26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 10 a.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration investigating the background of Rolling Stone Mick Jagger and his girl friend Marianne Faithfull on the assumption that shortly they will require entry visas into Australia? Would their past records concerning involvement in drug addiction and action that is pending against them jeopardise such entry to Australia? Will the Minister for Customs and Excise, who is responsible for curbing drug addiction, be consulted before such visas are issued?
– I have seen the Press statement and have sought some information concerning it. I am informed that the reports are not sufficient in themselves to warrant an assumption by the Department of Immigration that these people will in fact seek to come to Australia. The Department’s London office has been informed of the Press reports and it will notify the Department if it becomes known that entry is in fact desired. In reply to the other part of the honourable senator’s question, I point out that in the event that entry is in fact sought, the matter will be considered in the light of all the facts, then known. There is continuous liaison between the Department of Immigration and the Department of Customs and Excise on matters of common interest.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy able to give the Senate any further information concerning the tragedy in which the HMAS ‘Melbourne’ was recently involved?
– I have some additional information but not very much. The search for survivors of the USS ‘Frank E. Evans’ is ending today as there is little hope left of finding any survivors. The latest casualty lists indicate that 72 officers and men are missing and one man’s body has been recovered. HMAS ‘Melbourne’ assisted in the search for survivors until dark last night when she left for Singapore, 650 miles away. She is travelling slowly and it is not known at what time she will reach Singapore. Further investigation of damage to ‘Melbourne’ has revealed that she has damage to her bow both above and below the water line. In Singapore she will be docked to enable temporary repairs to be made before she returns to Australia. The weather in the area is remaining fine, and the forecast is favourable.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy explain how, when two naval ships are on a peaceful exercise, one can slice through another, and how this can be described as just bloody bad luck’? Does not such a statement prejudge a matter which is to be the subject of an inquiry?
– The honourable senator would know that an inquiry will be held into the unfortunate collision which occurred. The description of the episode to which he has referred was not mine. I have not any explanation to offer for the collision but no doubt the inquiry will come up with an explanation.
– In directing my question to the Minister for Supply 1 again refer to the compressor blades of the Avon engine which is fitted to Sabre jets. Has the Minister seen a reference concerning his answer to my question yesterday which compared the defects that have occurred with other types of engines to the failures which have been experienced with the Sabre Avon jet engines? Having regard to the reply of the Minister for Air in May accepting that the Aeronautical Research Laboratories were in fact undertaking research into the various types of rotor blades, is the Minister able to give more information about these defects? If he is not, will he have the matter examined to see whether the failure risk of the compressor blades in this engine is extremely high and whether special attention should be given to the position?
– I understand that the Minister for Air has issued a statement on this matter. I would wish to obtain that statement before replying in detail to the honourable senator’s question. Then if there is anything further that can be added I will most certainly reply to him about it. The point I made yesterday was that there is no suggestion of the grounding of the aircraft and that the Aeronautical Research Laboratories are continuously undertaking research into this matter. However, I think I would be wise to obtain the statement of the Minister for Air so that a report in depth can be made available to the honourable senator.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Is the report correct that the Minister this morning was to see Mr Bjorkman, the director of the Swedish film I Love, You Love’ which has been banned for showing in Australia at the Melbourne film festival? Has the Minister seen Mr Bjorkman? If so, is the Minister able to say whether or not the film will be shown in full at the festival?
– I saw Mr Bjorkman this morning. In fact, as the bells were ringing I was still talking to him. If it is agreeable to the Senate I am prepared to make a full statement to it concerning the circumstances surrounding this film when I have made my decision. That will be some time today.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Will the Minister advise me why there has been delay in granting censorship concessions to the Adelaide film festival which will be held jointly with the Auckland film festival in August-September this year? Does the Minister recall that last year when this matter was raised he gave me an assurance that the Adelaide film festival would receive the same consideration in regard to censorship as the Melbourne and Sydney festivals? Is it not a fact that an application was lodged with the Minister on 21st April this year and that entries for the festival are now being received in Australia? Is the Minister aware that there is considerable apprehension amongst members of the committee responsible for the
Adelaide film festival that, in view of the delay that has already occurred in considering the festival’s submission and the controversy that has been raised over the admittance of a certain film to the Sydney and Melbourne film festivals, the Adelaide film festival’s application for special censorship consideration could be severely jeopardised?
– Last year I gave an undertaking that the position of film festivals in capital cities would be considered with a view to giving them the same consideration as was given to the Melbourne and Sydney film festivals. I might mention that the Melbourne and Sydney film festivals are recognised by the producers’ association, which is the world authority. The film festivals in those cities are two of the twenty that are recognised by the world authority. We have been giving a lot of consideration to extending to festivals in other capital cities, and not only in Adelaide, the censorship conditions that apply to films shown at the Sydney and Melbourne festivals. In view of the controversy that has arisen over the film ‘I Love, You Love’, which it is reported is to be shown at the Sydney and Melbourne festivals, any decision as to what we may do in the future is held up for the moment.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has any application been received from the Tasmanian authorities seeking special financial help in overcoming the flood damage which recently occurred in northern Tasmania? Will the Government favourably consider such an application if it is received?
– I know of no application having been received in relation to the flood damage which recently occurred, I understand, in the Launceston area. As I have explained here before, a formula has been laid down for such matters to be dealt with at a Premier to Prime Minister level. All I can do is to seek information in relation to the case mentioned by the honourable senator. If Tasmania thinks it has a case which would justify a Commonwealth subvention the onus is on that State, through its Premier, to make the proper representations.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry aware of the slow movement of wheat out of South Australian ports which is having an adverse effect on railway revenue and is causing budgetary difficulties? Is this due to inadequate harbour facilities? If so, what steps can be taken to rectify the situation?
– I am aware of the relatively slow movement of wheat out of most Australian ports. This state of affairs reflects the limited world demand for wheat from wheat exporting countries. I have been informed by the Australian Wheat Board that it is possible that the movement of wheat out of South Australian ports could have been increased slightly at the expense of the other States if the South Australian ports could have handled larger vessels. It is understood that the South Australian Government is fully aware of the limitation of the size of vessels which can be handled at the wheat export terminals in that State. As to the last part of the question, I am afraid that I cannot give the honourable senator a satisfactory answer.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior noted a Press announcement that one of the major parties which will be contesting the Australian Capital Territory electorate at the forthcoming House of Representatives election has solicited airlines, banks and travel agencies for lists of intending travellers so that it may render such people a postal vote service? Does such action contravene the Commonwealth Electoral Act?
– The advice of the Chief Electoral Officer is that the matter referred to by the honourable senator does not contravene the Commonwealth Electoral Act.
– I direct to the Minister for Repatriation a question relating to the re-establishment training of national servicemen. Following his recent statement and that of the Minister for Labour and National Service, can the Minister inform the Senate whether any action will be taken to publicise the Government’s decision to grant retrospective training rights to national servicemen who voluntarily extend their Army service so that those who have previously been ineligible for vocational training, re-establishment loans, rehabilitation training and training treatment will be made aware of these very worthwhile benefits to which they are now entitled?
– On Thursday last the Cabinet made a decision in regard to the matter referred to by the honourable senator. It decided to extend the time allowed for the submission of applications for training of the nature indicated from 3 months to 2 years. The Minister for Labour and National Service and I have received quite a number of letters from honourable senators relating to hardship suffered by those who had completed their national service and then decided to reengage for a period with the Regular Army. In many cases if they were re-engaged for a period longer than 3 months they were denied the opportunity of applying for the training benefits. As I said earlier, it was decided last Thursday to extend the time for the submission of applications from 3 months to 2 years. This decision did receive some publicity in New South Wales newspapers; I do not know of the position in regard to newspapers in other States. I, too, made a statement on the same matter and I do not know how much publicity this statement received. This provision is very valuable indeed and I only hope that we can get it over to the people affected. I am informed that the Army sees to it that any national serviceman engaging for extra service with the Royal Australian Regiment is made aware of the provisions regarding applications for service training under the scheme mentioned by the honourable senator.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for National Development take up with that Minister on his return from overseas the matter of a continuing invitation from a Berri organisation to address a public meeting at Berri on the question of the Chowilla and Dartmouth projects, having regard to the fact that a previous public meeting had to be cancelled because for special reasons the Minister could not attend?
– The honourable senator is taking a great interest in the Chowilla and Dartmouth sites for dams that will be constructed or may be constructed to provide an adequate water supply for South Australia. The River Murray Commission has decided to recommend to the South Australian Government that the next dam be constructed at Dartmouth. The reason for this is that this site, when the dam is full, will provide South Australia with an extra quarter of a million acre feet of water per year, in round figures. That is the distinct advantage that the Dartmouth site has over the Chowilla site. I shall take up with the Minister the question of whether he will be able to address a public meeting at Berri, having had at some time in the past owing to pressure of work to cancel a meeting that was arranged for him, and I shall advise the honourable senator direct of the result.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it a fact that there is an insidious undermining of orderly marketing arrangements in the barley and wheat industries by interstate movement of these cereals? Are such practices inimical to the basic interests of these industries? What steps can be taken to prevent such practices?
– Under the complementary wheat industry stabilisation legislation of the Commonwealth and States, the Australian Wheat Board is the sole marketing authority for wheat sold in Australia or exported. The system has worked well for many years and has the support of the Commonwealth and each State Government and a vast majority of growers. It is known that contrary to the spirit of the orderly marketing arrangements some business is being transacted between wheat growers in one State and buyers in another. As far as barley is concerned, there are marketing boards constituted under State legislation to handle the marketing of barley in mainland States other than New South Wales. Since there is not a board or other marketing body operating in that State, New South Wales growers are free to market their product as they wish. Representatives of the barley industry have been assured in the past that if they wish to move towards the setting up of a national marketing authority they would be given every assistance in their deliberations.
To the extent that trading in any commodity is carried on outside the marketing boards, it is contrary to the interests of orderly marketing and the industries concerned. Orderly marketing arrangements can be fully effective if they have the support of growers in the industry. Every wheat grower in Australia has derived benefit from the operation of the stabilisation scheme in recent years. The industry has recognised recently the need to accept delivery quotas in order to reduce marketable supply to manageable proportions. If all growers would accept that the arrangements which have been made are in the better interests of all, the problem of trading outside the board would be resolved.
– I ask the Leader of the Government a question. Is it possible that the 16,000 hours testing period for the carry-through section of the swing wing structure of the F111C fighter-bomber on order for Australia can be completed by the end of November 1969?
-Senator O’Byrne asked me a question on this matter, and I have a reply to it in the pipeline. I am waiting for it to be cleared before I give it. I hope to be able to give it today, or at least to have it incorporated in Hansard today. It is quite clear that the number of days involved in the formula for the 16,000 hours is nowhere near the result of the mathematical calculation that was made previously. But perhaps we should wait for the official reply to Senator O’Byrne’s question. My understanding is that, in terms of days, the period is of the order of 80 days.
(Question No. 1307)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
– On Thursday, 17th April 1969, Senator Drake-Brockman asked me a question about the costs of spare parts for farm machinery. I have received advice from the Departments of the Treasury and Trade and Industry and would like to add to the reply I made in the Senate.
I have no direct information on the prices quoted by the honourable senator but presumably the differences referred to reflect the distribution and other costs involved in making products manufactured in or imported into metropolitan areas available to consumers in rural areas. The amounts of these costs would tend to vary, of course, with such factors as distances involved, methods of transport employed and the number of links in the distribution chain.
As the honourable senator has stated in his question, the Commonwealth has taken action in various ways to assist primary producers but this does not extend to the control of costs of distribution and transport. Distribution and transport costs have, of course, the same relative incidence on both local manufacture and imported goods.
– On 23rd April Senator Willesee asked me whether the Services had helped in the search for a person lost in rugged country in Western Australia. I said that I would refer the matter to the Minister for Defence, who has now provided the following information:
The honourable senator’s question presumably relates to the search for Edward William Stafford who was lost in the vicinity of Esperance, Western Australia, in early April 1969.
There are long standing arrangements whereby local Service commanders are authorised to provide, on the request of the responsible civil authorities, military assistance to the extent practicable from within their existing resources in emergencies such as this. On many occasions the Services have demonstrated their willingness to provide prompt and substantial assistance. ) am informed that on this occasion the Services were not asked by the local authorities to assist in the search.
Consideration resumed from 3 June (vide page 1932).
– I wish to raise a point in relation to clause 5 (2.). Sub-clause (1.) of clause 5 makes provision for a person to pay the levy plus interest in the event of nonpayment of the levy. Sub-clause (2.) reads:
The Minister, or a person authorised in writing by the Minister to grant remissions under this sub-section, may, in a particular case, for reasons that the Minister or the person, as the case may be, in his discretion thinks sufficient, remit the whole or a part of an amount payable under this section.
There is no provision for the remission of an amount because of hardship or disease in the flock, for example. The clause says that an amount may be remitted ‘in a particular case’. It does not specify what ‘a particular case’ is. This is an example of something I raised yesterday, namely, the wide discretion given to the Minister or a person authorised by him to make a remission.
We said that we could not visualise corruption in a Minister. But a Country Party Minister might decide that it was ‘a particular case’ if the affections of a big chicken meat dealer or chicken breeder for that political party could be retained by giving him some concession. While I am not suggesting that we know of any possibility of corruption, we cannot overlook the fact that in government departments in other countries there have been cases of corruption. We in Australia have prided ourselves in the fact that corruption has been eliminated to some extent here because the opportunity is not made available under our legislation. But we must admit that there are opportunities for governments to give favours.
It has been maintained that the rental of certain insurance company buildings gives concessions to the companies concerned and that the rental of the Country Party premises in Canberra gives a concession to a political organisation. We know that during the Hoffmann affair it was stated in answer to a question that it was believed that a clerk was receiving payment of hotel expenses in return for giving some concessions. We know that at present a clerk is appearing before the courts on a charge in respect of an offence which would amount to corruption under the Crimes Act. In this instance the decision to remit payment of the levy does not rest with the Minister only; it can be decided by any authorised person in a particular case. But the Bill does not specify what is meant by ‘a particular case’. I raise my protest at this clause because I consider it leaves the way wide open for favours to be given by an authorised person or a Minister. Some recognition should be given to this point and the provision should be tightened up.
– I agree with what Senator Cavanagh has said about there being a lack of corruption, not only among Ministers of the Australian Parliament but also among members of Parliament for many years. This is something of which the Parliament should be very proud. It should be jealous to ensure that this record continues. I inform the honourable senator that the authorised person in clause 5 would be the secretary of the Department of Primary Industry.
– It seems to me that the main point of what Senator Cavanagh was saying in relation to clause 5 is that no limit is stated and no guide lines or criteria are laid down on which a remission may be made. That seems to be a serious matter. Whether it is in relation to this Bill or any other measure, the point raised by Senator Cavanagh is an extremely important one. In some circumstances it might be possible to read into such a clause some kind of limit. For example, I suppose it would be fair to say that a remission could not be granted for some improper reason or some corrupt reason. To that extent there would be a limit. Perhaps it could be said that the levy could not be remitted capriciously, but the clause is left so wide that situations could arise which could give rise to complaints that the power to remit was being used unfairly because no limits to the power had been set. Some kind of criterion, such as hardship, should be laid down.
The point made by Senator Cavanagh is a valid one. If the provision is not corrected here the Government might chose to correct it, if the Bill is otherwise amended, by putting in some other limitation. It is a matter which should be cured in the future. It is extremely valid to point out that while power to impose the levy is given under all sorts of strict provisions for its enforcement, the power to remit is given without any bases, grounds or limits being laid down.
To pass on to other matters, unless Senator Cavanagh wants to persist with that point, could the Minister give me an answer to the question I asked last night about clause 6 (2.)? That provision states:
In proceedings for the recovery of an amount referred to in the last preceding sub-section-
That relates to the recovery of a debt due to the Commonwealth- an averment or statement in the complaint, claim or declaration of the plaintiff is evidence of the matter so averred or stated.
Why should we have these averment provisions, which are special provisions used when there is some particular difficulty? Why are they brought into this ordinary legislation dealing with chicken hatcheries? Why does not the same general rule that applies to the recovery of debts by the Commonwealth apply to people in this industry?
Why are they singled out for the use of a provision which has always been looked upon in the law with suspicion? The use of an averment provision has the effect of transferring the onus of proof. But this is a civil matter in which the Commonwealth may, even after a lapse of several years, put the onus of proof on a person to show, in effect, that he does not owe the debt. The onus should be on the Commonwealth to show that he does owe the debt. Can the Minister answer that question for me?
Senator McKELLAR (New South Wales -Minister for Repatriation) (10.30] - First I should like to answer some of the questions raised by Senator Cavanagh and Senator Murphy with relation to clause 5. As I said yesterday when we were dealing with the Meat Chicken Levy Bill, you cannot attempt to pin down everything. Any attempt to specify reasons would limit the area in which remissions could be made in deserving cases. As I understand the position, if we set down limits, the authority would not be able to give any remissions to people outside the definitions we lay down. I submit that is a most valid reason for this provision.
I come now to clause 6 and here I express my thanks to Senator Murphy for giving me the opportunity of getting some advice on the matter and obtaining an answer for him. Sub-clause (2.) of clause 6 provides that in proceedings for the recovery of levy or penalty an averment is evidence of the matter so averred. Senator Murphy asked why there is a departure from the ordinary law of the Commonwealth in this respect and why primary producers are being singled out in this way. Keeping in mind his statement yesterday that he would not be satisfied if the answer went along certain lines, I still propose, for the benefit of other people, to refer to some of the other areas in which this provision applies. I have been told of several Acts relating to levies and charges on primary producers where exactly similar provision is made. For example, I refer to section 8 of the Live Stock Slaughter Levy Collection Act of 1962, section 9 of the Honey Levy Collection Act 1962, section 7 of the Dried Vine Fruits Contributory Charges Collection Act 1964, section 9 of the Poultry Industry Levy Collection Act 1965 and section 81 of the Wool Tax Administration Act 1964. I understand that there are other Acts in which similar provision is made, but I have limited the examples I have given to those which relate directly to the collection of levies on primary products for the benefit of the branch of primary industry concerned.
Senator Murphy also said that usually the averment provision is limited to providing that only particular matters may be averred. I can assure him that this is not the general position under Commonwealth legislation, as reference to the Acts referred to by me earlier will show. The need for an averment provision in connection with the collection of taxes and levies, whether for the benefit of the particular industry, or taxation at large, has been demonstrated many times over the years. I understand that it is felt to be particularly relevant in connection with the present Bill because of the rapidity of the transactions concerning chickens where the sale from the hatchery normally takes place within 72 hours of hatching. Because of this, it is very difficult to find out at a later date the facts surrounding particular transactions. This is very much so, of course, in the case where a hatchery proprietor deliberately sets out to evade the levy.
– I am not satisfied with that answer. I am indebted to the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) for informing us of the various other enactments concerning primary producers which contain this averment provision. What is concerning me is that the Government is starting to build up enactment after enactment dealing with primary producers in which provisions similar to this have slipped through this place because everybody has said: ‘Here is a rural Bill. We do not know anything about rural matters. The Minister speaks for most of the people in here.’ There are some specialists who concern themselves with the economics of the particular matter. Others who are not specialists in primary production matters take the view that the question is one for the specialists. As a result, the Government has been stacking up, one after the other, provisions of this type which infringe the civil liberties of primary producers. When the primary producers complain, the Government says: ‘Why complain about this?’ I do not say that the Minister for Repatriation is taking this attitude, but that kind of attitude has been adopted on other occasions. On those occasions the Government has said: ‘We have done it before to primary producers. In fact, they have asked for it.’
The Departments which frame this kind of legislation put in things which are easy for them to administer, and the primary producers do not know what is happening to them. I refer now to such matters as averment provisions, provisions relating to entry, and provisions about prosecutions. Why should there be unlimited time for the prosecution of primary producers? Why should this happen when the standard law applying to every citizen of this country embodies a time limit of 12 months for such cases? For the primary producers, however, the time in which a prosecution may be launched is to be unlimited. Do not tell me that the primary producers really understood what they were doing to themselves and really applied their minds to these kinds of provisions. The Bill was put in front of them and they were told that these were the standard provisions. It is our duty to see that these matters are corrected, and once our attention is drawn to them it is not for us to let them go by. In fact, the existence of these provisions in other enactments dealing with primary producers does not mean that they are correct.
If we look at the history of this provision, and read the debate on the Poultry Industry Levy Collection Bill on 27th October 1966 in volume S32 of Hansard we will see a great deal of argument on the powers of entry and so forth. I suggest that all honourable senators should read those debates, and if they do so they will see the reasons put forward and the arguments advanced that such a provision was an exceptional thing and that the Government needed its provision for some special reason. In enactment after enactment the primary producers are being put into the category of second rate citizens. I do not think it is a good enough argument to say that these kinds of transactions happen very quickly, and that because the eggs are sold or the chickens are hatched and sold very quickly this is some reason for having an averment provision. This is a matter dealing with the proof of whether a debt is due, and a case may be brought at any time, even years afterwards. There is a multitude of other transactions in the commercial life of this country which happen very quickly. One can think of all sorts of sales and services. One only has to look at the commercial world to see that things happen more quickly than they do in the hatching and sale of chickens; and I cannot see that rapidity in this case is a valid reason for transferring the onus of proof of a debt from the Commonwealth to the person from whom it is sought to recover money.
If the Commonwealth goes to a citizen and says: ‘You owe us money’, why should it not have to prove the debt against that citizen - even though he be a chicken hatcher - the same as it would have to prove the debt against a citizen not engaged in primary production? That is the crux of the matter. I am not satisfied that there should be such an averment provision in this enactment, and if it has occurred in others it is time to put a stop to a growing practice. This provision should be opposed unless the Minister can put forward a more satisfactory reason why the averment provision should be there to transfer the onus in the recovery of a debt from the Commonwealth to the citizen in this special way.
– I want to deprecate very strongly indeed and rebut the suggestion that the averment provision applies only to primary producers. This is not so. I understand that the Taxation Branch avails itself of this provision, as does the Department of Customs and Excise. In addition, I point out to Senator Murphy that the circumstances in which the liability to pay the levy arises come from facts peculiarly within the knowledge of the hatchery proprietor. No-one else knows the position. It is difficult for the Commonwealth to ascertain the facts. In the circumstances envisaged in clause 6 of the Bill the Commonwealth seeks to collect a levy from a hatchery proprietor - a levy which he might not have paid. Other hatchery men have paid it. Therefore it does not seem unfair or improper for the Commonwealth to avail itself of this averment provision. The authorities responsible for the collection of taxation under Commonwealth legislation, under State legislation and, for that matter, under analogous legislation overseas have had to face the difficulty of ascertaining the facts on which taxes or levies can be collected. It has been found that an averment clause provides the only means by which the authorities upon whom Parliament lays the responsibility for collecting such moneys can collect them from a deliberate evader. This does not hurt the man who is playing the game. It is only something to try to catch the man who is seeking to evade his responsibilities and who is also welshing on the other hatchery men who are already paying the taxes that have been levied.
– I do not doubt that this is more convenient for the tax gatherer. Of course it is more convenient if he can put the onus of proof on to the citizen. But we are talking about a legal proceeding where the Commonwealth says to a citizen: ‘You owe us a debt’. This is a debt which is due to the Commonwealth. Tax people might come years after the event and allege against a citizen that he owes so much. But instead of the tax authorities having to prove this, as they would in an ordinary case against a citizen, the onus is transferred in this case to the citizen. Where is the real justification for that? The Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) has told us that averment provisions exist under the income tax laws. These provisions are used in special cases. Everyone knows that they are provisions of the utmost rigour and are not to be extended into the general law. But here the Government comes along with a little Act to deal with a chicken levy collection and intends to make this tremendous change in general law which applies between the Commonwealth and the citizen. It is not enough to say: ‘Look, it is convenient for us to do it this way*. Of course it is convenient. It would be convenient for the Commonwealth or for anyone else who wished to take proceedings to take this course in every matter. In most cases where debts were owed to it, the Commonwealth could say that because of the complexity and because the citizen knew more about the matter and therefore could easily disprove a charge, averment provisions could be used. The Commonwealth could apply this to everything. This would be very convenient. But this is the way in which the rights of the citizen are broken down.
While the Minister said everything that can be said for the Bill, for my part I am not satisfied that the chicken farmer should be put into that situation. Mr Chairman, it is intended therefore to oppose clause 6 (2.). I do not know what you think is a convenient way of doing this. Perhaps the Opposition could move amendments and deal with them separately.
-(Senator Drake-Brockman).- As the Bill is being taken as a whole the question before the Committee is: That the Bill stand as printed’. If this motion is carried we will be finished with the Bill and Senator Murphy will not be able to move amendments. So I suggest that we go back and take clauses 1 to 5 and then deal with clause 6 separately.
– I would be quite happy, as I suggested earlier, if the Committee took clauses 1 to 5. I think Senator Cavanagh has finished with the clause on which he was speaking. I suggest that we take clauses 1 to 5 together and then take the rest separately.
Clauses 1 to 5 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 6. (1.) An amount of levy that is payable, and an amount that is payable by way of penalty under the last preceding section, may be recovered by the Commonwealth as a debt due to the Commonwealth. (2.) In proceedings for the recovery of an amount referred to in the last preceding subsection, an averment or statement in the complaint, claim or declaration of the plaintiff is evidence of the matter so averred or stated.
– I point out that any amendment to this Bill would throw the two associated Bills out also. The other House is not sitting so any amendment made by the Senate could not be considered by the other place. This is not blackmail, a threat, a warning or anything else. I am just stating the position. Something has been said about the objections which have been raised by primary industries to this Bill. I do not intend to indulge in any dispute with Senator Murphy on legal matters. He is a legal man and I am a layman. But I just want to point out that the averment provisions are in other
Bills and that the primary producers have accepted them without protest as far as I am aware. I am sure that if the averment provisions go into the Bill they too will be accepted by the primary producers.
– If Senator Murphy wants to oppose sub-clause 2 of clause 6 the motion will be that the words proposed to be left out be left out.
– I am simply opposing it.
– Are you opposing the whole clause?
– I am opposing subclause (2.) of clause 6 and I move:
Leave out sub-clause (2.)
- Mr Chairman, I wish to indicate that the Australian Democratic Labor Party is prepared to support this clause in the Bill. I have listened to the debate and to the arguments put by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy). He suggests that in a debate that took place some 2 years ago on a similar piece of legislation affecting rural producers the same fears that he is expressing now were expressed. I have no doubt that we could go back much longer than 2 years and find that this was the case. Even 10 years ago we will find exactly the same fears expressed that the rights of citizens or primary producers were to be affected tremendously, that the legislation under consideration was the thin end of the wedge and that it would destroy completely civil liberties and everything else. I am sure that those arguments were used in debates on similar pieces of legislation even as far back as 10 years or 15 years ago.
I think that the proof of the pudding in this matter is in the eating. Have the civil liberties of primary producers disappeared? Have there been great waves of protests from primary producers that their civil liberties and their status as citizens have been interferred with because provisions similar to the one under discussion are contained in laws that are for their own benefit, for the sensible marketing of their products and, indeed, in the interests not only of themselves but also of the country as a whole? I would say that there has been no such upheaval. In other words, none of the fears that were expressed in the debates on similar issues, particularly by legal men who are very sensitive in this arena, have ever come to pass.
Indeed, the arguments which were offered to the contrary were that the only practical way of administering a clause such as this was to have these particular rights and powers exercisable by inspectors. This goes for wage inspectors, for the inspection of books of people in plants or anywhere else where wages and conditions are involved. In this instance, here is an agreement involving chicken meat producers. If one producer in this industry deliberately breaks the law and thereby breaks away from the industry, it is unfair to all the other chicken meat producers that he should be able to do so. So his civil rights must be balanced alongside the civil rights of everybody else in the industry. Those in the industry have agreed to this legislation. They all agree that this is the only sensible provision that can be exercised.
I remember the great discussions, particularly in Australian Labor Party circles, about the onus of proof and the rights of individuals when it came to the ordinary matter of the parking of a motor vehicle. I heard the legal eagles of those days discuss this question of the onus of proof touching who actually parked a vehicle owned by, perhaps myself, in a certain spot where it was illegal to park that vehicle for longer than a certain period, and the legal eagles believed that the authorities should have to produce direct evidence, that I, the person who owned it left the vehicle there. Of course, now we have all come to accept the fact that, as the owner of the vehicle concerned, I am liable whether it was I who left it in that place or whether it was not. The other people who have need to use our roads have their rights. If I could escape so easily from my responsibility concerning my vehicle and disregard the rights of everyone else, our roads today would not be functioning at all.
I can remember when, in the city of Melbourne, a person could pull up anywhere in a main street, double park his vehicle, walk into a building, do business, come out and drive his vehicle away. It apparently did not matter that that person had blocked the highway. Today, the requirements of the law are accepted. The onus of proof has been shifted onto the owner of the vehicle. Nobody is thereby suffering any tremendous limitations of their civil liberties. If such laws had not been enforced our roads would not function today.
– What has this to do with the Bill?
– Senator Cavanagh asks what this has to do with the ethical arguments put by Senator Murphy. I am putting this argument to show that, if we enforce this highly idealistic interpretation of the rights of the individual when we are trying to get an orderly proposition such as this minor matter of setting up a research programme for chicken meat in which certain contributions are agreed upon by members in the industry to be matched by a similar contribution from the Commonwealth Government to assist the industry and to assist Australia, unless we have some practical means of administration, the whole scheme will not work any more than our highways would be working if we had not shifted slightly the onus of proof in the case of parked motor cars. On that basis I want to indicate that we find that this kind of clause is quite common in this type of legislation and that it has not given rise to any real problems in the past. Because it has not given rise to any real problems in the past, I do not think there is any real likelihood that it will give rise to problems in the future. If it did I believe that the spirit of democracy in this country is such that the matter would very quickly be brought to the attention of this Parliament and steps would be taken to ensure that the individual concerned suffered no real injustice and that the country as a whole was protected. To date there have been no such instances and I believe that what is proposed in the Bill is the only practical way in which the measure can be implemented.
– Senator Murphy, have you moved an amendment to subclause (2.) of clause 6, or are you just opposing clause 6?
– I want to leave out sub-clause (2.) of clause 6.
– I enter this debate because of the remarks of Senator Little on the subject of the deprivation of civil rights. Senator Little said that such a thing had never happened under this kind of legisla tion. He linked this provision with the right of inspection and arbitration procedure and traffic offences. These have nothing to do with the situation with which we are dealing. It is not a question of whether there is a right of inspection under this clause. It is a question of whether protection is given to the chicken meat breeder who has agreed to pay a levy for the purpose of research into the development of the chicken meat industry. Everyone engaged in the industry who comes under the Act has a responsibility to pay a levy.
If I am a chicken breeder and if I breed a certain number of chickens, I have a responsibility and a duty to pay this levy, not only because it is in the interests of the industry in which I am engaged to do so, but because I am obliged to do so under the law. If I believe that I have paid the levies which are imposed under the Act and if some government official or department says that I have not paid the levies, we proceed to litigation to see whether in fact I have paid the levies for which I am responsible under the Act. When we go to court it should be the responsibility of the Government, which says that I have not paid the levies, to show that in fact I have not paid them. It is then for the court to decide whether I have in fact paid the levies or not. But under this Bill, the Government would issue a summons which would state that I owed so much to the Commonwealth, and, under the averment clause, I would have to prove that I did not owe it. If Senator Little says that I owe him $10 and he takes legal proceedings against me to recover the money, should not he have to prove that I owe him $10? I should not have to prove that I do not owe him $10. The whole question is: Who should have the onus of proof?
Senator Little said that a clause similar to clause 6 in this Bill is to be found in many other Acts. He also said that there has been no deprivation of civil rights under other Acts, and that there has been no outcry about the question. I believe that if clause 6 is agreed to there will not be any great outcry about it and no great injustices may come to our notice. But there could be an occasion when action is taken against a particular individual under the provisions of the Act. Everyone who believes in civil rights should seek to protect such an individual. Such a case might not arise frequently, but there is always the possibility that one could arise. Frequently a judge has to form an opinion of evidence produced. One person may say to another person: ‘You do not owe $10, you owe $13’, and a doubt arises. The question has to be resolved in law. The question is: Should the defendant be given the benefit of the doubt? Should the defendant pay the money only after it has been proved that he owes it, or should he pay it only because someone says that he owes it and that he is liable to pay it? As Senator Murphy has said, we are treating these primary producers in a special way. After all, we are dealing with the establishment of research facilities in their industry. The chicken meat producers have the same individual rights as any other members of the community. Their rights under the law in regard to trading transactions surely are the same as those of other people. If a chicken meat producer is alleged to owe something to the Government it has to be proved that he owes something.
– My first inclination is to agree entirely wilh what Senator Murphy and other honourable senators have said. I too do not look with any favour upon averment clauses, particularly in legislation of this type, but for the reasons that Senator McKellar has mentioned in relation to holding up the whole scheme, I shall not support Senator Murphy’s amendment. However, I wish to say at this stage that this is something which I hope will receive the closest scrutiny in the future. Senator Little has said that legal eagles - I think that was the expression he used - are too idealistic. I simply rush into the defence to say that it is to be hoped that somebody will be idealistic in this field. It is to be hoped that someone will strive to maintain the liberty of the subject. It is all too easy to look to the immediate objective of administering a scheme such as this which we all agree is a good idea and to say: ‘Well, this will make it more convenient. Because it will make it more convenient, therefore it is a good idea.’ But it is one more step along the road to the complete erosion of the liberty of the subject. Things which have been built up over the years and that have come to be hallowed as traditional rights through the ages, rights for which citizens have fought and died, are not to be whittled away by marketing schemes.
I feel with some considerable intensity that we should look very closely at the philosophy embodied in this type of legislation. What is that philosophy? Presumably it is that because a group of producers wains to achieve a certain result, then any one of that group who departs from the norm or who does not play the game is to be regarded as an outcast whose rights arc to be taken away completely. Once we have accepted that philosophy in relation to a particular marketing scheme why cannot we transfer it to society generally and say that the same type of philosophy must apply in relation to the citizen and the community in which he lives? In other words, why cannot we then say, if a citizen is charged with a crime, that he must prove himself not guilty?
I do not like to see any intrusion at all into the rights of citizens. I suggest to honourable senators that any change in the onus of proof should be made only after the closest possible scrutiny, after very considerable substantiation and after it has been made clear that it is not dangerous and that it is necessary. I do not want to hold up this legislation and the scheme, but I would like to see the matter considered. I shall not support Senator Murphy’s amendment simply because this is only one of many instances all of which, in my view, need reviewing.
– I feel that I should answer what has been said by Senator Little. The honourable senator has suggested that these arrangements are convenient. But the reason for supporting such an averment clause is that no-one has shown that there has been any injustice in practice. Surely the argument ought to be the other way. Should not the Government, in support of such a clause, especially when it has had time to do so, establish that it is able to show that in other areas - and perhaps by analogy in this area - there has been difficulty in recovering levies? Should not the Government be required to show that there was difficulty in some way in practice and that in, say twenty cases, it was not able to recover? Should it not be able to say that as a matter of justice it should have been able to recover the amounts and that it will be able to do so only if there is an averment provision? However, the Government has put forward nothing of that kind to show that this departure from the general law is necessary. At least the Senate should have been supplied with that assurance as a basis for this departure.
Surely in dealing with this matter we should look at it from the other way. It is not for us to show that this provision is necessary. Perhaps there have been no recoveries at all. We should not, with no real inquiry having been made, accept laws which on the face of them break down the rights of the citizen. We do not know the history of recoveries or whether there have been any recoveries at all. Yet we are now asked to agree to something which on the face of it will break down the ordinary rights of citizens. It seems to me that we should approach the matter from the standpoint of safeguarding the traditional rights under law of the citizen unless there is a very powerful case in favour of doing otherwise. I am not satisfied that such a case has been presented. I accept what has been put by Senator Rae; I think his argument is clear. Out of deference to honourable senators we will not seek to divide the Committee, but nonetheless the Opposition is opposed to this clause.
– 1 merely want to reply to mis-statements of what I said earlier. Replying to Senator Rae, I object to the suggestion that a chicken meat producer who may have offended or who may be presumed to have offended under this legislation will have all his civil rights taken from him by this averment clause. Certainly technically one small portion of his rights will be affected. My argument was based wholly on the proposition that his rights must be set against those of other chicken meat producers who have paid their money and the rights of the Commonwealth which has paid its share into the fund which is to be established for research purposes. If it is not possible to force production of the books of a chicken meat producer who has offended, in what other way can we enforce the law in the interests of all the other producers in the Commonwealth? If Senator Rae or Senator Murphy can show me how the matter can be dealt with practically without a clause of this kind, I would be happy for him to do so.
A lot of research has gone into this legislation. To illustrate my point I even brought up the case of a parking offence, in relation to which I disagree with Senator Cavanagh. A car that is involved in a parking offence may have been in the charge of a relative or friend or may even have been stolen. In such cases the onus is on the owner to prove that fact. If it were not so, the parking laws could not be administered in the interests of everybody. The ideal mentioned by my colleagues is a high one, but as a matter of practical administration the matter could not be dealt with properly without a provision of this kind. I know of no case nor has any other honourable senator produced a case in which the limited violation of the right of a citizen has been brought into question. I believe that the arguments advanced in support of the clause are irrefutable and that it is satisfactory as it stands.
– I certainly da not wish to enter into an argument with Senator Little. I merely point out that there have teen a number of cases involving the poultry levy in which people have complained very bitterly about the operation of a similar provision.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 7 agreed to.
Clause 8. (1.) A person shall not -
Penalty: Three hundred dollars. (2.) A prosecution for an offence against this section may be commenced at any time.
– I move:
The sub-clause, if it is amended as we seek, will then read:
A prosecution for an offence against this section may be commenced at any time within one year after the commission of the offence.
We have the same kind of problem here. The general law in this country under the Crimes Act is that a provision such as this, carrying a penalty of a few hundred dollars may be prosecuted within 1 year after the commission of the offence. Section 21 of the Crimes Act sets out the position not merely for the Crimes Act but under the general law of the Commonwealth. It reads: (1.) A prosecution in respect of an offence against any law of the Commonwealth may be commenced as follows:
There is the general law to apply throughout the Commonwealth. Where a penalty such as this is prescribed the general law is that a person can be prosecuted within 1 year after the commission of the offence. Even if imprisonment for up to 6 months is prescribed, still the prosecution must be commenced within 1 year. This is because it is generally considered that in relation to minor matters such as this we should not have people in the situation where they can be prosecuted 5, 10, 20, and in theory 30 or 40 years after the offence. Why on earth for this offence carrying a fine of $300 is this provision sought? Why are the chicken farmers singled out? Is it to be said that there is some special reason for the carrying out of these marketing provisions whereby if a chicken farmer commits an offence he does not do the same kind of thing as others might do in other fields, that we must have a provision that the chicken farmer can be prosecuted 5, 10 or 15 years after the event and the system will not work if he has to be prosecuted within 12 months? Here is the general law laid down for all citizens. I have no doubt that the Minister will say: ‘We did it in relation to other primary producers. We did it in the Poultry Industry Levy Act and the Honey Industry Levy Act and a few others’. Why are these primary producers being put into the situation of second rate citizens? This is building up bit by bit. We will hear this argument: You have not shown that anyone has been terribly hurt by a provision like this. Show us where the injustice is. This is building up. We know what happens. The primary producers have never really paid attention to these provisions. They have never gone through them. Nobody has told them that this sort of thing is a departure from the general law. The authorities start off with one. They get this provision and they copy it for the next one. They might brighten it up a bit and say: ‘We will make it still more convenient for us’. Bit by bit the rights of these people are being whittled away and they are being put in a worse position than others. Do not tell me that they asked for it and this is what they wanted. I do not believe that these chicken hatchery people asked that they be put in a special position where they can be prosecuted after 12 months at any time at all. Is that the argument that the Minister will put forward, that the chicken hatchers’ organisation or some other organisation on their behalf applied its mind and said: ‘We need this in order that the legislation shall work’.
– ‘The Minister did not say that.
– Let it not be said. I did not say that he said it, but the suggestion is made that this legislation has been asked for by those interested. I have no doubt that in general terms the legislation has been asked for. We are not opposing the legislation in its general terms. We are dealing with these particular provisions which are included in the Bill and which affect the rights of the citizen. I would like information on where provisions such as this one appear in similar legislation dealing with primary producers. I believe that it is time the primary producers and the Parliament started to get a collection of these matters in order to see how far the rights of primary producers have been whittled down. I would like to know the explanation for the inclusion of this provision because, on the face of it, it seems to me to be a departure from the general law which is not warranted.
– The Government opposes the amendment moved by Senator Murphy. One reason for doing so is the one I gave earlier - that the passing of the amendment would nullify the two Bills we have already passed.
– That is a shocking reason.
– The honourable senator may make a speech later, if he wishes to. I did not interject when his Leader was speaking, and I do not intend to interject when anybody else is speaking. First of all, let me say something about the claim that these provisions are interfering with the rights of the individual. What happens to a man who wants to work at a trade but does not join a union? Is he allowed to work? Is not that interfering with the rights of the individual? Honourable senators opposite cannot have it both ways. They are concerned that we should not interfere with the civil liberties of any member of this community. I have given an instance in which they do that. They do it because they believe that it is in the interests of those concerned. That is much the same as what is happening here.
I propose to disappoint Senator Murphy. I do not intend to say that this provision has been asked for by the people in this industry themselves. They asked for the type of Bill that we have put before the Senate. Naturally, they were not so concerned about the individual clauses of the Bill. They want the result that a Bill such as this can give them. The Government is trying to give them that result. Under clause 8, as Senator Murphy said, certain things constitute an offence. I point out that action will be taken only against offenders. Action will not be taken against people who are law-abiding citizens.
– Senator Murphy shakes his head; but who else would be punishable, or who else would come under this clause?
– Apparently everybody who is tried is guilty. Why bother about a trial at all?
– This is where the legal men thrive once again. I do not intend to enter into any legal argument. It is an offence, punishable by a fine of $300, for a person to fail to furnish a return that is required by the regulations, or to furnish a false return. Sub-clause (2.) of this clause provides that an offence against the clause may be prosecuted at any time. But for this sub-clause, such a prosecution, under the Crimes Act, would have to be instituted within 12 months, as Senator Murphy has stated. The Opposition amendment proposes to add words which would have the effect of requiring such a prosecution to be instituted within that time, for the reasons Senator Murphy gave.
One other reason why the amendment is not acceptable is that, by the’ very nature of the offences, particularly that of furnishing a false return with regard to this industry, an offence might not, and in many cases would not, be detected until after the 12-month period. In that event, if the Opposition amendment were carried, no prosecution could be launched. Therefore, subclause (2.) removes the time limit. In this respect it is in line with other legislation imposing taxes or levies and requiring the furnishing of returns. For those reasons the Government rejects the amendment.
– I object in the strongest terms to the attitude of the Minister for Repatriation and Government supporters who have said that the reason why this Bill cannot be amended is that an amendment would mean the legislation would have to be held over. A fortnight ago the Senate had very little work to do and in the House of Representatives there was the disgraceful performance of 20 or 30 Bills being bulldozed through in 4 or 5 days. By force of numbers in that place the gag was applied after honourable members had spoken only one sentence in a debate. In this way the Opposition was denied an opportunity to amend any Bill in any way whatever. Now we are told in this place that we are not permitted to amend this Bill.
Senator Rae said that although he was opposed to a clause which the Opposition indicated earlier that it would oppose, he would not take his opposition so far as voting against the legislation because it would mean that the measure would be held up and people in the meat chicken industry would not have the legislation applied to them until August. It is an utter disgrace to run the Parliament on this basis.
We must reach the stage where the Senate should amend a Bill if it thinks it should be amended, even if this involves the House of Representatives meeting at a subsequent date to consider the amendment. If the present system is to continue, we may as well start here and now to pass every Bill without debate or opposition. The reason why this type of clause is appearing in Bills is that the Parliament is rushing through 20 or 30 Bills in a few days without taking time to examine them thoroughly. To proceed in this way is an utter disgrace and I raise my voice strongly in protest.
– I support what Senator Poyser has said. This is a matter of very great importance. I think it is fair to say that the arguments for the proposed amendment are really irresistible. I am being fair to the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) when 1 say that he has not been able to advance any justification for clause 8 as it stands and for a departure from the general law of the Commonwealth. I sense that the feeling of the Committee is that the clause should be amended. We adopt a very wrong attitude if we say that we should let the Bill go through all stages, otherwise other legislation might be affected. This is not the right attitude. It is for the Government to deal with the situation if it does arise.
If Government supporters concede, as they should, that the amendment ought to be made, there are a number of ways in which the Government could proceed. It is proposed that the legislation shall operate from 1st July. If the Government does not want to recall the House of Representatives to deal with this legislation as amended it could be considered in August yet still made to operate from 1st July. The date of operation of the measure could be made retrospective. Alternatively, the Goverment could bring in an amendment to deal with the specific matters, If the will of the Committee is expressed on these matters and the Minister says that the Government will accept it, we could soon find a formula to deal with the situation. We could say that we would accept the Minister’s assurance and bring in an amendment to clear the matter up and the legislation could be passed in its present form. We could bring In an amendment to alter the clause along the lines suggested. That is one way in which we could reasonably deal with the matter.
But if the Government will not take that course I do not think it is right for the Committee to pass bad legislation or for the Government to suggest that as the Bill has been brought in right at the end of the’ sessional period we should pass this bad legislation touching on the rights of the people. These matters should bc looked at. There has been discussion before about matters of this kind. I hope that Bills will not be brought in on any future occasion without some attention being paid to the question of rights. Attention in this case is paid merely to matters of administrative convenience. In the absence of such an offer from the Government I ask that the Committee pass the amendment.
– “The attack made by Senator Murphy on the Minister for Repatriation and the Government is unworthy of him. The honourable senator has stated as his proposition that a certain sector of the community is having forced upon it some law which is unusual, and he has picked out the people in this sector of the community to suggest that they should not have this measure thrust upon them. I. consider that Senator Murphy has not been fair in this matter. The Government’s reason for getting this Bill passed now is not merely that there would be some difficulty in bringing back the House of Representatives to consider the amended Bill. T believe that this measure is one that the industry wants.
Senator Murphy is unfair in putting the proposition that as citizens of Australia we do not want to have some official with the power to enter our works or houses and demand papers or look for certain material. I believe that our taxation laws have provisions of the type complained about by the honourable senator. Under the taxation laws an official from the Taxation Branch could call at Senator Murphy’s home, look into his business transactions or his parliamentary transactions, and at the same time another taxation official could call at his bank and merely by producing a certificate of the type provided for by this Bill would be able to look through his papers. The official would be able to do everything which it is suggested should not be done to the chicken farmer under this legislation. I feel that this provision should be made. I would object to the rights of a citizen being eroded by any Bill, but I feel that this measure, which we have discussed at length, will be of benefit to the chicken meat industry. I suggest that the Opposition would do well by the industry by allowing the clause to stand.
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Murphy’s amendment) be added.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. C. DrakeBrockman)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 9. (1.) For the purposes of this Act, a person authorized in writing by the Minister to exercise powers under this section may, at all reasonable times and on production of that authority -
Penalty: Two hundred dollars.
– I move:
Leave out sub-clause (1.), insert - “(1.) For the purposes of this Act, a person authorised in writing by the Minister to exercise powers under this section may apply to a Justice of the Peace for a search warrant, and if the Justice of the Peace is satisfied by information on oath that there is reasonable ground for suspecting that there is in any hatchery or any place of business any books, documents or other papers relating to -
The substantial difference between the clause proposed in the Bill and the amendment which I am suggesting is that the clause gives general power for authorised persons to enter hatcheries and places of business whereas the effect of my amendment is to require the authorised person to apply to a justice of the peace for a search warrant in the same way as must be done where evidence relating to any other crime is being sought. My proposed amendment follows very closely the provisions of section 10 of the Crimes Act which requires that if a constable wants to enter any place to search for books, documents and so on, he must approach a justiceof the peace and give information on oath that there is reasonable ground for suspecting that there is in such place something which will supply evidence of an offence.In other words, one’s premises cannot be invaded except when it is suspected that one has committed an offence.
This is a very important provision for the protection of the citizen. There have been some exceptions to this practice. But they have been made only in those areas where it has been proved over a long time that there is a social evil which would be very difficult to eradicate without power of entry without a warrant. One such exception is made in connection with the enforcement of the industrial laws. I refer as an example to the mine and factory laws of Great Britain where there were great social evils which directly affected the employees. There, it was necessary that an outside authority have power to enter premises to inspect books, and to see what was going on in order to deal with the particular long standing social evil. An exception was made again for the purposes of enforcing our health laws to eradicate or guard against great social evils. Under our health laws, persons are authorised to inspect premises with a view to protecting people against possible social evils.
– They are surely necessary powers.
– They are, but here we are looking at the principle behind the thing. As a general rule, whenever an exception has been made there has been some suggestion of a great social evil behind it. In those cases, it has generally been proved that the public could be very adversely affected unless that power were granted. As I have said, we saw the need for it in connection with the enforcement of industrial law and the enforcement of the public health law. Are we going to say that the exception is to become the rule?
– Is not the principle behind that the fact that it is in a cafe that you expect to find breaches of the health laws, that it is in a factory that you expect to find breaches of the factory laws, and that it is in a hatchery that you would expect to find breaches of this law?
– That cannot, be right. If we are to say that this power must be given to deal with every crime I point out that many crimes are committed in the home. We might as well say that there should be open entry to homes because crimes are committed in homes.
– There are so many exceptions that you may not have established the correct common denominator.
– It seems to me that the exceptions have been made only with great reluctance. They have been made only after the need for them has been established. They have been made only after it has been proved that some great social evil exists and that it cannot be coped with unless this type of power to enter is granted. If the Australian Democratic Labor Party is going to take up the attitude that we should abandon that principle and say that the exception is to become the rule, and that we should grant this type of power of entry into premises at any time it is convenient -
– You seem to be establishing the principle. You are citing the exceptions. I am saying that there are so many exceptions that they may establish the rule.
– To my mind, the exception should not become the rule. We should look with great jealousy upon the extension of this power of entry into premises. The provision speaks of a hatchery or any place of business. That includes the accountant’s office-
– The home.
– Yes, the home, because so often the office of a chicken hatchery is in the home. We know that this power exists under other Acts. The Minister will be able to trot out eight or so Acts on the primary producers again, but it will be found that it is really their homes that can be invaded because that is where their little offices will be, and people can walk in there not because an offence is suspected but just be able to walk in anyway. I think that the Senate ought to be looking closely at this. We discussed it in 1966 on the Poultry Industry Levy Collection Bill, and I thought that I said then everything that could be said in favour of such a clause. I pointed out that there would be implied limitations upon the power. I said that even though this man has the power he is supposed to use it reasonably, it must be used in good faith, it must be used for the purposes for which it was conferred and it must be used with due regard to the rights of persons affected. I think that is very important. But nothwithstanding those implications which surround the use of such a power 1 thought that it could be warranted there only because the Government said it was exceptional and that it was absolutely necessary for the provision to be there. The Government put it forward - or certainly honourable senators took it as such - as being in a completely exceptional case.
We indicated then that this would be regarded with great concern if it appeared in any more Bills, and 1 know that Government supporters spoke of their concern about the matter, about how these entry rights were creeping into legislation. Yet here it pops up again, and it will be said that because it is there in some other legislation there is a precedent and it should be allowed to go in again. I can see that for a simple revenue provision we are breaking, 1 think, further ground in regard to a very important right of the citizen, and although we have exceptions in other cases I do not think that there has been any case made out for the necessity for this provision. Why should it not be, for a start, limited in the way that I have suggested? Why should not the Government, at the start of this kind of legislation, use the kind of provisions which I have suggested which follows closely the Crimes Act provisions in regard to other offences and let us see how that works. Let the Government come back here and say if necessary: ‘Look, we have found that the legislation cannot work unless we have the power to walk right in. It is not enough for us to be able to get a search warrant.’ ls the Government suggesting that the chicken hatchers as a whole will be breaking the law so badly that the Government must have the power to walk in without suspecting that an offence is to be committed? Is that how the Government regards the people who put forward this legislation, or is it the truth that most of these people will observe the law, will put in the right returns and will do what they should do, and a breach of the law is only going to be an exceptional case - and then those who are administering the provision and those who are in the industry will know if someone is suspected of breaking the law. If someone is going right through the law then there is a provision where, if it is suspected that the law is being broken, a search warrant can be obtained.
I have one other question in regard to this provision, and it applies to the clause as it is. Why was the clause drawn this way to speak of the books and papers? It would seem to me that the important thing would be a power to count the chickens and the eggs. Surely if we give this power to the inspector he would be able to go into a hatchery and demand the books and papers. But under this provision is not the important thing to see whether the books and papers accord with the numbers of eggs and chickens? But under this provision he will have no power whatever to count the chickens - hatched or unhatched - and is that not the important thing? He may see the books which show that there are only a few thousand chickens and in fact the yard is full of them, there are tens of thousands. Where is his power to say: ‘Let me look at the chickens and the eggs you have and we will see if they accord with what you have in your books.’ Where is the power to do that? It seems to me that that is the real power that is needed, whether this be done under a search warrant or otherwise. The power should have been given to go into the hatchery and in some way to count or record the number of eggs or chickens in the place. That seems to me to be the really important thing.
– The power to count 20,000 chickens? That is good Labor Party thinking.
– There are such things as photographs. I suppose a man who is used to looking at chickens could tell at a glance whether there were 5,000 or 25,000. He would have a pretty good idea, but under these provisions he would not even be able to look. Perhaps the Minister might explain that and tell us why it is necessary to have this power to walk in and why we could not start off under this legislation with a power of entry only where an offence was suspected.
– The amendment moved by Senator Murphy, of course, says that we should not be doing what we are setting out to do, that what we do in these inspections should be done by means of a search warrant. Let us have a look at what this would mean. If the justice of the peace is satisfied with the information that there are grounds for issuing a search warrant what does he do? He may grant a search warrant that authorises any constable named therein, with such assistants as he thinks necessary-
– That is not in my amendment at all.
– I am talking about the powers of a search warrant.
– No. The specific amendment is to authorise a person-
– 1 have your amendment here. It reads in part: . . a person authorised in writing by the
Minister to exercise powers under this section may apply to a Justice of the Peace for a search warrant.
This is what I am detailing - what he can do under a search warrant. This is what the honourable senator was asking for.
– You will find in the amendment what he can do.
– Anyway, rather than put the people - even if they are breaking the law or suspected of breaking the law - to the indignity of this we propose to have an officer go along and inspect the hatchery. If anybody can count 5,000 or 10,000 chickens then he is better than I am Gunga Din.
– I do it every night going to sleep.
– I had not thought of that.
– There are methods used today which will give you an accurate count.
– We have heard enough of the honourable senator. Clause 9 of this Bill confers inspectorial powers on persons authorised in writing by the Minister. Under the clause such a person is empowered at all reasonable times and on production of his ministerial authority to enter a hatchery or a place of business - and this is only done where a man has refused to co-operate or suspicion is entertained that he is not abiding by the Act - and these are the only occasions. The inspector can enter a hatchery or a place of business in which the authorised person has reason to believe there are books, documents or other papers relating to the hatchery business. Under the clause he may, if necessary, search for such books, documents and other papers and take extracts from or make copies of them. His powers are not wide enough for him to seize the goods and take them away as he would be able to do under a search warrant. The purpose of the clause is to enable persons, who would ordinarily be Commonwealth officers, to carry Cut, with ministerial authority and at reasonable times, routine inspections for the purposes of the Act in connection with hatchery businesses. The clause is expressed to apply only to hatcheries and places of business. In the case of going to the person’s own home, this would only occur if the home was used as an office or a place where books would be kept. There is no question of going into a man’s home unless the provision would apply to it.
The Opposition’s amendment is to require a search warrant to enable the powers under the clause to be carried out. The amendment completely misunderstands the object and purpose of the clause. Indeed, in the day to day administration of the Act, the type of inspection of books envisaged by the clause would proceed with the complete co-operation of the hatchery proprietors concerned, and the need to make a search against the wishes of the proprietor with the authority of the section would only arise, I say again, where there was some obstruction or lack of co-operation on the part of the hatchery proprietor. What does the Opposition want us to do? Does it want a man who is evading the provision to be exempt from the clause of this Bill? Does it want him, even if he is found to be innocent, to suffer the indignity of a constable entering his premises? Is this what the honourable senator wants? We do not think- it is. The power to obtain a search warrant where an offence against the Act is suspected exists under section 10 of the Crimes Act and where necessary a search warrant under that section could be obtained which would give power to enter at any time - even at midnight or daybreak - to carry out searches extending far beyond the limited searches that could be carried out under the clause as drafted. In addition section 10 gives power to seize goods. The ability to obtain a search warrant under the Crimes Act in appropriate circumstances must be preserved.
However, the Opposition’s amendment requiring the issue of search warrants would not only cut across the ordinary day to day inspectorial powers but could well be thought by the courts to replace section 10 of the Crimes Act in relation to search warrants for the purpose of the Bill. This is an additional ground for opposing the amendment moved by the Opposition as it confers powers much more limited than the Crimes Act. In particular it is limited to granting search warrants to be exercised only at reasonable times. It can authorise searches only in hatcheries or places of business and authorised warrants must be limited to searching for books, documents and papers and there is no power of seizure. 1 think this is important. Moreover, the grounds on which a search warrant can be obtained are narrower than those in section 10 of the Crimes Act. In depriving the persons responsible for collecting the revenue of the power to make routine inspections, it could well be that they could be deliberately deprived of the kind of information that would justify the obtaining of a search warrant in the way that the Opposition suggests. These are the main reasons why the amendment moved by the Opposition cannot be accepted by the Government.
– I feel it is necessary to clear up some of the misconceptions that the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) has introduced. If he reads the Opposition’s amendment he will see that first of all it does not require that a constable would apply for a warrant. Instead, the amendment uses the words ‘a person authorised in writing by the Minister to exercise powers under this section’. There is no reference to a constable whatever in the amendment. Again, clause 9 does not suggest that the entry under the warrant could be made at unreasonable hours. If the Minister reads the Opposition’s amendment he will see that a Justice of the Peace may grant a search warrant authorising such person - that is, in practice, the inspector - at all reasonable times and on production of the search warrant. If the Minister reads the Opposition’s amendment he will see that many of the things he is alleging about the amendment are not, in fact, correct. He put forward objections to supposed features of the amendment which are not in the amendment at all. The substantial difference is that the Opposition’s amendment is directed towards the very purpose for which the Minister says we need this clause. The Minister says: ‘Look, we need this power of entry only in respect of the premises of people who will not co-operate or who are suspected of breaking the law.’ We say: Why not go before a Justice of the Peace and say that you suspect there is a breach of the law or that there is evidence of a breach of the law? In that case a search warrant could be granted not for a constable but for any person authorised under the Act.
– Who would this person be?
– He would be the person authorised by the Minister to apply for a search warrant.
– You do not think that a constable would be deputised?
– A constable could be authorised by the Minister as a person authorised to exercise these powers. If that is what the Minister has in mind, of course he can deputise a constable under the present clause.
– It would not be done.
– If that is the case the Minister need not authorise a constable under the amendment that we are suggesting. The notion of the constable has been introduced by the Minister as a red herring. A constable would not be involved at all unless the Minister authorised such a person, as he could under the existing clause or under the amendment that I have proposed. I assure the Minister that if he reads our amendment he will realise that he has introduced the notion of a constable as a red herring.
I think I have put this matter clearly enough. We think that the clause ought to be limited. We believe that before a search warrant is issued an application should be made to a Justice of the Peace. It is reasonable enough to ask the Government to see whether the legislation now before us will not work if amended as suggested by the Opposition. This great power of entry and search should not be allowed to grow by virtue of its introduction intoBill after Bill on primary production. I ask the Senate to support my amendments.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Murphy’s amendment) be left out.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. C. Drake-Brockman)
Majority . . 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator McKellar) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 27th May (vide page 1580), on motion by Senator Wright:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Mr President, as this Bill that we are considering, the Judiciary Bill 1969, and the Judges’ Remuneration Bill 1969 are related measures, might I suggest to the Senate that we should have one second reading debate covering both Bills? I suggest that you permit the subject matter of both Bills to be discussed in this debate.
-(Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) - Is it the wish of the Senate that that course be followed? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
– We have heard the second reading speeches by the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) who represents the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) in the Senate. These Bills are simple Bills, the purpose of which is to increase the salaries of the Chief Justice and other Justices of the High Court of Australia and of other Federal courts and also the salaries of those persons occupying quasi-judicial offices in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. These Bills propose to increase those salaries substantially. The Opposition opposes the increases proposed in both of the Bills.
The increases as set forth in these Bills may be looked at perhaps by taking the example of the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia whose salary is the highest. It is proposed that his salary be increased from $24,000 per annum to $30,000 per annum. The salaries of the Chief Justice and of the other Justices have been increased over the years. I have asked my staff to take out some of the figures. It is interesting to see what has happened. In 1903, the gross annual salary of the Chief Justice was $7,000. In 1947, it was $9,000. In 1950, the salary was $10,000. It was $16,000 in 1955. In 1960, the salary stood at $20,000. In 1965, it was raised to $24,000. It is proposed now, in 1969, to make that salary $30,000.
– Just a mere $6,000 increase.
– Yes. As Senator Gair says, it is an increase of a mere $6,000. But it is important to see what has been happening regarding the net salary. I wish to look at the net salary. I make the assumption that the tax rate is based on the amount paid by a man with a dependent wife although, in the case of most of the officers whom we are considering, the differential in tax whether there are dependants or not would not be very important. But, taking it on that basis, we find that the salary after taxation in 1947 was $4,418; in 1950, $5,823; in 1955, $9,180; in 1960, $10,764; in 1965, $11,939; and in 1969 the net figure after the proposed increase will be $14,046. The percentage increase that took place in 1950 compared with the preceding salary in 1947 is 31.8%. I also have the retail price index-
– Is this the gross figure?
– No, that was the percentage increase on the net figure. I wish now to make a comparison between the percentage increase in salary for each of the years that I have mentioned and the percentage increase in the retail price index. The figures have been obtained from the Parliamentary Library. The increase in net salary at 1950 - this is over the previous figure in 1947 - was 31.8%. The increase in the retail price index for the same period was 32.3%. In 1955, there was a salary increase of 57.7% as against a retail price index increase of 50.4%. In 1960, the salary increased by 17.3% white the retail price index increased by 16.5%. In 1965, an increase of 10.9% had occurred as against an increase in the retail price index of 9.3%. Under the proposal that we are considering, the salary will increase by 14.7% while the retail price index has increased by 10.8%
So, it can be seen that, taking the last 20 years as the basis for the example, the salaries have kept pretty much in line - they have been a little above or a little below - with the percentage increase in the retail price index. I remind the Senate that I have quoted the net salary. This means that this Bill, if it is passed, will be substantially maintaining the position of the judges relative to the increase in the retail price index. I think the figures that I quoted concerning the Chief Justice apply pretty well to the other judges. I have taken the office of the Chief Justice only. The figures show that the net salaries of the judges have been substantially maintained and will be maintained in comparison with the increase in the cost of living.
We in the Opposition are not saying that the salaries of the judges should be reduced. We are not complaining that they are too high. We are not setting out to knock the judges and to say that they are not worth the money that they are being paid or anything of this nature. But we are faced with this situation: Here is one highly placed section of the community which, although it is surrounded by traditions which necessitate its members being independent and being paid high salaries, nevertheless is being maintained quite clearly in a position where it is not suffering from the inflation that is occurring in this community. This is happening at a time when other sections of the community including pensioners, wage earners, male income earners, professional groups in salaried positions and people in receipt of superannuation, notoriously are slipping behind in the battle against inflation.
Is it fair to approach those problems which are social problems in this community and to start to deal with the problems section by section, to take one section here and do justice to it - and we are not complaining that the position df this section is being improved, if honourable senators like, when we look at the realities or the substance of it - while other sections are not getting this justice? Is it not fair to say that the problems ought to be dealt with for everybody? Here is a great social problem involving the battle against inflation. Why should one section of the community be dealt with and not the rest of the community? The substantial standpoint of the Opposition is that the judges are part of the community. Recognising the importance of maintaining the standards of the judiciary and the independence of the judiciary and recognising also the importance of not reducing the effective part of the salaries of members of the judiciary, we say nevertheless that these considerations should apply to the rest of the community.
Honourable senators have seen the diagrams which appeared in the daily newspapers a couple of weeks ago showing how the middle income earners in this community have suffered heavily. We know that people on superannuation and those who are living on amounts received from insurance policies - whether annuities or amounts they have invested in insurance or in other schemes - are having the substance of their incomes whittled away. Their life savings and their security are being destroyed by inflation. Is it right therefore that one section of the community should be dealt with in a special way; that it should be maintained, as it has been maintained over at least 20 years, so that net salaries are kept almost in exact accord with inflation and so that there is no loss whatsoever to this special section of the community? We think that this is unfair.
We propose to vote against this Bill in order to demonstrate the unfairness of the position and to indicate that justice has to be done to every section of the community. It is not right that justice should be done only to members of Parliament or to high public servants or to judges. It should be done to other sections of the community. I understand that there are officers in the armed forces who are being paid less than is paid to non-commissioned officers. These officers have been told that the determination of salary increases has to await the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission’s decision in the engineers’ case. This is what I have been told. I have not been able to verify it, but, apparently, there is a great holdup in the fixing of these salaries. We know that Service salaries are not fixed by the Arbitration Commission. They are fixed by the Government. When one turns to other sections of the community one finds instance after instance where grave injustices are being suffered because salaries are not keeping in touch with increases in the cost of living.
The increases proposed in this Bill are substantial. Why should the Government single out one section of the community - it certainly is not the under-privileged section - and say: ‘We will see to it that justice is done to this section; we will see that the real value of the remuneration paid to this section does not fall in terms of net salary, that is, salary after the deduction of tax’. On the other hand, other sections of the community, which seek justice and for which an overwhelming case can be made that increases in salary should be granted, are being ignored month after month and year after year. This is the case to whatever area one turns - whether it is child endowment, pensions or other benefits which are paid in the community. Is that fair? Can anyone say that this is the fair way in which to deal with the livelihood of people in the community?
Another matter upon which I should like to comment refers to the timing for the introduction of this measure. Why on earth was this measure introduced to upgrade judges’ salaries at a time when there was industrial turmoil all over the country; when people were so incensed about the wrongs of the penal clauses which operate in this country? I will leave aside for the moment the merits of the industrial disputes. But why on earth was this time chosen to bring in a Bill to uplift the salaries of judicial officers, including the very ones who were enforcing the penal provisions and against whom - I am referring to the office, not to the individuals - there was such a great outcry throughout the community? I do not want to deal with the rights or wrongs of the strikes, but surely those who were involved in this industrial turmoil could take the introduction of this Bill at that time virtually as an insult to them.
In the very week in which this industrial turmoil was going on, when many hundreds of thousands of citizens felt that they had a genuine grievance and were prepared to go out on strike and lose pay over it, in comes the Government and says: ‘Here is a Bill to increase judges’ salaries by $5,000 in some cases and by S6.000 in other cases.’ This was at a time when the trade unions were battling in the Arbitration Commission and were being fined by the Commonwealth Industrial Court because they were trying to get a few extra dollars a week for their members. Is that commonsense? Is it right? Is it prudent that this should be done? It appeared as though the Government was giving a slap to the whole of the trade union movement and to all the people in this community who are concerned about the value falling out of their wages and about the drop in their standards of living. Why was this Bill introduced right at that time? We oppose the Bill for the reasons which I have indicated, but particularly for the substantial reason that the Government is doing justice to, or is maintaining the value of the salaries of, one section of the community while blatantly disregarding the proper demands of other sections.
– The attitude adopted by Senator Murphy for the Opposition in opposing this measure is an attitude which I find rather inconclusive. I think there is also a certain inconsistency in the approach which his Party is adopting to this measure when it is contrasted with the approach which was adopted to the measures to increase the salaries of members of Parliament and of senior public servants late last year. Senator Murphy’s point, as I understood it, was: Is it fair that so many people in the community who are seeking some increase in remuneration to which they are entitled should be denied any such increase while Parliament, at this time, is increasing the salaries of judges? He suggests - and this is the area where I find he has been inconclusive - that all these matters should be dealt with at the same time. I hope that I do not do Senator Murphy an injustice by saying that he was not precise in indicating how this procedure should be carried out. Does he suggest that there should be one tribunal which fixes pensions and at the same time fixes the salaries of justices of the High Court of Australia. Or does he have some other method in view? He was not precise. I believe that if he is putting forward this reason as one of the reasons why the measure should be opposed, it is obligatory upon him to express precisely what he means.
I stressed a moment ago - and I think it is worth repeating - that when Bills were before the Senate last November to increase the salaries of members of Parliament and of senior public servants - the percentage increases were higher than those proposed by this Bill - there was no opposition by honourable members opposite. There was no plea at that time that those people in the community who were seeking increases in wages were being ignored and ought to be dealt with at the same time.
– I think there was.
– I do not want to be unfair. I am reasonably sure that an honourable member opposite would have said something about that matter in the course of the debate. But the point I make is that that expression of opinion was never taken to the point of opposing the measures. Yet for some reason this measure is being opposed. It is said, of course, that the timing of this measure is bad. I must concede that when I read in the newspapers, at the time when there was an industrial dispute, that salaries of justices were to be raised by this proportion, it did not appear to me to be the type of presentation which would win friends. I suggest to Senator Murphy for his consideration that this argument as to timing can be used in many ways. If there were a delegation of age pensioners to this Parliament, as I think there was a week or two before this measure was introduced, that again would be argued as an inappropriate time to introduce it. But the fact is that Parliament has an obligation to review the salaries of certain persons holding important posts in the community. I know that justices of the High Court must have their salaries fixed by the Parliament. Section 72 of the Constitution provides for the appointment of justices to the High Court. It states:
The Justices of the High Court and of the other courts created by the Parliament -
Shall receive such remuneration as the Parliament may fix; but the remuneration shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.
So it is a matter which constitutionally this Parliament must deal with. There is no similar constitutional obligation upon the Parliament to deal with the remuneration which other people in the community receive, although I concede that by custom the Parliament has always dealt with pensions. But, certainly, the salaries of the judges of the High Court are essentially a matter for the Parliament.
I think it is relevant to bear in mind that over the 66 years of the existence of the High Court there have been five occasions on which the salaries have been increased. This present occasion is the sixth.
– Are their pensions determined by Parliament, too?
– Their pensions are determined by the Parliament, but I should have thought that that was not a matter which has to be determined by Parliament. However, it is so determined in practice.
– Is it a non-contributory pension scheme?
– I understand it is non-contributory. j.
– Then they are the only section of the people of Australia in that position.
– I concede the point made by Senator Gair but I hope that in the course of my remarks I shall be able to bring forward considerations which will induce him to recognise the particular role which the judges have to play and, because of that, their entitlement to some such pension scheme.
Under the original Judiciary Act of 1903 a justice of the High Court was paid, in terms of modern currency, $6,000 a year. The Chief Justice of the High Court received $7,000 a year. It may be interesting to note that in that year members of Parliament were paid, again in terms of modern currency, $800 a year, or approximately one-eighth of the salary of Justices of the High Court. The Harvester award of 1907 provided for a basic wage of, I think, £2 2s a week, or about onethirtieth of the salary of justices of the High Court at that time. So it is quite evident that traditionally there is reason for these salaries. It can be seen why justices of the High Court have been remunerated at a level which, I think, has to be considered in relation to the remuneration which people who become justices were receiving prior to appointment rather than in relation to the remuneration of other members of the community.
The obligation of the Parliament in regard to the remuneration of the justices must be recognised in the light of the need for proper remuneration of justices of the highest court in the land and of the other Commonwealth courts which have been set up. The standing of the High Court, its importance, its influence and its role under our Constitution and in our judicial system requires that the very best legal brains should be attracted to it.
– Is that what brings them?
– I think that over the years the High Court has won a significantly high place amongst the learned legal tribunals of the land.
– Of the world.
– Yes. Particularly when Sir John Latham and Sir Owen
Dixon were the Chief Justices, the High Court was acknowledged throughout the world as the greatest common law court. If we are to maintain the standing of Australia’s highest court and to keep it as effective as it has become since the abolition of the right of appeal to the Privy Council, the Parliament should recognise that there is an obligation to make the remuneration of the judges of that Court sufficient to attract people who will make the best judges. From my own experience I would say that the persons who would at any time be considered as eligible for appointment to the High Court would be in receipt of remuneration far in excess of the amounts which are being fixed by the measure that we are considering. If that is so, then it is a fact to be considered in the assessment of the salaries.
I appreciate the argument which I have heard used that the prestige of being a justice of the High Court, or indeed a justice of any other Commonwealth court, is such that people possibly will sacrifice considerable remuneration in order to be so styled. But there is a point at which even that prestige will not be sufficient. I hope that in the future when new judges are being appointed to the High Court the Government will have regard to the appointment of younger persons so that the people appointed will be able to give many years of service, as have other eminent judges who were appointed at a relatively early age. But if people of that age are to be appointed it means that they will possibly have young families. They will be educating their children. If they are required to receive a salary which may be a third or a quarter of their normal remuneration, that will be a sacrifice which they will have to think twice about making. Accordingly, there is a need to make sure that the salary is commensurate with the standards of remuneration which such people are accustomed to receive.
For my part I am very willing to support a measure which, one must concede, somewhat arbitrarily fixes the upper limit. Nevertheless it is important to recognise the considerations to which I have referred. In a matter of this kind I think it is relevant to look at other salaries which the Parliament recently has fixed. I ask honourable senators to look at four categories of salary.
Members of the House of Representatives and senators had their salaries increased from $7,000 to $9,500 late in 1968. They also had an increase in their electorate allowance from $2,100 to $2,650. That is an increase of approximately 30%. The salary of senior Ministers of the Crown was increased from $15,000 to $20,000, but in each case there was a special allowance and an electorate allowance. Senior Ministers have at the present time a basic salary of $24,600, plus an electorate allowance which is dependent upon whether the Minister concerned is a senator or whether he represents in the House of Representatives a city electorate or a country electorate. The allowance varies between $2,600 and $3,000. That brings the salary of a senior Minister to approximately the equivalent of the salary that is now proposed to be paid to the High Court justices.
I make this point only because Senator Murphy has stated his opposition to this Bill, but there was no expression of opposition by the Labor Party to the measure which was introduced to increase the salaries of members of Parliament in November last year. Referring again to the salaries of members of Parliament, I point out that in November last the salary of the Prime Minister which at that time was $32,600, plus an electorate allowance, was increased to $41,050, together with an electorate allowance, and that his total remuneration is very significantly above the salary that is proposed for the Chief Justice of the High Court. In fact, he receives approximately $10,000 more. I do not say that that is improper or wrong.
– What about the Leader of the Opposition in this place? What is he paid?
– I am prepared to concede that there is a case for an increase of the salary of a Leader of the Opposition who has done his job well over the years, if that will ensure that he continues to do it equally well in the years to come.
– In the case of the Leader of the Opposition these days there is more or less a guarantee of permanency.
– I think so. I come now to the salaries of public servants. In November of last year the salaries of the two categories of senior public servants which were dealt with were increased by approximately 30%, which raised the salaries of officers in those categories to $19,500 and $22,750 respectively. In addition they get allowances which I understand, in accordance with the practice followed by the Commission of Taxation, are tax free.
It is of interest also to note the salaries that are paid overseas. The Lord Chancellor in the United Kingdom receives a total salary of £14,500. I appreciate that this sum is split up into two elements - £10,000 as Lord Chancellor and £4,500 as chairman of the House of Lords. If one allows for the difference in currencies, the Lord Chancellor’s total salary approximates what is proposed for the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia in this measure. In the United Kingdom the Lords of Appeal, the Master of the Rolls and the Lords Justices receive from £10,000 to £11,250. Until recently, when it was increased to $60,000, the salary of the justices of the Supreme Court of the United States of America was $39,500. Accordingly the salaries which are proposed in this Bill and which in the case of the Chief Justice of the High Court will rise from $24,000 to $30,000 and in the case of the justices from $21,000 to $27,000 appear to me to be commensurate with what is being paid overseas and, in terms of percentages, certainly commensurate with what this Parliament has granted to other persons whose remuneration was fixed by it as recently as 6 months ago.
– What do the United States senators get?
– I am sorry, but I cannot say. I know their salary is substantially higher than that paid in Australia, but it is commensurate with the higher salaries that are paid to the Supreme Court judges.
– United States Supreme Court judges are paid salaries which are relatively lower than those paid to Australian Supreme Court judges, are they not?
– I am prepared to accept what Senator Wheeldon says, but not on the basis of my knowing the position. I know of the honourable senator’s experience in these matters. The point I make is that it is quite apparent that justices of overseas tribunals which are comparable to the High Court receive salaries quite substantially above what might be described as the considerations to which Senator Murphy has referred. This is a matter to which a responsible parliament has to give attention from time to time.
There is one aspect of the matter about which I am somewhat concerned. I refer to the proposal that the judges of the High Court and of the other Federal courts whose salaries are to be increased shall receive allowances. In his second reading speech the Minister referred to the fact that the allowances are to be $2,000 a year in the case of the Chief Justice and $1,500 a year in the case of the other justices. He said:
As the allowances are not taxable, it will be seen that the effective judicial incomes of all members of the Supreme Court of New South Wales are now the same or higher than those of the justices of the High Court. . . .
That is given as the reason why this particular provision is desirable.
– Does that become an instruction to the Commissioner of Taxation?
– I am indebted to Senator Webster for his interjection. That is a point which I propose to elaborate. As I understand the position, the allowances are not described as non-taxable allowances, because so to provide would be to usurp the function of the Commissioner of Taxation. If an allowance is paid, it is part of the income of the person who receives it and he must show it as income in his tax return. I understand that, if he shows an identical amount as an expenditure, it is the practice of the Commissioner of Taxation - and it is for the Commissioner to make his own practices and to vary them - to accept that amount as a proper deduction without requiring evidence as to how it was made up. That is what he does to members of parliament and I understand that is the sense in which the Minister referred to these allowances as being non-taxable.
I should very much like the Minister to justify the payment of these allowances to the justices of the High Court. It is noted that section 48 of the Judiciary Act is to be amended by inserting in sub-section (1.) after the word ‘salaries’ the words ‘and annual allowances’, indicating that this is a new element which hitherto has not been included in the remuneration paid to the judges. I understand that generally allowances are paid to people because they have expenses which the nature of their office obliges them to incur. I think the best way in Which I can deal with the matter is to refer to what Senator Anderson, the Leader of the Government in the Senate, said last year during the debate on the Salaries Bill which dealt with the salaries of senior civil servants. He was asked by Senator Willesee why annual allowances were being introduced for civil servants. The Minister said:
These expenses were met previously from their salaries. I can understand the honourable senator raising this question because of the form of words used, but the words are meant to convey that these senior officials, by virtue of their office, are required to meet certain commitments. These would be much the same as commitments with which parliamentarians are faced. Unless one really holds such a position one does not realise what commitments there are. In the past these officers have received a salary and have had to bear these expenses from their salary. It became recognised that because of their position as First Division officers, because of the responsibilities they have, the things they have to do and the places that they have to attend, there is a case for them to be given an allowance. That allowance is to be provided by this measure. They have not received an allowance for this purpose in the past.
I understand that after a man is appointed as a judge he leads a relatively cloistered life. He is not able, or should not be able, if he regards the functions of his office as being somewhat traditionally guided to move amongst people in the way that he did before or to engage iri the types of activities that other people engage in. Of course this may be a purely traditional attitude.
– Some of them are chairmen of race clubs.
– There is a lot of controversy as to whether they should be chairmen of race clubs. The view is held that to a certain extent a judge should separate himself from society. Indeed, that is often offered as one of the criticisms of judges. Be that as it may, it is a fact that a judge does not have the same freedom as he had before. What are the responsibilities of judges, what are the things they have to do and what are the places they have to attend which warrant allowances being given to them? It appears to me that they are not in the same position as are parliamentarians dr senior public servants.
Because I am concerned about the matter, I invite the Minister to state the justification for the provision of these allowances. I think it is wrong that a judge should be placed in the position of including in his income tax return an amount which is given to him as an allowance and then having to show the same amount as an expense which presumably is justified but which may not .be justified. There may be good reasons for doing this. However, I ask the Minister to give the matter his attention.
Apart from what I have just said, if one looks at this whole question responsibly, there is a case for the salary increases which are provided for. As I have said, the amount to which the salaries are being raised must be arbitrary in character, but the increase is an endeavour to make what is being paid reasonably commensurate with what persons who are eligible for appointment to the High .Court would regard as being an attractive inducement for them to accept such an appointment. I fail to see why the Australian Labor Party should oppose the measure, particularly in view of the reasons which have been advanced for granting the increases. As I have said, the conduct of opposition senators is inconsistent with previous conduct when looking at increases in salaries, and the reason given by Senator Murphy is vague and inconclusive and not in my opinion any sound reason why this measure should not receive approval.
– I wish to refer to a matter which has been drawn to my attention and to which Senator Greenwood has spoken, namely, allowances to judges. This move is in accordance with the trend that has developed. It began last November when provision for allowances filtered down to public servants.
– Down from where?
– Over the years parliamentarians have had certain allowances. The Leader of the Government (Senator Anderson), according to Senator Greenwood, put those public servants in a similar position to parliamentarians. Of course, that is not correct. The allowances for parliamentarians are used in many ways to meet expenditures that are far beyond what public servants would be called upon to meet. At the time I was very disturbed at this move and that was probably one occasion when I should have got up and spoken but unfortunately I let the opportunity pass. That was the start of a trend that seems to be now developing further and further. If we parliamentarians are asleep on those occasions such provisions go through and ultimately we realise that something new is set up and we say: ‘Why did it ever happen?’ Now we see that allowances are to flow on to the judiciary. I do not know why they are flowing to the judiciary, whether it be upwards or down, wards. I am very disturbed about this aspect. I agree with Senator Greenwood that members of the judiciary should be paid such a salary that in the positions they occupy they are not subject to influence in any shape or form, bribes or corruption or anything of that nature. They should be well paid people. Here we are setting up something new, as in the Bill in relation to public servants in November last year. 1 feel that this could be something of a serious character so far as the future is concerned. Having started in one field, now it is to flow on to the judiciary. I believe that we shall see it flow on a wider basis to some other field, probably to other public servants. It is a matter that deeply concerns me. I am not in favour of this aspect of the Bill because it is something different.
An argument based on percentage increases is very often used. I heard Senator Greenwood’s very interesting discourse in regard to percentage salary rises applied to parliamentarians and members of the judiciary. We often hear mis comparison made. When persons rise to certain levels of salary, percentage increases cannot be compared to increases on lower levels. For instance, should a parliamentarian get an crease of 50% because a> pensioner gets an increase of 50%? When one gets to a certain stage and is on a high salary he has a high margin over the actual cost of living. He has a bigger margin for saving or for investment or for whatever else it might be. An increase of 50% in the salary of a judge or parliamentarian is a big amount, but an increase of 50% to a pensioner is a matter of not very many cents at all. As a consequence, I do not think that we can take percentages into account because if the same percentage as is applied to a person on a low income is applied to a person on a high income there is no relation between the benefits that are received in each case. This aspect of allowances is something that I should have noticed before. My attention has been directed to it. The legislation has gone beyond what it should provide. I am very concerned and I am not in favour of the allowances provided in the Judiciary Bill.
– At the outset I should like to make clear that I have the utmost respect for members of the judiciary, both Federal and State. I am conscious of the fact that they are men of particular quality in the legal world and for this reason they are entitled to salaries commensurate with the work that they are required to do. However, I have never gone along with the suggestion that we have to pay judges a big salary to put them beyond the temptation of graft, because I do not believe that a high salary will make a dishonest man honest. He is either honest or he is not. If he is not honest he has no right to be in the position and he is a bad selection. The fact that he is getting a princely salary will not prevent him from being dishonest if he has that inclination and if he can be whispered to on different issues that come before him. The other aspect is that the people who accept appointments to the judiciary make a tremendous sacrifice in taking these positions. I occupied a position that gave me the privilege of offering appointments to the judiciary to certain men of the legal fraternity. Although they were allegedly men who were earning big incomes at the Bar, I never experienced any hesitation on anyone’s part in accepting a position in the judiciary when it was offered to him. In one case the gentleman concerned merely asked that he be given time to clean up what he had on hand, to pass it on to somebody else and tidy up his business.
– You have never had any refusals in your time as Premier?
– No refusals. Senator Byrne may be able to corroborate me on this, but I think there was in the memory of the legal fraternity of Queensland only one refusal. I refer to Mr A. D. McGill, K.C., who was Leader of the Bar at the time. I think he refused a judgeship but I have never heard of anyone else refusing.
– It is not necessarily typical of everywhere in Australia.
– That may be so. I am just giving my experience. I have never had any refusal. These appointments were offered to men who were allegedly receiving an income much in excess of a judge’s salary. So the prestige of being a judge must be assessed pretty highly, that is, if all that has been said about the incomes of barristers is based on fact. But judges, in addition to receiving a good salary receive many privileges that are never mentioned, the chief of which, I say, is the non-contributory pension, which is a great concession that is not enjoyed by any other section of the people. Everybody else is required to contribute to some scheme to provide for old age. As far as the Federal court is concerned, members of the judiciary have no retiring age. In Queensland judges have a retiring age. 1 believe that there should be a retiring age, subject to a medical certificate. One does not need to be a medical man to know that, on their appearance, some judges are beyond doing an active job on a court. These are matters to which regard must be had.
The question of the salaries of judges is always contentious. Some people believe that judges should not receive as much as they do. I am not arguing so much along that line. I agree with Senator Murphy that the timing of this legislation was pretty poor. I do not go along with the idea that any increase in the salaries of judges must be dependent on the decision of an arbitration court on a claim by a union. If we waited for every application and every log of claims before the arbitration court to be tidied up, the judges would be past the retiring age before they received an increase in salary. Some arbitration courts do not work with great expedition.
Whilst the judges do not have the chance of fixing their own salaries, at least we do. I have great admiration for those who constitute the top brass in the Public Service. They do not muck about. Whilst we might have some qualms about increasing salaries, they advise the Prime Minister what they believe is fair for parliamentarians - although they do not actually tie us to the lower grades of the Second Division, by coincidence the salaries are similar - and once they get the parliamentarians out of the road they have an open field for themselves; and, by Jove, they do not display any modesty in estimating their own values.
– They are not backward.
– No, they are not. The increases that the high public servants recommended for themselves were-
– Pretty rich.
– Yes, pretty rich. The increases were a compliment to their - not courage; I would not call it that-
– That was the word I was searching for. Let me refer now to the Bills. Like Senator Murphy, I am concerned about the timing of this legislation. I am also concerned about the effect in the minds of members of the public of increasing the salaries of judges in the dying days of this session instead of leaving it until the Budget session in August, when the Government will be bringing down a Budget and will be required to disclose what increases it intends to give to pensioners, recipients of child endowment and other sections of the community who are less fortunate than members of the judiciary.
– The honourable senator would say that the timing was bad then, too, would he not?
– No, I would not. I believe that that is the appropriate time for it to be done. I would like to see this debate adjourned and held over until the August session of the Parliament, when we could determine the matter in the light of what the Budget contains. I am not saying that the judges are overpaid; but they certainly are not in immediate want, whereas there are pockets of poverty that we should be concerned about alleviating.
Senator Wood referred to the additional allowances for judges. Just before Senator Wood spoke, Senator Greenwood said that judges almost live the life of a hermit; that they are in a cloister, as it were; that they do not mix. I see a lot of them about from time to time.
– How can one spend anything if one does not mix?
– That is what I am saying. If one lives a cloistered life one is not saying to people every day: ‘Come and have one’, and one is not going to the races. What Senator Greenwood says is not so. Judges do not lead a cloistered life. What is more, wherever they go they invariably go free of charge. When they go to the races they are guests of the race clubs. The club concerned invites them to luncheon. They have a day out at the races, whenever they go.
– They are given good information, too.
– If they were dependent on race club officials for good information, they would often lose, because I have never known a race club official1 to give a good tip. Those are my feelings on this matter. I would like Senator Wright to give some consideration to adjourning this debate and holding it over until August. Let us have a look at it. I suggest that he might look seriously at the question of allowances, to which reference has been made by two members of his own Party. I do not know that the allowances are justified. If they cannot be justified, they have no right to be in the Bill Let us be sure of what we are doing in this connection. If we are, we will save the members of the judiciary a lot of criticism.
– in reply- We are considering a Bill to increase the salaries of the judiciary of the Commonwealth. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) has acknowledged that on a comparison with salary increases granted to other people in the community the increases proposed in this Bill are on a fairly equal basis. He has been good enough to inform us that in 1903 the salary of the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia was the equivalent of $7,000 a year. Under this Bill, the proposed salary is $30,000, plus an allowance of $2,000. That means that the Bill proposes for the judiciary roughly a fourfold increase over the time span from 1903 to 1969. If it is relevant - I wish to show to the Senate that it has only an insubstantial relevance - I point out that during that period the basic wage has increased about eightfold. ‘ Senator Murphy - I think the cost of living index has increased about sixfold in that time.
– If one takes the cost of living into account, one can make adjustments. Then if one does as Senator Murphy did, namely, takes into account the income tax imposed, one can make further adjustments. I point out that on Senator Murphy’s figures the proposed increase in salary, with tax deducted, is about twofold over the period since 1903. He brought out the fact that the salary of the Chief Justice after tax will be $14,046, which is about twice the salary in 1903. I suggest that that is no more than a consideration on which a mind should pause in passing. It is not a determinant factor, in my view. I mention it only to show that it is conceded that the progression in the salaries of judges bears comparison with that in the remuneration of other classes of people in the community during the existence of federation. That is the first matter that I wanted to deal with in my reply. As my colleague wishes to make a statement which I think will be of real interest to the Senate, I ask for leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - In view of the misinformed and misleading Press comments, and comments by persons on television and radio, I thought it desirable to make a statement about the Swedish film, ‘I Love, You Love’. This film has been entered in the Sydney and Melbourne film festivals and was imported under the special arrangements agreed between myself and the festival organisers. These arrangements, which were well known to and agreed by the organisers, were that films could be imported for exhibition at the Sydney and Melbourne film festivals, without any cuts, for a single showing at each festival. This would apply to films which, on normal standards, might have been cut when shown for commercial exhibition. The exception to this important concession was that any film, which would normally be rejected in its entirety because of obscenity, indecency, or blasphemy, would also be rejected for exhibition at festivals.
This Swedish film was examined by the Film Censorship Board and, because of a number of incidents portrayed in the film, was rejected in its entirety by the Board. In accordance with the terms of the arrangement, this precluded release of the film to the festivals. Because of the importance I attach to film festivals, the Chief Film Censor referred the film to me and I viewed it. I had no hesitation in upholding the decision of the Film Censorship Board. At his request, I agreed to see Mr Stig Bjorkman the Director of the film, to discuss the reason for its rejection. This meeting took place this morning.
We had a detailed and frank discussion. I pointed out to Mr Bjorkman the reasons the film had been rejected, and indicated to him that, if the film were being shown for commercial exhibition, it would have been necessary to delete certain parts of the film. However, in accordance with the arrangement with the film festivals, permission would have been granted to show these parts. However, there was one scene which was so blatantly in contravention of the film censorship regulations that I could not give permission for it to be shown, even under these special arrangements. This scene depicts a nude couple on the bed. The female is obviously 7 months pregnant. She was sitting astride the male and face to face with him. They were engaged in conversation and actions of a distinctly sexual nature. To show this scene to any audience would be in contravention of the censorship laws of the Commonwealth.
Following Mr Bjorkman’s representations to me that the scene could be misunderstood, I undertook to ask the Film Censorship Board to view the film again in the light of his comments. This has now been done. The scene was viewed this morning by all members of the Board. They have since reported to me that their views are unchanged. I would like to emphasise to the Senate that a year ago I gave special concessions to film festivals. I cannot, however, ignore the laws of this Parliament. Hence I am prepared to release this film to the festival organisers only if the offending scene is deleted by the director to my satisfaction. I assure the Senate that the matter has been carefully reviewed. This is not a decision which has been taken in haste. While the film censorship laws are as determined by the Parliament, this scene cannot be shown even at a film festival.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended I had referred to the progress, proportionately to that of other members of the community, of salaries of the judiciary since the date of Federation. I did not then refer particularly to the allowances of members of Parliament. The position is that whereas the allowance of the judiciary has increased about fourfold since Federation, the actual basic allowance Of members of Parliament has increased about tenfold since that date and the electorate allowance of members of Parliament has increased about sixfold. Those are the observations I make so far as mere figures are concerned.
Here, however, we are dealing with an institution and the officers who comprise that institution. I submit that anybody who has given any thought to the importance of our society at present will regard the judiciary as the keystone of our community. It originally earned this unique tradition by standing four square against authority in the protection of individual liberties. As some honourable senators have reminded us, in the last 25 years the Federal judiciary has earned such a reputation that today the High Court of Australia is said to be the prestige court of the English speaking world. Anybody who reminds himself of the challenges that the High Court has had to have the quality to withstand in postwar Australian history must feel nothing but intense gratitude to the High Court. I only remind honourable senators that the members of the High Court judiciary have the special function of standing midway between the Commonwealth and the States in the determination of constitutional issues of that magnitude. They have the traditional role of standing independently and impartially between the executive government of the country, the Administration of the .country, and the private citizen.
When we realise the degree to which the bureaucracy of the country has gathered strength and how energetic the executive of the country has ‘been at all times to develop power, the degree of reliance that we still place upon the judiciary is of such a unique character that it should not escape us on an occasion like this. Over the course of three centuries, it has earned the gratitude of every individual who has had to resort to it for the protection of his freedom or his individual liberty in such a way as to make British justice - which means individual rights as established by the courts - a precious possession.
I emphasise that on this occasion it is the institution that we are considering and that, as a Parliament, we ought to recognise the fundamental and unique importance of that institution. It is for that reason that I abstain from any reference to any personal occupant of the Bench because, even at .Bar gatherings, whenever I have been called upon to propose the toast of the judges, I have always, except on one occasion, uniformly adopted the practice of toasting the judges of Her Majesty, without reference to particular persons. On this occasion I think we would do well to remind ourselves of that.
– Why judges of Her Majesty? Are not they the judges of the Commonwealth?
– They have been traditionally styled ‘Her Majesty’s judges’, and that is a title that is extremely prized. Of course, they are also the judges of the Commonwealth. All I am saying - and Senator Murphy will not distract me from it - is that it is the objective evaluation of the institution and the appropriate remuneration to be paid to those who comprise that institution that we are considering.
I have heard it said that we should consider this question in the context of the Budget. I have heard it said that we should consider it in the context of a fixation of pensions and salaries in a whole national conspectus. In my view, nothing would be more damaging to the institution of the judiciary. It would be damaging firstly because here we are not considering pensions that accrue after a judge’s service is terminated; we are considering the remuneration that should be voted by us as representatives of the country to a judge for his services in discharging the duties of his office.
I suggest that it is a complete mistake to think that the problem of an appropriate increase to make in judicial salaries has any relationship with a general pension that is voted out of Consolidated Revenue, whether it be the age pension, the invalid pension, the unemployment benefit or the miscalled repatriation pension. All of these are social service matters or matters of compensation for injury after service. What we are considering is the remuneration that should be voted by way of salary for the discharge of the actual duties of a judge. Therefore, if I may, I urge most strongly that it would be entirely inappropriate to bring in a measure of this sort in a time sequence associated with increases in parliamentary salaries or in a time sequence associated with increases in those Public Service salaries which are dealt with in the Parliament.
We have always sought to emphasise the uniqueness of the service discharged by a judge. He is not, of course, in any sense a servant of the Executive, whereas the heads of departments are nothing other than that, being persons occupying great independent offices who are called upon for a great skill and judgment -
– They are not servants of the Executive. They are servants of the public.
– Indeed they are, but the elected members of the government of the day are the more directly chosen servants of the public. They are the directors of the public business, and they rely upon the heads of their departments for the discharge of duties to carry out their functions. That is why great confidence has to be reposed in the Public Service and why in recent times it has been necessary to remind many of us that confidence begets confidence and must be preserved with great integrity. But it will be a sad mistake and a great degredation of the judiciary if ever we get to the stage where we bracket with the office of a public servant, however exalted, a judgeship because a judgeship must have that degree of independence, that remoteness from the affairs of government and that quality of character that enables an occupier of the office to discern the true principle whereby he should lay down the line beyond which the Executive shall not encroach, and on the other side of which, the individual is always protected.
– What about the political appointments to the judiciary, now that you have extended yourself on this issue? You will not deny that there have been such appointments.
– I would suggest that there would be very few persons with am insight into the real quality of the persons appointed to the bench who would suggest that, even with the political experience of some judges, the person concerned has not earned, by those qualities of independence, knowledge and character the appointment to the judiciary in Australia. I would submit that politics enters very little, or not to any material degree, into the generality of appointments to the Australian judiciary.
I hope I have made the point that it is imperative, in my view, to dissociate our function here today in considering judicial salaries from the function of altering political salaries and the salaries of heads of departments or quantifying pensions that should be given at Budget time to the great general sections of our community.
I advert now to the second argument that Senator Murphy adduced. To me it was indeed surprising when he said that he opposed this proposal because it was untimely - untimely in the sense that it was introduced in a period of industrial unrest and because some of the people whose salaries are to be adjusted by this measure have the duty to adjudicate upon matters associated with that industrial unrest. Whenever we get a government in Australia that is going to delay or deny proper remuneration to the judiciary on an occasion of industrial unrest then it will be a case for the government to consult its own conscience and, I would hope, the electorate. This Government thinks so much of the judiciary’s independence that, when justice is due by way of an increase in remuneration, it believes that such justice should be neither delayed nor denied because some unions, not with the blessing of their government - that is, the Australian Council of Trade Unions - promote industrial unrest and discord in the country. That is exceedingly significant on this occasion. Senator McManus, who represents one of the two Labor Parties in this country, recalled that the efforts of Mr O’Shea and his associates were not only directed to eliminating the penal clauses of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act but also aimed directly at the destruction of the industrial arbitration system of this country. To suggest that the judiciary itself should be denied justice in respect of its emoluments because there was a period of discord is an effort to subordinate the judiciary to the mob efforts of disrupted industry and irresponsible unionism. I have made it clear at all times that industrial equity is one of the purposes of my life, but I will not stand here silently while the Leader of the Opposition says that one of the reasons why the Australian Labor Party is voting against this Bill is because its introduction coincided with a misguided, irresponsible and disruptive effort on the part of disaffected trade unionists.
– Do not say that I said that.
– And in so doing the honourable senator is joining those unionists who, in the ‘Tribune’ have put themselves up as saying that their cause is aimed at not merely repealing the penal clauses of the Arbitration Act but abolishing the court itself.
– Be your age.
– Notwithstanding the rather juvenile remark of the Leader of the Opposition which rises to the stature of ‘be your age’, I listened to him, if not with respect, at any rate with such degree of silence as to enable me to understand him. I now proceed to the other subject that was first raised by Senator Greenwood, and that is the question of allowances. For some years now parliamentarians have thought that it is not improper, although under the Constitution they can receive only an allowance-
– Do they get the fringe benefits?
– Excuse me, they get many more fringe benefits than do the judiciary. Parliamentarians, under a constitution that permits them to receive not a sal’ary but an allowance only, have thought it proper to give themselves a tenfold increase in salary since 1900 and a five fold increase in the electorate allowance since it began. What is the basis upon which the electoral allowance is paid? When an allowance of that sort is accorded to a responsible officer it is not thought appropriate or necessary to examine the expenditure and the recipient is trusted to expend the allowance in the discharge of his duties. That principle was carried through to the heads of departments by the vote of this Parliament without opposition from any quarter when it accompanied increases of parliamentary salaries and allowances. Now, what is the propriety of the judges’ allowances? I suggest that it would be recognised, on reflection, that a judge is no longer regarded as a recluse or a person isolated from the community. Judges of modern times participate in international conferences not only of a juridical character but also those which have to do with high principles of international law and high purposes such as guiding the world to peace through law as opposed to war. Judges are engaged in interstate conferences.
– We are talking about their salaries.
– I am answering a proposition put with regard to allowances. I am saying that Senator O’Byrne would not know anything about it; nor would he accord his mind the opportunity to assimilate a little knowledge about it. Judges today perform great functions at interstate conferences. On circuits they attend professional conferences and in association with law reform movements they perform signal functions, all of which are associated with an expenditure which in the nature of life today is inescapable.
– Is the allowance in addition to the daily allowance when they are travelling?
– Just as parliamentarians - except ministers - receive a daily allowance for hotel expenses when in Canberra, a judge on circuit receives a daily allowance for his daily routine expenditure. I am referring to the exceptional expenditure that is associated with the duties that have developed for the modern judiciary. When we recall that the Australian judiciary has taken a foremost part in international, interstate and intrastate functions as well as circuit conferences and Australasian conferences, and when we recognise that this principle has been established in Victoria and New South Wales-
– New South Wales?
– In New South Wales and Victoria. When we consider the tasks that have been performed by judges for many years, it ill becomes this Parliament to suggest that the Federal judges are being unduly treated if an allowance is associated with their salaries. Mr Deputy President, I hope that the Senate will recognise the special features by which the judges occupy a unique position and will accord a passage to this measure.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time.
-I move: That progress be reported.
I should like to explain-
-(Senator Drake-Brockman).- Order! The honourable senator may not speak to the motion.
– I ask for leave to make a statement.
– There being no objection leave is granted.
– The reasons which prompt this motion to postpone the final consideration of the proposed legislation have been discussed at some considerable length in the Senate today. Senator Gair has in detail put forward the proposal of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. We dp not oppose the legislation on any ground that would reflect at all upon the judiciary or the conduct of the judiciary. Our attitude on this legislation is purely one of timing. We feel that in the circumstances this matter should be resolved when the Budget is presented. At that time an economic reassessment of the whole condition of the nation’s economy will be placed before the Parliament and all sections of the community which may have some entitlement to the disposition of finance through this Parliament will have their just claims identified and, we trust, honoured.
– Are you suggesting that they are being paid too much?
– I am not suggesting that they are being paid too much. It is just a question of whether at this stage - as Senator Gair said, in the dying hours of the session - we should make a decision when a whole reassessment of the position will soon be before the Parliament.
– What would the reassessment involve?
– The reassessment will involve a consideration of the rights of all others within the community. I think it would be quite illogical to take the attitude that the judges, apparently being in the last line of the consideration of salary emolument increases should for that reason be disentitled to an increase. But as the matter has gone for as long as this, it is a question whether we should indicate to the nation that there are crying injustices which have to be remedied.
I do not think the judiciary should be the stalking horse for the protestations on this matter. Therefore, I feel that the entitlement of the judiciary, when this matter ultimately is disposed of, should certainly be retrospective to the time at which this Bill would operate. If this is done ultimately there will be no disentitlement. But I feel that the nation is expecting that there shall be displayed a sensitivity to the social deprivations that are now occurring within the community. In addition, a complete readjustment of Federal courts is projected in which the distribution of duties and functions of the Federal judiciary will receive governmental attention. Perhaps that would be an appropriate time at which the disposition of the entitlements or emoluments of the whole of the Federal judiciary should receive particular attention. Therefore, on these grounds we feel that it would be opportune to defer further consideration of this legislation, but not ultimately to deprive the judiciary of its entitlement at the proper and appropriate time, that is, as from the date from which this legislation would be otherwise operative.
I wish to make one thing perfectly clear: Insofar as any objection to the proposed increases to the judicial salaries or any deferment of the consideration of this matter in any sense could be interpreted as a reflection on the conduct of the Federal courts, I completely disavow that and we dissociate ourselves from it. What does concern me in taking the action which is suggested now is this: Undoubtedly, this matter has been used and will be used as a vehicle to attack the Federal judiciary at one level or another. I think that that is a most regrettable and deplorable situation. I wish to make it quite clear that the attitude of the Australian Democratic Labor Party on this matter has no association whatever with such actions or the inference that might spring from them. This motion is moved purely on the basis that I have projected already to the Senate.
There are other considerations in these Bills that other honourable senators feel are objectionable. These include a growing phenomenon in the fixing of salaries, particularly judicial salaries. I refer to the question of allowances. This is not a particularly good principle in many areas of life, perhaps less desirable in the area of judicial life. But it is a matter that might well receive the attention of the Government after a period of consideration.
I had intended to move at the secondreading stage for deferment of the Bill. But we considered the fact that Senator Gair proposed to the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) that he might take the opportunity to reflect upon and review the matter. That is why the motion for deferment was left until the Committee stage. That is why the Bill was able to be presented at the second reading. Those, Mr Chairman, are the reasons why I have moved for the deferment. I trust that, as there are some unsatisfactory features of the Bill - I know that thisbelief is in the minds of some Government senators - and as the timing of the legislation may be highly inopportune when viewed against the present economic background, honourable senators will see fit to postpone until the August sittings of the Parliament the further consideration of this projected legislation.
– I ask for leave to make a statement.
– Is leave granted?
SenatorO’Byrne - No.
– I again ask: Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted.
– Will the Minister for Works move for the suspension of standing orders?
– Mr Chairman, I ask. for leave to make a statement.
– Leave has been refused.
– Mr Chairman, I would invite the Minister, if he wants to speak, to move for the suspension of standing: orders.
– How do you come into this?
– Well, I invite the Minister to do this.
Suspension of Standing Orders
Motion (by Senator Wright) agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Wright making a statement in relation to the motion.
– I have listened to Senator Condon Byrne with considerable interest and, if he will permit me to say so with respect, with considerable disquiet. He has expressly disavowed any association with those who denigrate the judiciary and the occupants of judicial positions. But that is a protest which must be recognised as ineffective, because with knowledge of what has gone on in the other place and what has gone on outside in the attack on the judiciary, those who defer this measure cannot escape association with that attack. Secondly, he suggests that any injustice caused by delay will be cured by retrospective provision. Mr Chairman, on more than one occasion the propriety of a retrospective provision has been discussed in relation to judicial salaries. It is not thought to be appropriate to ask independent judges to go on working under their duty of independence and impartiality and, as I say, on matters in which governments have great concern as well as those in which citizens have great concern, under the prospect of a retrospective provision with regard to their own personal remuneration.
Then I come to the third point which is the major proposition that Senator Byrne puts. I myself heard it with very great regret. I would submit that it is the cherished view of all who have respect for the significance of the independence of the judiciary that any question of altering judicial salaries should be one that comes up, even for parliamentary debate, as infrequently as possible. When it does, it surely is a matter upon which there would be a 90% concurrence of viewpoint in the profession that the question of judicial salaries should be separate and apart altogether from the state of the economy, fixation of pensions or tax relief. All these are matters of intrinsic political import. The thing that is imperative in regard to judicial salaries is to isolate any discussion of judicial duties, functions and emoluments from the general political context.
For those reasons, Mr Chairman, I appeal to Senator Byrne, who spoke for the Australian Democratic Labor Party, to reconsider the proposal that this legislation should be postponed, especially if he intends that it be postponed until the Budget period, when it would be debated in the Budget context. I ask him to accord to what I have said about the need for a consideration of judicial salaries in isolation from all political involvements and on a basis on which the matters may be decided by the Parliament with the least delay, so that we will not have the judiciary working with the fear or favour that salaries may be affected by its performance of its work in the interim of delay. These principles are of tremendous importance to the integrity of the institution of the judiciary which, as I said before, is the keystone of the security of our community. In the context in which this motion is put forward, when there is so much challenge to judicial institutions, I would ask that what I have said be given consideration.
– I ask leave to make a statement.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Mr Chairman, the refusal of leave earlier to the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) was a measure of the indignation felt by members of the Opposition at the way in which the Minister has dealt with this Bill. The attitude that we object to has been repeated in the statement which he has just made to the Senate. He had the temerity to state to the Senate that those who support the deferment of the Bill cannot escape association with the attacks which are being made on the courts. What right has he to say that, at all? It is completely wrong. In his reply on this measure the Minister made one of the most provocative speeches, unnecessarily stirring up members of the Opposition and insulting members of the Opposition until they took the attitude that they did not want to hear any more from him. If ever a man has apparently set out to prevent this Bill passing through the Senate, the Minister has. I do not think I have ever seen a more inept handling of a Bill. It was almost a calculated attempt to arouse the indignation of members of the Opposition against allowing this measure to go through.
I must say on behalf of members of the Opposition that we repudiate entirely that we have been making attacks upon the courts. We have adopted a most temperate -approach to this matter. We have explained that although justice was being done to judges, in the sense of balancing their salaries to increases in the cost of living, it was wrong that this should be done sectionally. We have said that neither judges nor any other sections of the community should be singled out for special treatment while the problems of other great sections of the community, which are notoriously deserving of increases in salaries and protection against inflation, are not being attended to. This was a simple enough proposition.
– There are servicemen, for example.
– There are servicemen, pensioners, middle income earners and other people throughout the community. We also pointed out that it was very bad for the Government to introduce this measure at a time when there was industrial turmoil and when many millions of people in the community believed that workers were not getting a fair go and that the processes of arbitration were not working satisfactorily. The Minister turned this proposition into a suggestion that the Opposition was conducting an attack upon the courts. There is no basis for that suggestion at all. It was most improper for the Minister to make that suggestion. Honourable members can see the atmosphere which the Minister has created by his reply in this chamber.
We on the Opposition side have been sorely tempted to agree to the motion which has been moved by Senator O’Byrne because of the provocation that the Minister himself has given to us. But we took the attitude that we should oppose the second reading of the measure. If members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party had desired, they could have supported that attitude. It would not have killed the Bill. The Bill could have been brought up again within an hour, or tomorrow if we were sitting, or in August, because the motion was: ‘That the Bill be now read a second time.’ We made that point clear. That was our attitude. We have taken the stand that all sections of the community are entitled to receive justice and that they should not be left alone. It is not a question of dealing with them all at the same time. It is a question of seeing that justice is done. There is no reason why justice should not be done to the other sections of the community first, for that matter.
We are saying that the Government has introduced discriminatory legislation which deals with one section of the community. I do not know whether the situation will be greatly changed when the Budget is presented in August. It would not be fair to say that this matter would be stood over until August in the expectation that these problems will be dealt with and therefore we could change our minds on the matter - that we could find ourselves supporting the measure instead of opposing it. I do not think that is right. I think that we should take the stand, and the Democratic Labor Party ought to have taken a similar stand, that we oppose this Bill now as a striking indication by this chamber that justice ought to be done to other sections of the community. I think we should be clear on that point. I do not think that it would help simply to adjourn the matter and then perhaps to backdate it. If a statement of principle is to come out of this chamber in this way, I think the proper course is to oppose the Bill and then the Government can set to and do justice to all sections of the community, not merely to one section. Therefore, we will not support the proposal eminating from Senator Byrne.
– I ask for leave to make a statement.
– Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted.
Question resolved in the negative.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wright) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 27 May (vide page 1581), on motion by Senator Wright:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 28th May (vide page 1720), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I hope not to delay the Senate for too long on this Bill. We are setting out to deal with an important Bill, which proposes to distribute to the States over the next 5 years an amount of $ 1,200m for road works, to which will be added a special grant of $52m which is to be distributed between the States of Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania. I think that the fact that this special grant is being made available to these three States - in particular the amount of $40m which is being made available to Western Australia - is a recognition that the new formula as set out in this legislation does an injustice to the State of Western Australia and, to a lesser extent does an injustice to the States of South Australia and Tasmania. I base that statement on the distribution of the special grant of $52m. Nevertheless, as I understand it, the Premier of my State of Western Australia has agreed to the distribution of the Commonwealth aid roads money, and as he has to administer the scheme, it is not for me to be so critical of it.
It is interesting to note that during the past 5-year Commonwealth aid roads programme an amount of $1,1 47m was collected from motor spirit and fuel taxes. During that period only $750m of this money was distributed to the States. So from the total which was collected in motor spirit and fuel taxes, an amount of $397m went to Consolidated Revenue. If we project over the next 5 years the collections of revenue from this source we see that there will be an 8% increase. I reject the assessment of the Bureau of Roads that the increase will be 5%, because in every statement that I have seen from the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) relating to the increase in the use of motor spirit and such fuels in Australia the rate mentioned has been from 8% to 9%. I therefore take the figure of 8% as being the figure generally accepted, rather than that used by the Bureau of Roads.
On that basis, in the next 5 years the Commonwealth will collect $459m more than the $ 1,252m that is to be distributed in that period. If the estimate of the Bureau of Roads regarding the rate of increase is taken, the excess over the amounts being granted to the States will be $3 14. In either event, there will1 be a considerable increase of revenue from this source while we will be required to continue to use roads that are not suited to present day traffic. I believe that the Government should consider allocating for roads purposes all the revenue collected from the tax on fuels. We of the Opposition believe that the people who provide this revenue expect to have the total amount spent for their benefit. I may say in passing that the States are being starved of road funds. This is particularly so in the case of the larger States with small populations where roads have to be constructed over great distances. While the States are being starved of road funds, the Commonwealth is in effect compelling them to construct sub-standard roads. Such roads are not suitable for the traffic that has to use them, particularly the heavier vehicles which are using the roads in ever increasing numbers.
As honourable senators will be aware, most of the roads are constructed with a gravel base and a bitumen top. In wet weather the gravel becomes almost mobile and as soon as a heavy vehicle is driven on it the road is thrown out of balance and becomes a hazard for the driver of every vehicle that uses it. Until adequate revenues are allocated for road purposes we will not be able to reduce our road toll or our transport costs. It should be remembered that transport costs ultimately flow to the consumers. Those costs are not absorbed by industry. They become a charge upon the products that are produced and finally make their way to the wage earners and other consumers in the community, lt is those people who have to meet these additional costs. They could be saved at feast some of the burden if transport costs were reduced.
Can we allow the slaughter on our roads to continue? Should we not do all that we can - and I say that we are not doing sufficient - to reduce the road toll? The road toll in Austrafia is greater per 10,000 vehicles than in any comparable country in the world. As we all know, motor cars, which are the main sources of road accidents, are being built to travel faster. Bigger motor cars are being produced all the time. Yet we are not providing roads that are adequate for the use of such vehicles. The toll of the road is 8.1 for every 10,000 vehicles in Australia. That is a much higher rate than the rate in the United States of America where it is approximately 5 per 10,000 vehicles. The Americans have denser traffic but they have given attention to their road systems.
In 1967-68, 3,249 people were killed on our roads and 81,000 people were injured. We can imagine the loss that that occasioned in terms of production, even if we think only of the 81,000 people who were injured. If we take the average time off work as a result of road accidents as one week, we can imagine the extent of lost production that Australia suffers. In addition, of course, there is the loss which results from the deaths of 3,249 people on the roads. It can be seen, therefore, that hundreds of thousands of dollars must be spent in bringing migrants to this country to replace the people who have been injured or killed on the roads. There is no net gain in terms of migration until we have replaced those 3,249 people who have been killed.
– Is that annually?
– That was the figure for 1967-68. I have not given the figures for other years because I do not want to prolong the debate, but I suggest that the 1967-68 figure illustrates the point I am making. That is an enormous number of people to be lost. I suggest that money spent to prevent accidents on the roads with the consequent death or injury of so many people, would not be wasted. It would be an effective means of reducing transport costs as well. As we know, it is estimated that transport costs account for approximately 25% of all industry costs today. That is a very high figure. If we wish to reduce costs for our export industries we must improve our transport. Whenever the workers apply for an increase in wages they are told: ‘This will be a charge on the costs of production. We will be pricing ourselves out of the world’s markets.’ I contend that we are pricing ourselves out of the world’s markets by not making valiant efforts to reduce transport costs in industry.
Australia is a large country with a small population. It lacks an adequate rail system. As everyone knows, there are few railways in the north of Australia other than those that have been constructed in Western Australia recently in connection with the minerals industry. In fact, there are relatively few railways in the southern part of Western Australia. The Western Australian State Shipping Service is being eased out of the transport industry. More and more of the trade is being taken over by road transport. If that trend continues we will need better roads and cheaper transport services in the outback areas. This points to the necessity for greater expenditure on the roads. The allocation of funds to Western Australia has been drastically reduced. That is recognised by the Commonwealth in these additional grants of $52m.
As the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) knows, Western Australia is developing very fast. In fact its rate of development is so fast that the State cannot generate sufficient funds to cope with all the public services that are required. Yet we find legislation of this kind which stipulates that in addition to the funds that are being provided by the Commonwealth the States must increase their contribution for the construction and maintenance of roads. In that way the Commonwealth is restricting the States in the expenditure of funds for the benefit of the whole community. Having regard to the terms on which loans and grants are made by the Commonwealth to the States, the States are getting into a position where they will no longer be able to control their own budgets. Each grant te a State which provides for the provision of revenue by the State on a matching basis takes away from the State control of its own affairs to that extent and deprives it of the degree of flexibility which would enable it to meet emergencies or other situations that might arise.
Over the past 10 years Western Australia has brought into production about 8 million acres of land. This has meant a very big extension of our roads system. On this land we have been producing mainly export commodities and as a result have been able to improve our balance of payments. We think that the State should be given a greater sum and that we should be accorded more favourable terms than are being accorded lo us under this legislation.
The State governments have to impose certain obligations upon local government authorities, which have few avenues from which to raise funds to obtain matching grants from the States. The local authorities can raise funds only by borrowing, by grants from other authorities or by increasing their rates. When we note that almost 40c in every $1 collected by the local authorities are used to pay interest on loans that have been raised to carry out their functions, we realise that it is almost impossible for them to raise further loans in order to match State grants. Very soon all the money that they raise will be used to pay interest, because their debt is growing constantly.
Some of the local authorities in Western Australia say that unless they are soon afforded some relief there will have to be an increase of 20% in rates. This money will have to be spent on certain roads; no flexibility outside the terms of the legislation will be allowed. One can imagine what an increase of 20% in rates will mean to producers in country areas. Already the producers are troubled by the low prices received for wool and the quotas that are being placed on the production of wheat. They are not able to grow the quantity of wheat and other cereals that they would like to grow. An increase of 20% in rate3 will lead to a reduction in the standard of living of these people. These are matters that the Treasurer should look at when he meets the representatives of the States. I do not know whether the Premier of Western Australia has put this argument forcefully. I do not accuse him of not doing so, but it has been said that he has not and that he has been prepared to go along with the Commonwealth Government and take whatever it gives him. Unless these arguments are put forcefully, Western Australia will start to slip back.
I urge the Government to free the hands of the local government authorities. I did note a statement in the Press recently to the effect that the Western Australian Government had met representatives of the local authorities and that they had come to some arrangement, but I do not know what the arrangment was. 1 can speak only of conditions as I know them and repeat that information from the local authorities indicates that if this legislation is passed there will have to be a 20% increase in rates. I urge the Government to allocate for road purposes all the revenue that is collected from sales of motor spirit and automotive diesel fuel. I urge the Government to institute a national transport policy and to integrate all forms of transport in an effort to reduce the cost of transport. 1 move:
At the end of motion add: ‘but regrets the Government’s continuing refusal to plan expenditure of an amount at least equivalent to the proceeds of all the automotive fuel taxes on roads and associated facilities.’
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) - Is the amendment seconded?
– 1 second the amendment.
– I rise to speak briefly but that brevity should not be taken as an indication of a back of interest in the Bill. I indicate my opposition to the amendment and my support for the Bill. The Federal Government has displayed a very realistic attitude to the needs of the States by increasing from $750m to $ 1,252m the funds that are to be allocated for road purposes in the next 5 years. This increase is based on a survey by the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads which took into account population trends and other factors. Following the report of this body the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) announced that it was proposed to provide SI, 252m, or an increase of 67% on the sum provided over the past 5 years. The new arrangement will not require the States to match Commonwealth expenditure as before. The States will be obliged merely to raise their own expenditure in line with the increase in car registrations.
With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate in Hansard three tables showing the total amounts provided for the period 1959-64, the period 1964-69, and the 5-year period we are now discussing, together with the payments to South Australia.
The importance of the Commonwealth aid for roads in this period is shown in the following table which shows the total revenue received for roadworks in South Australia for the years for which statistics are available:
The distribution of the Sl,252m resulting from the new formula is set out in the table below:
It will be seen that South Australia’s portion of the total grant for 1959-64 was 11.4%, for 1964-69 it was 11.45%, and that under the latest proposal it will be 10.3% or a drop of 1.1%. This has been brought about to a large extent by the special grant section of the new allocations.
The only way in which the treatment that South Australia has received can be measured is to compare it with the treatment meted out to Western Australia. Under the Commonwealth Aids Roads Agreement the allocations to South Australia and Western Australia are in the ratio of 3:4, or $123m to S160m. This allocation was based on the recommendation of the Federal Bureau of Roads. However, when the special grants were decided they were in the ratio of 1:4, or S9.8m to S40m. This allocation bears absolutely no relationship to the previous recommendations but is based on an arbitrary increase of 50% over the next 5 years. No reasons were given for choosing this figure or for departing from the ratio of 3:4 recommended by the Bureau of Roads. Neither I nor the South Australian Government wants to argue about Western Australia’s share. What does concern us is the amount that South Australia is to receive. I support the remarks of Premier Steele Hall when he said:
I could not imagine more disgraceful treatment by the Commonwealth than South Australia received on the issue of special grants. The Commonwealth has played favourites to an outrageous degree and has ignored the recommendations of the Federal Bureau of Roads.
The Commonwealth is asking us to accomplish with $129m what Western Australia has to accomplish with $200m. 1 know we are efficient in South Australia but 1 don’t claim we are as good as that.
The other States recognised Mr Hall’s claim. Mr Brand said that he was justified in his claim. The net result is that the Eyre Highway will probably remain unfinished and will be a blot on our national roads system. It will discourage tourists and tend to encourage an isolationist outlook between States. The Stuart Highway will remain in a similar condition. I urge the Federal Government to reconsider its recent refusal of a special grant of $10m to complete the Eyre Highway, and although I do not intend to cross swords with the Government at this early period of my career I give warning that if there is any repetition of this I shall take all of the action at my disposal to correct the situation. I oppose the amendment and support the Bill.
has said that for the first time the Commonwealth is initiating some sort of plan, we put it to the Parliament and to the country that there is no such plan. All that has happened is that a new formula has been devised, as a result of which many of the States have been left in the position where they are still suffering a great number of disabilities. Although I compliment Senator Cameron on his maiden speech of some days ago, I am rather surprised that he should rise in the Sen-ate, say that he considers that the Commonwealth Government took a realistic view in respect of this piece of legislation and then go on to criticise the Government and repeat what Mr Hall, the Premier of South Australia, said in respect of the amount which had been allocated to South Australia. There is no doubt from any point of view that over the years South Australia has not received the treatment that it should have received in the distribution by the Commonwealth Government of moneys available for road construction. In particular, it has never received the sort of assistance that it should have received for roads which are of some concern to the Commonwealth.
I refer particularly to the Eyre Highway which is in fact now accepted as a national road. It is not simply a South Australian road, lt has not been bitumenised because successive State governments have not been able to do this work owing to the very heavy expenditure involved. This is a national road the improvement of which should have been financed from Commonwealth moneys. As is well known, the Premier of Western Australia, most of the tourist associations and most of the road user associations supported this proposal when it was put up by the Walsh Government, earlier by the Playford Government, and since by the Dunstan and Hall Governments. We cannot understand why the Commonwealth does not accept its responsibility by acknowledging that this is a national road, used mainly by interstate travellers and transport operators from other States. The task of completing this road will be great and it will not be completed in the time in which it should be completed on the basis of a national plan.
The second road that I wish to mention is the road from Port Augusta to Woomera which is used almost exclusively by Commonwealth vehicles or by people who are on Commonwealth business in connection with the Woomera Rocket Range. Operations at Woomera will be more extensive than they have been. In the past 2 or 3 days 1 have asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) whether, because of the establishment of the new Australian-American telecommunication bases, the Government might accept an obligation to consolidate and bitumenise the newly constructed road to the Woomera Rocket Range. As the Senate knows, this request has been refused. Regularly, when there are very heavy rains, this road is flooded. These are two obligations which the Commonwealth Government should accept as a national matter. 1 am surprised that Senator Cameron should say: ‘The Government might get away with it this time but I threaten that next time it does something like this, I will do something about it.’ It seems to me that some Liberal senators are only kidding themselves. If they want the Commonwealth Government to do something for South Australia they should fight for it. They certainly should fight for these two projects in South Australia.
– Would you not support a caucus decision?
– I am putting a case and South Australian Liberal senators should support South Australia. If the honourable senator believes in fighting the Commonwealth Government to get a fair deal for his State I will support him. In respect of the two roads that I have mentioned there is a clear case for the Commonwealth to provide more than it is providing. Let me put before the Senate some facts in relation to the Eyre Highway. The honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb) recently directed this question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport:
The Minister replied:
Initially during the war years private contractors and the Army were used to construct this section of interstate road. While the Minister talks about a plan, what has been proposed by the Government is that in future the States will have to bear a greater burden in this direction. On 19th March 1969, in reply to a question about this piece of legislation the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) said:
The amounts made available under the supplementary grant were, I think, those just mentioned by the honourable member. It was here that the Premier of South Australia took exception. While I believe that he put a very forceful and strong case for his own State, there is room for argument whether what he proposed or some other method might have been more appropriate.
So the Treasurer accepts that there is a case to be made out for South Australia. Later in the same reply he said that the States would be obliged to accept greater responsibility. I do not want to occupy very much time because of the circumstances, but I want to make it clear that Senator Cant’s amendment is supported not only by the Opposition but by most of the people concerned with roads. It is supported by transport organisations. We have said for many years that all of this revenue ought to be allocated for use in road construction. Between 1958-59 and 1968-69 revenues collected by the Commonwealth in the form of excise and customs duties on petrol and diesel fuel totalled $ 1,930m. The Commonwealth has paid to the States for roads over the same period $l,131m. This means that there is an excess of nearly $800m which has been paid into Consolidated Revenue and which ought properly to be allocated to new roads.
There are no reports about what the Government is to do about the new container developments and the recommendations of the Senate Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes. Overseas, in the United States of America, for example, the general position is that the total roads expenditure by Federal, State and local authorities is roughly equivalent to the receipts from user taxes at all levels. In that country the user taxes even include taxes on automobile parts and tyres. So, the revenue from those taxes is turned over to road construction, too.
For those reasons, and also for the reasons Senator Cant put forward, I support his amendment. He referred to congestion and lack of safety. It has been estimated by Australian engineers that at the present time congestion on the roads is costing Australia about $ 1,000m a year.
The congestion results from bad construction, holdups at railway crossings and badly designed roads. These problems have to be met some time. The only way they will be met is by adopting a national plan and by the Commonwealth Government adopting all the policies that we are putting forward in this debate.
– 1 support the Bill and oppose the amendment. The Bill embodies a 5-year plan for road development throughout Australia in which the Commonwealth Government has come to the party in a much bigger way than ever before. This is an effort to keep pace with the development of cars, trucks and road transport generally. In more recent years road transport has become an essential part of the Australian way of life. The heavy trucks in particular need pretty sound roads to carry them. This trend has been accentuated by the decline in coastal shipping since the Second World War. With our coastal shipping system, if a person wanted goods brought by boat to one of the outports the service was unreliable. He did not ever know when he would receive the goods. Under the road transport system he can have loadings brought from the bigger centres of population, or wherever the goods have to come from, within 1 day or 2 days at the most, and sometimes overnight.
Road transport has been proved to be of great value in the current drought in Queensland. Nearly every motor truck that will carry livestock is working day and night and is booked up weeks ahead. The road transport operators are trying to utilise the beef roads that have been built. They are also utilising the ordinary highways. They are bringing stock from the drought areas into the southern part of New South Wales where plenty of feed and water is available. Around Charleville the transports are going day and night - almost constantly - bringing sheep and cattle from the western areas of Queensland to areas where there is good pasture and water.
Some sections of our highways have been proved to be weak links because not enough construction work has been done on them. One noticeable section is that between Charleville and Cunnamulla. The road transport operators are charging a premium to run over that section. It is cut up very badly. If there is a shower of rain they have a lot of trouble there. There is another weak link because a road has not been built at all. 1 refer to a road leading out of the Gulf country towards Charters Towers. We would like it to be built at an early date. We hope that some of this money can be diverted to it
In the past, 40% of Commonwealth aid roads funds had to be spent on rural roads. Under the new formula the amount to be spent on rural roads will be only 32%. But that 32% of the much larger sum granted will be considerably more than the 40% that has had to be spent on rural roads up until now. Therefore, in my State of Queensland at least it will be possible to spend more money on rural roads. The 40% allocation that the shire councils have had to spend on rural roads has helped them. It has enabled a considerable amount of road work to be done in the interests of farmers and graziers and on very easy conditions as far as the councils are concerned. lt has helped the finances of the councils and has helped people to get roads. I hope that those conditions can continue and that councils will be able to build even more access roads. In the past the councils have used their money mostly on access roads. These roads enable many primary producers to get. to their markets and provide communication. The scheme has been a milestone in road construction in rural areas. I hope that there will be a lot more road construction in rural areas in the future.
There are to be vastly increased road grants for urban areas in which in the past the States and the urban councils have had to use their own resources. Now the States will be able to use on country highways some of the money, which they have had to spend on urban areas in the past. I believe that this will be the general setup. Consequently more money will be spent on the great length of highways. In Queensland we have many more miles of highways than have many other States. As has been mentioned, the States are required to increase their spending in proportion to increases in their new car registrations. This will impose some liability on the States, but they will be receiving car registration fees to offset that liability.
I refer now to another road in Queensland which I believe should receive special attention. Some beef roads money has been allocated for it, but it needs a lot more money. I refer to the road from Cooktown right up to the top of the Cape York Peninsula - a distance of about 400 miles. The area from Weipa north has nearly 10,000 Australians. No other part of Australia which has that many people has no road access whatever. It is possible to get to Weipa in dry times in a four-wheel drive vehicle. There are not very many natural difficulties. One big river - the Jardine River at the top end - has to be crossed. I believe that that road should receive urgent consideration and a high priority from the State and Federal governments in order to open up a new province in Queensland. I support the Bill and oppose the amendment.
– Like other senators, I congratulate Senator Cameron on his entry into the Senate. I trust that, subject to the difficulties that confront all politicians, his stay in the Senate will be pleasant and that his contributions will lead to the advancement not only of his own State of South Australia but also of Australia.
This measure is new in the history of Australia. The approaches to the problem embodied in it are new. Of course, as the years go on we will have to be satisfied that the procedures adopted will be to the advantage of all concerned. I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott), who represents the Minister of Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair), whether he will give some explanation of why the statistical divisions of the capital cities have been used rather than the boundaries of the respective capital cities. Let me use his capital city of Perth as an illustration and then turn to Brisbane, the capital city from which I come. I believe that this will give us a better appreciation of the areas in which I suggest there may be some difficulties.
In Perth the statistical division ranges from Wanneroo in the north to SwanGuildford in the east and Rockingham in the south. I believe that generally speaking that would be a fair description of the statistical division of Perth. In Brisbane the statistical division goes as far north as Caboolture, as far south as Beaudesert and as far west as Moreton. I would appreciate advice from the Minister on the allocation of the funds. Are the funds to be allocated from the Federal Government to the State governments, which in turn will allocate funds to, say, the Perth City Council and the Brisbane City Council for expenditure in those statistical divisions? If such is not the case, I fail to see why the legislation is not based on what we know as the city boundaries. If it is intended that the money be allocated to the respective city councils for them to spend on roads in the statistical divisions, I suggest that there will be innumerable difficulties. Again I cite as an example the Brisbane statistical division which comprises several local authorities. What will1 be the position with regard to those local authorities? If, on the other hand, the State Government allocates moneys to the local authorities for their respective areas, what will be the situation in an area where no local authority operates? I can envisage some areas where no local’ authority would operate. That appears to me to be a weakness in basing the allocation on the Brisbane statistical division.
I believe that a further weakness in the legislation is the absence of any provision for a right of appeal. All honourable senators would agree that legislation should contain a right of appeal. That is usually the case, but in this legislation there is no right of appeal. Apparently whatever handout the State Government gives to a local authority is its final decision. I submit, with respect, that this is a very wrong procedure and that a local authority should have some right of appeal. In the circumstances in which local authorities find themselves today it would be useless for them to appeal to the State Government.
– To whom does the honourable senator suggest that they should appeal?
– I shall develop that point later. An appeal by local authorities to the Stage Government would be similar to an appeal from Caesar unto Caesar. This has been a common complaint in the past from local authorities which feel aggrieved. They feel that their allocation for road works has not been sufficient, that they have had no authority to which they could appeal other than the person who has been responsible for the allocation in the first place. I was asked by way of interjection to whom the local authorities should have a right of appeal. It is not for me to suggest to whom they should have a right to appeal, but 1 think some provision for an appeal should be written into the legislation. If it were for me to decide 1 would say that an appeal should lie to the Federal Government. It is the Federal Government which provides the money and passes it over to the States which in turn allocate it to the respective local authorities.
– Or spend it.
– For spending. I thought that was understood. I suggest that if there is an appeal, and I believe an appeal should lie, the matter should come back to the Federal Government for a determination of whether a local authority has been given what may be termed in an Australianism a fair go. I. illustrate that point by referring to what has happened in the past. In 1964-65 the grant to the Brisbane City Council under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act was $143,000. In that year the Council paid $88,688 in petrol tax and $75,616 in diesel fuel tax, that is, a total of $164,304. So it can be seen that the Brisbane City Council paid more in petrol tax and diesel fuel tax than it collected from the Commonwealth as a grant under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act. The situation in 1965-66 was similar. The Commonwealth aid roads grant to the Council was $150,190 whereas the petrol tax paid by the Council was $112,429 and the diesel fuel tax was $82,828, a total of $195,257. In that year approximately $45,000 more was paid in tax by a local authority than was received as a Commonwealth aid roads grant. In 1966-67 the difference was almost $49,000. The Brisbane City Council made representations to the State Government, in the course of which it stated in its official document:
The Council in the past has made unsuccessful representations to the State Government for a higher allocation of Commonwealth Aid funds on the basis that in addition to having rural roads within the City boundary which are of equal importance to any in the State, the Council is called on to construct roads to a high standard to meet the density of traffic and the wheel loads operating on them.
I shall not read further from that paragraph but simply precis it by saying that it refers to the fact that all motor vehicles owners are obliged to pay diesel tax. 1 repeat that the appeal has been made to the State Government, but it has nol been heeded. I will not say that it was ignored. I would hesitate to say that any government would ignore representations made by a local authority, but the fact remains that nothing of a positive nature was done. There are other very illuminating facts that bear examination. Again I read from the official document from the Brisbane City Council which states in reference to the roads grant: lt will be seen that from the inauguration of the scheme on 1st July 1950 to 30th June 1967 the allocations to Queensland have been as follows:
The capital city which has a population of 725.000 people, compared with a total of approximately 1 million people in Queensland, received 0.63% of the total allocation whereas the local authorities received 3.52% of the allocation. 1 believe that there is room in some part of the legislation to provide for an appeal to be made to some other authority in relation to the allocation of money by State governments.
It is not my desire to delay the Senate because 1 am aware of its legislative programme. I content myself with saying that I trust that the representations I have made in this direction will be heeded. 1 know that already the State Government has told the Brisbane City Council that its allocation this year will be $600,000, yet the Council is committed this year to spend $2m to implement a traffic report which was introduced conjointly by the State Government and the Council. The difference between the $600,000 which the Brisbane City Council will receive as a grant and the $2m which it will be obliged to spend can come only from the ratepayers of Brisbane. That is wrong. For those reasons, as well as the reasons outlined by Senator Cant, I support the amendment and hope that the Government will agree to it.
– The Commonwealth Aid Roads Bill 1969 lays for this Government the foundation of a national road policy for the first time this century. Road transport is of vital interest to Australia’s citizens and of tremendous importance in every aspect of public life. It is of vital importance to commerce and industry. Roads have an effect on the location of development and on planning for the development of cities, suburbs and country towns. Again, the prospective development of every shire and borough is based on a road system.
The Commonwealth seeks to give most energetic leadership in its attempt to solve the many problems which are evident because of the development of our traffic system. Improved reading has been of great assistance in many ways in rural areas. It has meant the provision of access to properties; it has overcome the disadvantages of distance; it has led to better communications, and it has done much for town and civic development. In fact, improved roading has gone a long way towards achieving that which so many honourable senators aim at achieving - greater decentralisation. I believe, however, that in drafting this Bill insufficient attention has been given to the important aspect of decentralisation. There can be no doubt that the policy laid down so many years ago by the Bruce-Page Government that a certain percentage of Commonwealth moneys should be allocated to the development of rural roads has meant a great dealto the development of Australia.
– It is not Commonwealth money; it is money collected from the States.
– That is quite so. By this Bill, over $600m is to be allocated for the construction and maintenance of roads serving an area of 8,400 square miles while the sum of $58 lm is to be utilised for roads serving 29,591,000 square miles. I think the Commonwealth Government showed great wisdom - perhaps this was because of pressure brought to bear upon it - in not adopting all the recommendations contained in the report of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads. I refer in particular to its wisdom in recognising that there are more important things to consider in planning for the future development of the Commonwealth than the immediate cost benefit analysis to which reference was made in the Bureau’s report.
I could speak of the very many letters that no doubt have been received by all honourable senators from various shires and municipalities relating to the problems with which they are confronted. And these problems are very great. For many years now the mayors of our capital cities have stressed the need for better road systems in the metropolitan areas, and I agree with them. The bottlenecks created in our cities due to the tremendous growth of motor transport as a result of the great improvement in our standard of living must be costing this country million upon millions of dollars. In fact, so great has been this growth that Australia now stands second only to the United States of America in the proportion of motor vehicles to population. In the United States, the proportion is one motor vehicle for every 2.1. people. In New Zealand and Australia, it is one motor vehicle to approximately 2.8 people. In West Germany, it is one vehicle to every 5.5 people. Great credit is due to this and past governments for the work they have done in promoting our development to the point where we must give more attention to our roads.
I submit that the new classifications relating to roads on which moneys are to be spent is an improvement on the old method. With the concurrence of honourable senators, I incorporate in Hansard Appendix V of the report of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads.
Class 1 - Inter-regional Roads.
Roads in rural areas providing for the long distance movements throughout Australia generally between State capital cities.
Roads in rural areas not being Class1 whose main function is to form the principal avenue of communication for movements:
Class 3 - Connecting and Distributing Roads Those roads in rural areas not being Class 1 or 2 whose main function is to form an avenue, of communication for movement:
between important centres and the Class 1 and 2 roads and/or key towns
Class 4 - Land Access Roads
Those roads in rural areas whose main function is to provide for movements between communities or individual properties and roads of higher classification.
Class 5 - Special Purpose Roads
Those roads in rural areas whose main purpose is to provide almost exclusively for one activity or function (e.g., tourist road, timber getting road, etc.), or, a road whose main purpose is to allow or stimulate productive development of an area.
Class 6 - Arterial
Those roads in urban areas whose main function is to perform as the principal arteries for massive ‘through’ traffic movement or which are extensions into urban areas of Class 1 or Class 2 roads.
Class 7 - Sub-arterial
Those roads in urban areas whose main function is to supplement the Class 6 roads in providing for’ through’ traffic movements or which distribute traffic between the Class 6 roads and the local street systems.
Class 8- Residential
Those roads in urban areas whose main function is to provide access to abutting properties predominantly residential.
Class 9 - Special Purpose
Those roads in urban areas (not included in Class 6, 7 or 8) whose main function is to serve a predominantly industrial area or which serve a shopping and commercial centre.
Under the new classifications, roads now included in classes 1 and 2 will in future come under the category of rural arterial and rural sub-arterial roads. Those included in classes 3, 4 and 5 at present, broadly speaking, will be known as other rural roads and those now included in classes 6 and 7 will be known as urban arterial or urban sub-arterial roads.
Some concern has been expressed by many of the municipalities and shires over the fact that States will no longer be required to expend on rural roads 40% of the moneys made available under this legislation. I would point out, however, that no less money will be spent on rural roads under the new formula. In fact, there will be a compounded increase of 5% per annum on the amount spent hitherto. Taken over a period of 5 years, this represents a significant increase.
One point that concerns me greatly is the fact that I have been led to believe that in the past some States have not expended the required 40% on certain roads. I should like some comment from the Minister on this point. It is surprising to think that, although the Commonwealth has allocated moneys on a certain basis certain States apparently have been able to mesmerise the Commonwealth Government over the years and have not spent the money in the way in which it was intended to be spent. The condition of some of their road systems makes this obvious. Under those circumstances, I cannot help but feel that the new method of allocating moneys for road purposes will be an improvement on that adopted hitherto. This Bill is of great national importance and I am confident that it will reflect great credit on the Government at the end of the next 5 years. I hope that at the expiration of that time a system similar to the one now proposed will be adopted. I oppose the amendment submitted by the Opposition. It is most interesting now to find members of the Labor Opposition suggesting something which a Labor Government refused to do when it was in office. I have no doubt that if a Labor Government were in office again it would defer doing what honourable senators opposite now suggest should be done.
– No; I am gazing back into the past. I have not had the experience of being in this Parliament while a Labor Government was in office, but I do know that the honourable member for Mallee in another place (Mr Turnbull) has said that when he was in this Parliament sitting in Opposition while a Labor Government was in office, that Labor Government neglected to do the very things which members of the Labor Opposition here now, by their proposed amendment, righteously suggest should be done. When it was in office, the Labor Government argued that the revenue collected by way of petrol tax and other road taxes should not be related to the actual amount spent on roads. It said that if it were sound to argue that all the money collected by way of petrol tax should be expended on roads then it was equally sound to argue that the whole of the revenue collected by way of excise on beer should be expended on the construction of hotels. The honourable member for Mallee said that the amount collected in one year by the Labor Government by way of petrol tax when he was in Opposition was $17,950,000. Now, of course, if the Labor Party really believed in what it has said today it undoubtedly would have repaid all that money. But, oh no, the Labor Government at that time, holding to a policy which the present Government holds to, retained over $10.5m of that money for Consolidated Revenue and only handed back some $6. 9m to the States. The Opposition is saying today that this Government should do something - and Senator Bishop was very vocal as to what should happen - but it certainly did not do in the past what it now advocates, and 1 believe that its record stands as a condemnation of the amendment which it has moved. 1 oppose the amendment and support the Bill.
– I rise to support the amendment moved by Senator Cant, and in view of Senator Webster’s remarks I propose to continue speaking until1 1 have finished. It is regrettable that Bills of this nature, which are controversial to a fairly high degree, are left until the fag end of the sessional period, and then every attempt is made by the Government to gag the debate, cut down on the number of speakers and cut down the speaking time. This is a Bill that could have been brought into this chamber 6 or 8 weeks ago when the Senate and the other place commenced sitting. Earl’ier in the sessional period the Senate was rising at 5 p.m. on Thursday afternoons because there was no business to deal with.
– If it had not been for the Nimmo report we could have closed up.
– We could have closed up. As an honourable senator has pointed out there were a number of times when this chamber could have been closed down and the work transferred to the following week. But I woul’d say that there is an ulterior motive in what is being done, because the less these controversial Bills are aired the better chance the Government has of escaping public rebellion or resentment, because there is not the opportunity to debate them in the manner in which they ought to be debated when they come before the Parliament of this country. It is significant that for the first time on Bills of this nature two members of the Country Party, Senator Webster who spoke a few moments ago and Senator Lawrie who spoke earlier, said: ‘We do not want any more money for roads.’ This is in essence the very basis of both their contributions to the debate this afternoon. We had Senator Lawrie saying: WeD, we are delighted that we are going to get this reorganisation. Let us build a road from Cooktown to Cape York.’ That is a bit surprising. I did not know he had a property up there. But on the other hand he said that this Bill will give us money for access roads.
If I may adopt a purely parochial attitude - and 1 propose to touch on this matter for a moment - Queensland, because of its vast distances and its extremely long lines of communication is probably the worst off State in this country, and apart from what Senator Lawrie of the Country Party said about a road from Cooktown to Laura, or in that general area, another 200 miles south of this is the Mulligan Highway, which has only about 20 or 30 miles of bitumen. The rest of the road is a disgrace to Queensland and to Australia. There is a long talked about project to upgrade this road if we were able to get the capital, which we would certainly go a long way towards getting with Senator Cant’s amendment. There is a road that should go from Daintree to Bloomfield in Cape York which would cut over 100 miles off the highway between Cairns and Cooktown.
But we do not have to go to the remoter parts of the State, as my colleague Senator Milliner said a few moments ago. Brisbane itself, the capital city of Queensland, is being starved for money for road development, and it is being starved as a result of the attitude adopted by this Government over a long period. It is all very well for the supporters of the Country Party to say: Well, thank you very much. We do not need any more money for roads in our State.’ This is a complete misstatement of fact and an attempt to curry favour with their superior partners in the coalition, the Liberal Party.
The statement that was made by Senator Webster a few moments ago in relation to the past performance of the Labor Party in this matter is away off beam. I think he would do well to remember that in the times be was referring to this country was recovering from a major war and the Labor Party had to bear the sole responsibility for the reorganisation of the country. Today there is an entirely different slant.
We have had 24 years of peace and the Government is still taking the petrol tax and putting it into Consolidated Revenue.
I omitted earlier to convey my congratulations to Senator Cameron on the occasion of his maiden speech. I was not present the other day when be made it. But I congratulate him now and I wish him well. I did note that while he was speaking this afternoon - and as this was not his maiden speech I can criticise it - he made some apologies and then proceeded to say that he did not believe in what the Government was doing either. It was significant that he appeared to get lectured by senior members on the other side shortly afterwards. However, we wish him a lengthy stay in this Parliament that, I trust, will be cut short only by the election of a Labor senator in his place. Until that time we wish him every happiness.
One of the shortcomings that was touched on briefly -by my colleagues was the tremendous road toll in this country. In 1969 we are known for the fast motor cars that we drive, but we have not, with few exceptions, been able to build the roads capable of taking these fast cars. There are only two ways of overcoming the problem. One is to build better roads so that we can use fast cars, or alternatively to govern the speed of cars at the point of manufacture. I think that the latter would be unacceptable to most Australians, so we have to adopt the alternative of providing sufficient finance for the building of decent roads. The Government is bankrupting local authorities not only at the capital city level. I mentioned Brisbane earlier, and honourable senators heard Senator Milliner say that something like $1.4m will be needed to even cover this year’s programme for that city, and the local authority will certainly not get it out of the Budget.
Additional matters have to be examined. One of these was raised by Senator Ormonde the other day when he asked a question in relation to the number of road accidents involving tourist buses. I suggest that because of the fast schedules these buses are required to keep to there will continue to be loss of life from time to time in accidents involving tourist buses, because the roads will not carry them. One thing that can be done, of course, is to cut down time schedules to give the drivers a go over the roads on which they have to travel. If honourable senators have ever followed one of these buses they will have noticed, no doubt because of the schedule problems and the weight of the vehicle, they are not able to stay on the left hand side of the road as the good book says they should. They frequently cross double lines, swing wide on corners and come to blind spots on the road at a speed well in excess of what they ought to be doing if they are to avoid accidents. I would suggest that this is another reason why more finance should be made available for roads.
Winding up my contribution to the debate I want to repeat the amendment moved by Senator Cant because there seems to be some misconception on the Government side as to its terms. It states: but regrets the Government’s continuing refusal to plan expenditure to an amount at least equivalent to the proceeds of the automotive fuel tax on roads and associated facilities.
This does not say that we condemn the Bill in its entirety, but it does say that this aspect ought to be examined by the Government. I hope that as a result of this bobtailed debate today - this restricted debate - on future occasions this Government will take some notice of what has been said, and in future, when a Bill of this nature is brought before the Senate, we will be given proper time to do the necessary research on it and proper time to debate it, and that it will receive the publicity which a Bill of this nature should attract to itself.
– I wish to make a few observations in connection with this legislation. Firstly, I believe that payments to the States by the Commonwealth under the Commonwealth aid roads scheme, which has been in existence for some years, originated because of a constitutional difficulty which the States encountered when they decided to collect petrol tax. The States originally attempted to collect their own tax but this practice came under contest. The result was that the Commonwealth undertook to collect moneys in the form of an excise on behalf of the States. Primarily then, this tax belongs to the States. It was never intended that the Commonwealth should participate in the expenditure of the tax, other than that it should cover its cost of collecting these funds from the users and the consumers of motor spirit and other such commodities. That is my understanding of the arrangement that exists between the States and the Commonwealth. If this is correct, we in the States have nothing to thank the Commonwealth for.
It irritates me to hear speakers refer to ‘Commonwealth grants’. The moneys allocated by the Commonwealth are only a reimbursement to the States of the funds that rightly belong to them. The motorists in the various States contribute to these grants in the form of a tax. I think it is audacity in the extreme for the Commonwealth to retain anything more than a percentage of the moneys collected to cover the administrative costs involved. When one has regard to the marked increase in the total consumption of petrol and other fuels and the great increase in the number of motor cars in this country, I believe we should expect a greater distribution of funds to be made to the States. To sit and listen to the second reading speech of the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) one was inclined to think: ‘Well, that sounds pretty generous.’ It is not overgenerous at all when one has regard to the fact that there has been an increase in the amount of tax paid by the users or consumers of petrol of $90m between the financial years 1963-64 and 1967-68. During this same period there was an increase of about $50m in the payments to the States for roads under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act. The amounts made available by the Commonwealth to the States are not great magnanimous gifts. It is the obligation of the Commonwealth to return to the States the amounts collected for the States. As I said before, this situation has arisen only because of some constitutional point that prohibited the States from making their own collections.
I would like to know what the Commonwealth does with the percentage of collections that it retains. An amount of $598,422,000 has been retained by the Commonwealth. Can the Minister tell me what this money is used for if it goes into the Consolidated Revenue Fund? If the Commonwealth feels it necessary to retain this money it should be kept in a trust fund and used for road purposes or for purposes allied to roads, such as road safety. Once the money is put into the Consolidated Revenue Fund it can be used for anything and everything. Yet, this money is collected for a specific purpose from the consumers of petrol and oils. It has been collected for road purposes. If the money is used for anything else then 1 believe this is a misuse of public funds. 1 would like to know from the Minister, if he is in a position to tell mc, whether there is any record of how this money is spent. Could he tei!1 me whether there is any record of the amount spent debited against the balance to which I have referred? I am not quibbling about the distribution that has been planned for the next 5 years scheme. However, I would press at all times to see that rural roads were not starved of funds. I say this although I am conscious of the great expense that cities and provincial towns must bear these days because of the concentration of population and the tack of positive decentralisation policies by governments. We do not need to refer to South Australia, for example, as a State any longer. Adelaide is South Australia today because approximately 70% of the population of that State live in the capital. The cities of Melbourne, Sydney and even Brisbane are fast growing to a stage which is undesirable because we are not getting decentralisation. However, Queensland has a greater measure of decentralisation than any other State. The concentration of population into capital cities is bringing us problems of the road in addition to many other municipal problems. Because of this there is a necessity for expressways and other facilities to enable people, commerce and business generally to function, lt is true that one can travel on a rural road much further in half an hour than one can travel in the same period in a peak period around Melbourne or Sydney. But if there is to be a departure from the 40% grant that formerly went to rural roads I would always want to see that the country is not starved because it is entitled to roads as well. Country people need access roads and other roads to permit them to bring products from one point to another. They require decent roads to give them a measure of the amenities that city people enjoy.
It can be said - and properly claimed by the Minister - that this year the country areas will receive a greater grant than was given last year. I would expect them to receive more for the reason that 1 have already given. But they are not to receive 40% of the handouts. Therefore, I would urge the Minister, or anyone else who is in charge of the distribution of the grants, not to lose sight of the fact in their enthusiasm to assist the cities to overcome their major problems, that the country areas have problems, too. The needs of country areas might not be as great as those of the cities. Nevertheless, these problems are relatively great and country people and country areas are entitled to the generous consideration of those who are administering this fund.
I conclude by reiterating and emphasising, if I may, that this is not a Commonwealth set-up at all. It is merely a reimbursement of a tax on the consumers of these commodities throughout Australia. The Commonwealth in effect is merely the collecting agent for the States.
– Did the honourable senator say ‘neglecting agent’ or ‘collecting agent’?
– I said ‘collecting agent*.
– I thought the honourable senator said ‘neglecting agent’.
– No. The Commonwealth is not neglecting to collect. It is neglecting to give us all that it has collected. I will content myself with those remarks.
– I wish to thank honourable senators on both sides of the Senate for their contributions to this debate. I wish to advise speakers on behalf of the Opposition, particularly Senator Cant who moved an amendment to the motion that the Bill be now read a second time, that the amendment is not acceptable to the Government. This Bill involves a very large amount of expenditure amounting to $l,252m. This is the total of the proposed grants to be made over a period of 5 years. The idea behind the provision of this amount is the granting of more moneys each year to the States so that our roads throughout the Commonwealth can be improved considerably. The findings of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads were to the effect that, if we spent more moneys on roads in Australia, the cost benefit factor would be approximately 10% on the money spent for the improvement of transport facilities. This is the first time that the Government has had the advantage of a report from the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads to guide it as to what type of legislation should be brought down not only for the benefit of people in each State but also for the benefit of people in the whole Commonwealth.
Instead of making a speech about roads generally, I wish now to speak on certain points that were raised by honourable senators and to reply to them to the best of my ability. Senator Cant who spoke first on behalf of the Opposition mentioned that the Commonwealth would be collecting in the quinquennium $1,1 47m.
– No, that is what was collected in the last quinquennium.
– Yes. I am sorry. According to this information, the balance to Consolidated Revenue was $397m. According to the amendment which he moved, Senator Cant believes that the whole of the moneys collected by the Commonwealth should be given back to the States to be spent on roads or should be kept by the Commonwealth to be spent on roads. Senator Cant went on to mention that, if in this quinquennium we take the increase per year as being 8% instead of the 5% that was arrived at by other calculations, the Commonwealth will collect more than $459m above the $ 1,252.5m to be spent. I wish to mention here that it has never been the policy of any government of any political colour, as far as I can find out, to spend on roads within the Commonwealth the whole of the revenues that it collected by way of fuel tax.
Senator Cant has said that our roads are not suited to present day traffic. He mentioned the terrible figure of 3,249 persons killed on our roads last year, and said that we had to bring in a corresponding number of migrants to cover this loss.
– Or cover it by an increase in the number of Australians born.
– Yes. I mention here that good roads do not always mean fewer accidents. I remember that the present
Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) was the chairman of a Senate select committee which inquired into road safety. Evidence taken by the committee at that time gave pretty solid proof of the fact that, particularly on country roads, the major number of fatal accidents occurred on long straight stretches. Therefore, the problem of reducing the number of fatal accidents is not altogether a matter of building better roads.
– Did the committee find that the long straight stretches occurred on good roads?
-I am speaking from memory now. The committee has made its report. I think the honourable senator will find that, of the fatal accidents that occurred in rural areas, a great percentage were on straight roads.
– Because of speed on the open road.
– Yes. However, that is in the report. Although it was made 10 years or 12 years ago, that section can be found. I remember it. I wish to refer now to Senator Cameron and Senator Bishop who raised the subject of the Eyre Highway. They said that they believed that the Commonwealth Government should find the money necessary to complete the sealing of the unsealed section of that highway. I wish to mention that the Commonwealth, when it made increased amounts of money available to the States for the next quinquennium, took into account the need for additional money to be spent on roads. The Eyre Highway will be part of the arterial road system of Australia for which the Commonwealth is providing money in this Bill and that that Highway no doubt will be declared by the Minister to be a rural arterial road. The decision as to whether work will be undertaken on this Highway will rest with the State which will have to decide whether or not it spends part of its allocation of funds on this highway.
Senator Bishop raised the question of the Port Augusta-Woomera road, which is used mostly by Commonwealth vehicles. This road is a part of the Australian road system. If honourable senators look at the allocations, they will see that South Australia is to receive $86m in the quinquennium which concludes this financial year.
In the next quinquennium, South Australia will receive $129m which is an increase of 50% on the previous allocation. This is the minimum increase that is available not only to South Australia but also to Western Australia and Tasmania, That amount has been made up by the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth has provided in this new quinquennium that no State will receive less than 50% more than it received in previous quinquennium.
Senator Lawrie mentioned that 40% of the allocation was to be spent on rural roads. I have never heard the honourable senator say that he wants less money spent in Queensland. As a matter of fact, I think he said that, although the new financial arrangement between the Commonwealth and the States will not make it necessary for 40% of the money provided under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Bill to be spent on rural roads in the States, an amount in excess of the previous grant will be provided. In all, this amount will be about 32% or 33% of the present total grant. In each year the amount will be increased by 5%, cumulatively.
Senator Milliner referred to the use of statistical boundaries as against city boundaries. He wanted to know why this was done. If he looks at a map, particularly the map of Brisbane to which he referred, he will see that the city boundaries which were used during the last quinquennium would not include the increased population in Brisbane, and no doubt in the other capital cities. Therefore, it was decided to use the statistical boundaries, which include a little more than twice the area which was included under the city boundaries used during the last quinquennium. I advise the honourable senator that the useof statistical boundaries will not affect local authorities in any way. Senator Milliner went on to say that the Brisbane City Council had appealed to the Queensland State Government on several occasions for additional finance for the building of roads in Brisbane. The reason why Brisbane has received a much smaller amount of the grants provided under the Commonwealth aid roads scheme is entirely a matter for the Queensland Government.
– That is true.
– Wait until I have finished because the sting comes at the end.
The same .policy was adopted by the Queensland Labor Government as well as by the present Government. The new Commonwealth aid roads legislation will amend this position by requiring that during the new quinquennium, an amount of $99m be spent in Brisbane and in the major provincial cities in Queensland. I think that answers the particular questions which Senator Milliner raised.
Senator Webster raised the point that the Government had not adopted all the recommendations contained in the report of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads. The Government took a great interest in the report. I think all honourable senators will agree that it is a very interesting report. With few exceptions, the Government has followed the recommendations set out in the report. Senator Webster referred to the fact that extra amounts of money will be made available to the States in the next 5 years, and then he said that because of traffic bottlenecks, Australia is losing millions of dollars per annum. The extra amount of money that is to be provided will help to straighten out the problems to which he has referred. Senator Webster also wanted to know whether the spending of money on certain roads by the States will be policed. I point out to the honourable senator that the amounts which are given by the Commonwealth to the States to be spent on certain classes of roads will be kept separate and, as I understand it, the States will advise the Commonwealth how much is spent on each class of road in each of the years.
– My query related to past expenditure - whether money had been spent in the way in which the Commonwealth had directed.
– Yes. I point out that in the past the States did not always spend the allocation of 40% for rural roads in each of the years of the quinquennium, but that during the whole quinquennium the total amount was spent by the States on these roads. Senator Webster referred to the amount of money which was spent on roads in 1948-49. I indicate that an amount of S35m was collected by way of fuel tax in 1948-49. This is a very interesting period, and it is quite a while ago, as the honourable senator stated. He also mentioned that in 1948-49, out of $35m which was collected by way of fuel tax, the Commonwealth allocated only $15rr - or about 44% of the money collected - under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act.
– That was when Labor was in office.
– Yes, in 1948-49. Senator Keeffe raised two points. One was the important question of the road toll in Australia. I have no need to remind honourable senators of the number of road accidents in Australia. The Commonwealth makes a grant to the National Road Safety Council to help it in its endeavour to find ways and means to overcome this problem. Senator Gair said that the Commonwealth was merely the collector of revenues for the States; that it was only the collecting agent. As the honourable senator wished me to reply to the point he raised, I advise him that the whole of the receipts from petrol tax go into Consolidated Revenue, and that the Commonwealth does not hypothecate any part of its revenue for a particular purpose. Out of Consolidated Revenue the Commonwealth meets its wide ranging field of commitments, including other payments to the States, social service benefits, defence expenditure, etc. I advise Senator Gair that the Commonwealth’s power to collect customs duty, including the tax on fuel, flows from section 90 of the Constitution. The Commonwealth has that exclusive power. In 1926, South Australia endeavoured to impose a State fuel tax. The Commonwealth challenged the State Act, and the challenge was upheld by the High Court which declared the Act to be invalid. Commonwealth fuel taxes are in no sense the property of the States, nor is the Commonwealth obliged to pay any of them to the States. This was the position between 1903 when fuel taxes were first imposed and 1922 when the Commonwealth first made grants to the States for roads. In those days the Commonwealth retained all of the fuel taxes for Consolidated Revenue purposes. I thank honourable senators for their contributions to the debate. I have advised the Senate that the Government, with regret, cannot accept the amendment which has been moved by the Opposition.
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Cant’s amendment) be added.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
I wish to refer to clause 2 which deals with the interpretation of terms used in the Bill. I note that ‘road works’ means amongst other things: the doing of anything in relation to roads that is for the time being approved by the Treasurer for the purposes of this definition. . . .
This provision gives to the Treasurer a very wide discretion. He may say that anything that is done in connection with roads is road works. I do not think that the Parliament should give such a wide discretion. In my opinion it would not be difficult for the Parliamentary Draftsman - I am not very enamoured of quite a number of Commonwealth draftsmen - to provide something that could be understood. I do not think he should include in a Bill such wide and vague phrases in regard to discretions. Later in the clause I read: the Minister’ means the Minister for Shipping and Transport;
I should have thought that the Minister for Shipping and Transport rather than the Treasurer would have been given discretion in respect of works. After all, the Minister for Shipping and Transport is dealing with matters of this kind all the time, whereas the Treasurer deals with purely economic matters. The Treasurer would not be expected to be skilled and knowledgeable in this field whereas that could be expected of the Minister for Shipping and Transport. At least he would have available to him people to advise him in a proper manner. The Treasurer would not have skilled technical officers to advise him as to whether or not he should approve of road works.
– But he could get the advice very readily.
– Why should discretion be reposed in the Treasurer who holds a purely economic portfolio when the Minister named in the Bill holds a portfolio of a practical and technical nature? If the draftsman is unable to provide clear provisions, why should not the Minister who holds a practical and technical portfolio be the Minister who is required to exercise discretion? He would have available to him technical advisers to tell him whether certain work was or was not road work. I do not propose to take the matter further, but I feel that the Government should take notice of what has been said and that in the future when legislation of this kind is introduced consideration should be given to making the appropriate Minister the responsible Minister.
– I wish to refer to clause 5 which deals with the supplementary grants to South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. The provision of $40.8m to Western Australia over the next 5 years means that the State will receive not less than 50% more than it is receiving in the present quinquennium. I should like the Minister to tell me whether the Commonwealth imposes a condition to the effect that the supplementary grant shall be divided in the same proportions as are the principal grants over the five classifications of roads. I point out that clause 6 states:
Moneys paid to a State under the last preceding section shall be expended on the construction and maintenance of roads.
I have raised this matter because I understand that the Department of Main Roads in Western Australia has asked the local authorities to spend this money proportionally on the various classifications of roads referred to by the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads.
Earlier Senator Milliner referred to the Perth statistical division and pointed out that it extended from Rockingham in the south to Wanneroo in the north. In this statistical area there are a number of local authorities within whose areas are to be found a large number of rural roads. I am thinking of the Swan Guildford shire as being one. This authority is not able to spend any money that is allocated to other rural roads because it lies within the Perth statistical area. So that the construction and reconstruction of land access roads and special purpose roads may be undertaken, is it possible for some of the supplementary grant to be allocated to shires on the outer edge of this statistical area?
– Senator Cant asked a question about road works. The Treasurer has to decide what are or are not acceptable road works for matching purposes. He will rely on advice from the Minister for Shipping and Transport, the Department of Shipping and Transport and the Bureau of Roads. Senator Drake-Brockman referred to the supplementary grant made by the Commonwealth to three States and asked whether that money could be spent for specific purposes. I am advised that the money can be spent by the State government concerned on any class of work it desires. His second question related to the building of roads to subdivisions, and he asked whether the necessary funds could be provided from the supplementary grant. The answer is that the State has full authority to do what it wishes with the money. He asked, thirdly, whether the local government authorities had to spend their grant on projects laid down by the Bill. The answer is no. A local government may spend the money on rural arterial roads or other rural roads as the case may be.
– 1 ask the Minister to explain clause 9 (1.) which reads:
In addition to the conditions specified in any other provision of this Act, payment of an amount to a State under this Act in respect of a year is subject to the condition that the State will submit to die Minister -
as soon as practicable after the thirtieth day of June in that year, a statement, in accordance with a form approved by him. . . .
I am a little anxious about that provision, because of the Minister’s statement, in reply to Senator Drake-Brockman, that the money could be spent anywhere. When one of the Premiers returned from the conference which determined the allocation of the moneys he is reported to have said: I can spend the money anywhere I like’. 1 do not think that is the intention of the Bill. I believe there are specific areas in which the money should be spent. I ask the Minister to state whether the ‘form approved by him’ will make it quite specific that the money shall be spent in certain areas.
I draw the Minister’s attention to clause 10, which provides:
In addition to the conditions specified in any other provision of this Act, payment of an amount lo a State under this Act is subject to the following conditions:
that, if the Minister informs the Treasurer of the State that he is satisfied that the Slate has failed to comply with the conditions applicable to that amount, the State will repay to the Commonwealth such sum as the Minister determines. . . .
Perhaps the Minister for Customs and Excise will be good enough to indicate why the Minister for Shipping and Transport comes into this aspect of the matter when elsewhere the responsibility is cast upon the Treasurer. I- appreciate that, although this is a Treasury Bill, the Minister for Shipping and Transport will be administering the legislation; but I question whether it is the right of the Minister for Shipping and Transport to determine whether money is owing from the State to the Commonwealth. I do not want to appear to be pedantic, but I question whether the drafting of this clause could not be a little better.
-I ask the Minister whether he can explain a statement made in another place by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) when speaking to this Bill and which is reported at page 1781 of the Hansard record for that place. He said:
A State may also be allowed limited transfers between the road classes for which the Commonwealth grants are available.
He said further on:
Transfers will, therefore, be approved only in exceptional circumstances.
I ask the Minister what these exceptional circumstances are and whether they will apply in Tasmania, which is more decentralised than any other State and half the population of which lives in areas which do not come within categories 1 and 2 for the purposes of road grants. Less than onethird of the allocation to Tasmania is to be expended in respect of the interests of well over half the population. This will not give any encouragement to decentralisation. It may well be that the Tasmanian Government and the local government authorities think that that State’s special interests require some reclassification. I ask the Minister what the Treasurer’s statement means in that context.
– I was asked a question about clause 9 (1.) which provides:
In addition to the conditions specified in any other provision of this Act, payment of an amount to a State under this Act in respect of a year is subject to the condition that the State will submit to the Minister -
as soon as practicable after the thirtieth day of June in that year, a statement, in accordance with a form approved by him, as to the expenditure by the State during that year out of that amount and as to any sum set aside during that year out of that amount for expenditure by the State but not expended during that year. . .
I was asked why the State will have to give an account of the money that is spent. The answer is that this does not include the supplementary grants but is money that is made available to the States for the different classes of roads. That money has to be spent on those classes of roads and the State is asked to give an account as soon as possible after 30th June each year of where that money has ben spent. In relation to the supplementary grants, although the
States can allocate those amounts, as I indicated to Senator Drake-Brockman, wherever it so desires, it is expected by the Commonwealth that those moneys will also be accounted for by the States to the Commonwealth. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) is responsible for supervising the expenditure of the Commonwealth aid roads grant. The Treasurer (Mr McMahon) is responsible for ensuring that the States will fulfil the matching obligations. I shall provide an answer later to Senator Rae.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Scott) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 30 May (vide page 1843), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman)- Is it the wish of the Committee that we debate the seven Bills together? There being no objection, it is so ordered.
– Perhaps the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson) would be good enough to indicate the Government’s attitude to the proposition that if we are to argue on a principle and that principle is upheld by honourable senators it should carry through with consequential alterations, to the remainder of the Bills. 1 believe that this could help in some directions.
– I do not think that 1 could adhere to that as a proposition. We have seven Bills. 1 think that in the long term we shall be able to deal with them but 1 should think that although we speak to the seven Bills in the second reading debate we should take each separately in Committee.
– In the first place 1 desire to protest about the multiplicity of what 1 consider to be local government matters that are coming before the National Parliament. I believe that everybody would agree that it would be far better if local government were set up in the Australian Capital Territory so that we would not have to discuss here what may be regarded as purely local community efforts. I remind honourable senators that we have taken a fair amount of the time of the National Parliament during the last few weeks on such matters. I refer to the discussions on the pedestal tax, solicitors and barristers, and the Canberra abattoir. Now we come to the cheque legislation.
– You would not regard this as a local government question?
– No, this is one that is an exception. Nevertheless, a fair amount of time has been taken by the National Parliament in debating what would be regarded under normal circumstances as local issues. The Opposition opposes two of the measures now before the Senate, namely the Australian Capital Territory Tax (Cheques) Bill and the Australian Capital Territory (Hire-Purchase Business) Bill. Our objection is based on two main issues. We protest against the imposition of taxes without the people concerned having the constitution right to determine their attitude to the taxes and we object to the failure of the Government to indicate the amount likely to be raised and how the moneys collected will be expended. We believe that they are very important issues. It is fundamental in a democracy that people who are to be taxed should be acquainted with all aspects of the taxes and should be given the opportunity to voice their approval or disapproval of the taxes to be imposed.
It appears to me that no definite idea is given to honourable senators as to where the money collected is to be expended. If it is not to be expended on roads, parks or any other local community efforts, it follows, I suggest, that it will go into Consolidated Revenue. Residents of the Australian Capital Territory have no representative in this chamber to express their point of view and to find out from the Government why the tax is to be levied and where the revenue is to be expended. I suggest that if we, as part of a democracy, read that some other democratic institution in another part of the world had taxed its people without first consulting with them we would think it a very strange procedure indeed. If we add to that strange procedure the fact that the people concerned had no representative in the democratic institution to express their point of view, I suggest that we would look askance at the country that did such a thing. I think we are entitled to ask ourselves: Is it democracy at work?
– Is not the Australian Capital Territory represented in the House of Representatives?
– It is represented in the House of Representatives but it is not represented in this chamber, and I am referring to the work of this chamber. It is indisputable that such is the case. How do we regard the residents of the Australian Capital Territory? Are we as a Parliament to impose taxes on those residents without their first being consulted? Surely honourable senators would not agree that this is a position that should be supported in Australia today.
– That is done in the States.
– It is not done in the States. I suggest that no taxes are levied on the people of the respective States without legislation first going before the Parliament concerned and the elected representatives of the people have the opportunity to discuss the matter.
– If the people do not agree with it, the Government can be defeated.
– As Senator Devitt says, depending on what the decision is, the matter can go before the electors at the next election and they oan determine whether their representatives have presented views that are in accordance with their wishes. In my opinion, and I believe in the opinion of the Opposition, the Government is talcing this undemocratic action notwithstanding the widespread protests of the people of the Australian Capital Territory. This action is proposed in the name of democratic government. With respect, I believe that that is not so. The organisations in the area have protested against the closure of the Canberra abattoir. They have protested against this legislation. Their protests have not been heeded. They have reached the stage where their representatives on the Australian Capital’ Territory Advisory Council have resigned, 1 believe for no reason other than to register their protest and to show their indignation that these things should be happening in the national capital of Australia. Surely the Government must take heed of the protests and remedy the situation.
My information is that as far back as 1967 the late Harold Holt was a party to an agreement that local’ government should be established for the residents of this Territory. Therefore, it is understandable that the people should be indignant because nothing of this nature has been implemented. The system of local government has worked admirably in every State of the Commonwealth. There is no reason why it would not work equally well in the Australian Capital Territory. I suggest to the Government that in fairness it should withdraw this legislation until such time as local government is a way of life in this Territory.
Let me remind honourable senators of their reaction to the Executive decision in relation to the siting of the new and permanent parliament house. We made a decision. The Executive overrode that decision. What was the immediate reaction of honourable senators irrespective of whether they favoured Camp Hill or Capital Hill? I believe that they were unanimous in their opinion that the Executive had been very high handed. Surely the self same situation exists in relation to the residents of the Australian Capital Territory, although there is an exception. I repeat that they have no representatives in this chamber to express their opposition to the tactics adopted by the Government. In relation to the new and permanent parliament house, our wishes were ignored and we were resentful. I suggest that it is understandable that when the wishes of the people of the Australian Capital Territory are ignored they also should be resentful. I do not believe that there is any difference whatsoever between the attitude of honourable senators to the action of the Executive in overriding their decision and that of the people of the Australian Capita! Territory in being indignant because they have not had the opportunity to discuss this matter by way of local government.
I ask: As to the money to be raised, how much is to be raised and where is it to be expended? The Bills are silent on this matter. I suggest that the second reading speeches made by the Minister for Supply are equally silent on it. The motive appears to be to bring about uniformity with the States of the Commonwealth. I believe that that is conveyed in the part of the statement of the Minister assisting the Treasurer (Mr Swartz) which reads: . . it is no more than fair and proper that residents of the ACT should bear certain taxes comparable with those levied on the residents of the States.
It appears to me that that is the reason why these proposed taxes are to be levied. Taken to its logical conclusion, that reason means that, whatever taxes are imposed in the States, the people of the Australian Capital Territory must be prepared to meet similar taxes.
We must examine why the States have been forced into taxing to the extent they do. Their claim, justifiable or otherwise, is that the Commonwealth Government is not giving them sufficient money to enable them to administer the affairs of state and therefore they are required to enter the taxation field. As a matter of fact, the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) have said to the States: ‘You are not exercising the rights in the taxation field that are open to you’. Consequently, the States have adopted various attitudes to what should be done in relation to taxation in their own spheres. Now we find that because States have adopted a policy of imposing stamp duty on cheques the people of the Australian Capital Territory are to be asked to pay a comparable duty.
– In Queensland we have had stamp duty on cheques for years.
– 1 agree entirely. I was coming to that point in a moment. I think it would be agreed that it could be inferred from the Minister’s statement that the Commonwealth says that there should be some uniformity or comparability between what happens in the States and what happens in the Territory. But I suggest that we will never reach that stage, the way we are going in Australia today.
For instance, in the trade union sphere there are different awards and different bases for the wage structures of comparable tradesmen in the Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, New South Wales and the other States. There are different conditions of employment, different factories and shops provisions and entirely different long service leave provisions. On that last subject, it is important to note that there was uniformity in long service leave provisions for workers throughout Australia until the Commonwealth Government, on the advice of the employers apparently, asked the Commonwealth arbitration court to make a Federal long service leave award which differs markedly from those operating in the States. So we cannot have uniformity if, when we achieve it in one field, the Commonwealth takes some action that destroys it.
It has been said that the people of the Australian Capital Territory are favoured people; that their conditions of employment are good; that their standard of living is good - all in all, that they are favoured people. So it strikes me as strange that every industry in the Territory is short of tradesmen. If conditions here are so good, it should follow as a corollary that a volume of workers would be available for the respective industries. Yet one can pick up a newspaper and find advertisements for tradesmen every day of the week. As a matter of fact, I happen to know that the Government Printing Office is about 400 skilled tradesmen short of its complement and that as a result of that the Hansard publications are about 6 weeks behind. So I suggest that conditions here are not as good as some people would have us believe they are.
I have here a statement that was issued by the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) a few days ago. It reads:
The Minister for Health, Dr Forbes, announced today that ACT ambulance charges would be increased from 1st June.
He said the present flat rate charge, which had remained unaltered since 1961, would be replaced by a call-out fee of $4, plus a charge of 20c a mile travelled by the ambulance.
He went on to say that the charges were comparable with those in other cities and towns in the Commonwealth. But is that the case? The Minister has made that statement, but on examination his statement is found to be faulty. In Queensland the ambulance authority charges a family $4 a year which entitles a man, his wife and his dependent children to free conveyance by ambulance to any public hospital. To receive this entitlement a person registers as a contributor to the ambulance scheme and pays $4 a year. If a resident of Brisbane elects not to register and pay the $4 a year for himself, his wife and his children he is required to pay a flat charge of $9.50 when he uses the ambulance service.
Let us consider the situation where an ambulance is required to go from Brisbane to Redcliffe, a bayside suburb about 30 miles from Brisbane, and to bring a patient back to the Royal Brisbane Hospital. Although the ambulance has travelled about 60 miles the worker, or whoever it may be, is charged a flat rate of $9.50. But if that were to happen in Canberra a person would be required to pay an ambulance call-out fee of $4 plus a charge of 20c for each mile travelled by the ambulance. So it can be seen that the people of Canberra are not so favoured in many directions as some people would have us believe.
I repeat that many people have striven for uniform conditions throughout Australia and have been unsuccessful in their attempts. There are varying conditions of employment within respective States. For example, Senator Gair would know quite well that under State awards in Queensland workers have an entitlement to a 10 minute rest period morning and afternoon, but under Federal awards operating in Queensland there is no such provision. That gives some idea of how conditions vary within one State. That being so, how can we achieve uniformity between conditions for people living in the Australian Capital Territory and people living in Queensland?
Referring to the specific matter of cheques, in each State of the Commonwealth society accounts are operated with the banks, but there is no uniformity in State legislation in this regard. In Queensland all society account cheques are exempt entirely from stamp duty and the same situation applies in New South Wales, However, the situation is slightly different in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. Again, in each State conditions vary. Under this Bill it is proposed to apply the tax to all society accounts, irrespective of whether they are operated by credit unions or trade unions of employers or employees. Although they are organisations which seek no profit from their efforts they will be required to pay the tax which is to be levied on cheques. I suggest that it is impossible to find a solution which would achieve uniformity. I content myself with those remarks on that aspect.
In regard to Canberra being used as a haven for tax dodgers, the Opposition agrees entirely with what the Government is doing in this direction. We say that the Australian Capital Territory should not be a haven for tax dodgers, but we say also that some people will have very red faces when they learn that it has been found necessary for the Government to introduce legislation of this nature against companies and other private enterprises which regard tax evasion as an important part of their operations. Until such time as it can be shown that additional tax revenue is required in the Australian Capital Territory and until such time as residents of the Australian Capital Territory are informed where the money collected in this way will be spent, I believe they are justified in objecting to the imposition of the taxes. I believe firmly that if the Government were to set up in the Australian Capital Territory local government or a municipality, or whatever one likes to call it, the people would know precisely what they were being called upon to finance. They would know precisely where the money was going to be spent. Consequently, they would be in a position to know whether their money was being channelled in a direction which would be an advantage to them. I suggest also that until such time as the Government provides for direct representation in the Senate for the people of the Australian Capital Territory we in this place should oppose measures of this nature.
– I am not insensitive to the pressures which have been growing throughout the day for a termination as soon as possible of this sitting of the Senate.
– The honourable senator contributed to them in the past.
– I appreciate what is said by Senator Dittmer, who has sat here patiently and silently all day. But I feel that there are things that ought to be said about this measure. I propose to support the Bill, but I express my protest at the fact that this legislation has come before the Senate at this late stage and that there has not been an opportunity for a proper consideration of its provisions. I note that it was introduced and read a first time in the other place on 15th May, but it was not until last week, in the final week of the sessional period, that the discussion of the matter in the other place was concluded. Today we are debating the Bill in what I suggest is double quick time. I can only regret that this is the position. The Bill is One which the Senate is not entitled under the Constitution to amend, and the opportunity which would otherwise be available for discussion, if the Senate saw fit to request some amendment to it, is not available. I feel that this measure has the earmarks of haste and lacks those qualities which ought to denote a measure which takes into account the best provisions of stamp duties legislation throughout Australia.
I am not one who supports a uniformity for the sake of uniformity. Indeed, if one looks at the stamp duties legislation throughout Australia one cannot say that it is uniform. I desire to say only with regard to the provisions of the measure that there are certain features which I think could be amended with benefit. I mention the Victorian Stamps Act in this regard because it has certain features, some of which have been reproduced in other States, which have a merit which ought to be considered in the promulgation of a measure for the Australian Capital Territory. I refer to the situation which prevails when there is a transfer on the winding up or reduction of the capital of a company. Transfers of shares and marketable securities where the transfer is to a beneficiary who has an entitlement on the winding up are, under the law in Victoria and, as I believe, in some other States, not subject to any duty. But under this legislation there is no exemption which would permit such transfers to be free of duty in the Australian Capital Territory. 1 feel that it should be borne in mind that the whole pattern of recent company legislation is directed towards facilitating disclosure and the publication of information. Thus company structures which have contained many subsidiary companies are finding that the requirements of recent proposals are such that they must in some way merge their activities and lessen the number of subsidiaries. Accordingly, there will be windings up and there may be reductions of capital. If the cost of so winding up is prohibitive, then what I feel is a desirable objective and a desirable result of all these company law investigations will be inhibited. I feel that is one sphere in which there could be reform. Then too a situation of similar character could exist when real estate is being transferred. There could be a transfer to a beneficiary, on the winding up or on the reduction of capital, in respect of which duty ought not to be paid. That, again, is the case in Victoria. 1 have made some inquiries and sought some elucidation as to why what I thought were desirable amendments could not have been introduced at an earlier stage. I am assured that the procedure which has been adopted has been to follow the New South Wales provisions. I know that in the past a lot of good has come out of New South Wales. In recent times, in matters of law, they are catching up with reforms which other States of the Commonwealth adopted in, I think, 1883. At least what is happening in New South Wales indicates a willingness to recognise that what has happened in other parts of the world is acceptable. But I do feel that when stamp duty legislation is being imposed in the Australian Capital Territory the Commonwealth has the opportunity to examine the provisions of the stamp duty legislation in all the States and ought to take from that legislation those provisions which impose duty and those exemptions which exoner-ate from duty, which represent the best provisions in all the legislation - those which have been tested and those which have been shown to-be beneficial. That has nol been done.
– Provided that coincides with the policy which the Government desires to adopt.
– I accept what the honourable senator says. But one senses that these measures are designed to prevent the Australian Capital Territory becoming a haven to which people from the other States resort to avoid stamp duty imposts to which they have to submit in the other States. I think it is desirable that the Australian Capital Territory should not be such a place of resort. But I think that that, rather than a desire arbitrarily to impose tax upon the citizens of Canberra, is the real point behind these measures. As I have said, I support the measures but I do register my protest that the matter has come before the Parliament in such a way that we are denied the opportunity of giving to the legislation that consideration which I think the Senate should give to all legislation.
Before I sit down, I should like to refer to what Senator Milliner said. I know that it is a tactic these days, in this place, in an election year when the Australian Labor Party member for the Australian Capital Territory is up for re-election, for this chamber to become a place in which the political issues of the Australian Capital Territory are strenuously canvassed. We have had debates about the sewerage ordinance, we have had debates about the abattoir, and now we have the same theme reproduced in this debate about stamp duty tax. 1 think it was a striking example of delving deep to find an argument when Senator Milliner said that it is something approaching a travesty that the Australian Capital Territory does not have representation in this chamber and that if there were such representation then maybe we could look at these Bills in a somewhat different light. I say it is scraping the barrel to use an argument like that to oppose these measures. Whilst the Opposition has indicated that it will oppose the measure, the basis upon which it does do so does little credit to the Party and shows lack of proper appreciation of what our attitude towards legislation of this character should be. As 1 have said, with the reservations I have expressed, 1 support the measure.
– in reply - 1 thank the Senate for the reasonably speedy passage of these Bills through the second reading stage. It is understood, of course, that what has been said during the second reading is applicable to all the Bills under consideration. Senator Milliner, who led for the Opposition, chose to base his arguments in opposition to some of the Bills on questions of philosophy. As I understood it, he said that because the measures relate to the gathering of taxes in the Australian Capital Territory they represent a denial of the constitutional rights of the people who live in the Australian Capital Territory. All this is woven round the story relating to representation for the Australian Capital Territory in the National Parliament.
The Australian Capital Territory does have a representative in the National Parliament. He has normal voting rights in the other place. I find the argument adduced by Senator Milliner rather intriguing. He postulates that because the people of the Australian Capital Territory have not a representative in this place they should not be obliged, for example, to pay ordinary income tax. Of course, they do have to pay ordinary income tax just as everybody else does.
He then moved into arguing that taxation should be related to local government income, to local government management and to local government affairs. I do not think anyone would suggest that this type of revenue, which is a tax revenue, could have the remotest possible relationship to local government affairs. Local government is a completely separate matter. Here we are dealing with the issue of taxation which is in the traditional field of revenue for national parliaments and State parliaments. If we accepted the honourable senator’s argument we would be going back to the good old days when municipalities could impose taxes for certain purposes. The taxing powers of municipalities are entirely different to those of the Commonwealth. Their charter to tax is much more restricted. I repeat that 1 find the argument that the gathering of revenue by means of the proposed tax is related to questions of local government rather intriguing but certainly invalid.
Senator Milliner canvassed a very wide field. It is true, of course, that in a second reading speech one sometimes gets wide of the fundamental issues. Senator Milliner did not speak to the proposals contained in this legislation except that I understood him to say that we had not stated the anticipated yield from this series of Bills. He will appreciate that it is most difficult to give an estimate of yield from new taxation measures, but it is expected that something of the order of $1.3m will result from these Bills. The cost of collecting that revenue is estimated to be 3% of that figure. 1 do not think the honourable senator raised any other fundamental issues. The purpose of the legislation is three-fold, lt is intended that this particular category of taxation should be comparable to that levied in the States and that it should apply to residents and corporations in the same way as it applies to them in the States, lt is intended also that this shall have the effect of preventing the known practice of using the Australian Capital Territory as a haven for the avoidance of tax in other States. Finally, the proposed tax is a revenue tax. The purpose of the Bills is to raise revenue.
The honourable senator suggested that we should give some indication of how the tax was to bc allocated. Again his argument goes back to the old days when local government levied special taxes for special purposes. Governments gave that principle away many years ago. We now have a Consolidated Revenue fund. In this modern world, in these days of highly sophisticated government it is not possible to act as a faithful husband would act when, bringing home his salary, he sets aside so much for the grocer, so much for insurance, so much for a little refreshment on Saturdays and so much for something else. I know that I am over-simplifying the argument but, in concept, this is what is being suggested. The honourable senator is suggesting that when the Government presumes to draw taxation into Consolidated Revenue it should be able to say that the money is to be earmarked for a certain purpose, as was done in the old days of local government when local authorities might impose a special tax for a swimming pool, or something else. That is all right in the local government sphere, but when one gets into the big league it is just not possible. 1 thank the Senate for the intimation that these Bills will be given a speedy passage. 1 am sure that the legislation is in the best interests of the Commonwealth. There was reference by Senator Milliner to certain exemptions, and in the Bills, as I understand them, there are provisions for exemptions. A general exemption from all the proposed duties is given to public hospitals, public benevolent institutions, religious institutions, public educational institutions and visiting diplomatic personnel and their families. The exemption for a diplomatic mission in Australia is conditional upon reciprocal treatment being afforded an Australian mission in the country represented here.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I wish to direct attention to clauses 61 and 63 and ask the Minister why the Government has moved away from the provisions in the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act which, I believe, is a type of related Act. This morning we spoke about an individual’s rights. I do not want to canvass that matter at this stage. I just question the reference to evidence that is to be given by individuals. It appears to me that a provision to meet a special position is incorporated in legislation, and whether it is effective or not it is overridden by a special provision inserted in later, similar legislation. Clause 64, which I believe represents a fairly serious situation, states: _ A person is not excused from furnishing information or producing a document in compliance with an instrument served on him … on the ground that the information or document might tend to incriminate him. . . . 1 think this is fairly serious because the clause goes on:
But his answer to any question asked in the order or instrument or any information furnished by him in pursuance of the order or instrument is not admissible in evidence against him in criminal proceedings other than proceedings under this Act.
Now, he is required to attend, he is required to give answers, he has no excuse for not answering yet he can be proceeded against under the Act for the answers he has given. Quite frankly, I do not know that that is proper. Clause 6£ (2.) states in part:
A ‘person’ is a fairly wide term. An accountant may be required to attend to give evidence. The accountant may be working for a client and he is required to attend to give evidence and then any evidence he gives can be used against him in proceedings under this Act.
– It could be used against his client.
– It may be used against his client and against him. So it is a fairly wide discretion, as I say. If one reads clause 61 (2.) in conjunction with clause 64 one sees that it refers to ‘a person’ and I submit, with respect, that it could be an accountant, a solicitor or anybody acting for a client.- He is required to attend and anything he says can be used in evidence against him in a prosecution under this Act. I just question whether that is proper. The Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act carries similar provisions but they are not nearly as compelling as those in this Bill. What is wrong with the provision in the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act that it had to be discarded and this far more compelling legislation introduced into this Bill?
The Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act also provides that the regulations may prescribe scales of expenses to be allowed to persons required under this section to attend. There is nothing in this Act so far as I can see that requires the payment of compensation for any expenses. Perhaps the position is to be met in the regulations. I do not know. Provision is not made in the Bill as it stands, yet it is made in the Act.
– The proposed provisions under which the Commissioner of Taxation will be empowered to obtain information for the purpose of ascertaining the extent of a person’s liability for stamp duty are not unique, nor are the powers they confer any wider than those given in comparable and long standing provisions contained in the Income Tax, Sales Tax, Payroll Tax, Estate Duty and Gift Duty Assessment Acts. It is considered that powers of this kind are essential if the Commissioner is to be able to carry out his task of administering the tax laws enacted by the Parliament. Under clause 64 to which the honourable senator has referred a person is required to answer but the answer he gives cannot be used against him in respect of an offence other than an offence under this Act. It could not be used as evidence in regard to some other offence, such as robbery. This is normal procedure and the provisions are to be found in the normal taxation Acts.
– Where is it in the Income Tax Assessment Act? Section 264 is the controlling section, surely?
– What I am saying is that the nature of these provisions is to be found in the other Acts. I do not have them here and I am relying on the advice of my taxation experts here. I think that we can rely upon that as a fair statement in relation to the matter. One further question was asked by the honourable senator and it was in relation to the scale of expenses. That provision is not to be found in this Bill. It is provided for by regulation, I gather.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) - by leave - agreed to:
That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent the questions in regard to the remaining stages for the passage through the Senate of the six Australian Capital Territory tax Bills being put in one motion at each stage and the consideration of all such Bills together in the Committee of the Whole.
Consideration resumed from 30th May (vide pages 1843, 1844 and 1845), on motions by Senator Anderson:
That the Bills be now read a .second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills read a second time, and passed through their remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 29th May (vide page 1762), on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I rise on a point of procedure. 1 suggest that the Bill now before the Senate be debated concurrently with the next two measures on the notice paper, the States Grants (Paramedical Services) Bill 1969 and the States Grants (Nursing Homes) Bill 1969, at the second reading stage. Separate Committee consideration will of course be given to each measure.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Dame Ivy Wedgwood) - There being no objection, that course will be followed.
– I do not know why the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) did not take this course weeks ago. If the Senate had taken all its Bills together weeks ago we might have been finished in a reasonable period.
– We had too many urgency motions from the Opposition.
– If the Minister waits a minute I will deal with that matter. As I have just pointed out, if we had taken all our Bills together we could have finished this session in a reasonable period of time. Government senators and Government supporters in another place consistently claim and continuously imply that the Government is more successful and more efficient than was its predecessors. But most competent judges claim that the Government could not efficiently run a fowl house. Madam Acting Deputy President, honourable senators opposite are interjecting. Would you appeal to them to give me a go for a minute so that I can tell them how to run this place efficiently and properly?
What are we doing? What we see being done on this occasion is not unique. This is a repetitive feature of every sitting. Today nineteen Bills are listed on the notice paper and yesterday the Senate dealt with another large number of Bills. Yet, we have spent days and nights discussing the alternative sites for the new Parliament House although, as we have since learned, the Cabinet had no intention of taking notice of what the parliamentarians decided. Once a decision of the majority of the parliamentarians had been made, it did not take the Government 24 hours-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-
Would the honourable senator please get back to the Bills.
– I am dealing with associated circumstances concerning the inefficiency of the conduct of the business of this chamber.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - I would prefer the honourable senator to deal with the Bills.
– All right. I will deal with the Bills and I will just show the Senate how the Government deals with legislation in a piecemeal and fragmentary manner. This is what is happening in the case of the three Bills that we are now discussing. If a business concern were undertaken in a similar fashion it would be bankrupt in a month.
– In a week.
– I think it would take a month because the running of Parliament is a tremendous undertaking. We are debating at the moment piecemeal legislation which deals with certain phases of medical attention and nursing care. No suggestion has ever come forward from the Government that it has a composite plan in health, medical, hospital and ancillary services. Legislation on each service comes in bit by bit; one fragment after another. We are not saying that this legislation is not desirable. But we believe that the Government is miserable and parsimonious in its approach to the real needs of the people who are in need of care. We find that the Government has granted the minimum that it thinks may please a small section of the people. When we deal with paramedical care, what do we find? In this field the Federal Government has granted $250,000 which is .1% of the gross national product. This is offered to people seeking this service. Do honourable senators know what this means? It means that if one in every four pensioners, or their dependants, had one toenail attended to once a year the entire $250,000 would be taken up for this service.
Madam Acting Deputy President, through your association with charitable activities, you would know the numbers of pensioners who are in need of charitable services. Therefore, you would know that what I have put forward is not idle speculation. What I have said exemplifies, in brief, just how miserable this Government is in looking after needy people. What are the Bills before us supposed to provide for? The Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) in her second reading speech made grandiloquent claims that the States Grants (Paramedical Services) Bill provides for physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and chiropody. No mention has been made of spectacles and the like. As honourable senators know, the Government claims that pensioners can hire hearing aids for $10. But there is no suggestion in the Bill before us that assistance will be given to pensioners for dentures or spectacles.
The amount provided is really so miserable that there cannot be any really great service rendered, even though the States will provide another $250,000 per annum.
The States Grants (Home Care) Bill provides for housekeepers and so on for elderly people. It does not specifically provide for the young who may be in need. The Bill is framed to provide housekeeper help and other home help. But it does not say that money will be provided for structural alterations to homes to meet the requirements of particular people. For example, it does not specify that assistance will be given for alterations to bathrooms or toilets, or for the provision of ramps and other features that are essential for the care of many people. This Government has made no provision, and has no intention of making provision, for such alterations. We can at least put the position this way: The Government is so neglectful of the legitimate needs of people that it is not prepared to think seriously enough about these needs to adopt measures which would help to alleviate the conditions from which these people suffer. Surely the Government might have given consideration to providing a greater measure of assistance to meet these real needs.
The Government intends to provide $500,000 under the State Grants (Home Care) Bill’. The Bill provides assistance for welfare services which flow from senior citizen centres. Nowhere is it specifically said - though it is claimed in the second reading speech - that the Government will assist in the establishment of senior citizen welfare centres. Here again the Government will provide only one-third of the money needed. The suggestion is that the States wil’l provide another third and that some local authority, charitable body or community organisation will provide the remaining one-third. The Government does not say that it will come in on a fifty-fifty basis as it does in the case of nursing homes. I will deal with this matter shortly. I will point out to the Senate what the Government is doing to meet the needs in the field of nursing home care. We find that for senior citizen centres the Government will provide half the salary of a welfare officer. If two welfare officers are employed at a centre and the size of that centre is such as to justify the employment of two welfare officers, the Commonwealth Government will not make one iota of contribution - not even a threepenny bit - towards the salary of the second welfare officer.
Argument exists as to whether the cost of services rendered to elderly people who are brought to the centres for treatment wilt be met. In Geelong, 1 understand that services are provided at a day hospital to which the elderly can be brought and are brought and which is maintained by the citizens of Geelong and the Victorian Government in co-operation. The Minister is in no small measure of doubt as to whether any assistance will be granted. The provision here seems to be that the service is to be rendered only in the home. Only then wilt the contribution be made.
Now, the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) in the other place, for the information of the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) who acts for him here, has claimed on one occasion that the Commonwealth does provide this assistance but on a subsequent occasion he claimed that he was in extreme doubt as to whether any provision was made for those cases. What will be the position of those people who go to a chiropodist for attention? What will’ be the position of people who attend speech therapists at, say, their consulting rooms or offices? If persons go for speech therapy treatment, occupational therapy or physiotherapy, will any assistance be afforded them, or will they be denied that assistance because they are able to leave their homes?
These people are in urgent and dire need of this attention. No financial provision is made to provide any assistance for them. That is why I say that not much thought goes into the legislation that is sponsored on many occasions by this Government. How can we expect this thought to be given when the Government comes down with such a rush of legislation at the end of every sessional period? I want to make one suggestion.
– This was announced last February. The honourable senator knows that.
– .1 beg the honourable senator’s pardon?
– The broad pattern of the proposal was announced in February of this year.
– Yes, but not in concrete terms. A broad outline was presented. We have placed before us something that is termed a Bill, but it does not contain even concrete proposals. That is the quarrel that I have. I know that the broad concept of the proposal was announced. But the Government has announced so many things in the past. It has announced in the past that it would abolish the means test. Mr Wentworth, the present Minister for Social Services, wrote articles and magged to the newspapers. He got a spread of publicity about what he was going to do about the means test. But when he got the opportunity, he did nothing.
– What about putting value back into the £1?
– That is so long ago that even the people have forgotten it. The position in relation to these services should be cleared up. Adequate, concrete provision should be made in this respect.
I turn to the matter of nursing homes. The Government belatedly has realised that there are so many people who are not provided for and that a large percentage of those in need of nursing home care cannot afford to go to a nursing home. I know that not so long ago - in fact, from 1st January of this year - the Government saw fit to provide an extra $3 a day in addition to the $2 already being provided. As from 1st January that extra $3 per day was provided so that those in need could receive intensive nursing home care. But the position is that practically all the nursing homes throughout Australia increased their charges in January last. Those charges are now as high as $62 per week. In certain cases, those who are in need of intensive nursing care are paying an extra $10 per week. In some cases an extra $20 per week is being paid. When we allow for the fact that the extra grant made available by this ‘over-generous’ Government amounts to $21 per week we can see that nothing much extra is available in this provision for the pensioner. That $3 per day does not go very far in meeting the remainder of the weekly bill for these persons at nursing homes. Consequently, we can see that this Government has not been over-generous. It never knew how to be over-generous and it never intends to be over-generous.
The Minister for Health in another place claimed that the S5m to be provided by the Commonwealth would be associated with another $5m to be provided by the various States. When this money will be provided, no-one knows. Up to the present, the only State that has signified agreement to enter into this scheme is Queensland. New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania signified to the Minister that they were considering the scheme. But the Premier of Victoria has said that he could not possibly enter into such a scheme until the financial relationship between the States and the Commonwealth was settled to his satisfaction. You can see, Madam Acting Deputy President, that in your State not much will happen under this scheme.
The Minister did claim in the other place that this scheme will provide an extra 1,000 beds in nursing homes. Do you know, Madam Acting Deputy President, how many people are seeking beds in Victoria alone? Between 3,000 and 4,000 people are seeking beds in nursing homes in Victoria. If we relate that figure to the overall Australian situation we can see that there are about 10,000 in urgent need, in dire necessity and crying out for accommodation in nursing homes. The Government has never discharged efficiently or responsibly its obligation in relation to nursing homes and their standard. Some of them are quite good. Some of them are shocking dives which we would not allow anyone to enter. Yet people are forced into those homes.
Here the Government comes along with a miserable $Sm and says that it will play its part in providing another 1,000 beds in nursing homes and that those beds will be made available at a reduced rate to people who cannot afford to pay the fees charged by nursing homes. Who will determine what the weekly fee - the weekly tariff, we might term it - will be for these so-called public nursing home beds? There is no suggestion in the Bill that the Federal Government will determine tha* fee. In these measures, as in so many other measures, the Government just says: ‘We will give you so much, and we are finished with you. It is up to you, as States, to do the rest.’
We recognise that, in the case of health, as in the case of education, it is the constitutional responsibility of the States to provide the services. But we know that, for all practical purposes, it is the financial responsibility of the Federal Government to provide these services. The Federal Government is not prepared to accept its responsibilities; nor is it prepared at any time to discharge its obligation in relation to these particular needs. I say that this Government is bankrupt in its approach to this matter and is devoid of real ideas regarding its social responsibilities. It will not accept its real responsibilities particularly in relation to health.
If I may parallel the circumstances of health with education, we know that the Commonwealth will meet the needs in the educational field in the Australian Capital Territory by providing primary and secondary schools. It will meet the education needs in the Northern Territory, lt will do so as it sees fit. It will assist primary schools and independent schools in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. But in relation to the States the Commonwealth will do absolutely nothing; nor has it signified that it intends to give consideration to the education problems in the States.
– Is the honourable senator discussing education on these Bills?
– No. 1 am drawing a parallel between the circumstances that exist regarding the role of the Commonwealth in the field of education and its inefficient and irresponsible administration regarding health matters with which the Minister is concerned. That is why I am drawing that parallel. I am drawing it for the information of the Minister and honourable senators so that they will know the part that they play in an inefficient machine on the Government side. That was all that I was doing, Madam Minister, with all due deference to you. I do suggest that no need exists for a future occurrence similar to what has happened today if each of the 5 Ministers who sit in this Senate will vow that he or she will bring down his or her legislation early in the sittings. Then we will not have a repetition of what has happened in this period. Senate Ministers are not answerable to the 21 Ministers in the other place, but they might make that suggestion to those Ministers. Not one of these Bills need have been delayed until today. As someone has said, the broad principle of the Bills that we are considering was announced some considerable time ago. The Government now has 2i months before the next sittings of this Parliament commence. So I suggest that Ministers put their ideas in concrete terms before the Parliamentary draftsman so that he can present those ideas in the form of Bills to Ministers. The Ministers can consider those Bills, have them approved by Cabinet and then introduced into the Parliament early in the next session.
I regret that it is due to the procrastination, the laziness and the inefficiency of the Government in relation to this matter that such an urgent consideration of these Bills is necessitated now. I know that the Minister is anxious to finish. The Senate is half empty now. Most honourable senators have gone now. They have caught the planes that left at half-past four or half-past five. Here we are struggling on at six o’clock. The Government wants to finish the business of the. Senate. I know that you, Madam Minister, wish to finish these Bills, irrespective of how little they really mean to the general welfare of the Australian people, how few they will affect favourably and what little contribution they will make to the real health needs of the community. I appeal to the Minister here to see that the Minister for Health brings down a concrete plan to meet the real needs of the community in relation to medical, hospital and ancillary service needs.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting of the Senate was suspended most honourable senators were beginning to agree with me in my justifiable castigation and condemnation of the Government for its parsimonious approach to the legitimate needs of people in dire necessity. In the few minutes available to me I wish to speak in some measure to the three Bills which are now before the Senate. The States Grants (Home Care) Bill is designed to grant financial assistance to the States for the provision of certain home care and other welfare services by States, local governing bodies and community welfare organisations. Part I of the Bill deals with definitions. Part II of the Bill deals with home care services. It refers to the provision of a home care service wholly or mainly for aged persons in respect of which the State proposes to incur expenditure. We know how justifiable the provision of home care service is. The Government realises this, and so does the Opposition. But I think that the Government is a bit miserable in its approach to this matter, when one realises the enormity of the problem and the availability of home care service to meet the needs of the people. We know that people in homes are wholly or partially disabled. They are in need of home care assistance from outside people. But this requires money. The amount of money to be made available for home care services is not such a large sum, even when we take into consideration that the Commonwealth grant is to be matched by the States which participate in the scheme. When we look at the amounts which are being made available by the individual States, we find that at present Victoria and New South Wales are in some small measure attempting to meet these needs from their own financial resources. But it does not go very far towards meeting the total needs. In many States a system of home care services has yet to be established. It will have to be inaugurated, and there are always charges associated with the inauguration of any scheme. The Bill refers to home care services wholly or mainly for aged persons. Many young people are in need of help. These people have been disabled, sometimes in accidents. I think that the Government might have defined the measure of aid more clearly so that the States would be in no quandary as to whether people would attract Commonwealth assistance.
As I mentioned previously, there is no suggestion of any provision being made for structural alterations to meet the legitimate needs of people living in their own dwellings. For example, there could be structural alterations in relation to bathroom requirements, toilet requirements or ramps for those who may be in wheelchairs. These requirements are needed in every day life. These are .the real needs of the people. Very often these people or their relatives have not the financial resources to meet these needs. It is not unreasonable to expect any government possessed of one iota of social consciousness to assist in meeting these needs. I suggest that the Government might have given some consideration to these particular needs, but it is not unlike the Government to miss many of the important features which need to be met by the Government. The Government is to meet only half the cost of providing home care services.
Part III of the Bill relates to senior citizens’ centres. Reference is made to the provision of an approved welfare service by a senior citizens’ centre. The Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) in her second reading speech said that one-third of the money could be provided by the Commonwealth for the establishment of senior citizens’ welfare centres. But this matter has not been spelled out in definite terms in the Bill. The Bill refers to the provision of an approved welfare service by a senior citizens’ centre. To me that presupposes that a senior citizens’ welfare centre is established; that it is an entity already functioning and providing a service, such as the Meals on Wheels service, or the service provided by welfare officers. As I have mentioned, there is no provision to assist people who come to these centres for attention, other than in the simple way of providing one-half of the salary of one welfare officer. It is quite easy to visualise a senior citizens’ welfare centre embracing a sufficient number of people to justify the employment of two welfare officers. But the Government, in its parsimonious approach, specifically states that it will not meet any portion of the salary of a second or subsequent welfare officer. It will meet only one-half of the salary of one welfare officer. Surely it should not have been beyond the capacity of the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) to have visualised the necessity and justification for meeting in part the salary of a second or subsequent welfare officer employed by a senior citizens’ welfare centre.
The States Grants (Nursing Homes) Bill is designed to grant financial assistance to the States in relation to nursing homes for aged persons. As we know, by and large, the need to provide nursing homes is met by private enterprise. I think that the preservation of health and the maintenance of the physical and mental well-being of people are matters beyond the role to be played by private enterprise. It is a basic right of individuals. Consequently, it should be a basic responsibility of the State or, in this case, the nation, to provide the necessary finance to meet these needs. The good health of the community is certainly an economic contribution to the well-being of society and of the nation. So 1 suggest that the provision of nursing homes should never have been entrusted to private enterprise. From the commencement it should have been the responsibility of the States and of the nation. Frankly, 1 think it would be a better service and it would represent a more efficient contribution to the physical well-being of people if the control of nursing homes were associated in some measure with the control of hospital’s. The administration of nursing homes should be vested in public authorities, not in private enterprise.
Every honourable senator has visited many nursing homes, and he or she has seen the conditions under which many people in these homes exist. In some cases the accommodation is almost ideal and the service is constant and efficient. But in other cases the accommodation leaves very much to be desired. The Commonwealth makes a payment of $2 per day per bed for inmates of nursing homes, but the actual approval of nursing homes is vested in the States. The Commonwealth accepts the nursing homes which have been approved by the States for the purpose of registration as nursing homes. There is a lot of confusion in association with nursing homes, because many of them term themselves private hospitals. But the unfortunate patients who enter these nursing homes and who happen to be enrolled in medical and hospital benefit funds do not receive benefits from these funds. So at the end of the week when these people are handed their account and they make a claim on their medical and hospital benefit funds they find that they are not entitled to any reimbursement. This causes financial hardship to individuals and to families. I think that this matter should be clarified. I know that in some cases some of the funds are not too hard and that if they consider that people who have been discharged from hospital are still in need of hospital care and are given some measure of hospital care in nursing homes, they will make an ex gratia payment amounting to the benefit which would have been paid if the people had been in a hospital. But this is not the usual practice.
As I said previously, the Commonwealth provides a subsidy of S2 per day per bed, but it is many years since nursing homes have charged $28, $32 or $36 per week for a bed. They are now charging more than $60 per week per bed. When it is remembered that many of these people in nursing homes are in receipt of a pension, and little more, and that they have to look to their families for financial assistance, it can be realised that the Commonwealth subsidy of $14 per week does not go very far towards meeting the needs of these people. The Government claims that by means of this legislation it is providing a measure of assistance for the establishment of nursing homes, the beds in which would be made available to patients at a lower rate than that which obtains in the private nursing homes. The amount that is being made available by the Government is $5m over 5 years to all the States. It is suggested that this amount, allowing say $10,000 for each bed, will provide for 1,000 beds. I suggest that that amount will not go very far towards meeting the real needs of the people when we consider that there are more than 10,000 people in Australia seeking accommodation in nursing homes. Some of them are drifting into places that are far from the best in terms of accommodation.
Many nursing homes in Queensland, and I know that the same is true of other States, are old homes that have been converted to nursing homes. In many instances they provide a magnificent financial return to the proprietors. They have been utilised for the purpose of making an investment and receiving a handsome return. They do not provide the best food. They are not properly staffed and the care leaves a lot to be desired. In many cases the older people are left more or less to themselves, and when you visit those places the inmates give the impression oi complete neglect. It is not an ideal existence for those people in this day and age. when there is supposed to be a humanitarian spirit triumphant. In fact, it is very far divorced from the state of affairs that would be provided if the legislators and those who control the purse strings of this country had a real sense of their responsibilities. So I say that this $5m, together with the $5m to be provided by the six States, does not represent very much in the way of alleviation of the circumstances of the people in nursing homes. At the present time Victoria is claiming that it could do with between 1,500 and 2,000 beds run and controlled by the State. That certainly suggests that the Commonwealth Government has not given very serious consideration to this matter and has not made a close analysis of the needs that exist at present. I say again that this legislation typifies the miserable, parsimonious approach that is so characteristic of the Government in relation to the social needs of the people.
The States Grants (Paramedical Services) Bill seeks to provide financial assistance in relation to the provision of paramedical services for aged persons. The finance that is being made available is supposed to provide for speech therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and chiropody. As I mentioned earlier, if this money were to be devoted to the needs of pensioners alone it would provide for the care of one toenail once a year in the field of chiropody-
– The honourable senator told us that before dinner.
– I have never been rude enough to interrupt Senator Davidson when he has been speaking. If he wants a lesson in good manners he should come to me some time and I will coach him. He might then be able to behave like a gentleman on occasions when that is necessary. As I was saying, this amount would provide care for one toenail for one pensioner in four, once a year. Again T ask: How mean can you be? Let us forget about speech therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy. If we want to be terribly smart about this, all we have to do is sit down and work out a simple mathematical sum. It will be seen that the amount of money that the Federal Government is making available will provide a minimum salary for 60 chiropodists, 60 speech therapists, 60 occupational therapists or 60 physiotherapists. It will not provide salaries for 240 therapists. It will provide for only 60.
When we think of the large numbers of people throughout Australia who are in need of this type of care we can realise just how far short this sum will fall of meeting the legitimate needs of the people who require care. Once again I suggest that the Government has been guilty of a piecemeal approach. It believes in legislation by fragmentation. Health services are too important and too much a basic right of the individual in this modern age to be approached in a piecemeal or fragmented way. All the measures now before the Senate are desirable in their own small way, but they will do no more than meet the needs in a minute way. The Government should seriously consider the health problems of this nation and face up to its responsibility to provide an overall efficient service to meet the health, medical, hospital and ancillary care needs of the community.
It should not be forgotten that in regard to expenditure on such services it may be necessary to provide for higher taxation. The Government should not think that such services can be provided on the cheap. As recently as 2 years ago the people of Australia spent more than $ 1,200m in providing these services for themselves. Some of the services certainly were provided by the Government but of course the money to pay for them came from the people in the form of taxation. Some contribution was made by the various medical and hospital funds, but again the contributions to those funds came from the people and it was the people who provided the balance either directly or indirectly. So, in effect the people of Australia spent more than $100 for every man, woman and child in this country. Surely when the people spend such a large amount the Government should be efficient enough to ensure that the people receive much better services than they receive now. There should not be the haphazard approach which seems to be regarded as sufficient to meet the needs of the people and which repeatedly is boasted about by Government senators and members of the House of Representatives. They refer to the hospital and medical services in this country as being the best in the world, but in fact the services are very far removed from that, as most people know. The only people who do not know it, apparently, are supporters of the Government in this Parliament. Consequently, the Government should face the issue and realise that health services are a basic right of the people. They are too important to the nation to be dealt with haphazardly and allowed to drift along while the people are spending a lot of money, much of which is being wasted, and receiving very inefficient and ineffective services in return.
– The Senate has before it three Bills which are essentially States grants Bills. One Bill deals with home care, one with paramedical services and the third with nursing homes. Two of the Bills come within the portfolio of the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) and the other Bill comes within the portfolio of the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes). Both of those Ministers are represented in this chamber by the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin). At the outset I wish to remind the Senate, and I do so with some emphasis because 1 feel that in this respect I am supported by honourable senators on both sides of the chamber, that these Bills are three of a number of States grants Bills that are listed on the notice paper. Indeed, today there are no fewer than eight States grants Bills in various forms on the notice paper. Of those Bills four are either directly or indirectly related to the State of South Australia. All are related to the States.
It is a matter of considerable disappointment that these important Bills which relate to a wide variety of matters and concern all the States should have been left to be dealt with on not only the last day of this sessional period of the Parliament, but almost in the last hour of the sittings.
– The honourable senator is registering his protest also.
– I register it very forcibly and with conviction. I put that point of view to the Leader of the Government and I put it to the Senate. In the average sessional period we might have one or two, or perhaps three, urgency motions but during the past few weeks we have had to deal with no fewer than five. Consideration of these motions, in combination with other circumstances, has tended to hold up the business of the Senate. Some of the measures before us tonight have been on the notice paper for a period which would justify their being dealt with at an earlier stage. It is a matter of considerable disappointment to South Australian senators that four States grants Bills in relation to which not only Government senators but also Opposition senators wish to advance arguments having a sharp edge should come before us not within the last week of the sessional period, not within the last day, but within the last few hours. As I said earlier, we feel rather keenly about what has happened. It is not good enough.
The first of the measures we are now debating deals with paramedical services, the second one deals with nursing homes, and the third one with home care. The first measure provides for the payment of a subsidy by the Commonwealth on a $1 for $1 basis in respect of expenditure incurred by the States in the provision of paramedical services, which are ancillary to existing medical services. The total grant to be provided will be $230,000 a year and it is to be made available in proportions equated to the State populations. It is interesting to note that the Parliament may appropriate in any given year a larger sum than that suggested should the need arise, lt is important to observe that the paramedical services which it is expected will be covered by the scheme include physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, chiropody and other similar services.
The purpose of the second Bill is to provide financial assistance to the States for State run nursing homes. This legislation is another progressive step by the Government in its long and successful programme of social welfare. The provision of nursing homes has occupied the thoughts and attention of all of us, as we have not been satisfied with the situation that has existed in the past. The proposed grant of $5m to provide additional State run nursing homes will go only part of the way to meet the need. I hope it is but the beginning of an effort to provide additional nursing homes and care for people who will remain in bed for a considerable period. We are glad to know that the Government has realised that there is a shortage of low cost nursing homes. This Bill has been introduced to provide for the care of people who are described as persons of few means.
The third measure, which makes provision for home care, interests me in another way. It will enable the Commonwealth’s offer to the States of grants of up to $500,000 in the aggregate, apportioned on the basis of population, to be put into effect. Amongst other things it provides for housekeeper and home aid services for people in their own homes. The Government has expressed the hope that all the States, particularly those which have not been as advanced as others in this respect, will readily come into the scheme so that olde: members of the community who are in need of such services will be able to enjoy them. Associated with this scheme is the development of senior citizens centres and the appointment of welfare officers.
In recent years we have moved into an era which has seen the establishment of many aged persons homes. There are thousands of these institutions across Australia, aH of them extremely good and many of them run by charitable organisations, churches and various committees and institutions. The establishment of these homes has enabled our senior citizens to spend their days not only happily but also in comfort and security and above all removed from the awful condition of loneliness which very often besets older people. No matter how well an aged persons home is run, there is always public controversy as to whether or not elderly mothers, fathers, aunts or other relatives should be taken out of the homes in which they have spent their lives and placed in homes which, however comfortable they may be, can be described rightly or wrongly as being institutions. When this legislation is passed a great number of people in the Australian community will be able to remain in their own homes and receive, in addition to any other care that is available, this form of assistance at government level.
The programme we are now considering has been evolved as a result of consultations and inquiries that have been conducted over a period of time in a genuine effort to work out a unified programme of care. There is a widespread feeling that a unified programme should be developed throughout Australia. I rather adhere to the view that we do not need right across the country a programme that is of one pattern and which is without any variety or variation. But I predict that, as time goes by and the Commonwealth Government comes increasingly into this sphere of service, some guidelines or a relatively uniform pattern of care must be laid down so that the government of the day will know where it is going and so that the people of Australia will be able to work on lines that they can safely anticipate. There is an additional measure of interest in these three Bills because, in addition to providing for grants to the States, they provide for a measure of liaison between the Commonwealth and the States, between the Commonwealth and communities through the States, and between the Commonwealth and local government through the States and the various communities. There are lots of aspects of this legislation which appeal, and I hope it will provide a springboard for further development and further intensive action.
At this point I voice my disagreement with the use of the term ‘parsimonious’, repeatedly used by Senator Dittmer, in relation to the measures now before the Senate. The overall programme towards which the Government is working has sprung, as I think most honourable senators know, from the attitude of the Government as expressed by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) when he said that no nation can be great unless it seeks not only materially to progress but also to take care of the weaker citizens within it, the aged citizens within it and the ill within it. When such a welfare programme is put into effect, we seek not only to identify those who are in need but also to provide them with the extra help that they may require. It is a <fairly natural and fairly human facet of life that the more that is given the more is expected. We note with appreciation and approval the response that communities and organisations make to the support which is given by the Government. At the same time it must be pointed out that assistance is not without limit. I noted with a very great deal of interest that Senator Dittmer in his treatment of the measures stated with emphasis that this called for higher taxation. He called for more people to pay more money towards this end. If we accept his philosophy that the total care of the people is the entire responsibility of the State, we move into the complete welfare state and we have seen enough evidence of this in countries during our own time to know that this has its disadvantages.
I return now to the Bills and the source from which they have sprung. The Treasurer (Mr McMahon), when speaking to the Budget last year, referred to the fact that the Government was prepared to go beyond the established fields of welfare assistance into areas where facilities were not at the present time available or were inadequate. I think he referred to the development of home care and related services particularly for aged people. It is also very important to emphasise at this point that the programme relates to the care not only of aged people but also of other people. This enables me to introduce into my speech for the first time the area of flexibility and the area of discretion. I would think that it possibly introduces these areas for the first time into the Government’s social services programme. Those of us who work in greater or lesser degree in relation to these matters have always been impressed by the consideration and discretion shown to us by officers of the Department of Health and the Department of Social Services in the programme of care for aged or needy people but I think that probably for the first time the matter of flexibility is brought forward with a greater degree of emphasis and in relation to a greater area.
Two or three factors emerge from a consideration of flexibility and discretion. One is that comprehensive services are not exclusively for the aged although I imagine that they will, in the major part, be of that character. There are certain sets of circumstances in which needy citizens in the community require to be cared for although they are nor ‘necessarily aged persons. I think in the Minister’s second reading speech on one of these Bills there was reference to considerable flexibility and to the fact that there may be situations in which extension of housekeeper and home help services on a permanent basis would be justified although all the occupants of a household may not be aged persons. The suggestion was made that a household may be occupied by permanent invalids. I express the hope that this flexibility will be exercised with wisdom and discretion.
Another matter that arises out of this within the context in which I am speaking is that it is altogether wise and commendable to have legislation that will care for people who are in need. Any welfare or social services programme must care for those who are in what we call less fortunate circumstances. All of us who have any thoughts about this subject maintain that the need for this sort of thinking is paramount. It is basic to all of our activities in the care of people within our society. But I do not think we should overlook the fact that there is a characteristic common to aged persons, whether they are rich or poor, whether they are comfortably off or whether they may be described as being in less fortunate circumstances. Obviously, they are all old and therefore they have the emotional situations and circumstances of old people, and the chances are that, especially in today’s society, they are lonely people. Therefore, the Government’s programme for care, whether it be in home nursing, home care, or the homes for the aged that we now have, should provide for all aged persons and all needy persons. In the various facets of the legislation couched in the three Bills that are before us I see many opportunities on the part of the Government for the provision of services. There are also opportunities on the part of the community for the provision of company and companionship by people who are interested and sympathetic. I hope that the departments will co-operate with all authorities in the community to the extent that the legislation will work out satisfactorily. I approve warmly of the measures providing for flexibility and discretion but sometimes under certain circumstances these two attributes can be interpreted as lacking direction and co-ordination. I hope that when the Minister replies and when the measures come into effect there will be assurances on these matters.
I should like to ask a few questions particularly in relation to the welfare workers to whom the Minister refers with enthusiasm. Can anybody tell me whether there are enough welfare workers in Australia with experience and ability to meet the needs that will arise? When this legislation is put fully into effect we shall have many more senior citizens’ centres than we have at present. All of us have had experience of these excellent institutions in our communities. When we have many more of them, will there be enough people to service them? If there are people to service them, is there anything in the legislation or in the contemplation of the Department concerned about the standards of persons who will qualify to be welfare workers? Will a welfare worker in New South Wales be suitable for an institution in Western Australia or in South Australia and vice versa? If a social worker with the necessary qualifications is employed in a lesser capacity at a senior citizens’ centre, is this making good use of that person’s ability? More importantly, is it making good use of the Government’s money? We do not want to have people of superior ability spending their time on what are lesser matters.
There are some matters that need to be denned a little more clearly and a little more directly than the measures before us seem to indicate. The Government might consider a gathering together at some time of community agencies, local government authorities and State governments which are involved in the care of needy citizens at every level in order to work out a relatively unified approach. The measures that are before us contemplate a combination of the Commonwealth, State, local government and community organisations that are doing this kind of work. We have a very involved and complex series of health and community services. It seems to me that as these kinds of services grow, with the amount of money that is involved, some pattern of co-ordination might well be worked out not necessarily to direct or control them but so that the extensive Government monetary provision may be applied to the best use. With those observations, I have pleasure in supporting the three measures that are before the Senate tonight.
[8.41] - in reply - I thank Senator Dittmer and Senator Davidson, the two honourable senators who have spoken on the three Bills that are now before the Senate. These Bills were dealt with by the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) and the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) in the other place, but I have the responsibility for them here. It is a very great privilege to be associated with such legislation, which I believe will do so much for those in need in the community.
I believe that we should look for a moment at the second reading speeches which I delivered earlier and which describe briefly the importance of the work that this legislation will bring into being. In the second reading speech on the States Grants (Home Care) Bill I said:
Honourable senators will be aware of the Government’s resolute intention to implement its programme of assistance to the aged, particularly the frail aged and the needy aged. . . .
This Bill represents another step towards the Government objective. . . . These measures, together with this Bill, reflect discussions between the Commonwealth and ‘ the States towards the development of an effective programme of help for the elderly and the needy.
In the second reading speech on the States Grants (Paramedical Services) Bill I said:
The Bill provides for a subsidy by the Commonwealth on a dollar for dollar basis in respect of expenditure incurred by the States in the provision of paramedical services to aged persons in their homes.
In the second reading speech on the States Grants (Nursing Homes) Bill I said:
One of the aims of the home care programme is to provide services to elderly people so that they may continue to live in a reasonable degree of comfort and wellbeing in their own homes. Without these services, some at least would need to be admitted to a hospital or nursing home. Notwithstanding this it is recognised by the Government that there will always be a need for nursing borne accommodation for those people who, because of their condition, cannot be given appropriate nursing and medical treatment in their own homes.
Because of those points upon which 1 have just touched, I believe that this legislation will be invaluable to very many people in the community. Senator Davidson has spoken of the flexibility in the legislation. This is tremendously important. I believe that I would do well to remind the Senate of a comment made by the Minister for Health in another place when he gave an assurance that the Bills were not designed to be inflexible and that the scheme was intended to be a living and growing thing. Surely this is a forward looking programme. 1 believe that everyone of us in this chamber will appreciate that. I hope that Senator Dittmer will forgive me if I reply first to Senator Davidson, who was the last speaker, and work up to his remarks. Senator Davidson asked whether we thought there would be sufficient welfare workers. The information 1 have is that welfare workers are in short supply but this scheme will help to encourage their training. We believe that in that way it will be of very great value.
Senator Dittmer made comments concerning nursing homes to which I believe I should reply. He spoke about the States providing beds in nursing homes. I say to him that the States Grants (Nursing Homes) Bill is aimed at encouraging the States to provide a greater number of State nursing home beds, particularly for people of limited means. I think that is something that would be appreciated by the honourable senator. He also spoke about sub-standard nursing homes. I say to him in reply that the standards for the licensing of nursing homes are essentially a State responsibility and that Commonwealth nursing home benefits are payable in respect of patients in those homes approved under State legislation.
Senator Dittmer also spoke about what he was pleased to call the ‘Commonwealth’s miserable $2 a day*. That was not an accurate statement and I do not agree with his charge. I inform him that approximately 40% of patients in nursing homes are expected to qualify for the supplementary benefit of $3 a day in addition to the $2 a day paid to all approved patients in approved nursing homes.
– The Minister should ask the recipients about that.
– I think the honourable senator would find it interesting if he would be quiet for a change and listen to me. He also spoke of the effect on charges of the introduction of the $3 a day benefit for intensive nursing home care from 1st January 1969. In reply to him I say that not all homes adjusted fees to absorb the whole of the benefit in increased charges. I felt that the honourable senator implied this, if he did not actually say it. Some of the homes absorbed only part of the benefit and some absorbed none of it. Then the honourable senator spoke-
– The Minister does not mind if I correct her occasionally and just point out the truth, does she?
– I do not think that is necessary at all because I am giving all the answers. It is when people do not give answers that that has to be done. All. the honourable senator has to do is sit and listen. He will be surprised how well equipped with information he will be after I have finished.
He also spoke of the amount of $250,000 provided under the States Grants (Paramedical Services) Bill. I say to him that the States themselves suggested the $250,000. In fact, that figure can be exceeded if the Parliament, in the annual appropriation, appropriates greater amounts. So that figure is not final. The State proposal is on the basis that it will lay the foundation for a realistic attack on the problems of disabled old people who are seeking to be restored to some degree of independence outside of institutions. The honourable senator also referred to home care services. He asked about amounts additional to those in the table. Perhaps I did not quite catch the point; but that was it, as I understood it. I draw his attention to the fact that clause 6 of Part II provides that amounts additional to those in the table may be appropriated. Senator Dittmer or Senator Davidson - I am not certain which, perhaps both of them - spoke about welfare officers and whether the grant would be in respect of only one welfare officer employed by a senior citizens centre. Under clause 10 (2.) it is open to the Minister to approve of grants in respect of more than one welfare officer employed by a senior citizens centre. I think that answers the point Senator Dittmer raised. Maybe it also answers Senator Davidson’s point.
I think I should mention some things the Government has done, because people are a little inclined to forget them. I remind the Senate that all this legislation is of great assistance to people in their homes and people in nursing homes, but as far back as 1956 the Government provided a subsidy towards the cost of home nursing services throughout Australia. Currently the Commonwealth is providing a subsidy of the order of $800,000 a year to home nursing services. I am sure that all honourable senators who go about the electorate as I do see the wonderful bands of home nursing people who go into homes and care for people in need. The provision of this subsidy was one of the earliest things done in this field. I believe that it is important for us to remember that when we are looking at these other schemes in the programme of home care.
Senator Dittmer also complained that no capital assistance was given for structural repairs. I draw to his attention and also to the attention of other honourable senators the following comment which I made in the second reading speech on the States Grants (Home Care) Bill and which I believe constitutes a reply to all the criticism and comment Senator Dittmer has made:
We regard this, of course, as a first step in a programme and look, forward to further developments in coming years.
This is surely one of the most important comments made in the speech. Ever since this Government came into office it has appreciated the problems of the aged and of those in need. We now begin on a programme which will start with the passing of this legislation tonight. This is the first step in the programme. We look forward to the further developments which I believe will be constantly in the minds of the Ministers for Health and Social Services.
I thank the honourable senators who have spoken in the debate tonight. J trust that this Bill and the associated measures will be given a speedy passage through the Senate because I believe that as we take part in this discussion we are not only taking part in the passage of a very important piece of legislation but also making it possible for Australians, whether they be frail, aged or in need, in various sections of the community, to be given the assistance which will be of great benefit to them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 29 May (vide page 1762), on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 29 May (vide page 1763), on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 29 May (vide p;ige 1765), on motion by Senator Scott:
That the Bill be now read a second lime.
– Before the debate is resumed on this Bill I suggest that it may suit the convenience of the Senate to have a general debate covering this Bill, the New South Wales Grant (Gwydir River Dam) Bill and the Victoria Grant (King River Dam) Bill as they are related measures. Separate questions may, of course, be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest, therefore, Mr President, that, you permit the subject matter of the three Bills to be discussed in this debate.
– Is it the wish of the Senate to have a general debate covering the three measures? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
– These Bills deal with grants to the States of South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales to enable them to undertake certain projects. The first measure is to grant financial assistance to the State of South Australia in connection with the construction of a pipeline from Tailem Bend to Keith and for certain associated works. The second measure is to grant financial assistance to the State of New South Wales in connection with the construction of a dam on the Gwydir River near Copeton. The third Bill is to grant financial assistance to the State of Victoria in connection with the construction of a dam on the King River south of Cheshunt in that State.
– A wonderful site for a dam, Senator.
– I shall take Senator Webster’s word for that. Before I begin my remarks on the Bills I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Senator Cameron on his maiden speech which was delivered in this place last week. This is the first opportunity that I have had to congratulate him, although there is a possibility that one day in the near future he may be making his second maiden speech. 1 agree with Senator Davidson and other honourable senators who have criticised the amount of legislation that has been brought down at this late hour of this sessional period of the Parliament. 1 agree with other honourable senators who have said that much more debate could have taken place on many of the more important Bills, but of course the House of Representatives has concluded its sittings and we are now carrying on the work on the second silting day of this week. We criticise strongly the way in which the business has been brought before the Senate. It has been suggested that this might have been due partly to some of the matters of urgency introduced by the Opposition, but my recollection is that from the beginning of the sessional period the Senate would have been struggling for business to transact if it had not been for some of these matters of urgency that were brought on. If honourable senators take their minds back I think they will agree with me.
The first Bill1 to which I refer is the one dealing with financial assistance to the State of South Australia. This Bill is to provide $6m towards the cost of the $14m pipeline which is being constructed from Tailem Bend to Keith in South Australia. Anyone who knows the area will agree that it is one of the very dry areas of a dry State. The Opposition believes that this project will be of great help to the area which is not so very far away from” what was once known as the 90-mile desert. This 90-mile desert area at one time would support neither stock nor crops. Thanks to the good work of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation it was discovered that the area lacked certain trace elements. These elements have now been applied to the land with the result that what was once the 90-mile desert is now supporting a large number of farms.
The Opposition does not oppose the Bill. We welcome any proposal aimed at providing water not only for rural lands but also for urban and industrial use. All will agree that South Australia is the driest State in the Commonwealth, but I am worried about the fact that by the proposal under consideration we shall be tapping still more water from the River Murray, which is South Australia’s lifeline. There must come a time when we shall have to consider very seriously whether it is wise to draw any more water from the River Murray. As I have said, it is the lifeline of South Australia and it is essential that we do everything possible to conserve its waters. The area which will benefit under this Bill is downstream from the irrigation areas and it would be hard to estimate the amount of water that will be utilised in the project.
We all remember the debates that took place concerning the proposals for the Dartmouth and Chowilla dams. During that debate South Australia was promised another i million acre feet of water from the Dartmouth Dam, But I cannot recall the Minister stating at any time during that debate that South Australia would be guaranteed this additional amount of water in a dry year. This gives one food for serious thought. If the additional water is to be available in a dry year, well and good. If it is not to be available then, should we experience another dry year similar to 1967-68, the taking of this extra water for the proposal under consideration might have an adverse effect on the irrigation areas higher up the Murray.
It is pleasing to the Opposition to see another area being served by a pipeline. Water is being reticulated through many miles of pipeline in South Australia now thanks to the policy adopted by the various governments of that State over the years. Although the people of South Australia will welcome the additional pipeline now proposed, I cannot help but feel thai they would have been much happier if we had been debating a Bill designed to grant money to the South Australian Government to construct the Chowilla Dam. I am certain that at some time in the future this dam will have to be built. It has been pointed out that extra water will be available as a result of the construction of Dartmouth Dam but, after that water passes from Mildura it will eventually run into the sea. Most South Australians feel that it should be harnessed at Chowilla for then, if we were unfortunate enough to experience another dry year, we could draw upon the Chowilla storage to keep up the supply to South Australia from the River Murray. I repeat that the Opposition does not oppose the Bill but we would have been much happier if we were debating a Bill designed to enable South Australia to complete the Chowilla project for we are convinced that eventually it will become essential that this dam be constructed to ensure an adequate water supply for that State.
The second Bill relates to the construction of a dam on the Gwydir River. Wherever water is stored, it is a good thing for Australia. More and more dams should be built wherever it is possible to construct them. The Government should see to it that money is available at all times so that the various States will be able to engage in water conservation projects whenever they so desire.
The third Bill relates to the expenditure of money on the construction of a rock filled dam on the King River which will store 10,000 acre feet of water. The amount involved is approximately $4m. The expenditure envisaged for South Australia is $6m. The amount proposed to be granted to New South Wales by this Government to build the dam on the Gwydir River is $20m. The Opposition does not oppose this Bill, but again we ask the Government to give some thought to making possible the construction of the Chowilla Dam in the near future.
I rise to support the three Bills collectively and I am very pleased to hear that the Australian Labor Party proposes to support them. As this is the first time I have spoken since our new South Australian colleague, Senator Cameron, has been appointed to this place, I join with other honourable senators in congratulating him on his maiden speech. I extend a particular welcome to him as another South Australian in this place. I trust that, he will not only make a valuable contribution on behalf of South Australia in this House of the national
Parliament but will also gain a great deal of pleasure from his association with the Senate.
– And for many years.
– As Senator Davidson has said - for many years. I congratulate the Government upon its national water resources development programme. As has been said many times, Australia is a very dry continent. Although on occasions water might be taken for granted, it is one of our most precious assets. This Government is very conscious of its value to Australia and, by its proposed development programme, is doing its best to ensure that water is conserved and used for the benefit of not one area or one State but of the nation as a whole.
This brings me back to the three Bills under consideration. Let me say at the outset that the Government has seen fit to programme for an expenditure of some $50m. By these three Bills, it has committed itself to grants amounting to $30m for three schemes. One of the schemes is the construction of the Fairbairn Dam in Queensland, on which some $20m is to be expended. The second relates to the expenditure of S3. 6m on solving the salinity problem in Victoria. This expenditure could represent one of those investments that will return advantages not only to the State in which the money is spent but also to the neighbouring State of South Australia. I was particularly pleased that the Government was realistic enough to make this S3. 6m available to assist in countering salinity in the lower areas of Victoria where it has become such a great problem. By this action, the Government has demonstrated its consciousness of the seriousness of salinity and, no doubt, having once begun the programme, as time goes on it will continue to do what it can to make sure that those who are serviced with water from the lower reaches of the River Murray will be assured of a supply of good water. So I do very wholeheartedly support this grant of $3.5m to counter the salinity in the River Murray system.
I was particularly pleased to see the grant to South Australia for the Tailem BendKeith pipeline of some $6m come into existence, and this is the one to which I want to refer specifically tonight. This pipeline was started back in 1946 by the South
Australian Government when the Keith district was not at the stage of development it is at today. Today it is a fact that this area has great potential productivity, but one of the limiting factors is availability of water. When the representatives of the area approached the State Government for a town water supply in 1946 the Government then set to work and drilled bores but was unable to find any good quality water whatsoever and so eventually decided to build a pipeline. Since the beginning of this pipeline development has gone on - I am referring now to the years 1963 and 1964 - and there have been great increases in the carrying capacity in numbers of sheep and cattle in the area.
One of the great problems for many of the people in this area is that they are unable to find sufficient quantities of good stock water even though the land is highly productive and the rainfall is very assured. This is because they are unable, because of the soil type, to get good catchments for dam storage of water. So when the summer period came many of these producers had to sell off stock because of the limiting factor of their supply of water. In 1963 a main pipeline was started to bring water from Tailem Bend on the Murray River. This, owing to many circumstances, has not been a quick process of development, but the present South Australian Government has pushed on with the development and the laying, of this main trunk line and I and all South Australian senators - as has been said tonight by Senator Drury - are particularly pleased to see a grant of some S6m by the Federal Government to support the development and completion of this pipeline. The estimated total cost of the pipeline is about $14m and the Federal grant, as I have said, is some $6m.
The great problem with this, although there is a distance of some 86 miles over which this pipeline has to be built to service the district, is that the district covers an area of some 3,000 square miles, which would require branch mains of some 500 miles. The Commonwealth Government will be able to assist greatly in the speedy development of the branch mains throughout this area to give a water service to the producers throughout the Keith district.
From this we will see a great increase in production because of the availability of a good, sure and regular water supply.
If I can, I want to turn again to this general overall policy of the Government with regard to the conservation of water. In turning to this subject I must be fair and say that the Federal Government since the introduction of this policy has had some thirty applications from all the States. We are dealing tonight with three States in particular, as I said - with New South Wales, Victoria with its salinity and South Australia with the Tailem Bend-Keith pipeline. But South Australia also made one application besides the Tailem Bend-Keith pipeline, and this was for the Lock-Kimba area on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. This is an extremely good wheat producing and sheep carrying area, but is one that is reliant purely on dams and catchments. It does not have the high rainfall of the south east or the upper south east of South Australia, and people in this district have been faced with great problems over many years. The township of Kimba itself has been reliant mainly on two big government dams, and for the last 10 years - possibly mors, but over many years anyway - in the summer time these townspeople have had to cart water into the town. This has been quite a problem. They cannot have any summer gardens whatsoever and they cannot keep many shrubs because they will not survive the summer. These people, because of the water restrictions, have had to put up with many hardships. So the State Government has set to work and at the present time is constructing a pipeline to the Kimba area which will be known as the Lock-Kimba pipeline. This will service an area of some 480,000 acres besides serving the Kimba township.
I know that Mr Jessop, the member for Grey in another place, has pushed for a long time for some Federal aid towards this scheme, but unfortunately the Federal Government feels it is not able at this stage to make any contribution towards the LockKimba pipeline. But I do hope, and I say this very fervently, that the Federal Government will see its way clear during the next Budget period to make an allocation to South Australia, in particular, to this area to increase the availability of water. This pipeline will cover a distance of some 68 miles and overall will COS about $3.5m. If we relate this back to the same exercise as that which has applied to the Tailem Bend-Keith pipeline this would cost the Federal Government in the vicinity of 81.5m. As I say, this is something that is not being built merely to serve a township, it is something that is being built to service an area which for so many years has been limited in its production because of the lack of availability of water supplies for quite a few months of the year. So here is an area where, in helping its development, we can also help the national income; and even though this .could be regarded as a grant it could also be regarded by the Commonwealth Government as an investment that will show a very good return, because we will see an increase in meat and wool production and in the possibilities for general development in this area.
I do hope that in the not too distant future the Federal Government will see its way clear to make some further grant to South Australia to assist in this area as no doubt it will make further grants to other States under this current scheme that has been set up under the national water resources development programme, and I hope that serious consideration and sympathetic consideration will be given to this other pipeline that is under construction when consideration is being given to water projects and resources throughout the Commonwealth. I support the Bill.
– The three Bills before the Senate, which are being taken collectively, relate to grants to the States of New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria for water development purposes. As Senator Drury has said, we of the Opposition do not oppose the measures. However, the Bill to which I wish to address my remarks is the New South Wales Grant (Gwydir River Dam) Bill which makes available to New South Wales a sum of $20m for the purpose of the construction of a dam on the Gwydir River at a place called Copeton. This Bill is of the utmost importance to New South Wales and particularly to people who reside in the north western part of New South Wales.
– Did the Government change the name from the Copeton Dam to the Gwydir River Dam?
– This development has commonly been referred to as the Copeton Dam project.’ The grant for this project was announced on 13th April and suddenly the proposed project became known as the ‘Gwydir River Dam’.
– Was that because there is to be a by-election?
– Of course, as Senator O’Byrne has just said, in 3 days time a by-election will take place in the Gwydir area. But I suggest that this Bill has been introduced after a great deal of pressure which has been applied on the Federal Government by the New South Wales LiberalCountry Party Government and also pressure that has been applied by the local residents within the Gwydir electorate.
– Do you oppose it?
– I do not oppose the Bill at all. However, I wish to mention something about the delay that has been involved in the introduction of the Bill.
– You are adding to the pressure.
– Yes, and 1 welcome the fact that this Government has seen the light of day to bring down this measure. The Minister for Works (Senator Wright) spoke for some 22) minutes this afternoon on the Judiciary Bill and said very little. I intend to speak only for about 10 minutes and to say a great deal on behalf of the people of New South Wales.
As I have said, this Bill has been brought in after a great deal of pressure had been applied to the Federal Government by the New South Wales Premier and the New South Wales Minister for Conservation. Pressure has also been applied to the Federal Government by a great number of residents from the Gwydir electorate of New South Wales. As a result of this pressure at long last the Government has seen the light of day and has introduced this measure. The Opposition welcomes the introduction of this legislation although, as Senator O’Byrne inferred by way of interjection, perhaps there is some significance in the fact that the Bill1 is being dealt with at a time when a Federal by-election will be held in the electorate of Gwydir - next Saturday.
Honourable senators will recall that on 26th March this year I presented a petition to the Senate on behal’f of 611 citizens of the State of New South Wales, most of whom were resident in the Inverell and Moree districts. The petition urged the Commonwealth Government to make sufficient funds available for the construction and early completion of the dam. On 27th March 1 placed a question concerning this project on the notice paper. Whilst the announcement of the construction of the dam was made on 17th April, the fact is that 1 did not receive an answer to the question 1 placed on the notice paper until yesterday. It is rather significant to note from the reply to my question from the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) that the New South Wales Government presented its first comprehensive report on the proposed construction of the Copeton Dam which is now known as the Gwydir River Dam on 11th October 1967. So, the New South Wales Government has been requesting the Commonwealth Government to give consideration to making money available for the purpose of the construction of a dam on this very important waterway for some 20 months.
Indeed, the New South Wales Government, to some extent, has already made a start on the project. This has been done in connection with expenditure on site preparation and the development of construction facil’ities. I think that, to date, some $2m has been spent by the New South Wales Government for these purposes. It is interesting to note from the memorandum annexed to the Bill that preliminary investigations of the Gwydir Valley for the selection of a site for a storage dam were first entered into as far back as 1936. Bearing in mind that the year now is 1969, we can see that this project has been bandied around for about 30 years. This Bill, therefore, is the culmination of a great struggle that has been going on for many years.
Firstly, it has been a struggle as far as the State of New South Wales is concerned and secondly a struggle has taken place between the Commonwealth Government and the New South Wales Government.
Indeed, the former member for Gwydir, Mr Ian Allan, suggested on 24th March in a letter to the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ that the matter was too serious for disagreement between the two governments concerned. On 24th March 1966, over 3 years ago, Mr Ian Allan moved in another place Cor the establishment of a national water planning construction authority which, in association with the States, would regulate the control and use of rivers on the eastern coast of New South Wales. The proposed authority also would have been concerned with the Darling River and its tributaries in Queensland and New South Wales.
At that time the Opposition supported the motion and moved an amendment that the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority be merged into the proposed body. At that time the Government did not allow the debate to conclude or a vole to be taken on the matter in another place, lt is interesting to note that whilst the Opposition at that time moved an amendment suggesting that the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority be merged wilh the national water planning construction authority, which had been proposed by Mr Ian Allan, according to page 13 of: the memorandum annexed to the Bill we see that it was at the request of the Commonwealth Government that the Snowy Mountains Authority examined the design of the proposed Copeton Dam that was submitted by the State. The Authority concluded that the proposal for an earth and rock fill dam was sound and that the project was well conceived.
In 1966 the Federal Government also stated that it would make available some $50ni for a national water resources development programme. For some time past the New South Wales Government has been fighting the Commonwealth to obtain a fair share of this amount On 29th January last Mr Beale, the New South Wales Minister for Conservation wrote to the Sydney Morning Herald’ about this project. He referred to the Commonwealth’s delay in making up its mind as to whether this project was, in its opinion, a feasible one or otherwise. Mr Beale made some caustic comments about the delay that was involved. In his letter to the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ Mr Beale said, among other things:
No-one would deny the right of the Commonwealth Government to investigate carefully any projects which it contemplates assisting financially. What concerns New South Wales, however, is Mr Holt’s promise that all projects submitted under the $50m scheme would be selected on their national merits. Even though New South Wales submitted more comprehensive and detailed economic and engineering evaluation for Copeton Dam than other States did for their projects, sixteen months have gone by and the Commonwealth has still not reached a decision. Notwithstanding this, Queensland and Victoria have already received grants on less evidence, with the result, as Mr Fairbairn admits, that already about half of the available money has been committed.
But now, of course, the Commonwealth has seen the light of day on this development. The Opposition welcomes the Commonwealth coming to the aid of New South Wales in order to ensure the construction and the development of this project. Irrigation has brought substantial benefits to the Namoi Valley which is adjacent to the Gwydir Valley. It is rather interesting to note that between 1961 and 1968, in the period when the Namoi River Valley has enjoyed irrigation, the township of Narrabri has increased in population by some 25% and the township of Wee Waa has increased by some 50% .
– The Namoi and the Gwydir are al the headwaters of the Darling River.
– That is so. 1 feel sure tha’, as the development has taken place in Narrabri since irrigation came to that town, likewise, when the Gwydir River Valley is dammed and irrigated, will substantial development and expansion come to the town of Moree. It is rather interesting to note also that of the total value of agricultural production in the Namoi River Valley last year, which was some $56m, cotton was the largest agricultural industry in that Valley. This has come about in the last 7 years. I emphasise that. Cotton, being the largest agricultural industry in that Valley, produced a crop worth $25m out of a total production valued at $56m.
– Does that include the subsidy?
– Yes, it includes the subsidy. What I am suggesting - and this is borne out by the memorandum that is attached to the Bill - is that the Gwydir Valley will expand and eventually will rely on irrigation crops as does the nearby Namoi River Valley and so indeed does the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area in the south wes; portion of New South Wales. As I say, the Opposition is pleased to see this legislation come before the Senate. We welcome the decision of the Government even at this belated stage. In general, the Labor movement supports the development of a national water resources authority in order to take the whole concept of water development out of the realm of party politics. We believe that there is some significance in the fact that this Bill is being introduced at this stage and that a byelection is taking place in the Federal electorate of Gwydir next Saturday. There can be no doubt that water is the lifeblood of our great nation. As far as the Gwydir River Valley is concerned, this dam and the water which will flow from it will be of great benefit to the people of the north west of New South Wales, to the people of the State of New South Wales, to Australia and to Australians generally.
– I rise to speak briefly on this measure only because of a reference made in the second reading speech of the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) in presenting the South Australia Grant (Tailem Bend to Keith Pipeline) Bill 1969. In his speech, the Minister made reference to a scheme in Tasmania which has long been in the offing and long under consideration. I refer to the Cressy-Longford irrigation scheme. I suppose that this scheme has been under consideration by the Commonwealth Government for 12 years.
– It has been awaiting proper specifications.
– I will deal with that in a moment. This Bill refers to the allocation of S6m in the programme for the State of South Australia. In this programme, the Government proposes to make available $50m for selected water conservation projects in the States. Included are S20m for Queensland and S3. 6m for Victoria. I do not canvass this matter at all from the point of view as to what each State receives.
When we read further through the Minister’s speech, we find that he said:
The Cressy-Longford scheme in Tasmania, which was not quite next in rank, was selected for further studies in the belief that unless such studies showed up an unexpected anomaly, a small contribution by the Commonwealth would ba worth considering in the light of the importance placed by the State on what will represent the first community irrigation scheme in Tasmania.
Well, I believe that there was a time when the Commonwealth could not go forward - this was several years ago - because of insufficient data submitted to the then Minister for National Development by the State Government. This was several years ago when the late Senator Spooner, as he was then, was Minister for National Development. I believe also that there was a time when it was thought that the cost to each farmer in the area might be higher than anticipated. But the second reading speech of the Minister states that this scheme was selected for further study in the belief that unless such studies showed up an unexpected anomaly a small contribution by the Commonwealth would be worth considering. I rise merely to appeal to the Minister to confer with his colleague, the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn), to expedite as much as possible that consideration with a view to bringing the scheme to fruition or making a decision one way or the other.
– I do not propose to speak at any great length, but you will pardon me. Sir, if I possess in no small measure, a distrust of the Commonwealth Government, of its planning and of the priority that it extends to various water schemes. I am not denying the justification of the schemes embraced in the three Bills under discussion. But I think the Commonwealth Government stands condemned for its neglect of the Kolan-Burnett scheme which, on a cost benefit analysis, would appear to be the scheme entitled to highest priority in regard to water conservation. We know that all water conservation in Australia is good. There are arguments as to whether it should be in the form of major projects or minor projects.
In relation to the Kolan-Burnett scheme, honourable senators will recall the history of the haphazard provision of money just prior to the 1966 election. The Government, then led by the late Harold Holt, announced that it would provide $20m by way of grant for the Maraboon Dam scheme, as it was then, but which is now known as the Fairbairn Dam, on the Nogoa River in central Queensland and $40m for the Ord River scheme. Prior to the 1967 election, the same Prime Minister announced that over 5 years the Government would provide S50m for water conservation. We have here, for all practical purposes, we may say, with the $20m provided for the Maraboon or Fairbairn Dam scheme and the three schemes under discussion the expenditure of $50m on water conservation. The 5-year period will not be up until 1972. Is the Government to give any promise of what other schemes are to be embarked upon? What order of priorities will be extended to them? 1 refer again to the Kolan-Burnett scheme. We find that with the Maraboon Dam scheme provision was made for the creation of 130 new farms. I am not quarrelling with the establishment of this dam. I think that it was justified but 130 new farms are to be established in 51,000 acres. The total area involved is approximately 70,000 acres of which approximately 19,000 will be taken up for irrigation work and 51,000 devoted to the establishment of farms. It will cost $200,000 for each farm just to provide water and then there will be the capital costs involved in establishing the farms.
In the Bundaberg-Isis district which is associated with the Kolan-Burnett scheme there are at present 15,095 established sugar growers. Their annual production is valued at between $30m and $40m. The cost of this dam admittedly will be $47m. That figure can be compared with the cost of the Fairbairn Dam which is $28m. But in the Bundaberg-Isis district, as I have said, there are 15,095 farmers already established with a guaranteed sale for their product. In addition, a large number of people are engaged in mixed farming. Some of the biggest vegetable suppliers of the Edgell company in Australia are to be found in the Bundaberg district. Very rich sugar farming areas are to be found in the Isis district. A large number of tobacco growers and farmers growing other crops are to be found in the district. How can anyone believe that this Government adopts a scientific approach to the planning of water conservation schemes when for 10 years the Kolan-Burnett scheme has been crying out for investigation? Someone is lying. The Queensland Government said that it gave first priority to the KolanBurnett scheme. The Federal Government said that the Queensland Government did not do so. I just do not know. I am not like Maxwell Newton; I do not have access to the records. I plead with the Government to have a look at the Kolan-Burnett scheme because of the value of the product that is and has been produced in the area year after year. The area experienced droughts in 1964 and 1965. It is experiencing a drought at the present time. The point is that if the effects of drought could be avoided in 2 dry years, the producers in the area could amortise the cost of the establishment of irrigation works.
An amount of $47m is required for the Kolan-Burnett scheme. I think that it is beyond a joke that the Government appears to adopt a haphazard approach to water conservation. I make a plea to the Minister to have a look at the Kolan-Burnett scheme and to have a cost-benefit analysis made. I think he will find that the scheme does not fall down in any respect at all and that the expenditure of money in this area is justified.
I am possessed of a measure of distruct of the Federal Government for its haphazard approach to water conservation. It is interesting to note that the Gwydir scheme is to be commenced on the eve of a by-election in the Federal electorate of Gwydir. Grants have been made in respect of other schemes on the eve of general elections and Senate elections. How do we know that any real scientific investigation or cost-benefit analysis has been made in relation to the Kolan-Burnett scheme? I suggest that the Minister should look carefully at the scheme which by every form of reasoning, including the product that is produced there and the money that is raised from the sale of the product, completely justifies expenditure on the scheme.
– I wish to refer to the South Australian Grant (Tailem Bend to Keith Pipeline) Bill and to express appreciation to the Government for having made available under the national water resources development programme the sum of S6m which will be of real assistance to South Australia in its water reticulation programmes generally. This scheme was first envisaged in 1946, but a start was not made on it until 1962-63. The moneys which are now being provided will accelerate the completion of this very necessary reticulation scheme. The area to be serviced is approximately that embraced between the Tailem Bend to Keith railway line and the Coorong - some 2,800 square miles. As is pointed out in the Schedule to the Bill, the moneys which are to be provided will allow for the construction of such works as are required to complete the pipeline to carry water from Tailem Bend to Keith, including the building or the completion of the building of pumping stations at Tailem Bend, Coomandook and Tintinara and of concrete storage tanks at or near Binnie Lookout, Coomandook and Keith. Moneys will also be made available for the construction of branch mains and for the construction of works for water reticulation in the towns of Tintinara and Keith.
Without this grant South Australia could not have completed the Tailem Bend to Keith pipeline project within its own limited resources before 1988. With this grant the work will be completed by 1973. The 1988 estimate is taken from a statement by the Premier of South Australia, Mr Steele Hall. He estimated that this very long wait would have been necessary without the assistance of this Federal grant. Much has been said in recent times about the necessity for water conservation and reticulation schemes to be thoroughly warranted and worthy of monetary support before decisions of acceptance are made. On every ground the Tailem Bend to Keith pipeline is warranted. According to the assessment of the officers of the South Australian departments of Agriculture, Land and so on, which advise the State Government, the land to be served by this system of water reticulation is capable of producing grain, meat, wool and dairy produce to the value of $23.n annually. So we will have a scheme at an initial capital outlay of $14m - $8m to be provided by the State from its own resources and $6m to be provided by the Commonwealth - which will give an estimated return of S23m annually from the produce gained from the provision of water in this area. I have no hesitation in saying that this scheme is worthy of support. It will create wealth and it passes all the tests necessary for the provision of Commonwealth moneys. I have pleasure in supporting the Bill.
– 1 wish to confine my remarks to the Victoria Grant (King River Dam) Bill. I congratulate the Commonwealth Government on making money available for this scheme. But I am concerned about the method which the Commonwealth uses to decide which scheme should have priority. The explanatory memorandum to the Bill sets out the details of two dams which were originally proposed in Victoria. They were the King River Dam and the Mitchell River Dam. On viewing these two areas one must agree it is indeed a wonderful thing that in the near future the Victorian Government will have these two dams at either end of the State. From previous discussions in the Senate I am led to believe that the Commonwealth instructs either the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority or some other body to assess the costbenefit of various sites before a conscious decision is made as to which is the best site in the national interest. I would be very pleased if the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) could tell me whether the Government adopted this proposition in relation to the Victorian submission. In his second reading speech, the Minister said that because the Victorian Government gave priority in its planning to the King River Dam, and as funds available under the programme were limited, it was considered appropriate to select the King River Dam for inclusion in the programme. A few moments ago a senator from Queensland asked whether the State or the Commonwealth makes the decision as to which scheme is selected.
I know from speaking to people who live in the areas referred to in the explanatory memorandum which has been circulated that citizens and councils are involved in enormous expense in endeavouring to promote the areas adequately. That comment applies to both the Mitchell River area and the King River area, but I wonder whether the Commonwealth decision in this matter has been influenced to any great extent by considerations of feasibility. We in this Senate have argued on occasion as to whether a project should be undertaken and whether the money that is to be spent on it will be correctly spent. I say at the outset that the King River dam which it is proposed to build will bring wonderful benefits. But let us endeavour to review quickly the propositions put forward by the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) in setting out the advantages of both sites. The King River dam will cost approximately $4.2m. The Mitchell River dam, which is to be deferred and not given priority at the moment, will cost $4.8m. It is estimated that the King River dam will contain 10,000 acre feet of water. If I am correct in my reading of the explanatory memorandum, the Mitchell River dam will contain 20,000 acre feet, so that it will have double the storage of the King River dam. If the figures provided in the explanatory memorandum are correct, the King River storage will service 6,600 acres. The explanatory memorandum states, at page 6:
The construction of the King River dam would permit the expansion of irrigation to 6,600 acres.
The Mitchell River dam, on the other hand, will provide for 9,600 acres of irrigation and the water will be reticulated to landholders by private pumping from the river. I note that no additional distributory works are to be included. The cost per acre foot of water for the King River dam will be SI 9. The explanatory memorandum states:
The full public cost of providing this water, including the servicing of the capital cost of the dam, is probably about $19 per acre foot.
The King River dam is the project which has been selected by the Government. In respect of the Mitchell River dam the full public cost of providing the water, including the servicing of the capital cost of the dam, is stated in the explanatory memorandum to be probably about $13 per acre foot. I could spend a great deal of time in discussing this matter, but in order to limit my remarks I seek leave of the Senate to incorporate in Hansard the sections of the explanatory memorandum headed ‘Project Area’ and Project - Main Features and Costs’.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Is leave granted?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Leave is not granted.
– Then I shall have to read those sections to the Senate.
– The honourable senator obtained leave this afternoon and then was abusive about it.
– I know that some honourable senators interest themselves more in certain matters than in matters that are of importance to the Senate.
– And then they get narked about leave.
– Yes. I understand that Senator Cant is anxious to get home. This is legislation which some honourable senators on the Government side of the chamber want to discuss. They are more interested in dealing with the business of the country than in getting away from this place. The core of the matter is really contained in the sections of the explanatory memorandum that I wished to have incorporated in Hansard. Perhaps the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott), who represents the Minister for National Development in this chamber, will be prepared to discuss them.
The land use to which the King Valley water is to be put is referred to in the explanatory memorandum. This dam will be a wonderful expansionary project, but if we compare it with the Mitchell River dam and consider the work that can be done and the type of production that can be promoted in the Gippsland area, we see that there is really no comparison between the two schemes. I have already referred to the costs of both schemes. I have referred also to the number of acre feet of water to be stored. I have mentioned the acreage to be irrigated. I suggest that in none of those respects does the King River dam compare favourably with the Mitchell River dam. 1 was alerted to this position because people in the Gippsland area were somewhat incensed. They had been put to a great deal of work. The State authority had said to them: ‘Hurry along and send in your arguments to the Federal Government. If you hurry you may get in on the scheme*.
– What type of production would the Mitchell River scheme promote?
– The main rural enterprises on the river flats are concerned with vegetable production, dairying and cattle fattening, and the production of veal and prime lamb. Most of the landholders combine their holdings on the flats with larger areas on the higher country bordering the valley. The vegetable production consists mainly of French beans for the frozen foods trade, while the canners are interested in the area as the source of a variety of vegetables for baby foods. This indicates to me that there is room for expansion of production which may be in the national interest. lt has been stated that the Common-, wealth has made a conscious decision concerning the project that has been selected, which is only one of eight submitted by the Victorian Government All the projects submitted were important. Our excellent State Rivers and Water Supply Commission has looked into a variety of schemes. We are most anxious to take full advantage of the $50m that the Commonwealth has offered as assistance to the States. While I support the King River project with all the energy that I can muster, I put it to the Minister that it was demonstrated that great benefit could be derived from the Mitchell River dam and that in the national interest that project should perhaps have received prior consideration. The answer may be that the Victorian Government said: ‘Whichever dam the Commonwealth selects, we will provide the finance to go ahead with the other as soon as possible*. However, I ask: Why was the King River dam chosen on the facts that have been made available to us?
– in reply - I would like to thank the members of the Opposition for their intimation that they do not intend to oppose the Bills now before the Senate. They have agreed to the three Bills being debated together at the second reading stage. There has been some criticism of the Government in relation to its water conservation policy. In answer to such criticism I say that over a number of years, in accordance with the policy of the Government, finance amounting to $700m or S800m has been provided for water conservation projects throughout the Commonwealth^ In 1966, in the policy speech that the then Prime Minister, Mr
Harold Holt, made before the general election of that year, it was announced that the Government would set aside S50m to be spent over a period of 5 years on water projects throughout the Commonwealth. Within 3 years of that announcement having been made the whole of that money, together with additional amounts, has been allocated to various schemes throughout the Commonwealth. We still have 2 years to go. In recent times the Government has announced that it will find a sum of S50m to complete the Ord River scheme in Western Australia. Stage 2 of the Comprehensive Water Supply Scheme in Western Australia will require the expenditure of $10.5m. Flood mitigation work in New South Wales will be completed at a cost of $8m, and in respect of the Blowering Dam in New South Wales a loan of about $2 1.5m was recently negotiated. In addition to expenditure on these projects, we must take account of the Commonwealth’s share in the activities of the River Murray Commission, support for State measurement programmes, the recently established water research fund, and the sum of S650m that the Commonwealth has spent over the years on the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme.
– lt is marvellous. I agree wholeheartedly with what the honourable senator has said. I shall now reply to the queries that have been raised by honourable senators. Senator Drury referred to the grant of $6m towards the total cost of $14m for the Tailem Bend to Keith pipeline. We realise that the River Murray is South Australia’s lifeline and that we should conserve as much of the water as possible in that river. The honourable senator said that he was very interested in the proposal advanced by certain people in South Australia for the construction of a dam at Chowilla, and he found himself wondering what would happen to South Australia in times of drought if a dam were built at Dartmouth. Engineers and technicians, with the aid of a computer, have demonstrated that in only 1 year in 65 would South Australia get less than 1.5 million acre feet of water and that in that year the amount of water available to South Australia would be 100,000 acre feet less than normal requirements but still 150,000 acre feet more than the normal supply if the Chowilla Dam were built. The building of a dam at Dartmouth would reduce the salinity in the River Murray so that on no occasion would it be as high as it was in the last drought.
Senator Young referred to the national water resources programme announced in 1966 and the allocation of $50m for this purpose in the ensuing 5 years. He expressed the hope that further grants would be made to the South Australian Government in the near future to facilitate the conservation of water. The only comment I can make is that the Government has provided so much money for water conservation projects that no doubt consideration will be given to such requests in the 5 years following the period of the current programme. Senator McClelland referred to the Copeton Dam on the Gwydir River and the possibility of intensive cultivation of cotton similar to that on the Namoi which has brought very large returns to the growers in that area.
Senator Lillico mentioned the CressyLongford scheme, the total cost of which would be $840,000, and asked what was happening in relation to that project. My advice is that the Commonwealth Government has approved a grant of $750,000 subject to an assurance of local support based on a plebiscite. Then Senator Dittmer said that the Commonwealth Government should give serious consideration to the Kolan-Burnett scheme in Queensland. A new report on this project was recently submitted to the Prime Minister by the Premier of Queensland and is at present being examined.
Reference was made by Senator Laucke to the great benefits that will accrue to farmers around Keith following the construction of the Tailem Bend to Keith pipeline. Senator Webster inquired why the Commonwealth Government had come down on the side of the King River project and not the Mitchell River project. I inform him that the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority advised only on the engineering feasibility and the estimated cost of the dam. The economics of a project are affected by many factors besides the cost of the dam. The value of the crops to be grown is of particular importance. In addition to the investigation by the Snowy
Mountains Authority, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and the Department of National Development examined these two projects. The results of the examination were about the same in each case, but because the Victorian Government was in favour of the King River Dam the Commonwealth Government came down on the side of that project.
– lt would be hard to say they were equal on the facts that 1 presented.
– This is what the Victorian Government requested and what was agreed to by the Commonwealth. Those are the comments that .1 wish to make on the requests that were made for information. If there are any that J have missed I shall be pleased to try to answer them when we are in Committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) - by leave - agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the questions with regard to the remaining stages for the passage through the Senate of the New South Wales Grant (Gwydir River Dam) Bill 1969 and the Victoria Grant (King River Dam) Bill 1969 being put in one motion at each stage and the consideration of both Bills together in the Committee of the whole.
Consideration resumed from 29 May (vide pages 1766 and 1767), on motions by Senator Scott:
That the Bills be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills read a second time, and passed through their remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 30 May (vide page 1839), on motion by Senator Scott:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Senator BISHOP (South Australia) [10.13J - Last year the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission was given authority under the relevant Act to acquire shares in an incorporated company. This resulted from a decision of the Government to enter the Australian National Line in the overseas trade, lt is well known that for many years the Australian Labor Party has advocated such a venture. We have been proposing mot’;”,,is in the Parliament on the matter for 10 or 15 years. Our policy has been that the Government ought to acquire, build or charter ships and man them with Australian seamen. Fortunately the operations of the Australian National Line have been very efficient under the chairmanship of Sir John Williams, who incidentally has a very good working arrangement with the Australian Seamen’s Union. As a result of these considerations and, no doubt, pressures from Australian primary producers who, of course, have been challenged for many years by the high freight rates charged by the Conference lines, the Government finally agreed to adopt what was in fact a part of Labor’s policy. It is now proposed to extend the operations of the Australian National Line to enable it to buy into the land based facilities. There is no doubt that this is very necessary. The Labor Party believes that it is essential for Australian ships to be trading overseas and that it is necessary to engage in the whole of the container operation. It would not be sufficient for the Australian National Line to be engaged simply in shipping. It has to control the land based facilities which in these days are a necessary part of the container system. Whatever efficiency flows from the system must benefit the operations of the Australian National Line. Tt must benefit also the Australian producer.
The real advantages of the system, of course, must flow, as we have argued for many years, in relation to costs and freight charges. At no time have we had within Australia a satisfactory arrangement whereby shippers, producers, the Australian Government or its appropriate departments could get the correct operating costs. They have relied to a great extent upon the authority of some chartered accountants who produced summaries of the operations of the Conference lines. This venture will mean that particulars of overseas shipping operations will largely be known to us. Operation of the land based facilities will enable us to have a very comprehensive picture of costs. Once we have that knowledge we can prevent the sort of arrangement which operated over many years whereby the Australian producer - particularly the primary producer - was held to ransom by people who said: ‘That is the freight charge. You have to accept it’.
One of the necessary things which must come with the container system is a unit freight charge within Australia. The Senate Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes advocated this. As a result of an examination of various shipping interests, it argued that a unit freight rate should be applied not only to the three main export ports of Fremantle, Sydney and Melbourne, but also to the feeder ports. As a matter of fact, in the first instance, the representatives of the British consortia who came to us said that this was the policy towards which they were working. Since that time a satisfactory position has not been achieved although the Government has made some efforts to get results. The Select Committee stated, on page 16 of its report:
As the cellular ships of the British corsortia will operate only from the ports of Fremantle, Melbourne and Sydney, a comprehensive service of ‘feeder’ ships is planned to cope with trade from as far apart as Darwin and Tasmania. The Committee was given assurances by the shipping companies concerned that there would be a uniform rate applicable to cargoes from main ports and feeder ports.
The following passage then appears in italics for the purpose of emphasis:
The Committee is adamant that, in accordance with these assurances, there should be no differential rates applied to cargoes from feeder ports.
The Committee stated, in recommendation No. 9:
The shipping consortia should conform to the assurances given to the Committee that no differential freight rates will apply to cargoes exported from feeder ports as district from terminal ports.
I know that other honourable senators intend to discuss this matter. It seems to me that what the Government has to do is to pursue the objectives of a uniform rate to ensure that the advantages of the container system are properly shared by all States and by all producers and manufacturers who want to use these services. Another matter is important in relation to the container system and the entry of the
Australian National Line into this trade. We know that the Australian National Line is a very efficient line. We are concerned about what will happen in the future to conventional shipping and to smaller ports. One of the matters that this Government has to take upon itself, not placing responsibility on any ad hoc or advisory committee, is a survey of the future of ports which are not export ports under the container system.
I speak of Port Adelaide in my own State. It is a pretty well equipped port. A great deal of development has been done by the South Australian Department of Marine and Harbours. In fact, Outer Harbour is sufficiently developed to accommodate most of the container ships in Australia. But Port Adelaide will not be used unless there is some development that makes it a container port. If it becomes redundant because there is no plan to maintain continuity of Australian shipping, not only the shipping facilities at Port Adelaide but also all the members of the work force and all the associated facilities in Port Adelaide will become redundant. It seems to me that if that happened the State of South Australia would become less efficient. One has only to travel through Europe to see the great advantages of a diversified transportation system. One is surprised at how a well developed container system can operate within the framework of a European community where barges and other forms of river transport are still a very necessary part of the shipping complex.
The Opposition welcomes this move by the Government. We believe that it is an essential move in the development of Australia. Our resources are becoming well recognised. Our ability to manufacture is well established. Now we have an ability to ship in Australian ships with Australian crews the products from within our shores. This will help us, particularly in regard to costs. Finally I refer to what the Government has to do. I mention this because in questions directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport I have raised two propositions presented by the Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes. The Commonwealth Government should venture into the solution of these problems in a more positive way. The only reply I have received is that these propositions may be referred to a transport organisation, an advisory committee or an ad hoc committee. In order to take the most advantage of the new proposals we have to take a more positive stand.
Senator YOUNG (South Australia) (10.22]- 1 rise to support this Bill and at the same time to say how pleased I am to know that the Opposition is giving its full support to it. This Bill embodies something which is very vital to Australia as a trading nation and as a nation that is developing its overseas trading ability greatly as the years go on. For many years the freighting of our products has been one of our great problems. When I say that, 1 am referring to a point Senator Bishop has made tonight. It comes down to knowing the actual costs in shipping freights.
For many years, while we were associated with the Conference shipping lines in the United Kingdom-Continent trade, we had a committee, the Federal Exporters Overseas Transport Committee, which was set up to look after the interests of the Australian shippers. But many problems were associated with that. One of the great problems was in trying to assess the actual land cost factor. The fact that Australia is now going into not only the United KingdomContinent trade but also the Japanese and North American trades shows that because of the system of containerisation, which is easier to enter because it is capital intensive as compared with the conventional system of shipping which is labour intensive, we are now able to enter these trades. By entering them we are able to make an accurate assessment of the costs involved in the movement of products to and from overseas. So, I believe that this is a very commendable move.
I also commend the Government on going further than just leasing these ships for a 5-year period. The Government is buying the ships. We will1 be direct owners. This is an excellent move. It makes us a shipping nation and puts us directly in the position of being a great trading nation able to assess the costs accurately and able to know that we are not paying an exorbitant freight rate. We will be paying realistic freight rates because we will be in a position to obtain the facts associated with freight rates.
I shall be very brief, but I wish to mention one other point. It is a very pertinent point and one on which I have spoken since coming into this chamber. Senator Bishop touched on it. I refer to uniform freight rates. Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania are placed in a very invidious position because at the present time they must rely solely on a gentlemen’s agreement. This may be all right for the immediate future, but in the long term it could place those States in a position of disadvantage. That is borne out by the great concern that exists in Tasmania at the present time in regard to freight rates. I believe that as time goes on we may see more concern in Tasmania in the immediate future and we may see concern in States such as South Australia and Queensland in the longer term. The ports in those States are far away from the terminal ports to which the container ships will be coming.
At the present time we have men who have agreed verbally to accept uniform freight rates throughout Australia, as have existed for many years under the old formula between the Federal Exporters Oversea Transport Committee and the United Kingdom-Continent Conference lines. But the day might come - I do not say that it will - when there will be a change of personnel in the relevant positions and the new men may forget that there was a gentlemen’s agreement, as a result of pressure from businessmen, exporters and importers in the terminal ports - particularly Sydney and Melbourne - who may suddenly say: ‘Why should we pay the same freight rates as exporters and importers in the ports of South Australia, Queensland or Tasmania?’ We may then find ourselves with a great problem in those States.
I urge the Government to give serious consideration to not accepting just a verbal agreement on this, matter, which is very important to the future development and security of the trading capacity of those States. I urge that more than that be done; that this arrangement be put down in black and white so that it will be there in the future, people will know that there is an agreement and we will not have to rely solely upon gentlemen. We may not always have gentlemen in these positions. So, I urge the Government to do that. At the same time, I commend the Government on the action it has taken in entering the United Kingdom-Continent, Japanese and
North American shipping trades. I also commend the Government on the suggestion that has been made by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) that Australia may soon be entering another shipping trade. In my view, this is very good. It is an indication that Australia not only has become & great trading nation but also is to play its part in the shipping world.
– I realise that time is very short. So, my comments will be very brief. The Opposition supports the Commonwealth Government’s decision to invest in the container shipping industry. It is a decision that has been well considered by the Commonwealth Government, if we have regard to the statement made by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) in the House of Representatives on 22nd April. Concerning specifically the purchase of the ships, he said:
That shows without doubt that the Government has not gone into this venture lightly. It has considered all the relevant factors. The Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) made a similar statement in the House of Representatives on 23rd April, following his discussions in London with the principals of the companies concerned. The point I wish to emphasise here is that the Commonwealth Government obviously sees a big future for container shipping; it would not be taking this step if it did not. There is a big future for container shipping. Mr McEwen stated that the Commonwealth Government was not entering this field for the purpose of making a profit, but all the indications would suggest that there will be profit to be made from these ships. I leave that point for the moment.
As Senator Bishop mentioned, 12 months ago the report of the Senate Select Committee on the Container method of Handling Cargoes was tabled in this chamber. In that report Tasmania’s special disability was emphasised. Since that time, 12 months ago, several members of the Parliament on both sides of the Senate and the House of Representatives have asked questions as to what the Government intends to d,> about Tasmania’s special disability. I emphasise that our position is worse than that of South Australia or Queensland because Adelaide and Brisbane are included in the service but no port in Tasmania is included in the service. I refer to a question that was asked by my colleague Senator Devitt and reported in Hansard on 21st May. Part of the answer included these words:
For the present, Tasmania will be served by conventional ships and there is no suggestion that the freight rates from Tasmania will be increased, or that the service will deteriorate in quality.
I do not think anybody was suggesting that it would do so. The answer continued:
My Government will continue to watch this matter to ensure that no Australian exporter is disadvantaged.
I think the Government should have been considering this matter well before now. It has seen fit in less than 12 months to invest upwards of $30m in the container business. If it can invest that amount in the container business surely it can find what would possibly be only one-tenth of that amount to give Tasmania a guarantee that it will be on a parity with the mainland States. It could well be that some Tasmanian exporters and manufacturers will not survive an interim period, quite apart from their having to compete with mainland exporters at a freight rate which places them at a disadvantage. There would have been some validity in its position if the Commonwealth had said to Tasmania some months ago that it was not convinced that there was a future in containerisation and that therefore it was not prepared to give any subsidy and not prepared to give direct assistance of some kind; but it did not say this. Instead, in the interim period, after due deliberation, as I mentioned earlier, it has decided that it will invest this sum of $30m in the container shipping business. Probably not a great deal of cargo would be involved in container shipping from Tasmania, but shipping conditions could affect certain industries, certain manufacturers, certain exporters and their employees. We have enough problems down there, as I think everybody realises, without their being compounded by the situation in which we now find ourselves.
I propose to close on this point because I realise that time is short, but the situation is totally unacceptable to Tasmania at the present time. If the Commonwealth can find the money to invest in the container shipping industry, as it is doing to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, it can also give a guarantee of financial assistance to Tasmania to make sure that we do not miss out on the advantages that will obviously flow from containerisation.
– in reply - I thank honourable senators for their remarks on this Bill and I thank the Opposition for its co-operation in getting the measure through the Senate. The whole idea of this Bill is to enable the Government to find out what it will cost to ship from a warehouse in Australia to a warehouse in London. In this way we will have reliable figures on which to work. I do not intend to delay the Senate further, but I should like to answer questions that were asked by three honourable senators who raised the problem of feeder services, particularly in relation to north Queensland, South Australian and Tasmanian ports. I have been advised that so far as north Queensland and Tasmanian ports are concerned, initial arrangements will provide for the use of conventional ships at freight rates no higher than the rates for the sea leg container service from Melbourne and/ or Sydney. The question of providing feeder services to many north Queensland and Tasmanian ports, in addition to providing container shipping services, is still under consideration. This applies also to South Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 30 May (vide page 1840), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Senator BISHOP (South Australia) 110.35] - I propose to be brief in my remarks on this measure. This Bill authorises the payment to the States in 1968-69 of special revenue assistance totalling SI 4m. This includes an amount of $12m, which was determined at the conference between the Commonwealth and State Governments in March. The grant is to be distributed to the States on the basis of the formula laid down in the States Grants Act. The payment includes also a special amount of $2m to South Australia in addition to the amount prescribed in the formula, which is $ 1.35m. Most of the general financial arguments in relation to the present arrangements and reasons for and criticisms of them have been developed during the debate on other financial measures. These arguments were based largely on the proposition that under the new arrangements which have been developed by the Commonwealth Government there has been a general determination by the Commonwealth Government of the economic climate as a result of which the States disabilities seem to have grown each year. The States’ financial appetites have grown accordingly.
It is important to mention that the States face great disabilities because their costs are growing all the time and also because they have no general taxing power of the kind that the Commonwealth has. One of the points which have impressed me in recent weeks has been the effect of the last $2 wage increase. As a result of that increase large new disabilities were thrust onto State governments, but as a result of the $2 wage increase the Commonwealth Government has gained $75m a year in new taxation. As these reasons, in addition to the general arguments about these arrangements, have been stated in the debate on other pieces of legislation, I shall say no more than that the Opposition does not oppose the measure.
– 1 desire to state with regard to this measure some particular matters which concern the State of Victoria and its position under this proposal. The Bill proposes to grant a further $14m to the States as general revenue assistance. The reasons stated by the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson) in his second reading speech indicate that the amount is to be given as a token recognition of the States’ budgetary difficulties. It is recognised that the Government does not wish to stimulate a further increase in overall government spending in Australia. I assume that it has expressed that thought because of its broad responsibility to maintain a certain level of stability within the economy. However, the fact that this measure is necessary, as have been a number of other special financial assistance grants over the years, indicates the inadequacy of the formula under which general revenue grants have been made over the years.
I believe that the fact that every State has a very real budgetary problem is not sufficiently recognised in the formula which has been agreed to over the years. Whilst 1 recognise that the formula is essentially a matter of agreement, the realities of the position are that the Commonwealth, because of its paramount financial situation, is able to impose upon the States, broadly, levels to which the States must submit in terms of how much they may apportion among themselves over the 5-year period of a formula. The States have an obligation to provide a vast range of services to the community. They have primary responsibilities in the expanding fields of education and hospitals and a particular commitment, fairly rarely recognised, to meet substantial wage increases in a community which shows both economic growth and rising living standards. I instance, in the case of Victoria in particular, the fact that 40% of that State’s budget of $650m for the current year comes by way of general revenue grants from the Commonwealth. If one examines the entire moneys which are spent in the State of Victoria, not only the general revenue grants but also the special assistance grants which are tied to some Commonwealth objective, the loan moneys which are provided in a variety of ways for roads and housing, and the moneys which are provided under the loan agreement for certain public works, one finds that 56% of that State’s expenditure comes from Commonwealth funds. The balance comes, by and large, from fixed sources with respect to which the State Government has no flexibility to enable it to expand its revenues. The State raises from its own taxation - probate duties, stamp tax, land tax and the like - an amount of $173m of which stamp tax alone provides $78m. It is therefore most apparent, from a statement of the types of State taxes that the ability of the State to expand to a greater degree its revenue from these sources is distinctly limited.
– What is the Commonwealth reimbursement?
– The Commonwealth’s reimbursement grants represent 40% of the total State budget. I instance that because it illustrates the particular difficulties under which my own State is labouring and I am quite sure that other honourable senators could refer to similar circumstances with respect to their own States. It represents part of this increasingly recognised problem of CommonwealthState financial relations.
I instance only two matters in the context of this Bill at this time. The first is a statement which appeared in this morning’s Melbourne ‘Age’ that the Victorian Treasury had blocked school works worth at least $2m because the Education Department had overspent its allocation and Treasury officials had cut at least two classrooms and one large primary school from the Department’s building programme. The Minister for Education, Mr Thompson, admitted that it now seemed inevitable that at least one school and many classroom additions would not be ready as planned for the start of the next school year.
– But that would not come put of revenue.
– I instance that only as an example of the financial difficulties which are highlighted at this particular time in Victoria in regard to education. 1 instance it only because the claims which the States have upon the Commonwealth from time to time are claims which must be recognised. We know at this time that there are various pressures and a great deal of speculation on the subject of aid for schools. I hope that in whatever decisions are made in future it will be recognised that not only are independent schools - pressurising as they are, quite actively - entitled to some assistance but equally the State schools of this country are entitled to assistance. I think nothing could highlight that point more evidently than the particular news item which appeared in this morning’s Melbourne ‘Age*.
The second item I desire to refer to relates to the prospect which Victoria has had for a long time - a prospect which is now dependent upon whether or not the Commonwealth Government is prepared to provide assistance - of an underground railway for the city of Melbourne. The Victorian Government, stimulated, I think, by the vision and dedication of its current transport Minister, Mr Wilcox, has prepared and made available to the Commonwealth Government a submission which details the benefits to be derived from the underground, and the urgent needs for an underground in the light of Melbourne’s current problems together with a request for assistance from the Commonwealth Government.
As I see it, in the light of that submission, it is absolutely necessary for some assistance to be given to alleviate the growing public transport problems of the city of Melbourne. This submission was made initially in writing. It has been supported by personal representations, and recently, or in the near future - I am not quite sure when - there have been or are to be discussions between departmental officers. I hope that this is a matter which the Commonwealth will regard as one in which it has certain obligations.
– You are attacking your own inadequate Premier.
– It is not a matter of an inadequate Premier; it is a matter of obtaining funds with which to establish this underground railway. The Premier, along with his Minister, has been insistent in urging some Commonwealth assistance. It is not as though the Commonwealth is being asked to pay the cost. It is being asked to contribute in a substantial way to the cost. Victoria has not the funds currently available or likely to be available in the near future to provide this facility. There are 300 miles of freeway which are assisted by general assistance grants and by the roads agreement which, over a period of the next 30 years, are to cost approximately $ 1,800m. Currently, the railways attract a revenue of $107m but the cost to the Victorian Government is SI 15m.
This proposal with relation to the underground railway, on present costs, is estimated to cost $81m. It is anticipated that the railway would take 5 years to construct. I think it is realistic to recognise that this estimate of $81m will probably increase with the inevitable cost increases which must occur over the next 5 years. Where, I ask, is the State Government to get this S81m in view of the commitments which it has in terms of its loan programme and its Budget of $650m a year unless it receives some assistance from the Commonwealth Government? It is obvious that the State cannot raise it from its own resources. The Commonwealth has an interest. It has a responsibility. We know that the Prime Minister has indicated in several public statements, right from the time when he took office, that the Commonwealth Government recognises an obligation, along with the States, to take steps to alleviate the problems of the major metropolises of Australia and the traffic problems of the major cities, and I would hope that there is a recognition and expression of this desire.
As an indication of the urgent need of Victoria for this railway and to show how vital I consider it to be for the metropolis of Melbourne, I instance the fact that it will double the capacity of the present suburban transport system. It will enable proper use to be made of the existing rail system. I think most honourable senators would be aware of the fact that the present railway system in Melbourne centres around Flinders Street Railway Station and there is no facility whereby there can be a carry around of the railway system at the crucial time when there is a heavy demand. It is important that some action be taken in the light of the prospective development of Melbourne.
The present population of just over 2 million people is estimated to increase to something like 3,750,000 in the next 17 years. Similar estimates indicate that the number of cars on the road will treble in that same period. It is apparent, whether or not an underground railway were to be instituted, that extensive improvements would have to be made to the existing systems. Those improvements would not really facilitate in the long term, the satisfaction of the need which the people of Melbourne are entitled to have satisfied. Indeed, if an amount of some $24m is to be spent on alternative improvements it would appear to be a waste when contrasted with the benefits which would come from a proper underground system.
It is to be appreciated that the underground system which is envisaged and for which the plans have been prepared over a long period, and which is the core of the present submission to the Commonwealth Government, provides for a 2-mile loop which will double the capacity of the railway. To illustrate the position in figures, at the present time 51,000 people come out of the Flinders Street railway station between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. every day. This means that 850 people would come out of that station every minute during that time. One only has to contemplate whether or not the railway system could cope with that sort of situation in the years to come to appreciate the need which is evident. I have spoken with some feeling on this because it is a case which has been in the hands of the Commonwealth for consideration for nearly 10 months and I hope it is a matter upon which the Commonwealth Government will make an early, favourable decision. I regard this as being in the context of special financial assistance to the States, notwithstanding the disinterest which is shown by some Opposition senators who are interjecting because after all the Labor Party’s prospects in Victoria are so bleak that one could not imagine the Labor Party showing any interest in Victoria’s prospects. Notwithstanding those things, I hope that the Commonwealth Government will give urgent and serious consideration to this matter.
– in replyThe purpose of this Bill is to provide special revenue assistance of $14m to the States. Senator Greenwood has directed his remarks to the formula in accordance with which reimbursements are made to the States and he makes the point that the formula, which is an agreement between the Commonwealth and the States, docs not meet the States’ requirements. The fact that the Commonwealth is making these supplementary grants is evidence of the Commonwealth’s awareness of their position.
– Did Sir Henry Bolte agree to the formula?
– As I have said, the agreement was made between the Commonwealth and the States and the next financial year is the last year of the operation of the present formula under the States
Grants (Tax Reimbursement) Act 1965-68. No doubt there will be considerable discussion at the Prime Minister-Premier level in relation to the formula in the future.
Senator Greenwood put his case for Victoria and I suppose that in different circumstances, if more time had been available to us, most senators from the various States would have put in a claim for Commonwealth assistance for some particular projects in their respective States. Senator Greenwood makes the point that, in respect of the Melbourne underground railway, there is a case already documented in the hands of the Commonwealth. I am quite certain that it is being given some consideration. I feel bound to point out, while we are discussing grants to the States, that the Commonwealth in this financial year has given more than $ 1,000m to the States by way of special assistance under section 96 of the Constitution. Having said that, I thank the two speakers - Senator Bishop who led for the Opposition and Senator Greenwood - for their contributions to the debate and their assistance in giving the Bill a speedy passage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
Senator ANDERSON - The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
Senator ANDERSON - The Acting Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
Senator ANDERSON- The Acting Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply:
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for External Affairs has provided the following answer:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
Senator SCOTT - The Minister for the Interior has provided the following answer to the honourable senators question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
What specific steps have been taken so far by the Federal Government to integrate Tasmania into the overseas container service?
Senator SCOTT- The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
In April 1968 the Australian National Line quoted freight rates to the container consortia for the carriage of containers between Tasmania and the mainland. The service then offered by the Line, and which is available to the consortia and shippers alike in a limited capacity at the present time, is capable of operation in conjunction with the onward shipment of containers by container ships in the United Kingdom/European trade.
The present position is that the container consortia have advised the Line that there will only be a token requirement, in the initial period 1969-70, for the Line’s services. Until such time as a total feeder service is provided, conventional overseas ships will continue to serve Tasmania. The freight rate by sea for cargo carried by conventional shipping will be no more than the sealeg container freight rate from Melbourne.
The matter is being closely examined by the Government to see what can be done to have a total feeder service to and from Tasmania provided at the earliest opportunity.
– On 15th April, Senator Cohen asked me a question without notice about the Willis report prepared for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. I now supply the following answer:
The Government has not considered the report of Lord Willis on Film and Television Production in Australia. His report waa not a report to the Government, it was a report to the DirectorGeneral of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation relating to a seminar held in Sydney in November 1968 and organised by the Australian National Advisory Committee for Unesco on the professional training of film and television scriptwriters, producers and directors. Lord Willis attended the seminar as an expert consultant from overseas by arrangement between the Australian Government and Unesco.
The recommendations of that seminar, together with Lord Willis’ own report, have now been considered by the Australian National Advisory Committee for Unesco. The Committee has referred to the Minister for Education and Science a recommendation of the seminar concerning what the participants saw as a need for the establishment of a national film and television school in Australia.
In accordance with the Committee’s request, the Minister is now seeking the views of the Commonwealth agencies concerned with tertiary education in this field.
– On 21st May, Senator Turnbull asked me whether the Government would purchase and restore the historic property, Elizabeth Farm House, as a national memorial. The Prime Minister has informed me that the Commonwealth is, of course, concerned to ensure that the property is preserved for posterity. He is informed that this has in fact been achieved by its proclamation as an historic building under the County of Cumberland Planning Scheme Ordinance, and its purchase by the Elizabeth Farm Museum Trust, which has commenced restoration work. Representations have been received for a Commonwealth contribution towards the purchase and restoration of the property, and these are currently under consideration.
– On 3rd June, Senator Turnbull asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air, without notice:
Does the Minister remember replying to me in this place on 9th May 1968 concerning the
F111A aircraft and saying that the payments were made monthly, that the next payment was due on15th May 1968 and that it would amount to $8.904m. Did he make that statement and, if so, who is trying to mislead whom?
The Minister for Air has provided the following information to enable me to reply to the honourable senator’s question:
The honourable senator has inferred from my answer to his question of the 2nd May 1968 to which I replied on the 9th May 1968 that payments were made on a fixed sum per month basis. This is not so. Our payments were related to the sums disbursed by the United States Government to the various contractors by way of progress payments against the whole F111 contract and the amounts due against the Australian portion of that contract. This is in accordance with the current agreement with the US and has been operative since early in 1964. The estimated monthly disbursements for a financial year are advised by the US authorities in advance and to date have not been requested as a fixed monthly sum. For example payments to the US Treasury since I answered the honourable senator’s question in May last year have varied over the months from a maximum of a little over $18m to a minimum of something less than $2m. Latest advices from the US authorities estimate that a further $9,329,503 will be required this month (June) and that total payments for the quarters ending 30th September 1969 and 31st December 1969 will be of the order of $15,000,000 and $9,000,000 respectively. Requests for payment against these quarterly estimates will be made monthly to us by the United States.
– On the 29th May 1969 Senator O’Byrne asked me, as the Minister representing the Minister for Air, a question relating to the hours of testing for the F111 aircraft. The Minister for Air has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The fatigue test rig is designed to simulate the loadings that would be experienced during actual in-service flying of the aircraft. Thus the test rig is employed to apply all the loadings that would occur, for instance during 4,000 in-service flying hours. However, the test does not take the same calendar time as the in-service flying hours, but in lieu, completes the simulation of 4,000 in-service flying hours in 20 days of test. Consequently to complete the simulation of 16,000 in-service flying hours on the test rig takes four times 20 daysi.e., 80 days. The time in the test rig is 80 days and not 666 days.
– (New South Wales Minister for Supply) - by leave I move:
That leave of absence be granted to every member of the Senate from the termination of the sitting this day to the day on which the Senate next meets.
We have come to the end of the business paper. It has been a long hard session for me, for the leaders of the other parties and for Ministers and senators, and I want to thank them all for their co-operation during the sittings.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I wish to inform the Senate that I have received a letter from the Leader of the Opposition appointing Senators Devitt, Toohey and Milliner to be members of the Select Committee on the Canberra Abattoir.
– Thank you. senators, very much. On behalf of the Senate staff and myself may I say that it has been a pleasure working along together.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.1 p.m. till a day and hour to be fixed by the President
Motion (by Senator Anderson) agreed to:
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till a day and hour to be fixed by the President, which time of meeting shall be notified to each senator by telegram or letter.
Valedictory - Commonwealth Office Furniture
– I move:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I wish to express to you, Mr President, to the Chairman of Committees and the Temporary Chairmen gratitude for the kind consideration shown to all honourable senators and also to express our appreciation of the work done by Mr Odgers and members of his staff and the Hansard staff.
– I would like to give some further information to Senator Webster on a question he asked with regard to Ron Barassi Office Furniture and Equipment on 29th May. He asked me whether or not the lowest tender, which was something like $24,000, was on the same terms as on the other three tenders which ranged from $38,000 to $41,000, and the answer I confirm is yes.
– I would like to endorse the remarks of the Leader of the Government (Senator
Anderson). We appreciate very much indeed the way you, Mr President, have presided over the Senate during this sessional period. I believe that if it were not for the great dedication and the conscientious work of the staff of this Senate we would not be able to do what I believe is a very important job - that of helping Parliament to support itself as a democratic institution of this Commonwealth. We have had a very successful session. I think that democracy and the processes of the Parliament have advanced in this last year and T am very pleased indeed to feel that I have been associated with this advancement of l great cause, which is the expression of the views of the people through the Parliament. 1 hope that during this recess everyone will be able to apply himself to all the extra parliamentary electorate and committee work that he will have to do. I hope also that the reports of all the committees will be ready for us to consider in the Budget session.
– I take this opportunity to add my remarks to those of Senator Anderson and Senator O’Byrne in expressing to you, Mr President, and those associated with you in the performance of your duties our gratitude for the manner in which you have handled the business of this Senate and assisted in the conduct of it. I think it could be said that because of the disposition of political strength within the chamber the demands on the Chair are more exacting than they have been in the past and it is a tribute to you, Sir, that the business has proceeded so satisfactorily and competently.
I would think that in the recess we will find that senators have undue demands imposed on them in connection with their committee work. I take the opportunity merely to mention this because, after all, the duties imposed on members of Parliament are many and varied. While it is our disposition to further committee work, which has been initiated and promoted during the last few years in this chamber, there is a limit to the time that even senators can devote to this work. On one committee with which I am associated the demands will be extraordinarily heavy in the next few months and perhaps out of proportion to the time that honourable senators can make available. Therefore, at a later stage we may find it necessary to ask the Senate to exercise its prudence and judgment to dispense committees from submitting their reports with undue speed that would not be in the interests of the work the committees are undertaking. If this is not done the demands of the Senate could act detrimentally to the performance of many of the committees which must lie properly within the competence and responsibility of senators. With those few remarks I join with others and on behalf of the Australian Democratic Labor Party extend to you, Mr President, our good wishes.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 4 June 1969, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1969/19690604_senate_26_s41/>.