26th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has the Government considered it to be in the interests of Australia that we in these circumstances either develop or acquire from elsewhere a nuclear deterrent? Has the Government any intention whatever of doing so now or in the near future?
– 1 think the question was: What is the attitude of the Government and what is (he approach of the Government to acquiring a nuclear deterrent in present circumstances. The approach of the Government in this field is, I think, fairly well known. This is that we have been seeking, and believe, that a limitation of the proliferation of nuclear weapons is in the interests of the world generally. As to what the future may hold, I would regard that as a matter which cannot be answered in the context of the present circumstances and to be a matter of policy. But our international attitude has been to seek a treaty to avoid the proliferation of atomic weapons.
– Has the Minister for Supply noticed a report from London under yesterday’s dateline that it is claimed by the vice president of the Interplanetary Society that the money that Britain has wasted on the European Launcher Development Organisation space programme was approaching a national scandal? As Australia is a,n ELDO partner and as most of the Australian contribution to ELDO is made from South Australia at Woomera and Salisbury, will the Minister offer his views to the Senate on this British criticism?
– I read the article to which the honourable senator refers. I well know the keen interest that the honourable senator has always had in Woomera and
Salisbury which are vital areas in the State of South Australia. The honourable senator asks me to offer an opinion on the subject matter of the article. I think it is some selfcriticism which is offered in Britain of the part taken by Britain in ELDO. I would not want to comment on that. But 1 hasten to assure the honourable senator that there is no waste in the ELDO organisation either at Salisbury or at Woomera. I have been most impressed by the very strict control that is kept on expenditure in those two areas. I am sure that all the ELDO countries are satisfied with the expenditure and the organisation of ELDO within the shores of Australia. That is as far as I would be prepared to comment on the self-criticism that is offered in England regarding England’s part in ELDO.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services advise whether the request of the Australian Commonwealth Pensioners Federation asking the Government to double the fortnightly pension cheque at Christmas was dealt with today by Cabinet? If so, what was the result? If not, will the Minister request the Prime Minister, to whom the letter was forwarded, to accede to the request of the pensioners and give the 700.000 people affected by soaring living costs the opportunity of enjoying this year a brighter and happier Christmas?
– I have not got the information which the honourable senator requires. I shall bring the question to the notice of my colleague, the Minister for Social Services.
– Has the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation read a statement made by Mr J. W. Holmes, a senior research chemist with the CSIRO, in which he said that the salinity problem in South Australia was the same as that which has plagued civilisations in other parts of the world for thousands of years? Can the Minister say whether there are any reports of studies being undertaken, as Mr Holmes has put it, to separate tha two roles of the River Murray so that it does not continue to be both the drain and the source of water?
– Having had some indication that a question about this matter would be asked, I made inquiries from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. I was informed that a water supply expert, Mr A. M. Pells, had suggested that a , separate waterway be formed along the Murray to collect nonsaline water from the tributaries. This could then be used for irrigation while the Murray became a drain. I understand that the River Murray Commission knows of this proposal and is carrying out some investigations in regard to it.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry been directed to a Press report in the South Australian ‘Advertiser’ of Monday last that a New Zealand firm hopes to deliver 60,000 children’s paper frocks to Australia before Christmas and that these frocks will be wholly made from New Zealand pine? As national efforts are being made, with the co-operation of the State governments, to establish a safety code to prevent the manufacture of children’s inflammable frocks, will the Minister take action to prevent this importation?
– I did not read the article to which the honourable senator referred and I have no knowledge of it. I understood him to ask me whether we would prevent the importation of these articles. This is a matter of policy which I cannot deal with at question time by way of an answer to a question. I suggest that, if the honourable senator wishes to obtain any further information, he might put his question on the notice paper. I would then raise it with the Minister for Trade and Industry to see what information I could get for him.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Repatriation. Has the attention of the Minister been directed to a pamphlet authorised by the Fifty-second National Congress of the Returned Services League of Australia which states that the present levels of war pensions are a disgrace to the Government and Australia and are a betrayal of those who have suffered in war? Does the Minister agree that in the 17 years this Government has been in office it has allowed war pensions to deteriorate to the extent that now the total and permanent incapacity war pension is equal to only 81% of the minimum wage and that the highest payment for partial disablement is equal to only 32% of that wage? Does the Minister agree that the pamphlet that has been produced by the Returned Services League is one of protest against the repatriation policies of this Government?
– 1 have seen the pamphlet referred to by the honourable senator. Let me say at the outset that I expected to hear of protests from the Returned Services League, because it was very firmly behind the submissions that were made to the Government. The fact that the Government did not see fit to provide the amounts that were asked for obviously meant that the RSL would be disappointed.
– The Minister wants to use the money for killing.
– If the honourable senator does not want to listen to my answer, that is all right with me. I remind Senator McClelland that I attended a meeting of the New South Wales branch of the RSL about 15 hours after the Budget was presented. It was my suggestion that I go and talk to members of the League after the Budget was presented to the Parliament to convey the news that the submissions had not been acceded to and also to give the reasons. I say again that I expected protests from the RSL. Naturally, I did not know the form those protests would take. The League has seen fit to make protests in this form and that is a matter for the League itself. I would like to point out to the honourable senator that there is more involved than providing additional money for the Returned Services League. With the exception of only 2 years in the last 14 or IS years, the benefits provided for eligible members of the Returned Services League have been increased. This year, admittedly, the additional benefits granted are small, but I remind the honourable senator that this year we will see the
Introduction of a new system in relation to the defence forces retirement benefits scheme. It will be of great benefit to the chaps who will be needing it. I refer to servicemen who are injured in Vietnam. It seems that honourable senators opposite have not taken cognisance of that change.
Vear after year, the Government has been spending continually to provide new repatriation buildings, and renovations of existing buildings. This year we have spent on our new works programme-
– This is not helping the people who need it.
– If the honourable senator would keep quiet instead of making such a noise I would be better able to give this information. Our new works programme amounts to $3. 6m. Over $2m is to be spent on repairs and maintenance and about $0.3m on new and replacement furniture and fittings. This money is to be spent to help the fellows who need it. It enables us to give them the facilities they need, in spite of what is said fey honourable senators opposite. I remind Senator McClelland that in his own State ©f New South Wales last month we were able to do the things 1 will now outline. Firstly 216,260 pensioners received war or dependants’ pensions. Service pensioners numbered 21,487. Beneficiaries eligible for treatment under regulations 66 and 73 totalled 16,940; that is, pensioners receiving at least the pension allowable for 160% incapacity. Pensions were paid to 19,806 widows, widowed mothers and dependants; 16,500 servicemen, some of whom I have already included in the figure relating to beneficiaries under regulation 66; and 160 war nurses from the 1914-18 war, who are not eligible for inclusion in the categories I have referred to previously.
Again 1 remind the honourable senator that the average daily bed occupancy at the Repatriation General Hospital, Concord, was 1,327, and at the Lady Davidson Hospital, Turramurra, it was 174. The average daily bed occupancy of repatriation hospitals in Australia exceeds 3,000. In addition, in non-departmental country hospitals in New South Wales, the average daily bed occupancy was 200. Visits to medical specialists at specialists’ rooms totalled 1,545. Out-patients’ visits to local medical offices numbered 95,548. The items dispensed by chemists totalled 181,693 at a cost of $432,416. At the out-patients’ clinic at Grace Building, 14,476 persons attended last month. The repatriation artificial limb and appliance centres treated 1,116 patients at departmental expense. In the Repatriation Division at Callan Park Hospital 265 repatriation patients were treated, and 64 patients were treated at other mental hospitals. At the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital 1,625 repatriation patients received treatment. The figures I have given all relate to New South Wales. I refute the charge that the repatriation system is a disgrace to Australia. It is one of the best in the world. Even so, we are continually trying to improve it and we will improve it despite the gibes of the Opposition.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry comment on the progress of discussions of the special committee set up by the Federal Government to find ways by which federal finance may assist further the distribution of population and decentralisation generally? Will the Minister assure the Senate that the Federal Government is actively pursuing ways to overcome this problem in conjunction with the States?
– There is no question about a policy of decentralisation being continued by both the Commonwealth and the States. In fact, assistance is given to the States for that purpose. I have no comment to make on the honourable senator’s reference to the fund, particularly at question time.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Prime Minister been directed to a statement yesterday by a spokesman for the Foundation of Aboriginal Affairs to the effect that about one-third of Aboriginal babies born at some missions and government stations died before they were 1 year old? Did the spokesman also point out that out of 3,000 children in the Northern Territory only four were attending high school? If these statements are correct, does it indicate the need for urgent and large scale allocations of funds to alleviate the grave health and educational deficiencies at present being encountered by the Aboriginal people? If so, when will such allocations be made?
– I have not seen the statement referred to nor do I know to whom it was attributed.
– A spokesman on behalf of the Foundation for Aboriginal Affairs.
– Someone made the statement but we do not know who it was. As I have said, I have not seen it. Consequently 1 cannot comment upon it or upon its accuracy. However, I should think that statistics would be available which would indicate whether the statement was correct, and I will ask the relevant department to provide me with the statistics it has and I will let the honourable senator have the information.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Supply been directed to an article in today’s ‘Australian Financial Review’ to the effect that the Department of Supply has designed a policy to discourage the brain drain of electronic talent from Australia? Can the Minister elaborate on that policy, with particular reference to the tenders which have been invited in the field of micro-electronics?
– Yes, I did read the article to which the honourable senator has referred. In the Department of Supply we are endeavouring so to develop Australian industry in the defence field that we can retain within Australia as many as possible of the younger experts who are coming out of universities and technical schools. On the matter of micro-circuitry in electronics to which he has referred, 1 inform him that we set out to form a consortium of industries in Australia to develop research and manufacture because this is a technology which is a must for Australian industry, particularly Australian defence industry. We failed in our endeavour. We have now called lor tenders from firms in Australia - tenders have now closed although no decision has been made - for the manufacture by one firm of this item and for assistance in research and development. I can only say that contracts have been let for studies in the most important Mallard project which, as the honourable senator will recall, is a very large defence project in which the United Kingdom, Australia and other countries are concerned. By and large, that is the programme we are developing in an endeavour to halt the brain drain from Australia.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport aware that serious industrial trouble could result from the decision of Burns Philp and Co. Ltd to employ foreign crews in three Australian ships carrying freight between Australia, New Guinea and the South Pacific islands, the cause being a wage differentia] of $50 a month for foreign labour as compared with $50 a week for Australian seamen? As there is a likelihood that approximately 300 Australian seamen would lose their jobs, and as it is possible that a nationwide maritime strike would result from such a decision, I ask. the Minister whether the Government will take early action to discourage the company from pursuing this provocative course?
– I recall that this matter was raised earlier. I certainly will refer this question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport and attempt to get an answer for the honourable senator.
– I address my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is he aware that tomorrow the Papua-New Guinea Association will direct a case to the Public Service Arbitrator. Mr L. G. Matthews, on behalf of 10,000 indigenous public servants who are seeking a review of salaries? Has it become the practice of the Commonwealth to intervene in wage cases before arbitration authorities and, if so, is it intended to intervene in this case with a view to encouraging the Arbitrator to provide rates of salary in keeping with the living requirements of the indigenous population of the Territory and compatible with the economic progress and rates profit being obtained in that area?
– If I were to ask the honourable senator to place his question on the notice paper - and it is the sort of question which ought to be placed on notice so that the responsible Minister can provide the reply - it would probably be too long before the honourable senator was able to receive a reply through those channels. 1 will bring the question to the attention of the Minister concerned and ask him to reply to the questions of fact as to what the Government has done in the past. I will leave it for him to decide whether he replies to questions as to what policy might be applied in the future.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service and 1 ask: Has he received a copy of the Newsletter’ issued by the Victorian Employers Federation in which it pleads for the adoption of uniform regulations for all States? Does the Minister agree with the Federation’s claim that the division of common responsibilities between the States causes anomalies which are frequently unfair and costly? Are there any plans to establish uniform regulations in the matters listed in the ‘Newsetter’, including wage fixing systems, trading hours, stamp duty and pure food regulations?
– I have seen the report. The powers of the Commonwealth Government in this field are strictly limited in matters of arbitration and regulations of that kind to interstate disputes. I think it would require an amendment of the Constitution before the Commonwealth Government could move in and seek to make these things uniform in the States. I am not quite sure of the position in relation to pure foods but I do know that in relation to the packaging of food and the description of food in packages there has been for some considerable time negotiation between the States and the Commonwealth for the adoption of a uniform code - one that is to-be passed as uniform legislation by all State Parliaments and this Parliament. Those discussions have reached a point at which draft legislation is practically ready for the Parliament.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the
Minister for Immigration and I refer to the reported refusal by the Minister for Immigration to grant a visa to Dr Nickolaides, former Secretary of the Greek Centre Union Party, who had planned to visit Australia to address meetings in support of the return of the democratic government of Greece. Has not Dr Nickolaides been admitted to ten other Western countries in the past 3 months for this purpose and is he not now in the United States of America? ls it not well known that the United States has permitted other Greek citizens, such as the great actress Melina Mercouri, to expose the military dictators of Greece? Why is our Government so keen to protect the military dictators of Greece from the exposure which is permitted elsewhere?
– I do not know where Dr Nickolaides is at the moment as was implied by the honourable senator. He said he knew where Dr Nickolaides is. As reported in the Press, the Minister for Immigration, in his statement concerning this application, said that Australia, in common with other countries, was in normal diplomatic relations with the Government of Greece and felt that it would be wrong in principle and inconsistent with international courtesy for the Australian Government to facilitate the visit to Australia of someone having as his stated objective discussions for the overthrow of another government. He said that the Australian Government also had been concerned to avoid stirring dissension among the Greek settlers in Australia through the external influence to which such a visit might contribute. I believe that the Minister’s statement makes the position very clear.
– I direct to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration a question that is supplementary to the one asked by Senator Murphy. How does the Minister reconcile the answer she has just given with the practice that was followed in permitting a member of the Yugoslav royal family to visit Australia when he would hardly have recognised the rulers of Yugoslavia? How does the Minister reconcile the apparent inconsistency of policy?
– This is a matter of decision by my colleague the Minister for Immigration. I am certain that, if he can, he will make available any information that he believes it is advisable to make available.
– 1 preface my question, which is addressed to the Minister for Education and Science, by advising him that a number of local government organisations in New South Wales have expressed to me concern at his statement on 21st September last in connection with the Australian Universities Commission’s recommendation and finding on adult education - namely, that universities should not set about developing adult education activities which could be done more satisfactorily elsewhere. Will the Minister agree that universities in New South Wales have contributed greatly - in respect of country residents in particular the University of New England has contributed greatly - to the provision of adult education and that these activities could not be performed as effectively by any other educational body? If he does agree, and bearing in mind the benefit to the community in having an expanding university involvement in its midst, will the Government give further consideration to this recommendation of the Universities Commission?
– The Senate will remember that the Australian Universities Commission, in its last report, suggested that the adult education should be removed altogether from the university sphere and that the Government did not accept that recommendation. The Government said that it wanted to have further inquiries made into the matter and that it wanted people of all kinds who might have an interest in adult education to make their views known before it arrived at any decision. Since that time the Government has written to the Premiers of the three States in which adult education in universities is most important: that is, Western Australia, South Australia and New South Wales. The other States have almost no university adult education. In the Australian Capital Territory there is university adult education. Wc have asked the representatives of those three States to express their views on how adult education can best be conducted so that when a decision is needed on this matter, if adult education is lo be conducted by the universities, the Universities Commission, in its discussions with the universities, will be able to plan for the next triennium.
I speak now without a full realisation of the position, but 1 am sure that we have received a reply from the South Australian Government to the effect that in its view adult education should be continued in the universities of that State. In that case we would not override or alter the situation existing there. I believe that the same approach is made by the authorities in Western Australia and New South Wales. Again, if those States believe that the present system is the one best suited to the development of adult education in their States we will not seek to override their belief. The matters of the courses that are to be continued or added as adult education courses in universities and whether some other courses could best be handled in the colleges of advanced education are different ones. The content, depth and degree of courses that will be conducted by the universities will be the subject of discussion between the Universities Commission and the universities concerned in the States in which this system operates.
– I address a question to the Minister for Education and Science. Is the serious shortage of teachers in Australia being aggravated by large scale departures to Canada? Is it a fact that over 400 Australian teachers arrived in Canada during 1966 and up to the end of September this year? Are wages and conditions for teachers in Canada superior to those prevailing in this country, and is this regarded as the main reason for the high rate of departures? Has the Commonwealth Government any proposals to increase salaries, implement the recommendations of the Martin Committee’s report or otherwise in order to arrest this teacher drain?
– The State education authorities themselves would be the only people with authoritative statistics as to the number of teachers leaving the education service in a particular State. Even they might well not have the answer as to why teachers were leaving - whether they were leaving to. take up other jobs in Australia or whether they were leaving to take up jobs in Canada or somewhere else abroad. There appears to be no doubt that a number of teachers have gone to Canada from Australia. The numbers and the situations from which they go I would not be able to supply to the honourable senator and, indeed, it is not my responsibility to do so. If I sought to do so I might well be treading on the responsibility of some State Minister who might well object. The wages and conditions of the teachers, again, are decided entirely within each State by each State Education Department. I think, too, that in looking at this matter we should not ignore the fact that there are some teachers - I do not know how many, but a number of them - who are coming into this country from abroad and taking up the teaching profession.
– I ask the
Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation whether he is in a position to advise me whether he has the answer to my questions regarding flying conditions associated with the ten deaths by accident this year of agricultural pilots and the request that the Minister meet the Australian Federation of Air Pilots for enforcement of Air Navigation Orders to protect further lives.
– Yesterday I indicated that I would endeavour to get a reply to this question today. I am happy to be able to say that the Minister for Civil Aviation has now given me an answer. It is:
An examination of accident statistics bas revealed that, during 1967, only two agricultural pilots have lost their lives in fatal accidents whilst crop dusting. Two additional agricultural pilots were killed in air accidents which occurred during ordinary travel Mights and not whilst engaged in the aerial application of agricultural materials.
It is true that agricultural pilots, do not work to an award and are paid in accordance with individual agreements with their employers. My Department is not in possession of information to show that these pilots maintain two log books or that they exceed the prescribed flight time limitations. If this is known to be so, I would suggest that the relevant details should be passed to the Department so that appropriate action can be taken.
It is worth mentioning that the accident rate in agricultural operations has remained static over the past few years and that the standard of safety in this class of operations has shown a marked improvement over the last ten years. It would therefore seem that there is no reason for special discussions with the Australian Federation of Air Pilots on this subject at this particular time.
The Federation, however, is aware that officers of the Department are always available for discussions on any subject and this situation remains unchanged. I might also add that the Federation is well aware that I am personally available to discuss any matters of importance which they may care to raise with me at any time,
– I address a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a reference on a news session this morning to the fact that an imported toy gun could gravely endanger the hearing of children? Have representations been made to the Minister for its prohibition? Can he indicate whether he has any further information on the matter?
– I first heard of this gun at my hotel this morning before I left for Parliament House. On arrival here, I sought some information from my Department. It is true that during the morning I received a letter dated 6th November from the Australian Consumers Association, publishers of ‘Choice’, in which the Association directed attention to this toy gun known as a Sonic Blaster and asked that I should prohibit it. The information that I obtained from the Department is that a Sonic Blaster Zero M toy gun made in the United States of America was referred to the Department late last week by the Commonwealth Acoustic Laboratories of the Department of Health following a recommendation that it be prohibited. Departmental officers were informed by the Department of Health thai the importer intended to discuss the prohibition or proposed prohibition with customs officers, but he has not made any approach to my Department. I inform the Senate that I have today taken a decision to prohibit the importation of the gun. All State Collectors of Customs have been advised and action has been taken to notify the appropriate State authorities of the prohibition.
– I direct to the Minister for Education and Science a question with regard to the proposal to establish a College of Advanced Education at Wagga. I understand that’ the proposal was referred to in the Martin Committee report. Can the Minister tell me what the present position is, whether any progress has been made towards this, and, in any event, what is being done and what needs to be done and by whom, in order to get this project going?
– There were recommendations in the Martin Committee report for the establishment of Colleges of Advanced Education at various sites in New South Wales. Bathurst was one, I believe Wagga was one, and there was undoubtedly another one which at the moment 1 cannot recall. We proposed to make interim grants of capital towards these should we be approached, but we were not in fact approached in the interim period to provide funds for these purposes.
– Would that have to be by the New South Wales Government?
– Yes, that would be by the New South Wales Government. The speech made at the presentation of the Martin Committee report as to what would be accepted indicated a number of colleges throughout Australia which had been recommended for interim grants and which we said we would consider if we were approached to provide money for those colleges. The New South Wales Government spent most of the money available to it for Colleges of Advanced Education on some very significant and very important work in the Sydney Institute of Technology, which has grown enormously as a result, but that Government has only recently decided where it would build the first College of Advanced Education in New South Wales, that decision being that it would be built at Bathurst. At the same time Mr Cutler made a statement, if I recall correctly, that the next site at which a College of Advanced Education would be built would be Wagga. That is where the situation stands at the moment.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy. Why did the Navy embark on an expensive search for a sunken submarine reported to be lying at Disaster Bay near Eden, New South Wales, when only the flimsiest of evidence was available about its existence? Has the Navy been the subject of an embarrassing and expensive hoax and will steps be taken to prevent any similar mistakes in the future?
– I think I answered portion of the question yesterday when 1 was asked whether this report was a hoax. I gave the position as the Navy saw it then. I have nothing to add to that. 1 am quite sure that in view of the seriousness of the report the Navy had little option but to investigate the position and that is what it did.
– Can the reply by the Minister for Repatriation to a question asked by Senator McClelland be taken to indicate that the Government rejects the claims made by the Returned Services League in its current campaign to restore the relativity of repatriation pensions?
– As I have told the Senate on several occasions, all of these statements were examined very carefully by the full Ministry prior to the Budget before a decision was arrived at. It is a matter of policy as to when the Government will see fit to review that decision. I am rather surprised to see so much concern being shown by the Opposition on behalf of the RSL when I recall that it seems only a comparatively short time ago that a member in another place referred to the RSL as warmongers and a member in this place, Senator Keeffe, said that the heads of the RSL were concerned only when rewards were being handed out. I am very surprised to see so much notice taken now of the leaders of the RSL.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Is it a fact that an Australian firm of consulting engineers has been commissioned to investigate the problems of salinity in the Murray River? Can the Minister inform the Senate when the first report by this group on this problem will be available?
– The River Murray Commission has engaged in an investigation of problems associated with the waters of the Murray River. This investigation deals with not only salinity but also the future of the Chowilla Dam and matters like that. The last I heard of this investigation was that we could look forward to receiving some information from the River Murray Commission towards the end of November. But I answer this question off the cuff without any knowledge of the actual date. 1 should not like the indication that I have given to be taken as the due date. That is my impression at the moment. If any further information is required by the honourable senator he should put his question on the notice paper, and I will be happy to get the facts for him.
– I have an answer to a question without notice which was asked by Senator Poyser yesterday. The question was in these terms:
I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is the Minister aware that drought stricken farmers in Victoria who desire to purchase wheat from the Australian Wheat Board for fodder are required to pay cash in advance before purchases can be made? Will the Minister use his good offices to persuade the Australian Wheat Board to grant credit to farmers in drought areas for the purchase of such wheat or alternatively provide Government finance to enable credit to be given?
The Minister for Primary Industry has supplied the following answer in reply to the honourable senator’s question:
When New South Wales was seriously affected by drought conditions in 1965 the Australian Wheat Board agreed to make wheat available to farmers on credit terms through the Rural Bank of New South Wales. I understand that the Australian Wheat Board has had under close consideration the needs of farmers in Victoria who are suffering from drought conditions this season. No doubt the Board will continue to keep the matter under review and will take such action as it reasonably can consonant with its responsibilities to the growers who deliver wheat to it. The Minister for Primary Industry has assured me that the Board has been made aware of the views of the honourable senator concerning sales of wheat to farmers on credit terms.
– I refer now to a question without notice which was addressed by Senator Cotton to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. The honourable senator’s question was:
Is the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry aware of the remarkable pro gress that is being made with the development of new dwarf wheats in Mexico and India? Will he take steps to see that these new varieties are made available to the Australian wheat grower?
The Minister for Primary Industry has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
In the continuous programme of wheat variety improvement in Australia, wheat breeding authorities make use of genetic material from all over the world, including Mexico. The Mexican dwarf wheats are capable of very high yields, particularly under irrigation. However, the varieties as originally developed were generally of inferior baking quality. A number of the more recently produced dwarf varieties show improved baking quality and some of these are under test in Australia. lt is essential for the maintenance of our overseas markets that the standards of quality of our wheats should not be lowered. In each State responsible committees have been set up to advise on and recommend wheat varieties that should be grown under the varying local environments. Before any new variety is released for general use in Australia, it must have been adequately tested and proven to possess characteristics which make it equal in all respects and superior in some respect to the variety or varieties it is likely to replace in commercial production. In this context yield is important but must be considered in relation to other essential characteristics such as baking quality and resistance to disease.
(Question No. 256)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has supplied the following answers:
(Question No. 367)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
Are old government and departmental records transported to Melbourne for destruction because suitable incineration is not available at Canberra? If so. what is the approximate total cost to the Australian taxpayer for this method of disposal?
– The Minister for the Interior has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
No. There are facilities in Canberra for disposal or destruction of old government and departmental records and arrangements are currently in hand to provide additional facilities to service the increasing needs of departments located in Canberra.
(Question No. 368)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following answers:
(Question No. 385)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice: 1.Has Mr E. de Rothschild, a partner in N. M. Rothschild and Sons presently visiting Australia, submitted a plan for setting up a branch of his bank in Australia?
– The Treasurer has furnished this reply:
(Question No. 398)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Territories, upon notice:
– The Minister for Territories has now supplied the following answer:
Nihon Kinkai Hogei Ltd
John McKillop Stewart-Moore
Charles Ernest Wood
Alexander Bruce Black.
(Question No. 410)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
What was the total number of air movements made by light planes engaged on private or charter flights to and from the Horn Island aerodrome for the twelve months ended 30th September 1967?
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has furnished the following reply:
Information provided by the Overseas Telecommunications Commission at Thursday Island, which operates the communications services for the Horn Island aerodrome traffic on behalf of the Department of Civil Aviation, is to the effect that the total number of aircraft movements - arrivals and departures - at the aerodrome for the year ended 30th September 1967 was 1442. Of this total 312 were regular public transport- movements and 1130 were made by light aircraft. The Commission estimates that 60%, or 678, of the light aircraft movements consisted of private aircraft operations and 40%, or452, were charter operations. Precise figures for the two categories are not recorded.
(Question No. 413)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
What was the number of wage and salary earners whose incomes were in each of the following brackets for the financial year ended 30th June 1967: Under $2,200; $2,200-$2,599; $2,600- $3,199; $3,200-$3,599; $3,600-$3,999; $4,000- $4,999; $5,000-$5,999, and $6,000 and over.
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer:
Statistics classifying salary and wage earners according to grade of income are not yet available from income tax returns for the 1966-67 income year. The latest year for which income tax statistics are available is the 1964-65 income year. In that year a tabulation was made of salary and wage earners according to size of total salary or wages received. The numbers of taxpayers falling within the available grades nearest to those specified in the question are set out in Table No. 1 below:
The above information is presented according to finer grades of income in Schedule 1.37 of the Supplement to the Forty-sixth Report of the Commissioner of Taxation (Taxation Statistics 1965-66). Table No. 1 above and Schedule 1.37 include only those persons who were liable for tax after taking into account all allowable deductions. A person was included if he had any income at all from salary or wages whether as a full time or part time employee. Some of the taxpayers included would have had income from sources other than salary or wages, for example, business income or property income but income from those sources did not affect the grade of salary or wage income to which the taxpayer was allocated.
Taxpayers are also tabulated according to grade of actual income which is broadly equal to taxable income plus concessional deductions and exempt income. In the 1964-65 income year the distribution by grade of actual income of taxpayers whose taxable incomes other than salary or wages were less than $300 was as set out in Table No. 2 below:
Table No. 2 excludes some 300,000 taxpayers included in Table No. 1 with $300 or more of taxable income other than salary or wages and represents in effect those taxpayers whose income consisted mainly of salary or wages. Income from all sources was taken into account in determining the grade to which taxpayers were allocated in Table No. 2. As with the distribution by size of salary or wages (Table No. 1). the distribution by grade of actual income (Table No. 2) includes only those persons who were taxable in the 1964- 65 income year and would include a proportion of taxpayers who were employed only on a part time basis. The information contained in Table No. 2 is presented according to finer grades of income in Schedule 1.3 of the Supplement to the Forty-sixth Report of the Commissioner (Taxation Statistics 1965-66).
While, as indicated above, the 1964-65 income year is the latest for which statistics by grade of income are available, it has been estimated by the Commonwealth Statistician that average weekly earnings per employed male unit increased by 11.2% between 1964-65 and 1966-67. In the same period the number of non-rural employees increased by about53/4%.
(Question No. 415)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Territories, upon notice:
– The Minister for Territories has now supplied the following answers:
The first contribution of $50,000 was appropriated in the Territory Budget in this present financial year and the remainder is to be provided in 1968-69 and 1969-70. The Commonwealth’s grant to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea for 1967-68 totalled $77.6m.
Message received from the House of Representatives, intimating that it had disagreed to the amendments made by the Senate in this Bill.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) proposed:
That the Committee does not insist on the amendments of the Senate to which the House of Representatives has disagreed.
– The Committee will recall that when we were dealing with the Stevedoring Industry (Temporary Provisions) Bill 1967 last night certain assurances were given by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Gorton). Those assurances affected some of the matters relating to the Bill now before us and also to some of the employees concerned, although, of course, this Bill has a wider ambit. Because of the assurances given by Senator Gortonlast night and because any delay in the passage of this Bill would deprive many thousands of Crown employees of a series of benefits, the Opposition does not press the amendments.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 3 November (vide page 2162), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a secondtime.
– This is a simple Bill to deal with the copyright law concerning designs. It is calculated simply to overcome a gap in the law which was revealed by a decision of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. That decision was referred to by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) in his second reading speech. This measure is intended to protect the position of people who hold industrial property over designs so that they will not be affected adversely, for example, by the manufacture overseas and importation into Australia of products the design of which is protected in Australia. That situation and incidental matters are corrected by this Bill. The Opposition has no objection to the passage of the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Reference to Select Committee
Debate resumed from 7 November (vide page 2316), on motion by Senator Wright:
That, with respect to legislation relating to the exploration for, and the exploitation of, the petroleum resources of the continental shelf of Australia and of certain Territories of the Commonwealth and of certain other submerged land, a Select Committee of the Senate be appointed to inquire into and report upon:
whether the constitutional conception underlying the legislation is consistent with the proper constitutional responsibilities of the Commonwealth and the States;
whether the system of administration established by the legislation is the most effective to fulfil the purpose of adequate utilisation of Australia’s offshore resources of oil and natural gas;
whether the legislation makes adequate provision for free interstate trade in gas and oil;
whether proper provision is made in the legislation for adequate royalties used in the national interest;
whether the areas of permits confirmed or authorised in the legislation are excessive;
whether proper provision is made relating to renewals to prevent stagnating oil exploration; and
the provisions of the legislation generally.
That the Committee consist of senators to be appointed by a subsequent resolution.
That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records, to move from place to place, to sit in open court or in private, and have leave to report from time to time its proceedings and the evidence taken and such interim recommendations as it may deem fit.
That the Committee have power to sit during any adjournment or recess of the Parliament.
That the Committee report to the Senate as soon as possible.
That the foregoing provisions of this resolu tion, so far as they are inconsistent with the Standing Orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders.
– We have had a chance to consider Senator Wright’s proposal overnight. As 1 indicated yesterday, apart from any question of agreement or opposition to the proposal there was also the possibility of amendment. We are in favour of the motion - I shall qualify that in a moment - but we seek to amend it. Therefore I move:
After sub-paragraph (f) of paragraph 1., insert the following sub-paragraph: (fa) whether the legislation makes adequate provision for Australian ownership and/or control or Australian participation in the ownership and/or control of Australia’s off-shore resources of oil and natural gas;’
We ask the Senate to agree to that proposed amendment. I pointed out to the Senate yesterday that we hold the strong view that the legislation should not have been passed before these matters had been investigated. I will not go over the obnoxious features in the legislation but there were many. It was apparent then that they offended many of the principles upon which we have previously insisted. There seems to us also to be great gaps in the legislation. Notwithstanding the lengthy consideration which had been given to it, it seemed to us to be an ill-constructed piece of legislation. Of course, we had great opposition to many of the matters in it. That opposition was founded not only on our general principles but also on the information which was available to us to date. However, the legislation has been passed through this Parliament and will become law, subject to the royal assent.
We now want to do whatever is best for this country and to ensure that this natural resource is developed in the country’s best interests. We support this motion in the same way as we would support any motion for investigation into and report upon the operation of important legislation. For example, we have suggested that a select committee be appointed to inquire into the operation of the Repatriation Act - there seem to us to be many anomalies in it - and to recommend legislative measures to improve it. Similarly, we would support the appointment of a select committee to inquire into and report upon the operation of the Social Services Act. For that reason, as I have said, we support this motion. We believe that such an inquiry and report are all the more necessary because it became apparent, even when the legislation was before the Parliament, that it was grossly defective in many respects and highly dubious in other respects.
While, to say the least, we are not very happy about the stage at which Senator Wright has been prepared to support an inquiry and report, we hold strongly to the view that the legislation should not have been passed until the inquiry had been made and the report submitted. Nevertheless, we support Senator Wright’s motion. We do so without any reservation so far as the membership of the select committee is concerned. We want to have members on the Committee and we want to see it work. We accept this move on the basis that it is intended that the committee will make a thorough investigation of this legislation; that witnesses will be called; and that there will be a full disclosure of the facts surrounding the legislation so that proper judgment can be made upon the matters referred to specially in the terms of reference as well as upon the general provisions. Therefore, I ask the Senate to carry the amendment. I understand it is acceptable. The Opposition will support the motion in any event.
– The Government accepts the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) to the motion proposed by Senator Wright. The Government supports entirely the proposal put by Senator Wright, as I indicated yesterday to the Senate. I do not think the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) need fear that this committee will not do this work. It is designed to do this work. It has very wide powers and very wide terms of reference. I feel that it will use those powers and those terms of reference to the fullest extent possible in investigating this matter. The Leader of the Opposition raised a certain doubt, when speaking just now, and seemed to indicate that he felt this committee was being set up for some purpose other than has been set out.
– I did not. I said that I accept that it has been set up to investigate this matter.
– To me it sounded as though the Leader of the Opposition did have some doubt. I want to assure him that the committee will do its work, as I believe every Senate select committee does its work.
– I did not suggest otherwise.
– I feel that this committee will have a much wider and longer task than honourable senators realise at th, present time. That, however, will not daunt the committee. I believe it will do an excellent job, not only for the Senate but for Australia.
– I rise only to say that acceptance of the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) entirely suits me and to express the pleasure that I feel that all sections of the Senate are willing to join in the work and responsibilities of the select committee.
– Having had some part in the discussions on the petroleum legislation I also appreciate the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) to insert this further term of reference in the motion proposed by Senator Wright. Each honourable senator certainly would have quite an interest in the wording of the motion. Indeed, the discussion last night demonstrated this. I was somewhat concerned at the outset that the Leader of the Opposition might move to delete paragraph (g) of clause (1.) and insert his own reference. I misread what had been circulated. I realised that the amendment will produce an expansion of the select committee’s work so that there will be an adequate consideration of Australian ownership, and this is something with which we all agree. I believe such an investigation would have been involved in the motion originally moved by Senator Wright and that it would have had the attention of those interested in a further Senate committee.
– Perhaps I should indicate that Senator Cohen drafted the reference and I give him due credit for it.
– I merely wish to express my appreciation and to say that perhaps there is a divergence of view as to how Australian participation in the development of Australian resources can eventually be obtained. I sincerely trust, hope and believe that this Senate select committee will do much to further the objective raised by the Opposition.
Amendment agreed to.
Motion, as amended, agreed to.
– by leave -I move:
Petroleum Resources consist of eight Senators, four to be appointed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, three to be appointed by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and one to be appointed by the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party in the Senate.
I have circulated the terms of the motion. I have proposed that the select committee be constituted of eight senators, four to be appointed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, three to be appointed by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and one to be appointed by the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party in the Senate. The provisions as to the chairmanship and voting are the same as those of two previous Senate select committees. The motion also contains a provision to the effect that the resolution take effect notwithstanding any inconsistency with the Standing Orders.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Cormack) - Is the motion seconded?
– Yes, I second the motion.
Senator MURPHY (New South Wales - Leader of the Opposition) (4.6] - The Opposition does not oppose the motion but I do not want it to be thought from what was said by Senator Wright about two earlier Senate select committees that the Opposition will accept the position that in relation to every select committee which is set up its composition should be four Government senators, three Opposition senators and one Democratic Labor Party senator. Such a composition would not reasonably reflect the numbers in this chamber. I do not want this matter to be obscured by any contention at this stage: But it ought to be remembered, and I want to make a point of it, that we accept the position that the minor political party and the independent senator are entitled from time to time to sit upon committees and to have a fair share in the composition of these bodies. That view is reasonable enough. We do not quarrel with it. As persons in this chamber, senators have individual rights and it is reasonable that there should be proper representation in Senate select committees that are formed. But it would be entirely an overrepresentation if the composition of every committee were considered on this basis. I suggest that any honourable senator framing the constitution of a committee in future should bear this in mind so that there will not be any unnecessary contention in the Senate over this matter. The Australian Labor Party would resist to the utmost any suggestion that this composition should become a precedent.
– I think the Government would agree that in the composition of important committees - and this committee will be a very important one - all sides of the Senate should have representation. In this case there is ample justification for it and I welcome the fact that Senator Wright has suggested that the membership of this committee be eight senators. That is a course which I took myself in setting up two committees earlier this year on behalf of the Government. I took this course because I believed that they were important committees on which all sides of the Senate were entitled to representation. This may not occur in every case but I think the Senate should keep an open mind on this and not be prejudiced. Let us look at the composition of these committees as they arise and ascertain whether the wider representation is necessary. If it is necessary, let us not close our minds but let us say that in such cases we will appoint a committee with wider representation. In this case I think the wide representation is thoroughly justified and I am happy to see that it will be wider than is normal in this situation.
– The terms of the motion were prepared on the basis that all sections of opinion in the chamber should have proper representation. I think it correct that I mention that I did speak to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) about the terms of this motion before it was circulated. I appreciate his point of putting on record the fact that this membership is not necessarily a precedent for all future occasions.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 3 November (vide page 2163), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– As the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) said in his second reading speech, this Bill extends the limits in which Australia has exclusive rights over fisheries from a territorial limit of 3 miles to one of 12 miles. The Opposition does not oppose the passage of this Bill. Therefore my remarks on it will be brief. It excludes foreign vessels and foreign fishermen from operating with the 12-mile exclusive fishing zone off Australia and the external Territories unless the vessels and fishermen are licensed under the Fisheries Act. It applies to waters around Nauru because it makes provision for any licence fees collected in respect of persons or operations based on the Territories of Papua and New Guinea, Norfolk Island or Nauru to be paid to the appropriate Territory.
Clause 8 of the Bill provides fairly substantial penalties for anyone who is found guilty of the contravention of the provisions of the Bill. Sub-clause (3.) of that clause states:
A person who contravenes sub-section (1.) of this section–
That relates to using or having charge of a foreign boat for fishing in a declared fishing zone - is guilty of an offence punishable -
In the course of this second reading speech the Minister stated:
There is no evidence of any substantial-
I emphasise the use of that word -
Of course, it all depends on whether the Minister means substantial having regard to national revenue figures or substantial as far as the people engaged in this industry are concerned. The fact is that there has been evidence of interference of the type referred to. I suggest that some of it has been of a substantial degree as far as the fishermen around the Australian coastline are concerned.
A few years ago I raised the matter of poaching in Australian fishing waters off Maclean. On 11th September 1963 I addressed to the then Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry a question relating to lobster pot damage and losses amounting to $4,000 in respect of the equipment of Australian fishermen in the Maclean area. The Minister replied that he had taken the matter up with the then Minister for Primary Industry who stated that he had had inquiries made through the New South Wales State Fisheries Department; that he had been advised that the Japanese vessels were working about 11 miles from the Australian coast in areas where the local fishermen were setting their pots; and that although fishermen interviewed had not claimed deliberate damage the heavy Japanese long-lines and hooks had apparently cut the buoy lines attached to the pots and therefore the fishermen had been unable to recover their gear. The fishermen in the area claimed to have lost $10,000 worth of gear but at that stage that had not been confirmed, the Minister said. He went on to set out the legality of operating in waters outside the 3-mile limit. 1 point out that a substantial degree of damage has been suffered by fishermen as a result of foreign based vessels operating within the 12-mile territorial limit. I am particularly glad to see that the limit has now been extended from 3 miles to 12 miles. If we go to the fishing villages and towns along the north coast of New South Wales - to places such as Ballina, Laurieton, South West Rocks, and those in the Clarence River area - fishermen will tell us of substantial damage that they claim to have suffered as a result of foreign based vessels operating in their areas from time to time.
This Bill will give some protection to fishermen in that it will extend the existing territorial limit. This is something for which I and other honourable senators who are interested in this industry have been pressing for some time. This represents an extension of our territorial waters not so much for fishing purposes as for the protection of our existing fishing waters. As most of the fishermen along our coastline will tell us, the ‘best fishing areas are within the 3-mile limit. The extension is required for the purpose of protecting those areas rather than for the purpose of extending the actual fishing areas.
We members of the Opposition certainly support the inclusion of provisions relating to factory ships in the Bill. There can be no doubt that the uncontrolled activities of factory ships could have a serious effect not only in the north of Australia but around the whole of our coastline. I am sure that honourable senators will agree that the Australian fishing industry today is a struggling industry and that the man employed in it is an honest, hard working battler. Whole towns and communities are completely dependent on this industry for their very existence and livelihood.
Some figures that were issued recently by the Australian Fisheries Bureau and published in the ‘Australian Fisheries Journal’ are of interest. They show that, whilst the consumption of fish, crustaceans and molluscs in Australia rose by 1.2 lb to 13 lb per head of population in 1965-66, only 5.8 lb or 44.6% was of Australian origin; the other 7.2 lb or 55.4% was imported. Whilst it was estimated that the consumption of fresh and frozen fish in that year was 7.1 lb per head of population, only 3.1 lb or less than 50% was caught by Australian fishermen.
– Does the honourable senator know the degree of change up or down in the export of fish in that year?
– There has been a considerable increase in the export of fish products, but not necessarily of fish. For instance, the crayfish industry in Western Australia has increased substantially. I know that the export earnings of the oyster industry in my own State of New South Wales has increased. But I am speaking now of the active professional fishermen who are catching fish, as we know fish to be, for a livelihood and who are facing considerable difficulties.
– I was not questioning the honourable senator’s figures; I was interested to know the relation of exports to the figurers that he was quoting.
– The exports certainly have increased, taking into account fish and fish products, but our export increase in no way compares with the increase in the importation of fish and fish products, particularly from South Africa. I was going to add that, according to the figures issued by the Fisheries Bureau, last year Australians consumed .9 lb of smoked and cured fish per head of population, and quite a lot of this, of course, was imported. Of the canned fish consumed in Australia, only roughly 331% was of local origin. As I mentioned during the course of the debate on the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry, of the $115m worth of primary products imported into Australia last financial year, about $30m represented the value of imported fish and fish products. Therefore, anything that is done to assist this struggling industry and those who earn their livelihood from it and whose families are completely dependent on the success of it for their very existence is supported by the Labor movement.
We of the Opposition believe that the Bill could have been introduced much earlier than it has been introduced. The Government made an announcement earlier this year - I think it was about March - that it had been contemplating taking action along these lines. I know, of course, from the questions that have been asked from time to time in this and in another place that it was under consideration for some time before that. As I have said, the Opposition does not oppose the Bill. We hope that it is only the start of many other things for the advancement of this industry which we hope will develop, not only as a very important basic industry, but also as a very effective and essential primary industry in the years ahead.
– 1 rise to support the Bill. I wish, in the best parliamentary tradition, to say that I would like to clarify some misunderstandings, inferred in another place, of my participation in a joint venture company known as the South Seas Fishing Company Pty Ltd, which takes part in the industry covered by this Bill.
Some 10 years ago I went to America and made a close study of the fishing industry in that country. On my return, I bought one trawler and had another built in Brisbane. The vessel that I had built in Brisbane, with an all Australian crew, conducted a survey of the waters of New South Wales, Queensland and the Gulf of Carpentaria. This was all done at private expense. In New South Wales, considerable fields of crayfish, fish and prawns were discovered and developed. In Queensland, fields of prawns and fish were discovered. Some were developed and others have not been developed as yet. In the Gulf of Carpentaria, usually with an officer of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation on board, again at private expense - but he was always welcome - a vast general survey of almost the entire Gulf was made for many species of sea food. The area surveyed ranged from Thursday Island in the north to Karumba in the south-east, to Groote Eylandt in the south-west and Gove Peninsula in the north-west. In addition to this, the central areas of the Gulf were also surveyed for other species.
As almost any fishermen on the eastern coast of Australia will know, at that stage it was almost impossible to interest any body in investing large sums of risk or venture money in the fishing industry. Of course, now the picture has changed. It usually does when the risk disappears. Eventually the South Seas Fishing Company Pty Ltd was formed with 51% Australian capital and 49% Japanese capital. I state quite clearly that I am proud to be a shareholder of that company. The finan cial content of this company can be changed only by an increase in the Australian percentage, so that at all times the Australian concent must be greater than the other.
The Board comprises four Australians and four Japanese. The Managing Director is an Australian and the Chairman of the Board, who is also an Australian, has the casting vote. So that not only financially but also administratively this company is under Australian control.
The company bought a Japanese tuna ship and installed first-class refrigeration and processing equipment on board. It did this because there was no equivalent available in Australia. If necessary, this ship can be used later in the tuna surveys after the phasing out of the mother ships which I am quite sure will take place. It was brought up to AA1 specifications with Lloyd’s of London, and insured with them. As honourable senators will agree, this is world-wide standard.
This company which, as I have said, is Australian controlled, undertook to do a survey of northern New Guinea and surrounding waters. The survey was conducted over many months, always with an officer of the Department of Fisheries of the Administration on board, at the company’s request, and kept by it. Full detailed reports of our activities were furnished to the Department. The company then chartered Australian built and owned trawlers for its survey. Those chartered trawlers were manned by Australians and undertook to carry .two indigenous persons each for training in net making, general fishing practices and mechanical work. Again, full reports were furnished to the relevant department as to their progress. The mother ship, as we call it, is crewed by thirteen Japanese, all highly trained and specially selected for this enterprise, together with eighteen indigenes, again being trained in methods of processing and packing for export. The supervisor of the survey, one of the thirteen Japanese, is a graduate in marine biology. He has helped to locate and develop various fields of seafood throughout the world and, from the information available to me, conducted schools of marine life research and development in Canada, United States of America and France at the request of the various governments.
This fleet did not discover in northern New Guinea economic quantities of fish and other marine life which it was equipped to catch, but further surveys will be conducted for other species with different ships and different equipment in this area. The fleet then moved into international waters between Thursday Island and Weipa. Here it discovered new fields of prawns and the vessels have reported their catches and activities in compliance with the regulations. In fact, they have done more than was required of them under the regulations. The indigenous persons on board are there because, the company, being registered in Port Moresby, was requested by the Administration to employ and teach these people. They are paid award rates and are kept by the company. On completion of training, they are returned to the Territory and work there in opposition to the company which trained them. What could be more generous, or more agreeable to both sides?
Questions have been asked both here and in another place regarding health and hygiene in relation to this company. I advise those who are curious that every person on board every boat has the necessary Commonwealth health clearance. Hygiene and customs standards, which are examined regularly, have at all times been found to bc satisfactory. The man referred to in another place recently as a Japanese smallpox suspect was in fact a native of Papua with a salt water allergy. In relation to Customs, the company pays all customs fees in accordance with the laws of the country. Every trawler has a State and Commonwealth licence and fulfills requirements. In relation to taxation I would advise that every cent earned by the employees of the company is taxed in conformity with the law. That is, the Japanese and indigenes and the Australians engaged are subject to the same regulations as are any other Australians. I might add that the only money expatriated to Japan so far has been for the maintenance of families of Japanese technicians. This money is paid after tax has been deducted from the wages of these Japanese.
As to the benefits to the Territory and to Australia, I would say that the Territory benefits financially to this extent: 2i% of the value of the gross catch is paid to the Administration by way of a licence fee. In addition to this, 40% of the profit after tax has been deducted must be reinvested in the Territory. 1 would also go further and state that 80% of all f.o.b. revenue remains in Australia or the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. All oil fuel products and distillate are purchased in Queensland or the Territory, and believe me this represents no small sum. The countries to which we have sold - it is rather important, I think, to make this clear - have paid us in United States dollars and this is a further boost to overseas balances. As to the Australian reaction regarding this company, I would say that the trawler men of Queensland have repeatedly asked could they join the operation. The Secretary of the Professional Fishermen’s Association of Queensland has personally directed boats to us and advised men to obtain employment with us. The only criticism that has been received, as far as 1 can see, has been from a processing firm, because it fears that this company, the one of which I am a shareholder, would affect its operations.
– What wage docs it pay to the Japanese?
– As I say, this company of which I am a shareholder has on numerous occasions asked the other company to define an area which it wants reserved for its operations but we have never had a reply. Meanwhile, our company has issued instructions that our fleet must not operate within 100 miles of what we would expect to be a reasonable reserve for the other company. The manager of this other company requested that he go aboard our mother ship and inspect our operations and 1 will say here that he was welcomed and given every assistance and all of his questions were answered very willingly. As to the opinions of fishermen generally, I should like to quote a passage from a letter written recently by a fisherman who has been operating with the company. It slates:
I would point out that the last three months’ operations in which I have been engaged with the South Sea Fishing Co. Ply Ltd have been amongst the most satisfactory from an operational point of view and certainly from a financial point of view that I have enjoyed in the prawning industry, with which I have been associated for approximately 20 years.
I should like to refer also to a second statement that was made to me last week by a fisherman who was one of the founders of this industry in Queensland and who went aboard and inspected the set-up. He said that in his opinion this set-up was 4 years ahead of any other set-up that he had seen in his travels all over Australia.
– What wage does the company pay to the Japanese?
– As to future operations, I would state that the intentions are briefly these: The company is designed to cater for overseas markets in Spain, Germany, Italy, France, Britain, the United States and Japan. It is therefore complementary to and definitely not in competition with local Australian trawler men. It does not sell on their market. This will be of overall advantage to individual trawler men and the fishing industry in Australia and the Territory as a whole. It is intended that the mother ship stage will be phased out with the installation of shore based treatment and processing plants manned by Australians, possibly including Aboriginals, who will all be paid Australian award wages, under the guidance of possibly two or three highly qualified Japanese technicians, whose expertise cannot be questioned when one reads the reports on samples of the packages already sent to various long established overseas marketing firms. Australian built and manned refrigerated carrying ships will carry the catch back to the shore installation and so leave the catching fleet on the ground. This will be of help to the ship building industry, as these refrigerated carrying ships wil have to be built in Australia.
This company also intends, where it can be proven economical, to establish canneries and possibly fish meal flour and fish meal fertiliser factories ashore. Surveys of this kind in areas where no suitable shore facilities exist, with the expertise and assistance of a limited number of Japanese who are probably the fishing experts of the world today, followed by the establishment of Australian manned shore installations will go far towards the expansion, stabilisation and control of our fishing areas and the industry generally, and consequently will increase to a great extent our overseas balances and help to create employment and bring about decentralisation. No criticism can logically be thrown at the company of which I am a shareholder. I only hope that I have completely squashed the veiled inferences of malpractices drawn by misinformed persons who could have had this information quite simply by asking me, so saving themselves the tedious struggles that they have undertaken. I am proud to help in the development of this industry and any other industry, and in the development of this country, particularly when this safeguards Australian participation and control.
As to the Bill in general, I would say that the principles are sound, lt has obviously taken a great deal of study to draft a Bill in such detail. If the safeguards suggested in the Bill are implemented the fishing industry in Australia will benefit and grow immeasurably. I commend the Bill.
– I want to say a few words on the Bill to amend the Fisheries Act 1952-1966. As has been explained, the prime purpose of it is to extend fishing rights in the waters around the Australian coast from an area within 3 miles of the coast to an area within .12 miles of the coast. I am very surprised at the attitude of our friend, Senator Heatley, to this. I did not know that he felt guilty about it at all. It is true that questions have been asked in this place and in another place regarding the establishment of this company. My prime interest in this, of course, came some considerable time ago when 1 was told about a vessel known as the ‘Papuan Prince’ which was operating in these waters. I did not have an opportunity actually to see the vessel until I paid a visit to Thursday Island some little time ago. It is surprising that Senator Heatley came in today with a prepared statement. It looks as though Government supporters are getting themselves into deep water in a lot of places. So he came in with this lengthy, prepared statement apologising for his activity in this particular company. Might I say that some of the statements made by him are inconsistent with the replies delivered to this chamber by the Minister representing the Minister for Territories (Mr Barnes). I propose to point these out.
In Hansard of 18th October last at page 1340 the Minister for Territories through the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton), who represents the Minister for Territories in the Senate, supplied an answer to question no. 327 that I had asked. My question was:
I might say that Senator Heatley said a few moments ago that this information could have been obtained by asking him. If the honourable senator had nothing to hide, why did he not get up and te/1 the people who were asking the questions at that point of time?
– Ask me, not the Minister.
– It was obvious that there was a finger in a dirty fishy pie at some stage of the game. The Minister supplied the following answers:
I suppose the waters off the north coast of Queensland are waters of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. However, I do not think that that was very well explained by the honourable senator. The answer continues:
The first year’s operations were to be exploratory in nature using a factory ship - the ‘Papuan Prince’ - with a predominantly Japanese crew.
Now, the honourable senator tells us that the crew is predominantly an indigenous crew. In fact, he quoted the numbers from the long prepared statement. No doubt his legal advisers prepared it for him. The statement that he gave to the Senate was that the crew comprised 13 Japanese and 18 indigenes. I interjected twice seeking to find out what wages these people were being paid. I will tell you the answer to that question, Mr President. They are not being paid the award wages. Neither the Japanese nor the indigenes are being paid award wages. I challenge Senator Heatley to get up and say what they are being paid. They are nol being paid the award wages. They are being paid starvation wages.
– Mr President, I rise to a point of order. I must answer that allegation. The wages laid down for the indigenes-
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin - -Order! This is not a subject for a point of order.
– Mr President, I claim to have been misrepresented.
– The honourable senator may make his explanation at the end of this speech.
– I will not continue on that line because it is obvious that Senator Heatley is on very thin ice. May I proceed, Mr President, with the balance of information contained in the reply to my question? The answer continues:
Detailed proposals for the development of the operation, in the light of the exploratory operation, are to be submitted to the Minister for Territories within 12 months from the beginning of the exploratory operation in May 1967. The original proposals submitted by the company envisaged a substantial employment of indigenous personnel by the company in any extension of operations beyond the exploratory stage.
Rumours were flying around here yesterday that some Queensland member had certain information which he proposed to use to the disadvantage of the Government in the forthcoming Senate elections. I want to say that it is obvious that that member of the Opposition was apparently the only person who was in possession of that information. I was not in possession of it. I did not know what the reply to the question would be. I did not have a clue-
– That is nothing new.
– . . . apart from a faint suspicion that Senator Heatley was a shareholder in this company. I do not think, Mr Minister, that that was a very funny interjection.
– Well, I do. I enjoyed it.
– If it was meant to be funny, it did not go over very well. In fact - I do not talk out of the club when I say this - we did have a couple of friendly words last night. It was obvious that I did not have the information. If Senator Heatley is so aggrieved at this point of time and if he knew that these questions were being asked, why did he not come clean? Why did he not come clean to the people who were asking the questions and say: Yes, I am a shareholder in this company’. Why did he not supply the information?
– Why should he?
– There was no need to hide it. There was no need to wait while we went through the tortuous method of extracting information from the Minister on this matter. If the honourable senator had nothing to hide, he could have come out and told us at the time. I think that this part of the question given earlier today should be recorded too. The question I asked and to which I received an answer today was:
The reply was given by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Minister for Education and Science. The answer was:
Perhaps Senator Heatley might be able to correct me on my pronunciation of some of these Japanese names because I am not very familiar with them:
Nihon Kinkai Hogei Ltd, Michael Csolle, John McKillop Stewart-Moore, William Heatley, Charles Ernest Wood, Joan Stewart-Moore, Alexander Bruce Black.
The honourable senator tells us that the Australian content of the capital in this company is 51% and Japanese capital is 49%. Then in his prepared statement he gave us the details of the ship, where it was built, what it was previously used for and so on. He spoke about hygiene on that ship being up to standard. According to my information from people in the area engaged in the industry - and I believe it to be completely reliable - the hygiene on this vessel is not up to standard.
– Who is the honourable senator’s informant?
– It is not Senator Cormack’s vessel. When he buys a shipping vessel and runs it in a similar manner to the way in which Senator Heatley’s company runs its vessel, I will let the honourable senator know. Senator Heatley said that he was criticised by a processing firm. The processing firm is not the only commercial organisation that is critical of the operations of this vessel. Senator Heatley said that at some time in the future his company will have a shore based treatment plant. I would like to know where this plant is to be built. Is the honourable senator to have this treatment plant in an area where there will be sufficient water for treating in an hygienic manner the products that will be brought to shore? Does the honourable senator think that his plant will be able to stand up to the scrutiny, as it ought to be able to do, of the Department of Health and comply with Australian health conditions? No doubt more Japanese capital will be involved in this plant.
The honourable senator has said that he hopes that his speech will squash the rumours flying around about this particular company. I venture to say that his speech has not squashed these rumours but that it has created a whole new set of suspicions. Is it any wonder that amendments are required to the Fisheries Act if this is the way in which some of the people operating in the industry propose to carry on their affairs? I pose this question: Why did the Minister for Territories supply a written reply on 18th October 1967 saying that the crew of the ‘Papuan Prince’ was predominantly indigenous? Why is there this difference between the reply given by the Minister and the speech made by Senator Heatley? I feel that this question could have been properly answered in the first place. Either that is the case, or the representative in the Senate of the South Sea Fishing Company Pty Ltd apparently did not give the Minister the right information.
May I make this final observation: The fishing industry in Queensland is virtually unexplored. In fact Queensland is the only State in Australia where a proper survey of the fishing industry has not been carried out. I think that Senator Heatley would be the first to admit this fact. I have heard him say this in the Senate on a number of occasions. I agree that the fishing industry ought to be developed. But if it is to be developed, it should be developed as an Australian industry. We had the incident only a few days ago of Formosans from a fishing vessel landing at Green Island. What the Senate probably does not know or what senators from southern States do not know is that this is quite a frequent occurrence along the far northern coastline of Australia, and particularly in relation to Queensland. Japanese, Formosan and other fishing vessels come inside the reef, come into shore and pick up water supplies and what.haveyou. We know of their depredations in years gone by in regard to the local Aboriginal population. 1 atn not saying that such things are happening now, but the opportunity still exists.
Quite recently we were discussing the introduction of patrol boats and I asked for one to be based in the far north of Queensland. The Minister concerned would not commit himself, although he did say that one would be based in New Guinea. If we had fast, properly crewed naval patrol boats operating in this area, they would be able to police the regulations to some degree. If such boats could operate in this way, they would be playing at least a semiprofitable role. But I have no doubt that the Government will not take heed of this suggestion. If patrol boats had been in operation, the ‘Papuan Prince’ may not have been able to come into Queensland coastal waters; it may have had to remain in New Guinea waters or perhaps in waters away from the island of New Guinea. 1 think that we have been given wrong information. I think that this vessel is operating in most suspicious circumstances. If Senator Heatley believes that he can pay the starvation wages that are payable to the indigenes in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, then he and everybody else who is associated with the company concerned ought to’ be ashamed of themselves, because they are entering the Australian fishing industry under false pretences and are adopting slave labour conditions. I hope that the legislation will be amended in the future to ensure that such conditions do not exist.
– I wish to make a persona] explanation. I have been misrepresented on two counts. First, the indigenes are not paid starvation wages. They are paid in compliance with the awards laid down by the Papua and New Guinea Administration. Indeed, over-award rates are being paid. Secondly, I have disagreed with the answer published in Hansard. The figures I gave this afternoon mentioned 13 Japanese and 18 indigenous people. They were the relevant figures as at 4 o’clock this afternoon. When the Minister provided his answer the respective numbers could have been 13 and 12, because the numbers vary from day to day.
– When listening to Senator Keeffe I was reminded of an old fashioned weapon known as a canister. It was a tin filled with rusty bolts, pieces of iron, sticks and stones, which one tried to burst over the head of one’s opponent. 1 was impressed by Senator Heatley when he spoke earlier. If my recollection is correct, Senator Heatley said: T rise to disclose my interest in the best parliamentary traditions’. But Senator Keeffe has not disclosed his interest at all. In whose interest was Senator Keeffe arguing?
– I am arguing in accordance with the best Australian traditions.
– We would like to know in whose interest the honourable senator is arguing. Senator Keeffe made scandalous imputations. He has indicated in the clearest and most positive terms that he is not prepared to disclose his interest in the matter. He is representing some interest, but I repeat that he is not prepared to disclose it to the Senate. To his disgrace he has used a piece of debased partisanship in an attempt to affect the outcome of the Senate election in Queensland. If Senator Keeffe had a proper interest in the matter, he could have asked Senator Heatley at any time what Senator Heatley’s interests were. I have been assured by Senator Heatley that at no time has Senator Keeffe approached him and asked him for any of the information that he has disclosed to the Senate this afternoon. In other words. Senator Keeffe has sought to use his current position in the Parliament to attack another senator in the most devious, roundabout and underhand method. I have risen to reject, in the interests of the Senate, the unqualified statements that we have heard from Senator Keeffe this afternoon and to acknowledge the integrity of the honourable senator who has been laid under attack.
– I have prepared some notes as the basis of the speech that I want to deliver this afternoon. Before referring to those notes I want to remind honourable senators that I have asked questions in this chamber about prawning operations in the north. I have done so because I have been interested in the possibility of prawning ever since I became a Minister in the Queensland Parliament. In 1960-61 I encouraged investigations into the potential for prawning in the Gulf of Carpentaria, and I have maintained that interest. It was because of this interest that I visited the area in the middle of this year and subsequently asked certain question in this place. This fact is known and accepted by many of my colleagues. When 1 spoke on this subject during the Budget debate I literally had no knowledge that Senator Heatley was engaged in this industry. I did not ask those questions in any attempt to denigrate Senator Heatley but simply because I wanted certain information. Rather than be misunderstood, I took pains to make it known to Senator Heatley that I had been unaware of his interest.
Since then he and 1 have had talks about the matter. I think I can safely say that he accepts unreservedly my assurance that originally I had no knowledge of his interest in the matter. I have been particularly interested in what the honourable senator has told us today. I think that the Bill scarcely touches upon his operations. I have no hesitation in saying that to my knowledge not one word that has been uttered by Senator Heatley today is contrary to fact. Probably I know more about the industry than most other honourable senators, and as far as I know what he said today was a clear statement of fact. That is good enough for me.
I want to approach this Bill quite apart from any personal considerations and any personalities, and I hope that my contribution to the debate will be of some benefit to the industry. But let it be clearly understood that at no time have I tried to denigrate Senator Heatley or the company in question, or indeed anybody else. As long as they operate within the law, that is all I ask. The statement that has been made so openly here today discloses no evidence of any operations contrary to the law. Licences exist, and that is all I am interested in. I am interested in the Bill because I think it contains some very good provisions. Firstly, it seeks to exclude anyone who has not a licence from operating around the Queensland coast within a 12-mile limit. That is a great improvement on the previous situation. As I understand it, Australian ter ritorial waters extended for only 3 miles from the low water mark. I think that is correct. I have tried to obtain proof. I have read all the documents on the subject that I could find but I have been unable to locate any proof that the limit was 3 miles, even in the Convention, a copy of which I have here. It contains no reference to a 3-mile limit. I welcome this legislation for the second reason that at last we have specified in our legislation a mileage limit to our territorial waters.
I also welcome the Bill because it is an effort to protect an industry which will become very shortly, I believe, a multimillion dollar industry. I was interested to hear the figures cited by Senator McClelland. He said that our net imports of fish last year totalled $30m. I believe that Australia will be able to export, from the catch in the Gulf of Carpentaria waters alone, leaving aside the rest of the Australian coastline, fish to a value greatly exceeding the value of our present imports of fish. The proceeds from the exports of fish caught in the Gulf of Carpentaria area will help to balance our overseas trade deficit. In respect of fish only, I am sure that we will establish an overseas credit balance.
I have given three reasons why 1 strongly support this legislation. I think we should now consider for a few minutes where we are to go from here. We have a huge coastline. Under this legislation it will be illegal for an unlicensed foreign fishing boat to approach within 12 miles of our coast for fishing purposes. It will be illegal for it to fish or operate within that limit. But there is no magic formula in a piece of legislation. I have asked myself bow we are to enforce this law and I think that is a valid question. What is the good of introducing legislation Lf we take no measures to enforce it? I think that is a valid point to raise.
I was interested in the debate in another place on this legislation. The honourable member for Perth (Mr Chaney) and the honourable member for Gwyder (Mr Ian Allan) both referred to this problem and both strongly advocated the use of fast patrol boats. I believe that unless the Commonwealth Government goes further than introducing this Bill by establishing bases for fast patrol boats at many places around our northern, coastline it may seem good on paper but will not help at all. It is a Utopian dream to hope that because we are passing this legislation, foreign governments will take positive action to stop unlicensed foreign fishing vessels entering our declared waters. Even if they sincerely tried to do so, I doubt very much that they would succeed. The example of a Chinese fishing boat coming to Green Island has been referred to two or three times. The law provides distinctly and definitely that it was illegal for that boat to come to Green Island. That law has been in existence for a long time. That is just one example. Many others could be referred to and I dare say there are many instances of which we are not aware. Unless we institute strong methods to police this measure it may not be worth any more than the paper it is printed on. If it is properly policed, it could bc very valuable.
Some people may ask whether it is worthwhile to attempt to police such a long coastline. I say it is worthwhile because of the value of the industry. As I have said before, it could be worth at least $50m a year and possibly much more, from the catch in the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria alone. For that reason I think it is worth expending a reasonable sum to police this legislation thoroughly. I have other reasons for thinking it is worthwhile. Senator Heatley spoke of his hope that the company in which he is interested will establish shore bases. He had told me that prior to his speech today. I hope that comes about because I am very keen to see established shore based installations for the treatment of the prawns that are taken. These installations could be established in isolated areas.
I am afraid that my comments are related almost entirely to northern Australia because that is the area with which I am most familiar. 1 believe it is almost certain that shore based installations in the northern parts of Queensland and the Northern Territory will employ a large number of people, even to numbers running into four figures. That would be a good industry in a settled area. How much more valuable will it be in an isolated area which we are trying to have more closely settled? That is another reason why I think it is worthwhile to police this legislation and protect the industry. 1 have two other reasons which 1 think are just as important, from a different point of view. In Australia we fear the introduction of foot and mouth disease. This disease has been known to exist in certain eastern countries. I do not know whether it still exists there, but I fear that persons from those countries may land with impunity on isolated areas of our coastline where cattle graze and could bring in this dreadful disease.
Providing we apply the disciplinary powers that are given to us in this Bill the fishing industry in the north can be of national benefit. I have in my mind other reasons why we should employ fast patrol boats around our coastline but they may not come within the ambit of this Bill. One matter that occurs to me is that it would be extremely easy for our narcotics laws to be broken by fishermen from the East where narcotics are manufactured. They could establish an agent at an isolated part of our coastline and when coming here to fish could trade in narcotics. They could thus earn a huge income apart from the proceeds of fishing. If this legislation is properly policed we will be making not only a major contribution to aid the fishing industry but will also be helping nationally in the other ways to which I have referred.
When I first read this Bill I thought that it could be strengthened by certain amendments and when we reach the Committee stage I will refer as briefly as I can to amendments which 1 think would be desirable. I must thank the officers of the Department of Primary Industry and of the Attorney-General’s Department for spending quite a number of hours with me showing me that what. I had in mind could be covered more adequately by another method. I confess that I took some convincing but I know they are dedicated officers and that they know more about the law than I do so I have withdrawn the proposals I had intended to advance. However, I believe that further action, whether it bc action taken diplomatically or by another Department, still must bc taken. I say that it must be taken because 1 want to see, additional and ancillary to this legislation, other legislation which will close our ports to foreign fishing vessels unless they have a licence, thus preventing them coming in to pick up food, fuel and so on. I believe that will strengthen the legislation we are now considering. I will refer to that a little more fully possibly in the Committee stage.
I had intended raising other matters, but in view of the time and the stage of the sessional period I will reserve further comments until we reach the Committee stage. However, I. want to comment on the answer that was given to me by the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) in another place in relation to the fishing vessel which called at Green Island. 1 make the point that that particular vessel is one we know of; there are many that we do not know of. This vessel called at Green Island and from 4 to 6 days passed before a health officer visited Green Island and inspected the fishermen. He found that they were free from disease. Suppose they had not been free from disease. They could have been on Green Island which people visit day by day from Cairns and they would have had up to 6 days in which to transmit a disease. That, I think, is a very important thing to remember. That kind of thing could not happen so easily if the Australian coastline, particularly along Queensland, were patrolled adequately.
I am sorry that a Bill such as this which is most important for Australia - I. think even more important for Queensland, Western Australia, and perhaps New South Wales, than for the other States - and which be of such benefit has become one in relation to which a personal element has arisen. Senator Heatley has made a very frank statement and 1 make the plea that from here on personal aspects should not be permitted to enter into consideration of legislation such as this which is so vital to Australia.
Senator LAWRIE (Queensland) 1.5.15]- I want to say a few words in support of this Bill because it is very important to the Slate I represent. I want to emphasise one of the principal facets of the Bill which extends the limit of our jurisdiction from 3 miles to 12 miles, and to point to some of the implications of that change so far as it affects the Queensland coast and the islands and reefs off the coast. As I understand it, the 12 miles will now be measured from each and every island and reef off the Queensland coast, so it extends our territorial waters to a considerable degree. 1 shall mention briefly also the continental shelf which we were discussing in relation to the petroleum legislation because I believe that it is the thin end of the wedge in imposing fishing controls further from the coast.
I refer now to the boat which was seen off Green Island allegedly fishing and taking shell. I asked a question about it the other day. That vessel must have been in what now will be our territorial waters. I agree with other honourable senators, particularly Senator Morris, that these waters will have to be policed. We will need to have more patrol boats in the area if we are to stop these boats poaching the harvest from our own seas. That rightly belongs to us.
– Evans Deakin is building plenty of them now.
– That is good. Some time ago I was on the reef 60 miles from the Whitsunday Passage which, according to the quotation I cited the other day, is still in Queensland. On that occasion the mother ship was not in sight but there were numerous small boats around the reef, obviously fishing or getting some kind of shell. Those boat’s were not Australian. When the customs officer went to the boat off Green Island the other day he found only four men on board out of a crew of twenty. The others, including the skipper, were away in small boats either fishing or searching for fish or whatever they were collecting. On that occasion the vessel was 9 miles from Green Island. If this Bill had been law it would have been within our territorial waters.
Let me refer to a fisheries survey which was made in the waters around Torres Stait, the Gulf of Carpentaria and the far north of Queensland. I believe that a far more comprehensive survey should be made of that area. I have been told by people who trade there that there is much more tuna in the area than we imagine. The skipper of the ‘Trader Horn’ which is based on Thursday Island told me that he saw enormous quantities of tuna on the Gulf of Carpentaria side of the Peninsula.
I was recently in Pago Pago in American Samoa where there are three canning factories, two of which handle fish. I saw forty Japanese fishing boats in the harbour. I was told that they were only part of the fleet which normally visited the island. On making further inquiries as to how far these boats ranged I was told that they fished extensively in our waters, particularly off the Queensland coast, and were taking the harvest of the sea around Australia as far away as American Samoa to can it. It is absolutely essential that we construct another cannery suitable for canning fish somewhere in the northern part of Australia where this rich harvest, which will become even richer in the future, can be used for the Australian people. We should not allow people from overseas to continue to poach our fish without let or hindrance. I hope that at a very early date the Australian Government will institute a system of patrols to police these boats, check the licences of the operators and ensure that they are operating within the terms of this legislation. I. support the Bill.
– 1 should like to express my appreciation of the attitude taken by the Opposition in not opposing this Bill. The Opposition recognises, as it frequently does in matters involving Australia’s interests, that it should assist the Government to pass measures which will benefit all Australians. Other than to mention some points raised by Senator Morris and Senator Lawrie, I need not say much about the second reading debate. In connection with protecting the12-mile limit, the point was made that it is not much use in having legislation unless it is possible to ensure that it. is adhered to. The Government intends to do this. If we find that there are countries or individuals carrying out illegal fishing within the 12-mile limit, patrol operations will be undertaken and action taken. Up to October, some twentytwo countries had done what we are now doing, that is. claiming the 12-mile limit.
Senator Morris referred to the spread of disease. We have active health authorities and quarantine provisions are regarded seriously in view of their importance to Australia as a primary producing country. Our quarantine officers are most alert also. 1 noticed that the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) was in the chamber when Senator Morris referred to this matter. I think the Department of Customs and Excise has a meritorious record in respect of detection of smuggling, particularly the smuggling of narcotics. I am sure the authorities will be fully alive to the danger of narcotics and other items coming into Australia, about which Senator Morris issued some warning. With those few remarks I ask for a speedy passage of the Bill through Committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Commencement).
– Clause 2 states:
This Act shall come into operation on a date to be fixed by Proclamation.
Honourable senators know that an Act sometimes comes into operation on the day it receives the Royal Assent. This course is not uncommon.I ask the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) to give me some indication, if possible, of when it is intended to proclaim this Bill.
– The reasons for the Bill coming into force on a date to be proclaimed are as follows: Firstly, to permit foreign governments to warn their vessels of the establishment of the declared fishing zone. The precise time for proclamation could be determined and included in the warning, or the proclamation could specify in advance the date on which the Act will come into force. Secondly, this will permit the promulgation of any regulations necessary in connection with licensing of foreign boats and Australian processing boats. It will be possible to proclaim the Bill piecemeal as progress is made in regard to those two matters.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 -
Section 4 of the Principal Act is amended -
by omitting the definition of’ Territory’ and inserting in itsstead the following definitions: “Territory” means Territory of the Commonwealth and includes the Territory of Nauru; “the declared fishing zone” means -
the waters adjacent to Australia and having us their inner limits the baselines by reference to whichthe territorial limits of Australia are defined for the purposes of international law and as their outer limits lines seaward from those inner limits every point on each of which is distant twelve international nautical miles from the point on one of those baselines that is nearest to the first-mentioned point; and
the waters adjacent to each Territory not forming part of the Commonwealth and having as their inner limits the baselines by reference to which the territorial limits of that Territory are defined for the purposes of international law and as their outer limits lines seaward from those inner limits every point on each of which is distant twelve international nautical miles from the point on one of those baselines that is nearest to the first-mentioned point, but does not include any waters that are not proclaimed waters;’.
– I move:
In paragraph (c), after paragraph (b) of the definition of ‘the declared fishing zone’, add the following paragraph:
all areas of Australian internal waters as defined for the purposes of international law embracing those bays which have been, or are now, claimed as historic bays including the Gulf of Carpentaria, St Vincent’s Gulf, Spencer Gulf, Exmouth Gulf and Van Diemen’s Gulf,’.
This amendment is in the same terms as the amendment moved by the Opposition in another place. The remarks made today by honourable senators on both sides of the chamber about the exploitation of Australia’s internal waters by foreign vessels, particularly Japanese vessels, show how essential it is for us to have some Commonwealth or State jurisdiction over our internal waters. One immediate example that comes to mind is the matter raised at question time in the Senate earlier this week by Senator Lawrie, of Queensland, and and which was referred to today by Senator Morris, also from Queensland, in his second reading speech on this Bill. I refer to the landing on Green Island of people who were working on a foreign ship. Those people were operating within territorial limits. I understand that they were operating for about 10 days in our internal waters.
– No, not internal waters; they were operating in territorial waters. There is a big difference.
– I realise that these activities do take place and that these people do come onto Australian soil. If this is happening in that area it could possibly happen in our internal waters. We should not condone the operations of foreign ships which enter the 3-mile limit, and the landing of crews on Australian soil without compliance with our health regulations. It is quite clear that something should be done about this. It is a very serious matter. What is intended by the amendment is that an Australian Government, State or Federal, should have exclusive control over fishing in Australian internal waters, particularly in the northern waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria and in the vicinity of the Great Barrier Reef. The Opposition believes that the amendment I have moved on its behalf will put more teeth into the Bill and will further protect the Australian fishing industry and the Australian resources.
– Whilst I want to do everything possible to protect our fishing waters, I submit that this amendment can do nothing to help in that regard. J do not have a copy of the amendment but 1 presume it is the same as that moved in the other place.
– It is.
– If so, it refers to internal waters and these have nothing to do with territorial waters. Internal waters include waters that are part of a bay or a deep indentation in our coastline and which come within the territorial sea baseline. It is possible to declare certain places internal waters. If we refer to the statement that was made by the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) some time prior to the introduction of this Bill we will see that some of the gulfs mentioned in the amendment have already been declared internal waters. For example, St Vincent Gulf, Spencer Gulf and Shark Bay have been declared internal waters. We cannot of our own volition declare the Gulf of Carpentaria internal waters because we have to abide by the Geneva Convention of 1958 under which a formula for declaring areas internal waters is laid down. That formula has to be followed. Therefore it would be outside our power to take such action in regard to the Gulf of Carpentaria. At least, that is the advice that I have been given by officers of the Attorney-General’s Department.
If Senator McClelland had restricted his amendment to the Gulf of Carpentaria which has not been declared either an historic bay according to the Convention or internal waters, I would have had more to say and I might have gone along with him to a degree. But I certainly cannot do that when he includes these other gulfs in his amendment. Incidentally, the Geneva Convention of 1958 has been ratified by Australia and a number of other countries including one of our greatest competitors, namely Russia. It has not been ratified by Japan, which is our worst competitor in this field. Not having a legal mind,I believe that various clauses of that Convention, particularly clauses 4 and 7 in the first section, are very ambiguous. I would hope that Australia might, by using clause 7 of the Convention, make some effort to have the Gulf of Carpentaria declared internal waters. I recognise that this would not be a watertight case by any means, but I think it is worth trying. Even if it eventually had to be decided by the International Court of Justice, at least we would have made the effort. Unfortunately it is not possible for us to declare the Gulf of Carpentaria internal waters by means of our own legislation and without the agreement of other countries. Therefore I cannot support the amendment.
– Senator Morris has explained fairly clearly the reasons why the Government is unable to accept the amendment. The point is that these gulfs are regarded as internal waters and therefore come under State law. Only outside of internal waters does the Commonwealth law come into operation. The whole purpose of this Bill is to extend the power of the Commonwealth out from the base line, seaward of internal waters, to a distance of 12 miles. It would be completely foreign to the whole purpose of the principal Act to start bringing in internal waters because they are governed by State law. St Vincent Gulf and Shark Bay are now internal waters, just as Sydney Harbour and Port Phillip Bay are internal waters. They are governed by State law. The subject of foreign vessels therefore is covered. That is the reason why the Government cannot accept the amendment. The other gulf that was mentioned was the Gulf of Carpentaria.
It is a. huge gulf and is in a different category from the others. I hope that Senator McClelland, having heard that explanation, will not press his amendment.
That the words proposed to he added (Senator McClelland’s amendment) be added.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. C. Drake-Brockman)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 (Licences and registration).
– This clause relates to licences and registration. I should like to know from the Minister whether, when a licence is issued, it is issued for a stated period of time. This is an extremely important aspect and, 1 think would be fairly simply answered.
– Licences are issued annually and they terminate on 31st December of each year.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 (Offences).
– The Minister has slated that action is going to be taken with relation to those foreign fishing vessels which come into Australian ports. Because of this, 1 have not pressed an amendment which T had intended to move to provide that, not only shall foreign vessels not enter the 12 mile limit, unless they hold a licence but also that they shall not be permitted to enter Australian ports to replenish their stores. The reason for this is very obvious, I hope, lt is that if a boat comes from an overseas country and is permitted to come into Australia to replenish its stores and offload its catch it can be a much greater menace to Australia than it would be if it were forced to go back and replenish its stores at its own base.
I shall not elaborate on the matter as I would have done if 1 had had more time. The Minister has told us that the requisite action is going to be taken to keep foreign vessels which are not licensed out of our Australian ports for these purposes and I should like him to tell me how soon this action is expected.
– Let me say. first of all, that at their meeting on 8th September last, Commonwealth and State Ministers considered this question of entry of foreign’ fishing vessels into Australian ports and reached an agreement. It is proposed, as a first step, to approach the countries whose nationals are fishing off the Australian coast and ask them to require their fishermen not to enter Australian ports except in cases of real emergency. Until we have experienced otherwise. I do not think that we have reason to believe that agreements are going to be broken. If they are broken, then the requisite action will have to be taken. We have twenty patrol vessels being built at Evans Deakin’s shipyards. I think this was mentioned when the estimates for the Department of the Navy were under discussion. Some of those vessels will be available for this purpose, but I cannot say when they will be ready.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 8 agreed to.
Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator McKellar) read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Henty) agreed to:
That the Committee approves the Statement for the year 1966-67 of Heads of Expenditure and the Amounts charged thereto pursuant to Section 36a of the Audit Aci 1901-1966.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Senator DAVIDSON (South Australia)I bring up the sixth report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
Sitting suspended from S.50 to 8 p.m.
– I present the following report: official report of Australian Parliamentary Delegation to the South West Pacific, led by Mr Phillip W. Stokes, E.O.. M.P.. from 10 June to 2 July 1967.
I seek leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection leave is granted.
– The delegation visited six countries: Fiji, New Hebrides, New Caledonia, Tonga, American Samoa and Western Samoa. It was the first visit by an Australian parliamentary delegation to that area and was very well received. Australia has a favourable trade balance with each of the countries we visited. As New Caledonia is part of the European Economic Community, our trade with that country is almost restricted to sales of coal. Australia has given economic aid of various kinds to the countries we visited, particularly through the South Pacific Commission. We found that racial problems existed in some areas and land tenure problems existed in other areas. The coconut economy is not very strong. We visited Tonga just before the coronation of the new ruler of that country and were in Western Samoa not long after that country gained its independence.
We believe that the visit should be followed by other visits so that the goodwill established can be continued.
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.
This Bill seeks the approval of Parliament to the borrowing by the Commonwealth of $US68.7m or $A61.4m from the United States Export-Import Bank and The Boeing Company to assist in the financing of jet aircraft and related equipment being purchased by Qantas Airways Limited. The money to be made available under the proposed loan agreement, the form of which is annexed to the Bill, will be used by Qantas for the purchase of ten Boeing 707-338C aircraft and related equipment, spares and services. After the delivery of these aircraft Qantas will be operating a fleet of twenty-one Boeing 707-338C’s. Five of these aircraft which are now in service were purchased with the assistance of a loan from certain United States commercial banks approved by the Loan (Airlines Equipment) Act 1966.
The general arrangements for the borrowing are similar to those approved by Parliament for other loans for Qantas and Trans-Australia Airlines in recent years. The Commonwealth will be the borrower in the first place, and the full proceeds of the loan will be made available to Qantas on terms and conditions to be determined by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) pursuant to Clause 7 of the Bill. These terms and conditions will be the same as those under which the Commonwealth itself borrows the money. As the airline will be required to meet all charges under the loan agreement, the Commonwealth will, as usual, merely assume the function of an intermediary in these arrangements.
The main lender on this occasion is the Export-Import Bank, an institution whose primary function is the financing of United States exports. The Commonwealth has previously borrowed from the Export-Import Bank on two occasions for the purchase of commercial aircraft. The first time was in 1960, when $US30m or $A27m was borrowed to help Qantas finance the purchase of three new Boeing 707 aircraft, and extensive modifications to other Boeing 707 aircraft. The second occasion was earlier this year, when $US13m or $A12m was borrowed to finance the purchase of three DC9’s for the Australian National Airlines Commission.
Australia has traditionally been a net importer of capital. It has been the Government’s continuing policy to arrange oversea finance for a large proportion of the cost of new aircraft purchased by its two airlines. In a growing economy such as ours it is inevitable that there will be a continuously increasing demand for imports of materials, capital equipment and other items which must be obtained from abroad. To assist in financing such imports, the Government believes that it should take advantage of opportunities, as they arise, to borrow overseas on reasonable terms and at acceptable rates of interest.
The proposed agreement with the Bank and Boeing follows the current pattern of agreements with the Export-Import Bank. The Bank usually requires the borrower to find 20% of the total cost of the programme for which finance is provided. The Bank then provides up to 90% of the loan and looks to the supplier to provide the other 10%. In this case, Qantas will be expected to provide $USl7m or $A15m from its own resources, out of the total programme estimated to cost $US86m, while the Bank will lend$US62m or $A55m and Boeing $US7m or $A6m.
Theloan agreement provides three methods by which Qantas can make drawings on theloan. The first of these is to obtain reimbursement in respect of amounts already paid by Qantas for items of equipment. Secondly, drawings may be made by letters of credit established with a United States commercial bank in favour of the suppliers of equipment, which would then be met by the Bank and Boeing. Thirdly, the Export-Import Bank may be asked to pay part of its share of the loan direct to Boeing when pre-delivery payments are due on items being financed under the loan. As the second and third procedures will not involve payments to the Commonwealth, which the Commonwealth as the borrower would pass on to Qantas, clause 12 has been included in the Bill so that such disbursements by the lenders will in the first place constitute borrowings by the Commonwealth, and then loans by the Commonwealth to Qantas.
The Agreement will be signed as soon as convenient after this Bill becomes law, and drawings are planned to commence when the necessary arrangements can be made. The final date for drawing is 30th June 1969 unless the parties agree to an extension. In accordance with normal banking practice in the United States, a commitment fee is to be paid on the undrawn amount of the Export-Import Bank’s portion of the loan, and this fee acrues from April 1967, when the Bank formally approved the loan. The loan is to be repaid by fourteen semi-annual instalments, the first of which is payable on 31st December 1968.
The interest rate provision, which appears in Article Hb of the Schedule to the Bill, is different from any which has appeared in previous loan agreements entered into by the Commonwealth. Under this provision the Commonwealth is required to pay interest on the amount of the loan outstanding from time to time at the minimum rate of 6% per annum. However, the ExportImport Bank has the right to sell the Commonwealth’s obligations in respect of the amounts advanced by the Bank. If the Bank finds it necessary to offer a higher yield than 6% in order to sell any part of its share of the loan, the Commonwealth is required to meet the additional interest cost involved up to a maximum rate of 7% per annum, and could also lose its rights to prepay before maturity that part of the loan which has been sold. The higher rate may include a fee of 0.5% per annum payable to the Bank for issuing its guarantee at the time it sells the obligations.
A provision of this nature is now customary in Export-Import Bank agreements for aircraft loans. The Bank has found its funds depleted by the heavy demand for aircraft loans, and sees the sales of borrowers’ obligations as a means of building up its resources for future lending. I might mention, at this stage, that Qantas will be requiring large sums in the years ahead to help it maintain a fleet that will keep the company in the forefront of international airline operators. It is therefore in the interests of Qantas and the Commonwealth for the Export-Import Bank to replenish its funds, if necessary, through sales of borrowers’ obligations, and thus be in a position to assist airline operators in financing purchases of aircraft in the coming years.
The terms outlined in the agreement are the most favourable available to the Commonwealth at the present time for the financing required by Qantas. However, the Bank is required, under the provisions of Article XI of the agreement, to consult with the Commonwealth before any sale of our obligations which would alter the rate of interest or limit our right to pre-pay the loan. We would therefore have the opportunity at that time to seek alternative forms of financing. The borrowing will be authorised under the 1967-68 programme approved for the Commonwealth at the Loan Council Meeting in June 1967 and will be additional to the Commonwealth’s approved programme of $123m for State housing purposes. The terms and conditions ot the loan have been approved by the Loan Council. This is the ninth occasion on which parliamentary approval has been sought for a borrowing by the Commonwealth in the United States on behalf of Qantas. The earlier loans provided $US168m or $A150m for the modernisation of the Qantas fleet, of which $US83m or $A74m has already been repaid. The present loan will make a further $US69m available to help in financing an important step in the modernisation of the Qantas fleet. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
– This Bill is simply an incidental measure in the Government’s programme of borrowing money overseas and financing its operations in a way that we, in general, would not approve. We think other methods should be adopted to finance transactions. However, this one is less objectionable than most because at least it is self-financing. No doubt Qantas Airways Ltd will earn sufficient to enable the debt to be repaid. There is no advantage to us at this stage in objecting to something that is merely one facet of the whole scheme of financing to which we object. This is how the Government chooses to do it. We think it should be done in another manner.
We hope that although the money is raised in this way it will be used by Qantas - I have no doubt that it will be - to the best advantage of this country. It is wonderful to see a government enterprise being so successful. We would wish that the methods of enterprise which have been demonstrated by Qantas would be used to a greater degree and that ultimately the wisdom of using those methods in the financial field would appeal to the Government. If they do not appeal to this Government they will certainly appeal to the next Government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henry) read a first time.
– I move:
This Bill seeks the approval of Parliament to the borrowing by the Commonwealth of $Can3m -$A2.5m - from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce to assist in financing the purchase of up to six Twin Otter aircraft and related equipment by the Australian National Airlines Commission. The aircraft will be used in rural and development and other feeder services in Queensland, New Guinea and Tasmania. Two of the aircraft are already in service.
As this borrowing is for a relatively small amount I do not propose to take up the time of honourable senators with a detailed explanation of the Agreement. It is quite straightforward and the general arrangements for the borrowing are similar to those approved by Parliament for other loans for Qantas Airways Ltd and Trans-Australia
Airlines in recent years. The Commonwealth will be the borrower in the first place and the full proceeds of the loan will be made available to TAA on terms and conditions to be determined by the Treasurer pursuant to clause 8 of the Bill. These terms and conditions will be the same as those under which the Commonwealth itself borrows the money. As the airline will be required to meet all charges under the loan agreement the Commonwealth will, as usual, merely assume the function of an intermediary in these arrangements.
The terms outlined in the agreement are the most favourable available to the Commonwealth at the present time for the financing required by TAA. The average interest cost of the borrowing is 6.5% per annum.In addition a commitment fee of 1/2% per annum is payable on the undrawn amount of the loan from 1st December 1967 to 3 1 st December 1968. As in all previous oversea loans the Commonwealth has undertaken that payments under the agreement will be exempt from Australian tax. This covers commitment fee, as well as repayment of principal and interest. The Loans Securities Act provides for the exemption from Australian tax of payments of principal and interest on oversea loans where the Commonwealth gives an undertaking to this effect. Clause 14 has been included in the Bill to ensure that the tax exemption clause in the agreement - Clause 4 - will be effective so far as commitment fee is concerned.
The agreement will be signed as soon as convenient after this Bill becomes law, and drawings will be made in the period 1st December 1967 to 31st December 1968. The borrowing will be authorised under the 1967-68 programme approved for the Commonwealth at the Loan Council meeting in June 1967 and will be additional to the Commonwealth’s approved programme of $123m for State housing purposes. The terms and conditions of the loan have been approved by the Loan Council.
This is the seventh occasion on which Parliamentary approval has been sought for a borrowing by the Commonwealth on behalf of TAA. The earlier loans, all arranged in the United States, provided the equivalent of $A47.7m for the expansion and modernisation of TAA’s fleet, of which the equivalent of $A20m has already been repaid. The present loan, equivalent to $A2.5m, will make a further valuable contribution in financing an important step in the modernisation of TAA’s fleet. 1 commend the Bill to honourable senators.
– We are not very happy about this Bill. It seeks to raise $2.5m for the operations of our national airlines. We think that this sum should be raised from revenue and that we should not be going overseas to borrow this comparatively minor sum from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. Why can we not raise this sum in Australia? The position reaches the point almost of indignity that the Commonwealth of Australia should have to borrow such a small sum of money from this Canadian bank. Why is this necessary? Surely this great continent and its people should be able to raise $2.5m. lt seems extraordinary that we should have to borrow such a sum for such a purpose.
The Government really has not advanced any reason why we should be doing this. I know it has been said on other occasions that the Government wishes to keep up its borrowing capacity, lt wants to be able to ensure that it will be able to borrow everywhere. 1 suppose the Government could be compared with a man with a diner’s club card: it wishes to be able to borrow money in any country. It has borrowed money from Switzerland. West Germany, the United States of America - it had dealings with the banks of lbc Morgan family over there - and France, 1 think, and now it proposes to borrow money from Canada. This seems lo be stretching things a bit. One would think that Australia ought to bc able to finance Trans-Australia Airlines, a great undertaking, to the extent of this comparatively small sum of $2.5m. Why, judging by the way that the superannuation fund for airlines pilots is rising, the Government will bc racing over to Uruguay to borrow money to pay for the superannuation for each pilot as he retires. If it is not Uruguay it will be West Germany. We might even be able to tap the resources of the Communist countries, particularly in view of the new arrangements Australia has with Romania. Surely the Communist countries are not to be left out. The Government seems to be tapping every possible source for these small sums. The Labor Party thinks that this is uncalled for. lt docs not indicate a sound financial approach to affairs, whether on the part of an individual or a nation, when one has lo run around the world trying to keep up one’s capacity to borrow.
That seems to me to be one of the strong reasons behind these measures because surely there would have been no difficulty in raising $2£m in Australia for this purpose. Surely this sum is a drop in the ocean so far as our balance of payments are concerned. But the Government is certainly scraping the bottom of the barrel when it enters into this kind of an arrangement for such a small sum. However, that is the way the Government chooses to act. I understand that its arrangements have been made to borrow this money and that some kind of commercial arrangement has been reached. As I understand it, the Government needs to complete the arrangements within the next few weeks. The Opposition will not do anything about this measure, whether it has the necessary numbers or not, and does not intend to delay its passage. But the Government should understand that we do not approve of this action; we do not.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
– by leave - Mr President, I wish to bring to the attention of the Senate the fact that a statement has been made in the House of Representatives by the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) about a proposed Commonwealth Superior Court. The statement was made some time ago. It has not been read in the Senate but it appears to me that it could be of some significance to this chamber.
– Is it provocative?
– lt is not provocative, lt is a statement about the establishment of a Commonwealth Superior Court which will fit in between the High Court of Australia and other jurisdictions. This is a matter to which 1 think this chamber might well and properly direct, its attention when a suitable occasion arises. It is possible that a suitable occasion will arise when next we meet, perhaps before legislation is presented to us. This is a matter to which we might well direct our attention, it is quite a long statement, Mr President. I do not think I need read it at this stage. I propose to table the statement and to ask that it be incorporated in Hansard. I will move that the Senate take note of the statement so that the matter will bc placed on the notice paper and so that we will be able to direct our attention to it when we next meet. The matter is of some juridical significance.
– by leave - I should like to acknowledge the initiative of the Leader of the Government in the Senate in directing our attention to this matter as being an appropriate field of interest to the Senate because this is of profound importance to Australia. I rise only to indicate that in the recent publication of speeches and opinions of the former Chief Justice, Sir Owen Dixon, in part there appear views that give ground for very fundamental thought, as to whether this proposal For a proliferation of Federal courts is sound. The matter has been the subject of very serious concern to me. 1 know that there are honourable senators on the Opposition side as well as on this side who have had the privilege of participating in jurisprudential activity and responsibility for the courts of the country. I think this is a matter for our active consideration and decision and is not to bc regarded as a mere for.mality
– by leave - I thank Hie Leader of the Government in the Senate for taking this course and indicating that he will table the statement and move that the Senate take note of the paper. I agree that this subject could fruitfully engage the attention of the Senate in that period at the beginning of a parliamentary session when legislation is not before us. This paper, and other papers, could well bc discussed then.
Senator GORTON (Victoria - Minister for Education and Science) - with the concurrence of honourable senators I now incorporate in Hansard the statement made by the Attorney-General on the proposed
Commonwealth Superior Court, lt is as follows:
On 15th March I said, in reply to a question by the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), that there was a possibility that a statement on the establishment of a new Federal court could be made before Parliament rose at the end of this sessional period. I am now in a position to inform the House that the Government has decided that a new Federal Court be established and that a Bill for that purpose be introduced. Before I give the honourable members details of the structure and jurisdiction of the court the Government has decided to establish, it is, I think, desirable that I should outline the historical background against which this step should be viewed.
The Constitution made provision for the establishment of the High Court of Australia. It was intended by the framers of the Constitution that the High Court should have the ultimate responsibility within Australia for deciding constitutional questions, that it should act as a general court of appeal from State courts and such Federal courts as might be created by the Parliament, and that it should exercise a limited original jurisdiction, lt was therefore contemplated that the High Court would interpret the Constitution and that it would ensure harmony and consistency as between the courts of all parts of the Commonwealth in decisions arising under statute and at common law. The role of the High Court in expounding the Constitution and in acting as a general appellate court has a special importance far outweighing that of the original jurisdiction which it exercises in non-constitutional matters.
The Constitution made provision for the High Court’s original jurisdiction by conferring original jurisdiction on that Court in certain matters and by empowering Parliament to invest the Court with jurisdiction in certain other matters. At the same time the Constitution provided two different means by which Federal jurisdiction might otherwise be exercised. First, it enabled Parliament to create Federal courts, other than the High Court. Secondly, it enabled Parliament to invest State courts with Federal jurisdiction. The latter expedient offered a convenient alternative to the separate system of Federal courts adopted in the United States of America, whoes
Constitution had served as a model for the Commonwealth. While Australia had a vast territory, just as did the United States pf America, it had also, unlike the United States, within that territory a small and scattered population. This problem was aggravated by the difficulties and expenses of travel and communication. Although the variety of legal problems that could be expected to arise in such circumstances was not likely to be substantially less than in the United States, the volume of litigation could not be expected initially to be great enough to require the establishment of a system of Federal courts to serve the people in all parts of the Commonwealth.
As long as the volume of Federal litigation remained relatively small, the investing of State courts with Federal jurisdiction was, therefore, a simple device which had the merit of economy and of expedition. Not the least contribution to the success of this scheme was the stature and quality of the Supreme Courts of the various States. These courts were and are the repositories of the common law in Australia and being of the highest integrity they have always enjoyed the confidence of the people of the various States. With the growth of the population of the Commonwealth there has been a corresponding growth in the volume of litigation, both State and Federal. Thus, since 1913 when the number of High Court justices was raised to its present figure of 7, the number of State Supreme Court judges has risen from 31 to 71. Most of this growth appears to have occurred since 1945 when the number of State Supreme Court judges was 37.
The growth in Federal litigation has been such as to impose an increasing burden on the High Court, The result of that growth has been that, unless the number of High Court justices is increased, there is a serious risk that the volume of work in the original jurisdiction of the High Court will inhibit the Court’s capacity to fulfil its principal role as an arbiter of constitutional questions and as the nation’s ultimate appellate court. Because of the provisions of the Constitution requiring all judges to have, in effect, life tenure, the Commonwealth, unlike the States, cannot relieve its justices on a temporary basis by the appointment of acting justices to deal with arrears or accumulations of business as they occur from time to time.
At the same time the complexity of Government has grown very considerably and the activities of the Commonwealth Government and of its agencies have correspondingly become very much greater and much more intricate than they were at the inception of the Commonwealth or than could ever have been anticipated at that time. Yet, there has been no corresponding growth in the judicial organs of the Commonwealth to keep pace with these developments. Apart from the creation of two Federal courts of limited specialised jurisdiction, namely the Commonwealth Industrial Court and the Federal Bankruptcy Court, the High Court in its original jurisdiction and the various State courts exercising Federal jurisdiction have dealt with all matters arising under the Constitution and Federal Statutes.
As these trends continue, there will be an increasing amount of Federal litigation which will overtax the existing arrangements so that they will work much less satisfactorily than they have in the past. Since 1961, a very considerable amount of work was done, first by Sir Garfield Barwick as Attorney-General, and subsequently by the present Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) when he was Attorney-General, on proposals for the establishment of a new court to relieve and forestall these pressures on the existing arrangements for the exercise of the federal jurisdiction. The work on these proposals, which was brought to an advanced stage by my immediate predecessor, involved an examination of a number of very involved technical legal problems, particularly as to the extent to which it would be constitutionally possible to make the new court an effective repository of jurisdiction in certain areas of specialised litigation.
The consideration of the proposals has led to the conclusion that, at the present time, particularly in the less populous States, the provision of an entire system of Federal courts would be uneconomic. Nevertheless, the time has come when, with the expansion in population and in litigation, the Commonwealth should now make a beginning and provide the necessary framework to deal with these developments.
The Government has, therefore, decided that a relatively small new Federal court of quality and standing be established at this stage which would attract as judges lawyers of high professional reputation. Whilst State courts will continue to exercise the bulk of Federal jurisdiction, such as matrimonial causes jurisdiction, the major function of the new Court will be intially to exercise part of the original jurisdiction of the High Court. However, it will subsequently provide a basis for a wider exercise of federal jurisdiction, if experience demonstrates that a wider jurisdiction is desirable.
It is intended that the new Court should be established at a level below that of the High Court with a status equal to that of of the Supreme Courts of the States. The present Commonwealth Industrial Court will be incorporated in the new Court as a separate Division of that Court. The Court will be known as the ‘Commonwealth Superior Court’. It will be presided over by a President. The Court will require the services of four new judges, including the judge who in the meantime will have been appointed to fill the vacancy recently created by the death of Sir Thomas Clyne. Commissions will be issued also to judges of the Industrial Court to enable them to sit in the General Division of the new Court as and when required, as well as in the Industrial Division. It is not proposed, however, to issue commissions to judges of the General Division to sit in the Industrial Division unless they have the necessary qualities required for that Division. The President of the Court will be a person qualified to sit in both the General Division and the Industrial Division of the Court and the allocation of the work of the Court will rest with him.
It is intended that, in addition to exercising part of the original jurisdiction presently exercised by the High Court, and the whole of the original jurisdiction at present exercised by the Commonwealth Industrial Court and the Federal Court of Bankruptcy, the new Court will exercise part, but only a small part, of the Federal jurisdiction which has hitherto been exercised by the Supreme Courts of the States. I have had a statement prepared, setting out the jurisdiction of the new Court, and I will incorporate it in Hansard with the concurrence of honourable members. In explanation of that statement, I point out that, although the new Court will not initially exercise a general original criminal jurisdiction, the possibility of its later assuming such jurisdiction is left open. In the meantime, its
Industrial Division will exercise the criminal summary jurisdiction of the present Commonwealth Industrial Court and the General Division of the Court will exercise the criminal jurisdiction of the present Federal Court of Bankruptcy, and a jurisdiction in respect of taxation prosecutions at present exercised by the High Court and the Supreme Courts of the States.
The Court will be peripatetic and will sit in all States and in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. It will not exercise Territory jurisdiction, which will continue to be exercised by the Supreme Courts of the Territories, although some Judges of the Commonwealth Superior Court will hold commissions as Judges of the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court and the Northern Territory Supreme Court.
Original jurisdiction, that is, all jurisdiction not exercised by way of appeal from a court of law:
Matters arising under the Constitution or involving its interpretation, or relating to the same subject matter claimed under the laws of the different States. This jurisdiction will be concurrent with that presently exercised by the High Court and the State Supreme Courts,
Appellate jurisdiction, that is, jurisdiction exercised by way of appeal from a court of law:
I lay on the table the following paper:
Proposed Commonwealth Superior Court - Ministerial statement. and move:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
– I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIlin) - As honourable senators know, Mr H. L. White retires as Parliamentary Librarian at the end of this year. This will be the last sitting of the Parliament that he will actively be associated with as Parliamentary Librarian. Mr White has had a long association with the Parliament. He was appointed to the staff of the Parliamentary Library in 1923 when the Commonwealth Parliament met in Melbourne. He came to Canberra in 1927 with the transfer of the Parliament. He was promoted through various positions in the Library and has been Parliamentary Librarian for the same time that he has been National Librarian. The National Library grew out of the Parliamentary Library. They continued to function together until just recently when the National Library was separated from the Parliamentary Library. Mr White was appointed as Parliamentary Librarian in 1947.
The main purpose of my remarks tonight is to place on record our appreciation of the valuable assistance that Mr White has given to us as Parliamentary Librarian. Recently we have seen an excellent reference section come into operation under his leadership. In the broader field, as National Librarian he is well known and recognised by people in the libraries of the world as a man of great substance and great knowledge. That is reflected in the collections that he has been instrumental in obtaining for the National Library. I have had a close association with Mr White in both libraries. He has been very earnest and very jealous of the rights of the Parliamentary Library. He has always been ready and anxious to help new members of the Parliament. All of us have very pleasant memories of him as Parliamentary Librarian. I wish to place on record the appreciation of honourable senators of the valuable work that he has done during his years as Parliamentary Librarian.
Honourable senators ; Hear, hear!
– I refer now to Mr L. C. Key, the Deputy Parliamentary Librarian, who will be retiring at the end of this year after long service. He joined the staff of the Parliamentary Library in 1925 and served in Melbourne before coming to Canberra. He has served both the Parliamentary Library and the National Library in London. He has also been of assistance to some of the Asian countries, particularly Pakistan. We all know and appreciate his earnestness, enthusiasm and readiness and willingness to help members of the Parliament during all of the time that he has served in the Parliamentary Library. He has also been associated with the reference section, of which I am very proud. I believe that the Parliament has reason to be proud of the reference section of the library. Mr White and Mr Key will leave behind a Parliamentary Library with a splendid performance and an excellent reference section. We would like Mr Key to know that his service, understanding and readiness to help have always been appreciated by honourable senators.
Honourable senators ; Hear, hear!
Sitting suspended from 8.33 to 9.5 p.m.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to obtain the approval of Parliament to an agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of Queensland concerning the provision of financial assistance to the State to enable it to assist the sugar industry in respect of the 1967 season’s No. 1 Pool sugar. Under the agreement, the Commonwealth undertakes to make available financial assistance of up to $ 15m, depending on prices realised for export sales of sugar and the State undertakes to repay the Commonwealth by 30th June 1980.
The Commonwealth agreed last year, at the request of the industry and the Queensland Government, to make a loan of almost $20m to the State to enable it to meet interest and repayment obligations in respect of advances by the Reserve Bank to the Queensland Sugar Board relating to 1966 season’s No. 1 Pool sugar. This agreement was approved in the Sugar Marketing Assistance Agreement Act 1967.
This year the industry and the Queensland Government requested a further loan from the Commonwealth because of the continuation of low world market prices for sugar. It was announced in the Budget speech that the Commonwealth Government had agreed to provide further financial assistance and provision of $10m was made in the Estimates for this purpose. It was, however, indicated that the Commonwealth would be prepared to increase this assistance up to a total amount not exceeding $15m, depending on prices realised for export sales.
The request by the industry for a loan in respect of the 1967 season’s No. 1 Pool sugar was accompanied by proposals for an increase in the domestic price of sugar and a 1 year extension of the CommonwealthQueensland Sugar Agreement. These proposals were agreed to by the State and the Commonwealth.
The further agreement between the Commonwealth and the State, for which the approval of the Parliament is now being sought, sets out the terms and conditions on which financial assistance will be provided to the State. Advance payments may be made to the State. No interest accrues up to 1st July 1970; thereafter it will accrue at the medium term bond rate. The financial assistance, together with interest, is to be repaid in ten equal annual instalments commencing on 30th June 1971. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
– This measure is designed to assist the sugar industry in Queensland which is experiencing perhaps one of its greatest economic crises. The world price for sugar has reached a very low level and the sugar growers find it impossible to realise the cost of production on their export sugar. Therefore the Commonwealth has made available assistance amounting to $15m and the State has undertaken to repay this sum by 1980.
The assistance that is to be granted to the sugar industry is made available upon terms that, perhaps, could be even more generous at a time when the industry is in great need. The terms are that no interest will accrue till July 1970, but thereafter it will accrue at the medium term bond rate. This will represent a further imposition which the Queensland Government will have to meet. It is a round about way of granting assistance at a time when the industry is faced with what is almost another disaster. To enable this industry to remain in existence, assistance of the magnitude proposed is essential. But the position is somewhat ironical. This industry has for many years enjoyed prosperity and has done much for the development of Queensland. It was the No. 1 industry in Queensland for so long that to see it in its present state is a matter of great concern to other parts of the Commonwealth.
International events, the changing of emphasis in sugar growing areas in other countries, the world surplus of sugar, and the Cuban upheaval have had a very serious effect. At the same time there was what amounted to a great blunder by the Queensland Government in allowing acreages to be increased, which led to increased sugar production while the availability of a payable market was diminishing. We propose to move some amendments in the
Committee stage. They will be explained in due course. We agree in principle with the measure. We believe that the industry is very much in need of all of the assistance that it can get but the terms of the assistance are not as generous as we would like to see at this time in the history of the industry. Subject to the amendments that we propose, we support the measure.
– 1 support the measure. As has been pointed out, the Bill is to ratify an agreement with the Queensland Government for assistance to the sugar industry. I would like to point out that more than the low world market price of sugar is involved. Some areas are still suffering from drought and the aftermath of drought and the industry is having a good deal of trouble for that reason. I rose to refer to a statement by Senator O’Byrne about an alleged blunder by the Queensland Government in increasing acreages in the light of present day circumstances. This increase in acreage and production was decided upon only after a full inquiry presided over by a judge, at which all sections of the industry gave evidence. Inquiries were made overseas and all sections of the industry and the governments concerned agreed unanimously that this course should be followed. For this reason acreages and assignments were increased.
– In what year?
– About 3 or 4 years ago.
– To what extent?
– About 50%. I could not say exactly. Things have gone a little wrong lately. When the world market comes right again the sugar industry will be able to earn more and more overseas exchange for Australia and more and more development will take place. I support the Bill. .
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– Clause 3 reads:
The agreement a copy of which is set out in the Schedule to this Act is approved.
The effect of that would be that instead of a loan on which no interest would accrue up to 1st July 1970 but thereafter would accrue at the medium term bond rate, and which would be repayable, together with interest, in ten equal annual instalments commencing on 30th June 1971, there would be a non-repayable grant of financial assistance. I think the Committee is well aware of the reason for the advance of money, and the proposition of the Opposition is that in these circumstances this ought to be a non-repayable grant.
– The Government cannot acceptt his amendment. This agreement was made with the Queensland Government after consultation with that Government and with the industry. Neither the Queensland Government nor the industry requested a non-repayable grant. The request was made in the terms of the agreement. I point out to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) that this is an appropriation Bill, one which the Senate is not able to amend. The Opposition’s proposal could go forward only as a request but neither as a request nor as an amendment would the Government be able to accept it.
– The second amendment is to the same clause.I move:
There is no need for me to expound on that, because the same considerations apply. This is intended to go half way towards the proposition that was put before.
– For the same reasons as I advanced in relation to the previous amendment I regret to tell the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) that I cannot even meet him at the halfway house.
– In view of the Minister’s last words on the previous amendment I should like to put on record the view that this is not a Bill for an appropriation for the ordinary annual services of the Government and therefore it is amendable here.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a third time.
– Mr President, this afternoon at question time I gave an answer in relation to a toy pistol. Hearing the rebroadcast of question time this evening, I gathered that a remark of mine could have been open to a misunderstanding. I then sought the Hansard proofs of my answer and read them again and I have suggested to Hansard the altering of a couple of words to make my intention clear. The facts are that the toy pistol was received into my Department late last week. My answer could be read to mean that my Department received the recommendation simultaneously. In fact that is how my answer was given. But the actual recommendation preceded the receipt of the gun by some days. I want to make that perfectly clear. The gun has been prohibited as from today.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
(Question No. 387)
asked theMinister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
In view of the high increase in the costof living announced for the September quarter, will the Minister bring down legislation before the end of this session, even if this would mean an extension of sitting days, to increase all social service payments, including aged, invalid and widow pensions?
– The Minister for Social Services has supplied the following answer:
The question asked by the honourable senator involves Government policy. Any decision to increase the rates of social service benefits will be taken and announced in the usual way.
(Question No. 427)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply:
(Question No. 426)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: t and 2. Delays have occurred in the past in the quarantine clearance of passengers on Qantas flights arriving at Perth, due to a previous procedure, under which Qantas passengers in transit were cleared before passengers disembarking at Perth. However, a new procedure has now been introduced under which all passengers, in transit or otherwise, are cleared together. This new procedure has considerably reduced the time taken for quarantine clearances of passengers disembarking at Perth. The average time for the clearance of all passenger aircraft arriving at Perth during October 1967, was less than 25 minutes.
For this reason, it is considered that no increase in the present quarantine staff at Perth airport - one medical officer and three quarantine assistants - is warranted. However, the new procedure will be kept under review and further alterations will be made if the need arises.
(Question No. 430)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply:
(Question No. 423)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
Australia, will the Minister inquire if the airline concerned reminded the Princess of Australian quarantine requirements and, if so, what was the Princess’ reaction?
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply:
(Question No. 375)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
In view of the need to ensure that action is taken to re-open the Suez Canal, will the Prime Minister indicate the attitude of the Australian Government to the settlement plans proposed by the Yugoslav Foreign Minister, Mr Nikezic?
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Government has paid close attention to all initiatives aimed at assisting a settlement in the Middle East and in particular at obtaining the re-opening of the Suez Canal. The basic problems all have their origin in the political differences between the Arab States and Israel. The test of any proposal for a solution of these differences is its acceptability to the parties themselves.
The plan suggested by the Yugoslav Government contains proposals for mutual concessions to be carried out following a withdrawal by Israel from the occupied territories. It has to date been accepted neither by Israel nor by the Arab Governments. Israel’s position is that it will not abandon the present ceasefire lines until it has received satisfactory political guarantees from the Arab States; the latter are refusing to give such guarantees or to enter into direct negotiation with Israel about the terms of settlement.
(Question No. 422)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
Is the Minister able to inform the Senate on the reported change in the attitude of the Cambodian ruler and his Government from neutralism to support of the people of South Vietnam and their allies in the current struggle to maintain their freedom against aggression from the North?
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply:
The Australian Government gives close attention to developments in Cambodian foreign policy. On the basis of Prince Sihanouk’s statements, including that to a Press conference on5th November, the Government is unable to detect any significant change in the Cambodian Government’s attitude to the Vietnam conflict or in its declared policy of neutrality.
Motion (by Senator Gorton) agreed to:
That leave of absence be granted to every member of the Senate from the termination of the sitting this day to the day on which the Senate next meets.
Motion (by Senator Gorton) agreed to:
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till a day and hour to be fixed by the President, which time of meeting shall be notified to each senator by telegram or letter.
– I move:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
This is the last occasion on which we will be meeting before Christmas. Before we meet again, a Senate election will have taken place. It is customary and, I think, proper that we should at this time in our session take occasion to pay some tribute to those who serve us so well in this House. I would put at the head of this list, you yourself, Mr President, who certainly as it appears to me have been during this session the very model of impeccable rectitude, neutrality and complete detachment from all party politics. You have fulfilled the office of
President of the Senate in a completely impartial way which I think would be recognised at any rate in the broad on all sides of the House.
I think that at this stage, without going into any detail on it, I might mention some of the changes that have taken place during the session through which we have just passed. The Minister for Supply (Senator Henty), for so long the distinguished Leader of the Government in the Senate, decided a few weeks ago not to continue to be the Leader of the Government any longer but seems still to be doing just as much work as he used to do when he was Leader here. That certainly is so at least during the last 2 or 3 days. We have had another tragic change which is still in our memory with the death virtually in this chamber of one of our colleagues, Senator Hannaford.
The very conduct of the business of this House, Mr President, depends on the cooperation and the work of a great number of people. For a start, the business of the Senate depends on the Whips on both sides of the Senate who oil the wheels of progress, as they usually do, or who occasionally, I suppose, sprag the wheels of progress in a way which one side or the other side likes at the time to do. At any rate, they work in conjunction to see that as much as can be done with speed and precision in the proper running of a House of Parliament is done in fact.
The Clerk of the Senate is here offering counsel - which is certainly needed - wisdom and energy to see that the traditions and the conduct of the Parliamentary business are carried on. To him and to his Clerks Assistant as well I pay tribute. I pay tribute also to the Usher of the Black Rod, to the Senate attendants, lo those who look after us in the dining room and to those who look after us - such of us at any rate as venture there - in the Parliamentary bar, of whom I am one but of whom we are not all ones. I pay tribute to those who run the Library and who attend to our wants to provide us with the information which is otherwise hard to get in order to keep the sinews of a House of Parliament working. J pay tribute to Hansard which presents the words which we have said in many cases better than we have said them and in some cases not so well because Hansard does not like inverted methods of talking which are sometimes better than the way in which Hansard presents those speeches. But Hansard presents the speeches in a way which, for future generations, is to be a reference book to see what has been said.
All this has operated, Mr President, during this session of the Parliament and has operated well. I look across to the benches of the members of the Opposition. I realise that it is possible - and I put it no higher than that - that next time we meet there may be some sitting on those benches who perhaps will be not returning to us after June of next year. I would regard that possibility, Mr President, quite genuinely as regrettable. But candour compels me to say that I would regard it as even more regrettable if T could not look across and see that that was in fact so. Time will tell what the result of that will be.
– Some honourable senators will be retiring so the Minister will be right.
– Some honourable senators will be retiring. That is so. That is no/ really what I had in mind.
– He means retrenchment.
– Some time ago, I was put here to endeavour to try and lead the Government in this Senate. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) indicated that he would try to make my sojourn in this position a short but merry one. I am bound to say that it was not so long ago that it started, but it does not seem so short at this point of time. It had its moments when it was not so very merry.
On the whole I think that the conduct of the House has been such as is a credit to this House of the Parliament. 1 can express only my good wishes to all on both sides of the House for the Christmas season and for re-assembling in the Senate, always with the proviso that when we do reassemble what we need is at least an equality of numbers and, if possible, a majority. This would make the new year a year of great promise and a year of great happiness. This we must seek to attain. Of course, the Leader of the Opposition may have a different view. In any case, however it works out, I hope it works as well as it has done in this last session.
– Mr President, 1 should like to join with what the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Gorton) has said about everyone. As to you, Sir, we have always respected your conduct of the Senate. We have great admiration for you. We are certain of your impartiality. We do respect you a great deal even if upon an occasion or two we have not entirely respected your rulings. But we have seen you preside over many stirring and sometimes difficult debates in the Senate. You have done so with great aplomb and with great credit to yourself in the Senate.
We mourn Senator Hannaford. We have welcomed Senator Laucke. We have seen the changes to which the Leader of the Government has referred. Fortunately Senator Henty as Minister for Supply is still with us. 1 referred to his friendly personality while he was Leader of the Government here. He still shows this warm and friendly attitude to us now. We very much appreciate it as we do appreciate the attitude which has been displayed by his successor, the new Leader of the Government in the Senate, lt takes co-operation on both sides to enable an institution to work. If sometimes the circumstances are such that things run a little raw, I think on the whole there has been a great deal of co-operation and I am very pleased to learn that the Leader of the Government has enjoyed his term of office.
– Did I say that?
– We will endeavour to make his term of office happy, short or long as it may be. We also wish to the other Ministers in the Senate and to their staffs a happy Christmas. They co-operate with us. We need their co-operation, lt is always forthcoming. The Whips, I think, have had the hardest time in this period. It seems to everyone that we have had more divisions. The Whips had more troubles in seeing that everyone was present for these divisions. I have no doubt that the institution would completely collapse but for the way the Whips not only look after their own members but also seem to handle matters between themselves so that there is never any real crisis in the divisions notwithstanding how many persons may be affected by illness or other reasons which might cause them to be absent. The Whips, I think, have the affection and the regard of everyone in this chamber.
I will not leave out of our greetings and our warm feelings for this period the other members in this chamber. I include not only the in fibers of the Liberal Party and the Country Party but also the members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party and the Independent. They all cause us trouble from time to time and they cause trouble to me in particular. But it makes life more interesting. We would not like to be without them, at least until June of next year.
– Senator McManus and I will still be here.
– That is true. We will not get rid of them then. We hope that their influence might be diminished by the other changes that might occur. However long they are here, whether it be up to June or afterwards, we are pleased when we see that they understand the national interest in the. same way as we do, and we are unhappy when they do not.
The Clerk of the Senate, Mr Odgers, has shown unfailing courtesy and wisdom, both oral and written. He is ready to pui his wisdom at the disposal of everyone in this chamber. I must say that I am greatly indebted to him for what he has done not only for myself but for other members of the Opposition, and I am sure that he has done the same for everybody else in this chamber. The Clerks Assistant, Black Rod and the record staff have gone out of their way to help. They have shown remarkable enthusiasm in seeing that the Senate is carried on in the best tradition. But for them the day to day work of the Senate could not be managed, and the better things that we do could not possibly be carried out without them.
The Library has experienced great changes. Tonight the President has told us that Mr White has left the Parliamentary Library. We wish him well in his new duties as National Librarian. We only hope that when the National Library gets working it will have as its main purpose the serving of this National Parliament so that we may better serve the people. We have had a difficult time while the National Library has been scattered around the place, and no doubt Mr White has had a similar experience. We wish him well. Mr Key will be a very great loss. I think he more than any other man wanted to see the legislative reference section working; he has been tireless in trying to build it up. He has been a teacher of men. Just as we have teachers of children, so Mr Key has acted as a teacher of parliamentarians and has tried to assist them and to draw the most out of them. His departure will be a very great loss to the Parliament. I wish him well in his retirement. I wish the other members of the Library staff well and thank them for all that they have done for us.
I also thank the staff who work in the refreshment rooms and the bar, as well as the transport officer, Wally Lee. who perhaps gets more abuse than any other man in the place.
– He always knows when we will be going home.
– As the Minister said, if anybody wants to know what is going on in this place the first man to ask is Mr Lee. We are always indebted to the Hansard staff.
– They make good speeches for us.
– They do make good speeches. They invent good speeches and they record good speeches. Very often the speeches that appear in Hansard art a credit to the Hansard staff rather than to the members under whose names they appear. We are very grateful to them and I wish them well also. Members of the staff of the Australian Broadcasting Commission are unseen but they play a great part in the transmission of the thoughts of honourable senators to the outside world. Although we do not see them as we see othe Hansard staff, we are grateful for what they do. They do more than they are required to do; they will always do personal things as well as carry out their ordinary work.
We are grateful to other people such as the switchboard operators who facilitate the work of this Parliament. We are grateful to members of the Press who suffer in silence, although sometimes they are able to express themselves and get their own back for what they have to suffer here day after day. Only occasionally is the tedium relieved by occurrences which might make them feel happy to be in the gallery. We are grateful to them not only for what they write about us but for their mere presence here. If there is no other audience in the place we can always be sure that some member of the Press will be here to listen to what we have to say.
On behalf of the Opposition I wish you, Mr President, and everybody else here a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. For me it has been a proud experience to be the Leader of the Opposition during this year and I am grateful to all those who have helped the Senate to carry out its functions extremely well and to play its part as a great House of Parliament in this nation.
– On behalf of the Australian Country Party I would like to join the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Gorton) and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) in their expressions of gratitude and goodwill. First, I should like to pay my respect and thanks to you, Mr President. At times you have to sit in the loneliest chair in this chamber. One has only to sit there to realise just how lonely it can be. I know that the Deputy President has experienced this feeling. When sitting up there, at times one feels that there are no friends at all in this place. Everybody is hanging on one’s words and there is a feeling that everybody will disagree. However, Mr President, I am sure that in your case the passage of time has brought the feeling that you do what you think is right. That is why you are receiving the expressions of appreciation that are being offered tonight.
I pay my tribute to the Whips. As to the Clerk of the Senate, I have always felt that we have been very fortunate indeed to have Mr Odgers to officiate in the position he occupies. His assistants are not only efficient but are also very likeable fellows. It is not always easy. Not always is efficiency accompanied by the likeable personalities that we have here. Reference has been made to the refreshment rooms and the bar. I have not found the bar but I am told that it is in the building.
I say a big ‘thank you’ to all the people who have been mentioned by the previous speakers. I wish to refer now to an honourable senator who unfortunately has not been with us during this sessional period. I refer to Senator Marie Breen. We are all saddened to think of the suffering and sadness that she has been faced with and I am sure we would all like to express to her our best wishes in the sadness she has endured and is enduring.
I have a special feeling for the parliamentary draftsmen. I passed a message to one of them tonight. Fortunately, I think he saw the funny side of it. I think these men do a remarkable job although understaffed and overworked. They could earn far more money outside the Parliament. Why on earth they stay to do the job here that they are called upon to do I will never know, but we are very fortunate to have them. We cannot blame the draftsmen for the spate of bills we always receive at the end of a sessional period. It has always been so and I am afraid that it always will be so.
I have friends among the Opposition. We fight rather hard but that does not mean that we cannot be friends. It is very pleasant on occasions such as this, and indeed outside the chamber, to get together as fellow mortals. After all, we are all Australians, all trying to do a good job and all proud of the fact that we are privileged to be senators. I extend my hearty good wishes for Christmas and the New Year to all in the Senate and I take this opportunity to say to the small band I have the privilege of leading here: Thank you for the job that you have done for the Australian Country Party and the Senate.
– On behalf of my colleague Senator McManus and myself I wish to join the previous speakers in their expressions of gratitude to you, Mr President, and to the Chairman and Temporary Chairmen of Committees. I express my appreciation of the manner in which you have conducted the affairs of the Senate during the past 12 months. I particularly wish to say on my own behalf that 1 am grateful for the many courtesies that you have extended to me since I have been here. I am also grateful to the Clerk of the Senate and his assistants for the ready and very efficient service they render in the conduct of the Senate. They are, in effect, the guardians of the correctness of procedure. It is to them we look for advice on what is right and wrong on any matter that we propose to put forward.
Senator Henty has retired as Leader of the Government in the Senate. Whilst I have not at all times appreciated his logic on many questions, I have appreciated his spirit of leadership and his readiness to scrap on issues. I have never objected to a good scrapper. He is a down-to-earth and grass roots politician, although perhaps he could not be classified as an outstanding statesman. Senator Murphy referred to Senator Henty’s geniality. That did not go unnoticed by me, but I was always a little suspicious when Senator Henty wore a broad smile. I felt that some dirty work was about to be done at the cross roads.
To the attendants and the others who have served us so well and faithfully I pay a tribute for the conscientious discharge of their duties. I make that reference to everybody who is in the service of the Parliament. The Parliamentary Library is a very important adjunct of Parliament. It is the reservoir of knowledge and information. I recollect very clearly that when I entered the Queensland Parliament at a very early age the Leader of the Party under whom I served pointed out to me that two corridors came from the Assembly chamber. One corridor led to the bar and the other led to the library. He said to me: ‘Young man, if you take my advice you will take the corridor that leads to the library and you might go places’. I was able to go to the library when I sought knowledge and information. When I was thirsty I followed the other corridor. We are indeed indebted to Mr White and Mr Key for the excellent service they have rendered here over a long period of years. They are both gentlemen who have carried out their work with great zeal and enthusiasm and a lot of devotion. Their major and primary aim has been to serve the members of this Parliament as Librarian and Assistant Librarian of the Parliamentary Library. It is a pity that Mr Key is not of an age to enable him to succeed Mr White so that he may have reached the top position in the Parliamentary Library. However, he can look back on an excellent record of service, not only here but in libraries in Asia and London where he was able to give to those libraries the benefit of his’ superior knowledge. Mr White continues in the National Library. I. am sure that in that, sphere he will be equally as successful as he has been here, lt is true that there may be some changes as a result of the Senate election to be held on 25th November. Scarcely has there been a battle in which there has not been a casualty or two. Of course, the greater the number of casualties amongst the Government and official Opposition ranks, the greater is the hope of increased strength in this part of the chamber. We work towards that end, believing of course that the Party I am privileged to lead has a good deal to offer. Above all, we have freedom in our speech, thoughts and deliberations and in our votes. We are free to vote as we wish and we are not required to account to anybody for decisions we make.
The Hansard reporters, of course, are an inseparable and indispensable part of the deliberations of the Parliament. They place on record all that we say. 1 suppose there are many of us who at times would hope that there was no Hansard because the record is often referred to and we are often reminded of statements we made in the past on matters in relation to which we have changed our views and opinions. I believe there is one State Parliament which has no Hansard staff. I am satisfied that because there is no Hansard the members of that Parliament may be less responsible in what they say. At least the Hansard record keeps us on the trail.
I have not been here for so very long but I hope to be here for much longer than my opponents would wish me to be. The period that I have been here has been a period during which this chamber has worked as a House of review probably to a greater extent than at any time in its history. I have been here during a period when the Senate has been the watch dog, not the lap dog, of the Government of the day, and whatever the result on 25th November I hope that this chamber will continue its work as an effective House of review and that it will not be a lap dog or, to put it another way, a big rubber stamp to OK and approve everything that is transmitted here from another place. 1 believe that the electors of Australia want this Senate to function as it was intended to function and as it has been functioning particularly in the last few years. The Australian Democratic Labor Party has contributed a great deal to the altered conduct of this chamber. We have initiated moves on different measures and have exercised our vote, not with any desire to obstruct, as may be represented by some people particularly for election purposes, but with the desire to do the right thing by the nation and in the interests of the people. That is and should be the paramount obligation and consideration of everyone who is privileged to occupy a bench in this chamber.
The party political games that we may make from some attitudes that are adopted from time to time may be of some advantage but they are of no real advantage unless what we are doing is done with a conscientious motive and a desire to improve upon what the Government wants to do or intends to do. That is the obligation and responsibility of each and. every one of us irrespective of the party to which we belong. In the interests of our parliamentary system of government, and in the interests of Australia and the welfare of its people let us continue in that way.
Permit me now, Mr President, to offer to you and to all members of this House and the staff the sincere good wishes of Senator McManus and myself for a very happy Christmas and a year of prosperity, good health and peace in the world.
– I shall take only a moment or two to say thank you to the Leader of the Government (Senator Gorton), the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy), the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Senator McKellar) and the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party (Senator Gair) for the comments they have made tonight. I also join in wishing all members of the Senate and the staff a happy Christmas and a very prosperous New Year. For almost 2 yean I was Leader of the Government in this House, lt was a very interesting time. I recall that we had two very unfortunate deaths when we lost Senator Vincent and Senator Sir Shane Paltridge. Their deaths left us in the minority. and it was not easy to get the legislation as we wanted it. Sure, I love those numbers. If you have enough of them it makes a great difference.
– There can be too many of them too.
– I say to Senator Gair that when I had his support and we were able to get the legislation through I very often felt that he was a statesman, but I will not say what I thought of him when 1 failed to get his support. However, by and large he, the Leader of the Opposition and myself understood one another very well. Thank you very much, Mr President, for the courtesy you have shown me. During the last week of my occupancy of the position of Leader of the Government I was not able to have that ruling of yours carried through as it should have been but that was because we did not have the numbers. However, that is one of the things that happens in political life. I wish the Leader of the Government, the Leader of the Opposition and all people associated with the place a very happy Christmas.
– Honourable senators, particularly the Leaders of the Parties and Senator Henty: Thank you very much for your references to my work in the Chair. I have received great pleasure from my work. I try to do what I think is best for (he chamber. I have received able assistance from my Chairman of Committees and, in turn, the Temporary Chairmen of Committees. They are a very good band of senators who interpret the procedures of the Senate very well although our procedures are slightly different from those in the other House and we allow a little more latitude than probably should be allowed. I think that is worthwhile because it keeps up the spirit of this chamber and helps it to function well.
It would be very difficult for me to carry on unless I had the willing and ready co-operation that the Clerk and his assistants and the chamber officers show me at all times. They are busy men, and they will be busier in the future because I see with great pleasure the way in which the trend towards the appointment of Senate select committees has developed. That- speaks well for the Senate. It will be much richer for the appointment of committees, although it will mean a lot of work for the officers of the House. In the long run it will be worth while.
Hansard is administered by Mr Speaker and myself. As proof of Hansard’s efficiency let me say that very seldom do we hear a complaint from a senator or a member that he has not been correctly reported. It has been so long since there has been such a complaint that it does not matter. The Joint House Department does a splendid job, as do the attendants. They are very patient. Although the hours of duty are long they keep up their spirit of goodwill towards senators and are ready at all times to help them. None is more patient than my own attendant who often must be truly tried when I impose on his patience.
I refer to the remainder of the staff in a general way because Mr Speaker and I will have an opportunity to express our thanks and appreciation, and your thanks and appreciation, of the work they do. I extend my thanks to the staff in the dining room and the boiler room and to all those around the gardens - the people we do not know very well because we do not see very much of them, but the people who help to make this place run efficiently. Regarding the Press, my relations with the Press always have been very good. I trust that this will continue through the coming year because, with the re-establishment of the Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House I am quite sure we will be seeing quite a lot of each other. With the co-operation of the Press information about that worthwhile project will reach the public and we will be able to establish in the minds of the people the desirability of a new Parliament House. To the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) I say that his problems have not been overlooked. We will give attention to them. I always tell him that his problems will receive attention but I think he thinks that this is a Kathleen Mavourneen and that he will never hear anything. Without the co-operation of honourable senators the Senate would not work as efficiently as it has. I say thank you very much for this co-operation and I extend to you the best wishes of the Christmas season.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Australian Film Corporation (Question No. 258)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s questions:
A number of suggestions have been put before the Government relating to assistance to the Australian film industry, including a proposal for the establishment of an Australian Film Development Corporation. These are receiving consideration.
I understand that in Britain the National Film Finance Corporation, a statutory body set up in 1949. lends money for feature film production. Its funds, which are limited by statute to £8m. are provided by advances from the Board of Trade up to £6m and the remaining £2m may be borrowed from non-governmental sources. In Canada, the Canadian Film Development Corporation has recently been established by statute with a development fund of $10m.I understand it is intended that the Corporation should investin individual Canadian feature film productions and share in any profits which might accrue. The Corporation is also empowered to make loans, awards and grants, and to advise the producers of Canadian feature films in connection with the production and distribution of such films.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 November 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1967/19671108_senate_26_s36/>.