27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3.3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to inform the Senate that the Minister for Immigration (Mr Lynch) left Australia on 16th May for Europe. As the Minister Assisting the Treasurer he will lead the Australian delegation to the meeting of the Ministerial Council of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development which is being held in Paris between 20th and 22nd May. After the meeting in Paris the Minister will visit Britain, Eire, West Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Malta, the United States of America and Canada to discuss with the governments concerned problems and other matters relating to the immigration programme. The Minister is expected to return to Australia on 3rd July. During his absence the Minister for Housing, (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) will be Acting Minister for Immigration. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Snedden) will represent the Acting Minister in the other place.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
Thai leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to prohibit the export of merino rams.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Has the Commonwealth Savings Bank adopted a policy of lending amounts in excess of $8,000 for home building and purchase at the interest rate of 8%? Is there any limit on the amount that the Bank is willing to lend under this policy? Is lending under this policy restricted to home building or home purchase?
– An announcement dealing with this matter was made recently. I think it would be proper for me to obtain the details of the announcement which was made, and I hop? to get those details before question time ends. That information will cover with precision the announcement that was made.
– ls the Minister representing the Minister, for Education and Science aware of an article appearing on page 1 of today’s ‘Australian’ entitled ‘Decision To Produce A-bomb Fuel “May Have Been Made” ‘, wherein Professor Encel, Professor of Sociology at the University of New South Wales, raised grave doubts about the Government’s possible intention regarding, and use of, the proposed establishment of an atomic plant at Jervis Bay? Has the Government decided to buy for the Jervis Bay power station the type of atomic plant that produces the most nuclear explosive material? Is the Government’s intention to buy a type of reactor best suited to producing explosive material dictated by this consideration? Has the Government already decided that nuclear power is economic for Australia when there is a large body of opinion to the contrary, especially among senior engineers in power authorities in the States? Has the Government made a deal with the Democratic Labor Party to equip Australia with nuclear weapons? Is the Government intending to negate and repudiate the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons which it signed so grudgingly?
– It is quite obvious, even in the enunciation of the question of the honourable senator, that it has political overtones of abysmal ignorance. The question referred to political arrangements - arrangements between parties in relation to the establishment of a nuclear reactor in Australia. Could anybody be so absolutely devoid of reason as to think that decisions of this magnitude are based upon such superficial considerations as would occur only to members of the Victorian. Labor Party? The establishment of this power station does not come within the responsibility of the Minister for Education and Science. It comes within the responsibility of the Minister for National Development. Having commented upon the matter I shall be pleased to ask the Minister whether he has anything to add to the statement that I have made.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Has the Minister noted reports of a new market for Tasmanian timber in Denmark - important enough for a representative of a Danish import firm to visit Tasmania - which is being hampered by the irregularity of Tasmanian shipping? Has he noted that the representative claimed that the normal shipping time of 2 months had been extended to 4 or 5 months and that that discouraged people interested in the purchase of the timber? Will the Minister have an investigation made of this matter with a view to bringing about an improvement?
– I have not seen these reports. I imagine the Minister for Shipping and Transport has seen them. The honourable senator will be aware from previous answers to questions that the Department of Shipping and Transport and the Department of Trade and Industry have been active with the Tasmanian Government and the Tasmanian Transport Commission in endeavouring to find more satisfactory solutions to the Tasmanian shipping problem as it relates to Tasmanian exports. I am aware of the necessity for Tasmania to have an export market, particularly for timber. The honourable senator may be assured that 1 will direct bis inquiry to the Minister for Shipping and Transport and see what I can find out for him.
– Is the Minister for Supply aware that the New Zealand Government intends to purchase 25 Macchi aircraft and that each aircraft can be manufactured more cheaply in Italy? What arrangements has the Government made to ensure that this order will be placed with the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation?
– All I say in response to the question is that discussions are taking place, and have been taking place for a considerable time, between the governments on this matter.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Why has the Government allowed the nursing profession to deteriorate to the point where nurses have to come out and protest against their poor pay and substandard conditions? lt has been apparent for years, has it not, that the people of Australia have been overwhelmingly sympathetic with the nurses who endure poor pay- and substandard conditions? When is the Government going to do something practical about this matter?
– Everybody in Australia, and not only the honourable senator who asked the question, recognises the great work done by the nursing profession throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth. Every one of us has on many occasions been extremely grateful for what members of that profession have done in the care of the sick.
– Why do you not recognise them?
– Britons never never never shall be slaves.
– Order! I remind honourable senators that it is the Minister who is answering the question.
– I think it is unfortunate that these interjections are being made. I shall certainly place the points which have been raised by the honourable senator, and the points raised by some interjectors, before the Minister for Health and obtain whatever information 1 can.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister for Civil Aviation. I ask: On Friday last was a Department of Civil Aviation aircraft used to transport
I he honourable member for Ballaarat to Canberra for the purpose of saving the Government on a censure motion? If so, who sought authority for the aircraft to be used for such a purpose and who authorised the use of the aircraft for this purpose?
– I would be grateful, firstly, if Senator Cavanagh could tell me how he asked me this on Friday last.
– I am asking the question; you are answering it.
– Did the honourable senator ask it of me on Friday last by letter or telegram?
– The honourable senator said that he asked it on Friday.
– - No, I did not.
– The honourable senator’s colleagues are somewhat noisy at the moment. I am sure we will have a little silence later on in the afternoon.
– I am very anxious to get a reply.
– I am equally anxious to give it to the honourable senator. Perhaps we should both go outside and talk to each other. This is perhaps a useful occasion for me to answer the question by taking a little time about it. The Department of Civil Aviation has a group of aeroplanes and their primary task is to maintain a continuous check on the accuracy and operation of the Department of Civil Aviation’s nation wide network of navigational and instrument landing aids. The aircraft are also used for Department of Civil Aviation, crew training, aerodrome inspection, aerial surveys, navigational aid, site selection search and rescue operations and special project flying. From time to time we do provide help for people on request. That request comes to us through the normal VIP Flight channel and I understand the situation is quite clear. We were requested to provide an aircraft for Mr Erwin, who is a member in the other place, to get to Canberra because he had difficulty and he had a broken ankle. We did that. If honourable senators would like to refer to earlier records at some time when it is convenient they will find that we have done that .for several other people on request from time to time. We shall always do so on special request in special cases. The Department will agree to do it and I shall approve its action in any case.
– Is the Minister for Civil Aviation aware of the grave danger to public health existing in the aircraft of both of the major domestic airlines where the floors of the entrance foyers are lined with either linoleum or vinyl? Is he also aware that on wet days this becomes particularly slippery and that for many years many people have been falling and hurting themselves badly? In order to save the taxpayers, through the Department of Social Services, paying people who are out of work through the injuries they sustain, will the Minister insist that the airlines put some matting on these floors?
– To my knowledge there are no reported cases of claims on either airline through injuries received by people slipping at the entrance doors of aircraft. Nonetheless, it is a good suggestion. I am grateful for it and I shall take it up.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. It refers to the refusal by the Government to grant an entry visa to the Belgian scholar, Dr Ernest Mandel. In view of the widespread concern that is being expressed throughout Australia, in academic circles and elsewhere, as to the refusal to grant an entry visa to this scholar, will the Government depart from its usual practice and inform the Australian Parliament and the people why Dr Mandel has been refused permission to enter this country, since if it does not make such a revelation public it is impossible for us to conclude otherwise than that the refusal of an entry visa is based on the ground that the Government is afraid of the free dissemination of those ideas which Dr Mandel has been expressing for many years?
– This question was asked in a slightly different way last week when it was directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. The answer to the question now is still the same as it was then, that it is not and never has been the practice to give explanations or reasons in justification of a visa being refused. That is not a policy which has originated with this Government; it is a policy which has been in existence ever since our immigration programme started.
– Order! Obviously the Minister is being embarrassed by the interjections that are occurring, and I do not blame him. When a Minister is making his reply honourable senators should not make unseemly noise. I ask Senator Mulvihill to be quiet; otherwise I shall take action against him, or against anyone else who offends.
– I repeat that this question was asked last week in this place and that the answer today is no different from the answer then. The Minister representing the Minister for Immigration gave an answer then on the basis of a long standing policy. That answer is completely consistent with a statement made by the Minister in another place when he said that it is not normal procedure, nor has it ever been the procedure, to give reasons relating to a refusal to grant an entry visa to a person wishing to enter Australia.
– Has the MinisterinCharge of Tourist Activities seen the April issue of ‘National Geographic’ magazine in which there is an article referring to the beauty, value and importance of South Australia? Has the Minister any further information relating to the article? In view of the importance and the contribution of the tourist industry to the economic growth of South Australia will the Minister inquire whether additional copies of this article are obtainable and, if so, will the Minister take steps to obtain copies and arrange for their appropriate distribution?
– I must say that it was most gratifying for me to see that the efforts of my colleague the South Australian Tourist Minister had been rewarded to the extent of achieving a 40-page recognition in the ‘National Geographic’. The article present a most vivid and well balanced portrayal of the tourist potentialities of South Australia. I am indebted to my friend and colleague Senator Davidson for the suggestion that that particular part of the National Geographic’ should be secured as a copy and circulated for special attention to members of the Federal Parliament so that they may see what the ‘National Geographic’ sees as the tourist potential of South Australia. I shall immediately concern myself with implementing the suggestion. I hope that I can arrange it.
– Is the MinisterinCharge of Tourist Activities aware that the original Expo at Montreal is again to be open this year from 12th June to 7th September under the title ‘Man and His
World’? Has Australia a pavillion there which is not being utilised? Has the Minister read a comment by the Australian parliamentary mission to Canada in 1969 which said that it considered that participation in the exhibition would be. excellent value for money? Can he advise whether this statement has had any influence on him and, if so, whether it is intended that Australia should take part in the exhibition this year?
– I am indebted to the honourable senator who, I think, asked the question which referred this matter to me a little time ago. I have had the matter referred to the Australian Tourist Commission. As to the arrangements that have been made I am not presently advised, but 1 shall take the matter up and advise the honourable senator.
– I have pleasure in drawing the attention of honourable senators to the presence in the Senate gallery of the Rt Hon. Pierre Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada. On behalf of honourable senators 1 extend to him a warm welcome. With the concurrence of honourable senators I propose lo ask Mr Trudeau to take a seat on the floor of the Senate.
Honourable senators - Hear, hear! (Mr Trudeau thereupon entered the chamber, and was seated accordingly).
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary industry: ls it a fact that there is a professional meat lobby in the United States of America paid for from the resources of the Australian Meat Board? Is it part of the responsibility of that organisation to promote the interests of the Australian meat industry in the United States? What advice was received from that body that plans were afoot to impose import restrictions on Australian mutton on the pretext of failure to meet United States hygiene requirements? Has the Australian meat lobby in the United States given any information on differences in standards of hygiene in abattoirs in the United States and in Australia that would warrant the recent high-handed action of the United States in imposing these restrictions on imports of Australian mutton?
– I do not know all (he details necessary to reply to the honourable senator’s question, but I understand that the United States authorities have repeatedly given the assurance that the standards of slaughtering and inspection facilities’ required of countries exporting mutton to the United States are the same as those that apply federally to the inspection of meat works in the United States. I understand that the requirements necessary to pass meat inspection in the United States of America are the same as those that are applicable in Australia.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport give any information to the Senate on the present whereabouts of the oil tanker ‘Oceanic Grandeur’ which went aground in Torres Strait recently? What amounts, if any, have been paid to the Australian authorities for cleaning up operations following the spillage of oil from that vessel? If no amounts have been paid for that purpose, is any action to be taken against the owners of the vessel to recover the cleaning up costs?
– The last information I had from the Department of Shipping and Transport was that the ‘Oceanic Grandeur’ . was proceeding back to Singapore under its own power. I have no further information about costs to be recovered or the present stage of any such recovery action. I understand that some action was in progress. I will endeavour to get further information for the honourable senator and I will let him have it as soon as possible.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services advise what decision, if any, has been reached on the petition of a number of blind people and their helpers for the provision of newly adapted radar systems for blind people?
– I will have to obtain that information from my colleague the Minister for Social Services. 1 will obtain it as soon as 1 can for the honourable senator.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Was the recent Djakarta conference on Cambodia the first occasion on which Japan has participated in endeavouring to settle in a peaceful manner the troubles of the South East Asian area? Does the Minister believe that it would assist such peaceful settlement if other nations bordering on the Pacific were to indicate a preparedness to exert diplomatic pressure towards such a peaceful settlement?
– I make the point that the Minister for External Affairs has only just arrived back from the Djakarta conference, and quite properly-
– And he arrived back a total wreck.
– Will the honourable senator please be quiet?
– Order! Do I have to keep calling for order? Surely honourable senators should permit the Minister to make his reply.
– I was saying that the Minister for External Affairs has just arrived back from the Djakarta conference, and I believe that it would be completely inconsistent with parliamentary practice for somebody representing him in this place or acting for him in another place to make a statement in advance of the statement he will make or may choose to make on this matter. For that reason I suggest that the proper thing to do is to put the question on the notice paper.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate seen a report attributed to Dandridge M. Colli of the General Electric Company’s missile and space vehicle department in the United States of America who referred to a huge and powerful super rocket which could be exploded behind an asteroid as it orbited between planets and would hit the earth with the force of several million megaton type hydrogen bombs; or has he seen a report by W. H. Clark, a physicist and explosives expert of the Utah Research and Development Company of the United States of America, in which he speaks of a bomb containing 1,000 tons of heavy water equipped with a nuclear detonator and a boron blanket? What measures has the Australian Government taken to inform the people of this country that such weapons of annihilation exist? What measures are being taken to protect the people of Australia against such weapons?
– Quite obviously, the first thing to do is to obtain the statements to which the honourable senator has referred and have an analysis made of them. Until they are made available to me and 1 can have an analysis made of them I am not in a position to give an intelligent and comprehensive answer to his question.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. What steps are being taken by this Government to encourage more frequency of services by Canadian Pacific Airlines Ltd between Canada and Australia? Does he not consider that, in view of the visit of the Prime Minister of Canada, this would be one tangible way of building up greater contact between the Canadian people and the Australian people?
– I think one might describe this question as a piece of special pleading on a special occasion. I have been lucky enough to travel by Canadian Pacific Airlines. It is a first class airline. If it were possible to increase its ability to fly into Australia, equally we would hope that there would be some capacity for Qantas Airways Ltd to fly into Canada. No doubt at an appropriate time and place the appropriate people will be seeking to exchange views in order to see whether any of these very nice propositions are commercially feasible and possible.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Will the Government afford the Senate an early opportunity to discuss the question of co-operation between Australia, Canada and similarly situated countries in order to adopt policies directed towards the control by all of us of our own industries, commerce and resources and of our own destinies?
– A little earlier today at a very important and very good official luncheon which was held to welcome the Prime Minister of Canada reference was made to the question of future co-operation between Australia and Canada. I think we would all be as one in our desire that Australia and Canada should co-operate in the future, i do not think 1 can add anything to the words which were spoken at the luncheon by the Prime Minister of Australia, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition in the other place and the Prime Minister of Canada.
As to the second part of the question about an opportunity being made available in the Senate to discuss the merits of that proposal, I can say only that the control and time-table of the Senate is ultimately in the hands of the Senate itself. I am the Leader of the Government in the Senate and we have a legislative programme which we hope to conclude in a reasonable time. I hope that within that time an opportunity can be made available for the type of discussion the Leader of the Opposition suggests.
– My question is directed to you, Mr President. I regret that the Prime Minister of Canada has left the chamber before I was able to catch your eye in order to have you give me the call. I ask you, Mr President, whether you are aware of the fact that in the United States of America when a visiting parliamentarian is invited on to the floor of the American Senate individual senators are then invited to express their feelings of welcome and congratulations to the visitor. 1 ask you whether the Standing Orders of the Australian Senate would allow this procedure? If not, would it be possible to make arrangements for individual senators to extend such courtesies?
Hie PRESIDENT - I have been on the floor of the American Senate on 3 occasions, and the Senate has suspended proceedings in order to give senators an opportunity to come along and speak to me. I do not know that that is an improvement on our own system. I much prefer the way in which we do it here. We pay as great a tribute as we possibly can by asking the visitor to sit in the Senate. V/e cannot do any more than that. We pay our respect In that way. I do not think that the way the Americans do it means very much more.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for National Development aware of an impending Japanese decision to review the importation of wood chips from Australia to Japan? Will the Minister reconsider the Australian Government’s decision on a minimum price for. wood chips in order to allow the development of the wood chip industry in Australia, particularly the newly established wood chip industry in Tasmania?
– I think that despite the noise that was going on in the chamber I heard the honourable senator’s question, and I am reinforced in that belief by the fact that in this morning’s Press I read an article dealing with the question to which I believe the honourable senator referred, that is, a decision by the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry to set down a general pattern which will not permit any firm importing wood chips to pay above a certain price. This raises the prospect that contract arrangements which have been entered into will be set aside. That is as much as I know, having read the newspaper report.
I think one might usefully add a couple pf things which perhaps would be interesing to a senator from Tasmania if not to anyone else in the Senate. I understand that the wood chips that go from Australia, and would have gone from Tasmania, are and were to be used to make paper pulp in Japan; what I would call craft paper, not newsprint. If that is the position, and as the world demand for pulp and the world price for pulp have been going up steadily, one would argue that there was no case for Australia or Tasmania to sacrifice its wood chips on an export selling basis at below a fair market price. I believe that the Department and the Commonwealth have been endeavouring to avoid that in the interests of the Australian community as a whole and of Tasmania in particular. One might add the second comment that in this general world scene it would appear that if a country or a State has wood chips to export and if the chips are to be made into pulp, one might look at the prospect of making the pulp oneself, because pulp is a much more efficient export than are chips.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that a South African cricket team has been invited to tour Australia during the 1971-72 cricket season? In view of the racial discrimination policies of the South African Government in the sporting field, will the Australian Government indicate immediately its opposition to such a tour and advise the Australian Cricket Board of Control accordingly?
– I am not aware of a proposed visit by a South African cricket team and I would decline to suggest to the Government that it should intervene in any proposed tour of Australia. I express my personal view when I say that when politics intrude into sport it is a disaster for sport.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air. Does a prohibition still exist on senators being conveyed in VIP aircraft? If not, can he indicate in what cases and in what circumstances the prohibition has been departed from? Is it a fact that a VIP plane was employed to convey tired and very anxious Ministers from the House of Representatives to Queensland at a late hour on Friday night, amongst whom were Mr Swartz, Mr Killen and Mr Hulme accompanied by the honourable member for Griffith? Is there any significance in the fact that the honourable member for Lilley and the honourable member for Ryan were not invited to travel to Brisbane in the aircraft?
– Under the regulations governing the use of VIP aircraft as announced by the late Senator McKellar in this place, I think in May last year, there is no provision for senators other than Ministers to travel on VIP aircraft. There has not been any change to date in the regulations.
– There has been a departure.
There was a departure when one senator sought permission from the Prime Minister on a particular occasion and permission to travel was granted.
– Did not Senator Webster travel on a VIP aircraft?
– I heard the honourable senator ask that same question 12 months ago.
– Did Senator Davidson travel in one in more recent times?
– 1 said that the practice had been departed from in the case of one senator. In regard to the latter part of the question, certain VIP aircraft were made available to Ministers last Friday night under the regulations governing the use of the aircraft. Owing to certain unforeseen circumstances - the late hour and no commercial flights being available - some people were given permission to travel on these aircraft. There was no discrimination such as Senator Gair tried to indicate in his question.
– 1 wish to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Can the Minister give the Senate any further information on the position of the Australian meat works which have had their licences to export meat to the United States of America cancelled? Have the proprietors of these works been given the reasons for the cancellation of their licences? In view of the number of people directly affected and threatened with the loss of their livelihood, such as stock producers, meat workers and people in associated industries, will the Government take all reasonable steps to ensure that exports of Australian meat to the United States of America are resumed on a normal basis as soon as possible?
– The latest information I have is that the Meat Industry Advisory Committee has formed a sub-committee to consider ways and means by which all concerned with the Australian meat industry can adjust to the requirements of the United States of America. The subcommittee will meet in Sydney on Friday. It will report back to the Meat Industry
Advisory Committee next Monday. I would like to take this opportunity to refer to a question which Senator Sir Magnus Cormack, 1 think, asked of trie the other day in regard to the organisms which have been found in certain meat which has led to a temporary ban on our exports to the United States of America. I understand that these organisms are not harmful to human beings. 1 have this on the authority of the Department of Primary Industry. I mention it here to quell any fears which may be in the minds of honourable senators and the general public in Australia.
– I direct a question to the Acting Minister for Immigration. Since the log jam has been broken in regard to section 7 of the Citizenship Act, which permits Australian mothers married overseas to non-Australians to have their children registered as Australian citizens. I ask: What is the Minister doing to overtake the excessive backlog of claims in the Sydney office of the Department? Does she have to sign them personally in the absence of the Minister for Immigration? If so, will the Acting Minister expedite the cases which are in the Sydney office at the moment?
– I cannot give a detailed answer to the matters which have been raised by the honourable senator in his question, but I shall certainly make inquiries concerning them. If there is any way in which people concerned can be assisted more rapidly I shall do whatever can be done. I shall supply the honourable senator as soon as possible with whatever information I can obtain.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. I ask: Does the Minister know from which abattoirs throughout Australia meat has been rejected by the United States of America? If so, will he name the abattoirs?
– I do not have this information at my finger tips. I will make it my job to obtain it. 1 shall inform the honourable senator accordingly.
MRS THELMA McAVOY
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services and MinisterrnCharge of Aboriginal Affairs. Is the Minister aware that Mrs Thelma McAvoy of Ross River Road, Townsville, has been forbidden to visit the Palm Island Aboriginal reserve because she appeared on a television programme of the Australian Broadcasting Commission known as ‘Four Corners’? Will the Minister undertake to have an immediate investigation conducted to ensure that Mrs McAvoy, who is held in high esteem by both white and non-white sections of the Townsville community, has complete freedom of movement restored to her?
– I am not aware of the matters raised by ihe honourable senator. I do not know whether my colleague, the Minister for Social Services, is aware of them, but I certainly shall raise them with him and get a reply as soon as possible.
– I call Senator Fitzgerald.
Opposition Sen:,ton - Hear, hear!
– Thank you.
– Order! Opposition senators seem to have some system of their own in regard to calls from the Chair. They seem to think that 1 am not giving the calls in the proper order.
– Yes, that is right, Mr President.
– If they can improve on the system I have adopted they will be doing very well. No-one has had a second call. I think it is unseemly for Opposition senators to question my system of calling. I remind them that it is not always a good idea to tell the presiding officer how to call and whom to call.
– I have not done that, Mr President. 1 am not party to the ‘hear, hears’ but if you look at Hansard you will find that day by day, although I rose early for the call, I was probably the last person called. My purpose in rising is to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service whether, in view of the demand of all wage and salary workers for increased wages, which has resulted in numerous industrial stoppages, the Commonwealth Government will confer with State governments to bring about price control in respect of all commodities. The workers believe that the absence of price control is responsible for the present inflation that is affecting our whole economy and making it impossible for the ordinary working family to live on present wages and salaries.
– Unfortunately, this is a persistent fallacy that pervades the industrial movement. The arbitration system and the conciliation tribunals exist to establish a minimum remuneration which it is compulsory for the employer to pay. We know full well that throughout the country over award payments amounting to millions of dollars are paid. The average weekly wages far exceed the minimum fixed award wages. It is quite idle to suggest that that has any relativity to the idea of a price fixing control. This is not a matter upon which one would expand during question time, but the political policies with regard to the efficacy of price control are well known. All I wish to point out to the honourable senator is that the suggestion has no relation to fixing of wages, which is the fixation of minimum wages below which an employer dare not pay but above which there is no restriction upon his paying. The suggestion of price fixation offers no solution.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. ls it a fact that a curfew on all jet operations at Kingsford-Smith Airport still exists in regard to taking off and landing between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.? Will the Minister agree that this year there have been hundreds of instances when the curfew has been ignored by the Department of Civil Aviation in giving permission to aircraft to land at or take off from Mascot between the hours I have mentioned, thus causing intolerable noise and disturbance to tens of .thousands of householders in the Sydney metropolitan area? If a curfew is in existence, why is it not rigidly enforced by the Department? What action will the Minister take to protect the quiet enjoyment of these people in their homes between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.?
– A general curfew is imposed on jet operations at KingsfordSmith Airport from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. When Senator McClelland referred to ‘this year’ I took it that he meant the last 12 months. I supplied seme figures on this matter in answer to a question asked in the other place. I will be quite happy to make available to the honourable senator figures for the actual flights in the curfew period. It is quite simple. What happens is that applications to fly during those restricted hours are made to the Department of Civil Aviation and no flights take place without prior approval by me. During the time I have been Minister for Civil Aviation any flight which has taken place within a restricted period has been approved by me. In every case satisfactory reasons have been given that, the flight is in what I believe to be the public interest. There have been a number of cases of children trying to get home after school holidays and there was a notable case, when cyclone Ada was raging, in which people were stranded on the Queensland coast and had to leave that area. I do not make any apology for my decisions and I do not need any help from honourable senators who are trying to interject. I take the responsibility for the Department. I am quite happy to take that responsibility and I will continue to take it. In every possible case where I can avoid these flights I will avoid them, but if they are in the public interest, in the interest of the community as a whole, I will give permission.
– I desire to ask a question of the Leader of the Government. In reference to the proposed ban on South African sports teams, does the Minister agree that politics should be kept out of sport? Why should South African teams be banned and teams from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics welcomed, when the Red Army has repressed liberty in the Baltic countries, Poland, Romania, Hungary, Austria and a host of other countries? Why is there not consistency?
– My answer to a previous question was in complete agreement with the statement contained in Senator McManus’s question. I recall I. said that when politics intrude into sport it is disastrous for sport. For that reason I agree entirely with the proposition inherent in the honourable senator’s question.
– My question, which is further to a question asked earlier this afternoon by Senator Wriedt, is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. I ask: Has the Minister seen a statement published in the Melbourne ‘Sun’ of today’s date, and also in Tasmanian newspapers, that Northern Woodchip Pty Ltd will proceed with the expenditure of $1.5m on a wood chip plant near Bell Bay in Tasmania? Can he indicate whether it is correct, as published in the Melbourne ‘Sun’ of today’s date, that the Japanese buyers have agreed to pay $27 a ton dry unit; that is 2,400 lb of chips? Further, does this indicate that there is any necessity for the Commonwealth Government to give further assistance towards the negotiation of a satisfactory contract to enable the industry to get under way in Tasmania?
– When I answered the question of Senator Wriedt earlier I was referring to reports that I had read in the Sydney newspapers and not the Melbourne Sun’ or Tasmanian newspapers which Senator Rae mentioned. I am very glad to learn of the proposed capital expenditure for the processing of wood chips. It is an indication that the companies there which are going to process the wood chips are not worried about their future. Equally, I am extremely pleased to learn that the report says - and I hope it is correct - that Japanese buyers, through their government agency and consultative group committee, have agreed to pay the $27 per bone dry unit which was the price the Australian Government thought was fair and reasonable. If this is the case, which I cannot say because I have only just had this referred to me, I shall be pleased and it will reinforce the Australian Government’s attitude.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister for Civil Aviation following upon my previous question. I preface my question by saying that I appreciate the Minister’s reply that the Department of Civil Aviation is prepared, upon request, to use planes at the Department’s disposal to assist people in distress or, as he said in his last reply, in the public interest.I ask: Who requested the plane to transport the honourable member for Ballaarat to Canberra to vote to save the present Government from defeat?I further ask: Who was the person in distress who warranted the misuse of the plane? Was it the Prime Minister? Who decides whether the public interest would be better served by the success or defeat of the present Government?
– That was a nice series of questions. I think I am correct in saying that the words ‘public interest’ were used by me in a reply to Senator McClelland about flights in curfew hours. I do not recall using the words ‘public interest’ in the answer to the question previously asked by Senator Cavanagh. Accordingly I think that that would stand correction, as the honourable senator would agree with me. The rule of the Department of Civil Aviation is that if the aircraft it has are available and are capable of doing the job - some of them are not because they are full of equipment - they will be made available on request. These requests come through to us, in the normal process, from the Department of Air. Where we can assist we do. There have been some cases where all honourable members would probably agree that it was a justified operation. There was one particular case in which some of us were involved in being transported under the general direction of the VIP Flight in an aircraft loaned for that purpose by the Department of Civil Aviation. It was stripped of its equipment for that job. That was to enable us to attend the funeral of our late colleague, Senator McKellar. We do not make many of these flights, but we do make a few. As to the details of the honourable senator’s question as to who asked for what and how it alt came about, I will simply sit down and find out for him, but he may be quite sure that on occasions when we feel that the request is justified and we can help we will continue to do so.
– Earlier during question time Senator Cant asked me a question about interest rates and a figure of 8% was mentioned. I said that I would seek some information about. the Press statement that was made.I gather that this question was built around a Press article in the ‘Canberra Times’ by an economist or some other writer making some calculations and hypothecating certain interest rates. The article was not based upon any statement made by the Government, the Treasurer or a bank. It was, as I say, a question based on a hypothesis in some Press article which related to some calculations made by an economist or journalist as to what the interest rate would be on a loan of $8,000. Therefore it is not a proper basisfor a question in relation to government.
– Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate arrange for a party of conservation minded honourable senators armed with doublebarrelled shotguns to have a hunt in Tasmania next Sunday when the quarry will be the bare bottomed members of the Avoca Football Club and the local police who adopted a Pontius Pilate attitude in regard to last Sunday’s wallaby slaughter?
– The honourable senator’s question which relates to wallabies was directed to me. Normally questions in relation to kangaroos or wallabies are not directed to the Leader of the Government. Quite clearly this matter is within the responsibility of the State Government. I suggest that representations be made to that Government if the honourable senator has a view to express on this matter.
– If I may ask a question which will not incite insurrection against our footballers, will the Minister for Civil Aviation in due course make a statement to the Senate indicating how many and which civil airline flights to Canberra were delayed last Friday, 15th May, and at what airports, in order that members of the Australian Labor Party who had absented themselves from the Friday sitting of another place could be returned to the Parliament? Were any special flights arranged between any 2 Australian airports to assist in this re-grouping of the Australian Labor Party?
– 1 think I shall have to get a specified and specific answer to that question. I could not answer it from information that I have in my hands at the moment.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Following recent Press reports that discussions were being held as to the feasibility of extending the runways at the Canberra Airport, have the discussions reached a stage where the Minister can say whether the runways will be extended at Canberra Airport or whether it will be necessary eventually to move the airport to a new site?
– I think it is too early to give a detailed reply to that question. It is natural that in a place like Canberra which has such a tremendous population growth, the future development of the airport and its runway systems should be examined, and it is being examined by the Department of Civil Aviation quite carefully. As soon as I have something that I can report I shall give it to the honourable senator, but I cannot give him a time on this just at the moment.
– I should like to follow up a question asked of the Minister for Supply in regard to the possible loss of a contract for the 25 Macchi aircraft, in reply to which he said that negotiations were going on between governments. Everyone knows that. My question is: For how much longer will these negotiations be going on? Can the Minister tell us whether it is not true that unless we get this order from the New Zealand Government there will be no big order for the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation in sight?
– For a person who has had experience in 2 Parliaments I suggest that this question is singularly inappropriate. When I said that I chose to answer by saying that the governments were having discussions about this matter I thought that would have been an appropriate reply. The simple fact is that in negotiations it is not a matter of one person making a decision. ‘Negotiations’ means, as I have said and as everyone well understands, with the obvious exception of Senator Turnbull, that there are discussions between groups or parties. I am sorry to have to teach the honourable senator the politics of the thing, but a Minister does not give answers at question time in Parliament relating to negotiations. At this time a Minister will announce decisions that have been reached. The simple fact is that I shall give no further information additional to that which I gave in reply to the earlier question. As to the future work load of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, that is another matter and an entirely different matter. Certain honourable senators have put questions to me in the past and 1 have given extensive answers pointing out the problems not only of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation but also of the Government Aircraft Factories and Hawker de Havilland Australia Pty Ltd. This is an important matter on which one cannot give a simple answer to a question in the form in which this one was asked. I am happy to be able to say that as a result of negotiations in the last couple of days I have issued a Press release advising that the Boeing company has placed a modest order which includes provision for the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, lt is only a modest beginning, but at least it is a beginning on the question of flow back from our overseas contracts. I will be happy to send a copy of that Press statement to Senator Turnbull.
– I wish to address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate in relation to the reply he gave a few minutes ago to a question asked earlier by Senator Cant. I would not like Senator Cant’s question to go astray or the Minister to be misled. I ask the Minister to determine whether it is a fact that the Commonwealth Bank is now making loans of more than $8,000 for the purposes of home building on which it is charging interest at 8%, repayments to be made monthly. That is my information.
– I will get the information that the honourable senator -requests and pass it to him as quickly as possible.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether the Government has decided to install a natural uranium fuelled Canadian reactor system in Australia’s first nuclear power station. Does this system allow for speedy conversion for the production of nuclear weapons? Is it a fact that a political under-the-counter agreement has been reached between the Government Parties and the Australian Democratic Labor Party for the production of nuclear weapons, avoiding parliamentary discussion and the subsequent public outcry against the manufacture of such weapons in this country?
– I suggest that the first part of the honourable senator’s question be placed on the notice paper for a reply to be furnished by the Minister for National Development. As to the second part of his question, I suggest that it is sheer nonsense.
– 1 ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry: Have the Government and the Minister yet given serious consideration to the many requests in the Senate that the Federal Government suggest to wheat growers a compensation scheme to encourage the non-planting of wheat? Has the Government’s consideration of this proposal been in line with the decisions taken by Canadian authorities? Does the Government intend to convey to the Senate the outcome of its deliberations on this important matter?
– The honourable senator has asked mc a series of questions on this matter and I have sought information from the Minister for Primary Industry.
– Without success.
– So far I have not had answers to those questions. I will take the matter up again with the Minister for Primary Industry and convey the answer to the honourable senator.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that the young Aboriginal champion tennis player Evonne Goolagong will not be permitted to enter South Africa to play in tennis competitions in that country because the colour of her skin is black? Does this action of the South African Government interfere with free competition in sporting activities between individuals and countries? Does the Minister still believe that such actions by a government should not be subject to questions and discussion within this Parliament?
– I have no need or desire to change what I said about the introduction of politics into sport. As to the rest of the question, I have not been informed and 1 am not aware of any suggestion such as that made by the honourable senator about a wonderful Australian girl who has done magnificently in tennis competitions in her tender years.
– Following on the question asked a few minutes ago by Senator Keeffe, will the Leader of the Government in the Senate confirm that there has not been one word of discussion on the question of atomic development between the Australian Democratic Labor Party and the Government? Will the Leader of the Government agree that we should all feel very sorry for Senator Keeffe?
– I repeat that the part of Senator Keeffe’s question which suggested that there had been some extraordinary discussions between this Government and the DLP in relation to nuclear weapons is sheer nonsense and humbug.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Was his attention directed to and his interest generated in a recent statement by a Dr Harry Lander who advocated that, as with airline pilots who hold responsibility for the safekeeping of the lives of Australian citizens, there should be regular medical and psychiatric examination of those who in other occupations hold similar responsibility? Did he note that Dr Lander advocated that members of Parliament should also submit to such examination? Does he, by his personal observations over a number of years, consider that there is wisdom in Dr Lander’s advocacy?
– I confine my activities to politics. I do not want to profess any professional know-how in the field of medicine. 1 would not want to make any comment as to what I believe would be the end result of a physical or mental examination of senators or- members of another place. I reserve my own opinions on that matter.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. In view of the explanation he has given as to the provision of the chartered aircraft for Mr Erwin and his assurances as to the Government’s policy of providing aircraft in similar circumstances, will he advise members of Parliament who may find themselves in a similar predicament regarding their travelling to Canberra to which officer they should apply for the provision of an aircraft similar to that provided to Mr Erwin?
– I suggest that the honourable senator direct his request to the Minister for Air, who has responsibility for the VIP Flight. Then if the Minister directs any request to me it will receive the normal courteous attention and service that I always give to everybody.
– I direct a further question to the Minister ‘ representing the Minister for Primary Industry on the prohibition of mutton imports to the United States of America. It arises out of an answer he gave to an earlier question on the subject of the impurities found to exist in Australian mutton imported into that country. Does not he consider that, rather than giving an individual answer to an individual question in the Senate, in the circumstances it would be more fitting to make a statement to the Senate indicating the type of impurities which were found to exist in Australian mutton, thus causing this ban, and the sources from which this mutton came?
– I will take this question up with the Minister for Primary Industry and see what information is available. If I can make a statement to the Senate I will do so.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation a question. What was the cost involved in the misuse of the Department of Civil Aviation plane to transport the honourable member for Ballaarat for the purpose of saving the Government on the censure motion? Will the Minister give an answer to that question and the one asked by Senator Marriott on the cost of returning Labor members to Canberra for the admirable purpose of defeating the Government, before the Senate is asked to vote additional moneys to the Department of Civil Aviation under the appropriation Bills now before the Senate?
– We live in a strange world when in one case somebody who cannot walk is said to be misusing a facility and in another case somebody else’s use of an aircraft is described as admirable. I will endeavour to find out, if it is possible, the cost of the various propositions put to me by Senator Cavanagh. I am . not prepared to go beyond that.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. She will recall that last week I asked a question on whether the Australian Broadcasting Commission was negotiating with Consolidated Press Ltd for the sale to that company of the ABC publication ‘TV Times’. I now ask her whether she is yet in a position to answer the question that I posed to the Postmaster-General through her. If not, will she now ask the Postmaster-General whether he is prepared to table in the Parliament any correspondence or documents setting out the negotiations that have taken place or are in the course of taking place between the ABC and Consolidated Press Ltd in connection with the sale of the publication ‘TV Times’?
– I have not yet received a reply to the question the honourable senator asked me last week. 1 suggest that he put the further question on the notice paper so that I may obtain a reply for him.
– Has the Minister representing the Prime Minister knowledge that at a meeting which was held in the Ironworkers Club of New South Wales last evening and at which the honourable member for Boothby was speaking on his visit to Rhodesia a young girl was thrown to the floor and deliberately kicked in the head by a supporter of the speaker? As violence apparently is more likely in Fascist meetings of apartheid supporters than in demonstrations of Vietnam protest will the Prime Minister direct the attention of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation to the un-Australian utterances, leading to violence, of the honourable member for Boothby?
– The honourable senator asks me whether I have knowledge of a meeting that was held some time last night. I have no knowledge of such a meeting.
(Question No. 124)
-I seek leave to read out Question No. 124.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The question, and the answer provided, read:
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The AttorneyGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The information sought in relation to the States is not obtainable from Commonwealth records. The following information relevant to Parts (1). (2) and (3) of the question is supplied in relation to the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. For this purpose, companies have been treated as ‘bankrupt’ if they were unable to pay their debts, whether in receivership, under official management or in the course of liquidation.
(a) Australian Capital Territory - 76
Northern Territory- 12
(a) Australian Capital Territory - 30
Northern Territory- Nil
The answer to this part of the question depends on when, for the purposes of the question, a director should be regarded as ‘associated with’ a company. The persons who were the directors of a company at the time it became ‘bankrupt’ may, for example, have’ had nothing to do with the management of the company when the events that led to its bankruptcy occurred. It would be inappropriate to supply the names of such persons. Treating a person as ‘associated with’ a company if he was a director of the company at the time it became ‘bankrupt’, and omitting references to names of persons, the answer to this part of the question is -
Australian Capital Territory - 24
Northern Territory- 3
-I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice question No. 197 standing in my name. It reads:
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! Senator Cavanagh, you must seek leave if you wish to read out a question on notice.
– I would dispute that. As one who-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! You must seek leave.
– I am not prepared to do so. I was on the Standing Orders Committee that brought down the relevant standing order.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- This is the practice which was adopted some time ago.
– I do not care about what was adopted. It was a recommendation of the Standing Orders Committee.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - The Senate adopted the recommendation. You must seek leaveto ask the question.
– No, I will not seek leave.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT-I will call on the next question. I call Question No. 198 in the name of Senator Cavanagh.
– I will now ask the Minister representing the Minister-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Senator Cavanagh, you must seek leave.
– I ask:
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order!
– On a point of order, my understanding of the situation is that if an honourable senator wishes to ask a question, he indicates to the Clerk at the table that he proposes to do so.I have already indicated in respect of a question which is to follow shortly, that I propose to ask that question. It is my understanding of the situation that there is no requirement to ask for leave in such circumstances.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Senator Devitt, for some time it has been the custom - and I understand it is in accordance with a recommendation of the Standing Orders Committee which has been adopted by the Senate - that when the proceedings are not being broadcast an honourable senator must seek leave to ask, verbally, a question upon notice. I am merely following what has been the practice. At least during this sessional period and while I have been in the Chair I have asked for that to be done.
– I wish to speak to the point of order. That was the practice. Senator Kennedy got up in this chamber and objected to this practice. He said that he should not have to ask for leave to ask a question upon notice. The result was that the Senate referred the question to the Standing Orders Committee, which comprises Senator Wright. Senator Murphy, Senator Anderson, myself and other honourable senators. The Committee brought down a recommendation that when the proceedings were being broadcast honourable senators could ask questions upon notice, without asking for leave, and that when the proceedings were not being broadcast an honourable senator had to indicate to the Clerk of the Senate that he desired to ask certain questions. There was never a question of asking for leave. It was a right. The question arose out of Senator Kennedy’s objection. We had to find a way to get over the problem because we did not want every honourable senator rising in his place and verbally asking questions upon notice. We wanted to minimise the number of questions upon notice which were read. The whole point is, therefore, that leave is not necessary to ask a question upon notice, but questions will be called on to be asked verbally only when an indication has been given to the Clerk of the Senate that honourable senators particularly want to ask those questions. If this is not so, there has been a breach of the agreement which we reached at the time when Senator Kennelly raised the most violent objection to the former procedure. I do not propose to ask for leave in advance to ask a question upon notice.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Senator Cavanagh, the recommendation which has been adopted by the Senate is that when an honourable senator wishes to ask his question upon notice in the Senate, he must seek leave to read it verbally. An honourable senator may quote the question number and say that the answer will be given by the responsible Minister. In this case, Senator Cavanagh you must seek leave to ask verbally the question upon notice. If you had approached the Clerk of the Senate and informed him that you wished to ask this question-
– I have done that.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Yes, but when proceedings are not being broadcast you then must seek leave to ask a question verbally.
– I should like to speak to this question. Putting aside any more recent arrangement, the situation has always been that when the proceedings were not being broadcast the honourable senator quoted the question number. He said: ‘Question No. so-and-so in my name’, and the Minister gave the answer. That does not require leave. I understand that the question of asking for leave comes in when a number of contingencies arise. The first is when proceedings are not being broadcast and an honourable senator wants to ask his question in full; then he must seek leave to do so. I am fairly certain that was the understanding, but I would not swear by it. For that reason I suggest to the honourable senator, so that his pride will not be hurt, that he simply seek leave. Then we will sort the matter out at another level. The report of the Standing Orders Committee, which I understand was adopted, deals with this matter. The Committee considered this matter of asking questions upon notice. In the Senate on 4th March 1969 the President, on a question of order, gave the following ruling:
The long-established manner of asking questions on notice is that, as each senator is called, he rises to ask the question standing in his name by reading its number on the Notice Paper. The practice is the same in the House of Commons at Westminster.
An exception to our practice is when questions are being broadcast or are to be rebroadcast, when senators read their questions in full.
In view of our established practice, I suggest that any honourable senator wishing to read his question when the proceedings are not being broadcast should ask for the leave of the Senate.
That is the point which the Presiding Officer is now upholding. I suggest that it is in accordance with the ruling which was given on 4th March. There does not seem to be any mileage to be gained in trying to discuss the question now. If there is some doubt in Senator Cavanagh’s mind, I am perfectly prepared to ask the Standing Orders Committee to have a look at the question. I am quite certain that the Presiding Officer has given a ruling which is consistent with that given in this place by the President on 4th March 1969.
– I have already spoken on the point of order. If necessary I will seek leave to make a statement on this question.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - There being no objection, leave is granted.
– by leave - I agree with everything that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) has said. The usual practice was that when proceedings were not being broadcast, the senator asking the question gave the number of the question, then the Minister gave the reply. The senator did not ask the question in full. But when we were dealing with the Hoffmann affair, despite the fact that the proceedings were not being broadcast, Senator Kennel ly sought to ask a question upon notice in full, not merely quoting the number of the question, and that is when the President gave the ruling that this was the practice. From there the matter was referred to the Standing Orders Committee. The Committee was in a dilemma as to whether we should allow every honourable senator to ask in full questions upon notice. The Committee was sympathetic to the view that we should reduce the number of questions upon notice that were read in full in the Senate. But it was thought that those honourable senators who wanted to ask in full their questions upon notice should do so. The recommendation was brought down that for a trial period we would notify the Clerk of the Senate if we wanted to read out in full questions upon notice, and that upon such notification to the Clerk we had the right to do so. That was my attitude before the Standing Orders Committee. I had to sell it to a very hostile senator from Victoria. In justice to him, I cannot now ask leave to read a question in full. It is not a question of skin off my nose. It is a question of honouring an undertaking that I gave to those who wanted the right at any time to ask in full a question upon notice.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Senator Cavanagh, I think that you should adopt the suggestion made by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, that we carry on by accepting the interpretation I have given today and refer the question to the Standing Orders Committee for further consideration.
– Carry on for today under your interpretation?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I have adopted what I believe is the practice at the present time.
– I move:
– May I raise a point of order? Mr Deputy President, is the ruling that you are now giving to the Senate in accordance with the Standing Orders of the Senate?
– 1 have raised a point of order. I have asked for a ruling on that point of order.
– I. am trying to be helpful; 1 am not trying to be obstructive. 1 do not want to reach a stage at which we get motions of dissent from the Presiding Officer’s ruling on a question on which there is some area for disputation and misunderstanding. I am perfectly happy to move for the suspension of the Standing Orders to allow the question to be asked today. I accordingly move:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent questions being asked in full today.
– Let us abide by the decision of the Senate on this question.
– There is an element;-
– There is no element. There cannot be any element of doubt. There is no ambiguity or doubt about the statement. If you are going to waffle on you will create doubt and ambiguity.
– If you have regard to this document, there is a doubt.
– You can read it 2 or 3 ways.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! I now have a motion from Senator Cavanagh dissenting from my ruling, ls it seconded?
– Yes. I ask for leave to make a short statement.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! You cannot debate the motion, lt requires immediate determination.
– I do not want to canvass your ruling. Mr Deputy President, but surely I must have an opportunity to spell out my reasons-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order!
– I suggest again that it is absurd to be having motions of dissent on what is simply a matter of procedure. I am quite willing to move the suspension of Standing Orders to allow Senator Cavanagh to put his question without requesting leave. If it will help the situation I move:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Cavanagh asking a question without requesting leave.
I have already done (hat 3 times but do not seem to be able to get it across.
– What is the purpose of this exercise?
– To suspend Standing Orders to enable Senator Cavanagh to ask his question without requesting leave. Senator Cavanagh’s position is preserved. He has moved his dissent.
– You can count me out of it. I had no doubt about what the previous decision was. Why should not the Leader of the Government also know?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! I have a motion of dissent from my ruling. lt has been seconded. The matter will be deferred until the next day of sitting. Is leave granted for the Minister to move his motion for the suspension of Standing Orders?
– I have moved it already.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! The question is that the motion be agreed to. All those of that opinion say ‘Ave’, to the contrary ‘No’. I think the ‘Ayes’ have it.
– A point of order, Mr Deputy President. I rose to address myself to a question-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I was dealing with the first one.
– You accepted a motion from Senator Cavanagh and 1 rose to second it.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- And I accepted that.
– But I wanted to give my reasons for seconding it. Surely I am entitled to do that.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- You may not speak to the question.
– That is the most ridiculous suggestion I have heard.
– May I speak to the point of order, Mr Deputy President? Senator Cavanagh has said that he is entitled to ask his question without requesting leave. You then gave a ruling and Senator Cavanagh has dissented from that ruling, li Senator Cavanagh intended that to be dealt with forthwith it was open to him to move that the question required immediate determination and should be dealt with forthwith, but because he no doubt thinks that there should be full consideration of the matter he has not moved in those terms, so the matter will be left until the next day of sitting. Now the Leader of the Government has moved that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would enable Senator Cavanagh to ask his question without requesting leave. That motion has been put and carried.
– It has not been put.
– It has been put and carried. The situation now is that everyone’s position is preserved. Senator Cavanagh has a motion of dissent from the ruling of the Deputy President and that remains to be decided by the Senate. It will be considered in the same way as was the matter raised by Senator Cant the other day. That seems to me to be the solution. It is now open for Senator Cavanagh, if he wishes, to ask his question without requesting leave.
– Senator Murphy, what was your understanding of the position before all this blew up?
– I have an open mind on the matter.
– So open you can hear the wind blowing through it.
– I am prepared to study it. In fact I thought something else happened after the decision of 4th March 1969. I am surprised that that was the last word on it. I felt that something further took place. I have been handed something now which indicates that something further has taken place but I have not had a chance to study it. We will look later to see what the real position is and what should be done if there is some misunderstanding.
– On the point of order-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! I direct attention to the fact that I put the motion for the suspension of Standing Orders and it was carried. Senator Cavanagh, you are entitled now to ask your question. I call question No. 197 in the name of Senator Cavanagh.
– 1 claim that I have a right. I seek no privileges. I will not ask the question.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! I call question No. 261 in the name of Senator Devitt.
– I ask leave to have my question carried over to the next day of sitting.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! Is there any objection? There being no objection, leave is granted. With the concurrence of honourable senators the remaining answers to questions on notice, as well as answers to questions previously asked without notice, will be incorporated in Hansard.
– I present the report by the Tariff Board on linoleum (Dumping and Subsidies Act). This report does not call for any legislative action.
– I ask for leave to make a statement on behalf of the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Hughes) on the subject of law reform for the Australian Capital Territory.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Order! Is there any objection? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate this statement in Hansard.
Honourable members will recall that in my recent second reading speech explaining the Parliamentary Counsel Bill I indicated that I had under consideration proposals affecting other areas of work in my Department. One area to which I have been giving particular attention concerns law reform in the Australian Capital Territory, and I take this opportunity to inform the House of some decisions the Government has made to further this important work.
The need for law reform is, of course, by no means confined to the Australian Capital Territory. Throughout the world governments are recognising that it is not enough to direct all of their legislative efforts towards the enactment of laws designed to implement political concepts. Lt is generally recognised that there is, in addition, a need for constant review of existing laws, particularly those upon which basic juristic principles and institutions depend. Otherwise, experience has shown that it is only a matter of time before those laws become inadequate to meet the needs of a fast developing and increasingly sophisticated society. In recent years the Government has given close and continuing attention to the need for law reform in the Australian Capital Territory. After reviewing the problem in 1965, the Government approved the creation within the four responsible departments, namely, the Department of the Interior, the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, the Department of Health and the Treasury, of special groups of officers to be assigned exclusively to the task of reviewing the laws of the Territory and to keep those laws up to date.
While the Government concluded that the responsibility for the work of ACT law reform should rest with the responsible departments, it decided that arrangements should be made for consultation on matters of a specialist or technical nature to take place with informed sections of the community. For the co-ordination of the efforts of the four responsible departments an inter-departmental co-ordinating committee was established. These decisions of the Government have been implemented. Departmental staffs have been strengthened by the creation of groups of officers to undertake law reform work for the Territory. There has been consultation with bodies such as the Advisory Council, the Law Society of the Australian Capital Territory, the Australian Capital Territory Bar Association and the Australian National University. Other bodies have been consulted in relation to particular matters in which they have had a special interest, and in some projects assistance has been obtained from particular persons with special knowledge or experience.
I am pleased to be able to say that much has been accomplished under these arrangements. The task of reforming the law is inevitably a painstaking one, and progress cannot always be achieved at the rate that may be felt to be desirable. Nevertheless, there has been good progress in the Australian Capital Territory under the arrangements now operating. I shall not take the time of honourable members to mention all the matters that have become the subject of legislation. But the House will, 1 think, be interested to know dial since 1967 my own Department has been responsible for some 30 significant Ordinances of a law reform nature - some of them representing quite major projects. For example, these Ordinances include - an Ordinance providing for the interpretation of Territory Ordinances and statutory instruments; a Juries Ordinance providing for all aspects of jury service and, in particular, for women to serve on juries; an Ordinance making comprehensive provision with respect to maintenance of wives, husbands and children; a new Wills Ordinance; Ordinances enabling married persons to sue each other in tort; a number of amendments to the Court of Petty Sessions Ordinance; an Ordinance facilitating the transfer of marketable securities; a new Family Provision Ordinance - to ensure that the family of a deceased person receive adequate provision out of his estate; an Ordinance enabling a person between the ages of IS and 21 years to borrow on the security of a mortgage of his home; amendments to the Administration and Probate Ordinance; and amendments to the Real Property Ordinance.
Several other major projects have reached an advanced stage and legislation will shortly be forthcoming. In this connection I would mention, firstly, the proposed legislation concerning strata or unit titles which has been prepared by a specially appointed working group comprising an officer from my Department, an officer from the Department of the Interior, a University professor of law. and a legal practitioner with extensive conveyancing experience. The present position with respect to this legislation is that the comments of interested bodies to which the draft was circulated for comment have only recently been received and are now being examined.’
Another project at an advanced stage is the proposed Legal Practitioners Ordinance to replace the Ordinance disallowed last year by the Senate.; Since assuming office I have given close attention to this important legislation and have had the benefit of discussion with representatives of the two professional bodies representing lawyers in the Territory. I am pleased to be able to say that a printed draft of the proposed Ordinance has just been forwarded for comment to those two bodies and to the Advisory Council. It should now be possible to have the Ordinance made in the very near future.
The preparation of a new criminal code for the Territory has been a particularly big task, in which I have been very considerably assisted by the Law Council of Australia. Here again, the views of interested bodies have been sought. Some have been received and are being examined.
I would mention also that a new Evidence Ordinance for the Territory is in its final stage of preparation. Helpful comments on a printed draft of the proposed Ordinance have been obtained from interested professional bodies and I expect that the Ordinance will be made very shortly.
From what I have said honourable members will appreciate that the task of law reform for the Australian Capital Territory is being actively pursued. I should like to acknowledge at this point my predecessor’s interest in this work. He was active in exploring possible new ways of advancing the work. During his term of office the Attorney-General’s Department was re-organised so as to involve more directly in the work senior officers of the Department able to provide guidance to the special groups of officers established in 1965. Experience has shown that such direct involvement of senior officers is particularly desirable, and my Department is accordingly about to submit to the Public Service Board proposals for a further reorganisation in which the emphasis will be still further in the direction of committing the work of Territory law reform to officers at suitable levels who will be free from conflicting duties in the federal sphere.
The Government has hitherto taken the view - to which it still adheres - that it should not abdicate its responsibility for legislation involving significant policy considerations by referring proposals for such legislation to an outside body such as a law reform commission. In recent years there has been pressure from various quarters for the establishment of a law reform commission, but having regard, amongst other things, to the extent to which policy considerations have been involved in Territory reform projects, the Government has felt it more appropriate that these projects should be handled by the departments responsible for the policy. Having recently given the matter further consideration, the Government sees no reason for taking a different view in regard to projects involving significant questions of policy. The Government’s view in this regard is, I might say, in complete accord with views expressed in the course of a discussion of the subject of law reform at a conference of Australian and New Zealand Law Ministers held at Wellington on 26th February this year. At that conference, however, there was general agreement that law reform commissions and similar bodies can assist materially in the reform of those areas of the law that do not involve significant policy. To give just a few illustrations I mention the law of conveyancing, the law of defamation and the law governing the time within which legal proceedings must be instituted after the cause of action has accrued.
The Government has accordingly decided to establish a law reform commission for the purpose of supplementing the work of the departments concerned in reviewing and reforming the law of the Australian Capital Territory. The commission will be presided over by a full time chairman with very senior qualifications in the law. The Government has in mind that the chairman would if possible be a person with the status of a supreme court judge. There will, in addition, be certain part time members of the commission and an appropriate supporting staff. At the discussion at Wellington to which I have referred there was general agreement that the work to be undertaken by a law reform commission and the priority to be accorded to particular projects should be a matter for decision by the Government and this will be the position with respect to the law reform commission to be established for the Australian Capital Territory. All references of matters to the commission will, in fact, be made by the Attorney-General and the commission will forward its reports to the Attorney-General. The reports of such a body will, of course, be most valuable documents and honourable members may rest assured that the
Government will treat them as such. It goes without saying that the ultimate decision on the implementation of any report will be a matter for the Government. This represents no departure from common practice.
I have indicated the Government’s decision to establish a law reform commission for the Territory and the basic principles that will be applied in establishing it. There are, of course, certain matters of detail that still need to be worked out but honourable members may rest assured that these matters will be attended to as expeditiously as possible. I believe that the Commission will make an important contribution to the development of the Australian Capital Territory. I present the following paper -
Law Reform for the Australian Capital TerritoryMinisterial Statement, 19 May 1970.
(Question No. 197)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Interior has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 198)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Interior has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 199)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Interior has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 201)
asked the Ministerrepresenting the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
(Question No. 203)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
(Question No. 231)
asked the Minister for Air, upon notice:
Is a United States Senate Sub-committee, which is investigating the F111, now examining the question whether, in 1962 and early 1964, reports were made to the United States Government by engineers, to the effect that the actual performances of theF111 aircraft did not approach performances which were claimed for it and which were very much exaggerated; if so, was the Australian Government informed of these reports at that time or was the information concealed from it.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
In April 1964 the Royal Australian Air Force appointed an F111 Project Officer in the United States. The F111 Project Officer works in close consultation with the United States Air Force F111 Project Office and has been kept informed of developments relating to the F111C.
(Question No. 245)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
Does the Government favour housing the various Commonwealth Departments operating in major country towns together in one building complex in each town; if so, will this be done with Commonwealth Departments in Tamworth, New South Wales.
(Question No. 246)
asked the Minister rep resenting the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
Would not such a procedure enable authorities -
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
There is a possibility of spreading noxious weeds by over-the-border trading in wheat. I have already brought this matter to the attention of the State Ministers for Agriculture since the introduction of quarantine measures is the prerogative of each State Government.
It would be difficult to say how effective the procedure outlined by the honourable Senator would be in keeping a check on over-the-border movement of grain and in preventing the spread of noxious weeds.
The Standing Committee on Agriculture recently considered a somewhat similar suggestion but came to the conclusion that a quarantine measure should not be used to overcome a marketing problem.
(Question No. 247)
asked the Minister representing the Minister in Charge of Aboriginal Affairs the following questions, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable senator’s questions are as follows:
(Question No.. 264)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The Postmaster-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question.
(Question No. 269)
Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice: (1)Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a report prepared by the Tamworth and District Chamber of Commerce on the needfor a College of Advanced Education to be established in that city to provide tertiary education facilities in the north and north-west of New South Wales.
– The Minister for Education and Science has provided the following reply to the honourable senators question:
Hawkesbury Agricultural College
Mitchell College of Advanced Education
Orange Agricultural College
Riverina College of Advanced Education
Wagga Agricultural College.
(Question No. 275)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
How many unemployment benefit payments have been made on a monthly basis, during each of the past 2 years to persons registered at the following country employment offices, viz.Casino; Grafton; Kempsey; Lismore; andMurwillumbah.
-The Minister for Social Services has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The information requested by the honourable senator is set out in the table hereunder. It is pointed out that unemployment benefits are paid weekly and accordingly the figures in the table represent the total number of payments made each months and not the total number of persons who received unemployment benefit each month.
(Question No. 289)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The Postmaster-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 327)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
Are the following books available in Australia (a) ‘The New Golden Bough’ by Sir James G. Fraser; (b) ‘I, Claudius’ by Robert Graves; (c) Mithras, The Secret God’ by M. J. Vermaseren; and (d) “The Teaching of the Magi’ by Zaehner; if not, are restrictions on their import likely to be lifted?
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Ofthe titles mentioned by the honourable senator only one, namely ‘I, Claudius’ by Robert Graves has come under the notice of the Department of Customs and Excise. This publication was examined and released in 1963.
The remaining three titles are unknown to the Department.
– I have an answer to a question without notice which was asked by Senator McClelland on 12th March. The question was in these terms:
My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the Minister seen a report attributable to the senior lecturer in Biology at the University of Sydney that it is believed powerful insecticide sprays, superphosphates or weedicides caused the death of hundreds of fish in a creek near Ballina in northern New South Wales, that a similar mass killing had taken place in the Tweed River in northern New South Wales and that if the present situation continues pollution by insecticides, detergents and washings from dairying and other country industries will eventually foul up our rivers and seriously affect the future of the Australian fishing industry? Has the Minister also seen a report that a research team from the University of New South Wales was forced to abandon its investigation into this matter because of lack of funds? Because so many people are completely dependent on the fishing industry for their livelihood and so many country towns in northern New South Wales rely to a very great extent on a reasonably prosperous fishing industry for their existence and development, will the Minister investigate this matter urgently and request bis officers to contact the research team from the University of New South Wales and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation to see what steps can now be taken to preserve this very vital industry?
The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The report referred to in your question ot I Gin March 1970, has been thoroughly investigated. The conclusion reached is thai (here is no definite evidence that agricultural chemicals or fertilisers were responsible for the death of the fish in the Tweed and Richmond Rivers and associated creeks.
Research being conducted by the University of Queensland shows that fish from (he Brisbane, Mary and Tweed Rivers contain minute traces of residues of a number of pesticides. This however, is more a measure of the sensitivity of analytical techniques than an indication of potential danger to fish. It is possible that the low residues in these fish could come from industrial or domestic sewerage effluent as well as from agricultural pest control activities.
The levels of residues detected are considerably below those known to be safe to wildlife, including fish.
Unfortunately, it is not possible for diagnoses to be made to determine the factors responsible for the death of the fish in the estuaries of the Tweed and Richmond Rivers. To make a correct diagnosis the Scientists must be able to visit the area where and when mortality is occurring.
Advice has been received that the University of N.S.W. has no plans for the reported investigations. It is understood that there was a suggestion by a lecturer in micro-biology at the Sydney University that funds be provided for an investigation on herbicide residues, hut this has no connection with fish because herbicides arc not dangerous to fish. Slate legislation provides for the control of testing and the sale of herbicides.
Tests have been carried out over a number of years by the State Departments of Fisheries and Wildlife and it is understood that these are being extended as staff and facilities make such possible.
– On 15th April, Senator Wilkinson asked me the following question without notice:
My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is any examination being conducted of the possibility of increasing the value of the Commonwealth superannuation unit which has not been varied for IS years although the cost of living has increased greatly over that period?
I then undertook to have the question examined. The Treasurer has provided the following answer:
An increase in the value of the Commonwealth superannuation unit is not the only method by which superannuation entitlement may be increased. Over the years, the Government has taken a number of other steps that, among other things, take into account the effect of changes in prices on Commonwealth superannuation entitlements.
Broadly, the position now is as follows: contributors’ unit entitlements and contributions rise automatically as salaries increase; after retirement, the levels of existing pensions are examined by the Government, usually at Budget time each year, and increases are granted from time to time.
On the last three occasions on which existing pensions were increased - in 1961, 1963 and 1967 - the notional salary method was used. Speaking broadly, under this- method, the Commonwealth’s or employer’s share of pension being paid at a selected date, for example, 30th June 1967 for the 1967 increases, is increased to the amount that would have been payable had the pensioner retired on that date and not the date of his actual retirement.
The Superannuated Commonwealth Officers’ Association and the Council of Commonwealth Public Service Organisations has supported the notional salary method of adjusting existing pensions.
Can the Minister representing’ the PostmasterGeneral give any information about the intention pf the Postmaster-General to institute a uniform telephone charge throughout Australia?
The Postmaster-General has now furnised me with the following information in reply. ti is assumed that the honourable senator has in mind the introduction of a uniform trunk call rale throughout Australia, irrespective of the distance of the call. Under such a system it would be necessary, in order to secure call revenue equivalent to that now being obtained and to compensate for the loss of revenue on longer distance calls, to fix a uniform rate substantially higher than the existing fees for calls over the shorter distances. As the great majority of calls are made over the shorter distances, adoption of a uniform trunk call rate would react to the disadvantage of a large section of telephone users.
In addition, it is reasonable to expect under a uniform rate method of charging, that demand for calls over longer distances would increase appreciably whilst there would be a falling off in traffic over shorter distances. The Post Office would therefore be involved in additional capital outlay to cater for calls over the longer distances and this would have to be taken into account in fixing a uniform trunk call rate.
In the circumstances, it is not intended to institute a uniform trunk call rate as it is considered that the present method of relating charges for trunk calk to distance is the most equitable arrangement in the interests of telephone subscribers generally.
– On Thursday, 14th May, Senator Rae asked me a question without notice on the activities of the active reserve of the Royal Australian Air Force and the Citizen Air Force. I gave a preliminary answer to this question and advised the honourable senator that I would expand on that answer when I had studied the matter fully. I am now in a position to do so. As I previously indicated in my preliminary answer, apart from the Permanent Air Force, there is also a Citizen Air Force and the Air Force Emergency Reserve. These two components supply the RAAF with a reserve of trained personnel that can be called upon in times of war or defence emergency. The Citizen Air Force consists of two active elements - the Citizen Air Force Auxiliary Squadrons and the RAAF University Squadrons, and an inactive element known as the RAAF Reserve. The 5 Citizen Air Force Auxiliary Squadrons are manned predominantly by CAF personnel who undertake part-time training under the supervision of a small permanent Air Force staff. Members of the CAF Auxiliary Squadrons are required to enrol1 for a period of 2 years followed by a further 5 years on the RAAF Reserve. They are required to do a minimum of 32 days training per year, including a training camp of 14 days, and must reach and maintain a satisfactory standard of proficiency in their category or mustering. Each Citizen Air Force Squadron is affiliated with an operational squadron in the RAAF with which it trains and exercises.
The RAAF University Squadrons train potential officers for the Citizen Air Force. Six squadrons exist, one in each State. University Squadron cadets are required to undertake 56 days service training in 2 years, and of this, 14 days each year should be served continuously at Air Force Units with the balance being covered by attendance at lectures, bivouacs and home training parades.
The RAAF Reserve - the inactive element of the CAC - provides a pool of preselected officers and airmen whose services can be obtained if required to augment the Permanent Air Force in war. There is no liability on Reserve members for any form of training. However, members may be permitted to attend RAAF Units for instructional purposes on a voluntary unpaid basis. Finally there is the Air Force Emergency Force. The purpose of this force is to augment the Permanent Air Force in time of war or in time of defence emergency or in circumstances considered necessary as proclaimed by the Governor-General. Members of the Emergency Force are required to serve for a period of 4 years, and are required to render Air Force service not exceeding 14 days in any one year.
Reference the second part of the honourable senator’s question concerning the contact maintained between the RAAF and the members of the Reserve, I have already indicated the extent of training or duty required by the members of the active elements of the part-time Air Force. In the case of the RAAF Reserve, reservists are required to notify my Department each year of their address, general health and any change in physical condition which might render them unfit for further service.
However, it is important to note that approximately 250 reservists serve on parttime duty with the Permanent Air Force.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) read a first time.
[4.45] - I move:
With the concurrence of honourable senators, I incorporate my second reading speech in Hansard. It reads:
The Bill before the Senate is to authorise the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission to import and sell to the Commonwealth, for the purpose of immunisation campaigns, those vaccines referred to in section 9b of the National Health Act. At present that Act refers to poliomyelitis and measles vaccines and included in the amendments to that Act which are before the Senate is one which contains a proposal to include rubella - German measles - vaccine in section 9b.
The Serum Laboratories have for a number of years been purchasing from overseas poliomyelitis vaccine, and more recently measles - morbilli - vaccine on behalf of the Commonwealth, which makes the vaccine available free of chargeto State and Territory authorities for mass immunisation campaigns. Once the vaccine is cleared for issue in Australia the Commonwealth Department of Health, on receipt of requests from the States and Territories, asks the Commission to forward the appropriate quantities of the vaccine to the States and Territories. The Commission then claims reimbursement from the Department of Health for the vaccine supplied in accordance with a price that has been determined by the Minister under section 22 of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Act.
It was during consideration of making rubella vaccine available for immunisation campaigns that doubt was expressed whether the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Act 1961-1966 authorised the Commissionto import vaccine and sell it to the Commonwealth. Legal advice is that the Act as it stands docs not authorise the Commission to import vaccine for the purpose proposed. It is for this reason that it is proposed to amendthe Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Act. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on morion by Senator Drury) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) read a first time.
[4.47] - I move:
With the concurrence of honourable senators, I incorporate my second reading speech in Hansard. It reads: On 4th March last, the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) announced the details of the Government’s decision to implement its new health benefits plan. This decision was influenced to a very large degree by the recommendations of the Commonwealth Committee of Enquiry into Health Insurance - the Nimmo Committee - and the plan will bring into effect the major recommendations made by that Committee relating to medical benefits and the administration of the voluntary health insurance organisations. The advances made possible by the National Health Bill now before us, in conjunction with the other improvements introduced by this Government in 1968 and 1969, will bring financial protection against the costs of medical and hospital treatment within the reach of every person in the community. At the same time the new health benefits plan will retain the basic principles which the Government believes are essential in any national welfare measure.
The Bill provides the machinery for the payment of higher rates of. Commonwealth and fund medical benefits, introduces new measures concerned with the administration of registered medical and hospital benefits organisations and provides assistance on a wider scale towards the cost of health insurance for families on low incomes. The new medical benefits plan is founded on the lists of most common fees that have been established throughout the whole range of medical services. These fees were determined by the Australian Medical Association on the basis of factual information regarding actual fees charged as shown in doctors’ accounts submitted to medical benefits organisations. This information was supplemented by surveys carried out by the Australian Medical Association.
There are 7 schedules in the Bill. The First Schedule sets out the new rates of Commonwealth benefit payable for each medical service and replaces the Schedule of Commonwealth benefits contained in the present National Health Act. Supplementing this First Schedule are 6 associated schedules - one for each State. These supplementary schedules list the fund benefit payable in each State for each medical service and the amount that is to be met by the patient when the doctor charges the common fee. The legal phrase used in the Bill for the portion of the common fee to be met by the patient is ‘specified excess’. The common fees that have been determined reflect existing charging patterns of the medical profession in the various States, and vary from State to State. It follows that if contributors are to receive adequate benefit rebates, then the benefits to which they are entitled must also vary as between States. The Bill provides for the fund benefits payable by organisations to vary from State to State and consequently it will be necessary for the contribution rates charged by organisations also to differ accordingly. In accordance with the practice since the medical benefits scheme was first introduced, Commonwealth benefits payable will be the same throughout Australia.
The First Schedule in this Bill is different from the Schedule to the present Act in one important aspect, in that it provides for differential rates of Commonwealth benefits to be payable for 340 selected medical services depending on whether the service is rendered by a general practitioner or a specialist in the practice of his specialty. The fixing of differential benefits in this way will ensure that patients receive adequate rebates against the costs of medical treatment when the treatment provided includes the services of a specialist. The higher benefit rebates will be payable only where the services are provided by a specialist in the practice of his specialty and the patient has been referred to him by another medical practitioner or. in certain circumstances, an optometrist or dentist. It will be noted that clause 48 of the Bill provides authority for the manner of referral to be prescribed by regulation.
The identification of specialists for the purposes of the health benefits plan has also received the Government’s attention. The registration of medical practitioners including specialists is, of course, a State government responsibility. However, not all States have implemented legislation providing for the registration of specialists and because of this the Bill provides machinery for the recognition of specialists for the purposes of the National Health Act. The machinery will revolve around specialist recognition advisory committees which will be set up in each State. The members of these committees will be appropriately qualified medical practitioners appointed by the Minister from panels nominated by the Australian Medical Association and the various royal colleges within the medical profession.
Provision has been made in the Bill for adjustments to the schedules to be prescribed by regulation. Such adjustments may be necessary as more comprehensive data, collected over a longer period, comes to hand regarding fees commonly charged by doctors; mainly in regard to medical procedures infrequently carried out. Also appropriate amounts for new medical procedures introduced from time to time will be fixed initially by regulation. However, it is proposed that the amounts fixed in this way will be ratified by amendments to the Act.
The Bill makes provision for the patient’s share of the cost of an operation and the services directly associated with the operation not to exceed $5 where the doctors concerned charge the common fee. This principle will also be applied in the situation where a patient undergoes 2 or more operations on the one occasion. Clause 10, providing as it does the machinery for paying an additional Commonwealth benefit, achieves this objective. The cost to the Commonwealth of increasing Commonwealth medical benefits payable is estimated to be $29.5m in a full year.
The new definition of ‘professional service’ in the Bill recognises for benefit purposes services rendered by oral surgeons in operating theatres of approved hospitals. The services to be recognised under this provision will be prescribed by regulation. In future there will be only one table of fund medical benefits available to contributors in each State. This means that within each State all registered organisations will pay the same rates of benefits for medical services. Rates of ancillary benefits payable by organisations may vary as they do now.
Eligibility of individual contributors for the higher benefits authorised by this Bill will be dependent on contributions being made to the new table of fund benefits fixed for the State in which the fund is operating. Arrangements are being made for registered medical benefits organisations to have the new tables of fund benefits introduced by the date of commencement of the new plan. It is expected that a majority of contributors will have transferred to the new tables with effect from the date of commencement of the new arrangements. At the same time, however, it is recognised that in some cases delays may occur before contributors make arrangements to transfer to the new table and a transitional period of 3 months will be allowed to enable arrangements to be made in all cases. This period may be extended where a contributor has paid his contributions in advance for a period extending beyond the 3 months. Registered organisations will, of course, if the contributor wishes, adjust contributions paid in advance so that he may become a contributor to the new table without delay.
I should like to refer now to the provisions of the Bill relating to the administration of the registered medical and hospital benefits organisations. The main provisions in the Bill concern the new requirements that the organisations will have to observe if they are to participate in the plan. All organisations will be required to obtain specific registration by the Minister in respect of each State in which they wish to carry on business. For the purposes of separate Slate registration, the Northern Territory is deemed to be a State but the Australian Capital Territory is deemed to be part of New South Wales. Open organisations - those in which membership is open to the public - will be required to establish and operate a separate fund in each State in which they are registered to carry on business and to maintain and submit separate financial statements each year in respect of each fund. This will enable the separate identification and assessment of the financial experience of the organisation’s operations in each State. Approval for an open fund to operate in a particular State will not be continued unless it is shown that economic and efficient operations in that State can be expected. It will be practicable for this course to be taken without undue interference with the fund or funds operated by the organisations in other States.
So that new conditions of registration may be uniformly applied at the one time, and existing conditions of registration reviewed, the Bill requires that each organisation shall apply for re-registration before 1st October 1970. In applying for a new registration, an open organisation operating in more than one State will, iri accordance with clause 53, be required to submit a scheme for establishing separate funds in each State in which it wishes to operate. In the event of the Minister deciding to cancel the separate State registration of an organisation or the total registration of an organisation, such cancellation may not be finalised until all the contributors involved have been given the opportunity to transfer to some other fund conducted by a registered organisation of their choice without any loss of benefit rate or entitlements.
Restricted membership organisations will not be required to maintain separate funds in the various States in respect of which they are registered and will not be required to submit separate financial returns in respect of each State. Of course, restricted membership organisations will, as now, be expected to operate efficiently and economically overall. In future a report, comprising the financial returns submitted by registered medical and hospital benefits organisations, will be tabled in both Houses of Parliament. For this purpose, organisations will be required to submit returns each year in respect of the year ending on 30th June. The first report tabled will be in respect of the year ending 30th June 197 1 . 1 wish to turn now to the position of low income families under the new health benefits plan. In October 1969 the National Health Act was amended to provide free health insurance for persons receiving unemployment and sickness benefits, for families with weekly incomes not exceeding $39 and for migrants during their first 2 months in Australia. As a result of the increase in the Commonwealth minimum weekly wage in December 1969, it is proposed to increase the eligibility level for full health insurance for low income families to $42.50 per week. The Bill also provides for graduated assistance toward the costs of contributing for health insurance to families wilh weekly incomes not exceeding $48.50.
In future, families with incomes of up to $42.50 per week will be entitled to full medical benefits and also to hospital benefits equal to the cost of public .ward treatment without any payment of contributions. Families with incomes between $42.50 per week and $45.50 per week will be eligible for the same benefits on payment of contributions at one-third the usual rates, while families with incomes between $45.50 and $48.50 per week will be eligible for the benefits on payment of contributions at twothirds the usual rate. It is estimated that some 84,000 families and 271,000 persons will be eligible for assistance, because of the extension of the assistance, and that the additional cost in a full year will be $3m. Families eligible for this assistance may secure insurance cover higher than that needed to meet public ward hospital charges by paying the extra contributions involved.
Finally, I would like to mention the amendment to section 9b of the National Health Act authorising the provision of rubella vaccine for mass immunisation campaigns. Because of the developments in rubella vaccine research and the grave consequences to the unborn child of a mother’s infection with rubella, the Government has decided that the safe and effective rubella vaccine now available should be made available free of cost. The vaccine which has been chosen is manufactured in Belgium from the Cendehill strain and it will be imported and distributed on behalf of the Commonwealth by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories.
A Bill to amend the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Act to authorise the Laboratories to undertake the importation of and sale to the Commonwealth of any vaccine that the Commonwealth may wish to make available for immunisation campaigns is also proposed. The rubella vaccine will be made available on similar terms as for poliomyelitis and measles vaccine, namely, the Commonwealth will provide the vaccine free of charge and the States will be responsible for their campaigns, including planning, administration and the maintenance of the necessary records. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McClelland) adjourned.
– Notices of Motion Nos 1 and 2, Business of the Senate, which concern the disallowance of certain regulations and an ordinance, have been before the Senate previously. On the last occasion I mentioned that certain discussions were proceeding. Those discussions have concluded. I suggest that the convenient course would be to deal with these matters tomorrow. Therefore, I move:
– Is it definite that they will be dealt with tomorrow?
– Will the Leader of the Opposition move for the disallowance?
– Yes, I will move for the disallowance tomorrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 14 May (vide page 1462), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill is, of course, a little Budget. It is a measure which is necessary to meet in the coming months commitments which were not covered by the Budget last year. The additional expenditure is due to causes which were outside the control of the Government at the time the Budget was brought down. The amount of $90,053,000 which is being sought is for expenditure on a number of matters which, as I have already pointed out, could not have been foreseen at the time of the preparation of the Budget. For instance, an additional $22m is being sought to meet wage and salary increases in the Commonwealth Public Service. There is to be additional expenditure of $4.4m on immigration which was not envisaged previously. I am dealing only with the larger amounts. An additional $2.2m is to be allocated to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I presume that this additional expenditure is also due to increases in salaries and wages because the normal cost of running the ABC for 12 months seems fairly well defined. The additional $5m for shipbuilding probably does not come within the category of increases in wages and salaries, but it is a necessary expenditure in view of the shipbuilding programme in which we are involved. I think everybody will agree to, and accept without question, the additional $1. 3m for grants under the Aged Persons Homes Act. In the realm of defence there is also a significant requirement for extra money to meet wage and salary increases. Two-thirds of the $30.8m which is being sought is to meet wage and salary increases. Of course, these wage and salary increases could not have been envisaged last year.
I do not think that there is very much one can say in speaking to this Bill because obviously the requirements are there and they have to be met. However, this Bill does give me an opportunity to mention 2 matters which I feel are significant at present. I am not going to belabour them, but I do feel that they should be recorded as being matters which the Opposition feels are getting out of hand. The first matter to which I refer is the increase in interest rates, which is imposing a very serious burden on the lower income groups, particularly people who are building homes. In the last few years interest rates have been increased by The extra charges involved are quite a tragedy for people who are building their own homes.
The second matter I wish to stress is that it is now 3 years since the Treasury informed the then Treasurer that a very careful look should be had at the taxation schedule, particularly in relation to the low and middle income groups. In the Budget Speech some 3 years ago the then Treasurer did envisage that some relief would be given to these groups in the succeeding Budget. In the following Budget Speech he said exactly the same thing, but nothing was put into effect. In his policy speech during the last election campaign the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) again referred to the necessity for a rescheduling of the taxation scale to reduce the income tax burden on the lower and middle income groups. Again he, too, said that such a provision would be included in the next Budget. The phrase ‘next Budget’ seems to be a phrase which falls very glibly from the tongues of the former Treasurer and the Prime Minister. In view of the situation in which we find ourselves at present in relation to the national economy I hope that these 2 matters in particular will be given very serious consideration. I refer to the increases in interest rates, which are placing such a heavy burden on people building their own homes and the taxation charges imposed on the lower and middle income groups.
The Opposition does not propose to hold up the passage of this Bill, which is necessary for the smooth working of the economy. Having said that, I conclude by saying that the Opposition does not oppose the Bill.
– I rise during the debate on this Appropriation Bill to mention the considerable public interest in programme budgeting. As we are on an appropriation matter, I ask the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson) to note the great public interest in this system of budgeting. Further interest is generated by the actions of overseas countries in attempting to bring their budgeting procedures in line with what is known as programme budgeting. The Minister, who is in charge of this Bill, will know that the matter has been mentioned in the Senate on several occasions. The fact that an Appropriation Bill is before the Senate provides us with an occasion to prompt the Government to comment on the stage that procedures within our own Federal Treasury have reached in bringing about a proper system of programme budgeting within Commonwealth finance, as distinct from the annual type of budgeting that we have at present. This is a particularly wide subject on which 1 have spoken on 2 occasions, 1 think, in the Senate.
Briefly, what is involved in programme budgeting is that, instead of an annual bedgetary procedure whereby we seek to expend at the end of a particular period, we have a process whereby we have a programme in mind, whether it be for defence or for a civil project, and finance is allocated on the basis of the programme. This is a much wiser procedure. 1 think the Minister knows that there is public interest in the matter. I should be very pleased to know, at some appropriate time, the stage that Federal Treasury consideration has reached.
– in reply - I take the opportunity to reply to Senator Wilkinson about interest rates, on which questions have been asked and answers given, and also about the matter of programme budgeting which has been raised by Senator Webster. Those matters are under- study by the Treasury at present.
– What about the income tax matter?
– Statements have been made about that. In advance of the Budget season, 1 would not presume to make any comments about it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I rise for the purpose of referring to a matter about which 1 asked a question this afternoon. The Committee stage of an Appropriation Bill is the occasion to question the appropriations and the allowances that are made. In relation to the appropriation for the Department of Civil Aviation I want to raise the matter that 1 tried to raise during question time today. It became apparent from the answer to the question that there has been a complete misuse of aircraft owned by the Department of Civil Aviation. Today we heard that the Department has several aircraft.
– To which page are you referring?
– Page II, Department of Civil Aviation, Division 150, where we appropriate $4,100,700. From answers to questions today we learned that the Department has a number of aircraft at its disposal for the purpose of carrying out its work. Every 12 months the Parliament is asked to allocate money to keep these aircraft in operation to be used for the purpose for which the money is allocated. I think we would be recreant to our trust if we permitted continuation of the use of these aircraft for purposes other than that for which we allocated the money-
It has come to our notice - and 1 do not think it was denied by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) today - that an aircraft was used to bring an honourable member who had returned to Ballarat back to Canberra for the purpose of voting on a motion before the other place. I do not know how bringing back any honourable member carries on the work of the Department. Is this a use for which we appropriate money? After asking the question today, Senator Marriott asked a question - and
Democratic Labor Party senators interjected - about the misuse of VJP aircraft by the Leader of the Opposition in the other place (Mr Whitlam) and by Labor members. The VIP aircraft which was used by the Leader of the Opposition is operated by the Department of Air, I believe, and is no concern of the Department of Civil Aviation.
If there has been misuse of aircraft owned by the Department of Civil Aviation, I think it is essential that the Parliament take note of this. Are we simply voting taxpayers money away for the purpose of carting politicians around to meet a particular political situation? It is a simple waste of money and it is a misuse of the aircraft of the Department if they are used for this purpose. Such misuse should be subject to the strongest criticism. Therefore I seek to find, in this additional appropriation, the amount that has been allocated for the use of these aircraft. I asked the Minister what was the cost of the flight. He said that the aircraft are used in times of distress to assist someone. I do not complain about that, but I think he has a responsibility, in authorising the use of these aircraft to find someone lost in the Northern Territory, to show that there was distress and that it was necessary to save the person.
I think that on this occasion the Minister has responsibility to show that there was distress and that someone - whether it was the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) or someone else - had to be saved. What was the nature of the distress? We should know that before we vote money for aircraft to be used for this purpose. We have always willingly voted the money for the aircraft to be used on normal operations which the Department of Civil Aviation justified. Today J asked about the cost of the flight. We must find out a lot of things. Where was this aircraft stationed at the time the call came through, who made the call for the aircraft, when was the call made, who gave permission for the aircraft to be used for this purpose, where did the aircraft have to travel for the purpose of picking up the honourable member for Ballaarat (Mr Erwin)? It had to come to Canberra. Where did it have to return to be used for the purposes of the Department of Civil Aviation? The Minister justified this by referring to the distress of some individual. I want to know how much the flight cost.
When we find out how much it cost and if it is not a distress call that the Senate would accept as such, obviously it is private use and should be paid for by the person who ordered the aircraft or who gave authority to use the aircraft. If the Senate is not of the opinion that the distress of the nation or the national interest was such that we should preserve the Prime Minister in his time of national crisis obviously whoever authorised the misuse of the aircraft and not the taxpayers should pay for it. We want some indication, before we pass this appropriation, as to what that cost was. If there is inability to justify the use of the aircraft for this purpose the appropriation should be reduced accordingly. The Senate should not justify an appropriation for the use of aircraft for Department of Civil Aviation work, if the aircraft are used to save a Prime Minister on a censure motion. That is the reason for my condemnation. There is not sufficient justification for the use of this plane. It is no use the Minister simply saying that he will use a plane anywhere there is distress. No-one criticises him for saying this. But is it a just use of a plane to bring a politician back to Canberra to save the face of a Prime Minister? I suggest with the greatest respect, that honourable senators want answers to these questions before they approve the appropriation for the Department of Civil Aviation.
– The appropriations, the subject of this Bill, are for the financial year ending 30th June 1970. This Bill postulates expenditure under a whole series of headings. In this instance we are talking about the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation, which total approximately $4,100,000. This expenditure is broken up under a whole series of headings, as follows: Administrative and Operational - 1. Salaries and Payments; 2. Administrative expenses - and then items numbered from 01 to 19. In. Division 172, Development of Civil Aviation, the items are numbered from 03 to 06. Senator Cavanagh says to the Committee, having regard to something which happened last Friday, that until the Senate obtains satisfaction in terms of this appropriation it should choose not to pass the appropriation for the Department of Civil Aviation.
I sat here very quietly and listened to the point the honourable senator made. His speech was more a contribution to a second reading debate than a debate dealing with the estimates of the Department of Civil Aviation. But he made his point. I suggest to him that there is no answer to be given in dealing with these appropriations today. The- honourable senator should use the forms of the House as he did at question time in relation to this matter.
To suggest that the Senate should refuse appropriation to the Department of Civil Aviation because of a flight last Friday which in his judgment was improper, is a completely wrong approach when dealing with these appropriations. The honourable senator asked questions today and the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) gave answers. The Minister has told me, and I think he said in his reply to the questions, that he would obtain further information. I suggest that Senator Cavanagh has made the point which he wants to make in relation to the appropriation for the Department of Civil Aviation. Whatever money was expended will not be reflected in the total of S4.ini because that is a totality of the appropriation for the year ending 30th June 1970. One cannot pick up this Appropriation Bill and say that because some hundreds of dollars were spent on a flight on Friday, 16th May, that can be linked with these estimates. I am sure the honourable senator realises this. He has used the forms of the Committee. That is fair enough. I suggest that now the matter is in the corner of the Minister for Civil Aviation and at an appropriate time he will give a considered response to what the honourable senator has said. I do not think the honourable senator is really arguing that the Senate should refuse to pass the appropriation of $4.1m for the year 1st July 1969 to 30th June 1970. It would be completely inappropriate for him to do so.
– May I ask the Minister one question? Where in this Appropriation Bill, which is the annual appropriation, does one find the payment which authorises the use of planes by the Department of Civil Aviation? Under what heading is this payment made?
– I find some difficulty in that question because the normal function of the Department of Civil Aviation is to fly aircraft. It would be represented in the whole multiplicity of these amounts. For instance, it would be represented under Salaries and Allowances. It could be represented in fuel and lubricating oils. It could be represented in search and rescue and fire services. The whole of a single flight would never appear in the estimates.
– Therefore Senator Cavanagh is not entitled to speak on it.
– Let me answer this, lt is a fair question. The honourable senator is seeking to find out where a flight would be represented in the estimates.
– No, not a single Might, but the use of the planes at all.
– My departmental advisers fell me that it would be found under item 10, search and rescue and fire services. That would probably be the line in which it would appear. Senator Cavanagh at. question time and now has raised a question of procedure and administration. 1 have no doubt he will obtain an answer in the fullness of time.
– May I ask the Minister a question through you, Mr Temporary Chairman? I am sorry 1 omitted to mention this during the second reading debate. I said that the increases were largely due to increases in salaries and wages and that was for, in general, an amount of $20m, and in the case of the defence services also some $20m. ls it correct to say that a significant portion of this increase is due to extra staff? J think there was some question of extra staff being taken on. This would explain why it is necessary to have the Appropriation Bill. 1 am trying to get in my mind the valid reasons why we have this extra appropriation, ls that a significant point?
– I think there was a reference in the second reading speech that an additional requirement for departmental salaries of $22m includes provision for increases for salaries arising from the 1969 national wage case and other arbitration determinations. It went on to say, and I think this is the point the honourable senator is thinking about: Reclassifica tion of officers and additional staff’ - and that was the point that was made in the second reading speech.
– Following on the reply by the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson) I somewhat agree with him. I am seeking further information to see whether I can fully agree with him. The point which concerns me is that the Senate votes an annual appropriation for the activities of the Department of Civil Aviation. Included in such activity is the right of the Department to use aeroplanes which it owns and controls for its own purpose. If the Senate finds, as in my mind it has found, an abuse of the use of: these planes, how do we discipline the Department for using a plane which should not be used for that purpose? If we had the cost of each individual flight we could refuse appropriation for the one flight. But I realise this is an impossibility. We cannot refuse the amount expended on a particular flight. Surely if planes are completely misused the Senate could refuse the vote for the cost of the operation of those planes.
I am trying to find out under what heading this expenditure would be found, ls this the appropriate time to raise the question? If I interpreted the Minister correctly he suggested that a portion of this expenditure would be used in the operation of those planes. When 1 asked him under what heading this would appear he said it would be possibly item 10, search and rescue and fire services, for which there is an appropriation of $50,000. If this is so and the plane was used to bring the honourable member for Ballaarat (Mr Erwin) to Canberra to vote for the Government, well, I suppose they had to search for him. lt may come under the heading of search. I suppose the rescue would be the rescue of the Government and I presume the fire would be the activities in the other place. But this is not the search and rescue and fire services which we anticipated when we voted the money. In my humble opinion the cost of $50,000 for search and rescue and fire services should be reduced because of the misuse of the plane. The cost of the flight would be a proper payment to be made by whoever authorised the use of the plane. If the Minister decided that he wanted a plane to go fishing in Tasmania at the week-end would this be put on the Department? This is the first misuse that has been admitted. How many have there been? Can we get enough information?
– Nothing has been admitted at all. You must not put words into somebody else’s mouth. In your judgment there has been a misuse.
– I have claimed that there has been a misuse and the Minister claims that there has not because it was in the national interest. He says that there was some distress. I do not accept that the distress was such as we would recognise in this context. It was the distress of a Prime Minister - serious distress - but I do not think that is the type of distress for which we would authorise the use of a plane. We on this side of the chamber do not agree that it was in the national interest for the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) to win that vote as the consequences if he had lost may have proved satisfactory to the nation. However, whether I am right or wrong in that respect, it was never intended that this was the purpose for which these planes should be used. One has been used for this purpose and the Committee must surely have some capability to discipline the Department, the Minister or the person responsible for what I claim is the misuse of this plane. It comes at a very appropriate moment when the Department is seeking an extra appropriation. I believe that we cannot reduce the amount sought but I really think we should hold this matter up until we get a full explanation of the cost of this flight and how it was justified within the terms of the charter under which we appropriate money for the purpose of planes to be used by this Department.
– I just want to come back to the point because, first of all, it has to be abundantly clear that these are additional appropriations and in dealing with the appropriations of a great country one would not have a separate line item for a particular flight. Senator Cavanagh recognises that. He recognises that the cost of that flight would be reflected in a whole series of items. He has the forms of the Senate at his disposal if he wants to seek information from a Minister, but it is not to be found in these estimates. These are additional appropriations until 30th June. The proposed appropriations for the Department of Supply will come up at Budget time in August. We will have the situation for the previous 12 months as against the situation for the ensuing 12 months. This is a holding situation to enable us to have the funds necessary for Government requirements until 30th June. The honourable senator has made his point. It is up to him to use the forms of the Senate in some other way if he will but I do not think that the answer is in this appropriation.
– It surprises me that the Leader of the Government in this Senate (Senator Anderson), who has been a Minister for some time, does not realise what he is saying. He should know the duties and the prerogatives of a Minister. He laid down the law to another honourable senator in this chamber just recently when he said that he did not know-
– Very effectively, too, if I may say so.
– Yes, and I, too, am going to be very appropriate because the one chance back benchers in this chamber have to discuss Government expenditure is on the making of appropriations. The Minister is quite wrong and I think if we put the question to a vote the Government would be defeated.
– All right.
– All right, if the Minister wants to put it to the test, let him do so. The point is that this is our only opportunity to discuss these matters. If I have to correct the Minister let me tell him that this is an appropriation for extra expenditure. Is that not so? I did not want to come into this fight, but this flight with Mr Erwin was an extra unexpected expenditure which was not catered for in the original Supply Bill. Therefore the cost of that flight is included in this appropriation.
– For last Friday?
– I do not know, but the Minister has to get extra funds for an extra flight. It was never included in the Estimates. The Estimates cover a certain number of flights. The Minister knows that, and it is of no use for the Minister for Civil
Aviation (Senator Cotton) to say that this was a normal flight to Ballarat, that the aircraft just happened to be going there.
– 1 did not say that.
– No, but the Minister inferred it.
– No, I did not infer it either.
– All right, J withdraw that. I will come back to the Minister for Supply then. He suggests that this is covered by item 17.02.10 which relates to search, rescue and fire services. I quite agree, lt could not be more appropriate. This is the time when we senators have a chance to speak. Every Minister and every honourable senator knows that this is the opportunity to speak on the matter. Having said that, f will get out of the fight between Senator Cavanagh and Senator Anderson and attack the Minister for Civil Aviation. 1 asked him a question recently in regard to the methods by which the 2-airline system is working, i pointed out that it was completely wrong and there was virtually a Government monopoly. 1 said that it was time that something was done. I must admit that I was terribly surprised to get the usual gobbledegook that one gets from a department. I did not think for a moment that this Minister - for whom I had a very high regard; I thought he was a very efficient Minister - would just shoot off to mc a departmental reply without even looking at it first. He may have looked at it but he just sent it. I am sorry J do not have it with me but I did not know we would get up to this item. The point is that it did not even answer my questions.
The first point I made was that flights of both airlines leave at the same time and the Department’s answer was: ‘This is what the public wants’. This is not what the public wants or there would not be so much agitation about it. There are people on the Minister’s side of the chamber, the Liberal side, who are just as agitated about this problem and 1 am and there are people on the Labor side who are just as agitated. We represent some millions of people. When we say that we are dissatisfied with aircraft of both airlines leaving at the same time there is dissatisfaction so it is of no use to say to us in a reply from the Department in the usual official journalese that one gets that this is what the public wants. The public wants a different time for each airline.
Honourable Senators - Hear, hear.
– There are hear hears’ not only from this side but also from the other side. There are only 4 honourable senators here, but if there were more -
– There is 1 back bencher on this side.
– Well, 2 back benchers. No-one wants aircraft of the 2 airlines to leave at the same lime. When Ansett Airlines of Australia set up a new timetable ahead of Trans-Australia Airlines within 24 hours TAA changed its timetables to make them the same as Ansett’s. Yet the Department says to us in its stupid letter - 1 am glad that the officers of the Department are here because T would like to let them know that I think the letter is stupid although I do not know if they wrote it - that this is what the public wants. They have reached this level of incompetence and they keep writing these letters thinking that this will palm us off and they will not have to worry. No-one has brains but the Department. This is the attitude in every department. So I come back to the point that the people of Australia do not want aircraft of the two airlines going at the same time.
– Some people would just like them to leave on time.
– That would be a change. That is the second point that I raise. The aircraft are now getting later and later and later. Two to 3 years ago one could quite safely say: ‘I will meet you for an appointment at, say. II o’clock’ and one knew one would get there. Today one does not have that assurance because both airlines are over-utilising their aircraft. I do not blame them because they are expensive aircraft. But the point is that they are over-utilising them and there are none to use as substitutes. I have on 3 occasions in the past 6 weeks had a 2 to 2i-hour delay when another aircraft could easily have been put into service but they do not have other aircraft available because they are over-utilising them at the present time. So the Department should not give me this gobbledegook that they must leave at the same time because this is the hour that the public wants. Members of the public want the aircraft to leave at different times. It may suit someone to have a service leaving at 8 o’clock, but it may suit someone else if the departure time is 8.30. There is no reason why we should not have the different times. I am surprised that the Minister for Civil Aviation should have let this letter go past without making any comment whatever on it.
As was pointed out by the Democratic Labor Party, the aircraft do not leave according to schedule. We would be grateful if they did leave on time. In reply to my question the’ Minister pointed out that the difference between a charter aircraft and a licensed aircraft was that the licensed aircraft operated to a timetable and had to keep to that timetable. But if they are not keeping to, that timetable there is no difference between a charter carrier and a licensed carrier. Therefore, we might as well hand over to the charter people to enable them to operate a third or fourth airline. Let me remind the Minister that Ansett Airlines was the third airline for quite a while and was only too happy to be a third airline, but now it has the monopoly of government assistance and is nol prepared to allow a third airline to come into being. Another point to which I objected in my questions to the Minister was the fact that people can sit waiting for an aircraft to leave and not be informed that the departure has been delayed.
Let us consider an aircraft scheduled to leave at 2 o’clock. Everyone knows that passengers board the aircraft 10 to 15 minutes before the departure time, but passengers can sit there until 2 o’clock when it is announced that because of maintenance or Civil Aviation requirements, or some
Other requirements, the aircraft has been delayed and will not leave for another hour. This has happened to me personally. I admit that as members of Parliament we fly much more than ordinary members of the public and that therefore our risks are higher, but this has happened to me so often that I have raised the question in Parliament and have pointed out that on 3 occasions this has happened to me. Having raised it with the Minister, next day it happened again. On that occasion I had a very important appointment with 2 other people. We arrived at the airport and one of my colleagues had actually bought a ticket but was not told that the plane would be 2i hours late because it had not left Melbourne. I saw one of the officials at the aerodrome and said: ‘You have not called us on.’ He said: ‘No, we are 2± hours late.’ I said: ‘Why not tell us so that we can go with the other airline?’ But they will not do that. It is wrong that they should not do that. Does the Minister call this a service to the people? What does he call it? I am not certain what it could be called.
The Minister has every excuse and tries to pass the matter off, but it is something that happens to many irate passengers who are told at the scheduled time of departure that the aeroplane is not going. Do not tell me that some accident has happened and they have had to postpone the aircraft. I have telephoned the airline company a fortnight ahead and have been told that the flight scheduled in the timetable for the day when I wanted to travel would not be going on that day. Yet other people who do not know would ring up or perhaps go to the airport to try to get on that flight because it is in the schedule. There is something radically wrong with our 2-airline system at the present moment. There is a considerable amount of discontent with the system as it is. We are told that we cannot have a third airline. If that is so, why can something not be done? The Government is making a monopoly of the 2 airlines because they know that they have the Government by whatever you like to call it-
– Shoulder- and the other .airline is a government instrumentality, so the 2 airlines are virtually a monopoly.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I should like to say one thing, if I may, which does not cut off the debate in the Committee stage. We are dealing with an Appropriation Bill and again Senator Turnbull has made points in the form of a speech that we could expect to be made on the second reading or the third reading of a Bill. I plead with the Committee not to allow the Committee stage of these short term Appropriation
Bills to degenerate into a full debate on any department because this is not the purpose in dealing with this appropriation.
– Then what do we ask at this time?
– An honourable senator can ask about item 07 - administrative expenses - which might be $737,000 or $568,000 - or about any other item and get answers relating to that. I did not interrupt Senator Turnbull because 1 know that there is a tendency to get into a debate of this type, but we must not allow Committee consideration of the Appropriation Bill to degenerate into a second reading climate. The honourable senator has other forms of the House that he. can use to deal with the subject he has raised. I ask honourable senators to try to keep to the field of the Appropriation Bill.
– I want to follow on from what Senator Turnbull has said. With all due respect to what Senator Anderson has said, I think that perhaps what is said at this time might have some bearing upon what the Government will do when it is bringing down the papers for the Budget session. I am very conscious of what happens with -flights to and from Western Australia, lt is common knowledge that the aircraft used on the service from Western Australia operate at times that are convenient to the airlines and fit in with the curfew which is imposed on aircraft in eastern Australia. The people of Western Australia have to put up with that. I propose to put a specific case to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton).
On 31st October 1969 I was booked to travel from Melbourne to Perth on direct flight 516, the scheduled departure time from Melbourne being 7.45 p.m. At 8 p.m. there had been no announcement about whether the flight would be going and all the passengers were sitting about the airport waiting for an announcement of some sort. Finally I went over to the information counter to find out what had happened to the flight. I was told that no aircraft was available to operate the flight to Perth at that time. A direct flight from Melbourne to Perth can be done with one aircraft only, that is, the 727. I was out in front of the airport terminal at 7.55 p.m. and two 727s were on the tarmac at that time. Yet 1 was told that no aircraft was available for this flight. Bearing in mind that the scheduled flight time from Melbourne was 7.45 p.m., I inform the Committee that the actual departure time of the aircraft was 11.38 p.m. Also on that day Trans-Australia Airlines flight 514, according to the flight schedule, was due to leave Melbourne at 8.30 p.m. That aircraft started to load at 10 p.m. and left at about 10.30 p.m. Yet the travelling public, the people who keep these aircraft in the air. are not told one word about what is going on. lt is not true to say that aircraft of the airlines follow each other through the air, that they leave at the same time and land at the same time, because on this night Ansett Airlines of Australia had flight 222 Hying direct from Melbourne to Perth and scheduled to leave Melbourne at 7.45 p.m. That aircraft left at 7.45 p.m. Also it had flight 210 scheduled to leave for Perth via Adelaide at 8.30 p.m. and the aircraft left at 8.30 p.m. Although I think I know the answer to this, 1 submit to the Minister that the explanation is that Trans-Australia Airlines has not sufficient aircraft to be able to fulfil its programme, and associated with this is the curfew which applies in eastern Australia but which affects Western Australia. Also I submit to the Minister that the 2-airline agreement hampers TAA in being able to have sufficient aircraft. Under the 2-airline agreement each airline must fly the same types of aircraft and have the same number of aircraft. So if Ansett is unable to provide the number of aircraft that are required, TAA cannot acquire that number.
In this way TAA is prohibited from having sufficient aircraft to be able to carry out its scheduled flights. TAA is limited in its intrastate traffic by the Constitution, but Ansett Transport Industries is not limited in that way. Therefore for short flights on fill-in operations the Ansett organisation has various aircraft to call upon. TAA does not have such aircraft because it is not equipped for intrastate flights. I suggest to the Minister that that position should be examined. If the people’s airline is to fulfil the function for which it was designed it needs sufficient aircraft and should not be hampered by the 2-airline agreement. At this stage I am not opposing the 2-airline agreement. All 1 am saying is that if TAA is to fulfil the role it was allotted the Government must ensure that it has the necessary tools to do mat job.
– I think it is an appropriate time for me to offer some comments. Senator Cavanagh has my assurance that I will be endeavouring to obtain as soon as T can the extra information that he has sought. I do not think I can bc fairer than that. Senator Turnbull commented at length on civil aviation matters in the Address-in-Reply debate. 1 had my Department get together a reply which I sent to him. It seemed to me that in the circumstances it covered my state of knowledge of that time. I also addressed some general queries to the airlines about particular Bights. I am still awaiting an adequate reply. Recently 1 sent a reminder asking for that information.
I do not argue that there is not public inconvenience in parallel scheduling of timetables. I believe that it does cause inconvenience. The defence that is raised to queries by my Department is that that is what the general public want in their requirements for timetables, considering the main burden of traffic between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Domestic flights are concentrated on those routes. The figures show that people want to get to a city at a certain time and leave at a certain time. That is the general reason advanced to justify the necessity for parallel scheduling. The density of time patterns on the heavy traffic routes between Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, through to Adelaide and on to Perth does place heavy strains on the ability to service the system within the time pattern, fitting in with other aircraft flying to and from other places. There is no question in my mind that parallel scheduling does cause inconvenience to some members of the Australian travelling public. I have been exploring this question since I became Minister for Civil Aviation.
It is wrong that services should be delayed, but delays occur from time to time for reasons that are well known to honourable senators. If flights are delayed unnecessarily, improperly or because of inefficiencies, whenever I can find a specific cause I refer the matter through my Department to the airline concerned and ask for an explanation. I have been personally involved in these delays, either alone or in company with colleagues. I have sent letters through the Department to the airline responsible asking: ‘Why did this happen?’ It must be admitted that the growth rate in Australian aviation has totally exceeded the expectations of the people who sought equipment some years ago. There has been a tremendous increase in demand above that expected and it is probably fair to say - the honourable senator is entitled to a proper answer - that this has placed strains on the ability of the airlines to service the system as adequately as they would wish. They would like to have more aircraft. More aircraft are coming. From the time that I became Minister for Civil Aviation - and efforts were made before that time - I have sought to speed up services. Some improvement has resulted and I expect a further improvement when the aircraft on order are delivered.
I appreciate that it is extremely annoying when aircraft do not take off on time and no reason is given. I had such an experience and on that occasion the reasons given to me for the delay seemed quite adequate.
– It is sometimes caused by the late arrival of politicians.
– I am not trying to blame anybody else. 1 take the position that if complaints are made I will see that they are directed where they belong. I am sorry if Senator Turnbull feels that the reply I have given to him is not all that it might be. I hope to have some more specific information in due course that will relate to the matters about which he is concerned. I do not expect the honourable senator to give the information now, but if he will give me further information about the occasion when he was delayed for two hours giving the specific day and hour of the (light concerned, 1 will see that a request is made for information. Senator Turnbull referred to the 2-airline policy and the fact that we are living in a ‘duopoly’ situation in which a monopoly is shared by 2 operators, a market economy operator and a Government operator. Without doubt that is the position on the main air traffic routes. The honourable senator does not think that is a very good thing. I would not think it wise or sensible to debate now the 2-airline policy. The logical considerations or explanations or otherwise of that state are not matters for. this occasion. I concede his right to raise such questions, but this is a very large area for discussion and a tremendous amount of money is involved. The question is not a simple one.
I was interested to hear Senator Cant’s observation that the Western Australian airline schedules are keyed to the curfew times at airports in the eastern States, thus causing inconvenience to Western Australians. I will look into that point. The honourable senator gave very accurate details about certain flights. I will read those details in Hansard and take the matter up with the airline responsible to find out why those situations arose. The honourable senator also commented that insufficient aircraft are employed in the system. I would not like to be specific about it but I think I can properly say that there has been a heavy growth in Australian civil aviation, in both the domestic and international fields. Undoubtedly this has placed strains upon the ability of the aircraft operators to give all the services they would like and to take advantage of all opportunities.
I do not think that the 2-airline agreement has inhibited TAA in any way from making progress. An analysis of the business conducted by TAA as against that conducted by Ansett Transport Industries in the airline industry does not reveal anything to cavil at or criticise on the ground that TAA, a Government instrumentality, lacks efficiency or ability in the way it is doing its job. However, I will take up the point and send a letter to TAA asking how it feels about its equipment programme, and whether it is satisfied with its present state and the planning for the future. I do not think I can be fairer than that.
– It will have to ask Ansett whether it agrees.
– That is what you believe to be the case. That was said to me when I was not involved directly with the Department of Civil Aviation. I have not found it to be the case on examination and as a result of directing queries to the responsible airline. I cannot go. further than asking the people concerned.
– I also wish to refer to airline agreements and recent developments in which the airlines, as the Minister mentioned, have under-estimated the need for equipment to deal with the ever-growing volume of air traffic. This is a very important matter to many people who make arrangements to travel by air from one point to another in the Commonwealth. They make business arrangements closely aligned with arrival and departure times of aircraft. Transport to and from airports is involved, together with many other factors in the lives of individuals who travel by air. In most other methods of transport one can make allowances for occasional variations in scheduled times, but it appears to .me that not only are the last minute alterations in aircraft schedules becoming more frequent, but also that the capacity of the staff of the various airlines to explain to the public what is happening has diminished. Stock phrases such as ‘the exigencies of the service’, or DCA requirements’, or some such expression are used by way of explanation. But it boils down to the fact that there are not sufficient reserve aircraft. The debate this afternoon cannot have failed to impress upon the Minister the fact that something has to be done by the airlines to grapple with this problem.
– Where would you deploy these reserve aircraft?
– A company was floated in Sydney the other day and was able to obtain, by backdoor methods, 6 Viscount aircraft.
– I asked where you would deploy them, not where you would buy them.
– Their deployment is a matter of policy for the airlines. I would say that there should be at least one reserve aircraft, which could be chartered by either airline, at the main central points, namely, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.
– That is 3 aircraft.
– That means $ 1 8m.
– Perhaps; but what about the time that is lost by executives in business, the time that I lose on numerous occasions on which all the arrangements that have been made have to be cancelled at the last minute, and the inability of the staff itself to give a reason why the schedules have been altered?
Another point is what are called the terms and conditions subject to which this ticket is issued to and accepted by the passenger on the back of the airline ticket. They are all onesided. The passenger has become a number on a computer. We have lost the great advantages that the Australian airlines, especially Trans-Australia Airlines, had in earlier years. Before TAA was set up after the Second World War we had 1 major airline, lt had a monopoly of air transport. Then TAA came into the field and provided strong competition. It had young people who were being discharged from the Services, including capable pilots who were coming out of the Royal Australian Air Force and men who wanted to make a success of this enterprise. The standards that were achieved at that time were absolutely phenomenal. People throughout the world remarked about the high standards that the Australian airlines had reached.
– On what item is the honourable senator speaking?
– -This is on the Department, of Civil Aviation. I am speaking about the standards that were achieved when these people came into the industry and injected competition into our airlines. But unfortunately it seems as though the Airlines Agreement has broken down that spirit of competition, particularly in TAA, because every time that airline reaches a point at which it has more than 50% of the traffic an arrangement is made under which the surplus is granted to the other airline in order to keep the 2 airlines round about stable all the time. So the incentive for TAA is being reduced. The overall picture is that this has resulted in the 2 airlines becoming very complacent about the service they render to the public.
The first term and condition to which the passenger is subject is as follows:
The Companies reserve the right without notice to substitute any aircraft or other means of transport either before the departure of the flight or at any intermediate airport . . .
A person can make a booking and expect to go from one point to another in a comfortable aircraft, and then find that a Friendship is substituted for that aircraft
No-one can tell me .that in this day and age a Friendship is a suitable substitute for a Boeing or a Douglas. A Friendship is third class transport. Yet the airlines are saying: ‘The public be damned. That is all we have to give them: that is all they will get’. I believe that this is completely wrong as a policy. We are allowing the airlines to take that attitude. If they are unable to provide the extra aircraft about which Senator Marriott spoke, something should be done by the Government to see that the system of long range purchasing is reviewed in order to give members of the public the proper service to which they are entitled.
– Would you allow the airlines to borrow money overseas to buy these aircraft?
– I suppose-
– Do not let us have a general debate on the airlines industry.
– I do not want to extend this into a general debate. Senator Turnbull has raised the point - and Senator Cant has supported it- that the debate on the appropriation Bills is the only time when we can really come to grips with these detailed matters of administration of government departments. Because the departments can shelter behind the protective skirts of their Ministers, we cannot get at them; so the Ministers have to face the barrage that comes at this time.
I believe that this is our opportunity to tell the Minister for Civil Aviation that we, on behalf of the people who send us here, have to complain about the standard of the service given by the 2 airlines operating in Australia. The standard has decreased over the years, but particularly in recent times. The duplication of times of departure is the subject of criticism because if people happen to just miss an aircraft they find that the aircraft of both airlines have gone at the same time to the same destination. Many things like that annoy the passengers. They have no redress. They have paid their fare. AH the terms and conditions are onesided. They favour the airlines. The passenger is left there as though he is the last person to be considered.
Speaking on the administration of the Department of Civil Aviation, we believe that this matter should be reviewed very closely and that the airlines should try to achieve, to maintain and even to excel the very high standards that existed before the Airlines Agreement came into operation, when there was some semblance of competition and when the airlines and the staff all along the line were trying to give the public service rather than to take the attitude: ‘The public be damned. We are driving the coach and the other people will have to get on or stay off it as they see fit’. That attitude is not good enough.
– I hope that the TAA people see the report of this speech in Hansard.
– I am speaking of both of the airlines. My speech is an objective one. It is directed at the situation generally. I do not attack any particular member of the staff. Members of the staff themselves will say-
– You said that they had lost interest.
– Yes, I will say that they have lost interest through frustration. I have been advised on several occasions of the frustration that is caused when an airline repeatedly goes out and pioneers new areas and then, when it has built up custom in those areas, finds that instead of that resulting in additional figures and higher standards for it a share of that custom is handed over to its opponent. This happens after a period of time and it frustrates the personnel of that airline. This should be looked into in order to see whether this statement is true. I am raising the matter because people on the staff of the airlines have mentioned it to me at different times. I believe that this is a matter of great importance. I have taken this opportunity to raise it.
– I have studied this Bill quite closely. I do not discount the criticisms that have been raised by my colleagues, but I wish to direct the attention of the Committee to another matter that I consider to be of major importance. As I understand the Bill - I trust that the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson), who represents the Treasurer (Mr Bury), will be able to assist me here - its intention is to provide for the appropriation of a sum of money from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the purposes of the various responsibilities of government, and the sum of money involved may be described as the shortfall between the previous appropriations and the demands of the many areas of responsibility of government over a given period.
I propose to quote clause 3 of the Bill so that I will be able to explain my point thoroughly. It says:
The Treasurer may issue out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund and apply for the services specified in the Schedule to this Act in respect of the year ending on the thirtieth day of June, One thousand nine hundred and seventy, the sum of Ninety million and fifty three thousand dollars.
That is fair enough. That appears to me to mean that, with the passage of this Bill, as from that date the Treasurer will be entitled to make use of the sum of approximately S90m to meet the financial commitments of the Commonwealth Government in respect of its various responsibilities.
– Up to 30th June this year.
– To 30th June this year. Clause 4 states:
The sum authorised by this Act to be issued out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund is appropriated, and shall be deemed to have been appropriated as from the first day of July, One Thousand nine hundred and sixty-nine, for the services expressed’ in the Schedule to this Act in respect of the financial year that commenced on that dale.
I presume again - and I am looking to the Minister for Supply to assist me on this - that this means that any shortfall in the financial commitment of the Commonwealth Government is intended to be met by Appropriation Act (No. 3). The Schedule referred to in Clause 4, I again presume, relates to the Schedule on the second page of the Bill which sets out the page reference of the Bill, the departments and services, and the various amounts allocated to those departments and services. My interest is directed specifically to the reference to the Department of Housing on page 21 of the Bill. This is the only reference that I have been able to locate which relates to the all important question of housing. There provision is made for an amount of $249,800. My concern is that recently in this place and in another place, during the course of debate of matters of public importance, specifically those matters dealing with war service loan finance-
– That amount refers only to the Division ‘Administrative’ for the Department of Housing.
– I appreciate that, but the point I am making - and again I look to the Leader of the Government in the Senate to assist me in this - is that I understand this Bill will become an Act to provide for a shortfall in moneys previously appropriated to meet the financial commitments of the Commonwealth Government. Opposition senators who have raised questions, specifically relating to the War Service Homes Division, have been told repeatedly that there is a distinction between the construction of new homes and the purchase of existing dwellings. It has been pointed out that there has been a shortfall - and f am using these terms in a soft sense now - in the loan finance available to approved applicants for war service homes, lt has been stated that money would be made available as from at least 1st July this year. If that is the case, I pose the question: Where within this Bill, which is designed to become an Act. is the provision of moneys which will honour the assurance that* has been given to honourable senators on this side of the chamber, by the Minister for Housing (Senator Dams Annabelle Rankin), on behalf of the Cabinet and the Government, that approved applicants for war service homes loan finance will in fact be guaranteed loans at least from 1st July 1970? Nowhere in the Bill can I find such a reference. I would appreciate it if I could receive that information.
Senator ANDERSON (New South Wales a quick answer and then I will move to report progress because we have to move out of Committee before the Senate adjourns. The simple answer to the honourable senators question is that the moneys provided in this Bill are the appropriations to 30th June. We also have 2 Supply Bills. In the Supply Bills the honourable senator will find that an arbitrary figure is taken in advance of the Budget which provides for five-twelfths of supply for the next financial year. So I suggest that the honourable senator may find the answer he is seeking in the Supply Bills. Unless any other honourable senator wants to speak to this Bill during the Committee stage, we will report progress and the Bill cun pass through its remaining stages.
– You had better report progress.
– If Senator Turnbull wants to speak to the Bill, he should get up and do so.
– Do you want to report progress?
– J shall allow you to speak for a minute or two.
- Mr Temporary Chairman–
– I ask that progress be reported. Senator Turnbull will have the call.
– Thank you, 1 am aware of that.
Sennit adjourned at 6.1 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 19 May 1970, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1970/19700519_senate_27_s44/>.