27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon.
Sir Alister McMulIin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m.. and read prayers.
– I present from 102 citizens of Australia the following petition:
To (he Honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That they are gravely concerned at the apparent appalling increase in crime in Australia, particularly in densely populated areas;
Thai they fear the police forces of the various States and Territories are undermanned and underequipped to handle the increase in crime;
That their concern is aggravated by the apparent number of unsolved crimes particularly those involving violence to the individual including murder.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the honourable members of the Senate will seek to ensure that the Commonwealth Government will seek the co-operation of the States and supply extra finance to the States to enable;
proper town planning and development to halt the increase in densely populated areas which leads to increased crime,
the proper staffing and equipping of police forces to enable adequate crime prevention and detection measures to reduce the frightening increase of both solved and unsolved crime,
the proper detention of and rehabilitation of criminals, and
compensation to victims of crimes of violence, and your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– 1 present from 197 citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia the following petition:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The Petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully showeth:
That commercial television licensees are not complying with section 114(1) of the Broadcasting and Television Act in that they are not using as far as possible the services of Australians in the production and presentation of television programmes.
That because of the almost total lack and neglect of Australian dramatic, variety and documentary programmes presented on Australian commercial television, Australian writers, artists, musicians, producers and technicians are finding it increasingly difficult to obtain continuity of employment in their professions and trades.
That because overseas second-rate television programmes and ancient films are being bulk-purchased and imported at dumped prices under package deal arrangements, Australia’s overseas balance of payments is being detrimentally affected and the provisions of the Broadcasting and Television legislation designed to protect Australian involvement in the television industry are being cynically and cleverly ignored.
Your Petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should:
Request the Government to amend section 114 (1) of the Broadcasting and Television Act to provide for specific quotas for Australian dramatic, variety and documentary programmes to be shown on Austraiian commercial television stations, the quotas to be reviewed and gradually increased every two years.
Request the Government to amend section 114(2) of the Broadcasting and Television Act to increase from 5 per cent to 12 per cent the amount of time to bc occupied by the programmes of commercial broadcasting stations in the broadcasting of Australian music and that protection be afforded under the Act to Australian musicians as well as Australian composers.
Request the Tariff Special Advisory Authority lo immediately investigate whether tariff protection should bc afforded to Australian television production companies against the dumping of lowgrade overseas programmes in Australia.
Request the Government to impose a quota on the amount of programmes imported into Australia for presentation on Australian commercial television.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– 1 give notice that on the next day of sitting I will move:
That the Petition presented to the Senate this day by Senator Cavanagh, relating to crime in Australia, be referred to the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare for inquiry and report.
– ls the MinisterinCharge of Tourist Activities aware of reports that the accommodation which will be available in Australia, especially in Sydney, over the next few years will be insufficient to meet the rapidly increasing demands of tourism and that Commonwealth action is desirable and necessary? Will the Minister tell us the facts and tell us what he is doing about this matter?
– The accommodation demanded by the tourist industry is growing always and will be particularly vigorous as a result of the increased air traffic that we expect in the next 2 to 3 years. There is great difficulty in getting first class hotels of the type required under present conditions. Proposals for the benefit of the industry are under the immediate consideration of the Government.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry seen Press reports of the arrest of a foreign fishing vessel off the central Queensland coast? Is the Minister able to give the Senate more details of the incident?
– At noon on Wednesday, 28th October, the skipper of an Australian fishing vessel operating about 90 miles off the Queensland coast went alongside a foreign fishing vessel and immediately made a report by radio to appropriate Government authorities. Following the prompt action by the skipper of the Australian fishing boat the Queensland fishing authorities made it possible for the Department of Primary Industry to be alerted and for various Commonwealth Departments to take appropriate action. I understand that from that time the following action took place: A Formosan fishing vessel was boarded by a naval boarding party. Two Commonwealth fishing officers from the Department of Primary Industry went aboard at 4.45 p.m. on Friday, 30th October, at somewhere around Swains Reef about 100 miles off the coast of Rockhampton. The patrol boat was HMAS Barbette’ and it escorted the Formosan boat to Port Alma, arriving there on Sunday morning. It is at present berthed under Commonwealth Police guard. The captain and crew member of the Formosan boat are being questioned by* officers of the Department of Primary Industry concerning unlicensed fishing activities in the Swains Reef area.
– Was that Taiwan or Formosa?
-A new country?
– They are Taiwanese. If charges are to be laid they will be laid under the Continental Shelf (Living Natural Resources) Act 1968 which came into force on 15th April 1970.
– My question is i addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. Is it a fact that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is about to enter into major contracts to import beef? Can the Minister tell the Senate what steps the Austraiian Government has taken to ensure a share of this market if this situation arises?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI am not in a position to give any gainful information on the report at this point of time. Therefore 1 suggest that the question should go on notice. As the other place is not sitting, I shall attempt to get replies from the Department and have them back here through other than the normal route.
– 1 address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, ls the Government aware that a union was fined last week for a breach of an award made by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission? Is the Minister aware that this failure by a union to carry out the instructions of the Commission is the first breach of provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act recently placed on the statute book. Is the Minister aware that the union has declared that it will not pay the penalty imposed by the Industrial Court for a breach of the Act? What attitude does the Government take to this matter? Will the Minister assure industry generally that it is the firm intention of the Federal Government to enforce rigidly legislation which it places on the statute book?
– lt has come under notice that one union has incurred penalties under the amended provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The Government has made it clear that it regards the enforcement provisions as essential in this legislation. It will be remembered that any objections to those provisions were removed by amendments made during the last session. Consequently the view is that there is no reason justifying objection to the enforcement provisions and, accordingly, the Government’s view is that the law must be enforced.
– My question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service arises from his last answer. Will he explain to the Senate what he means when he says there are no objections to the legislation? Is it not a fact that in both Houses of this Parliament the strongest objections were taken by the Opposition and that it was only by his moving the gag,I think on about 20 occasions, that the legislation was forced through the Senate at about 6 o’clock in the morning?
– The honourable senator is making a statement.
– Order! The Leader of the Opposition is making a statement. He must ask his question.
-I have asked that question. I ask further whether there is now a departure from the practice whereby the Government does not speak of any action that is to be taken when it is still open to a person or a union which has been fined to make application for remissions or when there may be further proceedings in or in connection with enforcement provisions.
– We well remember the manner in which objection to the amendments was taken by the Opposition. Parliament has enacted a law and it is the duty of the Government to carry that law into effect. That is all I said. Nothing that I have said prejudices any particular case.
-Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that the Soviet Union is conducting a month-long series of missile firing tests in the Pacific Ocean from Thursday, 29th October, until 30th November of this year? Is the Minister also aware that sub-orbital rockets will be fired into a target area north east of Japan and that all air and sea traffic is being asked to steer clear of the area from noon till midnight during the period mentioned? Has the Australian Government been notified of these firings? If so, what action has been taken by the Government regarding this matter?
– It is true, as I understand it, that certain missile firings are taking place. I would need to have the question of protocol in relation to the firings referred to the Department of External Affairs in order to get some information for the honourable senator. In all the circumstances, I think it would be best to get a formal answer rather than for me to give an answer which may not give all the available facts related to the matter.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation seen a report in which it is stated that he has informed a member of the House of Representatives that he does not intend releasing to the public the report forwarded to him on the siting of the second major airport for Sydney? Is this report correct? Did the Minister state earlier that he would be prepared to consult with the New South Wales Government and also with local government authorities involved and that he would ensure that the public interest is maintained? Does he intend releasing the report to the public?If not, why not? Does he still intend releasing the report to the local government authorities involved?
– On a great number of occasions I have given answers to this question, which has been asked of me in a variety of forms.I believe I have taken extreme care to see to it that proper answers were given. I do not want to take up the time of the Senate unnecessarily, butI think that I should make one or two comments. It is the practice of Commonwealth and State governments of all persuasions in Australia to appoint from time to time inter-departmental committees of technical experts in the field to report on matters of interest where there is a need for a critical and detailed examination to be made. That is what was done in relation to the future development of Sydney and its airport needs. I thinkI am correct in saying that in no case that I can recall has such an inter-departmental report been made available to the public.I do not think it is ever likely to be so made available in the future. A report has been presented. As I said before it is being studied very carefully. The honourable senator may be assured that to the best of my ability I will see that the public interest is taken care of. When the report has been studied fully, the proper thing to do, I believe, is to give it to the State government to look at. When that has been done, I would expect, asI said before, that in due course local governments would be consulted. That is how I would hope to behave, and that is the way I am behaving.
– My question is directedto the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. What will be the consequence of the reported cancelling of the special industrial agreement made between the Waterside Workers Federation and the Australian National Line? Is it correct that the cancellation was the unilateral act of the union and the result of the refusal of the Government to sanction a 35-hour week? Does the union action portend a wave of industrial unrest on the waterfront directed against the Australian National Line in order to force the Government to do something which it deems unwise in the national interest.
-I believe that it is wrong to refer to this matter as the cancellation of an agreement. The proposed agreement was not finally confirmed. My understanding of the position is that subject to the substantiation of any special arrangement the stevedoring arrangements of the Australian National Line would revert to the general condition imposed by the Woodward conference.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. By way of preface I point out that over the weekend a Press report spoke of a considerable fall-off of 15 per cent in the number of British migrants - described as the cornerstone of the Australian immigration policy - coming to Australia in the last 10 months. And further that 27,000 people-
– Order! The honourable senator is giving information.
– I just have this sentence: Further, 27,000 people emigrated from Australia last year. In view of the substantial influence that the British migrant has had on the balance of Australia’s overall immigration policy will the Minister advise the Senate at the earliest possible opportunity what measures are being taken to ascertain why there is such a large fall-off in the balance of immigrants and at the same time inquire into the cause of the large figure of 27,000 people who emigrated from this country in one year?
– I have seen the Press report to which the honourable senator refers. I have some information concerning some of the points he has raised which I think is useful. 1 inform the honourable senator that it is expected that in the currentfinancial year the intake of British assisted migrants will be between 60,000 and 65,000. In the 24 years that the post-war British assisted passage scheme has been operating the intake of assisted migrants has been over 60.000 in only 5 individual years. It is a fact that in the first 10 months of this calendar year ihe level of applications was 85 per cent of the comparative period for the previous year. 1 think it is interesting to note however that most of these shortfalls occurred in the first 3 months of the period in question. The actual figures of applications are that for the period January-March 1969, 65,030 were received and in January-March 1970, 47,315 were received. That means a difference of 17.715. In the period April to June 1969, applications numbered 43,838 and in the same period of 1970, 41,139, the difference being 2,699. In the period July-October applications in 1969 numbered 36.661and in 1970, 35,346, the difference being of 1,315.
It is difficult to attribute this change in pattern to any single cause. Such changes are usually the result of a complex of factors in both the country of emigration and Australia. It is also difficult to assess whether such changes are the result of short term influences or indications of a longer term trend. In view of the fact that applications since the beginning of July are only a little over 3 per cent less -I think this is an important figure - than those in the comparable period of the previous year 1 believe there are no grounds for suggesting that there is any long term trend for British assisted migration to Australia to decrease to any substantial extent. The honourable senator in the last point of his question asked about people going overseas from Australia. I will obtain some information concerning that.
– Ls the Minister representing the Treasurer aware of extreme financial embarrassment being experienced by some rural producers who are faced with payment of probate duties assessed on land and assets when the value of those was much higher than now applies and when rural industry was in a more buoyant financial condition? In cases of such hardship, which could go to the extent of enforced liquidation of old established rural holdings, will consideration be given to allowing a moratorium - using the word in the correct sense- or payment over a period of years, in respect of the probate duty?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONAs the honourable senator will recall, the estate duty law was debated in this chamber and amended comparatively recently. It was to allow relief specifically to primary production estates by increasing the exemption limit and allowing to rural estates a rebate of that proportion of the duty otherwise payable. As I recall the situation, we had quite a lengthy debate on the subject. There were further relaxations which have general application. The provision of the law which required lodgment of securities before an extension of time could be granted to pay estate duty without penalty has been repealed. Moreover, another provision in the law which imposed an upper limit of 2 years for such extension has been removed. There is little doubt that these measures will be of assistance in regard to many estates of primary producers where liquidity problems are such that the duty assessed cannot be paid by the date on which it is due.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General aware that the General Manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, Mr Duckmanton, played a controversial role in the events leading to the resignation of Reverend D. A. Trathen from his position as Headmaster of Newington College? Is she aware that several officers of the ABC, including the Deputy General Manager, Mr Semmler, frequently contribute articles to various journals? In order to allay any suspicion that the Commission is guilty of bias in the treatment of its officers, will the Minister urgently provide an answer, before the end of this sessional period, to question No. 795, of which I gave notice on 26th October and in which I asked whether the Commission had instructed Mr Allan Ashbolt to cease writing articles for the London Journal ‘New Statesman”?
– I am not aware of the points raised in the first part of the honourable senator’s question. In reply to the latter part, I assure him that as soon as an answer is received from the Postmaster-Genera! he shall have it.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs. To safeguard the industries of Australian Aboriginals from increasing competition from cheap overseas-produced imitation bark paintings, boomerangs and other traditional Aboriginal products and to assist the Aboriginals in retaining and building their markets, both domestic and overseas, for such products, which represent their culture, will the Minister request the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs to investigate the possibility of taking action to legislate to license the manufacture and sale of any such products and to secure the widest possible patent and design rights for Australian Aboriginals?
– I am sure all of us wish to see the Aboriginals develop their cultures and their interests in the materials and things which they make and which are typically Australian. I think the points raised by the honourable senator are interesting. I certainly shall be pleased to place them before the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs.
– 1 ask of the
Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service a question which arises out of the answer given by him to the question asked by Senator Webster. It, as the Minister stated, recent amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act have removed reasons for opposition to the Act and for refusal to pay penalties, does his reply suggest that there could have been a legitimate reason for protest before the Act was amended and that therefore no attempt will be made to collect the fines, in excess of $30,000, owing for penalties under the legislation before it was amended?
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is no.
– Was the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise directed to an article in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ of today’s date which questions the right of the Government to consider a refund of duty to importers who have paid duty on imported vegetable oils? Did the Minister note the statement in the article which suggested that the payment would amount to a windfall for the companies concerned as the cost of importing the oil certainly would have been incorporated already in the price of the product? What is the Government’s attitude to the suggestion and what argument will it adduce for contemplating such a refund?
– The honourable senator will recall that not very long ago he asked me a rather similar question. It would now appear as though the ‘Australian Financial Review’ shares the views of the honourable senator. 1 have sent his first question to the Minister for Customs and Excise and requested a reply. I have not received it so far. 1 shall contact the Department of Customs and Excise during the afternoon to see what it is doing about this matter.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. Is it a fact that some 12 months ago the dairying industry asked the Minister for Trade and
Industry to curtail the importation of cheese? ls it also a fact that this was consequent upon the disclosure in the 1969 report of the Australian Dairy Produce Board that some 6,000 tons or 1 3 per cent of the cheese consumed in Australia annually was imported? Did the Minister give an undertaking that he would set up a committee to investigate this matter? Was a committee set up for this purpose? If so, who were the persons appointed to it and what organisations did they represent? Has the committee met? Has it finalised its investigations and presented any findings or recommendations? If so, will the Minister table its report in this chamber at the earliest opportunity?
The honourable senator asks a question about the importation of cheese. It is true, as 1 recall it, that we did have discussions in this chamber about 12 months ago in relation to the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement and cheese was one of the products involved. I remember that some machinery was set up between Australia and New Zealand in regard to this matter. However, the honourable senator’s question covers a far wider canvas. He has spoken in terms of the importation of cheese from any country. The honourable senator has also asked a series of questions in relation to the functions of a committee. I would need to refer this matter to the Department of Trade and Industry in order to gel an answer. I will try to get one as quickly as possible.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. I ask: Has the Australian Government given any consideration to changing Australia’s immigration policies and laws as a result of pressure by Japanese companies with financial interests in Australia to allow Japanese immigrants into this country? Further, does the Japanese Government not have a migration policy which is as protective to its people as the Australian Government considers its present policy is to its people?
– As the honourable senator’s question concerns a matter of policy I cannot answer it.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Can the Minister inform the Parliament whether fines imposed on the owners of foreign fishing vessels for poaching off the Queensland coast have been paid? If so, what was the total amount collected in fines and court charges?
– The honourable senator’s question is obviously one on which I will have to seek information from the Department of Primary Industry.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation and relates to the third light aircraft accident in a matter of weeks. The Minister has stated previously that the number of aircraft accidents is not as alarming as figures might show because of the growth in aircraft operations. 1 ask: Would these accidents be prevented if stronger aircraft operating regulations were in force, particularly in respect to single engine aircraft? Do some or all of the recent accidents show the need for increased or improved air control or navigational facilities in order to ensure greater safety? If so, what would be the approximate cost of these facilities? Has the Minister been able to assess the merit of the argument advanced by Mr Robey that there is a need for a more uniform system of training pilots within Australia?
– lt will be necessary for me to ask the honourable senator to put his question on notice because there is a lot in it and J am anxious to obtain a considered reply. There are one or two things I could mention before 1 sit down. Mr Robey was contacted about what he is supposed to have said. He says that he was misrepesented and that he did not intend to give the view that he is supposed to have given. We know him quite well. He is a very responsible person. We have had from Mr Robey his views on air training, and they are useful to us. The honourable senator raised questions about increased air control cover and stricter regulations. I will have a look at these matters and give the honourable senator some information on them. He will be aware that I have been doing a lot of work on these matters.
I have some comments that may be useful and interesting to him. From a total of approximately 285,000 hours of general aviation activity in 1960, the level rose to over 1 million hours in 1969; that is, it increased almost by a factor of 4 in the 10-year period. In the same period the number of accidents increased by approximately a factor of 2. Overall, as I said earlier, the general trend in the accident rate is down, and is approximately halved. This is not to say that we will not be wanting to exercise increasing care and vigilance. We will be watching the situation all the time. T value the honourable senator’s question and I will get for him a detailed answer on some of the points thai he raised.
– 1 ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether the Commonwealth Government can give any protection to policy holders who had with insurance companies home mortgages at rates of interest from 5i per cent to 6) per cent and who are now faced with a demand to pay 8i per cent interest or to redeem the mortgages forthwith. As interest at 8t per cent would place an intolerable burden on many young home buyers, will the Treasurer give consideration to financing these mortgages at a rate of interest equivalent to that paid on loans made by government instrumentalities for home finance?
The honourable senator’s question concerns varying rates of interest on housing finance. As I understood him, he referred to mortgages that are already in existence. They would be in a variety of forms, most of which would be under the jurisdiction of State laws. For instance, a person who borrows money from an institution or through a solicitor enters into a contractual arrangement. There would be principally 2 forms of arrangement, one of which would involve a fixed rate of interest, and the other would involve a rate of interest allowing for variation with other factors. They are legal contracts. Of course, in certain circumstances the interest rates have changed. Permanent building societies are probably the biggest housing finance institutions in New South Wales outside of Commonwealth Government instrumentalities. Their contracts provide for variations in the rates of interest.
I could not support the concept that whenever there is a variation in housing loan interest rates the Commonwealth should step in and cover the variation, lt seems to me that that would destroy the very essence of the ability of institutions, people or companies to lend money for home buyers. For as long as money has been lent to purchase homes there has been a contractual arrangement. What is happening is a variation in the terms of such contractual arrangements. Senator O’Byrne said that interest at Si per cent is too high. lt is a matter of opinion. He could argue that 6 per cent, 7 per cent, or 10 per cent are rates that are too high. I would not know whether he is right. The truth of the matter is that the situation is not dealt with in the way that the honourable senator is suggesting. In any event, most of the responsibility would not be in the hands of ihe Commonwealth but in the hands of the sovereign States.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, in the light of remarks made by the Chairman of the United States Senate Sub-Committee on Juvenile Delinquency that in recent months a much more powerful variety of heroin has been circulating amongst Gls and others addicted to drug taking in South Vietnam, I ask whether this trend has been manifested in Australia in regard to heroin supplies impounded and drug victims under treatment.
– The stronger variety of heroin referred to by Senator Dodds, who is Chairman of that United States Senate Committee as being used by troops in Vietnam, would be stronger by reason of its greater purity. Two small seizures of pure heroin - 98 pgr cent - have been made by Customs in the past 6 weeks. In both cases the immediate origin was Vietnam. That is the limit of my knowledge at this time.
– Does the Minister for Civil Aviation think that sufficient credence is being given to map reading, that vitally important part of light aircraft pilot training? Is too much reliance being placed on training on navigational aids and insufficient on map reading?
– In the early days of flying, when I was involved, the great practice was to follow the railway lines, but nowadays it is not as easy as that. How would you know whether insufficient attention was paid to map reading or whether too much reliance was placed on navigational aids unless you could be in the cockpit of every light aircraft in the air? You could not really tell. However, you can direct attention of people to the need for safety - we are doing that - to the need to be proficient in map reading and in methods of navigation - excluding the use of railway lines - and to have some regard also to the fact that navigational aids are designed with the object of improving air safely and should be used. 1 suppose one ought to say that pilots must always be extremely careful, must use all of the aids available and must always take care never to let themselves become overconfident. That was my own experience, and although I was not the best pilot, nevertheless it is a very good rule to follow.
– The Minister representing the Minister for Immigration will recall that last week I directed a question to her about the decision of the Department of Immigration to appoint a British advertising agency, on an account of some $830,000, to sell Australia to prospective British migrants, and that I asked why an Australian advertising agency was not given the opportunity to undertake this work. Can the Minister yet provide me with any information on that question?
– Yes. As promised, I took up this matter with the Minister for Immigration and 1 have some information for the honourable senator. Almost since the beginning of post-war immigration the Department of Immigration has used the services of a British advertising agency. The appointment of an agency with knowledge of Australia is not a major criterion. Officers of the Department of Immigration work closely with the advertising agency and supply that knowledge. What is thought important is a thorough knowlege of the British market, local consumer attitudes, experience, skill and success in British advertising and, of course, first class production facilities. The Minister has informed me that he has made a close study of the Department’s advertising in Britain, including an examination of the reasons for the appointment of the present agency whose premises he visited early this year when in London, and he is satisfied that Australia’s requirements are being met adequately.
The honourable senator also spoke to me about visits to Australia by the managing director of the company. It is true that the present visit to Australia by the managing director is the second visit since 1967 and the first visit for the gentleman accompanying him. However, previous visits have been made by other executives and employees more closely associated with the creative production of advertisements. I think it is of interest to inform the honourable senator that the estimated cost of all forms of advertising in Britain, including television and national Press advertising, for 1970-71 is $850,000 which is slightly less than last year’s expenditure.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, by asking him why his Government failed to disclose to Australian farmers the fact that Britain proposed to fix a scale of charges on imports from Australia, in view of the fact that the Government had knowledge of the new system as far back as July 1970. Can the Minister now inform the Parliament of the amount that will be lost in Australian export income from Britain for the balance of this financial year and which primary products will be most affected?
– I do not accept the statement made by Senator Keeffe in relation to Australia’s knowledge of what was the intention of the British Government. The British Government made its statement only a few days, I think, before the statement was made here by the Minister for Trade and Industry. I think the British Government’s statement would be the complete refinement of what it intended to do. Since I do not accept Senator Keeffe’s statement, there is not much of the question left for me to respond to. I am sure that everybody agrees that the problem of our trade with the United Kingdom is a very real one. I do not think we can do much to solve it by using it as a form of political trapeze.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry noted recent comments by Professor Hunter in relation to the production of synthetic substances and its likely impact on the production of natural materials? Would the Minister for Primary Industry deem it wise to promote immediate action between Federal authorities and all appropriate State government departments which are interested in the maintenance of the good health of the Australian community and also in the sustenance of a healthy meat producing industry, with the object of prohibiting all imports of synthetic meat and the manufacture of such products in this country?
– This is a pretty big question. No doubt the matter would have to go before the Australian Agricultural Council for discussion before the Minister for Primary Industry could take the action the honourable senator is suggesting he might take. However, I will draw his attention to the honourable senator’s question and take it from there.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. What role does the Department of National Development play in seeing that the gaining of mining export markets does not ravish the local environment? Is the Minister aware of the intense local feeling exhibited by the electors of Hughes against the establishment of a coal loader in the Stanwell Park region of the south coast of New South Wales, when Port Kembla could be used for the export of the coal involved? Will he arrange for an officer of his Department to be in attendance with me on Sunday night next at Stanwell Park, when a massive protest meeting against the proposal will be held?
-I cannot arrange for an officer of the Department of National Development to be with Senator Mulvihill at an electorate meeting in Hughes, although I understand his concern about a coal loader which apparently is going to do something to upset the environment of the area. What I can do is direct this question to the responsible Department, in the absence of its Minister, and see what information I can obtain for the honourable senator and what is the actual position with regard to the Department’s authority, which in this case may be very small. This may be a State government matter.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer, lt might concern also the Minister representing the Attorney-General. 1 refer to the great scandal over the collapse of accident insurance companies in Australia, which commenced some few months ago and is continuing, and to the proposal that the Commonwealth should use its undoubted power over insurance to bring the accident insurance companies under the kind of strict supervision that the Commonwelath now exercises over life assurance companies. Will the Minister, or both Ministers, inform the Senate why the Government is failing to take the simple step of bringing this sphere of life under strict control in the interests of the public or is this another example of the Government finding that it has better things to do than to protect the public?
The honourable senator has asked a question on policy, Mr President, and therefore I suggest it go on notice.
– Is the Minister in Charge of Tourist Activities able to advise the Senate of the action he has taken to encourage tourists from overseas to visit the Territory of Papua and New Guinea? Does the Minister consider that more could be done by the Government in concert with the Territory’s Administration to encourage more visitors to the Territory as this would increase the Territory’s income?
– Papua and New Guinea was one of the South Pacific countries which joined with Australia in the recent ‘Destination South Pacific’ promotion in the United States of America. Its section of the film, which was displayed to. I think, some 80,000 to 100,000 Americans, was quite a graphic one. 1 can assure the honourable senator that the Australian Tourist Commission regards the attractions of Papua and New Guinea as quite strong and appealing. But, of course, our interest is exclusively related to Australia’s tourism and the interests of the Australian Tourist Commission do not extend to Papua and New Guinea. However we extend the greatest co-operation for the purposes of promoting the area. As to any intermediate stage of air travel, we rely upon the civil aviation authorities to note the advantages of destinations there.
– I again direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate relating to the protection of the public by strict supervision over accident insurance companies in the same way as there exists such supervision over life assurance companies. ( ask the Minister: What is being done about it? ls action being taken? Is it proposed to take action or is the matter under consideration? I suggest that it is not enough to say that this is a matter of policy. Everything is a matter of policy. What is being done about this matter of tremendous public importance?
The Leader of the Opposition has added nothing to his previous question and I add nothing to my answer.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I bring to his attention the fact that question No. 717 was placed on the notice paper on 24th September. Seemingly there is a marked reluctance on the part of the Government to reply to this question. Can the Minister guarantee that a reply will be furnished before the Senate goes into recess for the Senate election campaign?
– Mr President, the Leader of the Government in the Senate has drawn my attention to the fact that question No. 717 is directed to me as the representative of the Minister for Labour and National Service. The honourable senator can be assured that the question is receiving consideration and 1 will see whether it is possible to have an answer for him before this session ends.
– Is the Minister representing the Treasurer aware that the Government is endeavouring to make the 35-hour week a Senate election issue? Will the Minister agree that in fact the main cause of inflation in Australia is uncontrolled profits? Will the Minister undertake to request his government to conduct a searching inquiry with a view to restoring price control where necessary in order to control exorbitant profits and thus restore some semblance of stability to the economy?
As to the honourable senator’s reference to the 35-hour week, that is part of the Australian Labor Party’s policy as shown in its policy document. The Labour Party is committed to that. The honourable senator is talking about inflation, yet his Party would arbitrarily reduce the working hours each week by12½ per cent.
– That has nothing to do with inflation.
– If the honourable senator says that it has nothing to do with inflation I do not know what kind of school of economics he went to. To reduce hours of work by 12½ per cent in an economy of full employment, would obviously mean that to get the same amount of work it would be necessary to pay not ordinary time but time and a half or double time. If that would not increase the cost of commodities then I shall go back to school. If the honourable senator starts talking about a 35-hour week and mixes that up with talk about inflation his colleagues will tell him to lay off. because he will be really on a bad goer.
I come now to his proposal for price control. I do not know whether his Party would want him to whisper that very loudly either, because the history of price control is that it has always failed, not only in Australia but the world over. Under a system of price control most commodities are sold on the black market where probably the price is doubled. If that does not increase inflation, I do not know what does. So with great respect to Senator Keeffe, I think he should redraft his question.
– Has the MinisterinCharge of Tourist Activities noted with glee from this morning’s Press the great fillip which has been given to the Tasmanian tourist industry in that the Australian Labor Party has decided that the hotels in Launceston are of sufficiently high quality for it to reverse a decision and to hold its conference in Lauceston as scheduled and not transfer it, as was suggested by the Federal Secretary of the Party, to the Gold Coast where there is no price control?
– I did notice in the news over the weekend that at first the Labor Party had resolved to change the venue for its next conference from Launceston to the more sunny Gold Coast, but I am glad to notice in this morning’s Press that that decision has been revoked. I assure honourable senators that Launceston will give to the Australian Labor Party conference its traditional warmth of welcome.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation institute inquiries regarding a group of 8 ex-servicemen acting as Grade 4 assessors in the Taxation Branch in Sydney who apparently are denied further promotion in the Service by virtue of a Public Service Board ruling under section 53 which applied a cut-off on acting members in this grade unless further academic qualifications had been attained?
– I shall give whatever assistance I can by approaching the Minister for Repatriation, provided the honourable senator gives to me the detail of the question that he has asked.
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
(Question No. 670)
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
Have the rates of advertising on commercial television been increased by any station in the last 12 months; if so, what has been the amount of the increase.
– The Postmaster-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
According to the records held by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board,11 of the 45 commercial television stations operating throughout Australia have increased their base advertising rates since1 September, 1969, for 60 second ‘spot advertisements’ during the ‘prime time’ period which is generally between the hours of 6.30 p.m. to10.00 p.m. The table hereunder shows the stations concerned, and details of the increases -
As the honourable senator is probably aware, the actual television advertising rates charged to an advertiser often differ from the basic rates published in station rate cards on account of variations for volume discounts, packages of announcements, fixed time announcements on preferred days and programmes, holiday period announcements, etc.
(Question No. 488)
SenatorMURPHY asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
Have all recommendations of the National Health and Medical Research Council in respect of Primary products, including meat, been carried out in their entirety; if not. which are outstanding, and to what extent.
Since its creation in 1937, the National Health and Medical Research Council has made recommendations on the following matters relating to primary products:
Standard for Frozen Poultry.
Standard for Meat and Meat Products.
Standard for Skim Milk.
Standard for Cream and Cream Products.
Standard for Fish and Fish Products.
Standard for Honey.
Code of Practice and Recommendations for the Handling of Frozen Food.
Display and Transportation of Frozen Food.
Code of Principles concerning Milk and Milk Products.
Recommended Tolerances for Residues of Pesticides and Agricultural Chemicals in Food.
- Standard for Metals in Food.
Prescribed Method of Analysis for the Determination of Propylene Glycol in Meat.
Meat and Meat Products.
Sulphur Dioxide in Meat.
Chlorine Solution in Poultry Processing.
Phosphates in Fish Fillets and Poultry.
Papain Treated Wrapping Paper for Meat.
Frozen Fish and Poultry.
Propylene Glycol in Abattoirs.
Propylene Glycol in Meat.
Skim Milk Labelling.
Boric Acid in Cream.
Milk and Milk Products.
Cream and Cream Products.
Vitamin D in Milk.
Penicillin in Milk.
Nitrofurazone in Milk.
Nitrofuran in Milk.
Frozen Foods - Code of Practice for Handling. Frozen Foods - Sale, Service, Display and Transportation.
Fish and Fish Products.
Calcium Sucrose Phosphates in Carbohydrate Foods.
Citrus Red No. 2.
Colouring of Citrus Fruit.
Copperised Fruit Wraps.
The Use of Malathion on Wheat Grain.
Pesticide Residues in Food.
Pesticide Residues in the Australian Diet.
Lead in Fruit and Fruit Products.
Pyrethrins and PiperonylButoxide.
Meat Preservation - Deathcrage Method.
Veterinary Use of Antibiotics.
Antibiotic Residues in Milk.
Brilliant Blue as a Marker Dye in Penicillin.
Antibiotics in Food Preservation.
Antibiotics in Horticulture.
Antibiotics in Agriculture.
Brilliant Blue and Detection of Antibiotics in Milk.
Chloramphenicol for Bovine Intramammary Infusion.
Erythromycin as a Livestock Feed Additive.
Antibiotic in Stock Feeds.
Antibiotics Approved as Additives for Growth Promotion purposes.
Chloramphenicol and Streptomycin.
Mercury in Food.
Tolerance for Residues of Agricultural Chemicals in or upon Foodstuffs.
Antibiotic Residue Tolerances in Food for Human Consumption.
Stilboestrol in Poultry.
Salmonellae in Bone Meal and Fertilizers Containing Bone Meal.
Oestrogens in Meat.
Supervision and Disposal of Condemned Meat.
Pet Food Sold in Delicatessen Shops.
Survival of Brucella Organisms in Cheese.
Hormones in Animal Production.
Lipamone in the Poultry industry.
Handling of Condemned Offal.
Incidence of Zoonoses in each State.
Skin left on Calves after Slaughter.
Disposal of Animals Treated with Radio-active Substances.
Brucellosis, Leptospirosis and Q Fever in Meat Workers.
Hygiene at Abattoirs.
Bovine Tuberculosis in Beef Cattle.
Salmonellae of Animal Origin.
Implementation of these recommendations is a responsibility of State and Commonwealth Governments. While many have already been incorporated into legislation, some of the more recent amendments have not. A survey of the current position in relation to the recommendations is at present being undertaken but will take some considerable time. The results of this survey will be conveyed to the honourable senator as soon as they are available.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
Further to the reply provided to Senator McClelland on 19 August, in answer to Question No. 338, containing details of Commonwealth Superannuation Fund investments in Commonwealth Stock, Local Government authorities, banks and other institutions, have any companies, organisations or individuals had loans made available to them which have been secured by mortgages of land or property, if so, which companies, organisation or individuals have received loans by way of mortgage of land or property, and at what rate of interest, over the last 5 years, from the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund.
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
In summary, loans have been made to companies, organisations and individuals secured by mortgages of land and real property at the following interest rates over the last five years.
The Superannuation Board, which includes a member elected by the contributors, who is a party to all investment decisions, enters into private negotiations when a loan is to be secured by a mortgage of land or real property. Such negotiations are confidential between the Board and its client and reflect the established practice for lending institutions such as the Superannuation Board. The Board does not, therefore, publish details of individual mortgage investments.
(Question No. 693)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General the following question upon notice:
In view of an article in the ‘Canberra Times’ of 27th August which refers to the existence of a vast private dossier of citizens’ credit ratings, and states that, as a result, the New South Wales Government contemplates nation-wide legislation to protect individual privacy, is any action contemplated to curb the type of development mentioned, which has a similarity to the fantasy contained in the book ‘1984’ by George Orwell.
– The AttorneyGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Commonwealth has no power to enact nation-wide legislation to deal with activity of this kind. As to the Territories, I am not at present contemplating any action.
(Question No. 694)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport upon notice:
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following in answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Commonwealth lines, and privilege passes for Western Australian and South Australian railways. These privileges are availableto dependants, and continue while the employee is on National Service.
(Question No. 757)
asked the Minis ter representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThe Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 772)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
– The Minister for Education and Science has provided the following information in answer to the honourable senator’s questions:
The awards known as Commonwealth Secondary scholarships provide assistance for the final two years of the secondary school course. In Queensland pupils compete for Secondary scholarships at a special selection examination when they are enrolled in the Junior year (Grade 10) at secondary school. I understand that at Palm Island schooling is provided up to including the first secondary year (Grade 8). Children then enrol at schools elsewhere in order to pursue their studies further. My Department is aware of nine children from the Palm Island reserve who are enrolled in Grade 10 at schools in Queensland this year. However it understands that none applied for a Commonwealth Secondary scholarship. Competition for these scholarships is very strong and a decision to submit an application is left to each student and his parents.
Three children from Palm Island are enrolled in Grade1 1 this year. One of these sat for the Commonwealth Secondary Scholarship Examination in 1969 but was unsuccessful.
A number of children from the Palm Island Aboriginal Reserve are receiving assistance under the Aboriginal Secondary Grants Scheme which commenced early this year. These grants are available to children of. Aboriginal descent who are in attendance at primary or secondary schools and are between 14 and 21 years of age.
To the knowledge of my Department, there are twenty children resident on Palm Island who are eligible on age grounds for Aboriginal Secondary Grants. Sixteen children have applied for Aboriginal Secondary Grants and applications are expected from the remaining four. To date seven children have taken up grants and are in regular receipt of benefits; three have been offered grants but have yet to reply indicating their acceptance; and the eligibility of the remaining six applicants is being discussed with their school prior to a decision being made to offer them grants.
(Question No. 777)
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
(Question No. 781)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
September quarter of 1970 is notyet available. Consequently, it is not possible at this time to calculate the precise relationship between movements in wages and movements in consumer prices during that quarter. However, the general trend in recent years has been for increases in wages to run well ahead of increases in consumer prices. Thus, in the year to the June quarter, 1970, the consumer price index increased by 3.7 per cent and average weekly earnings by 9.0 per cent. There has in fact been a continuing and substantial increase in the purchasing power of the average wage over recent years. The increase in the consumer price index between the June and September quarters of 1970 was 0.6 per cent. While this is not a cause for complacency, it is certainly a very considerable overstatement to describe a rate of increase in the index of about 2½ per cent per annum as representing a ‘dramatic rise’ in the cost of living.
(Question No. 786)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
Government to the proposed arms sales to South Africa implied; and could this be dangerous to Australia’s friendly relations with its Indian Ocean neighbours and consequently to any role which Australia may wish to play in safeguarding the peace of the Indian Ocean area.
The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply:
The Government is aware that opposition has been expressed by a number of countries to the proposed resumption by Britain of the sale of arms to South Africa.
The Australian Government’s position regarding the proposal is quite clear. It is that it is a matter for decision by the British Government. However, if the British Government should come to the conclusion that the protection of her sea routes requires the provision ofmaritime arms to South Africa under the Simonstown Agreement, the Australian Government has no intention of expressing opposition. Australia itself does not sell arms to South Africa and has no intention of doing so. This, we believe is well understood by our friends in the Indian Ocean area.
The Australian Government is in frequent consultation with Commonwealth and other friendly governments both directly and at the United Nations in New York on a variety of matters of mutual concern.
(Question No. 794)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
Is it a fact that Government policy prevents assisted passages being granted to coloured persons; if so, does this same policy apply to a person of European blood and colour, who is a British subject and has an Indian wife and three children who are all British subjects.
– The Minister for Immigration has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Yes. It is a matter of general policy to grant assisted passages only to persons of European descent.
Assisted passages are intended to assist Australia obtain migrants whom it would not otherwise secure to meet its defined needs.
Financial assistance has never been given to migration which has been limited or restricted by the policy of successive Governments.
Normally assisted passages are not granted to a family in which one or more members are ineligible.
(Question No. 654)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Is it not a fact that, at thetime Cambodia was attacked and invaded by North Vietnam, General Lon Nol, the Prime Minister of Cambodia at that time, requested aid from Australia in the form of communications equipment and not arms,
– The Minister for External Affairs, on behalf of the Prime Minister, has furnished the following reply:
On 14 April 1970, shortly after Cambodia was attacked and invaded by the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces, the Prime Minister, General Lon Nol, made an appeal for assistance to all nations of which the following is a translation:
Consistent with the clauses of the Geneva Agreement and provisions of our national constitution, Cambodia may in a case of danger, make appeal to all countries, no matter what bloc they belong to, to provide it with arms and materials. Conscious of its duty and its mission, within the framework of our strict neutrality, continually reaffirmed by our actions and by our statements, notably the international press conference of 30 March 1970, the Government of Salvation has the duty to inform the nation that because of the gravity of the present situation, it is faced with the necessity of accepting, from this moment, all unconditional external aid from whatever source, for the good of the nation.’
The exact composition of Australia’s contribution to Cambodia’s defence against Vietnamese Communist aggression has been and is being determined in the light of consultations with the Cambodian Government.
(Question No. 731)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThe Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Superannuation Board, which includes a member elected by the contributors, who is a party to all investment decisions, enters into private negotiations when a loan is to be secured by a mortgage of land or real property. Such negotiations are confidential between the Board and its client and reflect the established practice for lending institutions such as the Superannuation Board. The Board does not, therefore, publish details of individual mortgage investments.
(Question No. 751)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question.
No. The control of hydatid disease in theory is relatively simple and the disease could theoretically be eradicated if all concerned would:
(Question No. 760)
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows: (1), (2) and (3) The airlines, in consultation with my Department, have been studying all the relevant factors with a view to determining the aircraft type which should replace the DC.4 which is currently serving Norfolk Island. As yet no firm recommendation has been made to my Department and, as a result,I am not yetin a position to provide reasonably precise information in answer to to your question.
(Question No. 783)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External
Affairs, upon notice:
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThe Minister for External Affairs has provided the following reply:
(Question No. 785)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The physical attendance of a doctor on a patient is necessary before aconsultation may be regarded as a professional attendance for the purposes of medical benefits payable under the Act. Telephone consultations do not qualify for benefit, and similarly, letters of advice by doctors to patients are not regarded as professional attendances.
(Question No. 793)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply:
(Question No. 799)
asked the Minister for Housing, upon notice:
Is it a fact that land on Horn Island has now been transferred from the Department of Defence to the Department of Housing; if so, how many buildings blocks will be made available and can the Minister explain the reason for the secrecy that is apparently associated with the project.
– The answer to the first part of the question is no.
– On 20th October 1970 Senator Cavanagh asked the following question:
I ask a question of the Minister representing the Treasurer. As a lead to State Parliaments, will the Government introduce proper employees’ compensation legislation giving just awards to the dependents of a workman killed or injured in an industrial accident to ensure that the dependants do not suffer financially as a result of the death or the loss of earning capacity of the breadwinner and to ensure that dependants are not made dependant on charity when a catastrophe occurs?
The Treasurer has provided the following answer:
The Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation legislation already provides awards that are considered to be appropriate and which compare favourably with those provided under State legislation. The amending legislation currently before Parliament would further extend the benefits and facilitate the administration of payments under the scheme.
The Commonwealth legislation embodies an important principle, which does not appear in the legislation of all the States, namely, that acceptance by dependants of an award of compensation does not preclude the dependants from pursuing damages action in respect of the death of an employee, but a refund, in whole or in part, of the compensation awarded is required if the damages action is successful. In other words, the Commonwealth legislation ensures the right of a dependant to seek damages but provides that a double benefit is not paid.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONOn 15th April Senator Milliner asked me the following question:
I ask the Acting Minister for External Affairs: Is it a fact that the much referred to official request from the Government of South Vietnam to commit Australian combat troops has never been published? Can the Minister give the reasons why the Government has not made known the text of the request or published such a vital document?
The answer to the honourable senators question may be found in the reply I made to the question without notice asked by Senator Murphy on 11th March 1970 (Hansard, page 549).
– On 26th August 1970, Senator Devitt asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science, the following question:
Is the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science aware that, according to recent psychological studies carried out under the sponsorship of the Carnegie Corporation of the United States of America, half of all growth in human intelligence lakes place between birth and age 4 and a further 30 per cent between the age 4 and 8 or that, in relation to formal education, two-thirds of a child’s intellectual development takes place before he even commences primary education? Is the Minister also aware that for many children, especially children of poverty, lack of intellectual stimulus pre-ordains failure in later life? In these circumstances and especially in the light of the remarks of the Minister for Education and Science on the subject of the role and importance of pre-schools, as reported in the Australian’ on 16th July last, might we expect that his views will be given tangible expression in the form of greater recognition of and aid to the many forms of pre-school, kindergarten and similar institutions in which the very young are being taught and that the financial support given to these institutions by parents and citizens will be classified as allowable taxation deductions?
The Minister has now provided the following answer:
I am aware of the results of recent studies showing the development of human intelligence. The increased expenditure by the Commonwealth Government in the pre-school field, to which reference has already been made, is evidence that the Commonwealth recognises the importance of fostering the child’s development in the formative years. The Commonwealth is at present providing financial support for a programme of research into pre-school education which is being undertaken by a research worker at the Melbourne Lady Gowrie Child Centre. The question of providing further assistance for pre-school education is receiving consideration.
On the question of tax deductibility of payments made to pre-school institutions, my colleague the Treasurer has provided the following information. Generally speaking payments made by a parent for the attendance of his child at a pre-school or kindergarten would be deductible for income tax purposes under the heading of education expenses. In this context, ‘education expenses’ means expenses necessarily incurred by the taxpayer for or in connection with full-time education at a school, college or university or from a tutor.
It is accepted that a child who attends preschool or kindergarten for the maximum period each week appropriate to his or her age is receiving full-time education at a school. Fees and any other contributions which a parent is expected to make in connection with the child’s attendance at such an institution would thus be deductible up to the overall maximum of $300 per child per annum.
This concession does not extend to payments made to child-minding and similar centres. Payments to such establishments are considered to be for the care, supervision and maintenance of a child, rather than for full-time education; any education that a child may receive being no more than incidental and ancillary to the care and maintenance.
Gifts of $2 and upwards to a public fund established and maintained exclusively for providing money for the acquisition, construction or maintenance of a building used or to be used as a school by a government, public authority or a non-profit organisation or association are also deductible under the existing law. Pre-schools and kindergartens, of course, qualify as schools for this purpose.
Gifts of $2 and upwards to the Free Kindergarten Unions of the various States and free kindergartens associated therewith are also deductible under the provisions of the law which authorise deductions for gifts to a public benevolent institution.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONPursuant to section 10 of the International Monetary Agreements Act 1947,I present the report on the operations of that Act and of the operations, insofar as they relate to Australia, of the International Monetary Fund Agreement and of the International Bank Agreement for the year ended 30th June 1970.
– I present the Third Report of the Publications Committee. Copies of the report have been distributed to honourable senators.
Report - by leave - adopted.
– Pursuant to section I I of the Commonwealth Police Act 1957- 1966, I present the annual report of the Commissioner of Police on the operation of the Commonwealth Police Force and summary of its activities for the year ended 30th June 1970.
– by leave - The Minister for Education and Science has advised that new rates of allowances will be payable in 1971 to certain classes of students holding Commonwealth scholarships. He has provided the following for the information of honourable senators.
The Government has decided that the following changes will operate from 1st January 1971: The maximum living allowance payable to holders of Commonwealth university and advanced education scholarships will be increased from$620 to$700 a year in the case of students living at home and from$1, 000 to $1,100 a year for students living away from home. This latter increase will also apply to students over 25 years of age, married students and others whose entitlement to living allowance is not based on parental income; the stipend payable to holders of Commonwealth post-graduate awards for research study will be raised from $2,350 to$2,600 a year. This higher rate of stipend will also be paid to holders of the new postgraduate awards for full-time study leading to a master’s degree by course work; students receiving living allowance under the Commonwealth university and advanced education scholarship schemes will be permitted to earn up to $10 per week during the academic year without affecting their entitlement to living allowance. At present students’ living allowance is reduced when their earnings during the academic year exceed $6 per week, or $7 per week in the case of independent students. The new rates and conditions applying to Commonwealth university scholarships will also be applicable to the new Canberra teacher education scholarships to be tenable at the Canberra College of Advanced Education in 1971.
– On Friday last during the debate on the Australian Wool Commission Bill I questioned the interpretation placed by Senator Young on a statement made by Senator Cant. On checking the record I have found that Senator Young’s interpretation is correct. I therefore offer to him and to honourable senators my apology.
(12.30) -I wish to move a motion that sitting times this week be the same as last week with the exception that we commence on Wednesday at 10 a.m. instead of at 2.15 p.m. as we did last Wednesday. I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) read a first time.
This Bill seeks parliamentary approval to borrowings by the Commonwealth of up to $US125m for the purchase of defence equipment in the United States of America. Under the Loan (Defence) Act 1966, the Commonwealth arranged borrowings of $US450m to assist in the purchase of defence equipment in the United States. Those borrowings were almost completely committed by orders placed up to the end of December 1969. Under the Loan (Defence) Act 1970, the Commonwealth arranged borrowings of $US89m to finance orders for general defence equipment placed with United States suppliers for the remainder of 1969-70. Orders approximately equal to the amount of that credit had been placed in the United States by about the end of June, and negotiations have commenced for a further credit to cover orders placed during 1970-71. The present Bill will provide the necessary authority to enter into an agreement for this further credit. The loans arranged under the 1966 and 1970 Acts were all with the Export-Import Bank of the United States. They were used for the purchase of general defence equipment and, in the case of loans arranged under the 1966 Act, for some payments of the F111 aircraft.
The Loan (Defence) Act 1968 provided for the borrowing by the Commonwealth of an amount of $US75m to assist in financing the purchase of F111 aircraft. No drawings have yet been made against that loan. The Export-Import bank of the United States has agreed to provide the loan funds to be raised under this legislation. Although the full terms and conditions of the credit have yet to be settled, repayment will be made over 7 years and it will carry an interest rate of 7.375 per cent - the current rate for loans of this type made by the bank. The Bill has been drafted to provide authority for the Commonwealth to accept the usual provisions of ExportImport Bank loan agreements. It is similar in all respects, except for the amount and the title, to the Loan (Defence) Act (No. 1) 1970. Since the borrowing is for defence purposes the approval of the Loan Council is not required. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Bishop) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wright) read a first time.
Thatthe Bill be now read a second lime.
The purpose of this Bill is to meetthe constitutional position disclosed by the decision of the High Court of Australia given last June in Worthing v. Rowell and Muston Pty Ltd and Others. The plaintiff in that case, Mr Cyril Worthing, alleged that, while employed by one of the defendants, he was injured by falling from his working place. He claimed damages from his employer on the ground that the employer had failed to secure his safety, by means of fencing or otherwise, as required by certain regulations made under the Scaffolding and Lifts Act 1912 of New South Wales. The employer pleaded that the regulations did not bind him since the work was being carried on at the Royal Australian Air Force base which was a place acquired by the Commonwealth for public purposes’ within the meaning of section 52(i.) of the Constitution. Section 52(i.) provides that the Commonwealth Parliament has exclusive power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to any place acquired by the Commonwealth for public purposes.
A majority of 4 Justices to 3 in the High Court held that the State legislation did not operate in the Richmond Air Force base. The decision runs counter to the assumption, held and acted upon by both Commonwealth and State Governments since federation, that State laws are not affected by section 52(i.) if they do not purport to apply specifically to Commonwealth places. The Attorney-General communicated with the AttorneysGeneral of the States immediately after the High Court decision. The law Ministers unanimously agreed that legislation should be introduced as quickly as possible to meet the position resulting from the High Court’s decision. The need for early legislation has been emphasised by subsequent events. In several cases parties have argued, sometimes successfully, that certain State laws concerning manslaughter, forgery, theft, gross indecency, possession of drugs and the use of indecent language do not operate in Commonwealth places. These places include, for example, not only Royal Australian Air Force bases but also Army camps, post offices, Commonwealth offices, Commonwealth court buildings, customs houses and repatriation hospitals. Meetings have taken place since June between the Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General and between Commonwealth and State officers. A special meeting of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General was held in Sydney on 18September to consider draft Commonwealth and State Bills. The matter was further discussed at the regular meeting of the Standing Committee in Perth on 15 October.
I shall now describe to the Senate the principal features of this Bill. The broad object of the Bill is to restore the position as far as possible to the position that was assumed to exist before Worthing’s case. This has proved to be a task of great legal complexity. The Bill if enacted will, subject to certain exceptions, apply by force of Commonwealth law the provisions of State laws that, in consequent of Worthing’s case, are inapplicable by reason of section 52 (i) of the Constitution. The provisions of these State laws will be applied as in force from time to time in each State. When the States repeal or amend their laws, the repeals and amendments will, by force of the applied provision of this Bill, be automatically applied in Commonwealth places. Those
Slate laws will always be subject to Commonwealth legislation inconsistent therewith. If enacted, the Bill will apply State laws in both civil and criminal matters as if they had so applied since the date of their enactment. For example, persons who have uttered forged documents in commonwealth places before the date of this legislation wilt be liable to prosecution under the State laws retrospectively applied under this Bill. A plaintiff in a civil action will be able to pursue a claim under those provisions on a cause of action occurring before this date but after the original enactment. Mr Worthing will therefore be able to proceed under the applied provisions unless he has already settled his claim.
Some exceptions must be made for constitutional reasons to the application of State provisions as they stand. It will therefore be necessary to make regulations modifying the applied provisions so that they can operate effectively. For example, it will be appropriate to modify provisions of State laws that confer judicial power on bodies that are not courts within the meaning of Chapter III of the Constitution. However, the regulation-making power will extend no further than necessary for purposes of this kind: if the Commonwealth wishes to make other changes - for example, if it wishes to increase the penalties for assault or other crimes committed in Commonwealth places - it will have to do so by separate legislation. The continued operation in Commonwealth places of Commonwealth laws such as the Airports (Business Concessions) Act 1959-1966 will not be affected by the Bill.
The Bill, if enacted, will authorise the Governor-General to make arrangements with State Governors for the administration of the applied provisions by State authorities. Where a State makes an arrangement, its authorities will be given powers, functions and duties under the applied provisions just as if they were still State laws. However, if a State does not make an arrangement, its authorities will not be obliged to perform any duties under the applied provisions, though they will have power to administer the provisions if they so wish. The applied provisions are further assimilated to the corresponding State laws by providing that federal jusisdiction under these provisions wil be exercised by State courts just as if it were State jurisdiction.
The only qualification is that no appeals will lie from State courts to the Privy Council in matters arising under the applied provisions. This accords with Commonwealth policy as expressed in the Judiciary Act 1903-1969 and the Privy Council (Limitation of Appeals) Act 1968.
The Bill contains several clauses dealing with situations where people act on the assumption that a State law is applicable but the law turns out to be inapplicable as a result of Worthing’s case. For example, proceedings begun under an inapplicable State law will continue as if they had been originally brought under the applied provisions. As I have mentioned, the Bill authorises the making of arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States for the administration of the applied provisions. Not all the State Governments have yet indicated their intention to introduce legislation to enable these arrangements to be made. Accordingly, the Bill has been prepared in terms that, in certain respects, will apply differently according to whether or not a State has made an arrangement. It is envisaged that, if a State does not enter into an arrangement, a proclamation will be made bringing the proposed legislation into force in that State as soon as possible. In the case of States making arrangements, proclamations will be made to take effect from dates to be agreed with those States.
I have shortly, though ] think sufficiently, described the reasons for the Bill, the manner in which it will operate and the reasons why the Government considers that legislations should be passed by the Parliament in the present sittings. I will be glad, in Committee, to give honourable senators a more detailed explanation of the provisions of the Bill, many of them of a highly technical nature. The Bill is both important and urgent. T commend it to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned.
– I move:
That there be referred to the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare the following matterThe incidence, distribution and causes of primary and secondary poverty in Australia and the ad equacy of existing Commonwealth and State social welfare legislation.
The problem of poverty in Australia is a deep one and a serious one. There has been no investigation of this problem by any parliamentary body at the Commonwealth level. Such an investigation is overdue. The purpose of this motion is to refer the problem to the appropriate committee - that committee being the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare - for consideration. As honourable senators will recall, that Committee is composed of senators from all the parties in the Senate. It is one in which the Government has effective control in the sense, that if the Committee were to act on party lines the Government would have a casting vote through the Chairman. But, as we know from experience, it is a rarity that these matters are approached on a party basis, as the purpose of such committees is to ascertain the facts of the matters concerned and to make appropriate recommendations. The Standing Committee on Health and Welfare has already had referred to it the problem of mentally and physically handicapped people and the question of repatriation. This third proposal in many ways touches the same kind of fields as is covered by the matters already referred to the Committee. That is important because one of the difficulties about the problem of poverty in Australia is that the responsibility for social welfare has been broken up between the Commonwealth and the States so that each has some share of responsibility and each deals in some piecemeal way with the problem. What is worse than that is that at both the Commonwealth level and the State level the responsibility is distributed among various Departments.
At the Commonwealth level, for example, the Repatriation Department concerns itself with the welfare of persons who have been in the armed Services and their dependants, the Department of Social Services is concerned with various aspects, the Department of Housing is concerned with other aspects, the Department of the Treasury is concerned in many ways with problems of pensions, superannuation and so on, the Prime Minister’s Department is concerned with the welfare of Aboriginals-
– How would the honourable senator connect housing with poverty?
– 1 would think that housing had a very close connection with poverty. If people with a certain income have to pay an undue amount of that income in rent, then, notwithstanding that their income may appear to be satisfactory, in fact they are driven into what the experts call poverty-
– The problem is not so much housing as the inadequacy of their income.
– Those who are experts in this field approach the problem in this way: They say that primary poverty is poverty that is brought about by a simple shortage of income. That covers people who do not receive enough money.
– That is what I am saying.
– But secondary poverty is that which occurs because, although people may have what appears on the surface to be a reasonable income, they have commitments or calamities have occurred to them which destroy what appears on the surface to be a reasonable state of affairs. In fact, they are in a condition of poverty, for instance, because an accident has occurred, because they are trying to maintain relatives, because they are paying tremendous bills for attention for a sick child-
– Take it a stage further; there is poverty due to the improvidence of the breadwinner.
– That may be so. Persons may be poor for any number of reasons - because of sickness, because of accidents, because of all sorts of other things, or because of their own foolishness, in some cases becauses of their own wilfulness or perhaps because of their own laziness. Everyone knows that there can be many reasons for poverty.
In Australia this is a very serious problem. Mr Justice Nimmo, who headed the Government Committee of Inquiry into Health Insurance, came to the conclusion - I think everyone will recall his statement, which was widely publicised - that 1 million Australians were living below a miserably low poverty line. I think he said that there were about. 250,000 low income families whose poverty was self-perpetuating. The
Institute of Applied Economic Research estimated that 900,000 to 1 million Australians were in the poverty belt. There has been some modification of that figure which, as I understand it, was based on income levels. The modification was to take into account assets that people have, apart from their income. The figure has been adjusted and it has been estimated that something like half a million people are strictly in the poverty belt.
That is an enormous number of people. Their poverty must affect very greatly not only the lives of those people but the contribution that they can make to society. To have people living in those conditions affects their productivity. Without doubt it affects the quality of the lives that will be led by their children. The children are brought up in a bad environment. This is something that ought not to exist in this society which has inherited the benefits of the tremendous discoveries in science and technology of the last 2 centuries. We also have at hand the enormous wealth of the world. We in Australia especially have the fantastic mineral, agricultural and industrial wealth of this community. It is not only undesirable but completely unnecessary that poverty should exist in Australia.
The substance of this motion is that there ought to be an inquiry on the legislative level in order to see what can be done to find out the spread or incidence, the distribution and the causes of not only primary poverty but also the other kinds of poverty that occur. They have been well described by others. There is absolute poverty connoting the absence of food, clothing and shelter necessary to maintain life; comparative poverty, the absence of those things necessary to maintain the minimum standards that the community will accept as decent; and personal poverty, the absence of those things to which a particular individual is accustomed.
However we may use these terms and speak of poverty as if it is some technical matter, we must not gloss over the fact that this must be the most overwhelming feature of the lives of anywhere from 500,000 to 1 million Australians. We have a responsibility to understand what is happening to a great segment of our community and to take whatever steps are within our powers to deal with it. We know from experience that the committees which operate in this Senate are capable of preparing admirable reports. We know that they serve as a forum for experts and interested persons representing bodies in Ihe community who can come before the committees and put material before them in a way which cannot be done elsewhere. We know that the committees have the advantage of expert staff to sift through this material, to compile the evidence, to search out witnesses, to enable a thorough investigation and a comprehensive report to be made to the Senate. We know that tremendous use can be made of the material so compiled and we have seen considerable progress in fields into which committees of the Senate have investigated so far.
That field of poverty should not be overlooked. No-one would expect an answer overnight to these questions. That is not the intention. What is intended is that we set this investigation going. The Senate is about to go into recess. This would provide an opportunity, as was done in the case of the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse, for the staff of the committee to start the process going and to call for witnesses.
– That is why I think it should be a select committee instead of a standing committee.
– Would you offer to be a member of this committee so that it can start over the Christmas period?
– If 1 might suggest, to Senator Gair firstly, these kinds of inquiries overlap to some extent and this is important. Repatriation matters and the problems of the mentally and physically handicapped, many of whom would be poor should be dealt with by the one body. Let us get the expertise located in the one body. Lel us not have a proliferation of committees. There are a great number of subject matters and it is important to bring these together before one committee. Here is an opportunity. In good sense, I would suggest that if we are going to have an inquiry it is better to start it now. I do not suggest that the committee sit during that period but the ball could be started rolling and all sorts of written submissions could be coming in from interested bodies. The Committee could give notice to them to start their inquiries and prepare their submissions. All sorts of voluntary bodies are affected.
– The Health and Welfare Committee is already working and is taking evidence.
– It is working on another subject. This is an important matter but it overlaps and goes further than those inquiries. I suggest, with respect, that this is a most important matter which ought to engage the attention of the Senate.
– It is important but I think you are in the wrong field. My understanding of the standing committee is quite different from this.
– If you would permit me-
– 1 would like to know how many committees the Senate can handle.
- Mr Acting Deputy President, it appears that there is some resistance from Government supporters and the Democratic Labor Party to this proposal. I do not know whether they do not want an inquiry into it or whether it is to be the usual suggestion: ‘We love the proposal but let it be a select committee, not a standing committee’. If we proposed a select committee they would say: ‘If only it were a standing committee or if it were a royal commission or if only it were something else, we would support it’.
– Will you explain to the Senate the duties of a standing committee?
– I was hoping to finish because there are other honourable senators notably Senators Fitzgerald and McClelland, who wish to deal with this subject in some detail.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Order! It being 2 hours after the time of meeting of the Senate, Orders of the Day will be called on pursuant to standing order 127.
(2.15) - I move, if it is necessary for me to do so:
That this debate be proceeded with to enable Senator Murphy to conclude his speech.
I propose at the conclusion of Senator Murphy’s speech to move the adjournment of the debate. At the moment 1 do not want to take advantage of the standing order which would bring Government business on immediately. I think that Senator Murphy should be able to complete his speech before I move the adjournment of the debate.
– I should like to make it clear that there is no arrangement between the Leader of the Government and myself. The .Leader of the Government has indicated that he is voting in a certain way on this matter, but it may well be that when he moves the adjournment we will dispute that question and will want the matter to proceed. I want it to be clear that there is no arrangement between us.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I have indicated the importance of this matter. I do not want to deal with it in depth because at this stage of our affairs it is important not to have repetition. The matter is going to be dealt with in some depth by two other senators and therefore I shall not go into it further at this stage. I hope that the debate will not be adjourned because this matter ought to be disposed of, certainly this week, in order to enable some activity to be undertaken by the Committee. 1 shall repeat what I had embarked upon in that regard. I expect that if the Committee has this matter referred to it, it will be able to advise various bodies which are interested that the Senate intends to inquire into it. That would give those bodies an opportunity to prepare submissions, which may take weeks or in some cases months, and unnecessary delays would be avoided. If this inquiry is not undertaken immediately, material will have to be prepared at some later stage. As the Standing Committee compiles more and more material on the particular topics which are covered by this general question, as it gets material which concerns the problems of the mentally and physically handicapped, for instance, under another reference, this will shorten the Committee’s work on the question of poverty which arises under this reference.
Certain questions were addressed to me about the nature of a standing committee.
I would conceive that each of the Standing Committees might have referred to it a considerable number of topics. As has happened in other countries, a standing committee might have referred to it questions such as poverty, mental or physical incapacity, repatriation, preventive medicine or a whole series of other matters. This does not mean that such committees are compelled to come in with major reports on the whole of these subjects within a particular time. It may be that they are able to do so in respect of parts of those topics, sometimes fairly quickly. At other times there may be lengthier studies by the committees, but in this case the Committee will have an important subject matter under, its consideration and therefore be all the more ready to give answers on particular matters which are referred to it for an urgent answer and also to give answers on Bills or sections of Bills, on petitions or other matters which might be referred to it.
The other proposition which was advanced by way of interjection by Senator Gair - perhaps I did not give it the consideration which it deserved - was that this should be a matter for a select committee and not for a permanent, standing committee.
– Of course many of the members of the standing committees might not be here after another 6 months and we will have to start the work all over again. We are having an election.
– Members of a standing committee or select committee may disappear from this place for many reasons, one of which may be the will of the people. But there are other reasons. There are deaths, resignations and a loss of seats. That is a continuing process which we cannot worry unduly about now. If the proposal is suggested as an alternative, it may well be considered. What was put by Senator Gair might or might not have been the result of mature reflection on the matter, but if he and his party were willing to support the proposed reference I would feel disposed, if the price of their accepting it was that it be referred to a select committee rather than a standing committee, to modify my proposal accordingly.
– Ours being a Party like yours, we would need time to consider that. At the moment half of our Party is engaged on another very important matter.
– I understand that half of the Democratic Labor Party is not here. Nevertheless, there are such instruments as telephones. In view of the great importance of this matter to the people of Australia, if members of the Democratic Labor Party wish to consider this matter they can do so. If they do not wish to consider further the proposition which they advanced in this chamber this morning, that is a matter for them. If the proposition was intended seriously, it will be entertained seriously. This, of course, is subject to such a proposal emanating. It might be thought that this proposal would be defeated because there were not enough adherents on this side or the other side of the chamber, but nevertheless I commend it to the Senate. It is important that this inquiry be engaged upon by the Committee without delay. Therefore I ask that we proceed with the debate and put the matter to the test. If the Leader of the Government (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) proposes to delay the matter, not to give him time to think about it but simply to get it out of the way by putting it to the bottom of Orders of the Day, we will resist the adjournment of the debate.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales-Minister for Supply) (2.25) -I cannot speak on a motion for the adjournment of the debate. So in the normal process I move:
That the debate be now adjourned.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
AUSTRALIAN WOOL COMMISSION BILL 1970
Consideration resumed from 30 October (vide page 1825).
– When the debate was adjourned on Friday, I was questioning the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) with respect to Part III, clause 18(1.)(i), which states that the functions of the Commission include: to maintain records of persons carrying on the business of purchasing wool from wool growers outside the auction system and to obtain from such persons information of such kinds as the Minister approves;
The provisions of this sub-section would fall outside the objects of the Australian Wool Commission as stated in clause 4 of the Bill, and is clearly without the ambit of the Commonwealth Constitution. Therefore I have requested the Minister to give some information as to whether there is any arrangement between the Commonwealth and the States for the implementation of this paragraph.I also question the propriety of it. Even if an arrangement were made between the States and the Commonwealth it would be an interference with the liberty of the individual to conduct his business in the manner in which he thinks fit. The phrase ‘to maintain records of persons’ means that the Wool Commission will finish up with a dossier on each and every person in wool buying. I refer here to the private buyers. The paragraph further states: to obtain from such persons information of such kinds as the Minister approves;
In effect, this is putting into the hands of the Minister the widest possible power without giving any redress to the person who is carrying on the business. I think the phrase ‘as the Minister approves’ amounts to a complete interference with the freedom of the individual and should not be in a Bill of this kind. If this provision remains, the Minister will be limited in no way to information about wool. Despite the fact that the purpose of this Bill is to set up an Australian Wool Commission, if the Commission were allowed to collect ‘information of such kinds as the Minister approves’, it would amount to a complete interference with the liberty of the individual. Under the so-called free enterprise system every time that we in this place try to obtain information about private enterprise we are told that to provide such information would be an exposure of business practices. But that does not seem to worry the supporters of free enterprise in this instance. They are prepared to run the rule over any buyer engaged in the wool industry. Whatever may be his trade practices, whatever may be of advantage to his opponents in the venture in which he is engaged, this information must be made available to the Wool Commission if the Minister approves of its being made available.
We have referred to the types of persons who may be on the Commission. The qualifications required of the ‘three other members’ are worth repeating.I will not go into the qualifications required of the other 5 members. The ‘three other members’ are required to have experience in commerce, finance or economics. This means, of course, that an endeavour will be made to secure for this Commission the top businessmen in the industry. At the same time all of the business information concerning any of the buyers who come within paragraph (i) of clause 18 (1.) will be disclosed tothem. But more importantly I think it is a step outside the Constitution. It is a step outside the objects set out in clause 4 of the Bill. In my opinion the Government should give. some explanation of what is intended or of what negotiations have been carried out with the States to implement clause 18 (1.) (i).
I now refer to clause 18 (1.) (k) which provides that the functions of the Commission include: with the approval of the Minister, to participate in negotiations with respect to charges associated with the marketing of wool, including freight rates. 1 ask the Minister whether this .includes negotiations on overseas shipping freight rates or whether it is only in connection with internal freight rates. If it is to include negotiations about overseas shipping freights, is the Australian Wool Commission to supersede the body which is presently negotiating with the conference lines on behalf of shippers for freight rates which apply to goods generally and which include wool? Is the wool shipping section to be taken away from that body and put in the hands of the Commission to negotiate shipping freight rates under this paragraph? If it is, will the Commission favour the Australian National Line in negotiating freight rates for the shipment of wool, or are we to be left in the hands of the conference lines? 1 refer also to clause 18(l.)(n) which provides that the functions of the Commission include: to operate a scheme for the voluntary registration of wool-classers; 1 understand there is presently a scheme for the voluntary registration of wool classers. In fact, much of the wool sold at auction today is marked with the classer’s name. Honourable senators will find that frequently wool is bought on the basis of the mark of the classer. While I think this is quite a good scheme I think it should be something more than voluntary. People should know who is classing the wool and the types of classers that we have, because I believe that the position regarding classing is one of the main reasons why the price of wool is fluctuating so much. The human element in the classing field cannot be avoided. With some thousands of classers classing wool on stations and other places the human error is magnified. If all classers were registered everyone would know the quality of the classing and there would be a much more uniform grade of wool on the floor. I say that, subject to what I support; that is, the methods of wool testing, wool appraisement and selling on sampling which I hope will come into use as a result of the passing of this legislation.
– Senator Cant has dealt with all the matters in this clause which I would have criticised. But there is one point which should be made while we are being critical of so many clauses. The Australian
Labor Party feels that clause 18(1.) (I) is one of the fine points in this legislation. It provides that one of the functions of the Commission is: to co-operate with authorities and organisations in other countries with respect to measures aimed at the more efficient marketing of wool;
This paragraph has already been mentioned. We express our appreciation for it, because it gives the Commission the right to carry out negotiations with New Zealand and South Africa. These negotiations can be carried out with the objective, which we have in mind and which is so desirable, of collective selling, in opposition to collective bidding, which we have at the present time. 1 register our appreciation of (hat clause.
– (2.40) - Senator Cant referred to clause I8(l.)(i) which states as a function of the Commission: to maintain records of persons carrying on the business of purchasing wool from wool growers outside the auction system and to obtain from such - persons information of such kinds as the Minister approves;
The situation is that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) has already had discussions with the various State Ministers concerned with agriculture. He has explained to them the intention of the legislation and the functions and powers of the Australian Wool Commission. The State Ministers have accepted these explanations and they have agreed to look at the legislation as it affects their States and introduce complementary legislation in regard to the setting up of this Commission. Last week in the debate Senator Cant and his fellow speakers from the Opposition side of the chamber talked about their disappointment in the Government for not making this an acquisition scheme. If the Government had done this the private buyers about whom Senator Cant is seeking information would have been done away with. Being a fellow Western Australian he would know what the private buyers have done in Western Australia in regard to the price obtained for wool. I must say that some of the private buyers have set up a very good system. They are selling wool on a kind of appraisement system. They buy the wool, appraise it and then sell it on quality. One or two businesses in the Fremantle area which I have visited have a high reputation with overseas buyers for the standard of wool they are sending out.
Senator Cant also asked about clause 18(1.) (k) which states another function of the Commission as: with the approval of the Minister, to participate in negotiations with respect to charges associated with the marketing of wool, including freight rates.
I can see no reason why the Commission with the approval of the Minister, should not negotiate with the brokers in regard to handling costs and selling charges. Over the years this has been done by the organisational side of the wool industry. With the setting up of the Commission there is no reason why the Commission cannot take over that role or play a leading part in it. Negotiations on overseas shipping freight rates are done through the existing machinery but againI do not see why the Commission should not be allowed to play a part, provided the Minister wants them to play that part. If the Minister does not see fit for the Commission to take part the wool growers still have the existing machinery through which they can discuss overseas shipping freight rates. I replied last Friday to the point made by Senator Wilkinson. I accept what he has said.I am glad that I can agree with him.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 19. (1.) The flexible reserve price scheme operated by the Commission shall be a scheme under which -
-I ask for leave to move three amendments together.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Clause 19 deals in a very detailed way with the flexible reserve price scheme. This feature of the Bill has attracted a tremendous amount of interest and criticism from wool growers in many parts of Australia, particularly in Western Australia about which 1 can speak with some knowledge. Only this morning I was contacted by a section of growers in Western Australia who informed me that they had taken considerable exception to the flexible reserve price scheme and that they had conveyed their disquiet to the executive of the wool section of the Farmers Union last Thursday or early on Friday morning after the terms of the Bill were made known when it was passed in the other place. I believe that the executive of the wool section accepted the criticisms which came from many sections of the industry in Western Australia and that it has expressed, by resolution, an objection to the flexible reserve price scheme. That is its business. I cannot do anything about that. Although I am a member of the Farmers Union, I have nothing to do with the wool section.
I believe that, we have to look at the difficulties of the reserve price scheme as set out in the Bill,It was without any knowledge of a meeting that was to be held in Perth that our amendments were put last Friday. I shall deal with the first amendment.
Clause 19 states: (1.) The flexible reserve price scheme operated by the Commission shall be a scheme under which:
Honourable senators will note that the clause commences with the words ‘from day to day, or as frequently as the Commission thinks necessary’. Obviously the important words in the clause are the words ‘from day to day, or’. This means that there can be an alteration of the reserve price every day. Depending on the information that the Commission had at its disposal, it could vary this price from day to day. I do not think that is what the Minister had in mind, because in his second reading speech he said:
Under the scheme, reserve prices for the various types of wool offered at auction would be determined daily, or at less frequent intervals.
That is not what the Bill says. The Bill says ‘from day to day. or as frequently as the Commission thinks necessary’. The Minister means not only from clay to day but probably from hour to hour, if it became necessary because a mistake had been made, the price could be varied. It is quite obvious that mistakes can occur. I quite appreciate that it might be necessary to change the reserve price 1 hour after if had been determined because of an error which has crept into some computer calculations.. Therefore, the Commission should have the right to revise and change its reserve price. I have no quarrel with that proposition.
What my Party and I are objecting to is the inclusion of the words ‘from day to day, or’. All that is needed there would he as frequently as the Commission thinks necessary’. What else could be needed? There is no need to insert ‘from day to day, or’, which would otherwise be implied. We think that the only sensible way to approach this is to make the Bill as clear and as straightforward as possible. The Commission should be given all the power that is necessary to meet the difficulties that may arise in one case or another so that it can vary the price as frequently as necessary. To include ‘from day to day. or’ is unnecessary. This amendment seeks to delete those words.
I deal now wilh the second amendment. It states:
This seems to be a very important insertion. In this clause there is no mention of who is to be paid or when he is to be paid. The whole situation is left in the dark. We feel that there should be written into the Bill a clause which not only empowers but directs the Commission to pay to the grower the amount to which he is entitled for the product which he has presented for sale. The 14 days would give the Commission time to pay. Under the present scheme payment for wool is normally made within 16 days, but 14 days is a normal business arrangement. That is why we have included 14 days, lt is to be paid at the appropriate reserve price. We Chink that this is a very important inclusion to be made. While I am dealing with this amendment, I refer also to paragraph (b), which states, in part: . . if . . . the Commission is prepared to buy the wool al the . appropriate reserve price .
This means that the Commission does not have to buy the wool. It may please itself. The matter is left quite up in the air. There is nothing definite about any arrangement into which the Commission has to enter. Is this what the Bill really means? It would appear to mc to mean that the Commission is not able to exercise authority to any great degree. Very little protection is afforded the grower whose wool is up for sale. It would be only if the bid did not meet the price which was put on the wool that the Commission would be prepared to buy.
The next amendment seeks the insertion of the words ‘at the best possible price’ at the end of paragraph (c) of clause 19(1). The clause would then read: the Commission, as and when it thinks’ expedient, re-offers for sale at auction, or otherwise disposes of, wool acquired by it under the scheme at the best possible price.
I think it is quite reasonable to say that the Commission will always endeavour to obtain the best possible price, but it is not being directed to do so. Let us imagine the situation where the Commission has stockpiled a considerable quantity of wool which it felt at the time of purchase it would be able to sell on the world market at an improved price and which deteriorated rather than appreciated in price. The Commission could look at the position and say: Perhaps it would be a good thing to get out from under and sell as much of this wool as we can. We want to try to clear our floor, so we will take whatever we can’. This may not be the . best possible price, but it will be a price which is accepted in order to clear stocks. The Commission is dealing with a commodity which is the lifeblood of the wool growers. It is their main source of income. Should we agree to it being disposed of at a price which is not stipulated? The Opposition believes that the words ‘at the best possible price’ should be added to paragraph (c) of clause 19, so that the Commission will have an actual instruction as to what it should do.
I hope that these perfectly reasonable and logical amendments will commend themselves to the Minister and to the chamber. I believe that if they, are accepted they will help to give some stability to the flexible price scheme, which is a scheme about which the Opposition has considerable reservations.
– 1 agree with the proposition put forward by Senator Wilkinson that the words ‘from day to day, or’ should be omitted from paragraph (a) of clause 19. i do not think that the wording of this provision fits in with what the Minister said in his second reading speech. He said that the price would be determined daily or at (ess frequent intervals. If the Minister were to take out of the clause the words ‘from day to day, or’ he would get everything he sought in his second reading speech. The words ‘frequent intervals’ mean that it can be determined every hour or every 2 hours or 5 hours. The expression ‘from day to day’ could be taken to mean that if the price is fixed on a Monday it cannot be touched until at least Tuesday. I cannot understand why the words ‘from day to day’ were included as they are followed by the words ‘or as frequently’. I think it would give the Commission much wider scope if the words from day to day, or* were omitted. It could then fix the reserve price as frequently as it thinks that it ought to be fixed.
– But if the word frequently’ was there someone might ask whether it means ‘from day to day’. Al least this makes it clear.
– I do not think that it does. I do not agree with my legal friend. I shall be quite candid and say that I expected him to come in and say that the words ‘from day to day’ - the first part of this provision - mean that if the reserve price is fixed on Monday the Commission cannot do anything until that day is out. The Minister said in his second reading speech that the reserve price should be determined daily or at less frequent intervals. I cannot see why it is necessary to have the words ‘from day to day’ in this clause. Surely it is good enough to say that the flexible reserve price scheme operated by the Commission shall be a scheme under which, as frequently as the Commission thinks necessary, reserve prices are determined. I want to know why the legal people who drafted this Bill make it hard for the normal wool grower to know exactly what is meant.
– What does the honourable senator mean by normal wool grower’?
– -There are some - I will not name individuals - who could not be classed as normal. I see nothing wrong with the second amendment which has been proposed by Senator Wilkinson. I do not know why a wool grower should not get the money for the wool he has sold within 14 days of selling it. Is there anything wrong with that? He is just as entitled as the Crown to get interest on his money. He may need it much more than the Commission.
– Would he get it that quickly if he were to sell it to somebody else?
– I am informed by a wool grower that he would. I would not know because 1 have not sold any.
– I wish I could get some of my money within 14 days.
– The honourable senator does not do too badly. I have no desire to detain the chamber for any length of time. Everything is going along nicely today. However, I regret that certain words have been included in the clause which to my mind are not warranted. I am sure that even my friend from Victoria, Senator Greenwood, would say that if he were drafting the Bill the words ‘as frequently as desired’ would be much better than the words ‘from day to day’.
– The honourable senator is boosting him up.
– No, 1 am not. Anyway, he will not be successful at the forthcoming Senate election. I am not wrong because he is No. 1 on the ticket of his Patty. Therefore it does not matter whether 1 build him up or not.
– I support the first amendment which was moved by Senator Wilkinson. Forgetting all about the Minister’s second reading speech, it seems to me that the original intention of paragraph (a) in clause 19 was that the reserve price would be fixed each day but, having seen some danger of mistakes being made and the reserve price which is fixed for the day being either too high or too low, the words ‘or as frequently as the Commission thinks necessary’ were added as a saver to allow the Commission to rectify any mistakes which may be made. As the clause stands at the moment it is mandatory for the Commission to fix a day to day reserve price. I believe that this contains some dangers for the wool producers because we are still dealing with the brokerage and auction systems and collusive buying. I do not want anyone to deny that there is collusive buying because it has been amply proved that there is. Whilst there is the mandatory provision that the reserve price shall be fixed from day to day, by a system of collusive buying the buyers are able to force down the price today in order that the reserve price for tomorrow will be low.
If the words ‘from day to day or’ are taken out and the words ‘as frequently as the Commission thinks necessary’ remain operative, uncertainty will be raised within the auction system. Buyers will not know when the Commission is to fix a reserve price. There is no advantage to them in forcing the price down today to get a lower reserve price tomorrow because the Commission may not fix a lower reserve price tomorrow.-. It may not fix a reserve price at all tomorrow. It may leave the orginal reserve price standing, knowing that there has been some monkeying with the auction system. I believe that the amendment we propose would act in favour of wool producers, lt would tend to give the wool producers much fairer and better control over the commodity they produce.
Whilst the mandatory provision for a day to day price exists the producers will be placed completely in the hands of the brokers and the auction system. I stress to the Minister that in fairness to wool producers there should be a flexible reserve price scheme. We do not complain about that. Flexibility should rest with the Commission. The Commission should have a discretion as to fixing a reserve price. At present no discretion is left with the Commission. Later I will argue that there is no discretion with the Commission at all. I shall submit an argument on that score when we are discussing another clause. As this clause now stands discretion is taken completely away from the Commission to be able to manipulate or operate within the auction system. lt does seem important that this should not be such a secret sort of arrangement. We do not know in what way the reserve price is to be known. We do not know who will be on the floor to buy in on behalf of the Commission if the wool being sold does not reach the reserve price. It is hardly conceivable that after the market has been operating for a couple of hours, people who have been a long time in the business of wool buying will not know what the reserve price is. It will be quite easy for these expert people to deduce what the reserve price is. They will make arrangements according to whether they want to buy at that reserve price or want to leave the wool there and get a lower price established in order that there will be a lower reserve price the next day.
Wilh respect to the flexible reserve price I think that the words ‘from day to day or’ should come out and that the period of fixing of a reserve price should be left within the discretion of the Commission. In common with many other people I have received a lot of telegrams and telephone calls about this Bill to set up the Australian Wool Commission. I wish to read a telegram that was sent not. to me but to
Mr Maisey, the honourable member for Moore. It is addressed ‘Maisey, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, and states:
Appears no trading reason for continuing fall in wool. NSW grazier statement concerted trade depressive action seems correct Consider WA Country Party should immediately move urgency motion to prohibit export wool under average 40c and Government put buyer in market Believe wool would sell readily at 45c so no ultimate cost to Government.
I notice that Mr Maisey did not take part in the debate in the other place on this Bill, despite the fact that the telegram 1 have read was sent from a large meeting of wool growers and was expressing the opinion of a large section of wool growers in Western Australia. I appreciate that in this Parliament a member is not able to take part in debates on all matters brought to his attention by people. However, Mr Maisey is very interested in the rural industry. Probably he is the most knowledgable man in this Parliament on the subject of wheat. Nevertheless, when he received the telegram from a large section of wool growers in Western Australia he did nothing about it. That is a pity, lt seems to me that he should have passed the message on to other members of the Country Party in Western Australia to move an amendment.
Senator Wilkinson has moved a second amendment to add a further paragraph. The purpose is to ensure that if the Commission buys wool at the appropriate reserve price it will make arrangements that the grower whose wool is bought is paid within 14 days. There are many reasons for this proposal. In the present depressed state of the wool industry at least SO per cent of the growers are in debt to banks or to stock firms, or have growing indebtedness with hire purchase companies. They must pay interest on those loans. If they have borrowed from stock firms the wool no longer belongs to them because they are forced to sell it through the stockbroker from whom they borrowed money. Until they can pay off all or part of their indebtedness they must continue to pay interest. The longer that the Wool Commission retains their money after selling their wool, the more that the interest debt on the borrowed money becomes.
It is only fair that the wool grower should receive payment for his wool within 14 days. When we are dealing with the next clause with regard to the price averaging plan I will be arguing this proposition of payment to the buyers, but in this case the Commission has bought the wool in from the wool producer, the Commission holds it for a while and then sells it at a price which, according to the market, is either greater or Jess than the price paid for it. Even so, the wool having been bought in by the Commission, the grower should receive payment for it at the earliest opportunity. We regard 14 days as the maximum time that it should be outstanding. The grower should not be accumulating interest on indebtedness for more than 14 days when he has a capital asset available to him. The Wool Commission should make the money available to the grower within that specified time. The Bill does nothing about that. It is left open. The fact is that the Wool Commission could hold a grower’s money - I do not say that it would - for 12 months if it wanted to do so.
– The Bill does not say anything about it. I said that J did not think the Commission would do so but it could, if it wished, hold the growers money for that length of time. We think that our amendment should be accepted because it would then be mandatory for the Commission to pay the grower for his wool within 14 days, lt would prevent the wool grower accruing increased indebtedness as a result of interest payments. Our third amendment provides:
At the end of paragraph (c) of sub-clause (f.j add ‘at the best possible price’.
I do not doubt that the Wool Commission would want to sell the wool at the bes possible price. Nevertheless the Bill is completely silent on how the Commission shall dispose of the wool once the wool comes into its hands. Our proposal would be a direction to the Commission. It would not tie the Commission in any way but if would be an expression of the opinion of the Parliament that the Commission should endeavour to obtain the best possible price.
Under the terms of this Bill the sum of $U5m will be made available to the Wool Commission for the purpose of operating its reserve price scheme. That is a huge slice of public money. The Bill- is open ended. If the Minister and the Treasurer approve, a far greater amount can be put at the disposal of the Commission. Only 2 people have the right to say yea or nay, namely, the Minister and the Treasurer. We know that the Treasury is pretty tough where money is concerned. We are not so sure about the Minister.
Order! The honourable senators time has expired.
– Senator Cant and Senator Wilkinson referred to various communications from and discussions that they have had with wool growers. The wool industry has been notorious throughout its history for having a number of voices speaking on behalf of growers and for individualists amongst the growers speaking for themselves. There is no doubt that whatever scheme we introduced would bring communications from wool growers saying that they were not satisfied, that the scheme did not go far enough or that the scheme went too far. Let me refer briefly to the wool section of the Farmers Union of Western Australia, having had a great deal of experience in and being one time president of the organisation. It had 4 representatives from the wool section to the Australian Wool Industry Conference.
– Were they representing the Farmers Union?
– One had been president of the union and also president of the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. He was elected by the conference of the wool section of the Farmers Union. If a wool grower did not agree with the selection of a representative he had the opportunity to go to his branch meetings be elected and go to the conference and have his say. It was all very democratic. Not only did Western Australia have 4 delegates representing the Farmers Union, it also had 2 representing the Pastoralists and Graziers’ Association, so it had 6 representatives in all. There was plenty of opportunity for the majority of the wool growers in Western Australia to express their view through their delegates.
I turn now to the first proposed amendment. Clause 19 of the Bill relates to the reserve price scheme to be operated by the Commission under which from day to day, or as frequently as the Commission thinks necessary, reserve prices will be determined. The Opposition seeks to leave out the words ‘from day to day, or’. What is the object of that? I agree with Senator Cant and Senator Wilkinson who have said that they want to see the reserve price fixed from day to day or even more frequently. That is the intention. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) mentioned that in his second reading speech. If those words were omitted from the clause it would mean that the Commission would fix the reserve price ‘frequently’ which could be every 12 months. The Opposition, by its proposed amendment, does not want the reserve price to be fixed according to the market demand for wool. If the demand rises and the buyers come in and there is a bit of competition between them, surely we want the Commission to be in a position where it can lift its reserve price. That is the intention of this clause. We believe that the words which the Opposition seeks to omit are necessary. They are in the clause to indicate that if the price is to bc fixed frequently it should be fixed on a day to day basis or even more frequently.
The Opposition’s second amendment to clause 19 is as follows:
After paragraph (b) of sub-clause (1.) insert the following paragraph: (ba) If the Commission buys the wool al the appropriate reserve price it will make arrangements so that the grower whose wool is bought is paid within 14 days.
All I can say to that is that Opposition senators have not studied the Bill or the wool industry. After all, the Commission is acting only as a buyer. According to the conditions of sale in the sale room, the buyers of wool have a prompt date of 16 days. A buyer coming here representing an overseas country would, under the conditions of sale, pay for his wool within 16 days, but the Opposition’s amendment wants to tie the Commission, which is also a buyer, to pay for the wool within 14 days. I do not think that was the Opposition’s intention. Last Friday honourable senators opposite were trying to give the Commission all the flexibility in the world. Now they are trying to tie its hands by dotting every i and crossing every t. We cannot accept that situation.
The Opposition’s third amendment provides:
At the end of paragraph (c) of sub-clause (1.) add ‘at the best possible price’.
Is not that the idea of setting up the Commission? The grower has the opportunity to put his own reserve price on his wool. If bis wool goes into the auction room and the buyer does not offer him a price that is equivalent to or higher than his reserve price, he has the opportunity to withdraw his wool from sale. If he wants his money, he can decide not to exercise the reserve price he has put on his wool and to ask the Commission whether it will buy his wool. The Commission will offer him a price. He can either accept the Commission’s price or withdraw his wool from sale.
On the other hand, if the Commission has a look at a grower’s wool, sees that it is dirty and burry, and believes that there is not a very great demand for that wool, it can then suggest to the grower that he withdraw that wool or sell it to the Commission and let the Commission have it treated. Those are the options that are open to the grower. We believe that the Commission will act in the best interests of the growers. So, we believe that this amendment is completely unnecessary. Therefore, the Government cannot support it.
– I think the Minister in each case has misunderstood the point that I raised. His argument is quite good if he leaves out his misunderstandings of what I said; but it is those points which 1 believe are important which he has not taken into account. First of all, in regard to the first amendment that I moved 1 did not say that the words should be ‘just as frequently as the Commission wants to’. We arc not seeking to change the words ‘thinks necessary’. This docs not mean that the price would go on for 1 year or 2 years. The Commission would be concerned very much with what was happening to the world price, what the conditions were and what was happening with regard to consultations with other countries, lt would make alterations as it thought fit in order to get the best possible price. That could be from day to day. But, if the words ‘from day to day’ are left in. to my mind it makes it mandatory on the Commission to make some variation from day to day. I do not think that was what was envisaged. It is not what the Minister said in his second reading speech. I want to put that point quite clearly. We believe that the words ‘as frequently as the Commission thinks necessary’ should be left in. That phrase is very important. It covers the whole of the situation that the Minister outlined in his reply.
In regard to the second amendment, the Minister said that the scheme could not be worked out satisfactorily on the basis of payment within 14 days because of all the other ways in which wool might be sold. A number of wool pools are in operation. I work through a wool pool in respect of my wool. I receive a cheque for 60 per cent of the appraised value of the wool, and I receive it within 14 days. Sometimes I receive it within a shorter period. 1 agree that the period of 16 days applies to contracts; but that is not what we are talking about. We are saying that the grower should receive payment within a fortnight. It has to be remembered that this is the return to the wool grower for 12 months hard and solid work. Yet he is expected to wait for a period which might go on indefinitely, depending on the wishes of the Commission, the Minister and the Treasurer. Ail those people might be involved. We believe that it is important that provision be made for payment within 14 days in order to give some security to the wool grower who has put 12 months of hard work into producing wool that gives hint a very meagre return at the present time on the basis of world prices.
The third amendment seeks the addition of the words ‘at the best possible price’. The Minister said that there might be some very poor types of wool, some very dirty types or some very low grade wool, and that after consideration the Commission might decide that it would be better for that wool to be processed. Of course, the grower will not receive the price paid for the wool when it has been processed. He will receive the value of the wool as it was when it was taken over by the Commission. Why should he not be paid the value of the wool at that time? He will not receive any more for it when it has been processed. If he did, he would be charged the cost of processing. We consider that the woo) should be sold at the best possible price so that the grower is protected, and that the period for which he has to wait to receive the return for his year’s labour should be made as short as possible. I wanted to make those points clear. I thought the Minister was rather missing the main points that I was bringing forward in presenting these amendments.
– The Minister, in his reply, talked about flexibility and said that if the words from day to day* were taken out of the Bill it would be possible for the Commission to fix a reserve price that would run for 12 months. I agree with him. Maybe the reserve price should be fixed for 12 months. Maybe, in order to achieve some stability in the industry the period over which reserve prices will operate should be longer than from day to day. 1 wish to invite the attention of the Committee to sub-clauses (2.), (3.) and (4.) of this clause. I submit to the Committee that the fixing of a reserve price is not in the hands of the Commission; that it is taken completely away from the Commission. 1 do not want to read out sub-clause (2.), but I think it is necessary to read out sub-clauses (3.) and (4.). Sub-clause (3.) says;
The Minister shall from time to time, after consultation with the Treasurer, inform the Commission in writing of the policies and principles which the Government of the Commonwealth considers should be followed and applied by the Commission in the operation of its flexible reserve price scheme-
That simply means that the Minister for Primary Industry advises the Commission of whatever the policy of the Government in respect of a reserve price is and that, irrespective of all the experience that we hope will be in the minds and hands of the 7 members of the Commission. -the Executive will make a decision as to the policies and principles that the Commission should follow in fixing its reserve price. That is how I take it from the Bill. T may be quite wrong, lt seems to me that the decision of the Executive will be conveyed to the Commission by the Minister and that it is mandatory upon the Minister to do that from time to time. The Bill says:
The Minister shall from time to time, after consultation with the Treasurer . . .
So, it may be that the Executive will not come into it at alt, but that the Treasurer will come into it. These 2 people - the Minister for Primary Industry and the Treasurer - who perhaps will have no experience whatsoever in the wool industry, will be able to tell 7 of - we believe - the most expert people in the wool industry in Australia the policies and principles that they should follow in fixing a reserve price. Sub-clause (4.) takes it a little further, Mr Chairman. It states:
Hie Minister may, on behalf of the Government of the Commonwealth, if he thinks it necessary to do so, give a direction in writing to the Commission with respect to the operation of the reserve price scheme of the Commission, and the Commission shall comply with that direction.
So in the final analysis it is the Minister who fixes the reserve price. The Minister says that if we remove the words ‘from day to day, or’ the Commission could fix a reserve price that would run for 12 months. Is it likely that the Minister would approve continuance of the reserve price for 12 months unless he thought thai that was in the best interests of the industry? Of course it is not.
I suggest that in any case the fixing of the reserve price is removed from the discretion of the Australian Wool Commission although this was one of the basic purposes for setting it up. If we turn back to read the objectives set out in clause 4 of the Bill we find that this really is what the Bill is all about. It is a voluntary acquisition authority or commission. Its main purpose is to bring stability to the wool industry by the fixing of a reserve price scheme in an endeavour to lift the price of wool in order that growers will be able to produce wool economically. This is the very basis for the Government setting up this Commission but in the final analysis the Government proposes to turn round and say to the Commission: ‘You shall do what the Minister says with respect to the reserve price scheme’. The Government is saying that the Treasurer and the Minister for Primary Industry will set the policies and principles and that if the Commission does not follow them the Minister will have authority to direct it in writing as to how il shall operate the reserve price scheme.
Is anyone going to be deceived by this? ls any grower going to have any faith in a scheme when the Government sets out to impose all sorts of qualifications upon persons who may be members of the Commission? It wants to obtain the greatest expertise on the Commission that it can get. It is not very likely that the Treasurer would have any great experience in assessing the value of wool. He would have experience in money matters but hot in assessing the value of wool. He is to act in consultation with the Minister for Primary ‘ Industry. The Minister for Primary Industry may have experience of the dairy industry but know nothing at all about wool. Yet these two people, in consultation, will issue the policies and principles upon which the Commission shall operate wilh respect to its reserve price plan.
I would expect that members of the Commission would be strong minded men. If the Commission believes that correct policies and principles relating to the reserve price scheme are not being carried on, according to their expertise, the Minister may direct them as to how it should operate the scheme. The value of the scheme falls completely if this overriding authority is imposed. The1 Minister is not even required to consult with the Commission to gain the benefit of its expertise before issuing principles and policies or before issuing directions as to the reserve price scheme. The value of the expertise gathered together in the Commission can be wiped completely aside and in the final analysis the Minister may direct the operation of the reserve price scheme and the Commission has to comply with that direction.
I put it to the Minister that these 2 subclauses of clause .19 completely negate everything that has gone before in this. Bill. It completely disposes of the necessity for having a Commission. The Minister is not obliged to consult the Commission. He can take almost unilateral action with respect to a wool clip worth $800m and the livelihood of a large number of people within our community. If the Government puts this power into the hands of one or two men it can forget all about the Commission. I say that the scheme will not work if these 2 matters are retained. You might just as well forget everything that has gone before if you persist with this clause as it stands. There would be greater flexibility within the Commission if the words ‘from day to day. or’ were deleted from paragraph (a) of sub-clause (1.).
I was amazed when I read sub-clause (3.) and (4.) and I am nol very happy about sub-clause (2.) which requires the Commission to make a report fortnightly. There will be an army of people making reports to the Minister and the Minister will need an army of people to study the reports. Reports have to be made upon the reserve price determined by the Commission, the wool purchased and held by the Commission, sales of wool by the Commission and perhaps offerings of wool by the Commission. This is mandatory and it has to be done every fortnight. No wonder it is going to lake $18m to administer the scheme. It will probably take double that amount in a full year. The amendments put forward by the Opposition are reasonable and sensible and the Senate should agree lo them.
– ‘I am not going to delay the Committee for long. 1 have given the reasons why the Government cannot support this amendment. I would like to deal with the mailer raised by Senator Wilkinson. He referred to the proposed amendment moved by the Opposition to require the Commission to pay the grower within (4 days. He referred to a pool that he was in. The honourable senator was referring to a pool with a private broking firm in which he elects to take the average price over the period of the pool for each quality of wool. The situation created by the Bill is not the same. The grower will be offered a certain reserve price for that particular quality of wool. He can elect either to receive his money within 16 days, as the conditions of sale provide, or he can elect lo say no and withdraw his wool from the sale. All J can say in respect of Senator Cant’s long dissertation is that last Friday when we were debating clause I I he wanted to remove the discretion relating to appointments from the Commission and to give it to the Minister, but now he has spent almost half an hour saying that the determination should be a matter for the Commission rather than for the Minister. The Government cannot support that proposition.
That the amendments (Senator Wilkinson’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. ( The Chairman - Senator T. L. Bull)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 20 (Price averaging plan).
– This clause, as I understand it, is designed to allow the Australian Wool Commission to take over the activities of the Australian Wool Corporation with respect to the operation of the price averaging plan. If this is not the intention of the clause I hope that the Minister will correct me. Clause 20 states:
The price averaging plan operated by the Commission shall be a plan under which pools are established in respect of wool to which the plan applies by reference to the types of wool and the places and times of its delivery to brokers, and under which the persons entitled to the proceeds of wool included in a pool receive a return based on the average price per pound resulting from the marketing of the wool so included, being a plan of a kind similar to that operated before the commencement of this Act by the Corporation.
As I understand the price averaging plan, 1, 2 and 3 bale lots are to be grouped and put into at least 4 bale lots and are to be typed as nearly as possible in order that there shall be some uniformity in the presentation of the wool on the woolfloor. This entails an increased cost and, as I understand it, the Government has agreed to make moneys available to pay half the increased cost. I believe that about $7m is provided for this purpose, although I do not know that the Commonwealth is limited to that amount if more is required. We must consider what the increased costs may be as a result of the price averaging plan. In Western Australia at present the associated brokers charge $1.25 per bale for interlotting and 2.3c per lb for bulk classing. This means that if the wool is interlotted it will cost the grower an extra 62½c per bale. If it is bulk classed it will cost him an extra $3.45 per 300 lb bale. Because of the additional clerical work that the broker will have to do it has been agreed that he will receive an additional payment of . 125c per lb or 38c per bale. The Federal Government has agreed to pay half the cost of this also. So the grower will be paying an additional 19c per bale. It has been stated that this is such a small amount that it is not worth worrying about. But this must be added to the interlotting charge to the grower of 62½c per bale.It means that the total charge has now risen to 81½c per bale. Instead of $3.45 per bale of bulk classed wool, the grower will now be charged $3.64. The plan becomes most remunerative to the broker because for every bale he can interlot he will receive $1.35, plus 38c, making a total of $1.63 per bale. In the case of bulk classing, he will receive $6.90 per bale, plus 38c, making a total of $7.28.
While the Government continues to agree to pay half of those costs, the increased cost of the PAP scheme to the grower is $3.64 per bale. The price averaging plan has to increase the price of wool, and up to date it has not done so. As far as I have been able to follow the wool sales, the price of wool has been falling continuously. At the last sales, in Sydney the price increased by 5 per cent and in Melbourne by 2½ per cent, but in all other sales the price of wool has been falling. It follows logically that the price of the wool coming under the price averaging plan has been falling also. Yet the wool grower has to meet increased costs. The amount of wool that goes into the price averaging plan is quite considerable. In the season 1967-68 1-bale lots represented 30.2 per cent, 2-bale lots represented 15.1 per cent and 3-baie lots represented 8.4 per cent, making a total of 53.7 per cent of the total wool offered for sale. Perhaps those percentages in actual fact would not be as high as that because these would include special lots that would not go into the price averaging plan. So we are not dealing with a small quantity of wool when we talk about what comes into the PAP scheme. We are dealing with something in excess of 40 per cent of the Australian wool clip and 40 per cent of the earnings that this scheme is able to produce for the Australian people.
From the literature I have been able to secure, it seems to me that the price averaging plan is a plan to benefit the brokers alone and not to benefit the wool producers at all. I propose to quote some of the literature that has been supplied to me to substantiate that belief. A pamphlet entitled ‘The Wool Marketing Plan’ reads:
In addition to the above it would appear that the ‘Tangerine Book’, page 31, ‘Additional Wool Handling’ (ii) that the grower is lo pay the cost of this bulk-classing amounting to 2c per lb so thai to provide any benefit to the grower, it will be necessary to obtain an increased price from the buyer of at least 2c per lb for the elimination of (he I. 2 and 3-baie lots. In the case of a grower who is in debt to his bankers or stock firm it will also be necessary to include the interest which he will still have to pay on the 40 per cent balance of his wool which has been included in the PAP. . . .
The grower gets only 60 per cent at the time of the sale: the other 40 per cent may be paid at any time. Again there is no fixed time with respect to the payment of the extra 40 per cent under the PAP scheme. The pamphlet continues:
This raises the question of the private buyer, because the private buyer pays cash and if the wool producer is free of indebted ness to a stockbroking firm he is able to sell his wool. If he has borrowed from the stockbroking firm and is in debt, the wool does not belong to him. But if he is in debt to someone else he will probably have some freedom and will be able to sell it for a quick return privately. He is not likely to want to put it into the PAP scheme, receive only 60 per cent of the value of the wool and have to wait perhaps for months for a return. While he is waiting for the extra 40 per cent of the value of his wool, he has to pay interest on the amount he has outstanding in debts.
There was the case of 2 independent buying firms in Western Australia who sought to register wilh Wool Marketing Corporation Pty Ltd. They were the West Australian Woolgrowers Voluntary Cooperative Limited and Western Livestock. But they were refused permission to take shares in the Wool Marketing Corporation. They wanted to become part of this organisation so that they could carry on their business. They offered to the Australian Wool Board to form themselves into an association so that they could become shareholders in Wool Marketing Corporalion Pty Lid. The Wool Board refused to allow the independent wool brokers to become shareholders. A request was then made that the Wool Board permit them to have a non-voting observer on the Board. This also was refused. The finance for the PAP has been arranged through the Australian Bankers Association which has staled that it wishes to deal only with the National Council of Wool Selling Brokers. What has happened is that these 2 buying firms have been unable to get into the PAP scheme and have had to carry on with some private buying. This is the effect of the price averaging plan. It has done nothing to assist the growers who have had wool put. into the pool: it has increased the costs to those growers whose wool has gone into the pool; it favours the brokers, because they make more money as a result of the extra charges; and it encourages the private sale of wool.
Iri my opinion one of the reasons why the reserve price scheme will not operate is because it leaves in the field the high content c-f private buyers who operate in the wool industry today. They are buying on forward orders. It is in their interest to keep the price of wool as low as possible. The lower they can buy on contract for overseas mills the greater the profit they are able to make.I know a buyer in Western Australia who had a contract to buy several hundred bales of wool on behalf of a firm in England.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I also want to deal with clause 20.I am concerned about how the Bill is going to function when it becomes law. Perhaps the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman), who in this chamber represents the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony), can explain a point to me. I agree with Senator Cant that obviously the majority of the wool which will be handled by the Australian Wool Commission will be that which would have been previously in the hands of the Australian Wool Marketing Corporation under the price averaging plan.I say this for a number of reasons. The most important one is that we know now that 80 per cent of wool in Australia is sold before it gets near auction. The balance is largely made up of the1, 2 and 3-bale lots which will come under the price averaging plan. What I am concerned about is the price which is going to be paid. We have just dealt with the amendments which I put forward a few minutes ago in regard to price. I was trying to get some sort of order into the clauses of the Bill and eliminate this day to day basis for determination. If honourable senators look at the booklet which was issued by the Australian Wool Marketing Corporation explaining its price averaging plan - this is the policy laid down for it by the Government - on page 2 of the brochure they will see this paragraph:
There will be regional variations but, generally, two Price Averaging periods will occur in each wool selling season in each State.
Yet we now have a clause in the Bill which says that we are going to have the reserve price determined on a day to day basis. What is the Government going to do? What is the explanation of these variations between the price averaging plan which applied previously under the Corporation and the scheme to apply under the Australian Wool Commission? I think the whole thing has been loosely put together. I would like an explanation of that.
– The Australian Labor Party is referring to clause 20 which deals with the price averaging plan to be operated by the Australian Wool Commission, and which goes on to provide certain things. Perhaps the best way I can answer the Opposition is by saying that in my experience in the wool industry probably one of the greatest problems has been with the small lots. Over the years the broking firms have tried to overcome this problem by means of what are known as inlerlotting and bulk classing. I say to Senator Wilkinson that the Government did not set up the price averaging plan and lay down the rules. The body that did this was established as a company. The whole idea of the PAP was to increase the price of the small lots of 1, 2 and 3 bales of wool which the buyers were not interested in when they were put up for auction by themselves.
– It would cut down display costs.
– It would cut down everything. I am interested in the price brought by interlotting. As far as possible, small lots were combined into big lots. The buyers became interested and the growers had an opportunity to obtain a better price thanthey would otherwise have got. We found that the buyers become interested in the big lines. I do not know how Senator Cant can say that the PAP did not increase the price.If Senator Cant wants to make that sort of statement with some basis of fact he should trace a line of 2 bales of wool which come into the store and are sold by themselves and see what they bring, or let them go under the PAP and be interlotted into other lines. He could then compare the price. I ask honourable senators not to forget that under PAP the Government pays half of any extra charge. I am at a loss to see how an honourable senator can stand up in this place and say that the operation of the PAP has done nothing for the wool industry. He has no authority or no knowledge of the situation to justify his saying what he said. When a grower delivers wool for sale one of the conditions of sale is that he will let any lot from one to 3 bales go into the PAP.
The whole aim of the PAP is to eliminate these small lots and build up bigger lines so that the buyers become interested in those lines. Senator Cant gave examples of how much it would cost for a bale of wool to be sold under the PAP. .He said that the Government paid half the cost. But a bale of wool weighs at least 300 lb. Some bales are much heavier. Even an increase in the price by lc would just about repay the grower for his trouble in putting the wool through the PAP system. The grower has an opportunity to obtain much more than lc a lb extra for his wool. That is why the Commission is to take over the Corporation and include the PAP system in its operations. I remind the Senate that about 40 per cent of the clip will be handled under PAP. The remainder will be handled under the reserve price scheme. Any wool which comes under the PAP and is put into a big line will have the. reserve price fixed to it just as any line of fleece wool will. If it does not make the reserve price it will be withdrawn from sale. First of all the growers within the reserve price scheme will be offered a price. If that price is not acceptable it will be withdrawn from sale, i am advised that when it is withdrawn it will be purchased by the Commission and probably re-offered later on. I cannot agree with what honourable senators have said. 1 think this clause is a very worthwhile clause and that it should be accepted.
– I will not detain the Committee for too long. The Minister has been critical. He is aware that there are over 2,000 different grades of wool. Much of the criticism of the price averaging plan has been that it is almost impossible to type the various small lots. The wool is bought on the value of the lowest grade bale in the lot. In this way, the industry claims, many of the growers are not getting full value for their lots of wool. Whilst the Minister may dispute what I say, my information comes from the industry.
– Does it come from the Wool Industry Conference?
– The Wool Industry Conference is not recognised by us as being the voice of the industry. I talk to growers - to the people who have to rely on the price they receive for their wool for a living. I do not know whether the Minister, noticed in the daily Press about a fortnight or perhaps 3 weeks ago, a photograph of a 3 bale lot that was offered. The types of wool in the 3 bale lot were illustrated and explained. The variation in the 3 bales was so great that it was impossible to type them. The buyer bought on the basis of the lowest quality wool in the lot. The evidence is available not only to me but also to the Minister if he wants to obtain it.
The Minister says that the cost to the grower would need to increase by only lc per lb for the wool grower to be able to recover the increased cost as a result of the introduction of the price averaging plan. Am I. to take it that the other half, which the Commonwealth pays, is not to be recovered and that there will be no extra charge on the wool grower if the price . averaging plan lifts the price of wool by lc per lb? Is there no intention on the part of the Government to try to lift the price in order that the Government’s half, the other $3.7m, will be recovered on behalf of the people of Australia? If the increased cost to both parties is to be realised, it will mean an increase of 2c per lb. If the scheme is to be any good at all or if it is to be of any benefit to the grower, the price has to be lifted by more than 2c per lb. If the price is lifted by 3c per lb, the extra profit as a result of the scheme will be only lc per lb. When one considers that wool is selling at 29c per lb and that the bulk of the growers believe that at least 40c per lb is required for them to be able to sell at the cost of production plus a reasonable wage for themselves as workers in the industry, one gets some idea of the depression in the wool industry and of the benefits that the PAP scheme will mean to the Australian wool producers.
– On a preliminary estimate, 5.5 million bales of the Australian wool clip will be offered this year. Senator Cant spoke about 3 bales of wool. I think that is drawing a red herring across the path of this debate. If the Commission, or anyone who knows wool, opened a bale of wool and saw 6 or 7 different types of wool in it, it would immediately send the bale to the bulk classing room. It would not be interlotted. The honourable senator’s statement was rubbish. The rest of what he said is of his own thinking. I do not think it requires an answer from me.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 21 agreed to.
Clause 22. (1.) The Commission may, with the approval of the Minister, given with the concurrence of the Treasurer, borrow money froman approved bank or from another lender for the purposes of working capital of the Commission and give security over any of its assets for the purposes of any such borrowing.
– I move:
The reason for moving this amendment is that the general practice, as in the case of the wheat stabilisation scheme, is for the Government to give a guarantee to the Reserve Bank, which finances the whole operation. In similar schemes the Reserve Bank is considered to be the financial body which should make the money available. The Opposition cannot see why this should not be the case with this Bill. The Bill proposes that the money should be borrowed from an approved bank or from another lender. This means that the money could be borrowed front any financial institution, and the Government would be guaranteeing the repayment of the money borrowed and the payment of interest. Why should not the Reserve Bank of Australia be the organisation from which the money is borrowed?It will have to be the guarantor in any case. So why should it not be involved in the financial transactions concerned?
Apart from the fact that clause 22. if carried, would approve the use of any of the trading banks or any other approved lender, it would guarantee the financial operations of brokers and others involved in the selling of the wool. I would like to sec same kind of guarantee given to the wool growers so that they know that they will get a guaranteed figure. The Bill does not include a guaranteed covering the cost of production.I emphasise that in the best interests of the economy, the Reserve Bank should he instructed to cover the sum of $ 1 1 5m that will be involved in establishing the scheme as well as the$18.7m annual operating cost of the Commission. It seems to me to be a perfectly reasonable proposition.I hope that honourable senators will accept the proposition for the deletion of the words ‘an approved bank or from another lender’ and the insertion in lieu thereof of the words ‘the Reserve Bank’.
– I support the amendment which has been moved by Senator Wilkinson. I think that the Government should adopt the same attitude in respect of the Australian Wool Commission as it adopts in respect of the Australian Wheat Board. Advances are made available to the Australian Wheat Board by the Reserve Bank of Australia at the long term bond rate. Admittedly they are made available only for a period of 12 months, and earlier this year the Parliament had to pass amending legislation to extend the period because of difficulties in the wheat industry. Nevertheless the wheat industry is not saddled with whatever interest rates at which the Board likes to borrow money. In this case the Commission may, with the concurrence of the Treasurer, borrow money from an approved bank or from another lender. The Reserve Bank has some control over the banking system as to the interest rates charged, but in this instance the money may be borrowed from outside the banking system.
Let us have a look at the definition of approved bank’ in the Bill. It stales that an approved bank means a bank approved by the Treasurer for the purposes of the provision in which the expression occurs. But the Treasurer docs not have to approve of the other lender. He does not have to approve of a stockbroking firm which is lending money and he does nol have to approve of a hire purchase finance company from which the Australian Wool Commission may borrow money. He has no control over the interest rates at which the Australian Wool Commission may borrow money for its purposes. The Opposition believes that the Reserve Bank of Australia is the appropriate lending authority for a venture of this kind, particularly when we consider that$115m of the public’s money is being put into this scheme to get it off the ground. The Government may not put in any extra money. It may instead tell the Commission to go and borrow the extra money it requires from whoever is prepared to lend it.
Lending money to the Australian Wool Commission will not be a bad proposition. Sub-clause (3.) of clause 22 states that the Treasurer may, on behalf of the Commonwealth, guarantee the repayment of amounts borrowed in accordance with subclause (1.) of this clause and the payment of interest on amounts so borrowed. In other words, the Australian Wool Commission has an absolute right to borrow money, with the concurrence of the Treasurer, for the purposes of its business with the public purse of Australia underwriting the borrowing and the. interest to be paid on such borrowing. Whichever way one looks at this Bill one finds that it is an open ended Bill on the purse of the people of Australia. 1 appreciate that the Depart.ment of the Treasury is pretty conservative and keeps a fairly watchful eye upon the economic situation in Australia and that in order to obtain the concurrence of the Treasurer to borrow one has to put up a substantial case. Nevertheless some pressure will be exerted upon the Treasurer to make finance available or at least give his consent to the borrowing of finance for the purposes of finance for the purposes of this Bill. The only thing he has to watch is that he is responsible for underpinning the moneys borrowed plus the interest to lie paid.
The Opposition believes that if any benefit is to flow from the activities of the Australian Wool Commission with respect to moneys borrowed and interest paid it should flow . to the people of Australia through the Reserve Bank because the people are underpinning the activities of this Commission. That is one of the reasons why the Opposition has moved this amendment. The second reason is that it thinks that the Reserve Bank is the appropriate bank because it is able to operate on the long term bond rate whereas outside lenders ‘ do not do that. This makes the money which the public has to provide much cheaper for them to provide. There would not have been so much objection to the inclusion of this provision if it had referred only to an approved bank because the money would have been kept within the banking system and, because of the powers of the Reserve Bank, we would have had some control over the interest rates charged on the money borrowed. But the inclusion of the words ‘another lender’ throws the public purse of Australia open to everyone, particularly when the loan is guaranteed by the Treasury. This is one of the reasons why the Opposition says that this amendment should be carried, lt is an amendment which should commend itself to the chamber. After ali, this Bill is because of its effect on the economy for the benefit of the people of Australia and not just the wool growers. Therefore the scheme should be supported by the people’s bank - the Reserve Bank - and the Commission should not be allowed to go outside the reserve banking system in order to provide profits for other types of lenders.
– Clause 22 relates to borrowings by the Commission. Firstly, I wish to remind the Opposition that in the 1951 reserve price plan which was offered to the wool growers they were expected to raise something like £Stg38.5m as their part of financing the scheme. The 4 governments involved were going to meet the difference between the wool growers’ allocation and the £Stg66m which was required. In the 1965 scheme which was offered to the wool growers they were once again called upon to make a contribution’ to the capital fund. In this instance it was $60m. At the same time, to assist with the money required for the scheme the trading banks were “to supply SI 00m. In the scheme now proposed the wool growers themselves are not being asked to provide any money. If the scheme is to work properly, the Commission must have a large amount of finance. Because of the offer made by the trading banks in respect of the last scheme in 1965 the Government believes that they should be offered a chance to contribute to the finances of the Commission. This does not preclude the Reserve Bank from making, loans to the Commission if it is considered necessary.
Senator Cant spoke about control and said that the Commission has an open ended authority to borrow. He said that this could fall very heavily on the taxpayers. I remind Senator Cant of the following passage in the second reading speech of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony):
The Bill makes provision for trading banks to participate in providing the finance required for the working capital of the Commission, and the Government would guarantee such loans as trading banks may make available to the Commission on acceptable terms and conditions.
– That is not in the Bill.
– I am Just pointing it out. Senator Cant knows as well as I do from past history the requirements of the Treasury under such conditions as these. We believe that there is no necessity for the amendment moved by the Labor Party and the Government cannot support it.
– Could the Minister tell me what the words ‘or another lender’ refer to? There is provision for an approved bank and then the Bill goes outside that to refer to another lender.
– I would say that if the money was borrowed from another lender the Treasury would require the same understanding under acceptable terms and conditions from that lender.
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Cant’s amendment) be left out.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Senator T. L. Bull)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative. Clause agreed to.
Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator DrakeBrockman) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 28 October (vide page 1621), on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Bull)Order! Is there any objection? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
Department of Housing
Proposed expenditure, $6,314,000.
– I move:
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the Second Schedule by reducing the vote - Division 310, Department of Housing $6,314,000 - by $1 - until a national inquiry is initiated to ascertain the nation’s housing needs in the future; to identify the shortcomings of the building industry so that they may be quickly removed; to establish beyond doubt the priorities which should be observed in the provision of funds for housing; to overcome interest and deposit problems; and to provide land and housing at low cost by means of appropriate agreement between the Commonwealth, the States and local government authorities.
This proposed amendment covers much of the ground that f covered when I spoke to the Loan (Housing) Bill which was before the Senate last week. 1 repeat now that it is the belief of the Opposition that a national inquiry is needed urgently to ascertain the needs of the people of Australia. There has been no such inquiry since the late 1940s - it was about 1947, I think - and I am certain that the position now is such that a complete investigation of our housing needs is imperative. The investigation should be associated with the grants that the Commonwealth makes to the States. We grant moneys to the States in accordance with the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement and to meet the requirements of the War Service Homes Division. We also provide money in the form of homes savings grants.
We are not able to ascertain whether we are forcing people into purchasing a home for which they cannot afford to pay. We are very proud of the fact that some “5 per cent of our people either own their own home or are in the course of purchasing it, but there has not been any investigation into the situation which arises when young people endeavour to purchase a home in their own right. I believe that they get too little encouragement in this regard. The Commonwealth Government is largely to blame for rising costs because of its recent decision to increase interest rates, the effect of which has been that some homes will cost in excess of an additional $4,000 on the original cost. Every honourable senator no doubt is aware that a young couple who wish to purchase a home in the early years of their marriage have to plan their family to the extent that the wife must work for 3 or 4 years, or even more, in the initial stages. We still have the tremendous problem of the deposit gap despite the fact that in Victoria, at least, the maximum loan that can be obtained under the housing co-operative legislation and from lending insititutions has been increased to $10,000. But $10,000 today is little enough when it comes to building a home which will meet the needs of a family for many years.
In 1963 the Government endeavoured to assist by initiating the homes savings grant of $500- £250 as it was then. It will be recalled that at that time I pointed out that before one of those grants had been made the building industry had absorbed it. The Commonwealth’s handout of $500 was grabbed quickly by the industry as an extra donation to put into its coffers. Since 1963 costs have risen to the extent that $500 means very little to a young couple attempting to buy their own home. Probably $500 would not pay for half a square in a present day home. I established last week that the cost of an average I2i square 3 bedroom family home has increased by from $800 to $1,000 in the last 12 months. We must come to grips with these things. That is why we have proposed this amendment to the Appropriation Bill.
We need to assist the building industry, as [ am sure we can, by getting the States to agree to standardise building construe-; tion. That would reduce the cost of construction, i am certain that we could do that if the inquiry envisaged in the amendment were instituted. As I have indicated previously, I know that the Government has done something in this regard by issuing a booklet which indicates standards that it would like the States to accept, but very often we find that 2 or 3 years elapse before the States examine the proposals properly and introduce them. The Government could move very quickly into this area in an endeavour to get some degree of standardisation. It would not mean a series of homes that were exactly alike: it would mean a standardisation in the construction of homes. An inquiry such as we have suggested could do nothing but good. lt could even provide guide lines for the Government when the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement comes before us within the next 12 months. The present agreement between the Commonwealth and the States expires at the end of this financial year. In this chamber last week we approved the final 12-month allocation under the present 5-year agreement. We are now faced with arranging a further agreement Whether it will be for 5 years or more is difficult to tell. I believe that we should examine these matters very closely and present a type of agreement that will cure many of the ills that exist at the present time. Later I will be having a few more things to say on the estimates themselves under the various headings. For the moment, I commend this amendment to the Committee.
– Mr Chairman, do we debate and determine the amendment moved by Senator Poyser before we deal with the individual estimates of the Department of Housing?
– The question before the Chair is: ‘That the request be agreed to’.
– I believe that the amendment warrants support, but I suggest that we are justified, in deferring consideration of it until we have looked into the matters that occupy our minds in relation to whether we are making suitable appropriations. I am much concerned about Division 845 - Capital Works and Services - in Appropriation Bill (No. 2).
– Order! Appropriation Bill (No. 2) is not before the Committee at this stage, lt is the next Bill to be considered.
– A question that runs through my mind in regard to all these estimates relates to allowances. This question has been brought to my notice through the habit of the Government of providing for salaries and allowances for the heads of departments. In this instance, under Division 310, sub-division 1, item 03, the Secretary of the Department of Housing is to receive a salary of $19,500 and an allowance of $1,000. As I understand the position, an allowance is paid to cover any expenditure connected with carrying out the duties of secretary of a department. In fact, we are making a $1,000 tax free addition to the salary. In view of that, I would like to know from the Minister whether there is an expenditure associated with the Secretary of the Department of Housing carrying out his duties, or whether the allowance, in fact, is a tax free addition to his salary which the Parliament has introduced recently.
I also ask: What part of the administrative cost of the Department is for salaries and what part is for allowances? What are allowances paid for? Are there locality allowances? Are any special allowances paid. In the estimates of all the departments there are excessive appropriations for overtime. In the case of the Department of Housing we are making provision for $68,100 for overtime this year. I believe that that needs questioning. Is this overtime necessary? What is the reason for it? Is the reason an inability to catch up with the processing of applications made to the Department?
– Did the honourable senator read the minutes of evidence of the estimates committee that dealt with this Department?
– No, I have not read the evidence given to that committee. If the honourable senator can refer me to the pages of Hansard, I will read them.
– I have not time lo refer the honourable senator to them at the moment.
– That is one of the disadvantages of having the estimates committee system and not having a full investigation in this chamber. I also ask the Minister whether the Housing Loans Insurance Act ‘ is administered by this Department. I see no reference to it in the estimates. Where will I find the cost of the administration of the Act?
(5.0) - Mr Chairman, 1 will ‘ reply to the honourable senators who have spoken. Before I do so. I must ask for your ruling for my guidance on whether, if 1 reply concerning the amendment, I will affect my right to reply to any other detail in the items? My understanding is that it will not.
– That is right.
– First, I wish to make it quite clear to the honourable senator who moved the amendment that I oppose the amendment. I believe that by moving this amendment the honourable senator is wishing to have a large scale debate on housing whereas in effect we are considering the Estimates at the Committee stage where we debate the lines in the Estimates. I would remind the honourable senator that this is the purpose of this debate. I will reply to the amendment moved by the honourable senator in these terms. He asks that the estimates for the Department of Housing be reduced by SI. This is just a form of delaying the consideration of the Estimates in the Committee and of having a debate concerning housing. The honourable senator’s amendment continues:
Let me give the Committee a few facts concerning the Australian housing situation and details of some of the money that is made available in this area. In the last financial year, 1969-70, $55m was provided to finance war service homes for eligible ex-service personnel; $ 12.7m was made available in grants under the aged persons homes scheme; $ 12.3m was provided in grants under the home savings grants scheme; $18. 3m was used to finance housing in the Australian Capital Territory; $10.1m was expended on housing in the Northern Territory; and $12.5m was provided for sundry other housing projects. The Commonwealth expenditure on housing in 1969-70 amounted in total to $262.7m.
Honourable senators will recall that recently we passed legislation in connection with the money made available under the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement. I think that some figures should be of assistance in this discussion. In each of the 5 years since the financial year 1965-66, the number of Government and private dwellings commenced increased until it reached the all-time high of 144,000 in 1969-70. These, I think, are important figures. We see that the high level of dwelling construction in 1969-70 was financed in part by sustained lending by banks and major life assurance companies. The value of loans made for new housing by these institutions during the last financial year was $307m compared with the slightly higher figure of S3 16m in the previous year. There was a downturn towards the end of 1969-70. But, despite that, the total value of loans approved by the per manent building societies tor new and previously occupied dwellings increased considerably during the year to $367m.
If we look at the September figures for approvals, commencements and completions, although there is, as I said there would be, this slight downturn in that quarter, with more money being made available as there now is we will be seeing an upward trend in housing figures once more. So, I feel that this amendment is only a vehicle for further discussion on this subject. I oppose it and suggest that we deal with the lines and the items that are here in the Estimates before the Committee.
Many of the points which have been raised have been discussed during the meetings of the Estimates Committee that dealt with housing. Senator Cavanagh referred to the line of appropriation dealing with the Secretary’s salary, $19,500, and allowance, $1,000. The honourable senator asked what those figures covered. I make it quite clear that these figures cover the payment of salary and allowances as we are informed in the estimate. The Permanent Head’s allowance has been paid for a couple of years, lt is not related specifically to entertainment expenses and is not vouchered separately. It is regarded as a degree of compensation for the general expenses involved in keeping up the position and duties of the important State office of head of a major instrumentality of Government. I am sure that the honourable senator realises that there are demands on the head of a department, and I believe it is right and proper that he should be paid accordingly.
Senator POYSER (Victoria) (5.51- I would like to raise a matter under Division 310, which deals with administration, lt relates to war service homes and what I believe is an outdated method that exists in relation to persons who make applications for homes that are away from the more populated areas. I believe that the general practice that exists today is something that has developed from the dark ages, when in fact a person living in a remote part of the country may have had some difficulty in the resale of a home or the War Service Homes Division may have had some difficulty in the re-sale of a home if it did happen to become a liability to the Division. 1 have recently had 2 cases brought to my notice. I feel that the circumstances of one case in particular are wrong, lt concerns a person who made an application for a war service loan to build a home in a place called Nelson which is on the Glenelg River in Victoria and very close to the South Australian border. This application has been rejected on the ground that Nelson is a remote area and that it would be difficult for the Division to recoup its equity in the home if the person for any reason had to sell it or if something happened to him that would prevent his continuing his payments.
I think the Division has shown little knowledge of the area concerned by ruling out Nelson as a place where an exserviceman may build a home that attracts a war service loan, because all indications are that this area will be a very thriving tourist area in the near future. It is a very beautiful spot in Victoria and people are being attracted to this area in greater numbers each year. The man who made the application is a permanent officer of a State department and it looks as though he will be a permanent resident in this area for years to come. He is a person of high standing, and the Commission would have no doubt about his meeting his obligations under normal circumstances. He lives in the area and looks like living there for many years to come because of his employment. But he has been rejected as an applicant for a loan under the War Service Homes Act on the basis that the area in which he wishes to build is classified as a remote area.
From my inquiries I understand that land prices in this area have continued to increase over the years and will do so in future because of the development that will take place in the area. I have discussed this matter with officers of the State Housing Commission. They are of the opinion that this area will develop to the extent that land values will increase. Yet this man who has served his country is to be denied a war service home because he happens to live in an area that today is classified as a remote area of the State. We know that today, with the motor car and the ability of people, particularly tourists, to move quickly around the State this area would not be a place in which it would be impossible to sell a home. Indeed I am certain that over the next 5 or 6 years a home in this area would definitely increase in value because of the tourist potential of the area. I believe we need to re-examine this aspect of war service home loans. 1 think that modern day people are moving away from the heavily populated areas as much as they can. It is to the advantage of the cities’ that people are prepared to do this and to comute backwards and forwards to their employment. In the case to which I have referred the person is close to his employment, and the area in which he wishes to build is an area that I have been advised will develop and will have a great future as a tourist centre.
– I appreciate the Minister’s reply to the question I raised regarding the appro:priation of $5,063,400 for salaries and allowances. Can the Minister tell me the types of allowances which this Department pays? Are they location allowances or disability allowances? What kind of allowances are they? I turn to the item which refers to payments to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department for the collection of repayments. I take it that these would be repayments of war service homes loans, possibly in the remote areas which were mentioned by Senator Poyser. Could the Minister tell me the purpose of these payments to the Postmaster-General’s Department. Does the Department of Housing make payments, on a percentage basis or on a cost basis, to the Postmaster-General’s Department for money it collects? Does the item which refers to repairs, maintenance and other running costs of migrant transitory accommodation relate to the new migrant flats which were built or to the normal migrant hostel accommodation?
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) (5.12) - I owe Senator Cavanagh an apology because I omitted to answer his query regarding the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation. I inform him that the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation is conducted as a separate independent body. Details of its operations are shown in its annual report. On reflection the honourable senator will remember, I think, that I tabled the Corporation’s report for 1969-70 in the Senate on 23rd September last. If the honourable senator has not got that report I will be very pleased to get him a copy. He will find in that report the details in which he is interested.
Senator Cavanagh also referred to the payment of allowances. I have a note here which informs me that there are higher duties allowances, allowances for increments and regulation 97 allowances. The amount provided for higher duties allowances and increment allowances has been increased and the amount provided for regulation 97 allowances has been reduced.
– What is a regulation 97 allowance?
– That is the temporary living allowance. Senator Poyser referred to the policy regarding the building of war service homes in remote areas. 1 assure him that these matters are very carefully considered. They are given a great deal of consideration by the officers of my Department. We have a policy concerning this matter. It protects the borrower as well as the Department if the borrower should have to sell his home. The War Service Homes Act expressly provides that no advance shall be made in respect of a property unless the Director is satisfied that having regard to the locality in which the dwelling house is erected or is proposed to be erected, the risk is a reasonable one for him to take. I think that is a very fair comment and I think it is proper from all angles.
Having regard to this statutory provision it will be appreciated that when considering an application for a loan in respect of a living area the Director must satisfy himself that the property offered as a security is such that if for any reason it reverted it would be readily saleable, and where the property which is offered as security is farm land it must be of sufficient size to enable a living to be derived from it. As loans made under the Act are nol gifts but are advances which have to be repaid the statutory provisions to which I have referred were inserted in the Act to protect public moneys. Unless the Director is satisfied as to any proposal put forward he has no other course but to decline the application. But I appreciate the point the honourable senator made concerning some areas and I can assure him that these cases are all looked at most carefully.
The honourable senator mentioned the case of someone wishing to acquire a dwelling at Nelson. This matter is still under consideration. I also omitted to answer a question asked by Senator Cavanagh concerning overtime payments which amounted to $68,100. The increase in overtime paid is due to various determinations for clerical assistants, typists and works supervisors and the national wage case and to other factors such as increased overtime worked by research and investigation officers. This is due to the recent housing situation. As honourable senators will recall, when we were having a downturn in commencements we were doing a lot of research concerning this and arranging meetings with the people concerned and this, of course, caused further overtime to be worked. We have also had an increase in the operation of the migrant flats scheme and this has meant that some more overtime has had to be worked. The honourable senator asked about Subdivision 2, item 08 - migrant transitory accommodation - repairs, maintenance and otherrunning costs. This concerns transitory flats for migrants and not hostels to which, I think, the honourable senator was referring.
– I want to refer to homes savings grants under Division 310 - Administrative. I have raised with the Minister before the matter of a young couple who decide that they will build their own home or subcontract the various sections of that home in an endeavour perhaps to get it a little cheaper than by paying the full price to a building contractor. We find that in many of these cases, because there is no contract price before the Department in the State concerned, a valuation is made and very often the valuation exceeds the amount permitted under the Act at that time. I am concerned because it has been proved to my satisfaction in some cases that the valuation has been under that which would entitle the applicants to the grant of $500. They have complied in every other respect but have been rejected on the basis that evidence is insufficient to make absolutely certain that the documents they have submitted to the Department disclose all payments made. I want to refer to a case which I took up with the Minister about 12 months ago and I. want to quote a paragraph from a letter from the Regional Director to the people concerned. This is not the Ministers reply, but the Minister replied to me in identical terms on1 5th January 1970. The letter slated:
Where the applicant is an owner-builder, it is not possible to establish with any certainty the actual cost of constructing the home. No matter what receipts arc produced there is no way of establishing that these represent the only amounts paid. Furthermore, it isunlikely that the cost to the applicant would represent a reasonable approximation of the value of the home. In such cases a valuation of the dwelling and other improvements erected is arranged by the Department. This valuation is based on what would represent a fair contract price had the dwelling been erected by a builder.
I believe that if young people have saved and are endeavouring to establish a home by dint of hard work and are prepared, in some cases, to do quite a deal of the work themselves - and. in other cases, they are sub-contracting to save the 10 per cent or whatever margin a main contractor puts on a home - they should be given some consideration.I believe that the rule is applied far too harshly. In this particular case there is a full file of accurate evidence to indicate that, with the exception of perhaps very minor amounts, what was paid for the construction of the home can be established clearly. Receipts are held for all the sub-contracting jobs and they certainly do not in total exceed the then valuation of $15,000.
– It is $17,500 now.
– It was $15,000 on this occasion. I am certain that these young people have been completely honest in everything they have presented to the Department in their application. I am equally certain that the valuation, particularly when compared with the municipal valuations in the area, is high. I think they have been denied the loan on the basis of the valuation of a house that is fully completed, whereas in many cases, as we know, a builder who accepts a contract will leave the garage or carport to a later stage. Perhaps the owner himself will do that work later. These people have had the value of the carport included in the valuation of the total home and this is one of the main reasons why, according to the Department, they have exceeded the departmental valuation.
I have a similar case relating to a young couple at Grovedale in the City of Geelong. They have been able clearly to establish by receipts, and by accurate estimates of the electrical work that the young man did himself - he is employed by an electrical contractor and is qualified to do electrical work - that they qualified for the grant. He is able to indicate the amount he paid to sub-contractors. He believes that he has been wrongly rejected on the basis of the clause that I read out from that letter from the Department of Housing. He is extremely unhappy that he isbeing denied the $500 because he has been able to save a little by sub-contracting and not letting a major contractor get the 10 per cent additional to what he would normally get. Again, in this case, the Department has taken into consideration a carport at the side of the house that was erected, not at the same time as the house, but shortly after the house was constructed. I understand that the paths that have been laid around the home have been taken into consideration in the valuation. This means that a person who is not prepared to complete his home in the initial stages is able to comply with the valuation but someone who works hard himself and is able to complete his home in a comparatively short time pays a penalty by way of the valuation that is placed on his property and is denied the$500 grant. I believe that a more sympathetic approach should be made in relation to this matter. I think that more consideration should be given to municipal valuations, even it it is necessary to alter the Act or the regulations to make it clear - if the Minister feels that this is important - that a person must indicate that he is prepared to live in the home for a certain period of time. These people should not be denied their rights out of hand when they have believed from the start that they would be eligible.
They have been able to submit evidence of the actual cost of the property. In some cases they have been able to submit the municipal valuation placed on the property, but the Department will not accept this. On the last occasion I mentioned, the valuer was from the Taxation Office. 1 presume he would look at it from the angle of probate and not from the angle of trying to help a young couple to make a start in life. If the valuation is to be made it should be made by a qualified person from the Department of Housing - not from the Taxation Department. A valuer from the Taxation Department would obviously be looking for the highest valuation that could be placed on the property. We all know that valuations differ greatly from one area to another. Even between sworn valuers one will find great differences. I say to the Minister: Do not deprive people of their rights by making too tight a valuation in these circumstances and please accept at their face value the honest submissions that are given to the Department supported by receipts and other evidence, lt is quite clear that these people have endeavoured honestly to submit the evidence to the Department. They have submitted honestly the total costs even to the extent, in the second case I mentioned, of the individual giving a very accurate cost for the electrical work that he did on the property. This cost included the margin of profit, lt was rejected. I think that the Department should be far more sympathetic in these cases. Valuations in relation to paths, garages or car ports that are added perhaps a few months later should not come into the initial valuation as far as the Department is concerned.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) (5.27) - I had to obtain some information for Senator Cavanagh which was provided in the Estimates Committee. I have just received it. lt relates to Division 310, sub division 2, Item 04 - Payments to Postmaster-General’s Department for the collection of repayments. Expenditure under this item represents commission payable to the Postmaster-General’s Department for the collection of repayments by War Service Homes purchasers and borrowers at money order post offices. The additional provision in 1970-71 reflects the additional charges payable on increased collections for 1970-71 which it is anticipated will be $5m more than last year. The rate of remuneration or commission is 84c per SI 00 received by the Post Office. The Post Office receives this money right throughout Australia. The money is forwarded daily to the head office branch of the State concerned.
asked about valuations on owner built homes in respect of which the owner applies for the homes savings grant. I refer him to the book which is published and which is based on the requirements of the Act. When the value of a home is being determined regard must be had to the value of the land, the house and all other improvments on the land. This means all those items of improvements which Senator Poyser was discussing. These are referred to in the Act and so have to come into consideration when the value is being considered.
In cases where the applicant is an owner builder, it is not possible for the Department to determine with any certainty what the home actually cost. No matter what receipts or other evidence the applicant produces, there is no way of establishing that these were all the payments made. Owner builders set about the process of building their homes in a variety of ways. A skilled tradesman may do much of the work himself and the cost to him may be less than to an unskilled owner builder who merely takes the place of the builder and sub-contracts all the work to tradesmen. Between these two extremes, the extent of the work performed by the owner builder himself may vary considerably. I think all senators would agree with that.
If these factors make it impossible for the Department to determine the precise cost of a home to an owner builder, there is no alternative but to value the home. The valuations are made by experienced officers who estimate what the house and improvements would have cost had they been constructed by a building contractor. In assessing the value of the dwelling, the builder’s profit margin is excluded so that the value of the house and improvements corresponds to the net cost to the builder. The cost of the land to the applicant is then added to arrive at the value of the home for purposes of the Homes Savings Grant Act. This basis of valuation is considered to be the- fairest that could reasonably be adopted for owner builders. The valuation represent the approximate cost of the home to an owner builder who subcontracts most of the work himself and who is as skilled as an experienced builder in keeping costs to a minimum. It also allows an applicant who - undertakes most of the work himself, ample scope to build a good quality home and still remain within the statutory limit.
Senator Poyser referred to valuations. The usual arrangement is for the valuer to be an officer of War Service Homes. If there is a feeling that a valuation is not a satisfactory one the Department of Housing has a check valuation carried out by the Taxation Office. If the Taxation Office valuation is lower than the valuation made by the Department of Housing we look at that because we are anxious to assist the young applicant. We endeavour first of all to determine a proper valuation and then, if required, we arrange for a check valuation in order to do our best to assist young Australians to receive this $500 gift. I think it is interesting to note that since the homes savings grant legislation was introduced more than $80m has been paid out to young Australians in the form of home savings grants. When we realise that the young couples who have received this grant have saved 3 times that amount of more than $80m so that they would be eligible for the grant, we see that this is a first class exercise in which young people can save for homes of their own and invest in those institutions which help people to obtain homes. I congratulate young Australians on what they are doing in this respect.
– I want to raise a matter under Division 310, subdivision 2, item 05. I refer to the case of the occupier of a war service home in Canterbury Avenue, Payneham, South Australia.
– Is lt
South Australia, or Western Australia?
– South Australia, lt is a matter that I took up with the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) by correspondence.
– This item relates to Western Australia.
- Senator Toohey could refer to this under the heading ‘Administrative’.
– I am referring to it as a matter of administration. I thought, that the heading was wide enough to allow me to do so. The case concerns the occupier of a war service home in Canterbury Avenue, Payneham, South Australia. The home was built in 1957. The matter has been the subject of correspondence between myself and the Minister. Some time after the house was built the brickwork showed signs of dampness and the occupier sought the advice not of a contractor but of a building expert who said that major alterations would be required to eradicate the dampness and to put the house on a sound foundation. I took the matter up with the housing authorities in South Australia and was unable to get any satisfaction for the person concerned, so I wrote to the Minister for Housing some time ago hoping that she would exercise whatever flexibility she may have to see what could be done to help this person. I have a letter here from the Minister foi- Housing which I feel I should read because it should refresh both her memory and mine in respect of the matter and perhaps enable her to remember it more clearly. The letter says: l refer again to your personal representations on behalf of Mr D. A. M. Tester concerning the deterioration of the mortar in portion of the base walling to his War Service home at 73 Canterbury Avenue, Payneham South. South Australia.
As you know Mr Tester’s home was designed by my Department and was erected in 1957 under the supervision of Departmental officers. The specifications for the home provided for a damp proof coursing consisting of cement mortar with a damp-proofing admixture. 1 understand thu use of this type of damp-proof coursing was normal building practice in South Australia at the time and indeed was used by my Department for approximately 20 years prior to 1966.
This type of damp-proof coursing does not provide a complete barrier to the passage of moisture but restricts it to an amount which under normal circumstances is not detrimental. It has a disadvantage however in thai the efficacy of the moisture suffers if the admixture is used either in excess of or less than iti the quantities recommended by Ihe manufacturers. The dampproof coursing may also fail as a result of an abnormally damp condition in ihe sub-soil beneath portion of the home. There has been only a small number of War Service homes where the dampproofing coursing has failed but because of instances of ‘breaking down’ of this type of damp coursing, the major home lending authorities in South Australia, including the Director of War Sen-ice Homes, decided in 1366 that a membrane type of damp-proof coursing should be used in addition to the admixture in the construction of all future homes financed by the lending authorities concerned. This requirement is now set out in the Acceptable Standards of Construction booklet issued jointly by the major lending authorities.
Evidence of rising dampness in Mr Tester’s home was first noted by a Departmental officer during the course of a periodical inspection of the properly on 16th July 1969. A subsequent inspection by the Department’s Chief Architect confirmed the presence of rising dampness of a relatively minor nature in portion of the external leaf of the southern and western walling and also al the base of the front porch brick pier. Some fretting of mortar joints is taking place. There is no evidence of any dampness at the base of the inner walling. The only remedial action considered necessary is for the affected mortar joints to be raked out and repointed iti damp proof mortar. The estimated cost of the remedial work is $45.
I note that Mr Tester has been advised by a building contractor to remove the affected outer (and inner, if. necessary) brick work and rebuild with new bricks using damp proof mortar. My Department would recommend similar work where rising dampness has led to a serious deterioration in the base walling of the home. In the case of Mr Tester’s home, however, there is evidence of only relatively minor fretting at mortar joints in portion of the external base walling. When relatively minor rising dampness occurs in the exterior wall it does nol follow that the inner wall would bc similarly affected. After a careful inspection of Mr Tester’s home, the Department’s Chief Architect is firmly of the opinion that on present indications, the raking out and repointing of the fretted joints with a damp proof mortar would prevent further deterioration, and that the work suggested by the building contractor is unwarranted.
The letter went on to say in effect that in view of the relatively small cost involved the Department could not see its way clear to do anything about it.
There are 2 facts here which should be brought forward. One is that the person concerned was not a private building contractor but a building expert, who, I understand, does not do contract work himself at all. His opinion was that the work required major alterations, the minimum cost of which would be in the vicinity of $1,000. On the other hand, the
Division’s argument was that all that is required is something of a relatively minor nature which involves an expenditure of $45. I would like to know what anybody could get for $45 in the building trade today if somebody else had to do the work. However, this is all beside the point.
The point that really emerges from this matter and which has led me to think that the Ministers reply is unsatisfactory is that in this case there is a divergence of opinion between people who are supposed to be experts in this field. On the one hand there are the people in the War Service Homes Division whose job it is to endeavour to see that these things do not occur and to assess the costs involved if they do occur. On the other hand there is the person in South Australia from whom Mr Tester sought advice who is probably more experienced in his field than any other authority in South Australia that one might care to name. Even in the letter there are implied admissions that in similar circumstances there could have been deterioration or situations in which major repairs would have had to be effected. I think that the present position is highly unsatisfactory particularly if it is left at the point where on the one hand the Division refuses to accept responsibility and on the other hand an extremely well qualified person suggests that there is a wide area of responsibility involving a considerable degree of expense. I ask the Minister to have another look at this matter and if necessary to seek a third opinion front an independent authority so that something can be done about the injustice which has been occasioned to the person involved in this matter.
I think any honourable senator would agree that my proposition is fair. This matter should not bc left as it stands. I know that there is a tendency, perhaps understandable, for any instrumentality to try to get out of any suggested responsibility at the least possible cost. This is only natural. I suppose this is to be expected but on the one hand we have the Division with all the assets and facilities at its disposal and on the other hand we have the person involved whose only stake in the matter is the amount which he has put into .his war service home. As a person who has served his country I think he deserves. a far better response than the one I received from the
Minister. 1 take- this opportunity to register my protest and I express ‘ the’ hope that the Minister will ‘have another look at this matter. ‘
(5.43) - Senator Toohey has referred ‘ to a particular case that he is aware of and which we have- already looked into. The method used was accepted practice at thetime the house was constructed . and I understand that the report we had was submitted by a man who also- is an expert in this field. But I will have another look at this matter. ‘The honourable senator may supply further details to my office. I am prepared to look at this case again.
– I want again to raise very briefly the matter of homes savings grants and more particularly a matter under Department of. Housing - Administrative. I refer to the case of - a couple residing in Townsend Road, Whittington. The municipal valuation of. their boms at the end of July 1969 - was $10,800. The Department’s valuation was more than $15,000. There seems to be a remarkable difference between the 2 valuations. I realise that some municipal valuations are lower than the value of the home involved but I see no reason in this case for a difference of about 33 per cent. The Minister’s reply indicates to me that the only advice that can be given to young people ‘ in similar circumstances is not to finish their home. This seems to be the obvious thing to do. Young people must he told not to improve, their properties in any shape or form until they have made an application for a grant, had a valuation made, then make an application to obtain the money and complete their homes, at a later date after they have received, the money. This seems to me to be a very roundabout way for people to put in a valid claim. It would mean that they would not build a garage or would not put paths down, but make their claim and then have this work done at a later stage. If I understood what the Minister said, it is possible to do this.
I have a very brief question’ relating to migrant transitory accommodation. I would like the Minister to give any information that she may have relative to applications by the Geelong Chamber of Com merce, manufacturers, and others concerning the construction of transitory flats in the city of Geelong. I understand that reprresentations have been made to the Minister and to the Department on this matter by the Geelong . Chamber of Commerce and other interested people - the representations have been - made direct to the Department at least - concerning the allocation of Mats for transitory purposes for migrants in the Geelong area.
Geelong is a city that in proportion to its population, attracts an extremely high percentage of migrants; I think that at one stage of our immigration programme Geelong was attracting the highest proportion of migrants in the Commonwealth. I can recall that at one- stage 60 per cent of the employees of big industries such as the Ford Motor Co. of Australia Ltd and the International Harvester Co, of Australia Pty Ltd were migrants, mainly from the Continent.
The feeling, in Geelong for a long time has been that we should participate in the building of flats for transitory purposes. The migrant hostel there is the type of hostel that still exists at Maribyrnong. I believe the hostel still operates there but the one at Braidwood does not. The type of hostel I refer to is the Nissen hut with additions built on, I understand. I believe that the flats at Geelong are . in better condition than the accommodation provided at Braidwood. But this. still is not the type of home unit accommodation that we- believe will settle migrants more ‘ quickly in the community. We in’ Geelong believe that, because of its size, its industrial background and the high percentage of people from Europe who are attracted to it, our city should participate in any programme in which the construction of flats for temporary accommodation is undertaken. I would like the Minister to indicate at this stage whether any moves have been made for these flats to be provided in Geelong?
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) (5.48) - Mr Temporary Chairman, first, I wish to make one comment to Senator Poyser because I would not like him ever to mislead - and I know he would not want wittingly to do so - young people who wish to apply for a homes savings grant. I wish to repeat what I said before: In determining the value of a home regard must be had to the value of the land, the house and any other improvements on the land. These are the factors which are introduced in the valuation of houses which are the subject of an application for a homes savings grant.
I say to Senator Poyser that, if he knows of young people who are interested in this scheme, who are not quite certain about matters relating to the building or the purchase of a home, and who want advice on the subject, my Department is most happy for them to- go to it and to discuss the matter with an officer. In this way they will discover the things that they need to know so thai, when they do apply for a grant, they will not be disappointed.
The honourable senator raised the matter of transitory flats for Ihe accommodation of migrants. I think that I should mention first that the section of the Department of Housing concerned with this matter is associated closely with the Department of Immigration and the Department of Labour and National Service. Decisions as to where flats of this type to assist migrants are to be located are made finally after consideration by the 3 Departments which are interested in the subject. Flats have been mentioned in conversation to me when 1 have been in Geelong but I have not received any official request. I think it is quite likely that representations were made to the Minister for Immigration.
– Or to the Minister for Labour and National Service.
– Yes. Certainly this has been mentioned to me when I have been in Geelong. The Department of Immigration is the Depart-, ment which is responsible for providing the tenants who wish to live in the flats, so this matter is very closely associated with the Department of Immigration because the people who would be going to live and work in that area would be migrants. Consideration is being given all the time to the extension of this field of activity, and Geelong is one of the areas to which consideration would be given. No decision has yet been reached.
– I would like to draw the attention of the Minister to Division 310, subdivision 2, item 08, Migrant transitory accommodation - Repairs, maintenance and other running costs. I note that the appropriation for this item for 1969-70 was $35,000, and I presume that the actual expenditure was $27,672, which means that the appropriation exceeded the actual expenditure by approximately $7,500. For 1970-71 the appropriation is for $56,000, which is some $21,000 more than the appropriation last year, which was $7,500 more than the amount expended, and which is in fact twice the amount of $27,672 expended in 1969-70. I ask 2 questions: Firstly, would the Minister be good enough to give me a brief description of what is entailed in terms of repairs, maintenance and other running costs associated with migrant transitory accommodation? Secondly, why should there be such a sharp increase in the appropriation, having regard to the comments I have made in respect of the appropriation for 1969-70 and the actual expenditure for 1969-70?
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) (5.53) - This year we are acquiring more flats. We have recently opened a block in Brisbane and we will be opening a block in Adelaide by the end of this year. In the early days it was rather hard to estimate these amounts and there was a short fall in expenditure. Let mc give the honourable senator some of the items related to this amount of $56,000 that has been appropriated this year for repairs, maintenance and other running costs in respect of migrant transitory accommodation. Details of the estimated expenditures are as follows: Repairs to buildings, $5,800; repairs to furniture and fittings, $2,000; communal services, cleaning, lighting, etc., $7,500; inter-tenancy expenses, $1,800; maintenance of grounds, $5,000; rates and charges, $31,700; and miscellaneous, $2,200. 1 repeat that the increased expenditure expected in this year is due to the increased number of flats which are now coming into use.
– I ask the Minister for Housing whether it is a fact that Senate Estimates Committee B, to which she gave evidence on behalf of this Senate, examined in very close detail every division and every item line by line of the document from which she has just quoted. The question that was raised by Senator Brown will be found in complete detail in the Hansard report of Senate Estimates Committee B. Senator Davidson, Fitzgerald, Lawrie, Little, McClelland, Mulvihill, Withers and Wood were on that Committee and it reported back to this Senate that it had considered the estimates which are now being discussed and had received explanations of them from the Minister. A copy of the minutes of proceedings and the Hansard report of the entire evidence were tabled in this Senate. The Senate received information in connection with Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1970-71 and Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1970-71. In fact, the questions that are being asked now were asked in full and answered explicitly by the Minister with the assistance of her officers when Estimates Committee B was considering these estimates. The honourable senators who are asking questions on these estimates now are merely duplicating the questions which were asked previously.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) (5.56) - Everything that the honourable senator has said is absolutely true.
– Senator Webster has used fighting words in his speech. I do not doubt that those honourable senators on Estimates Committee B did their duty and received satisfaction from the work of the Committee. I do not condemn the Committee at all. But when these Estimates Committees were constituted it was realised that a number of honourable senators could not attend every meeting of the Committees. They had responsibilities to one Committee, and 3 Committees were meeting at any one time.
– Some honourable senators did not attend any Committees.
– I will come to that. Obviously, an honourable senator could not attend the sittings of 2 Committees at any one time. Therefore, there were 2 Committees sitting which he could not attend although he had a right to do so. Honourable senators were given an assurance that despite what was done at the
Committee meetings, they would have an opportunity to raise any question in the Committee of the Whole and to have it answered. 1 was one who did not attend any Committee meetings. The history of this matter is known. Contrary to the assurance which was given by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) that I would be permitted to attend Committee hearings, I was not permitted to attend the meeting of Estimates Committee B. All that Senator Webster has done is to name the guilty men.
– You did not try very hard.
– I tried for one afternoon. I had the Clerks of the Senate running around to see whether I could attend this Committee, but I was not able to do so. When honourable senators are treated in such a fashion it is natural that they should resent it. On that occasion I was not able to attend any Committee meetings. Despite all that, 1 do not want to do anything which will upset the functioning of ihe Estimates Committee system or to criticise the Committees. Although questions may have been asked in Estimates Committee B. this afternoon ( raised certain questions on which T wanted information. I did not speak for long nor did I have any desire to prolong the consideration of these estimates.
– Why did you not read the Hansard report of the proceedings before the Committee? You are just wanting to waste the time of this Committee.
– If Senator Webster had not wasted the time he did, this discussion would not be proceeding now. He did not raise a question on any item of the estimates. He did not speak for the purpose of obtaining any information. He cannot expect to save time if he criticises someone who is not prepared to sit down and take the criticism. He does not know what Estimates Committee B decided, other than what he has read in the report. He has accepted the Committee’s word that it considered all the items. As I said, there has been no attempt on my part to hinder the operations of the Estimates Committee system. Many honourable senators on this side of the chamber speak highly of the system. We hope that there will be some understanding about the system in the future. But the fact is that there was not any understanding on this occasion. There are questions which must be asked in the Committee of the Whole. If these questions have been asked previously, that is just too bad, but we were given the assurance that we would have the right to ask them. Fortunately, Senator Webster is not in control of the Senate.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– .1 did not intend to speak again during the consideration of the estimates of the Department of Housing but 1 have been brought into the debate by the remarks made by Senator Webster prior to the suspension of the sitting. Senator Webster implied that senators on this side of the Senate who have spoken to these estimates have been deliberately delaying the Senate and in fact that all matters that have been raised by senators on this side were raised earlier before the Estimates Committees. Of course, this is not so because none of the matters that I raised was raised before the Estimates Committees. In any event, I believe - and I may be in the minority on this - :that the place these matters should be raised is in the open Senate. 1 do not intend to speak on this matter at great length because 1 have already expressed my opinion on numerous occasions in the Senate, but honourable senators will recall that when the Estimates Committees were first mooted in the Senate the Opposition voted against them. Despite that fact many senators did become members of the Estimates Committees I chose not to be a member of any of the Committees because at that stage I preferred to be able to attend all of the meetings, or as many as possible, to express my point of view. Honourable senators will recall what happened on the first occasion when, in company with Senator Cavanagh and Senator Keeffe, I attended a committee meeting. On that occasion we were not able to attend the meeting. In any event we have now reached the stage in the discussion of the Estimates where we have an undertaking from the Leader of the Government (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) that these matters will be heard before the open
Senate and 1 will not be intimidated by any remarks that Senator Webster may make on this matter. If we believe that things should be examined within the Committee of the Whole we intend to examine them and I have some remarks to make about several other departments as they come before the Committee.
I will not unduly delay the Senate but I believe that all senators have a right to be heard. The Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) has indicated this in (he manner in which she has attempted to answer questions. She has not at any stage, except by direct answer to Senator Webster, indicated that our discussions within the Committee will be hindered by her referring to things that have happened before. This would be completely wrong because no senator could be at 3 meetings at the one time - and, in one instance. 4 meetings - and if a senator decides to publicly and openly probe matters about which he feels concerned then I feel he has every right to do so without any interference from senators who may have been members of a committee and who may attempt to indicate to any senator on this side of the chamber that he has no rights to speak on a certain matter.
– I want to raise a couple of points of interest as did my colleague Senator Poyser. If Senator Webster has now become the official spokesman for the Australian Country Party and feels that the forms of this Senate are not being properly used then I will also seek to obtain additional detailed information in order to be able to enlighten not only my mind on some things that have happened within this Department but, 1 am sure, the minds of many other Australians who want information. I refer to Division 310, sub-division 4 - Widows’ Relief Services. I ask. the Minister if she can explain why there is an increased appropriation to $116,000 over the expenditure in 1969-70 of $107,481. It is interesting to note that the appropriation for 1969-70 was $126,000 and that this was obviously underspent by a considerable sum. I want to know whether this means what it says in black and white in the Appropriation Bill and whether, in fact, widows are not getting the relief to which they may be entitled or whether this represents a saving or cheese-paring act on behalf of the Department of Housing. 1 want to know, too, why homes are not being made available to Aboriginals in Queensland who are entitled to war service homes because of their service in the last war or in the Korean War. The Minister will know from previous confrontations that we have had in this chamber that, to the best of my knowledge, only 3 people of Aboriginal descent have been able to obtain war service homes. The Minister will recall that in a reply to a question today about the release of land on Horn Island in Torres Strait for housing purposes she gave me a very definite answer - No’. I have heard, I think on a fairly good grapevine, that land is being subdivided in this area for housing purposes. I ask the Minister whether her Department has any knowledge of this matter and whether the land has not been allocated to her Department. I am not doubting the Minister’s word on this. I have no doubt that hers was a truthful answer and that the Department of Housing has not obtained such land, but if that Department has not obtained any of that land, who has access to it? Is it a fact, perhaps, that the land has not been released yet by the Department of Defence? We need land in these areas for housing purposes and we need finance for these people. I do not know what the total number is; only members of the Government would have access to those records.
– The total number of what, senator?
– People who are qualified, who are non-white, lo be entitled to war service homes.
– What do you mean by non-white?
– I am sorry, I did not know that the honourable senator was of Aboriginal descent. T suggest he does not come into this.
– I thought you might like to explain it.
– You are not one of the underprivileged in the community and I suggest you do not interrupt during this part of the debate. Proper records would be kept by the Department of the Army, the Department of the Navy and the Department of Air as to those people who are non-white and who served in World War II in particular. I think that the onus is on the Government to do something for them but on each occasion 1 have asked questions here the Minister has evaded her responsibilities by saying that statistics are not kept on the basis of colour. This is so much hooey, lt should be easy to establish these figures. I am asking these 3 specific things. Are the facts in accordance with the questions I have asked, or are they not?
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) (8.9) - Firstly, let me refer to the points made by Senator Keeffe. I remind him, of course, thai these have already been answered, but I am quite pleased to answer them again. Any person who is eligible under the conditions of the War Service Homes Act and who can fulfil the required conditions is acceptable for a war service homes loan. We keep no records of race or colour. I make that quite clear in this reply because the honourable senator seems to imply that what I am saying in this regard is not correct. However. I assure him that we keep no records of race or colour. This afternoon Senator Keeffe asked me about the land on Horn Island and 1 replied that the Commonwealth Department of Housing has no land on Horn Island. Advice to us from the Department of the Interior is that the only Commonwealth land on .Horn Island is owned by the Department of Civil Aviation. That answer was in reply to Senator Keeffe who asked:
Is it a fact that land on Horn Island has now been transferred from ihe Department of Defence lo the Department of Housing’.’
I told the honourable senator that the reply to that question was no, so it has already been answered. Senator Keeffe also asked about widows’ relief. I have not replied to that. Division No. 310 subdivision 4. - Widows Relief Services, represents assistance to certain war service homes purchasers and borrowers, mainly widows of eligible persons, by way of payment of such outgoings as rates, taxes, repairs, insurance, road making and sewerage.
– I am not satisfied at all with the answer given by the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin). It is a complete evasion of all the questions I have asked over a long period. 1 have set out in detail the questions to which I want replies and I have asked the Minister before that land be released in this area for these people. After all, it is their land. The Government has taken it from them. Over a long period the Government of this country has owned that land. This is one matter about which I have asked before. I am not going to probe any further because I know that I will not get a satisfactory reply. 1 know that the Minister will continue to evade the whole issue. I leave it at that.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) (8.12) - I make one point: There has been no evasion, and the honourable senator has been answered.
Question put -
That the request (Senator Poyser’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator Bull)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– Order! Are there any further requests? There being no further requests I declare Division310 passed subject to a request.
Department of Immigration
Proposed expenditure, $71,274,000.
– I am very disturbed by an answer I received this morning to a question I asked on notice some two or three weeks ago. The Senate will recall that I asked the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) who represents the Minister for Immigration (Mr Lynch) the following question:
Is it a fact that Government policy prevents assisted passages being granted to coloured persons; if so, does this same policy apply to a person of European blood and colour, who is a British subject and has an Indian wife and 3 children who are all British subjects.
The Minister representing the Minister for Immigration today provided the following answer:
Yes. It is a matter of general policy to grant assisted passages only to persons of European descent. Assisted passages are intended to assist Australia obtain migrants whom it would not otherwise secure to meet its defined needs. Financial assistance has never been given to migration, which has been limited or restricted by the policy of successive governments. Normally assisted passages are not granted to a family in which one or more members are ineligible.
This is the first time in my recollection that we have had a clear-cut statement of policy from the Minister on this matter and it disturbs me greatly to see that it is no longer based on economics but is a clear case of racial discrimination. This means in fact that if any man of European descent applies for an assisted passage, irrespective of whether he has the qualifications or not, he is refused if he has married a person of non-European descent. Of course, this means that if they have a family, this stigma of racial prejudice is passed on to the children of that family. This is a disgraceful state of affairs. It is bad enough to refuse a West Indian, a British subject, from receiving an assisted passage, as happened some weeks ago. We have now moved into the field where, if a person of white race has married outside the pure white race he will be refused assisted passages. If we take this to its logical conclusion it means that even if a person of white race who had married another person of white race adopted an Asian or coloured child, they would be prevented from receiving assisted passages to this country. No longer can the Government claim this is based on an economic policy. It is quite clear from the answers given by the Minister today that it is determined purely on a racial basis.In my view it is entirely immoral in every respect and 1 want to voice my protest not only in relation to the specific case 1 have mentioned but also in relation to all persons who find themselves in a similar position. The final paragraph of the Minister’s answer is one of the most disgraceful sentences 1 have ever read. It said:
Normally assisted passages are nol granted lo a family in which one or more members are ineligible.
The Minister in the first paragraph of his reply made it quite clear that Government policy now is that a person of coloured race who is not a European cannot receive or obtain- an assisted passage to this country. I want to protest against this and I hope the Government’s adamant attitude will be tempered by some humanity when applications of the type 1 have mentioned here are before the Department.
– 1 do not want to traverse matters that I ventilated during the Estimates Committee meetings but, as the Minister will appreciate, several matters developed after Committee B met. For that reason I intrude into this debate. As the Minister is being frank with her advisers assisting her tonight it might be an opportune time for her to tell me whether the information sought in question 806 asked by me will be supplied. In that question J drew the Minister’s attention to the possibility of a parallel between the complaint to the European Commission on Human Rights concerning 25 Asians in East Africa who possess British passports but were denied entry into the United Kingdom and the denial of entry right to mainland Australia of. indigenous citizens of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I am not passing judgment on this matter, as the Minister will appreciate. I would like to sound out the position because it is fairly fluid. It is for this reason that I raise this matter.
There is another matter on which 1 would like to be brought up to date. Earlier this year I received from the Minister an answer which involved the policy of various British governments to the percentage of Commonwealth people who obtain work permits. I appreciate one point in the answer which I received and that is that in the final analysis it rests with the British Government as to the policy it will pursue. Part of the answer staled that the per centage of Australians involved was onethird or one-quarter. 1 raise this matter now because as recently as last Friday 1 had correspondence in my files relating to a couple of young Australians who intend going overseas. They were a little apprehensive thai if the present Government in Britain decided to reduce the number of work permits they might find themselves in England with an expected 12-months permit curtailed. They are the 2 matters upon which I seek the advice of the Minister.
(8.26) - Senator Poyser raised the question of what would happen if a European family adopted a child who would not normally come within the category-
– The question involved much more than that.
– The honourable senator made a comment about the last part of the answer given, which was:
Normally assisted passages are nol granted in a family in which one or more members are ineligible.
In connection with that part of the answer given today the honourable senator asked what would be the position if they had adopted a child. My reply to the honourable senator is: Sympathetic consideration would be given to the adopted child being given an assisted passage.
Senator Mulvihill made a point relating to a question he has on the notice paper. I think that it should be answered in the normal way during the question period and as soon as there is an answer available for him I will see that he gets it. The honourable senator raised one other point. 1 have not yet got the information but as soon as 1 get it I will let him have it.
– Just looking through these estimates, I am concerned about the expenditure
– For which sub-division?
– For the lot.
– Will the honourable senator please state the item to which he is referring?
– Division 330 sub-division 2, to commence with - administrative expenses. I am covcerned about the increased allocation this year and the areas of activity in which this increase occurs. I am also concerned with those areas of activity in which there will be a reduction under this appropriation. In view of the fact that there have been reports that the Minister for Immigration (Mr Lynch) has questioned the advisability of extending our immigration policy as we have done in the past I would like to ask whether these estimates which we are now considering indicate a change in the policy of the Department. Alternatively, is it anticipated that there shall be a reduction of migrant intake this year with an increased expenditure on efforts to obtain migrants, with less success than in previous years?
The appropriation under subdivision 1 has been increased this year by about $700,000. Under subdivision 2 there is also an increased appropriation for this year of about $100,000. There is an increased appropriation for the repatriation and deportation of migrants. Is it anticipated that the demand in this section of activity will be greater this year than it was last year?
Again there is an increase in the appropriation for other services under subdivision 3. For this year the increase is about $300,000. Under the heading ‘Administrative’ in Division 330 we find that subdivision 4 relates to embarkation and passage costs. Item 01 which is United KingdomAustralia Assisted Passage Agreement - Passage and associated costs, and item 02 which is Special Passage Assistance Programme - Passage and associated costs show a reduction in the amount appropriated for 1970-71 when compared with the appropriation and expenditure last financial year.
Item 03 is concerned with Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration - Passage and associated costs for refugee migration. Item 04 deals with Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration - Contribution to operational budget excluding passage costs. Again, the appropriation for 1970-71 represents a considerable reduction on the appropriation and expenditure for 1969-70. In the case of item 04, the amount falls from an actual expenditure last financial year of $752,064 to an appropriation this financial year of $454,000.
Item 05 provides for the Movements of migrations upon disembarkation and item 06 relating to Reimbursement of passage assistance repaid by migrants on temporary departure from Australia show, in the first example, a slight reduction and in the second case a slight increase over actual expenditure last year. But every item associated with the passage of migrants to Australia has been reduced in the appropriations for this financial year. Every item related to the administration concerned with and assistance to migrants leaving Australia shows an increase, this financial year.
Subdivision 5 of Division 330 relates to Migrant Education Services, The actual expenditure last financial year was $1,332,690. The amount appropriated this year has increased to $4m. I repeat my point: Every item associated with migration to Australia shows an anticipated reduction in expenditure for the coming year. Do the appropriations in respect of these items reflect the thinking of the Government that there will be a reduction in the number of migrants coming to Australia from the United Kingdom this year? Do the appropriations reflect also a more costly effort in both the administration sphere and the advertising sphere for the purpose of training migrants? I ask the Minister to comment on this aspect of the appropriations.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) (8.32) - Senator Mulvihill asked me about work permits. I have to inform the honourable senator that work permits are wholly within the control of the British Government. The honourable senator asked me a question also concerning Division 330, sub-division 4 concerning Embarkation and Passage costs. The honourable senator pointed out that the appropriation for item 01 - United Kingdom-Australia Assisted Passage Agreement - Passage and associated costs - is $20,221,000 as compared with an actual expenditure last financial year of $23,521,61.5. The United Kingdom-Australia Assisted Passage Agreement - Passage and associated costs - item relates to assisted passages under the United Kingdom-Australia Assisted Passage Agreement and the associated costs involved for passages of assistant welfare and information officers and official chaplains on ships. X-ray examination, movement to port of embarkation and travel agents’ fees. Also included is the cost of equipping initially and establishing child migrants arriving in Australia and proceeding to approved institutions for care and maintenance. Migrants of 19 years and over pay $St: 10 towards the cost of their passages whilst persons under 19 years travel free. In addition, the Government of the United Kingdom contributes $Stg150,000 per annum. These receipts are credited to revenue. Item 01 provides for a programme of 60,000 British migrants for 1.970-71 compared with approximately 68,200 paid for in 1969-70.
The honourable senator spoke next about item 02 which deals with the Special Passage Assistance Programme. In relation to this the estimate for 1970-71 is $7,181,000. The provision has been made under the special passage assistance programme for assistance to applicants from Ireland, the United States and continental Europe who are not eligible to apply for passage assistance under any existing migration agreement or arrangements. Migrants 19 years of age and over are required to pay $25 towards passage costs. Those under 1.9 years make no contribution. The balance of passage costs is met by the Commonwealth. Provision has been made for travel agents’ fees. A programme of 21,400 has been provided for in 1970-71, compared with the total of approximately 22,700 paid for in 1969-70.
The honourable senator referred also to the Inter-governmental Committee for European Migration and passage and associated costs for refugee migration. Under this item the estimate for 1970-71 is $3,047,000, compared with last year’s expenditure of $4,049,475. Expenditure under this item covers passage assistance for refugee migrants to be moved to Australia by the Inter-governmental Committee for European Migration. A programme of 10,000 refugee migrants has been provided for in 1970-71, compared with approximately 15,000 paid for in 1969-70. The smaller provision in 1970-71 reflects a decrease in the number of Yugoslavs moved from Austria by the ICEM as refugees. With the expected operation of the Assisted Passage Agreement with Yugoslavia in 1970-71, many Yugoslavs will be moved by the Australian Government from Yugoslavia directly. Provision for these movements has been made under Division 330.
Still referring to the Inter-governmental Committee for European Migration, the honourable senator then dealt with the contribution to operational budgeting excluding passage costs. This year the estimate for that is $454,000. ICEM comprises 31 member governments, including Australia, and has operated since 1952 to facilitate the movement of European migrants to countries offering opportunities for permanent re-settlement. The assistance given to member governments mainly comprises the arrangement of transport, financial aid and the provision of technical services. The proposed expenditure of $454,000 includes payments for pre-visa and post-visa services, language training, pre-embarkation training of single women, training of national officials, and contribution for voluntary agency movements of $90 a migrant. The decrease in 1970-71 is the net result of a smaller provision for pre-visa and post-visa services, training of national officials, women’s training courses and voluntary agency movements and increased requirements for payments for language training programmes and language supervisors’ salaries.
– I want to raise some matters under Division 330 - Administrative. In particular later on I want to talk, about item 07 under subdivision 2. First of all, I would like to remind the official spokesman for the Country Party, Senator Webster, that none of these matters were discussed in the Estimates Committees. The matters I am raising are quite new.
– The honourable senator could have raised them in the Estimates Committees.
– This would not have made any difference, quite frankly. I want to support what my colleague, Senator Poyser, said a few moments ago. The Government has claimed frequently that its immigration policy is not based on racial grounds. Senator Poyser. I think very properly, pointed out that this is the very basis on which our immigration policy operates. 1 would like to quote the relative passages from both a question Senator Poyser asked and the reply which he received to it today. Senator Poyser asked:
Is it a fact that Government policy prevents assisted passage being granted to coloured persons?
The Minister replied:
Yes. It is a matter of general policy to grant assisted passages only to persons of European descent.
I want to read a number of passages from correspondence to which I referred the other night when speaking on the motion for the adjournment and to which the Government has refused to give any sort of consideration. The Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) will recall that I raised 3 different points on immigration in one evening. The Minister refrained from commenting. That is the Minister’s prerogative. The Minister for Immigration (Mr Lynch) has replied to only one of them, and I will quote his reply at the end of the comments I propose to make first. I believe that it will back up my submission that the Australian policy on immigration is still a White Australia policy. In December of last year I wrote to the Minister seeking permission for a Mr Douglas Soe Jen Lim to come to Australia from Hong Kong. In order to get the record straight - and I think this ought to go into Hansard so that a lot of people can see the disgraceful way in which this Government runs its immigration policy - I shall quote from the letter. It is as follows:
Douglas was born at Tjirabon (Java) on 7th January 1939, of Chinese parents, and is one of a family of three sons and two daughters, all of whom were sent to Australia by their parents to receive an education.
As a result of political unrest and persecution of the Chinese the family moved to Hong Kong about 1964. Douglas returned home prior to this date but has not been allowed to return to Australia.
Douglas received an education to at least first year university standard-
Subsequent correspondence indicates that it is higher than this - and is a commercial artist and visualiser. Employment and a home with his brother are available to him and there is no suggestion that he will become a charge on the State.
The brother seeking to bring him to Australia is a qualified sugar chemist in permanent employment and married to the former Glenda Mae Gee Kee, a daughter of a highly respected Innisfail family who are well known in the local business community.
I respectfully request that this matter again be examined with a view to allowing Mr Lim to come to Australia as a first class citizen.
If the sponsorship of his brother is considered insufficient then I am prepared to take the responsibility of ensuring that he fits satisfactorily into the community without displacing any Australian in employment. Incidently Mr Lim is unmarried.
I know that if this young man could not obtain a job with his brother other people in this country would be prepared to employ him with his qualifications. One of the qualifying factors is stated in the letter to me from the Minister of 10th February 1970. It is necessary that I should read 3 or 4 paragraphs of this letter in order to put this matter into its right perspective. The letter states:
There is provision for the entry to Australia for residence of the non-European spouse, unmarried minor children, aged parents and fiance or fiancee of an Australian citizen or of persons having resident status in this country.
In addition provision also exists for the admission for residence of persons not of European descent, who, as well as having the capacity to integrate into the Australian community, have qualifications which are in demand and of positive value to this country. Among those applications may be considered are: - persons with specialised technical skills for appointments for which local residents are not available; and - persons who are eligible to practise in a profession in Australia in which they may be absorbed without difficulty.
I maintain that Mr Lim comes into the second category and ought to have been given permission to come to this country long ago. But it goes further than that. On 28th April last I again wrote to the Minister in these terms:
You will recall that some time ago 1 made representations on behalf of Douglas Soe Jen Lim who desires to migrate to this country. Mr Lim is now Promotions and Public Relations Manager for Brunswick Far East Inc., who control bowling premises situated in Middle Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
I have again gone over in detail the qualifications of Mr Douglas Lim and my conviction that he would be an asset to this country. Again may I reiterate that there is no suggestion that he will become a charge on the community as both accommodation and employment for him will be attended to by his family.
I respectfully request that this particular case bc again reviewed.
On 27th October, a few days ago, I received this letter from the Minister:
During your speech on the adjournment on 21 October 1970 you asked that further consideration be given to the application lodged by Mr
Douglas Soc Jen Urn for entry iti Australia for residence.
Mr Lim, an Indonesian national of Chinese race was first admitted to Australia for educational purposes in February 1954. He matriculated in 1958 but failed in all subjects in a science course at the University of Queensland in 1959 and I960. Mr Lim then transferred to a four year diploma course in commercial illustration al the Central Technical College, Brisbane, and was successful in the first and second year examinations. In July 1963 when mid-way through the third year, he proceeded to Hong Kong.
Honourable senators will recall that this was about the time that his family were having problems in Indonesia and migrated from there to Hong Kong with the loss of most of their personal possessions. The letter continues:
There is provision in immigration policy for ihe admission of persons not of European descent, who as well as having the capacity to integrate into the Australian community, have qualifications which are in demand and of positive value to this country.
Then Mr Lynch goes on to quote the qualifications: - persons wilh specialised technical skills for which local residents are not available; and - persons who are eligible to practise in a profession in Australia in which they may be absorbed without difficulty.
Mr Lim, although he spent over 9 years in Australia for study reasons, docs not have any professional or kindred qualifications which would enable his application lo be considered favourably. In these circumstances J am obliged to tell you that approval has not been granted for him to migrate to Australia.
So far as 1 am concerned this man has been excluded from this country on a purely racial basis. A job has been guaranteed for him, a home has been guaranteed for him and, so far as I can observe, in the profession in which he has received a fair amount of training, there is work for him. This bears out the facts given in a reply to Senator Poyser as a result of his questions about another white person who married a non-white person and now the Government is applying this bar to him because he happened to live and marry a woman who was non-white. 1 want to refer to one other thing before I leave what I believe is the white Australia policy of the Liberal-Country Party coalition. Can the Minister tell me why Papuans who are in fact Australians arc not allowed into Australia? Can the Minister advise whether there is any quota system that allows them into Australia in small groups? Can the Minister advise if this law is likely to be relaxed within the next 100 years, if we are unfortunate enough to have to put up with this Government for that period?
J now refer to Division 330 sub-division 2 item 07 - Repatriation and deportation of migrants. The appropriation for this item in 1969-70 was $468,000. Expenditure for 1969-71 was $465,297. But for the current financial year the appropriation has increased substantially to $524,000. I ask: Is the repatriation of the Todman family, the Taylor family and others covered by this appropriation? ls it proposed that the Government will make additional finance available to those who are able to get on side with the Government to send them home because they become disgruntled with Australia? I ask, finally: What proportion of this expenditure was spent on repatriation and what proportion on costs associated with the deportation of migrants?
– 1 again wish to preface my remarks by referring to events which have occurred since the meetings of Estimates Committee B. In regard to the first point I wish to make 1 find myself in a unique position. A publication in Canberra titled Weekend Business Review’ made a general side swipe at all senators and questioned whether or not senators were functioning intelligently on these Committees. I never turn the other cheek when someone has a shot at me so I sent this publication the entire proceedings of Estimates Committee B and suggested that if the publishers had any complaints they should write back to me. I made the point - and whatever the criticism I think I can speak for Senator McClelland and Senator Fitzgerald - that I thought that we were not silent when we wanted information. It is probable that in the tune since the Committees sat that other material has come forward, and on reflection, after having looked at the Hansard record, it was obvious that answers could have prompted other questions. But the committee system is in the running in stage and that was the object of the exercise.
However, I wrote this letter to the publishers of ‘Weekend Business Review’ and suggested to them that if they read the transcript they could see that certainly honourable senators of the Opposition were conscious of their responsibilities and had certainly been fairly vocal in seeking information. A couple of matters are raised in the current issue of 3rd November. Senator Lawrie is a goodie in this matter but the rest of us are not. The writer of the article took umbrage at the statement of the Government’s senior advisers that 174 Australians living abroad had been repatriated. This is where 1 part company with this paper as do, I think, some of my colleagues. My attitude to these particular estimates is that if I have to choose between what some people regard as extravagant expenditure and in dealing with people in a humane manner, I. choose the latter course. In the main, I believe that is the attitude of officers of the Department of Immigration. I have raised this point because this paper is squealing about how 174 Australians came back to Australia, virtually implying that they were bludging on Australia. I suggest that if some editors, and the editor of this particular paper, did a little more constructive thinking it would be far better than squealing about the few dollars that have been spent. My motives are completely different from those expressed by this paper.
I should like information on the 174 people who were repatriated. I am not cavilling about the expenditure. I am happy with it but 1 should like to know whether the Department draws a distinction between people who come back to Australia like this and who are debited against the Department of Immigration and those who return and are debited to the Department of External Affairs. I suppose that I am like other honourable senators who went to Europe on a working holiday in the 1950s. I know how one can easily get into a financial jam. What would be the position of an Australian boilermaker who was working in the shipyards on the Clyde when there was industrial dispute and union solidarity prevailed and the men were out on the grass and the employer took back some but not all of the men - and I do not say this in a derogatory way - all members of the Clydeside trade union, but the Australian did not get his job back? Possibly a last in first to go policy prevailed. He could be battling for a crust. What would be the position if he asked to be repatriated to Australia? What would be the position if a shop assistant were similarly placed? I am not talking of people in the high income groups. Would such people be included in the categories of the 174 who returned to Australia or is the Department looking only for academics? I point out that academics could be down on their luck too.
These are points that 1 am trying to establish. I am not saying this as criticism of the Department, as will be appreciated. I am trying to refute the cold blooded statistical approach that some newspapers, as personified by the ‘Weekend Business Review’, adopt. The second matter that I seek clarification of is prompted by correspondence I have received from Mr Fitz-, gibbons, the Federal Secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation. I shall not give the name of the man involved because the Department of Immigration is handling the case in another State. I have confidence in the Department but I seek information now because wc will all be out on the hustings in about 48 hours.
– I doubt it.
– I do not know what Senator Greenwood will be doing but sooner or later I will be out on the hustings and this is why I am raising this matter now. I am sorry that 1 did not hear what Senator Little said when he interjected.
– You are fortunate.
– I got into trouble one night for mistaking interjectors so I want to be careful tonight. In view of the ideological thaw that has developed in some countries in Europe I am seeking information. I have in mind a case that involves a person from one of the Soviet bloc countries - Latvia. What is the modus operandi that applies in the case of a Latvian girl who wants a 2-month permit to visit her relatives in Australia and then return? Would she undergo the same rigorous security test as would a person who wanted to come here permanently? These are the 2 questions I put to the Minister.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) (8.54) - Senator Mulvihill referred to assisted passages for Australians returning from overseas. The term ‘special class of persons’ was used. This was intended to differentiate between returning Australians for whom provision was made under item 08 of subdivision 4 of Division 330 and distressed Australians who are not assisted by the Department of Immigration. The number of persons who actually arrived with assistance under Division 330, subdivision 4, item 08 during 1969-70 was 174. The cost of assisting these people would have been approximately $42,000. Among Australians overseas are many with high qualifications, including some undergoing post-graduate studies. Before assistance is granted inquiries are made to determine whether their reasons for remaining away from Australia esablish that, without assistance to return, what talents they have may be lost to Australia. It is also established that, if helped to return to Australia, they have a bona fide intention of permanent residence in Australia and that there is a need for financial assistance. This is not unusual. A number of countries such as Great Britain and Canada take steps of this kind to attempt to reverse the brain drain and encourage the return to their home country of this kind of above average citizen.
Senator Keeffe spoke about increases in repatriation and deportation. The figure for last year was $465,297. This year the estimate is $524,000 for repatriation and deportation of migrants. This item covers expenditure in connection with the repatriation in approved circumstances of migrants, and the cost of deportation of prohibited immigrants, including sustenance while held in custody pending shipping accommodation. Provision has also been made to cover the cost of operation of detention centres set up in Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle to house noncriminal deportees pending deportation. Due to a strengthening of social welfare resources the Department is now able more adequately to assess the feasibility of successful settlement in certain social breakdown cases. This led to an increase in the number of cases approved for repatriation in 1969-70, and this trend is expected to continue in 1970-71. Allowance has been made also for an increase in the number of criminal deportations.
– Does that mean both criminals and people having nervous breakdowns? Is this an increased number in both fields?
-I think we have here the figures for repatriation and deportation. In 1969-70 the total expenditure was $465,297. The allocation for this year has increased. In 1969- 70 the expenditure for repatriation was $334,362 and for deportation, $130,935. In 1970-71 provision has been made for an expenditure of $389,000 for repatriation and $135,000 for deportation. I was also asked some questions regarding adult migrant education. Last year the expenditure on the adult migrant education programme in Australia was $1,092,517. This year there is an increase in the estimate, the figure being $1,326,000. This item provides for class instruction in English in metropolitan and rural areas where migrants have congregated. Persons unable to attend classes can enrol for correspondence lessons. In addition, radio lessons are broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission in co-operation with the Commonwealth Office of Education. The detailed arrangements for class and correspondence tuition are carried out by State education departments. Generally speaking, the teaching is done by State school teachers.
In 1970-71 special attention will be given to the needs of individual groups of migrants. Greater use will be made of advanced teaching techniques and measures already taken to encourage industry to establish English classes at the work place of migrants will be intensified. Facilities for the instruction of migrants in reception centres and in hostels will be expanded in
-I enter into this discussion to express a point of view which I feel I must express mainly because of the answer given by the Minister to the question asked by Senator Poyser, and for no other reason. I think it would be unfair to quote individual cases of requests for assistance from the Minister on migration matters in a discussion such as this. I do not propose to do that. I have many friends particularly among the young Chinese community as the result of the semi-adoption of a young Chinese lady who had a problem some years ago. I find that my wife and I have become very popular with the young Chinese people and particularly those who have problems. I am prepared to handle them with the Minister for
Immigration (Mr Lynch) himself. I feel that there has been a change in the last 12 months in Australia’s attitude to this problem. I feel that it is doing us tremendous damage right throughout the world. For that reason I think it is sufficiently important on these estimates to say something about it, because the question that was answered by the Minister tonight makes quite apparent the reason why we are now becoming once again very misunderstood in other parts of the world with our controlled immigration policy. 1 would like to assure the Minister that he need have no worry about support for a common sense policy of controlled immigration from either the politicians or the people of this country. I do not think any of us would be sufficiently foolish as to advocate that we should go into some of the depressed countries of. the world and sponsor a policy of assisted migration. If we sponsored such a policy the opportunity would be seized by many people to come to this country. However, I feel that we must help the people of these countries by apportioning some of our capacity to produce and some of our natural productivity for the purpose of assisting them to lift their living standards. But we would not assist them or assist this country by bringing them here to form a second class community. That is the purpose of a controlled immigration policy.
I can well understand the fear of the English Government today about persisting with an assisted immigration policy in a community which itself has been permeated by a large number of people who, culturally and economically, are not capable and were not capable of being smoothly inducted into the British community. 1 think that would be understood both here and abroad. But we are faced with an application by a British person whose only crime is that he has seen fit to marry a person of another race and that he has children. What is this race of 12 million people scared of? A most expert examination has to be made on behalf of the Minister for Immigration before public servants, who have only the general rules to guide them, can advise that such a person should be rejected. These are the kinds of cases on which the world is judging us. Other countries judge us rightly if we make a decision on such a case that the man cannot come for no other reason than that be happens to be married to a person of a different race and that he has children who are of mixed race. What is a nation of 12 million people afraid of in regard to cases such as these which confront us in a controlled immigration policy? 1 want to emphasise to the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) who represents the Minister for Immigration that this is not the policy of the Australian people. The intention of a controlled immigration policy is not to convey this impression. This is a distortion that comes about because of a lack of courage. 1 never again want to live through a period such as 1 experienced abroad when I was attacked by people in Asia and elsewhere because of statements such as that made by a prominent Australian politician that two Wongs do not make a White. I will not go any further in that respect. Honourable senators will know to whom I allude. Statements of this kind do incredible damage. They destroy years of good administration. The spirit of the Australian people is not racial. I object to members of the Opposition trying to pin a racial policy onto the Government. I would not pin such a policy onto the Opposition or anyone else because by and large ! believe that this is not the spirit of the Australian people at all, irrespective of whether honourable senators in this chamber are influenced by racial discriminations.
Our immigration programme is the cornerstone of the future of this nation, if it is to have a future. We will never get enough people in this country by way of natural increase. The facts are against us. We must have a positive and everbroadening approach to immigration policy. Our policy must be controlled if we do not want to inherit all the problems that we have seen in other nations which have not discriminated on this question. However, we must never allow our immigration policy to go to the extent that the answer conveyed to us tonight indicates. It illustrates the Government’s fear of one man, his wife who is of a different race and his children who are of mixed race, ls it not true that in 30. 40 or 50 years the wife will be longer be here, and if the children come here they will most likely be intermingled with people of our race? Will it improve the situation if we decide now to exclude them?
I suggest that the goodwill engendered by the tremendous amount of money we are spending in bringing people to this country will largely be offset by the poor reputation we will give Australia in the minds of thinking people in every part of the world, of whatever race or whatever nationality. Most of these people are fairminded enough to accept our policy of controlled immigration but not if we allow these individual cases to give a distorted picture which will predominate in the publicity that is given overseas to our immigration policy. I hope that in future what has been said on this occasion will be carefully considered by the Government and particularly by the Minister. He has the power to make special recommendations in special circumstances. Even with his departmental officers trying to carry out a general policy he is sufficiently interested and close enough to particular cases to make decisions in the interests of Australia and in the interest of a proper approach towards our fellowmen.
– I want to express my complete dissatisfaction with the reply I received from the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) on the matters I referred to earlier and to which other honourable senators have since referred. The only reply I could get from the Minister in response to my queries in relation to this matter was that the only concession that would be made is that sympathetic consideration would be given to a child adopted by European people. The answer is obviously a flat ‘no’ in relation to a European who has married a non-European and then has children. The answer by the Minister to my question is clear: it is a matter of racial discrimination. There can be no other construction which can be placed on it because the first part of my question said:
Is it a fact that Government policy prevents assisted passages being granted to coloured persons?
The Minister made the following reply:
Yes. It is a matter of general policy to grant assisted passages only to persons of European descent.
Take that to is logical conclusion and let people say: ‘Well, that is fair enough; this country should or should not have a White Australia policy’. But we get to the situation where a British subject born in England and of European race has married an Indian lass and is denied an assisted passage to this country because one or more of his family are ineligible. I presume the one or more in this case would be the wife and the 3 children. This disgusts me beyond all belief because the person I speak of is fully qualified to come to this country. I will be prepared to give further details concerning this person when I have authority to do so. It is a disgraceful situation when, because he chose somebody he desired to spend the rest of his life with and because he chose to have a family and bring young children into this community, the Government says ‘No’ because the colour of his wife’s skin is different, and because the colour of his children’s skin will be different, from the colour of his own. This is a most disgraceful thing and cannot be fobbed off as far as I am concerned by the Minister saying that if it was an adopted child-
– You asked about an adopted child.
– I use this only as an example.
– You asked about an adopted child and I answered you.
– The only reply the Minister gave me in relation to the whole matter that I raised was that sympathetic consideration would be given. It astounds me that a government can be so inhuman in a matter of this nature.
– I have been listening for some time with some interest and growing disdain for what I have heard from Senator Poyser and a second time and earlier from Senator Keeffe. I do not know what the Minister will say in reply but I object most strongly to the accusation that the Government is involved in racial discrimination. I object to the expression which Senator Poyser used: ‘I am filled with disgust at our immigration policy.’ / object to his expression that it is a disgraceful policy. I object to it on the first ground that it is not sustained. I object on the second ground that it is an unfair way to describe a policy which is subscribed to by all the major parties in this country. And I object to the fact that for sheer short term political advantage an accusation of racial discrimination has been thrown at this Government when the same policy would be followed by those people who are responsible for the policies of the Australian Labor Party.
We have a controlled immigration policy as was referred to by Senator Little. If you have a controlled immigration policy it means that you limit the immigration of people into this country,I do not know of any country which does not have a controlled immigration policy of some description. What we do in Australia is no different from what other countries do. Our policy is no different from the policies pursued by countries in Asia, Africa and Europe. For members of the Australian Labor Party - 2 members in particular, not all of them - to blacken Australia’s name by accusing Australia of being a racist indicates the depths to which some people will descend for the purpose of political advantage. I have the ALP platform before me.
– On a point of order. Under which Division is Senator Greenwood sneaking?
– The point of order is not sustained because there has been discussion under ‘Administrative’ in this debate.
– I have before me the official platform of the ALP and I think it is wise thatI should read this becauseI do not think there is any significant difference between the official policy of the ALP and the official policy of the Government with regard to immigration matters.
– Is that the Victorian Executive, the New South Wales Executive or the Federal body?
– It is certainly not the policy to which Senator Keeffe and Senator Poyser are giving expression tonight. This policy states that the Labor Party believes in an expanding immigration programme administered with sympathy, understanding and tolerance.
– That is where we differ for a start
– It is precisely what you were told by the Minister and you chose not to accept her word, butI suggest that there is some underlying dishonest motive behind your use of such words which are in your own platform. It states:
The basis of such policywill be -
Australia’s national and economic security.
The Government has a similar policy. The next one states:
And that ought to be of prime concern to Australia. It is of prime concern to this Government and it is of prime concern in the official platform of the ALP. It states further:
We have an Australian policy which desires, as far as possible, to maintain a homogeneity of population and yet we do not shut the door to people from any country. But we recognise the problems which will exist if we have diverse groups of people with different interests and different cultures forming enclaves which will produce the stresses which have been produced in other countries and which we seek to avoid in this country. We have a controlled immigration policy which says that no person, whatever his colour or race, or whatever be his creed, is to be denied entry. Vet because we have a controlled immigration policy there must be some people who would wish to enter but will not be able to enter.
I listened to what Senator Little said. I appreciate that the difficulties he feels are the difficulties which the Minister for Immigration (Mr Lynch) has to recognise and to determine in the decisions that he makes. There will be many hardships and there will be some heartbreaks. But the point is that if we have a policy it will be administered as the present policy is administered with sympathy, understanding and tolerance, and in accordance with the guidelines.
I havehad a number of applications, as I think all honourable senators have, from persons who wish to have representations made to the Minister. They have been in this country and they are required to return to their home countries after their studentship is finished; they wish to remain here. But there are certain rules which must be observed. There are other persons who wish to come to this country on assisted passages. But, to do so, there has to be some bending of the rules which have been laid down. Once we start bending the rules in too many places, we cease to have the real ingredients of a policy.
– Why not change the rules? Some rules ought to be changed.
– I do not think that the rules should be changed. Sometimes, after examination, they can be amended and I think that this has been shown over the years in the administration of the policy. Whilst the rules are there, they must be administered through the Department by the Minister. I think that the Minister has shown himself willing to receive any representations, to attend to them all and to reply to them all. On some occasions, he accedes to representations; on some occasions he does not.
What I rose to object to were the many statements made both by Senator Poyser and Senator Keeffe which suggests that Australia is practising racial discrimination. Not only does it do their own Party - the Party to which they belong and in whose name they stand - a discredit but also it is a discredit to Australia that they should urge these views, which they must appreciate are untrue, upon the Australian people.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) (9.17) - I wish to provide one or two answers before the Committee continues further with this debate. I suggest that Senator Poyser listen again to the reply which I gave in answer to his question on the matter about which he has spoken. We are speaking about assisted passages. The question deals only with the area of assisted passages. I draw the attention of the honourable senator to the last 2 lines of my answer. I remind him that the relevant sentence commenced with the word: ‘Normally’. I said: ‘Normally, assisted passages are not granted to a family in which one or more members are ineligible’. The use of the word ‘normally’ shows that there is an area for consideration. In exceptional circumstances there could be a variation. I think it is important that 1 should draw that to the attention of the honourable senator and that it should be noted.
Next, the honourable senator complained because I answered his question. He asked me a question concerning an adopted child. I replied in my answer to the point that he had raised. I said that sympathetic consideration would be given to the adopted child being granted an assisted passage. That was the question the honourable senator asked me; that is the answer that I gave. There it is again. The honourable senator spoke later concerning the wife or children of a European migrant. I inform the honourable senator that entry of the wife or children of a European migrant is not denied because they are not fully European, but an assisted passage is not normally granted to them. I think that that answers the point which the honourable senator raised in this one area.
– It does not. The Minister has avoided-
– Order! The Minister is entitled to be heard in silence.
– I leave those queries and turn to a question asked by Senator Cavanagh concerning the increase in sub-division 3 of Division 330. The actual expenditure in this Division in 1969-70 was §5,959,768. This financial year, the appropriation is $6,326,000. This is an increase of $0.37m. This, I am informed, is for the greater requirements of hostel operations, increased provisions for Good Neighbour Councils and increased grants to community agencies involved in integration activities.
– I want to say a few words about the answer that was given by the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) to Senator Poyser and also to support what Senator Poyser has said. I understood Senator Poyser to put forward an argument that the reply from the Minister was unsatisfactory, and I understood Senator Little from Victoria to substantially support that point of view.
– I consider it unsatisfactory.
– So do I. I suggest that this is where we should start. It is a very important matter. That is why 1 wish to say something about it. Firstly, I suggest that the Minister might send the answer that the Minister for Immigration (Mr Lynch) supplied this morning to question number 794 asked by Senator Poyser back to the Department because it is obviously inaccurate. The beginning of the answer points out that there are some circumstances under which this so-called general principle may not be applied. I know of some cases involving British subjects living in India who are of mixed origin and who are coloured people who have been assisted into Australia. An answer has been given to an important question asked by a senator. That senator has raised this matter in this debate to indicate that he certainly does not agree with any discrimination against coloured people, and he is entitled to do so. lt seems to me that if the Minister were looking after the policies of the Government she would say thai, if there is any misunderstanding in respect of this matter, the answer should be withdrawn and reviewed. We have 2 positions and if Senator Greenwood were here-
– I am here.
– The honourable senator is not sitting in his seat. I did not notice him. Let me refer to what he talked about. He talked about the Government’s policy and the policy of the Australian Labor Party on immigration being the same. Then he suggested that Senator Poyser was attacking the Government. Both the Government and the Labor Party agree on allowing coloured people into this country. Whether it is to be on a regulated basis or on a quota basis is not the issue. Senator Keeffe has drawn to our attention that the Minister has already announced, in reply to a question asked by him. that selected people of Asian or coloured origins are entitled to come into this country but that they will not get assistance because they do not come under the arrangements which provide for assisted passages. On the other hand, of course, there are many people who are covered by the agreements for assistance who do not get assistance anyway. Senators have applied to get assisted passages for migrants but have failed because the intending migrants have not qualified under the criteria which the Government establishes. We have a situation in which Asian people or coloured people are allowed to enter the country if they are suitable. But the reply which the Minister gave to Senator Poyser tonight indicates obviously that unless they are of European descent they will not be entitled to assisted passages. Later on she used the words under normal circumstances’.
If anybody is at fault in relation to the debate on this mutter, it is not Senator Poyser. If anybody is at fault in relation to a lack of clarification, it is the Government, and the Government should readily see that what has been started tonight is not the fault of the Labor Party or Senator Poyser. As a matter of fact, Senator Poyser should be commended for raising the matter in order that it might be cleared up. Some misunderstandings have arisen in this debate. Senator Greenwood has said that we can debar a coloured person or an Asian person from assistance simply because he is coloured, but we are told that the Government will allow such a person in if they have a qualification and if they pay their own way. Such a policy is a lot of nonsence and it should not be supported by this Parliament. Bui there are cases of coloured people of mixed origin who are British subjects getting assisted passages to this country, as they should, lt should be possible for people who are classified, under this Liberal Government or under a Labor Government, as acceptable citizens to get assisted passages irrespective of their colour.
Let us clean the position up by the Minister for Housing making sure that the answers given in the debate on this matter are reviewed by the Department of Immigration and the Minister for Immigration. If this is the new ruling of the Department and if procedures have been misunderstood in the past, let us clean them up and let our policy be made known to the world at large. Recently the President of the Senate opened a successful Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference which was held in Australia. Hundreds of delegates attended the Conference, and many of them were coloured. A great number of them were British citizens, accomplished Ministers of governments and specialist people. It is a most retrograde step to talk about rulings along the lines which the Minister has mentioned in giving answers tonight. The rulings ought to be modified, if they are the rulings. 1 again appeal to the Minister to take counsel in respect of the interpretations of policy which she has given to the Committee.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) (9.26) - I should like to correct a figure which I gave in my last reply. In relation to Division 330, subdivision 3, I gave a figure of $37m. I should have said $370,000.
– I want to say a few words on the question that has occupied the attention of the Committee for the last half an hour. 1 refer to the Government’s immigration policy and its application to . people of different races. I agree with some of the points made by Senator Greenwood. It is true that the Australian Labor Party believes in a controlled immigration policy. I have no condemnation of the Government’s immigration policy; my concern is with the administration of the policy. No-one suggests that we should let in from certain countries numbers of people who may do injury to our way of life or to our culture, and I do not think that it was ever the intention of the Government or of the Labor Party that we should do that. But the Government has extended its policy now to include Europeans and people of other races who possess the skills which Australia needs. If Australia needs their skills one would expect it to be prepared to help them financially, whether they are European or of any other race. The Minister’s reply which is under consideration is:
This is racial discrimination, and there is no other way to describe it. We are assisting migrants to come to Australia, whether we want their skills or not. We assist them financially if they are of European descent. That is the general policy. If we are prepared to assist an Englishman who has special skills to come to Australia, we should assist an individual of any race to come to Australia if he has skills which we require, lt was part of the policy to admit into this country nationals from other countries if they had skills which we required. In this instance the Government is discriminating between the races in providing assistance. There is no other explanation for it.
– The Government might be doing it in a general sense.
– It is a matter of general policy. There may be an odd case where the Government would extend the provision, but no-one can deny that this is racial discrimination. Normally assisted passages are not granted to a family if one or more members of the family are ineligible. If one or more members of the family are not of European descent, normally this is a bar to the whole family. I think that the family to which Senator Poyser has referred comes into this category. The bar has been imposed for no other reason than that this man married an Indian girl and there are 3 children of the marriage. No-one could say that the case we are considering now is not one of racial discrimination. It is not a question of the Government’s immigration policy but its application, and I think it is to be deplored. It should be condemned at every conceivable opportunity. We are creating throughout Asia a hatred of Australia. Tt is not because we will not take Asian immigrants but because we discriminate against them because of the colour of their skins or the country of their origin.
I now want to get back to Division 330 which I referred to originally. I thank the Minister for the replies she has given but she has not replied to the first point I raised which referred to the increased cost of administration this year with fewer benefits to the country. The reason given by the Minister for the reduced appropriation for the United Kingdom-Australia Assisted Passage Agreement was that last year 68,000 British migrants arrived in Australia while this year we -are planning for 60,000, a reduction of 8,000. The reason given for the reduction in the appropriation for the Inter-governmental Committee for European Migration-Passage and associated costs for refugee migration was that last year we had 15,000 migrants from this source - mostly Yugoslavs - and this year the number will be reduced to 10,000. That is another 5,000 migrants fewer than last year or 13,000 fewer from the 2 sources which we will not receive this year.
But the whole appropriation under Division 330. which covers the assistance of migrants to Australia, is a reduction on the expenditure last year. The only increase that we have is in Division 330 sub-division 4 item 08 - Second passage assistance and assistance to Australians which covers passage and associated costs - and this appropriation has increased by $122,156. So we will pay more second passage assistance. There are more immigrants going home who will want to return to Australia but the number of other new migrants will be reduced. The cost of getting a reduced number of migrants this year as compared with last year is astronomical. We have an increased appropriation in Division 330 subdivision I of $662,298. Again, in Division 330 sub-division 2, which also covers administrative expenses, we have an increase of $92,918. In sub-division 3- Other Services - which includes the appropriation for Commonwealth Hostels Ltd, the Good Neighbour Councils and the International Social Service, services which we offer to migrants, we are increasing the appropriation to the extent of $336,232 to offer migrants greater services. So the increased cost of administrative services will give us a total increase of $1,121,448 to cater for fewer migrants than we. had last year. But we are still enticing them somehow because in sub-division 5 which covers education services we have an increase in appropriation of $2,667,310. Although we will have a reduced migrant intake the appropriation for Division 332 - Overseas Service - is increased by $285,173. Under subdivision 2 of Division 332 the appropriation is increasing by $211,462. The total increase in Division 332 is $446,635. Of course the total cost of administering this Department and in providing services to migrants in Australia and educating them will be $4,285,373 for fewer migrants this year than we had last year. The Minister has given figures in relation to the reduction in item 04 of subdivision 4 relating to the Inter-governmental Committee for European Migration but can she explain why increased costs are proposed for every other branch of administration this year particularly in view of the reduced migrant inflow? Is it because we are paying for more second assisted passages or is our migration programme failing more each year? Are we finding it harder to attract migrants? We are paying more in services to migrants and yet we are attracting fewer migrants, ls there less desire for people to migrate to Australia? Will there be a review of the situation? 1 think the Minister said that there would be a review of the total cost. There should be a review of what it is costing us for our migrant intake particularly as administrative expenses are increasing and our migrant inflow is decreasing.
– Mr Chairman. I only wish to speak rather briefly on the subject of non-European immigration.
Order! To what item is the honourable senator referring?
– To Division 330. What has caused me to speak is something which was said during the course of the debate by Senator Greenwood. He said that the position which Australia adopted with regard to non-European migration was the same as that which was adopted by every European country. I think that this is a complete misconception of the policies which are adopted by countries in Western Europe.
– Order! Senator Wheeldon, I think we must get away from having a general debate. Which particular item are you discussing?
– I am speaking to Division . 330. A point of order was taken earlier, as I recollect, by Senator Keeffe when Senator Greenwood was speaking. Senator Greenwood continued in this vein so I assumed that I would be in order.
– Order! I think you must come back to the Estimates rather than our having a general debate.
– Very well, Mr Chairman, but if this ruling had been given while Senator Greenwood was speaking no debate would be arising now. I am only sorry that you are suggesting this course while a member from this side is speaking.
– I wish to refer to a couple of matters that the Minister raised. Previously I asked the Minister some questions about item 07, subdivision 2, relating to the repatriation and deportation of migrants. Before continuing 1 must reply to some of the statements that were made earlier and which I feel should be corrected for the record. Earlier in this debate I have raised, quite lawfully under the Standing Orders, points about this matter, but the Enoch Powells of the Liberal Party, including Senator Greenwood, and the Democratic Labor Party - Senator Little - decided to take me and my colleague Senator Poyser to task for some of the things we said.
– I did not.
– By way of interjection you said that European people can be assimilated better than Asians.
– Well, that is true.
– I replied-
– Their culture is different.
– Your contention is that because they are Persil white, Rinso white or Omo white they are better assimilated. Look, there are people coming out from Europe who cannot even write their own name. They are illiterate and you can assimilate them.
Order! Senator Keeffe, you will have to come back to the item.
– 1 am speaking strictly in accordance with these estimates.
– With which section?
– Division 330 item 07. I quoted the case of Lim here tonight. He is a man who has a better basic education than two-thirds of Australians have. The Government is keeping him out of this country simply because he is not white, and for no other reason at all. This was borne out by what Senator Greenwood said earlier and by what Senator Little said. I still maintain that they are the Enoch Powells of their political parties.
– You distort the facts.
– The honourable senator’s interpretation of the immigration policy of this country coincides exactly with that already enunciated by the Nazi Party.
– lt would be more difficult to absorb you into a Chinese community than some Asians.
– Mr Chairman, who is making this speech, Senator Little or 1?
– Order! The honourable senator should address his remarks to the Chair and cease answering interjections.
– Thank you, Sir. 1 want to go back to those parts of the question to which I feel the Minister did not give me adequate reply. With regard to item 07, when I asked for a division in terms of cash and of people who had been repatriated or deported, the Minister said - I apologise if I misunderstood her words - that she divided it up into 2 groups. One group comprised those who had suffered mental breakdowns in Australia - and, God only knows, under this Government there is probably a fairly large number of them - and the other group comprised those who had been deported as criminals. I did not get the figures for the people in the respective groups, and I would like that information. Are there any other groups apart from those who have had mental breakdowns and those who have been deported as criminals? Does anybody go back on compassionate grounds or anything else?
The Minister also failed to reply to my query about Papuans who do not come under any sort of immigration policy at all. Papua is part of Australia, but we do not allow them into Australia. If Senator Little, who is trying to interject, would make his own speech we would get on with the matter much more quickly. I am seeking information from the Minister. Mr Chairman, in view of the ruling of your predecessor in the chair earlier tonight, we do not necessarily have to stick to the part of the division which is under discussion. Consequently, if I have elaborated a little I apologise. Nevertheless, I feel that I am in order. I now seek replies from the Minister to those questions.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) (9.42) - Senator Keeffe asked about item 07 - Repatriation and Deportation of Migrants. The estimate for this year is $524,000. He asked about the numbers who have been repatriated and deported. I have already given him that information, but I will give it again with pleasure. In 1969-70 the number repatriated was 693 and the number deported was 491. In the estimates for this year provision is made for repatriation of 750 and the deportation of approximately 506 persons.
– I am perhaps anticipating the Minister at this point of time. I am waiting on an answer to the question I raised about the security processing of a person visiting this country from Latvia at the request of migrants in Australia. The second point on which I want elaboration is whether any change has been contemplated by the British Home Secretary in relation to the* intake of Commonwealth citizens having work permits? Has there been any contraction in the last 12 months?
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) (9.44) - Senator Mulvihills query concerned a Latvian girl who, I am informed, may visit her parents temporarily provided she meets the normal conditions for entry for a visit. The honourable senator asked for some additional information concerning work permits. I have nothing further to add to the point I made earlier.
– Order! There being no requests. I declare the proposed expenditure agreed to.
Proposed expenditure - Department of Social Services, $40,251,000 - agreed to.
Department of Health
Proposed expenditure, $36,328,000.
– Under the heading ‘Administrative’ I want to raise a matter which concerns the Murray Bridge Soldiers Memorial Hospital (Inc.). I would like to know whether patients treated in the public ward of this hospital are covered by the pensioner medical service. I do not know whether these remarks should be directed to the Department of Social Services or the Department of Health. However, I received a letter from the Murray Bridge Soldiers Memorial Hospital (Inc.) which is dated 15th October 1970. Murray Bridge is a town on the Murray River, some 52 miles from Adelaide. Commenting on payments the Secretary-Manager of the hospital said:
This payment was introduced in January 1963, the rate then being $3.60 per day. This rate was equivalent to the “standard rate benefit’ then being paid to special account contributors ot registered health benefit organisations. In January 1967, the payment was increased to $5 per day in recognition of the rapidly increasing cost of hospital operation. The State Government, aware that this payment was well below the operating costs of hospitals, introduced a further subsidy of $2 per day thereby providing a total of S7 per day in subsidy for pensioner patients.
When the subsidy was introduced in 1963, the daily average cost per patient in this hospital was $6.69 and had risen to S 10.05 in January 1967 when the subsidy was increased. While the subsidy has not altered since, costs have steadily increased to the present level of $12.08. As can be seen, the subsidy is far less than the amount required to cover operating cost. In the period of the scheme’s operation, this hospital has provided 38,936 days maintenance for pensioners. The number treated annually has steadily increased and will continue to do so as the number of entitled pensioners increases.
The attitude of the Commonwealth Department of Health is that of assistance to the patient rather than the hospital, as they feel that hospital operation is a matter for consideration by State authorities, lt has reached the stage however, that hospitals must exercise their right to charge pensioner patients for all but the basic maintenance factors such as nursing care, meals and accommodation. P.M.S. patients are now required to pay for all equipment, drugs, dressings, etc., that are not covered by the Act. This, as you may realise, does impose a burden on the patients concerned but is unavoidable in the present circumstances as the hospital has a responsibility to all sections of the community and must strive for economic operation.
Of course, if the hospital failed to achieve economic operations it would cease to exist. The letter continued:
This matter is brought to your attention in the hope that you will give the necessary support and attention that is required. The field of hospital operation and the increasingly important role that it plays in the maintenance of a desired health standard in the community should not become a subject for Commonwealth and State bartering but should be viewed with the correct focus on the needs and rights of the population in general.
I trust that the details contained herein are sufficient to give you an appreciation of the situation. It would be appreciated if you would advise the writer of your views on the matter, together with advice of any action you may see lit to undertake.
It is signed E. W. Shepherdson, Secretary/Manager of the Murray Bridge Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital (Inc.). In accordance with the correspondence, at the first available opportunity on the Department of Health estimates I bring up the question and ask the Minister whether, in view of the possibility of the increasing inability of -hospitals to cater for pensioner medical -patients, some consideration should be given to some increase in this direction.
(9.52) - I will have to put this matter to the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) because it is a matter of policy. I understand, however, that the rate is one of the matters under consideration by the Government as part of its consideration of the recommendations of the Nimmo Committee. I would mention that payment of pensioner benefits in public hospitals is conditional upon the hospitals providing free treatment for pensioners in public wards.
– In dealing with Division 290 - Administration, J want to raise a matter relating to the administration of the nursing homes subsidy paid by . the Commonwealth to patients in nursing homes who are considered to be intensive care patients, I refer to the methods whereby decisions are made by the Department in relation to some of these patients. I have had a number of people come to me and complain about the fact that persons have been admitted to these private nursing homes on a doctor’s certificate verifying the need for intensive care, have been accepted by the Commonwealth Department as being eligible because of the condition of their health for the additional subsidy, and after 3 or 6 months, without any examination by a medical practitioner, without any visit to the hospital by any member of the Department, correspondence has been received from the Department indicating that the subsidy is to be no longer paid. There are many examples of this. I am very disturbed by the fact that a departmental officer can make a decision contrary to the medical evidence, submitted by a qualified doctor, that the person needs intensive care.
Recently in the city of Geelong we had a doctor and a clerk, from the Department go through all the private nursing homes in that area and delete from the list quite a number of patients who were receiving the additional subsidy. This resulted in some cases in extreme financial hardship and seemed to be based on anything but medical grounds. In many cases the relatives of the aged person concerned have not been in a position to subsidise the fees charged in these hospitals. The result has been that serious financial embarrassment has occurred to the inmate and his or her family and there seems to be no reason in the administration of this section for the removal of those persons, in many cases without any medical examination whatever or, in some cases, a visit from a doctor. 1 am on the Committee of Grace McKellar House in Geelong. This is a big aged persons home and hospital. I have ascertained that persons there have been declared to be ambulant and not eligible for intensive care subsidies when they have been confined to a wheelchair. But the application for subsidy has been rejected even though in some cases mechanical hoists have to be used to take those persons out of a wheel chair and to put them back in a wheel chair because they have physical disabilities. I want to know why there is a ruling to say that these people are ambulant patients just because they can move around in a wheelchair. I. want to quote a Press article in the Geelong News’ of 2nd September this year which indicates the great disturbance which was caused in Geelong over the removal of these aged persons from the extra subsidy’ list. It reads:
Several private hospitals in Geelong have joined in a strong protest lo local Members of Parliament over the Government’s action in chopping back benefits to chronically ill patients.
The hospital matrons claim that some patients are being financially victimised because the Government has got itself into a muddle with its commonwealth and supplementary benefits.
A Department of Health doctor has recently been through the private hospitals in Geelong with a tine tooth comb.
Patients well enough to sit up in be or to feed themselves, get their benefits reduced from $5 a day to $2 a day.
Sister E. Moodie, Matron of Hillcrest Private Hospital, said the situation was a disgrace.
We have written to the Prime Minister and spoken to the Minister for Health.
We get nowhere at all. When the Department of Health doctor came through here he saw one 95-year-old woman who was silting up reading a paper.
He said she would no longer be eligible for the S5 a day supplementary Government benefit.
Another woman, partially blind and stone deaf had her benefits reduced from $5 lo $1 a day.
Our fees are $10.50 a day. so that eeven on the higher benefits, it is a tremendous burden for the relatives.’ Sister Moodie added hat t the same patient had been paying into a medical benefit fund for 40 years.
She could not get a penny back because the benefit organisations would not pay out on chronically ill cases.
Sister S. C. Ball, Matron of Pine Dene Hospital, said that both the hospital and the patient’s own doctor were required to fill out a detailed form on the patient s condition when applying for the higher benefits. “The higher benefits were made available for the first time early last year. All the cases we applied for were granted.
But now the Department of Health docotor without any medical examination of our patients, has refused higher benefits for 2 of them.
In one case it was because the woman was sitting in a chair.
In fact,’ said Sister Ball, ‘she is hopelessly crippled with arthritis and can hardly walk/
Sister Ball said she and several other matrons hud approached Mr A. A. Street, MHR and intended to present their case to other local parliamentarians.
It is beyond my understanding how these aged people can be removed from the list which would entitle them to receive the special supplementary payment. 1 cannot understand how this can be done by a decision of a clerk or a doctor in the city of Melbourne and by simply writing to a hospital advising that the benefit is no longer available. There is ample evidence that this does occur not only in relation to private nursing homes in the city of Geelong but also Grace McKellar House, of which I am a committee member. This seems to me to be a situation in which the Department is cutting its cloth io suit its budget rather than treating this matter with due consideration for the health of the people. We have the situation now where many people who did receive this benefit - and I repeat that this is with a fully qualified doctor’s certificate indicating that they need intensive care and are chronically ill - are being removed from the list of persons eligible for the additional $3 a day, leaving their relatives to face with the added burden of meeting the costs. I would like the Minister to give an indication. I have a question on notice in regard to this matter. I have been awaiting a reply. As yet, a reply has not eventuated. I want an answer as to how it is possible for the Department to remove people from the classification of those eligible to receive this additional subsidy without any medical examination and indeed, in many cases, without even a visit to the hospital concerned.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) (10.0) - I have some information to give the honourable senator but I feel that, after I have given it, there -might still be some further information that he would like to receive. Therefore I believe that it would be best if he were to give to the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) details of the specific cases which he has mentioned so that the Minister might look at those cases.
It is important to note that, prior to the introduction of the supplementary benefit, it was recognised that the care required and received by nursing home patients varied from little more than personal care and attention to the intensive nursing home care which requires constant supervision and all the skills and resources of the nursing staff. The supplementary benefit now payable in respect of this latter class of patient represents a substantial and more realistic contribution towards the upkeep of these cases while the ordinary benefit of S2 per day provides a reasonable contribution for the care required and received by other nursing home patients.
I think that the honourable senator would be interested to know that over 42 per cent of patients in nursing homes are approved for the benefit of S5 per day. The classification of patients as intensive nursing home care cases eligible to receive the supplementary benefit is undertaken on an individual basis by Department of Health medical officers. In making their decisions, these medical officers take into account the nursing requirements of each patient as stated by that patient’s own doctor. Where there is any doubt, approval is given to the patient. So, might I suggest again to the honourable senator that, if he has individual cases, he make details of them available to the Minister for Health so that they may be considered.
Motion (by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) agreed to:
That further consideration of the estimates of the Department of Health be postponed until a later hour.
Department of Housing
Proposed expenditure S6,314,000.
(10.3) - I ask for leave to move a motion for the reconsideration of the vote on the estimates for the Department of Housing. ] do this with some reticence but the circumstances of the situation earlier this evening are these: A division was taken. A Government senator was absent by misadventure. He was in fact in the Parliamentary Library. He was carrying out his work as a member of a parliamentary committee. He was in a room. It has been established that bc was in an area where no bells rang. He was completely oblivious to the fact that there was a division. Therefore, 1 am asking for leave to move a motion for a reconsideration of the vole on the estimates of the Department of Housing which, if leave is granted, will enable me to move that the vote on the Department of Housing be reconsidered.
I am very sorry that this has happened. It is an embarrassment to me. It is an embarrassment to all honourable senators. As we discussed this matter here yesterday, I do not believe that we get results by misadventure; I believe that we get them by deliberate act. In the discussions we had yesterday, it was agreed mutually that when things like this happen by misadventure, the real voice of the Committee of the Senate needs to be recorded and not the result of something which is recorded through odd circumstances. In this case, an honourable senator was doing parliamentary duty in the Library. He was in a situation where, when the bells rang, he did not hear them. It was not his fault that he did not hear them because no provision exists in the room that he occupied for division bells to be heard.
The fact of the matter is thai another senator - Senator Gair - was at the door of the chamber trying to get in. I understand that he could not get in. But I am not resting on that alone: I am resting also on the fact that a Government senator unfortunately was not here also.
– As has been said by way of interjection, what has happened is unfortunate. One member of the Democratic Labor Party and one member of the Liberal Party missed the division. From the evidence we have before us we would imagine that both those gentlemen would have voted against our proposition, therefore the will of the Senate would have been that our motion should have been defeated instead of being carried. If only one of the senators who missed the division had been present the Opposition motion would have still been defeated, because the rules of the Senate relating to an equal vote are such that we would have lost the vote. This is not the first lime that this sort of thing has happened. In fact, it seems to be seasonal because last year the same thing happened and we were defeated by misadventure. Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson on that occasion allowed another vote to be carried on the voices, and we carried 2 motions that were pretty critical and trenchant of the Government. If we do not follow a similar course tonight, other methods could be adopted. We could allow the matter to go to the vote tomorrow or allow the estimates for the Department of Housing to be reconsidered at the end of the Bill. But I think this would be a clumsy way of overcoming the problem.
We do not want to win voles by misadventure. We want to win votes by the will of the Senate. We believed in what we were doing when we moved our motion, and now that it is to come before us again it might underline to the Government and the DLP that what we moved tonight might, at another time in another atmosphere, be successful. So the Opposition will not oppose another vote being taken. We will not insist on a division because the result is clear to us now in the light of what has taken place. I am taking a leaf out of the book of Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson. He did not insist on a division when something similar occurred last year. Earlier this year the boot was on the other foot and we granted something to the Government. In accordance with the precedent that has been taid down, on behalf of the Australian Labor Party I inform the Senate that we will not offer any resistance to the matter being reconsidered.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– It is unfortunate that I am behind the Deputy Chairman. I wished to speak-
– I took it on the voices, and I did not hear Senator Georges voice. In any event, more than one voice is needed.
Motion (by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) agreed to:
Thai the proposed expenditure for the Department of Housing be reconsidered.
– Are there any requests?
– I move:
As the debate has already taken place, I content myself with merely moving the formal motion.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Department of Health
Proposed expenditure, $36,328,000.
– Briefly, I should like to refer to the matter raised by Senator Cavanagh a few moments ago when I was temporarily absent from the chamber. He referred to the financial disability being suffered by the Murray Bridge Soldiers Memorial Hospital in respect of caring for aged people and pensioners in that hospital. I wish to endorse what he said in respect of this disability and to join with him in seeking the Minister’s consideration of the problem.
– There is one other point I want to make. In her reply the Minister stated that payments are made in respect of pensioners in hospitals only if free treatent is given to the pensioners. I recall that the hospital to which I referred stated that it may have to seek some payment. It also stated that the patients have to buy their drugs if the drugs are not on the free list of drugs. Do I take it from the Minister’s reply that the hospital ceased to receive a subsidy from the Commonwealth Government in respect of these patients because the drugs which the patients were given were not on the free list of drugs?
(10.12) - Senator Cavanagh has referred to an individual case and his remarks have been supported by Senator Laucke. I think that the best thing I can do is to place this particular case before the Minister for Health for his consideration.
– I will be very brief, but I should like to clarify the matter which I raised earlier. I believe that it has not been clarified yet. I refer to the case of an elderly person who is receiving an additional subsidy of $3 because she is in a nursing home or in an aged persons home which has hospital wards. A decision is made in Melbourne and conveyed by letter to the hospital to remove that subsidy from an aged person, who, at her age, obviously will not get any better. As some matrons have indicated to me, the health of such aged persons is deteriorating.
In the initial stages the Department has accepted a form filled in by the matron and supported by a medical practitioner in which it is stated that a person desires and needs intensive care. In 6 months time that hospital can receive a letter indicating that the person is no longer eligible to receive the subsidy. This decision is made without the patient being examined by a department doctor. Earlier the Minister replied that the decisions based on the opinion of the medical practitioner. Obviously, the medical practitioner makes his decision in an office in Melbourne without making any examination of the person concerned.
– And no report from the matron.
– I understand from certain matrons that in some cases they have reported that the condition of a person is worse, not better, yet a decision is made to withdraw the subsidy in respect of that person. The matrons are terribly disturbed. Most of us accept the fact that when people enter nursing homes in their late 70s, 80s and even 90s they do so because their condition has gone beyond the stage where they can be looked after at home. Their condition deteriorates. Some matrons have expressed to me very grave concern at the fact that a decision can be made to withdraw the subsidy without any additional evidence being provided. In some cases where assistance for intensive care is granted, 1 understand that the hospitals have to re-apply in 3 months in order to continue to receive the subsidy. In some cases they have to re-apply in 1 month. It seems to me that an officer should have better evidence than this before him when he decides to withdraw a subsidy for which the matron has reapplied. Although there is the evidence of the medical pratitioner to the effect that this intensive care is required, on this occasion it will be rejected again. The matrons and the doctors do not put in facetious reports in these matters. They are serious in relation to submitting an application because they know the condition of that aged person is such that intensive care is needed and it is beyond me how, after 3 or 6 months, such a decision can be made when a medical practitioner from the Department makes no examination whatsoever but makes a purely administrative decision from 48 miles away.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) (10.16) - I am very conscious of the points brought forward by Senator Poyser and the concern that I am sure he and other people who are dealing with these patients feel. I can only say again that in making their decisions the medical officers take into account the nursing requirements of each patient as stated by the matron of the home and the medical condition as stated by the patient’s own doctor, and where there is any doubt the approval is given to the patient. However the honourable senator has drawn my attention to areas where he says this may not in fact have been the case.
– As advised by matrons from these hospitals.
– Yes, this is the point the honourable senator has made. I shall certainly refer this matter to the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) but I feel sure that this would be assisted if we could have details of these individual cases so that the Minister can review them.
– I thank the Minister for notifying me of her intention to place the matter of the hospital 1 mentioned before the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) and I would ask the Minister to request him, after his consideration, to give a reply to both me and Senator Laucke.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) (10.1.8) - Yes, I will certainly see what information is available from the Minister for Health and convey this information to both Senator Cavanagh and Senator Laucke.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Proposed expenditure - Aboriginal Advancement $10,400,000, Office of Aboriginal Affairs $502,000 and Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies $425,000 - agreed to.
Proposed expenditure - PostmasterGeneral’s Department $64,988,000- agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Kenneth Anderson) agreed to:
That the Committee now -proceed to consideration of the estimates which were considered by Senate Estimates Committee A.
Proposed expenditure - Department of Supply, $104.600,500- agreed to.
Proposed expenditure, $3,753,000.
– I refer to item 01 of subdivision 2 - travelling and subsistence. I notice that there is a reduction in the expenditure proposed for this item. I am interested in what is involved in this item. What is actually meant by the term ‘subsistence’? I also note that there is a big increase proposed in the item relating to incidental and other expenses.
– You should have read the Hansard report of Committee A. Your Leader sought information on this.
– I am seeking information and the point I want to bring up-
– The Minister should tell you to read the evidence given to Committee A.
– There are repeated interjections from a senator who is trying to infringe my rights. I think you, Mr Temporary Chairman, as custodian of the rights of senators, should try to stop such interjections.
– Order! Senator Cavanagh, I am always willing to protect senators’ rights.
– Well I am getting sick of this attempt to take away my rights by some insignificant nincompoop who comes from a subversive State.
Order! Senator Cavanagh will you address yourself to the Chair in parliamentary language?
– Yes, Mr Temporary Chairman. I hope that your remarks will be extended to other senators. I am concerned with the position of the staff of Parliament House who, from time to time, have to work extended hours in the Parliament. While I see that provision is made for overtime payments, I am informed that it is necessary for the staff of Parliament House to work 43 hours before overtime applies. This is contrary to the standing regulations for all industry in Australia. I think it needs looking at. At least these people should receive the same treatment as other sections of the community who receive overtime rates after 40 hours. Allowances are made in the estimates for increased overtime, which suggests that it will increase in the next 12 months.
My next question concerns travelling. Having read Hansard on this subject, as Senator Webster suggested, I realise that there has been some discussion about the use of Commonwealth cars and provisions have been made in the estimates for an increase in the use of Commonwealth cars by the dining room staff at Parliament House or the Joint House Department over the next 12 months. I want to know what sections of the Joint House Department use Commonwealth cars. I believe that when staff work late they are provided with a taxi. No-one can anticipate the increase in fares. But the Parliament anticipates an increased cost in the use of Commonwealth cars from the Department of the Interior. To attribute that cost to the Joint House Department seems to be an expenditure that is not justified when those cars are not used by people who work for the Parliament. If the Minister can give me any information on the question it would be greatly appreciated.
– (New South Wales - Minister for Supply) (10.27) - Senator Cavanagh has asked me a question in relation to overtime. He referred to the fact that Parliament House staff must work for 43 i hours before receiving overtime. That is when Parliament is sitting. When Parliament is not sitting the hours would be balanced out. Senator Cavanagh would appreciate the normal cycle of sittings. We have the autumn session and the Budget session. My understanding is that the overtime is balanced out between the recess period and the sitting time. The question was also raised about the hours worked last year. I understand that the number of hours was 31 during the recess. Senator Cavanagh’s other question concerned the use of cars. I understand that certain officers are entitled to the use of cars, particularly when the House is in session because they obviously work late at night. The odd hours that are worked necessitate their use of cars.
– I wish to refer to the reply given by the Minister for Supply (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) concerning overtime rates. I know of no industrial award that exists in which one can balance the hours worked in 1 week against the hours worked in another. This is a practice that was eliminated by the trade union movement many years ago. It has even gone to the extent that one cannot balance 1 day’s work against the other in any 1 week. No employer can work a person for 10 hours on 1 day and 6 hours on the next to make a total of 16 hours for 2 days, to my knowledge, in the normal industrial awards. I cannot see why this Parliament should be any different and have persons working 43£ hours in a week before normal overtime rates apply, even suggesting that they work shorter hours while the House is not sitting. It seems to me to be a wrong process to balance weeks against each other when in some cases they may be months apart. This is not a procedure that the trade union movement has supported. I am certain that it would not support it now whether it be inside or outside the Parliament. It is a procedure that we have, by conciliation and in some cases by industrial action, eliminated from the industrial awards of the community. I believe that procedures of this type should not apply to persons who work in this building.
I also believe that the long hours that are worked, particularly by some female staff, when this House is sitting are beyond their capacity. We should have a look at this matter. I understand that when the other place sat until 18 minutes to 5 last Thursday morning some girls bad been working in Parliament House for 18 or 19 hours. This is not the type of thing that should be tolerated. I can appreciate that there are difficulties in trying to maintain facilities for members of Parliament. But surely there must be a system whereby these long hours can be avoided and the hours that are worked can be arranged in such a manner that they will not be as fatiguing as they obviously are. I believe there needs to be a closer examination of working conditions generally inside Parliament. 1 have, raised this matter before during the Estimates debate and on other occasions. 1 believe that some of the methods that are adopted in this House should be eliminated and normal industrial agreements should be reached, particularly in the case of those who are working in association with the refreshment room section of Parliament House.
(10.32) - J am informed that the Parliamentary Officers Regulations were recently changed. This resulted from negotiations that took place with the Public Service Board. The Parliamentary Officers Regulations now provide for a working week of 42 hours during a session and 324 hours during a recess. If a parliamentary officer works either in the session or in the recess over and above those hours then, of course, he attracts penalty rates. I understand that if an officer works M hours over these figures he attracts a penalty rate at time and a half. This has been set down in the new arrangement that has been entered into. F am also informed that there has always been an arrangement on the hours that are worked during a session and during a recess. As T. have said, a new arrangement has just, been negotiated.
Senator Poyser made reference to an all nighter (to use an expression we all know) in the other place last week. The staff who worked during the all nighter would, of course, have attracted penalty rates at time and a half for the work they did. Sometimes Parliament sits for very long hours. We ourselves make the decisions in that respect. For instance - and I promise the Senate will not be doing this night - if we were to go beyond 11 o’clock tonight and sat into the morning this would be a decision of the Senate and the staff of the Parliament would be required to give us service - and of course they would do so. The staff would attract overtime rates for this work. The sitting hours are part of the mechanics of the Parliament having an autumn session and a Budget session.
– I refer to Division 101, subdivision 2, item 03 - ‘Standing and Select Committees - Expenses’. The proposed expenditure for this item is $54,000 and the expenditure in 1969-70 was $48,063. I think, it is understandable that as we are now entering the sphere of standing committees and select’ committees the expenditure for committees can be expected to double. However, under Division 102, subdivision 03, item 2 - ‘Standing and Select Committees - Expenses’, which deals with committees of the House of Representatives, there is a reduction in expenditure from $21,193 in 1969-70 to $18,000 in 1970-71. fs there a belief behind this reduced estimate that the existence of standing committees of the Senate will reduce the number of standing and select committees of the House of Representatives and is there some transfer of work as a result?
The other point 1 want to raise comes under Division 101 subdivision 1, Item 03, dealing with the salary of the Clerk of the Senate, for which this year there is an appropriation of $15,600. I have been querying tonight what we have done in fixing the salary and allowance for the head of the Department of Housing and whether the allowance will be tax free. I have been informed it is thought of as an additional expenditure for the purpose of maintaining his position as head of the Department and in carrying out his duties. Apparently the head of the Department of Housing incurs some expenditure in relation to his position and, therefore, should get some allowance, over and above his
Salary, which is tax free, but it is not thought that it should apply to the Clerk of the Senate. lt would be difficult to know what expenditure is incurred to justify the granting of this allowance to certain heads of departments who receive it. Having served on committees that have sat in Parliament House when Parliament has not been sitting, 1 know of many occasions when some distinguished overseas visitor has come here. The Clerk of the Senate, without complaining, thinks it is some responsibility of his to provide some enter.taininment while the visitor is here. 1 would have thought the spending of an allowance in the upkeep of a position would fall more heavily on the Clerk of the Senate than on heads of some other departments; yet we realise the responsibility of the head of :i department and not the responsibility of the Clerk of the Senate. 1 think in fixing his salary this aspect should be taken into consideration by the Minister who should see whether the advantage afforded to other heads of departments should not also be afforded to the Clerk of the Senate.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Supply) (10.38) - There are 2 points that Senator Cavanagh has raised. One point was the significant difference between the item which relates to standing and select committees of the Senate, for which an appropriation of §94.000 has been made, and that relating to the House of Representatives for whose standing and select committees there is an appropriation of $18,000 which, surprisingly, is less than last year. Certainly it is only about $3,000 less than last year but. significantly again, the appropriation for the Senate rises from $48,000 to $94,000. Taking the positive side first, I do not need to deal with it at any great length because we realise that the committee system is what we as a Senate have come to believe to be one of the functions of the Senate as the second chamber. These committees include not only estimates and select committees but also special and standing committees. The very depth and nature of work being done in these committees, which involve travelling from place to place, hearing evidence, having it documented, having witnesses under cross-examination, having necessary equipment with us, having the Hansard staff to accompany us, entail a very expensive procedure but it is part of the business of government as we believe it to be. Because it is part of the business of government very properly we have to make provision in the Budget for the work we have to do. My own modest opinion on this matter is that the appropriation we are making may well prove to be inadequate because we are going through the initial stages. We are on a learning curve, shall we say, and as we develop we may become more profound in our research and more profound in our study of these various items. That is the positive side and I do not think it is under challenge. Senator Cavanagh is only pointing to the significant difference between the two amounts.
I have tried to get some explanation as to why the House of Representatives has not made greater provision for committees within that place. The House of Representatives does not have as many select committees as the Senate.
– The House of Representatives is leaving it to the Senate.
Senator Branson implies that it may be that the House of Representatives recognises that this House is better equipped to do this work. The position is that I do not have any information on it at the moment. If I get it 1 will make it available subsequently.
Senator Cavanagh referred to the appropriation for the salary of the Clerk of the Senate, which is $15,600. I can inform the Senate that there has been a recent increase in the salary of the Clerk. His salary is now $16,815, so there is a recognition there of the need to put the salary of the Clerk of the Senate at a more appropriate level vis-a-vis other officers. However, the point made by Senator Cavanagh was, as 1 understood it. that other officers get allowances over and above their salary level and that there is a case for granting an allowance to the Clerk. That is a matter not so much for discussion here or comment by me. The honourable senator is expressing a point of view which he is perfectly entitled to do but I cannot reflect on his point of view except to say that no doubt this matter is being considered. The views expressed by the honourable senator may well be taken into consideration at some future time by those responsible for these matters but it would not be proper for me to comment on this aspect at this time. All I can say now is that there has been recognition of the Clerk in the sense that his salary has been increased from $15,600 to $16,815.
– I wish to refer to item 05 - Incidental and Other Expenditure - under ‘Administrative Expenses’ for the Senate. You may recall, Mr Temporary Chairman, that I got to my feet earlier with the intention of speaking on the matter before the Chair at that .time but I was not seen. At that time I wanted to ask the Leader of the House whether he would have re-committed the matter if the missing Government supporter had been present and the DLP member absent. lt should not be necessary for me to get to my feet and call to the Chairman or the Temporary Chairman. It should not be necessary for any honourable senator to be placed in a position behind the Chair. On another occasion I asked the Leader of the Government whether he was prepared to re-arrange the seating provisions of the Senate so that the 4 honourable senators who sit behind the Chair - and some on the right of me sit even further behind than 1 - could be moved to a position within the sight of the Chairman, and certainly within the sight of Mr President. It is not reasonable to have to jump to one’s feet and call out ‘Mr Chairman’, lt is not necessary for anyone else to do this. Why should it be necessary for the 4 honourable senators who sit in this corner to call out to the person occupying the Chair? I have no doubt that provision is made under the item Incidental and Other Expenditure for the rearrangement of accommodation fittings in the Senate. I trust that some provision will be made under this head to move the 4 senators away from this section of the chamber to the main body of it, even if it is necessary to take-
– That might be after the election.
– Well, after the election, we will be in such great number on the benches opposite that perhaps the need will not arise to use these 4 seats. I think my request is reasonable. I have been one who, during this debate on the Estimates, has not entered into the debate because I took part as a member of one of the Estimates Committees in the inquiry into the Estimates. Although there was a considerable area of questioning which I wanted to direct to the Ministers who appeared before the other Estimates Committees, I decided that I would seek next year for the rearrangement of the times of meeting of the Committees in such a fashion that perhaps I could attend more Committee sittings. In spite of the fact that the Minister in charge of the previous estimates discussed left so many things unanswered, I was prepared to be patient. But I have been driven to my feet by the fact that not only on this occasion but also on other occasions I have risen to my feet and I have not been noted. I think that the matter could be solved if some of this proposed expenditure was directed towards moving those who are isolated in these seats to other seats where they can be seen comfortably.
– (New South Wales - Minister for Supply) (10.47) - First, I wish to say to Senator Georges that I agree that a strong case exists for some rearrangement of the structure of the Senate. I know, because the President has told me, that the complaints that have been made recently by many honourable senators about the accoustics in this chamber currently are being examined. There are some blind spots in the Senate where one does not hear. I find, sitting in my ministerial chair, on the level of other honourable senators across the table, that where someone intercedes I seem to lose the sound.
I come to the point that Senator Georges made. He said that he is behind the chair. He is not so much behind the chair in which the presiding officer sits. He is certainly behind the chair of the chairman of committees. In any event, I feel bound to point out to the honourable senator that we are all culprits in this matter as well as he is because we have the responsibility to catch the eye of the presiding officer. The Standing Orders provide that:
Every senator desiring to speak shall rise uncovered and address himself to the President.
The fact is that we have fallen into the habit of putting names down on a list. It is very convenient. I have seen it; we all have seen it. Honourable senators sit in their seats and wait for the President to call them. This is quite wrong. The job of an honourable senator is to rise and say: ‘Mr President!’
I was a member in another Parliament. A member there had to shout pretty hard to catch the eye of the presiding officer. This is our responsibility. An honourable senator does not get the presiding officer’s eye by hoping that the presiding officer will read his name off a piece of paper. That is for his guidance only. It is not the rule. So I say to Senator Georges that I agree, as I am sure we all agree, that it is a disadvantage to be behind the chairs, particularly the chair of the chairman of committees.
We can move the honourable senator. I am sure that other honourable senators would love to have him next to them. I think that a couple of vacant seats are to be found around the perimeter of the Senate. The honourable senator may occupy one of them. But the honourable seantor should remember that when seeking the call he should rise in his place and assert himself. I am sure that, if he does that, he will have great success. Finally, I am sure that this question of honourable senators being placed behind the presiding officer will be considered when some refurbishing or some rearrangement of the- Senate takes place.
– 1 was not quite satisfied with the reply I received about the salary of the Clerk of the Senate. I would have thought that this was the place for discussing such a matter and that if we were not satisfied with the proposed estimate for it we could refuse that estimate if we had the numbers. I think that the Leader of the Government (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) had some obligation to establish that what the Clerk of the Senate was receiving was a justifiable allowance. I mentioned that to my mind it is not a justifiable allowance. The Minister said that it was for someone else to look at the matter and that it was not my place to question it here.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Supply) (10.51) - 1 have just been given some information on this issue that might be helpful to Senator Cavanagh. I have just been informed that the President has authorised me to say that the question of allowances in the 2 Houses is currently under examination by the Presiding Officers, that is, the President on the one hand and Mr Speaker on the other.
– My question relates to Division 103, subdivision 2, Item 05 - Office requisites, equipment and stationery. The amount of this item has increased by 3 times this year. 1 have had a look through the Hansard report of the Estimates Committee, as all careful senators would do, and no question was asked at the time about the reason for this. Would the increase possibly be due to the tape recorders, a lot of which have been bought in the last year?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Supply) (10.52) - This is a new item in 1970-71 designed to make provision for office requisites and equipment formerly included in the item covering incidental and other expenditure. The production of a daily Hansard report of proceedings of standing committees recently established, to consider legislation can only be handled by recording the proceedings of some committees and employing typists to make transcripts from the tape recordings, there being insufficient staff to report and transcribe in the normal manner. It is proposed therefore to purchase additional tape recorders and typewriters and provision is made accordingly. The provision under this item also covers the supply of specialised stationery for the production of transcripts of committee evidence in addition to supplies of normal reporting and transcription stationery.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Prime Minister’s Department
Proposed expenditure 345,773,000.
– Are there any requests? I call Senator Georges. This lime he did not have to attract my attention by declaring his intention to speak.
– I hate this matter of getting to one’s feet and shouting. I think it is impolite and should be treated as such. I would like to ask my usual question so that the usual answer can be given. I would like the Minister for Supply (Sir Kenneth Anderson) to look at Division 459 which relates to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. I ask why there has been an increase of $400,000 in the estimate under this division. When can we expect some breakdown and accounting for this section of the Prime Minister’s Department?
(10.54) - All I can say to satisfy the honourable senator’s curiosity is that the provision is prepared and included in the Estimates by the Treasury and that all expenditure is brought to account by that Department. That is the only information I have and the only information I can give.
– I would like to refer to Division 430 and the proposed expenditure of $1,500 for the Returned Services League of Australia towards fares of delegates to National Congress. I understand that the conference is to be held in January or February next year and that delegates will come from the various States to attend the conference. There will be 2 delegates from Western Australia, and the Prime Minister’s Department has provided them with a return rail ticket. One of the delegates has advised me that owing to the school holidays at that time of the year, trains from Western Australia to eastern Australia are completely booked out, and that they have been unable to book a passage on the railways. There has been a request that the Prime Minister should provide an air fare in order that the delegates may travel to the conference which I think is being held in Melbourne. On behalf of these delegates I put this request to the Minister: Because they are not able to secure a passage on the railways, will the Department consider providing an air fare so that they can attend the conference?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Supply) (10.57) - As the honourable senator will appreciate, I cannot give an answer to that request, but what I can do - and I certainly promise to do it - is to extract what he has said from the record and take it myself to the Prime Minister for consideration.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Proposed expenditure - Department of the Cabinet Office, $255,000- agreed to.
Department of Trade and Industry
Proposed expenditure, $40,030,000, less $2,350,000 for the Australian Tourist Commission.
– Referring to the payment of salaries and allowances and overtime, I should like to know whether it is true that in the month of May of this year the Department of Trade and Industry secured the services of Drake Overload agency and brought in female staff from outside the Department of Trade and Industry to work from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. at $2 per hour. I am led to believe that the Department found itself without funds to pay for overtime. It is rather strange that this sort of situation should occur, because if the Department had overspent the amount of money provided for overtime there was sufficient time for it to make application for funds from the Treasurer’s Advance to cover such circumstances. I note that an amount of $156,450 was provided and-
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Temporary Chairman do now leave the Chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative. (The Temporary Chairman having reported accordingly.)
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.1 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 2 November 1970, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1970/19701102_senate_27_s46/>.