Mere I direct attention to the development that is taking place in an uneven pattern across the Australian continent. It is most marked in Western Australia, but I am sure it will show up very clearly in Queensland, as inded it has already commenced to show up with the discovery of oil. This question of industrial productivity assumes tremendous importance. The other aspects of savings and investment must have great significance for any country such as ours which is looking for investment and in which there is such controversy about the rapid influx of overseas capital. The report went on:
If there is one thing that ought to be closely examined it is the existence of such loopholes and the possibility of closing them. The report of the Ligertwood committee hits resulted in action to prevent tax dodgers such as trusts from setting up a Kathleen Mavourneen type of arrangement for the evasion, or avoidance - whatever the appropriate term may be - of tax. This action is taking effect. During the next week or two. we shall see that ail sorts of conventions are being held in Melbourne and that businessmen are making their way there from all over Australia. Their purpose is to be in Melbourne for the running of the Melbourne Cup. If they have a good enough excuse, they are able to claim the cost of the journey to Mel bourne as a tax concession. I do not think that this type of concession ought to he paid for by the rest of Australia.
I think some of our luxury hotels would not be charging the rates they charge today but for the fact that high tariffs are being paid by those people who can reimburse themselves by way of a claim for taxation concessions. I do not think the taxpayers of Australia generally ought to be paying for these things. Another example of the unfair way in which our system works is to be seen in the advertising of cigarettes over radio and television, the cost of which can be claimed as a tax deduction. The claims made in such advertising should be challenged by the Commonwealth Government which itself should bc advertising the harmful effects of smoking. Certainly, the general public should not have to pay for cigarette advertising by the allowance of taxation concessions.
Another matter which the Canadian commission looked at was the effects of income, sales and excise taxes and estate duties on income and investment flows which affect the balance of international payments and economic relations with other countries. We are having lots of debates and lots of murmurings in this Parliament about double tax agreements. I think we will be looking at that matter, and the question of a dividend withholding tax before very long. We shall also be looking at the question of tax payable on money invested overseas by Australians but, more particularly, tax payable on money being invested in this country by people who sec Australia as a fairly good investment area.
The next term of reference of the Canadian commission was the means whereby the tax laws can best be formulated to encourage Canadian ownership of Canadian industry without discouraging the flow of investment funds into Canada. Need I say more than just quote that reference? Surely if ever there was a time in the history of Australia when we ought to be examining the question of money flowing into Australia, its impact on Australian industry and what the future holds for us, that time is now. One term of reference which I am sure we would all welcome here was the changes that may be made to achieve greater clarity, simplicity and effectiveness in the tax laws or their administration. I do not want to go into the rest of the terms of reference. I think that there could be no better way of demonstrating the need for the comprehensive inquiry into the whole of the tax structure of Australia which the Labor Party believes to be necessary.
I realise that one’s mind boggles at having to grasp the nettle and examine such a complex thing as the taxation laws of Aus.tralia. a system which has developed by piecemeal methods over the years during which such things as pay roll tax have just been grafted on to the main body of taxation law. This in itself suggests that it is in the best interests of- the nation that the amendment which the Opposition has proposed should be given very serious consideration. So much for the amendment.
We have what we call a system of taxation by progression, a system based on a curve which is supposed to provide that those people in the community best able to bear the cost of the benefits conferred upon the community should shoulder it. But, because wages have increased, because inflation has been allowed to run wild, the person who ought to be having his burdens eased, the person who is earning only a meagre salary and rearing a family, is not receiving any benefit. Whenever one attempts to point this out people start to talk about the value of wages and the fact that people have more in their homes now than ever before. That is only begging the question. Probably people have more in their homes today because both the husband and the wife work. That was not the position in the days when the Chifley Government first started off with this type of high taxation. Again, people today can buy things on hire purchase which, after all. is only a method of putting off the evil day, but which, of course, increases the drain on income in meeting the payments. The ‘Taxpayers Bulletin’ gives a comparison which I think makes the position clearer than if we start to get bogged down in these types of arguments, ft says:
Ten years ago an average family of a man, wife and two children paid $19 per week in Commonwealth and State taxes. In 1965-66, the latest year for which complete figures are available, the same family paid more than $32 per week. lt goes on:
Based on the average earnings of employed males published by the Commonwealth Statistician, the average man 10 years ago worked 5i weeks to pay his income tax. Now, 8 weeks wages are absorbed by tax.
That seems to me to be a clearer type of argument and it highlights the point that should be concerning us. We have just been kidding ourselves that we have this socalled progressive rate of taxation which throws the financial burden on the shoulders best able to bear it. The fact is that we are moving away from that position. These are the types of things that we should be looking at. The more we look at the matter the more we realise that we have a taxation structure that has become fossilised - a structure that has not been moving with the times. Of course, once we start to move info any field of taxation we start to get pressures on governments, we start to get Pro Bono Publico writing to the papers, we start to get leading articles and all the rest of it. It is quite understandable that a government that is concerned only with keeping itself in office will keep out of these fields.
This Bill seeks to put into effect the latest Budget proposal which I and many of my colleagues criticised in our speeches on the Budget. I refer to the increase in the amount that may be deducted from income tax in respect of insurance premiums and superannuation contributions. From now on, the man who is able to invest $24 a week, which is a lot of money, will receive the benefit of a taxation concession which is going to mean a loss of revenue to the Commonwealth amounting to about $160m a year. The rest of the community is going to be required to bear this loss. It is obvious that a man must have a fairly good income if, on top of all his other commitments, he is able to invest $24 a week in insurance premiums. 1 know that Senator Henty recently argued that’ the Commonwealth should subsidise those people who are self-employed because others are covered by superannuation schemes and self-employed people, by means of insurance, are looking after the needs of their old age. That might be a very good argument. All I say is that this subsidising of those people is costing the rest of the Australian taxpayers $160m a year. This is the type of thing that the inquiry I have suggested should be investigating. lt could inquire whether this $160m could be spent to more advantage by offering some other form of taxation concession. Although we have become accustomed to talking about huge sums in this Parliament, $ 1 60m is still a large amount of money and its expenditure should be examined carefully.
I note also that in Canada they have a system under which probate duty is assessed only on that part of the estate which is left after the wife and other immediate members of the family have received their share. I am sure that anyone who has to examine taxation Bills or who is required to give any thought to the problem of taxation from time to time would agree that there ought to be a comprehensive inquiry into all these matters. Even when the Government had the report from the Ligertwood Committee it took the Government a long time to submit the amendments to Parliament.I admit that the Government was a bit frightened to act in the matter. Finally, when it did so, according to my advice it found that the idea worked. The Commonwealth was able to close up some loopholes.
If the Commonwealth was able to do this in a limited way, following the Ligertwood Committee’s report, I think the idea ought to be extended, particularly in this period of Australia’s development and in view of the uneven growth that is taking place. As the Senate well knows. I am not satisfied with what the Commonwealth Government is doing about northern development. Even the Government must be worried when it sees multi-million dollar companies being established in the north of Australia. Then there is the situation in Victoria where there is talk of the State Government introducing a poll tax. Taxes are being pushed on to people in the cities. There is the amusement tax. There are increases in bus fares. All these impositions are uneven forms of taxation. Everybody hates a direct tax but at least it is applied fairly evenly. It is applied in a direct manner and a person who has a wife and children does not pay as much as a single man. But all people - a single man, a widow, a married man - whatever their income, pay the same indirect rates and taxes. We suggest this amendment because of all these inequalities.
I am looking at this matter overall because the Parliamentary session will be closing soon and Bills are coming to the Senate quickly. It is possible but not desirable in this atmospehere to make a more detailed analysis of the three Bills before us tonight. I suggest that the Senate agree to the amendment that I have moved.
– Mr President, I think that as this debate has proceeded it has become somewhat disorganised. Senator Willesee, as was his right, has made a speech on the motion for the first reading of this Bill. On the other hand, against all the standing orders of the Senate, he has moved an amendment before the Bill has been read a first time. I therefore ask for leave to have the question put for the first reading. Afterwards, I will ask for leave for the Minister for Supply (Senator Henty) who is in charge of the Bill to propose the motion for the second reading and to, make his second reading speech. I suggest that Senator Willesee’s speech be taken as having been made on, and the amendment moved to, the motion for the second reading of the Bill. I ask for leave. Mr President, to take that course.
-I realised the position after I began my speech.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) - There being no objection, leave is granted to adopt that course.
Questionresolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill will declare (he general rates of tax for the current financial year 1967-68. The rates to be declared are the same as those that applied for the financial year 1966-67. However, the Bill does provide for two changes in the age allowance provisions. One of these changes is designed to simplify the way in which the allowance is calculated. Since its introduction, the allowance has been based on an aged person’s net income from all sources, as distinguished from his taxable income. It has become apparent that the net income basis has given rise to a great deal of misunderstanding of the allowance in the minds of aged people and has complicated the preparation of their income tax returns.
Evidence lo this effect was submitted to the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation headed by Sir George Ligertwood which recommended that the allowance be simplified by relating it to taxable income instead of net income. This is now being done.
Apart from simplifying procedures for aged persons and the taxation administration, this change will also enhance the value of the allowance in the many cases where aged persons receive income which is not taxable, such as war pensions, or incur medical and other expenses that are deductible in calculating taxable income.
The other change in the age allowance will increase the exemption levels by $126, thus preserving the long-standing relationship between the allowance and the amount represented by the sum of the full age pension and the maximum other income a pensioner may receive without affecting his pension entitlement. Honourable senators will recall that the age pension means test was increased last April by $136. income tax legislation enacted shortly afterwards increased the exemption levels of the age allowance for 1966-67 by $30 on a simple pro-rata time basis. For 1967-68 the exemption levels are to be increased by the balance of $126. This will mean that the exemption levels for 1967-68 will be $1,196 for a single person and $2,106 for a married couple as against $1,070 and $1,980, respectively, for the last financial year. A measure of tax relief will continue to be provided on a range of incomes slightly in excess of these levels. The new limits for this purpose will be $1,45.1 for single persons and $3,287 for married couples.
A memorandum explaining in greater detail the proposals I have mentioned has been circulated for the information of honourable senators and I do not propose to speak on the Bill at greater length at this stage. 1 commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Henty) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 9.47 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 27 October 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1967/19671027_senate_26_s36/>.