26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General now in a position to give to the Senate a reply to the serious allegations made against a member of the Government and other parliamentarians of using pressure on the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and of the Australian Broadcasting Commission succumbing to that pressure by deciding not to renew the contract of Mr Sanders who conducts the programme ‘People’? Further, is she in a position to reply to allegations of pressure in regard to other ABC programmes?
I ask the Minister whether she will ascertain from the Postmaster-General for the information of honourable senators whether in fact pressure has been brought to bear on the Australian Broadcasting Commission in regard to its programme This Day Tonight’ by the Liberal Party and by members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party, ls the ABC bowing to that pressure and is it likely lo discontinue the programme at the end of this year? Why is it that in view of the repeated complaints about the Commission’s being subjected to pressure by the Liberal Party and the DLP, and the widely publicised reports that stale specifically that pressure has been brought to bear on the ABC-
At that point the honourable senator was directed by Mr President to ask his question, and he went on:
Why, in view of those widely publicised reports, is the Government so careless of its reputation that the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral in the Senate enters the Senate without being able (o give any information at all to the public when the reputations of the Government and the ABC are being seriously challenged by the Press of this country?
The Postmaster-General has replied as follows:
The Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, Sir Robert Madgwick, has advised we (hat the ABC has not been subject to any pressure from the Government or any political Party over the programme “This Day Tonight’ and that the statements alleging such pressure which have appeared in some sections of the Press are completely without foundation. Sir Robert has said thai “This Day Tonight’ will be off ;he air during the Christmas holiday period and will return early in 1969.
I shall go a little further now on the point Senator Murphy raised concerning the contract of Mr Bob Sanders. A question on those lines was asked by another honourable senator and it is in reply to that question that the Postmaster-General has stated:
Sir Robert has sent me the following message: 1 deny emphatically that the decision to terminate the television programme ‘People’ and the radio programme ‘People on Radio’ is the result of any form of political pressure. The allegations of political pressure made in the Press and elsewhere are completely without foundation. The ABC’s decision not to renew Mr Sanders’ contract was made some time ago as part of a regular review of programme output.’
– I wish to ask a question of the Minister representing the Attorney-General. The ruling of the Full High Court of Australia yesterday that a Sydney barrister could seek damages from a company which allegedly advised him incorrectly in respect to its financial stability dramatically underlines the duty of care aspect of common law. It has been common trade practice for many years for businessmen to accede to the requests of trade protection organisations to provide reports and recommendations on the credit worthiness of clients. Does the decision of the Full High Court suggest that this old established practice has dangers inherent in it to the person giving such information? What is the position of the stockbroker who recommends the purchase of shares which may not live up to expectations? Further, what is the position of a lawyer whose advice may be proved wrong?
– 1 suspect that the last part of the honourable senator’s question may be intended to bring me to an appreciation of the position. It is not the custom at question time to give legal opinions, but the general principle that the honourable senator referred to as stemming from the High Court decision of yesterday is one that deserves public notice. Duty of care arises out of a contract or a special relationship. In certain circumstances it may attach to a stockbroker, an accountant or a lawyer. There has been great debate in the United Kingdom during the last few years as to whether it attaches to a barrister. For the purpose of general information it is suffice to say that according to the decision of the High Court the negligent giving of information where a special duty exists attracts no legal liability for damages whereas negligence in other fields of law would.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Have officers of his Department carried out investigations which have disclosed that there has been further dumping of Japanese motor vehicles on the Australian market? Has the Minister directed, or does he intend to direct, the Toyota Motor Co. Ltd to increase substantially its prices on at least two of its models? If so, will these increases bring similar increases in the price of Australian manufactured vehicles, as was the case on the last occasion that Japanese manufacturers were directed to increase their prices?
– When a survey was last carried out it was found that motor vehicles imported from Japan were being sold in Australia at less than their normal value in Japan. If the manufacturers of these vehicles has not agreed to increase their prices the vehicles would have been subject to a dumping duty. The prices were subsequently increased. In this way the manufacturers avoided the charge of dumping their goods on the Australian market. The honourable senator asked whether an investigation is being undertaken at the present time. That would be in relation not to assembled motor vehicles but completely knocked down ones. I can assure him that an examination has been made of this matter and my Department is completely satisfied that these completely knocked down motor vehicles are not being dumped in Australia. There will be technical alterations to the value for duty, but I can assure the honourable senator that the result of this investigation should not entail an increase in the retail price of Japanese motor vehicles sold in Austalia. I should like also to inform the honourable senator that I have had further investigations carried out in relation to the dumping in Australia of vehicles from other countries. I have found that three European manufacturers are at this moment dumping their cars on the Australian market.
– Can the Minister for Supply indicate the scope and purpose of the conference at present being held overseas at ministerial level on matters relating to the probing and use of space? Does the Minister envisage that decisions arrived at will affect materially the future activities of his Department in the areas of Woomera and Salisbury in South Australia? If so, how?
– It is a fact that a conference of the member states of the European Launcher Development Organisation is proceeding in Bonn at the present moment and that Australia is represented by a delegation led by Mr Knott, who is to be the new Director-General of Posts and Telegraphs and who was, before he became Deputy High Commissioner in London, head of my Department. Mr Knott has had a very close association with the ELDO programme right from its inception. Briefly, the situation is that the meeting of ELDO is a follow-up meeting to that which took place in October. The meeting has been brought about by an increase in the estimated costs of the ELDO programme to put a communications satellite in orbit and because the United Kingdom Government and the Governments of some of the other member states oS ELDO have had reservations about the increased costs. I am not in a position at the moment to make a statement of any merit on this meeting. The programme is continuing, and I expect to receive signals from Bonn within the next 24 hours. I hope then to be in a position to make a statement on what the organisation has in mind as its future programme. It is true that there is to be a launching by ELDO at Woomera next Monday in the wee hours of the morning. I shall seek leave at a later hour today to make a brief statement on that launching in advance of a Press statement that I shall release later in the day.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Has the Minister seen the headlines in today’s Press stating that while the Government and stock owners argue, stock are starving? Is he aware that the State of Tasmania has allocated the whole of its cash reserves this year and that no untapped reserves of cash are available for purposes not already authorised or committed? Will the Prime Minister apply himself seriously to the plight of the drought stricken farmers of the south east of Tasmania and the south coast of New South Wales and disregard the false and misleading propaganda from Senator Rae that the Tasmanian State Government has funds to finance drought relief in Tasmania?
– lt is not proper for an honourable senator to reflect on another honourable senator when asking a question. For that reason 1 shall disregard that part of his question. I am quite certain that Senator Rae would not attempt to misrepresent the situation in any way. In relation to the question of drought relief, as I have said in this place so many times in the last few weeks, the responsibility in relation to relief for the States from the Commonwealth is a matter for the State Premiers concerned. Their modus operandi when seeking relief is to make representations to the Prime Minister. The history of assistance given by the Commonwealth not only to Tasmania but also to other States reveals that the Commonwealth has always been quick and ready to respond and cooperate, for the most part by way of subsidy on a dollar for dollar basis, but also by way of assistance by straight out grant to the States.
– I inform Senator O’Byrne that his reference to Senator Rae was completely out of order. In asking his question he imputed improper things to Senator Rae. In future he will refrain from using that sort of language.
– He was-
– Order! I do not want to hear any more on the subject.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation say what type of air conditioning is being installed in the extensions to the Adelaide Airport terminal? If it is the water evaporation type, can the Minister say what other air terminals are equipped with this type of air conditioning? Further, will the Minister take steps to see that the Adelaide terminal is fitted with refrigerated air conditioning so that the travelling public will receive proper and efficient facilities for their comfort?
– I can answer the question only along these lines: The evaporative cooling and heating plant and the control tower air conditioning plant will be retained to serve their present areas. The new accommodation will be served by roof mounted evaporative cooling units fitted with hot water coils for heating and exhaust fans. Hot water base board convectors will be installed below large window areas for supplementary heating.
– Has the
Leader of the Government in the Senate read the Press statement attributed to the President-elect of the United States of America, Mr Nixon, that his election as President was due to the American people’s dissatisfaction with the way in which President Johnson and his nominee, Mr Humphrey, are dealing with the Vietnam situation, and now that he, Mr Nixon, has been elected, he pledges to end the Vietnam war without delay? Will the Government’s policy still be ‘All the way with LBJ, Ky, Thieu and company’ or will the Government seek to adopt the Nixon policy of an early termination of the savage conflict in Vietnam?
– In the first place, I would suggest with great respect to the honourable senator that his quotation of the remarks of the President-elect was very much in an abridged form. As 1 read the reference by Mr Nixon to the Vietnam situation, he said that he would make every endeavour to have the conflict brought to an end in an honourable way. Indeed, throughout his election campaign, as 1 read his statements - and as I am sure most other honourable senators read them - Mr Nixon was careful at all times to make the point that if America’s participation in the Vietnam conflict could be brought to a conclusion with justice and honour he would make every effort to do it. That is exactly the same situation as the Australian Government has always been in.
– Is the Minister for Customs and Excise aware that charges have been made recently as to the dumping of processed potatoes from Canada and the United States of America on the Australian market at a price with which local industry cannot compete? Will the Minister have these charges investigated, and, if there is justification, act under the relevant section covering anti-dumping provisions? Also, is the Minister aware of any application to the Minister for Trade and Industry for reference to the Tariff Board with a view to securing higher duties on these importations in order to protect the Australian industry?
– I know that there has been some reference to the importation of these goods, and I can assure the honourable senator that if any action in regard to dumping is required this will be taken. I do not know whether this matter has been referred to the Tariff Board, but I will ask the Minister for Trade and Industry what action is being taken and supply the honourable senator with an answer.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Housing been drawn to the alarming downturn in many sectors of the building industry, including a drop in the value of Melbourne city new constructions from $52m in 1966-67 to $26m in 1967-68 and similar slumps in the building trade in other States? What action is being taken or is contemplated to correct this downturn?
– I recall that the building approvals and commencement figures for the quarter ended September 1968 were very impressive. The total number of final approvals was 38,598 of which 26,308 were for houses and 12,281 for flats. The total number of commencements was 33,476, of which 23,605 were houses and 9,871 flats. I believe that those very impressive figures show the upward trend in this field.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for External
Affairs noted the details of the reported decision of the British Government to limit the size of the staff of the Russian embassy in London? Can the Minister say whether the Australian Department of External Affairs maintains any details of embassy staffs here? Does it, within the proprieties of diplomatic activity, watch both the size and the nature of such staffs as far as Australia’s security is concerned? Is it in a position to control the size of such staffs if the need arises?
– I have not seen the report to which the honourable senator referred. Therefore I am not competent to answer the supplementary questions that he posed. I ask him to place his question on the notice paper so that I may obtain a reply from the Minister for External Affairs.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General, also relates to the recent decision of the High Court of Australia in the case of the Mutual Life and Citizens Assurance Co. Ltd and Evatt. As this decision is expected to have considerable repercussions in all sections of commerce, industry and the professions in that it deals exhaustively with an important aspect of the common law known as the duty of care, will the Minister discuss with the AttorneyGeneral the desirability of considering with the Attorneys-General of the States the question of what Federal or State legislation is desirable to clarify the matter in a manner suitable to the tempo of modern business development in Australia?
– The High Court clarified it.
– In relation to the interjections that are being made, it will be recalled that the decision of the High Court was a majority decision of three judges to two. The need or otherwise for clarification will appear only on a perusal of the judgments. I believe that Senator Laught’s suggestion that the Attorney-General consider, after perusal of the judgments, whether legislation is required is quite appropriate. I shall refer the suggestion to the Attorney-General for his attention.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. As Australian soldiers are in Vietnam to assist the Saigon Government, which Government, contrary to the advice of its allies, refuses to attend talks seeking a settlement of the Vietnam war, are we justified in continuing participation in that campaign?
– Because of the atmosphere of the peace talks and of associated factors, I think the question should go on notice.
– My question also is addressed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. I preface my question by advising the Minister that last week 1 took up with the Prime Minister the question of obtaining Army vehicles to lift badly needed fodder from Nimmitabel to Bega. The Prime Minister replied to me by telegram over the weekend stating, amongst other things: ‘The Premier has informed me that arrangements have been made for local carriers to lift fodder to Bega’. 1 now ask the Minister: ls he aware that today the Prime Minister said that he has also suggested to the New South Wales Premier that, if local carriers are not available to carry out additional cartage work that might be necessary should the drought position deteriorate, the Premier should consider using the services of other private transport operators? I al’so ask the Minister: If the employment of additional outside carriers is considered necessary by the New South Wales Government, does the offer of a $1 for $1 subsidy by the Commonwealth for drought relief measures extend to the payment to private road hauliers who are engaged to lift urgently needed fodder?
– The honourable senator has asked a rather extensive question. It should be understood in the first place that the Commonwealth, as early as September last, made an offer to the New South Wales Government to give drought assistance on a $1 for $1 basis in relation to the Bega area. Judgment as to what merits or does not merit assistance is a matter exclusively for the Premier of New
South Wales. Judgment as to what will attract the subsidy is a matter not for the Commonwealth but for the State Government involved. It is true that there has been some publicity about the lifting of fodder from Nimmitabel. It is equally true that, in effect, the Prime Minister said to the Premier of New South Wales: ‘Look, you should pick this up yourselves. In the first instance the decision is up to you as to whether or not you have the necessary trucks and equipment available to do so’. I am by-passing another reference I read in the Press today about a State Minister’s comments. In the event, it was proved that the Prime Minister was right and that the State was capable of and did in fact make suitable arrangements for lifting the fodder concerned. The determination as to whether this attracts a subsidy is a matter for the Premier of New South Wales.
– I ask a question of the Minister for Customs and Excise. I refer to the seizure in Fremantle last Wednesday, from the Danish ship ‘Mads Skou’, of $5,500 worth of marihuana. The Minister himself described this as the biggest seizure of drugs in Australia’s history. In view of the large amount of marihuana involved in this seizure - and I ask for no details - does the Minister think that this indicates the existence of a large scale drug ring in Western Australia? Are investigations being made at present as to how these very large quantities of marihuana are being distributed after arrival in Australia?
– The seizure by officers of the Prevention and Detection Section of the Department of Customs and Excise of this large amount of marihuana is quite significant. It seems to us that inquiries in Australia are ever increasing for this drug. This concerns us greatly. In order to prevent the smuggling of the drug into Australia we have set up in the Department a Narcotics Bureau staffed by specialist officers. We have no evidence at the moment that a ring is operating in Perth, or in Western Australia, but we have had evidence that has led us to believe that there may be collusion between the overseas exporters of the drug and the people who are importing it into Australia. That position applies more on the eastern seaboard than on the western seaboard. I will take note of the honourable senator’s question. If any indication is noted that a drug ring is operating in Western Australia, the honourable senator may rest assured that it will receive special attention from the officers of my Department.
– I preface my question, which I direct to the Minister representing the Treasurer, by saying that the Treasurer has indicated that there is a case for an upward review of the unemployment benefit. My question therefore is: Will the Minister indicate the amount, if any, by which the unemployment benefit will be increased, and the date on which such an increase will take effect?
– 1 am sure the honourable senator appreciates that his question involves a matter of policy. It is not the usual1 practice to answer at question rime questions on matters of policy.
– In directing my question to the Minister for Supply I refer to the European space conference being held in Bonn. I ask: Why is Australia not represented at ministerial level at this important conference? Is it because the Prime Minister is not prepared to entrust leadership of the Government in the Senate to any other Minister? If so, is this attitude in the best interests of the nation?
– 1 am sure it is appreciated that as the house of review of the Australian Parliament the Senate carries tremendous responsibilities. My first responsibility is as the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I think honourable senators should also appreciate, as 1 tried to point out in answering Senator Laught’s question, that our delegation at Bonn is being led by Mr Knott, who was Secretary of the Department of Supply when the European Launcher Development Organisation came into existence. He has attended almost every conference in relation to the ELDO programme. He represented me at the Paris talks in October, at a time when this Parliament was in session. He represented me as Minister for Supply, with the responsibility for our part in the ELDO programme.
The talks in Bonn at present are a continuation of the October talks in Paris. Mr Knott is particularly well equipped to represent Australia in this sphere. He is being assisted by Mr Bott, the Assistant Secretary of the Department, who also has been associated with the ELDO programme since its inception in the early 1960s. I can assure honourable senators that Australia is very well and faithfully represented at the Bonn talks currently proceeding, and will be similarly represented at the European space conference over the subsequent 3 days.
– My question, which 1 direct to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, is supplementary to the question asked earlier by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. I remind the Minister that according to weekend Press reports moves are under way to dispense with the services of Bill Peach on the Australian Broadcasting Commission programme ‘This Day Tonight’. Will the Minister undertake to do everything possible to ensure that the Australian Broadcasting Commission retains the services of Bill Peach, and at the same time to issue a direction that there is to be an end to ali political pressures on the ABC and its employees?
– I would say in reply, just what 1 have said in this chamber on previous occasions. The Australian Broadcasting Commission has complete autonomy on the question of programmes and the way in which it alters or re-arranges them. I would also repeat what I said in reply to a previous question: Sir Robert Madgwick has advised the PostmasterGeneral that the Australian Broadcasting Commission has not been subjected to any pressure from the Government or any political party in connection with any programme which has . been under discussion in this chamber.
– I address a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. In reply to my previous question today relative to the dumping of motor cars by overseas manufacturers, the Minister indicated that investigations carried out by his Department had revealed that cars are being dumped in Australia by three European manufacturers. Will the Minister tell the Senate the names of the manufacturers referred to and what action is being taken against these manufacturers?
– At this stage I do not intend to name the companies involved but I can assure the honourable senator that action is being taken by my Department to have these companies increase their prices. If they do not do so, cash securities will be taken and a dumping charge will be laid.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. In view of the fact that a high proportion of visitors to Tasmania are air travellers, and, in view of the fact that, being an island state, Tasmania has no alternative road or rail services, would the Minister give consideration to excluding air travellers to and from Tasmania from the inequitable head tax of $1 proposed by the Government on, all passengers arriving at or departing from airports?
– This passenger charge was outlined by the Treasurer in his Budget Speech. Until such time as the legislation relating to it is brought before the Senate, I shall not make any statement as to what we are going to do because until we have it before us we will not know exactly what is provided for in it.
(Question No. 349)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The AttorneyGeneral has furnished the following reply:
(Question No. 453)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
– The Minister has replied as follows:
Details of ownership of the Australian minerals sands industry are given in Table A. 2. (a) Mining rights and leases are administered by the Mines Departments in the various States and the Northern Territory Administration and this information can be obtained only from these sources.
In Australia, two foreign controlled companies, Australian Titan Products Pty Ltd, at Burnie, in Tasmania, and Laporte Titanium (Aust.) Ltd, at Bunbury, Western Australia, utilise locally produced ilmenite for the production of titanium dioxide pigments. The companies consume about 65,000 tons of ilmenite a year for the production of about 30,000 tons of pigment.
(Question No. 554)
– 1 ask the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service the following question, of which notice was given:
Is it a fact that the building industry in Australia no longer accepts the responsibility for training apprentices? If so, is this because most building work in Australia is carried out by contractors and sub-contractors?
I ask that the answer be incorporated in Hansard.
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answers: 1 and 2. Some 5,000 new apprentices were indentured in the building industry in 1967-68.
As to compelling contractors and subcontractotrs in the building industry to employ and train apprentices, quite apart from any question of the Government’s powers to do so, a key consideration is whether effective training facilities exist. The Government has actively encouraged increased apprenticeship intakes in the building industry. For example, it has extended the country apprenticeship scheme to the building trades. The honourable senator will be interested to know that since this extension in January 1964, building employers have received assistance amounting to $323,000 in respect of their employ ment of more than 919 additional apprentices. In addition, 477 country building apprentices have been paid living away from home allowances totalling $105,720. (Question No. 575)
– 1 ask the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service the following question, of which notice was given:
In order to make sure of a continued flow of apprentices to the building industry, will the Government consider the setting up of a pool training scheme, as suggested by the New South Wales Building Workers Industrial Union, where apprentices would be apprenticed to the whole industry and not to individual employers?
I ask that the answer be incorporated in Hansard.
- Mr President, a question having been asked, it is for the Minister concerned to exercise his right as to whether the reply will be incorporated in Hansard. The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answer:
The Government is concerned that there is an adequate supply of skilled workers to meet the needs of the building industry and my Department is continuing its examination of the BWIU proposal in this light.
Schemes in which apprentices are not indentured to an individual employer but to an industry organisation, viz. the Master Builders Association, are operating in Victoria and Queensland. It is noted that Mr Justice Beattie in his recent report on apprenticeship in New South Wales recommended that statutory recognition should be given to apprenticeship to either an industrial union of employers or a group of employers, and that this was among the proposals specifically cited by the Premier of New South Wales in his statement on 22nd October 1968 announcing that his Cabinet had approved the preparation of a Bill to give effect to several recommendations by Mr Justice Beattie.
– 1 rise to order, Mr President, to ask for your guidance in view of Senator Wright’s statement that it lies within the discretion of the Minister as to whether the reply to a question on notice should be incorporated in Hansard or read to the Senate.
– The person asking a question may seek leave, but if the Minister objects leave is not given.
– I was- asking for your guidance, Mr President, on whether the decision that a reply should be read or should be incorporated in Hansard does not He within the determination of the Senate. I should be obliged for your guidance.
– lt is a question of leave being granted unanimously for matter to be incorporated in Hansard. I think it is the responsibility of the Senate to say whether it wishes to hear the reply. If the Minister concerned does not grant leave, that is the end of it. He is then entitled to read the answer. I am afraid 1 have not clarified the position very much for you.
– Usually the Minister seeks the leave of the Senate to incorporate an answer in Hansard. In this instance the interrogator has asked for that leave. The Minister said that it rests within his discretion. I suggest that it may rest within the discretion of the Senate.
– 1 have pointed out that procedures of this kind can be followed with the unanimous leave of the Senate. That is the whole basis of the matter. The business of the Senate is within its own control.
– lt is quite clear that if a Minister indicates that he wishes to reply to a question it is another way of saying that he does not give leave for the incorporation of an answer. Therefore, that is the end of the matter and the answer is given. It should be understood that under the Standing Orders once a person objects to leave being granted it cannot be granted.
(Question No. 609)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
Is it a fact that Regulation 108a of the Military Financial Regulations provides for the payment of an allowance to a serviceman who is required to use his own aircraft for the purposes of travelling on duty? If so, will the Minister advise the Senate (a) the names of the servicemen to whom this allowance has been paid and (b) the amounts that have been paid to these servicemen since this Regulation came into operation?
– The Minister for the Army has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
No serviceman is required to use his own aircraft for the purpose of travelling on duty. However he may. in some circumstances, be given permission by the Military Board to use his privately owned aircraft for the purposes of such travel. Regulation 108a of the Military Financial Regulations provides for the payment of an allowance to a serviceman in such cases provided prior approval has been obtained from the Military Board, (a) This regulation came into operation on 29th March 1968. No payments have been made under it. (b) See (a) above.
(Question No. 617)
asked the Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activties upon notice:
Has the Minister had discussions with the New South Wales Minister for Tourism on (a) the tourist potential of the Colong Caves region of New South Wales; (b) the irreparable damage that could be done to this area if limestone mining is permitted; and (c) the fact that a rare species of wallaby would be menaced by such limestone mining? If so, what was the outcome of such discussions?
– The answer to (a), (b) and (c) is yes. This was done by correspondence. The New South Wales Minister for Tourism, Mr Willis, has advised me that he believes the issue in this instance is one of land use and not a proposal for development of the Colong Caves as a tourist resort. The Minister also stated his view to me that the appropriate authority in this case is the New South Wales Government, with which lies the responsibility for any decision.
(Question No. 618)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: 1 and 2. It is the Government’s firm intention that the close relations already existing at many levels between Canada and Australia should continue to be extended and strengthened. Last March a group from the Canadian National Defence College visited Australia for the first time. In August this year an agreement was concluded between Qantas Airways Ltd and Canadian Pacific Airlines Ltd for weekly instead of fortnightly services between Sydney and Vancouver. In October 1967 there was the visit of the Australian flagship HMAS ‘Melbourne’ to Vancouver, and there were also goodwill visits to Australian ports of two destroyer escorts of the Canadian Navy.
There are frequent consultations between the two governments on matters of common concern. Last September the Minister for External Affairs paid a visit to Canada. A considerable amount of information is exchanged daily through the two governments’ diplomatic missions in Canberra and Ottawa. Trade relations between the two countries are conducted within the framework of the Canada-Australia Trade Agreement, which provides for consultations between the governments on trade matters. Informal consultations are held frequently in both Canberra and Ottawa and views and information are exchanged on a wide range of trading matters of mutual interest.
(Question No. 694)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
(Question No. 688)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The Postmaster-General has supplied the following answer:
Did the Australian Broadcasting Commission refuse to renew the contract of Mr Bob Sanders because of pressure applied ‘ by Mr B. A. Santamaria?
Sir Robert Madgwick has sent the following message to the Postmaster-General:
I deny emphatically thatthe decision to terminate the television programme ‘People’ and the radio programme ‘People on Radio’ is the result of any form of political pressure. The allegations of political pressure made in the Press and elsewhere are completely without foundation. The ABC’s decision not to renew Mr Sanders’ contract was made some time ago as part of a regular review of programme output.
On 7th November 1968 Senator McClelland asked me the following question:
Has the Minister seen a report that a Cabinet Minister, supported by a group of Government back bench members, had approached senior officers of the Australian Broadcasting Commission expressing disapproval of Mr Bob Sanders’ People’ television show? Is this report correct? Is it a fact also that a number of deletions have been made from Mr Sanders’ programme in recent times by a supervising officer of the ABC? Were these deletions made as a result of pressure brought on the ABC by an influential section of the Government?
In reply to this question also, Sir Robert Madgwick has sent the following message to the Postmaster-General:
I deny emphatically that the decision to terminate the television programme ‘People’ and the radio programme ‘People on Radio’ is the result of any form of political pressure. The allegations of political pressure made in the Press and elsewhere are completely without foundation. The ABC’s decision not to renew Mr Sanders’ contract was made some time ago as part of a regular review of programme output.
On 7th November 1968, Senator Little asked me the following question:
Is the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral aware that on the Australian Broadcasting Commission programme ‘This Day Tonight’ on Tuesday 5th November, 5 minutes before the Prime Minister was scheduled to make a statement to the Parliament explaining the reasons for the cessation of the defensive bombing of North Vietnam, Mr Salmon, a Communist journalist who was described as an expert who had spent some time in Hanoi, was interviewed and allowed to expound propaganda which branded our South Vietnamese allies as aggressors in the Vietnam struggle? Can the Minister inform the Senate whether a representative of the Prime Minister or an independent journalist who may have been expected to put an unbiased point of view was invited to join the programme? Is the Government prepared to take steps to stop the ABC television network being used as the voice of Hanoi?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply:
Mr Malcolm Salmon, Foreign Editor of the Tribune’ was interviewed on ‘This Day Tonight’ on 5th November. He was not described as an expert’. He was, however, described as a man who knew at first hand something of the methods the National Liberation Front might use at the Paris peace talks. It was stated that he had lived in North Vietnam for 3 years, had been back there last year and recently returned to Australia after 2 months in Paris.
Mr Salmon was the only person interviewed about North Vietnam on 5th November. However, his comments have been more than balanced by interviews and descriptions in ‘This Day Tonight’ and other ABC programmes over recent weeks. For example, on Friday, 1st November, the day on which President Johnson announced the halt in the bombing of North Vietnam, the ABC correspondent in Saigon and the British Broadcasting Corporation correspondent in Paris were both interviewed on ‘This Day Tonight’, and Mr Frank Bennett interviewed Dr Malcolm Mackay, M.P., Mr J. T. Kane- Federal Secretary of the Democratic Labor Party - Mr Gordon Bryant, M.P., and Mr Gregory Clark, a research scholar at the Australian National University.
Is the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral aware that the subscriber trunk dialling system - known as STD - between Canberra and Brisbane is not operating effectively today? As this is a continuing problem between Canberra and Brisbane, will the Minister approach the PostmasterGeneral with a request that the STD system be raised at least to the standard that exists between Canberra and other capital cities?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply:
There is no record of any specific difficulty being in evidence on the Canberra-Brisbane Subscriber Trunk Dialling route on 23rd October. Departmental service checks show that the standard of service generally on STD calls from Canberra to Brisbane has been affected at times by congestion on the trunk line route, particularly between Sydney and Brisbane. This difficulty will be overcome, however, by the provision of additional trunk circuits between Sydney and Brisbane within the next month or so. All aspects of STD service between Canberra and Brisbane will be given close attention to ensure that the grade of service between these two centres is maintained at a comparable level to that being provided on other interstate routes.
– I present the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works relating to the following proposed work:
Aircraft maintenance bases for domestic airlines at Melbourne (Tullamarine Airport).
I ask for leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The summary of recommendations and conclusions of the Committee is as follows:
Senator PROWSE (Western Australia)I present the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works relating to the following proposed work:
Television transmitting station at Mount Bellenden Ker, Cairns, Queensland.
I ask for leave to make a short statement.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The summary of recommendations and conclusions of the Committee is as follows:
Senator ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Supply> - by leave - The statement that I am about to make is similar to a Press statement that I will be issuing later in the day.
The next launch in the European Launcher Development Organisation programme is at present scheduled to take place from Woomera on 18th November. This will be the eighth ELDO firing from Woomera and will be the first launching of a fully-powered three-stage Europa rocket and the first attempt to put a test satellite into orbit. During the flight the ELDO down-range guidance and tracking station at Gove in Arnhem Land will be used to track the rocket and to guide the third stage into the correct position for satellite orbital injection
After about 8 minutes the first stage will impact north of the Simpson Desert, about 620 miles from Woomera. The second stage, after a flight of 12 minutes, will impact in the Pacific Ocean, about .2,300 miles from Woomera. Both these stages will be destroyed during re-entry into the atmosphere by explosive charges initiated by signals from deceleration sensors. All shipping and aircraft likely to be affected, using the impact zones, have been warned. In addition the usual elaborate safety precautions have been taken.
Motion (by Senator Gair) agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Gair moving a motion relating to the order of business on the notice paper.
Motion (by Senator Gair) proposed:
That General Business Order of the Day No. 3 be postponed until after consideration of General Business Order of the Day No. 4.
– I wish to speak only very briefly. 1 support the motion. The effect of it would be that, in the ordinary course of business, the Senate would deal first with Order of the Day No. I - Review of Death Penalty in the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory - Ministerial Statement’. That debate rather seems to have been superseded by the action of the Senate in passing the Death Penalty Abolition Bill. While all these matters are subject entirely to the decision of the Senate, if it is of assistance to honourable senators 1 suggest that the probable course would be that that ministerial statement would not be debated further at this stage because the Senate has debated fully the whole question and has indicated its attitude in the passage of the Bill I have mentioned.
Then Order of the Day No. 2 - ‘Constitution Alteration (Democratic Election of State Parliaments) Bill 1968’ - would come on for debate. I would propose to make the second reading speech on that Bill. 1 would expect that the adjournment of the debate would then be taken by the Government. Then, if this motion were passed, Order of the Day No.4 - ‘Independent Schools (Financial Assistance) Bill 1968’ - would come on for debate. The second reading speech on that Bill would be made. It might be expected that the adjournment of the debate would then be taken by the Government. Then we would come on to Order of the Day No. 3 - ‘Antarctica - Ministerial Statement’ - and thereafter deal with the matters as listed. In saying thisI do not want to be thought to be presuming what the Senate might do if it thought otherwise. But for the convenience of honourable senators - they have asked that this sort of statement be made - I would expect that if this motion were passed that would be the course of business. The two private bills have been on the notice paper for some time.
– 1 do not disagree with this proposition; but let me just lodge one caveat. I am sure that Senator Gair and Senator Murphy will co-operate with me in this matter. We have an urgent Bill which may come over from the House of Representatives after 8 o’clock tonight. If it does, we will crave the indulgence of the Senate to take General Business time to introduce this Bill and to put it through all stages. I would expect that that would not cut across the programme that we have envisaged for tonight.
– The Opposition has indicated that it will agree to that.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Bill 1968.
Loan (Housing) Bill 1968.
Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1968-69.
Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1968-69.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Dame Annahelle Rankin) read a first time.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing [4.10] - I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The main purpose of this Bill is to amend the War Service Homes Act to increase the maximum loan under the war service homes scheme from$7,000 to $8,000. The proposed increase in the maximumloan will apply to all types of assistance at present available under the War Service Homes Act. The existing maximum war service homes loan of $7,000 has been in force since March 1962. The increase to $8,000 will offset increases since that time in the costs of acquiring a home and will reduce the amount of funds required from the eligible person’s own resources or from supplementary borrowings.
The War Service Homes Act was placed on the statute book in 1918 and on 6th March 1969 the scheme will have been in operation for SO years. Since the inception of the scheme approximately 300,000 eligible persons have been assisted to become home owners. With the growth in the number of homes subject to the Act certain anomalies in the Act have become apparent. The opportunity has been taken in the Bill to correct these anomalies and to include a number of other amendments which will, simplify and facilitate the administration of the Act.
The amendments include an extension of the relief scheme for which provision is made in section 29aa and section 39a of the Act. The relief scheme was introduced in 1935 and provides for a reduction in the instalments payable to the Director of War Service Homes by a widow and certain other female dependants of eligible persons and for the payment of other outgoings on a war service home. For reasons which are not now apparent eligibility for relief under the scheme was limited at the time to a widow or widowed mother of an eligible person who was a member of the forces and to the wife of such a person who is temporarily or permanently insane. The effect of this is that the widows and other female dependants of certain categories of civilian persons, including certain members of the merchant navy, who are eligible to receive an advance under the scheme, are excluded from the benefits of the relief scheme. The Bill provides for the extension of the relief scheme to such persons.
The opportunity has also been taken to widen the definition of ‘holding’ contained in the Act. Under the provisions of the Act every advance to erect a dwelling house must be secured by a mortgage to the Director of the estate and interest of the borrower in his ‘holding’ which, in general, includes only freehold land, perpetual leases or leases for a period of 99 years. The Bill provides for an extension of the definition of ‘holding’ to include a lease under which the lessee is entitled, on the fulfilment of the terms, conditions and covenants of the lease, to a grant in fee simple.
The Bill also varies the conditions contained in section 35 of the Act under which the Director may consent to a transfer of an estate or interest in a property subject to the Act. Difficulties are being experienced in administering this provision under present day conditions and the proposed amendment will confer on the Director a wider discretion to consent to a transfer, particularly in cases where a court order has been made under the law relating to matrimonial causes and maintenance providing for the estate or interest of the eligible person to be transferred to the eligible person’s wife.
The Bill includes also an amendment relating to the administration of the war service homes insurance scheme. Section 40 of the Act provides for a War Service Homes Insurance Trust Account to which shall be credited or debited all moneys paid to the Director for insurance and all expenditure of the Director in connection with insurance. At 30th June 1968 the accumulated credit balance in the Trust Account stood at $1,334,358. Under the existing provisions of the Audit Act income derived from the investment by the Treasurer of money standing to the credit of the War Service Homes Insurance Trust Account is required to be credited to the Consolidated Revenue Fund. The proposed amendment will enable interest on the money standing to the credit of the Insurance Trust Account to be credited to the Trust Account. Purchasers and borrowers under the war service homes scheme will benefit from the change in arrangements because interest credited to the Trust Account will be available to the Director for the purpose of meeting expenditure under the insurance scheme and will reduce by a corresponding amount the amount of premium income required to be raised to meet claims and other insurance expenditure.
Other minor amendments for which provision is made in the Bill modify the requirements of the War Service Homes Act in relation to the making of advances in respect of properties which’ are subject to an existing mortgage or charge. The Bill also contains clauses dealing with the payment of rates on war service homes, the abolition of the War Service Homes Trust Account and the War Service Homes Relief Trust Account and the adoption of new financial and accounting arrangements in respect of the transactions embraced by these Trust Accounts, the audit of. the Directors accounts and the furnishing of reports to Parliament.
This Government believes in the principle of home ownership and has always accepted the responsibility of encouraging home ownership within its constitutional powers. The increase to $8,000 and the adoption of the other .measures proposed in this Bill will enable the war service homes, scheme to continue making an important, contribution to the national welfare by the provision of homes for eligible persons and their families in all parts of the Commonwealth. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Poke) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Scott) read a first time.
– I move:
The Customs Tariff Bill now before the Senate provides for amendments to the Customs Tariff 1966-1968 based on proposals introduced between 14th and 15th August 196S. When the proposals were introduced in another place, copies of the Minister’s speech and the details of the changes were furnished to honourable senators. For this reason I do not think I should burden the Senate with unnecessary reiteration. However, if any honourable senator would like a copy of the earlier documents I will be glad to let him have it. Nevertheless, for the record, I should tell the Senate that the Bill comprises four schedules and deals with the following subjects: The First Schedule to the Bill implements six reports by the Tariff Board. These reports relate to glucose and glucose syrup, sheepskin and hogskin leather, tinsmiths’ snips and shears, gas-fired water heaters, essential oils and ceramic tableware. An administrative change extending the existing passenger concessions to crew members of ships and aircraft is also included in this Schedule.
The Second Schedule deals with the Tariff Board report on bean seed. This Schedule also provides for additions to the tariff preferences which Australia accords to certain manufactured, semi-manufactured and handicraft products imported from less developed countries, the removal of duties on catalogues and price lists printed in New Zealand and a drafting change relating to goods for the Commonwealth.
The Third Schedule implements the Special Advisory Authority’s recommendations on disposable hypodermic needles. The final schedule in the Bill, the Fourth Schedule, provides for variations in the support values applicable to chemical products following a review of the. chemical industry by the Tariff Board. A summary in some detail covering all the amendments in the Bill is now being circulated for the information of honourable senators. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
– The Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1968 deals with amendments based on proposals introduced earlier in the year in the period from May to August. The Opposition does not oppose the measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bil read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 5 November (vide page 1651). on motion by Senator McKellar:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The purpose of this Bill is to establish the wheat stabilisation scheme for the coming 5 years! In my opinion, and probably in the opinion of most Australian wheat growers, it is a tremendously important Bill. When this Wheat Stabilisation Bill was first introduced the scheme then envisaged attracted a great amount of interest and criticism. The latest report that the Victorian Farmers Union has now agreed to the scheme seems to indicate that the agitation about the various matters covered by the Bill is dying out. I feel that this is quite an inaccurate assessment of the situation. 1 am led to believe by interviews, meetings I have attended in Western Australia and what I have . heard of events in other States that criticism of the legislation is continuing.
I candidly admit that I appreciate that the Government faced tremendous difficulties in carrying on the scheme as it was previously implemented. I agree that it was necessary for the Government to examine the operation of the scheme in order to find a method to vary equitably the fixation of the price and the way in which the scheme is to be financed, while at the same time having regard to the wellbeing of the wheat farming community. I believe that this Bill sounds the death knell of the wheat stabilisation scheme as we have known it and that within a short space of time the old wheat stabilisation scheme may disappear. Those comments apply even to the second period of the 5-year term that we are now entering. I see that as the danger facing us with regard to this legislation. Accordingly an amendment was moved in another place and the same amendment will be moved by me in the Senate.
I think we ought to study the history of the wheat industry by a quick survey to determine the reasons for the establishment of the wheat stabilisation scheme. Many honourable senators who are interested in farming will remember the chaotic conditions that existed in the industry prior to 1948. A study of the legislation passed in the decade before 1948 shows that assistance was required continuously for wheat farmers over that period. There was no stability in the industry. As Australia emerged from the depression everybody thought that things would be all right for the wheat industry, but fluctuations in world prices of wheat were so great that the industry really did not know where it was headed at that time.
Honourable senators will remember that in 1946 an attempt was made to introduce the first wheat stabilisation scheme. However, it was not acceptable to the States, which were required to introduce complementary legislation in order that the scheme then envisaged might be implemented. The Bill lapsed, but it was re-introduced in 1948. It had the support of all States. It is interesting that at that time a very much smaller production of wheat was involved. It was then possible to approach quite realistically the problem of the cost of production and to give a guarantee that the estimated cost of production would be met in order to give security and stability to the industry for the following 5 years. World prices moved up and down, but principally the trend was upwards. A surplus was thus created in the fund for the benefit of wheat growers in more difficult times when world prices were dropping.
It is quite true that because of the disparities between prices for wheat sold on the home market and wheat exported to overseas markets the home consumer was being subsidised by the farmers to a certain extent. I do not think that can fairly be denied. I think it was appreciated by consumers on the home market. Little objection was raised by the people in the industry because they were getting stability and a return which covered their cost of production. I think it would be useful at this point to examine the way in which the cost of production was determined. Various factors were considered which represented real costs to the industry, such as wages, fertilisers, and interest. Imputed costs such as the value of land, depreciation and the amount reasonably due to a farmer for his own operations were also considered. At that time it was considered reasonable that 60% of the value of the land should be taken into account by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics in determining the cost of production. The figure determined was then passed on to the Australian Wheat Board.
The Labor Government which had introduced this scheme in 1948 went out of office before the end of the first 5-year period. The statement was made by Mr Menzies, later Sir Robert Menzies, that it was necessary to put value back into the £1. At that time, the purchasing power of the £1 had dropped to about 10s and Mr Menzies was going to straighten things out. But it is interesting to note that the scheme was continued in the second 5-year period in exactly the same way in which it had operated in the first 5-year period with 60% of the value. of the land being taken into the imputed cost to. make up the regimen on which the cost of production was based. 1 think at that stage world prices increased still further and it is probable that the farmers put pressure on the government because they thought they were not getting a fair share. In order to arrive at what was deemed to be a fair share, in the third 5-year period, and in the fourth, the percentage of land value was increased from 60% and 100% of the land value was taken into account by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics in determining the cost of production.
This is where 1 think the mistake has occurred. I am not prepared to say that we should go back to the 60% but I am prepared to say that we should not ignore the capital investment that we have in the industry. The Bill before us does ignore it. No business can function unless it can produce sufficient to cover the interest on the capital involved and if we are to attempt to produce a cost of production figure which does not include any portion of the land value or any allowance for depreciation, then I think we shall be in serious difficulties in making this scheme a viable one. There are a number of points connected with the cost of production in this instance which I think are quite important and when we are in Committee it might be necessary for us to move that we should change the basis on which the cost of production is determined. But at this stage I content myself by saying that I and my Party are objecting to the way in which the cost of production figure is arrived at.
Another thing that we should have a look at is the two price scheme. With the rapid increase in the value of land - it has jumped by 91% over the last 5 years - it is obvious that if the same percentage of the cost of the land were to be included in the regimen the whole scheme would get out of hand. This is one point that I feel we should consider seriously. In effect, what is proposed is to charge one price - $1.70 - for home consumption wheat and to guarantee another price for export wheat, so that the cost to the Government in trying to finance the scheme will not exceed, I think, $65m over a period of 5 years. It is proposed to keep the figure down to $65m by asking the consumer to pay a higher price than he really needs to pay. This could possibly mean increases in the price of bread, stock foods and all wheat and wheat products sold on the local market. It has been stated in the other place that the increase in the cost of a 2 lb loaf of- bread, for example, would be 0.2c. This may be quite right mathematically, but in practice the increase is never such a figure as 0.2c. What generally happens is that the price goes up by lc or 2c.
– That does not happen inevitably.
– It does not happen inevitably, but it is extremely likely. This means that the consumer who, in the main, in this instance, is the person in the lower income group, is going to be asked to pay the difference between the amount received from exports and the amount that is being guaranteed. We of the Australian Labor Party contend that this cost should be spread over the whole of the community. We suggest that the amount that is being guaranteed should be found by charging the one price for both export and home consumption wheat. The return to the grower would remain at the same figure. The effect of this would be that instead of this proposed indirect tax being borne by the low wage earner it will be spread over the whole of the community. I freely admit that this will increase the amount that might have to be contributed by the Government. If the Government did not get the required return from the sale of export wheat, this would increase the cost of the scheme to the Government by a further $67m, making the total $135m over the 5 years. 1 suggest that is the proper way to go about a scheme like this.
Let us examine it from the farmer’s angle. When the farmer sends in a bushel of wheat, he does not know whether that particular bushel is going to be sold on the home consumption market or whether it is going to be exported. Nor does he care. What he will get out of it will be the average price of the 60 million bushels sold on the home consumption market and the 200 million bushels on the export market. This would give him about SI. 48 a bushel, which is what we are proposing in our amendment.
I wanted to examine a few of the matters raised in the Minister’s second reading speech which I think point up the remarks that I have made. The first is the following statement:
There are substantial changes from previous arrangements. The most notable is that the principle of an assessed cost of production is no longer to be used as the basis of the guaranteed price and annual variations in price.
That seems to me to provide proof of what ] have been saying, namely, that the scheme is changing fundamentally from one based on the cost of production to the farmer, or one having some relation to the cost of production, into one based almost on a guess of the return that the primary producer should receive. This is further borne out by the fact that according to the Bureau of Agricultural Economics the cost of production is about $2 a bushel. However the Bureau has indicated also that the cash costs involved in producing a bushel of wheal were 55c the year before last and 70c last year. The land value component in the regimen has got out of hand. It is accounting for about 60% of the estimated cost of production. It seems to me that we are in difficulties in the way in which we are determining the cost of production.
In his second reading speech the Minister said that in determining the costs involved in producing wheat materials such as fuel and fertilisers and other inputs such as labour, as well as changes in the rates of interest, be they increases or decreases, would bc taken into account. It seems to nic that that is wrong. We are not worrying about an increase or a decrease in interest; we are worrying about the interest charge itself. The Bill states the position incorrectly. At the same time, if we set out specifically materials such as fuel and fertilisers and if we include plant, fencing livestock, water and so on we would get the correct cost. Those items, as well as depreciation and the owner-operator’s allowance, have been omitted by implication. That is an important aspect.
The Minister did not tell us in his second reading speech how the price determined was arrived at. Why did the Government decide on $1.70 for home consumption wheat and S 1.45 for export wheat when there was considerable disagreement with the Australian Wheat Growers Federation on what the price should be? lt woul’d appear thai those prices were selected as a resonalbe compromise. If that is so, I do not think it is a sufficiently businesslike way to go about the tremendously important job of determining what price the wheat growers should receive for a period of 5 years. One feature of the Bill that 1 should like to commend is that it proposes to extend the marketing provisions of the scheme for another 2 years beyond the duration of the plan. Instead of ceasing, say, from the end of this month so that agreements can be entered into, even in the last year, for a 3-year period. That is an advantage, and I have no complaint.
At this stage I propose an amendment which is identical with that introduced in another place, and 1 have no doubt that those few of us who are interested in wheat know its terms. 1 move:
Leave out all words after ‘That’, insert ‘the Bill be withdrawn and redrafted to provide for a one price scheme for home consumption and export wheat commencing with a price which will return to the grower $1.48 f.o.r. per bushel which is equivalent to a guaranteed price of SI.5H f.o.b. per bushel for exports up to a maximum of 200 million bushels from the crop of any season’.
I have no hesitation in putting forward the suggestion that this Bill be withdrawn, even at this stage. The executive of the wheat committee of the Victorian Farmers Union grains division has agreed that it will not oppose the Bill in its present form, but I point out that the union is expressing considerable objection to it. One would almost imagine, from the way in which its attitude has been reported, that it regards the proposal1 as a form of blackmail. The following report appeared in the ‘West Australian’ of last Saturday, 9th November:
The Chairman of the Victorian Farmers Union grains division, Mr P. J. Meehan, said today that the wheat committee emphasised that the decision had been forced on it by the threat of the Federal Government to leave the wheat industry in chaos without a wheat board to receive and market the current harvest.
The wheat committee still believes that the Federal Government’s plan is not a wheat stabilisation plan in the true sense’, Mr Meehan said. ‘The Victorian wheat growers do nol accept it as such.’
That is an expression of opinion that one will find in other wheat growing States. It is up to date because, as I have said, the statement which was issued on Friday last appeared in last Saturday’s ‘West Australian’. At this stage it is by no means impossible for the Bill to be withdrawn, very quickly redrafted and presented again so that the scheme will come into operation by the end of this month and provide a plan for the industry for the next 5 years, as is envisaged in the present Bill. 1 hope that my country Party colleagues will appreciate the difficulties associated with a two price scheme, which have been emphasised by farmers in all wheat growing areas, and that they will support the Opposition’s amendment. Although the amendment does not meet all that is sought in the way of a proper and mathematically produced cost of production figure, it does retain the one price for home consumption and export wheat; there will be no difference between the amounts the grower will receive. The amendment also allows breathing space to consider carefully a proper method of determining the cost of production. This is not being done at this late moment by the Government.
I feel that if the amendment is accepted lt will receive the approval of the wheat growers generally because it is the sort of thing they want and are asking for at all the meetings they are holding. I have been to eight of these meetings in Western Australia and I have gained this impression at each one. I have no doubt that other honourable senators have also attended meetings in the various States and have gained the same impression. I am not trying to discredit the Government for its approach to this measure. I believe it was faced with an exceedingly difficult problem. It was impossible for the Government to guarantee a price of $2 a bushel and it had to make a compromise. The Government faced up to this difficulty and took the decision which it felt was the most reasonable way of meeting the problem. I feel that by coming back to the one price scheme that I have suggested in the amendment and by paying out the same amount of money the same result would be achieved and it would give us the necessary breathing space to examine adequately what should be done to give the farmers stability. I have outlined the reasons why the Opposition feels that this is so important and should be thoughtfully considered before the Senate agrees out of hand to pass this legislation. We should very carefully examine the clauses in the Bill. Honourable senators will see that the Bill specifically states that the owner-operator’s allowance will be eliminated and that the price of land will not be considered in the guaranteed price. This means that the cost of produc tion figure will not be based on the normal way of determining costs in any other industry. I ask the Senate, to give very careful consideration to the amendment I have proposed and to support H for the good of the industry.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Dame Ivy Wedgwood) - ls the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment.
Debate (on motion by Senator Bull) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wright) read a first time.
– T move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Bill before the Senate is an urgent measure. Since 1911, when the Commonwealth established a system of law for the Australian Capital Territory, successive governments of the Commonwealth have acted on the view that the Constitution and certain laws of New South Wales that were continued in force in the Territory provided authority for persons sentenced to imprisonment or otherwise lawfully detained in the Territory to be removed to New South Wales and to be lawfully held in custody in that State. On Friday last the High Court of Australia, on an application by Noel Edward Taylor for a writ of habeas corpus, held, by a majority, that this was not the correct view of the position. The purpose of the present Bill is, in the light of the High Court’s decision, to set matters right both as to the procedures to be observed in the future and as to action taken is the past. The Bill has been prepared as a matter of urgency. The Government will keep it under review and propose any adjustments that experience may show to be required.
We have in the circumstances giving rise to the introduction of this Bill an example of the practical application of the rule of law. The rule of law means that all men are equal before the law. It means also that no-one, net even, or perhaps I should say least of all, the Executive is above the law. lt involves the existence of an independent judiciary that wil’l examine each case before it on its individual merits and will, if necessary, stand between the subject and the Crown. I had felt that I should make these observations before passing on to describe the Bill to the Senate because the rule of law, with all its privileges and its obligations, tends to be taken for granted and the important place that it has in our form of society is not perhaps always clearly understood or appreciated.
But this very rule of law requires that Parliament should now turn its attention to the position disclosed by the High Court’s decision. There are at present held in New South Wales prisons and other places of detention persons who, in accordance with the due processes of the law, have been tried, convicted and sentenced by the Courts of the Australian Capital Territory or who have been lawfully remanded to stand their trial. The offences in some instances are offences of a serious nature. The procedural steps employed for carrying out sentences have been found to have been defective. It is essential that legislative provision should be made, as a matter of urgency, to correct the position.
Clause 8 of the Bill is designed to provide authority for the future . detention in New South Wales of Australian Capital Territory prisoners who were in custody in a prison of the State before the commencement of the Act. Sub-clause (1.) of clause 9 has the effect of ensuring that those Australian Capital Territory prisoners who have undergone a period of imprisonment in the Stale before the commencement of the Act will not have to undergo that period of imprisonment a second time. If it were not for subclause (1.), the position, as a matter of strict law, might be that a prisoner would not be entitled to a credit for the period of imprisonment served in consequence of the use of procedures that have been held to be defective. This would be an intolerable position. Of course, no government would assert such a view, but, from the prisoner’s viewpoint, it is desirable to place the matter beyond doubt. This is the purpose of subclause (1.).
Sub-clause (2.) of clause 9 has the purpose of validating all past removals of Australian Capital Territory prisoners to New South Wales and their detention in prisons in that Stale. This sub-clause has the effect also of precluding the bringing of any action or proceeding in respect of such removal and detention. These are necessary and proper provisions. In the particular case of Noel Edward Taylor, at the date of his release on 8th November he had served a little more than 6 weeks of a 3 months term. With normal remissions he would have been entitled, subject to good behaviour, to be released on 25th November 1968. The Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) has today taken action to recommend to His Excellency the Governor-General that he remit the balance of the sentence.
The Bill deals also with the future removal and detention of Australian Capital Territory prisoners. The High Court has not yet handed down the reasons for its decision in Taylor’s case and it would not be proper for me to comment upon what the Court’s reasons might be. However, there are grounds for thinking that the Removal of Prisoners (Territories) Act should be regarded as precluding any procedures being employed other than those set out in that Act. The Act, however, is not suited to the requirements of the Australian Capital Territory in two respects. In the first place, the Act applies only to persons against whom a sentence of imprisonment has been imposed, lt does not apply to the removal of persons who have been committed for trial or who have been remanded in custody. Secondly, the procedures of the Act require that the concurrence of the government of the State be obtained in each individual case. This Bill accordingly makes special provision to meet the particular circumstances of the Australian Capital Territory. It deals not only with the removal and detention of prisoners who have been sentenced but also with the removal and detention of remand prisoners and of persons who have otherwise been lawfully committed into custody. Clause 4 of the Bill provides for terms of imprisonment to be served in the Territory or in the State and makes it clear that account shall be taken of periods served in the State. Clause 5 provides for removal of a prisoner to the State on the warrant of an ‘authorised person’. This expression, as defined in clause 3, means the Sheriff or Deputy Sheriff of the Territory, a magistrate, the Clerk or a deputy clerk of the Court of Petty Sessions or the sheriff or like officer of a federal court. A warrant may be issued, therefore, only by an appropriate court officer or magistrate.
In conclusion, Madam Acting Deputy President, I wish to inform the Senate that the Attorney-General has under consideration the question whether a prison should be established in the Australian Capital Territory and what the nature of such a prison might be. There are some problems. It seems unlikely that there could ever be established in the Territory the kind of thoroughgoing prison system, including specialist institutions, that are provided for the much larger population and much larger area of a State. Probably, we shall always need to look to the neighbouring State of New South Wales to a fairly large extent. Nevertheless, Canberra has developed at a rapid rate over the past few years and there has been a corresponding increase in crime. There have been discussions between officers of the Attorney-General’s Department and New South Wales officers. In addition, a senior officer of the Department has recently, in association with other duties, inspected a number of institutions in the United Kingdom, western Europe and the United States. The whole matter is one for decision by the Government, but I thought that I should let honourable senators know that it is receiving the Attorney-General’s attention. I commend the Bill to the Senate for its urgent consideration.
– The Opposition will not oppose this measure. We realise that it is an urgent one. Perhaps not all the provisions in it are of an urgent nature, but certainly something needs to be done to ensure that those who are kept in New South Wales prisons under colour of federal law are lawfully kept there. Therefore, we do not in any way oppose this measure. The Government must take responsibility for the measure in its entirety because we have had no opportunity really to study the legislation. We take the statements in the second reading speech at their face value. Whether the validations sought to be made will be effective is a matter for the Government. Whether the other provisions which are included in the Bill and which would have the effect of preventing actions for unlawful imprisonment are valid is, again, a matter entirely for the Government. Perhaps some of those provisions might well have been left for more mature consideration and the most immediate matter of dealing with the legality of holding persons in prison ought to have been the matter to have been dealt wilh as the urgent one. However that may be, the Government is obviously intending to deal with the difficult situation with which it is now confronted and we do not intend to cause any difficulties.
However, I think the .Senate should be informed of when the Government became aware of this problem and what the nature of the problem was. As I understand it from reading the newspapers,’ it was that the procedures, on the face of them, required an administrator to request the GovernorGeneral in order that the removal of prisoners to New South Wales might be effective. I think the Senate is certainly entitled to know why this procedure was not followed, in any event when this requirement was brought clearly to the Government’s attention, and why something was not done about it earlier. There has been some suggestion that the Government was well aware of the situation, perhaps even before the application for habeas corpus was taken out. I do not know whether that suggestion is right, but we ought to be told.
I must say in passing that there is a suggestion that as a matter of strict law the position could be that a prisoner would not be entitled to a credit for the period of imprisonment served in consequence of the use of procedures that have been held to be defective. It is said- that that would be an intolerable position. I would regard it as a highly humorous suggestion that the Government would ever think, or any parliament could ever take the view, that having served a term unlawfully prisoners would be given no credit and be required to serve again a full term. One would think that any prisoner in those circumstances would be entitled to the greatest action for unlawful imprisonment that has ever been seen.
There may be problems in this legislation. It occurs to one that it is not so easy for the Parliament of the Commonwealth to validate something that has been done unlawfully by officers of a State and not authorised by federal law. But perhaps the position may be that this Parliament is entitled to validate such an imprisonment because it was done at least under cover of federal law and federal authority. We would hope that that was the position anyway, because on the merits of the matter it appears that no-one has been injured. It is merely a matter of administrative error. Whether it was through carelessness or not, that is what it amounts to and there has been no deliberate invasion by the Commonwealth or by any officer of the Commonwealth of any person’s rights. We welcome the suggestion that the Government is considering the question of a prison in the ACT for persons who have been convicted of offences against Commonwealth law. There is good reason for this. There are reports, apparently undenied, that the prisons in New South Wales are overcrowded and that the prisoners are living in intolerable conditions.
– It might be built down beside the lake.
-The suggestion is well made that an appropriate place for the prison might be on the lakeside, but I do not know whether that would commend itself to anyone in the Senate. Such a Commonwealth prison would enable the Commonwealth, perhaps, to give the lead in matters not only of the housing of prisoners but also the rehabilitation of prisoners. We have a special responsibility for seeing to it that those who are imprisoned for breaches of Commonwealth law are dealt with in the best way to achieve the objects of the criminal law, rehabilitation being one of those. I would urge the Government to proceed with this notion of the establishment of a Commonwealth prison. The other matter which arises - and it is a very serious one - is the question of reform of the law. There are constant complaints made about the law of the ACT, that it is archaic and has many serious anomalies. These complaints have been made by members of the legal profession, not only those who are in practice but also judges and those in the universities.
Although we know that consideration is being given to it and that some work is being done on it, I am not satisfied that enough progress is being made in this field. Indeed, there seems to be a very general agreement that insufficient progress is being made in law reform in Australia, especially in regard to the ACT. Perhaps this case may serve as a stimulus to those responsible in this Department and also those who are engaged on this work to get off their bottoms and to do whatever is necessary in order to reform the law of the ACT and to initiate reform generally under federal law.
– There are one or two observations I would like to make and there are one or two questions I should like to direct to the Minister for Works (Senator Wright), who represents the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen). This Bill, of course, involves a situation concerning the State of New South Wales, and apparently under the law which we purport to repeal prisoners were sent to New South Wales on a specific warrant in each case. Apparently that is not to be the procedure under the proposed law and I am wondering what the position is in relation to the State of New South Wales. No indication has been given in this Bill or in the Minister’s second reading speech as to the reaction of the State of New South Wales to the position which has developed and no indication has been given as to whether New South Wales is required, for its part, to take any complementary action. I take it that the immunity from legal action or legal recourse which is being given by this Bill would apply also to actions which might be brought against the State of New South Wales the prison authorities of which would have had the actual physical custody and the incarceration of those who are being committed to their care under the old law.
I do compliment the Attorney-General on the speed with which this quite complex piece of parliamentary drafting has been presented. This is one of those crises which periodically arise following a judicial determination. A Bill of this character may appear on the face of it to be of somewhat simple proportions, but obviously it has very great complexities. I can understand the Attorney-General pleading that as the time goes on there may be anomalies to be corrected, and they will receive due attention. He obviously contemplates that legislation prepared in these circumstances and in this haste might, by experience, be demonstrated to have certain inadequacies. We can appreciate this situation. 1 do join with Senator Murphy in commenting on what has been exhibited here, that is, the need for continuous law reform. A number of difficulties at present confront those who are involved in the question of law reform. The first of these is the nonavailability of professional officers to undertake this work. So often, at least in the State of Queensland, law reform becomes the obligation of privately practising members of the profession, with some assistance perhaps from departmental officers. 1 have never thought that this was adequate. In the States there should be permanent law reform committees with personnel provided by the Government and finance appropriated accordingly. The services of private practitioners could be called upon. In any such law reform body there must be a permanent secretariat and permanent research officers and not merely reliance on the interest and dedication of private practitioners who are often concerned with their professional practices and have so little time that despite their good will and undoubted competence they may be attempting to achieve the impossible. Perhaps that may be one of the reasons why law reform is so sporadic and has reached so little into the deep and almost impenetrable jungle of the reform of laws generally.
I appreciate the difficulties which have confronted the Government in this matter, but I do not consider that the premature erection of a place of incarceration in the ACT is necessarily good. I think the point raised by the Minister representing the Attorney-General is well made. Penology today is a developing science, and merely to provide the physical embodiment of penology by the erection of a prison in this Capital Territory may be totally insufficient. There may not be sufficient warrant for the employment of psychiatrists and other trained personnel to do the job of penology adequately and to try to bring the most modern techniques to the reformation of those in custody. It is much better - ‘much wiser, much more prudent and, I submit, much more effective - to call upon the services which are available in a sister area, the contiguous State of New South Wales which obviously has an adequate body of trained professional officers who, in cooperation with the Commonwealth authorities, could most effectively do the job. We look forward to the future administration of this Bill, which we trust will be adequate for the purpose to be served. I appreciate the problem that faced the AttorneyGeneral and his draftsmen, and express the sympathy of those with at least some professional knowledge.
– I have no desire to delay the passage of this Bill. Like my colleague, Senator Murphy, I support the measure; but it raises a very interesting point. I would like to know from the Minister for Works (Senator Wright), who represents the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen), whether the point is covered in the Bill. What is the position with regard to the power of this Parliament to sentence persons for contempt of the Parliament? I was never really impressed on the occasion when the Parliament exercised its prerogative and power in sentencing Browne and Fitzpatrick when it did not have within the Australian Capital Territory the facilities to carry out the sentences.
– There is a gaol in the bottom of this building.
– Yes, there is; but it was not used. I suppose it could be used in an emergency. I would tike to know whether this Bill would cover such a situation, although it is not likely that we will see a repetition of the Browne and Fitzpatrick case in our time. My question is: Does this Bill validate such a situation and is provision being made for future cases in this field in which the Parliament has a direct warrant to imprison people?
– in reply- I thank the Senate for its readiness to co-operate in giving this Bill a speedy passage. With regard to the comments made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) on when the Government first became aware of the possible invalidity of the procedures of removal, which came into question last Friday before the High Court of Australia, the position briefly is this: Under the
Removal of Prisoners (Territories) Act 1923 certain procedures were laid down. Under it a recommendation was to go from the administrator and an order was to be made by the Governor-General. That was on certain grounds. The relevant one in relation to the Australian Capital Territory was if there was no prison and if it was reasonably necessary for the effective execution of the sentence.
So a recommendation by the administrator was required. There has not been an administrator in the Australian Capital Territory since the days of Sir George Knowles. Although provision was made by special amendment for the appointment of one to act for the purposes of this Act in 1937, it has never been availed of because the view has been taken that, under the terms of the Constitution and by reason of the continuance in operation of certain New South Wales legislation on the creation of this Territory, the removal1 was justified, apart from the Territories statute dealing with the removal of prisoners. That view has been held fairly consistently by Attorneys-General since the days of Sir John Latham. Although it was realised that there was some argument, it was not expected that the argument that succeeded in persuading the majority of the judges of the High Court would succeed.
Therefore we are in the position that a serious legal question has been resolved by the decision of the High Court, and, it being one that would give a loophole for the escape of persons who are subject to a sentence of incarceration, the Parliament is now asked to remedy the deficiencies in the procedure and to substitute the proposed procedure for the statutory procedure under the 1923 Act, which was a recommendation from an administrator to the GovernorGeneral and an order by the GovernorGeneral concurred in by the State in each individual case. The Bill provides that on a warrant issued by an officer of the appropriate Federal or Territory court the removal between the Australian Capital Territory and a New South Wales prison shall follow automatically. The return of prisoners when required will also be by warrant, at the instance of an officer of the court of the Australian Capital Territory.
For certain purposes the 1923 Act ceases to be applicable to the Australian Capital Territory, but it remains extant in the areas in which it was properly applicable, that is to say, in such Territories as Papua and New Guinea and the Northern Territory. There the discretion to remove a prisoner to a mainland State prison is a matter that has to be considered having regard to the health, security, length of sentence of the prisoner and so on. So this is not a matter that has been neglected entirely. The validity of the procedures which were questioned on Friday has been considered from time to time. But until Friday the view was held that the Government was on safe ground.
The Leader of the Opposition was good enough to say that he would have thought that the suggestion that a prisoner needed to be given credit for the period that he served in the Goulburn prison under this defective transfer and removal procedure was humorous. I remind the honourable senator that I emphasised in my second reading speech that the suggestion might be made. I used the words ‘might be’. There is a short passage in the transcript of the proceedings in the High Court on Friday which I will read for the information of the honourable senators. It begins with Mr Justice Taylor addressing counsel for the prisoner. It reads:
TAYLOR, J.: What is the effect of your first argument; that this applicant had not served any part of his sentence yet?
MR SHIELS: Yes, your Honour. This is part of the argument, that in fact he has not served any part of his sentence.
TAYLOR, J.: If your first argument is right he is wrongfully in custody.
MR SHIELS: That is so, your Honour.
TAYLOR, J.: Well, he has not served any part of it. 1 have no doubt that, being in the transcript, notice should be taken of that. Therefore it should be made quite clear that credit will be given to all prisoners who have served sentences under this defective procedure.
Senator Byrne referred to the State position. The position there is that Mr Maddison, the Minister for Justice in New South Wales, has been consulted and not only is agreeable to the procedures provided for in this Bill but also is anxious to have them made law. He does not want new company outside the gaols in his State overnight. I suggest that that, taken in conjunction with the constitutional provision, would answer Senator Byrne’s comment. Section 120 of the Constitution provides:
Every State shall make provision for the detention in its prisons of persons accused or convicted of offences against the laws of the Commonwealth, and for the punishment of persons convicted of such offences, and the Parliament of the Commonwealth may make laws to give effect to this provision.
That leaves me to deal with only the references that were made to law reform. I noted what Senator Byrne said about the need for specialists and his unhappiness about relying so much upon practitioners. The only observation I would permit myself to make in that respect is that I think the contribution that can be expected, having regard to the long tradition of practitioners of bringing practical application to the subject of law reform, will be appreciated.
With regard to law reform generally, I think the Senate would be happy to be reminded that quite significant steps have been taken in this field in the last 9 or 12 months. I remind honourable senators that until recent years there was no resident judge in the Australian Capital Territory. We have had the appointment recently of a resident judge. Furthermore, with regard to the legal profession in the Territory, it is not fully known that it yet has not the advantage of the co-ordinating legislation that exists in most of the States. It has been found very needful in many States to have provisions prescribing the conditions upon which trust accounts should be kept, and conditions for guarantee funds. The experience with defaulting solicitors of late has been very disquieting. The ordinance for the complete co-ordination of the legal profession in the Australian Capital Territory is now in the final process. The final stages are being discussed. Furthermore, dealing now with legal aid - a subject upon which many of my colleagues as well as Opposition senators have spoken - a comprehensive scheme of legal aid is under discussion with the Law Society and the stages of the scheme are well advanced. In the past 9 months new ordinances have been made on the subjects of juries, wills, testators family maintenance, Lord Campbell’s Act. maintenance as between husband and wife, and marketable securities. Lawyer senators will readily appreciate the ambit of those fields and the importance of them. In the property field, legislation has been undertaken with regard to unit titles and it is now being actively considered by a special committee.
A subject of more particular interest to the Senate is the question of the criminal code. As some honourable senators have reminded us, the criminal law of the Australian Capital Territory still takes its expression from the New South Wales Crimes Act of, I understand, 1900. A committee of the Australian Law Council has undertaken the formulation of a criminal code for the Territory. I think Senator Byrne would be proud of the fact that the gentlemen of the profession working on the committee are mainly, if not wholly, recruited from the Queensland bar, stemming no doubt from their pride in Sir Samuel Griffith’s Queensland code, which Tasmania had the honour to copy in the 1920s. Only 8 weeks ago the Bill which is being produced by this committee was the subject of a conference arranged by the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen), held in Canberra and attended by representatives of the Law Council from all States. In the light of that discussion it is expected that that draft code will be finalised in the early months of next year, probably about March. Following that, it will need to have very specialised attention from the AttorneyGeneral and his advisers, not only through the final drafting stages - which alllawyers recognise as necessary for the efficacy of thelegislation - but also to ensure consistency with the present expression of the law.
The only matter I have not referred to is the subject of Senator O’Byrne’s remarks. At the present stage of advice I have received, I would say to Senator O’Byrne that the Bill before the Senate refers only, I understand, to the removal of prisoners who are in the control of a court of law. If one looks at clause 5 of the Bill if will be seen that the operative words are: ‘Where a magistrate or a court has . . . made an order or pronounced a sentence. . . So, according to my present advice, this Bill does not touch the question of a sentence pursuant to an order of this Parliament.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– 1 would like a little more elucidation on the subject I raised in my speech on the second reading. I thought the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) intended to say something further at the conclusion of his remarks. This is an important matter. While the Government is trying to provide a dragnet to cover an emergency such as the circumstances covered by this Bill, a matter of such importance as the authority and prerogative of the Parliament should be considered. What provisions will be made? Will there be special legislation for this purpose or will other arrangements be made to cover an order of the Parliament? Will this Bill be amended at a later time to cover such a situation?
[5.37J - In answer to the inquiry of the honourable senator, the view I put to the Senate - and I think it permits no question - is that the Speaker’s warrant in such a case is operative to sentence a person not merely in the Territory, by reason of the accident that the Parliament is located in the Territory, but also in respect of any gaol throughout the Commonwealth and needs no legislative provision to enable a prisoner to be taken from State to State or from a territory to a State. In that respect it is different from the sentences and orders that we are seeking to effectuate under this Bill, namely, orders of the court which has jurisdiction in this Territory.
Bill agreed to.
– The question now is: That the Bill be reported without amendment’.
– I would like to speak to that question because certain observations were made by the Minister in his reply to the second reading debate. I am very much indebted to him for his indication of what was being done about such matters as, for example, legal aid. Perhaps the Attorney-General’s Department does not do itself justice in some of these matters. For instance, on 4th April this year I asked this question of the Minister representing the Attorney-General:
What progress has been made towards the introduction of a reasonable scheme of legal aid for those involved in cases in Federal courts and in Slate courts exercising Federal jurisdiction?
One might say that that was a reasonable question and that some of the material announced by the Minister could have been included in the answer I received. The Attorney-General supplied the following answer:
The question whether legal aid should be provided by the Commonwealth for persons involved in cases in Federal courts and in State courts exercising Federal jurisdiction is a matter of policy and it is not appropriate to say in answer to the question whether such aid would be provided.
That is one example. I recall that I have asked a number of questions on various aspects of what is being done in the sphere of law reform, the administration of prisons and so on. Plainly I have not been impressed at all by the quality of the answers I have received. Senator Wright has indicated that answers have been given to show that progress has been made in these fields. It would be a lot more helpful to everyone concerned if a full and reasonable statement were made in answer to questions. In addition to myself, others are dissatisfied with the kind of replies given to these questions. Perhaps the practice gives rise to a feeling that much less is being done than is actually being done.
– 1 accept Senator Murphy’s suggestion with the greatest goodwill that we may be subject to the soft impeachment that we have not taken sufficient pride in the expression of our work. However, as to his remarks about a general scheme of legal aid for federal courts in conjunction with State courts and courts invested with federal jurisdiction, I indicated at the second reading stage of the debate that this Bill refers specifically to a system of legal aid in the Australian Capital Territory. 1 take note of Senator Murphy’s remarks. In deference to what he has said, if there is any further particularity I can provide in relation to what is being done in either field, I shall be very happy to furnish the information this week or next week.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wright) read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 5.43 to 8 p.m. (General Business taking precedence of Government Business)
Debate resumed from 13 March (vide page 31), on the following paper presented by Senator Wright:
Death Penalty in Territories - Ministerial Statement, 13th March 1968 - and on the motion by Senator Cavanagh:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
– This subject now before the Senate is extremely important but we of the Opposition take the view - and we expect that the others in this chamber might concur in it - that the matter has really been superseded by the discussion on the Bill for an Act to Abolish Capital Punishment under the Laws of the Commonwealth. Honourable senators will recall that this Bill which I had the honour to introduce was carried by the Senate whilst I was overseas, owing to the effective handling of the Bill by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Senator Cohen.
– That is why it was passed.
– As Senator Cavanagh has observed, perhaps the best contribution I made was to leave it in the hands of others to ensure the carriage of the Bill. But it was carried, and that carriage really expresses the view of the Senate chamber. Therefore it was our thought that perhaps it might be convenient just simply to note the paper and to proceed to other business.
Senator Cavanagh, who was speaking when the debate was adjourned, shares that view and has graciously cut short the remarks he would otherwise have made to the Senate. I would suggest that so far as the Senateis concerned the matter may be regarded as being at an end for the moment. I would only express the view that, the Senate having passed the Bill to which I have referred we would hope that some early consideration would be given to the matter in the House of Representatives out of courtesy to this House because it is of great public importance.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senator MURPHY (New South Wales-
Leader of the Opposition) [8.3] - I move:
This Bill proposes a referendum of the people to amend the Constitution by inserting a requirement that the members of the Houses of Parliament of the States shall be chosen directly and democratically by the people of the States. If the people so decide by the procedure for amendment laid down under the Constitution, there will be inserted in the Constitution a new section 106 a in these terms:
The Houses of Parliament of the Slates shall be composed of members directly chosen by the people of the States under a system which shall provide that every citizen, unless disqualified by a law of the State as an infant, person of unsound mind, or prisoner, shall be entitled to a vote and so far as practicable, that each vote shall be of equal value.
The new section is necessary to guarantee democracy in the States of Australia.
The wielding of political power in State governments in a number of glaring instances has been made to depend upon effectively disfranchising large sections of the community. They have become second class citizens. The plain fact is that parliaments in the States are elected undemocratically. The basic human right of equal suffrage in a democratic system is being denied the people of Australia in regard to their State parliaments. That right is set forth in Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which provides that the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government and that this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffage. Australia has signed and this Parliament has ratified the declaration, but it is not observed in the election of our State parliaments.
Some of the houses of parliaments are elected by systems which deny citizens a vote if they are not rich enough to own property. Many citizens are denied equal suffrage. Votes are weighted by the device of electorates containing widely differing numbers of electors. One house is not elected by the people at all. In our States, democracy is mostly pretension and sham. We teach our children the myth that Australia is a democracy. The reality is that it is not.
To achieve democracy in the election of State parliaments we must at least have a system under which the members of Parliament are chosen directly by the people. Every citizen ought to be entitled to a vote unless disqualified by a law of the State, such disqualification being restricted to the traditional and reasonable grounds of infancy, unsoundness of mind or imprisonment and such vote should not have its value destroyed or impaired by any device such as gerrymandering or unequal electorates. Equal suffrage should be maintained by a system which will, so far as is practicable, ensure that each vote shall be of equal value.
Those are objects of this Bill. The Bill, if passed, will enable the people to choose whether the democratic principles we espouse should be incorporated in the Constitution. The method of altering the Constitution is set forth in its section 128 which with the concurrence of honourable senators, I incorporate in Hansard. 128. This Constitution shall not be altered except in the following manner:
The proposed law for the alteration thereof must be passed by an absolute majority of each House of the Parliament, and not less than two nor more than six months after its passage through both Houses the proposed law shall be submitted in each State to the electors qualified to vote for the election of members of the House of Representatives.
But if either House passes any such proposed law by an absolute majority, and the other House rejects or fails to pass it or passes it with any amendment to which the first-mentioned House will not agree, and if after an interval of three months the first-mentioned House in the same or the next session again passes the proposed law by an absolute majority with or without any amendment which has been made or agreed to by the other House, and such other House rejects or fails to pass it or passes it with any amendment to which the first-mentioned House will not agree, the Governor-General may submit the proposed law as last proposed by the first-mentioned House, and either with or without any amendments subsequently agreed to by both Houses, to the electors in each State qualified to vote for the election of the House of Representatives.
When a proposed law is submitted to the electors the vote shall be taken in such manner as the Parliament prescribes. But until the qualification of electors of members of the House of Representatives becomes uniform throughout the Commonwealth, only one-half the electors voting for and against the proposed law shall be counted in any State in which adult suffrage prevails.
And if in a majority of the States a majority of the electors voting approve the proposed law, and if a majority of all the electors voting also approve the proposed law, it shall be presented to the Governor-General for the Queen’s assent.
No alteration diminishing the ‘ proportionate representation of any State in either House of the Parliament, or the minimum number of representatives of a State in the House of Representatives, or increasing, diminishing, or otherwise altering the limits of the State, or in any manner affecting the provisions of the Constitution in relation thereto, shall become law unless the majority of the electors voting in that State approve the proposed law.
The Senate is now asked to give its consent to initiating this democratic process of referendum. If the amendment is made it will mean a change in the electoral processes in the States for both the upper and lower houses. It will eliminate the restricted franchise in the upper houses and will institute enfranchisement in both houses on a system of equality of voting. This is the least standard to which the people of the States are entitled. The injustices that exist in the franchise for State upper houses and the inequalities of electoral distribution in the lower house are an affront to democracy.
The Tasmanian lower house is elected on the Hare-Clark proportional representation system similar in substance to the way in which the Senate is elected. In the Upper House, the franchise is limited. Tasmania has a discharged serviceman’s franchise as an alternative to the usual land owning or occupation provisions. It also has certain professional qualifications. A person being a doctor, a lawyer, a university graduate, a parson or an officer serving or discharged in the armed forces, is granted a vote. The owner of freehold property or the occupier of a property now qualifies. The spouse of a qualified property owner or occupier also qualifies. There are no general elections for the Legislative Council in Tasmania.
Three of the nineteen members retire each year, except in certain years when 4 of them retire. At 30th April 1967, there were 158,435 electors for the Lower House, compared to 196,122 enrolled for the Lower House elections at 30th June 1966. Of the electors for the Upper House, 68,135 were classified as property owners, 31,811 as occupiers of property and there were 58,489 others. Of those electors, 77,608 were males and 80,827 were females. Why should any citizen be deprived of a .vote if he is adult, of sound mind and not under restraint in prison?
At 31st December 1966 the electorate with the largest enrolment for upper House elections in Tasmania was Pembroke with 16,492 electors, and the smallest was Launceston with 2,957. The distribution for the lower House elections in Tasmania on the basis of the Hare-Clark proportional representation scheme is more equitable and does not vary so greatly. At June 1966 the 196,122 electors were distributed thus: Bass 39,381; Braddon 39,083; Denison 34,925; Franklin 46,648 and Wilmot 36,085.
The last election in South Australia shows most clearly the inequalities of that State’s electoral system. The State does not operate on the principle that representatives of the people are elected to represent the people but rather that they are elected to represent wealth or interests or positions, or even the space between people. The principle of one vote one value based on having substantially equal electorates with no marked departure from the quota for electorates is now accepted as axiomatic in many countries which call themselves democracies, but not in South Australia. The Australian Labor Party obtained in excess of 52% of the votes cast at the last Sate election, or over 9% more than did the Liberal Parly. It is not democracy when such a vote resulted in the Labor Party’s defeat.
– These are my own statements except so far as the figures which disclose the numbers in the electorates have been assembled. If the honourable senator thinks that any are incorrect I would appreciate it if he would indicate them to me. I would be glad of any correction he cares to make. In South Australia the franchise for the upper House - the Legislative Council - is still based on ownership of property, membership of the armed Services and a head of the family franchise, that is, a franchise given to the tenant-occupier of any property. In 1968 some 610,000 electors were enrolled for lower House elections and only 277,000 for the upper House. At the 1968 election the largest electorate was Enfield with 45,199 electors and the smallest was Frome with 4,952 electors.
– There is one thing you have not mentioned. The voting for one is compulsory and for the other it is voluntary. So the figures show a discrepancy because of the voluntary factor.
– Not a discrepancy. The honourable senator is giving an explanation of an inexcusable system. Attempts to achieve the reform of the South Australian Legislative Council have been, and no doubt will continue to be, frustrated by the majority in the Council - a majority that is achieved and reinforced by the restrictive franchise.
In New South Wales 1 966 city electorates for the Legislative Assembly averaged 27,531 voters and country electorates 20,882 voters. The upper House in New South Wales - the Legislative Council - does not even pretend to be representative of the people, lt is elected by the current members of the two Houses of Parliament, including the candidates, lt cannot be dissolved. The will of the electors is irrelevant to its continuity.
Redistribution in Victoria in 1965-66 gave that State forty-four metropolitan divisions of about 25,000 voters each, eight country divisions of about 22,250 each, and twenty-one rural divisions of about 18,200 each. Victoria has abolished its special franchise for the upper House and has adopted universal franchise but retained the old electorates for upper House elections with an extra city province to make a total of ten city provinces and eight country provinces after the partial redistribution of 1965-66. The 1967 State election showed that the Australian Labor Party obtained 571,963 votes and obtained sixteen seats, the Liberal Party obtained 555,578 votes and obtained forty-four scats, the Country Party obtained 125,545 votes and obtained twelve seats and the Democratic Labor Party obtained 212,905 votes and obtained no seats.
Western Australia has three areas for lower House - Legislative Assembly - elections, namely, Metropolitan, AgriculturalPastoralMining and North West. The number of voters enrolled in each district in the Metropolitan area is approximately twice the number in each district in the Agricultural-Pastoral-Mining area, and about four times the number in the three districts of the North West. This is accounted for by a requirement of the Electoral Districts Act 1947-1963 that the distribution commissioners, in determining the quota of electors for each district, should reckon every two electors in the Metropolitan area as one elector, at the same time giving full representation to each elector in the Agricultural-Pastoral-Mining area. The number of districts in the North West was fixed by the Act as three, giving voters in the area a vote worth four times as much as a vote in the Metropolitan area.
On 21st February 1968 in the Metropolitan area of twenty-three House of Assembly seats, Canning had the largest enrolment with 14,280 voters, and Fremantle had the lowest with 1 1,717 voters. In the Agricultural-Pastoral-Mining area, with twenty-four seats in the House of Assembly, Dale had the largest enrolment of 7,132 voters and Collin the smallest with 5,652 voters. In the North West area the district with the largest enrolment was Kimberley with 2,787 voters and the smallest was Mirchison-Eyre with 1,879 voters. There can be no doubt as to why these districts are known as pocket boroughs. In 1964 Western Australia also abolished the special franchise for the Legislative Council in favour of universal suffrage. The State was divided into fifteen two-member electorates, fifteen members retiring every 3 years with members holding 6-year terms.
The inequality of distribution for Legislative Assembly elections is also evident in the distribution for the Council. In the Metropolitan area on 2 1 st February 1968 the province with the largest enrolment was North Metropolitan with 64,078 voters and the smallest was South Metropolitan with 51,143 voters. In the AgriculturalPastoralMining area the province with the largest enrolment was West with 19,642 voters and the smallest was Lower Central with 17,430 voters. The two districts of the North West are North with 5,108 voters and Lower North with 4,453 voters.
In Queensland the upper house has been abolished. From the election of 28th May 1960 the Queensland lower house - the Legislative Assembly - was increased, by the Electoral Districts Act 1958, from 75 to 78 members. The Act also divided the State into three electoral zones, firstly, the Metropolitan zone with 28 electoral districts, at redistribution the average number of voters being 1 1,383; secondly, the Provincial Cities zone with 12 electoral districts, at redistribution the average number of voters being 12,524; and thirdly, the Country zone with 38 electoral districts, at redistribution the average number of voters being 8,467. At the time of the 1966 State election the electoral districts varied from Salisbury with 18,334 voters and Aspley with 17,691 voters in the Metropolitan zone to the largest in the Provincial Cities zones, which was Townsville South with 15,840 voters and Ipswich East with 15,392 voters, to the largest Country zone electorate of Murrumba with 13,515 voters and the smallest Country electorates of Condamine with 244 voters and Mulgrave with 7.092 voters. These disparities in electoral distributions, aggravated in some Stales by restricted franchise, mean a substantial denial of equal suffrage.
Democracy does not mean the disfranchisement of certain citizens simply because they live in industrial areas. Australia was a great innovator of democracy. She was early in adopting adult suffrage, secret ballots, equal representation in certain spheres and female suffrage. These electoral disparities have arisen because of a population dispersal, industrial growth and a decline of population in agricultural areas. Vested and entrenched political interests have seen fit to continue these anomalies because they best serve their interests. Some of these interests do not even pay lip service to democratic principles. They contend that there is no such principle as one vote one value; that governments are not to be elected by counting heads, and that it is proper that the people in the country who produce a State’s wealth should have more say in the government of that State than the people who live in the cities and do not produce as much of the State’s wealth.
Even if one accepted this autocratic idea, the argument is no longer tenable. Australia’s wealth comes less and less from the land. We must even subsidise some rural industries now. Although we subsidise them with money, we should not subsidise them with weighted votes. The contribution that is made to Australia by the agricultural and pastoral sections of our community ought to be recognised for what it is - a very great contribution. But that is no excuse whatever for departing from democracy in Australia. To suggest that those who live in rural areas should have a greater say in the electoral process than those who1 live in the cities is to argue that something that would be decided by a majority in a democracy should not be so decided but that a contrary decision should be made in the interests of the agricultural and pastoral sections of the community. That is quite inconsistent with democracy and would not be accepted by the people of Australia if the matter were put to them at a referendum. In the great case of Reynolds v Sims Chief Justice Warren said:
To the extent that a citizen’s right to vote is debased, he is that much less a citizen. The fact that an individual lives here or there is not a legitimate reason for overweighting or diluting his vole. The complexions of society and civilisations change, often with amazing rapidity. A nation once primarily rural in character becomes urban. Representative schemes once fair and equitable become archaic and outdated. But the basic principle of representative government remains, and must remain, unchanged … the weight of a citizen’s vote cannot bc made to depend on where he lives.
If the proposed amendment becomes part of the Constitution it will not be an interference with the rights of the people of the States. It will protect their rights, lt will permit the States to choose any method of voting they wish - first past the post, proportional representation, preferential or whatever it may be - as long as it is on the basis of equal suffrage. It will require only a minimum standard for elections. Every citizen of the State, unless disqualified by a law of the State as a person of unsound mind, an infant or prisoner, shall be entitled to a vote and, so far as practicable, each vote shall be of equal value. This Bill requires that the number of citizens, as defined by the laws of each State, in each electorate of the States, shall be as nearly as practicable equal, or in some other way the laws of the States shall be such as to ensure the equality of the votes.
At the Australian Labor Party Conference of State and Federal leaders earlier this year the Labor leaders in each State authorised me to state here that they approved of this measure and did not regard it as an invasion of States’ rights. It is a measure enabling the people of the States to choose whether they should have a constitutional right to the democratic election of their Parliaments. The least the people of this country can be given is the chance to say whether or not it is their wish. The Federal Constitution deals with the States as well as the Commonwealth. The States are at liberty to change their constitutions through parliamentary action, so long as they adhere to the set forms and do not go beyond the limits set by the Federal Constitution. The power of alteration of the State constitutions, therefore, can lie within tha State Parliaments.
Why must we alter the electoral practices of the State by changing the Federal Constitution? The situation in some States - perhaps South Australia is at present the best example - is that the people are frustrated in their efforts to achieve democracy. Governments in power which come to depend more and more on a minority vote for their election are determined not to allow equality of voting. The South Australian experience shows a tendency to worsen the inquality of voting by the continuation of devices producing inequality. The people of the States need outside assistance to remedy these inequalities. On some views, technically this assistance could come from the United Kingdom Parliament or from this Parliament. The State governments of the 1930s insisted on being left out of the Statute of Westminster, which offered complete sovereignty to British dominions, and so are theoretically still subject to the power of the British Parliament. On that view, an application could be made to the United Kingdom Government to alter the State constitutions by a British Act of Parliament. The States are the former colonies. They retain many of the relics of colonialism. Unequal suffrage and undemocratic electoral systems are some of these relics. Yet no one wants to request British interference in this way because it would suggest that Australia is not a sovereign nation capable of resolving her own affairs. This Bill provides the way for the Australian Federal Parliament to give the people of the Australian States an opportunity to decide freely for themselves.
The importance of fair elections has been a major concern both nationally and internationally in recent years. The United States Supreme Court has played a prominent part in compelling the adoption of fair electoral distribution laws for both Federal and State legislatures. Australia and the United States are both supposed to be democratic countries. Our Federal system is closely modelled on that of the United States. The basic difference is that as yet there is an absence from our Constitution of a Bill of Rights - that is, a set of basic guarantees for individual liberties and social claims such as appears in the first ten and the Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution of the United States. One of these provisions is a guarantee of equal protection of the laws. Since 1961, the United States Supreme Court has treated this provision as requiring equality of electoral power for the individual voter. A similar result has been inferred from a similar provision in the Constitution of West Germany. These are countries where such a specific and democratically essential rule has been established.
There is no such fundamental guarantee for the States in Australia, whether in the Federal Constitution or that of any State. The Australian courts have no such basis upon which to enforce the democratic right. The establishing and maintenance of the principle of one man, one vote, one value for the States in Australia as a practical matter can be achieved only by political means - by an Act of this Parliament. This Bill will give the people of the States the right to decide whether such an Act to amend the Constitution should be passed, lt will allow the Federal Parliament to bypass the inevitable opposition offered by State upper Houses which are unrepresentative of the wishes of the voters and determined to maintain their privileged position. We believe that the majority of voters desire this reform. It is up to this Parliament to give (hem the chance to demonstrate that desire.
This Parliament ought to follow the lead given by the American Supreme Court and ensure that the State parliaments are elected on the democratic principle. Australia cannot pretend to be a democracy while her citizens are deprived of this justice, especially when they are deprived of the right to choose. Equality cannot be said to exist here while electoral injustice is perpetrated. Equal suffrage is an essential part of the modern concept of a government of laws and not of men. It is at the core of Abraham Lincoln’s vision of ‘government of the people, by the people, and for the people.’ I ask the Senate to enable the people of the States to choose to amend the Constitution to guarantee their right to democratic election of their State parliaments. Given the choice, I am sure that Australians will choose democracy. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wright) adjourned.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill, which it is my pleasure to submit to the Senate this evening, is to establish the machinery for the payment of finance from this Government to the State governments of Australia for distribution to independent schools. I emphasise at the outset, as strongly as I can, that it is not an appropriation Bill. 1 draw everyone’s attention to clause 5 of my Bill which states:
The authority of the Minister lo make any payment to a State under this Act is subject to the appropriation of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for that purpose, it being hereby declared that nothing in this Act shall be deemed to so appropriate that Fund.
In other words, this Bill establishes the machinery for payment to the States annually of amounts equivalent to S50 for each child at a secondary independent school and $30 for each child at a primary independent school. This money is then to be distributed on a per capita basis to the principals of the schools. Once this Bill is adopted, further legislative action will be required to appropriate the Consolidated Revenue Fund. Therefore, the vote on this Bill will provide & test for every honourable senator, regardless of his Party affiliation, as to whether or not he is prepared to translate words into action. If every word spoken in support of State aid in recent years had been equivalent to 50c, the independent schools would not have been in the crisis position that they are in today. And make no mistake about it, they are in a crisis situation. In fact the dual system of education in Australia which has obtained for more than 150 years is close to disintegration.
Had it not been for the supplementary system of education provided by religious denominations and by grammar schools under the control of boards of trustees throughout Australia for very many years, our State system could never have provided education facilities for all those who have required them. Let me emphasise also that it was not for many years after the turn of the century that the State entered the field of secondary or higher education. Secondary or higher education had been entirely the responsibility of church schools and grammar schools throughout the country. They were the schools that turned out our professional men - leaders in the field of law, dentistry, medicine, engineering, teaching and commerce. Had it not been for the existence of this dual system of education and the part played by church schools and other independent schools, this country would never have made the progress that it made over those years.
The disappearance or weakening of the dual system would be of advantage to no-one. It would deprive parents of the prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children’ as laid down in article 26 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. It would place an intolerable strain on the State school system and, perhaps of more interest to those with a financial approach to the subject, it would in the long run mean an unnecessary increase in the total governmental expenditure on education. I shall expand on this last comment further on in my speech. The greater number of independent schools in Australia are, as honourable senators will realise, the
Catholic schools and it is in this section that the crisis situation has been reached. The Senate will be aware that Catholic parents prefer to have their children educated at Catholic schools. This right is protected by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, but the existing situation is denying Catholic parents the opportunity of exercising this right by denying them the opportunity of making a choice between a State education system and an independent education system. I say that the adoption of this Bill and the necessary complementary legislation would help to establish a situation in which this fundamental right can be exercised.
In recent years the Catholic section of the independent school system has been unable to absorb or accept all those who have sought admission. For years they have carried the burden of capital expenditure, the maintenance of teaching staffs and all the incidental expenses associated with the proper conduct of a school. But the greater population and the rapid and sudden growth in our population has thrown on them a financial burden which is beyond their ability to bear. These children, who are unable to be absorbed into independent schools, are required to enrol in a State school, which is quite obviously the second choice. The influx of these children into the State system has two financial effects. Firstly, it increases the State education bill and, secondly, it deprives the total education system of vast amounts of private investment. Therefore, even those with a purely financial approach to this subject, and those who want to disregard the justice of the case, should be concerned at the situation which is causing these effects. I feel that more and more people are realising that this situation is not good for Australia, that our whole education system is affected - not just the independent section. In this chamber and in other fields, political and otherwise, we repeatedly hear the claim that our educational system is feeble and needs a lot of improvement. If that is the case today with the dual system of education that exists, what will be the position if the dual system of education in Australia is allowed to disintegrate? Without doubt we would have chaos of the worst kind.
I believe that this realisation is expressed in the public opinion polls and the general feeling evidenced in the electorate. ‘State aid’ is a term which I do not like but continue to use because it is expressive to those who want to consider this matter. It is no longer a sectarian question which, unfortunately, it was for too long. I suspect it was a sectarian question only because one particular denomination had more schools than the other denominations. Unfortunately, those which had no schools at all took up a dog in the manger attitude, were prepared to make a sectarian issue of it and refused to see the justice of the case. Are we prepared to allow the parents of those children, who pay income tax the same as anybody else, to go on paying income tax and at the same time pay for the education of their children because they elect to send them to a school other than a State school on a matter of principle?
The taxes paid by the parents of those children go into the general fund of consolidated revenue and a percentage of it is appropriated for educational purposes. But the parents of the children attending independent schools get no benefit from their own taxation which is being appropriated for education - or a portion of it, at least. However, 1 am pleased to note that this question is no longer a sectarian question and denominations which are responsible for educational establishments and which would have declined any aid from the State some years ago are today feeling that they are entitled to it. They are gravely in need of it and have joined forces with other independent schools in seeking some assistance. The claims of independent schools for assistance are growing as more and more people look at the problem in an objective manner. I said earlier that the problem is greater in the Catholic section and this is because of the inability of the Catholic schools to accept all those applying for admission. This development is expressed in the increasing number of Catholic children having to be enrolled in State schools.
For example, in New South Wales in 1962 Catholic children in State schools represented only 12% of all those enrolled. In 1966 that percentage had risen to 14.6 which, in numerical terms, means more than 100,000 children. In Victoria in 1965 Catholic children in State schools represented 8.8% of those enrolled. By 1967 that percentage had risen to 10.5% which represents nearly 57,000 children. This leakage to the State schools has occurred in all
States - in some more than others. South Australia would appear to be the worst affected State. I have seen figures which indicate that by 1972 the South Australian education system will be educating 16,000 Catholic children who normally would have been enrolled in Catholic schools. Indeed, it is anticipated that, if the current trend continues, in 1972 only 38% of Catholic children will be attending Catholic schools. I might add that this 38% compares most disturbingly with the relevant percentage in 1960, which was a relatively high 63%.
All these figures are important, because when associated with another fact they indicate that immediate action is required. The other fact is that it is less costly to the State for a child to be educated in an independent school than in a State school. The reason for this fact is simple. Independent schools encourage private investment in education which normally would not have been directed to the total educational effort if there were only State run school’s in existence. I refer, of course, to the fees paid by parents of children at independent schools, donations, bequests, finance drives, etc. It costs, on an average about $300 per year for the State to educate a child in a government school. My Bill does not propose that the independent schools be reimbursed to the extent of $300 for each child enrolled at such schools. The payments I propose are a mere $50 for secondary students and 530 for primary students. Let me say at this stage that since I assessed these figures as a reasonable claim on the Commonwealth Government there have been increases in the salaries of lay teachers employed at independent schools, and other costs, of course, have risen also. These figures as provided for in the Bill are not extravagent amounts, nor are they unrealistic. In simple language they could mean the difference between the col’lapse of the dual system or its continued existence.
To dale, all gains in the State aid field have been the result of political action. Back in 1957, when the Australian Labor Party reversed its traditional stand of support for State aid, the Democratic Labor Party was left on its own as the only political1 party prepared publicly to support the just claims of independent schools. We supported that policy at a cost to ourselves in terms of abuse and the unjust label of being a sectarian party which our opponents attached to us. But we believed that we were advocating a policy in the best interests of the whole nation, not just one section of it, and that one day our claims on behalf of independent school’s would be recognised as warranting immediate government action. The justice of the case, as well as the economics, appealed to us. There is no reason why anyone should be content to allow the parents of children being educated in independent schools to pay, as it were, double tax for the education of their children. In short, for too long the governments of this country have been able to educate a big section of the children of Australia on the cheap. Primarily, it is the government’s responsibility to provide education for children, at all times giving parents the right to choose the school to which they will send their children.
During the years from 1957 until 1963 the central Government of Australia adopted an ostrich approach to this matter. First of all, it claimed that financial assistance was ‘outside the jurisdiction of this Government’, as Sir Robert Menzies put it on 30th August 1960. Then the 1961 Federal elections were held, with a result that shook the Government and the Liberal Party and the Country Party tremendously. The result was a photo finish. Sir Robert Menzies, fearful that the 1963 elections might be a repetition of the 1961 elections, looked around for policies which might bolster his Government’s falling image and ensure a higher proportion of DLP second preferences in marginal seats. One of the policies he dreamed up, in complete contradiction of all his earlier statements about the unconstitutionality of Federal state aid, was the science blocks scheme. If honourable senators have any memory of that period, they will recollect that Sir Robert Menzies, puzzled to know what he might do under the heading of state aid, picked up the stillborn child of the Australian Labor Party State Conference in Sydney. That Conference carried a resolution directing Mr Renshaw, Premier of New South Wales, to make provision in his Budget for payments to independent schools for the construction or erection of science blocks.
– It was not as sudden as that.
– Very nearly. Mr Renshaw - desirous as he might have been, or, to be fairer, as he was, of giving effect to the State Conference decision or direction - was not permitted to give effect to it because of the intervention of Mr Chamberlain and the Federal Executive of the Australian Labor Party. It would not be out of place to say here that I was allegedly expelled from the Australian Labor Party for not having carried out a decision of a conference. Mr Renshaw was not permitted to carry out a decision of a conference-
– Because the policy of the Party had changed and it was not prepared to give any assistance to independent schools. However, there is no doubt that assistance to independent schools was included in the policy of the Government in 1963. Even Senator Cohen acknowledged here recently that this scheme was introduced only because of pressure from the DLP. The 1963 scheme was the first major breakthrough in the Federal sphere. Various State schemes which followed were also related to the role and position of the DLP. We make no apologies for it, because it has been included in our policy from the time we came into existence.
No member of the Australian Labor Party should be proud of the role played by his Party on this question. In the early 1 950s the ALP advocated ‘that financial aid be granted to the States for the purpose of assisting all forms of education’. In 1953, at the Adelaide Federal Conference, at which I was present, as was Senator Condon Byrne, that was interpreted to mean full assistance to independent schools. At the 1957 ALP Federal Conference in Brisbane this policy was deleted from the platform of the Party, and for the next 10 years the ALP opposed any extension or payment of state aid. The Party’s attitude was clearly stated by Dr Cairns when he said that citizens could develop an independent system of schools, ‘provided they do so at their own expense’. That was the thinking of the ALP following 1957. Dr Cairns was content to perpetuate an injustice that the parents of children attending independent schools had had inflicted upon them for many decades. He was content to overlook the fact that the parents of those children were actually paying double tax for education; not only were they paying for the education of their own children but they were contributing to the cost of the education of children attending State establishments.
– In fairness to Dr Cairns it should be pointed out that that was the Parry’s policy, not merely his statement.
– That was his statement.
– It was the Party’s policy.
– Yes, it is, and it is not a creditable policy. The DLP is the only political party that has held and advocated a consistent policy on this question. We are proud of our record, which is something that the Australian Labor Party and the Liberal Party cannot claim. At mis stage I want to give credit to the Australian Country Party, which included State aid for independent schools in its platform. I believe that that plank is still in the platform of the Country Party.
With a proposal such as that contained in this Bill, the question will naturally be asked: How much will it cost? Before I refer to the statistics and dollars, I make the point that the adoption of my scheme will cost the State and Federal governments less in the long nin than will a continuation of the present system. In 1967 there were 369,167 children in independent primary schools and 215,245 children in independent secondary schools in the various States and excluding the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. At $50 per secondary student and $30 per primary student, the implementation of my proposal would have cost $21,837,260, or $22m in round figures, in 1967. The distribution to the various States would have been as follows:
This sum of approximately $22m might sound a lot but when comparisons are made with some of the allocations in this year’s Budget it is clear that $22m is well within the capabilities of the Commonwealth Government. It represents only 1.4% of the amount allocated this year for pensions, education and health; 1.8% of the amount allocated for defence; and 9% of the amount allocated for capital works in the Postmaster-General’s Department As honourable senators can see, $22m really is insignificant by comparison with the vast amounts of money distributed by the Commonwealth in this age of multi-million dollar Budgets. But while it is small to the Commonwealth, it could mean the difference between extinction and existence, or continuance, for independent schools and the dual system of education.
Referring to the dual system of education, I do not think anyone would have the temerity to suggest that the standard of independent schools is not sufficiently high to merit government aid. I think that public examination results show beyond doubt and beyond question that students from independent schools are as well educated as, if not better educated than, children attending State schools. I take this opportunity of saying, in case there is any misunderstanding, that we who advocate State aid for independent schools make no reflection on the State education system whatsoever. We have the highest praise and highest respect for the State system and teaching staff but we believe that independent schools are entitled to justice and financial assistance to enable them to carry on the noble part they have played in the field of education for so long, with such distinction in making an outstanding contribution towards Australia’s progress.
I do not have to produce reams of statistics to prove that my proposal will be cheaper for State and Federal governments in the long run than the continuation of the present system. I have already pointed to the inability of the independent schools to accept all those applying for admission and the fact that it costs, on the average, $300 a year to educate a child in a State school. I also have pointed out that the existence of the independent system encourages private investment which would not normally be forthcoming if there were only a single and not a dual system of education.
I estimate that there are about 250,000 Catholic children at State schools. It is in this group that we will find the students who first sought admission to an independent school, were refused admission because of inadequate facilities and shortage of teachers, and then had to apply to the State schools. While I am not claiming that all of these 250,000 children are in this category, a sizeable percentage are and this percentage will grow as more and more independent schools close their doors. Let us say for the sake of argument that 50% of these 250,000 children are in this category. At a cost of $300 a student, this means that the various State governments have had their education bills increased by $37m annually. I estimate the cost of my proposal at $22m.
When we get down to basic facts it is a question of whether or not the Federal Government wants to preserve the dual system of education, because the State governments claim that they are not financially strong enough to carry the full burden of assistance for independent schools. I say again that in recent years most of the State governments have adopted some form of contribution, on a per capita basis, to independent schools. Only recently the CountryLiberal Party Government in Queensland increased its grant. Of course, as honourable senators would know if they had studied this question, for very many years the Queensland Government was the only State government which made any contribution at all to independent schools. That contribution was in the field of secondary education and was designed to encourage young children with ability and talent to continue from the scholarship or 14 year stage into secondary schools. Later, assistance was given for primary school pupils. I believe this has been done in all other States. However, State governments are not in the position to give as much as is required and therefore J ask the Commonwealth Government to come to the assistance of independent schools rather than make the Australian taxpayers carry a greater burden than they normally would have to carry.
The adoption of my proposal would prevent or slow the leakage from the independent schools. It would reduce the pressure on government schools and it would restore the operation of the right which I mentioned at the outset when I said that parents have the prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children. I believe that is the undeniable and indisputable right of parents and if that is the case in our democracy then let us face up to it and do something about it.
This claim for government assistance for independent schools is not something that has just arisen in Australia. Indeed, it has been spoken of for many, many years. I claim to have been a constant advocate of such assistance because, being a product of an independent school, I recognise the value of such schools and the contribution they make towards good citizenship in Australia. This also is true of other schools, too. They are making a great contribution. I have unbounded admiration for the great body of men and women of the religious orders who have dedicated their lives to educate youth and for which they receive not one cent in remuneration from State or church. In my remarks I have referred to the Catholic Church and its education system. I hope honourable senators realise that I have done this because I am more familiar with the figures for Catholic schools. They are more accessible to me than are the figures associated with the schools of the other denominations.
Let me make it quite clear that my admiration is equal for all church schools. They have done and are still doing a mighty job in the field of education. I want to see these people receive a measure of assistance. In the cities and towns, and even in the small villages of Australia, a tremendous amount of capital has been spent on the building of schools, convents, monasteries, and all the buildings associated with the housing and education of children. But this has gone on unnoticed for a long time and will continue to be unnoticed unless pressure is put on governments to make them recognise that they have a responsibility in this field. If they are not prepared to aid these schools, they must be prepared to carry a heavier financial burden in the field of education.
This is not a new subject. For many years past United Kingdom governments have aided independent schools very generously by the payment of teachers, with capital expenditure, and by meeting maintenance costs in England, Wales and Scotland. In Eire all denominations are assisted financially in the field of education, as is the case in Northern Ireland under the Ulster Government. To substantiate my claim that in many parts of the world aid is given to independent schools, I will list the countries which in one way or another give this form of support. I have referred to the United Kingdom, Scotland, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. In addition Canada supports all types of education. In Europe the correct principle of assistance to every type of schools is maintained in West Germany, Luxembourg, Austria, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Malta. In Africa educational justice is done by Ghana, the Union of South Africa, Egypt, Liberia, and Morocco. The same is true of Central and South America. The principle is observed by the West Indies, the Republic of Haiti, Chile and Brazil.
In Asia the following governments recognise their financial responsibilities to all types of schools, including religious schools: India, Pakistan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Iran and the Lebanon. All these countries, ranging from advanced industrial communities like the United Kingdom and West Germany to rather primitive countries like Ghana and Liberia, do exactly the opposite of what is done in Australia in their support of children in denominational schools.
Are we to allow this to continue and to lag behind the countries who have recognised the justice of the claims of independent schools? Is the Government to accept its responsibility to assist to a reasonable and fair extent in the task of educating this large section of children in Australia? Before I conclude I want to clear up a point which arises from an interjection made, I think, by Senator Murphy, regarding a statement by Dr Cairns. It is true that Dr Cairns was giving expression to Australian Labor Party policy on this matter. I know very well that in addition to its being ALP policy it is the persona] view of Dr Cairns. The ALP and Dr Cairns go along very closely together. But in 1957 when State aid was taken out of the platform of the ALP-
– Which platform?
– The Australian Labor Party’s.
– Which one?
– The one existing before 1957.
– State or Federal?
– -The Federal policy. At a federal conference a man named Brebner from Victoria - honourable senators have probably heard of him - moved a motion to omit from the platform federal aid for all forms of education, including aid in accordance with the interpretation of the 1953 South Australian conference and insert in lieu thereof: ‘The promotion of secondary and higher education by way of bursaries, scholarships, exhibitions and benefits payable direct to students’. Did he really believe that that was a move towards the building of schools and the payment of teachers?
– The honourable senator did that in Queensland for many years.
– No, I did not. In moving the motton Mr Brebner said that the committee had used the words ‘secondary and higher education’ deliberately to make it quite clear that the Party was opposed to providing bursaries, scholarships, exhibitions, benefits and the like to students of primary schools. The motion was seconded by Mr Quigley and carried by a show of hands of thirty-six to nil. Honourable senators will be interested to hear that included in those thirty-six people were men like former Senator McKenna, Senator Kennelly, Senator Dittmer and Mr Colbourne.
– All good Labor men.
– Yes. They were prepared to overthrow the section of their platform which provided for justice for independent schools. I come now to item 134, which concerned the Labor Women’s Interstate Executive. It submitted a motion deploring the Federal Government’s failure to provide adequate funds for education. Again the motion was moved by Mr Brebner, as follows: ‘That the Committee recommends that this Conference deplores the failure of the Federal Government to provide adequate funds to State governments to enable them to expand their educational facilities’. In moving the motion Mr Brebner said that the Committee had, as in the case of item 136, deliberately chosen the words ‘their educational facilities’ in order to make it clear that such funds were not to be used for other than State owned and controlled educational facilities. There is no ambiguity about that. That reflected the character of the Australian Labor Party at that stage.
That attitude persisted for 10 years until the bikini conference at Surfers Paradise when it was alleged that Mr Calwell inadvertently or clumsily voted the wrong way and the vote was carried in favour of State aid. I now give members of the Australian Labor Party an opportunity through this Bill to show where they stand on this issue. I hope they will give me the surprise I should like to receive by giving the Bill their wholehearted support, thus showing that they are prepared if necessary to pressurise the Government so that there will be no continuation of the injustice that has been perpetrated for loo long in respect of independent schools. If independent schools could be classified as being below normal or if there were some other defect in the system I would be a little reluctant to submit this case enthusiastically. But nobody has ever suggested that it is deficient in any way. If we care to go through our universities we will find the products of independent schools there in great numbers. Similarly, in our hospitals we will find surgeons and physicians working with a great measure of success in caring for suffering humanity. Amongst these 1 include Dr Harry Windsor, who led the team which performed the heart transplant operation at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney. He is a product of an independent school, and there are many more like him. Whether they be Church of England Grammar Schools. Methodist schools or any other, I am not concerned. They are all doing an excellent job in this field and I believe that if we have a proper sense of justice we will not delay in granting independent schools some aid.
Let me say in conclusion that I am not married to the idea of the per capita system of assistance. If the government elects to be generous in some other way such as by way of grant or contribution towards the salaries of teachers, based on classes of 30 or 40 students that will not upset me. The important thing is that the Government should recognise the necessity for doing something in this direction. Let me warn honourable senators that unless something is done quickly there will be a major crisis in the field of independent schools. Let us prevent that by treating this as an urgent matter and by responding as we are expected to respond - generously in the interests of a body of people and organisations of all denominations who are contributing so much to this very important work of educating our children.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wright) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 30 April (vide page 643), on motion by Senator Cotton:
Thai the Senate take note of the statement.
– One notes from Hansard that this statement was submitted by the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson) on 30th April 1968. 1 know that the Senate has been waiting with suppressed excitement all these months to get back to it, and it is most appropriate that we should be dealing with it as the Minister for Supply is also the Leader of the Government in this place and this matter relates to the Department of Supply. Further, il is equally appropriate that I should be speaking to it now as 1 am a Senator who lives in the coldest part of Australia.
– Warm up the subject.
– I do not think I shall. 1 do not think it is a matter for any great heat. There are some interesting facts about this statement and Australia’s interest in Antarctica. I note from the Minister’s statement that Australia is interested in approximately 44% of the total area of Antarctica. That is a fairly substantial percentage of the land and resources in Antarctica for a country of Australia’s size, population and resources to try to bring under some degree of scientific investigation and some degree of understanding.
The Minister’s statement contains details relating to the transfer of the Antarctic Division from the Department of External Affairs to the control of the Department of Supply. The Division has been organised for a number of years and is comprised of a team of scientific officers, a team of technical officers and a number of people in the administrative area who necessarily have to be taken into account to bring these experts together. These men are highly trained specialists in the problems and requirements of exploration and investigation in Antarctica. They understand the difficulties of living and the working conditions in that region. They are primarily concerned with scientific activity and scientific investigation.
This Division which hitherto has worked under the suzerainty of the Department of External Affairs has a great deal in common with the Department of Supply which has its own Research and Development Division. Looking at this matter from the point of view of administrative control, it seems to me to be an excellent move to transfer the activites connected with Antarctica from the Department of External Affairs to the Department of Supply. In fact, one is justified in digressing here and suggesting that some consideration of a move for better grouping of the responsibilities of functional organisations such as these over the whole field of government endeavour would be welcomed. Under the present system with certain organisations working in different departments there is some degree of overlapping and I suggest there is a need to look into the whole matter with a view to deciding the best place for a general aggregation of this talent to reside. We do have instances in which departments are sharing certain functions and the move suggested in the statement under consideration is a good one. There should be more of this type of thing.
I am not quite clear as to whether the area mentioned in the statement is the whole of the area of Antarctica or whether it refers only to the area which has been marked out for other than special supervision. Needless to say, it is not practicable to incorporate the map which I am perusing in Hansard. The area mentioned is 5,400,000 square miles. Substantially, it is a desert of snow and ice. It is an area of high winds. The total area about which we are speaking is the size of the United States of America and Australia put together. It will be appreciated, therefore, that it is a huge territory. As I said earlier. Australia has some sort of control over or responsibility for about 44% of that area. It is the one land mass that remains quite unpopulated apart from the scientific stations that are located around its perimeter. One authority on this area which I have read since the long forgotten month of April 1968 says of Antarctica that it is one place in a world of haves and have nots, war and poverty, greed and jealousy, where there is a free exchange of scientific and technical material, where nations work effectively together across the boundaries of their ideologies. Scientists from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics welcome scientists from the United States of America and vice versa. Here is a part of the world where in the general atmosphere of endeavour and investigation a lot of barriers and frontiers have been removed. I imagine that one of the encouraging things one finds when nature exercises such pressure on people is that they have to consider survival and scientific problems as being superior to the problems of envy and greed. I have not been there, but these people are all said to be working together for the advancement of science and the promotion of a general understanding and knowledge of the Antarctic area. The authority to which I have referred stated that one fact that stands out is that the Antarctic expeditions are motivated by high ideals, by ideals of adventure, science and research, calling for human endurance, courage and unselfishness. Members of the expeditions work without any great publicity, and they do not engage is selfpraise.
As Australians, our contribution is quite considerable for our size. We have been interested in Antarctica for quite a long time. Other speakers will probably refer to this and I. should like to refer later to one or two people who were interested in the area a long time ago. No territorial claim was made until 1933. The activity in which we are engaged dates from 1936 when an Order-in-Council defined the area of 2.4 million square miles as Australian Antarctic territory. There has been active exploration. A man named Borchgrevink, a Norwegianborn Australian, led a British expedition at the beginning of this century. Douglas Mawson, a well-known South Australian led expeditions in 1911-14 and in 1929-31. Indeed the main base is named after him. There has been a long tradition of interest, particularly in South Australia. in Antarctica. One of my relatives went on an expedition to the South Pole with Shackleton, so my own family has been interested in it.
– Who was that?
– It was Leo Cotton, Professor of Geology at the University of Sydney. Expenditure in the Antarctic Division has been rising with the years. In 1966-67 it was $1.7m, in 1967-68 it was $2.1m and in 1968-69 it will be still higher. A fairly clear statement of territorial claim has been made. A map is available on this subject. One cannot incorporate a map in Hansard, but I point out that a footnote states:
Under the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 all territorial claims are held in abeyance in the interest of international co-operation for scientific purposes.
That is the present position. Territorial claims have been defined and now there is a fairly solid pattern of investigation. It has been said that a technological and scientific revolution is taking place in Antarctica. One of the very great leaps forward was in the International Geophysical Year 1957-58.
The Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition was set up in 1947. It has made a considerable contribution, so much so that the rest of the world regards the Australian team as among the leaders in Antarctic exploration and research. Now that the Department of Supply is responsible for the Antarctic Division and has joined it with its own Research and Development Division, one hopes very much for a continuation of the endeavour in the area. Without wanting to be in any way unfair to what we have done and without wanting to be envious of what has been done by our associates, I think one perhaps could say that a country the size of Australia cannot hope to match, and has no prospect of matching, the expenditure of nations like the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Yet we have a tremendous area to look after and to try to investigate. So we must be very good in what we do, we must have a very good team of people, and we must have maximum co-operation with other nations involved in the area. Otherwise I find it hard to see how our resources would permit us to do the job as effectively as we might.
I imagine that what we should try to do is to make a specialised contribution by using people of top calibre. It has been said in some of the reading I did on this subject earlier that we have lost a little ground to larger countries with greater resources. I do not think the loss has been very marked but we must accept the fact that we, a country with distinct limitations on what we can do by way of expenditure, are holding a lot of territory. A country like Australia cannot take on every field of endeavour and prosecute it to the full. We have to make the most of our people and our resources. We must try not to duplicate other people’s work and equipment. One view on this is that as time goes on there is need to improve facilities for the transport of men and equipment by air. The present general supply route for the transport of men and materials by air is through New Zealand to the American base at McMurdo Sound, which is on the edge of Australian territory. This saves a considerable amount of time. It gets scientists on the job quickly, gets them home quickly, avoids some of the long winters when people are snowed in and cannot work, enables us to use research students more effectively in vacation periods, and perhaps allows us to make better use of people proceeding to a higher degree. So there is quite a case for making sure that the air transport chain is as effective as national resources and priorities in those resources allow us to make it.
I do not think that the supply of heavier equipment by sea will be avoided for some time. This is quite a transport problem. Fuel, food and heavy equipment must be taken by sea. I believe that the Americans are now fuelling their power station in the Antarctic with nuclear fuel. This development could well avoid some of the logistic problems of transporting fuel by sea. Ice breakers are needed from time to time. The annual cost of chartering vessels from the Danes is approximately $400,000. Someone said in one of the earlier papers I read that perhaps we should nin our own ships. I could not make a case for or against that tonight. It is not the kind of thing one can do in a hurry. It is a matter of evaluation. It is a matter of asking ourselves whether it pays us to hire the vessels or to buy our own. That is what I mean when I speak about using resources effectively instead of tying up money and equipment that may not be used effectively. I understand that an expert committee of the Academy of Science, headed by the chief of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Sir Frederick White, has conducted an inquiry in the future of the Research Expedition. I do not think the report has yet been published. If it has, 1 have not seen it. I am sure that it will indicate some general line of endeavour and I imagine, some general pattern of priority.
One of Australia’s great gains by being active in the Antarctic is the meteorological information that we acquire, lt is of tremendous importance to us. The Antarctic really is the place where we gain information on the weather patterns that affect us in Australia. Being a primary industry country, weather is important to us. Most people who live on the land look at the weather maps every morning in their newspapers or look every night on television. We know how weather develops in the west and passes over Australia from west to east. The information obtained from the Antarctic is quite valuable in that it allows us to predict the weather for the Australian continent. This is valuable also from the point of view of civil aviation, lt has been said that this information will lead one day to the possibility of giving southern cities in Australia a link by air with New York and South America by over-flying the South Pole just as some routes in the Northern Hemisphere now over-fly the North Pole. Someone has even made the case that what is required in the Antarctic are sanitoria where people may sit in the cold fresh air, cure themselves of their ills and sort our their problems.
– Did you say senatoria?
– I do not think the place would lend itself to the establishment of sanatoria. It may lend itself to the establishment of senatoria. Having spent some of my life in a cold climate I am not as enthusiastic about sitting out in the cold to cure my ills as other people might be. One proposition is that Antarctica offers prospects for tourists in the short summer season provided the meteorological information leads to a flying pattern which can be worked effectively.
We have heard stories for years about the huge mineral wealth that lies beneath the ice shelf in Antarctica. There are 1,000 feet of ice on top of it so no-one seems inclined to do a great deal about developing the mineral wealth of Antarctica at this stage. The costs of development, extraction and transport make the area quite unattractive compared with other places where minerals have been discovered. I imagine that the main gain is in the scientific and technological fields, particularly in the fields of physics, geology, oceanography, biology and meteorology. 1 have an interesting extract that I wish to read to the Senate. It is from one of the many books on Antarctica and deals with the way in which the life of the sea progresses in that area. The quotation reads:
The complex circulatory system throughout the depths of the Southern Ocean, including deep southward streams from sub-tropical latitudes, causes constant nutrient enrichment of the waters south of the Convergence, so that a characteristic chain of life leads from innumerable small crustacea known as krill, feeding on unicellular plant forms, to the unparalleled fecundity of the large marine mammals, including the bulk of the world’s population of whales and seals, and of penguins and other sea-birds.
It is interesting to note that in addition to Antarctica,, a tremendous area of potential resources and scientific endeavour calling for quite a large national effort, Australia has, under a Geneva Convention, jurisdiction over one of the largest areas of continental shelf in the world. This shelf has immense riches. We are a fairly small country in a world which is desperate for many of the things that we have in abundance. We have a huge land mass and continental shelf to develop and a huge area of Antarctica to help investigate. These responsibilities are in a sense parallel. They show the kind of growing responsibility that this nation is taking on. We have to be capable of doing the job well and of making the most effective use of our resources otherwise we will no doubt come under pressure one day from people less fortunate than us who feel that we are not doing much about developing our resources and therefore that our claim to them is not very strong. So, one can make a very solid case for the best kind of scientific endeavour, the best use of resources and a concentration of talent, if possible, to get the most out of our resources. This applies, as I have said, not only to Antarctica but also to the continental shelf. The energies of the people who work on marine biology problems and on geological problems associated with the sea bed must be joined to ensure that the most effective use is made of our resources.
As I mentioned earlier, there are transport problems to and in Antarctica. It has been suggested that one of the ways in which life will become easier in the Antarctic area tor expeditions will be by using the hovercraft. These machines are already solving some of the more difficult communication problems in some areas around Australia and overseas. I believe that there are some problems to be overcome, such as fuel supply and maintenance in the cold weather, but work is going on in the belief that hovercraft are well worthy of investigation for use in Antarctica.
I wish to finish by quoting the words of Dr Phillip Law, who was leader of the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions and Director of the Antarctic Division before becoming Vice-President of the Victorian Institute of Colleges. I think he summed the position up quite well when he said:
Australia is at present in a unique position. Geographically, she ls well situated to carry out Antarctic work. She is technically and scientifically the most advanced nation in the southern hemisphere. She is liked and trusted by other small nations, lt is within her power to become a world leader in Antarctic development, in Antarctic science and in Antarctic policy. 1 hope we shall have the courage and imagination to seize this opportunity. 1 suggest to the Senate that by combining the resources of the Department of Supply and the Antarctic Division, which was formerly under the Department of External Affairs, in what 1 hope will be an extension of scientific endavour in all fields, Australia should now take up this challenge. J applaud the Minister’s statement on Antarctica and I applaud the way in which the Antarctic Division has now been set up.
– We on this side of the chamber also have tremendous interest in the extension of Australia’s functional operations in Antarctica. I have pleasure in recalling that it was due to the foresight of Mr Chifley, who was the Prime Minister in the early post-war years, that early action was taken to modernise our approach to this vital section of the globe. In the main, the Opposition does not have any serious differences with Senator Cotton regarding the history of the area. The Opposition does not dispute the transfer of the Antarctic Division from the Department of External Affairs to the Department of Supply. It was obvious that some change had to be effected. The Minister said that the scientific programme carried out in Antarctica is one of co-operation between the Australian Academy of Science, the Australian National Committee of Antarctic Research and its sub-committees, and the various Commonwealth authorities, such as the Division of National Mapping and the Bureau of Mineral Resources in the Department of National Development. Those words leave me with the thought that perhaps the same results could have been achieved if the Antarctic Division had been absorbed into the Department of National Development.
I think that quite a number of honourable senators - I am sure that Senator Cotton would be one and Senator Laught another - have read some of the reports of the Canadian National Resources Ministry, which has some of the functions of our Department of the Interior. I believe that the same result or perhaps an even better result would have been achieved if the Antarctic Division had been absorbed into the Department of National Development, mainly because of the highly technical and professional knowhow that is contained in that Department. I refer particularly to the knowledge of minerals that lies in the Bureau of Mineral Resources and some of the other appendages of the Department. I am not cavilling this transfer. I think it was accepted that there had to be a severence from the Department of External Affairs.
There is no need to enlarge on the achievements of Sir Douglas Mawson and so many of his gallant comrades. Australia’s history is studded with their performances. Senator Cotton referred to a relative of his who had been with Sir Ernest Shackleton. It is interesting to note that Sir Ernest Shackleton’s son is now a Socialist peer in the British House of Lords.
– A Socialist peer?
– Yes. a Socialist peer. He had a very illustrious career in the House of Commons prior to his elevation to the other place. Much of the British and Australian achievement in Antarctica has stemmed from the bi-partisan political approach of both countries. I notice that the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson) is at present sitting at the table. I think I can say that in some respects the Department of Supply is deemed to be a sort of government quartermaster-general. The Minister referred to the ‘Kista Dan’ being made available for charter from her Danish owners. It has been a recurring theme of the Opposition that Australia should become self-supporting in regard to the specialist type of shipping that is essential to service the experimental parties in Antarctica. I hope it is not too much to expect that we will give our own ship building industry the opportunity to build our own craft for Antarctic expeditions.
– The ships might need another role. They could not be making full time on Antarctic voyages.
– No. 1 am fortified in what I say by a Sydney journalist, Mr Arthur Scholes, who was there on one of the early expeditions. He prepared several works dealing with marine life in that region. He saw what was happening at first hand and he expressed to me on a number of occasions the view that spread over a period there was not very much difference between the cost of chartering ships and of owning and operating them. But as the Department of Supply has now moved into this field it could be that we will become more self sufficient in many of these functions.
I refer now to the nations which are signatories to the Antarctic Treaty for the International Geophysical Year. In my view the concept referred to as the open door policy has much to commend it. It would hardly be appropriate to refer to the cold war in the Antarctic, but I think it will be found that in the period from 1948 right up to the late 1950s a certain amount of restraint has been practised in the region, even by a country such as Canada in its relationship with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. I do not know whether this is brought about by the rarified atmosphere, but if in this area various countries are able to achieve a comradeship between their scientific teams, perhaps there is a lesson which can be emulated in other parts of the world.
I raise now another point on which the Minister for Supply may wish to elaborate. Several years ago reports issued by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial
Research Organisation carried outlines of scientific experiments which had been undertaken by Australia in the Antarctic. I can remember a reference to whaling catches and things of that nature. When I look at the signatories to the Antarctic Treaty I notice that they include one or two countries which often have given lip service only to the Treaty. This is something that we will have to watch very closely. I am sure that the history of the whaling industry would reveal that although some countries have played the game, others have not, with disastrous effects on the ultimate future of the industry. However, I suppose that we should be charitable and hope that this spirit of brotherhood will be maintained in Antarctica.
I hark back to research that has been undertaken in the Antarctic. 1 .read recently in the London ‘Times’ that the British scientific expedition to the Antarctic had been amazed at the high concentrations of DDT found in the penguins and seals that they examined. I cannot give a specific page reference to the report of the CSIRO which mentioned this subject, but 1 recall that in the year in which the present Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) was the Minister with responsibility for the CSIRO the report carried estimates of the seal population and references to the presence of DDT and other pesticides. But reverting to the survey made by the British scientific expedition, that team went to great lengths to assure us that the activities at McMurdo Sound, where the United States has a station, had nothing to do with the presence of pesticides in the area. They expressed the view that it was part of a general trend of the rising pesticide menace which had shown up in the tissues of seals and penguins. It was not a local matter due entirely to the habitation of McMurdo Sound by humans. The point I am making is that with the Department of Supply being the spearhead of further activities in the Antarctic we may get some idea of these things.
At page 4 of the Minister’s statement we see an enumeration of some of the departments which will be sharing in our activities in the Antarctic. I am curious to know whether the CSIRO will be sending one of its divisions there to conduct a survey such as was made 2 or 3 years ago. I am wondering whether it will be taking readings to see whether the British conclusions on pesticides will be borne out in our sector of Antarctica. This is something to be closely looked at. Senator Cotton spoke also of weather investigations. I think there is no doubt that Australia stands to benefit considerably in that field. The Minister pointed out in his statement that young scientists and other officers will be seconded for service in the Antarctic for limited periods as part of their service in a career structure. I know that the salaries paid to these men are not the responsibility of the Minister, but I remind him of what seemed to me to be a great tragedy. I refer to Sir Hubert Wilkins, one of the outstanding men so far as polar exploration is concerned, who in his later years became virtually an Australian exile. Perhaps in that case there were faults on both sides, but I hope that from now on we will not have any more Sir Hubert Wilkins who feel that they can get recognition only from the United States or some other country because they are virtually unwanted by their homeland. As is happening in so many fields of scientific endeavour where we are just scratching the surface, these officers may make all sorts of scientific progress, in which case I hope Australia will give them full credit.
Even so far as our stamps are concerned, I know that we have had a stamp to commemorate Sir Douglas Mawson, but collections of Russian stamps show that they give much more credit to the exploits of their people in these cold regions. The more that can be done to inculcate in our people the importance of their exploits the greater will be our advantage. Possibly this will be a question of public relations work. Whether we like it or not, in a democracy people must be conditioned to accept reforms. Even in relation to taxation it is essential that people know for what purpose they are contributing. However, I do not intend to indulge in any repetition. By and large we agree with Senator Cotton’s remarks about the achievements of Australians associated with the Antarctic project being out of proportion to our population because we have played such a big part. We of the Opposition hope that the Department of Supply will, wherever possible, endeavour to draw to a maximum on Australian secondary industry for equipment. We hope also that the know-how gained by our people who have made their mark in the Antarctic will remain in Australia, that they will be able to continue to give their life to the Commonwealth without their talents being squandered by their going to other nations.
– 1 should like to say how interested I was in the paper which the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson) has put on the notice paper for debate. This is quite an important occasion when the Department of Supply takes over the administration of Australia’s welfare and interest in Antarctica. I wish the Department well. I think it is suitably equipped with men and knowhow to do a very good job in that region. As Senator Cotton has pointed out, Australia has quite a proud history with regard to Antarctica. 1 think the foundation for this important history was laid by a very distinguished South Australian, Sir Douglas Mawson. It should be remembered that he was the leader of the Australian Antarctic expedition from 1911 to 1914 which established bases in King George V Land, Queen Mary Land and also on Macquarie Island. Then Sir Douglas Mawson went to Antarctica again in the years 1929 to 1931. I understand that he was prepared to go again in about 1938 but the outbreak of war intervened. He was getting on in years and it was decided that he should not pursue his exploration in the Antarctic region.
The situation in post-war days has been one of great expansion of Australia’s endeavour. At the present time the amount to be spent is of the order of $2m and this sum is rising each year. 1 have been a member of this Senate for 16 years. Consequently, it has been a matter of great interest to me to engage in debates from time to time on the question of Antarctica. I understand that in about 1951 this Government caused plans to be drawn up for the construction of a ship which would have been available for use in Antarctic waters. These plans were never submitted to tender, but it does show that at that time the Australian Government was further ahead in pursuing the prospect of owning its own ship than it is at the present time. I regard this as a retrograde step because I believe that we have such an enormous area to service and there are such tremendous possibilities for this nation in Antarctica that we should at least have our own means of proceeding to and from Antarctica. However, each year we have hired ships from Denmark at great expense. Once or twice these ships have broken down, but by and large they render a very important and useful service. I believe the Government should at all times consider the possibility of building its own ship for work in connection with Antarctica.
Science has so developed that at the present time Antarctica is not the wilderness that it was once believed to be. I am greatly indebted to Senator Cotton for his remarks in connection with the possibilities in Antarctica. The Antarctic continent has many known resources worthy of economic development. Geologists have advanced the theory that the geological formation of some parts of Antarctica is very similar to the geological formation of the country between Broken Hill and Adelaide and it is considered that the territory could be rich in uranium, lead, silver, zinc, gold and other valuable minerals. About IS years ago I did some research in the Library on the work of Sir Douglas Mawson and it is interesting to know that the Library of this Parliament preserves his records. These records clearly indicate the number of minerals and metals that he discovered. These included gold, coal, phosphates, zinc, lead and silver. He was able to identify all of those metals during his exploration work. The question of mining them is a difficult one, but with the advances in extraction methods in the last IS years the mining of these minerals would be easier than at any time previously.
The food resources of Antarctica are very well known. Work has been done recently in connection with plankton, those small sea creatures which live on mineral salts and sunlight. These tiny creatures are in abundance in Antarctica. Plankton forms the food for fish and shrimplike creatures called krill. The bigger fish - especially whales - feed on the krill, and consequently in this enormous sea area around Antarctica there is an abundance of fish which are a basis of protein. Antarctica could be regarded as a huge food store for millions of hungry people in the crowded world of the future. In other words, this abundance of food in the seas of Antarctica should not be overlooked. I feel that honourable senators should observe the mineral and food possibilities of Antarctica, and I hope that the Minister, when considering the programme of work for his departmental scientists, will not overlook these possibilities.
Senator Cotton also mentioned the use of Antarctica for air routes. The Arctic area is used for air routes. 1 have been told that the distance from Melbourne to Buenos Aires via McMurdo Sound is only 6,000 miles whereas the existing service between Melbourne and Buenos Aires through Honolulu and San Francisco is 15,300 miles. So, with the advent of long distance planes Antarctica can be of great use in communication between Australia and other parts of the world including South America which, I submit, is a continent of very great importance to Australia commercially and from the standpoint of travel. The development of meteorological services in Antarctica is of great importance to air travel and from the standpoint of predicting weather in Australia. I commend the importance of Antarctica in these directions to the Department of Supply.
Senator Cotton also mentioned the tourist possibilities of Antarctica. These have been proved recently by the fact that a group of Americans paid $7,000 each for an organised tour lasting 5 weeks. The other day I saw in the American ‘National Geographic Magazine’ pictures of them thoroughly enjoying their short stay in Antarctica. There is definitely a tourist potential to be developed from Australia. I understand that His Excellency the United States Ambassador to Australia has just been to American Antarctica with his 12- year old son. I am sure His Excellency went down mainly to have a look-see, in other words as a privileged tourist. This is a line of development which should not be ignored. I thoroughly agree with Senator Cotton that the way of progress in Antarctica in the future could well be by hovercraft. There are no roads there, but there is an area of snow over which a hovercraft could proceed very economically and very satisfactorily. So a number of the problems that were facing honourable senators 15 years ago when the question of Antarctica was first raised in this chamber are now behind us because of the great developments in travel and science. 1 therefore look with a certain amount of dismay at a statement made recently by Dr Law who, as has been pointed out, was the director of the Department of External Affairs group responsible for Antarctica. His statement was reported in the ‘Australian’ of 18th October of this year in the fol’lowing terms:
The former Director of Antarctic Research, Dr P. G. Law, said in Adelaide that while the allowance of $2m for the project had not been curtailed three stations were operating without a director.
The Antarctic Division members must be beginning to fee! that they are a forgotten tribe’, he said. lt is almost 3 years since 1 informed the Department I was resigning. As yet my successor has not been appointed. The three stations without a director are Macquarie Island, Mawson and Wilkes.’
Dr Law was in Adelaide to open an exhibition at the State Public Library in honour of Sir Douglas Mawson.
So it seems that the Department and the Minister should immediately consider the appointment of a director of Antarctic research. As 1 see it, without a director the new boss, as it were, of this area - the Department of Supply - can hardly be making the progress that it should be making. I put it to the Minister that the matter of the appointment of a director should be dealt with without delay. This opportunity in Antarctica is far too valuable to be the subject of delay.
In the Parliamentary Library there are quite a number of interesting books on Antarctica. Let me quote to the Senate a passage from one called “Australia in the Antarctic’, lt was written by R. A. Swan. At page 382 there is this very adequate description of the Antarctic continent:
The Antarctic continent, a five million square mile desert nf snow, wind and ice. remains a perpetual challenge and promise to the human spirit. Nature in her most violent and elemental forms wields the only physical sovereignty possible in such a world where the topography can never be humanised as elsewhere on the earth. But such a challenge can be met by one thing human - the scientific spirit which alone can create any kind of human sovereignly over such an environment. And since this spirit is not the peculiar property of any one nation or race, reason demands that it be permitted to operate at maximum efficiency so thai the promise of the Antarctic - the insight that man can gain into earth’s secrets - can be realised and conceivably put to use.
That is the challenge of Antarctica, and that is the challenge that Sir Douglas Mawson first took up in 1911 and developed with so much ability and courage. With regard to Sir Douglas Mawson, I refer to a small book called ‘Five to Remember’ and written by John Thompson. Sir Douglas Mawson was one of the Ave people whose exploits this author considered should be recorded. Thompson wrote his book in an interesting way, namely, by obtaining comments from people who knew the subjects of his book. He obtained the following comment about Sir Douglas Mawson from Sir Leonard Huxley, a former Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University, a great physicist himself and at the time a professor at the University of Adelaide:
It was impossible to be with Mawson for more than a minute or two without realising that you were in the presence of a great man. It was all there: The general level of conversation, the absence of pettiness, the basic humility and the very lively intellect. I can say that in a long career I have not met a greater man than Mawson. I think that everything came to him naturally. I should not have regarded him as a deep abstract thinker in a philosophical or mathematical or physical sense, but he was a magnificent doer. He felt instinctively, straight away, what should be done - he was a man of action, essentially - and he gave von a sense of standards that ordinary people don’t give.
That is a telling paragraph on one of Australia’s greatest men. It should be remembered that he is the man who set this nation thinking and doing in connection with Antarctica.
I urge the Minister and the Department of Supply to take up the slack that seems to have developed recently with regard to our Antarctic activities. I believe that in the Department of Supply there are brilliant young scientists - men who. in connection with the work al Woomera, have done a lot of work relating to weather, the physical sciences and astronomy. This is the basis of training for further scientific work in connection with Antarctica. I say to the Minister that, if he does what is necessary to generate the enthusiasm of these men who at present are working at Salisbury, Woomera and elsewhere in his Department, by that act he will render a very great service to Australia in connection with the vast continent of Antarctica. It gives me great pleasure to support the motion.
– The opportunity to debate in the Senate the peaceful and intelligent conquest of Antarctica by men of initative. courage and dedication is quite rare. It excites one with admiration and respect for those people who, over the past 60 years, have carried on the ever-present struggle of man against his environment. The whole story of Antarctica reflects great credit on those people and gives great pleasure to the young people of this country to see how efficiently and thoroughly those people have carried on their job there. I would like to continue my remarks at some future date. I now ask for leave to do so.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Limestone Mining in Colong Caves Area -
Motion (by Senator Anderson) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I rise in order to refer to the Colong Caves reserve in New South Wales. I would have risen anyhow because of certain happenings at the weekend, but I was fortified in my decision to do so by the presentation by the Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities (Senator Wright) of an answer to question No. 617. First of all I report to the Senate that on Saturday and Sunday an inspection of the reserve was made by a large number of representatives of various organisations in New South Wales. To avoid prolonging my remarks, with the concurrence of honourable senators 1 incorporate in Hansard the names of the members of the.Colong Committee.
Miss G. Hanley; Dr E. McClure, M.B., B.S.; Mrs Thistle Y. Stead, B.Sc., M.Ed.; Professor R. N. Johnson. B.Arch.. A.R.I.B.A., F.R.A.I.A.; Messrs. M. K.. Dtmphy, A.S.T.C., A.R.A.I.A.; John French. B.Sc. (For.). A.I.W.Sc; M. F. A. Keen, O.B.E.. B.A.. B. R. Kijurina, B.A., Dip.Ed.; G. Micklleton: R. Voir. B.Arch., A.R.A.I.A.; R. M. Walker. B.A., Dip.Pub.Ad., F.R.I.P.A.; I. M. Wyott; P. A. Yoisng. B.A.
Secretary: M. F. A. Keen. Scotland Island via Church Point, 2105. 99-3886.
Unison Secretary: Mark Wealherley, B.A., 18 Begonia Road. Norrnanhurst, 2076. 84-0265.
Press Secretarv: Milo Dunphy, 67 Waratah Street. Oatley, 2223. 57-7741.
Treasurer: P. A. Young, 225 Delaware Road, Horsley Park, 2164. 620-1229.
This inspection took place in the two days at our disposal. With the assistance of quite a number of interested bodies, including the New South Wales Land Rovers Club, members were able to survey this area extensively. In his answer to me that he tabled today, Senator Wright quoted the view of the New South Wales Minister for Tourism, Mr Willis. The New South Wales Minister took the view that Colong involved a problem of land usage, not tourism. Three points are involved in what is happening at Colong. There are the the tourist interest, the water interest and the limestone mining interest. I am not going to refer to the water interest except to say that this area takes in the Colong River, the Cox River and the Warragamba catchment. In deference to Senator Davidson and my colleagues who are members of the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution, I deem the’ subject of the waters to be sub judice at this stage.
I want to refer to two other matters. I remind the Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities that there was once an American senator named Truman . who, before he ascended to a higher role, as a member of a committee dealing with building activities during the war years, visited virtually every military training camp in the United States of America to get an appreciation as to whether dollars were being spent wisely. I would say to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) that I have been empowered by, firstly, the Colong Committee to extend an invitation to the Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities to visit this area. I believe that the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) and Senator Cotton would know the area far better than I. Even though the Minister might not give Commonwealth prestige to the area as a tourist resort, he would come away with a high appreciation of it if he were to visit it. I know the committee would look forward to seeing him there in the next couple of months. Like most honourbale senators I have been in some very interesting locations to attend meetings. It was an eye opener to everybody concerned who stood at Church Peak on Saturday afternoon looking at the magnificent panorama of bushland and the heavier rain forest. We discussed this general issue. 1 think that if Senatof
Wright accepted the invitation he would find that he could not accept without question the view contained in the reply he gave to me today which was based on the opinion of the New South Wales Minister for Tourism.
I also wish to bring this matter before the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) and to couple it with limestone mining. Some honourable senators realise, particularly Tasmanian senators, including Senator Wright, that this matter is associated with section 92 of the Constitution. The Minister for National Development was concerned, rightly, at one stage when it appeared that the Portland Cement Co. Ltd was more or less taking a very arrogant attitude. The reason I am directing these latter remarks to the Minister for National Development is that I received a communication from him on 2nd September this year in which he said:
The account on limestone in Bulletin No. 72 is based on published reports, and during its preparation officers of the Bureau of Mineral Resources consulted with officers of the appropriate State Geological Surveys . . .
I want to prove once and for all that Bulletin No. 72, which dealt with limestone, contained twenty-two alternative sites for limestone mining. We all know that in any sensibly planned economy - and I am fortified in my view on this matter by the honourable member for Macquarie - certain technological changes occur. Because of this the work force in the mines in western New South Wales has diminished considerably. The point I am making - and I ask for some assurance from the Minister for National Development - is that there is another group interested in commencing limestone mining in the Cullen Bullen region of New South Wales. This virtually would be a shot in the arm for the coal producing industry in that area.
I will recapitulate for the benefit of Senator Wright who has just entered the chamber. Notwithstanding the reply he gave to me today in which he advised me of the view taken by the New South Wales Minister for Tourism, the Colong Committee extends a very warm welcome to him, as Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities, to visit the Colong region. The Minister certainly would not be disappointed with the scenic treat he would receive. We hope the Minister will accept this invitation and visit the area during the parliamentary recess. The Minister would be able to make an excellent survey of the area, by means of a Land Rover vehicle, and would enjoy the trip to the full. He would come away fully appreciative of his role as a persuader on behalf of the tourist industry.
Referring again to the Minister for National Development, I ask the Minister to give an assurance that any other particular interest anxious to engage in limestone mining in the Cullen Bullen area will be given every assistance by the Department of National Development and will be given access to records and any other information so that if the Portland Cement Co. wants healthy competition it will get it. I would say to senators from States other than New South Wales that I do not believe in any State trying to put up a wall and virtually prostituting section 92 of the Constitution. That is what the Portland Cement Co. is trying to do.
I conclude on two points: I extend to the Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities, on behalf of the Colong Committee, a strong invitation to visit this area. Secondly, I hope that the Minister for National Development will indicate very clearly that there is a green light showing for any other interest that is anxious to mine limestone. I hope he will say that it will be given this opportunity. Apart from the effect on the employment position in the Cullen Bullen region, this would avoid certain other problems inherent in the initial plan for this area. I will leave the matter at that.
- Mr President, I oppose the motion that the Senate do now adjourn because I think that this Government, which has handed to many of our young men the obligation and responsibility to fight in Vietnam, is not faking the proper steps to protect the security and the lives of these men that it has sent to do a job on behalf of the Australian people. I base this allegation on the entirely unsatisfactory answer given to me this evening to a question I posed to the Government about a television broadcast on 5th November which was shown on the Australian Broadcasting Commission channel. To prove my point it is necessary to analyse the answer given and to make some comparison with what are generally accepted as the rules and principles of successful propaganda. It was admitted in the answer to my question that Mr Malcolm Salmon, the foreign editor of the ‘Tribune’, was interviewed on the programme ‘This Day Tonight1 on 5th November. Mr Salmon is an internationally known member of the Communist Party. In the answer to my question great play was made on words to the effect that I was wrong in saying that on that programme he had been described as an expert. Perhaps I should quote the answer. It states:
He was, however, described as a man who knew at first hand something of the methods the National Liberation Front might use at the Paris peace talks. It was stated that he had lived in North Vietnam for 3 years, had been back there last year and recently returned to Australia after 2 months in Paris.
If that does not describe a person who may have some exceptional experience and knowledge of a circumstance from a particular point of view - in other words, an expert - I do not know what does.
– Does the honourable senator dispute the history?
– 1 am not discussing the history of it. If the honourable senator will be patient he will not be disappointed. The answer goes on to state that Mr Salmon was the only person interviewed on the programme on 5th November but that his comments had been more than balanced by interviews and descriptions in This Day Tonight’ and other ABC programmes in recent weeks. An example is then cited of a programme on Friday 1st November, 5 days previously, in which it was seen fit to interview on one programme four people with different points of view. But when a Communist is interviewed, he gets a programme to himself. Surely honourable senators who are well aware of the nature of political propaganda know that whatever is said 4 or 5 days ago is not retained to the present moment in the mind of the person one is trying to reach. If comparisons are to be effective they must be made as close together in time as possible so as to make them equal in effect. What might have been said in the last 10 years on ABC programmes is irrelevant to what is said today on a particular programme. That is a basic rule of successful propaganda.
What is the responsibility in these days of warfare to the troops that a government sends into action? Is not propaganda a weapon more deadly than the most powerful rifle ever designed? Was it not so construed in the last war against Fascism? If that is not so, why did Britain at the conclusion of hostilities apprehend William Joyce, known as ‘Lord Haw-Haw’, and sentence him to be executed? He did not fire a gun throughout the whole period of the war against Hitler in Europe, but he possessed the deadly power to disseminate modern propaganda. How did Lord HawHaw distribute his poison? Over German radio, sponsored and paid for by the enemy. How is world Communist propaganda which endangers the lives of our troops in Vietnam being distributed in this country? Not even through the commercial television channels, to whom payment would have to be made for the time used. It is given the dignity and status of our national1 television stations, financed by the taxpayers of this country who include fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters of our troops who are dying in Vietnam. This practice is permitted because we are supposed to be a democracy. During the last war many people argued about Lord Haw-Haw. Some said that both sides of the question should be heard and that, after all, he sometimes told the truth. Even those people who scoffed the loudest often gave credence and currency to the misinformation that he circulated.
Toyko Rose was another classic example of a propagandist, lt took the Americans 4 years to catch up with Tokyo Rose, who had not fired a gun. They gave her 10 years imprisonment for what she had done to endanger the fives of allied servicemen in World War II. 1 asked a question in the Senate endeavouring to find out whether Salmon invited himself to be on a programme or whether he was invited by the station, and whether somebody with a different point of view was invited to appear at the same time, in the answer I have received I have not been supplied with the information for which I asked. I have been given a lot of words that avoid the heart and core of the question which involves an issue affecting the security of this country.
I do not believe that the war in Vietnam is a phoney war. I do not believe that it is unwinnable. I read such propaganda long before the Australian people were very interested in Vietnam, lt was generally accepted Communist propaganda in world channels. It is heard so often now in Australia that it is obvious that we are losing or have already lost the propaganda war because we elevate to a position of dignity on our national radio and television stations persons who place insidious enemy propaganda before our people. Many of them who in other circumstances would reject it, accept it because it has around it an aura of responsibility given to it by the use of our national radio and television facilities. They are placed at the disposal of the enemies of the men we have sent to Vietnam.
I say to the Government: If you believe that this is a phoney war, if you do not believe that our men ought to be in Vietnam, if you are not prepared to give them the protection they demand from being stabbed in the back at home, get them out of Vietnam. But having sent them there - and I think you should send them and they believe that they ought to be there - then do your job at home as a Government and stop those people who would insidiously betray our men who are dying for a cause that we believe in. Perhaps some honourable senators do not believe that it is necessary for us to take that action, but it was no justification for William Joyce-
– The honourable senator ought to be in Vietnam himself if he believes in the cause all that much.
– I leave it to the more competent and more fit - to our troops who are established there and who are doing a far better job than I could do. I believe that they would do better and more successfully what they are attempting to do in the interests of freedom if they did not have people like Senator Keeffe betraying them while they are trying to do a job for Australia. Irrespective of whether the honourable senator believes in war in Vietnam he has no greater right than anybody else to betray Australians who are doing a job there. Some of them may agree with Senator Keeffe’s point of view, but in any event they are doing the job.
It should not be suggested that William Joyce was innocent because he believed in what he was doing. The evidence is clear that no person in this world - not even Senator Keeffe - could have been more pure in believing in what they were doing than was William Joyce, because he was a Fascist long before World War II broke out. He was executed of course, in the final analysis, on a technicality. He was born in Brooklyn in the United States of America and obtained a British passport under false pretences. He escaped to Germany before World War II broke out and continued to disseminate the propaganda which he had clearly indicated he believed in for 10 years before the outbreak of war. So it was never accepted in Great Britain or Australia, or I think by my friends in the Australian Labor Party, that there was justification for the actions of Lord Haw-Haw because he believed in what he was putting over. He was executed because what he put over endangered the lives of the British troops in the field. The technicality on which he was caught, of course, was that his British passport which he had obtained under false pretences did not expire until June or July of 1940. Of course, there had not been much war up till that stage. That was the period of the phoney war. So in the period when his propaganda represented such a vital part of the German war machine, he was not actually associated in any way with Britain at all. He was American born and he was not operating under a British passport. But, rightly, he was executed for the part that he played. But here in this country we can ask today: Who are the really guilty ones? Senator Cavanagh - The Government.
– I agree. The man who may believe what he is doing is right is not the guilty one. Those who are really guilty are the people who are responsible for the armed forces they have sent away and who are prepared to make the facilities of this country available to an enemy propagandist to put over whatever he likes to destroy the morale of the Australian people who are backing up the troops that the Government has put into the field.
I hope that the Government will take cognisance of the serious charges that I make tonight and will demand more evidence, and more justification at least for giving this person an open cheque to have an ABC television programme with the greatest listening audience in Australia at his personal disposal to say things that are detrimental to the cause of our own men and the cause of the soldiers of our allies who are fighting with us in Vietnam.
– 1 wish to speak on another matter. It relates to the growing decline of civil liberties in Australia and has particular reference to my own State of Queensland. 1 shall not take up a great deal of the Senate’s time, but there are a number of things that I feel ought to be placed on record and discussed with, of course, the long term prospect of having some of the complaints investigated. We seem to be developing a great Australian spy undertaking in the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. The vote for this organisation is increased year by year but. unfortunately, we are not told how the money is spent. There is no knowing what happens to it.
Side by side with this organisation is growing the number of police officers who, when required to do a job for the organisation engage in some of the most brutal of methods. At one time, those who engaged in brutality were in the minority. Unfortunately their numbers appear to be growing. In the main, the people to whom I refer are plain clothes men. In Queensland, those members of the special branch who work in conjunction with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation are likely to turn up on any street corner when there is any sign of a protest meeting, a trade union meeting, a student march, or a political meeting organised by the Australian Labor Party. The growth of this secret society is becoming extremely disturbing. In order to give honourable senators some idea of the brutal things that are happening, I propose in a moment to read a letter written by a responsible member of the community. These police officers turn up at protest marches and Labour Day demonstrations and although those taking part may have had their photographs taken on other occasions, the police officers to whom I refer turn up at the street corners and, armed with spy cameras in order to make sure of their victims, photograph them again.
On 25th October, which was the occasion for demonstrations throughout the world against the war in Vietnam, a responsible member of the House of Representatives who, needless to say, belongs to the Australian Labor Party, was a witness when four or five of these plain clothes police officers to whom I refer intimidated a number of youngsters. Apparently, the excuse for their action was that they were deter mined to find out who had put some red paint on the door of the premises of Dow Chemical (Aust.) Pty Ltd, the Queensland branch of the Australian company which manufactures napalm and other weapons of war.
– You say they intimidated them. What did they do?
– If the honourable senator will be patient, I will tell him. They approached this group of youngsters, kicked over their tin of paint and threatened them by saying: ‘We will pick you up later as the march progresses,’ and so on. This is completely intimidatory. This treatment was quite unfair to the youngsters concerned, lt was obvious that they were trying to provoke the youngsters but on this occasion did not succeed because the kids were not going to be provoked. But let me read the letter that was forwarded to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) by a responsible lecturer at the Queensland University. lt is in these terms:
I am a lecturer at the University of Queensland, and the endorsed ALP candidate for the Federal constituency of Ryan. Last week, on Friday, 25lh October, 1 took part in a protest demonstration in Queen Street, Brisbane, against the Vietnam war. Although the participants in this demonstration were at all times peaceful and remained on the footpath to avoid disrupting traffic, over forty of them, myself included, were arrested by the Brisbane police.
During the demonstration and during the seven hours in incarceration which followed my arrest, i was witness to numerous acts of provocation, intimidation, and violence on the part of the police involved. The following incidents are only a few examples.
– Good old Communist stuff.
– Senator Sim is probably a member of it, so he would know.
– A member of what?
– The Communist Parly. Is that what you are inferring?
– Are you suggesting I am a member of the Communist Party?
– You are acting like one. The letter continues:
Outside the American consulate, a young woman threw herself upon several demonstrators, punching, kicking and swearing while at least a dozen policemen stood by and watched. I asked a policeman to restrain her before she provoked retaliation. No attempt was made to caution her; instead, one policeman called to her: ‘Good «b you, lady - that’s the stuff to give ‘em.’ (Shortly afterwards, I myself was arrested, apparently only because of this attempted intervention, as I was doing nothing to merit arrest).
Later, in the watch-house, every person arrested was handled with quite unnecessary violence. One young student, who was being roughly searched, put up a minor resistence, and was immediately set upon by two heavyweight plainclothes policemen who all but broke or dislocated his arms, deliberately rammed his head against a wall, and finally threw him in a corner, where he lay sobbing and semi-hysterical. No one was allowed to go to his assistance.
Those arrested were photographed and fingerprinted although all the charges were minor ones. When I tried to resist this, considering it quite unorthodox and illegal, I was threatened with physical violence. (‘Just try it and we’ll kick your head in’, I was told).
I asked several times for access to a telephone to contact my next-of-kin and my solicitor. This was refused, with the result that I spent seven hours in a cell before bail was paid, and my wife was never informed of my whereabouts.
The behaviour of these policemen at this demonstration in Brisbane stands in sharp contrast to the approach of the police authorities in London who, faced with a demonstration of 30-40,000 people and a potentially dangerous situation, acted with restraint and common sense.
– There were 42 injured. It was not a peaceful demonstration.
– I am sorry, Mr President. I was not aware that Senator Cormack took part in the demonstration. The letter continues:
If the actions described above are typical of the behaviour of the police in Queensland and Australia, and from all accounts they are, it is a most disturbing reflection on the methods of law reinforcement in this country and an indictment of the men who control and man our police forces.
I therefore respectfully request that you bring this matter to the notice of Parliament, and, if possible, initiate proceedings which will lead to the reprimanding of the persons responsible for the conduct of the police in Brisbane on 25th October last.
– Who wrote that?
– It is signed by John Conn, a lecturer at the University of Queensland. I have raised this matter because I believe that it warrants investigation. I appeal to the Minister representing the Attorney-General to take it up with his colleague and to ascertain whether there are controls at the Commonwealth level which will ensure an improvement in the present state of affairs. The democracy in which we live is not the kind of country in which we should see this kind of action. Civil liberties must be maintained at all times. People must have the right to protest, if they so desire, against the actions of governments and they must be able to do so without fear of physical violence, without the fear of not getting a fair go in the true Australian manner, and in the knowledge that a minority in the community has a right to raise its voice.
I do not appeal on behalf of those who wreck property or do anything of that nature but I do appeal on behalf of those t whom I have referred. I submit respectfully that their actions indicate an awareness in the community that all is not right. I believe that the action I have suggested should be taken is appropriate.
– On 8th October last I asked the following question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson):
I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. In view of the unusual weather pattern over the south eastern portion of Tasmania, which is now in its third year and which has reached the proportions of severe and damaging drought, will the Government give urgent consideration to extending to this area Commonwealth drought relief in the form of direct grants, fodder concessions and general emergency relief in an effort to relieve the very dire financial position of primary producers affected by drought.
In reply Senator Anderson said:
I recall that I made a statement before the Senate rose a little over a week ago in relation to special provisions for drought relief.
That was in reply to Senator McClelland, who referred to drought stricken people in New South Wales. The Minister went on:
I shall take on board the subsequent question that the honourable senator has asked and have it put to the Treasury without delay. I would hope to be in a position to give a fairly prompt answer to the question.
On 22nd October Senator Rae asked the following question:
My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister and relates to the urgent need for relief for drought stricken farmers on the east coast of Tasmania. First, is it correct that the Tasmanian Government, in making a request for assistance from the Commonwealth Government, limited that request to assistance to dairy farmers only and omitted entirely those concerned in the wide variety of other types of farming? Secondly, is it correct that the Tasmanian Government already has, or should have, a sum of $289,000 provided by the Commonwealth held in trust in a separate account to be applied for the benefit of farmers in Tasmania? Has the Government had this money for many years? If so, is there any reason why it should not be applied to provide immediate relief for all drought stricken farmers in Tasmania?
– Reece has not answered that one yet, has he?
– Reece has answered it.
– Has he got the dough?
– Be patient. Senator Anderson replied in these terms:
I am not aware of the sums of money that the Tasmanian Government may hold in the way of drought funds for relief. The honourable senator suggested that the funds he mentioned might well be directed to the drought situation prevailing at present in certain areas of Tasmania. 1 am not aware that the Tasmanian Government, in making its request to the Commonwealth Government for aid, limited the request to aid for dairy farmers. I will seek information from the Prime Minister with a view to being able to answer the honourable senator’s question very shortly.
We have not had any answer from Senator Anderson to either of those questions, but I quoted them because 14 days elapsed between 8th October when I raised the matter and 22nd October when Senator Rae raised it. Senator Rae was able to obtain great headlines. Under the heading Mystery of the Lost Grant, Tasmanian MPs startled’ one newspaper had this to say:
A question m the Senate by Tasmania’s Senator Rae implies that the Tasmanian Government has $289,000 of unspent federal relief funds.
Senator Rae’s mention of the mystery (289,000 has startled Tasmanian federal parliamentarians in Canberra.
– And has worried Senator O’Byrne.
– For about 2* seconds, lt went on:
His question backs up the cryptic statement made in the House of Representatives on Tuesday by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton). Mr Gorton said: ‘I understand that the Tasmanian Government has, unspent, a considerable amount already provided to it for assistance of various kinds from the Commonwealth’. Mr Gorton was replying to Mr Duthie.
That was on 24th October. The position which existed at that time, and which still exists, is that in 1935 the Farmers Debt Adjustment (Federal Aid) Account was set up in Tasmania for the relief of bankrupt farmers or farmers who were in dire financial straits as a result of the depres sion. This fund has not been invested in external securities and interest does not accrue on the credit balance of the account. In practice, only a minor portion of the Trust Fund is invested outside the public account. At 30th June 1968 the Trust Fund credit balance was §7,085,032. Investments made outside the public account totalled only $582,042. In calculating the balance required to be retained in the Loan Fund each year, the Treasury brings into account the full1 amount held in the Trust Fund and of the investments made on account of the fund.
While a balance remains in the Farmers Debt Adjustment (Federal Aid) Account it is thus automatically taken into consideration when the loan programme is determined each year. The fact that a credit balance of $288,000 has been held in the account has meant that the balance required to be retained in the Loan Fund has been so much the less, and the loan expenditure that could be authorised so much the greater. In other words, moneys notionally held in the account in question have not been lying idle but have been used for general purposes.
The State already has allocated the whole of its cash resources this year. It has no untapped reserve of cash available for purposes not already authorised or committed. The provision of additional moneys for drought relief purposes, therefore, would be possible only if the Government was able to reduce the loan allocations which Parliament already has approved for government departments and instrumentalities or was able to reduce the deficit in the Consolidated Revenue Fund. The Treasurer of Tasmania budgeted for a deficit of $3. 8m. The Commonwealth Government has the sole prerogative of collecting income tax, yet here is Tasmania budgeting for a deficit of $3.8m. The recent wage and salary determinations could increase the final deficit to $5m. In accordance with the practice which is followed by all States, Tasmania is financing the current year’s deficit from the credit balances held in the Loan Fund and the Trust Fund.
The point 1 make is that over a period of 3 weeks Senator Rae, in various statements to the Press in Tasmania, has implied that in some way or other this money has been misappropriated. The general atmosphere in Tasmania - in my view it has been created deliberately by Senator Rae - is that the people believe that there has been some misappropriation of funds without the knowledge of the Commonwealth AuditorGeneral or the State Auditor-General, or even the Treasuries of the Commonwealth or the State, so much so that letters are appearing in the newspapersasking what the Premier has done. Not only that, I have been asked at meetings why the Premier of Tasmania has not been able to find the hidden funds that Senator Rae has implied - in my view improperly - were available and unspent.
The misfortune of drought stricken farmers in Tasmania has been used as a political football. Senator Rae claimed that for weeks and weeks he had been trying to get some answer from the Premier of Tasmania, but only 1 week had elapsed between the time he raised the matter here and the time he made the statement that he had been trying for weeks and weeks to assist them. As a result of this claim and the general feeling prevailing in Tasmania that the political football had been kicked far too often, I asked the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) whether he would apply himself to the humane problem of somehow or other getting food down the throats of the starving stock and lifting the morale of the farmers in Tasmania. 1 said 1 hoped he would disregard the misleading and false propaganda being spread by Senator Rae. If Senator Rae will say, through any information medium he chooses, that he did not suggest any impropriety against the Premier of Tasmania in regard to the misappropriation of these funds, I will withdraw my imputation that his approach was false and misleading.
– This attack having been made upon me, I would like to take the opportunity to explain fully to the Senate the circumstances out of which it arose. Senator O’Byrne has accused me - and I say falsely - of making misleading and false statements. He used the word propaganda. I can only assume that he is referring not only to questions asked in the Senate but also to Press statements. For that reason it is necessary to have a look at where the matter started. Unfortunately, Senator O’Byrne did not do his homework tonight, just as he did not do his homework before coming in here this afternoon. Had he gone back far enough he would have found that I raised this matter on 18th September, which was about 3 weeks before he first raised it in this chamber. He implied that I had pinched his idea or some such thing. Hansard of 18th September will show that I raised this matter in an endeavour to prod a recalcitrant, lethargic government into some activity. The government of which 1 speak is the Tasmanian Government, which at that stage had done nothing to make a request to the Federal Government for any sort of assistance, nor had it made any plans to assist the farmers from its own funds. I asked my question with a view to prodding some activity from the State Government. In fact, no activity resulted.
I will not detail all that went on between then and now. I come in general terms to the other matters that Senator O’Byrne has mentioned. But again not having done his homework he did not mention them all. He omitted a question that I asked on 17th October and another question the date of which I have not noted. He referred to only one question I asked and that was one I asked on 22nd October. The number of questions I have asked in relation to this matter have, I am sure, become almost boring for senators. Senator O’Byrne attached some importance to his claim that it was not until some 14 days after he first raised the matter that I did anything. AsI have just pointed out, that is not true. He also referred to the deliberate atmosphere I have created that the money has been misappropriated.I will come to that aspect in a moment. I want first to get the facts straight and let people judge for themselves. 1 make no imputations; I state facts. Let us have a look at the facts.
In 1936 the Tasmanian Farmers Debt Adjustment Act was passed. It was designed to tie in with the Commonwealth Act, which was the Loan (Farmers Debt Adjustment) Act 1 935. The Commonwealth Act provided amongst other things, for the grant of moneys to the States. An amount of $600,000 was granted to Tasmania, plus possibly some other funds. The Commonwealth Act also set out certain requirements as to what the States had to do. Amongst other conditions - and this is important - they were required to furnish a certificate by the State Auditor-General as to compliance with the keeping of the funds. In consequence, the Tasmanian Act carried these provisions. Section 47 of the Tasmanian Act provided that there should be kept in the Treasury - that is, the Tasmanian Treasury - an account to be called the Farmers Debt Adjustment (Federal Aid) Suspense Account, into which there should be paid all the moneys received by the State from the Commonwealth, plus repayments made by the farmers. The Treasurer - and this is also important - was required to make available from the Suspense Account to the Board all such moneys as the Board might require. In other words, he had a statutory duty to make moneys available if required.
– They must have a very loose method of accountancy over there.
– Wait till I come to that. Let us have a look at it further. The Tasmanian Auditor-General’s report for 1967-68 at page 53 refers to trust funds. Amongst the trust funds are the State trust funds and then the report shows an amount of $288,087.52 for the Farmers Debt Adjustment (Federal Aid) Account. Insofar as I used the general term $289,000 I admit that I made one mistake. I did not get down to the cents.
– Fancy you making a mistake.
– This shows that it is not only Senator O’Byrne’s prerogative to make mistakes, although he is making the most of them.
– What did the AuditorGeneral state?
– The Auditor-General’s report shows that under the heading of ‘Funds for Governmental Activities Provided by the Commonwealth’ there is an account which has to its credit the sum to which I have referred.
– He has given a certificate to that effect?
– Yes, the Auditor-General has given a certificate to that effect. But under the method of keeping accounts to which Senator O’Byrne referred it appears that the money is paid into the general revenue and then the government can spend it as Jong as it does not think that anybody will ask it to account for the money.
– Everybody is doing it; every State.
– Everybody may be doing it but not everybody is getting caught. Under section 47 of the Tasmanian Farmers Debt Adjustment Act the money is required to be available. Not only is it required to be available but also it is shown in the Auditor-General’s report as being available. So, not unnaturally we reach the situation where the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) sent a telegram to the Premier of Tasmania. I will not quote the whole of that telegram; I will quote two parts of it.
– He gave it to you first.
– The Premier of Tasmania published his letters to the Prime Minister before they had reached the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister said in his telegram:
The unspent funds to which T have referred are the balance of $288,000 held by your State under the Loan (Farmers’ Debt Adjustment) Act.
A little later he said:
The Commonwealth expects you to use this $288,(>C0 and would consider any request by you to facilitate this.
I say to the Senate that if there has been any misrepresentation or misleading in relation to this it would appear that not only have J been guilty but that the Prime Minister also has been guilty in what he said in his telegram which was duly published. I have been assured by an officer of the Commonwealth Treasury that there is no reason why the State Government of Tasmania could not today take the appropriate steps to open an account and to take it up to a deficit of $288,000 without waiting actually to transfer the money to the credit of the Farmers’ Debt Adjustment Act Suspense Fund. Be that as it may, that is perhaps a side issue, although it is an important issue. In any event, I think it more important to consider what the Tasmanian Premier said rather than what Senator O’Byrne has said. One would have thought that the Tasmanian Premier would have been the person to complain if in fact I had been making misleading and false statements. Until I raised this matter and prodded Senator O’Byrne, neither he nor the Tasmanian Premier had done anything actively to get help for the farmers.
– The honourable senator has not even been down among them.
– Do not say that.
– I do not know how Senator O’Byrne could possibly know whether I had been down there. He should not make such absurd statements. But let me get back to the matter. The Tasmanian Premier has been able to find funds at short notice in recent weeks. No doubt Senator O’Byrne is not aware of this, but the first matter was a casino squabble in Tasmania. The Premier, finding himself in a position where it looked as though he might not get his casino Bill through the Tasmanian Parliament was able to say suddenly that the State would hold a referendum, at a cost of $40,000. to take away from Parliament the responsibility to decide this issue and to put the responsibility on to the people. So the Premier can find $40,000 for that purpose but cannot find $5 to help the farmers of the east coast area of Tasmania.
The next thing that happened makes me think that Senator O’Byrne is not up with the latest news. If he was aware of what was happening he probably would not have made the statements that he has made. Today there was a threatened strike in Launceston by railway men likely to be put out of work. Within 2 hours of the time that representations were made to the Premier about 57 railway men being likely to be put out of work, he was able to find $200,000 from some obscure loan moneys in order to keep the railway men in work. I am all in favour of the railway men being kept in work, but I do not like to hear someone say they cannot find funds over a period of months to help 200 or more farmers when they can find the amount within 2 hours to help 57 railway men. But let us go on. What else has the Premier done? Obviously he believed that it was unlikely that this fund to help the farmers would be needed. In fact I think it is probably a case of his gambling and losing. He took a punt on whether there would be a drought this year or any other circumstance which would require the money to be made available. I have never stated that he misappropriated the moneys, but I do say that he took a gamble on this.
We must consider the question of this trust fund. It is absolute mumbo jumbo for
Senator O’Byrne to say that because money is paid into a general fund and loans obtained, and so on, that is basis for a supposition that moneys required to be held in a special Treasury trust account will not be needed. The fact is that this was money in a trust account that might have been needed at any time.
– What became of the funds that the Commonwealth gave for the fire disaster?
– I have not done my homework in relation to that so I shall not rush in, as some others do, and make statements on matters of which I am not fully aware.
– It would be worth while making an investigation.
– If the honourable senator suggests it, certainly, but let us get over one hurdle before we approach the next. I point out that the Premier has not attempted to deny that he is required to use the money. In fact, the very contrary is the position. He said that he did not have the money, but he has never said that he should not have it. In fact he subsequently admitted that he should have it. He has never said that he will not use it. He has said that it would be difficult to use it. He has now said that he will work out a scheme so that it can be used. The only people who have laid complaints about this are Senator O’Byrne and perhaps one or two others whose noses are apparently a little out of joint over the whole thing. Senator O’Byrne’s emphasis on Press publicity makes me think that he is perhaps a little green with jealousy.
– The editor came up and had dinner with the honourable senator the other night, so he is not too badly off.
– And Senator O’Byrne came over and spoke with him. I am rather amazed that the honourable senator should believe that when one spends the moneys in a trust fund on a gamble one does not have to pay them back when he is caught out. I should have thought that one would have had to pay back the money and I am surprised that anybody should think otherwise.
– Wait until they get the casino going.
– Then we will have the whole lot on a spin, perhaps. I conclude simply by saying that the Premier has admitted that the fund is there. He could not deny it. His own Auditor-General’s report shows it. Today he has agreed that he will take the appropriate steps to provide a scheme to make use of the Commonwealth’s offer of aid on a dollar for dollar basis. I repeat that there has been no misleading on my part, nor has there been any falsity by me. I reject entirely the implications in Senator O’Byrne’s question this afternoon and in his speech tonight.
– It is almost forgotten that Senator Mulvihill spoke of a cool sequestered glade called Colong. I am glad of the invitation which he gave me in this respect and I shall keep it in mind to see whether it is possible to visit the area. With regard to his suggestion of interest by the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn), I doubt whether that is a matter within the scope of his responsibility. Nevertheless, his attention will be directed to what the honourable senator has said. With regard to Senator Keeffe’s contribution to the debate on the adjournment, it is significant that the honourable senator makes no reference to having referred to any Minister a complaint, which originated from a person bearing the responsible office of lecturer in a university, before choosing the adjournment debate to read a letter that this person had written to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy).
I regard Senator Keeffe’s reference to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation as a mere attempt at a smear campaign. I am surprised at the suggestion that a university lecturer, when arrested by a police officer, whether Commonwealth or State, was submitted to violence and assault and that the only remedy that he chose to take was the advocacy of Senator Keeffe in the adjournment debate in the Senate. I wonder that he did not pursue the hard line which he would know well that the law provides for him if he has credible evidence to prove his complaint. The action taken shows that this is an attempt to use propaganda instead of fact. I have no doubt that what Senator Keeffe has said and had recorded in Hansard will be investigated in the ordinary way. If the investigation shows that anything further needs to be added, in due course it wilt be my responsibility to refer to it again in the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 November 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1968/19681112_senate_26_s39/>.