26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator MURPHY- 1 ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether his attention has been drawn to some remarks of Senator Symington, a distinguished United States Senator, a former Secretary of the United Slates Air Force und perhaps the outstanding expert on air force matters in the United Stales Senate. Senator Symington stated that the Fill aircraft appeared to be fundamentally unsound and suggested that the contract of the United States Government for the procurement of the aircraft be cancelled, as this would save billions of dollars and the lives of many pilots.
Senator Cormack - I rise to a point of order, Mr President. The Leader of the Opposition has so phrased his question that he has given a succession of points of information and does not in fact ask a question.
The PRESIDENT- The Leader of the Opposition has given a lot of information. I do hope that he will ask his question now.
Senator MURPHY- 1 ask the Leader of the Government whether his attention has been drawn to that statement. I also ask the honourable gentleman to tell honourable senators whether even he and the Government are not becoming troubled by the Fill affair and whether, in the light of the statement to which I have referred, the Government will present to the Senate a full statement dealing frankly with the delays in supply and the faults and usefulness of the aircraft at this stage.
Senator ANDERSON - My attention has been drawn to the statement referred to by the Leader of the Opposition. It is an expression of an opinion, and not necessarily the first or last opinion to be tendered about the Fill aircraft, as to its use either in the United Stales of America or by Australia’s defence forces. The honourable senator has asked me whether I am troubled. No, I am not, because I have complete faith in the success of the FIJI aircraft for the defence of Australia. My only consideration in answering the question would be the ultimate defence of Australia. I believe that the evaluation of the FI 1 1 aircraft ‘was made by the best experts Australia could send to the United States. None of us is unaware that there have been problems. There has been a very full and sustained debate on the Fill aircraft here and in another place, in a variety of forms. In all the circumstances, all I can say is that I would assume that a statement may well be preceded by a debate, notice of which is already given on the notice paper. The honourable senator is aware that an item in relation to the issues surrounding the FI 1 1 aircraft appears on the notice paper.
Senator Murphy - That is only as to financial arrangements.
Senator ANDERSON - If the Leader of the Opposition wants to go beyond that I shall put his proposition to the Minister for Defence and I hope to be able to make a statement on the matter.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to an article in yesterday’s ‘Age’ headed ‘State Wheat Plan Backed’ in which it was stated that the Victorian Government had agreed to send to Canberra a one-price counter proposal to the Commonwealth Government’s wheat stabilisation plan? Can tha Minister say whether such a proposal has been received by the Government and what action, if any, has been taken regarding these representations?
– As has been proved during question time over the last 2 or 3 weeks, the wheat question has received much publicity, lt has been the subject of much thought and discussion by the wheat growers of Australia, the State governments and the Commonwealth Government. The decision arrived at by the Commonwealth Government has been agreed to by all State governments except the Victorian Government. 1 understand that Victoria has made a suggestion to the Commonwealth Government for a variation of the plan agreed to by the other States and by the
Australian Wheatgrowers Federation. This submission was received in the course of the last few days only. The Commonwealth made it quite clear that it has gone as far as it can to establish a wheat stabilisation scheme for the next 5 years. Consequently, it will be a matter for the Victorian Government and also for the other State governments to provide the State legislation which is necessary. Otherwise there will be no legally established body to receive this season’s wheat in Australia.
– Will the Minister for Customs and Excise cause a study to be made of the need to charge import duty on owner built small boats upon which the owner, being a prospective immigrant, has travelled to Australia? Would it not be true to say that such small boats do little if any damage to the small boat building industry in Australia for the protection of which the duty is charged? Would it nol also be true to say that immigrants coming to Australia in this way would effect a saving of many hundreds of dollars in transport and settlement costs by providing their own transport to. and living quarters upon arrival in, Australia?
– The honourable .senator knows full well that people who come to Australia and bring with them a motor car. for instance, are permitted to bring it into Australia duly free provided thai they have owned it for 15 months and undertake to keep it for a further period of 2 years. If a person coming from New Zealand or England with a motor car. a small boat and a trailer has owned those things for 15 months prior to coming to Australia and undertakes to keep them for a further period of 2 years he can bring them into this country duty free. I think the honourable senator is well aware also that in order to protect the Australian home building industry we have duties on practically everything that: may be imported for a home. At least 90% of the articles required for a home in Australia are manufactured in Australia. Therefore, 1 do not think it is necessary for mc to revise the policy in relation to the items referred to by the honourable senator because we in Australia are very conscious of the need to protect our own industries.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary industry concerning devaluation losses incurred by exporters of canned deciduous fruits. By way of preface I wish to say that canner exporters appreciate the expressed basis on which compensation for devaluation losses in respect of the ] 968 season will be made, but it is in regard to the 1967 season losses that great concern is being expressed. ] ask: Is provision being made to cover unavoidable losses sustained in the disposal of the 1967 pack, for sales made and shipped prior to the devaluation date, bur not paid for at that lime? ls provision being made to cover losses on consignment stocks which were on hand overseas at the devaluation date and which had been held for a period of more than 6 months from the date of shipment?
– I can understand the concern of the honourable senator and of those people whom he mentioned in connection with this matter. The latest information 1 have is to the effect that the Devaluation Reporting Committee has been considering this matter and is expected to make a report to the Government within the next, few days or within a week or so.
– f direct a question to the Leader of the Government. Has the Government seen reports to the effect that 50% of the shares in Sydney Mutual Insurance Ltd have been acquired by the American group of Daniel K. Ludwig? Does the Government view the acquisition of shares in this Australian insurance company with the same seriousness as apparently the Government regards the acquisition of shares by foreign investors in MLC Ltd? If it does not do so, what is the difference? If ir does do so. will the Government make representations to the State - which 1 presume is New South Wales - in which Sydney Mutual Insurance Ltd is registered in order to take action to prevent the further acquisition of shares in this previously Australian owned insurance company?
– I ask the honourable senator to direct the question on notice to me as representing the Treasurer and 1 shall get an answer for him. In posing his question he has postulated that the circumstances in relation to one movement of shares are necessarily comparable to a more recent event and it may well be that there is no semblance of association between the two sets of circumstances.
– The principle is what he was seeking.
– Even the principles in each case could be completely different. Tor that reason - I am nol prejudging Senator Wheeldon’s question but merely responding Vo it - if he will put the question on the notice paper I shall get a considered reply from the Treasurer.
– By way of preface to a question which 1 direct to the Minister representing the Attorney-General I refer to reports in the Press relating to a student at the University of Tasmania, who is referred to as M. who apparently admits to being an employee of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and who is alleged by other students to have been spying on behalf of that organisation. Can the Minister assure the Senate that the allegation is unfounded? Will the Minister explain the student’s presence on the University of Tasmania campus? Can the Minister further assure the Senate that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation is not planting spies on the campus of this university?
– I would remind the Senate that it is the usual practice for me to abstain from giving any answer on security matters, but owing to the prominence that this matter received in the Hobart ‘Mercury’ yesterday I referred it specially to the Attorney-General, who has authorised me to say that an officer of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation is a student at the University of Tasmania, exercising his ordinary citizen’s right to attend lectures and submit himself for examination. Officers of that organisation are under standing instructions when at the university or elsewhere off duty not to exercise the duties thai belong to their office.
– Can they be off duty?
– Well, what a question. We maintain that this student is entitled to exercise his student rights of access to the university without discrimination. 1 add, in the interests of greater caution., that the Government wishes it to be made clear that it concedes to the university or campus no special immunity from intelligence duties on proper occasions.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the likelihood of violent demonstrations taking place at the opening of the Olympic Gaines and during the conduct of them, can he make a statement on what steps the Australian Government has taken to ensure the personal safety of members of the Australian contingent?
– I really think that this question is quite off the line. In truth, the Olympic Games is one of the historic events of the world. While it is true that there have been some difficulties in Mexico City. I am quite satisfied that the Government of Mexico will do all things proper in the circumstances, if necessary -y; but I do not expect that it will be necessary. As a matter of fact, as I have mentioned previously. I had the great honour of saying goodbye to the Australian representatives when they left for Mexico. I have since received a very nice letter from one of the divisional managers. I am sure that he will not mind my saying that one of the things that he told me in a purely personal way was that there has been some international publicity about disturbances, but the people in the Olympic Games area in Mexico City know less about them and have felt less impact of them than the Press of the world.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister lor Labour and National Service. During the national wage case that was before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission recently the advocate for the trade unions. Mr Hawke, was reported to have submitted to the Commission that the Commonwealth Government compensated farmers affected by occurrences such as drought; that the farmers of this community have in the Government a substitute for the Arbitration Commission of this country; and that there is absolutely no proof that the Commission’s decisions have had an adverse effect on rural production and productivity. Will the Government, at future hearings, refute irresponsible statements such as those by informing the Commission that no amount of assistance can compensate farmers for drought losses; that the wool industry, which is an unprotected industry, has no protection against cost increases; and that any further rise in the cost structure will further reduce the profitability of the wool industry and increase the trend towards disinvestment within the industry?
– Mr President, I raise a point of order. This question has a familiar ring. It seeks comment on what was placed before a judicial tribunal for adjudication, and the comment is sought after that tribunal has adjudicated on the matter. Tn effect the question seeks an adjudication on the adjudication. It seeks from the Minister a reply to the effect that the decision reached by the Commission was either wrong or right in view of the facts now presented to us, which represent a misinterpretation of the advocacy before the Commission.
– There is no substance in the point of order, but I ask Senator Sim to shorten his question.
– I had just about finished it, Mr President. If the Government is to compensate the farmers for increased costs resulting from Commission decisions, taxation will have to be increased and this increase will have to be met by, among others, the wage earners of Australia.
– It will be remembered that I abstained from making any comment by way of answers to questions whilst an advocate’s argument was under consideration by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.
– And now you are prepared to say that the Commission was wrong in its decision?
– Senator Cavanagh is completely irresponsible and, 1 think, a little malicious. Now that a decision has been given, I would regard it as not being disrespectful to the Commission to refer to any contention that has been made and adjudicated upon. However, the purport of my colleague’s question is whether or not the Government will take action to see that adequate representation of the opposite sense is made in future cases. I find the suggestion well worthy of consideration and feel that it would be only proper to assure Senator Sim that that aspect will be taken care of in future cases.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Supply. In view of the fact that Japan, Taiwan and other nations have benefited to the extent of hundreds of millions of dollars in the huge contracts for supplies to Vietnam, can the Minister advise what is Australia’s share of the contracts in this market in food, clothing and essential equipment? Can the Minister further advise whether our solitary contract for meat worth $2m, which expired 6 months ago, has been renewed?
– The honourable senator has asked some questions which quite clearly have to be referred to the Department in order to obtain statistical information. I will take them on board and would, hope to have some reply, in part or in whole, for the honourable senator tomorrow.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior and draw the Minister’s attention to a statement on page 11 of the annual report of the National Capital Development Commission which states that the proposed new High Court building will require the highest standard of design. Does this imply that existing buildings in Canberra are not of the highest standard of design? Will the Minister also inform me of the implications of a statement on the same page of the report relating to an intention, which seems clear, to build on Camp Hill - the initial site of the new parliament house building - a new building for the Department of External Affairs and other secretariat buildings?
– J think it would be accurate to say that the High Court building should be one of: the nicest and one of the best buildings in Canberra after the new parliament house. The honourable senator asks about other buildings to be erected on Camp Hill for the Department of External Affairs and others. This is a very important matter. 1 understand from a perusal of the Estimates that a ring road is to be constructed around Capital Hill lo enclose somewhere in the vicinity of 80 acres of land on which, subject to the approval of the Parliament, other buildings will be erected. lt is also proposed in the Estimates to make further moneys available for the building of roads to enable the free flow of traffic around Capital Hill. The construction of these roads will have no effect whatever upon the decision as to whether the new Parliament House building will be by the lake or on the hill, lt is believed that it is essential that these roads be constructed and no doubt this matter will come up for discussion during the debate on the Estimates. I therefore ask the honourable senator to place on notice that part of his question which relates to the proposal to erect a building for the Department of External Affairs on Camp Hill and I shall endeavour to obtain a reply for him.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Customs and Excise by referring to a portion of an answer I received from him a few days ago concerning the lion park at Warragamba in New South Wales. The Minister told me that the establishment had been registered as a zoo and that the usual bond had been given in regard to such registration. Can the Minister now tell the Senate the monetary value of the bond?
– When the honourable senator asked his question a few days ago in relation to the zoo at Warragamba, 40 miles from Sydney, I could not give him the answer to that portion of the question relating to the bond. 1 now (eli him that the bond was for $200.
– In addressing my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science I refer to an announcement that English no longer will be a compulsory subject in matriculation examinations for the South Australian universities of Adelaide and Flinders. Can the Minister say in how many universities in Australia this same circumstance applies? How far does it reflect a trend in current education policies? Can the Minister say whether such a decision is considered to he a progressive one and whether il will have any effect on the Commonwealth’s programme, especially as far as scholarships are concerned?
– My information is that the universities in South Australia have made no final decision on the matter but have made a tentative de;:ision which, I believe, is subject to confirmation by their respective senates later this year. It is not possible for me to stale how many other universities in Australia have taken a similar step. From the point of view of the Department of Education and Science it has never been a requirement in the allotment of Commonwealth scholarships that the scholar should be required to take English as a subject. However, the majority of such scholars have included English in their qualifications. As to the trend that this step indicates, perhaps il would be reasonable to regard it as a trend in flexibility and a move away from rigidity in the matter of matriculation but 1 would hope to be spared from offering any opinion as to the wisdom of this slip. 1 think a political opinion on a particular university decision as to academic subject for matriculation would be inappropriate ate.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Has the Minister decided to withdraw the regulations which impose restrictions upon correspondents reporting Australian activities in Vietnam? Following withdrawal of the regulations would there be any danger to Australian forces in Vietnam or to Australian activities or aims in that country? If not, will it be necessary in the future, or was it necessary in the past, to impose these or any similar regulations?
– The honourable senator has directed a question to me as the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. In truth 1 think the matter he has raised falls within the responsibility of the Minister for Defence,
Yesterday I gave the substance of a statement that had been made by the Minister for Defence in another place. In it he pointed out quite clearly that he was willing to make a further examination of the regulations in question and that his intention at the time was to get some orderliness into the regulations which in fact have been in existence for many years. There is not really any need for a withdrawal of the regulations as the honourable senator has suggested, lt seems to me that in the normal course of events there will be conferences and discussions between the Minister and his advisers and the Press, and an understanding of the function of the regulations will be arrived at, and there will be no further concern about the matter. .However, if the honourable senator so desires I will put the question on the notice paper and have it referred to the Minister.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Is it a fact that a group of architects have taken it upon themselves to advise the Government where the new and permanent Parliament House should be placed, taking into consideration particularly the aesthetic qualities involved? Has the Minister seen the building which the Royal Australian Institute of Architects is in the course of erecting on Mugga Way which, had it been left alone, would have had an uninterrupted view of an open playing area in front of. it? Is he aware also that this building now is being surrounded by a mound up to roof level which rather seems to indicate that architects like to bury their heads in the sand and are not competent to advise on the aesthetic qualities of a new and permanent Parliament House?
– As I have said here many times, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What may appeal to the honourable senator, aesthetically or architecturally, might be regarded by others as a sheer horror. I do not know. It is a matter of personal judgment. I have not been to Mugga Way to see the building that is in the course of erection. But I do want to make this point: We have had a lot of discussion in this chamber on the relative merits of the proposed sites for the future Parliament
House. I regard as one of the high spots of my political career the fact that 1 was one of the noble six. 1 am highly delighted personally to see that the architects sustain my personal opinion.
– Has the Minister seen their building in Canberra?
– That was the point. Seriously, I think that this is a subject that is open to discussion and to a point of view in our democratic processes. If a group of architects, whether or not they be the best or the most efficient in the land, want to express an opinion, pro or con, on the site of the future Parliament House, well, God bless them, the world is free and Australia is a free country.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. 1 refer to a question that 1 asked yesterday concerning morale in Vietnam and, in doing so, I wish to point out that 1 also was present in the other place when the Minister for Defence gave his reply to questions concerning the newly imposed Press censorship in Vietnam. I ask whether the Minister for Defence did state among other things:
If the Minister did use these words, does the Minister representing him in the Senate still consider it unworthy of me to relate the sudden imposition of these censorship restrictions to the question of morale in Vietnam?
- Mr President, I would not want to reflect on what was said yesterday by the honourable senator. What I said was my interpretation of how the question was posed by the honourable senator yesterday. I replied to that question. But in relation to his interpretation of what the Minister for Defence said in another place yesterday, let me say that the Minister for
Defence made it perfect!)’ clear that in any situation in any army in the world, ever since there have been armies, there are responsibilities put upon Service personnel. Anybody who has read a book on the subject or anyone who has served in any of the armed forces knows that this is true. Even if a person has not served in a war or has not read books on the subject, he will have seen during some television programmes placards up on walls reading: Silence! The enemy listens!’ These are all the natural things that are a part of our life and history.
The Minister was saying that he was not critical of the Press for interviewing Service personnel. He was making the valid point that with the type of military exercise being carried out in Vietnam it was necessary 10 remind Service personnel that they have responsibilities as everybody else has. That is the pattern of what he was saying and it was repealed in the statement I made yesterday, as I recall it.
– 1 ask the Minister for Customs and Excise: In recent weeks have any further permits been granted to import large numbers of lions and have any zoos similar to that at Warragamba been registered? If so, where are they?
– No further applications to import lions have been made. I would like the honourable senator to know that the lion zoo at Warragamba is particularly safe and that he will be in no danger at all if he visits the zoo. I inform him that 300,000 people have visited the Warragamba Zoo since it was opened less than 3 months ago.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Has the Minister seen a report that as a result of representations made to the Chief Secretary of New South Wales by the Producers and Directors Guild of Australia the New South Wales Government is prepared to enforce sections of the New South Wales Cinematograph Films Act requiring 2i% of films shown in New South Wales to be of Australian origin and as a result thereof it is envisaged that at least twelve Australian produced and financed full length feature films will be made in New South Wales next year? ls the Minister aware that the Vincent Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television considered this matter in its deliberations during the preparation of its report to the Senate? 1 ask the Minister: When can we expect some action from the Commonwealth Government which will tangibly assist in the encouragement and development of an indigenous film industry which would be of immeasurable benefit not only to Australian artists, writers, producers and technicians but also to the Australian economy generally?
– Whilst I read in passing the reference to the New South Wales situation and the intentions of the Chief Secretary in relation to this matter, 1 must confess that 1 am not completely seised of all the implications of it. I am very well aware of the Vincent Committee report and of the great work that that Committee did in studying the problem. I ask the honourable senator to place on the notice paper that part of his question which related to the action that the Commonwealth might take in the context of the New South Wales action in this respect and the recommendations of the Vincent Committee. I had some information amongst my papers and I carried it about with me for a week or so. I am not certain, but I think it was Senator Mulvihill who had inquired about some aspects of film work. I had information regarding the assistance that the Commonwealth Government gives at present. I will obtain an answer to the question and will ensure that the information I had is incorporated in the answer.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Although you, Mr President, yesterday stated that you saw no objection to a group of architects commenting upon proposals for the siting of the new parliament house, I ask the Leader of the Government whether he objects to the statements, reported in the Press as having come from that group, indicating that they regarded the debate in this chamber and in the other House of this Parliament as having been conducted in a lunatic atmosphere and the decision of this chamber as having been made in the traditional vacuum of parliamentary discussion. Did this not signify an irresponsible attitude on the part of this group which was unbecoming of any professional group?
– In answering the question 1 fmd myself placed in the position of devil’s advocate. I read in the Press a variety of articles on this subject. I remember that the word ‘lunatic’ was used, but in fairness to the Press 1 think 1 should say that I did not read that as a reference to the debate that took place in the Senate. 1 thought that it was a stirring debate, the only trouble being that the numbers went the wrong way. If a particular person has made a derogatory reference to the Senate, I do not think that that justifies us in condemning a whole group of professional people. If such a reference were made to the Senate I would be the first to raise my voice in supreme protest and to require an apology for an offence to the parliamentary institution, and in particular to the Senate.
– I direct my question to you. Mr President. I refer to a communication from the Royal Australian Institute of Architects to members of this Parliament, signed by Mr J. H. Mcconnell who, presumably, is the President of the Institute. 1 assume that you have seen that communication, Mr President. I ask: Do you consider that the letter constitutes contempt of Parliament in view of the fact that a decision on this matter has been taken in the Senate and that it is a matter of adjourned debate in the House of Representatives?
– J will look into the matter and let the honourable senator know the answer to his question.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior: So that senators may judge for themselves the allegedly independent views of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects as expressed in the Institute’s letter concerning the site of the new and permanent parliament house, forwarded to senators, will the Minister advise: Of the twenty architects who attended the recent meeting in Canberra (a) which of them have received work from the National Capital Development Commission and (b) which of them have not?
– There seems to bc a great deal of interest in the recent visit of architects to Canberra during which a few cagey remarks were made about the location of the new and permanent parliament house. The Parliament will decide that matter in due course. I will obtain from my colleague the Minister for the Interior information as to the number of architects awarded contracts by the National Capital Development Commission, and give it to the honourable senator.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service ask his colleague to refrain in future from castigating and bringing pressure to bear on the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, an action he has recently admitted taking? J refer the M Minister to page 1 663 of yesterday’s Hansard of the other place. Will the Minister also see to what extent he can restrain senior Ministers of the Government from making public statements which prejudice the applications of trade unions to the Commission during the currency of the hearing of those applications?
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is no, because such action on my part would be as impertinent as the question.
– I direct my question to Che Minister representing the Minister for National Development. As the Commonwealth sponsored projects at Sunraysia and Barr Creek, undertaken to prevent salt laden drainage waters being discharged into the River Murray, are major and permanent factors in improving the quality of Murray waters downstream, are similar projects envisaged at other points where major pollution of Murray waters occurs? If so. can the Minister indicate the proposed locations of those projects?
– The Commonwealth has let contracts at Sunraysia and Barr Creek to a value of about $2m so that an overseas company of consultants may investigate means to prevent saline waters entering the River Murray. It has asked the consultants involved to advise the River Murray Commission on all aspects of salinity in relation to the River Murray scheme. No doubt the firm will make that report to the Commission.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science. In view of the necessity to provide adequate facilities for the training of tradesmen in additional skills to meet the demands of technological changes in industry, will the Minister seek from the respective States information concerning the equipment required to meet the changed circumstances and allocate sufficient money to meet such requirements?
– I hardly think that the subject matter of this question would come within the scope of the responsibilities of the Minister for Education and Science. In my view it would more properly be considered by the Minister for Labour and National Service, whose attention I shall invite to the question.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Can he indicate whether the dam which it is proposed to build at Dartmouth on the Mitta Mitta River will dam water additional to that which can already be dammed at the Hume Weir? If not. what purpose is there in building a dam at Dartmouth?
– IE the River Murray Commission decides to build a dam at Dartmouth on the Mitta Mitta River the dam will be designed to hold back additional water. In answer to a question in this place a fortnight ago I mentioned that the overflow from the Hume Dam in one year out of five was 3 million acre feet and in another year about 600,000 acre feet. That water would have flowed down the Mitta Mitta River and into Hume Dam. Consequently I would say that if a dam were constructed on the Mitta Mitta River, that amount of water would be held from flowing down the river. The whole question of concern to South Australia - whether the River Murray Commission will recommend that a dam be built at Chowilla and/or Dartmouth - is subject to an investigation by the Snowy Mountains Hydro electric Authority, which will report to the River Murray Commission. When that report is available we will all know where the dam will be built.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. Has the Minister seen a statement that the Special Branch of the Victoria Police Force handling matters of security has in its possession dossiers on some 250,000 people, most, if not all, of whom have neither been convicted of nor charged with any offence? In view of the distressingly large number of subversives, or potential subversives, within the State of Victoria, can the Minister obtain for the information of Parliament the number of similar dossiers held by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation? T ask this question not so that the names of all these thousands of people will become public knowledge but so that the few remaining patriotic citizens will be able to take due precautions in future in their dealings with fellow Australians.
– It would be my hope that the comments of the honourable senator could be disregarded by anybody listening to the question reasonably. The reference to the Victorian police is quite irrelevant in this chamber. As I have stated many times, any question with regard to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation should be put on the notice paper.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. Is there any international agreement on tariffs and trade? If so, what provisions are in the agreement preventing a country from giving a subsidy on exports? Do sugar and butterfat commodities come under such an agreement?
– In reply to the first part of the question: Yes, there is the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, to which we refer briefly as GATT. As to the particular items about which the honourable senator has asked, 1 shall get the information for him as quickly as possible.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. As the Australian Labor Party is concerned at what it believes are attempts to influence the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, I ask whether the Minister is aware of any protests by members of the Labor Party at demonstrations by unionists both outside and inside the courts in an attempt to intimidate the courts.
– Not specifically.
– I direct to the Leader of the Government a question which follows upon a question asked by Senator Murphy concerning FJ 1 1 aircraft, and i ask it because the Minister’s reply to Senator Murphy did not clear up all of the points which J hoped would be answered, ls the FI 1 1 aircraft fundamentally unsound, as was stated by United States Senator Stuart Symington, who is a former Secretary of the United States Air Force and who would obviously have had access to detailed information on the Fill? Will the Minister check the basis for this statement? If grave security deficiencies have resulted in the United States of America, as stated by the senator, because of putting all the eggs in the one basket, as he put it, in relation to the FI 1 1 project, will not similar security deficiencies exist in Australia because of our putting all our eggs in the one basket with this aircraft? If not, how will it be avoided?
– The honourable senator asks a series of hypothetical questions. I think the fairest way to handle them would be to incorporate them with those asked by Senator Murphy. I would hope that when a reply comes it will include all of the information sought.
– I direct to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence a more direct question on the FI 1 1 aircraft. What progress has been made in solving the problems which presently plague the Fill? Does the Minister expect the flight ban to be lifted shortly, or is it the intention of the Government to keep the aircraft grounded to avoid further embarrassment in view of the pending federal election?
– Disregarding the last part of the question, which I think we can completely ignore, 1 suggest that the answer to the honourable senator’s question would be the same as that which 1 gave to previous questions. A substantive answer will bc given to this question at the same time as answers are given to the other questions.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science. 1 understand that a high level scientific delegation from the United Stales of America is due in Australia in the course of the next few days. I believe that it comes as a result of negotiations which the Prime Minister had with President Johnson when in the United States earlier this year. Can the Minister let me know the scientific topics to be discussed by this delegation?
– 1 shall have pleasure in ascertaining from the Minister for Education and Science the topics that are listed for discussion and in informing my colleague. Senator Laught.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Has any finality yet been reached between the Commonwealth and the States concerning the expenditure of the special $25ni fund provided for the rehabilitation of the dairy industry in Australia? If so. what are the terms of the arrangement? If not, when is it expected that firm proposals will be announced? Will agreements be negotiated between the Commonwealth and the States separately or will there be one general agreement covering all Slates and requiring the concurrence of all Stales before it can be ratified ?
– To the best of my knowledge, it will be necessary for all the States to agree to the proposal being put forward by the Minister for Primary Industry. The latest information that I have on this matter is that the Minister expects to introduce during the present sessional period a Bill to implement the proposals which he h;is made and which he hopes will be agreed to by all the States.
(Question No. 386)
asked the. Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The Acting Treasurer has provided the following answer:
(Question No. 458)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The Acting Treasurer has supplied the following information: 1 and 2. Banks operating in Australia are grouped below under self explanatory headings. Australian deposits in June 1968 are given as an approximate indication of relative size. All banks other than State banks operating in Australia ure subject to the central banking and oilier controls laid down in the Hanking Act.
(Question No. 460)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has supplied the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
Paspaley Pearling Co. Pty Ltd- Nil.
Australasian Pearlers Pty Ltd - Details not available but a non-resident, who is an Australian national, has a minority holding. The remainder is owned by resident Australians.
Aucher Pearling Pty Ltd- 50%.
Pearls Pty Ltd- 52%.
Barrier Pearls Pty Ltd- 98% including a minority holding by an Australian national, who is currently a non-resident.
Cape York Pearl Cos Pty Ltd- (Complex of three interlocking companies) Over 99%.
The two largest ventures are Pearls Pty Ltd and Cape York group of companies. The situation in the industry is:
(Question No. 467)
Senator WEBSTER (through Senator
Cotton) asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
Could the import of chilled or frozen meat into Australia possibly pose a danger to Australian meat producers by the introduction of diseases, such as foot and mouth disease?
Is meat being imported from New Zealand?
Is New Zealand importing livestock from Great Britain?
Australia has a complete prohibition on the importation of chilled or frozen meat from all parts of the world, excepting only New Zealand, to guard against the introduction of exotic diseases, including foot and mouth disease.
Mutton, lamb, beef and veal arc allowed entry into Australia from New Zealand, a country which enjoys the same relative livestock disease free status as Australia.
Because of the extensive outbreaks of foot and mouth disease in the United Kingdom last year. New Zealand placed a total embargo on the importation of animals from that source. In June1968 the United Kingdom was able to declarethat the whole country was again free from foot and mouth disease. New Zealand is maintaining the ban on cattle, sheep and pigs for a further 6 months from the date ofthe declaration, and, if nothing untoward occurs, anticipates permittingthe entry of these species again as from December 1968.
(Question No. 481)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
What is being done to implement the recommendation of the 1968 United Nations Mission to New Guinea that the Administration should endeavourtosee that freight rates between the Territory and Australia are kept at a reasonable level?
– The Minister for External Territories has supplied the following answer:
Consultants under contract to the International Bankfor Reconstruction and Development as executing agency forthe United Nations Development Programme Special Funds are presently examining all aspects of transport needs inthe Territory including shipping between the Territory and overseas. This survey will amongst other things deal with possibilities for rationalising services, introduction of improved methods of cargo handling and opportunities for improving ship productivity by reducing turn-round times. Shipping between Australia and the Territory is becoming more competitive with new lines and new vessels inthe trade. Considerable improvements have already taken place with the introduction of side port loading and unitisation of cargoes by some shipping companies and also in one caseby the establishment of terminals for continuous receiving off-berth. On 30th June 1968 special privileges granted to Burns Philp& Co. Ltd for carriage of copra and Government controlled stoics were withdrawn, thus giving other companies the opportunity to compete for this trade.
(Question No. 492)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
Will the Minister elaborate the existing quarantine provisions applying to the transport of a dog by ship from Darwin to Sydney in the light of dialogue that ensued in the Northern Territory Legislative Council vide Northern Territory Hansard of 14 May, page 216, on a question raised by Mr Marks?
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply:
The removal of any animal from any part of the Commonwealth to any other part of the Commonwealth on any vessel, other than an Australian vessel or a vessel which trades exclusively between Australia and New Zealand is prohibited except with the consent of the Chief Quarantine Officer of the Stale to which the animal is to be removed and subject to compliance with such of the provisions of the Quarantine (Animals) Regulations as the Chief Quarantine Officer directs. ‘Vessel’ includes an aircraft.
There has not been any instance of a dog from Darwin being transported by ship to Sydney and being quarantined. However, in March1968 a dog was brought to Sydney from Darwin on an aircraft from overseas without the necessary permission first having been obtained.It was placed in the animal quarantine station at Sydney as a precautionary measure. When it was established beyond doubt that it wasan Australian dog which had not left Australia it was released from quarantine.
(Question No. 497)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
Are children’s school pads and stationery liable to 15% sales tax? If so, on what grounds is this tax justified by the Government, in viewof its professed advocacy of Commonwealth assistance to education?.
– The Treasurer has suppliedthe following answer:
Writing pads and stationery havebeen subject to sales tax since the inception of the tax and the rale at present applicable to them is 1 5% . School children are amongst the various groups of persons who use these goods.
Successive Governments have given consideration to exempting writing pads and stationery used by school children and other students but have not found it practicable to do so. Because their use is not confined to students, an exemption for them would embrace goods used for a wide variety of purposes not associated with education. The loss of revenue involved would be heavy and would be out of proportion to the amount of assistance that would beafforded to students.
Consideration has also been given to making exemption for writing materials used by students conditional upon their being for such use. However, an exemption of this kind would create a serious loophole for the avoidance of tax on stationery not intended for school use and would be difficult to administer satisfactorily. Moreover, most students buy their requirements from the tax-paid stocks of retailers who would be obliged to obtain exemption, certificates from their customers and then to seek refunds of the tax originally paid by them. There would probably be few traders who would willingly accept these obligations, particularly in view of the relatively small amounts oftax involved in the sale of individual writing pads and other items of stationery. These are some of the factors which have so far prevented adoption of a system of conditional exemption.
(Question No. 502)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air, upon notice:
– The Minister for Air has provided the following answers:
(Question. No. 505)
-asked the Minister representing the Minister forCivil Aviation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Air has provided the following answers:
(Question No. 506)
SenatorBISHOP askedthe Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
Has the Ministers attention been drawn to continuing complaints about congestion at the Adelaide Airport terminalcar park and of a recent survey of traffic movements by the South Australian Royal Automobile- Association?
Is it a fact that the Royal Automobile Association of South Australia has recommended to the company that operates the car park:
the installation of an auxiliary exit gate to cope with peak traffic;
the employment of. attendants in parking aisles to avoid accidents; and
illuminated pay signs over exit booths?
If so, has the Department of Civil Aviation recommended such measures?
Has the parking concession to the present operators been confirmed on a permanent basis?
What control does the Department of Civil Aviation exercise in respect to the ubovementioned matters particularly the measures which will prevent motor vehicle congestion?
-The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following answers:
A copy of the Association’s report was forwarded to my Department’s . regional office in South Australia and to the concessionaire, Adelaide Airport Parking Company on 4th September, 1968. According to the letter which the
Association sent to the concessionaire, the investigation was made in an effort to offer the company some suggestions which might be helpful in overcoming delays in the parking facilities. It is important to note that the report states that delays observed during the survey were not large.
Action is being taken by the concessionaire to illuminate the exit booths and the Department of Civil Aviation together with the concessionaire is examining the other suggestions.I should say now that the suggestion by the Royal Automobile Association of South Australia that the short term and long term parking areas be integrated would not be possible at the present time.
(Question No. 520)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer: 1 and 2. The following gifts of wheat were made under the Government’s official aid programmes in 1967-68 to alleviate food shortages resulting from droughts in India and Pakistan. All shipments were purchased from the Australian Wheat Board.
(Question No. 533)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has provided the following answers:
2 and 3. I am not aware of any.
(Question No. 541)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The Postmaster-General has supplied the following replies:
(Question No. 582)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
– The Minister for Immigration has provided the following answers:
Applications by Czechoslovaks wishing to resettle in Australia are still being received by the Australian Migration Office in Vienna and regular charter flights will continue as long us necessary.
– On 4th June Senator Cavanagh asked me whether restrictions on travel have been applied to any member of the Communist Party other than Professor Rose. 1 undertook to obtain the information for the honourable senator. I am informed that no other person has been refused entry to an Aboriginal reserve in the Northern Territory on the grounds of membership of the Communist Party.
– Yesterday Senator Gair asked me a series of questions regarding the Mirage project and, in answering in part, I undertook to provide a more detailed reply today for his information and that of the Senate generally. I inform him that 110 Mirage aircraft have been ordered by the Royal Australian Air Force including 10 dual seater trainers. Of these 110 aircraft 2 were ordered from France as complete flyaway aircraft and were accepted as such in France. Subsequently, these two complete aircraft were dismantled to some extent for shipment and were reassembled in Australia. The remainder of the aircraft were built in Australia based on a progressively reducing programme of lead-in supplies from France.
Of the 1 10 aircraft’ ordered by the RAAF,. 105 aircraft, including the 10 dual seater trainers, have been delivered by the Government Aircraft Factories ‘ lt is expected that the remaining 5 aircraft will be delivered on schedule before the end of 196S. The statement iri” the defence report mentioned by the honourable senator makes reference to the success of the Mirage project. It has been an outstanding project from every aspect.. Regarding support for the aircraft from France, including ammunition, Australia has never been refused supply.
The decision to manufacture DEFA 30 mm ammunition in Australia follows the basic policy of establishing local capacity to manufacture ammunition requirements where practicable. The manufacture of DEFA 30 mm ammunition for1 Mirage aircraft involves two licensing agreements - one for the hardware and the other for the explosive and propellant AH technical negotiations have been completed and the final drafts of the agreement are now being discussed. However, arrangements have, permitted the flow of technical data in advance, and preparations. fo.r - production of the round are well on the way. lt can bc expected that the programme for establishing quantity production will exceed 12 months on ammunition of .this complex nature. We have information on. the timing of the RAAF requirements from Australian production and we have, committed ourselves, to meet the RAAF, schedule.
Ltd, West Australian Newspapers Ltd is in a position to control TVW Ltd and therefore would be in a position to control the 4 commercial broadcasting stations which TVW Ltd wishes to acquire?
The Postmaster-General has now supplied the following answers:
Yes. 2., 3. and 4. The provision of the Act to which the honourable senator refers applies to television stations only. However, 1 made a statement to Parliament on 24th September 1968 indicating that the provisions of the Act relating to ownership or control of commercial broadcasting stations are to be amended to apply to those stations certain of the provisions which now apply to television stations in respect of ownership or control. On 5th April 1968 TWV Ltd advised that subject to my approval it had purchased the Whitford broadcasting interests in Western Australia comprising all the shares in three stations and the majority of the shares in a fourth station. The Australian Broadcasting Control Board has advised TVW Ltd that I am not prepared to approve the proposal.
Although many telephone cables are being placed underground at present, will the Postmaster-General give consideration to increasing the practice, particularly in rural areas, to facilitate better telephone services for country people and to reduce the high cost of maintenance associated with overhead telephone lines?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply:
For some years now, the Post Office, wherever practicable, has used underground cables to extend its outside plant in urban and rural areas in preference to open wire construction, a considerable amount of which has already been dismantled following its replacement by underground cable. In point of fact, the route length of overhead open wire in the Commonwealth has decreased by more than 8,000 miles since 1963 whilst, over the same period, sheath miles of cable have increased by over 50,000 miles.
Following the murder, whilst on duty, of a PMG mail sorter in Sydney some weeks ago, will the Minister ensure that PMG employees on night duty in Hobart are not required to work on their own but arc accompanied by at least one other employee?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply:
My inquiries disclose that your question probably refers to the staffing arrangements for the private box section of the Mail Exchange Branch, Hobart, which were the subject of representations recently from the Hobart Branch of the Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union.
The private box section is located in the GPO building and can be securely locked-off from other areas of the GPO and from outside access. The section is staffed until 9.30 p.m. each night, Monday to Friday, and two officers are usually allocated to work there from the evening period until the section is closed. However, it is sometimes necessary to transfer one man to the main mail room to assist in clearing mail to meet scheduled evening despatches to country centres. During September, this happened on five occasions for periods varying from11/2 hours to 3 hours.
Whilst it is not practicable to give an undertaking that the second officer will not be transferred from the private box section at times when the work there is relatively light and more urgent work commitments exist in other mail sorting areas, you may be assured that the safety of the officer required to work alone has not been and will not be overlooked.
– In the Senate on 26th September the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) asked certain questions about a car rental contract. The questions were:
The Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) has supplied the following answers:
Annual Report: Ministerial Statement
– Mr Deputy President, pursuant to section 18 of the Tariff Board Act 1921-1966 I present the annual report of the Tariff Board for the year ended 30th June 1968. The report is accompanied by an annexure which summarises the recommendations made by the Board and shows the action taken in respect of each of them, lt is not proposed to print the annexure.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Senator ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Supply) - by leave - Mr Deputy President, the statement that 1 am about to read is a statement delivered earlier this afternoon by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) in another place. The personal pronoun, where appearing, relates to the Prime Minister. The statement is as follows:
In the course of its last annual report, the Tariff Board outlined the changes which it considered to be desirable in its approach to its own work. In the report for 1967-68, which my colleague the Minister for Shipping and Transport and Acting Minister for Trade and Industry has just tabled, the Board has reported upon its study of the structure and levels of protection now operating in the Australian customs tariff. lt is, I think, important to understand the nature of the information contained in the two main appendices - nos 3 and 4 - to this report. Appendix 3 is a compilation of what is termed the ‘significant tariff rates’ applying to individual products or groups of products, listed by tariff item. For comparative purposes, the Board has included statistical information about Australian productions, imports and the estimated Australian demand for each item. In addition, to reduce this information to somewhat more manageable proportions, the Board has provided a shorter table in appendix 4 in which the value of production of each industry is distributed between three levels of protection measured by the significant tariff rale, namely over 50%, 21 %- 50% and not over 20%. In short, the Board has linked information on production and imports to a re-arranged version of the customs tariff. Within the limits imposed by the form of the available data, the outcome is a useful conspectus of the existing levels and structure of tariff rates which are appl’ied to the final production of Australian industries, lt reflects, to an important degree, decisions taken by the Government in the past on recommendations made by the Tariff Board.
In interpreting the information in the appendices to which 1 have referred, honourable members will have in mind important qualifications to which the Board itself has drawn attention. For example, the report refers to the fact that tariff rates which have not. been reviewed for many years may substantially overstate the current duty needs of the industries concerned. Moreover, it is the actual duty rales applying to the final products of industries which are summarised in the tables. These may differ substantially from the effective rates, which represent the degree of protection extended to the production processes of those industries. For most of the products included in the appendices the Board has not been able to calculate effective rates of protection because sufficient data are not available to it, and has therefore not been able to classify industries according to effective rates of protection. This information will only become known to the Board in the course of future public inquiries. The Board considers that the effective rate is a better and more equitable method of measuring protection than the nominal rates shown in the tariff. For these and other reasons, the Board has emphasised that the ranking of particular products or groups of products in its tables summarising present levels of tariff rates should not be taken as indicating the view which the Board would take at a future tariff inquiry of the desirability of assisting an industry or the level of protection it would recommend.
In the future, as in the past, recommendations for changes in the level of duties will bc made only after public inquiries at which all interested parties may be heard. The information in the appendices to the Board’s report does not prejudge in any way the individual recommendations which the Board will make in the future after public inquiry. Requests from the Board for references designed to facilitate public inquiries into areas of the tariff which the Board considers to be in need of review will of course be considered in accordance with normal procedures for determining references to the Board. Such inquiries would follow the generally accepted procedures of the Board conducting public inquiries at which the views of all interested parties are welcomed. Recommendations by the Board as a result of such reviews would be considered by the Government in accordance with current practice. lt will be noted that the Board has established, for its own guidance, points of reference which it has expressed in terms of effective rates of protection of 25% and 50%. The Board acknowledges that the assessment of these points involved a considerable element of judgment. They are not to be regarded as precise but as providing orders of magnitude which the Board believes will assist it in its approach to its work.
The Government, has considered this report in the context of our established and well tried tariff policies. There has been no change in those policies. The Government is committed to ensuring the growth of a strong manufacturing industry which is in fact at the very foundation of th<* Government’s population building policies. The development of manufacturing industry is encouraged in many ways, and most notably by means of the tariff. The Government has always been prepared adequately to protect, and will continue adequately to protect, economic and efficient industries. The Government will also afford adequate protection to industries of high importance from the stand-point of our strategic or other vital national interests. Tariff policy has been and remains the responsibility of the Government, both in general and in relation to every single decision. In making these decisions we look to the Tariff Board for sound and practical advice.
The Board has developed for almost half a century as an independent body. The Government does not attempt to set for the Board the procedures it should follow. It is therefore quite proper for the Board to examine its own methods of work, the way it shall conduct its inquiries and the bases on which, it makes its recommendations. The Government expects the Board to take all possible steps to improve the quality of its advice. To enable the Government to exercise its responsibility for tariff policy, it is clearly necessary that it should have available to it in the Board’s reports the fullest possible knowledge of all the elements relevant to each particular case. We would, for example, expect the Board to report fully nol only on the effective rates of protection that would be afforded by the nominal rates of duty recommended but also on other aspects that might be relevant to a consideration of the protection of the particular goods under reference, lt will of course continue to be the Board’s role to advise, and it will continue to be the Government’s role, in determining levels of protection, to decide whether or not it will follow the advice given. These have been our policies and they have served us well. We have no intention of changing them.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
– by leave - Three Australian space-tracking stations will take part, in the first manned Apollo mission in America’s Lunar Landing Programme, scheduled for launching between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. - Australian eastern standard time - on 1 2th October 1968. The Apollo 7 earth orbital mission, which will last tip to 1 1 days, has been described as an engineering test flight by the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration tral onNASA, lt is the first of a number of manned flights aimed at qualifying the Apollo spacecraft for its 500,000 mile round trip to the moon. Earlier flights yielded all the information possible without a crew aboard. The Apollo 7 crew comprises astronauts Walter M. Schirra, Jr, Commander; Donn F. Eisele, Senior Pilot; and Walter Cunningham, Pilot. Captain Schirra is well known for his Mercury and Gemini flights and his visit to Australia last year. The crew will separate the spacecraft from the Saturn launching vehicle’s second stage and later perform a simulated docking manoeuvre. Of the six NASA space-tracking stations which my Department - assisted by industry - manages in Australia, the three taking part in the Apollo 7 mission are Carnarvon, Honeysuckle Creek and Tidbinbilla. The main Australian station for the Apollo 7 mission is at Carnarvon, Western Australia. lt will support both the second stage and the spacecraft during seventy-five orbits. Main Apollo 7 activities taking place over Carnarvon include re-orientation before spacecraft and launching vehicle second stage separation and two burns of the spacecraft’s service propulsion system. The station will also receive data transfers from NASA jet aircraft after they have gathered information from the spacecraft when it is over thc Indian Ocean. Support will also be provided during the last orbit, just before splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean, about 200 miles from Bermuda. Apollo 7 will be the fifteenth manned flight to be supported from Western Australia; four Mercury flights were supported from Muchea and ten Gemini flights from Carnarvon.
The station at Honeysuckle Creek, Australian Capital Territory, will track the Apollo spacecraft about 1 hour after launch, and then for five orbits every 24 hours for the duration of the mission. The nearby deep space station at Tidbinbilla will provide Apollo 7 support to Honeysuckle Creek when its commitments in the deep space network permit. During the lunar missions which are planned over the months ahead, Honeysuckle Creek and Tidbinbilla stations near Canberra will play an essential role as they are designed with the capability to track and communicate in deep space.
A high degree of technical competence and sense of responsibility is demanded of the Australian team and the United States authorities have complete faith in the dedication and capability of the Australian stations. The stations have done their final network simulation tests and are ready to play their parts in this most important mission. I am sure honourable senators will join me. in wishing the astronauts and the supporting staff every success in the coming mission.
– by leave - For the information of honourable senators 1 indicate that when the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Bill 1968 is considered in Committee I shall propose an amendment. The purpose of the amendment is to extend to ex-servicemen who have served on special service, as defined in the principal Act, and to their dependants the same war pension and associated benefits in respect of tuberculosis contracted after war service as applied to ex-servicemen who served in a theatre of war in the two World Wars and in Korea and Malaya operations and their dependants. Although this decision was made yesterday I have not had an opportunity to have the amendment printed. As soon as it is printed 1 will circulate it to honourable senators.
Debate resumed from 8 October (vide page 1074), on motion by Senator Scott:
That Hie Senate approves of the redistribution of the State of New South Wales into Electoral Divisions as proposed by Messrs !F. L. Ley, C. W. Prince and R. F. Mallon, the Commissioners , appointed for the purpose of redistributing the said Stale into Divisions, in their Report laid before the Senate on the 18th day of September 1968, and that the names of the Divisions suggested in the Report, and indicated in the map referred to therein, be adopted, except that the name ‘Berowra’ be substituted for ‘Hornsby’ and the name ‘Grose’ be substituted for ‘Blacktown’ and the name ‘Cook’ be substituted for ‘Kurnell’.
Upon which Senator Murphy had moved by way of amendment:
Leave out ‘the Senate approves of the redistribution of the State of New South Wales into Electoral Divisions as proposed by Messrs F. L. Ley, C. W. Prince and R. F. Mallon, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing the said Slate into Divisions, in their Report laid before the Senate on the 18th day of September, 1968, and’, insert ‘, since the distribution provides for a greater equality of population in the proposed Divisions than has been allowed to develop in the existing Divisions, the Senate approves the redistribution of the State of New South Wales into Electoral Divisions as proposed by Messrs F. L, Ley, C. W. Prince and R. F. Mallon, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing the said State into Divisions, in their Report laid before the Senate on the 18th day of September, 1968, but does so with reluctance since the distribution:
provides for a greater inequality of population of the proposed Divisions than has occurred in any previous distribution;
fails to provide that as nearly as is practicable one man’s vote is to be worth as much as another’s;
ignores the Constitution’s plain objective of making equal representation for equal numbers of people the fundamental goal for the House of Representatives; and
denies the basic human right set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government, such will to be expressed by elections which shall be by equal suffrage, and agrees’–
– Yesterday when the Senate was debating the redistribution proposals for New South Wales I drew attention to the inept attitude adopted by the Opposition. Senator Murphy had made an impassioned plea in the tones which he usually reserves for those matters about which he feels most strongly. He said that these redistribution proposals lacked all validity because they failed to give effect to the principle of one vote one value. If his attack has the sound basis which he claims it has and if his proposition has the intrinstic merit which he says it has, it seems to be weakness or a submission to outside direction that the Opposition in the Senate is not prepared to carry through its views to the point of voting against the proposals. It is a pathetic approach, although it is curiously typical of the Labor Party that it would seek simply to add words to the proposals before the Senate. The effect of those words is to ensure that the proposals are adopted but, as for the Labor Party, adopted with reluctance.
Over the past 2 or 3 months a running commentary has appeared in the Press on what the Federal Executive of the Labor Party has been deciding. There has even been speculation as to what it has been thinking about these proposals. The attitude of the Opposition in this debate lends support to those newspaper reports. On 30th September we were told in the Press that the Federal Executive had decided that the Labor Party should support the New South Wales redistribution proposalsin the Senate. The same newspaper report advised that the decision was taken notwithstanding opposition by Senator Murphy. If the Labor Party believes what Senator Murphy said yesterday, it would be consistent for it to oppose these proposals and not to yield to the dictates of its Federal Executive.
– What does the honourable senator mean by ‘dictates’?
– The Federal Executive of the Labor Party has indicated that the parliamentary wing of its organisation is not to oppose these proposals. In the motion he has proposed, Senator Murphy appears to express a combination of his own view and of his submission to outside authority.
– The honourable senator should get his facts straight: There arc at least 9 parliamentary members in the 15 members of the Federal Executive.
-There are, of course, some members of Parliament who are members of the Federal Executive, but the Federal Executive is an organisational body. Whatever the Federal Executive of the Labor Party decides, that decision is binding on the members of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, It . is immaterial that there should be four parliamentary representatives ex officio on that Executive. What happens to be. the representation, from time to time, of other members of the Federal Party . is incidental. The essence of the criticism I make is that a body which is composed essentially, by its constitution, of extraparliamentary members can determine what the Labor Party will do in this place. I instance that simply because it is borne out by the inept, weak and pathetic approach adopted by the Labor Party to these proposals..
– Who controls your Party?
– If honourable senators opposite are interested, and I am not sure that they are, the answer is that the Liberal Party and the Country Party are masters of their own decisions in Parliament, and that cannot be said of the Labor Party. That is clearly exemplified by the pattern adopted in this debate. I think it is fair to suggest that in this debate the Opposition’s comments as expressed by Senator Murphy ignored what the commissioners are bound to do under the Act. The honourable senator’s’ comments al’so ignored the fact that the Act commits certain decisions to the distribution commissioners simply because in a politically sensitive area it is appropriate that politically independent people should have the task of determining the issues.
– How can you say that, in view of the people who have been appointed as distribution commissioners, who arc under the thumb of Federal Ministers? Queensland is a case in point.
– The persons appointed are public servants. Two of them are named in the Act and one person is appointed because of his particular qualifications. Yesterday Senator Murphy made no attack on the quality or integrity of the Commissioners. Today ‘he implies that they would bow to their Federal Ministers. .1 am sure that on reflection Senator Murphy would not pursue that point.
– I did not attack the appointments in New South Wales. You are attempting to justify the appointment of public servants, under the control of Ministers who are affected by the redistribution.
– It seems that Senator Murphy persists in his view. He has implied, and with some consideration, because he has repeated it, that public servants who are charged with obligations under the Act will do what they feel is in the interests of the Minister they happen to be serving. 1 do not think that on reflection Senator Murphy or other honourable senators opposite will believe that.
– They should never have been put into such a position. They should never have been appointed.
– Senator Murphy has now taken a new tack, one he did not take yesterday. If at a later stage he wants to suggest that a further reason why he accepts the proposals with reluctance is that public servants have yielded to what they believed to be their Ministers’ wishes, he or his colleagues should raise that point.
– I did not make yesterday, nor have J. ever made, those remarks about the New South Wales redistribution of boundaries.
– The record will indicate what the honourable senator said. The Act provides for a code to be followed whenever a redistribution is carried out. That code requires that the redistribution be done objectively after an opportunity has been given to interested parties to submit comments and after the commissioners have taken into consideration not only those comments but also certain defined criteria which are laid down in the Act. A procedure is laid down in the Act and the commissioners are obliged to follow that procedure.
I say quite unreservedly that the procedure should be free from political’ control and influence, as is now provided, because of the sensitive nature of a redistribution. If any political attack is to be made on what the commissioners have done, it can be validly made only on two grounds. The first is that the whole procedure of the redistribution is wrong because the requirements of the Act are wrong and the criteria laid down by the Act should not govern commissioners in the decisions they have to make. The second is that a partiality is disclosed by what the commissioners have done. Until1 Senator Murphy made some comments by way of interjection a short time ago, neither of those grounds was being used as the basis of the attack made by the Opposition. Of course, an attack cannot properly be levelled against the provisions of the Act because, once that attack is levelled, there is a concession that the commissioners have carried out their task in the manner required by the Act. A further reason why there cannot properly be an attack on the provisions of the Act is that, strictly speaking, it is not relevant when considering whether the commissioners have acted in accordance with the Act. It therefore becomes a matter of some curiosity as to why the Opposition has raised this question of one vote one val’ue as the basis of its challenge to these proposals, in the light of the fact that the Act does not provide for one vote one value. The second ground upon which an attack can be made is, as I suggested earlier, that partiality has been shown by the commissioners. I have indicated that each of the commissioners, not only in New South Wales but in all States, is a person with long experience as a public servant. They are bound by codes which, I think every honourable senator would recognise, would govern their procedure on this occasion. There has been no suggestion and no evidence offered of any partiality on the part of the commissioners, in those circumstances I think that that can be discarded as a possible ground for attack on the proposals.
The real value of the procedure laid down in the Electoral Act. is that it permits an independent and objective approach by politically disinterested people. This has long been recognised as the procedure under which the distribution of electorates is carried out in the Commonwealth and, indeed, in the various States of the Commonwealth. lt is a procedure which I think we should be prepared to recognise as having intrinsic merit, and we should be prepared lo recognise it as the only way in which these distributions should be effected. There has been some suggestion from the Opposition that the redistribution proposals are unfair because they affect the Australian Labor Party adversely. There can be no other interpretation of the comments which were made yesterday by Senator Mulvihill. The point that he was concerned to make was that his Party was in someway prejudiced by what: had occurred. That is a display of partiality which ought nol to be the basis upon which the proposals are considered. But in the light of that comment I think it is reasonable to refer lo what a detached observer has said. I refer to an article which was written by Dr Don Aitkin, Research Fellow in Political Science at the Austraiian National University, in the September issue of the ‘Australian Quarterly’. His comment on the 1968 proposals, shortly expressed, is in my view worth recalling.
– Were these the proposals before the current ones?
– No. he is referring to the proposals which we are debating at the present time. He said:
The remarkable thing about lbc 1968 proposals is how closely they resemble the rejected distribution of 1962. One country seal is lo bc abolished in New South Wales (Lawson, however, not Gwydir), Labor seats are eliminated in the centres of Sydney and Melbourne, and new seals created on the periphery of these cities. The political consequences are less easy to establish. The Country Party, of course, is .1 clear loser in New South Wales, arid in oilier Stales some of ils marginal seats are endangered by the incorporation of urban (and therefore putatively Liberal) subdivisions. The Labor Party has lost a number of sitting MPs, but on balance it seems likely to make up its losses in the new seats The Liberal Party has come out more or less square.
This is the significant passage:
Given the expectations of many observers (including, it must be said, myself) ‘I could only be cope-killed that Labor had done very well out of the redistribution, for il had been in the innercity electorates, all held by Labor, that the large electoral population losses had occurred. Press comment very generally look this line, and it was reinforced by the howls of protest from the Country Parly and the puzzled silence from within the Liberal Parly. 1 think it is fair to say that that is the comment of a person. who, on the surface, appears disinterested, lt accords with what we have read from other observers of the redistribution proposals., lt is useful to refer lo a comment such as that because it indicates that the redistribution, looked at politically, is a fair redistribution. The particular internal problems of who is to be leader of the Labor Party and who is lo wield influence in the Labor Party ought not to be the governing’ consideration of whether or nol a redistribution in New South Wales is to be accepted.
I referred a moment ago to the provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. I think it is useful to mention them in some detail so that it can be determined what it is that the commissioners had to do. and to assess their performance in the light of the conditions they had to observe. Section 18 of the Electoral Act requires that the Chief Electoral Officer is to ascertain a quota for each State. He does so by dividing the whole number of electors in a Stale, as nearly as that can be ascertained, by the number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen for the State. By that process the quota ascertained for New South Wales was, in round figures, 52,000 electors. Section 1.9 of the Act then requires that in making any proposed distribution the commissioners are to determine the number of divisions so that each division contains a number of electors not. ‘exceeding or falling short of the quota ‘ of ‘electors by more than one-fifth. So with a quota of 52.000 there could be an electorate which held up to. but not more than. 65.000 electors, and there could be an electorate which had not fewer than 39.000 electors. Sub-section (2.) of section 19 states:
For the purposes of the last preceding subsection, the Distribution Commissioners shall give due consideration, in relation to each proposed Division, to:
community of interests within the Division, including economic, social and regional interests;
means of communication and travel within the Division, with special reference to disabilities arising out of remoteness or distance;
the trend of population changes within the State;
the density or sparsity of population of the Division; (e)the area ofthe Division:
the physical features of the Division; and
existing boundaries of Divisions and Subdivisions.
When one considers the report of the commissioners one sees that paragraph 9 states:
Strong representations were also made to your Distribution Commissioners concerning the principle of ‘One vote one value’. While your Commissioners had regard to this principle, they were, of course, obliged to give due consideration to the factors specified in Section 19 (2.) of the Act. Under your Commissioners’ proposals, all Divisions contain a number of electors within the limits specified in Section 19(1.).
When the commissioners have the obligation to give due. consideration to those matters which I have enumerated and there is set alongside themthe requirement of one vote one value, which is postulated as the sort of thing the commissioners should have done, we reach a position where individual views will vary according to the individual who examines the proposal and gives due consideration to all these matters. That is one further reason why it is important that where this obligation to determine the division is committed to an independent body, what that body decides ought to be accepted.I appreciate that the Electoral Act says that when the commissioners have made their divisions the proposals shall come before the Parliament and. before they take effect,the proposals must be approved by each House of the Parliament. However, I suggest for the consideration of the Minister when any review of the Electoral Act is considered that if there is point in giving to independent commissioners the task of determining these divisions, it ought to be obligatory upon the Parliament to accept the divisions when they have been. made. If that is not the case then one is prone to regard any decision to reject particular redistribution proposals as motivated not by some objective consideration but a rejection of what the commissioners have to consider and what they have presented to the Parliament in political terms and on political considerations. That should not be the criterion on which the Parliament decides whether or not it is to have a redistribution accepted or rejected.
The commissioners are required to give due consideration to each of the matters which are mentioned in section . 19(2.) of the Act. Each of these matters is to be regarded as of equal value and, presumably, the commissioners, so far asthey can, are to give equal weight to each of the matters One can appreciate that there is such a thing as community of interest in that there could be a country area in which a great number of people are engaged in the same vocation or pursuit. From that it may be supposed that there is a community of interest. Over a wide area we may find groups of people with similar interests. These matters readily come to mind as considerations which ought to be taken into account in fixing the boundaries. But when we come to consider other matters, such as the trend of population changes, we may well find that in these areas where people have a community of interest, particularly in the country, the trend is for people to move away from the areas. So, having regard to the fact that a prospective redistribution will last 10 years, what the commissioners might well have done was to take the view that country electorates should be well above the quota in order to allow, over a period of time, for the trend of population changes to take their effect in a gradual equalising of the electorates. As I say, that is a view that can be taken. Equally, the view can be taken that in city areasthe electorates should be either large or small according to the evidence of the trend of population changes over a wide period. There is evidence, amply demonstrated in figures of what happened between 1955 and 1968, that there has been a movement of electors. It is not altogether apparent what has happened to populations in the area but there has certainly been a movement of electors from the inner city electorates to the outer city electorates.
Many or’ these matters to which the commissioners have to give clue consideration work out inconsistently and in those circumstances the commissioners have to do the best that they can. There can be no question but that various things which they have done in regard to the New South Wales proposals would have been done differently if other minds had made the decisions. Doubtless the redistribution would have been done differently if the Labor Party had had ils way and it would certainly have been done differently if the Liberal Party had had its way. This is evidenced by the submissions which were made on behalf of the representatives of the Labor Party and on behalf of the Liberal Party organisation in Sydney.
The point to which all this leads is that when the commissioners have given due consideration to these matters and have liKed upon a distribution which is in accordance with the Aci then any objection to it thereafter is basically a political objection motivated by bow it affects a political party. On that score such objections ought to be regarded as of little weight. J said earlier that the attitude which has been adopted by the Labor Party in this chamber wilh regard to these proposals is pathetically inept, lt becomes all the more so when one considers the character of the submissions which were made to the electoral commissioners in New South Wales. Looking at the comments which were made, we find that the Leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, Mr Whitlam, who, of course, comes from New South Wales, made a primary submission to the electoral commissioners on 6th March 1968. In that submission he did not seek to have a distribution on the basis of one vote one value. He talked about it number of other things and drew the commissioners’ attention to what he regarded as the important consideration, namely, that they should so adjust the electorates that a party which received a majority of the votes should also be the Government. But he did not advert to the necessity of having one vote one value.
– What do you understand by the term one vote one value?
– 1 would think that a person’s vote ought to have the same weight or the same value irrespective of where he lives or what his property might be. lt would be unfair, 1 suggest, having progressed from a property franchise to an adult franchise, to revert to a property franchise by giving two votes to a person who has property and only one to a person who has not. I think that would illustrate what I regard as the essence of one vote one value. As far as is practicable and within broad limits - not on any. fine and exact measure - there should be an equality of votes. As I said yesterday, this is the concept which most Australians would agree to. Most members of the Liberal Party would agree to it but, as I said, ii is not relevant in the consideration which we are now giving, to these proposals. It is not relevant because it was not a consideration which the commissioners were bound t:o take into account when they came to make their redistribution.
– Do you think it is practical of achievement: in a continent like Australia?
– 1 think within broad limits it is certainly practical of achievement. One might recognise that in country areas there would be tremendous electorate areas created in pursuit of the broad objective of one vote one value, but that fact in itself is no reason why the objective is not practicable. It might: create, as a consequence, certain problems and certain matters which would have lo be rectified. I said that the attitude of the Labor Party has been inconsistent. That is borne out by a comparison of what the leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party said in his submissions to the commissioners in March this year with the view that is now being adopted by the Labor Party. I concede, because I think it is fair to do so, that Senator Murphy on behalf of himself - and I presume as Leader of the Labor Party in the Senate - did make a submission to the commissioners seeking’ one vote one value as the criterion to be applied, but he also indicated that which he did not indicate yesterday, that these other considerations which are to be found in the section of the Act which governs the commissioners in what they do must be taken into account.
– It is true that Mr Whitlam also made a submission?
– He made a further submission and I have seen publicity attached to it. I do not propose to elaborate any further on that.
– He did not make it on one electorate, did he?
– As 1 understand it, he made the. submission not on a basis which recognised the intrinsic merit .of one vole one value but on a basis which recognised the politics of the situation. That is the point I have’ been making. This redistribution is essentially a fair one and the attack which is made on it is an attack based on political grounds, The relevant point which comes out of the approach of the Labor Party is the fact it is disavowing its own platform. In the attitude it is adopting in this Senate it is acting contrary to its declared objectives and 1 suggest that the conduct of the Labor Party shows that very little value can be attached to this platform of platitudinous promises and great ideas which it circulates from time to lime. Very little weight can be attached to the declared objectives stated by the leaders of the Party, whoever they may be from time to time. I refer to section XXVI of the Labor Parly’s platform in which they say as part of their electoral objectives:
Candidates for election to the House of Representatives to be elected on the basis of the greatest number of votes to any candidate, i.e., first past iiic post’ and on the basis of one vote one value.
There is an essentially undemocratic aspect of first past the post voting, where you have compulsory voting. 1 would have thought that, if there be democratic merit in the proposition of one vole one value there is sufficient in the Labor Party’s attitude in this place to indicate that it is departing from that principle in the sort of approval which it is giving to the proposal now before the Senate. The reason, of course, is easy to find in the procedures under which the Labor Party governs itself. The same document from which I quoted states in rule 7:
Decisions of the Federal Executive shall bc binding upon all sections and members of the ALP subject only to appeal to Federal Conference.
Rule 12 in the same document under the heading ‘Federal Parliamentary Labor Party’ states:
The power of direction, advice and/or guidance is reserved for the Federal Conference and, between conferences, the Federal Executive.
There is the source of what happened on this occasion, lt is a fact which should constantly be brought to the attention of the people of Australia that that is a provision in the Labor Party constitution which gives to seventeen people outside the Parliament absolute power to decide what the Labor Party does. That power goes as far as to determine how Labor members of Parliament shall vote on a redistribution proposal for the State of New South Wales. This direction is exercised in relation to all sorts of minute considerations., by an authority to which the elected parliamentary members of the Labor Party are submissive and docile. That should be recognised as part of the constitution of the Labor Party so tha’, there will be no doubt in the minds of members of the public that when they vote for the Labor- Party they vote for a group of individuals who are controlled from outside the Parliament by people who arc not responsible to the electors: That represents the approach that the Labor Party has adopted to this proposal. Members of the Labor Party are approving the proposal with reluctance. They are approving it because they have been told to do so. Their position would be otherwise but for the control that is being exercised. This is a fair redistribution and it should be approved by. the Senate.
– Senator Greenwood, with all the fanaticism at his ^disposal, has ranted and raved for the last 30 minutes about the machinery and policy of the Australian Labor Party. At one stage he skirted around the subject of the redistribution of electoral boundaries - the subject that is before the Chair. He quoted sections, pf the policy and platform of the Labor movement. But nowhere have 1 been able to obtain a copy of any . policy document or booklet issued by the Government parties. However, it is not my intention to devote my time to arguing with him about the pros of the Labor Party as compared with the cons of the Government parties. I intend to confine my remarks as much as I possibly can to the subject under discussion by the Senate, namely, the redistribution proposals for New South Wales.
These redistribution proposals are vital to an equitable decision by the. people on which political party or parties should govern1 the destinies of this great nation. These proposals are of ‘ fundamental national importance for the .preservation of democracy in this nation… I support the amendment that has been proposed by the Labor movement. As a Labor senator representing the State of New South Wales, 1 have given the proposals of the distribution commissioners for that State very close consideration. Let me say at the outset that it is very interesting to note that, although wc are discussing the redistribution proposals for New South Wales, to date not one Government senator from that St-i’.e has spoken on them.
Let mc come to the redistribution. Senator Greenwood had a great deal to say about section 19(1.) and (2.) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. But notwithstanding those provisions I know, and we all know, the practicalities of the political situation. We all know that we as parliamentarians come here with equal voting rights. When a man who represents more than 100,000 electors has a vote of only the same value as that of a man who represents 35,000 or 36,000 electors the situation is intolerable. But that is the situation today in respect of some of the existing seats. That is why we members of the Labor movement prefer the new proposals, as drawn up by the distribution commissioners, to the existing boundaries. But that is far from saying that we are happy with the proposals made by the commissioners. When one man represents more than 60,000 electors, as is provided for in the proposal of the commissioners for the Grayndler electorate - an inner city electorate - and another man represents only 43,000 electors, in my opinion and in the opinion of the Labor movement there is still inequity in the value of votes cast by members of the Parliament.
– ls the honourable senator talking about electors or people?
– I am talking about the numbers of electors decided upon by the distribution commissioners for various electorates. Under the proposals of the commissioners, the electorate of Grayndler will have about 60,000 electors as distinct from people, whereas the electorate of Darling - a far western electorate in New South Wales - will have about 43,000 electors.
– ls not the trend of population changes-
– The honourable senator has had his say. I have only’ another 25 minutes and J have much more to say. So 1 will ignore his interjection. I have referred to the numbers of electors or voters. When one considers the numbers of people one secs that the proposals for New South Wales are out of all proportion to what might be considered equity in the value of voles. The elected representatives of the people are sent to (his Parliament to represent not votes, square miles or acres, but people. In the proposals presented by the distribution commissioners we see a very glaring disparity between the proposed seat of Sydney, with a population of about 126,000 as at the 1966 census, and the seat of Robertson, with a population of only 73,000. Robertson is a coastal constituency between the urban, area of Sydney and Newcastle. It is a rural seat, but it is certainly not an outlying western country seat. In a comparison of these two electorates, which are only about 50 miles apart, one sees a glaring population disparity of more than 50,000 people. Because of this situation alone, it is with a great deal of reluctance that the Labor movement accepts the present proposals. The only possible reason why we can’ accept them is that they arc slightly - I emphasise that word - better than the existing boundaries. Bearing in mind the rapid shift in population that is taking place in New South Wales, I now venture the suggestion that within 2 years the proposals now before the Senate will have to be reviewed. It is obvious to me. knowing some of the electorates as I do. that they are but of balance now and tha* they will be completely out of balance in 2 years time.
My next comment relates to Senator Greenwood’s proposition that it is necessary for us to show some degree of partiality on the part of the commissioners to justify i he rejection of the proposals. What concerns me most is that on the evidence presented to this Parliament, and on the evidence that I have read, the commissioners gave a much higher priority to the submissions proposed in New South Wales by the Liberal Party than to any of the other submissions, especially those put forward by the Labor Party! The Labor Party’s proposals provided that, not perfectly, but as nearly as. practicable, one man’s vote is to be worth as much as another’s.
– But that is contrary to the Act, is it not?
– You say it is contrary to the Act.I would not think it is, and I am just about to say what the commissioners have said in their report. The commissioners said they gave some consideration to this matter. At page 3, in paragraph 9 of their report, they say:
Strong representations were also made to your Distribution Commissioners concerning the principle of ‘One vote one value’. While your Commissioners had regard to this principle–
Apparently it is not. unconstitutional, because they had some regard to the proposal - they were, of course, obliged to give due consideration to the factors specified in section 19 (2) of the Act.
So there the question of one vote one value was of secondary consideration in the matters that came before the distribution commissioners. Their prime consideration was section 19 (2).
I have said that the distribution commissioners gave some priority in their considerations to the proposals put forward by the Liberal Party. Let me examine the Liberal Party’s submissions as put forward on 18th March 1968 by (he general secretary of the Liberal Party in New South Wales, Mr J. L. Carrick. At page 21 of volumeII of the distribution commissioners’ report, the Liberal Party put forward these as suggested guide lines for the commissioners:
I suggest to honourable senators that after they have heard those suggested guide lines for the distribution commissioners as submitted by the Liberal Party and compared them with the results that have now come before this Parliament they will see that in fact those suggestions were the very guiding lines that motivated the commissioners in their proposals.
At page 22 of volumeII of the distribution commissioners’ report, the general secretary of the Liberal Party says:
In consequence of the above, our suggestions embody the following basic changes:
Divisions to be abolished:
Dalley (or Grayndler) -
Dalley was abolished.
He also suggested the abolition of East Sydney - and East Sydney was abolished. He suggested the abolition of Parkes - and the electorate of Parkes was abolished. He suggested, too, the abolition of Lawson, a Country Party seat. That, too, was abolished by the distribution commissioners. He also suggested the abolition of Watson, a seat which is held by the Labor movement. That, too, was abolished by the commissioners. So the five seats which the general secretary of the Liberal Party suggested to the distribution commissioners for abolition in New South Wales were the very five seats that were chosen by the commissioners to be abolished in that State.
– The Liberal Patty must have a good crystal ball.
-I do not know about that; I think something more. Let me go a little further. The Liberal Party general secretary suggested that certain divisions be created. He suggested the creation of a division in the BeecroftPymble West area - and the new seat of Hornsby was created, which practically embodies this area. Mr Carrick also suggested one in Lalor Park and St Mary’s area, and the new seat of Grose was created, which takes in these subdivisions. Then he suggested one in the Sutherland, Bulli and Corrimal area, and the existing seat of Hughes has been split into two and practically identically conforms with the proposal put forward by the Liberal Party there. Then there is the seat suggested in the area around Fairfield and Merrylands, which is now embodied in the new electorate of Prospect. In other words the exact seats which were recommended for abolition by the Liberal Party were abolished by the commissioners. The seats that were recommended by the Liberal Party for creation are the exact seats that were recommended for creation, by the distribution commissioners.
Let me look now at some of the other individual seats and compare the Liberal
Parly’s proposals with what the distribution commissioners recommended to the Parliament, particularly viewing what were previously regarded as marginal seats, those seats that determine whether s government shall fall or remain in office in the political climate of the day. Let us face it, politics is a pretty ruthless game and no-one is going to tell mc that a professional organisation like the Liberal Party is going to make recommendations which are non-partisan or which might favour its political opponents. Thar certainly has nol been the history of redistributions in the past so far as governments of this nature are concerned and I daresay it will nol be the history of redistributions in the future.
Bui. now let us look at. some of the seats. Take first the seat of Barton, lt was held by the Labor movement from 1940 to 1966. lt has been held by the Liberal Party for the last 2 years, namely, since 1966. What were the Liberal Party’s proposals so far as the seal of Barton was concerned? They are sci out on page 27 of Volume II of the report of the commissioners. The Liberal Party suggested thai from the existing Barton electorate the areas of Arrowsmith Park, Brighton-le-Sands, Connell’s Point, Kogarah, Oatley, Ramsgate, Sans Souci and Woniora be included and that the subdivision of Mortdale be taken in from the existing electorate of Banks.
If wc turn to page 8 of volume I of the report of the distribution commissioners we sec for the electorate of Barton the exact subdivisions recommended by the commissioners as were proposed by the Liberal Party. The president of the Barton Labor Electorate Council, the former member for Barton. Mr Reynolds, submitted two alternative proposals which are contained on page 113 of the commissioners’ report. He submit icd that having regard to section 19 (I.) and 19 (2.) of the Act it was preferable either lo take the subdivision of West Kogarah from St George and include it in Barton, because this is what the State distribution commissioners have done in connection with the State electoral boundaries, or take the subdivision of Kyeemagh from the electorate of St George and put il into Barton because this would make the electorate completely continuous and bounded by natural boundaries. Bui. no, the commissioners chose to accept instead the recommendation of the Liberal Party.
Now let us come to another seat, that of St George. The seats 1 have referred to have, of course, all been swinging seats in politics over the last 20 years. St George was created in 1949. It was held by the Liberal Party in 1949 and 1951. It was won by the Labor Party in 1954 and by the Liberal Party in .1955. lt was won by the Labor Party in 1958 and 1961 and then won back by the Liberal Party in 1963 and 1966. It is therefore fair to say, having regard lo the political pendulum in that area, that St George coul’d be regarded as one of the epitomes of the swingers in politics in New South Wales.
Now let us look at the Liberal Party’s proposals in relation to the marginal electorate of St George and compare them with the recommendations of the distribution commissioners. It will be seen that the recommendations of the distribution commissioners are on all1 fours with the proposals of the Liberal Parly. The Liberal Party proposed that from the existing electorate of St George the following subdivisions be included: Arncliffe, Arncliffe East, Banksia, Bexley, Bexley Central’, Bexley North, Carlton West, Hurstville, Kingsgrove and Rockdale: from the existing electorate of Lang the sub-division of Clemton Park and from the existing electorate of Parkes - it has been abolished by these proposals - the subdivision of Earlwood. On page 27 of volume I of the report by the distribution commissioners there appear the commissioners* proposals which are on all fours with the recommendations of the Liberal Party.
I turn now to the electorate of Evans, another swinging electorate which has a fair proportion of Liberal Party voters and a fair proportion of Labor Party voters. If one looks at the Liberal Party’s proposals, which appear on page 29 of volume II, one sees that from the existing electorate of Evans the following subdivisions be included: Abbotsford, Ashfield, Croydon North, Croydon South. Dobroyd Point, Drummoyne, Five Dock. Haberfield and Summer Hill North: from the existing electorate of Grayndler the subdivisions of Dulwich Hill and Summer Hill and from the existing electorate of Parkes the subdivisions of Ashbury, Croydon Park. Hurlstone Park. Riverside and Yeo Park. The suggestions of the Liberal Parly in relation to that swinging electorate are exactly the recommendations put to (his Parliament by the distribution commissioners.
One can look at a number of other electorates in New South Wales which have been regarded over the years as swingers - Eden-Monaro and Hume in the south - Cowper on the north coast. Phillip and others in the inner metropolitan area. Practically line ball for line ball the proposals by the Liberal Party executive in New South Wales are the recommendations now put before the Parliament by the distribution commissioners.
In the short time remaining to me I should like to deal with the electorate of Lyne, a coastal electorate extending from Stockton, just north of Newcastle, and taking in Taree and going north to Port Macquarie. Lyne has always been regarded as a safe Country Party seat but the Liberal Party suggested that from the existing electorate of Lyne the following subdivisions be included: Bulahdelah, Crescent Head, Forster, Kendall. Nelson Bay, Port Macquarie, Raymond Terrace. Stockton, Taree, Tinonee, Wauchope and Wingham; from the existing electorate of New England - in other words, jumping over the Great Dividing Range and cutting into the wheat and sheep areas of New England - the subdivision of Walcha and from thi existing electorate of Paterson the subdivisions of Gloucester, Gresford and Dungog. The only way in which the majority of the distribution commissioners differed from the Liberal Party’s suggestions was in relation to the inclusion of the subdivision of Crescent Head, which 1 would have thought would have been a natural, and the subdivision of Gresford, but they certainly agreed to jump the Great Dividing Range and cut into the electorate of New England by taking the subdivision of Walcha which, as I have said, is a sheep and wheat area.
In the electorate of Lyne, which is on the north coast of New South Wales, is the town of Taree, which is predominantly a dairying centre, and further south the subdivision of Stockton which is becoming a rather heavy industrialised area. How can anyone claim that this is a practical proposal? Why, even the Chief Electoral Officer disagreed with the other distribution commissioners. Senator Greenwood spoke about taking into consideration section 19 (2) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act which refers to community of interest within a division, including economic, social and regional interests and means of communication and travel within the division with special reference lo disabilities arising out of remoteness or distance and all the other matters that come within the ambit of the section. How anyone can claim that the redistribution of the Lyne electorate complies wilh those requirements frankly is beyond my comprehension.
Let me turn now to the comments and criticisms contained in volume II of the report of the distribution commissioners, lt will be seen that complaints have been received from all sections of the community in the Walcha area including Mr T. C. Fletcher, Mr G. McDougall, the Secretary of the Walcha Bowling and Recreation Club, the Secretary of the Walcha Branch of the Australian Country Party, the Secretary of the Walcha Sub-branch of the Returned Services League, the Chairman of the Walcha Branch of the Graziers Association of New South Wales, the President of the Walcha Shire Council, the Secretary of the Emu Creek Bus Committee, the President of the Walcha Branch of the Australian Red Cross Society, the Secretary of the Walcha Pastoral, Agricultural and Horticultural Association and the President of the Walcha Girl Guides Association. There was a telegram from the Chairman of the New England District Council of the Graziers Association as well as a letter from the Secretary of the Walcha District Cricket Association and from Mr C. C. Wall of Walcha. Practically all of the people of the subdivision of Walcha are up in arms at the suggestion to take it from the electorate of New England and put it in the electorate of Lyne. The ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of Wednesday, 25th September carries an article in these terms:
Walcha Shire Council today registered its objection to the ‘unjust and dictatorial method’ of the distribution commissioners in the transfer of the Walcha subdivision from New England lo Lyne electoral division.
But the Liberal Party proposed that they jump the Great Dividing Range and rope Walcha into the Lyne electorate and the distribution commissioners by majority acceded to the request. Under no conceivable circumstances Can this electoral proposal be said to comply with the provisions of section 19 (2) of the Act.
The Liberal’ Party suggested that the subdivisions of Crescent Head and Gresford should be included in the electorate of Lyne. I have some knowledge of the area concerned and, bearing in mind the provisions of section 1 9 (2) of the Act, 1 should have thought that it would have been preferable to include the subdivisions of Crescent Head and Gresford in the electorate of Lyne rather than to include the subdivision of Walcha. As I have said, on the evidence the commissioners seem to have given the highest priority to the submissions made to them by the Liberal Party- in New South Wales. The commissioners have put on the bottom of the pi te of papers in their paper tray the submission made to them by the Labor movement on the principle of one vote one value. Whilst we believe that the proposed boundaries are only slightly belter than the existing boundaries - 1 emphasise the phrase ‘only slightly belter’ - certainly within the next 2 years the new boundaries will1 be completely out of balance again. I suggest that the commissioners should have given more weight to the proposals put to them by members of the public and by political parlies other than the Liberal Patty. I refer to the Australian Labor Party, the Country Party and other parties, ft is therefore with great reluctance that we of the Labor movement are prepared lo accept these proposals concerning the State of New South Wales.
Sitting suspended from 5.4.1 to 8 p.m.
– I support the redistribution proposal for the Stale of New South Wales, believing that this has been a very fair distribution and quite in conformity wilh the provisions and, more importantly still, the spirit of the Electoral Act. The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) on behalf of the Australian Labor Party says in effect: ‘We want equal voting power in all electorates and we accept with reluctance the proposal before the Senate’. I remind honourable senators opposite that if the amendment is defeated they will vole for the proposal. To me, the amendment is quite meaningless and obviously was moved for political purposes. It means that honourable senators opposite, as on other occasions, have bent to the power and will of their federal executive and have moved the amendment to save face. It seems extraordinary that a major party such as the Australian Labor Party continues to be subservient to a body outside Parliament. That is the position of members of the Labor Party. Of course this is not the first occasion on which they have attempted to take action in conformity with a direction from outside. In some respects I am very glad that they are subservient to an outside power because this is of great importance to the Government. T am quite sure that the electors disagree with the principle of taking instructions from a body outside Parliament. Members of the Country Party make their own decisions.
– In this House. I am sure that applies to the Liberal Party also, lt. will always be so. We will abide by the principle of freedom to make our own decisions. The 20% margin up or down has been in existence since 1902. 1 must confess that in general principle I support the proposition of one vote one value, but when it comes to a matter of electoral divisions in a vast country like Australia there must be some difference between electorates in sparsely populated areas and electorates in city areas. I say that it is quite unfair to have the same number of electors in all electorates. Also, it is impracticable. The framers of our Constitution were well aware of this aspect. My colleague, Senator Webster, referred to a speech made by Sir William Lyne on this subject. It shows the wisdom of those who framed our Constitution nearly two-thirds of a century ago. Honourable senators do not need reminding that the greatest proportion of our population is in the coastal areas, particularly the eastern coastal areas. In New South Wales in 1966 the population was 4,200.000. More than 3 million people lived in the areas of Sydney. Wollongong, and Newcastle. If the size of metropolitan electorates were increased the rural representation could be reduced by several scats. Senator McClelland referred to the redistribution proposals and said that they could mean another redistribution in a year or two because there would be a further dispersal of population. I remind the honourable senator that if each electorate had a quota of about 52,000 voters another redistribution would be needed sooner than that because there is a margin up or down not provided for in his redistribution proposals. The electorate of Darling has 18% below and Grayndler has 14% above the quota. They are the maximum and the minimum.
– I said that it would be 2 years at the maximum.
– To have another distribution in 2 years would be a frightful thing. lt would happen sooner under the honourable senator’s proposal.
– Under your proposals it would.
– No, it would not, because the proposals provide for a margin up and down. It is 2% in Darling and 6% in Grayndler. 1 have figures for the two electorates of Darling and Phillip. Darling, which has an area of 132,000 square miles and 1.64 persons to the square mile, will have a population of 85,000. Phillip has an area of 4 square miles. That would be only a decent horse paddock in the electorate of Darling-
– For one horse only.
– For one horse, as Senator Laught says. Phillip has a population of 95,000, with 23,760 electors to the square mile. 1 think this shows very definitely the disparity between one of the largest and one of the smallest divisions of New South Wales. Does the Labor Party suggest that the size of Darling should be increased? 1 do not think honourable senators opposite would be consistent if they advocated this.
– If we do not agree to the proposal Phillip will stay in its original form.
– If the size of Darling was to be increased a big slice of Riverina and perhaps Gwydir would have to be included, which would mean that the new electorate would be about one-third of the size of New South Wales. I do not think any fair-minded person would concede that that is fair, reasonable or even sensible. Senator Mulvihill referred to the public opinion poll. I do not have the results with mc. He said 45% had voted for one vote one value and 37% for country areas having a different representation. When one takes into consideration the fact that the number of people approached in the country would be proportionately fewer than the number approached in the city, I think this gives a true indication of what the many electors think. I think that Senator Mulvihill’s argument was a very poor one.
– My argument was that another electorate could have been established near Prospect without interfering with Darling.
– The discussion did not reach the stage of dealing with any particular electorate. I say to the Labor Party and to the electors of New South Wales: Let the members of the Labor Party go out into the country areas and make broadcasts and Press statements to the effect that they are in favour of the principle which they are advocating in the amendment’. If they do so I know what will happen. In 1949 the Labor Party held seven rural seats in New South Wales. Today it holds two. That is because- the people in the country do not agree with its principles or policies. If the Labor Party, goes out and advocates this principle it will have even fewer seats. I challenge it to go out and do that very thing.
– You have liquidated our Labor strongholds in the metropolitan area as well.
– The honourable senator’s own Party has liquidated them by its policy.
– And you gerrymandered the Phillip division.-
– The tabor Party has liquidated itself in New South Wales and if it continues along the same lines it will have little or no representation in the rural areas of New South Wales., This is proved by the figures.
– Does the honourable senator not agree that the Democratic Labor Party had something to do with the decimation of the Australian Labor Party in the country areas?
– Honourable senators opposite may not like it, but these are the facts. I do not wish to go any further into that aspect. I want to refer particularly to the situation which has developed in the divisions of Lyne and New England. The town of Walcha is to be taken out of the division of New England and put into the division of Lyne which, the citizens of Walcha believe, shares little community of interest with it. I believe that this move is contrary to the criteria used in setting the boundaries of the subdivisions of other electorates. A mountain range cuts off Walcha from the division of Lyne. The town has far more in common with the division of New England, to its north. 1 will not weary the Senate with further figures and quotations from letters. 1 simply say that this situation should never have developed in that area.
The example I have cited highlights the tremendous problems that confront the distribution commissioners in no doubt every electorate in Australia. I give due credit to the commissioners for the job they have done generally. I was a member of a small committee formed within my Party to assist our Executive in New South Wales in the preparation of redistribution proposals to be placed before the commissioners. It was not very difficult to agree on principles that are acceptable to our Party, and perhaps to the Parliament, lt is very much more difficult to put those principles into action in determining subdivisions within an electorate. One can imagine the great difficulty the commissioners have had in this regard.
I hope that at the time of the next redistribution the situation of Walcha will be given further consideration. The people of Walcha feel they have been disfranchised from the community with which they have similar interests in many directions. It is tremendously heartening that for once redistribution proposals have been accepted by the Parliament without, so far as I am aware, a suggestion that there has been a gerrymander. . That is a tribute to the distribution commissioners and 1 support their recommendations.
– I have listened with amusement to some parts of the speeches that have been made in this debate. I refer particularly to some of the comments made by Senator Greenwood, my colleague from Victoria. He decried the situation of the executive of a political party having any say in the actions of its members. But who owes more to the Executive of the Liberal Party than my friend? But for that executive he would not bc here. In fact, he came out of the blue.
– But my executive does not tell me how to vote on this issue.
– With great respect, all I am saying is that the honourable senator came out of the blue. Many people thought that ex-Senator Hannan, being the candidate listed third by his Party at the last Senate election, would have been appointed to fill the casual vacancy.
– Senator Greenwood had friends in high places.
– The honourable senator had friends in the places that matters. When you have the numbers on the executive which appoints you to fill a casual vacancy in the Senate, it seems to me that you should be the last to decry the actions of the executive of a political party. 1 do not like this practice. 1 have never approved of direction by the executive on small matters. On matters of vital importance 1 believe it is necessary. On this occasion the fact is that the majority of the Party decided. All the executive did was to agree to the wishes of the Party. That is the whole story. I will not go into the pros and cons of whether a division in New South Wales should have one of its boundaries moved by a quarter of a mile.
My main purpose in entering this debate is to ask for the alteration of the name of a division in New South Wales. 1 ask the Minister to consider changing the name of the electorate of Grose to Chifley. Tha name of the electorate already has been changed once, so I do not suppose that it would matter much if it were changed again.
– Where does the name Grose’ come from?
– Somebody was kind enough to give me some information about the gentleman concerned. He fought in the American War of Independence. I do not know how that would go down with the people today, lt would clash a little with present policies.
– Apparently he had the numbers.
– .1 do not think he will have them now, because the Minister, in his kindness, has agreed to the suggestion that the memory of the Labor Prima Minister from 1945 to 1949 should be honoured by having a division named after him. When we are discussing the proposals for Victoria I believe we should consider honouring the names ‘Scullin’ and ‘Menzies’ in naming divisions. Each of those men has played a part in the government of Australia. 1 liked Senator Bull’s few words. I thought he spoke very well when he said that he believes in one vote one value in principle. But that is not rauch good to the people who want it in practice. 1 was a little disturbed by some of the remarks of my colleague, Senator McClelland, when he pointed out that the placing of the boundaries of some of the New South Wales divisions was finalised along the lines of a submission by a political party. I suppose that if the business of redistribution were left to me I would give due regard to a political party, irrespective of whether I agreed wilh its philosophy. I have noticed over a long period of years that the electoral officers do a job as they think best. It is true that fault can be found with certain boundaries, but I would be the last to say that the distribution commissioners go out of their way to help one political party or another.
Times have changed. We have to suffer as a Party because our people represent inner industrial suburbs of cities. With the spreading of the population in the two big cities of Sydney and Melbourne, the people are leaving the inner areas, lt is our job to go out and win those seats in the divisions where these people are now situated. However, it was not my purpose to speak at length on this proposal; I might have more to say when we are discussing Victoria. Perhaps I know a little more about the divisions in Victoria than I do about divisions in New South Wales. I thank the Minister for his indication that he is prepared to accept the suggestion to honour the name Chifley’. I am grateful to him for what he has said he would do.
– As Senator Kennelly has said, the Government has agreed to the suggestion put forward by him that the name ‘Chifley’ shall be substituted for ‘Grose’ which had been proposed. We have agreed to this because we believe that Mr Chifley, a wartime Prime Minister, was a great man for Australia and should be recognised as such. We are not prepared to play politics over a subject such as this. 1 believe that it is a great honour for Australia to have an electorate named after a late wartime Prime Minister. It is interesting te note that the proposed new electorate of Chifley will contain areas which were represented by Mr Chifley in his division of Macquarie. Therefore, the Government agrees to the proposed amendment.
Senator Kennelly then went on lo say that my colleague Senator Greenwood had been elected by the executive of the Liberal Party of Victoria to represent that Stale. That is completely true. But the difference between Senator Greenwood and a member of the Australian Labor Party, whoever he may be, is that he can vote according to his conscience whereas a member of the Labor Party is directed and influenced in his vote by a decision of an outside body known as the Executive. That is the situation today and 1 do not propose to deal further with that matter.
– Was not the honourable senator in this chamber when there was a so-called free vote on the Matrimonial Causes Bill?
– I am stating the facts so far as the Labor Party is concerned and so far as Senator Greenwood is concerned. He votes in this chamber according to his conscience and he is not directed by an outside executive. Senator McClelland suggested that a comparison of the proposed electorates of Sydney and Robertson reveals a very big disparity in the number of electors. We must bear in mind t that in enrolments both Sydney and Robertson are more or less within the 20% formula which has been adopted and agreed to by all political parties since 1902.
– That is not correct.
– The Leader of the Opposition says that it is not correct, but it has not been changed since 1902.
– AH political parties were opposed to the report ( of the Constitutional Review Committee.
– I remind Senator Murphy that this great Labor Party, about which he so frequently interjects, is recognised throughout the length and breath of Australia and that, its members represent State electorates and also Federal electorates. The Labor Party in Western Australia has been in office on several occasions, but where Labor had the numbers to alter the formula if it so desired it has never done so.
– We have never had the numbers.
– Labor could have done so in the Legislative Assembly. However, because Labor represented electorates in the north of Western Australia, some of which comprised large areas but had populations of less than 2,000 or 3,000, and in one case only 1,500, it did nothing to change the formula in that State. Two State electorates which come to mind are Kimberley and Pilbara. Those electorates could have been changed, but nothing was done because they were held by Labor. Yet some members in the metropolitan area represented as many as 14.000 or 15.000 voters.
– Those electorates could nol be changed.
– The honourable senator says that they could nol be changed, but the Labor Party did not endeavour to change them.
– Did the Labor Party hold those seats?
– Yes, and the reason that the Labor Party would not dare to change the electorates was that it wanted to hold those small seats up north where a member would represent perhaps 1,500 people, compared wilh 14.000 or 15,000 electors which were represented by one metropolitan member.
– What is the Minister afraid of?
– Senator Murphy, who is interjecting again, spoke at some length about the disparity of population in several of the proposed divisions of New South Wales and he emphasised some rulings that had been given by the Supreme Court in the United Slates of America, f disagree with the honourable senator’s suggestion that there is a difference of 72.5% in the enrolments of the proposed electorates of Grayndler and Robertson. The average population of New South Wales electorates is 93.884. The population of Grayndler is only 33.26% above the average and the population of Robertson is 21.95% below the average. The honourable senator was making a play on figures to arrive at a difference of 72.5%. He can play around with figures all day if he chooses to do so, but 1 have slated the facts of the situation. Wilh regard to his reference to rulings by the Supreme Court of the United Slates of America, I remind him that the proposed redistribution is lo be effected under the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia and the Commonwealth Electoral Act - not under the Constitution of the United Stales of America.
– And under the Liberal Party proposals.
– 1 shall talk about the Liberal Party proposals in a minute, if that is what is wanted. Our laws have provided since 1902 for a differential of up to 20% in the number of electors in divisions. 1 have mentioned this already, but the Leader of the Opposition has disputed it. The greatest disparity between divisions in New South Wales is between Darling and Grayndler. In Darling the enrolment falls below the quota by 18.45%, which [ would not regard as unreasonable for a division with an area of more than 132,000 square miles, whereas Grayndler, with an area of only 8 square miles, has an enrolment 14.01% above the quota. If we examine the recommendations of the Joint Committee of Constitutional Review we find that from the time of the redistribution in 1948 until the election in 1949 the enrolment in some electorates varied by as much as 4%.
– Did not that Committee say that 20% was too much?
– The honourable senator is interjecting but I did not interject once when he spoke. As he is interjecting I shall take this up with him. The Labor Party, which was represented on that Committee, agreed with the Government members that instead of equal representation, as represented by the Leader of the Opposition, there should be a variation up or down of no more than 10% which belies the statement, of course, that the Labor Party has wanted equal representation for a number of years. Let me come back to what I was talking about before the honourable senator interjected. In the
United States the permissible disparity between the populations of districts has been the subject of several court appeals, but so far as 1 have been able to ascertain the term ‘practical equality’ has not yet been defined by the United States Supreme Court. This is quite understandable to honourable senators opposite, lt has not been defined and they can talk about it as much as they like. There is a disparity and until such time as it is defined there will be a disparity.
– They have made improvements in the southern States; you cannot deny that.
– We talked to the honourable senator about other subjects today in’ answer to questions. We do not want to throw him in amongst the lions, lt is worth noting that the Australian Labor Party was apparently very happy about the differential to which I referred a little earlier, which was recommended in the report of the Constitutional Review Committee. The principle of one vote one value as expressed by members of the Opposition appears to be quite good in theory. Everybody, I suppose, would like to have it but in actual fact we cannot have it. lt does not happen. 1 do not suppose it happens in any part of the world.
– What about Canada?
– 1 am doing the talking. Some electorates in Australia are almost 1 million square miles in area. Let me mention one. Kalgoorlie occupies four-fifths of Western Australia, which is 1 million square miles in area. Four-fifths of that is 800.000 square miles. This has to be looked after by one member who has to travel over that area. He gets an allowance to enable him to do this but the allowance is not sufficient to. cover his expenses. Notwithstanding this, he has to travel to meet the people who want to see him about particular problems. Whether he was a member of the Labor Party or a member of a Government party, the member for the area has done this.
Let us compare this situation with that of another electorate which is 8 or 9 square miles in area, or even less. How can we get equal numbers of electors in all electorates? lt is almost impossible. As I have said, it might be good in theory but it has not been achieved, nor is it achievable in any country. In the United Kingdom the number of electors in constituencies ranges from below 30,000 to over 130,000. In Canada the population of electoral districts ranges from 22,000 to 139,000. In the United States the population of districts ranges from 170,000 in a district in Michigan to 951,000 in a district in Texas. So we have a disparity there almost equal to what happened in Western Australia under Labor, and of course it still exists.
Let me return to Senator Mulvihills complaint about the abolition of inner metropolitan Labor held divisions. Why did he fail to mention the creation of two new divisions - Blacktown - which is now called Grose and will be called Chifley - and Prospect, which will probably favour Labor, and why did he fail to mention the new Hughes electorate, which will be predominantly Labor? Accusations have been made by the Opposition that the Liberal Party went to the electoral commissioners to put its case as to why boundaries should be altered. Of course it did. I would like to point out that so did the Labor Party. It is, of course, the right of a political party to do this.
This does not mean that the electoral commissioners would lake much notice. They would hear the parties, consider their claims in all honesty and arrive at proposals for the Parliament to accept or not accept. They stand in their own right. There is something wrong with the thinking of a person who rises in this chamber and says that the Liberal Party is not prepared to look after its electorates. Of course we look after them. Of course the Labor Party, the Country Party and the Democratic Labor Party look after the position in the electorates. These are the actions of a political party. Let me interpose at this stage that Major Francis Grose was LieutenantGovernor of New South Wales from 1792 to 1794.
– Senator Kennelly said that.
– I am just confirming that he told the truth. It is important for the electoral commissioners to be fair to all of the people in Australia, taking into consideration the various problems associated with electorates, such as community of interest and area. They do their best honestly. The Liberal Party certainly is not satisfied in some States and the Labor Party is not satisfied in some States, .but I would like to think that overall the Parliament is satisfied. We shallfind out shortly when the vote is taken whether, so far as New South Wales is concerned, the Senate will agree to the proposed alteration of boundaries. In any redistribution where the number of electorates is altered, as in New South Wales, many members are affected in one way or another and some must be unhappy. Because the electors want this position and have said so, in the House of Representatives there are11/2 or 2 Government members to 1 Labor member. Therefore in any redistribution there must be11/2 or 2 times the likelihood of affecting a sitting Government member as there is of affecting a silting Labor member. One can argue about this, but it is factual. The Government has agreed to accept these recommendations of the electoral commissioners. I can understand that some members of the House of Representatives are dissatisfied with the redistribution, but I believe that11/2 or 2 times as many members of the Government Parties as members of the Opposition would be unhappy. This redistribution is far from what we on the Government side of the Parliament would have liked. Nevertheless, we honestly believe that the commissioners carried out their assignment in a fair and impartial manner.
Senator Kennelly has indicated that he would like the name ‘Chifley’ substituted for the name ‘Grose’. I do not know whether he wants me to move the necessary amendment or whether he wants it to come from his side of the chamber. I thank honourable senators on both the Government side and the Opposition side for agreeing to approve the redistribution recommended by the commissioners, subject to the amendment which has been moved by Senator Murphy and which specifies his disapproval of certain aspects of it.
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Murphy’s amendment) be left out.
The Senate divided. (The Deputy President - Senator T. C. Drake-Brockman)
Majority . . . . 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Senator Scott) - by leave agreed to:
Substitute ‘Chifley’ for ‘Grose’.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brnckman) - The question now is: That the motion moved by Senator Scott and amended twice by leave be agreed to’.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 26 September (vide page 998), on motion by Senator Scott:
The the Senate approves of the redistribution of the State of Victoria into Electoral Divisions as proposed by Messrs C. J. A. Lack-, C. E. Middleton and R. Dowell, the Commissioners appointedfor the purpose of redistributing the said State into Divisions, in their Report laid before the Senate on the 1 8th day of September 1968, and that the names of the Divisions suggested in the Report, and indicated in the map referred to therein, be adopted, except that the name “ La Trobe “ be substituted for “ Maroondah “ and .. the name “ Casey “ be substituted for “ La Trobe “ and the name “ Bruce “ be substituted for “ Waverley “ and the name “ Holt “ be substituted for ‘” Bruce “ and the name “ Isaacs “ be substituted for “ Beaumaris “.
– Later I will move an amendment similar tothe one that was moved in respect of the New South Wales proposals, because we believe that the same principle in relation to differentiation between seats applies in Victoria, and in New South Wales. In Victoria the seal with the lowest number of electors has, in round figures, 45,000 and the seat wilh the highest number of electors has almost 58,000,
– What is wrong wilh that?
– There is quite a deal wrong wilh it. I am sorry if I am interrupting Senator Greenwood’s fifth speech on this subject. I understood that I had the call, but he seems to be able to chatter away all night and to make five or six speeches from his seat. We are supporting the Victorian redistribution because, as in the case of the New South Wales redistribution, it is better than the existing distribution. In Victoria there are seats with well in excess of 100,000 voters and others with as few as 30,000 voters. The Australian Labor Party never has supported, and never will support, that kind of differentiation. We are committed to and believe in the principle of one vote one value, as has been indicated in the vote that has just been taken. 1 am very disturbed at being a member of a parliament that is departing from that principle to the extent that this Parliament is on this occasion. The further we depart from those principles the further away we move from the democratic system of election. Not only is that happening in the Federal Parliament at the present time; it happened in a drastic manner in the Stale of Victoria in connection with the redistribution there recently. I am pleased that Senator Scott was so eloquent during his reply about the position in Western Australia because it gives me the opportunity now to indicate to honourable senators the position that exists in Victoria. The redistribution in that State was the greatest gerrymander ever to take place in the whole history of Victorian politics. So as to give loaded representation to the Country Party and to those areas where Liberals hold seats, the State has been divided into three areas. In the so-called rural area, 18,000 is the required number of electors per electorate, in the so-called provincial areas 22,000 is the number and in the metropolitan areas 25,000 electors is the requisite number for each member. The position in that State now is that a party which polls only 40% of the votes for the whole of the State can win 40 out of the 73 seats. A party that can poll l±% more votes than that - the Labor Party - can win only 17 seals. If that is not a gerrymander for the sole purpose of keeping the Bolte Government in office forever, I have yet to see one. The figures that I have quoted are accurate. They cannot be disputed.
At the last election in 1967 the Liberal Party won 43 seats as against 38 seats in the previous election whilst the Labor Party won 17 seats as against 18 at the previous election. In the 1967 election the Liberal Party polled only 37.28% of the total votes for the State yet was able to win 43 seats while the Labor Party, which polled 38.39% of the votes was able to win only 17 seats. It is interesting to note that although the Liberal Party voting dropped by more than 2% as compared with the previous election that Party won five additional seats while the Labor Party, which increased its voting by more than 2%, lost one seat in the final result. This is the manner in which we are moving away from the principle of governments being elected by the people on the basis of a popular vote.
In South Australia we have a scandalous situation. That it is an utter scandal was admitted throughout the whole of the nation by every major newspaper with the exception of the Adelaide ‘Advertiser’. The scandalous situation to which I refer there is that a party that can poll far in excess of 52% of the total votes for the Slate can be defeated at a general election.
– The present State Government got in with 42% of the votes
– Which represents represents 10% fewer than the votes gained by the Opposition parties. If this is the manner in which the members of the Liberal Party and their cohorts the members of the Country Party want to govern the country, then we are certainly departing from the system of true democracy. The members of the Country Party say here that it is essential that there be a loading in favour of the Country Party. The reason they give for this are the great areas that have to be covered in country electorates. They argue that country areas must have a far stronger voice in the Parliament than metropolitan areas if the country people are to get the things they need and if country areas are to be developed properly.
Let us examine the second proposition first. South Australia, the State in which we have witnessed the worst gerrymander in the history of the Commonwealth, the State where so much was able to be done in the interests of the Country Party, is the most centralised State in the Comonwealth. Of all the States it has the highest proportion of population residing in the metropolitan area. I repeat that it is the least decentralised State despite the gerrymander which gave between 2,000 and 3,000 people in country areas the right to elect one member while 20,000 people residing in metropolitan electorates were allowed to elect only one member. Conversely, Tasmania, the State in which has been achieved a position in which, as near as is practicable, one vote has one value, is the most decentralised State in the Commonwealth. This, no doubt, is due to good government by the Labor Party there.
In order to bolster their arguments, both Senator Webster and Senator Bull brushed the cobwebs off some very old books and went back to the year 1902. I put to them the comparison between, say, the Kalgoorlie of 1902 and the Kalgoorlie of today. The position is entirely different now in every way. In 1902 Australia did not have the benefit of the modern systems of communication and transport that we enjoy today. If we take the Country Party’s argument lo ils logica] conclusion we shall finish up by voting in terms of square miles and not in terms of people, if we adopt a system of talking in terms of areas and not people, we shall be looking to cows, sheep and horses in order to find voters at many polling booths. So far as I am concerned, many of the sheep that I bought as lambs arc old enough to vote and many of the horses I have backed should have been voting many years ago. But this is not the type of democracy we want in this country. While the argument adduced by the Country Party may have had some validity in the early days of this century it has no validity at all today in that our lines of communication are entirely different, in every way.
Let us take the Mallee electorate as an illustration, lt is claimed that this electorate requires a 20% loading over’ metropolitan areas. I remind honourable senators that Mallee is in the State of Victoria. One can travel to any point within that electorate in less than half a day. lt enjoys a communications system by which one can speak to almost every elector in the remotest parts. Again, today we have fast motor cars and good aeroplane services from the metropolitan areas. Therefore, the electorate can be traversed very speedily indeed. If we apply the tommyrot arguments of the members of the Government Parlies to members representing vast electorates . like Kalgoorlie in which there are areas in which there is hardly anyone living, we shall get to the stage where electorates will be declared on a square mile basis. To me that is a ridiculous proposition and I dismiss the suggestion immediately.-
But there is another point which has not been mentioned during this debate but which must be considered. It relates to the inner metropolitan seats in both Sydney and Melbourne. Members of the Country Party complain about the difficulty they have in getting to their electors and talking to them. One important point that has been overlooked is that the member of Parliament who represents an inner metropolitan electorate serves many more people than his electors. This arises from the fact that in the inner metropolitan electorates there are many thousands of new Australians who are not as yet naturalised. And there will be many thousands more. The members representing inner metropolitan electorates are already doing a tremendous amount of work for these people.
By way of example 1 mention that for the first 4 months after I became a senator I was fully occupied investigating conditions at Commonwealth migrant hostels in three States and making representations on behalf of the migrants accommodated there. In Victoria alone there were 19,000 migrants accommodated in hostels, and 8,0% of them would have no vote . because they were ineligible. Bur looking after, their interests was part of my electoral work just as it was part of the electoral work of the other parliamentary representatives of the particular areas, ft will be seen, therefore, that the position of the representative of a country electorate is not so - bad after all. I suggest that the Government’s policy is to hang on to government at all costs.
That is the reason for its present policy regarding electorates, and 1 predict that before very long, if the Labor Party looks like snapping at the heels of the Government Parties at future elections, we shall sec a proposal brought forward by the Government to provide for the 25% loading for country electorates which has been advocated by Senator Webster and Senator Bull during the debate. We will then have a situation similar to that which exists in Victoria now. For every four members elected to represent the rural interests there will be three members selected to represent the metropolitan area. The Government puis that up in the guise of representation but the truth is that it intends to hang on to office even if 53% or 54% of the people of this nation want it no longer. That was the position in South Australia. It will be the position in Victoria because it is estimated that at least 54% of the people of that Stale will have to vote against the Bolte Government before it can be unsealed.
– That is not so. lt cannot bc so. All you have to do is get the preferences.
– If the honourable senator examines the position he will find that it is so. The State Government is kept in office purely as a result of the loaded electorates in the State. The Commonwealth Government intends to repeat the procedure on the federal level. When that happens the people of Australia will really show their wrath and remove the Government. They want a system of one vote one value so that when 51% of the people do not want a government they need not have it.
Although, as I indicated earlier, we are prepared to allow the redistribution proposals in relation to Victoria to pass through this Senate, I point out that we are not prepared to do so without moving the amendment which I foreshadowed earlier in my remarks. I move:
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Poke) - ls the amendment seconded’?
– I second the amendment.
– Senator Poyser has chosen to propose an amendment to Senator Scott’s motion that the proposals of the distribution commissioners for the State of Victoria be approved. Senator Poyser’s proposed amendment is in the form of. the motton moved by Senator Murphy in relation to the New South Wales proposals. The honourable senator’s amendment simply provides that the Senate should approve the proposals with reluctance. It is difficult to find in anything he said any reason why the Senate should express reluctance. As I understood his address, the greater part of it was devoted to what he regarded as the demerits of the State electoral system. He did not direct any argument to the merits or demerits of the proposal before the Senate. He referred to the position in Victoria under the State system and I believe that certain points he made ignored (he very salient fads which explained what might otherwise be a point of some substance.
He said - the facts are as he stated it - that for approximately 37.3% of the voles at the last State election the Liberal Government of Sir Henry Bolte was returned wilh 43 seats and that for approximately 3.8.3% of the votes the Labor Party won 17 seats. What he ignores, of course, is that the remaining 24% of the people were not prepared to have the Labor Pasty at any price. Because we have the preferential system of voting 24% of the people whose votes were entitled to be counted - otherwise they would not be represented - preferred the Liberal Party to the Labor Party.
– That is not accurate.
– It is quite accurate and you are ignoring 24% of the people or denying them any voice at all. That is consistent with way in which the Labor Party puts as a plank of its policy the system of first past the post voting Of course that is something which the Labor Party tucks away into its platform and does not bring out in any of its utterances during election campaigns. The fact is that it believes in first past the post voting.
– It is not tucked away in a corner.
– 1 repeat that it is tucked away in your platform. Who in the community has a chance to see your platform? People listen to what is said by the leaders and 1 have not heard it said by any leader of the Labor Party that its policy is first past the post voting. A few years ago the one leader in your Party who was prepared to say what he believed - I refer to Mr Calwell - did say that if the Labor Party was returned it would introduce first past the post voting. Of course that was an election in which Hie Labor Party did not- do very well. Since then we have heard nothing more about it but it is iri the platform. It is something like nationalisation which can be introduced at any time the Labor Party leaders want to introduce it. That could well happen in the future. I can imagine nothing more undemocratic than first past the post voting in ‘a system of compulsory voting. Yet the Labor Party on occasions talks about inequity and a lack of democracy in the current distribution proposals.
What Senator Poyser said about the State voting system in Victoria ignores relevant facts. I have mentioned one of them - the fact that he did not take account of the preferences of the people. The second fact which he failed to recognise was that the votes which the Labor Party polls in Victorian elections are polled in the north western and western sections of the Melbourne metropolis. The Labor Party has no appeal except where Mr Stoneham gets in by the skin of his teeth in the midlands area outside the metropolis of Melbourne. It is a wonder that the Labor Party does not question why its appeal should be so limited because Labor Party votes are concentrated in that little area. It is the only area in Victoria where the Labor Party has polled over 40% of the votes. In , other parts of the State it has polled 30%, 32% or 33% of the votes. That is why the Labor Parly has this strange pattern of voting.
I mention these things because Senator Poyser sought to make some point of them and they are on the record. The really relevant point is that the proposals for the redistribution of electorates in Victoria should be approved. If one looks al what the commissioners have said one will find that a quota of approximately 51,500 electors has been fixed for each electorate. Allowing for the margins which the commissioners always have been permitted to allow by the terms of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, and having regard to those matters which the commissioners are bound to take into account, one finds that the electorate which has the largest number of electors is the electorate of Wills which has 58,000 or thereabouts whereas live electorate which has the fewest number is the country electorate of Mallee. It is not quite the largest country electorate but it has some 45,000 electors. It is a disparity of some 13,000 votes. This is a large, disparity but surely not the type of disparity, when we consider that the Mallee electorate embraces a country area, which ought, really to concern people in the way in which the amendment that Senator Poyser has moved suggests that the Senate should be concerned.
I say that Senator Poyser has failed to evidence in what he has said any reason why his amendment is to be. preferred. He did not point to any consideration where the commissioners have failed to carry out what the Electoral Act requires them lo carry out. He has certainly ignored those points which in this amendment he seeks to stress and upon which he seeks to rely for the support of the Senate. For these reasons 1 .think that he has treated the Senate shabbily because, unlike Senator Murphy who yesterday tried to postulate some arguments on the strength of one vote one value,. Senator Poyser has not even attempted to do that. For those reasons, if not for more substantial ones, this amendment should be rejected.
- Mr Acting Deputy President, the matter before the Senate now is more to my liking because i have a greater knowledge of Victoria than I have of New South Wales. 1 fail to see why the gentlemen who carried out the redistribution of electorates in Victoria submitted the report that they have, bearing in mind thai there are certain fundamentals that they must take into consideration apart from the percentage variation above or below the quota that they are allowed to establish in various seats. One of the very important matters that they have to take into consideration is community of interest. 1 am concerned particularly with the proposed new seat of Bendigo. I was concerned about the structure of the Bendigo electorate in 1949 when a redistribution took place.
– The honourable senator should not be concerned with it. His party has always held it.
– We will continue to hold it. 1 was concerned about it for this reason: 1 could never understand why the town of Maryborough was taken out of the electorate of Bendigo. The two main towns in the electorate are Bendigo itself and Castlemaine. Bendigo was a gold mining town, lt is now semi-industrial as well as supporting primary industries including poultry and tomato growing. Those activities are within the confines of Bendigo itself. Castlemaine was also a gold mining community. It is now semi-industrial mainly because of the factory established there by Thompsons (Castlemaine) Ltd. That factory has been there for a number of years. The rest of the area of the electorate is rural. In the last redistribution, Maryborough was taken out of the electorate of Bendigo. I could never understand why this was done, bearing in mind the community of interest that il has with the two towns that 1 have mentioned. I could never .understand why commissioners in the- past and in the present redistribution, too, have allowed wheat country to remain in the top portion of. the Bendigo electorate instead of putting that wheat country into the Wimmera electorate which in the main is wheat and sheep country. There is no reason why the town of Maryborough which has more community of interest with Bendigo and Castlemaine should not bc included in the Bendigo electorate.
When f look further at the map showing the electoral divisions I am prompted to ask with great respect: Surely lines of communication must be taken into consideration? The proposed new electorate of Bendigo will be “divided by the Great Dividing Range. The electoral boundary has been extended to include the towns of Kilmore and Broadford, and the electorate crosses over the Great Dividing Range. In order to obtain the required numbers in the electorate, the commissioners have included the towns of Gisborne and Lancefield which are purely rural towns. 1 do not know whether gold mining was ever carried out at Lancefield. Yet the commissioners have tacked these towns on to the Bendigo electorate. They have been taken from the Lalor electorate in order to make up the numbers in Bendgo. 1 repeat that 1 can never understand why this sort of thing is done.
I say with great, respect that I think that the commissioners are compelled under the Electoral Act to take into account and to adhere to the principle of community of interest. The case that I have cited is a palpable example of where no thought, in determining the boundaries has been given to community of interest. When one looks at the map of the proposed boundaries and sees the shape of the new Bendigo electorate, one notes that the shape would not have been made any worse by including the Maryborough district in it. This was the case for many, many years. In addition, as I have suggested, the wheat areas at the top of the Bendigo electorate could have been included in the seat of Wimmera.
The commissioners are bound under the Electoral Act to adhere to the principle of community of interest ‘ or diversity of interest including means of communication.
I will not attempt to hang an argument on the principle of means of communication tonight because Victoria is fortunate in that its road system is good. Victoria is a small State, lt is unfortunate that in years gone by the Government led’ by Sir Harry Lawson, who was a very big man in Victoria, introduced the Country Roads Board. If the Premier only had called it the Main Roads Board, all Victorians would have been much happier than they are. But at least our road system is good. Therefore one cannot worry so very much about the matter of means of communication.
There is another point that I wish to make concerning the proposed new Bendigo electorate. This is something which, it appears, has not been given the consideration that it should have been given. 1 refer to the physical features of the electorate. How can the Great Dividing Range be included in the electorate of Bendigo? The Great Dividing Range must be crossed if one wishes to move from one portion of the electorate of Bendigo to the other portion of the electorate 1 notice from the map before me that the Great Dividing Range covers about one-third of the area. I will not my for one moment that the commissioners have altered any of the subdivisions. As far as I can see from the very cursory inspection that I have made of this map, J am not able to say that.
The Act imposes on the electoral commissioners certain obligations which they must fulfil. To my mind, scant consideration has been given to Bendigo. I deal now with Wannon. The main industries that are to be found in that electorate are woolgrowing, dairying and potato and onion growing. Why should wheat growing country have been tacked on to Wannon when it would have been just as easy to keep dairying in Wannon? I cannot understand that. Is it a matter of community of interest? I have looked at the boundaries on some of the maps. I do not say that the political complexion of the seat would be changed because until certain things in Wannon are altered - and those in political life will know what I mean - it will nol come back to its rightful political fold. When things are altered - and let us hope that they soon will be - Wannon may return.
– Keep your ear to the ground.
– One never knows what will happen in this game of politics. The two instances that I have mentioned illustrate that the commissioners have not used their capabilities in trying to carry out their charter. The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) was most obliging when he altered the name of a seat in New South Wales. I would very much like him to alter the names of two seats in Victoria. In the motion that he moved he suggested that the seat of Beaumaris be renamed Isaacs. No one would have any quarrel with that because Isaacs is a great name in our history. He also suggested that the name ‘Bruce’ be altered to ‘Holt’. I have no quarrel with a seat being named in honour of any Prime Minister of the country. He said that the name ‘La Trobe’ would be replaced by the name ‘Casey’. I take it that that would be in honour of the Governor-General and I have no quarrel with that. In order to keep the name La Trobe, the electorate of Maroondah is to be renamed La Trobe. The seat of Waverley is to be re-named Bruce. I do nol know whether my education in Victorian history is deficient, but I thought that Waverley was a famous name in Victoria. I hope that the Minister will be as kind with regard to my suggested changes in Victoria as he was regarding the change in New South Wales. I ask that the seat of Darebin be renamed Scullin. Mr Scullin played an important part in our history. I also would like the name of ‘Menzies’ to be inserted in lieu of the name ‘Kooyong’. Nothing is too good for a man who has reached the office of Prime Minister of the country. If that change cannot be made I would be delighted to see the name ‘Scullin’ honoured, as 1 understand it will be.
I do not want to speak about seats in the metropolitan area. I will leave that to those who have knowledge of them. Certain seats had to go. I think one member in the other place is most fortunate because if he had been pushed a little further away from Hawthorn and up to Auburn or possibly a little further out he would have had a hard struggle on his hands. I would like the Minister to answer me on behalf of his officers. I do not imply any wrongdoing. I only say that I cannot follow their thoughts. I think that Maryborough, Bendigo and Castlemaine should form the nucleus of a division. I do not see why wheat growers should have been included in Wannon when the electorate is more or less composed of wool growers and dairy farmers. I have said much more than I intended to say. I am very grateful to the Minister for the inclusion of the name ‘Scullin’ in place of Darebin’ in the northern part of Melbourne. I trust he will move a similar amendment to that moved in respect of the New South Wales division.
– Perhaps 1 should not buy into a debate on a proposal to redistribute Victorian seats in the other House, but I do so in the hope that if the present amendment, which is in similar terms to that recently defeated, also is defeated the mover of the next amendment might enlighten me on a few matters concerning it. The amendment rests on four grounds that are set out. The third ground states that the distribution ignores the Constitution’s plain objective, and so on. If the Opposition is convinced of this it should take the proper course to test the matter and not come here with this plaintive wail about what it thinks the Constitution means.
What has really interested me is the talk of one man one vote. Senator Murphy stated when moving his last amendment - and I imagine that Senator Poyser adopts the same view - that the proposed amendment was based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was passed by the United Nations. I have yet to discover that the United Nations works on the principle of one man one vote. As I understand the General Assembly, Australia has one vote for about 12 million people, and India has one vote for more than 400 million people. T have yet to hear Senator Murphy say that the General Assembly must therefore be an undemocratic institution. Honourable senators opposite might deal with a matter much closer to home. I suppose it is fair enough to believe in the principle of one man one vote, and this naturally gives rise to the constitutional position that the Senate should be abolished. By no stretch of the imagination can it be said that the principle of one man one vote is applied to the Senate. Therefore 1 clearly understand the great ambition of the Australian Labor Party to abolish the Senate.
One could imagine that if members of the ALP were as keenly wedded to the principle as they declare, the first organisations they would put in order would be their own Federal Executive and Federal Conference. I hope that before this debate is over honourable senators opposite will explain why there is such great value in this principle. If one man’s vote is worth as much as another man’s, this principle should be applied to the ALP’s Federal Executive and Federal Conference. In my memory the only time that the Labor Party attempted to apply this principle was to get. rid of Mr Harradine of Tasmania. Perhaps that was part of the exercise of the application of the principle of one man. one vote.
– But one man did not get to vote at all on that occasion. He had to stand outside.
– Perhaps that is so. These are the sorts of propositions 1 would like to talk to, but 1 think it is humbug to say in the Senate of the redistribution of divisions in respect of another House in which we are not directly interested that one man’s vote should be worth as much as another man’s vote, while the people who make that claim are not prepared to apply the principle to their own organisations. As my colleague Senator Greenwood pointed out earlier, honourable senators opposite are led by an authoritarian body. So if honourable senators opposite want one man’s vote to have one value-
– So it has.
– But honourable senators opposite are not prepared to apply it to their masters. I would suggest that the Opposition puts its own house in order before its members prate of one man one vote in the Senate.
– I would not have entered this debate had it not been for some of the excellent principles set out in the proposed amendment which, I need hardly say, is unacceptable to me. Whilst the principles are set out in the proposed amendment, there is nothing in it. to achieve the principle of one vote one value about which there has been a great deal of discussion. I believe that the redistribution of the electoral boundaries in Victoria, taken as such, is a far more important question as it concerns people and how they vote than as it concerns boundaries and where they should be drawn. 1 invite honourable senators to examine the general patterns of democratic voting in Victoria in recent years. This, of course, is the only reliable guide we have, lt is not certain that the people will vote the same way al future elections. One of the great attractions of democracy is that people are able to change their minds and to vote differently at different elections.
– I suggest to my colleague from Victoria that he does not give people heart failure. He should get off that subject.
– Does the honourable senator suggest that it is a very sensitive topic?
– Very sensitive.
– I have not raised it for I hat: reason. 1 have listened very patiently to dissertations on this subject. I thought I would raise the subject of voting patterns in Victoria to highlight the question of whether the redistribution proposals incorporate the principle of one vote one value. In the final analysis we will all accept the proposals. That does not mean thatall of us are at present champions of that principle. Il is not enough to make airy-fairy statements about that principle. It is necessary to analyse how the people have voted in the past and to examine means of getting the principle into operation.
Senator Withers referred to the method of election of senators. He got closer to the truth than anybody else in this debate. However, he overlooked that the Senate is a Slates House and not a people’s House. The people chosen to represent the States in the Senate arc chosen by the only method of ensuring the application of the excellent principle of one vote one value in terms, of representation of the people in the Par- ,liament. The Slates in selecting (heir representatives in the Senate utilise the proportional representation system, which is the only voting system that can possibly ensure the application of the principle of one vote one value. The boundaries of electorates can be drawn to suit the political convenience of any particular party. That will not achieve one vole one value, even if all the electorates are closely contested and each becomes a marginal electorate.
I propose to dissect the voting in some Victorian electorates and to project the result that would be achieved for each political party if the people decided to vote the same way at the next election as they voted at the last election in 1966. Some political parties concerned may not even be offering candidates at the next election, lt is a very interesting exercise to examine the voting figures. I have discovered that in Victoria there are fourteen House of Representatives electorates, the representation of which will be decided by the political parly that has no representation in that House.
– Let us hear the names of: the electorates.
– I will he delighted to tell honourable senators. I will not only name th: electoral s, I will also give the numbers. We will begin with the proposed electorate of Beaumaris. If the people of that electorate were to vote again as they did in 1966. the governing Party representative would receive about 21.600 voles, and the representative of the Democratic Labor Party would get about 4,600 votes.
– Assuming that the DLP receives the same number of votes.
– That is so. If we were to consider the Senate voting results a more striking difference would be noted. But I do not need to mention that at this stage. If I were lo do so, I might achieve what my colleague Senator Kennelly described as a little heart failure in this institution. I am content to say that in 1966 the representative of the DLP gained about 4,600 votes and the representative of the Australian Labor Party received about 15,800 votes. That means that 20,400 would vote against the Government candidate with their first preference and 21,600 would vote for him. This is now considered to be. a marginal seat and I suppose that in this electorate we get as close as one could get to the principle of one vote one value. But of course this seat does raise the interesting question of what would happen if there were a very slight drift in votes away from the Government. The result would be quite different and there would be a change of representation in that electorate. Bui is that not the way it should be in a democracy?
– The vole would not drift to the ALP would it?
– .1 would not suggest that the ALP would be able to improve on ils figures at any time. It has failed singularly to improve its figures for quite a number of years, apart from the one occasion when the Government held a credit squeeze election and people voted against the Government rather than for anybody else - at least, that is my humble assessment of the situation. I think that we of the DLP could rightly claim from the most recent poll taken that the probability is that our vote would increase. However, it is unnecessary to enlarge on that to prove the point that I am trying to make, so I shall continue with my reference to the 1966 figures. Diamond Valley becomes a very interesting electorate. In that area the Government would get 18,350 votes, the DLP 4,550 and the ALP 12,750, making 18,350 for the Government and 17,300 against the Government. That leaves a very small margin. A drift of 500 votes to the DLP, for instance, would make the numbers even. But in the area there is another factor to be considered. In 1966 there were other candidates. At the moment I am unable to say of what political persuasion they were, but as they polled 2,700 votes they obviously did not vote for the Government. In the final analysis the Government would have 18,350 votes as against 20.000, which would leave it with a deficit of 1,650 votes.
Henty is another interesting electorate with 22,850 for the Government. 5,250 for the DLP and 16,550 for the ALP. With 22,850 for the Government and 21,800 against the Government there is a margin of only 1,000 votes. But there was another candidate there who polled merely 150 votes. I think we could leave him out of a consideration of the situation in Henty. In Hotham there would be 21,250 for the Government, 4,250 for the DLP and 15,050 for the ALP, making a total of 21,250 for the Government and 19,300 against the Government - again a margin of 1,000. It is amazing how often the margin is as few as 1,000 votes. All honourable senators are educated in politics and would appreciate that a drift of 500 votes would remove that majority of 1,000. Any member of Parliament is very much aware of that when his own seat is involved. The proposed electorate of Hotham is interesting also because there were other candidates. Again 1 do not know their political denominations, but they polled 3,100 votes. This would mean 22,400 votes against the Government compared with 21,250 votes for the Government. If an election were held we could expect in La Trobe 18,400 votes for the Government, 4,600 for the DLP and 12,650 for the ALP, making a total of 18,400 for the Government and 17,250 against the Government. But in 1966 there were other candidates in this area also. They polled 2,350 votes, which gives a result of 19,600 against the Government and 18,400 for the Government candidate.
In McMillan the Government could expect 22,800 votes, the DLP 5,250 and the ALP 16,750, making a total of 22,800 for the Government and 22,000 against the Government candidate. Again this would be a very closely contested electorate. In this electorate also there were other candidates who polled 2,000 votes, so there would be 24,000 votes against the Government’s 22,800. In Maroondah’ we could expect 18,750 for the Government, 4,750 for the DLP and 13,800 for the ALP. The numbers there are much closer because we have a total of 18,750 for the Government and 18,550 against the Government. But again other candidates polled 2,150 votes, so when those votes are included we have 20,700 against the Government and 18,750 for the Government. In Ballaarat there would be 24,900 for the Government and 8,200 for the DLP. We must have a much stronger organisation in Ballaarat than in some other electorates; we must look at the other ones. The ALP could expect 17,500 votes. That leaves us with a total of 24,900 for the Government and 25,700 against the Government.
– We are doing all right.
– On the contrary, the Liberal Party is winning seats by riding on our backs. In Darebin, Batman, Corio, Maribyrnong and Melbourne Ports the figures are similar but with a twist the other way. The Labor Party has the majority in those electorates, but the majority begins to disappear when the DLP vote is added to the Government vote.
With the exception of Batman, which is held by an independent, a combination of Liberal and DLP votes would take the seats from Labor. Under the new boundaries Melbourne Ports reveals some very interesting figures. The Liberal Party would hold 17,850 votes, the DLP 5,550 and the ALP 20,700. The combined Liberal and DLP vote would be 23,400 compared with an ALP vote of 20.700. Another candidate stood last time and polled 2,000 votes. In that electorate, if the other candidate were able to determine where his preferences would go, he may be able to decide who will hold that seat of Melbourne Ports. Wimmera is another very interesting electorate which at. present is held by the Country Party. By a disbursement of preferences that seat could quite easily be represented by either the Labor Party or the Liberal Party, depending on where any of the four parties contesting the seat directed their preferences.
– Let us have the honourable senator’s analysis of Wimmera.
– Is an analysis of figures wanted?
– Yes, I would like to hear it.
– I shall share my knowledge with the honourable senator. In Wimmera the Liberals would poll 12,200 votes, the DLP 3,800 and the ALP 12,050, and the Country Party would receive 15,570. But the interesting exercise in that electorate is where the preferences go because they would decide the seat. Although it is a very interesting exercise in Wimmera, it does not alter the principle I am enunciating. The fact remains that in all those electorates the people are deciding the issue under the system that we have now, which is not one vote one value. Whether this or any other redistribution of electorates is carried out under the current system that we have in Australia, the people in that area are not disfranchised and they are able to indicate a second preference. As long as we hold to this system - we must not fool ourselves that it is one vote one value - we are at least approaching a democratic result. But my main complaint with the wording of the amendment and with the purity of the ideals enunciated for one vote one value gets back to the point that was raised by Senator Greenwood. Those that raise it still have within the machinery of their own Party, particularly in the State of Victoria, the insult to democracy that they want to scrap the preferential voting system and go back to the primitive expression of first past the post. It is interesting to note why a party that today says that it favours the principle of one vote one value did that.
Preferential voting is a system that 1 found in other parts of the world. I saw an election conducted in Sweden. Indeed 1 helped to give out ‘Vote thus’ cards on behalf of a political party which I thought most closely resembled the one to which I belonged at that time. There this system of preferential1 voting was called the Australian system of voting because we pioneered the holding of elections on a preferential system of voting. But in this country when one political organisation discovered that it could not win under a fair system of voting it altered its rules to accept a principle which meant that in one State - Victoria - 250,000 voters would be virtually disfranchised.
Surely I can be forgiven if I find it hard to believe that the Labor Party means that it holds sacred to its heart the great principle of one vote one value. But I may be wrong in that. Bitterness may be dying and perhaps it sees the vision splendid in the future and these things that have prompted the Labor Party to make decisions such as that in favour of first past the post voting are being shed and thrown into the limbo of forgotten things. I would hope so. But before members of the Labor Party ask me to accept that they are sincere, at least I am entitled to say, as Senator Greenwood suggested: ‘Put your own house in order. Get rid of some of the things that have crept in and that should never have crept in. Go after the true principle of one vote one val’ue and work and fight - irrespective of who may win seats - for the basic principle in which you state you believe, that is, proportional representation, which will place into the Houses of this Parliament members who can represent the points of view of all the people and not only that part of the people that at the moment elects to vote for the major political parties.
– I said to my colleagues earlier in the day that I felt that there was no responsibility upon a senator to intervene in a debate that relates to the problems of redistribution in the House of government, the popular House, the House of Representatives. But in fact, of course, the Senate has now become involved in dealing with the fate of that House. We have become, it seems to me, involved and bemused by the catch cry of one vote one val’ue which was raised by Senator Murphy, and another concept just enunciated by Senator Little. What seems to be entirely overlooked in the debate is: What is the function of this element of the Parliament - the Senate - in which we sit at the present moment? What is the function of the element of the House of the people or the House of government, that is, the House of Representatives?
We have a bicameral system of two chambers, having some equality in constitutional powers. Parliament means something entirely different from what has been canvassed and debated either in the Senate today or in another pl’ace. Parliament is a focal point from which governments can be derived and at which society can sustain and maintain itself by government. Amongst the English speaking people - and it seems to me only amongst the English speaking people - has been evolved a system of government which can draw its resources from a place known as the parliament from which a government can be derived, where a government can seek support, where it can be sustained and where finally, if it fails, an opportunity is provided for the people to destroy the government. That is why we have elections.
So in all this nonsense that has been talked about one vote one value, we are omitting or eliminating from our thoughts the function that parliament exists to provide, that is, government. We cannot argue about parliament in any other terms than that it is a focal point to provide government for the people, for the society from which parliament derives its strength. Characteristically, there has been involved in this debate arguments as to whether the weight of electoral opinion should fall, whether people who live in remote areas should have a weighted advantage in relation to people who are more densely settled. All of this has been hammered out in the debate here and in another place since these redistribution proposals were brought in.
It is perfectly true that in the history of this Parliament, one of the things that has concerned it is to see that theses weightings are not unduly expressed one way or the other. It is a constant battle to get the fairest possible system of representation. But there has emerged in this debate by hints in the last 3 weeks - this has been clearly focussed by Senator Little - that there is another value in relation to parliament. That is why I interjected to ask Senator Little to mention the seats in Victoria at which he hinted 3 weeks ago and which he has now named. He suggests that the will of the people shall not be expressed in parliament, but that a particular party that can command a particular vote under particular circumstances can express its will against the will of the majority of the people. That is what he is arguing about.
– How do you read that into it?
– I shall go through the list. He has taken the seats of Beaumaris, Diamond Valley, Henty, Hotham, La Trobe, Maroondah and Ballaarat. What Senator Little has not said, but what he has made perfectly clear, is that he is not advocating a system of parliamentary government. He is advocating a system in which the minority can always control the majority.
– In proportional representation?
– I am not arguing about proportional representation. All I am saying is that the honourable senator is arguing for a system by which the minority can always impose its will on the majority. The Parliamentary system has evolved as a system that the majority will shall prevail, not that the minority will shall prevail.
– Is that what the Country Party says?
– 1 am arguing about what Senator Little says. I hold fundamentally that the parliamentary system is based on the capacity for the will of the majority sitting in the parliament to bc expressed, not on the minority representation sitting in the parliament imposing its will. This means the very destruction of government. This means the destruction of the parliamentary system. That is what Senator Little is arguing for.
– I did not say a word about the Parliament itself; I was talking about what happens in the election of the Parliament.
– I merely state that the parliamentary system is based on the capacity of a government to draw its resources from members of the Parliament sitting in their places.
-The fact is that they sit in their places because the people sat them there.
– They sit there because a majority of the people put them there. The parliamentary system is not one in which a minority can take a place in the Parliament and impose its will on the majority. This is what parliamentary government is about. Any argument to the contrary is one for the destruction of the parliamentary system.
– ls the honourable senator suggesting that that relates to the election of the Parliament?
– 1 am only making a statement. The honourable senator may subsequently attempt to rebut that argument that 1 am putting. I emphasise that parliamentary government is based on the capacity of a government to draw its resources from members of the Parliament sitting in their places. It is for the majority of the members sitting in their places to provide the government. That is what parliamentary government amounts to. A government is sustained by and draws its resources from the strength that it can obtain in the Parliament.
– The honourable senator is advocating the disfranchisement of tens of thousands of people.
– No, I am not advocating that. The fundamentals of parliamentary government have been sustained and the system of parliamentary government has grown over some hundreds of years on the basis that minorities have rights and that parliaments should seek to guard the rights of minorities. But minorities do not have privileges. Senator Little’s argument in the Senate tonight is for privileges. He has taken a number of electorates one after the other and has said that if the go vernment of the day is not subscribing to the point of view that he is advocating he will destroy that government.
– That is what he is saying.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Dame Ivy Wedgwood) - Order! Senator Cormack will be heard in silence.
– By interjection I asked Senator Little to nominate the seats in the context of which he adduced his argument in respect of Victoria. I took a note of them as he gave them one after the other. I asked him to provide the numbers that his calculations produced and he gave the numbers. What he has said in relation to one seat after another - Beaumaris, Diamond Valley, Henty, Hotham, La Trobe, this, that and the other right through the whole list of seats - is that if the Parliament does not subscribe to the point of view that he advocates he will destroy the government of the day in an election, because there is a series of votes which he claims, and has demonstrated quite clearly, conclusively and coherently, can be transferred from one party to another. He has indicated in the clearest possible terms that in a situation such as that, the minority, not the majority, will destroy the government of the day. That is what parliamentary government is about. I believe that a crisis is involved in this matter, lt is a crisis that I am willing to accept.
– This debate on whether the Senate should adopt the decision of the distribution commissioners in the redistribution of Victorian electoral boundaries has proved that honourable senators are somewhat resourceful in producing differences of viewpoint from various quarters of the chamber. 1 suggest that a notable feature of the debate is that the Australian Labor Party has put forward an amendment the substance of which is that the Senate approves the proposed redistribution. It is in the light of the substantive words of the Labor Party’s amendment - that the Senate approves the redistribution - that we should consider the strength, weakness or significance of its argument.
In the first place we beard from Senator Poyser who, in somewhat extravagant language, said that there had been a gerrymander. But scrutiny of the figures shows that, under the proposed distribution, of the first ten seats in which the number of electors on the roll exceeds 55,000, five are Liberal Party seats and the other five are Australian Labor Party seats. So T would not think that a very forceful argument in support of the suggestion that there has been a gerrymander would stem from that one consideration of the list of electorates. The second point that one should notice about Senator Poyser’s speech is that he pointed out that at the time when the Commonwealth Electoral Act was framed - in 1902, when the relevant section under which we still operate, despite variations made in the meantime, was framed - it made the following provision:
In making any proposed distribution of a State into Divisions, the Distribution Commissioners shall so determine the proposed Divisions that each Division contains a number of electors not exceeding, or falling short of, the quota of electors by more than one-fifth of the quota.
Senator Poyser suggested that there was justification for that differential at the lime of federation because of the difficulty of communications, lt is in that very idea that the weakness of the Labor Party’s argument lies. Its argument denies that distance is a continuing difficulty - lesser in degree than it was at the time of federation, but a continuing difficulty - in our larger electorates in making representation of the elector by the elected representative effective.
Then we heard from the master of manoeuvring in these matters - Senator Kennelly - who perhaps will forgive the compliment. None of us here would deny his special experience with regard to electoral management and his knowledge of electoral provisions. I have no doubt that in the course of his very vivid experience he has penetrated the interpretation of the various provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act with great force. The best that he could come up with by way of criticism was the statement that he was mystified by the configuration of the electorate of Bendigo. He asked: ‘Why not allow the three towns of Maryborough, Castlemaine and Bendigo to be in one electorate because of community of interest?’ The manner of his speech would have led anyone listening carefully to him to the view that the commissioners had departed from the provisions of the Act by ignoring community of interest. It is not for me to enter into all the valleys and cross all the mountains to which he referred in relation to the electorate of Bendigo.
– Or to drive the cows home.
– I will leave the cows until I come to the electorate of Wannon. The fact is that the Act requires the distribution commissioners to have regard to:
Senator Kennelly was fair enough to say that he would be the last to stand in his place here today and suggest any want of good faith on the part of the commissioners. But 1 suggest that he has clearly failed to take into account the entirety of those conditions that I have referred to and, in his judgment, would seek to persuade us to accept one criterion only as the means of sub-dividing Bendigo. That criterion is community of interest. If .1 may be permitted to do so, 1 suggest that the honourable senator was even more vulnerable in his argument with regard to Wannon. He said that this electorate consisted of people who produce sheep, dairy products, potatoes and onions. His complaint was that there was part of the electorate where wheat was grown. I ask honourable senators to contemplate the enormity of any representation of a closely settled metropolitan area who has political experience of a small industrial electorate considering that the people who grow sheep have a community of interest with people whom Senator Kennelly was good enough to call cow growers. Such are the deep understandings which these masters of metropolitan vote manoeuvring bring to a consideration of how commissioners should subdivide a district such as Wannon.
– I am one who comes from such a district.
– Senator Cormack is proud to come from Wannon, whether he be classed as a sheep grower or an ox. Senator Little made a contribution that 1 thought provided a complete and definite answer to all the suggestions that came from the Australian Labor Party that there was such a differential among the electors as really to produce an unfairness from the point of view of subdivisions. An analysis of Senator Little’s contribution fundamentally undermines those suggestions. Reference to the figures shows that the electorates of Victoria have been so subdivided by the commissioners that the electorate with the greatest number of electors in it, that of Wills, has an enrolment of 58,213 and the one which has the lowest number of electors enrolled - Mallee - has an enrolment of 45,218. The quota in the Stale is 51,607. So there we have the topmost electorate with about 7,000 above the quota and the lowest electorate with about 6,000 below.
Having regard to the fact that the commissioners are enjoined to take into consideration all the factors I have mentioned, including the trend in population, it is quite obviously a mark of their impartial wisdom that they have provided a margin of thai degree to lake account of the possible trend, before the next redistribution, of the growth of or reduction in population similar to that which we have experienced over the past 7 years, together with the other factors that have been mentioned. 1 am bound to say that that fact, added to Senator Little’s argument, alfords complete refutation of the Australian Labor Party’s complaint.
I suggest that Senator Little’s advocacy of proportional representation in the House of Representatives requires a little further consideration. I speak as one who comes from Tasmania, the State which is proud to have been the exponent, both in theory and practice, of the system of proportional representation since. I think, about the year 1906.
– The March Hare system.
– No, the Hare-Clark system. Clark is a very honoured name in Tasmania and elsewhere throughout Australia where there is learning in the law. But wilh all my devotion to proportional representation in a proper context, I would point out to the Senate, and especially to Senator Little, that if proportional representation were to be applied to the House of Representatives in connection with the State of Victoria, then the initial decision that would have to be made would be whether the whole State should be taken as one electorate or whether it should be divided into regions. If you divided the State into regions, whether it were four or ten instead of the present number of electorates, which is thirty-four, 1 suggest you would fall into a greater area of disputation in defining the boundaries of those fewer regions than you would in defining the more particular boundaries of the thirty-four electorates. That is the first thing.
– I am not suggesting this, but would it not be more logical lo treat the whole State as one electorate?
– lt is suggested that we lake, the State as one electorate. My first proposition was that you first have to make a decision as to whether the State shall be treated as one electorate or whether it shall be divided into regions. For the sake of argument, let us take the suggestion Senator Kennelly has put forward. That brings me to the second consideration I wanted to obtrude upon the attention of the Senate.
If we did treat the whole of Victoria as one electorate we would then have a ballot paper which, on any reasonable estimate, would have on it no fewer than from 100 to 200 names. Then, I suggest, you would have a position which anybody with the slightest vestige of experience in electoral matters would readily admit could lead to a denial of the suffrage and a disfranchisement of the great majority of the electors, who would simply fail to penetrate such a wilderness, such a variegated list of candidates, and so fail to effectuate a valid vote.
It satisfies my spirit of contention to offer just those few remarks on the debate in the Senate. I have already taken too much time, out of respect for the arguments to which I have listened with interest, and I now come to the proposition that Senator Kennelly has put before us with regard to the names of some of the electorates. I deal first with the name of that statesman and Prime Minister from the Australian
Labor Party, to whom Senator Kennelly referred - a former Prime Minister, Mr Scull in. The Australian Labor Party seeks to have his name substituted for the name Darebin. That is acceptable to the Government.
Amendment (by Senator Wright) - by leave - agreed to:
Substitute ‘Scullin’for ‘Darebin’.
– In that form I recommend the motion to the Senate. But a word of explanation as to the other suggestions is due to the record and to the Senate. Senator Kennelly has suggested that the name Menzies be substituted for Kooyong. It is most gratifying to the tradition of Parliament that a man of such long experience in politics opposed to Sir Robert Menzies should see fit to make here tonight what I think is a very honourable suggestion in relation to him. However deep out opposition may be to the political policies fought for in the Parliament, that suggestion indicates the sense of honour we have for the tradition of the Parliament.
Having said that, I must indicate that it is the Government’s wish that we should remind ourselves that the name Kooyong is a name of some tradition in the State of Victoria. In addition, none of us has had the opportunity specifically to consult with Sir Robert Menzies to learn his wishes in this matter. However, bearing in mind some references that this great Prime Minister made on a few occasions in years gone by I do know that he looked with a great deal of flinching to the prospect of his name being attached to an electorate in the Commonwealth. Therefore we would ask the Senate to postpone consideration of that suggestion bearing in mind the proposal and indicating our great respect for the person and achievements of Sir Robert Menzies. May I remind the Senate that it was the great poet who said that some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them. I ask the Senate not to insist upon thrusting this form of greatness upon the illustrious name of Sir Robert Menzies on this occasion.I recommend the motion to the Senate.
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Poyser’s amendment) be left out.
The Senate divided. (The Deputy President - Senator T. C. Drake-Brockman)
Majority . . 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question, as amended by leave, resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 26 September (vide . page 998), on motion by Senator Scott:
That the Senate approves of the redistribution of the State of Queensland into Electoral Divisions as proposed by Messrs I. F. Weise, E. F. Lane and E. Smith, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing the said State into Divisions, in their Report laid before the Senate on the 18th day of September 1968, and that the names of the Divisions suggested in the Report, and indicated in the map referred to therein, be adopted.
I have listened to the debate on the redistribution proposals in relation to other States and am somewhat bemused by the interpretation of the word ‘democracy’ and the definition of the phrase ‘democratic rights’. I now know why there is such a variation throughout the world in the understanding of democracy and why we support the regime in Greece, the guided democracies to the north of us, the so-called democracies of the Soviets and the democracy in the United States of America where a man needs to be first a millionaire before he can become President. I can understand all this because here we seem to have our own brand of democracy.
I have noticed throughout the debate that although some honourable senators agree that democracy is based on the equal value of the vote of a citizen, others do not. Some, in particular members of the Australian Country Party, suggest that the vote of a shearer perhaps should be twice the value of the vote of a boilermaker, and that perhaps the size of a person’s property out west should give him in some way an interest greater than that of the ratepayer in the city. To me, it is simple enough. Democracy is based on the principle of one vote one value. If in the debates today certain people have taken steps towards establishing this principle, in spite of the experience of the past which denies it, we are moving in the right direction and we should push this principle even if it takes us perhaps to the interpretation that was placed on it by Senator Little.
– Would the honourable senator permit any variation of that principle?
– The principle of one vote one value?
– 1 cannot see that this can hold and still result in a democratic form of government because I believe that Parliament must be responsive to the people and it can be responsive to the people only if the vote of each of the citizens has the same value as the vote of every other citizen. Let us see how responsive this Parliament has been to the people.
– Would the honourable senator permit any variation at all of that principle?
– No. 1 just explained that. I said no. In 1961 the LiberalCountry Party obtained 40% of the votes in the House of Representatives election held in that year. It received 62 seats. The Australian Labor Party obtained 47% of the votes in that election and held 62 seats and did not succeed to the government. I turn to the election that was held for the House of Representatives in 1963. The Liberal-Country Party obtained 45% of the votes and held 72 seats while the Australian Labor Party which received 46% of the votes, I % more than the Government received, held only 52 seats. In the House of Representatives election in 1966, the Government received 49.67% of the votes and as a result was rewarded with 84 seats. The Australian Labor Party obtained 40.54% of the votes and held only 39 seats. We insist that this result does not reflect the will of the people.
In the States we have an even stranger result of democratic representation. In Queensland in the last State election the Australian Labor Party received 354,000 votes and held 26 seats. The Liberal Party polled 203,000 votes and obtained 20 seats. But the Country Party which received 151,000 votes held 27 seats. In the recent South Australian State election, the party that received 52% of the votes is not the Government today. I suggest that this matter ought to be looked at.
– What about England where 58% of the Parliament was elected by the support of only 48% of the people?
– The examples that relate to Australia are sufficient to prove the point that I am making. We must consider the redistribution proposals for Queensland in a different light from that in which we have considered the proposals for the other States. We have the peculiar situation in Queensland that the report of the distribution commissioners is a divided report. Three commissioners, made recommendations for Queensland. Those commissioners were: Mr Weise who is the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the said State; Mr Lane of Brisbane who is the Director of Posts and Telegraphs in Queensland; and Mr Smith. We find that Mr Weise has dissented from the opinions of distribution commissioners Lane and Smith. For this reason, it is my intention to move an amendment.I will do so now. I move:
Leave out all words after ‘That’, insert - the Senate disapproves of the distribution of the State of Queensland into electoral divisions as proposed by the distribution commissioners, for the reasons stated in the dissent expressed by the chairman of the commissioners, MrI. F. Weise, Commonwealth Electoral Officer for Queensland, and requests the Minister to refer back to the commissioners the redistribution of the State of Queensland into electoral divisions for a fresh distribution’.
The reasons given by Mr Weise are the reasons thatI will give to support this amendment. BeforeI do so, I wish to impress upon the Senate that Mr Weise is the expert on the panel of three distribution commissioners. The other two men, as far as electoral matters are concerned, are laymen. It is important to take this fact into consideration when reading what Mr Weise’s opinion is. Mr Weise stated:
My reasons for dissent from the proposals of the majority of the Distribution Commissioners are as follows:
This is the case Mr Weise put up. He is the expert on the panel. Here we see the chairman of a commission disagreeing with his fellow commissioners. In this extreme situation,I feel it only reasonable to support the contention that the whole redistribution proposal should be referred back to the commissioners.
The idea of a great western seat in Queensland is a good one. The previous divisions tended to go from the far west almost into the provincial cities. In some cases they did so. The Maranoa division came within a few miles of Brisbane. The concept of a great western country seat with a community of interest, which is vital, is a definite improvement.I think Mr Weise’s argument is sufficient to support my amendment. I will not go into the arguments advanced by the other two commissioners because I do not think it is necessary. The concept of one vote one value has been canvassed and supported sufficiently. I suggest to the Senate that, in view of Mr Weise’s opinion and the fact that he differs so diametrically from the opinion of the other two commissioners, the amendment should be supported by the Senate.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment.
– I support the resolution for the adoption of the commissioners’ report for the State of Queensland and oppose the amendment. To my way of thinking the amendment is a delaying tactic. Mr Weise’s reasons for dissenting from the majority report have been quoted. His report is not a minority one. 1 stress that. One has only to look at the cover of his report to see that it states that the report contains reasons for dissent. 1 have the greatest respect for Mr Weise and his thoughts on this subject. He is a very respected Commonwealth officer in Queensland. I have noticed, in the submissions by the various political parties, that the case put by the Australian Labor Party in Queensland is very similar to the reasons advanced by Mr Weise for not agreeing with the other two commissioners. Queensland, like some of the bigger States, has a large area that is sparsely populated. Mr Weise’s report suggests a new seat to be called Vickers, which lakes in 53% of the area of Queensland. This cuts right across all the lines of communication. The early statesmen developed communications to go from the nearest point on the coast inland and not for them all to be brought to a single capital city on the coast, as is the case in some of the other States. These lines of communication - railways, roads, airways and telegraph channels - have grown accordingly. The present division of Kennedy takes in only two of these lines of communication - that is, from Rockhampton inland and from Townsville inland. lt has great community of interest and under no circumstances should it be extended to take in the south west. It would be very difficult for one person to represent such an electorate, lt is hard enough now for a member, in his term of office, to visit every little hamlet and settlement.
At present three divisions cover 90% of the State. They are Leichhardt, Maranoa and Kennedy. Three members represent that area. The other fifteen represent the remaining 10%. The idea that one member should represent 53% of Queensland in the proposed seat of Vickers - which is the plan that the Opposition seems to want - is completely out of line with ALP thinking when it was in complete control of Queensland. In the debate on the proposed redistributions in the other States honourable senators opposite have stated that the ALP was prevented from putting its ideas into force because an upper house stopped it from doing so. They cannot use that argument in relation to Queensland. Labor was in complete control there. The same organisation and the same policy apply in the State and Federal spheres in the State of Queensland.
The last State redistribution in Queensland was under a Labor government led by Mr Hanlon when he was Premier. Mr Hanlon was a respected member of the ALP and a respected Premier of Queensland. I have never heard his views and his thoughts being dissented from or repudiated by the ALP. That was the last chance the ALP had. It has not had a chance since to have a redistribution in Queensland. lt lost control before the next redistribution.
– We could have had one. We could have had one during the 6 years 1 was Premier.
– You did not have one. That is the point. Mr Hanlon’s Labor Government had this redistribution in 1949. His plan was to divide the State into four zones for the purpose of the redistribution. He evolved the idea of a metropolitan zone of 24 seats with a quota of 10.716 votes; a southern division, the area closest to Brisbane, of 28 seats with a quota of 9,536 votes; a north Queensland division of 13 seats with a quota of 7,852 votes; and western Queensland division of 10 seats with a quota of 4,783 votes. The 10 western seats, with some others, cover the present Kennedy and Maranoa electorates. I shall quote what Mr Hanlon, as Leader of the Government and Premier of Queensland, said when he was speaking on the Electoral Districts Bill in the Queensland Parliament.
– What date was that?
– That was in 1949. Mr Hanlon said:
The population of Brisbane is growing rapidly, but we do not wish to reach the stage in this Stale when the representation of Brisbane in this Parliament will overshadow country representation, lt has not in the past and it would be very foolish for Parliament to allow that result to take place. It would be a bad thing not only for the country people but in the last analysis a bad thing for the metropolitan area, because on the successful development and expansion of our country areas depend the very life and security of our capital cities, ft is not a good thing for a -growing population in the metropolitan area to obtain an overwhelming control of representation in Parliament. Therefore we propose to make a drastic alteration in the method of representation under this Bill.
The present law provides for the division of the numbers of electors in the State by the number of members of Parliament:-
That was the law prior to 1949. the quota for our metropolitan area being the same as for the outback areas.
Mr Hanlon went on to say:
To continue thai principle would be fatal. There would be the ever growing representation of the capital city and the ever lessening representation of the rural and, particularly, far northern areas. To my mind, the danger spot of the Commonwealth is the far north and consequently it is essential for our welfare - and the welfare of the people in Sydney and Melbourne as well, if they only realised it - that the northern part of the Stale should bc populated, So we propose to zone the Slate and to make the fust zone the metropolitan area and put a limit on the number of members the metropolitan area can have.
That is a very long way from the principle of one vote one value as suggested by the same Australian Labor Party today. I think it was Senator Murphy who referred yesterday to the principle of one vote one value as the core of democracy. He did not agree that country people should have votes of more value than people in city areas. He did not appreciate that a member of his own Parly in Queensland not so long ago had stated something quite different as the official spokesman for the Parly in Queensland. I wish lo quote several more extracts from the report of the same debate in the Queensland Parliament. My next quotation is from a speech of the Hon. V. C. Gair, at that time Deputy Premier of Queensland and the Minister in charge of the Bill being debated. Mr Gair - now Senator Gair - said: lt is all very well for fie Leader of the Opposition to say that Townsville should have the same quota as Brisbane. I cannot support that contention. Townsville has a greater community of interest with these electorates than with the city of Brisbane. It is more concerned with the electorates in the Northern Zone, which have an important bearing on its economic life, than with the metropolitan district.
The electorates of the Northern Zone had quotas equal to about three-quarters of the quota of a metropolitan electorate.
– At what page does that appear?
– At page 2435 of the Queensland Hansard. Mr Gair went on:
No-one would say that we should disregard distances entirely, lt is so much humbug lo say . . that we represent people and not distances. That may bc so up lj a point–
I turn now to quote from another speech in the same debate, again from a speech by the Hon. V. C. Gair. He said: lt is our intention to avoid Lbc creation of unduly large electorates and the best way of ful filling that intention is by specifying a quota irrespective of area. That is the principle in this Bill. In the last analysis it is the quotas that count: area’ is meaningless.
In referring to quotas the honourable gentleman meant the different numbers in different paris of the State. This redistribution scheme was ultimately adopted in Queensland. By the time a government from our side of politics took over in Queensland in 1957 - 8 years later - some of the small western electorates h.id about 4,000 electors while one metropolitan electorate had over 28,000 electors. Tha-, is a much greater disproportion than has been referred to today amongst federal electorates. lt is also noticeable that up to the time of the defeat of the ALP in 1957, its members held 9 of the 10 western seats and 10 of the 13 northern seats. I believe that the proposed redistribution for Queensland is fair and equitable. It provides for a margin either way of up to 20%. As has been pointed out in this debate, the Electoral Act has been in existence since 1902. It was not changed by the ALP when it was in command of both Federal Houses of Parliament. The quota has enabled the commissioners to balance areas and population at least to some degree. What is more important, it has enabled them to make the representation of the bigger electorates a little easier for members of Parliament, irrespective of politics. The electors Wl; receive a better deal in that they will be able to see their members at least occasionally.
Although honourable senators opposite speak of one vote one value they do not seem to care whether electors have a chance to see their member. They do not care that a member may find it physically impossible to travel through the whole of his electorate in a 3-year term. They seem to forget that in the country electorates the greater part of Australia’s export income is gained, on which this country is so dependent. The primary producers in those electorates have every right to be visited by their member of Parliament at least once in the life of a parliament. That is not possible even in some of the smaller communities. It is even harder in bigger areas and would be almost impossible if it were decided that each electorate should have about the same number of voters. I suggest that the Senate should support the recommendations of the commissioners in Queensland and defeat the proposed amendment.
– In the short time available to me I want to point out that Senator Lawrie made his greatest mistake in his contribution to this debate by contradicting the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott). Apparently they have divergent views, or perhaps 1 should say opposite views, and no doubt they will be answerable to each other in the respective Party rooms. I wish to support the amendment so capably moved by my colleague Senator Georges. 1 believe that what I propose to say will highlight and expose the statements that have just been made by Senator Lawrie. If we are talking of gerrymanders, in Queensland if one is a member of the Country Party and a successful candidate-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, 1 formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I propose to speak about a matter which I consider concerns the Parliament and in particular the Senate very deeply. I realise that in a democracy there must be a supreme authority. In Australia I believe that the supreme authority is this Parliament. Irrespective of the respect in which individual incumbents of parliamentary office may bc held at any time, the Parliament as an institution must be respected. 1 suggest that criticism which is fair and relates to a subject which has been decided is not only to be tolerated but is to be expected and desired. But I suggest that Parliament as an institution must not be permitted to be held up to ridicule and contempt. I do not object to the right of any group of architects or any other professional people to meet to discuss, to decide upon and to form a pressure group in relation to any matter which happens to be before the Parliament, but I do object when they make statements such as those which were made recently by a group of architects. Bearing in mind that they may have been misquoted in the Press I simply read the report, for what it is worth, lt states that one of the architects meeting recently in Canberra and discussing the question of the siting of the parliament house, which was debated recently in this chamber, said that a letter which they had received was indicative of the lunatic atmosphere in which the matter was being discussed in Parliament. He went on to say: lt would be a disaster if the selection of the Parliament house site were to be made in the traditional vacuum of parliamentary discussion.
He referred to the extreme folly of allowing unskilled people to make the selection. I suggest that when remarks such as those are made a line must be drawn. When it is said that it would be quite ludicrous to ignore the planners and to allow Parliament to decide on a matter, I suggest that a line must be drawn. I suggest that these remarks were a breach of common decency, a breach of the ethics of any professional group and a breach of parliamentary privilege. 1 do not suggest that the misguided enthusiast who was reported to have made the remarks should be brought before the House to answer for his insult to the age old democratic institution of parliament, but I do take the opportunity to say that his remarks and the apparent condonation of them by other persons present were impertinent, not only to individuals in this place but also to the institution itself.
I believe that these experts were taking a lot upon themselves when they, in a relatively brief meeting, decided that it would be ludicrous to ignore them and to decide other than in accordance with their opinion. I respect their opinions, insofar as they are honestly given after due consideration, but I hope that they will respect the opinions of others. I take the opportunity to remind them that they, in a letter to all members and senators, said that their profession viewed with concern the trend of the recent debate on the siting of parliament house, which concern culminated in a meeting of eminent architects and planners from all States of Australia who, after viewing both sites under consideration, unanimously picked the lakeside site as the most suitable, both aesthetically and functionally. Of the twenty who were present at that meeting. 1 wonder how many could be regarded as experts on the needs of a parliament house from a functional point of view.
In debating the site for a new and permanent parliament house we in this place had the assistance of a group of experts of our own. persons who to use the definition of ‘expert’, have pursued a course of study to qualify themselves to express an opinion in relation to a certain subject matter. I suggest that members of our Committee, who pursued a special course of study in relation to this matter, are qualified as experts and are entitled to express an opinion of value - of equal value, perhaps, to that of any group of architects whose knowledge in relation to the functional aspect of a parliament may well be suspect. I suggest that it does not behove a group of architects lo take a high and mighty attitude on a subject in the manner in which they have on this occasion. To do so is I believe to the everlasting shame of professional groups in Australia. Fortunately the other professions have been able to play their part in making their opinions known in surroundings of temperance and professional decorum and restraint.
Let us as a parliament be ever vigilant to protect the right of all, so-called experts or otherwise, to meet, to decide and to speak, but let us not tolerate impertinence and intemperance of the type apparently displayed by this unfortunate group. Let us nol forget that as a profession they must accept that their expertise managed to design and estimate the cost of that beautiful while elephant in Sydney, the Opera House, at S85m. Whilst we must never ignore !he experts, let us not be cowed by them into extravaganzas and impossibilities of that nature. Let us give their opinion due weight in reaching a decision, but having listened to the experts from both sides, from the parliamentary side and from the architectural side, let us reach a decision. Let us be ever vigilant to ensure that even though Parliament’s decisions may be attacked, the institution of Parliament is protected from such unwarranted and illinformed attacks.
– I support the remarks which have just been made by Senator
Rae. In doing so 1 wish to make several points clear. First, I am not particularly agitated in my own mind as to where the new and permanent parliament house is situated, so long as I am silting in it somewhere. In fact, I may be one of the very few, if not the only member of this chamber, who did not say a word about the subject, either here or anywhere else, while it was under discussion. The second matter that I mention is that ] certainly do not take objection, as I should imagine none of us does, to any professional body or any other sort of body making representations to Parliament. All members of Parliament are constantly receiving letters from organisations representing either professional groups or groups involved in industry, either as manufacturers, producers or trade unions, submitting their views on various pieces of legislation coming before the Parliament. Indeed, many other groups make comments on the nature of legislation which is coming before Parliament, either urging that we support it or that we oppose it. So I believe that in an ordinary sense the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, like anybody else, is entitled to make submissions to members of Parliament.
It is not the fact that submissions have been made to the Parliament to which I object; like Senator Rae, I object to the manner in which the submissions have been made and the whole approach which has been adopted by this organisation in attempting to inflict its views on members of Parliament. I believe that the letter referred to by Senator Rae was written in a most dogmatic and what 1 would regard as a most offensive manner. On a subject such as this it is offensive to Parliament, whatever the merits of the situation of parliament house may be, to open up by saying ‘the concern of my profession at the trend of the recent debate on the siting of Parliament’, and so on. I believe that these are offensive words. I believe that someone may make comments as to where he thinks a house of parliament should be or anything else that should be done by Parliament, but to refer to the trend of the debate in Parliament - I speak as someone who took no part in the debate - is to refer offensively to Parliament and to those members who took part in the discussions within Parliament on the subject which was before it. I submit that there could conceivably be, both in view of this matter and in view of other matters to which Senator Rae has referred, a case for the Committee of Privileges of this Senate to investigate.
Not only has the Institute written this letter which, although it is not by any means as savage as some of the other statements that have been made, is certainly offensive in tone, but we have also had statements which have been made at meetings of architects. How representative the meetings were, I do not know, but it is certainly grossly offensive to the Parliament for people who are making some sort of request to it, or for anybody else for that matter, lo say these things - to refer to the lunatic atmosphere in which a debate in the Parliament is conducted, and to talk about the traditional vacuum of parliamentary discussions. I have not attended any meetings of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and I am unable to compare the vacuity of any other discussion, but if the prose style of the president is any indication I doubt whether the language of Shakespeare is being employed to the highest degree in which it can be employed in the Institute’s deliberations.
Then there are these references to unskilled people. In fact, although this is not the subject of the discussion, the references to unskilled people perhaps in some respects could be applied to the Institute itself, because in fact what was debated by the Parliament, as I recollect it, was not the design of the new and permanent Parliament House. Nobody was talking about what sort of building should be erected, or where the windows or doors should be. What was under discussion was where the parliament house should be, not how it should be designed, whether it should look like the Sydney Opera House or Goulburn gaol, or whether it should have some other appearance perhaps more in line with a parliamentary building. Possibly of the two Goulburn gaol would be the more appropriate. No-one discussed these matters.
– Goulburn gaol is a place that one cannot get out of.
– That is so. The other difficulty is the one which aspiring members of parliament usually have. In fact 1 would have wondered to what extent in any event the site of parliament house is a matter for the specialised knowledge of architects. 1 would have felt that in any event if anyone were to make a decision it should be an institute of town planners rather than the Institute of Architects. However that may be, 1 atn not saying that anybody is not entitled to make submissions to the Parliament.
I do not agree completely with Senator Rae that neither the Institute of Architects nor anybody else is entitled to engage in these gross reflections on the conduct of parliamentary proceedings. I am not one who is constrained constantly to say that members of Parliament are the most important people in the community and that they ought to be entitled to all sorts of privileges. But I believe that over the years a great many people in all sections of the community who should know better have been only too ready to disparage the Parliament and members of Parliament. Frequently on the flimsiest of evidence and most unjust claims statements are made about parliamentary salaries - I must confess that I made them myself before I was a member - being grossly in excess of what anybody in the Parliament could ever hope to earn, whereas we well know that there are a great many members of this Parliament who certainly would be at least as eminent in their professions as is Mr J. H. McConnell whose name, I must confess, until I received the letter from him was completely unknown to me.
This constant reflection on the Parliament, this constant bringing of the Parliament into disparagement, is something which is, I believe, damaging to the whole of the democratic system of government. To say that parliamentary debates are conducted in a lunatic atmosphere and that there is a traditional vacuum in parliamentary discussions - apparently, whatever decisions are taken, whatever government has power, whatever point of view happens to be in the majority or in the minority - is completely disrespectful not only to the Parliament itself and to the members of Parliament but also to the system of parliamentary government.
I believe that this Parliament should say something to the Royal Australian Institute of Architects as to the insulting way in which it has referred lo the Parliament. There is another matter. A question was asked about it this morning by my fellow Western Australian, Senator Withers. While the Institute of Architects is questioning the intelligence of members of this chamber, at the same time perhaps there ought to be a little examination of those people within the Institute who are so keen on this issue, lt may be interesting to discover, as Senator Withers suggested, precisely how many of those people who were parties to these letters and to the insulting remarks that have been made have perhaps received some past, favours from the National Capital Development Commission, and how many of them might be anticipating some favours in the future. If they are prepared to discuss members of Parliament in the tone in which they have done, I believe that we ought to come here with all of our cards on the table and perhaps have a look at the architects themselves and see precisely what interest they do have in this question.
– I enter the debate at this late stage, when senators are weary at the end of their day, not in any high and mighty manner but simply as an individual who has been involved with architects. There is a curiosity about architects: Any mistakes are errors made by the client who asked for the building or the rogues who built the building; they are never mistakes made by an architect. I may be wrong in this, but that is my personal experience of architects. I must confess that the last time I was involved with architects 1 thought that with my minuscule knowledge by some rule of thumb I would do far better than by paying the normal 74% architect fees and the additional 2i% for supervision which is never there and the architectural specifications which the builder proceeds to drive a carriage through. So the unfortunate buyer, the unfortunate householder - myself in this instance - ends up as Senator Cotton has suggested to me tonight. He wondered whether the scars that I bear reflect my contact with architects. I say without fear of contradiction that they do.
This matter which was raised in the first place by Senator Rae and secondly by Senator Wheeldon, and the questions which were asked this morning, have impelled me to rise at this late hour to examine the capacity, intelligence and credibility of architects in relation to the centre in which we find ourselves. One of the first tests I have applied is to look at the buildings in Canberra and try to decide whether they represent the architectural quality that Mr McConnell has been very careful to explain in the letter that every honourable senator has received. [ am bound to confess that some of the most hideous buildings that have been erected in my lifetime exist: here in Canberra.
– There is the Country Party building.
– I think that is a bit unfair. It is a beautiful building in a modernistic design. Let us consider the role of the National Capital Development Commission. Take, for example, those hideous buildings over at Russell which house the Department of the Navy, the Department of the Army and the Department of Air. These are the most incredible buildings I have ever seen erected. They have been erected under the aegis of the National Capital Development Commission. I understand from a statement which was published some years ago, and which has never been denied, that they were erected according to a second hand set of specifications and quantity surveys which was bought from Owings Merrill and Skidmore, of San Francisco. They are now known as the Russell defence complex.
This bears no relation whatsoever to something which I discovered in the latest annual report of the National Capital Development Commission and about which I put a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior this afternoon. The annual report states:
The High Court site will be one of the most important in Canberra. The building will require the highest standards of design.
The Russell Defence complex is an area in which the highest standards of design are alleged to have been employed; but in fact a second hand set of specifications was bought from a firm of architects in San Francisco. I just wonder what this National Capital Development Commission is.
That leads me to another question. Also in the annual report of the Commission the
Commissioner, who. I see, has been knighted by Her Majesty, refers to the Commission being a statutory authority. What people who occupy positions in statutory authorities do not understand is that statutory authorities are the creatures of the Parliament; that it is the Parliament that set them up; and that what the Parliament gives the Parliament can take away. Apparently the National Capital Development Commission does not understand that what the Parliament gives the Parliament can withdraw. 1 believe that it might be advisable for that to be acknowledged and understood not only by the National Capital Development Commission but also by many other statutory authorities around the place whose members believe that they live outside the range of observation of the Parliament.
When the Parliament itself is vitally affected, as it is in relation to the decision on where Parliament House should be, it docs not lie within the capacity of outside agencies to intervene between the Parliament and its own needs and desires. That is the important point. That is what Mr McConnell’s letter shows he does not understand. He is the President of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, which is centred in that area of archConservatism at 79 Palmer Place,. North Adelaide, South Australia. He states in the first paragraph of his letter that this body of architects ‘unanimously favoured the lakeside site as the more suitable, both aesthetically and functionally’. What does the Royal Australian Institute of Architects know about the functional needs of the Parliament? I am prepared to concede a temporary, but only a temporary, appreciation of the value of aestheticism in any body of architects, because not only this national capital city but also our State capital cities are littered with architectural monstrosities. What is one generation’s aesthetic value is another generation’s poison. These are some of the things that worry me. Let this opinionative body decide what aesthetic values should be accorded to Parliament House; but what do the architects know about the functional responsibilities of the Parliament? Members of the Parliament understand these matters better than does anyone else.
In the last sentence on the first page of Mr McConnell’s letter I observe these words:
Major works have been constructed, others planned; it would surely be irresponsible to ignore all this.
Who has constructed these works? I have mentioned the Russell defence complex. Noone could be very proud of the architectural style, quality or value of that complex, just to take one instance. Apparently others are planned. Let me refer again to the annual report of the National Capital Development Commission, which I mentioned at question time this afternoon. We always believed that the alternative sites for Parliament House were the lakeside, Camp Hill and Capital Hill. Now we discover that on page 11 of its annual report the Commission has said:
External Affairs building: The Commission’s architects began to develop the master plan for the Camp Hill building complex. The first building there will be for the Department of External Affairs.
Apparently that has been decided, lt continues:
Others will include office, secretarial and conference buildings.
I do not mind the Commission involving itself in contingency plans; that is reasonable enough. But 1 thought that three sites were reserved so that the Parliament could have some option as to where Parliament House should be. J had begun to embark upon an exploration of the lakeside site when I was cut off 3 or 4 weeks ago. I dealt with the subjects of Tiberius Caesar and white swans. Perhaps it was well that I left the matter there. Another alternative was Camp Hill, which I now find has been pre-empted by the Commission. Another was Capita) Hill, which I thought the Senate had decided would be a suitable site. So the options are restricted. They are restricted by the National Capital Development Commission, it seems to me.
I am not very much interested in the problem that Senator Wheeldon raised as to whether privilege is involved. 1 believe that quite clearly privilege has been breached in this case. The Parliament is constantly involved in cases in which privilege has been breached. But the majesty of the Parliament is not enhanced, 1 suggest, by taking much notice of the minnows who swim around in some professional pool, such as this Royal Australian Institute of Architects. 1 believe that the Parliament can afford to disregard them. My view is fixed in a more careful direction that that.
There is a sequence of events in connection with this matter, and it disturbs me. The sequence of events is: The Senate by a vote decided, I believe properly, that the lakeside site was not suitable for Parliament House and that some other site should be sought. Then the National Capital Development Commission took certain action, apparently coincidentally. At this stage I can say only that it was coincidental, but being a politician I am highly suspicious. The Commission, having had its desires overridden by a vote of the Senate at least temporarily, then sought outside opinion, I suspect, and brought these architects to Canberra. J believe that Senator Withers - not, J suggest, with any artifice at all, but by virtue of his experience as a lawyer who looks at his client across the table, listens to his client’s talc, and because he has a suspicious mind says to himself: ‘But he is not telling me all the truth’ - fastened on to the truth today when he asked whether the architects who were assembled in Canberra were here because they were totally disinterested people.
I would be grateful if the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior would divulge to the Senate the information which Senator Wheeldon sought and which Senator Withers asked for this afternoon, namely, how many of these opinionative architects have been fattened by some commission or other from the National Capital Development Commission. In other words, is this an attempt to overawe the Parliament? That is what interests me more than the remarks that have been made by these people. I believe that the Senate should not allow this matter to go by default. 1 hope that the Ministers who are sitting in their places at the present moment will convey to the appropriate areas the message that the Parliament does not look upon this matter lightly; that the Senate does not look upon it lightly; and that those whom the Parliament makes the Parliament can destroy.
– J wish to say only a few words on this subject, f am concerned at the trend that this debate is taking. I am particularly concerned because today an honourable senator asked whether there had been a breach of privilege and the President deferred answering the question to enable him to consider the matter and to give the Senate a report on it. It would seem to me, from discussions I have had with various people who have some legal knowledge, that there is a general belief that what was published by the architects may constitute a breach of privilege. If that is also the opinion of the President of the Senate after he has given consideration to the matter then the next question is what our next step is to be. Where do we go from there? Do we try to punish certain architects for something that they have said?
Let us look at the matter in the true light in which it seems to have been presented. A group of architects met and discussed the question. What their qualifications are does not matter. I might say thai for many years 1 was engaged in a profession in which we tried to read architects’ drawings and specifications. Our duty was to cover up the mistakes of architects. Unlike the Pope, architects are not infallible. But that is beside the point.
Whatever their shortcomings, this group of architects met and decided to express an opinion contrary to that held by the Senate. Surely they have a right to criticise a decision made in this Parliament, lt is suggested now that the language in which they expressed their criticism was such as might constitute a breach of privilege. 1 would say that it was certainly language unbecoming of professional men. Nevertheless, if someone wants to say that we discuss things in a lunatic atmosphere, that is only an expression of opinion. Are not these people entitled to that opinion of how we discuss matters? It can be no more than their opinion. Are we so thin skinned that we resent this criticism of the way in which we discuss matters from time to time?
I agree that, architects are not the appropriate people to decide the functional qualities of a building. We have to decide that. We are the ordering authority. We are the letting authority. We decide what we want and where we want it and then we engage experts to incorporate in the building what we tell them we want. Obviously these architects have exceeded their position as authorities in this instance, but I would not like to see this matter get out of proportion by being taken to the point where we resent the criticism in strong language by this body of. I would say in this particular case, uninformed members of a profession who have decided to seek some publicity.
Some of this discussion surprises me. I have been at meetings where I have heard much criticism of the way in which the business of the Senate is conducted. I have heard it suggested that members of Parliament were wasting their time because they had discussed whether the new Parliament House should go on the hill or on the lakeside and it was suggested we would be better off joining our local Boy Scouts group than attending in the Parliament. I do not condemn this criticism. If people want to criticise the methods by which we conduct our proceedings here we should not be thin skinned about it. I do not think we are so guilty that we should take umbrage at criticism that may be offered, and I do not agree that we should feel that some grievous wrong has been done in this instance. If people want to criticise our methods of arriving at decisions, let them go ahead with their criticism.
Senator MCCLELLAND (New South Wales) [I 1.36J - 1 wish to speak on the same subject. I utterly endorse the remarks of Senator Cavanagh. I am a member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee that has been established to inquire into the proposed erection of a new parliament house. Naturally, my attention was drawn to the articles that appeared in the Press last week as the result of a gathering of architects in Canberra to discuss this matter. Then, when I returned to Canberra this week this letter was waiting for me.
Like Senator Cavanagh, I am rather concerned at the trend of this debate. After all, we in this Parliament are in fact representatives of the people and representatives of the community. I. believe that we should be setting ourselves out to encourage people to give us their views so that we will be better informed to represent them. Whether we agree wilh the views which are submitted to us is another question.
Frankly, the views that have come to members of this Parliament in this letter that has been received from the Royal Aus tralian Institute of Architects are views which in my opinion have already been put before the Joint Committee by responsible officers of the National Capital Development Commission. But, as I say, I believe it is our responsibility to remember at all times that people who have an opinion are to be encouraged to write to us and express that opinion. Frankly, unlike my colleague Senator Wheeldon, I do not find anything offensive at all in this letter that has been received from the Chairman of the Royal Institute of Architects.
– What about the statement of the traditional vacuum of parliamentary debate?
– The honourable senator might be concerned about it. They obviously are concerned at a decision that was arrived at by the Parliament. There are other people who are concerned at other decisions that are arrived at by the Parliament from time to time. Indeed, governments sometimes fall because of decisions that have been arrived at by the Parliament. T certainly wish to state that so far as I personally am concerned I encourage people who have opinions to write to me and express them in whatever manner they so desire.
– Like other honourable senators, I rise to speak for only a few moments about the same matter. I think that this matter may be exaggerated out of all due proportion. I think that the Senate, as a debating chamber in a parliamentary democracy, must be sensitive to criticism, must be receptive of criticism and must not unduly resent criticism.
The action that has been taken by these gentlemen I think is, to say the least, an example of shockingly bad taste. For a professional association such as this to express itself in the terms it did is something that perhaps deserves condemnation; if not the formal condemnation of this chamber then at least the condemnation of people in society who look for a better standard of performance by professional organisations and their members. We must commend any professional body that is at least sufficiently interested in this tremendous subject of the site for the new parliament house to express opinions with relation to it. But these opinions could have been otherwise expressed. At least I would say that if this protest had come in the form of a letter over a name which had some great significance such as Grotius, Le Corbusier or Frank Lloyd Wright, it might have attracted a great deal of attention. But we do not know the gentleman concerned. Personally, I think the letter he wrote is not objectionable but I do think the terms in which the protests of the professional body were expressed are certainly subject to objection. I would certainly say that those who would use such terms in relation to a debating chamber of the Parliament, while they may be conscious of the physical proportions which should be assumed by the parliament house, are completely unaware of the life and spirit which breathes vitality into the institution.
If this is a demonstration of their lack of appreciation that Parliament goes far beyond the physical building which encompasses it and therefore should be immune to ill-tempered, bad-mannered attack such as we have seen, then I would say these people are hardly competent to express an opinion as to the siting of the democratic institution, the permanent parliament house. I think that beyond that the Senate should not give it any further consideration. These people really do not warrant the attention that has been given them by this chamber tonight. I think the matter now could well be left to rest. Let their conduct be its own condemnation. I am sure those who have read the document have been disgusted at the attitude that has been taken. A formal reprimand by this chamber will not be required to drive the point home.
– I feel tonight something like the four-round boxer who gets in after the main event has ended. I want to ventilate another topic and refer to the tardiness exhibited by the accounts section of the Department of the Army in relation to national service trainees whose employers are prepared to make up the difference between their civilian pay and their pay in the Army. Although people from many industries are concerned I want to use the members of the New South Wales police force as an illustration.
According to the Police Association journal 75 national service trainees from New South Wales find themselves in this category. The Police Department makes up on a quarterly basis the pay of its members who are doing national service, but apparently due to certain tardiness on the part of the Army, adjustments in pay going back to June are only now being dealt with. I cannot see that the procedure is very involved or intricate. Even if national service trainees have reached noncommissioned rank it should not take that long for the Army to advise the New South Wales police department, or any other employer, of the relevant rates of pay. There is another angle to this. Due to other adjustments - this would apply to members of the police force - in some cases they have been overpaid and have to refund $300 or $400. To say the least, that certainly mortgages their income for the next few months. 1 do not believe in making a statement and debating it in a hit and run way. I think I would be fortified by the knowledge of my colleague from South Australia, Senator Bishop, if I drew a comparison between the standards of accountancy adopted by the Army and the standards of accountancy necessary to implement an intricate award such as that covering members of the Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen. As many honourable senators would know, the pay period for enginemen ends on a Saturday. Enginemen are paid special rates for night work and living away from home allowances may also be involved, and it is rare when adjustments are not made in the next pay period. 1 fail to see why the accounts section of the Army cannot modernise its methods to ensure that adjustments in pay are made within a fairly brief period.
It is obvious that the highest rank national service trainees could reach would be that of corporal or sergeant. Not many of them would reach those ranks. The clear cut rates of pay of national servicemen would be as nothing compared with the intricacies of the industrial award that is applied to members of the Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen to whom I have referred.
I know that this is not the first time that this matter has been ventilated. I know that members of the Citizen Military Forces who happen to sustain injuries during Army manoeuvres are sometimes back in industry before the necessary adjustment in pay is made. I ask for a general speed-up in handling these matters which affect national servicemen who have left jobs in various organisations, including the New South Wales police force. Modern accounting methods should be introduced to ensure that the delay in making adjustments in rates of pay does not exceed one month. In this case it is not a question of money, it is a question of details being furnished to the various employers as to the rate of pay a particular national serviceman is receiving. 1 leave the matter with the Minister to refer to the appropriate Minister in another place.
– I will bring to the notice of the Minister for the Army (Mr Lynch) the matter that Senator Mulvihill has raised.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 9 October 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1968/19681009_senate_26_s38/>.